The Sea of Gallilee, also Lake of Gennesaret, Lake Kinneret or Sea of Tiberias , is Israel’s largest freshwater lake, being approximately 53 km (33 miles) in circumference, about 21 km (13 miles) long, and 13 km (8 miles) wide. The lake has a total area of 166 km², and a maximum depth of approximately 43 m. At 209 meters below sea level, it is the lowest freshwater lake on Earth and the second-lowest lake in the world (after the Dead Sea, a saltwater lake).
The Kinneret is situated deep in the Jordan Great Rift Valley, the valley caused by the separation of the African and Arabian Plates and is fed partly by underground springs although its main source is the Jordan River which flows through it from north to south. Consequently the area is subject to earthquakes and, in the past, volcanic activity. This is evident by the abundant basalt and other igneous rocks that define the geology of the Galilee region.
Much of the ministry of Jesus occurred on the shores of Lake Galilee. In those days, there was a continuous ribbon development of settlements and villages around the lake and plenty of trade and ferrying by boat. The Synoptic gospels of Mark (1:14-20), Matthew (4:18-22), and Luke (5:1-11) describe how Jesus recruited four of his apostles from the shores of Lake Galilee: the fishermen Simon and his brother Andrew and the brothers John and James. One of Jesus’ famous teaching episodes, the Sermon on the Mount, was given on a hill overlooking the lake while many of his miracles were also recorded to occur here including his walking on water, calming a storm, and his feeding five thousand people (in Tabgha).
In 135 CE the second Jewish revolt against the Romans was put down. The Romans responded by banning all Jews from Jerusalem. The center of Jewish culture and learning shifted to the region of the Kinneret, particularly the city of Tiberias. It was in this region that the so-called “Jerusalem Talmud” is thought to have been compiled.
Inspired by Genesis 1:
“(1) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.(2) Now the earth was a formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
(3) And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
(4) God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. (5) God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
(6) And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” (7) So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. (8) God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
(9) And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. (10) God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good." . . .