Among Holy Land sites, the Sea of Galilee has changed comparatively little since Jesus walked on its shores and recruited four fishermen as his first disciples.
A picturesque, heart-shaped lake set among hills in northern Israel, it is one of the lowest-lying bodies of water on earth (some 210 metres below sea level).
This freshwater “sea” is 21km long and 13km across at its widest point, with a maximum depth of 43 metres. Its other names include the Sea of Tiberias, the Lake of Gennesaret and (in Hebrew) Lake Chinnereth or Kinneret.
Fed mainly by the Jordan River and drained by it, the lake serves as Israel’s chief water reservoir.
In modern times tourism has become the major local industry. In Jesus’ time it was fishing, with 230 boats regularly working the lake and their catch dried and exported all over the Roman world.
Jesus made the fishing town of Capernaum the centre of his itinerant ministryin Galilee, using the lake, its boats and its shores to spread his Good News. He calmed a storm, he walked on the water and probably even swam in the lake.