Bethsaida (/IPA|bɛθ.seɪ'i.da/; Βηθσαΐδά, Bēthsaidá, Bet'shayid “house of fishing”)
A city east of the
Jordan River, in a “desert place” (that is, uncultivated ground used for grazing) possibly the site at which Jesusmiraculously fed the multitude with five loaves and two fish (Mark 6:32; Luke 9:10). It may be possible to identify this site with the village of Bethsaida in Lower Gaulanitiswhich the tetrarch Herod Philip Iraised to the rank of a polis in the year 30/31, and renamed it Julias, in honor of Livia, the wife of Augustus. It lay near the place where the Jordan enters the Sea of Gennesaret(Ant., XVIII, ii, 1; BJ, II, ix, 1; III, x, 7; Vita, 72). This city was most likely located at et-Tell, a ruined site on the east side of the Jordan on rising ground, 2 km from the sea. This distance poses a problem however. Why would a fishing village be so far from the water? During Biblical times the water level of the Sea of Galilee was higher and came up to the base of et-Tell. A combination of three hypothesises can explain this:-
#Tectonic rifting has uplifted et-Tell ( the site is located on the Great African-Syrian Rift fault)
#the water level has dropped from increased population usage, land irrigation, and
#the Jordan delta has been extended by sedimentation. Dissenters suggest two other sites as possible locations for Bethsaida: el-Araj and El-Mesydiah. Both of these sites are located on the present shoreline, however, preliminary excavations have revealed only a small number of ruins not dating from before the Byzantine Period. Schumacher is however inclined to favor
el-Mes‛adīyeh(a ruin and winter village of Arab et-Tellawīyeh) which stands on an artificial mound about a mile and a half from the mouth of the Jordan. However, the name is in origin radically different from Bethsaida. The substitution of sin for cad is easy; but the insertion of the guttural ‛ain is impossible. No trace of the name Bethsaida has been found in the district; but any one of the sites named would meet the requirements. To this neighborhood Jesus retired by boat with His disciples to rest a while. The multitude following on foot along the northern shore of the lake would cross the Jordan by the ford at its mouth which is used by foot travelers to this day. The “desert” of the narrative is just the barrīyehof the Arabs where the animals are driven out for pasture. The “green grass” of Mark 6:39, and the “much grass” of John 6:10, point to some place in the plain of el-Bateihah, on the rich soil of which the grass is green and plentiful compared with the scanty herbage on the higher slopes.
Bethsaida of Galilee
Here dwelt Philip, Andrew, Peter (John 1:44; John 12:21), and perhaps also James and John. The house of Andrew and Peter seems to have been not far from the synagogue in
Capernaum(Matthew 8:14; Mark 1:29, etc.). Unless they had moved their residence from Bethsaida to Capernaum, of which there is no record, and which for fishermen was unlikely, Bethsaida must have lain close to Capernaum. It may have been the fishing town adjoining the larger city. As in the case of the other Bethsaida, no name has been recovered to guide us to the site. On the rocky promontory, however, east of Khān Minyeh we find Sheikh ‛Aly es-Saiyādīn, “Sheikh Aly of the Fishermen,” as the name of a ruined weley, in which the second element in the name Bethsaida is represented (see also Al Minya). Nearby is the site at ‛Ain et-Tābigha, which many have identified with Bethsaida of Galilee. The warm water from copious springs runs into a little bay of the sea in which fishes congregate in great numbers. This has therefore always been a favorite haunt of fishermen. If Capernaum were at Khān Minyeh, then the two lay close together. The names of many ancient places have been lost, and others have strayed from their original localities. The absence of any name resembling Bethsaida need not concern us. Bethsaida was the birth place of Saint Peter.
Were there two Bethsaidas?
Many scholars maintain that all the
New Testamentreferences to Bethsaida apply to one place, namely, Bethsaida Julias. The arguments for and against this view may be summarized as follows:
Galileeran right round the lake, including most of the level coastland on the east. Thus Gamala, on the eastern shore, was within the jurisdiction of Josephus, who commanded in Galilee (BJ, II, xx, 4). Judas of Gamala (Ant., XVIII, i, l) is also called Judas of Galilee(ibid., i, 6). If Gamala, far down the eastern shore of the sea, were in Galilee, a fortiori Bethsaida, a town which lay on the very edge of the Jordan, may be described as in Galilee.
* But Josephus makes it plain that Gamala, while added to his jurisdiction, was not in Galilee, but in
Gaulanitis(BJ, II, xx, 6). Even if Judas were born in Gamala, and so might properly be called a Gaulanite, he may, like others, have come to be known as belonging to the province in which his active life was spent. “Jesus of Nazareth” was born in Bethlehem. Then Josephus explicitly says that Bethsaida was in Lower Gaulanitis (BJ, II, ix, 1). Further, Luke places the country of the Geraseneson the other side of the sea from Galilee (Luke 8:26) - antípera tḗs Galilaias (“over against Galilee”).
*To go to the other side - eis tó péran (Mark 6:45) - does not of necessity imply passing from the east to the west coast of the lake, since Josephus uses the verb diaperaióō of a passage from
Tiberiasto Tarichaeae(Vita, 59). But
*#this involved a passage from a point on the west to a point on the south shore, “crossing over” two considerable bays; whereas if the boat started from any point in el-Bateihah, to which we seem to be limited by the “much grass,” and by the definition of the district as belonging to Bethsaida, to sail to et-Tell, it was a matter of coasting not more than a couple of miles, with no bay to cross.
*#No case can be cited where the phrase "eis to peran" certainly means anything else than “to the other side.”
*#Mark says that the boat started to go unto the other side to Bethsaida, while John, gives the direction “over the sea unto Capernaum” (Mark 6:17). The two towns were therefore practically in the same line. Now there is no question that Capernaum was on “the other side,” nor is there any suggestion that the boat was driven out of its course; and it is quite obvious that, sailing toward Capernaum, whether at Tell Hūm or at Khān Minyeh, it would never reach Bethsaida Julius.
*#The present writer is familiar with these waters in both storm and calm. If the boat was taken from any point in el-Bateihah towards et-Tell, no east wind would have distressed the rowers, protected as that part is by the mountains. Therefore it was no contrary wind that carried them toward Capernaum and the “land of
Gennesaret.” On the other hand, with a wind from the west, such as is often experienced, eight or nine hours might easily be occupied in covering the four or five miles (8 km) from el-Bateihah to the neighborhood of Capernaum.
*The words of Mark (Mark 6:45), it is suggested [
William Sanday, "Sacred Sites of the Gospels", 42.] , have been too strictly interpreted: as the Gospel was written probably at Rome, its author being a native, not of Galilee, but of Jerusalem. Want of precision on topographical points, therefore, need not surprise us. But as we have seen above, the “want of precision” must also be attributed to the writer of John 6:17. The agreement of these two favors the strict interpretation. Further, if the Gospel of Mark embodies the recollections of Peter, it would be difficult to find a more reliable authority for topographical details connected with the sea on which his fisher life was spent.
*In support of the single-city theory it is further argued that
*#Jesus withdrew to Bethsaida as being in the jurisdiction of Philip, when he heard of the murder of
John the Baptistby Antipas, and would not have sought again the territories of the latter so soon after leaving them.
*#Medieval works of travel notice only one Bethsaida.
*#The east coast of the sea was definitely attached to Galilee in AD 84, and
Ptolemy(circa 140) places Julius in Galilee. It is therefore significant that only the Fourth Gospel speaks of “Bethsaida of Galilee.”
*#There could hardly have been two Bethsaidas so close together.
*#It is not said that Jesus came hither that he might leave the territory of Antipas for that of Philip; and in view of Mark 6:30, and Luke 9:10, the inference from Matthew 14:13 that he did so, is not warranted.
*#The Bethsaida of medieval writers was evidently on the west of the Jordan River. If it lay on the east, it is inconceivable that none of them should have mentioned the river in this connection.
*#If the 4th Gospel was not written until well into the 2nd century, then the apostle was not the author; but this is a very precarious assumption. John, writing after AD 84, would hardly have used the phrase “Bethsaida of Galilee” of a place only recently attached to that province, writing, as he was, at a distance from the scene, and recalling the former familiar conditions.
*#In view of the frequent repetition of names in Palestine the nearness of the two Bethsaidas raises no difficulty. The abundance of fish at each place furnished a good reason for the recurrence of the name.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
* [http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/strongs.pl?strongs=966 Strong's G966]
* [http://www.bibleplaces.com/bethsaida.htm Bibleplaces.com: Bethsaida]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Bethsaida — • Details the city, pool, and titular see of this name Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Bethsaida Bethsaida † … Catholic encyclopedia
Bethsaida — (aram. bet sajda) „Haus des Fanges“ oder „Haus der Jagd“ ist eine Ortschaft in der antiken Gaulanitis am See Genezareth. Bekannt ist der Ort als Geburtsort der Apostel Petrus, Andreas und Philippus. Die Ruinen der antiken Ortschaft wurden von… … Deutsch Wikipedia
BETHSAIDA — (Heb. בֵּית צַיָּדָא, Bet Zayyada), fishing village that was situated on the northeast shore of the Sea of Galilee near the mouth of the Jordan River in the Second Temple period. Philip the son of Herod (herod ) Phillipus renamed it Julias in 30… … Encyclopedia of Judaism
Bethsaĭda — (d.i. Fischerhaus, a. Geogr.), 1) Stadt in Gaulanitis, am OUfer des Sees Genezareth, wo der Jordan mündet; hieß später Julias; Ruinen auf dem jetzigen Hügel Tell; bei B. war die Speisung der 5000; 2) Stadt in Galiläa, am WUfer des Sees… … Pierer's Universal-Lexikon
Bethsaida — (»Fischhausen«), Geburtsort der Apostel Petrus, Andreas und Philippus, unweit oberhalb des Jordaneinflusses in den See Genezareth, wurde vom Tetrarchen Philippos zur Stadt erhoben und zu Ehren der Tochter des Augustus Julias genannt. In seiner… … Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon
Bethsaida — Bethsaĭda (hebr., »Fischhausen«), Ort in Palästina, am See Genezareth, Heimat der Apostel Andreas, Petrus und Philippus, Schauplatz des Wirkens Jesu … Kleines Konversations-Lexikon
BETHSAIDA — clara Glilaeae civitas, in tribu Zabulon, quae inter decem principales Decapolis regionis civitates recensetur. Sita est iuxta viam, quae e Syria in Aegyptum ducit, in angulo maris Galilaeae, ubi se mare ab Aquilone flectit contra Austrum, ex qua … Hofmann J. Lexicon universale
Bethsaida — House of fish. 1) A town in Galilee, on the west side of the sea of Tiberias, in the land of Gennesaret. It was the native place of Peter, Andrew, and Philip, and was frequently resorted to by Jesus (Mark 6:45; John 1:44; 12:21). It is… … Easton's Bible Dictionary
Bethsaida — A town on the NE of the Sea of Galilee where Peter, Andrew, and Philip were born according to John 1:44; 12:21. Luke (9:10–17) locates the feeding of the 5,000 in the neighbourhood of Bethsaida, though Mark s geography (Mark 6:45) is unclear.… … Dictionary of the Bible
Bethsaida — the name of two villages, one on the western, one on the eastern, side of the Sea of Galilee, meaning house of fish … Dictionary of ichthyology