By Dr. Randall Smith
Courtesy of Christian Travel Study Programs, Ltd.

Tiberias is 2,000 years old, constructed by Herod Antipas around the year 20. The city was dedicated to the Roman Caesar Tiberius, and is mentioned only in passing in the Gospels: “Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.” [John 6:23].

The historian Josephus Flavius reports in his book “The Jewish War” that during the Great Revolt against the Romans the inhabitants of Tiberias surrendered to the Romans without a fight. After the Second Temple was destroyed in 70, Tiberias became such an important center of learning that it rivaled the great centers of Babylon. The Jewish courts (Sanhedrin) moved to Tiberias, and it is there that most of the Jerusalem Talmud was edited.

Some of history?s most important rabbis are buried in and around Tiberias. One is Moses Maimonides, a Jewish legal expert, scholar, philosopher and doctor ? indisputably one of the greatest minds ever produced by the Jewish people. Another is the gentle and incredibly learned Rabbi Akiva, who actively encouraged brave guerilla fighter Simon Bar-Kochba to rebel against the Romans a second time (132-135).

Excavations carried out on a mountain slope across from Tiberias uncovered an 8th-century Christian church. Below this well-preserved site archeologists also dug up foundations – and a mosaic floor – from a church built 200 years earlier and destroyed in the earthquake of 749.

Today Tiberias is one of Israel’s most popular resorts, both because it is situated on the Sea of Galilee and because it is adjacent to the famous hot springs of Tiberias.

© Christian Travel Study Programs, Ltd.