The Sea of Galilee and the Jezreel Valley

On our 2nd day out we headed for Galilee.  We were all pretty excited, after all, who wouldn’t be?  As soon as I saw it I started taking photos.  I am glad I did because seeing it from up high provides better photos than seeing it at the same level – well, almost.  I can still see it sparkling in the sun.  That fact is particularly important as we had not seen the sun until this day.

The Sea of Galilee is located in the northern portion of Israel, and is a large fresh water lake.  The lake is shallow – the maximum depth is 141 feet.  The entire lake is located within a great depression known as “the rift” and sits about 702 feet below sea level.  It is the lowest fresh water lake in the world. The depression is part of the Syrian-African fault line, which includes the Dead Sea.   Most of its water comes from the Jordan River. It also comes from springs and the flow of water from the surrounding hills in the winter time.  The Sea of Galilee is the primary source of water in Israel and the problem is that water is being removed faster than it can be replenished.  To add to the problem, The Sea of Galilee is also at risk of becoming irreversibly salinized by the salt water springs under the lake.  Israel’s National Water Carrier, built in 1964, transports water from the lake to the population centers of Israel.  In 1964, Syria attempted to divert water flow into the Sea of Galilee. That attempt and Israel’s counter-attempt to block their efforts in 1965 were factors which played into the Six-Day War in 1967. During the war, Israel captured the Golan Heights, which contain some of the sources of water for the Sea of Galilee.   I will cover the Golan Heights in more detail in another post.

The word Jezreel means “God sows” or “El sows”.  The phrase “valley of Jezreel” was sometimes used to refer to the part of the valley around the city of Jezreel, and the southwestern portion was known as the “valley of Megiddo”, after the ancient city of Megiddo, which was located there.   Some Christians believe that the part of the valley on which the Battle of Megiddo was fought is destined to be the site of the final battle between good and evil which is known as Armageddon.  The valley is the site of many historic battles and according to the Bible the valley was the scene of a victory by the Israelites against the Midianites and the Amalekiltes, as well as the location where the Israelites, led by King Saul, were defeated by the Philistines.

More recent history of this valley is very complex and just as bloody as ancient history.  The fertile, peaceful hills are deceptive and lead one to believe that this is the most peaceful place in the world.  While I was there it was of course peaceful, but I could not help but notice a charge in the atmosphere that hinted at a violent past and a scary future.  I will talk more about that in my post on Megiddo.

Click on the Photo Album to see more photos:

The Sea of Galilee and the Jezreel Valley as seen through the dirty window of a tour bus

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