Biblical Archaeology Review 26:1, January/February 2000

Bethsaida Rediscovered

Long-lost city found north of Galilee shore

By Rami AravRichard A. FreundJohn F. Shroder Jr.

Bethsaida is the town that disappeared. Soon after playing a prominent role in the Gospels—Bethsaida is mentioned more often in the New Testament than any city except Jerusalem and Capernaum—this fishing village on the Sea of Galilee simply became lost to history. Early Christian pilgrims went in search of it, but they had no idea where to find it.

Even in modern times, three different sites north of the Galilee have been proposed as ancient Bethsaida. Happily, however, we can report that Bethsaida has been found once again. And not only have we rediscovered the village of Jesus’ time, but we are uncovering a rich history going back to the age of King David.

The key to our identification of ancient Bethsaida was the realization that the site lies not on the Galilee shore but one and a half miles north of it. How can a fishing village sit so far from the water? The answer to that riddle is an important part of our story. But we are getting ahead of ourselves …

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