Bethsaida From the Sky
Bethsaida, Korazin and Tabgha — with Capernaum as the base’s midpoint — constituted the ‘evangelical triangle’, on the northwestern end of the Sea of Galilee, east of the Jordan River, within which approximately 80% of Jesus’ public ministry was exercised. , Korazim, Bethsaida were abandoned and forgotten for many centuries.
Bethsaida in Hebrew and Aramaic בית צידה beth-tsaida means “house of hunting” or “fishing”.
Three Bethsaidas ? Which is the real Bethsaida (Beth Saida)?
- et-Tell: a ruined site on the east side of the Jordan on rising ground, 2 km from the sea.
- el-Araj: located on the present shoreline. In 2017, archaeologists announced the discovery of a Roman bathhouse and the remains of a Byzantine church at el-Araj. rchaeologists believe that el-Araj is now the most likely candidate for the location of Bethsaida (Beth Saida).
- el-Mesydiah: located on the present shoreline, a ruin and winter village of Arab et-Tellawīyeh on an artificial mound about a mile and a half from the mouth of the Jordan
Bethsaida in the New Testament
- “Woe to you, Bethsaida!” (Luke 10:13-14) Jesus curses Bethsaida.
- Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. (Matthew 11:20-22) Jesus curses Bethsaida.
- The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. (John 1:43-44) Jesus was first calling his disciples, he traveled to Galilee and found there Philip, who is described as being of Bethsaida along with Peter and Andrew.
- And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town. (Mark 8:22–26).Bethsaida – including its nearby shore—is identified as the location where Jesus performed some of his most indelible miracles. Here he led a blind man away from the village, restored his sight, and instructed the man not to reenter the town nor to tell anyone of the miracle he had performed.
- On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” And they did so, and had them all sit down. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces. (Luke 9:10–17) Bethsaida is also said to be the fishing village where Jesus fed the masses with just five loaves and two fish.
- The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught.31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. 35 And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late.36 Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii[a] worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied.43 And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men. (Mark 6:30–44). Bethsaida is also said to be the fishing village where Jesus fed the masses with just five loaves and two fish.
During the 5th Crusade, the army led by King Andrew II of Hungary defeated Sultan Al-Adil I at Bethsaida on the Jordan River on 10 November 1217.