King Herod, Cesarea, and the Sea of Galilee
Israel has always been a place of extreme conflict because of its prime location situated between Asia, Europe, Africa, and being on the sea.
Today, we are standing at the port city of Cesarea, which was an incredibly strategic location for ships to come from Rome back in the day. King Herod, a Hebrew, who was under the command of the Romans here, had this port built in 22 BC. Under constant threat by enemies, he also built himself a palace at this location, one of many so he could constantly keep his whereabouts hidden.
Because of its prime location, it has been conquered by the Romans, the Byzantines, the Muslims, the Crusaders, the Ottoman Empire, the British, the Turks, and the Israelis. Whatever buildings were here have been blown up and rebuilt, many times over, from a palace to a church, to a mosque, and back again. What remains has become Cesarea National Park, the rest being claimed by the sea every day.
After the birth of a Jesus, some Wise Men from the East visited King Herod to inquire about “the one having been born king of the Jews because they had seen his star in the East,” and wanted to pay homage. King Herod sent his chief scribes and priests to find where the baby was to be born so he could go and worship him. They did not report back, and when the King learned he had been outwitted, he order the killing of every baby in the vacinity under the age of two. It was known that King Herod had killed three of his own sons and many friends to maintain his throne. Mary and Joseph escaped to Egypt where they remained until the death of King Herod, then moved back to Nazareth.
We are now standing at the foot of the Sea of Galilee. Many church groups come here to ride on these ancient modeled boats, read passages about the Sea of Galilee from the Bible, and sing church hymns while on the water. It’s such a powerful place to be when you’ve learned so much about this place, and to suddenly find yourself here.
In 1986, they found this boat in the mud, which is 2000 years old.
Did this boat witness the events during the time of Jesus? Is this the boat that carried Jesus and his disciples to surrounding villages to preach the gospel? Is it a boat of a fisherman escaping the wars between the Romans and the Jews during the first century?
It certainly is a mind boggling thought to actually stand in front of this boat and think about the possibilities of answers to these questions that have all been dealt with only through faith. If only boats could talk!