ISRAEL PHOTOS IV -- Pilgrimage
During the times of Jesus, some who were sick may have gone to the springs within a few hundred meters of Roman Tiberias to seek cures. There was a Roman custom of worshiping the god Aesclepius, the healer. The Roman Aesclepius cult members practiced soaking in hot baths and fasting in order to try to get healed. The tradition of soaking in a hot bath for healing may have reached the Jews of first century Galilee. Josephus, a first century Jewish historian, wrote about one of his adversaries named John of Gischala who wrote a letter seeking miltary governor Josephus' permission to go to Hammath Tiberias in order to recover his health.
There was a coin minted in Tiberias c. 99 A.D. with an image of the Graeco-Roman goddess Hygieia, the goddess of health, daughter of Aesclepius engraved on it (Aesclepius is the Roman god of healing).
An early pilgrim viewed the hot baths at Tiberias and was reminded of the passage about Jews going to the healing pool in Bethsaida in order to try to get healed.
Sinai and Sion, Benjamin Bausman, Philadelphia, 1861
"In the morning before we started, Ahmed rode with me to the hot springs, a few miles south-east of Tiberias, toward the outlet of the lake in to the Jordan. A building over the springs contains bathing pools, in separate rooms filled with warm water. A number of naked Arab invalids were lying and sitting around them, like the sick at the pool of Bethesda, waiting for the moving of the water. A few were splashing about in the steaming basins, with the hope of washing away their bodily ills. I might have tested the virtues of a hot bath at such an ancient and celebrated a place, but the diseased bathers looked too repulsive to hazard contact with them in the same pool."
In the Gospel according to John, Chapter 5 was a description of people with illnesses and disorders trying to get healed by entering a pool in Jerusalem. Archaeologists found the pools of Bethsaida and also uncovered a temple of Aesclepius in Eretz Jerusalem (late Roman) near St. Stephen's Gate. The medicinal pools and baths to the east of the twin pools of Bethesda were built from 150 BC to 70 AD.
Healing Pools at Bethesda, Jerusalem, on the property of St. Anne's Church (Jan. 2006)
Link to the Bethesda Web Page Israel Photos III
Churches of the Annunciation
Latin Tradition -- Mount of Precipitation
Nazareth Aerial View
Museum of the Basilica
Hot Springs at Tiberias
Stone Water Jars at Capernaum
A 1909 Galilee Fishing Description
The Giant Mustard Plant
Kursi and the Gadarene Demoniac
Jar of Ointment
Wheat and Tares