ISRAEL PHOTOS V -- Spring 2011


En Gev Harbor, Eastern Shore of Lake Tiberias, April 2011

On April 10th I left my hotel room in Tiberias in the morning and made my way to En Gev south of Kursi on the east side of the lake. I met someone at the En Gev Holiday Village and arranged for a tour of the House of Anchors fishing museum. En Gev is a fishing village and with a hotel and restaurant for tourists. A couple hours later I met Yoel at the museum. He and Mendell Nun studied the Roman era ancient harbors around the lake and worked to maintain the museum. In 2008 Mendell told me about fish spawning areas on the north shore of the lake. After I inquired about Mendell; I learned Mendel Nun had passed away a year ago at age 92. Yoel offered me a cup of coffee.

Sea of Galilee Fishing Museum at En Gev

I asked him if the fishermen were ever in danger from the wind. He told me during times of strong winds the boats did not go out onto the lake. I had been to the En Gev harbor that morning and found some of the boats were large, thus more seaworthy than the small fishing boats of Roman era times.

The storms happened from November to April. On the side of the lake where En Gev was the wind storms were generally out of the southwest. There were also easterly winds and it might blow in one direction a few days then switch. He told me the winds swirled about. He made a twisting motion with his hand to illustrate this. Later I remembered the lake is in a bowl shaped depression open at the south end and wind in a bowl might swirl. Yoel described gusts of wind that descended from the Golan Heights and some of these were short term and stopped abruptly. I told him I had seen the summer winds at the north end of the lake were out of the west as I had watched the people windsurfing there. Yoel showed some photos of waves crashing over the top of a building roof near the leaning tower part of what is now the Russian Pilgrim Center dated to November of 1992 and waves crashing over a business at Ledo Beach in Tiberias. This was helpful as I had previously misinterpreted the timestamp 3 11 '92 on a photo of a wave crashing into the building as March 11 when in fact it was November 3. After about an hour and a half of conversation I thanked Yoel and left to continue my journey.

On December 12, 2010 a storm broke across the Mediterranean creating 30 foot waves at sea along the Israeli and Lebanese coasts. At Tiberias a large window at the Holiday Inn was blown out injuring people inside. Power lines were down. Trees were uprooted. Solar water heaters were knocked off rooftops with 50-110 km/hr winds reported.. Eight inches of rain fell within 48 hours and seven feet of snow fell on the upper slopes of Mt. Hermon. The wind was contrary.

There were numerous early accounts in travelogues written by travelers who witnessed wind events on Lake Tiberias. There were winds that shrieked and howled sending waves up the sides of boats and spray over the top of the gunwales. In one case a cotton sail was ripped to shreds by a gust of wind. In other cases sails were lowered and boats were rowed or allowed to run with the wind. Crews allowed their boats to run aground on whatever shore they could make it to and set passengers out. The passengers had to return to camp or town on foot or try to hire horses from the local Bedouin where they could be found. Boats were sometimes torn from their anchorages by storms and set adrift along the Tiberias waterfront. One wind was reported that tossed up waves on the north side of the lake while the south side was relatively calm. A journalist wrote about local winds formed in a condition of rarefied air that howled down the mountain slopes and ravines with sudden ferocity.

Dr. David W. Torrance (1862-1923) was a Scottish missionary doctor who spent much of his career in Tiberias treating the local citizens. In a biography about him, A Galilee Doctor, his experience in a boat in the middle of the lake was described. He was sailing with a west wind behind him and then a gale blew down from the east with a sudden burst of force. The small boat tipped to the side and nearly capsized. As water was pouring into the boat the the sail was loosened from the mast and the boat righted itself. The wind from the west resumed and threatened the nearly swamped vessel while they rowed to stay parallel to the wind.

During July of 2006 while driving along the Lake Tiberias north shore road, I noticed strong winds from the west, and the windsurfers skipped across the white capped waves with much speed. The winds usually subsided about sunset. One summer night I was in my Tiberias hotel room after dark and the wind started to increase until there was a shrill howling of the wind. I put on my shoes and walked down towards the marina. The streets were empty. A plastic bottle was being rolled down the street by the wind and caught my attention. There were some lamp posts along the water front and I saw the waves being tossed about. I walked back to my hotel. The strong wind continued until I could stay awake no longer and drifted into sleep.

After Jesus fed the 5000, the disciples were going towards Capernaum in a fishing boat. They had taken the sail down as they were rowing into the wind. If the feeding took place on the NE or E shore as many have indicated then they would have been rowing into a westerly wind. Whether they stayed out on the lake holding a position until dawn or were trying to make for shore against headwinds was not described in the Gospel.

In another description Jesus was asleep in the boat going towards the land of the Gadarenes, Gergesenes, or Gerasenes depending on what Gospel manuscript you read. There was a gust of wind that almost tipped over the boat and they were in fear for their lives. They woke Jesus and Jesus calmed the storm.
Matthew 8:23 When he got into a boat, his disciples followed him. 24 Behold, a violent storm came up on the sea, so much that the boat was covered with the waves, but he was asleep. 25 They came to him, and woke him up, saying, "Save us, Lord! We are dying!" 26 He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then he got up, rebuked the wind and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 The men marveled, saying, "What kind of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"