National Geographic : 1940 Dec
Canoeing Down the River Jordan Photograph by Maynard Owen Williams Sea Level Near Capernaum Means High Pasture Land The sign is located in a field alongside the road, which climbs upward from the Sea of Galilee on its way northward to Damascus. The surface of Galilee is 686 feet below the Mediterranean. unnoticed, for the main interest here lies in the ruins of a synagogue which was originally built of huge blocks of white stone hauled at considerable labor from the distant mountains. The workmanship and elaborate carvings are clearly Roman in type, interspersed with Hebrew motifs-the seal of David, pome granates, grape clusters, wreaths and chalice, and so on, mentioned in the decorations of the Tabernacle and Solomon's Temple (I Kings 7:18, 42; II Chron. 4:13). Such features, and the fact that an eagle is carved upon a door lintel, have led to the belief that this was the synagogue built for the Jews by the Roman centurion, an officer of 100 legionaries garrisoned here (Luke 7:5). If so, this would be the one to which Jesus often resorted and where He taught (Mark 1:21). Some students, however, place it at a slightly later date. Again we followed the north pebble-strewn shore, and, reaching the inflow of Jordan, paddled up it as far as we could. Trudging across a boggy delta that 20 centuries ago had been lake, and jumping irrigating ditches into which green tortoises slithered to bury them selves in the muddy bottom, we found our selves, scratched by thorns and briars, at Et Tell (The Hill of Ruins). Hereabouts possibly was situated-then on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias (Galilee) at the inflow of Jordan-Bethsaida, "place of fish ing," home of Jesus' fisher disciples. "Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter" (John 1:44). "There Came Down a Storm of Wind" Weary from a long walk over rough ground, we reached the canoes and headed for Tabigha. The lake was millpond smooth, clear and blue as an aquamarine. Flocks of goats came down to water, and herds of cattle stood cooling in the lake. Bright-plumed kingfishers, large and tiny, poised in the air and then hurled themselves waterward, seizing a small fish and winging away. Ducks floating at ease disappeared like a flash when alarmed, and reappeared at a distance. Without warning-to use the New Testa ment phraseology that bears no improve ment-"there came down a storm of wind on the lake . . . and (we) were in jeopardy" (Luke 8:23). Like a flash our minds switched from contemplating the beautiful to saving the expedition from disaster. Bending to the paddles, John and I out stripped the other canoe and managed to reach the little Tabigha hospice breakwater.