And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed on him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,…
The original population of the shores of the lake was Sidonian, and when Tyre and Sidon were founded on the shores of the Mediterranean they moved westward, but the town of Bethsidon still retained the name given it by its first inhabitants. The richest part of the shores was at the north-west, where is a luxuriant plain of half-moon shape, walled out from the north and west winds by mountains, and exposed to the sun. This was where the princes and the nobles had their country residences, and the gardens were filled with all kinds of flowers and fruit. The lake was called by its first colonists, Cenuereth, or the Harp, from its shape. The Jews thought so highly of its beauty that they said, "God created seven seas — but for Himself He elected but one, and that the Lake Gennesareth"; and again, "It is the Gate of Paradise." Josephus says, "It is a district where Nature seems to have constrained herself to create an eternal spring, and to gather into one spot the products of every one." To the present day the date-palm, citrons, pomegranate, indigo, rice, sugar-cane, grow there; cotton, balsams, vines, thrive; the purple grapes are as big as plums, and the bunches weigh twelve pounds. Here also the fig-tree yields her fruit throughout the year, ripening every month. The Jews call Gennesareth the Garden Lake, and if there were any place in Palestine that could recall the lost Paradise, it was this fruitful, beautiful tract, watered with its five streams. At Chammath, about two miles south of Tiberias, are hot springs, of old much used for baths, and half an hour's walk above Tiberias a cold spring of beautiful water bursts out of the mountain side, and pours down to the lake in five or six streams. At Tabigha also are hot springs, that gush streaming down into the blue waters of the lake. Now the neglect of mismanagement of the Turkish Government have led to the devastation of this beautiful corner of the world, and many of the foreign plants once introduced into it have died out, or are disappearing. We can only guess what a garden of delight it must have been in the time of our Lord, when the aqueducts were in working order, and canals carried water to all the gardens and fields.
(S. Baring-Gould, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,
WEB: Now it happened, while the multitude pressed on him and heard the word of God, that he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret.