by: Rebecca J. Brimmer, Bridges for Peace
Bible readers all know about the Sea of Galilee. In modern Hebrew it is called the Kinneret because it has the shape of a harp (kinnor). Much of Jesus’ (Yeshua’s) ministry happened around her shores. We read of Jesus walking on the water (Matt. 14:22–33), calming the sea (Mark 4:35–41), advising the disciples how to fish (Luke 5:4–8, John 21:6) and cooking breakfast on the shore (John 21:9–10). It is a favorite among Christian visitors.
The Sea of Galilee is also Israel’s largest freshwater lake. When full, it stands at 208.8 meters [685 ft] below sea level. We and all of Israel watched as it shrunk year after year in the drought-stricken area. Israel has a rainy season from November to March. Virtually no rain is received after April (Passover time) and nothing until after the Feast of Tabernacles (October). Bible readers may recall the phrase former and latter rain. Former rain refers to precipitation before the Feast of Tabernacles and latter rain to showers after Passover—times in which rainfall is not anticipated and thus viewed as an unexpected, miraculous blessing from God. In a land on the verge of the desert, every drop of rain is celebrated.
Years of inadequate rainfall brought the Sea of Galilee to nearly desperate lows. This current rainy season is the second in a row in which Israel has received abundant rainfall. The hills are green and wildflowers grow in abundance. Israelis are flocking north on the weekends to see for themselves the wonder of a full Sea of Galilee. This year’s plentiful rainfall and melting snow from Mount Hermon in northern Israel will most likely result in the Kinneret becoming completely full by the end of the rainy season.
According to Edgar Asher, “In 1964 the Degania Dam on the south of the Kinneret was opened for the first time to allow surplus water to flow into the Jordan River. The idea was to revive the natural ecology of the river that had been affected by sewage and brackish water being allowed to go into the river. Since that time the dam has infrequently been opened, as the Kinneret has not been full enough to allow this runoff.”
That is about to change. The Degania Dam is expected to be opened again this year. This will help reinvigorate the Jordan River. Since the Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea (the Bible calls it the Salt Sea), that body of water will also receive important inflow. The Dead Sea has been steadily dropping for quite a number of years.
“You visit the earth and water it; You greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; You provide their grain, for so You have prepared it” (Ps. 65:9)
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