Biblical village of Bethsaida where Jesus fed the 5,000, walked on water and helped a blind man to see is finally identified by archaeologists after 32 years of excavations

A Biblical village where Jesus is said to have performed some of his most famous miracles really existed, and today lies in ruins only a mile from the Sea of Galilee, archaeologists believe.
In the Bible, Bethsaida was home to disciples Peter, Andrew and Philip, and was where Jesus purportedly fed the 5,000, walked on water and helped a blind man to see.  
Archaeologists have been working for 32 years to find the lost city, which was eventually cursed to destruction by Jesus because residents failed to repent in spite of his miracles.  
Now professor Rami Arav of the University of Nebraska says he is in no doubt that Et-Tell, in the Golan Heights near the Jordan River estuary, is the location of the biblical village.
A biblical village cursed to destruction by Jesus really existed and today lies in ruins only a mile from the Sea of Galilee, archaeologists believe
A biblical village cursed to destruction by Jesus really existed and today lies in ruins only a mile from the Sea of Galilee, archaeologists believe
Professor Rami Arav thinks the lost city of Bethsaida, where Christ also fed the 5000, is today the excavation site of Et-Tell
Professor Rami Arav thinks the lost city of Bethsaida, where Christ also fed the 5000, is today the excavation site of Et-Tell
The professor also highlights Josephus' description of how Bethsaida was later 'advanced unto the dignity of a city' and renamed Julias, after the wife of Roman emperor Augustus
The professor also highlights Josephus' description of how Bethsaida was later 'advanced unto the dignity of a city' and renamed Julias, after the wife of Roman emperor Augustus
'Ancient sources place several requirements for the identification of Bethsaida,' Aray said,' adding that 'finds in Et-Tell convinced not only me but a group of experts.' 
To argue his case, Dr Arav refers to the Roman historian, Titus Flavius Josephus, who describes the location of Bethsaida in his writings.
'Josephus says that the town was in the 'lower Golan' near the estuary of the Jordan River,' said Dr Arav - the same location as the El-Tell dig site.
'Josephus says that the town was in the 'lower Golan' near the estuary of the Jordan River,' said Dr Arav - the same location as the El-Tell dig site
'Josephus says that the town was in the 'lower Golan' near the estuary of the Jordan River,' said Dr Arav - the same location as the El-Tell dig site
Photo shows a model of Bethsaida city gate by Duane Pieper. A biblical village cursed to destruction by Jesus really existed and today lies in ruins only a mile from the Sea of Galilee, archaeologists believe
Researchers have been working at the site for 32 years and now believe it is safe to say it was the site of the biblical city
At Et-Tell the research team studying the location discovered a temple that was dedicated to Julia, Augustus' wife.
The professor also highlights Josephus' description of how Bethsaida was later 'advanced unto the dignity of a city' and renamed Julias, after the wife of Roman emperor Augustus.
At Et-Tell the research team studying the location discovered a temple that was dedicated to Julia, Augustus' wife.
The name Bethsaida translates as 'house of fishing/hunting' and Dr Arav believes this holds another clue.
He contends that the ruins at Et-Tell were once known as Zer, which could also be transcribed as 'Tzed', a Hebrew word that means both hunting and fishing.
This name, he believes, ultimately morphed into Beit-tzed or Bethsaida.
And though Et-Tell is over a mile from the Sea of Galilee – contrary to the biblical description of Bethsaida as a place accessible by boat – the dig site may have been closer in ancient times.
The transformation, it's argued, can be explained by tectonic movements and changing water levels in the lake.
Dr Arav said: 'Basically you need to know that the Sea of Galilee is right in the middle of the Syro-African rift and is prone to tectonic shifts.'
They researchers also discovered ancient fishing equipment among the ruins of the settlement. 
Jesus was said to have cursed the village, warning it faced worse treatment than Sodom – a city destroyed by God in the Old Testament. 
Although Bethsaida did not meet the calamitous end Jesus foretold, it was ultimately abandoned.
'Fortunately Jesus did not say when the town will be destroyed,' joked Dr Arav.
'So in the 4th century it was abandoned and, without maintenance, the buildings collapsed.'
The professor also threw down the gauntlet to archaeologists who claim the nearby site of El-Araj is the true Bethsaida.
He believes that what they have actually found is a former military camp.
Archaeologists have been working for 32 years to prove that the site of the city cursed to destruction by Jesus once stood at the El-Tell excavation site
Archaeologists have been working for 32 years to prove that the site of the city cursed to destruction by Jesus once stood at the El-Tell excavation site
Though Et-Tell is over a mile from the Sea of Galilee – contrary to the biblical description of Bethsaida as a place accessible by boat – the dig site may have been closer in ancient times
Though Et-Tell is over a mile from the Sea of Galilee – contrary to the biblical description of Bethsaida as a place accessible by boat – the dig site may have been closer in ancient times
'This is an outstanding achievement, but it is not Bethsaida mentioned in the ancient sources,' he said.
'They simply do not meet the prerequisites mentioned above, but they fit perfectly the military camp.
'I would also request that the directors of the dig at El-Araj publish a peer-reviewed article stating their discoveries.
'They failed to do it so far and everything the archaeological community knows about their finds comes from sketchy briefing by journalists in newspapers.
'This is, of course, not enough.'
The dig site at El-Araj flooded earlier this summer, stopping excavations.  
Biblical village of Bethsaida where Jesus fed the 5,000, walked on water and helped a blind man to see is finally identified by archaeologists after 32 years of excavations Biblical village of Bethsaida where Jesus fed the 5,000, walked on water and helped a blind man to see is finally identified by archaeologists after 32 years of excavations Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 07:20 Rating: 5

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