Bethsaida Excavations Reveal Path of the Apostles

Bible and archaeology news

A well-stocked wine cellar at Bethsaida dates to the Hellenistic era (332–37 B.C.E.)—a time of regrowth for Bethsaida thanks to its strategic location between the Seleucid and Ptolemaic empires.

Archaeologists have uncovered a paved road from the Roman era occupation at Bethsaida, a New Testament site on the northeastern short of the Sea of Galilee. Discovered at a site recorded as the birthplace of at least three of the 12 apostles and the place where Jesus fed the multitude (Luke 9:10–17) and restored sight to a blind man (Mark 8:22–26), the Hellenistic-Roman road would have been traveled frequently by the apostles (and Bethsaida residents) Philip, Peter and Andrew.

While excavations at the Roman-period site yielded impressive remains, the site’s importance is not limited to its relationship with the New Testament. The Bethsaida excavations, under the direction of University of Nebraska at Omaha Professor Rami Arav, have also uncovered the remains of an Iron Age city buried beneath the Hellenistic-Roman town, which is likely to have been the capital of the kingdom of Geshur, a kingdom documented in the Bronze Age Amarna letters that played a central role in the Hebrew Bible. After a revival in the Hellenistic period, Bethsaida played a central role in Jesus’ Galilean ministry.

BAS Library Members Read Rami Arav, Richard A. Freund and John F. Shroder’s “Bethsaida Rediscovered” as it appeared in the January/February 2000 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, including the sidebars “Bethsaida in the New Testament” and “The Case for el-Araj.”

Learn more about Bethsaida in Bible History Daily:

Life as an Archaeology Volunteer at Bethsaida, Israel

Judaea Capta Coin Uncovered in Bethsaida Excavations

Bethsaida Excavations Reveal Possible Royal Escape Tunnel


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