as et-Tell, Beth-Saida, Bethsaida Julia, Julia, Julias, Julias-Bethsaida
Plain of Bethsaida
northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee is a fertile plain where the
feeding of the 5,000 likely took place. Israeli maps and
excavators currently locate the New Testament city of Bethsaida at an
ancient ruin known as "et-Tell." The excavation team, headed by
Rami Arav, is insistent that this site be identified with ancient
Bethsaida. Others suggest that Bethsaida may be better located at
el-Araj near the lakeshore.
There are many problems with the identification of et-Tell with
Distance from the
Sea of Galilee
Elevation of the
site, about 20 feet (7 m) above the level of the lake in ancient times
Lack of ancient
remains from the 1st century A.D., including significant pottery and
Lack of buildings
from the New Testament period. After nearly 20 years of digging,
excavators have identified only one Roman period house and another
building they identify as a Roman temple. This latter
identification is dubious.
In short, there is little to commend
this site as being the Bethsaida mentioned by Josephus and the Bible.
For more of the excavators' perspective, see the links below. For
more evidence against this identification, see Rainey and Notley,
The Sacred Bridge, pp. 356-59.
House of the Fisherman
The most impressive remains at this site are the Iron Age gate and two
large Hellenistic houses. The House of the Fisherman measures
4,300 sq. feet, and is believed to be a fisherman's home based on the discovery of two
types of lead net weights, a round lead weight of the so-called musket
type, and a long,
crooked needle. Among
the coins discovered in the house were two silver didrachmae of
House of Winemaker
square feet) included an undisturbed wine cellar with four complete
Hellenistic jars. In
addition, a gold earring with the picture of an animal was found, as
well as numerous examples of expensive imported vessels. A
hook and some anchors were found in the house, as were three iron
Feeding of the 5,000
The feeding of the 5,000 most likely took place on the Plain of
Bethsaida. Mark 6:30 says the feeding took place at a "solitary place"
and verse 39 says that the people sat down on "the green grass." After
this, however, Jesus made his disciples "go over to Bethsaida." About 5
square miles (8 sq km) in area, the Plain of Bethsaida is very spacious
and is crisscrossed by streams, aqueducts and irrigation canals. There
are many flat hills on which it would be possible to seat large numbers
At BiblePlaces.com, see the related sites of Sea
of Galilee, Capernaum, Chorazin,
Cove of the Sower, Mt.
of Beatitudes, and Tabgha.
Excavations Project (The Consortium of the Bethsaida
Excavations Project-CBEP) The official site. Offers concise
descriptions of the history and location of the site as well as excellent
photographs and descriptions of artifacts found during excavation.
Story of Bethsaida (University of Nebraska, Omaha) Relays
the story of the search for, and the discovery of the historical city,
highlighting the archaeological importance of the discoveries made there.
– Location Profile (Walking
in Their Sandals) Gives easy-to-read information on the location,
biblical significance, etc. Features links to photographs and online
(Jewish Virtual Library) Highlights Bethsaida's history during the
biblical period and the Hellenistic/Roman periods.
Crossing - Bethsaida (Gems in Israel) Interesting
and informative, this article harmonizes the biblical and
His Own) Brief encyclopedia-type article with internal links to
articles on pertinent people and places.
and Bethsaida of Galilee (Interface International)
An article about whether there are two sites known as Bethsaida.
An Ancient Fishing Village on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (Israel
MFA) Contains sections
highlighting the Biblical Period and the Hellenistic/Roman Periods in the
history of the site.
Bethsaida Finally Been Found? (JerusalemPerspective) Excellent and lengthy article
by Mendel Nun detailing the history of the debate
concerning Bethsaida's location. Requires membership.
See also Nun's article,
The Desert of Bethsaida.