Geography of Israel
Dr. Andrew Jackson
Aenon: Located on the west side of the Jordan River in the Wilderness of Judea across from Bethany. Jesus ministered in the region of Aenon during his last journey from Galilee to Jerusalem.
Arimathea: The exact location of Arimathea is uncertain; it is one of the towns northwest of Jerusalem. Joseph of Arimathea was the person who bur- ied Jesus.
Bethany, Mount of Olives: Located on the east slope of the Mount of Olives, about 2 miles east of Jerusalem. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived in Bethany. During Jesus’ ministry in Jerusalem, he would spend the night in Bethany.
Bethany, East of the Jordan River: Located on the east side of the Jordan River, about six miles east of Jericho and five miles north of the Dead Sea. The public ministry of John the Baptist took place in the region of Bethany. It is considered to be the original location of the water-baptism of Jesus. This was also the region where the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land (Joshua 2).
Bethlehem: Located five miles south-southwest of Jerusalem. It was the birthplace of King David and Jesus.
Bethphage: Located near the summit of the Mount of Olives, less than a mile east of Jerusalem.
Bethsaida: Located on the northeast coast of Lake Galilee. It was the origi- nal hometown of Peter, Andrew. and Philip before they moved to Capernaum on the northwest coast of Lake Galilee.
Bethsaida Plain: A fertile area located along the northeast coast of Lake Galilee. It was about five square miles. Jesus fed the 5,000 on the Bethsaida Plain.
Cana: Located about eight miles north of Nazareth. Jesus turned the water into wine in Cana.
Capernaum: Located on the northwest coast of Lake Galilee, about two miles west of the upper Jordan River. Today at the excavated site you can visit a large limestone synagogue that dates from the late 100s to 200s. It was built on top of the synagogue where Jesus taught. The family house of Peter is lo- cated about 100 feet from the synagogue on the main street. Capernaum was the home base of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee.
Caesarea Philippi: Primarily a non-Jewish territory located about 25 miles north of Lake Galilee near Mount Hermon. King Herod the Great built a white marble temple to the god Pan in honor of Caesar Augustus. Later, Herod Philip rebuilt the town of Panion to become the capital of his territo- ry. He renamed Panion Caesarea Philippi after Caesar Augustus and himself. It was in Caesarea Philippi that Peter declared that Jesus was the Messiah.
Decapolis Region: The southeast region of Lake Galilee where a league of ten free Greek cities existed. Jesus fed the 4,000 in the region of the Decapolis.
Ephraim: Located about 15 miles north of Jerusalem. Jesus traveled to Ephraim during his last journey from Galilee to Jerusalem.
Emmaus: Probably Nicopolis located about 20 miles west of Jerusalem. Jesus appeared to two of his disciples in Emmaus after his resurrection.
Fortress of Machaerus: Located in the region of Perea on the east side of the Dead Sea in the modern nation of Jordan. This is where John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded.
Galilee Region: Galilee was about 45 miles north-south and 25 miles east- west, with a population of about 300,000 living in about 200 villages and towns. A majority of Jesus public ministry was in the region of Galilee.
Gaulanitis Region: Located north and east from the northeast coast of Lake Galilee. It was governed by Herod Philip. Caesarea Philippi was located in the region of the Gaulanitis.
Gennesaret Plain: A crescent-shaped fertile plain located along the northwest coast of Lake Galilee between Tiberias and Capernaum. It is about five miles long and two miles wide.
Geresenes (Gaderenes) Region: The southeast territory of Lake Galilee near the town of Gerasa (modern Kursi). It was likely near Gerasa that Jesus delivered a man from a legion of demons.
Gethsemane: A cultivated area located near the bottom of the west slope of the Mount of Olives opposite the Temple Mount. In Hebrew, Gethsemane means “oil-press,” for olive oil was made there. Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane.
Garden Tomb: The traditional site of Jesus’ burial. However, this tomb was created in the 700s BC and couldn’t have been the new tomb of Jesus.
Gordon’s Calvary: The traditional site of Jesus’ crucifixion. Gordon’s Hill is a rocky hill located near the “Garden Tomb” just north of Jerusalem’s old city. It was probably not a hill at the time of Jesus, for it is the product of modern quarrying operations. Because Golgotha was called the “Place of the Skull,” people claim that one can see the shape of a human skull in the cliff face of Gordon’s Hill. However, it is unlikely that it was called the Place of the Skull based on appearance.
Hills West of Lake Galilee: Throughout his ministry, Jesus often with- drew from the crowds of people in order to spend time in prayer along the ridge of hills west of the coast of Lake Galilee. It was here that Jesus taught the Beatitudes, Sermon on the Mount, and gave the great commission to his apostles.
Idumea Region (Edomites): An ancient region between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba, bordering the land of ancient Israel. The kingdom of Edom was located in the southern area of the modern nation of Jordan. The Edomites later migrated into the southern Negev region of the Kingdom of Judah. King Herod the Great was an Edomite.
Jericho: Located near the Jordan River in the Wilderness of Judea. Jesus ministered in Jericho on his last journey from Galilee to Jerusalem.
Jericho-Jerusalem Road: The winding road from Jericho to Jerusalem was about 18 miles long and ascended about 3,000 feet through the dry de- sert of Judea.
Jerusalem: Located on the Judaea mountains in central Israel. The Old City of Jerusalem is surrounded on three sides by steep valleys: The Hinnom on the south and west, and the Kidron on the east. Today the walled Old City of Jerusalem is divided into the Christian Quarter, Muslim Quarter, Jewish Quarter and Armenian Quarter.
Jordan River: Originating at Mount Hermon, the Jordan River is about 156 miles long. It flows north-south through the Lake Galilee and down the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea. Today it is the border between Israel and the modern nation of Jordan.
Judea Region: Judea gets its name from the tribe of Judah that was located in southern Israel. The core of Judea was the upper hill country that extend- ed from Bethel in the north to Beersheba in the south.
Lake Galilee: Lake Galilee is heart-shaped and freshwater. It is about 700 hundred feet below sea level, and is 13 miles long and 7 miles wide. Lake Galilee has high hills on its west and east sides. Because Lake Galilee was lo- cated in a geographical bowl, it experienced strong downdrafts and sudden windstorms.
Magdala (Port of Dalmanutha): Magdala is the hometown of Mary Magdalene. It was located about six miles south of Capernaum on the Plain of Gennesaret. Dalmanutha was possibly the port of Magdala.
Mount Gerizim: Mount Gerizim forms the south side of the valley in which Nablus (Old Testament Shechem) is located, while the north side of the valley is Mount Ebal. Mount Gerizim is known as the mountain of the Samaritans, and it remains sacred to Samaritans today.Mount Hermon: A mountain cluster with its summit straddling the border between the mod- ern nations of Syria and Lebanon. The transfiguration of Jesus probably took place on the lower hills of Mount Hermon.
Mount of Olives: A mountain ridge located just east of Jerusalem and is separated by the Kidron Valley. The Kidron Valley served as the eastern bor- der of Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives was technically not a part of Jerusalem proper.
Nain: Located six miles southeast of Nazareth. Jesus raised a man from the dead in Nain.
Nazareth: Located about 12 miles southwest of Lake Galilee; it was a small village with a population of about 500 to 1000 people. Nazareth was Jesus’ hometown.
Palace of High Priest Caiaphas: High Priests Annas and his son-in- law Caiaphas probably lived in different wings of the same palace that had a common courtyard. The traditional site of the palace of Annas and Caiaphas is the Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu located on eastern slope of Mount Zion. The term “gallicantu” means Rooster’s Crow in Latin, signifying Peter’s three denials of Jesus. The Jewish trial of Jesus took place at the palace of Caiaphas.
Palace of King Herod the Great: Located at the northwest corner of the city walls of Jerusalem, near the Tower of David and the Jaffa Gate. The Roman trial of Jesus took place in Herod’s palace.
Place of the Skull (Golgotha, Calvary): The location of Jesus’ cruci- fixion was outside Jerusalem’s city walls. It was named the ‘Place of the Skull’ because it was a place of crucifixion, with skulls and bones scattered around the area. The words Golgotha and Calvary mean “skull,” The Place of the Skull was located near a major road, since crucifixion was intended to be a public spectacle. The Place of the Skull was probably located within the area now occupied by the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. This area was outside the walls of Jerusalem during the time of Jesus.
Perea Region: Perea was primarily a Jewish region. It occupied the east- ern side of the Jordan River Valley, from about one third the way down from Lake Galilee to about one third the way down the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. Perea was governed by Herod Antipas and is today in the modern nation of Jordan. Jesus ministered throughout Perea during his last journey from Galilee to Jerusalem.
Pool of Bethesda: A large two-pool complex near the Sheep Gate next to the modern Church of Saint Anne in the Muslim Quarter of Old Jerusalem. Jesus healed a blind man by having him wash his eyes in the Pool of Bethesda.
Samaria: The central region of the land of Israel, between Galilee in the north and Judea in the south; with the Mediterranean Sea on the west and the Jordan River on the east. Samaria extended about 40 miles from north to south and 35 miles from east to west.
Sychar: Identified with the modern village of Askar on the slope of Mount Ebal. Located about two miles northeast from Nablus (Shechem in the Old Testament). Jesus ministered to the Samaritan woman in Sychar.
Syria Region: A non-Jewish region north of Galilee, between Damascus and the Mediterranean Sea.
Tabgha (Seven Springs): On the northwest coast of Lake Galilee, the cove of Tabgha had warm mineral springs that flowed into Lake Galilee. These warm springs attracted schools of fish. This cove was a favorite fishing area during the time of Jesus. It was probably at the cove of Tabgha that Jesus called the fishermen Peter, Andrew, James, and John, and where Jesus met with his apostles after his resurrection.
Temple: Israel’s King Solomon built the first Jerusalem temple about 950 BC on the traditional site of Mount Moriah. Solomon’s temple stood for about 360 years until the Babylonians destroyed it and took most of the Jews into exile. Fifty years later the Jews returned from Babylon and rebuilt the temple in 515 BC. King Herod the Great rebuilt and expanded the temple complex. Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Romans under Emperor Titus in AD 70. The temple has never been rebuilt again.
Temple Mount (Western or Wailing Wall): The Temple Mount is the massive masonry platform occupying the south-east corner of Jerusalem’s Old City. It was constructed by King Herod the Great. Today the Temple Mount is under Muslim control, so non-Muslims have limited access. The Mount of Olives overlooks the Temple Mount from the east. On the Temple Mount to- day is the Islamic monument of the Dome of the Rock built in AD 691, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque built in the late AD 700s. Known as the “Wailing Wall,” the Western Wall of the Temple Mount was the retaining limestone wall of the temple complex. Because the Temple Mount is today under Muslim con- trol, the western wall is a place of prayer for the Jewish people.
Tiberias: Located on the western shore of Lake Galilee, about 10 miles south of Capernaum. Herod Antipas governed the regions of Galilee and Perea. He built his Galilean capital city of Tiberias about AD 18 and named it after the Roman Emperor Tiberius.
Tomb of Jesus: Probably located in the area occupied today by the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Christian quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. There are numerous first-century rock-cut tombs in the area. This area was outside the walls of Jerusalem during the time of Jesus.
Tyre and Sidon: Non-Jewish cities located in northwest Phoenicia, a re- gion that bordered Galilee to the west along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. During his Galilean ministry, Jesus would leave Galilee and minister in the region of Tyre and Sidon.
Upper Room: The location of the Passover meal and the Last Supper was an upper guest room in a private home in Jerusalem. The guest room was reached by an outside stairway. This upper guest room became known as the “Upper Room.” Based on the early chapters of the book of Acts, the apostles used the Upper Room as a temporary residence or regular gathering place. Since the AD 300s, the traditional site of the Upper Room has been identi- fied with the room located in the compound of David’s tomb. It is located in the southern part of the Old City of Jerusalem on Mount Zion.
Wilderness of Judea: The desert region located east of Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley, measuring about 75 miles north-south and about 10 miles east- west. The public ministry of John the Baptist, and Jesus’ temptation after his water-baptism, took place in the Wilderness of Judea.