Tiberias is a very important destination for travelers today. The modern city of Tiberias is located on the western shore of the Sea of Tiberias.
It is said to have been founded by Herod Antipas (A.D. 16), on the site of the ruins of an older city called Rakkath, and to have been thus named by him after the Emperor Tiberius. It is mentioned only three times in the history of our Lord (John 6:1, 23; 21:1).
In 1837 about one-half of the inhabitants perished by an earthquake. The population of the city is now about six thousand, nearly the one-half being Jews. “We do not read that our Lord ever entered this city. The reason of this is probably to be found in the fact that it was practically a heathen city, though standing upon Jewish soil. Herod, its founder, had brought together the arts of Greece, the idolatry of Rome, and the gross lewdness of Asia. There were in it a theatre for the performance of comedies, a forum, a stadium, a palace roofed with gold in imitation of those in Italy, statues of the Roman gods, and busts of the deified emperors. He who was not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel might well hold himself aloof from such scenes as these” (Manning’s Those Holy Fields).
After the fall of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), Tiberias became one of the chief residences of the Jews in Palestine. It was for more than three hundred years their metropolis. From about A.D. 150 the Sanhedrin settled here, and established rabbinical schools, which rose to great celebrity. Here the Jerusalem (or Palestinian) Talmud was compiled about the beginning of the fifth century. To this same rabbinical school also we are indebted for the Masora, a “body of traditions which transmitted the readings of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, and preserved, by means of the vowel-system, the pronunciation of the Hebrew.” In its original form, and in all manuscripts, the Hebrew is written without vowels; hence, when it ceased to be a spoken language, the importance of knowing what vowels to insert between the consonants. This is supplied by the Masora, and hence these vowels are called the “Masoretic vowel-points.”
“TIBERIAS,” Easton’s Bible Dictionary, n.p.
Tiberias, Sea of: called also the Sea of Galilee (q.v.) and of Gennesaret. In the Old Testament it is called the Sea of Chinnereth or Chinneroth. John (John 21:1) is the only evangelist who so designates this lake. His doing so incidentally confirms the opinion that he wrote after the other evangelists, and at a period subsequent to the taking of Jerusalem (A.D. 70). Tiberias had by this time become an important city, having been spared by the Romans, and made the capital of the province when Jerusalem was destroyed. It thus naturally gave its name to the lake.
“TIBERIAS, SEA OF,” Easton’s Bible Dictionary, n.p.
The city also appear in the Flavius Josephus Notes
… that there was now a great Proseucha, or place of prayer, in the city of Tiberias itself, though such Proseucha used to be out of cities, as the synagogues were within them. …
… as we have seen he was (sect. 39), took upon him to appoint a fast at Tiberias, and was obeyed; though indeed it was not out of religion, but knavish policy.
23 The character of this history of Justus of Tiberias, the rival of our Josephus, which is now lost, with its only remaining fragment, are given us by …
—“I have read (says Photius) the chronology of Justus of Tiberias, whose title is this, [The Chronology of] the Kings of Judah, which succeeded one another. This [Justus] came out of the city of Tiberias in Galilee. He begins his history from Moses, and ends it not till the death of Agrippa, the seventh …
… in the fourth year before the Christian era, and Tiberias began, as is well known, Aug. 19, A.D. 14, it is evident that the 37th year of Philip, reckoned from his father’s death, was the 20th of Tiberias, or near the end of A.D. 33 (the very year of our Savior’s death also), or, however, in the beginning …
HOW JOPPA WAS TAKEN, AND TIBERIAS DELIVERED UP
“EERDMANS DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE,” Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, vii.
“After these things Jesus went away to the other side of the sea of Galilee — that is, the sea of Tiberias. Some other boats, however, came from Tiberias near to the place where they had taken the bread after the Lord had given praise. After these things Jesus let himself be seen again by the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and it came about in this way.”
(John 6:1, 23; 21:1 BBE)
During the 7th century, St. Willibald saw many churches as well as the synagogue of the Jews in Tiberias. During and after the Crusader periods, the difficulty of visiting the surroundings of the lake in safety led many memories to be concentrated on Tiberias. A well-preserved ancient church from the Crusader period can be found in the city today. The church was restored in 1870 and is the present-day church of St. Peter on the lake shore is dedicated to the bestowal of the primacy: “Tend my sheep” in John 21,16. One of latest words of Jesus before taken to the Heaven.