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English Bible Dictionary

Tiberias

 

A city in the time of Christ, on the Sea of Galilee; first mentioned in the New Testament, (John 6:1,23; 21:1) and then by Josephus, who states that it was built by Herod Antipas, and was named by him in honor of the emperor Tiberius. Tiberias was the capital of Galilee from the time of its origin until the reign of Herod Agrippa II., who changed the seat of power back again to Sepphoris, where it had been before the founding of the new city. Many of the inhabitants were Greeks and Romans, and foreign customs prevailed there: to such an extent as to give offence to the stricter Jews. It is remarkable that the Gospels give us no information that the Saviour who spent so much of his public life in Galilee, ever visited Tiberias. The place is only mentioned in the New Testament in (John 6:23) History: Tiberias has an interesting history apart from its strictly biblical associations. It bore a conspicuous part in the wars between the Jews and the Romans. The Sanhedrin, subsequent to the fall of Jerusalem, after a temporary sojourn at Jamnia and Sepphoris, became fixed there about the middle of the second century, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. Celebrated schools of Jewish learning flourished there through a succession of several centuries. The Mishna was compiled at this place by the great Rabbi Judah Hakkodesh, A.D. 190. The city has been possessed successively by Romans, Persians Arabs and Turks. It contains now, under the Turkish rule, a mixed population of Mohammedans, Jews and Christian, variously estimated at from two to four thousand. Present city: The ancient name has survived in that of the modern Tubarieh, which occupies the original site. Near Tubarieh, about a mile farther south along the shore, are the celebrated warm baths, which the Roman naturalists reckoned among the greatest known curiosities of the world. Tiberias is described by Dr. Thomson as "a filthy place, fearfully hot in summer." It was nearly destroyed in 1837 by an earthquake, by which 800 persons lost their lives.

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