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Site Believed to be Where Jesus Fed the 5000 Flooded by Heavy Rain

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JERUSALEM, Israel - The site believed to be where Jesus fed the 5,000 on the banks of the Sea of Galilee is flooded.

Bethsaida, known today by its Arabic name of el-Araj, is the ruins of what archaeologists think is the village where Jesus and his disciples may have lived. The name Bethsaida translates as “house of fishing/hunting."

Unusually heavy rains in Israel have left much of the site submerged underwater. 

“Obviously I knew the Kinneret [Sea of Galilee] had risen, but I didn’t know how its rise would affect the excavation,”  Kinneret College Prof. Mordechai Aviam told Israeli media. “I don’t remember a thing like this in the last 30 years, though I don’t schlep over every year to check it. Even if it rains in April and May [and it did], by July or August the site dries out. But it never occurred to me that the lagoon would encompass the whole site of el-Araj.”

Instead of archaeologists working in the site, catfish are swimming among the remains.

Aviam believes the flooding will not damage the ancient structures below but excavators will have to wait until the water drains before they can restart their work.

“The lake water rises and falls over the ages, and no damage has been caused,” he explained. “We conserved the mosaic floor of the church and the water standing on it won’t harm it. But even if the water level recedes by July, we won’t be able to continue excavation work because of the mud.”

Archaeologists identified a structure at the site as the Church of the Apostles, which according to Christian tradition, was built over the homes of disciples, Peter and Andrew.

El-Araj is one of at least two locations experts believe biblical Bethsaida could be, but Aviam believes el-Araj is the best contender thanks to the testimony of the first-century Jewish historian Josephus Flavius.

Josephus said the small fishing village in the Galilee was upgraded into a large Roman settlement.

Aviam and his team have uncovered Roman houses and other structures that seem to support Josephus’ account.

Excavators plan on continue excavating el-Araj but for now, they’ll have to wait until the water subsides. 

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About The Author


Emily Jones is a multi-media journalist for CBN News in Jerusalem. Before she moved to the Middle East in 2019, she spent years regularly traveling to the region to study the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, meet with government officials, and raise awareness about Christian persecution. During her college years, Emily served as president of Regent University's Christians United for Israel chapter and spoke alongside world leaders at numerous conferences and events. She is an active member of the Philos Project, an organization that seeks to promote positive Christian engagement with the Middle