The Sea of Galilee Is a Freshwater Lake and Not a Sea

The city of Tiberias is located on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

The Sea of Galilee is a freshwater lake located in Northern Israel. The lake has also been referred to in the Bible by various other names: the Lake of Gennesaret, Sea of Kinnereth, Sea of Chinneroth, Lake of Tiberias, or sometimes simply as "the lake." The Jordan River is the main inlet into the Sea of Galilee, although there are a variety of mineral springs that feed into the lake. The lake is surrounded on all sides by hills, with Mount Arbel lying to the west, while Golan Heights, which are part of Syria but currently occupied by Israel, lie to the east. The Sea of Galilee is the second lowest-lying lake in the world after the Dead Sea. As well as being its inlet, the Jordan River serves as its outlet, while the lake also loses a lot of water through evaporation. This continual flow of water in and out of the lake is responsible for making the Sea of Galilee a freshwater lake.

Geography of the Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee has a surface area of 166 square kilometers, an average depth of 25.6 meters, and a water volume of about 4 km3. A dispute over the rights to use water from the Sea of Galilee was a contributing factor to the Six Day War in 1967. Israel was opposed to Syria’s Headwater Diversion Plan, which would have reduced the amount of water flowing into the lake, and after its actions to impede this plan led to the war, it captured Golan Heights from Syria. While in the past the lake provided the bulk of drinking water for Israel and Jordan, the Israeli government made efforts to diversify water conversation, especially through the desalinization of salty water bodies. However, because it served as the country's main water source for a long period of time, the lake's water levels have receded to some of the lowest points in history. In fact, the situation has become so bad that there are discussions of exploring the possibility of pumping desalinated water into the lake as a means of restoring the water to its prior level. However, some argue that the lake's receding water levels are not the result of overuse, but rather a direct effect of climate change.


The Sea of Galilee is an important part of Christian tradition, as it was on its shores that Jesus Christ delivered his famous Sermon on the Mount. The lake is also the site where Jesus recruited his first four disciples, calmed the sea, walked on water, and on whose shores he cast demons out of pigs. Throughout history fishing has served as the main economic activity near the Sea of Galilee. Nevertheless, due to overfishing, the Israeli government has demarcated a period every year, from April 15 to August 15, during which no fishing can occur on the lake. Today, the the nearby natural springs have also acquired a religious quality, and flocks of people dip themselves in the springs because of the healing power they are rumored to possess.


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