Tabgha – Israel

Tabgha is an Arabic word ultimately derived from the Greek “heptapegon” meaning “seven springs.” This area is situated on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Scriptural Significance

Tabgha is the traditionally accepted location where the fourth resurrection appearance of the Lord took place (John 21:1-24).

It is also considered the place where the Lord fed 5,000 men (along with an untold number of women and children) by multiplying the loaves and fishes (Mark 6:30-46).

Finally, a natural amphitheater on the heights leading up from the Sea provides excellent acoustics – as such, it is believed the likely spot where the Lord gave His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7).

Along the shore is a Franciscan church known as the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter. Built in 1933, this incorporates parts of an earlier 4th century church. At the base of its walls, opposite the main altar, the foundation of the 4th century structure can be seen.

A limestone rock sits in front of the present altar. This is referred to as “Mensa Christi”, Latin for “table of Christ”. According to tradition this is the spot where Jesus is said to have laid out breakfast for the disciples, and told Peter to “Feed my sheep” after the miraculous catching of fish.

This church may also have as good acoustics as any building in all of Israel.

The earliest building at Tabgha however was on the site of the Church of the Multiplication. Here, Joseph of Tiberias built a small chapel around 350AD. Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin, disciple of Hillel II, and believer in the Lord Jesus as Messiah. Following his conversion, Emperor Constantine gave him permission to build churches in the Galilee.

A larger chapel was later built here in the 480’s Martyrius of Jerusalem. Martyrius was Egyptian by origin, and this may be the reason why the floor of his chapel was covered with mosaics related to the Nile.

Muslim invaders later destroyed the Church in the 7th Century. It wasn’t until 1932 that the site began to be excavated.

German Benedictines built this new structure and incorporated as many original mosaics as could be recovered from the site.

Unfortunately, the site was set ablaze by Jewish vandals in 2015. The devastation was complete.

Just down the back slope from the Church of the Multiplication, is a natural acoustical phenomenon. Now used for the planting of banana trees, the hill slope is regarded as the most likely location for where the Sermon on the Mount was given by the Lord.