the Sea of Galilee, or Tiberias: The Sea of Galilee was sometimes called the Sea of Tiberias—after the city on its western shore that was named for Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar. (Joh 6:23) The name Sea of Tiberias occurs here and at Joh 21:1.—See study note on Mt 4:18.
Gennesaret: A small plain measuring about 5 by 2.5 km (3 by 1.5 mi) bordering the NW shore of the Sea of Galilee. At Lu 5:1, the Sea of Galilee is called “the lake of Gennesaret.”
the lake of Gennesaret: Another name for the Sea of Galilee, a freshwater inland lake in northern Israel. (Mt 4:18) It has also been called the Sea of Chinnereth (Nu 34:11) and the Sea of Tiberias. (See study note on Joh 6:1.) It lies on average 210 m (700 ft) below sea level. It is 21 km (13 mi) long from N to S and 12 km (8 mi) wide from E to W, and its greatest depth is about 48 m (160 ft). Gennesaret is the name of a small plain bordering the NW shore of the lake. Some scholars believe that Gennesaret is probably the Greek form for the early Hebrew name Chinnereth.—See study note on Mt 14:34 and App. A7, Map 3B, “Activity at the Sea of Galilee.”
on the beach: Along the shore of the Sea of Galilee near Capernaum, there is a spot that forms a natural amphitheater. The good acoustic properties of this location would have allowed a large crowd to hear Jesus speak to them from a boat.
teaching the crowds from the boat: See study note on Mt 13:2.
caught: Lit., “enclosed,” as in a net.
a man full of leprosy: The leprosy referred to in the Bible was a serious skin disease, but it was not restricted to the disease known by that name today. Anyone diagnosed with leprosy became an outcast from society until he was cured. (Le 13:2, ftn., 45, 46; see Glossary, “Leprosy; Leper.”) When the Gospel writers Matthew and Mark describe the same incident, they simply call the man “a leper.” (Mt 8:2; Mr 1:40) But the physician Luke recognized that there are different stages of the condition. (Col 4:14) In this case, Luke describes the man as being “full of leprosy,” evidently referring to an advanced stage of the disease.—See study note on Lu 4:38, where Luke marks the degree of another illness.
suffering with a high fever: Matthew and Mark describe Peter’s mother-in-law as “lying down and sick with fever.” (Mt 8:14; Mr 1:30) Only Luke, apparently because he was a physician, draws attention to the seriousness of her condition, classifying it as “a high fever.”—See “Introduction to Luke.”
he touched him: The Mosaic Law required that lepers be quarantined to protect others from contamination. (Le 13:45, 46; Nu 5:1-4) However, Jewish religious leaders imposed additional rules. For example, no one was to come within four cubits, that is, about 1.8 m (6 ft) of a leper, but on windy days, the distance was 100 cubits, that is, about 45 m (150 ft). Such rules led to heartless treatment of lepers. Tradition speaks favorably of a rabbi who hid from lepers and of another who threw stones at them to keep them at a distance. By contrast, Jesus was so deeply moved by the leper’s plight that he did what other Jews would consider unthinkable—he touched the man. He did so even though he could have cured the leper with just a word.—Mt 8:5-13.
I want to: Jesus not only acknowledged the request but expressed a strong desire to respond to it, showing that he was motivated by more than just a sense of duty.
show yourself to the priest: See study note on Mr 1:44.
show yourself to the priest: In accord with the Mosaic Law, a priest had to verify that a leper was healed. The cured leper had to travel to the temple and bring as an offering the things Moses directed, as outlined at Le 14:2-32.
As he was praying: In his Gospel, Luke gives the matter of prayer special attention. Only Luke mentions a number of Jesus’ prayers. For example, here Luke adds the detail that Jesus was praying at the time of his baptism. Some of the significant words that he used in his prayer on that occasion were apparently later recorded by Paul. (Heb 10:5-9) Other instances in which Luke alone mentions Jesus’ praying are Lu 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28; 11:1; 23:46.
to pray: Only Luke adds this detail about prayer in connection with Jesus’ transfiguration. The next verse also mentions that Jesus “was praying.” (Lu 9:29) Other instances in which Luke alone mentions Jesus’ praying are Lu 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18; 11:1; 23:46.
he often went into the desolate areas to pray: This is one of several instances in which Luke alone mentions that Jesus was praying. (See study notes on Lu 3:21; 9:28.) The forms of the Greek verbs used in this verse convey the idea that prayer was an ongoing habit for Jesus. The Greek word rendered “desolate areas” (eʹre·mos) often refers to a desert or wilderness but can also refer to an “isolated place” in general. (Mt 14:13; Mr 1:45; 6:31; Lu 4:42; 8:29) Jesus was not a recluse; he loved the company of others. (Mt 9:35, 36; Lu 8:1; 19:7-10; Joh 11:5) However, he frequently sought solitude because he loved even more the company of his Father. He wanted to be alone with Jehovah to speak freely with him in prayer.—Mt 14:23; Mr 1:35.
Jehovah’s power: Although Greek manuscripts use the word Kyʹri·os (Lord) here, there are good reasons for using the divine name in the main text. The context clearly shows that Kyʹri·os is used with reference to God, and the Greek word dyʹna·mis, which could be rendered “power” or “strength,” appears in the Septuagint where the Hebrew text refers to Jehovah’s power, or strength, and uses the Tetragrammaton in the context.—Ps 21:1, 13; 93:1; 118:15; see App. C3 introduction; Lu 5:17.
through the tiling: The account about Jesus healing a paralytic man is recorded in the Gospels of Matthew (9:1-8), Mark (2:1-12), and Luke. The three accounts are complementary. Matthew mentions nothing about the man’s being lowered through the roof, while Mark explains that the man’s friends removed the roof and dug an opening through which they lowered the man on a stretcher. Luke says that the man was lowered “through the tiling.” (See study note on Mr 2:4.) The Greek word rendered “tiling” (keʹra·mos) can refer to “clay,” the material that the tiles were made of, but here the plural form of the Greek word seems to refer to “roof tiles.” There is evidence that tiled roofs were used in ancient Israel. While it is not possible to say exactly what kind of roof the accounts of Mark and Luke describe, the individual tiles may have been put on the mud roof or somehow embedded in it. In any case, the accounts clearly convey that the friends of the paralyzed man went to great lengths to put him before Jesus. These acts no doubt showed the depth of their faith, for all three accounts mention that Jesus “saw their faith.”—Lu 5:20.
removed the roof . . . digging an opening: The roofs of many houses in first-century Israel were flat and were accessed by means of stairs or an external ladder. Mark’s account does not specifically state what the roof of this house was made of. But roofs were often constructed of wooden beams covered with branches, reeds, and a layer of earth, which was plastered. Some houses had tiles; according to Luke’s account, the man was lowered “through the tiling.” (See study note on Lu 5:19.) The friends of the paralytic man could easily have made an opening that would allow enough space to lower the stretcher into the crowded room below.
saw their faith: See study note on Mt 9:2.
seeing their faith: The use of the plural pronoun “their” shows that Jesus noted how much faith the entire group had, not just the paralyzed man.
to forgive sins—: The dash indicates that Jesus stopped in mid-sentence and then powerfully proved his point by publicly healing the man.
Son of man: Or “Son of a human.” This expression occurs about 80 times in the Gospels. Jesus used it to refer to himself, evidently emphasizing that he was truly human, born from a woman, and that he was a fitting human counterpart to Adam, having the power to redeem humankind from sin and death. (Ro 5:12, 14-15) The same expression also identified Jesus as the Messiah, or the Christ.—Da 7:13, 14; see Glossary.
Levi: In the parallel account at Mt 9:9, this disciple is called Matthew. When referring to him as a former tax collector, Mark and Luke use the name Levi (Lu 5:27, 29), but they use the name Matthew when mentioning him as one of the apostles (Mr 3:18; Lu 6:15; Ac 1:13). The Scriptures do not reveal whether Levi already had the name Matthew before becoming a disciple of Jesus. Mark is the only Gospel writer to mention that Matthew Levi was the son of Alphaeus.—See study note on Mr 3:18.
tax office: Or “tax collection booth.” This could be a small building or a booth where the tax collector sat and gathered taxes on exports, imports, and goods taken through a country by merchants. Levi, also known as Matthew, worked at a tax office located in or near Capernaum.
Be my follower: The Greek verb used in this exhortation has the basic sense of “to go along behind, come after,” but here it means “to follow someone as a disciple.”
Levi: In the parallel account at Mt 9:9, this disciple is called Matthew. When referring to him as a former tax collector, Mark and Luke use the name Levi (Mr 2:14), but they use the name Matthew when mentioning him as one of the apostles (Mr 3:18; Lu 6:15; Ac 1:13). The Scriptures do not reveal whether Levi already had the name Matthew before becoming a disciple of Jesus.—See study note on Mr 2:14.
tax office: See study note on Mr 2:14.
Be my follower: See study note on Mr 2:14.
tax collectors: Many Jews collected taxes for the Roman authorities. People hated such Jews because they not only collaborated with a resented foreign power but also extorted more than the official tax rate. Tax collectors were generally shunned by fellow Jews, who put them on the same level as sinners and prostitutes.—Mt 11:19; 21:32.
dining: Or “reclining at the table.” To recline with someone at a table indicated close fellowship with that person. Thus, Jews in Jesus’ day would normally never have reclined at the table, or taken a meal, with non-Jews.
fast: That is, abstain from food for a limited time. (See Glossary.) Jesus never commanded his disciples to fast, nor did he direct them to avoid the practice altogether. Under the Mosaic Law, rightly motivated Jews humbled themselves before Jehovah and showed repentance for sin by means of fasts.—1Sa 7:6; 2Ch 20:3.
fast: See study note on Mt 6:16.
friends of the bridegroom: See study note on Mt 9:15.
friends of the bridegroom: Lit., “sons of the bridechamber,” an idiom describing wedding guests but especially the friends of the bridegroom.
wine into . . . wineskins: It was common in Bible times to store wine in animal skins. (1Sa 16:20) Skin bottles were made of the complete hides of domestic animals, such as sheep or goats. Old leather wineskins would become stiff and lose their elasticity. New wineskins, on the other hand, could stretch and swell and thus could withstand the pressure caused by the ongoing process of fermentation of new wine.—See Glossary, “Wineskin.”
wine into . . . wineskins: See study note on Mt 9:17.
nice: Or possibly, “nicer,” according to some manuscripts.
A 1985/1986 drought caused the water level in the Sea of Galilee to fall, exposing part of the hull of an ancient boat that was buried in the mud. The remains of the boat are 8.2 m (27 ft) long and 2.3 m (7.5 ft) wide and have a maximum height of 1.3 m (4.3 ft). Archaeologists say that the boat was built sometime between the first century B.C.E. and the first century C.E. This video animation reconstructs the boat, which is now displayed in a museum in Israel, showing what it may have looked like as it traversed the waters some 2,000 years ago.
The Bible contains many references to fish, fishing, and fishermen in connection with the Sea of Galilee. About 18 species of fish live in the Sea of Galilee. Of that number, only about ten have been sought by fishermen. These ten can be divided into three commercially important groups. One group is the binny, also known as the barbel (Barbus longiceps is shown) (1). Its three species display barbs at the corners of the mouth; hence, its Semitic name biny, meaning “hair.” It feeds on mollusks, snails, and small fish. The longheaded barbel reaches a length of 75 cm (30 in.) and can weigh over 7 kg (15 lb). The second group is called musht (Tilapia galilea is shown) (2), which means “comb” in Arabic, because its five species display a comblike dorsal fin. One variety of musht reaches a length of about 45 cm (18 in.) and can weigh some 2 kg (4.5 lb). The third group is the Kinneret sardine (Acanthobrama terrae sanctae is shown) (3), which resembles a small herring. From ancient times, this fish has been preserved by pickling.
This rendering is based on the remains of a first-century fishing boat found buried in mud near the shores of the Sea of Galilee and on a mosaic discovered in a first-century home in the seaside town of Migdal. This kind of boat may have been rigged with a mast and sail(s) and may have had a crew of five—four oarsmen and one helmsman, who stood on a small deck at the stern. The boat was approximately 8 m (26.5 ft) long and at midpoint was about 2.5 m (8 ft) wide and 1.25 m (4 ft) deep. It seems that it could carry 13 or more men.