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.
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.”
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.
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) In connection with Lu 5:17, scholars have noted that the Greek definite article was not included before Kyʹri·os where it would be expected according to standard grammatical usage, making Kyʹri·os tantamount to a proper name. This is noteworthy because even though the earliest copies of the Septuagint contained the divine name, when later copies of the Septuagint replaced the divine name with Kyʹri·os, the definite article was in a similar way often not included where standard grammatical usage would call for it. This unexpected absence of the definite article before Kyʹri·os is another indication that Kyʹri·os is used as a substitute for the divine name. So in view of the Hebrew Scripture background and the absence of the Greek definite article, the divine name is used in the main text.—See App. C.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
dining: See study note on Mr 2:15.
friends of the bridegroom: Lit., “sons of the bridechamber,” an idiom describing wedding guests but especially the friends of the bridegroom.
friends of the bridegroom: See study note on Mt 9:15.
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.