Tiberias (Tverya in Hebrew) is situated on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was built in 20 CE by Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, and became the capital of his realm in the Galilee. The city was named Tiberias in honor of the Roman Emperor Tiberius.
Tiberias played an important role in Jewish history. After the Bar Kochba Revolt in 132-135 CE, when the Jews were expelled from Jerusalem, Tiberias and its neighboring towns became the major centers of Jewish culture. The Sanhedrin, the High Court of Israel during the Second Temple period, relocated to Tiberias, which was its final convening place before its disbandment. In the Mishnaic and Talmudic period, Tiberias was an important spiritual center; the compilation of the Mishna was completed there in 200 CE by Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Nasi.
Under Byzantine and Arab rule in the early Middle Ages, Tiberias was devastated by wars and earthquakes. Despite this decline, a community of Masoretic Jewish scholars flourished in the city from the 8th-10th centuries. These scholars created a systematic written form for the vocalization of ancient Hebrew, which is still used today and is known as Tiberian Hebrew. This written form added dot/dash symbols, called nequddot, for vowels and cantillation signs for chanting to the Hebrew letters.
During the Crusades, Tiberias was captured and made capital of the Galilee, but Saladin retook the city for the Muslim Empire in 1187. Around this time the city suffered a decline until it was revived by the Ottoman Turks. After the city was built up over a period of about a century, it was devastated by an earthquake in 1837.
In the 18th and 19th centuries Tiberias received an influx of rabbis who established the city as a center for Jewish learning. During this time Tiberias became one of the four Jewish holy cities, along with Jerusalem, Hebron, and Safed (Tzfat).
The early Zionist pioneers established some of Israel’s first kibbutzim at the turn of the 20th century in the Tiberias area. After the establishment of the state, newcomers flocked to the city, and the population quadrupled. Today, it is home to about 30,000 people and one of Israel‘s most popular resorts. Tiberias‘ official symbol (established 1957) represents the Sea of Galilee, the Tiberias hot springs, the ancients city.
Just have to tell you what a fabulous guide Gila is. Everyone on the trip has been remarking about how good she is. She is SO knowledgeable about history, dates, etc. Give her a period of time and she rattles off the exact year and what happened when and where. She is definitely a “keeper”!! Unanimous opinion of all of us!
We had one rainy day in Tiberius area – first day – where Jackie Haynes led us on a brief tour of her dig and then other sites that Gila took us to. Aside from that the weather has been magnificent! We are so enjoying this trip. When I first looked at the itinerary I said “been there, done that”. But that’s not true. Maybe “been there” is but her guiding and interpretations and other sites have all been different. Plus, in the twenty years since I’ve been here there have been lots of changes, i.e. the excavated tunnel at the Western Wall, that I have not seen. Wonderful trip. Last few days now in Tel Aviv and then home. I’ll miss Israel. Maybe I’ll have to come back soon!! LOL!!
Love to all……. Margie
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