Tabgha (Heptapegon) – a good place for fishing

Mendel Nun describes Tabgha as “The Fishermen’s Suburb of Capernaum.” Tabgha is a corrupted form of the name Heptapegon which means “seven springs.” Why would someone who lived at Capernaum, like Simon Peter and Andrew (Matthew 4:13-20), think of going west 1½ miles to fish?

Nun explains the importance of Tabgha for fishing.

The springs of Tabgha have great economic importance. In the winter, the warm water draws schools of warmth-loving musht, tropical in origin, to the vicinity. The waters of the springs were once used to operate several flour mills. The Capernaum fishermen stayed in this area during winter and early spring, making Tabgha an important industrial suburb of Capernaum. A small harbour which served the millers and fishermen was found in the nineteen seventies. (The Sea of Galilee and Its Fishermen in the New Testament, 14).

Just a few yards west of the Church of the Primacy, which we showed in the previous post, one of the seven warm springs was flowing freely during our 1992 visit to the site. When the water is high one would not notice this spring.

One of the seven springs at Heptapegon (Tabgha). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

One of the seven springs at Heptapegon (Tabgha). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

We are not told where Peter and Andrew were fishing when Jesus called them, but Tabgha certainly would be a good place.

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon (called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen). (Matthew 4:18 NET)

As he went along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen). (Mark 1:16 NET)

And this would be a good place for the events of John 21, or the earlier account recorded in Luke 5:1-11. Rousseau and Arav (Jesus and His World, 97) conflate these two accounts into one and conclude that John “was written by a different author or editor.” A reading of both texts shows that the one in Luke is at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus when He calls the disciples, and the one is John is at the close of His earthly ministry after His resurrection (21:14).

It would be common for fishermen to stand on the shore or in the edge of the water and cast a net into the warm water where the fish gathered.

Our final photo this time is an aerial view showing the north shore of the Sea of Galilee from Tabgha on the right (west) to the entrance to Capernaum on the left (east). The traditional Mount of Beatitudes is on the hill above. The distance from the entry to Capernaum to Tabgha is 1.25 mile on a straight line. Add another .4 mile to reach the archaeological site of Capernaum.

North shore of the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum to Tabgha. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

North shore of the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum to Tabgha. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

 

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