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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
[g pron. hard] (Γεννησαρέτ ), the Greek form of the lake (Luke 5:1) and plain (Matthew 14:34; Mar-k 6:53), invariably found in the N.T. in place of the GENNESAR (Γεννησάρ ) of the Apocrypha (1 Maccabees 11:67), and usually also of Josephus (War, 3:10, 7, 8). In the Talmudical writings and Targums we always find the latter form Hebraized גַּינֵסִר Ginesar', as an equivalent of כַּנֶּרֶת Ki ane'reat or CHINNERETH (Lightfoot, Works, 2:222); from which accordingly it has usually been derived, by an interchange of ג for כ, and the insertion of ס although others derive it from גֵּיַא, a valley, and נֶצֶר shoot or flower, as if i.q. "the vale of flowers" (Jerome, Opp. 7:103, ed. Migne), or from נִּן, a garden, and שִׂר, a prince, as if i.q. "the prince's garden" (Lightfoot, 1:489), or even from Sharon, a fertile vale not far distant (Reland, Palast. pages 193, 259).
1. The town. This is variously named in the O.T. as Cinnereth (or "Chinnereth," Joshua 19:35), where it is assigned to Naphtali. In later times it was called Genassadr (גְּנוּסִר, Megilla, 6, a), and in the Talmudic period one Jonathan ben-Charsa was from there (Tosiphta Kelim, s.f.). At the time of Farchi (beginning of the 14th century) it as still in existence doubtless the ruins Gansur, still found at the present day one hour north- west of Tubariyeh, according to Fü rst (Heb. Lex. page 676, a), although no modern map lays it down. (See CINNERETH).
2. The district (N.T. γῆ, land), named from its basin-like form (like the body of a כַּנּוֹר or lyre). This was a small region of Galilee, on the western shore of the lake, visited by Christ on his way (southward along the lake) to Capernaum (Matthew 14:35-36). It is described by Josephus (War, 3:10, 8) about four miles in length and three in breadth, and as distinguished for its fertility and beauty. The Talmud also (Berak. 44) describes the luxuriant growth of this low-lying district (בַּקְעָה ) under the same name (גְּנֵסֶרֶת ) Dr. Robinson thus describes it (Bib. Res. 3:282 sq.): "The plain upon which we now entered from Medjel is at first called Ard el-Medjel, but further on takes the name of el-Ghuweir, 'Little Ghor,' which strictly, perhaps, includes the whole. It is exceedingly fertile and weml watered; the soil, on the southern part at least is a rich black mold, which in the vicinity of Medjel is almost a marsh. Its fertility, indeed, can hardly be exceeded; all kinds of grain and vegetables a reproduced in abundance, including rice in the moister parts, while the natural productions, as at Tiberias and Jericho, are those of a more southern latitude. Indeed, in beauty, fertility, and climate, the whole tract answers well enough to the glowing though exaggerated description of Josephus. Among other productions, he speaks here also of walnut-trees, but we did not note whether any now exist." It is a crescent-shaped plain, about three miles long and two broad, shut in by steep, rugged hills. Only a few patches of it are cultivated, its melons and cucumbers being the first and best in market, owing to its deep depression. The rest is covered with tangled thickets of lotus-trees, oleandersn, dwarf palms, and gigantic thistles and brambles. (See also Wilsoam, Lands of Bible, 2:136 sq.; Thomson, Land and Book, 1:535; Stanley, Palestine, page 368.) In this identification of the plain of Gennesaret with the one in question, Mr. De Saulcy coincides (Narrative, 2:356-8; see also Hackett's Illustra. page 320). (See CAPERNAUM).
3. The Lake (λίμνη , N.T. and Josephus), or water (ὕδωρ, 1 Maccabees 11:67; ὔδατα Γεννησάρα , Joseph. Ant. 13:5, 7), or sea (יָם, O.T.). Josephus calls it Gennesaritis (Γεννησαρῖτις, Ant. 18:2, 1), and this seems to have been its common name at the commencement of our era (Strab. 16, page 755; Plin. 5:16; Ptol. 5:15). At its north-western angle was a beautiful and fertile plain (Matthew 14:34), from which the name of the lake was taken (Josephus, War, 3:10, 7). The lake is also called in the N.T. "Sea of Galilee," from the province of Galileo which bordered on its western side (Matthew 4:18; Mark 7:31; John 6:1); and "Sea of Tibearias," from the celebrated city (John 6:1; so also Barhebr. Chron. page 400; the Talmud, Midrash Kohel. fol. 102, 1; Pausanias, λίμνη Τιβερίς, 5:7, 3; Eusebius, λίμνη Τιβεριάς, Osnom. s.v. Σαρών; see also Cyar. ad Jes. 1:5). It is a curious fact that all the numerous names given to this lake were taken from places on its western side. Its modern name is likewise Bahr Tubarî yeh.
In Joshua 11:2," the plains south of Chinneroth" are mentioned. It is the sea and not the city that is here referred to (comp. Deuteronomy 3:17; Joshua 12:3), and "the plains" are those along the banks of the Jordan. Most of our Lord's public life was spent in the environs of the Sea of Gensnesaret. On its shores stood Capernaum, "his own city" (Matthew 4:13); on its shore he called his first disciples from their occupation as fishermen (Luke 5:1-11); and near its shores he spoke many of his parables and performed mnaiey of his miracles. This resgion was then the most densely peopled in all Palestine. No less than nine cities stood on the very shores of the lake, while numerous large villages dotted the plains and hill-sides around (Porter, Handbook page 424).
A "mournful and solitary silence" nose reigns along the shores of the Sea of Gennnsaret, which were in former ages studded with great cities, and resounded with the fdin of an active and industrious people. Seven out of the nine cities above referred to are now uninhabited ruins; one, Magdala, is occupied by half a dozen mud hovels; and Tiberias alne retains a wretched remnant of its former prosperity. (See GALILEE, SEA OF).
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Gennesaret'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/g/gennesaret.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.