Birds of the Bible – Jesus at the Sea

Galilee Shoreline From Above (BiblePlaces.com)

Galilee Shoreline From Above (BiblePlaces.com)

On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. (Matthew 13:1 NKJV)

While working on another article this week, I found and used the above verse, but the thought of it intrigued me. Many of us like to sit by the sea shore and observe what is going on. What did Jesus see as far as birds as He sat there? I decided to investigate it more and here is some of the information discovered.

The commentaries provided these thoughts about that day.

“By the sea-side. The sea-shore is that of the Sea of Galilee, probably near Capernaum, at the northwest corner of the lake.” (People’s New Testament)

Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris) by Nikhil Devasar

Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris) by Nikhil Devasar

“Sat by the seaside … Jesus came out of the stuffy house and took his seat …along the shore with the crowds stretched up and down, a picturesque scene.” (Robertson’s Word Pictures)

“The sea-side – This was the Sea of Tiberias. The multitude stood on the shore near to him, so that he could be easily heard. He went into a ship – that is, a boat; and sat down to address them. Few spectacles could be more interesting than a vast crowd on the hanks of a smooth and tranquil sea – an emblem of his instructions – and the Son of God addressing them on the great interests of eternity.” (Albert Barnes’ Notes on The Bible)

“Went Jesus out of the house – This was the house of Peter. See Matt 17:24.
Sat by the sea side – The sea of Galilee, on the borders of which the city of Capernaum was situated.” (Adam Clark’s Commentary on the Bible)

Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida) by W Kwong

Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida) by W Kwong

“Mat 13:1  The same day Jesus went out of the house,…. Where he had been preaching, and working miracles: where this house was, is not certain; it seems to have been in one of the cities of Galilee, probably Capernaum, since that was by the sea coast: the reason of his going out of the house was, either to converse with his mother and brethren, as they desired; or to withdraw himself from company, and take some refreshment by the sea side; or because it would not hold the people, and therefore he quitted it for a more convenient place. The time he went out of it, was the same day he had cast the devil out of the man blind and dumb, and had delivered himself so freely concerning the Scribes and Pharisees, who had blasphemously ascribed that miracle to the assistance of Satan; and the same day his mother and brethren came to see him, and speak to him.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) by Nikhil Devasar

Little Owl (Athene noctua) by Nikhil Devasar

And sat by the sea side; either as weary, and for his refreshment, or in order to preach to the people; for, Mark says, “he began again to teach by the sea side”, Mark 4:1. This was the sea of Galilee, sometimes called the sea of Tiberias.” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible).

“3. Where he preached this sermon.
(1.) His meeting-place was the sea-side. He went out of the house (because there was no room for the auditory) into the open air. It was pity but such a Preacher should have had the most spacious, sumptuous, and convenient place to preach in, that could be devised, like one of the Roman theatres; but he was now in his state of humiliation, and in this, as in other things, he denied himself the honours due to him; as he had not a house of his own to live in, so he had not a chapel of his own to preach in. By this he teaches us in the external circumstances of worship not to covet that which is stately, but to make the best of the conveniences which God in his providence allots to us. When Christ was born, he was crowded into the stable, and now to the sea-side, upon the strand, where all persons might come to him with freedom. He that was truth itself sought no corners (no adyta), as the pagan mysteries did. Wisdom crieth without, Proverbs 1:20; John 13:20.” (Matthew Henry Commentary)

Another verse states:

But Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the sea. And a great multitude from Galilee followed Him, and from Judea (Mark 3:7 NKJV)

Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria) by Nikhil

Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria) by Nikhil

Withdrew

Mark alone notes no less than eleven occasions on which Jesus retired from his work, in order to escape his enemies or to pray in solitude, for rest, or for private conference with his disciples. See Mark 1:12; Mark 3:7; 6:31, 6:46;  7:24,  7:31;  9:2;  10:1;  14:34.” (Vincent’s Word Studies)

“Mar 3:7  But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea,…. Knowing their evil designs against him, he departed out of the synagogue, and city of Capernaum; and taking his disciples with him, he went to the shore of the sea of Galilee; not out of fear, but because his time was not yet come, and he had more work to do:” (Gill’s Exposition)

From the above you can see what was going on, but I wanted to know what birds Jesus might have seen. Again, I couldn’t find a list for just this area, but here is some of what is there now.

“Israel is a bird-watcher’s paradise, with some of the best bird-watching sites in the world. Although it is one of the smallest countries in the world, Israel’s Checklist of Birds includes 494 species. Just for comparison, the checklists of the world’s two largest countries, Russia and Canada, have 697 and 625 species, respectively. The checklist for the Lower 48 States of the US numbers 908 species – just under twice the size of Israel’s – but then we’re talking about an area 386 times larger than Israel! The bottom line is this: in just a couple of hours, you can spot a wider variety of birds here than almost anywhere in the world. The bird-watching season in Israel begins in late August and ends in early June. There are birds that spend the winter here, birds that are only here for the summer, birds that pass through during the spring and fall migration seasons, and birds that can be found here all year round.” (Sing Israel)

Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) by Daves BirdingPix

Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) by Daves BirdingPix

“Leaving the 2,000 meter-high and often snow-capped peak of Mount Hermon and heading south along the volcanic plateau of the Golan, spectacular views of the Sea of Galilee provide a stunning backdrop to search for Black Vulture. Also known as Lake Tiberias, the Sea of Galilee is a vast freshwater lake harboring impressive numbers of wintering Grebes, Pygmy Cormorant, breeding Squacco Heron and a spectacular winter concentration of Whiskered Tern. The surrounding hillsides are full of birds, including Eagle Owl, Little Swift and Long-billed Pipit throughout the year. Patient scanning of the steep-sided wadis in winter may well produce a major prize in the form of a Wallcreeper.” (goisrael.com)

“Sea of Galilee

Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides) by Daves BirdingPix

Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides) by Daves BirdingPix

South of the Hula Valley lies the famous Sea of Galilee (a.k.a. Lake Tiberias). Owing to its size it has in the past been difficult to see offshore birds there. How ever, it has become a regular site for Pygmy Cormorant, Great Black-headed and Armenian Gulls. A marsh holds in the northern section of the lake that has good numbers of Squacco Heron, a winter concentration of Whiskered Tern, and breeding Clamorous Reed Warbler. The tamarisk trees harbour a colony of Dead Sea Sparrows. The surrounding hills are good for the elusive Long-billed Pipit. Wadi Amud, to the northwest of the lake, is one of the best known sites for this species and also for the endangered Lesser Kestrel, as well as Eagle Owl, Little Swift, Syrian Woodpecker and good numbers of RockSparrow . The cliff:” of Mt. Arbel, west of the lake, are also good for Long-billed Pipit and a regular winter haunt of Wallcreeper, where several individuals may be seen together. Alpine Accentor is an occasional winter visitor and Radde’s Accentor has been recorded consorting with this species, along with the more regular Dunnock.

See Also:
What’s Special About the Sea of Galilee? by Dr. Donald DeYoung
Sea of Galilee – BiblePlaces.com
Capernaum
List of Birds of Israel

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Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria) by Nikhil

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