Within what tribe the lake of Gennesaret was.

Chapter 71
Within what tribe the lake of Gennesaret was.

By comparing the maps with the Talmudic writers, this question ariseth: for there is not one among them, as far as I know, which does not altogether define the sea of Gennesaret to be without the tribe of Naphthali; but the Talmudists do most plainly place it within.

"The Rabbins deliver: The sea of Tiberias is in the portion of Naphtali; yea, it takes a full line for the nets on the south side of it: as it is said, 'Possess the sea and the south,' Deuteronomy 33:23." The Gloss is; "(Naphtali) had a full line in the dry land on the south coast, that he might draw out his nets." So also the Jerusalem writers; "They gave to Naphtali a full line on the south coast of the sea, as it is said, 'Possess the sea and the south.'" They are the words of Rabbi Josi of Galilee. So that Talmud that was written at Tiberias: so R. Josi, who was a Galilean.

The words of Josephus, which we cited before, are agreeable to these. "The tribe of Zebulon's portion was to the sea of Gennesaret, stretched out also [in length] to Carmel and the sea." On the south, the land of Zebulon was bounded by that of Issachar, extending itself in breadth, "to Genessaret": touching only upon Gennesaret, not comprehending Gennesaret within it. So the same Josephus speaks in the place alleged, that "the men of Naphtali took those parts that ran out eastwardly unto the city of Damascus." It would be ridiculous, if you should so render, "unto the city of Damascus," as to include Damascus within the land of Naphtali. The maps are guilty of the like solecism, while they make Zebulon, which only came, "unto the lake of Gennesaret," to comprise all the lake of Gennesaret within it. Look into Adrichomius, to say nothing of others, and compare these words of Josephus with him.

Hither perhaps is that to be reduced, which hath not a little vexed interpreters in Joshua 19; where Jordan is twice mentioned, in defining the limits of the tribe of Naphtali; verse 33, "the outgoings of the border," hence, "was to Jordan"; and, verse 34, "The going out from thence [that is, from the south border] was to Jordan in Judah towards the sun-rising."

What hath the land of Naphtali to do with Jordan in Judah?

I answer, Judah, that is, Judea, is here opposed to Galilee: Judah is not here spoken of as opposed to the other tribes. Before ever the name of Samaria was risen, the name of Galilee was very well known, Joshua 20:7; and so was the name of Judea: and at that time one might not improperly divide the whole land within Jordan into Galilee and Judea: when as yet there was no such thing as the name of Samaria. The words alleged, therefore, come to this sense, as if it had been said, 'The north bounds of Naphtali went out eastwardly to Jordan in Galilee: in like manner the south bounds went out eastwardly to Jordan now running into Judea'; that is, the country without Galilee, which as yet was not called Samaria, but rather Judea.

The bounds certainly, of the land of Naphtali seem to touch Jordan on both sides, both on the north and the south; and so to contain the sea of Gennesaret within its bosom, according to that which is said by the Talmudists before alleged, and those also men of Tiberias.

While I am discoursing of Jordan, and this lake, let me add this moreover concerning the 'boat of Jordan':--"R. Jacob Bar Aidai saith, in the name of R. Jochanan, Let no man absent himself from Beth-Midrash, for this question was many a time propounded in Jabneh, The boat, or barge, of Jordan, why is it unclean? Nor was there any who could answer any thing to it; until R. Chaninah, the son of Antigonus, came, and expounded it in his city. The boat of Jordan is unclean, because they fill it with fruit, and sail down with it from the sea unto the dry land, and from the dry land into the sea."--The Jews themselves being interpreters, is a small vessel, a little ship. Josephus hath these words; "Having gathered together all the boats in the lake, they were found to be two hundred and thirty, and there were no more than four mariners in each."