Some questions on Bethsaida and the disciples.
February 25th, 2002
Received by H.
My dear brother:
I wish to take advantage of this opportunity in order to clarify some doubts that are bothering you. They are not major problems but it is worthwhile dedicating some time to them.
First, from your adolescence on, you could not understand how Jesus “forced” his disciples to leave their homes and to abandon their wives and children. Was that not cruel and irresponsible? We have advanced in our story to such a point that we may now answer this question.
Firstly, you know that a great part of Jesus’ public ministry took place in Galilee. In other words, his disciples, who were all from the area of Galilee or from adjacent lands, rarely left their homes for a long time. Therefore, during a great part of Jesus’ ministry they had the opportunity to visit their families and even to spend whole weeks with them.
As to their financial support, we have seen that, in Nathanael’s case, he was a wealthy man whose absence did not leave his family without income. He had employees and lands, and his family could always make sure of their sustenance and even more.
In the case of Zebedee’s children, you also know that their father ran plantations and some fishing boats. He was not, therefore, a poor man, and could afford the “luxury” of sending two of his children to accompany the Master and to live with him.
Single people who accompanied Jesus did not have to worry about their families, since their brothers took care of the well-being of their parents. And so, even on the Master’s journeys to Judea or the Decapolis, there was never the situation that the absence of his disciples from their homes would have caused problems.
We have also seen that in the case of Peter and of Philip, both were fishermen, married and with children, not rich people, but neither were they poor. And here the great heart of John Zebedee is demonstrated. He committed himself to take care of the boats of both, to man them and to send them out to work. Therefore, even after deducting the additional cost caused by the payment of other people’s labour, there was always more than enough left for their families. I believe that this has calmed your doubts.
Yesterday I watched with a smile how you hunted for information on Bethsaida through the whole of the Internet. You remembered that there were presumably two villages of the same name. In one of them, Peter, Andrew and Philip were born, and it was supposedly located south of Capernaum or Kpar Nahum. The other village, or rather, the other town, was north of the lake, a little distant from the shore, and it had been fortified by Philip the tetrarch, who baptized her “Bethsaida Julias.”
You remembered that I had told you how Jesus, Peter, and Andrew had crossed the lake toward the opposite shore, obviously referring to Bethsaida Julias. Then, Jesus and his four “zealot” disciples returned by walking to Kpar Nahum, crossing the river Jordan, where they met Matthew. Once again, the reference indicates without doubt the town of Bethsaida Julias.
And then your doubts began. Had you received this badly? Had you confused the two Bethsaida? But if it was so, the story no longer made much sense. How then could they have met Matthew in his customs stand, if in fact they returned from Bethsaida, south of Kpar Nahum? Because in this case, they would not have crossed any borderline.
Now I tell you that the existence of two settlements of the same name at the same lake is a conjecture of scholars. And it is a false supposition.
In reality there was only one village by the name of Bethsaida, that village that I indicated to you. Philip really beautified the place, but what he did was to build a walled acropolis on the high part, leaving the small village of fishermen outside the walls of the new town.
At the present time the ruins are at a distance of some miles from the lake, in a valley. But you also have read that in the ancient times the lake extended more to the north, forming a large bay.
I am happy that the information on the excavations at that place in Israel has calmed you down. I am not happy that you doubted, but rather that you have checked having received the information correctly.
H.: Frankly, I didn’t doubt you, but myself. I am aware of how easy it is to introduce my own thoughts, and I admit that this scares me at times. These are doubts of me and not of you.
Well, at least you have now verified a fact, and perhaps it may serve you so that you will have a little more trust in yourself. This trust is a very important ingredient for you to receive well.
This is all for now. God bless you,
© Copyright is asserted in this message by Geoff Cutler 2013