Tiberias

Tiberias in the western shores of the Sea of Galilee was founded by Herid Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee in 21 A.D. During the city’s construction, a Jewish necropolis (cemetery) was uncovered and Jews refused to live there for fear of ritual contamination through contact with the dead. It remained exclusively pagan for many years and we have no evidence that Yeshua ever entered the site.

Tiberias later became a seat of Jewish scholarship. By the second century the Sanhedrin was located here. It was in Tiberias, that the Mishna and the Jerusalem Talmud were compiled, and Hebrew scriptural punctuation was composed. After serving as the capital of Galilee during crusader times, Tiberias declined in subsequent centuries. It is currently a growing Jewish city known for its therapeutic hot springs.

Tiberias was built in about AD 20 by Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great on the site of the destroyed village of Rakkat, and it became the capital of his realm in Galilee. It was named in honor of Antipas' patron, the Roman Emperor Tiberius.

Tiberias's name in the Roman Empire (and consequently the form most used in English) was its Greek form, Τιβεριάς (Tiberiás, Modern Greek Τιβεριάδα Tiveriáda), an adaptation of the taw-suffixed Semitic form that preserved its feminine grammatical gender.

TiberiasDuring Herod's time, the Jews refused to settle there; the presence of a cemetery rendered the site ritually unclean. However, Antipas forcibly settled people there from rural Galilee in order to populate his new capital. The Sanhedrin, the Jewish court, fled from Jerusalem during the Great Jewish Revolt against the Roman Empire, and after several stations eventually settled in Tiberias. It was in fact its final meeting place before its disbandment in the early Byzantine period. Following the expulsion of all Jews from Jerusalem after 135, Tiberias and its neighbor Sepphoris became the major centers of Jewish culture. The Mishnah, which grew into the Jerusalem Talmud, may have begun to have been written here.

In 613 it was the site where the final Jewish revolt against the Byzantine Empire started coming into aid of the Persian invaders. Following the Arab conquest, the Caliphate allowed 70 Jewish families from Tiberias to form the core of a renewed Jewish presence in Jerusalem. The caliphs of the Umayyad Dynasty also built one of its series of square-plan palaces (the most impressive of which is Hisham's Palace near Jericho) on the waterfront to the north of Tiberias, at Khirbet al-Minya.

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