Over the past few years I have tried to get some good photos of the Cove of the Sower (also called the Cove of the Parables) and have written about it twice before. Some have suggested that this place on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee would have been the place where Jesus spoke in parables to large numbers who assembled to hear Him.
Read the full account given by Mark in 4:1-20. Here is the way it begins:
Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. (Mark 4:1-3 ESV)
Parallel accounts may be read in Matthew 13:1-15 and Luke 8:4-10.
B. Cobbey Crisler conducted some experiments at places where the Bible records that large crowds gathered. The attempt was to see if the large number were able to hear a speaker without the aid of modern sound equipment. The places were Kadesh-barnea, Shiloh, and The Cove of the Sower in Galilee (“The Accoustics and Crowd Capacity of Natural Theaters in Palestine.” Biblical Archaeologist, 1976. Vol. 39. Num. 4).
The study indicated that the Cove of the Sower would allow between 5000 and 7000 people to hear.
Over the years different crops have been planted in the area, and this makes it difficult to compare older and more recent photos. The highway runs just above the level of the top of the trees seen on the right (north). This photo is made looking west.
The photo below was made from a boat a short distance south of the shore. You can see the extension of the natural theater stretching up the hill above the trees. Hidden in the clump of trees on the top of the hill, and to the left is the traditional Mount of Beatitudes. This would be a good candidate for the place of the Sermon on the Mount.
The following sketch from Crisler’s article in Biblical Archaeologist may help you to understand more clearly about the cove.
The terrain and the crops have changed since Crisler wrote. For those who may be curious, the covered areas are where bananas grow today. Both bananas and citrus trees have been brought to the country since the time of Jesus.
More recently I have been able to make a few aerial photos of the area. The first one was made from above the modern paved road looking down on the cove.
The next aerial view shows the cove and the hill above it from the south.
I trust that this information and these photos will enhance your understanding of the portions of Scripture mentioned above.
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FWIW – In Jerusalem, Crisler also tested the acoustical “soundness” of whether or not Adonijah, at En Rogel, could have heard the commotion associated with the coronation of Solomon at the Gihon Spring—about a half mile away (1 Kings 1:38–55).
Terrific aerial photos of a place that is difficult to photograph on the ground.
Thanks for article and photos!
I tried to reply from the email, but something went wrong. So if you get this twice, they have fixed it. lol. Great pictures and article. All of your pictures make it so real for me of the happenings in the Bible, but this one really hit me between the eyes. GREAT JOB. Thanks, and love and hugs to you and Elizabeth.