This past fall (2019) we had a chance to visit el–Araj—the “real” Bethsaida—on two occasions (see here for a report). This past year Israel has received heavy rains and the Sea of Galilee has risen to about -686 ft. The first-century harbors around the Sea of Galilee were roughly at the -696 ft. level. On May 11 our guide, Ofer Drori, had a chance to visit the site and found that the water had infiltrated the site and has given me permission to share some of his photographs.
Compare the November 2019 and May 2020 photos of the same area.
Ofer described his visit — ‘splashing my way into el–Araj via swamps, marshes and the lagoons of the mighty Jordan delta — stepping on schools of Saint Peter’s fish and Catfish. Noting egrets, herons, cormorants, and jackals along the way. The site is almost an island. Water fills the pits of the excavation area.’
The official el–Araj Excavation can be found here.
To contact our guide Ofer, click Here.
For helpful information on the site please see the following:
Notley, R. Steven and Mordechai Aviam. “Searching for Bethsaida — The Case for El–Araj.” Biblical Archaeology Review 46, no. 2 (Spring, 2020): 28–39.
Nun, Mendel. “Has Bethsaida Finally Been Found?” Jerusalem Perspective no. 54 (July–September, 1998): 12–31. For a pdf of this article see Here.