The boat is 26-1/2 feet long, 7-1/2 feet wide and 4-1/2 feet high. It was probably of the Sea of Galilee's largest class of ships. Fore and aft sections were most likely decked, and it probably had a mast, meaning it could be both sailed and rowed. Did Peter, James and John actually row this boat (John 6:19)?
In 1986, an ancient boat was pulled from the mud along the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was a unique and exciting find that gives us an idea of the sort of boat used during the time of Jesus.
The boat appeared due to a great drought during which the waters of the lake receded and was discovered by the brothers Moshe and Yuval Lufan, second-generation fishermen from Kibbutz Ginosar. The brothers reported that when they found the boat, a double rainbow appeared in the sky.
The subsequent archaeological dig was undertaken by members of the Kibbutz Ginosar, the Antiquities Authority, and many volunteers. Pulling the boat from the mud without damaging it yet quickly enough to extract it before the water rose again was a delicate process, lasting 12 days and nights. The boat then had to be submerged in a chemical bath for 7 years before it could be displayed.
The boat has been dated to the 1st century AD based on pottery and nails found in association with the boat, radiocarbon dating, and hull construction techniques. Evidence of repeated repairs indicates the boat was used for several decades, perhaps nearly a century. When it was considered beyond repair, all useful wooden parts were removed and the remaining hull sunk to the bottom of the lake.
The Galilee Boat is apparently the type of boat that was used on the Sea of Galilee for both fishing and transportation across the lake. It is likely that this sort of boat was used by Jesus and his disciples, many of whom were fishermen. Boats played a large role in Jesus life and ministry they are mentioned 50 times in the Gospels!
There is no evidence connecting the boat to Jesus or his disciples, but it is certainly tantalizing to think that Jesus may have seen the boat sail by out on the Sea of Galilee or even used it himself. But regardless of its history, the "Jesus boat" is a fascinating artifact that brings to life many of the Gospel accounts.
Evidence of repeated repairs suggested the boat had a long life. But, in the end, all usable wooden parts were evidently removed and the remaining hull sunk to the lake bottom. This is what archaeologists recovered. Could this be the boat abandoned by the disciples when they followed Jesus (Luke 5:11)? Studies of ancient ships suggest this vessel had a crew of five (four rowers and a helmsman). The ancient Jewish historian Josephus referred to such ships holding 15 people. Skeletal remains from Galilee during this period indicate males averaged 5 feet 5 inches tall [1.651 meters] and about 140 pounds [63.503 kilograms]. Fifteen such men could fit into this vessel. So did Jesus and the Twelve0 sail together in this boat?
The Galilee boat dated to the general time of Jesus' ministry. It was the type used by Jesus and the Twelve, and was large enough to hold 13 men. It may have been in use at the same time He sailed the sea. He may have even seen it. BUT, there is no proof that this boat was ever actually used by Jesus or any of the disciples.
Archaeologists, as scientists, should not make spectacular claims about their finds. Thus, Jesus cannot be connected to this particular boat with certainty. Yet, it helps us visualize daily life in Galilee as Jesus knew it. This is archaeology's contribution to illuminating scripture.
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