The Land Jesus Knew, Part 2


The Ensign continues with Part 2 of a five-part series featuring paintings and photographs of sites and events associated with the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. This month we focus on the beginning of his ministry—from his arrival in Galilee after his baptism and temptation in the wilderness to the ordination of the Twelve Apostles.

The paintings are by Harry Anderson, noted living American illustrator of the life of Christ, and by David Roberts, a British artist who visited the Holy Land in 1839–1842 and produced many drawings and lithographs of scenes there. Roberts’ work, though romanticized in aspects, offers a rare view of what the Holy Land might have looked like before the modernization of the twentieth century.

Some of Harry Anderson’s paintings are printed by courtesy of the Church; others are printed courtesy of the Pacific Press Publishing Association, for whom Mr. Anderson has painted many illustrations.

The photography is from Church Educational System (CES) photographers.

Cana of Galilee

1. Cana of Galilee, lithograph by David Roberts.

Site of Ancient Cana

2. Site of Ancient Cana, photograph by Kenneth H. Patey.

A Woman of Samaria

3. A Woman of Samaria, painting by Harry Anderson; © Pacific Press Publishing Association, used by permission.

Nablus, the Ancient Shechem

4. Nablus, the Ancient Shechem, lithograph by David Roberts.

Jacob’s Well at Shechem

5. Jacob’s Well at Shechem, lithograph by David Roberts.

Aerial View of Jacob’s Well

6. Aerial View of Jacob’s Well, photograph by CES.

They Thrust Him out of the City

7. They Thrust Him out of the City, painting by Harry Anderson; © Pacific Press Publishing Association, used by permission.

Capernaum from the Air

8. Capernaum from the Air, photograph by CES.

Outside View of Synagogue

9. Outside View of Synagogue, photograph by CES.

Inside View of Synagogue

10. Inside View of Synagogue, photograph by CES.

A Great Multitude of Fishes

11. A Great Multitude of Fishes, painting by Harry Anderson; © Pacific Press Publishing Association, used by permission.

Calling of the Fishermen

12. Calling of the Fishermen, Harry Anderson, original artist; painting by Grant Romney Clawson.

And He Taught Them

13. And He Taught Them, Harry Anderson, original artist; painting by Grant Romney Clawson.

I Am Not Come to Destroy, but to Fulfill

14. I Am Not Come to Destroy, but to Fulfill, painting by Harry Anderson; © Pacific Press Publishing Association, used by permission.

Mount of Beatitudes from the Sea of Galilee

15. Mount of Beatitudes from the Sea of Galilee, photograph by CES.

There Came a Leper and Worshipped Him

16. There Came a Leper and Worshipped Him, painting by Harry Anderson; © Pacific Press Publishing Association, used by permission.

He Saw a Man, Named Matthew

17. He Saw a Man, Named Matthew, painting by Harry Anderson; © Pacific Press Publishing Association, used by permission.

Jerusalem, the Old City

18. Jerusalem, the Old City, lithograph by David Roberts.

Rise … and Walk

19. Rise … and Walk, painting by Harry Anderson; © Pacific Press Publishing Association, used by permission.

Jerusalem, the Pool of Bethesda

20. Jerusalem, the Pool of Bethesda, lithograph by David Roberts.

And He Ordained Twelve

21. And He Ordained Twelve, painting by Harry Anderson.

“And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there …

“And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. …

“Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.

“And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.

“When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, … [he said,] thou hast kept the good wine until now.

“This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” (John 2:1–11.)

After his baptism and temptation in the wilderness, Jesus came into Galilee to begin his ministry.

Four miles to the northeast of Nazareth is the small village of Kefr Kenna, regarded in some traditions as biblical Cana. Across the valley from this town, however, is the archaeological site of Khirbet Qana, believed by many scholars to be the actual location of the ancient village where Jesus performed the miracle of turning water into wine. Cana was also the site of another miracle—the healing of the nobleman’s son, who was some distance away in Capernaum. (See John 4:46–54.) In this photo, taken near Kefr Kenna, the ancient site of Khirbet Qana is just visible at left center, at the far edge of the cultivated valley.

“Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, … near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

“Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

“There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water. …

“Jesus … said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

“But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. …

“The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

“Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.” (John 4:5–7, 13–14, 25–26.)

Pictured here is an 1839 view of Nablus, encompassing the ancient city of Shechem, on the outskirts of which was Jacob’s Well. Above the city rises Mount Gerizim, the sacred hill of the Samaritans. This view is from the west, and the site of the ancient city would be at the left, in the fold between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal.

A view of ancient Shechem, with the eastern face of Mount Gerizim in the background. From the ruins of the old city, one sees the site traditionally regarded as the tomb of Joseph, which lies within the walled enclosure at right center. The Crusaders started construction of a church over Jacob’s Well, the remains of which are seen here as broken granite columns half buried in a mound at left center.

It was at Jacob’s Well that Jesus rested on his journey from Jerusalem to Galilee after attending Passover. Here he talked with the Samaritan woman while “his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.” (John 4:8.)

On the outskirts of ancient Shechem is a plot of land that for a time was the home of Jacob and his twelve sons. (See Gen. 33:16–35:4.) Easily identified in this photo is the partially completed Crusader church built over Jacob’s Well. After entering the church, one descends several steps to reach the approximate ground level of Jesus’ day. The well, measuring 7 1/2 feet in diameter and reaching some 90 feet in depth, gives water that is very cool and refreshing.

Having returned from Jerusalem, Jesus began to teach in synagogues in Galilee. In Nazareth, the place of his boyhood and early manhood, Jesus astonished the townsmen with his bold testimony that he was the promised Messiah. Using Isaiah 61:1–2 [Isa. 61:1–2] as his text, Jesus declared:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

“To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.” As he closed the book containing these words, he said: “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” (Luke 4:21.)

Angered by his testimony, “all they in the synagogue … were filled with wrath,

“And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.

“But he passing through the midst of them went his way.” (Luke 4:28–30.)

After his rejection at Nazareth, Jesus went to Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee, which became for a while the center of his ministry and was referred to as “his own city.” (Matt. 9:1; Mark 2:1 ff.)

Situated on the northwestern shore of the sea, Capernaum was near the main caravan route between Egypt and Damascus. Thus, it was a center of commercial activity and contained perhaps 10,000 inhabitants in Jesus’ day. (See Lamar C. Berrett, Discovering the World of the Bible, Provo, Utah: Young House, 1973, p. 354.) Here Jesus performed more recorded miracles than in any other city (see J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Our Lord of the Gospels, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974, pp. 535–37), and here he gave some of his greatest discourses. Yet Capernaum’s residents remained unbelieving, and Jesus prophesied the city’s eventual downfall. (See Matt. 11:23–24.) All that remains at the traditional site of ancient Capernaum today are the ruins of an old synagogue built in perhaps the second century A.D., and stones from surrounding buildings.

This photograph gives an aerial view of part of present day Capernaum. Foremost in the right center of the picture is an excavation of the remains of an ancient Jewish synagogue, thought to have been built on the site where a synagogue may have stood in Jesus’ day.

Attempts have been made to partially restore this synagogue of ancient Capernaum. The view here is of its outer walls and entrance. After the first return of captives from the Babylonian exile (see Ezra 1:1–5), the synagogue assumed a position of prime importance in each Jewish town, becoming the center of village activity. Here were housed the holy books of the Law of Moses and the sacred writings of other prophets, and here each week the faithful townspeople gathered for worship.

Inside the ancient synagogue at Capernaum. If these ruins of about 200 A.D. are comparable in size to the synagogue of Jesus’ day, it indicates that in New Testament times Capernaum was a city of importance to the Jews.

“And it came to pass, that … [Jesus] stood by the lake of Gennesaret,

“And saw two ships standing by the lake. …

“And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and … he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.

“And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.

“And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. …

“When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

“For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken. …

“And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.

“And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.” (Luke 5:1–11.)

“And going on from thence, he saw two other brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.

“And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.” (Matt. 4:21–22.)

“And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

“And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. …

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. …

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:1–3, 14, 16.)

The Master continued with what many have called the greatest sermon of all time: the Sermon on the Mount.

“Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, [‘Thou shalt not kill’; ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’; ‘Thou shalt not forswear thyself’; ‘An eye for an eye’; ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy’].

“But I say unto you, [‘Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement’; ‘Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart’; ‘Swear not at all’; ‘Love your enemies … that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.’].

“Ye are therefore commanded to be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” (See JS TMatt. 5:23–50.)

North of the Plain of Gennesaret near Capernaum is a small rise of land that slopes gradually upward from the shore of the sea below. This hill is called today the Mount of Beatitudes, possibly the place where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. (See Matt. 5–7; Luke 6:12–49.) A convent now stands on the site, and there are many carefully tended fields and a variety of vegetation in the area.

“When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.

“And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

“And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” (Matt. 8:1–3.)

“And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi [Matthew], sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me.

“And he left all, rose up, and followed him.” (Luke 5:27–28.)

Because the Romans controlled Palestine in the days of Jesus, Capernaum, as one of the chief cities of northern Palestine, was a customs station and a place of residence for high-ranking Roman soldiers stationed in the area. Matthew was apparently called from his duty there as a tax collector.

“After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” (John 5:1.)

Three times during his three-year ministry, Jesus traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover. Thus, the second year began with another journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. This view of Jerusalem from the southwest faces the walled area of the ancient city encompassing Mount Moriah, the site of the temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel, and Herod. As in 1839 when artist David Roberts visited Jerusalem, the temple site is now dominated by the Moslem mosque, the Dome of the Rock, set up in about A.D. 691.

While in Jerusalem, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath day. So reactionary were the Jewish leaders to the incident that they sought to kill the Master.

“Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.

“In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered. …

“And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. …

“Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

“And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. …

“And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

“But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

“Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.” (John 5:2–3, 5, 8–9, 16–18.)

Just north of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount is a deep excavation, the ancient Pool of Bethesda, site of Jesus’ healing of the infirm man. The pool was made to supply stone and water for the nearby Antonia Fortress, and also stone for the walls of the Temple Mount. Built 60 feet below the present ground level, the pool used to be some 390 feet in length, 175 feet wide, and 45 feet deep. It had porches on its sides and, according to Eusebius, was used to wash sheep before they were sacrificed in the temple.

In this 1839 sketch, the pool is shown to have a great accumulation of earth at the bottom. Its sides were lined with small stones, covered with plaster, to make the reservoir watertight.

“And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

“And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles.” (Luke 6:12–13.)

Back in Galilee once more, Jesus soon chose and ordained twelve Apostles to preach the gospel and to heal the sick and cast out devils. (See Mark 3:14–15.) With these great servants to accompany him in his labors, the Master moved into a new and expanded phase of his earthly ministry.