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Bethsaida, Woe to You


Since Bethsaida was in close proximity to Capernaum, Jesus could easily reach there for his public ministry. The literal meaning of Bethsaida is “fishing house,” “hunting house,” or “house of game” because it was a place of hunting and fishing on the northern side of the Sea of Galilee.

The apostles Peter, Andrew, and Philip were originally from Bethsaida (Jn 1:44; 12:21). Before Jesus went to Caesarea Philippi, he healed a blind man at Bethsaida (Mk 8:22-26). The gospels document Jesus’ travel to that place at other times also (Mk 6:45; Lk 9:10). When he went to Bethsaida, “The crowds, meanwhile, learned of this and followed him. He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and he healed those who needed to be cured” (Lk 9:11). Thus, the residents of Bethsaida had heard Jesus’ preaching and witnessed his mighty deeds in their city. Jesus cursed Bethsaida along with Chorazin and Capernaum because of their lack of conversion in spite of the mighty works he had done there (Mt 11:21).

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