When I read Pliny of the situation of this city, and compare some things which are said by Josephus and the Talmudists with him, I cannot but be at a stand what to resolve upon here. Pliny speaks thus of the situation of it: |The lake [of Genesar] is compassed round with pleasant towns: on the east, Julias and Hippo; on the south, Tarichea, by which name some call the lake also; on the west, Tiberias, healthful for its warm waters.|
Consult the maps, and you see Tiberias in them seated, as it were, in the middle shore of the sea of Gennesaret, equally distant almost from the utmost south and north coasts of that sea. Which seems well indeed to agree with Pliny, but illy with Josephus and his countrymen.
I. Josephus asserts that Hippo (in Perea, i.e. the country on the other side Jordan) is distant from Tiberias only thirty furlongs. For speaking to one Justus, a man of Tiberias, thus he saith, |Thy native country, O Justus, lying upon the lake of Gennesaret, and distant from Hippo thirty furlongs,| &c. The same author asserts also (which we produced before), that the breadth of the sea of Gennesaret was forty furlongs. Therefore, with what reason do the maps place the whole sea of Gennesaret between Tiberias and Hippo? Read those things in Josephus, look upon the maps, and judge.
II. The same Josephus saith of the same Justus, |Justus burnt the towns of those of Gadara and Hippo. And the towns bordering upon Tiberias, and the land of the Scythopolitans, were laid waste.| Note, how the towns of those of Gadara and Hippo are called |towns bordering upon Tiberias|; which certainly cannot consist together, if the whole sea be between, which is so put by the maps.
III. Those things which we learn from the Talmudists concerning the situation of this place cannot be produced, until we have first observed certain neighbouring places to Tiberias; from the situation of which, it will be more easy to judge of the situation of this.
In the mean time, from these things, and what was said before, we assert thus much: That you must suppose Tiberias seated either at the very flowing-in of Jordan into the lake of Gennesaret, -- namely, on the north side of the lake, where the maps place Capernaum [illy]; or at the flowing out of Jordan out of that lake, namely, on the south side of the lake. But you cannot place it where Jordan flows into it, because Josephus saith, Tiberias is not distant from Scythopolis above a hundred and twenty furlongs, -- that is, fifteen miles; but now the lake of Gennesaret itself was a hundred furlongs in length, and Scythopolis was the utmost limits of Galilee southward, as we shewed before.
Therefore we are not afraid to conclude that Tiberias was seated where Jordan flows out of the lake of Gennesar, namely, at the south shore of the lake; where Jordan receives itself again within its own channel. This will appear by those things that follow.
We doubt, therefore, of the right pointing of Pliny. Certainly we are not satisfied about it; and others will be less satisfied about our alteration of it. But let me, with their good leave, propose this reading, |On the east Julias, and Hippo on the south. Tarichea, by which name some call the lake, on the west. Tiberias, wholesome for its warm waters.| Which reading is not different from Pliny's style, and agrees well with the Jewish writers: but we submit our judgment to the learned.