The emergence of a new island near the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, due to a dramatic drop in water levels, is the latest evidence of the drought that has hit Israel, and – according to some – fulfillment of Jewish prophecy of the coming of the Messiah.
The current water level in the lake, associated with the ministry and miracles of Jesus, is at 700.04 feet below sea level, according to a recent announcement by the Sea of Galilee’s Kinneret Authority. It is considered at full capacity when the level is at 685.38 feet below sea level.
“The Sea of Galilee’s water line has dropped by a meter and two centimeters (40 inches) since the beginning of the summer,” said Pinchas Green of the Kinneret Authority. “The waterline is currently very low, lower than the lower red-line threshold. The lack of water was felt really early this year. We all need to pray for a really rainy summer this year.”
Israel has experienced three winters in a row with rainfall levels below average, reported YNetNews. The lack of moisture plus drawdown of the lake for the nation’s water supply has resulted in the level falling below the “red line” where operation of the national water-delivery system is threatened. Continued dry weather threatens to reduce the level to the “black line” which, experts have warned in the past, could result in irreversible ecological damage.
The drop has also resulted in the emergence of a new island near the lake’s southern shore that has caused some to see a silver lining in the current water crisis.
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“The drying up of the Kinneret has clear Messianic implications,” reported Breaking News Israel.
“The Talmud discusses the signs that will appear just prior to the coming of ‘the Son of David’ (the Messiah from the House of King David).”
According to Sanhedrin 97a, Rabbi Yehuda – a Talmudic sage – taught that one sign to be fulfilled before the Messiah’s coming is the destruction and desolation of the Sea of Galilee and the Upper Jordan River in the Golan. The Talmudic prophecy is seen as linked to the prophecy of Isaiah 19:5: “And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be drained dry.”
Both the Talmud and Isaiah use the same Hebrew word, khorban, to describe the desolation.
Breaking News Israel goes on to explain the importance of Galilee to messianic expectations, noting the Zohar, the foundational work of Jewish mysticism, points to the Galilee as the place in Israel where the beginnings of the Messiah will be seen first.
“The Messiah … will arise in the land of Galilee … the Messiah shall reveal himself in the land of Galilee because in this part of the Holy Land the desolation (Babylonian exile) first began, therefore he will manifest himself there first. [Zohar III, Shemoth 7b, 8b, 220a; Otzar Midrashim, 466]
Indeed, the New Testament (Matthew 4:12-17), highlights the messianic importance of Galilee by explaining the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee as the fulfillment of another Galilee prophecy found in Isaiah 9:1-2.
This year began with the sea at its lowest level in 90 years, and according to weather models which Israel’s Water Authority has received from international forecasting centers and also the Israeli meteorological center, “the worst is yet to come.”
“The Water Authority isn’t expecting large amounts of rain this winter, and the waterline is expected to drop even further – well below the lower red line … despite the fact that pumping from the lake has been greatly reduced. The amount of water being pumped from the lake is the lowest ever. However, the Jordan river is on the verge of dehydration,” said Dr. Amir Givati of the Israel Water Authority.
“If the weather remains dry for the next few months, then other rivers, streams, and springs in the Sea of Galilee region will run dry.”