In Matthew chapter 5, it states that when Jesus saw the multitudes, “He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.” Read alone, it captures none of the dramatic nature of the event taking place. Going back into the end of chapter 4, Jesus is going throughout the land and physically healing what would have otherwise been incurable. Imagine the crowds that would genuinely gather around someone who could cure anything, right before one’s eyes. No tricks. No behind the cloak scenes. No mystery diseases were declared cured that had not yet been identified in the person. A withered hand was restored (Mark 3:1ff), seizures stopped, demons cast out, and the paralyzed made ambulatory. The crowds came from as far east of the Sea of Galilee as they did from the west and the south. Jesus literally has drawn national attention.
Here He stops and the crowds gather to listen to what He has to say. The words given could not have been from any earthly man, because they are the exact opposite to what they would expect to hear. Blessed are the poor? Blessed are the mourning? Blessed are the persecuted? You have heard it said, but I say unto you? He was not talking about random subjects, ideas or conjectures; He was talking about Torah. To challenge the teachings of the theologically academic leaders of His day was unheard of. Did He not know what they could do to Him?
The site for the Mount of the Beatitudes is still under some dispute today. But tradition has held for 1600 years that the location is between Capernaum and Gennesaret. It is also referred to as Mt. Eremos (Greek = “solitary,” “uninhabited”) and Karn Hattin. This area has also been known as the “Horns of Hattin” for the two mountains that emerged from an extinct volcano. At an elevation of just over 500 ft above the surface of the lake (190 ft below sea level), the “mountains” are more actual “hills.” They overlook the beautiful Plain of Gennesaret, which extends for approximately 4 miles. A Byzantine church was built on the slopes in 4thc AD. In the 1187AD, the Crusaders were defeated by the Islamic army of Saladin at the Battle of Hattin. Saladin erected an Islamic “victory dome” on the mountain, but it was reported as destroyed as early as the 17thc AD. The current Roman Catholic chapel constructed in the 1930’s is visible from Capernaum. Inside, the stained glass windows depict the 8 Beatitudes with the 7 Virtues being represented around an altar. Those in agreement with this being the site of Matthew 5, also attribute it to the region spoken of in Mark 6-7 where many other miracles took place.
- Matthew 4:23-8:1
- Mark 6-7