GINNOSAR, PLAIN OF (Heb. בִּקְעַת גִּנּוֹסַר), narrow plain on the N.W. shore of Lake *Kinneret. The plain extends c. 3½ mi. (5½ km.) along the coast and its width in the center from the sea to the edge of the alluvial soil and the foot of the hills is c. 1¼ mi. (2 km.). In antiquity the name Ginnosar apparently also applied to the rim of the hills since Josephus states that it is 2½ mi. (3.7 km.) wide (Wars, 3:516ff.). Its area covers over 1,600 acres (6,450 dunams). The plain of Ginnosar was created by alluvial soil deposited by three brooks which pass through the plain: Naḥal Ammud and Naḥal Zalmon, perennial brooks, and Naḥal Arbel, a brook flowing intermittently. The extreme fertile basaltic red soil washed down from the hills to which the sea added moisture and dew produced the famous fruits praised by Josephus (ibid.) and the Talmud. The fruits are described as being large, easily digested, and causing the skin to become smooth. Several interesting anecdotes are told about rabbis who partook of them, including a story about *Simeon b. Lakish whose mind began to wander (Ber. 44a). The plain of Ginnosar was included in the territory of Naphtali and the Talmud attributes the blessings of Jacob and Moses to Naphtali to this plain: "It is the plain of Ginnosar which hastens its fruits like a hind [which runs swiftly]" (Gen. R. 99:12); "Naphtali, satisfied with favor, and full with the blessing of the Lord: that is the plain of Ginnosar" (Sif. Deut. 355). The name appears in ancient sources in various forms of which the most correct appears to be the Greek form Gennesar as in I Maccabees 11:67 and in talmudic sources, but the form Ginnosar is most frequently used and has become generally accepted. The lands of the plain of Ginnosar are now cultivated by the settlements of *Migdal and *Ginnosar.

[Abraham J. Brawer]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.