tabgha in the bible

Tabgha | The Church and Monastery of Tabgha

The Church of Tabgha Church and Monastery, commonly known as the place of multiplication, is located on the Sea of ​​Galilee. Tabgha is the place in Israel where the miraculous multiplication of the loaves mentioned in Mark 6:30-44 took place. It is said that the feeding of the five thousand people who listened to the sermon of a rabbi from Nazareth took place here. There is a beautiful mosaic in front of the altar of the monastery church. It shows a breadbasket with four loaves and two fish. According to tradition, the rock on which Jesus placed the food before it was distributed can be seen under the altar.

Tabgha is an important Christian pilgrimage site in present-day Israel associated with the ministry of Jesus. It is located on the north shore of the Sea of ​​Galilee in Galilee. The name is the shortening of the Arabic place name et Tabigha or et Tabgha; this name derives from the Greek heptagon, “seven springs,” which pilgrims in the Byzantine period called the place because seven springs spring from there. In Hebrew, the site is called En Sheva. In the Gospels, the sea and Galilee play an essential role as Jesus’ first sphere of activity.

The primate Chapel of Tabgha

Immediately on the lake shore in the eastern part of Tabgha is the so-called primate chapel, which commemorates the appearance of Jesus at the lake after his resurrection, the subsequent meal with his disciples, and the commission to Peter. The church is also referred to as ” Mensa Christi ” – the table of Christ.

Also, Mensa Christi is probably the sixth church building at this location. The pilgrim Egeria already mentions a church here in the 4th century, followed by several buildings, including a Norwegian (staff) church building at the time of the crusaders. The current building was built in 1933. Unlike the Church of the Multiplication, the chapel is made of black basalt. A large block of stone dominates the church’s interior, where the meal is said to have taken place.

Church of Multiplication

The Church of the Multiplication is in the Tabgha region on the western shore of the Sea of ​​Galilee. It marks the site where Jesus performed the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. It was also where Jesus appeared for the fourth time after his resurrection.

In Mark 6:30-46, we read how Jesus and his disciples traveled by water to a remote location in search of peace. A crowd of Jesus’ followers followed them, and by nightfall, there was nowhere to food for the multitudes. Jesus performs a miracle by dividing the two meager fish and five loaves among all to feed the crowd of five thousand people. After performing this miracle, Jesus performs another miracle by walking on water. The biblical reference does not mention Tabgha but cites “a distant place on the shores of Galilee.”

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Other Christian sites exist near Tabgha, including the Mount of Beatitudes immediately north and Capernaum east of Tabgha. In 1986, a boat from the time of Jesus was discovered near Kibbutz Ginnossar. The Church of the Multiplication is made of light-colored stone in the western part of the site. The two previous buildings were built in the 4th and 5th centuries. Today’s church building is modeled after the Byzantine style, with an atrium and narthex in front. It was built in 1980 – 1982 on the foundation walls of a church from the 5th century. The old black basalt walls can still be seen in places.

The mosaics from this second Byzantine building are also preserved. The representations of waterfowl and marsh plants in the side aisles and the transept are of exceptional artistic quality. The mosaic on the altar is very well-known, which shows a basket with four loaves (the fifth loaf is the bread used in the Eucharist on the altar). And two fish to the left and right of it. The motif is often found on colorful ceramic plates and platters for tourists. 

tabgha in the bible

Representation of Tabgha in the Bible

The Church of the Multiplication today

Today, the Church of the Multiplication is a modern structure built on the remains of the 4th-century church. The highlight of the church is the Byzantine floor mosaic which survived after the destruction of the original church in 685. The mosaic near the altar depicts two fish on either side of a bread basket. Other mosaic features are vines, lotus flowers, oleanders, and animals, including ducks, geese, doves, peacocks, cranes, herons, a swan, and flamingos. The floor mosaic dating from the 5th century references the three Byzantine water towers that once existed.

Under the altar of the Church of the Multiplication is a large rock where it is believed that Jesus placed the fish and the loaves to bless them. There is a glass panel on the floor through which you can see the foundations of the original church. In the church courtyard, you will see a basalt stone font and excavated oil presses.


The name Tabgha comes from the Greek for “Seven Sources.” But Tabgha was originally called Heptapegon. Indeed, in Byzantine times, there were three water towers in Tabgha. So, the water from natural springs was collected in water towers and sent via aqueducts to nearby farmland to irrigate the fields. It was in the 4th century that Christians first identified Tabgha as the biblical site of the miracle of Multiplication. Therefore, in 350 AD, the first church was built to mark the biblical site. In the 5th century, the Church of the Primacy of Peter was constructed in Tabgha. Where Jesus offered the leadership of the apostles to Peter and where he appeared to his disciples after his resurrection. The church was then destroyed and rebuilt in 1934.

Therefore, in 1596, Tabgha was a small Muslim village. From 1922 to 1948, Palestine was ruled by the British, and under their rule, Tabgha continued to be inhabited by a predominantly Muslim population. During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the area was emptied of its inhabitants, and after the war, it was resettled and new churches built.