Tiberias (tĪbērˈēəs) [key], town (1994 pop. 36,400), NE Israel, on the Sea of Galilee, 682 ft (208 m) below sea level. It is one of the four holy cities of Judaism and a trade center for agricultural settlements. A resort town, Tiberias has hotels, a hot springs spa, and a lake port. There are machine shops, fisheries, and textile factories.

Named for Emperor Tiberius, the town was built (c.A.D. 20) by Herod Antipas; there are ruins of the baths he built. After the destruction of Jerusalem, Tiberias became (2d cent.) a center of Jewish learning; the Sanhedrin convened in the town, and parts of the Mishna and Jerusalem Talmud were edited there.

Tiberias was captured by the Arabs in 637, taken by the Crusaders in the 11th cent., recaptured by Saladin in 1187, and occupied by Egypt in 1247. It became part of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th cent. Rebuilt and fortified in the 18th cent. by Dahir al-Umar, the local Ottoman ruler, Tiberias resumed its position as a center of Jewish scholarship. In 1922 it became part of Palestine. Maimonides, the Jewish philosopher and physician, is buried in Tiberias. Arabic forms of the name are Tabariya and Tubariya.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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