Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
– Mark 1:35
Additional Scripture references: Mark 1:35,Mark 6:30-34,46; Luke 4:42-44; Luke 5:16
A new phrase that I learned while on a recent trip to Israel was the Greek words for a solitary or lonely place, ”Eremos Topos”. I looked through the Gospels and found as many references to this phrase as I could. The ones that I could find are listed in the above scripture references.
A solitary place, as described in the Gospels,would have been a steep or rocky location where you would not have been able to farm or cultivate and nothing would grow. If you were a rabbi and you wanted to take your disciples somewhere to teach and instruct them, you would be looking for a place that was remote and not cultivated. You would not want to be walking over and through someone’s plot of farm ground. You would want to take your disciples up the hill as far as you could to get away from the crowds and find one of these solitary places to do your teaching. There are not many places around the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus conducted most of his ministry, that weren’t cultivated or used in some way. There are only a few locations that would qualify as, “Eremos Topos’.
While we were hiking by the Sea of Galilee, our guide took us to an “Eremos Topos” right by the edge of the lake, between Capernaum and Magadan. The location that we went to was the traditional place where scholars feel that Jesus would have taken his disciples when he fed the five thousand and then later in the night walked out on the water to his disciples. While we sat in this solitary place late in the evening and looked out over the Sea of Galilee, we read these two Bible stories out loud. The mental picture was very moving, as we could see and visualize these stories happening right in front of us. It was a very emotional experience and one that I will never forget. Now, when I read the gospels and think of Jesus going to a solitary place, I have a much fuller mental picture of what was happening.