On the Shores of the Sea of Galilee

Capernaum, in Hebrew Kfar Nahum, literally “The Village of Nahum”, was an ancient fishing town on the shores of the Kineret inhabited during the first centuries of the First Millennium.

It is located on the northwestern shore of the lake on the ancient road that leads from the Mediterranean to Damascus. It had a population of about 1,500.

The Greek Orthodox Church on Site

The Synagogue

It featured a Synagogue built with imported limestone that was very different from the cobalt stones used to build the humble houses of the village.  When Jesus left Nazareth he came to live here and it is said that he lived in Peter’s house.

It is here where he found his first four disciples: Yaacov, Yohanan, Keifa and Anidrey more recognized in English as James, John, Peter and Andrew.

The New Testament mentions that Jesus used to teach in the Synagogue in Capernaum on the Sabbath Day. It is here where some of Jesus Miracles occurred.

Jesus healed a man that had a spirit of an unclean devil and also cured the fever of Peter’s mother in law among others. Recent excavations have discovered the two stories Synagogue.

It was beautifully ornamented depicting fruits, plants, stars, geometric motifs and even some mythological figures with dedications in Aramaic and Greek. Its existence is attested to by several sources outside the Bible, including Josephus and the Talmud.

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Ruins of the Synagogue dating from the 4th and 5th Century

The Byzantine Church

Today there is an octagonal Byzantine Church near the Synagogue. It features a mosaic floor. It is believed to have been built on the site of Peter’s house.

Archaeological excavations have discovered houses dating back to the First Century and one of the houses could very well be the house of Peter.

Archeological excavations at what is now known as Tell Hum have uncovered, among other things, a Synagogue and a fifth century church built over a fourth century “house church” that has become to be known as “Peter’s House.”

Many antiquities are preserved in the area

Often Mentioned in the Gospels

Capernaum is often referenced in the gospels. Jesus is described as having spent enough time in and around here, that it came to be known as Jesus’ own city.

There are verses referring to Jesus healing and teaching here in all four gospels. Despite all of this, however, Jesus is also depicted in Matthew and Luke as having felt rejected by the town’s inhabitants and cursing them.

The property is owned and administered by two entities; the Franciscans own and control the western portion where the Synagogue is and the Greek Orthodox control the other part where the White Church with red domes is located.

One more view of the Old Synagogue

Capernaum is visited by Pilgrims on their Holy Land Tour

Today only ruins remain of this site which is important to Christians and Jews alike and is part of every itinerary on the Holy Land Tours.

It is located on Road number 90. This road goes from North to South bordering the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea all the way to Eilat.

But most probably you’ll get there taken by your courteous driver and your Israel Tour Guide. Believe me he is an expert in the field.

Image Credits:
orthodox church by sergei serous
synagogue by gugganij
synagogue by david shankbone
antiques by avishai teicher

All courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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