IV -- Pilgrimage
CAPERNAUM (TEL HUM)
Matthew 11:23: "And thou, Capernaum, shalt thou be exalted unto heaven? thou
shalt go down unto Hades: for if the mighty works had been done in Sodom which
were done in thee, it would have remained until this day."
One pilgrim who arrived at Capernaum when it was a jumbled pile
of building stones sticking up out of the ground exclaimed, "Capernaum was cast
down to hell." Jesus had predicted such a fate for the town he knew in the
first century. The largest Roman ruins discovered along the north shore of
the lake were Capernaum (Tel Hum), Bethsaida (Et Tell), and Magdala (Medjel).
From Egypt to
Palestine, by S.C. Bartlett, NY, 1879
“It was but a few steps from the shore, fringed with
oleanders, to Tell Hum, a heap of ruins almost hidden by rank weeds. Through a
space extending half a mile in length, by a fourth of a mile in breadth, we
walked and stumbled over foundations and fallen walls of ancient houses. We
also spent time in studying out the ruins of the “White Synagogue,”... It was a
building of some seventy-five feet by fifty-six. And though it has been mostly
demolished, there still remain Corinthian capitals, pedestals, double columns,
and other large stones, to testify of a once showy building. One broken column
formed the doorpost and another supported the roof of a neighboring shanty, a
little higher than one’s head, that had been occupied jointly by an Arab and his
cattle as a house and a stable. Whether this place were or were not Capernaum,
beyond a question the Saviour must have often walked through these now
With Christ in Palestine, Schofield, 1906
There was a "...white marble synagogue of Greek style with Corinthian
columns like some of the pagan temples of Ephesus."
The symbols of the menorah, incense shovel, and shofar on a capital
are proof of the building's use as a synagogue.
Herod had the authority to collect the indirect
customs taxes described by Tacitus (Annals) as provincial taxes. Any goods
being imported into Herod's province of Galilee were subject to taxation.
Herod's soldiers may have been mercenaries, an attachment from the Syrian
Roman governor, or from Pilate the governor of Judea. In the Gospels there was a centurion who loved the Jewish
nation, indicating the centurion was not a Jew. This centurion was
credited with helping build a synagogue in Capernaum. In those days some synagogues may have
been large houses converted to worship purposes such as was seen at Duras
Europas in Syria. Archaeologists noted that
the first century Roman synagogue was probably located under the fourth century
"White Synagogue." An early basalt pavement found below the White Synagogue may
be the floor of the early Roman synagogue from the time of Jesus. At
Hammat Tiberias is a synagogue that may have been built as early as the first
century, then a new one was built over the ruins of the first one in the third
century, modified in the fourth century and destroyed at the end of the fourth
century. In the fifth century a new synagogue was built over the remains
of the earlier synagogue in the fifth century.
The modern site of Capernaum has been partially
rebuilt. The Franciscans bought the site in 1894 and enclosed it to
prevent builders from stealing valuable building stones from the site.
Mark 1:20-22 (ASV-Public
20 And straightway he called
them: and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired
servants, and went after him.
21 And they go into
Capernaum; and straightway on the Sabbath day he entered into the
synagogue and taught.
22 And they were astonished
at his teaching: For he taught them as having authority, and not as the
A modern church structure was built over a Byzantine octagonal church foundation
marking the supposed site of Peter's house.
Through the Land of Promise, Mattson, 1920, Boston
"Bishop Epiphanius at Salamis on the island of Cyprus, (403)
writes that a church was erected at Capernaum, and Antonius (570) says that “the
house of Peter has been changed into a basilica.”
Churches of the Annunciation
Latin Tradition -- Mount of Precipitation
Nazareth Aerial View
Museum of the Basilica
Hot Springs at Tiberias
Stone Water Jars at Capernaum
A 1909 Galilee Fishing Description
The Giant Mustard Plant
Kursi and the Gadarene
Jar of Ointment
Wheat and Tares