Capernaum, Israel

Capernaum was a village on the shores of the Lake of Gennesaret. In the foreground above are the excavated ruins of the houses of Capernaum; in the background are the excavated ruins of the synagogue of Capernaum.

Capernaum served as Jesus' base during His 3-year ministry in Israel: Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea... (Matthew 4:12-13)

The Roman army spared Capernaum while sacking the towns in northern Israel during its 67-70 AD campaign against the Jewish rebels, but Capernaum declined after Jesus' era and eventually died out, as Jesus said it would for not believing in Him despite the many miracles He did there: "And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day." (Matthew 11:23)

After lying buried for centuries, the ruins Capernaum were discovered in 1838, and the ruins of the synagogue of Capernaum, in 1866. Excavation still continues today. Please take another look at the photo above.

Capernaum SynagogueNotice anything peculiar?

The houses of Capernaum differ in color from the synagogue of Capernaum because the "white" synagogue above, right and below was built in the 4th century on top of the original "black" synagogue (bottom of right) in which Jesus taught: Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. (Mark 1:21)

Capernaum School of JudaismThis black synagogue is the one built by the Roman centurion: And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die. So when he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving, “for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue. (Luke 7:2-5)

Peculiarly, the centerpiece of the ruins of Capernaum, managed by the Catholic church, isn't what or where Jesus taught, but where Peter lived. A state-of-the-art chapel (below) with transparent glass floor was built right over the house of Peter so that Catholic mass could be held while peering down into his house.

Capernaum Chapel

Capernaum Peter's House

When a guide leading a group of Catholics was asked for the evidence of this being Peter's house, he replied that it's the largest house in the ruins of Capernaum. When asked if Peter had gotten rich after Jesus ascended to heaven, he replied, "Of course not." Hadn't Peter been a fisherman? "Yes." So why would a fisherman own the biggest house in town?

Travel Tip
To get to Capernaum without a car, you can take a bus from Tiberias, get off at the Karie Deshe junction, and then walk the last 3km along the Lake of Gennesaret. Be advised that the locals, including the bus driver, won't understand you if you ask for "Capernaum." You need to say, "Kfer Nahum," the Hebrew name for Capernaum that literally means the "Village of Nahum."

Do scientific discoveries support or disprove the Bible?

As archaeology (see Golgotha and Jesus' Tomb), physics, astronomy, microbiology and other sciences advance, more and more of the details in the Bible have been getting confirmed, not vice versa. Below are a couple of examples.

Until Galileo Galilei invented the telescope in the early 17th century, people could count the ~5,000 stars visible to the naked eye and dismissed as exaggeration the statement in Jeremiah 33:22 that the stars "cannot be numbered." The 30x magnification of Galileo's telescope raised the number of visible stars to ~500,000 and silenced the majority, but a small minority continued to claim that half million is still a number that can be counted, until later telescopes, including the Hubble, proved that the hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe, each with hundreds of billions of stars indeed "cannot be numbered."

Genesis 6:3Advances in medicine, nutrition and pharmacology are shifting the normal distribution of human life expectancy to the right and allowing more people to live past 100 years of age, yet we cannot surpass (the normal distribution has an abnormal right tail) the 120 year limit that God set at the very beginning of the Bible: And the Lord said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." (Genesis 6:3)

What about Darwin's theory of evolution that claims we are simply the result of random mutations over a very long time?

Imagine coming across 10 stones on the ground that form the letter "S". You may look down at those stones and wonder if they had been placed like that by someone or if something random like a flash flood had put those stones in that shape. But imagine coming across 10,000,000,000,000 stones on the ground that spell out the entire collection of Shakespeare's plays. You couldn't attribute that to some random cause, could you? You would have to conclude that somebody laid out those ten trillion stones with intent.

What's the point?

Charles Darwin didn't have the electron microscope and assumed the cell - the basic building block of life and the starting point for his theory of evolution - to be just some uniform blob. But today's electron microscope shows the cell actually to be an incredibly complex organic machine made of about ten trillion atoms that are organized into highly specific, interdependent parts, all of which are needed for the cell to exist in the first place.

What is the point?

Fred Hoyle, the atheist British astronomer who formulated the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis and originally coined the term, "Big Bang" on March 28, 1949 had this to say at the end of his career three decades later (Note: There are about 2,000 enzymes in the simplest cell, a bacterium, and 'only' about 1080 atoms in the entire universe.):

"Life cannot have had a random beginning … The trouble is that there are about two thousand enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in 1040,000, an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup."
- Fred Hoyle and N. Chandra Wickramasinghe,
Evolution from Space (London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1981)

"The notion that not only the biopolymer but the operating program of a living cell could be arrived at by chance in a primordial organic soup here on the Earth is evidently nonsense of a high order."
- Fred Hoyle, The Big Bang in Astronomy, New Scientist,
Vol. 92, No. 1280 (November 19, 1981), p. 527

"If one proceeds directly and straightforwardly in this matter, without being deflected by a fear of incurring the wrath of scientific opinion, one arrives at the conclusion that biomaterials with their amazing measure of order must be the outcome of intelligent design."
- Fred Hoyle, Omni Lecture, Royal Institution,
London, January 12, 1982

What does the complexity of the cell mean for Darwin's theory of evolution?

"If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down."
- Charles Darwin, On The Origin of Species, 1859, p. 162.

Scientific proof for the true tomb of Jesus

The real reason Jesus sweated blood in the Garden of Gethsemane

Why Jesus was crucified

"Mentally Deficient"

The Case for a Creator