Capernaum Synagogue

Capernaum Synagogue

Capernaum Capernaum Synagogue Tabgha
Capernaum Synagogue

Capernaum Synagogue

The "white" Capernaum synagogue above was built in the 4th century on top of Capernaum's original "black" synagogue (bottom) that had been 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). According to the Bible, Jesus himself taught at the Capernaum synagogue: "Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught." (Mark 1:21)

Do you know why Jesus based His ministry in Capernaum and often taught in the synagogue of this backwater town? Mishna, the record of the Jewish oral code written during the first century AD to protect it from Roman persecution, quotes more rabbis from Capernaum than from the rest of the world combined. Moreover, the school of Judaism that was adjacent to the synagogue that I also visited was four times bigger than the world's second biggest school of Judaism. From a spiritual perspective Capernaum wasn't a backwater town. While Jerusalem was the political capital of Judaism, Capernaum was its educational capital.

Travel Tip
While visiting Israel during tense times may be a bit more precarious, there are benefits too. The hotels are empty (the one I stayed in Tiberias had 15 of 180 rooms occupied), as are the sites. The synagogue above was so deserted that I actually stretched out and took a nap in the balmy weather. To get to Capernaum without a car, you need to take a bus from Tiberias, get off at a 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 the place that literally means the "Village of Nahum".

Capernaum Tabgha