Sunday, January 20, 2019



Capharnaum, or Capernaum, or Kfar Nahum in Hebrew, is located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. The original Semitic name Kefar Nahum is known from a Byzantine inscription found in the synagogue of Hammat-Gader.

Capernaum is the composite of the Semitic name Kefar Nahum without the "h". Kefar Nahum means "village of Nahum." Nahum is actually listed as one of the minor prophets, and the Old Testament book of Nahum is named after him. Luke 3:25 lists a Nahum among Jesus' ancestral line.  Excavations have dated the settlement's origins into the third millennium B. C.. During the Israelite period (1200-587 BC) it appears that the site was unoccupied. Then it was resettled in the fifth century B.C., and then it grew during the Hellenistic and Roman periods (300 B.C. - 300 A.D.). Then it reached its peak during the Byzantine period (400-700 A.D.).
Later on with the destruction of the synagogue and of the octagonal church the town was not abandoned, but continued to grow (700-1100 A.D.). It is estimated that the town had a population of about 1,500 at its' peak.  From Capharnaum Jesus chose many of his apostles from fishermen (Peter, Andrew, James, John) or publicans (Matthew.)  From the Holy Scriptures we can learn that Jesus taught with authority: Mark 1:21-28; and that Jesus and his companions went into the town of Capernaum.  We learn that when the Sabbath day came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were thus amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority; unlike the teachers of the religious law.  On that day, a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit began shouting at Jesus, "why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One sent from God!" Jesus stopped the man and said. "Be quiet! Come out of the man," he ordered. Hearing that, the evil spirit screamed and threw the man into a convulsion, and then came out of him. The audience was amazed, and they began to discuss what had happened. "What sort of new teaching is this?" they asked: "It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!" 
News about Jesus spread very quickly throughout the region of Galilee. Scripture says that Jesus heals Peter's Mother-in-Law and many others: Mark 29-34. Later that evening after sunset, many sick and demon possessed people were brought to Jesus. The entire town gathered at the doorway to watch Jesus. Jesus then healed many people who were sick and he cast out many demons. Because the demons knew who he was, he would not allow the demons to speak.   The remains of Peter's house in Capharnaum can still be seen; including the inner room which was probably used as the very first Christian Church
Jesus performed many other miracles in Capharnaum but many of the onlookers did not beleive. Because of their attitudes, Jesus cursed the city of Capernaum with these words: "And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you." (Matt. 11:23-24).   Capharnaum was quite small but large enough to have a small synagogue. In Jesus' time Capharnaum was a poor fishing village, which extended along the lake shore for a distance of about 1,600 feet. The Jewish inhabitants could not afford their own synagogue but the Gentile Centurion, who held the Jewish people in high regard built one for them.
Saint Peter's memorial was built over the traditional House of Saint Peter by the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land to protect the archaeological remains of the Insula Sacra, and to make the ruins more accessible to the visitors. The inside of the memorial is used for religious services.  The memorial represents the image of a boat. It is also suggested by the wall decorations made up of stylized fish, waves, and nets.  The White Synagogue which we see today lies above some portions of the earlier basalt synagogue in existance during Jesus' day. In 69 A.D., the Romans destroyed the earlier basalt synagogue during the First Jewish Revolt.
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