Holy Land Pilgrimage and Biblical Archeology

 

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"THEY WERE ALL AMAZED, AND THEY KEPT ON ASKING ONE ANOTHER,  
'WHAT IS THIS?  A NEW TEACHING -- WITH AUTHORITY!
HE COMMANDS EVEN THE UNCLEAN SPIRITS, AND THEY OBEY HIM' "
MARK 1:27
              
                        

Holy Sites -- Gila's Highlights

Let's attend the synagogue on the Sabbath at Capernaum

When Jesus attended the synagogue on the Sabbath day at Capernaum, it was not to recite “The Lord’s Prayer” or sing “How Great Thou Art.”  It was to teach his take on the law, the Torah, the five books of Moses.  For the synagogue in the first century AD was a house of study, similar to our contemporary Sunday School classes.
If a Galilean wanted to pray for forgiveness or offer a prayer of thanksgiving, then he would journey up to Jerusalem and offer a sacrifice in the Temple courtyard.  But the synagogues in each town were filled on the seventh day by local farmers, fishermen and merchants gathered together to hear the weekly portion of the Torah, accompanied by a passage from the Prophets.  Afterwards an impassioned debate would ensue about the finer points of the law and its relevance for their day-to-day life.  Jews in those days (as today!) were very argumentative and there were opinions galore.

Capernaum as seen from the Mount of Beatitudes

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Capernaum on the NW shore of the Sea of Galilee

We know from the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, that Jesus, however, stood out from other teacher/rabbis, for he taught with authority.  Imagine then, attending the Capernaum synagogue on the Sabbath day, and just as Jesus reaches the crux of his argument, a man begins to heckle, shouting in a booming voice, “cool it man,” in or in the words of the gospel of Mark, “Leave us alone…Have you come to destroy us?”

This man with “an unclean spirit,” (suffering perhaps from an early form of attention deficit disorder or hyperactivity) doesn’t divert Jesus who immediately commands the demon to chill out, amazing everyone in the congregation. This is just one of the incidents we recall as we sit in the Capernaum synagogue, knowing we are in the same place that Jesus healed that man, two thousand years ago.

Facade of Capernaum's 4th century AD synagogue

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Facade of Capernaum's 4th century AD synagogue

We remember the controversy stirred up in this synagogue when Jesus proclaimed that he was the bread of the Father that came down from heaven.  We imagine the son of Jonas and the son of Simeon, sitting on the limestone bench like us, shaking their heads, frowning and murmuring, “Is this not Jesus, son of Joseph whose father and mother we know?”

What would we have thought when we heard that Jesus not only recruited the local tax collector, Levi son of Alphaeus, (whom the neighbors may have referred to as “the pimp”,) but he merrily feasted with other sinners and outcasts. (Matthew 9)  He healed the unworthy, the disrupters, the crazy, the blind, the mute, the fever-stricken and the paralyzed – all at Capernaum! He dealt with demons and dissenters. Hmmmm.  What does that mean for us?

Edward Robinson identified the synagogue at its NW corner

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Western exterior wall of synagogue at Capernaum

As we exit the gleaming white stone synagogue built over the black basalt building of Jesus’ day, we identify with the wonder that the residents of Capernaum may have felt at being eye-witnesses to these incredible events.  And after you visit Capernaum, you will never again read the Bible in black and white! Scripture will take on a spectrum of color and deeper significance.

Neighborhood of Peter's mother-in-law at Capernaum

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Neighborhood of Peter's mother-in-law at Capernaum

So come with me, to Capernaum, which I visit on every tour.  Sometimes it’s crowded and sometimes not, but we always allow time for deep reflection so that your spirit is refreshed.

Ark of the Covenant decorative stone from Capernaum's synagogue

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Ark of the Covenant decorative stone from Capernaum's synagogue

Old fishing harbor at Capernaum

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Old Capernaum harbor

 

Greek Orthodox church at Capernaum

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Capernaum's Greek Orthodox church

 

Millstones manufactured at Capernaum -- See Luke 17

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Millstones manufactured at Capernaum

 
Gila Yudkin, who calls herself a Connecticut-born Yankee living in King David’s Court, is thrilled when the Bible comes alive for both her and her pilgrims.  After three decades of guiding in peak and off seasons, she has mastered the art of arriving at a holy site when it is least crowded.  Gila loves working with groups thirsty for biblical insight, archeological anecdotes and old-fashioned fun.
 

Copyright 2008, 2011 Gila Yudkin.  Permission needed for any reuse.

If this “highlight” persuades you to pack your bags and join one of Gila's tours so you can visit the synagogue of Capernaum, see tips for what you should bring on a holy land pilgrimage.
Read about Edward Robinson, another Connecticut Yankee, who first identified the ruins at Capernaum as a synagogue.
 

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"Let's attend the synagogue on the Sabbath at Capernaum" (as text without the photos) is one in the series of free bimonthly e-letters sent on request to tour leaders, pastors, clergy, teachers, Bible students, colleagues and friends.  If you'd like to receive "Holy Sites: Gila's Highlights" every other month, please contact Gila.  The last highlight was "Let's follow the spies into and out of Jericho."  This month's highlight is "Let's ascend the cliff of the scapegoat."  The next highlight will be "Let's overlook the site of Jacob's wrestling match."

 

More on Jesus' Galilean ministry:
 

Let's focus on Jesus' Ministry from Mount Arbel

Let's gather by Bethsaida's city gate

Let's ramble through Hippos, a Decapolis city

Mt Arbel / Galilean ministry

Walk 1st C AD Bethsaida

Hippos / Decapolis city

 

Let's not leap off the Nazareth Precipice

Let's feed 5,000 at Tabgha

Let's consider whether Jesus ever visited Sepphoris

Nazareth  

Let's feed 5,000+

Sepphoris / hypocrites   

 


GILA YUDKIN TCHERNIKOVSKI 64A JERUSALEM ISRAEL
gila@itsgila.com

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Holy Land Photography by Gila Yudkin