CAPERNAUM, ancient village on the N.W. shore of the sea of Galilee. Its name is derived from the Hebrew Kefar ("village of") Naḥum (an unknown personage). It is first mentioned by josephus as a village on his line of advance toward the issue of the Jordan into the Sea of Galilee and is described by him as "a highly fertile spring called by the inhabitants Capharnaum" (Wars, 3:519–20). In the New Testament it appears as the place of residence chosen by Jesus on the shore of the lake and it is sometimes even termed "his own city" (Matt. 4:13; 9:1), and it is also stated that he preached in the synagogue of Capernaum one Sabbath (Mark 1:21; John 6:59). It was the seat of a Plan of the Capernaum synagogue, third century C.E. E.L. Sukenik, Ancient Synagogues in Palestine and Greece, London, 1934. Plan of the Capernaum synagogue, third century C.E. E.L. Sukenik, Ancient Synagogues in Palestine and Greece, London, 1934.   customs house (Matt. 9:9) and at least five of the apostles, including the very first ones, were fishermen from Capernaum. Although Jesus in the end reproved the people of Capernaum for their lack of belief (Matt. 11:23; Luke 10:15), a Judeo-Christian community continued there into talmudic times (Eccles. R. 1:8). Capernaum is identified with a ruin called Tell Ḥm in Arabic. Remains of a synagogue were excavated there by H. Kohl and C. Watzinger in 1905; it was entirely cleared and partly restored by the Franciscan fathers who own the site. Dating from the late second or early third century, it is one of the best preserved Galilean synagogues of the early type. The synagogue measures 360 sq. m. (c. 3,240 sq. ft.) and consists of a main basilica-shaped hall with one large and two small entrances in the facade which faces south toward Jerusalem. The facade is ornately decorated: above the main entrance is a large semicircular window with a sculptured frieze running round it. The base of the triangular gable is arched in the "Syrian" style. The hall contains two parallel rows of columns along its length and one transverse row, and stone benches along the walls. The interior is undecorated and no evidence was found of a fixed Torah ark. Steps outside the building led to an upper gallery (probably for women worshipers). The wall of the gallery was adorned with an elaborate stone frieze depicting symbols of the plants of the Holy Land, Jewish religious symbols, including the Tabernacle, menorah, and Torah ark, and magic symbols such as the pentagram and hexagram. A colonnaded court with porches east of the hall probably served as a guest house. Excavations in 1978–87 revealed a Roman Bath house of the "corridor" type and excavations in 1998 found cist graves belonging to the necropolis. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: H. Kohl and C. Watzinger, Antike Synagogen in Galilaea (1916), 4ff.; G. Orfali, Capharnaum et ses ruines (1922); Goodenough, Symbols, 1 (1953), 181–92. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Negev and S. Gibson, Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land (20012). (Michael Avi-Yonah)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Capernaum — (IPA /kʰəˈpɚ.nəm/; Hebrew כפר נחום Kefar Nachum , Nahum s hamlet )was a settlement on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The site is a ruin today, but was inhabited from 150 BC to about AD 750.The town is mentioned in the New Testament: in the… …   Wikipedia

  • CAPERNAUM — vide Capharnaum …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Capernaum — [kə pʉr′nē əm] city in ancient Palestine, on the Sea of Galilee: cf. Matt. 4:12 13; John 2:12 …   English World dictionary

  • Capernaum — /keuh perr nay euhm, nee /, n. an ancient site in N Israel, on the Sea of Galilee: center of Jesus ministry in Galilee. * * * Ancient city, Palestine. Located on the northwestern shore of the Lake Tiberias (Sea of Galilee), it was the home of… …   Universalium

  • Capernaum —    Nahum s town, a Galilean city frequently mentioned in the history of our Lord. It is not mentioned in the Old Testament. After our Lord s expulsion from Nazareth (Matt. 4:13 16; Luke 4:16 31), Capernaum became his own city. It was the scene of …   Easton's Bible Dictionary

  • Capernaum — geographical name city of ancient Palestine on NW shore of Sea of Galilee …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • CAPERNAUM —    a town on the N. side of the Sea of Galilee, the centre of Christ s labours, the exact site of which is uncertain …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Capernaum — One of the most frequently mentioned towns in the gospels, on the NW shore of the Sea of Galilee, and the centre of a fishing industry. Here Jesus healed (e.g. Matt. 8:5–13), taught (Mark 1:21), and called disciples (Mark 2:1, 14). A synagogue… …   Dictionary of the Bible

  • Capernaum — n. ancient city located on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee (Israel); site of partially restored ruins of a splendid synagogue of the 3rd century; site of the home of Jesus during much of his ministry and the home of some of his… …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Capernaum — Ca•per•na•um [[t]kəˈpɜr neɪ əm, ni [/t]] n. bib geg an ancient site in N Israel, on the Sea of Galilee: center of Jesus ministry in Galilee …   From formal English to slang

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