|Capernaum - |
("the village of Nachum".) N.W. of sea of Tiberius, in the land of Gennesaret (now El Ghuweir. compare Matthew 14:34 with John 6:17; John 6:21-24), a most populous and prosperous region. By some identified now with the mound at Khan Minyeh; by others with Tell Hum. Visited by Jesus for a few days (John 2:12); afterward "His own city" and home, to which He retired from Nazareth (where He was reared, as in Bethlehem He was born), when He heard that Herod Antipas, who often resided at Sepphoris, or Diocaesarea, near Nazareth, had imprisoned John the Baptist. Capernaum was less conspicuous, and more suited to be the center of the unobtrusive but energetic ministry of Jesus in Galilee. Remains of ancient potteries, tanneries, etc., still are seen at Tabiga, the manufacturing suburb of Capernaum The prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 9:2) had foretold that this region, namely, Zabulon and Nephthalim, the one most bordering on Gentile darkness, was to be the first to see the great light (Matthew 4:12-16).
Designated "His own city" (Matthew 9:1; Mark 2:1, "at home," KJV "in the house".) The scene of most of His mighty words, and therefore the most guilty in its impenitence. Matthew 11:20-24; "exalted unto heaven" in privileges, it was doomed for neglect of them to be "brought down to hell." Josephus mentions a fountain in Gennesaret, "Capharnaum," identified by some with Ain et Tin (the spring of the fig tree) near Khan Minyeh. The "round fountain" is three miles southward. Tell Hum is three or four miles more to the N. than Khan Minyeh, and so more convenient for the people to run round the N. end of the lake afoot to the E. side while Jesus crossed there by water (Mark 6:32-33). Hum is the last. syllable of Kefr na hum, and was used as an abbreviation.
Tell Hum is the site, according to Arab and Jewish tradition. It is on a point of the shore running into the lake, and backed by rising ground, three miles from where the Jordan enters the lake. Ruins of walls and foundations cover a space half a mile long by a quarter wide. Josephus says: "Gennesaret plain is watered by a most fertile fountain, which the people call Capharnaum. Some have thought this fountain a vein of the Nile, since it produces a fish like the coracinus in the lake near Alexandria." The round fountain at Tabiga, two miles S. of Tell Hum, meets the requirements of Josephus' description. Tristram (Land of Israel) fixes on the round fountain Ain Mudawarah as the fount meant by Josephus (and the site of Capernaum); for he found in it the siluroid catfish or coracine, identical with that of the ponds of Lower Egypt. But this site is too far S., and the catfish is found in the lake also, and was probably in Tabiga.
The recent discovery of the aqueduct which once led Tabiga's waters into the plain of Gennesaret, watering the plain as Josephus describes, decides the question. And the city's site needs not to be put close to the fountain bearing its name in the time of Josephus. The synagogue called "the White Synagogue," is 74 ft. 9 in. long, and 56 ft. 9 inches broad, built N. and S., with three entrances at the S end. Luke 7:5; the centurion (probably of the detachment quartered there, for it was large enough to be called a "city ") "hath built us a (Greek text has "the"), i.e. our, synagogue," the only one in the place. Jairus was its "ruler." Vine leaves, and the pot of manna, are still to be seen among the rich carvings of the ruins Of the lintel at Tell Hum. If Jesus' discourse at Capernaum (John 6:31-32) was delivered in the synagogue of what is now Tell Hum, how appropriate is the Jews' reference to the manna, and His reply, "My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven."
Capernaum was lower than Nazareth and Cana, from whence He "went down" to it (John 2:12; Luke 4:31); the "exalted" in Matthew 11:23 is not in respect to physical but spiritual elevation. There was a receipt of customs there of the commerce both of the lake and of the caravans passing by land by "the way of the sea" southwards. Here Levi, or Matthew, was called (Matthew 9:9; Matthew 17:24). Simon Peter and Andrew belonged to Capernaum (Mark 1:21-29), and perhaps received Jesus' call at the adjoining sea beach (Mark 1:16-17). He healed the centurion's servant there, and Simon's wife's mother (Matthew 8:5; Matthew 8:14), the paralytic (Matthew 9:1), the unclean demon-possessed man (Luke 4:33). The nobleman's son at Capernaum was healed by Jesus at Cana (John 4:46). Jesus' teaching humility by a child occurred here (Mark 9:33-36). The utter uncertainty of the site shows the exact fulfillment of its doom foretold by the Lord.