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Monday, July 23, 2007

Walking where Jesus walked.
Visiting Capharnaum (the home of Jesus on the Galilee)

By Stan Wilson
Special to ASSIST News Service
Sign at the entrance to Capharnaum2) 3)

CAPHARNAUM, ISRAEL (ANS) -- The Ministry of Tourism of the state of Israel offered publishers of 10 American Christian newspapers to tour Israel in June, and I was fortunate enough to be one of the participants. I've heard many people say, "Visit Israel and you will never be the same." Without a doubt, this has to be the understatement of the millennium.

Although I returned from Israel June 11, I am still having flashbacks of the tour. Now, it seems that every time I open the Bible, I read something that took place at one of the cites that we visited. For this month's installment, I will share more about Jesus' Galilee hometown, Capharnaum (also spelled Capernaum.) Nineteen seasons of archaeological excavations under the direction of the state of Israel took place in Capharnaum from 1968 to 1986. We can now walk the streets where Jesus started his ministry.

Capharnaum 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. In the year 1668 the traveler Michel Nau wrote, "Capharnaum is called at present Talhum.

Excavations have pushed back the settlement's origins into the third millennium. After a complete break during the Israelite period (1200-587 BC) the site was resettled in the fifth century BC, and expanded in the Hellenistic and Roman periods (300 BC - 300 AD) reaching its peak in the Byzantine period (400-700 AD.) Significant remains of the Arabic period (700-1100 AD) prove that the town was not abandoned after the destruction of the synagogue and of the octagonal church. It is estimated that the town had a population of about 1,500 during the town's maximum expansion. From the community of Capharnaum Jesus chose many of his apostles either among fishermen (Peter, Andrew, James, John) or publicans (Matthew.)

Visitors can walk in and around the remains of the "White Synagogue"

Jesus teaches with authority: Mark 1:21-28; Jesus and his companions went to the town of Capernaum. When the Sabbath day came, eh went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority-quite unlike the teachers of religious law. Suddenly, a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit began shouting, "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 cut him short. "Be quiet! Come out of the man," he ordered. At that, the evil spirit screamed, threw the man into a convulsion, and then came out of him. Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. "What sort of new teaching is this?" they asked excitedly. "It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!"
The remains of Peter's house in Capharnaum include the inner room which was probably used as the First Christian Church

The news about Jesus spread quickly throughout the entire region of Galilee. Jesus heals Peter's Mother-in-Law and many others: Mark 29-34; After Jesus left the synagogue with James and John, they went to Simon and Andrew's home. Now Simon's mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. They told Jesus about her right away. So he went to her bedside, took her by the hand, and helped her sit up. Then the fever left her, and she prepared a meal for them. That evening after sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. The whole town gathered at the door to watch. So Jesus healed many people who were sick with various diseases, and he cast out many demons. But because the demons knew who he was, he did not allow them to speak.

I still get goose bumps when I remember walking through the very synagogue where Christ performed this miracle, and I stood in awe viewing the remains of the home where Christ healed Simon's mother-in-law and many others. The remains of the synagogue that we see are actually of the White Synagogue which was built in the late 4th Century on the remains of the Synagogue of Jesus. The foundation of Jesus' Synagogue is quite obvious as it was made with dark native volcanic stone.

If reading of my tour has excited you just a little, I suggest that you visit for further information about Israel and tour information. This is the official website of the Israel Ministry of Tourism. They offer several "virtual tours" online and you can get complete information and find links to help you make your plans. You can actually spend days just navigating the website in preparation for your "trip of a lifetime." Yes, I'll go back.and take my wife. Tours are actually much less expensive that I had thought. One of the tourism magazines that we received featured several all-inclusive tours including airfare from New York for $1200 to $1500. Of course, putting together a tour with members of your church would just be the icing on the cake. Shalom!

Stan Wilson is a lifetime journalist after graduating from college in 1970 with a B.A. in journalism. He  worked in various positions in newspapers in Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas prior to starting Southwest Kansas Faith and Family in 2001. Faith and Family is a monthly Christian newspaper serving Dodge City, Garden City and 18 other surrounding communities. He can be contacted by email at

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