Capernaum is nicknamed “The city of Jesus” because it served as the headquarters of Jesus’ ministry around the Sea of Galilee (aka, the Sea of Tiberias, and Lake Chinnereth). It is here that Jesus calls his first disciples, Peter, Andrew, John, and James (Matthew 4:18-22).

Jesus taught in the synagogue here (John 6:24-59). This synagogue was dug up in the 1900’s and it gives us a great sense of how a synagogue was designed. “The building is orientated north-south, stands on a podium and is built of nicely cut limestone, in contrast to the black basalt houses round about. Built to a height of two stories, it is 65 feet long and has an atrium on the east. The facade is decorated with arched gables. Three doors lead into the synagogue proper, which is divided into a broad nave andtwo narrow aisles by rows of columns. Another row of columns facing the entrance connects the two longitudinal rows and its plan thus differs from the basilical type. Along the aisles are stone benches and there is no fixed position for the Torah Shrine” (The Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land).

This building has been identified as Peter’s house. They were built with drystone walls of black basalt. Small dwelling chambers surrounded a court, commonly paved. The courts contained ovens, staircases to the roof, and an exit to the street. Stone pillars helped to hold up flat roofs, and the main street ran north-south from the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

The star of David was one of the ornamentations found on the synagogue.

An ionic temple on wheels may represent the ark of the covenant of a Torah shrine.

This is how the ruins looked before the Franciscans built a church a top on the round-shaped house which was identified as Peter’s house (circa 1970).

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