louis

03 Feb 2016 129 views
 
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photoblog image Capernaum
Capernaum|

Capernaum

Three weeks ago I posted a picture of our boat trip, which was from Tiberias to Capernaum. You will notice that the spelling of Capernaum differs. The name comes from Kfer Naum. Kfer could also be Kafer, but means "village". Naum could also be Nahum. The name of Capernaum thus means "The village of Naum". Who Naum was, nobody knows, but the history buffs say it doesn't refer to the prophet Nahum. Wrong area, for that association.

 

Both pictures show the White Synagogue (limestone) that was later built over the synagogue where Jesus taught at the time of His stay in Capernaum. Synagogues were originally used as a sort of community hall where people got together, to interact. On the Sabbath the interaction would definitely be of a religious nature. More about this, at a later stage. In history, synagogues that are extravagent like the White Synagogue and sometimes even outright ostentatious, started to appear in Byzantyne times.

 

The main reason that I am showing these pictures, is to show how tightly packed the people in this city lived (with a population of around 1,500 it was a city, back then).  There is some space around the synagogue and a single road from south to north just on the other side of the synagogue. This road was broad enough, for wagons to pass each other and was part of the trade route from Egypt to Babylon. There were also toll houses controlling entrance into Capernaum. That is where Matthew worked, before he was called as disciple.

 

In the jumble of excavated houses, it is difficult to discern the streets. They were just broad enough for a donkey laden with wood, to pass through. In general the roads among houses, were not very straight. Houses had door openings, but no doors. It would often occur that someone passing by, would stop in the doorway and strike up a conversation, even when the family was having a meal at the table. Now you can imagine, how it was when Jesus sat teaching in Peter's house in Capernaum. The narrow street thronged with people wanting to join the conversation or wanting to hear what Jesus said. It was not possible for the 4 men bringing the bedridden guy on a stretcher, to reach Jesus. Too much noise and no way to pass through. So they got up on the roof and hacked a hole in the roof, built of stone and whatever they used for mortar, at least one foot (30 odd centimeters) thick. Can you imagine Jesus sitting in the house, all the noise outside, people in the room in discussion with him and among themselves. Then somebody started to hammer away at the roof, one level higher. The Biblical version of this occasion, can be found in Mark 2.

 

During the settlement of Israel, the area of Capernaum was settled by Naphtali. Over time, the area became gentile land. First King Solomon gave twenty cities to king Hiram of Tyre and later the Israelites in this area were taken to Assyria as captives. So when Jesus ministered the area, there were only a few pockets of Jews and the rest were gentiles.  His first stay in Capernaum, followed His baptism in the Jordan and the subsequent temptation.  The Pharisees started a persecution that led to John the Baptist's arrest. See John 4 - the first few verses. He travelled a lot in that area, spreading his gospel and sometimes joined the fishers on water or travelled by boat.

 

Not long after this He returned to Nazareth, but the Pharisees were still after Him and wanted His demise. Luk 4:29  "And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. 30 But he passing through the midst of them went his way, 31 And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days." He never returned to Nazareth.

 

 

 

 

 

comments (13)

It is quite remarkable. I wonder why they packed everything in so closely?
Louis: I believe that anyone trying to answer that question, relating to back then, will just speculate. My speculation is: there was very little town planning - only: this avenue must be kept open for the main road, that area must be kept open for a future synagogue, etc. Then people started to build. My house next to your house, even leaning on your house, or sharing a wall. Space must be left open, so that I can reach my house and deliver stuff, required for the household. "Leaving open" then result in a road growing bit by bit among the houses. I am sure that in your travels, you will have noticed that in the core of the big old cities, the streets tend to be very haphazard. Then as new (younger) suburbs are added on, the infrastructure becomes better regulated.
I see where the expression "this is a capharnaum" comes from now Louis!
Thank you for the history.
Louis: Hah, learnt a new expression from you, today. According to the internet, it means a "confused jumble" - quite so. Richard.
  • Chris
  • England
  • 3 Feb 2016, 06:35
Thank you for the history lesson Louis, it tells me quite a bit I didn't know. These are amazing remains
Louis: Well, I was on a steep learning curve in Israel as well, Chris. Common history, Biblical history, current politics, anthropology, etc - one gets confronted with all of this every day. Meanwhile, back at the backpackers I had to get to know all the beers of that country - hard work.
Being there would surely bring all these stories to life, Louis. WOW.
Louis: Very, very true, Ginnie. Once you get into the thinking of what happened back then, one can just appreciate more and more, what happened. A simple example - Matthew (the toll booth man) and Simon (the zealot) were both disciples of Jesus. A very unlikely combination into one team. Matthew worked for the occupying oppressor (Romans) and collected tolls. The Zealots were an aggressive Jewish sect, who specialised in killing Romans and those (like the toll operators) who kowtowed to the enemy. Their method was to mingle with the people and in passing the would stick a knife into the target's ribs or cut his throat and immediately get lost in the crowd. Now, isn't it interesting that this method is currently used by Palestinians against Jewish soldiers? Anyhow - a toll operator and a zealot worked in one team. There are more such examples of unlikely team mates.

This is the kind of stuff that one came to realise, while in that country. And not only religious history - but also, for instance, why the recent hullabaloo between Iran and the UAE. The execution of the cleric was just the visible thing of the moment. Behind the actions of today, lies 5,000 years of aggressive history.
  • Lisl
  • England
  • 3 Feb 2016, 08:45
I agree with Ginnie - it must have had quite an effect
Louis: Well, since you agree, I will copy my reply to Ginnie here.

Very, very true, Ginnie. Once you get into the thinking of what happened back then, one can just appreciate more and more, what happened. A simple example - Matthew (the toll booth man) and Simon (the zealot) were both disciples of Jesus. A very unlikely combination into one team. Matthew worked for the occupying oppressor (Romans) and collected tolls. The Zealots were an aggressive Jewish sect, who specialised in killing Romans and those (like the toll operators) who kowtowed to the enemy. Their method was to mingle with the people and in passing the would stick a knife into the target's ribs or cut his throat and immediately get lost in the crowd. Now, isn't it interesting that this method is currently used by Palestinians against Jewish soldiers? Anyhow - a toll operator and a zealot worked in one team. There are more such examples of unlikely team mates.

This is the kind of stuff that one came to realise, while in that country. And not only religious history - but also, for instance, why the recent hullabaloo between Iran and the UAE. The execution of the cleric was just the visible thing of the moment. Behind the actions of today, lies 5,000 years of aggressive history.
This is a wonderful post, not only for the pictures but your description of this historic place.
Louis: Thank you gutteridge. I really enjoyed this visit.
Fascinating stuff, Louis.
Louis: Absolutely so, Frank.
I can just have a look see now.
Louis: Aye, ye are busy on that island kingdom of yours, Mary.
I'm sure when you were there you must have tried to imagine John and Jesus walking these very streets. It is good to see posts which go more into the events that took place in these places you visited.
Louis: I do want to share the following thoughts with you. When one visit these places, you can see there are people's imaginations going overboard with them. I think they may imagine John and Jesus walking these very street and they will have thoughts of stepping on the same ground as these two. I came to realise that I am a bit different. The easy way to explain is - let's say I am an Eskimo living on the pole, don't have TV, books or anything. Then suddenly someone says: "Imagine a pink elephant". Some people may claim they imagine something. I can imagine nothing, since I haven't seen an elephant before. In the same way, if I have to imagine someone called John or Jesus, the best I can do is to imagine someone from behind, wearing a long robe. I haven't met or seen them - so I can't really imagine them. This must be a reason, why history livens up when I visit archaeological sites. At the same time I can easily relate facts that makes sense - more facts make sense when I see where it happened.

I don't have anything against those with livelier imaginations. I just came to realise that mine is not that lively.

Anyhow, most portraits and other effigies of Christ are wrong, in at least one way. Jesus was a rabbi and as such he taught in many a synagogue. He taught the fulfilment of the law and prophecies. (That is why all those who were supposedly knowledgeable about the Torah, didn't like Him. They were afraid to lose their importance). Being a rabbi he wore a tallit (prayer shawl) most of the time. When the woman who menstruated so many years, touched Him - according to the source Greek, she touched the tzikzik (corner patch) of His tallit. So He was wearing a tallit and I can't remember that I have ever seen such a picture of Jesus. There may be, but I haven't seen one.

I like to relate what happened, within the limits of trying not to bore viewers. There is so much more that I have picked up, than what I am relating here.
Your text and replies are very interesting. Especially the one to Brian. We are conditioned by generations of artists to picture JC as a white Caucasian with a long flowing beard and blue eyes. That would be a far cry from the people who actually lived their lives here.
Louis: The thing is, that those artists could be right and could also be wrong. Chances are that JC would have had a beard, as they all had beards. The rest is improbable, but not impossible. What I did come to realise about Jewish and Palestinian peoples, is that they are not European. Which brings me to another point - all those refugees streaming to Europe are not European and assimilation of those peoples into Europe is going to be difficult for both sides of the fence.
Fascinating stuff, Louis.
Louis: Indeed, it is, Tom
Wow that is a lot of history that you shared with us today Louis...
i can imagine the people gathering around the when Jesus sat teaching in Peter's house...
these ruins remind me of the Glanum – Roman ruins – St-Remy-de-Provence in France... it it had built between the 4th and 2nd centuries BC by a tribe of Celto-Ligurian people,the Salyensthe... then rebuilt by the Greeks using flat finished rectangular stone and then Romans building on top of parts of the city with the rough stone....Petersmile
Louis: Thank you, peter. I know what you mean about Glanum. Interesting is that Capernaum was built at roughly the same time as Glanum, only so many kms away.
  • Ray
  • Thailand
  • 13 Feb 2016, 08:06
Looks like they are more into rock work than carpentry, Louis.
Louis: As far as I understand the building techniques, carpentry would be limited to building supports and trestles for use during the building process. For the rest it would be about furniture.

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