Capernaum (2)


The arguments on the site of this important place in New-Test. history are thus given afresh in Badeker's Syria, p. 372 sq.:

"It has been a subject of much dispute where the ancient Capernaum is to be sought. At Capernaum there was a custom - lollse and a garrison. Doubtless, therefore, it was situated close to the frontier of the tetrarchy of Philip; and in this respect it corresponds with Khtu Minyeh. This inference might be drawn from the direction of the Roman roads across the hills, leading into the tetrarchy, except for the probability that there was also a frequented road from the mouth of the [upper] Jordan, skirting the [west] shore of the lake, in. which case the frontier-town would-:lie farther north. After a victorious engagement in the plains of Batikha, Josephus, who was injured by a fall from his horse, caused himself to be carried to Capernaum, which was probably the nearest place, and therefore not Khau Minyeh. When Christ crossed the lake from Capernaum to .the opposite shore (Mr 6:32 sq.) the crowd ran round the north end of the lake to meet him. and a glance at the map shows that Tell Hum is more likely to. have been the starting-point than Khin Minyeh. Again when Mark informs us that the disciples took ship to the plain of Gennesanret (vi, 45,'S3), and John that they sailed to Capernaum (vi, 24), we are hardly justified in inferring that Capernaum lay in the plain, of Gennesaret.

Bible concordance for CAPERNAUM.

Major Wilson argues in a similar manner in favor of Tell Hum (in Plumptre's Bible Educator, iii, 184 sq.). Lieut. Conder well sums up the evidence thus (Tentwork in Palestine, ii, 182 sq.):

"The various scholars and explorers who have written since Robinson are divided into two parties; one placing Capernaum at the ruins near Khan Minyeh, the other selecting the other site at Tell Hum. The places are only two and a half miles apart, but modern disputations are not content-with such Wide limits. There is a point which strikes. one as curious in the controversy. In all the arguments usually brought forward, no reference is made to the information which can be deduced from Jewish scribes dating . later than in Bible times. To this information I would call attention. "Identification, properly so called, is impossible when the old name is lost; but in the case of Capernaum traces of the name may perhaps be recovered still. It is generally granted that the Talmudic Caphar Nahum, or "Village of Nahum," was probably identical with the New Test. Capernaum, and it is on this supposition that the only philological claim of Tell Hum is based; but the loss implied of an important radical at the commencement of the name Hum, if it be supposed to be a corruption of Nahum, is a change of which we have scarcely any instance; moreover, Hilm in Hebrew means 'black,' and still retains its original signification in Arabic. Tell Hum was so named,-no doubt, from the black basalt which covers the site. If we are to seek for an ancient corresponding title, I would suggest Capphar Ahim, a town mentioned in the Talmud with Chorazin, and famous for its wheat, as being probably the ancient name of the ruined site at Tell Hum. Even if this town were standing in the time of Christ, there seems no more reason why its name should be mentioned ill the Gospels than at Taricheae or Sepphoris should be so noticed, or that Chorazin should be mentioned by Josephus when speaking of the same district. "An investigation of the name Minyeh is more satisfactory. In Hebrew it is derived from a root meaning 'lot,' or 'chance.' Aramanic it, has an identical meaning, and the Talmud often mentions the Minai, or

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

'Diviners,' under which title were included not only every kind of sorcerer and enchanter, but also the early Jewish converts to Christianity. Now this word Minai is intimately connected with Capernaum. In the Talmud there is a curious passage (quoted in Buxtorf's Rabbinic Lexiconi) where 'sinners' are defined as 'sons of Caphar Nahum;' and these Hutal (or sinners), we find from another passage, were none other than the Minai. It is evident that the Jews looked on Capernaum as he headquarters of the Christians, whom they contemptuously styled 'sorcerers;' and the importance thus attached by them to that town, as a Christian centre, is in accordance with the expression in the Gospel, where Capernaum is called our Lord's 'own city' (Mt 9:1). The Talmiudic doctors speak, then, of Capernaum as the city of Minai, and as such it continued to be regarded by the Jews down to the 14th century. In A.D. 1334 Isaac Chelo travelled from Tiberias to Caphar Anan (Kefr 'Alnan), presumably the direct road passing near The Rotund mountain. He was shown on his way the ruins of Caphar Nahum, and in them the tomb of Nahum, sand he remarks incidentally as to the place, here formerly dwelt the Minai.' It is evident that he cannot e supposed, without, twisting he narrative, to refer to any place so far from his route as is Tell Hum. The site at Minveh would. have been within a mile and a half of his road, and the name is apparently connected with Capernaum by his valuable note about, the Minai. The same connection is traced in A.D. 1616, when Qmurnesmisius speaks of Capernaum as shown at a place called Minyeh, and thus we are able to trace back an apparently unbroken Jewish tradition connecting Capernaum with the 'Village of the Minai,' and with the untied site of Minyeh.

"In addition to the Jewish tradition connecting Minyeh with Capernaum, there is a second indication which favors that identification. Josephus speaks of the fountain which watered the plain of Gennesaret, and which was called Capernaum. It contained a fish named Coracinsimi, which was also found in the Nile. There are two springs to which this account has been supposed to apply, the one two and a half miles south of Miinyeh, the other scarcely three quarters of a mile east of the .same site. The first irrigates a great part of the plain of Gennesaret. the Coracinus has been found in it, and the waters are clear and flesh; his is called 'Ain-el-

Madomwel, 'the round spring.' The second is called 'Ain Tabghah and Dr. Tristtram points out that the water being warm, brackish, and muddy, is unfit for the Coracinus, which has never as yet been found in it. 'Ain Tibgah is not in the plain. of Gennesaret. It is a spring surrounded by an octagonal reservoir, which was built up to its present height by one of the sons of the famous Dhahr- el'Amr in the last century, and the water is thus dammed up to about fifty- two feet aloe the lake. An aqueduct, of masonry, apparently modern, leads from the level of the reservoir to the cliff at Minyeh, where is a rock-cut channel three feet deep and broad, resembling more the great rock-cutting of the Roman road at Abila than any of the rock-cut aqueducts of the country. The water was conducted through this channel to the neighborhood of the Khan, or just to the edge. of the plain of Gennesaret. It is important to notice that the spring can only have watered the neighborhood of Minyeh after the reservoir had been built, and that it was probably always, unfitted for the presence of the Coracinns. As 'Ain Thoghah is not in the plain of Gennesaret, and as it does not irrigate that plain -the modern aqueduct being apparently constructed to supply some mills near Minyeh-it seems impossible to identify this spring with that mentioned by Josephus as the abode of the Coracillus. And even if the Tabghah spring were that of Capernaum, the case for Tell Hum is not thereby strengthened, the distance from the spring to that ruin (nearly two miles) being double that from the spring to Minyeh-scarcely three quarters of a mile.

"In favor of the Minyeh site we have then Jewish tradition, and the existence of a spring fulfilling the description of Josephus; but it must not be denied that in favor of Tell Hum we have Christian. tradition from the 4th century downwards. Jerome places Capernaum two miles from Chorazin. If, as seems almost certain, by the latter place he means the ruin of Kerlizeh, the measurement is exactly that to Tell Hum. The account of Theodorus (A.D. 532) is more explicit, and seems, indeed, almost conclusive as to the site of his Capernaum. Two miles from Magdala he places the Seven Fountains, where the miracle of feeding the five thousand was traditionally held to have taken place: these, as will presently appear, were probably close to Minyeh ; and two miles from the fountains was Capernaum, whence it was six miles to Bethsaida, on the road to Baiinas. These measurements seem to point to Tell Hum as the 6th-century Capernaum. Antoninus Martyr (A.D. 600) speaks of the great basilica in Capernaum, which it is only natural to identify with the synagogue of Tell Hum, which seems probably by comparison with those at Meirin to be the work of Simeon Bar Jochai, the Cabalist, who lived about A.D. 120. Arculphus (A.D. 700) visited the fountain where the five thousand were fed, and from the hill near it he saw Capernaum at no great distance, on a narrow tract between the lake and the northern hills. His account thus agrees with that of Theodorus, though in itself so indefinite, that it has been brought as evidence in favor of both the sites advocated for Capernaum. Saewulf (A.D. 1103) proceeded along the shore for six miles, going north-east from Tiberias, to the mountain where the five thousand were fed, then called Mensa, or 'table,' which had a church of St. Peter at its. foot. It is evident, from the measurements, that this hill was in the neighborhood of Miyeh, where Theodorus also seems to place the scene of .the, miracle, as above noticed. John of Wurzburg (about A.D. 1100) speaks of the mountain called Mensa, with a fountain a mile distant, and Capernaum two miles away. Fretellus (A.D. 1150) is yet more explicit. Capernaum, he says, is at the head of the lake, two miles from the descent of the mountain, an apparently three from the fountain where the five thousand were fed, which fountain would probably be 'Ain-et-Tin, a large source, west of Minyeh, and not far from the hill which Saewulf points oust as being, the Meusa. The whole of this topography is summed up by Marinio Sanuto, whose valuable chart of Palestine shows us the position of the various traditional sites of the 14th century. On this chart the Mensa is shown in a position which is unmistakable. The valleys which run down to the plain of Genuesaret are drawn in with some fidelity, and the Mensa is placed north of them; at the border of the lake Bethsaida is shown, about in the position of Minyeh, and Capernaum near the site of Tell Hum; in the letterpress the account is equally clear, Capernaum being placed near the north-east corner of the lake, and Bethsaida just where the lake begins to curve round southward.

"Christian tradition points, then, to Tell Hum as being Capernaum, but Jewish hatred has preserved the Jewish site under the opprobrious epithet of Minyeh; the question is simply whether-- setting aside the important testimony of Josephus-Jewish or Christian tradition is to be accepted."

After repeated consideration, and especially since a personal examination of the localities, we are inclined to locate Capernaum at Khan Minyeh, and Bethsaida at Tell Hum.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.