From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]


1. The name.

2. Description of the localities.

3. Identification.

4. Capernaum and Bethsaida.

5. References in NT.

6. History.


The question as to the position of Capernaum is of great importance for the Gospel story. It is the pivot on which hinges the determination of the scene of the greater part of our Lord’s active ministry. The three places, Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida, must all be taken together, and they must in any case be not far from the Plain of Gennesaret. This plain is undoubtedly the modern el-Ghuweir ( i.e. ‘the little Ghôr ’ or ‘hollow’); there is also no doubt that Chorazin is the modern Kerâzeh . The present article is written in the belief that Capernaum is Tell Hûm (which is the view of the majority of scholars), and that Bethsaida was the port (now called el-‘Araj ), on the Lake, of Bethsaida Julias ( et-Tell ).

1. The Name .—The correct form of the name is undoubtedly Καφαρναούμ. This is found in all the oldest authorities to the end of the 4th cent. (Evv. codd. opt.; Verss. antiq. Latt. Syrr. aegypt. Goth.; Josephus BJ, Onomast . Euseb. Hieron.). The spelling Καπερναούμ begins to appear in the 5th cent., but after that date rapidly covered the ground. In Josephus ( Vita , § 72), mention is made of a village the name of which Niese prints as Κεφαρνωκόν, but there are many various readings, and the text is pretty certainly corrupt. The exact relation of the ancient name to the modern does not work out very clearly. It is easy to understand how Caphar (mod. Kefr = ‘village’), as a habitation of living men, might become Tell in the sense of ‘a heap of ruins’ (strictly = ‘mound,’ but there is no mound on the site). But there are difficulties in the way of regarding Hûm as a contraction for ‘Nahum’; and some good philologists (Buhl, op. cit. inf ., cf. Socin, Guthe, ib .) prefer to regard Tell Hûm as a corruption of Tenhûm or Tanhûm , which occurs in Jewish, authorities.

2. Description of the localities .—The beautiful Plain of Gennesaret is closed on the north-east by a spur of the hills which slopes down gradually to the Lake. In the hollow formed by this, on the rising ground where the caravan-route begins to ascend the ridge, is the ruined khân of Khân Minyeh . On the low ground beneath, and also on the ridge above, there are a few more inconspicuous remains; and between the khân and the Lake is a fountain ( ‘Ain et-Tîn ). Rounding the little promontory, on which is a German hospice, we come to a bay, on the further side of which is a group of springs. One of these is described by Sir Charles Wilson as ‘by far the largest spring in Galilee, and estimated to be more than half the size of the celebrated source of the Jordan at Banias’ ( Recovery , etc. ii. 348). The waters of this spring come to the surface with great force, and, after being collected in a strongly-built reservoir, they were carried by an aqueduct, in part cut through the rock, round the promontory and to the rear of Khân Minyeh  ; from thence they were used to irrigate the plain. The modern name of this fountain is ‘Ain et-Tâbigha . The ancient name was ‘Seven Fountains’ ( Itin. Hieros . ed. Vindob. p. 138) or Heptapegon (of which et-Tâbigha is an echo). A full mile and a half, or two Roman miles farther, are the ruins of Tell Hûm . These cover a considerable extent of ground, half a mile in length by a quarter in breadth. The houses generally were built of blocks of black basalt. A single public building of larger size (74 ft. 9 in. × 56 ft. 9 in.) was of white limestone. This is commonly identified with the synagogue.

‘Seen alone there might have been some doubt as to its character, but compared with the number of ruins of the same character which have lately been brought to notice in Galilee, there can be none. Two of those buildings have inscriptions in Hebrew over their main entrances; one in connexion with a seven-branched candlestick, the other with figures of the paschal lamb, and all without exception are constructed after a fixed plan, which is totally different from that of any church, temple, or mosque in Palestine’ (Wilson, Recovery , etc. ii. 344).

Two Roman miles up the course of a stream which enterst he Lake just beyond Tell Hûm , are ruins which bear the name of Kerâzeh  ; but between Tell Hûm and the mouth of the Jordan there are no more ruins and no special features. Across the Jordan a little way back from its mouth, is et-Tell , which is now generally held to mark the site of Bethsaida Julias. This was in ancient times connected by a paved causeway with a cluster of ruins on the shore of the Lake, now known as el-ʿAraj .

3. Identification .—It will be seen that there is really not very much choice. Chorazin is certainly Kerâzeh , and Bethsaida Julias, built by the tetrarch Philip, is pretty certainly et-Tell . The alternatives for Capernaum are thus practically reduced to Khân Minyeh and Tell Hûm . And the broad presumption must be in favour of the latter, as Capernaum was no doubt the most important place at this end of the Lake, and the ruins are here far more extensive than those at Khân Minyeh , as well as demonstrably ancient. The khân at Khân Minyeh appears to have been built in the 16th cent. (Sepp, op. cit. inf . p. 165), though the place name first occurs in the time of Saladin.

Is this broad presumption overruled by any decisive consideration? A few minor arguments have been adduced against it. Capernaum was a place where tolls were collected ( Mark 2:14 ||), and it is thought that this would be more natural on the main caravan road: but a place of the size of Tell Hûm must in any case have had its tolls, and there was certainly a road along the north end of the Lake leading to Bethsaida Julias (Guthe). The bay of et-Tâbigha is much frequented by fish, and the beach is suitable for mooring boats. But there is little, if any, trace of ruins that are not quite modern. The ruins about Khân Minyeh are also inconsiderable, though further excavation is needed to bring out their real character.

The point that seemed for a time to outweigh all the rest turned upon the position of the fountain. Josephus, who is our earliest and best authority, expressly says that the Plain of Gennesaret was watered by the fountain of Capernaum ( BJ iii. x. 8). The only fountain to which this statement can apply is that of et-Tâbigha . There are other fountains, but none of them could be said in any sense to irrigate the plain as in ancient times this fountain certainly did. This indication might seem prima facie to support the claims of Khân Minyeh . The fountain is a short mile from this site, and two short (Roman) miles from Tell Hûm . But it has to be remembered that these large villages or towns on the Sea of Galilee had each its ‘territory.’ Thus Josephus speaks of the ‘territory’ of Hippos (Ἱππηνή, BJ iii. iii. 1); and the ‘Gerasene’ demoniac (in  Mark 5:1-17 ||) is a case of the same kind—the swine were not feeding in the town itself but in its territory. In like manner the fountain was situated within the territory of Capernaum, whether it was at Khân Minyeh or at Tell Hûm .

This leaves room for the natural presumption to tell in favour of Tell Hûm . And the identification is. confirmed by the fact that the pilgrim Theodosius ( circa (about) 530 a.d.), coming from the West, arrived at Heptapegon before he came to Capernaum: this he would have done if it were at Tell Hûm , but not if it had been at Khân Minyeh ( Itin . Hieros . p. 138; cf. JThS t [Note: ThSt Journal of Theological Studies.] v. 44). Other indications, whether Biblical or derived from the narratives of the pilgrims, are all indecisive.

Just for a time there was a certain swing of the pendulum (which may be said to have reached its eight in the last decade of the last century) in favour of Khân Minyeh . But the balance of the criticism of the last fifty years is pretty clearly on the side of Tell Hûm . But absolutely decisive results can only be obtained, if at all, by thorough and systematic excavation.

4. Capernaum and Bethsaida. —The two questions of Capernaum and Bethsaida are so closely connected, that a word should be added upon the latter. The only Bethsaida in these parts known to general history is that of which we have just spoken as located at et-Tell to the east of the Jordan. It has often been thought necessary to postulate a second Bethsaida, which is most commonly placed at the bay of et-Tâbigha . The main reasons for this are two. ( a ) In  John 12:21, the Bethsaida of the Gospels is described as ‘Bethsaida of Galilee,’ whereas Bethsaida Julias was, strictly speaking, in Gaulanitis ( BJ ii. ix. 1). ( b ) The phrase εἱς τὸ πέραν in  Mark 6:45 seems to imply that Bethsaida was on the opposite side of the Lake to the scene of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. These reasons are, however, insufficient to warrant the invention of a second Bethsaida so near to the first, and itself so wholly hypothetical. In the bay of et-Tâbigha there are no ruins to prove its existence. On the other hand, ( a ) there is evidence enough to show that ‘Galilee’ was often loosely used for the country east of Jordan and of the Lake ( BJ ii. xx. 4, iii. iii. 1; Ant . xviii. i. 1, 6); and the geographer Ptolemaeus speaks of Bethsaida Julias as ‘in Galilee,’ just as St. John does (Buhl, GA P [Note: AP Geographic des alten Palästina.] p. 242). Political boundaries were so shifting, and the adjustments of territory in these little principalities were so constantly changed, that a loose use of terms grew up, and the more familiar names were apt to displace the less familiar, ( b ) The phrase εἱς τὸ πέραν cannot be pressed; it might be used of an oblique course from any one point on the shore of the Lake to any other: Josephus ( Vita , § 59) uses διεπεραιώθην of taking ship from Tiberias to Taricheae, which are on the same side of the Lake, and very little farther from each other than Bethsaida from the scene of the miracle.

5. References in the Gospels .—So far as our Lord had any fixed headquarters during His Galilaean ministry, they were in Capernaum. It is called His ‘own city’ (ἰδία πόλις) in  Matthew 9:1. The same close connexion is implied by the special reproach addressed to the city in  Matthew 11:23 (=  Luke 10:15). The public ministry, in the more formal sense, was opened here by the call of the four leading Apostles ( Mark 1:16-20); and here, too, were the labours of which we have a graphic and typical description on the Sabbath that followed ( Mark 1:21-34 ||). We have repeated mention of a particular house to which our Lord resorted, which was probably St. Peter’s. During the early part of His ministry He must have spent much tune here, but during the latter part His visits can have been only occasional.

Perhaps we should be right in inferring from the presence of the ‘centurion’ ( Matthew 8:5 ff.,  Luke 7:2 ff.) that Herod Antipas had a small garrison here. St. Luke tells us that this centurion, though a Gentile, had built the synagogue of the place. Is it too sanguine to believe that this was the very building the remains of which are still most conspicuous among the ruins? There appears to be good reason for the view that they are really the remains of a synagogue. A comparison with similar buildings elsewhere in Galilee brings out the distinctive features of the ground plan, and the presence of religious emblems seems to render this probable. The richness of the architecture (cf. pl. xvii. in the present writer’s Sacred Sites of the Gospels ) may seem to suggest that the ruins date from the palmy days of Galilaean Judaism (a.d. 140–300), and Schürer refers them to this period. But there is one argument that perhaps points in a different direction. There was a synagogue at Chorazin hardly less elaborate than that at Capernaum, though with its ornaments cut in the black basalt, and not in limestone (Wilson, Recovery , ii. 3, 4, 7). Now, we know that when Eusebius wrote his Onomasticon , the site of Chorazin was already ‘deserted’ ( Onomast ., ed. Klostermann, p. 174). This desertion is not likely to have been very recent. And it is perhaps after all more probable that elaborate building took place at a time when Galilee had a prince of its own with architectural ambitions, who must have gathered around him a number of skilled artificers at Tiberias. The Herods were all builders; and the period of their rule was probably that in which Galilee enjoyed the greatest material prosperity.

6. Later history .—From a.d. 150 onwards the shores of the Sea of Galilee became a stronghold of Rabbinical Judaism. The fanaticism of this district would not tolerate the presence of Christians; it is expressly stated by Epiphanius ( Haer . xxx. 11; cf. Harnack, Expansion of Christianity , ii. 261) that down to the time of Constantine no one had ever dared to erect a church either at Nazareth or Capernaum, or at other places mentioned in the neighbourhood. That means that there must have been a complete break in the Christian tradition; so that, when we read later that a church was built on the supposed site of Peter’s house, it is not likely that the guess had any real authority ( Itin. Hieros . pp. 112 f., 163, 197). Still Capernaum was one of the sacred places, and from the 4th cent, onwards it was frequented by Christian pilgrims. Eusebius (and Jerome after him) mentions the place as on the Sea of Gennesaret, but throws no further light upon it beyond fixing its distance as two Roman miles from Chorazin ( Onomast . pp. 120, 174). We have seen that Theodosius came to it from Tiberias after passing through Magdala and Seven Fountains ( Itin. Hieros . p. 137 f.). Arculfus ( circa (about) 670 a.d.) did not enter Capernaum, but saw it from a neighbouring height stretching along the Lake, and observed that it had no wall ( ib . p. 273 f.). The nun who tells the story of St. Willibald ( circa (about) 723 a.d.) makes him first come to Capernaum, then to Bethsaida, then to Corazaim, ubi Dominus daemoniacos curavit , where there is an evident confusion between Chorazin and Gerasa (mod. Kersa ), the scene of the healing of the demoniac. The same blunder occurs in the anonymous Life , so that it probably goes back to St. Willibald himself (see Tobler, Descript. Terr. Sanct. pp. 26, 63). We have seen that the history of Khân. Minyeh , so far as we can trace it, belongs to the Saracenic and Turkish periods. Saladin halted at al-Munaja in 1189, but the building of the khân is referred by Sepp to Sinan Pasha under Suleiman the Magnificent (1496–1566).

Literature.—The most important descriptions and discussions are as follows:—On the side of those who would place Capernaum at Khân Minyeh  : Robinson, BR P [Note: RP Biblical Researches in Palestine.] 2 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] ii. 403–408, iii. 344–360; Sepp, Neue Entdeckungen (Munchen. 1896); G. A. Smith, HGH L [Note: GHL Historical Geog. of Holy Land.] 4 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] p. 456, and in Encyc. Biblica . On the side of those who identify Capernaum with Tell Hûm  : W. M. Thomson, L B [Note: The Land and the Book.] (ed. 1901) pp. 350–356, cf. also 359 f.; Sir Charles Wilson, The Recovery of Jerusalem (London, 1871), ii. 375–387; and a solid phalanx of the most judicious German writers, e.g. Furrer in Schenkel’s Bibel-Lexikon (1871); Socin (in Baedeker’s Pal . [Note: Palestine, Palestinian.] 3 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] p. 291 f.); Schürer, GJ V [Note: JV Geschichte des Jüdischen Volkes.] 3 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] ii. 445 f.; Guthe, Kurzes Bibelwörterbuch , and elsewhere; Buhl, GA P [Note: Geographic des alten Palästina.] (1896) pp. 223–225, cf. 242. The writer of this article gave a hesitating adhesion to the former view in Sacred Sites of the Gospels (Oxford, 1903), but retracted that opinion in JThS t [Note: Journal of Theological Studies.] for Oct. 1093, vol. v. pp. 42–48.

W. Sanday.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

("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.

Holman Bible Dictionary [3]

village of Nahum

The site currently being excavated is known to the Arabs as Tell Hum, and archaeologists are generally agreed that it is the location of ancient Capernaum.

Capernaum appears in the biblical record only in the Gospels where it is mentioned 16 times. As an economic center in Galilee it was more significant than tradition has often allowed. The designation “city” distinguishes it from the “fishing village” category. Perhaps the proximity to a major east-west trade route explains the need for a customs station there. The importance of the city is further demonstrated by the location of a military installation there under the command of a centurion. Fishing and farming were important to the economy and archaeological evidence suggests that there were other light industries contributing to the local prosperity.

In the New Testament Capernaum was chosen as the base of operations by Jesus when He began His ministry. Teaching in the synagogue ( Mark 1:21 ) and private homes ( Mark 2:1 ) was basic to His work there, but the miracles performed there appear to have precipitated the controversy and opposition. The religious leadership challenged the direction of Jesus' ministry ( Mark 2:24 ,  Mark 7:5 ) and the popular following attempted to take over and force Him into a political position ( John 6:15 ). Mark ( John 2:1 ) referred to Capernaum as Jesus' home and Matthew (  John 9:1 ) described it as “his own city.” It appears that several of the disciples also lived in that town including Peter, Andrew, Matthew, and perhaps John and James. The populace apparently did not accept His messianic role because they fell under the same condemnation as Chorazin and Bethsaida for failing to repent ( Matthew 11:20-24 ).

Talmudic sources of the second century refer to Capernaum as the home of some Jewish heretics (“Minim”) who are generally taken to have been Jewish Christians. An early Christian traveler, Egeria, in 381-384 reported a church on the site of the home of the apostle Peter, and the pilgrim of Piacenza, 573, reported that the site was then a basilica. It should, however, be noted that Jewish presence remained strong at least through the sixth century.

The city was abandoned finally sometimes during the 10th century before the arrival of the Crusaders. Early archaeological work was begun on the synagogue by Wilson and Anderson in 1856. The area near the synagogue was purchased by the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land in 1894 and an area of equal size comprising the eastern portion of the town was acquired by the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem. The synagogue area was excavated in 1905 by Kohl and Watzinger and 1921 by Orfali who also worked the area of an octagonal Christian church built over a place traditionally held as the site of Peter's house. Since 1968, archaeologists Corbo and Loffreda have continued the work showing an important settlement dating to the first century. The Greek section has been excavated since 1978 under the direction of Vassilios Tzaferis and has demonstrated that the city did not die in the seventh century A.D. but shifted eastward and survived until about the Crusader period. Notable finds in recent years have included a major gold hoard (1982) and an early Roman bath house.

George W. Knight

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [4]

CAPERNAUM . The headquarters of Christ in His Galilæan ministry, after His rejection at Nazareth (  Matthew 4:13 ,   John 2:12 ). Here he healed the centurion’s palsied servant (  Matthew 8:5-13 ,   Luke 7:2-10 ), provided the half-shekel for the Temple tribute (  Matthew 17:24 ), taught in the synagogue (  Mark 1:21 ,   Luke 4:31 ,   John 6:59 ), performed many miracles (  Mark 1:23 to   Mark 2:12 ,   Luke 4:33-41 ), taught humility to the disciples (  Mark 9:33 ), healed a nobleman’s son by a word from Cana (  John 4:46 ). For its unbelief He denounced the city (  Matthew 11:23 ,   Luke 10:15 ). Though it was evidently a town of considerable importance, the site is forgotten and is a matter of dispute. The two sites most in favour are Tell Hum and Khan Minyeh , both on the north side of the Sea of Galilee, the former about midway between the latter and the mouth of the Jordan. At Tell Hum are extensive ruins, including the remains of a synagogue. Khan Minyeh does not show such important remains, and, as these seem all to be Arab , the balance of probability is on the side of Tell Hum , whose name should probably be written Telhum , and regarded as a corruption of Caphar Tanhum , the Talmudic form of the city’s name (see the latest discussion on the subject in PEFST [Note: Quarterly Statement of the same.] 1907, p. 220). If the remains at Tell Hum are not Capernaum, it is difficult to say what important city they represent (see Sanday’s art. ‘Capernaum’ in Hastings’ DCG [Note: CG Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels.] ).

R. A. S. Macalister.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [5]

Caper'naum. (Village Of Nahum). Capernaum was on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.  Matthew 4:13. Compare  John 6:24. It was in the "land of Gennesaret," [ Matthew 14:34. Compare  John 6:17;  John 6:21;  John 6:24.] It was of sufficient size to be always called a "city,"  Matthew 9:1;  Mark 1:33, had its own synagogue, in which our Lord frequently taught,  Mark 1:21;  Luke 4:33;  Luke 4:38;  John 6:59, and there was also a customs station, where the dues were gathered both by stationary and by itinerant officers.  Matthew 9:9;  Matthew 17:24;  Mark 2:14;  Luke 5:27.

The only interest attached to Capernaum is, as the residence of our Lord and his apostles, the scene of so many miracles and "gracious words." It was when he returned, thither, that he is said to have been "in the house."  Mark 2:1. The spots which lay claim to its site are,

1. Kahn Minyeh , a mound of ruins which takes its name from an old khan hard by. This mound is situated close upon the seashore at the northwestern extremity of the plain (now El Ghuweir ).

2. Three miles north of Khan Minyeh is the other claimant, Tell Hum , - ruins of walls and foundations covering a space of half a mile long by a quarter wide, on a point of the shore projecting into the lake and backed by a very gently-rising ground. It is impossible to locate it with certainty, but the probability is in favor of Tell Hum .

People's Dictionary of the Bible [6]

Capernaum ( Ka-Per'Na-Um ), Image Of Nahum . A city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee,  Matthew 4:13; comp.  John 6:24, but not named in the Old Testament. It was in the "land of Gennesaret."  Matthew 14:34; comp.  John 6:17;  John 6:21;  John 6:24. It was of sufficient size to be called a "city,"  Matthew 9:1;  Mark 1:33 : had its own synagogue, in which our Lord frequently taught,  Mark 1:21;  Luke 4:33;  Luke 4:38;  John 6:69; and it had also a station where the taxes or customs were gathered both by stationary and by itinerant officers.  Matthew 9:9;  Matthew 17:24;  Mark 2:14;  Luke 5:27. Capernaum is of interest as the residence of our Lord and his apostles, the scene of many miracles and teachings. The spots which lay claim to its site are: 1. Khan Minieh, a mound of ruins which takes its name from an old khan hard by. This mound is situated close upon the seashore at the northwestern extremity of the plain (now El Ghuweir). 2. Three miles north of Khan Minieh is Tell Hum, where are ruins of walls and foundations covering a space of half a mile long by a quarter wide, on a point of the shore projecting into the lake and backed by a very gently rising ground. It is impossible to locate Capernaum with certainty; further explorations may find the site. It was joined with Chorazin and Bethsaida, in the fearful prediction of our Lord, the ruin of the cities giving a striking fulfillment of it. See  Matthew 11:21-23.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [7]

 Matthew 4:13-16 Luke 4:16-31 Matthew 8:5,14,15 9:2-6,10-17 15:1-20 Mark 1:32-34 Matthew 11:23

It stood on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. The "land of Gennesaret," near, if not in, which it was situated, was one of the most prosperous and crowded districts of Palestine. This city lay on the great highway from Damascus to Acco and Tyre. It has been identified with Tell Hum, about two miles south-west of where the Jordan flows into the lake. Here are extensive ruins of walls and foundations, and also the remains of what must have been a beautiful synagogue, which it is conjectured may have been the one built by the centurion ( Luke 7:5 ), in which our Lord frequently taught ( John 6:59;  Mark 1:21;  Luke 4:33 ). Others have conjectured that the ruins of the city are to be found at Khan Minyeh, some three miles further to the south on the shore of the lake. "If Tell Hum be Capernaum, the remains spoken of are without doubt the ruins of the synagogue built by the Roman centurion, and one of the most sacred places on earth. It was in this building that our Lord gave the well-known discourse in  John 6; and it was not without a certain strange feeling that on turning over a large block we found the pot of manna engraved on its face, and remembered the words, 'I am that bread of life: your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.'", (The Recovery of Jerusalem.)

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [8]

The important town of Capernaum was on the north-west shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus seems to have made it the base for his ministry in Galilee, and it became known as his home town ( Matthew 4:13;  Matthew 9:1;  Mark 2:1;  Mark 9:33;  John 6:24). Another lakeside town, Bethsaida, was close by ( Mark 6:43-45;  John 6:13;  John 6:17; for map see Bethsaida ).

Capernaum was large enough to have its own tax collectors. One of these was Matthew, who later became a disciple of Jesus ( Mark 2:1;  Mark 2:13-15; cf.  Matthew 17:24). Among the town’s more important citizens were government officials and at least one Roman centurion ( Matthew 8:5;  Matthew 17:24;  John 4:46). There was a large Jewish population in Capernaum and the town had several synagogues. Jesus often taught in these synagogues, but the people’s stubborn refusal to believe in him as the Messiah would one day bring God’s judgment upon them ( Matthew 11:23;  Luke 4:31;  John 6:59).

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [9]

A chief city of Galilee in the time of Christ, not mentioned before the captivity in Babylon. It lay on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, about five miles from the Jordan and on the frequented route from Damascus to the Mediterranean. This seems to have been the residence of Christ, during the three years of his ministry, more than any other place. The brothers Andrew and Peter dwelt there; Christ often taught in the synagogue, and wrought mighty works there.  Matthew 17:23   Mark 1:21-35   John 6:17,59; and it is called "his own city,"  Matthew 4:12-16   9:1   Mark 2:1 . Its inhabitants were thus "exalted unto heaven;" but their unbelief and impenitence cast them down to destruction,  Matthew 11:20-24 . The very name and site of Capernaum have been lost. Dr. Robinson, however, finds them at Khan Minyeh, on the northern border of the fine plain of Gennesareth, where ruins of some extent still remain, and a copious fountain not far from the sea.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [10]

a city celebrated in the Gospels, being the place where Jesus usually resided during the time of his ministry. It stood on the sea coast, that is, on the coast of the sea of Galilee, in the borders of Zebulun and Naphtalim,  Matthew 4:15 , and consequently toward the upper part of it. As it was a convenient port from Galilee to any place on the other side of the sea, this might be our Lord's inducement to make it the place of his most constant residence. Upon this account Capernaum was highly honoured; and though "exalted unto heaven," as its inhabitants boasted, because it made no proper use of this signal favour it drew from him the severe denunciation, that it should "be brought down to hell,"  Matthew 11:23 . This sentence of destruction has been fully realized; the ancient city is reduced to a state of utter desolation. Burckhardt supposes the ruins called Tal Houm, near the rivulet called El Eshe, to be those of Capernaum. Mr. Buckingham, who gives this place the name of Talhhewn, describes considerable and extensive ruins; the only remains of those edifices which exalted Capernaum above its fellows.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [11]

Remarkable as being called the Lord's 'own city.  Matthew 9:1;  Mark 2:1 . It was one which He often visited, and in which many of His 'mighty works' were done. He speaks of it as 'exalted to heaven;' perhaps in the privilege of the presence and testimony of the Lord; but, because of refusing Him and His works, it should be 'brought down to hell' (Hades).  Matthew 11:23 . It has been so destroyed that even its ruins cannot with certainty be discovered. It was in the district of Gennesaret ( Matthew 14:34;  John 6:17,24 ), therefore on the N.W. of the Sea of Galilee. Its identification varies between Khan Minia, 32 52' N, and Tell Hum, about 3 miles farther N.E. There are ruins or rather mounds in both places, and the relies of a synagogue at the latter, but a fountain of water, of which Josephus speaks, is only found at Khan Minia.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [12]

A well known place in the gospel of Christ, where the Lord Jesus principally abode during his ministry. It was on the borders of Genesareth. The awful woe which Christ denounced upon the men of this city, in having seen his person, but despised his doctrine, still hangs in equal, or rather increased, terror, over all the Christ despisers of every generation. ( Matthew 11:23)

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [13]

( Καπερναούμ ; Lachm.: [with Codex B Καφαρναούμ , as if כְּפִר נִחוּם , village of Nahum" [from some unknown person of that name]; Syriac, Curetonian Kaaphar Nachum, Peshito Kaphar Nachum; Vulg. Capharnaum),, the name of a Galilasan city familiar as that of the scene of many acts and incidents in the life of Christ (see Stuart, Capernaum As The Scene Of Christ'S Miracles, 2d ed. London, 1864). There is no mention of Capernaum in the O.T. or Apocrypha, but the passage  Isaiah 9:1 [Isaiah 8:23] is applied to it by Matthew. The word Caphar in the name perhaps indicates that the place was of late foundation. (See Caphar-.) There is named, however, by the rabbins (Midrash, Koheleth, fol. 89, Colossians 4) a place called Kephar-Nachuln ( כפר נחום ), which Reland (Palesst. p. 689) presumes to be the Capernaum of the Gospels (see Otho, Lex. Rabb.' p. 118). Josephus also mentions a remarkable fountain, called by the natives Canpharnaum ( Καφαρναούμ ) , watering the fertile "plain of Gennesareth" (War, 3:10, 8); as also a village by the name of Cepharnome ( Κεφαρνώμη ) in the same region (Life, 72). Ptolemy also (5:16, 4) calls it Caparnaum ( Καπαρναούμ ) . Another Capernaum is mentioned by William of Tyre (De Bello Sacr. 10: 26) on the Kishon, six leagues from Caesarea.

After the expulsion of Jesus from Nazareth ( Luke 4:16-31;  Matthew 4:13-16), where he was "brought up," Capernaum became emphatically his "own city;" it was when he returned thither that he is said to have been "at home" ( Mark 2:1; such is the force of Οἰκῷ A.V. "in the house"). Here he chose: the evangelist Matthew or Levi ( Matthew 9:9). The brothers Simon-Peter and Andrew belonged to Capernaum ( Mark 1:29), and it is perhaps allowable to imagine that it was on the sea-beach near the town (for, doubtless, like true Orientals, these two fishermen kept close to home), while Jesus was "walking" there, before "great multitudes" had learned to "gather together unto him," that they heard the quiet call which was to make them forsake all and follow him ( Mark 1:16-17; comp.  Mark 1:28). It was here that Christ worked the miracle on the centurion's servant ( Matthew 7:5;  Luke 7:1), on Simon's wife's mother ( Matthew 8:14;  Mark 1:30;  Luke 4:38), the paralytic ( Matthew 9:1;  Mark 2:1;  Luke 5:18), and the man afflicted with an unclean spirit ( Mark 1:33;  Luke 4:33). The son of the nobleman ( John 4:46) was, though resident at Capernaum, healed by words which appear to have been spoken in; Cana of Galilee. At Capernaum occurred the emblematical incident of the child ( Mark 9:33;  Matthew 18:1; comp.  Matthew 17:24); and in the synagogue there was spoken the remarkable discourse of John 6 ( John 6:59). The infidelity and impenitence of the inhabitants of this place, after the evidence given to them by our Savior himself of the truth of his mission, brought upon them this heavy denunciation: "And thou, Capernaum, which art, exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell; for if the mighty works 'which have been done in thee had been done in Sodom, it would have remained unto this day," etc. ( Matthew 11:23). (See Sea Of Galilee).

According to the notices of its situation in the N.T. Capernaum was on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee ( Τὴν Παραθαλασσίαν ,  Matthew 4:13; comp.  John 6:24), and, if recent discoveries are to be trusted (Cureton's Nitrian Rec.  John 6:17), was of sufficient importance to give to that sea, in whole or in part, the name of the "Lake of Capernaum." (This was the case also with Tiberias, at the other extremity of the lake. Comp.  John 6:1, " the Sea of Galilee of Tiberias.") It was in or near the "land of Gennesaret" ( Matthew 14:34, compared with  John 6:17;  John 6:21;  John 6:24), that is, the rich, busy plain on the west shore of the lake, which we know from the descriptions of Josephus and from other sources to have been at that time one of the most prosperous and crowded districts in all Palestine. (See Gennesareth). Yet it was not far from the entrance of the Upper Jordan into the lake (Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr. p. 139). Being on the shore, Capernaum was lower than Nazareth and Cana of Galilee, from which the road to it was one of descent ( John 2:12;  Luke 4:31), a mode of speech which would apply to the general level of the spot, even if our Lord's expression, "exalted unto heaven" ( Ὑψωθεῖσα ,  Matthew 11:23), had any reference to height of position in the town itself. It was of sufficient size to be always called a "city" ( Πόλις ,  Matthew 9:1;  Mark 1:33); had its own synagogue, in which our Lord frequently taught ( John 6:59;  Mark 1:21;  Luke 4:33;  Luke 4:38) a synagogue built by the centurion of the detachment of Roman soldiers which appears to have been quartered in the place ( Luke 7:1; comp. 8;  Matthew 8:8). But besides the garrison there was also a customs station, where the dues were gathered both by stationary ( Matthew 9:9;  Mark 2:14;  Luke 5:27) and by itinerant ( Matthew 17:24) officers (though the latter passage probably refers rather to the ecclesiastical or temple tax than to the Roman or secular one). If the "way of the sea" was the great road from Damascus to the south (Ritter, Erdk. 15:339), the duties may have been levied not only on the fish and other commerce of the lake, but on the caravans of merchandise passing to Galilee and Judaea. It was also near the border between the tribes of Zebulon and Naphtali ( Matthew 4:13). The doom which our Lord pronounced against Capernaum and the other unbelieving cities of the plain of Gennesareth has been remarkably fulfilled. In the present day no ecclesiastical tradition even ventures to fix its site; and the contest between the rival claims of the two most probable spots is one of the warmest, and at the same time the most difficult to decide, in sacred topography.

1. Dr. Robinson (Bibl. Researches, 3:288-294) exposes the errors of all previous travelers in their various attempts to identify the site of Capernaum; and from a hint in Quaresmius, he is rather inclined to look for it in a place marked only by a mound of ruins, called by the Arabs Khan Minyeh. This is situated at the north-eastern extremity of the fertile plain (now called El Ghuweir) on the western border of the Lake of Gennesareth, to which the name of "the land of Gennesareth" is given by Josephus (War, 3:10, 8). This plain is a sort of triangular hollow, formed by the retreat of the mountains about the middle of the western shore.' The base of this angle is along the shore, and is about one hour's journey in length, whereas it takes an hour and a half to trace the inner sides of the, plain. In this plain Josephus places a fountain called Capharnaum: he says nothing of the town; but if it can be collected from the scriptural intimations that the town of Capernaum was in this same plain (from a comparison of  Mark 6:47, with  John 6:19, it appears that it was at least six miles from the N.E. shore), it may be safely concluded that the fountain was not far from the town, and took its name therefrom. In this plain there are now two fountains, one called 'Ain et-Tin, the "Spring of the Fig," near the northern extremity of the plain, and not far from .the lake. It is surrounded by vegetation and overhung by a fig-tree, from which it derives its name. Near this are several other springs, the water of which is said to be brackish; but Burckhardt, who rested for some time under the great fig-tree, describes the water of the main source as sweet.

This is the fountain which Dr. Robinson inclines to regard as that which Josephus mentions under the name of Capharnaum. M. De Saulcy, however, contends, in his usual confident manner, against the conclusion of Dr. Robinson (Narrative, 2:357-365). In the new edition of his Researches (3:348), Dr. Robinson reviews the arguments and reaffirms his position. Three miles south, toward the other extremity of the plain, is the other large spring, called 'Ain el Mudauwarah, the " Round Fountain" a large and beautiful fountain rising immediately at the foot of the western line of hills. This Pococke took to be the Fountain of Capernaum, and Dr. Robinson was at one time disposed to adopt this conclusion. The "Round Fountain" is a mile and a half from the lake, to which it sends a considerable stream with fish. Whichever of these fountains be that of Capharnaum, we should look for some traces of an ancient town in the vicinity, and, finding them, should be justified in supposing that they formed the remains of Capernaum. The only ancient remains of any kind near the Round Fountain are some large volcanic blocks strewed over the plain, or piled together with little architectural order. But near the 'Ain et- Tin is the low mound of ruins, occupying a considerable circumference, which, if Capernaum were situated in this plain, offer the best probability of being the re. mains of the doomed city; and if these be all its remains, it has, according to that doom, been brought low indeed. Near the fountain is also a khan, which gives the name of Khan linyeh to the spot. This khan is now in ruins, but was once a large and well built structure. Close on the north of this khan, and of the fountain, rocky hills of considerable elevation come down quite to the lake, and form the northern termination of the plain. It is important to add that Quaresmius expressly states that in his day the place called by the Arabs Menich (i.e. Minyeh) was regarded as marking the site of Capernaum (Elucid. Terr. Sanct. 2:864). The mention by Josephus (Life, 72) of a village called Kepharnome, situated between the mouth of the Jordan and Tarichaea, will agree with either location of Capernaum. Willibald, however (Vita, 16, 17), passed successively, on his way from Tiberias to the Upper Jordan, through Magdala, Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Chorazin, which would locate Capernaum at the southern end of the plain, if (as appears true) this also contained Chorazin. The latter may have been immediately on the shore, and Capernaum at a little distance from it ( Luke 9:57; comp.  Matthew 8:18-19), as is the case at the southern spring, but not the northern.

The arguments in favor of Khan Minyeh may be found in Robinson's Researches (new ed. 2:403 sq.; 3:344-358). They are chiefly founded on Josephus's account of the fountain and of his visit to Cepharnome, which Dr. R. would identify with the mounds near the khan, and on the testimonies of successive travelers from Arculfus to Quares, mius, whose notices Dr. R. interprets often, it must be confessed, not without difficulty in reference to Khan Minyeh. The fountain Capharnaum, which Josephus mentions (War, 3:10, 8) in a very emphatic manner as a chief source of the water of the plain of Gennesareth and as abounding with fish, would, however, certainly answer better to the "Round Fountain" than to a spring so close to the shore and so near one end of the district as is 'Ain et-Tin. The claim of Khan;Minyeh is also strongly opposed by a later traveler (Bonar, p. 437-41), as also by Van de Velde (Memoir, p. 301, 302) and Thomson (Land and Book, 1:542 sq.). Another objection to the site of Khan Minyeh is that the ancient town of Cinnereth appears to have lain north of Capernaum, and in this same plain of Gennesareth, (See Cinnereth); from which it is most natural to infer that Capernaum lay at the southern end of the plain (at 'Ain el Mudauwarah), and Cinnereth at the northern ('Ain et-Tin). In that case, the approach of Christ and his disciples to Capernaum through the plain of Gennesareth ( Matthew 14:34) was from the north, the direction most likely in coming from their last point on the north-eastern shore of the lake; for then the disciples would have fallen short of their destination, owing to the head wind, and, after landing, first traversed the plain. The site of Abu Shusheh, however, is in some respects more likely to have given name to the plain, if that of the ancient Cinnereth, which will thus be distinguished from the localities of Capernaum and Chorazin. (See Bethsaida).

2. Three miles north of Khan Minyeh: is the other claimant, Tell H '''''Û''''' M'' containing ruins (very extensive, according to Bonar, p. 415 sq.) of walls and foundations covering a space of half a mile long by a quarter wide, on a point of the shore projecting into the lake, and backed by very gently rising ground. The shapeless remains are piled up in confusion all along the shore, and are much more striking than those of any other city on this part of the lake. With two exceptions, the houses were all built of basalt, quite black and very compact, but rudely cut. The stones of the temple, synagogue, or church, whatever it may have been, are of beautiful marble, cut from the mountains to the north-west (Thomson, 1:540). The ruins are described by Robinson (Researches, in, 297 sq.). Rather more than three miles farther north is the point at which the Jordan enters the north of the lake. The arguments in favor of Tell H Û m date from about 1675. The principal one is the name, which is maintained to be a relic of the Hebrew original "Caphar" having given place to "Tell." Dr. Wilson also ranges Josephus on this side (Lands of the Bible, 2:139-149). See also Ritter (Erdk. 15:335-343), who supports the same locality, as do also Van de Velde, Bonar, and Thomson. Against Tell Hum, on the other hand, the following arguments seem almost conclusive:

(1) It is not near the boundary-line between Zebulon and Naphtali, as appears to be required by  Matthew 4:13.

(2) It is not likely to have been on the highway to Damascus (see above), for the mountains are so near the shore as to preclude this, while a thoroughfare still exists through the plain at the south.

(3) It is rather too near the head of the lake for the scriptural notices, and apparently in the wrong direction from the plain of Gennesareth.

(4) It does not by any means so well suit the indications in Josephus of the position of the spring of Capharnaum and village of Cepharnome: for

[1] the latter was near a swampy ground (evidently, from the numerous springs, in the loamy plain), and at no great distance from Tiberias (or, at farthest, Tarichaea);

[2] the fountain was a prominent feature in the plain of Gennesareth, which extended along the lake for three miles, apparently midway. To these arguments it may again be replied:

(a) The language of the Evangelist respecting the proximity of the boundary-line is not to be taken so strictly, since none of the places in question were really situated on the border.

(b) There is room enough for a road along the shore by Tell H Û m, for the shortest route to the head of the lake actually lies through it.

(c) The Scripture notices most in question relate to the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, the scene of which may have been on the shore south-east of Bethsaida, beyond Jordan, and in that case Christ's return to Capernaum may have been from the south through the plain of Gennesareth.

(d) The misadventure of Josephus may have happened at the mouth of the Upper Jordan, and the place into, which he was borne was a "village" merely, not a large city like Capernaum, although the name of the latter may naturally have included adjacent localities, as we know it was extended to the entire plain.

On the whole, however, later archaeologists incline to the site of Khan Minyeh, where extensive ruins have recently been discovered, Bethsaida (q.v.) being, perhaps, to be located at Tell Hum; and this conclusion is greatly confirmed by the almost certain position of Chorazin at Bir- Kerazeh, a little to the N.W. (See Journal Sac. Lit. Oct. 1854, p. 162 sq.; July, 1855, p. 354 sq.; Bibl. Sacra, April, 1855, p. 263 sq.; Lond. Athenaeum, Feb. 24, March 31, 1866; Stud. u. Krit. 1867, 4). (See Chorazin)

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [14]

ka - pẽr´na - um ( Καπερναούμ , Kapernaoúm (Textus Receptus), Καφαρναούμ , Kapharnaoúm (Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Bezae; etc.)): The woe spoken by the Master against this great city has been fulfilled to the uttermost ( Matthew 11:23;  Luke 10:15 ). So completely has it perished that the very site is a matter of dispute today. In Scripture Capernaum is not mentioned outside the Gospels. When Jesus finally departed from Nazareth, He dwelt in Capernaum ( Matthew 4:13 ) and made it the main center of His activity during a large part of His public ministry. Near by He called the fishermen to follow Him ( Mark 1:16 ), and the publican from the receipt of custom ( Matthew 9:9 , etc.). It was the scene of many "mighty works" ( Matthew 11:23;  Mark 1:34 ). Here Jesus healed the centurion's son ( Matthew 8:5 , etc.), the nobleman's son ( John 4:46 ), Simon Peter's mother-in-law ( Mark 1:31 , etc.), and the paralytic ( Matthew 9:1 , etc.); cast out the unclean spirit ( Mark 1:23 , etc.); and here also, probably, He raised Jairus' daughter to life ( Mark 5:22 , etc.). In Capernaum the little child was used to teach the disciples humility, while in the synagogue Jesus delivered His ever-memorable discourse on the bread of life (Jn 6).

From the notices in the Gospels we gather that Capernaum was a city of considerable importance. Some think that the words "shalt thou be exalted," etc. ( Matthew 11:23;  Luke 10:15 ), mean that it stood on an elevated site. Perhaps more naturally they refer to the excessive pride of the inhabitants in their city. It was a customs station, and the residence of a high officer of the king ( Matthew 9:9;  John 4:46 , etc.). It was occupied by a detachment of Roman soldiers, whose commander thought the good will of the people worth securing at the expense of building for them a synagogue ( Matthew 8:5;  Luke 7:5 ). It stood by the sea ( Matthew 4:13 ) and from  John 6:17 (compare   Matthew 14:34;  Mark 6:53 ), we see that it was either in or near the plain of Gennesaret.

Josephus twice mentions Capernaum. It played no great part in the history of his time, and seems to have declined in importance, as he refers to it as a "village." In battle in el - Baṭeiḥah his horse fell into a quagmire, and he suffered injury which disabled him for further fighting. His soldiers carried him to the village of Capernaum (this reference is however doubtful; the name as it stands is Kepharnomon which Niese corrects to Kepharnokon), whence he was removed to Tarichea ( Vita , 72). Again he eulogizes the plain of Gennesaret for its wonderful fruits, and says it is watered by a most fertile fountain which the people of the country call Capharnaum. In the water of this fountain the Coracinus is found ( BJ , III, x, 8). Josephus therefore corroborates the Biblical data, and adds the information as to the fountain and the Coracinus fish. The fish however is found in other fountains near the lake, and is therefore no help toward identification.

The two chief rivals for the honor of representing Capernaum are Tell Ḥūm , a ruined site on the lake shore, nearly 2 1/2 miles West of the mouth of the Jordan; and Khān Minyeh fully 2 1/2 miles farther west, at the Northeast corner of the plain of Gennesaret. Dr. Tristram suggested ‛Ain El - Madowwerah , a large spring enclosed by a circular wall, on the western edge of the plain. But it stands about a mile from the sea; there are no ruins to indicate that any considerable village ever stood here; and the water is available for only a small part of the plain.

In favor of Tell Ḥūm is Eusebius, Onomasticon , Which places Chorazin 2 miles from Capernaum. If Kerāzeh is Chorazin, this suits Tell Ḥūm better than Khān Minyeh . To this may be added the testimony of Theodosius (circa 530), Antoninus Martyr (600), and John of Würtzburg (1100). Jewish tradition speaks of Tankhum , in which are the graves of Nahum and Rabbi Tankhum. Identifying Kefr Nahum with Tankhum , and then deriving Tell Ḥūm from Tankhum , some have sought to vindicate the claims of this site. But every link in that chain of argument is extremely precarious. A highway ran through Tell Ḥūm along which passed the caravans to and from the East; but the place was not in touch with the great north-and-south traffic.

There is also no fountain near Tell Ḥūm answering the description of Josephus. Of recent advocates of Tell Ḥūm , it is sufficient to name Schürer ( HJP , IV, 71) and Buhl ( GAP , 224 f). In this connection it may be interesting to note that the present writer, when visiting the place recently (1911), drew his boatman's attention to a bit of ruined wall rising above the greenery West of the lagoon, and asked what it was called. Kanı̄set el Kufry , was the reply, which may be freely rendered, "church of the infidels." This is just the Arabic equivalent of the Jewish "church of the mı̄nı̄m ."

For Khān Minyeh it may be noted that Gennesaret corresponds to el - Ghuweir , the plain lying on the Northwest shore, and that Khān Minyeh stands at the Northeast extremity of the plain; Thus answering, as Tell Ḥūm cannot do, the description of the Gospels. The copious fountains at eṭ - Ṭābigha , half a mile to the East, supplied water which was conducted round the face of the rock toward Khān Minyeh at a height which made it possible to water a large portion of the plain. If it be said that Josephus must have been carried to Tell Ḥūm as being nearer the scene of his accident - see however, the comment above - it does not at all follow that he was taken to the nearest place. Arculf (1670) described Capernaum as on a "narrow piece of ground between the mountain and the lake." This does not apply to Tell Ḥūm  ; but it accurately fits Khān Minyeh . Isaac Chelo (1334) says that Capernaum, then in ruins, had been inhabited by Mı̄nı̄m , that is, Jewish converts to Christianity. The name Minyeh may have been derived from them. Quaresimus (1620-26) notes a Khān called Menieh which stood by the site of Capernaum. Between the ruined Khān and the sea there are traces of ancient buildings. Here the road from the East united with that which came down from the North by way of Khān Jubb Yusif , so that this must have been an important center, alike from the military point of view, and for customs. This is the site favored by, among others, G. A. Smith ( HGHL , 456 f; EB , under the word) and Conder. Sanday argued in favor of Khān Minyeh in his book, The Sacred Sites of the Gospel , but later, owing to what the present writer thinks a mistaken view of the relation between Tell Ḥūm and the fountain at eṭ - Ṭābigha , changed his mind ( Expository Times , XV, 100ff). There is no instance of a fountain 2 miles distant being called by the name of a town. Tell Ḥūm , standing on the sea shore, was independent of this fountain, whose strength also was spent in a westward direction, away from Tell Ḥūm .

The balance of evidence was therefore heavily in favor of Khān Minyeh until Professor R. A. S. Macalister published the results of his researches. He seems to be wrong in rejecting the name Tell Ḥūm in favor of Talḥum  ; and he falls into a curious error regarding the use of the word tell. No one who speaks Arabic, he says, "would ever think of applying the word Tell , 'mound,' to this flat widespread ruin." In Egyptian Arabic, however, tell means "ruin"; and Asad Mansur, a man of education whose native language is Arabic, writes: "I do not understand what the objectors mean by the word 'tell.' In Arabic 'tell' is used for any heap of ruins, or mound. So that the ruins of Tell Ḥūm themselves are today a ' tell '" ( Expos , April, 1907, 370). Professor Macalister is on surer ground in discussing the pottery found on the rival sites. At Khān Minyeh he found nothing older than the Arabian period, while at Tell Ḥūm pottery of the Roman period abounds - "exactly the period of the glory of Capernaum" ( PEFS , April and July, 1907). If this be confirmed by further examination, it disposes of the claim of Khān Minyeh . Important Roman remains have now been found between the ruined Khān and the sea. It is no longer open to doubt that this was the site of a great Roman city. The Roman period however covers a long space. The buildings at Tell Ḥūm are by many assigned to the days of the Antonines. Is it possible from the remains of pottery to make certain that the city flourished in the time of the Herods? If the city at Tell Ḥūm had not yet arisen in the days of Christ, those who dispute its claim to be Capernaum are under no obligation to show which city the ruins represent. They are not the only extensive ruins in the country of whose history we are in ignorance.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [15]

Caper´naum, a city on the north western side of the Lake of Gennesareth, and on the border of the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali. The infidelity and impenitence of the inhabitants of this place, after the evidence given to them by our Savior himself of the truth of his mission, brought upon them this heavy denunciation—'And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works which have been done in thee had been done in Sodom, it would have remained unto this day,' etc. (). This seems to have been more than any other place the residence of Christ after He commenced His great mission; and hence the force of the denunciation, which has been so completely accomplished, that even the site of Capernaum is quite uncertain. Dr. Robinson is inclined to look for the site in a place marked only by a mound of ruins, called by the Arabs, Khan Minyeh. This is situated in the fertile plain on the western border of the Lake of Gennesareth, to which the name of 'the land of Gennesareth' is given by Josephus. This plain is a sort of triangular hollow, formed by the retreat of the mountains about the middle of the western shore. In this plain there are now two fountains, one called 'Ain el Madauwarah, the 'Round Fountain'—another called 'Ain et-Tin, near the northern extremity of the plain, and not far from the lake. This is the fountain which Dr. Robinson inclines to regard as that which Josephus mentions under the name of Capharnaum; and which we may conclude was not far from the town, and took its name from it. Near this fountain is a low mound of ruins, occupying a considerable circumference, which certainly offer the best probability that has yet been produced of being the remains of the doomed city: and if these be all its remains, it has, according to that doom, been brought low indeed.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [16]

A town on the N. side of the Sea of Galilee, the centre of Christ's labours, the exact site of which is uncertain.