(This is the second of three articles on the ancient city of Capernaum, Jesus’ “own city” (Matthew 9:1). The first article examined the question of why Jesus choose Capernaum as his base of operations for the first part of his ministry. This article and the next will explore the fascinating results of over 100 years of archeological investigation into the ancient city.)
In 1894 when the Franciscan friars who purchased the site of ancient Capernaum walked through their new property, evidence of former habitation was everywhere (See photo above). Right up until the purchase, the Bedouin people had set their tents among the ruins. The remains of white limestone columns and elaborate Corinthian capitals gave silent testimony that a monumental structure had once stood there. But what structure? Would it prove to be a building known from the 4 Gospel books? In fact, it would! Continue reading
(This is the first of three articles on Capernaum, Jesus’ “own city” (Matthew 9:1). The first article will delve into Jesus’ possible connections to the city as well as the reasons why he left his residence in Nazareth to move there. The next two articles will examine what exciting things modern archeology has revealed about this most significant city in Jesus’ life and ministry.)
On a gentle hillside on the north-west shore of the Sea of Galilee stood the ancient city of Capernaum. The city was of modest size (by some estimates it’s first century population was between 1500 to 3000) and it did not survive down to modern times. Yet for a brief moment in the first century, this humble fishing community was the centre of the world. Continue reading
The industrious team of eminent archeologist Dr Eilat Mazar may have done it again. Coming from a venerable archeological family, Mazar has spent her career in Jerusalem carefully uncovering the secrets of the City of David and the “Ophel”, the raised area that in ancient times connected the Temple Mount to the City of David. With the exception of the Temple Mount itself, from a Bible reader’s perspective no other locations hold as much interest as these areas.
Her labours have been rewarded with remarkable discoveries time and again. Though some of her conclusions are controversial, her work is always impossible to ignore. In 2005, she went public with the discovery of an ancient structure in the City of David that she identified as the palace of King David. For Bible critics who had always maintained that David was a mythological figure or at best an insignificant tribal leader of an insignificant town, Mazar’s conclusions were problematic. Continue reading
Earthquakes can cause catastrophic loss of life and devastate buildings of all sizes. Is it possible to discover evidence for an earthquake that happened in the distant past? Today, modern scientific methods coax the Earth into giving up her secrets. New fields of archeology and geology have revealed convincing evidence of ancient earthquakes and astonishingly, may even have illuminated a couple of well known earthquakes from the Bible.
A number of earthquakes are recorded in the Bible. In most cases, these are not natural events but manifestations of divine power. The inauguration of the Mosaic law covenant at Mount Sinai was accompanied by a fear-inspiring earthquake and possibly even volcanic action (Exodus 19:18). The rebel Levite Korah, along with his co-conspirators were executed by means of what may have been a divinely sent earthquake (illustrated above): Continue reading
Although we don’t meet Alexander the Great directly in the Bible record, Bible students recognise him clearly in Bible prophecy. Approximately 200 years before Alexander began his campaign to conquer the world, the Hebrew prophet Daniel was inspired to write of a series of beasts that represented great empires. First, he wrote of a great ram: Continue reading
In Toronto, at the Royal Ontario Museum (if you haven’t visited you really should) are two square clay building blocks with an inscription stamped upon them reading, “Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, who provides for (the temples) Esagila and Ezida, the eldest son of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon, am I”. King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon was a prolific builder. According to some sources, Nebuchadnezzar’s workers used over 15,000,000 bricks in his building projects and almost all of them carried the same inscription.
Nebuchadnezzar was keenly aware of Egyptian Pharaoh’s and Mesopotamian monarchs who had been erased from the historical record by envious and resentful successors. The Babylonian king would not allow the same thing to happen to him. No one could ever take credit for his greatest work, the rebuilding of the great capital of Babylon but the man whose name and esteemed royal parentage was pressed into the very walls and foundations of everything he built. Continue reading
In the south of Lebanon there is evidence of an ancient battle so fierce that it permanently altered the Mediterranean coastline. A peninsula juts out from the mainland in the place where a proud island city once refused an invader, providing silent testimony as to the fate of all those who defied Alexander the Great. The city is called Tyre and it is located approximately 20 kilometres north (12 miles) of the Israeli border and about 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of the Lebanese capital Beirut. Tyre is well-known to Bible students particularly (although not exclusively) from the prophecy of Ezekiel who was inspired to foresee details of Tyre’s downfall that would have seemed wildly improbable to his contemporaries yet in the course of time proved accurate to the smallest detail.