Chorazin is an ancient village 3 km north of Capernaum, on a hill above the Sea of Galilee. The site is mentioned once in the New Testament, and in a few other historical sources. Today it is an archaeological site bearing one of the best examples of Talmudic era synagogues.
Chorazin and the New Testament
Chorazin is mentioned once, in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, and in a negative way – “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths”.
This statement was probably made as a result of local antagonism to Jesus and his followers at these places. The fact that even Capernaum is condemned is of special interest, because anywhere else in the Gospels Capernaum is mentioned in a positive way, as if the whole village was in favor of Jesus and his acts.
Chorazin is not mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament, nor in any contemporary historical sources. In fact, only in two sources from the late Roman period Chorazin is mentioned, and briefly. The Babylonian Talmud mentions the grain from Chorazin, and the fourth century CE Eusebius states Chorazin is a “ruined village, 2 miles away from Capernaum”.
Chorazin is never mentioned again, and before modern research even its location was unknown. It seems that the curse of Jesus was indeed effective.
The Rediscovery and Exposure of Chorazin
In 1738 the English geographer R. Pococke was the first to identify ancient Chorazin at Khirbet Karaze, a hilltop north of Capernaum. But only in 1980-4 substantial excavations were carried out at the site, on behalf of the state of Israel. These excavations exposed a houses, a ritual baths (Miqvaot), streets, water channels, cisterns, and olive presses.
The main structure in Chorazin is its ancient synagogue. Built in local basalt stone, the partly reconstructed building stands out in the center of the village.
Many of its stones are ornamented, some with figurative art, including even an image of a human mask. Most intriguing is an ornamented basalt seat found in the synagogue. It is dedicated to“Yodan son of Yishmael” in reward for “making this stoa and its staircase, at his expense”.
The seat is probably a “Moses’ seat”, a common element in ancient and modern synagogues alike. “Moses’ seat” is also mentioned in the Gospels in Matthew 23:1.
Today this impressive site is under the jurisdiction of the Israeli Nature Parks Authority and is open to the public all year. All of the visible remains date to a period later than the days of Jesus, yet a visit to the site provides a good feeling of what a rural village around the Sea of Galilee looked like in antiquity. The site also provides some stunning views of the Sea of Galilee, the Galilee, and the Golan Heights.
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Our Friends, Sergio and Rhoda, Presenting Chorazin
Points of Interest in the Area
|Mount of Beatitudes|
|Day Tour of the Galilee|