After lunch, we back around to the northern end of the Sea of Galilee to visit Capernaum. One of the things I have definitely been finding disturbing is that every place Jesus did anything significant in Israel now has a church, gift shop, and parking lot built on top of or next to it. Their version of being respectful and keeping the site holy is to require everyone to cover their shoulders and knees when we visit the site, but I’d much rather they forewent building something on top of the site and selling Coke for $3 a can. But when it really turns my crank is when they offer little urns of dirt or bottles of water that’s supposedly blessed because it came from that site. Ugh. I don’t see Jesus being happy about all that.
But anyway… We visited the site of Capernaum. There’s nothing there now, but in Jesus’ day it was a thriving fishing village on the north end of the Sea of Galilee. Peter lived there before he was called to be an apostle, and it is probable that Jesus stayed in Peter’s home often, using it as a home base for his ministry in the Galilean region.
There is of course a church there, along with the ruins of ancient Canaanite temple, covered over by Jewish synagogues and pagan temples (read 1 and 2 Kings), covered over by a church (the Constantine era), covered by a masque (the Byzantine era), etc. So lots of layers and ruins and fun for archeologists. By the way, evidently Jesus did quite a few miracles in the synagogue that existed on this site in His day. Remember how Jesus condemned Capernaum in Matthew 11:23-24? “And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”
One thing I found interesting was that the new church built over the site of what was thought to be Peter’s home looked like the flying saucer from the movie Chicken Little. It has legs which suspend an octagonal spaceship-looking building over the archeological dig site. Weird. We later learned that the eight sides are significant because they represent the eight beatitudes with which Jesus opens the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5.