The town of Capernaum stood near the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee, situated along the busy Via Maris trade route, also known as the ‘Way of the Sea.’
The prophet Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would live by “the way to the sea,” (Isa. 9:1) and Jesus fulfilled this prophecy by living in Capernaum (Matt. 4:13-16). People from around the world could hear Jesus’ message as they traveled on the Via Maris.
Tolls were collected by the Roman government, and it was in Capernaum where Jesus called Levi, the tax collector, to become his disciple. The town was also a military center for the Romans in Jesus’ day, containing 3,000 inhabitants.
Because the surrounding area contained large amounts of volcanic rock, one industry of Capernaum was the making of food grinders and other food processing implements. Archaeologists have discovered many of these items, and they can be seen at Capernaum today.
Also at Capernaum was a syngagogue, believed to be built by the centurion mentioned in Luke 7:1-6. Archaeologists have uncovered a synagogue there, but it was probably built over the one of Jesus’ day.
Capernaum, along with Bethsaida and Korazin, stands in the “evangelical” or “orthodox” triangle, three Galilean cities where Jesus performed most of his miracles. Devout Jews lived in this area, creating religious communities and synagogues where Jesus could teach about the kingdom of God.
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