Synagogue of Korazin
Korazin was one of the cities where “most of his miracles had been performed” (Matt. 11:20). Typical of Galilean towns of the time, the synagogue occupied a prominent place on an elevated platform in the center of town, symbolizing the importance of living in the presence of God.To the north (and in the back center of this photograph) was a mikveh for ceremonial cleansing of the worshippers. Though the remains shown here date to the third or fourth century after Jesus, they retain the size, shape, and appearance of synagogues of his time.
This synagogue faced south towards Jerusalem, as all synagogues did after the Temple was destroyed in AD 70. Here you are looking from the south toward the north. The entrances are on the far side of the synagogue. Typically, synagogues of this time had three entrances. The hall shown here was 70 feet long and 45 feet wide. Three rows of columns, decorated with frieze, created a central “hall” and three “aisles.” Parts of the reconstructed frieze, made of local basalt, can be seen. The column bases and the support base for them are in the original location. Remains of the decorative stone frieze and trim can be seen around the outside. The remains of stone benches can be seen on the west (left) under some of these stones.
It is possible that the synagogue had a balcony or gallery above the columns. Archaeologists found the remains of two decorated platforms located on the far end of the building. It is believed that they are the enclosed platform for the Torah ark and the reader’s platform (bema).
A replica of the stone Moses’ seat is located on the right corner at the south end of the synagogue (not visible here). Here the reader sat until it was time for the hazzan to ring the Torah scrolls to the reader, who would then stand to read.
The Sea of Galilee is three miles south (behind the photographer). The ruins of the town Korazin are evident to the left beyond the synagogue. Jesus visited this town often, and he certainly was a part of the life of communities and synagogues like this one.
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