The Hike the Bible series is currently covering points of interest along two hiking trails through Galilee, the 40-mile Jesus Trail and the 39-mile Gospel Trail. These two trails re-create possible routes Jesus may have walked when He left Nazareth for Capernaum near the beginning of his ministry (Luke 4:16-37).
Jesus undoubtedly traversed all or parts of these trails during His sojourns in Galilee. Click Jesus Trail vs. Gospel Trail for a comparative evaluation of the two trails.
Points of interest that I’ll discuss lie primarily along the Jesus Trail, because I think that trail is more interesting, and because it has more Biblically-relevant sites. After discussing the Galilean points of interest, this Hike the Bible series will continue with reviews of other major hiking trails in the Lands of the Bible.
After Nazareth, Zippori, and Mash’had on the Jesus Trail, we reach Cana. In the New Testament, only the Gospel of John mentions Cana.
We have hiked about 8.5 miles along the Jesus Trail since leaving Nazareth. The hiking difficulty rating for the trail so far has been “moderate”.
The Jesus Trail goes through Kfar Cana (pictured above), an Arabic town of population 20,000 just over 4 miles northeast of Nazareth.
(Photo by Larry Haverstock; used by permission. See Larry Haverstock’s Blog for a day-by-day account of his 5-day hike of the Jesus Trail in May 2011. It has breathtaking pictures and the story of a dog pack intent on savoring him for lunch the day he left Cana. Video of the dogs is included.)
Here is a 1-minute video of the Jesus Trail through Kfar Cana to the Cana Wedding Guest House where many hikers spend their first night. Notice the white-orange-white blaze stripes marking the Jesus Trail through town.
Kfar Cana is the traditional site of Jesus’ water-to-wine miracle at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11). The tradition goes back to at least the 8th century.
The Gospel Trail does not go through Cana. The Gospel Trail Map shows a side route to Cana, but this trail does not exist on the ground.
Cana Wedding: Water to Wine
Cana was the site of Jesus’ first miracle where He turned water to wine for a wedding (John 2:1-11). He had the servants fill 6 large stone water jars with water and then turned the water into first-class wine (according to the headwaiter’s evaluation).
To understand just how non-trivial this miracle was, do this experiment.
- Fill a small glass with water, and set it on a table.
- Next, turn the water into wine.
- Ask someone to taste and evaluate your new beverage.
Was your taster impressed? What, you couldn’t even make a small glass of wine? Not even cheap wine?
The stone jars contained 20-30 gallons each (John 2:6). So in an instant Jesus turned about 150 gallons of water into 150 gallons of excellent wine.
This was a major miracle of creation, as most of the ingredients in wine are not in water. This was something the Creator alone could do. It was Jesus’ first sign to His disciples regarding who He was.
Beginning to understand this a short time later, Nicodemus said, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:1-2)
This miracle also indicates Jesus’ perspective on Jewish rituals. The stone water jars were for “the Jewish custom of purification” (John 2:6). Filling them with wine would ruin them for this purpose or would at least require extensive cleaning work to restore them to their ceremonial function. Apparently Jesus put little stock in the importance of these rituals.
The Franciscan Wedding Chapel in this picture was built in 1879 at the location where stone jars were discovered. The stone jars are on display and are similar to the stone water jars that Jesus filled with wine. Wedding vows can be renewed in the chapel.
After the Cana wedding, Jesus went to Capernaum (John 2:11-12), so He surely used portions of the Jesus Trail and/or the Gospel Trail for this journey.
Cana is also where Jesus performed a long-distance healing of the nobleman’s son in Capernaum (John 4:46-54). This was another sign proving who He was.
Nathanael and Bartholomew are likely two names for the same disciple. The following evidence makes it probable, but it’s not conclusive.
- Matthew, Mark, and Luke list Bartholomew with the apostles but never mention Nathanael (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:13-16). John mentions Nathanael but never Bartholomew; John seems to class Nathanael with the apostles at Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance at the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-4).
- Matthew, Mark, and Luke group Philip and Bartholomew in their apostle lists. John associates Philip with Nathanael (John 1:45-48). However, in Acts, Luke puts Bartholomew and Matthew together. (Acts 1:13)
- Bartholomew is a “last” name meaning “son of Tolmai”, just as Peter was Simon Bar-Jonah (Matthew 16:17) meaning “son of Jonah”. The disciple’s full name may have been Nathanael Bar-Tolmai or Nathanael Bartholomew.
It is not certain that Kfar Cana is Biblical Cana. The main argument for it is tradition.
Many scholars and archaeologists favor the nearby Khirbet Cana (ruins of Cana) as the remains of the Biblical town. These archaeological ruins are on an abandoned hill 9 miles north of Nazareth. Arguments supporting this site include:
- Ruins, including stone jars, dating to the time of Jesus have been found at Khirbet Cana. No relics dating even to the Roman Empire have been found at Kfar Cana.
- Khirbet Cana was an important town in the 1st-century. It was on the main road between the main cities of Sephoris (Zippori) and Tiberias.
- Pilgrims have visited this site for 2 millenia believing it is Biblical Cana. They have even left ancient graffiti in the grottos. Thus it has a “tradition” even older than Kfar Cana.
A third possibility is Qana in southern Lebanon. Qana is a Muslim village of 10,000 that lies 7.5 miles north of Israel’s current border. The Christian community in the village believes it is Biblical Cana, but no Roman era remains have been found there either. It’s also quite a ways from the Galilean locale Jesus frequented.
At present none of these sites can be ruled out as the location of Biblical Cana, although Khirbet Cana is currently the most likely. Certainty as to Cana’s exact location may continue to elude us. All we know for sure is that it was in 1st-century Galilee on Jesus’ travel routes.
Soli Deo Gloria.
This is the seventh installment in the Hike the Bible series reviewing major hiking trails in the Lands of the Bible.
Read the prequels:
1. Hike the Bible – Jesus Trail (with video)
2. Hike the Bible – Gospel Trail (with video)
3. Hike the Bible – Jesus Trail vs. Gospel Trail
4. Hike the Bible – Nazareth
5. Hike the Bible – Zippori
6. Hike the Bible – Mash’had
Read the sequel:
8. Hike the Bible – Roman Road
©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith” (Jude 1:3)
Wednesday February 29, 2012 A.D.
Read my February 2012 newspaper column:
What’s Wrong with Polygamy?
Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23)