Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | November 16, 2012

22. Hike the Bible – Why Capernaum?

Synagogue ruins in Capernaum

Our virtual hike through Galilee has reached Capernaum, the home base for Jesus’ ministry (Matthew 4:13). Capernaum is on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee in northeastern Israel.

Capernaum literally means Nahum’s Village. It may have been the hometown of the Old Testament prophet Nahum. Or if not his hometown, possibly Capernaum was named in his honor.

Of all the cities and towns in Israel, why did Jesus choose Capernaum for His headquarters? Why not Nazareth where He grew up, or Jerusalem where the Temple was located, or the busy port of Caesarea on the Mediterranean Sea? A variety of factors may have contributed to His choice of Capernaum.

  1. Matthew 4:12-16 reports that Jesus’ move from Nazareth to Capernaum was to fulfill the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2 of around 700 BC:

    THE LAND OF ZEBULUN AND THE LAND OF NAPHTALI, BY THE WAY OF THE SEA, BEYOND THE JORDAN, GALILEE OF THE GENTILES. THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND TO THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.” (Matthew 4:15-16)

    One of the primary trade routes through Biblical Israel was the main branch of the Via Maris, the Way of the Sea, that ran through Galilee to Magdala on the Sea of Galilee and then on north to Damascus. Capernaum was in Naphtali near the Via Maris. Thus Capernaum would have been a center of trade and commerce on this ancient highway. Capernaum would be convenient for logistical support and communication throughout the region.

  2. Capernaum seems to be the hometown of some of His closest disciples, Andrew and Peter, James and John, and Matthew (Matthew 4:13-21; Mark 1:21,29; Mark 2:1,14; Matthew 9:1,9). John says Bethsaida was the city of Andrew and Peter (John 1:44), but this could mean Bethsaida was the city of their birth or childhood and not their current hometown. Maybe Jesus chose Capernaum in part to make it easier for His disciples. Andrew, Peter, James, and John were partners in a prosperous fishing business based at Capernaum, and Matthew collected taxes there.
  3. Jesus’ 10th ancestor was a man named Nahum (Luke 3:23-25). Maybe this ancestor Nahum (who was not the OT prophet) was the founder of the village. Maybe Jesus found support for His ministry among relatives who were descendants of Nahum in Capernaum.

Subsequent blog posts on Capernaum will cover the historical and archaeological background and miracles Jesus performed at Capernaum.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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 likely traversed during His sojourns in Galilee.

This is the twenty-second 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
7. Hike the Bible – Cana (with video)
8. Hike the Bible – Roman Road
9. Hike the Bible – Via Maris
10. Hike the Bible – Horns of Hattin
11. Hike the Bible – Sermon on the Mount
12. Hike the Bible – Arbel Cliffs
13. Hike the Bible – Magdala (with video)
14. Hike the Bible – Mary Magdalene
15. Hike the Bible – Mary Magdalene, Lady or Tramp?
16. Hike the Bible – Mary Magdalene & the Resurrection
17. Hike the Bible – Sea of Galilee
18. Hike the Bible – Jesus at the Sea of Galilee
19. Hike the Bible – Jesus at the Sea of Galilee 2
20. Hike the Bible – Jesus at the Sea of Galilee 3
21. Hike the Bible – Jesus Boat
Palestine Park

Read the sequel:
23. Hike the Bible – Capernaum Archaeology

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Friday November 16, 2012 A.D.

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)


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