« Capen, Elmer Hewitt Capernaum Caperolani »


CAPERNAUM, cɑ-per´nɑ-Um: The name of a Galilean city, situated near the Sea of Galilee. The form of the word follows the textus receptus, though the best manuscripts give Capharnaum. It is a compound name meaning "village of Nahum" or "of consolation." Jesus made it the center of his Galilean activities and it was called "his own city" (Matt. iv. 13, ix. 1); his disciples Simon Peter and Andrew had a house there; he taught in the synagogue there, in Peter's house, and on the seashore, and performed a number of wonderful cures. There he obtained his disciples Peter, Andrew, and Levi-Matthew, and near-by James and John (Mark i. 16–17, 19, ii. 14). The city lay on the west shore of the sea, had a customs-office and royal collector and a garrison in command of a captain who was a friend of the Jews and had built them a synagogue. Josephus in describing the plain of Gennesaret (War, III. x. 8) speaks of a copious spring watering the plain which was called by the inhabitants Capernaum. There are still near the north of the plain two springs. One of these, the Ain-el-Tine, issues from the rock under the roots of a fig-tree not far from Khan Minyeh. But this can not be the one meant by Josephus, since it lies too low to water the plain. The other lies northwest of the first and outside the boundaries of the plain. This is the most copious spring in Galilee, stronger by far than the Banias source of the Jordan, known now as Ain-el-Tabigah, the waters of which are collected in a hexagonal reservoir of old masonry, showing that the spring was used for irrigation purposes. This is doubtless the spring mentioned by Josephus, and Capernaum must have been in the neighborhood, and, like the spring, not within the limits of the plain. Josephus states (Life, lxxii.), that in a skirmish against the troops of Agrippa II. which took place on the banks of the Jordan, he was thrown from his horse and wounded, and had himself carried to the village Cepharnome and in the following night to Taricheæ. In spite of different textual readings of the name of the place, it is probable that Josephus here meant Capernaum.

Eusebius (Onomasticon, 273) discusses "in the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali" of Matt. iv. 13 in connection with Isa. ix. 1. The meaning of the phrase is "in the district of," not "on the boundary of." With Tel-Hum goes well Jerome's statement of two Roman miles as the distance between Chorazin and Capernaum (the "twelve miles" of Eusebius seems a copyist's error). Put alongside the foregoing that Capernaum and Bethsaida were adjacent (Epiphanius, Hær., 1. 15), and early reports are quite exhausted.

Tel-Hum is the one old site in the vicinity of the spring, forty minutes distant in a northwestern direction. E. Robinson in 1838 visited and described the ruins, some quite pretentious buildings, of black basalt and limestone, among which travelers have thought they identified the remains of a synagogue. The name of the fountain, even though forty minutes away, makes for the identification of Tel-Hum with Capernaum. And the form Tel-Hum may be an Arabic variation for Tenhum, abbreviated from the Talmudic Kaf Tanhumim ("Village of Consolation").

The Franciscan Quaresmio in 1616–26 identified Khan Minyeh near Ain-el-Tine as the site of Capernaum, and he has been followed by many scholars. On this site appear the traces of the larger streets which a garrison city seems to require. A conclusion has been urged that John vi. 1–21 and Mark vi. 45–53 imply that Capernaum was on the plain of Gennesaret, but this falls after close examination of the passages. Arguments drawn from the element "Minyeh" in the modern name have also no cogency.

The ruins of Tel-Hum belong now to the Franciscans, who have enclosed them with a wall, intending to excavate there in the future.

(H. Guthe.)

Bibliography: Authorities and literature favoring Tel-Hum are: J. Wilson. Lands of the Bible Visited and Described, 404ii. 139–149, London, 1847; A. E. Wilson and W. Warren, Recovery of Jerusalem, pp. 375–387, ib. 1871; W. M. Thomson, Land and the Book, 3 vols., New York, 1880, i. 352–356 of London ed., 1873; V. Guérin, Description . . . de la Palestine, Part 3, Galilée, i. 227–228, Paris, 1880; F. Buhl, Geographie des alten Palästina, pp. 224–225, Freiburg, 1896. Favoring Khan Minyeh are: A. P. Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, London, 1866; E. Robinson, Biblical Researches, Boston, 1868; T. Keim, Jesus of Nazara, 2 vols., London, 1879; C. R. Conder, Tent Work in Palestine, ib. 1880; A. Henderson, Palestine, Edinburgh, 1885; G. A. Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land, pp, 456–457, London, 1897; DB, i. 350–351; EB, i. 696–698.

« Capen, Elmer Hewitt Capernaum Caperolani »
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