05.05.03 Jn. 2:12 From Cana to Capernaum
AN INTERLUDE AT CAPERNAUM
After this, He went down to Capernaum, together with His mother, His brothers, and His disciples, and they stayed there only a few days.
Jesus began His ministry in the lush country hills and villages of Galilee, also known as Gennesaret, meaning garden of abundance. With His family and five disciples, they walked down to Kefar Nahum, or the “Village of Nahum” that is known in English as “Capernaum.” It was a border town between the districts of Philip and Antipas. The expression “down,” is a reference to elevation and not to the north-south orientation as is commonly used today. For example, ancient writers referred to going “up” to Jerusalem, regardless from which direction they came. The capital city is about 2700 feet above sea level in the central mountain range. From Cana, Jesus and His disciples traveled east to Capernaum, stayed there a few days, and walked southward up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover.
As will be revealed, Jesus spent the better part of His ministry time in Capernaum. But why did He relocate from Nazareth? Nazareth was a small hilltop village in the middle of the Jezreel Valley in the District of Galilee. Only one highway of any significance went near it, and that was in Sepphoris – an hour’s walk distant. Capernaum, however, had considerably more traffic – local and international. If Jesus was going to get His word out into the world quickly, the Sea of Galilee area was the place to be. The popular road Via Maris ran through it; from Egypt to Damascus and another road went from Capernaum to Ptolemais – now known as Acre – so international travelers would hear His message and take it with them. When Jesus left Nazareth and moved to Capernaum, it was a fulfillment of one of Isaiah’s prophecies that says,
3 Nevertheless, the gloom of the distressed land will not be like that of the former times when He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali. But in the future He will bring honor to the Way of the Sea, to the land east of the Jordan, and to Galilee of the nations.
Video Insert >
05.05.03.V The Strategic and Economic Significance of Capernaum. Professor Gordon Franz discusses the significance of Capernaum in the ministry of Jesus. Introduction by Dr. Bill Heinrich. (16:50)
. Farrar, The Life of Christ. 93.
. Concerning the number of brothers and sisters, see 10.01.02, “and the brother of James, Joses…”
. At this point in the ministry of Jesus, He had only five disciples. See Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 3:253; Farrar, The Life of Christ. 87.
. Avi-Yonah and Kraeling, Our Living Bible. 251-52.
. The Greek city name of Ptolemais was changed to Acre in the seventeenth century. See Geikie, The Life and Works of Christ. 1:485.
. All scholars agree that an international highway began in Egypt, came up the coastline and went inland, then went through Capernaum and on to Damascus and beyond. However, not all scholars agree that the short section of highway running through Capernaum was called the Via Maris.