Capernaum – the town which was cursed by Jesus

Capernaum at the time of Jesus. Art by Balage Balogh
Ruins of the synagogue in Capernaum.
Ruins of the synagogue in Capernaum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Capernaum was a fishers town with about 1,500 people living there, and it was the home of the first disciples Jesus called — the fishermen Peter, Andrew, James and John, and the tax collector Matthew (who as Levi collected taxes in the customs office).

In this town, Jesus worshiped and taught in the synagogue — where his teaching made a deep impression on the local people because, unlike the scribes, he taught with authority. (Mark 1:21-22), and healed many people of illness or possession by the devil, including Peter’s mother-in-law and the daughter of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue, and pronounced a curse on the town, along with Bethsaida and Chorazin, because so many of its inhabitants refused to believe in him. He said “You shall be brought down to Hell,” (Matthew 11:23) because of their lack of response to his mighty works.

James Tissot He Did No Miracles But He Healed Them
James Tissot He Did No Miracles But He Healed Them

Because of that curse, the town did not survive and fell into ruin. A 3rd-century report called the town “despicable; it numbers only seven houses of poor fishermen”. It was later resettled but again fell into disrepair. The ruins lay undiscovered until 1838, when a visiting scholar gave this description: “The whole place is desolate and mournful . . . .

Capernaum synagogue
Capernaum synagogue

Today an ultra-modern Catholic church, perched on eight sturdy pillars, hovers protectively over an excavation site. It is believed to have been the site of Peter’s house, where Jesus would have lodged.

Near the church, a partly reconstructed synagogue is believed to have been built on the foundations of the synagogue in which Jesus taught.

Erected in the 4th or 5th centuries, this impressive structure with ornately carved decorations is the largest synagogue discovered in Israel. One Sabbath, Jesus taught in the synagogue in Capernaum and healed a man who had the spirit of an unclean devil. Afterwards, he healed a fever in Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. According to Luke 7:1–10, it is also the place where a Roman Centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant.

The original name for Capenaum was Kfar Nahum, which means Nahum’s village in Hebrew, but no connection with the prophet Nahum.

In 1986 the water of the lake reached an unusually low point. At that time, an ancient fishing boat was discovered. Radio-carbon dating of the wood points to 120BC-AD40, while the pottery found in or near the boat can be dated from 100BC-AD200.

Kibbuz Ginnossar, Yigal Allon Center
Kibbuz Ginnossar, Yigal Allon Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As it seems likely that the boat was built of re-used timbers, the preferred date is first century AD. The vessel was 8 meters long and was preserved in the mud of the lake. After a difficult unearthing process that had to be completed before the water rose again, the excavated boat was put on display in its modern-day position near the kibbutz Ginosar as The Sea of Galilee Boat.

Embed from Getty Images



  1. Kfar-Nahum – The town of Jesus. A place where He spent quite a bit of time performing miracles, preaching the Gospel of His kingdom, healing people and raising the Daughter of Jairus from the dead; yet He pronounced a curse on it for they chose not to believe in Him. A lesson for all of us today. Knowing about Him is not enough. We must believe He is the Son of God, the Savior of us all and we must take Him at His word.


Please leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.