JERUSALEM — An ancient synagogue recently discovered in Israel has been deemed an important find for Christians as it confirms text found in the New Testament.
The synagogue, uncovered in Tel Reches Peak near Mount Tabor in the Galilee, dates back to the second temple era. Researchers found a large room nine meters high by eight meters wide, which was lined with benches of limestone blocks. A foundational pillar was also discovered in the rubble.
“This is the first synagogue of its kind in the Galilee villages,” Dr. Motti Aviam, a researcher at the Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archaeology, told YNet News. “In Migdal, for example, there is a synagogue but that is a big city. Here we are talking about a magnificent agricultural area about four Dunam in size where buildings are decorated with frescoes and stucco articles.”
“Jewish families lived in the estate but due to the fact that the nearest synagogue was four kilometers away (a distance deemed too far from a community according to Jewish law) the owner of the estate built the synagogue for himself and for the dozens of workers in his employment,” he explained.
Avaim said that the synagogue appeared to be a simple structure, most likely used for reading the Torah and delivering sermons. He noted how the synagogue aligns with biblical text.
“The New Testament describes how Jesus delivered sermons in a synagogue in Capernaum and other synagogues in the Galilee,” Aviam outlined.
“During the same period, Jesus was still a Jew who observed Jewish rituals and requirements and like many rabbis, he delivered sermons in synagogues,” he said. “Christianity … placed an emphasis on His sermons at synagogues in the Galilee. This makes the place very important for Christians.”
Simon Edwards from Zacharias Trust told Christian Today that the discovery is “fascinating news” in that it demonstrates “how research can reinforce the biblical narrative”.
“Archaeological finds, such as this latest discovery of remains of a first century synagogue in Galilee, point to the fact that not only is the Bible a good story, it’s also a true story,” he stated. “One good reason for trusting the Bible is that it passes every test that historians can throw at a historical document; and correspondence with the archaeological evidence is one of those tests.”
“If the Bible was simply a made-up story, then we would expect as we keep discovering more about the ancient world from archaeology, that eventually something is going to show the Bible to be wrong. But what we find is the exact opposite,” Edwards added.