Chorazin (“the secret” in Hebrew) sat on Galilee’s northern shore, just within sight of the other towns that formed the Evangelical Triangle. The Evangelical Triangle, where Jesus spent 80% of His time, is made up of three towns—Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Chorazin. The once prominent town of Chorazin is nothing more than a ruin today. Only legends, myths, and Bible stories keep this town in people’s memories.
Prior to Jesus’ ministry, Chorazin had been an agricultural center known for producing quality grain used for temple rituals, but that would soon change. Chorazin’s rejection of Jesus’ and His works earned the unfortunate reputation as one of the two towns Jesus cursed in Matthew and Luke.
History of Chorazin
Chorazin was established in the 1st century AD. The remains that are seen today belong to a later period, the period of the Mishna and Talmud (3rd/4th century AD), when the city was expanded. The site was destroyed at the middle of the 4th century, as described by Eusebius of Caesarea (published in his work – Onomasticon – at about 370 AD), which relates the destruction of the city to the prophecy of Jesus. This was also established by the excavations. The destruction may have been caused by an earthquake (363 AD).
The site was restored at the end of the 4th century, and continued until the 8th century. It expanded during the early Arabic period (7-8th century AD). After a gap of several hundred years, was revived in the 13th century. Near the entrance there is a tomb from the Mamluk period – the grave of Sheik Ramadan. A small population was settled here from the 15th century until the last century. Bedouins from Syria that were settled in the ruins by the British after WW1 until 1948 when the site was abandoned. Extensive excavations and a survey were carried out in 1962-1964. Excavations at the site were resumed in 1980-1987.
Synagogue in Chorazin
The remains of an elaborate synagogue are a striking feature of the ruins of Chorazin. It was rebuilt in the 3rd or 4th centuries, when the town was thriving. Constructed of local black basalt stone, the synagogue stood on an elevated area in the centre of the town. A large triangular pediment sits atop the wide staircase that leads up to the synagogue’s three entrances, which faces south to Jerusalem. It probably sat at the peak of the synagogue at one time.
The partially reconstructed synagogue at Chorazin was probably built in the late 3rd century. It is 70 x 50 feet and sits in a raised section near the center of the town with a beautiful view. It is ornamented by a pair of stone lions.
Chorazin in Bible
Historical evidence and documents as to what really went on in this village are scarce, to say the least. There is the Jewish Talmud in which a reference is made to Chorazin as a place that was blessed with an early harvest of grain (at least, earlier than the rest of the villages).
The gospels make no other mention of Chorazin beyond these references. History tells us the city was abandoned in 135 AD and rebuilt in the 3rd century. The ruins of the village we see today are from the 4th century when Chorazin collapsed into ruin after an earthquake. According to the scripture and Bible, Jesus performed miracles on the streets of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum for the better part of three years. His power was witnessed by everyone that happened to be around at the time.