(NEWSER) – Israel requires that archaeologists perform a sweep of any historically significant land that’s to be constructed on, and what they were surprised to find on a 20-acre parcel of land along the western side of the Sea of Galilee may have ties to Jesus.
Rev. Juan Solana, a Catholic priest, set out a decade ago to purchase four plots near the Israeli town of Migdal. Solana’s goal: to build a resort for Christian pilgrims there. In anticipation of that, in 2009 architects with the Israel Antiquities Authority began to dig, expecting to find nothing of note. Instead, they found the remnants of a synagogue that experts believe was originally constructed in the year 1AD. The Wall Street Journal earlier this year described it as the only known one from the period in Galilee; the Bible describes Jesus as “teaching in [Galilee’s] synagogues, preaching the good news.”
In terms of its location, Migdal was named for the ancient town of Magdala, where Mary Magdalene is believed to have hailed from, and the dig revealed the site in question “was not just near Magdala; this was Magdala,” as the Journal puts it. In Haaretz’s telling, experts say it’s probable that Jesus preached there. Source
Synagogue where Jesus likely preached uncovered in Israel
“This is the first synagogue ever excavated where Jesus walked and preached,” says the father, calling it “hugely important” for both Jews and Christians.
Experts say it’s highly likely that Jesus would have preached in the recently uncovered synagogue, believed to have first been built in the year 1 as a simple structure which was then upgraded into a more ornate one in the year 40.
Until Tiberias was built, the only town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee was Magdala.
Anyone touring the region, as Jesus did according to the New Testament, teaching and preaching in synagogues all through Galilee, would not have skipped Magdala, located on the Via Maris – the ancient trade route that ran along the Mediterranean and the western shore of the Sea of Galilee all the way from Egypt to Syria.
“He was a clever rabbi. He knew where to set up shop,” says Kelly. “If you walk from Nazareth to Bethsaida to Capernaum, you’re going to come out here.”
Matthew 15:39 also mentions Jesus setting foot there, saying “and he took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala (sometimes also translated from the Greek as Magadan).”
In the times of Jesus, people would gather in local synagogues to meet and assemble, not just for prayer.
“So if a strange rabbi came to town, a new rabbi, a new preacher, a new teacher, the logical place was to meet here,” Kelly says, standing on the two-thousand-year-old stones. Source