1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Capernaum
CAPERNAUM (Καπερναούμ; probably, “the village of Naḥum”), an ancient city of Galilee. More than any other place, it was the home of Jesus after he began his mission; there he preached, called several of his disciples, and did many works, but without meeting with much response from the inhabitants, over whom he pronounced the heavy denunciation:—“And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell.” The site of the city has been a matter of much dispute,—one party, headed by Dr E. Robinson, maintaining an identification with Khān Minyeh at the north-west corner of the Sea of Galilee, and another, represented especially by Sir C. W. Wilson, supporting the claims of Tell Hūm, midway between Khān Minyeh and the mouth of the Jordan. Khān Minyeh is beautifully situated in a “fertile plain formed by the retreat of the mountains about the middle of the western shore” of the Sea of Galilee. Its ruins are not very extensive, though they may have been despoiled for building the great Saracenic Khan from which they take their name. In the neighbourhood is a water-source, Ain et-Tābighah, an Arabic corruption of Heptapegon or Seven Springs (referred to by Josephus as being near Capernaum). Tell Hūm lies about 3 m. north of Khān Minyeh, and its ruins, covering an area of “half a mile long by a quarter wide,” prove it to have been the site of no small town. It must be admitted that if it be not Capernaum it is impossible to say what ancient place it represents. But it is doubtful whether Tell Hūm can be considered as a corruption of Kefr Naḥum, the Semitic name which the Greek represents: and there is not here, as at Khān Minyeh, any spring that can be equated to the Heptapegon of Josephus. On the whole the probabilities of the two sites seem to balance, and it is practically impossible without further discoveries to decide between them. The sites of the neighbouring cities of Bethsaida and Chorazin are probably to be sought respectively at El-Bateiha, a grassy plain in the north-east corner of the lake, and at Kerazeh, 2 m. north of Tell Hūm. According to the so-called Pseudo-Methodius there was a tradition that Antichrist would be born at Chorazin, educated at Bethsaida and rule at Capernaum—hence the curse of Jesus upon these cities.