Cana & Tarichea per Josephus (Nazareth to Capernaum map)

Steven Avery

Facebook studies from 2017

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the real Cana (October, 2017)

the real Cana, with the wedding at Cana - is near the real Nazareth

the real Nazareth

We get lots of info in the Bible and in Josephus.

Let's start with:

John 2:11-12 (KJV)

This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee,
and manifested forth his glory;
and his disciples believed on him.
After this he went down to Capernaum,
he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples:
and they continued there not many days.

Wow. The same "down to Capernaum" that fits perfectly from the Arbel and Nitai regions. And this time from John, corroborating Luke.


And this from:

William Hepworth Dixon (1812-1879)

"Jesus, coming up from the lake country with his disciples, met his mother at Cana (St. John ii. 2). From Cana He goes "down to Capernaum" (ii. 12). The expressions show that Cana stood on the ledge of the hill country, above the lake, and on the road from Bethsaida and Capernaum to Nazareth."

Itineraries of Our Lord - Cana of Galilee (1878)
William Hepworth Dixon

Dixon is, of course, working with the wrong modern village Nazareth. However, his comments are otherwise very astute.


More to follow, planned for after our journey to Har Nitai.

the real Nazareth - (starts April, 2017)
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Steven Avery

And from Quodlibeta, earlier, 2015 (small changes here).

Nazareth archaeology

Post by stevenavery on Mar 21, 2015

While the René Salm view is rather absurd (as discussed in the "Nazareth: The Piano Teacher vs the Archaeology" thread) I will point out again that the likelihood that modern-day Nazareth reflects historical Nazareth is between slim and none. The Nazareth basin location definitely does not fit the New Testament:

Luke 4:28-29
And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things,
were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city,
and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built,
that they might cast him down headlong.

The location in Galilee that has a hilltop that allows for, and is known, for this type of execution is much closer to the whole gamut of Galilee action, the Jesus corridor. Har Nitai and Arbel have cliffs that fit this account, Har Nitai has unexcavated ruins, a town on the brow of the hill. Arbel has a synagogue excavated, they both have cliffs on the two sides of a valley. And we are talking about cliffs in the 100' range, steep, like a 10 story building. Arbel has a history as an execution point, by throwing down the cliff.

On the question of the current location matching the Bible account, let's quote René Salm:

"Nazareth, in fact, is located in a depression, set within gentle hills. The whole region is characterized by plains and mild rises with no sharp peaks or steep cliffs. The terrain is correctly understood as a high basin, for in one direction is the much lower Plain of Esdraelon. But there is no disguising Nazareth is built in a valley and not on a mountain. Even the mediaeval town sat below the summit – protected from the wind. Beginning only in 1957, the Jewish suburb called 'Nazerat Illit' ('Upper Nazareth') was built to the top of the hills to the east of the city."

All stopped clocks are right twice a day.



Even the next bit of travel:

Luke 4:31
And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee,
and taught them on the sabbath days.

is quite a literary stretch with modern-day Nazareth. The trip from the Nazareth Basin to Capernaum is a long and winding road. From Har Nitai or Arbel, you simply go down the steep hill to Galille shore to Capernaum, a few miles away (Har Nitai and Arbel are a bit west of the Sea of Galilee, north of Tiberias and south of Migdal.)

Similarly, after the John 1:46 focus on Nazareth:

John 1:46
And Nathanael said unto him,
Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?
Philip saith unto him, Come and see.

We again have, after the wedding of Cana, going down to Capernaum.

John 2:11-12
This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee,
and manifested forth his glory;
and his disciples believed on him.
After this he went down to Capernaum,
he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples:
and they continued there not many days.

In general, the many verses which talk of Nazareth-->Cana--->Capernaum all fit better with the localized geography. As well as those verses with the "certain nobleman" (Lighfoot thinks Chuza whose daughter Joanna was close to Jesus) in Cana desiring healing for his son in Capernaum.


The Caesarea Maritima inscription shows us that Nazareth became a priestly center after 70 AD (some say after the Bar Kochba rebellion, but that is less likely). Thus, there is no reason to think it would be promoting Christian tourism, and the real town likely faded into obscurity. Very possibly the Christian presence had been emptied or reduced in the destructions of the 70 AD war, leading to the easy ability to handle the priestly influx.

(ADDED 3/2018: New information from the inscription has helped confirm the sense of the Har Nitai location. See the new thread.)

Sidenote: One report has Irenaeus mentioning that "no Christian was allowed to dwell in Nazareth" which would fit this history well.

The Irish Ecclesiastical Record (June, 1890)
The Sanctuaries of the Holy Land - Their Traditions
J. L. Lynch, OSF
Nazareth lies about eighty miles to the north of Jerusalem. Tradition points out two sanctuaries in the city: the site of the Annunciation, and that where the Holy Family is said to have resided during the thirty years of Christ’s life previous to the commencement of His mission. St. Irenaeus speaks of the tradition pointing out these places; but he adds that then no Christian was allowed to “dwell” in Nazareth. This, however, in nowise weakens the authenticity of the tradition. The Christians in the neighbouring districts evidently regarded it as a hardship that they could not “dwell” near the sites they so deeply cherished. However, St. Jerome gives his unhesitating assent to the traditions concerning those two shrines. Here likewise Helena erected a magnificent church. This church is spoken of by Areulf, by Willibald, and other pilgrims who visited Palestine after the invasion thereof by the Turks. It was, however, destroyed, in 1263, by the troops of the Sultan of Egypt, Bibars Benduchar.
Cana of Galilee has never had its tradition denied. A church was erected there by the Emperor Constantine.

The precise reference is not given, and I have not found it so far.
In fact, what is needed from above is the source for the following claims:

a) Irenaeus on Nazareth
b) Empress Helena, mother of Constantine, erecting a church in Nazareth
c) Constantine erecting a church
in Cana
d) Jerome on shrine traditions



Hundreds of years later there was a desire to find holy sites in Israel to match the Bible, and that is when current Nazareth received its promotion. Sometimes this is ascribed to Helena, wife of Constantine:

Loreto the New Nazareth and Its Centenary Jubilee (1895)
William Garratt
Helena Augusta, came to Nazareth, and "found the House of the Angelic Salutation."

In fact, when Eusebius wrote of her travels in the Life of Constantine:
Christian Remembrancer - Holy House of Laretto (1854)
"nothing is said about Nazareth, or indeed any points connected with it"

Much later we have the report of little value from Nicephorus c.1320:

Archaeology and Infallibility
Ethelred Luke Taunton (1857-1907)
"The legend that Helena built at Nazareth a church at the place of the Salutation comes from the Byzantine Nicephorus who, in the fourteenth century, contradicts the contemporary statement of Eusebius of Cesarea. There is no real evidence that she was ever at Nazareth at all, still less that she built a church there. The first mention of a church at Nazareth is in the sixth century"

The sixth century reference is to the Pilgrim of Piacenza account.

There is a second strata or reporting in the 4th century involving Joseph of Tiberius, coming through Epiphanius, asking permission to build churches in various cities, including Nazareth. Some of those cities are recorded as being built.

Note: Apparently René Salm on his website runs with the Nicephorus description of the actions of Helena, without tell his readers that it is a millenium later. "Helena created the pilgrimage business..."


We should take to heart the incredible accuracy of Luke's geography and history in Luke and Acts. This was well understood historically, then William Mitchell Ramsay (1851-1939) added tons of new confirmations, and this was continued in some apologetic circles by other researchers. The harumphing of modern liberal scholars and skeptics is worth examining closely, and can work as an extra-strong confirmation of NT reliability and precision.

btw, the proper identification of Nazareth eliminates another New Testament scholarship perplexity, wondering why Sepphoris, the real city of that region, in not mentioned. (If Nazareth was a bustling town as described in the NT, the lack of a connecting road as mentioned earlier in the thread would be surprising.) Also the history above would explain the surprising geographical silence of Origen. If there had been a continuous settlement in the Nazareth basin area, it is hard to see how Origen in Caesarea, who did some geographical searching, could be unknowing. Granted, Eusebius in the Onomasticon does place Nazareth near Mount Tabor, so there was some sort of identification by the 4th century.


Lest anyone mistakenly think that the Nazareth identification at Har Nitai/Arbel is a reaction to Rene Salm, I will point out that afawk his activities began around 2007, when the site first shows up on At that time we had some discussions on ANE-2. That was the first I heard of the gentleman, although he may have been taking this position for awhile. The Har Nitai/Arbel identification was placed on a web site by 1998, and was spurred simply by the "Bible and Spade" type of approach to the question.


And I think it is worth mentioning that a misplacement of Nazareth can have a snowball effect. Lets take Cana. For Josephus it seems that Cana == Tarichea == Gennesar above Tiberias. (As Edwards points out, Tarichea is also placed south by some. It is clearly on the coast and if Tarichea == Cana, then Cana is on the coast.)

The Gospel According to Mark (2002)

James R. Edwards

Magadan was a fishing center, hence its Greek name, Tarichea, meaning "salted or pickled fish." ... Magadan ...the latter lay directly below the massive wall or cliff of Arbel overlooking the western shore of the lake. ... Josephus, who places Tarichea near Gennesar at the foot of a mountain (War 3.462-67). ... Josephus identifies it (Tarichea) with Gennesar and locates it "at the foot of a mountain" ... which must refer to the imposing rampart of Arbel directly above Magadan/Tarichea.
Life of Josephus (2001)
Steve Mason
"At that time. I was living in a village of Galilee that is known as Cana ... (footnote) The clear implication of War 2.596-616 is that Josephus was at Tarichea, N of Tiberias, and that this episode occurred immediately after Josephus had thwarted attacks on himself at Tarichea (=Life 132-48!). This is the only reference to Galilean Cana in Josephus. It is probably to be identified with the Cana of Galilee made famous by the gospel of John (2:1-11).

Thus, the Josephus information tends to support the cliff Nazareth, not the later attempts to place Cana close to neuveau-Nazareth. The wedding at Cana was held in the same region as Nazareth. Notice that Steve Mason notes, but does not examine, the identification of Cana and Tarichea.

For an example of trying to place Cana inland, and going over some of the problems:

Identification of Cana of Galilee
J. Carl Laney,_by_J_Carl_Laney.pdf

Similarly, when Josephus talks of a guard to inderdict the roads near Julias, (Julias-Betharamphtha), a spot near where the Jordan comes into the Sea of Galilee, and this is involves Gamla and Cana, the identification of Cana near modern Nazareth is very difficult.

The Life of Flavius Josephus: The Learned and Authentic Jewish Historian (1857)
translated by William Whiston
At the same time also there came forces, both horsemen and footmen, from the king, and Sylla their commander, who was the captain of his guard; this Sylla pitched his camp at five furlongs distance from Julias, and set a guard upon the roads, both that which led to Cana, and that which led to the fortress Gamala, that lie might hinder tbeir inhabitant* from getting provisions out of Galilee.
To be fair, one Joesphus reference, where he "travelled all night", perhaps from Cana to Tiberias, with 200 soldiers, would do better with a longer distance. However, there are some gaps there, since the text only says "my abode was in a village .. Cana" and that he "took two hundred men along with me, and travelled all night".

The Life of Flavius Josephus
Accordingly, I did not hinder him, as having no suspicion of any wicked designs of his; and I wrote to those to whom I had committed the administration of the affairs of Tiberias by name, that they should provide a lodging for John, and for such as should come with him, and should procure him what necessaries soever he should stand in need of. Now at this time my abode was in a village of Galilee, which is named Cana.
Upon the receipt of this letter of Silas, 1 took two hundred men ulong with me, and travelled all night, having sent before a messenger to let the people of Tiberias know that I was coming to them. When I came near to the city ...
Here is one map with the traditional Nazareth and Cana, including Tiberias, Capernaum, Arbel Migdal, the Jordan into the Galilee, and more.

Jesus Trail Map

Jesus Trail Map.jpg


To be added:

The Origen discussion of geography, perhaps the only early element that can support the rolling hills Nazareth.


Evidence for first-century Nazareth (starts 2014)

why Capernaum had to be ''in Galilee''
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Steven Avery

The multiple Canas near Nazareth appear to have been named and christened not from any ancient archaeology, but simply to match the presumed Nazareth.
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