Almost all travelers to Israel will visit the justly famous synagogue at Capernaum on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee—and some will even visit the one at nearby Chorazin. However, the best preserved of the “Galilean Type” synagogues is the one located at the not-too-frequently visited site of Baram. It is located in Upper Galilee, about 1.2 mi. [2 km.] south of the Israeli Lebanese border.
View looking northeast at the southern façade of the synagogue at Baram
This southern wall is still intact—in contrast to the rebuilt walls of the synagogues at Capernaum and Chroazin
Click on Image to Enlarge
Note the light color of the building. The darker grey upper portion was exposed to the elements over the years while the lighter lower portion was buried—until excavated.
There were eight columns that supported the roof of the porch—the one on the right (east) side is still standing! The three main doors faced south—towards Jerusalem. Stylistically, this synagogue is very similar to the more well–known ones at Capernaum and Chorazin.
View looking southeast at the interior of the synagogue
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Like the synagogues at Capernaum and Chorazin, the one at Baram has a central nave, two side aisles, and a back aisle. The three main doors faced south—towards Jerusalem. The floor of this synagogue was paved with limestone slabs (not mosaics). There are indications that there were benches along the two side walls.
The dating of these “Galilean” synagogues is much debated with dates ranging from the third century A.D. (unlikely) to the six century (more probable).
To view additional images of the Baram Synagogue Click Here.
On Monday I will comment on the “modern” history of Baram—Kfar Bir’im.
Recently there has been some interesting discussion on how much of the temple was covered by gold plating—see for example Leen Ritmeyer Here (plus reference to The Biblical Archaeological Review)
The “Golden Vine” as presented in Avi–Yonah’s model of the temple (= a “minimalist” view as to the amount of gold used). Note on the top of the temple the “golden spikes” to prevent birds from alighting and “pooping” in the Temple precincts. Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.
Ritmeyer discusses the various views regarding the ‘gold plating’ of the temple and the magnitude of the vine, he is more of a “maximalist” than Avi–Yonah. He also cites the following from Josephus:
From its summit protruded sharp golden spikes to prevent birds from settling upon them and polluting the roof. (War 5.207–226 and also Ant. 15.391-395)
Please see image above.
In March of 2014, when visiting Capernaum, I noticed that the Franciscans had tried the same technique to ward off the pigeons.
Note the two pigeons contentedly nesting among the spikes(!) above the light on the left! Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.
It looked to me like the Franciscans were trying the old “Second Temple technique” to deter the two nesting pigeons—unsuccessfully! Hmmmm . . . .
Not very Christmasy, but I couldn’t resist ;-)!