Tag Archives: Pictures

First Century Synagogue at Magdala — Did Jesus Worship Here?


Click on Panorama to view descriptive details.

In 2009, in preparation for the construction of a Franciscan Retreat Center on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, excavations took place before the construction began.  Much to the surprise of the excavators they came down upon a first century A.D. synagogue.


The Interior of the First Century Synagogue at Magdala at the time of excavation
Note the benches around the side, the frescoed columns, and especially the unique stone box in the center of the image
Click to Enlarge — Photo: Gordon Franz

The synagogue measures 33 x 33 ft. and has benches on all four walls.  There is evidence that it was renovated between A.D. 40 and 50.  A coin from A.D. 29 was found among the debris and the synagogue was destroyed in A.D. 67 when Titus (the Roman General, later emperor) leveled the city.

If this dating, and interpretation are correct, it is very probable that Jesus, His disciples, Mary Magdalene, and others worshiped in this structure!!


The “Stone Box” in-situ
Note the representation of a Seven Branch Menorah (on a tripod) that is flanked by two vases and clusters of columns
Click on Image to Enlarge — Photo: Gordon Franz

This solid “stone box” is totally unique.  Who ever carved the menorah probably saw the ones in the Temple in Jerusalem (prior to its destruction in A.D. 70).

For brief comments on Magdala see below
For 12 images of the Stone Box, Frescos,
and Mosaics of the Synagogue Click Here.
Many of these images are courtesy of Gordon Franz who publishes
articles on his website Life and Land

The site of al–Majdal (Arabic for “tower”) is located 4 mi. northwest of Tiberias, along the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.  This is evidently the site of New Testament Magdala (from migdol “tower”) that is the same as Taricheae (“the place of salted fish”) mentioned by Josephus where a bloody naval battle took place between the Jews and Romans during the first Jewish Revolt (ca. A.D. 66–70; War 3.10.1–10 [462–542]).

It was evidently the home of Mary Magdalene, one of the followers of Jesus who is mentioned 12 times in the NT.  It actually may also be the site of “Magadan: (Matt 15:39) and/or “Dalmanutha” (Mark 8:10).

The site was excavated in the 1970’s and more recent (ongoing) excavations have found the remains of an early Jewish Synagogue dated to the first century A.D. as well as ritual baths, streets, houses, and even the wharf.


Find the Images You Want — Quickly

Have you ever been studying a biblical passage, preparing a Sunday School lesson, a sermon, or a classroom lecture and were wondering if there might be some nice images of places that you are interested in that could be useful for your studies or classes?

Now you can easily find what is available on my web site by checking our new Topical Easy Find.

In Topical Easy Find I have chosen from our data base of over 4,100 images those that are related to a variety of important topics.  For example, if you are studying the First Missionary Journey of Paul, I have assembled images that are related to that topic. All you need to do is click to find/view what is available.   As always, you are welcome to use our images in your personal PowerPoint presentations—if you could give credit (and/or a link) to http://www.HolyLandPhotos.org that would be appreciated.

Current “topics” in Topical Easy Find include:

  • Places mentioned in the Gospels
  • Paul’s First Missionary Journey
  • Paul’s Second Missionary Journey
  • Paul’s Third Missionary Journey
  • The Seven Churches of Revelation 1–3
  • Solomon
  • The Early Bronze Age (3150–2200 B.C.)
  • Intermediate Bronze Age (2200-2000 B.C.)
  • Middle Bronze Age II (2000-1550 B.C.)

I am constantly adding to Topical Easy Find so if you have a topic, person, or event that you would like to see there, just let me know via the form below and I’ll try to move your request to the top of my to-do-list.