CHORAZIN (Khorazin), town in Galilee where Jesus preached but was disappointed by the response of its inhabitants (Matt. 11:20–24; Luke 10:12–16). Wheat was produced at Chorazin according to the Talmud (Men. 85a). The town was reported to be in ruins in the fourth century by Eusebius (Onomasticon 174: 25) and Petrus Diaconus mentioned also that there had been repeated attempts by Jews to rebuild it. It is identified as Ḥorvat Korazin (Khirbet Karazeh), 2 mi. (3 km.) north of Capernaum. Factors relating to the identification of Chorazin were first dealt with by Robinson following his trip to the Holy Land in 1852. The synagogue at Karazeh was first excavated by H. Kohl and C. Watzinger between 1906 and 1909, with the exposing of a large building divided into four parts by three rows of columns, and with a three-doorway façade on the south. Numerous sculpted ornaments were also found representing human beings, animals, and plants. Additional excavations at the site were made by J. Ory in 1926 in order to elucidate further details of the plan of the building. He reported on an additional columned building at the site (whereabouts unclear) and Z. Ilan has suggested this might
represent the earlier Early Roman period synagogue at the site. Renewed excavations within the later synagogue, as well as new excavations within the town, were undertaken by Z. Yeivin in 1962–64 and 1980–87. Based on these excavations and a survey, the layout of the town and the setting of the synagogue became clear. The synagogue was built in the form of a basilica, 79 × 56 ft. (24 × 17 m.), with its ornate facade turned southward toward Jerusalem. In the hall are two rows of columns along its length and one row along its width. Steps descended from a terrace in front of the synagogue, which was constructed of basalt stones. The synagogue, and especially the frieze, was elaborately decorated with representations of human beings and mythological figures such as Hercules, a Medusa, a centaur, and other scenes showing a soldier and a vintage. A stone chair found inside the synagogue may be a "seat (cathedra) of Moses" such as is mentioned in Matthew 23:2, but there have been dissenting views about their function (Rahmani 1990). It bears a Judeo-Aramaic inscription commemorating a benefactor named Judah, son of Ishmael, who made the colonnade and its stairs. The date of the synagogue is still a matter of debate. The conventional date for Galilean-type synagogues is the second to third centuries C.E., but recent research suggests a fourth or fifth century C.E. date for the Chorazin synagogue. Next to the synagogue was a ritual bath and at a short distance several blocks of houses, one containing a large oil press.
E. Robinson, Later Biblical Researches in Palestine. Vol. 3 (1856); H. Kohl and C. Watzinger, Antike Synagogen in Galilaea (1916), 41ff., Pl. vii; G. Dalman, Sacred Sites and Ways (1935), index; P. Romanoff, Onomasticon of Palestine (1937), 224–7; Ory, in: PEFQ, 59 (1927), 51–52; Z. Yeivin, in: Kol Ereẓ Naftali, ed. by H.Z. Hirschberg (1967), 135ff. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: S.J. Saller, Second Revised Catalogue of the Ancient Synagogues of the Holy Land (1972), 54–55; Z. Yeivin, "Ancient Chorazin Comes Back to Life," in: Biblical Archaeology Review, 13:5 (1987), 22–36; L.Y. Rachmani, "Stone Synagogue Chairs. Their Identification, Use and Significance," in: IEJ, 40 (1990), 192–214; G.S.P. Freeman-Grenville, R.L. Chapman, and J.E. Taylor (eds.), The Onomasticon by Eusebius of Caesarea (2003), 97; Z. Ilan, Ancient Synagogues in Israel (1991), 150–52; Y. Tsafrir, L. Di Segni, and J. Green, Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea – Palaestina. Maps and Gazetteer (1994), 103; Z. Yeivin, The Synagogue at Korazim. The 1962–1964, 1980–1987 Excavations (2000).
[Michael Avi-Yonah /
Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.