An ancient village located in the northern Galilee region, Chorazin is located two and a half miles from the other towns that formed what is known as the Evangelical Triangle. Comprised of three towns—Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Chorazin—the Evangelical Triangle is where Jesus spent the bulk of His earthly ministry.
Prior to Jesus’ ministry, Chorazin had been an agricultural center known for producing quality grain used for temple rituals, but that would soon change. Chorazin’s rejection of Jesus’ and His works earned the unfortunate reputation as one of the two towns Jesus cursed in Matthew and Luke:
Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.
– Matthew 11:20-22
The gospels make no other mention of Chorazin beyond these references. History tells us the city was abandoned in 135 AD and rebuilt in the 3rd century. The ruins of the village we see today are from the 4th century when Chorazin collapsed into ruin after an earthquake.
Visitors can see the remnants of the city’s black basalt rubble. Now part of a national archaeological park, the town’s ruins are spread over a 25-acre area, subdivided into five separate quarters, with a synagogue in the center.
The partially reconstructed synagogue at Chorazin was probably built in the late 3rd century. It is 70 x 50 feet and sits in a raised section near the center of the town with a beautiful view. It is ornamented by a pair of stone lions. Other carvings feature images of winemaking, various animals, a Medusa, an armed soldier, and an eagle.
The majority of the structures found at the site are also made from black basalt, a volcanic rock found locally. Visitors can see a mikveh (ritual bath), an olive press, a large cistern, as well as various buildings and houses near a cobblestone public square.
In 1926, archaeologists discovered what is known as the “Seat of Moses,” carved out of a single basalt block. According to the New Testament, this is where the reader of the Torah sat (Matthew 23:1-3). It is adorned with intricate carvings as well as an inscription in Aramaic. The original seat is in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
One of Chorazin’s most spectacular views is at the top of the wide staircase that leads up to the synagogue’s three entrances, which faces south to Jerusalem. Standing on these steps, with the Sea of Galilee 900 feet below, gives visitors an unforgettable opportunity to feel what it may have felt like for Jesus and His disciples to come here and see the same marvelous view.