[ kuh-pur-ney-uhm, -nee- ]
/ kəˈpɜr neɪ əm, -ni- /
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an ancient site in N Israel, on the Sea of Galilee: center of Jesus' ministry in Galilee.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What was Capernaum?

Capernaum was an ancient village located in the region of Galilee, which is now part of northern Israel. Capernaum was the location of Jesus Christ’s ministry.

Around 300 b.c.e., the village of Capernaum was located in what is now northern Israel and eventually became a trading village with a population of 1,500 people. However, this village is remembered today because the central figure of Christianity, Jesus, lived and taught there, first mentioned in Matthew 4:13 in the Christian Bible. Interestingly, Capernaum is not mentioned at all in the Old Testament, perhaps because it hadn’t been built when the books of the Old Testament were written.

Today, the town of Kfar Nahum is located on the site where Capernaum once stood and is a popular tourist destination in Israel.

Why is Capernaum important?

While Jesus was born in Bethlehem and spent most of his life in Nazareth, Capernaum is where he lived for a time and began his ministry, according to the New Testament. Jesus is also believed to have performed several miracles in Capernaum, including a successful exorcism and the healing of many people, including St. Peter’s mother-in-law. This didn’t stop Jesus from later cursing the city when its citizens refused to repent for their sins. It seems he lived in Capernaum from around age 30 until he traveled to Jerusalem, where he was crucified, several years later. After his death, Capernaum remained a prosperous village for over a thousand years, reverting to a small fishing village in the 1800s. During that time, explorers and scholars discovered the ruins of a synagogue.

Today, the ruins of the synagogue and the house of St. Peter are still preserved as part of the Kfar Nahum National Park in Israel and is managed by a Franciscan Catholic church. Unsurprisingly, the location is a popular tourist destination for many Chrisitians who want to visit a place that the Bible specifically says Jesus once lived. Capernaum (Kfar Nahum) is now considered a holy site by Christians, and Pope John Paul II even prayed there in 2000.

Did you know … ?

Capernaum is also thought to be the hometown of five of Jesus’s apostles. Simon Peter, Andrew, John, and James worked as fishermen there, and Matthew was the local tax collector.

What are real-life examples of Capernaum?

This video shows the modern Capernaum, a tourist destination that has preserved the ruins of the ancient village.

The actual village of Capernaum is long gone, but the ruins have become a popular religious tourist spot. For this reason, Capernaum is most likely to be mentioned by modern visitors or as part of biblical studies.


What other words are related to Capernaum?

Quiz yourself!

Capernaum was an important location in the New Testament because Jesus …

A. was born in Capernaum.
B. was crucified in Capernaum.
C. lived and preached in Capernaum.
D. ate at the Last Supper in Capernaum.

British Dictionary definitions for Capernaum

/ (kəˈpɜːnɪəm) /

a ruined town in N Israel, on the NW shore of the Sea of Galilee: closely associated with Jesus Christ during his ministry
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012