The recently discovered ruins of a first century synagogue in Israel confirm historic accounts of Jesus' life found in the New Testament.
Located near Mount Tabor in the Nahal Tavor Nature Reserve in the lower Galilee at a site called Tel Rechesh, the synagogue ruins date back to the time of the Second Temple period, which ended in AD 79 when the Romans attacked Jerusalem.
Motto Aviam, a senior researcher at the Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archaeology at the Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee, explained in a statement the significance of the Tel Rechesh excavation find.
"This is the first synagogue discovered in the rural part of the Galilee and it confirms historical information we have about the New Testament, which says that Jesus preached at synagogues in Galilean villages," explained Avian, as reported by JNS.
Haaretz noted that while there have been seven other synagogues from the Second Temple period discovered before, the one at Tel Rechesh is the first to be found in a rural instead of urban setting.
"Inscriptions and historical sources show that the synagogues of the period were used for meetings, Torah readings and study, rather than worship. They had neither Torah ark nor regular prayer services," reported Haaretz.
"One source mentioning synagogues is the New Testament, which states that Jesus 'went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues.'"
In an interview with YNet News, Aviam explained why the findings at the Tel Rechesh site "makes the place very important for Christians."
"The New Testament describes how Jesus delivered sermons in a synagogue in Capernaum and other synagogues in the Galilee," said Avian.
"During the same period Jesus was still a Jew who observed Jewish rituals and requirements and like many rabbis, he delivered sermons in synagogues. Christianity which developed after his (sic) placed an emphasis on his sermons at synagogues in the Galilee."
Aviam added that he hoped "that when the work is completed the place will constitute a tourist attraction for Jews and Christians alike."
This is not the first major find in Israel this year connected to the times of Jesus. In March it was reported that several artifacts from the first century Near East were located in an orphanage in Jerusalem.
Back in March, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced that it had found numerous artifacts, some dating back to the Second Temple period, buried deep beneath the Schneller compound in Jerusalem, which had previously served as a orphanage and later an Israeli army base.
The Schneller compound first served as an orphanage in the 1800s, and then as an occupation area for German soldiers during World Wars I and II. It later became a base for the Israel Defense Forces.
© Michael Gryboski