by Joe Bartling
I’ve made the case in my article “Jesus’ Boyhood Hometown: Rediscovered after 2,000 Years?” that it is very possible, and even likely, that Gamla was Jesus’ boyhood hometown. And that makes sense because a 1st Century CE synagogue has been found at Gamla, he spoke Aramaic, and Gamla is a “City on a Hill” and is just a few miles from the Sea of Galilee. I’ve also made the case in this article, that “a town called Nazareth”, is likely the result of misinterpretation or mistranslation of the Hebrew word “Notzrim”.
But one of the most compelling facts about Gamla is its proximity to Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Chorazin, the primary (other) synagogues in the Galilee (Luke 4:44) in which Jesus taught according to the New Testament.
Specifically, in Luke 4, where in verse 16 it says “that in the town he had been brought up”, he read from the scrolls as was his habit on the Sabbath. At the end of Luke 4, the same townspeople from where he was brought up, are “threatening to throw him headlong over the precipice” on which their town was built, presumably to kill him. Luke 4:30,31 says that he “passed through the midst of them and went down to Capernaum”. So I thought it might be interesting to use Google Maps to track Jesus’ 3 hour walk from Gamla to Capernaum, and compare it to the walk from the “traditional” location of Nazareth to Capernaum, a 27 mile journey.
So the map at the top of the article shows the 3 hour walk from Gamla, and this one shows the journey from the “traditional” site of Nazareth.
Gamla’s proximity to Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Chorazin, his primary Galilean synagogue teaching circuit, makes a perfect geographical match. He could have taught in all three of these synagogues ON THE SAME SABBATH DAY, they are so close to one another, but that would have been impossible coming from the traditional site of “Nazareth”.