Overview

The name Chorazin (also Chorozain, Korazim) is immediately recognized by readers of the New Testament as one of the cities condemned by Jesus, along with nearby Bethsaida and Capernaum, for not repenting upon witnessing his powerful deeds (Matt 11:21-23 // Luke10:13-15). This first-century CE village was almost certainly located somewhere on the slope of the hill, rising just across the modern highway northward from the present site; however identifiable remains from this earlier level of settlement have yet to be found. The assemblages visible here are the remains of the fourth century, Byzantine-era structures that, over the course of several centuries and well into the medieval period, endured a series of natural and human-wrought destructions and a number of renovations.

Eusebius, writing towards the mid-fourth century, states that Chorazin lies deserted and in ruins (Onomasticon 23, 174), an observation echoed by Jerome. However, the village enjoyed considerable growth and activity as early as the late-third century. By the Talmudic period Chorazin came to be recognized for the quality of its wheat (Menahoth 85).

Comprehensive renovation of the earlier Talmudic village, including its synagogue, appears to have taken place sometime during the fifth or sixth century. Additional renovations were carried out during the eighth century, as Islam exerted its influence in the region. Following several centuries of abandonment, sometime during the thirteenth century, the village appears to have been resettled, maintaining a small population right up into the modern period. Christian pilgrims from medieval Europe were often not sure where some New Testament sites, such as Chorazin and Bethsaida, actually were located. Thus, in the Travels of Willibald, for example, Chorazin is identified with Kursi, a site located near the northeastern corner of the great lake of Galilee.

The first systematic excavations at Chorazin were carried out by German archaeologists H. Kohl and C. Watzinger. Their expedition, conducted early in the twentieth century, focused primarily on the synagogue. During the 1920s, excavations were resumed by Hebrew University and the British Mandate's Department of Antiquities Office. More recently, excavations were carried out on the Synagogue and a few houses to the north and east by Ze'ev Yeivin in 1962-64 and 1980-84 on behalf of the Israel Department of Antiquities. Today Chorazin is maintained by the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority.