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The Ancient Jewish Town of Korazim 

The ruins of the ancient Jewish town of Korazim close to the Sea of Galilee is of interest because of its synagogue and restored dwellings. The town dates from the 1st century CE, although most of the ruins are from the Roman and Byzantine periods and the time of the Mishnah and Talmud. A gravel footpath has been laid around the town and makes for a very pleasant walk before visiting the buildings with impressive views of the Sea of Galilee. Korazim is mentioned in the New Testament as one of the places cursed by Jesus, together with Capernaum and Bethsaida, for rejecting his message (Mathew 11:20-24 and Luke 10:13-15).

Korazim is located at the edge of a basalt hill on the Korazim Plateau. This plateau is an area of volcanic rock bounded to the north by the Hula Valley, to the south by the Sea of Galilee, to the west by Mount Canaan, and to the east by the Jordan River. This volcanic rock, which originally flowed from the Golan, impeded the flow of the Jordan River and was responsible for the formation of Lake Hula and the wetlands to the north of it. You will notice that all the buildings in the town are constructed from this dark basalt stone.

 

The town was first settled by Jews in the 1st century, and it expanded in the 3rd to 6th century when Jews migrated to the Galilee. It was partially destroyed during the 4th century, probably due to a severe earthquake but was rebuilt. A period of Jewish growth occurred in the Islamic period in the 8th century and again in the 13th century and 15th centuries. Prior to Israel's 1948 War of Independence, a Bedouin tribe lived here.

VISITING THE PARK:

 

Directions: Enter “Korazim” into Waze.

Admission: This is a site of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. Hours are Sunday to Thursday and Saturday: 8.00 am to 5.00 pm and Friday and holiday eves 8.00 am to 4.00 pm. Closing hour in  the winter is 1 hour earlier. A brochure with a map is available in English. There is a store that sells drinks and snacks. Their telephone number is 04 693-4982. This is their website.

Public transport: There is a close bus stop at which a bus between Hatsor Hagliglit and Almagor stops a few times a day. There are also buses to Amiad Junction, which is a 1.5 Km 18-minute walk away.

Olive press.jpeg

An olive presss

How did the people of Korazim support themselves?

 

The ground around Korazim is quite rocky and resembles the Golan, which is not surprising since both are formed from volcanic rock. The rainfall here is also somewhat low at 400 mm/year. Nevertheless, from the ancient agricultural machinery seen here, its inhabitants were clearly involved in agriculture. 

 

A mill for grinding wheat can be seen just inside the entrance to the village and growing wheat would seem to have been an important agricultural enterprise. The superior quality of the wheat grown in Korazim is even mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud (Menahot 85a). A reconstructed olive presses is found at the edge of its western quarter and there is another in a reconstructed building. Hence, the answer to the question posed is agriculture.

 

The village had sources of water. There is a spring close to the town. It is  not currently very full, but the situation may have been different hundreds of years ago. Water cisterns have also been found close to some of the buildings.

DISCOVERING KORAZIM:

 

It is suggested to first go round the town on the footpath. The turning is just before the ritual bath. This path will bring you into the town by a dwelling close to the synagogue that has a paved courtyard. The length of the footpath is almost a kilometer and it takes about 15 minutes.

 

The synagogue was built in the early 4th century, destroyed by the earthquake, rebuilt, and remained in use until the 8th century. As for other synagogues in the Galilee, it faces towards Jerusalem. The bima (raised platform) and Torah Ark were located in the hall on either side of the main entrance. You can see the archway of the synagogue, 5 of its original 12 pillars, and lion figures.

 

The arched buildings nearby are from the Mameluke period from the 14th and 15th centuries.

 

ONE-WAY HIKE TO THE SEA OF GALILEE:

A hiking trail has been opened from Korazim that goes down the side of the Korazim Plateau to the Sea of Galilee. It is described as being intermediate in terms of difficulty, is fairly steep, is a distance of 4 Km, and should take about 2 hours. The gate from the village is a one-way revolving gate and it is not clear to me how easy it is to turn back into the park if you wish to hike only part of the trail.

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This is a mill for grinding wheat. Rotating the grinder would have been done by agricultural animals. 

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A sign showing the agricultural machinery found on location.

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