The Name Capernaum

The ruins of Capernaum

The original Semitic name of the village was Kfar Nahum, i.e., the village (kefar) of Nahum (the name of a person), as indicated in rabbinical sources and from an inscription found in the synagogue at Hammat Gader.
In both the Gospels and the writings of the historian Flavius Josephus the name was translated into Greek as Kapharnaum, and this is how it was subsequently transmitted to modern languages. Even after the abandonment of the village, the name remained linked to the ruins until modern times. In Arabic, the site was called Tell Hum, i.e., the ruins (tell) of Hum (a shortening of Nahum). We still do not know who this Nahum was who gave his name to the village: it was not until the Middle Ages that several sources identified him with the Old Testament prophet of this name.

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