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Eureka! With Evidence And Power

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding regions. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all (Luke 4:14-15).

While traveling in the area around the Sea of Galilee, Jesus began teaching in synagogues.

A problem for the 2000 years since the time of Jesus is that archeology had unearthed no synagogues in that region – or anywhere else in modern Israel. 

The critics sounded forth in glee – the Bible is unreliable. Jesus taught in synagogues so there should be many synagogues all over the countryside. Why hasn’t at least one been found?

Let’s take a deep breath.

What is a synagogue? Why were they important in ancient Israel? The word “synagogue” literally means “coming together.”

A synagogue was the gathering place for prayers and reading scripture while learning the laws and customs of the Jews. With the synagogue being so important in the life of first century Jews… 

Agreed, there should be evidence of their existence.

Let’s consider Magdala, a small community on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. There should be at least one synagogue, and with the synagogue the center of every community, perhaps a need for multiple synagogues in larger villages?  

Like a church on every street corner in the small towns of America.

Until 2016, not one had been found!

Then “Eureka!” which is the Greek exclamatory word for “I found it!” An article posted on August 19, 2016, by The Times of Israel gives the news of an ancient synagogue found in Magdala:

Israeli archaeologists in northern Israel have uncovered the ruins of a rural synagogue that dates back some 2,000 years… No rural synagogues have been found from that time. This is the first 1st-century synagogue found in rural Galilee. 

After this discovery in 2016, the evidence for the reliability of the Bible continues to build. Recently, a good friend sent me an article posted December 12, 2021, by The Times of Israel with this discovery:

A second ancient synagogue was found in Magdala… It is the first time that two synagogues have been found within the same settlement.

Eureka!  

Two synagogues – not one, but two – take that, you skeptics! A synagogue on every corner in Magdala. Just like America.

The New Testament importance of two synagogues in Magdala surpasses the actual structures. Mary Magdalene was from Magdala; a woman from whom seven demons had been cast out by Jesus early in His ministry.

Women were allowed entry into synagogues in the first century.  

An OGV historical thought:  Perhaps on a Sabbath in one of the synagogues in Magdala, a scroll from the Prophet Isaiah was being read by a young rabbi from Nazareth.

Jesus read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18).

While reading, a loud disturbance came from Mary and her demons. Jesus silenced the demons and cast them out. Mary then stood in the middle of the synagogue healed and free. 

What a powerful ending to the synagogue service that day!

You can still hear this message preached on street corners in America today. There is power in the name of Jesus.

If you are sick, lost, or held captive – Eureka!