Cana of Galilee

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The actual location of this site is still in some doubt, though many scholars favor the second of the two following locations:

Kefr Kenna.

The traditional association, some three to four m. NE of Nazareth, on the road to Tiberias. It lies on the S side of the plain called Sahl Tor’ān, adjacent to a range of hills, and has a good spring, but not the marshes and reeds expected from its name. A Gr. Orthodox church near the road has several stone jars reported used in the miracle; and another commemorative church, built by the Franciscans and located near the village center, has some archeological evidence for a third to fourth cent. structure. This consists of a mosaic floor fragment with an ancient Heb.-Aram. inscr., and is thought by some archeologists to have been part of a synagogue. A small chapel, commemorating the location of the house of Nathanael, is also shown. There is some reason to believe that this village became identified with the Gospel miracle as a convenience for pilgrims to the holy places, traveling, in this case, from Nazareth toward Capernaum and Bethsaida.

Khirbet Qana.

(Arab., Qana el-Jelil = “Cana of Galilee”). The best identification, the site being located some eight to nine m. directly N of Nazareth, and is so shown on maps in most newer atlases. It is situated on the N edge of the plain called Sahl el-Baṭṭuf (called in early times the Plain of Asochis). The topography includes marshes, and the site, though not as yet excavated, shows potsherds from the Roman and Byzantine periods, together with some sherds and coins from the time of Christ. There is also evidence of cisterns and other construction.

The Crusaders seem to have identified this place as Cana of Galilee, and the location fits the reports of medieval travelers, who speak of a monastery and church, with one of the original water jars. Josephus spent some time living at “Cana, a village in Galilee,” in the plain of Asochis (Life, XVL, XLI), not far from the N Galilean Jewish fortress of Jodephath (Yotapata). It was at this place he was taken prisoner by the Romans, thus finishing his military career.

Eusebius, quoted by Jerome, places Cana in Asher, near Sidon and Tyre, which could fit the identification with Kh. Qana, but not that of Kefr Kenna. The miracle of Cana was commemorated by a reported annual flowing with wine in the “Cathedral” (St. Theodore’s) Church at Gerasa. The large basilica faced a paved court in which the fountain stood. This miraculous occurrence is described by Epiphanius, Bishop of Constantia (Salamis) in Cyprus.

Bibliography

Epiphanius, Panarion haer, LI 30; 1-2 Griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller, etc. (a.d. 375), 301; E. Kraeling, Bible Atlas (1956), 372, 373; D. Baly, The Geography of the Bible (1957), 189; G. Wright, Biblical Archaeology (1962), 239; M. Pearlman and Y. Yannai, Historical Sites in Israel (1965), 76; J. Finegan, The Archaeology of the New Testament (1969), 66.

Maps: Kraeling, Bible Atlas (1956), 254, Map V; Grollenberg, Atlas of the Bible (1956), 146; Wright and Filson, Westminster Bible Atlas (1956), 123, Plates XII, A; XIV, C.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

ka’-na, (Kana tes Galilaias): This was the scene of Christ’s earliest miracle, when, at the marriage feast, He turned water into wine (Joh 2:1 ff). It was the home of Nathaniel (Joh 21:2). From Cana, after the marriage, Jesus "went down" to Capernaum (Joh 2:12), and returned at the request of the centurion (Joh 4:46,51). These are the only notices of Cana in Scripture, and from them we learn merely that it was in Galilee, and in the uplands West of the lake. Other villages of the same name are mentioned by Josephus, but probably this one is intended by the Cana where for a time he dwelt (Vita, 16) which he locates in the plain of Asochis (ibid., 41). The Greek kana probably transliterates an old Hebrew qanah, "place of reeds." This ancient name survives in Khirbet Qana, a ruined site with rockhewn tombs, cisterns and a pool, on the northern edge of Sahl el-Battauf, the plain of Asochis. Near by are marshy stretches where reeds still abound: the name therefore is entirely appropriate. The name Qana el-Jelil , the exact Arabic equivalent of Kana tes Galilaias, is also heard among the natives. This, however, may have arisen from the suggested identification with Cana of the Gospel. The position agrees well enough with the Gospel data.

Kefr Kennah, a thriving village about 3 3/4 miles from Nazareth, on the southern edge of Sahl Tor`an, the plain South of the range of that name, through which the road from Nazareth to Tiberias passes, has also many advocates. This identification is accepted by the Greek and Latin churches, which have both built extensively in the village; the Greeks showing stone jars said to have been used in the miracle, and the traditional house of Nathaniel being pointed out. A copious spring of excellent water rises West of the village; and the pomegranates grown here are greatly prized. The change of name, however, from Qana to Kennah--(note the doubled n), is not easy; and there are no reeds in the neighborhood to give the name any appropriateness.

Onom locates Cana in the tribe of Asher toward Great Sidon, probably thinking of Kana, a village about 8 miles South of Tyre. The pilgrims of the Middle Ages seem to be fairly divided as to the two sites. Saewulf (1102), Brocardius (1183), Marinus Sanutus (1321), Breydenbach (1483) and Anselm (1507) favor the northern site; while on the side of Kefr Kennah may be reckoned Paula (383), Willibald (720), Isaac Chelo (1334) and Quaresimus (1616). It seems pretty certain that the Crusaders adopted the identification with Khirbet Kana (Conder, Tent Work, 69 f). While no absolute decision is possible, on the available evidence probability points to the northern site.

Col. Conder puts in a claim for a third site, that of `Ain Kana on the road from er-Reineh (a village about 1 1/2 mile from Nazareth on the Tiberias road) to Tabor (Tent Work, 81).