short account of Cana, given by your Israel & Jerusalem private tour guide

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee….. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine…." Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification….. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted, the water now became wine…. (John 2, 1-11)

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In the time of the Second Temple, Cana was a village in the Jewish Galilee close to Nazareth, important enough to be fortified in preparation for the Jewish revolt against the Romans in 66 CE. Later, during the first centuries CE, it was settled by important Jewish scholars of the Mishna and Talmud. One of the synagogues of this town was built at its center, but was not the only one in town. Just recently, another one was excavated on the western side of the city.

In the 5th century, Christians managed to overcome the Jewish resistance to the construction of churches in the Galilee, and churches were built in the Jewish towns. In the 6th century, Christian authorities even managed to build a church on top of the remains of the central synagogue. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Jewish population dwindled gradually, but even in the 16th century, 25% of the town’s inhabitants were still Jewish. During the Ottoman period, Cana’s population shrank to that of a small village (as did many others). Only at the end of the 19th century did Cana begin to develop again.

What can we see in Cana?

Our visit to Cana is, in most cases, for the purpose of seeing one building in this Arab city of 20,000 – the Roman Catholic church, which was dedicated to the famous miracle. This church is built on the ruins of the 6th century church, but excavations underneath it revealed the remains of the earlier Jewish synagogue walls, an Aramaic mosaic inscription thanking the donors of the floor and a stone vessel that is presented as one of the miracle’s jars.

Many weddings take place in the church, and some visiting couples take the opportunity to renew their marriage vows in the church.

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