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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Cana of Galilee

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kā´na , (Κανὰ τῆς Γαλιλαίας , Kaná tḗs Galilaı̄as ): This was the scene of Christ's earliest miracle, when, at the marriage feast, He turned water into wine (John 2:1 ). It was the home of Nathaniel (John 21:2 ). From Cana, after the marriage, Jesus "went down" to Capernaum (John 2:12 ), and returned at the request of the centurion (John 4:46 , John 4:51 ). 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 kanā probably transliterates an old Hebrew ḳānāh , "place of reeds." This ancient name survives in Khirbet Ḳānā , a ruined site with rockhewn tombs, cisterns and a pool, on the northern edge of Sahl el -Baṭṭauf , the plain of Asochis. Near by are marshy stretches where reeds still abound: the name therefore is entirely appropriate. The name Ḳānā el -Jelı̄l , the exact Arabic equivalent of Kana tēs 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‛ān , 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 Ḳānā 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 Ḳānā , 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 Ḳānā (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 Ḳānā on the road from er -Reineh (a village about 1 1/2 mile from Nazareth on the Tiberias road) to Tabor (Tent Work , 81).


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Cana of Galilee'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/isb/c/cana-of-galilee.html. 1915.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, July 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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