The Curse of Chorazin

The ‘Cursed’ city of Chorazin

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Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the Day of Judgment than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
(Matthew 11:21 )

Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum are the three and only cities mentioned in the Bible that Jesus allegedly cursed, according to the gospel of Matthew as well as the Gospel of Luke.

Chorazin was a city in Galilee a few kilometres from the city of Capernaum, where Jesus lived after he left Nazareth. It was a prominent ancient city, although during the third century AD the city became uninhabited and today its archaeological remains are identified with the place called Khirbet Kerazeh. A synagogue was discovered in the 19 th century and has been partly excavated. The majority of the ruins are made of black basalt and one of the most interesting findings was the Seat of Moses which was carved out of a single basalt block with an inscription in Aramaic on the back. More evidence includes images of Medusa carved onto stones, something that wasn’t common to Synagogues. It is no wonder legends later claimed that the Antichrist would be born in Chorazin.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach
(Matt 23:2-3)

However, no archaeological evidence has been found showing that the city existed in the first century AD, the century of Jesus. Eusebius writes that around 330AD the city was in ruins as a result of a devastating earthquake which was attributed to the punishment of God and the fulfilment of Jesus’ curse.

But the question is, why did Jesus supposedly curse Chorazin? Jesus would regularly visit Chorazin and perform miracles in the city. According to the Bible, the city of Chorazin would see Jesus’ miracles multiple times over for at least three years. However, it seems that none of the miracles had any result in changing the lives of the inhabitants of Chorazin and this is the point where Jesus woes Chorazin for not repenting to his powers and changing their ‘ways’.

In the New Testament, Jesus is mostly portrayed acting in a nice way with love and tolerance. There are only a few incidents where he gets ‘out of control’ including the episode in front of Solomon’s temple and the curse of the three cities. In the latter he uses his powers to condemn a whole city in the same way as the God of the Old Testament did numerous times. It makes us wonder what was it really that the people of Chorazin did that got such an extreme reaction from Jesus? It couldn’t be simply that they didn’t follow him because there had been many others that didn’t follow Jesus and yet he never cursed them. Maybe further archaeological excavations will come out with something that could give some clues as to why.

By John Black

Related Links


Biblical Places: Chorazin

The Cursed City of Chorazin

Bethsaida and Chorazin

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