The very first miracle Jesus Christ performed as recounted in the book of John, was turning water into wine during the Wedding at Cana. Jesus, his mother, Mary and his disciples were invited to a wedding, and when the wine ran out, Jesus performed his first miracle by turning water into wine.
For many years, people believed that the miracle happened in Kafr Kanna, a town in northern Israel near the Sea of Galilee. However, a recent excavation has archaeologists believing that they have found the actual location of the town.
According to the findings, the Cana of biblical times is actually a dusty hillside five miles further north of Kafr Kanna. The excavations uncovered a number of clues that suggest the actual biblical town of Cana is actually Khirbet Qana, a Jewish village which existed between the years of 323 BC and AD 324.
The excavations show a network of tunnels that early Christians would have used for worship gatherings and have been marked with crosses and references to Kyrie Iesou, which is the Greek phrase meaning “Lord Jesus.”
The Star also reports that the excavations show an altar and a shelf that has a stone vessel that was sitting on top of it and with room for five more vessels. Six stone jars like this held the wine in the biblical account of the miracle.
Dr. Tom McCollough, who is directing excavations at the site, said there were 3 other sites with a credible claim to being the Cana of scripture but none of them has the ensemble of evidence that makes such a persuasive case for Khirbet Qana.
“We have uncovered a large Christian veneration cave complex that was used by Christian pilgrims who came to venerate the water-to-wine miracle. This complex was used at the beginning of the late fifth or early 6th Century and continued to be used by pilgrims into the 12th Century Crusader period.
The pilgrim texts we have from this period that describe what pilgrims did and saw when they came to Cana of Galilee match very closely what we have exposed as the veneration complex.” He said.
Further on, Dr. McCollough pointed to the works of Flavius Josephus, the famous Jewish historian. He said, “His references to Cana align geographically with the location of Khirbet Qana and align logically with his movements. The reference to Cana in Josephus, the New Testament and in the rabbinic texts would argue the village was a Jewish village, near the Sea of Galilee and in the region of lower Galilee. Khirbet Qana fulfills all of these criteria.”
Dr. McCollough added that he is skeptical of the traditional place, Kafr Kanna, as being Cana. “When tourists visiting Israel today are taken to Cana, they are taken to Kafr Kanna. However, this site was not recognized as a pilgrimage site for those seeking Cana until the 1700s.
At this point the Franciscans were managing Christian pilgrimage and facilitating easy passage rather than historical accuracy.” he said.
Dr. McCollough believes that this findings at Khirbet Qana help bolster the historical accuracy of the Bible. He said, “Our excavations have shown that this was in fact a thriving Jewish village located in the heart of much of Jesus’ life and ministry.
For the Gospel of John, Cana is in some ways, Jesus’ safe place or operational center. It is a place he and his disciples return to when they encounter resistance in Judea. I would argue our excavations warrant at least a reconsideration of the historical value of John’s references to Cana and Jesus.”