The expansion of a highway near the ancient Galilean town of Magdala (now known as Migdal) has led to the discovery of an ancient synagogue. This is the second synagogue dating to the Second-Temple period that has been discovered at Magdala. The first synagogue was discovered in 2009 and was larger and more ornate than the recently discovered structure. The newly-found synagogue has a main hall with two side rooms and is constructed out of volcanic basalt and limestone. Six pillars would have held up the roof; the bases of two of these were found. The walls were plastered and still bear evidence of paintings on them. A small room at the south end of the main hall had a shelf which may have been used to store the Torah scrolls. The structure was dated by the glassware, pottery and coins that were unearthed within. The two synagogues of Magdala were situated less than 700 feet (200 meters) apart: the first was in an industrial area, the second on a residential street. This is the first time two ancient synagogues from the Second-Temple period have been discovered in the same town. Dina Avshalom-Gorni, the co-director of the dig, is quoted as saying, “The more we study this time, the more we realize that synagogues were very common.” This discovery affirms the biblical description of Jesus’ ministry: “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.” (Mt 9:35).
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