Biblical Archaeology Review 18:3, May/June 1992

Sepphoris—An Urban Portrait of Jesus

Only an hour’s walk from Nazareth, this ancient capital of Galilee may have influenced Jesus’ life and teachings

By Richard A. Batey

“A city set on a hill cannot be hid” (Matthew 5:14). Words spoken by Jesus almost 2,000 years ago spring to mind as I stand on a ridge at the edge of modern Nazareth. The hill, three miles north and 700 feet below, was the site of ancient Sepphoris. This beautiful Greco-Roman metropolis, adorned with colonnaded streets, forum, imposing theater, palace and villas resplendent in white limestone and colored marble, flourished amid the forested hills and fertile valleys of northern Israel. In the decades following the birth of Jesus, it was the chief city and capital of Galilee.

My view from Nazareth, one that Jesus could have seen, was described by Leroy Waterman, the University of Michigan professor who excavated at Sepphoris in 1931:

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