University of Haifa archaeologists working at the “Burnt Church” Hippos site in Israel have discovered several brightly colored mosaics. One of the uncovered mosaics depicts a basket with five loaves and is most likely an illustration of the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000.
Mark 6:35-44 details the story of Jesus taking five loaves of bread and two fishes, dividing the food amongst the disciples and feeding all who had gathered, “And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all… And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.” All four of the gospels describe this miracle that took place along the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
Hippos was an ancient city ruled by Herod the Great. It is thought to be the “city set upon a hill” described in the New Testament. The “Burnt Church” is a Byzantine-era church that was likely set on fire during the Sasanian conquest of that city in 614 AD, nearly 1,400 years ago. This site is one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in the North of Israel.
Additional excavation at this site uncovered mosaics of a peacock, a fish, and a mosaic of 12 baskets full of bread, probably a reference to what was left over after the miracle feeding. Also discovered were a pair of lion-shaped bronze door knockers. It appears that the ash from the ancient fire protected these findings.
Dr. Michael Eisenberg, head of the excavation team, told The Jerusalem Post that while he is cautious about the interpretation of the mosaics, there are several points that are worth paying attention to. “The fish themselves have a number of additional symbolical meaning in the Christian world,” he said. “There can certainly be different explanations to the descriptions of loaves and fish in the mosaic, but you cannot ignore the similarity to the description in the New Testament.”
Canaanite City discovered in Northern Israel
Located in Israel’s Haifa District, the ancient city of En Esur has been discovered. Approximately 35 miles north of Tel Aviv, En Esur is a 5,000-year-old city referred to as the “early Bronze Age New York” and is ten times larger than the city of Jericho. It has taken thousands of volunteers to excavate 10% of the estimated 160-acre site.
While excavating underneath the city’s ancient houses, archeologists also discovered a 7,000-year-old temple. They found objects used in religious ceremonies such as charred animal bones, figurines, a large stone basin that held liquids, pottery fragments and flint.
In Israel, it is standard procedure to call the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) before construction of new highways or roads. Upon the discovery of En Esur, the highway originally planned to be constructed will now have an overpass over the site to preserve this ancient massive city.
Archaeology in Israel continues to point to the historicity and reliability of the Bible. Once again, the artifacts of the ancient world cry out to us concerning real people, real places and real history! Pray that these sites will yield further evidence and discoveries that will convince skeptics of the validity of Scripture.
Mosaic decoration depicting a basket with five loaves. (photo credit: DR. MICHAEL EISENBERG)