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Earliest Mosaic of Jonah and the Whale Found in Galilee Synagogue

Mosaic from the 5th-century synagogue at Huqoq (Photo: Facebook/Flashcard History)

A mosaic uncovered at a Roman-era synagogue in Galilee illustrates the story of Jonah and the whale. This is the first known depiction of this biblical story discovered from ancient times in Israel.

Unprecedented depictions of the biblical Jonah and the whale have been found at a fifth-century Roman synagogue in Israel’s lower Galilee. In the recently discovered mosaic, Jonah’s legs are shown dangling from the mouth of a large fish, which is being swallowed by a larger fish, which is being consumed by a third, even larger fish…

According to UNC Prof. Jodi Magness, “The Huqoq mosaics are unusually rich and diverse. In addition, they display variations on biblical stories which must represent oral traditions that circulated among the local Jewish population.”

“These scenes are very rare in ancient synagogues,” said Magness. The director of the excavations continued, “The only other examples that have been found are at Gerasa/Jerash in Jordan and Mopsuestia/Misis in Turkey, and at Khirbet Wadi Hamam in Israel and Dura Europos in Syria.”

Tags: Facts and Findings

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