After a quick lunch of Shwarma (seasoned shaved meat, usually beef these days, but traditionally lamb) and veggies on pita bread with special sauce (yummmm), we moved on to the city just over the hill from Nazareth, namely Sepphoris, to have a look at the synagogue there the one with the astrological symbols and OT stories in the mosaics on the floor.
Here’s how the archaeologists envisioned this 2nd century A.D. synagogue must have looked.
Here is an overview schematic of the mosaics and their meaning….
look at this carefully, and you will see a mixture of OT stories and traditional Jewish symbols combined with astrological signs etc. in the center.
And here is a view from the top down of the actual mosaics…
Here’s a close up of the binding of Isaac story. Note the descriptions in Greek. This is a timely reminder that Judaism in the Holy Land was Hellenized a long time before Jesus, and Greek was one of the various languages to be found most everywhere. Nor was it just the Hellenists, Greek speaking Jews who were originally from the Diaspora, who used it. It used to be the case that scholars conjectured that the Jews had to use Greek artisans, and that explained the use of Greek. This hardly works since the worshippers would be looking at this week after week, and would have complained if it bothered them. Apparently, it didn’t. Here are three close ups of the astrological center of the mosaic….
And here are three good descriptions of parts of the mosaic…