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Arbel
Ancient Synagogue




The steep cliff of Arbel, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, is one of the most prominent landmarks in the region. In Second Temple times, the village of Arbel was the home of the sage Nitai the Arbelite, to whom the Mishnah ascribes the saying: "Keep your distance from a bad neighbor, do not associate with the wicked, and do not despair of retribution" (Avot 1:7).


During Herod's reign the many caves in the Arbel cliff were hideouts for Jewish rebels; later, they were fortified by Josephus Flavius during the Great Revolt against the Romans.


In the center of Khirbet Irbid, which is identified with ancient Arbel of the Roman period, stand the remains of the synagogue - a rectangular hall whose interior was divided by three rows of columns into a nave and aisles. Along the walls were benches for the worshipers. Though the building is oriented north-south, the main entrance was near the southeastern corner.


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