BEIT ALPHA SYNAGOGUE MOSAIC
Located near the Gilboa Mountains, is the Beit Alpha synagogue, most famous for its intact mosaic dating back to the sixth century.
It was ‘accidently’ discovered in 1928 by nearby kibbutz members. Later, a collection of 36 Byzantine Era coins were found on location.
Upon entering the synagogue you will notice Aramaic and Greek writing. The Aramaic inscription indicates that the synagogue was built sometime between 518-527 CE and funded by donations. The Greek words are a thank you to the artists who created the mosaic.
The elaborate mosaic consists of 3 panels. The first panel depicts the Genesis story of the Binding of Isaac. Scholars have yet to agree on why this scene was portrayed. Some believe it has to do with fatherhood, while others argue the piece is symbolic of the covenant of Israel. Another theory is that it is actually a depiction of the Crucifixion and has more to do with the Christian beliefs than Judaism.
The center panel is of the Zodiac; not uncommon in synagogues throughout Israel. It does however, raise questions about the role Judaism played, if any, in Greco-Roman Culture.
The last panel shows a Torah Shrine and Menorahs. It is believed that these Menorahs represent the one that was on the original Temple in Jerusalem, before it was destroyed.
In addition to being able to view this incredible piece of art, at Beit Alpha you will learn about the synagogue, what it was like to be alive in the six century, as well as the making of the mosaic.