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On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 2:1–2). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

“Cana" may be Kefar Kanna (over three miles from Nazareth), but most scholars prefer Khirbet Kana (over eight miles from Nazareth). Either site would be close enough to Nazareth to explain how the host knows Jesus’ family.

Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Jn 2:1). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

What evidence do we have to decide where Cana was?

Cana is also mentioned in John 4:46. John 2:12 seems to give some indication of the location.

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Robert Young states the following in his Analytical Concordance 1879 :

All we can make out is that Cana was not far from Capernaum, and on a more elevated situation. The traditional site is at Kefr Kenna a small village 4.5 miles N.E. of Nazareth.

Of the other contender, Young states :

A rival site is further north, a village about 5 miles north of Sepphoris and 9 from Nazareth near the present Jefat, the 'Jetayata' of the Jewish wars. This village still bears the name of Kana-el-jelil which is the exact representative of the Hebrew original (as is Kenna widely different from it) and it is in this fact that the superiority of the northern Kana seems to rest.

  • I believe the tendency to go with the northern Cana (also called Khirbet Kana) is because it is closer to Capernaum (John 2:12), – Perry Webb Feb 1 '18 at 21:07
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Below is a map of the two possible sites and their proximity to a verified Roman road of the time:

  • Khirbet Kana, some 6 or 7km north of the road.

  • Kafr Kanna, about 1km south of the road.

enter image description here
Map courtesy of www.jesus-story.net

Here is Nathaniel's1 contribution to a discussion with Philip regarding Jesus' birthplace:

And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
-- John 1:46 (KJV)

The map shows where Nazareth is situated in relation to the road. It is roughly the same distance south as Khirbet Kana is north. According to Nathaniel's comment, Nazareth was clearly looked upon as an inferior place to live -- by the residents of Cana at least.

Life in towns like Nazareth and Khirbet Kana would have been much more traditional than places like Cana, since very few travellers passing though the region would have taken the trouble to pay them a visit. Not so Cana, though. Being only a fifteen minute diversion they would have had many visitors, bringing with them money and news and different ways of life. It follows that residents of Cana would view themselves as better-off and more "progressive" than those in towns like Nazareth and Khirbet Kana, who would have been thought of as backward and unsophisticated.

Based on Nathaniel's comment (and its implications), the traditional site of Kafr Kanna still remains the most likely candidate for first century "Cana of Galilee".


Notes:

  1. John 21:2 provides evidence that Nathaniel was a resident of Cana, and so his perception about Nazareth was likely not uncommon at the time.

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