The ancient structure was discovered in Tel Rechesh, in the lower Galilee region, on land experts believe was in ancient times an agricultural estate.
If the discovery is eventually authenticated, it would represent one of only eight synagogues discovered in Israel from the so-called Second Temple era.
A top archeologist says the find also confirms the Bible’s New Testament narrative about Christ’s role in preaching in synagogues.
“This is the first synagogue discovered in the rural part of the Galilee and it confirms historical information we have about the New Testament, which says that Jesus preached at synagogues in Galilean villages,” Dr. Motti Aviam, a senior researcher at the Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archeology said.
Aviam adds that discovering a Second Temple-era synagogue in a rural setting like the lower Galilee region rather than an urban area is also significant.
Archeological evidence shows that such synagogues of that time period were primarily used for “meetings, Torah readings and study, rather than worship.”
Matthew chapter four records how Jesus went throughout the Galilee teaching and preaching. A similar account is found in Matthew chapter nine verse 35 which says, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.”
“We now know that if there is a Jewish settlement that is identified by stone vessels and an absence of pig bones and we find a building with benches along the walls, that is a synagogue,” Dr. Mordechai Aviam, head of the Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archeology told Haaretz news.
According to experts, the walls of the synagogue room are “lined with benches constructed from skillfully hewn limestone” and “two large basalt stones that formed part of a ritual altar that had been used some 1,500 years earlier in a temple in a Canaanite city” were also found at the site.
Israeli news site Ynet reports that the synagogue was discovered just four inches underground and reportedly measures 29 feet long and 26 feet wide.