Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

Studies in the Bible and Antiquity


This article surveys the past and current research on Huqoq, an ancient Jewish village near the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. Historical sources and modern explorations show that Huqoq was a small agricultural village during the biblical and postbiblical periods. Formal excavations of the site began in 2011 and have uncovered portions of the ancient village and its synagogue. This article highlights the discoveries made during the first two seasons of excavation (2011-2012), including pieces of a mosaic floor in the synagogue's east aisle that depict two female faces, an inscription, and an illustration of Samson tying lit torches to foxes (Judges 15:1-5). Because of the rarity of Samson in Jewish art, the religious significance of this mosaic is difficult to explain. However, liturgical texts from late antiquity indicate that some synagogue congregations celebrated Samson as an apocalyptic image and messianic prototype, whose victories against the Philistines fostered hope in the eschatological messiah expected to appear and deliver the Jewish community from foreign oppression.