Rabbi Yochanan’s Beit Midrash

Located just past Tiberias’s sewage treatment plant. When a construction team began digging a new pool, they discovered this third century mosaic  floor. About 200 square metres, and on the eastern side are remains of what is thought to be a mikva. The city authorities plan to relocate the sewage plant and continue excavating the site. The following evidence leads scholars to identify this site as Rabbi Yochanan’s house of study, where the Jerusalem Talmud was edited.

  1. The floor’s simple geometric Pattern is characteristic of third century Jewish buildings
  2. One would expect to find a mikva adjacent to a house of study.
  3. Rabbinic sources mention caves near the house of study where the rabbis would flee in times of danger. This archaeological site is closest to the mountain caves.

Rabbi Yochanan (c. 180-279 CE), who studied with Rabbi Judah the Prince, sold his inherited property in order to devote himself to Torah. He was known for his exceptional good looks. The Talmud says, ‘To envision the beauty of Rabbi Yochanan, bring a new silver cup, fill it with red pomegranate seeds, put red roses along the rim, and place it between the sun and the shade. ‘The resulting effect like Rabbi Yochanan’s beauty’ (Baba Metzia 84a).

The Jewish gladiator and bandit Resh Lakish once spotted Rabbi Yochanan from a far as the latter bathed in the Jordan and mistook him for a woman he ran forward and leaped across the river before he realized his error. Not offended, Rabbi Yochanan made him a proposition, ‘If you stop being a bandit Torah and devote yourself to learning Torah I’ll let you marry mv sister, she’s even better looking than  me’ Resh Lakish was won over and became Rabbi Yochanan’s study partner.

When Resh Lakish died, Rabbi Yochanan’s new partner meekly accepted all the Rabbi’s opinions. Rabbi Yochanan reproved him, saying ‘Resh Lekesh raised 24 questions on every point and challenged me to clarify the law was a better partner.

Location: Opposite Gai Beach. Drive up-the paved road about 50 metres, turn left at the fork and enter the gate

continue straight, bear right, exit through the gate and park. Follow the arrows pointing right on the Hebrew sign to the archaeological site.