RUSSIA - Second Temple Era Synagogue Discovered

Arno Froese

The remains of a synagogue from the time of the Second Temple were discovered in the ancient Grecian city of Phanagoria, located in what is today Southwestern Russia between the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.

The synagogue was built in a rectangular shape, roughly 70 feet long and 20 feet wide, and divided into two rooms. The structure featured painted walls, a tiled roof, and other decorations. Additionally, archaeologists uncovered several menorahs, altars, and marble stele fragments.

A pair of tablets located at the site were also successfully dated to the first century.

According to the researchers on the project, few synagogues were being built or functioning during the time of this synagogue’s construction.

The researchers noted that many of the earliest synagogues so far discovered date back to the third century, several hundred years later than the Phanagoria synagogue.

It, however, was likely destroyed in the sixth century when raiding barbarian tribes razed Phanagoria.

Nearby, in Krasnodar, the thriving Jewish community gladly received the news of the synagogue’s discovery.

According to the release, the archaeological efforts involved in unearthing the ancient house of Jewish worship received aid from funding provided by the Volnoe Delo Foundation. The foundation was established by Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska., 16 August 2023

Arno's Commentary

While Wikipedia writes, “The history of the Jews in Russia and areas historically connected with it goes back at least 1,500 years,” the newly discovered synagogue by archaeologists shows the Jews to be present possibly while the Second Temple still stood in Jerusalem. Wikipedia continues: “Before 1917 there were 300,000 Zionists in Russia, while the main Jewish socialist organization, the Bund, had 33,000 members. Only 958 Jews had joined the Bolshevik Party before 1917; thousands joined after the Revolution.” 

Jewish socialist-Zionists are actually the backbone of the new State of Israel, declared in May of 1948. A number of Jewish intellectuals warned the Jewish population to get out of Russia. Many declined to take the warning seriously and remained. Then came World War 1. Here the article continues: “The chaotic years of World War I, the February and October Revolutions, and the Russian Civil War had created social disruption that led to antisemitism. Some 150,000 Jews were killed in the pogroms of 1918–1922, 125,000 of them in Ukraine, 25,000 in Belarus. The pogroms were mostly perpetrated by anti-communist forces; sometimes, Red Army units engaged in pogroms as well.”

It is of interest that among the signers of the Declaration of the State of Israel, who belonged to the Moetzet HaAm (People’s Council), the majority were born in Ukraine (9), Belarus (8), and Poland (5)—all from the former Soviet Union, except one born in Israel, three in Germany, one in Denmark, and one in Yemen.

Today, war is leaving its casualties on the battlefield in territory where Jewish blood was shed, but from which the foundation of the State of Israel was built.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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