Theater of Sepphoris

This photograph shows the remains of Sepphoris today. This glorious city, on a hilltop in Galilee, is slowly being uncovered by archaeologists. The name Sepphoris is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Zippori, which means "bird." According to the Jewish tradition, this name was used because the town looks like a bird perched on the hill. Nazareth is three miles to the left. The fortress tower, palace, and forum on the top of the hill was built by Herod Antipas centuries later.The theater, which was probably renovated after Jesus' time, had a diameter of approximately 225 feet and seated 4,000 people. The spectators sat on stone seats that were fitted into grooves in the bedrock.

Though it is unlikely Jesus attended this theater, he probably saw it and others in Galilee. His use of the word hypocrite (which means "stage actor") indicates the familiarity of his audience with this cultural institution. The city of Sepphoris probably had 25,000 or more inhabitants while Jesus was growing up in Nazareth, a village of about 200 people.