Capernaum, the name of which means "city of comfort," was located near the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee (also known as Sea of Tiberias or Lake of Gennesaret), near the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali (land given by God to these Israelite tribes as inheritance after Egyptian slavery). The city was on the great highway from Damascus to Acco and Tyre. Although not mentioned in the Old Testament, Capernaum in New Testament times was the metropolis of Galilee and one of the most prosperous and crowded districts in all Palestine.
At the beginning of his ministry Jesus left his boyhood home in Nazareth and took up residence in Capernaum. This move was a fulfillment of prophecy: "And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum . . .that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah . . . 'The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.'" (Matthew 4:13-16, NKJV throughout).
At least five of the twelve apostles Jesus called to follow him lived in Capernaum - James and John (brothers), Andrew and Peter (brothers) and Matthew.
The city was also the scene of several miraculous healings performed by Jesus, such as the healing of the nobleman's son (John 4:46-54), the centurion's servant (Matthew 8:5-13), Peter's mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15), and the ruler's daughter (Matthew 9:23-25). Yet for all the miracles performed in Capernaum Jesus warned:
"Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent . . . 'And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.'" (Matthew 11:20, 23-24)