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Huqoq a general view (2).jpg
Arabic ياقوق
Subdistrict Tiberias
Population 210[1] (1945)
Area 4,229[1] dunams
Date of depopulation May, 1948[2]
Cause(s) of depopulation
Current localities Hukok[3]

Yaquq (Arabic: ياقوق‎) was a Palestinian Arab village located on an ancient site until 1948 whose Arabic name is thought to preserve the site's ancient name, Huqoq.[4][5] The remains of the Arab village are nearby to modern Hukok (Hebrew: חוּקוֹק) a kibbutz established 11 July 1945 .

Hukkok (Hebrew חקק) is mentioned in the Bible in Josh. 19.34.[6][7] Archaeological investigations at the site of the former village of Yaquq, located near the Sea of Galilee, 12.5 km north of Tiberias, uphill from Capernaum and Magdala,[8] suggest that it was inhabited in the Iron Age, Persian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Abbasid, Fatimid, Mamluk and Ottoman periods.[4][9] It was depopulated during the 1948 Palestine war in May 1948.

A 2011 dig led by archaeologist Jodi Magness excavated several sections at the site of the former village.[9] Among the items uncovered was a mosaic that is said to have adorned the floor of an elaborate 1,600 year old synagogue.[10]


Ancient Jewish graves

The village site was inhabited in the Early and Middle Bronze Age.[6] The Canaanites referred to Yaquq as Hukkok, and during the Roman period it was known as Hucuca.[11][12]

The Roman period village was large and prosperous due to the presence of a constant spring.[9] Archaeologist Magness told Science News that the "high artistic quality and the tiny size of the mosaic cubes,... together with the monumental size of the stones used to construct the synagogue’s walls, suggest a high level of prosperity in this village, as the building clearly was very costly.”[13] The prosperity of the ancient village contrasts with the simplicity of the Ottoman era settlement and can be seen by archaeologists in animal bones which were cut by professional butchers in the ancient Jewish village, and by farmers in the Muslim period.[8] It is apparent from both the synagogue and the absence of pork bones that the Roman period village was Jewish.[8]

"The ancient village is surrounded by associated features, including cist graves, rock-cut tombs, a mausoleum, quarries, agricultural terraces and installations, a winepress and an olive press. Two large miqwa’ot (ritual baths) are hewn into bedrock on the eastern and southern periphery of the ancient village (see below)."[9]

The village is attested in Late Roman and Byzantine period rabbinic sources.[9]

The earliest mention of the name Yaquq is in the text Signs of the Tomb Inscription by Rabbi Jacob, emissary of the Yeshiva of Rabbi Jehiel of Paris (before 1257 CE).[6]

In 1596, Yaquq was a part of the Ottoman nahiya ("subdistrict") of Jira under the liwa' ("district") of Safad, with a population of 396 Muslims. It paid taxes on a number of crops and produce, including wheat, barley and olives, goats, beehives, and a press which was either used for processing grapes or olives.[14]

Victor Guérin described the village as having about 20 stone houses.[15] By 1881, it had about 200 Muslim inhabitants, and was surrounded by arable land. There were many cisterns in the area, and there was a "good spring".[16]

In 1945 it had a population of 210.[1][12] In 1944/45 the village had 1,010 dunams of land used for cereals, and 24 dunams irrigated or used for orchards.[17][18]

Following its depopulation in May 1948, the village was used as a training site for the Israeli army until it was bulldozed in 1968.[9] Khalidi described the place in 1992:

Stone rubble covers the entire site. There is one palm tree in the center and an olive grove on the edge. Part of the surrounding land is cultivated by Israelis, while the remainder is used as a grazing area. A canal that passes to the west is part of the Israeli National Water Carrier, the water project that carries water from Lake Tiberias to the central coastal plains.[18]

Tomb of Habakkuk[edit]

Tomb of Habakkuk

Jewish, Christian, Druze and Muslim tradition located the tomb of the prophet Habakkuk in Huqoq and it has been a site of pilgrimage since the twelfth century.[6] The earliest mention of the tomb is a letter written by Rabbi Samuel ben Samson (1210): "On our way back from Tiberias we went on to Kefar Hanan. In journeying there we came across the tomb of Habakkuk in Kefar Hukkok."[6] In 1215 Menahem ben Perez of Hebron visited the site, and wrote: "And I went from there, and saw the tomb of the prophet Habakkuk near a spring."[6] The earliest detailed description appears in the book "These are the Travels" (1270– 1291): "From there one goes to Ya‘aquq, where is the grave of the prophet Habakkuk, upon which there is a fine monument between four party walls."[6]

An Englishmen named John Sanderson visited the tomb in 1601 and wrote "Then we passed by a little village where dwelt and is buried the prophet Abicoke; so said the Jews, and that the town was called Yeacoke."[6]

A description from the 1930s, states that "The tombstone. . . is built of basalt stones, about two metres wide and 1.5 metres long, covered in white plaster".[6] It was replaced by a modern tombstone in 1981 over which was built a small building and pool to catch the waters of the spring as a ritual bath.[6] Jewish and Druze pilgrims continue to visit the tomb.[6]

However, Seffi Ben Yosef questions the tradition, which was only based on the similar sounding name between the village and the prophet. He also notes that the grave was earlier known as being that of Sheik Hassan.[19]

Ancient synagogue[edit]

An ancient synagogue uncovered in 2011 is notable for its fine limestone carvings and for a mosaic of the Biblical hero Samson. According to archaeologist Jodi Magness, "This discovery is significant because only a small number of ancient (Late Roman) synagogue buildings are decorated with mosaics showing biblical scenes, and only two others have scenes with Samson (one is at another site just a couple of miles from Huqoq)" Furthermore, "Our mosaics are also important because of their high artistic quality and the tiny size of the mosaic cubes. This, together with the monumental size of the stones used to construct the synagogue's walls, suggest a high level of prosperity in this village, as the building clearly was very costly."[20]

In the mosaic the Biblical Samson is portrayed tying burning torches to the tails of foxes, this is from a Bible story in the Book of Judges in which during a war with the Philistines Samson catches 300 wild foxes, ties burning torches to their tails and sets them loose to set fire to Philistine grain fields. It is flanked by two human faces and a Hebrew inscription referring to rewards for those who perform good deeds.[21][22][23]

Huqoq Inscription and face


  1. ^ a b c Hadawi, 1970, p.73
  2. ^ Morris, 2004, p.xvii, village #73. Gives cause of depopulation as "?"
  3. ^ Khalidi 1992, p. 547"
  4. ^ a b Settlement and History in Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine Galilee: An Archaeological Survey of the Eastern Galilee, 2009, p. 151.
  5. ^ Palmer 1881, p 138
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Lissovsky, Nurit (2008). "Hukkok, Yaquq and Habakkuk's Tomb: Changes over Time and Space". Palestine Exploration Quarterly 140 (2): 103–118.http://columbia.library.ingentaconnect.com/content/maney/peq/2008/00000140/00000002/art00005
  7. ^ International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia "Hukkok: huk’-ok (chuqqoq): A town on the border of Naphtali named with Aznoth-tabor (Jos 19:34). It is usually identified with the village of Yaquq, which stands on the West of Wady el-‘Amud, to the Northwest of Gennesaret, about 4 miles from the sea. This would fall on the boundary of Zebulun and Naphtali, between Tabor and Hannathon (Jos 19:14). The identification may be correct; but it seems too far from Tabor."
  8. ^ a b c Paul V. M. Flesher, "Kitchens on the Cutting Edge", June 28, 2012, University of Wyoming News, http://www.uwyo.edu/uw/news/2012/06/uw-religion-today-column-for-week-of-july-1-july-7-kitchens-on-the-cutting-edge.html
  9. ^ a b c d e f Jodi Magness, "Huqoq – 2011, Preliminary Report", March 29, 2011, Hadashot Arkheologiyot, http://www.hadashot-esi.org.il/report_detail_eng.asp?id=1959&mag_id=119
  10. ^ Ancient shul, Samson mosaic found in Galilee
  11. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP, Vol. I, p.420
  12. ^ a b Khalidi, 1992, p.546
  13. ^ Remains of Roman Period Synagogue Discovered in Galilee, July 2, 2012, Science News http://www.sci-news.com/archaeology/article00436.html
  14. ^ Hütteroth, Wolf-Dieter and Kamal Abdulfattah (1977), Historical Geography of Palestine, Transjordan and Southern Syria in the Late 16th Century. Erlanger Geographische Arbeiten, Sonderband 5. Erlangen, Germany: Vorstand der Fränkischen Geographischen Gesellschaft. p. 177. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 546
  15. ^ Guerin 1880, p. 354 ff
  16. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP, Vol. I, p.364. Quoted in Khalidi, 1992, p. 547
  17. ^ Hadawi, 1970, p.123
  18. ^ a b Khalidi, 1992, p.547
  19. ^ Ein Hokuk and the story of Habakkuk, Ynet
  20. ^ Israel Antiquities Authority, http://www.antiquities.org.il/about_eng.asp?Modul_id=14
  21. ^ Gwen Ackerman, Businessweek,"Biblical Samson Torches Fox Tails in Ancient Synagogue Mosaic" ,July 02, 2012, http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-07-02/biblical-samson-torches-fox-tails-in-ancient-synagogue-mosaic
  22. ^ Matti Friedman, "Ancient synagogue and mosaic unearthed in Galilee", Times of Israel, July 2, 2012 http://www.timesofisrael.com/ancient-synagogue-and-mosaic-unearthed-in-galilee/
  23. ^ Elchanan Reiner and David Amit Samson follows the sun to Galilee at Haaretz 6 October 2012.


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