Garo Nalbandian

Lifting his hand in friendly greeting, Helios welcomes visitors to the fourth-century C.E. synagogue at Hammath Tiberias, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. At the top of the mosaic is a panel featuring a Torah shrine and various objects used in Jewish rituals, including a menorah, a lulav (palm branch) and a shofar (ram’s horn). In the view of author Roussin, many ancient Jews saw Helios as a minor deity to whom they might address prayers, while the top panel in the synagogue mosaics, featuring the Torah shrine, probably represented the sphere of Yahweh, the “King of Kings.”