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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Gadara

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The country of the Gadarenes" (Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26; Luke 8:37, in Alex. manuscript; and Matthew 8:28, the Vaticanus manuscript. But the Sinaiticus manuscript has: "Gazarenes" in Matthew," Gerasenes" in Mark, and in Luke "Gergesenes." Vaticanus has: "Gerasenes: in Mark and Luke. (See GERASA.) The Alexandrinus manuscript has: "Gergesenes" Matthew 8. Probably Matthew, writing for those intimately acquainted with the topography, names the obscure but exact locality; Mark and Luke, writing for those at a distance, name Gadara the well-known capital of the place. The one name is probably more specific, the other more general.) Gadara was the most strongly fortified city in Perle. It was near the river Hieromax (now the bed Sheriat el Mandhur), E. of the sea of Galilee over against Tiberius, at 16 miles Roman distance, on a hill beneath which were warm springs called Amatha.

Its ruins are identified with Um Keis on an isolated hill N.W. of the mountains of Gilead. Christ coming across the lake from Capernaum lauded at the S.E. corner, where the steep bank descends from the eastern highlands into the Jordan valley. There is only the one place where the swine could have rushed down a steep into the water. Gergesa was probably under the jurisdiction of Gadara. Two demoniacs met Him near the shore. A "great herd of swine" were feeding on the adjoining slope. Upon the demons entering them they rushed down the "steep" into the lake and were drowned. Josephus (Ant. 17:13, section 4) explains the difficulty of swine being there though forbidden by the Jewish law, "Gadara was a Grecian city." On the keepers informing the people of what had happened, "the whole city came out to meet Jesus," and "besought Him to depart out of their coasts" (Job 21:14-15; Job 22:17).

Men ignore God's word (Hosea 9:12), "woe to them when I depart from them" (Deuteronomy 31:17); and the awful doom, Matthew 25:41. Contrast the cured demoniac, Mark 5:15-16; Mark 5:18. Gadara was reduced to ashes by Vespasian in the beginning of the Roman war which ended in the overthrow of Jerusalem. It is an interesting coincidence that tombs still abound in the cliffs round the city, excavated in the limestone rock, some as large as 20 feet square, with side recesses for bodies. Stone slabs form the doors. Like the demoniacs, the people of Um Keis still dwell in the tombs. The ruins of Um Keis attest the greatness of Gadara anciently; from the gate a straight street, with a colonnade on each side, passed through the city; the pavement is almost perfect, marked here and there by chariot wheels; the columns are prostrate.


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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Gadara'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/fbd/g/gadara.html. 1949.

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