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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature

Decapolis

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Decap´olis. This appears to denote not, as is frequently stated, a particular province or district, but certain Ten Cities, including the adjacent villages, which resembled each other in being inhabited mostly by Gentiles, and in their civic institutions and privileges. In , it is said, 'Multitudes followed Jesus from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan.' This must be considered as a popular mode of expression, just as, in describing a public meeting in this country, it might be said 'numbers attended it from Kent and Sussex, and from the Cinque Ports.' We, therefore, cannot agree with Dr. Lightfoot in thinking it 'absurd to reckon the most famed cities of Galilee for cities of Decapolis, when, both in sacred and profane authors, Galilee is plainly distinguished from Decapolis.' One at least of the Decapolitan towns (Scythopolis, formerly Bethshan) was in Galilee, and several, if not all the rest, were in the country beyond Jordan. Pliny gives the following list, but allows that a difference of opinion existed as to its correctness. 1. Damascus; 2. Philadelphia; 3. Raphana; 4. Scythopolis; 5. Gadara: 6. Hippos; 7. Dion; 8. Pella; 9. Galasa; 10. Canatha. Josephus speaks of Gadara and Hippos as Grecian cities, and calls Scythopolis the greatest city of the Decapolis, from which it may be inferred that he excluded Damascus from the number. For Damascus and Raphana, Cellarius substitutes Caesarea Philippi and Gergesa, and Ptolemy Capitolias. The name Decapolis was in course of time applied to more than ten towns, a circumstance which may in part account for the discrepancies in the lists given by various writers. The Decapolitan towns referred to in the Gospels were evidently situated not far from the Sea of Galilee (; ).

 

 

 

 

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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Decapolis'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/kbe/d/decapolis.html.

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