Gadarenes

GADARA, GADARENES (găd'a-ra, găd-a-rēnz', Gr. Gadarēnoi, Gadara). Gadara was a member of the Decapolis and is associated with “the country of the Gadarenes” in the Gospels (Matt.8.28; Mark.5.1; Luke.8.26, Luke.8.37). NIV renders “Gerasenes” in the Mark and Luke references, but see footnote on each. Its ruins are identified with Um Keis today on a steep hill five miles (eight km.) SE of the Sea of Galilee and three miles (five km.) south of the Hieromax or Yarmuk River. At the foot of the hill to the north were hot springs and baths. When Christ came across the lake from Capernaum, he landed at the SE corner where the steep bank descends from the eastern highlands into the Jordan Valley. Two demoniacs met him, and Jesus cast many demons out of them. There were pigs feeding nearby, and when Jesus allowed the demons to enter them, they ran headlong down the steep slope into the lake and were drowned. In the cliffs around Gadara, or Um Keis, tombs have been excavated out of the limestone, some measuring twenty feet (six m.) square, with side recesses for bodies. Like the demoniacs, people still dwell in them today. Nearby there is a field of several acres strewn with stone coffins and their lids. This description would hardly fit Gerasa, a town some fifty miles (eighty-three km.) south of the Sea of Galilee, though it might be appropriate to refer generally to it as the “region of the Gerasenes,” which is the reading of an important manuscript in Mark and Luke. Some texts of Matthew and Luke read “region of the Gergesenes,” which is identified with the present Khersa farther north on the eastern shore of the lake. This might not be improper if the town was under the jurisdiction of the larger Gadara. Khersa’s steep hill rising from the water’s edge with rock caves suitable for tombs does meet the narrative description of the Gospels. In Roman times Gadara was the best fortified city in Perea, and its remains are still impressive. A Roman street can be seen with its fallen colonnades on either side.——AMR

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

gad-a-renz’. See preceding article.