Easton's Bible Dictionary
The capital of the Roman province of Peraea. It stood
on the summit of a mountain about 6 miles south-east of the Sea of Galilee. (
5:1 ) and ( Luke
8:26 - 39
) describe the miracle of the healing of the demoniac ( Matthew
8:28 - 34
says two demoniacs) as having been wrought "in the country of the Gadarenes,"
thus describing the scene generally. The miracle could not have been wrought at
Gadara itself, for between the lake and this town there is the deep, almost impassable
ravine of the Hieromax (Jarmuk). It is identified with the modern village of Um-Keis,
which is surrounded by very extensive ruins, all bearing testimony to the splendour
of ancient Gadara.
"The most interesting remains of Gadara are its tombs, which dot the cliffs for
a considerable distance round the city, chiefly on the north-east declivity; but
many beautifully sculptured sarcophagi are scattered over the surrounding heights.
They are excavated in the limestone rock, and consist of chambers of various dimensions,
some more than 20 feet square, with recesses in the sides for bodies...The present
inhabitants of Um-Keis are all troglodytes, 'dwelling in tombs,' like the poor
maniacs of old, and occasionally they are almost as dangerous to unprotected travellers."
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
A strong city situated near the river Hieromax, six miles
southeast of the Sea of Galilee, over against Scythopolis and Tiberias, and 16
Roman miles distant from each of those places. Josephus calls it the capital of
Peraea. The ruins of this city, now called Um Keis, are about two miles in circumference.
The most interesting remains of Gadara are its tombs, which dot the cliffs for
a considerable distance around the city. Godet says there is still a population
of 200 souls in these tombs. Gadara was captured by Vespasian on the first outbreak
of the war with the Jews, all its inhabitants were massacred, and the town itself,
with the surrounding villages, was reduced to ashes.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
1. Country of the Gadarenes:
This city is not named in Scripture, but the territory belonging to it is spoken
of as chora ton Gadarenon, "country of the Gadarenes" (Matthew 8:28). In the parallel
passages (Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26 , 37) we read: chora ton Gerasenon "country of the
Gerasenes." There is no good reason, however, to question the accuracy of the
text in either case. The city of Gadara is represented today by the ruins of Umm
Qeis on the heights south of el-Chummeh--the hot springs in the Yarmuk valley--about
6 miles Southeast of the Sea of Galilee. It maybe taken as certain that the jurisdiction
of Gadara, as the chief city in these regions, extended over the country East
of the Sea, including the lands of the subordinate town, GERASA (which see). The
figure of a ship frequently appears on its coins: conclusive. proof that its territory
reached the sea. The place might therefore be called with propriety, either "land
of the Gerasenes," with reference to the local center, or "land of the Gadarenes,"
with reference to the superior city.
(NOTE.--The Textus Receptus of the New Testament reading. ton Gergesenon, "of
the Gergesenes," must be rejected (Westcott-Hort, II. App., 11).)
The name Gadara appears to be Semitic It is still heard in Jedur, which attaches
to the ancient rock tombs, with sarcophagi, to the East of the present ruins.
They are closed by carved stone doors, and are used as storehouses for grain,
and also as dwellings by the inhabitants. The place is not mentioned till later
times. It was taken by Antiochus the Great when in 218 BC he first invaded Palestine
(Polyb. v.71). Alexander Janneus invested the place, and reduced it after a ten
months' siege (Ant., XIII, iii, 3; BJ, I, iv, 2). Pompey is said to have restored
it, 63 BC (Ant., XIV, iv, 4; BJ, I, vii, 7); from which it would appear to have
declined in Jewish hands. He gave it a free constitution. From this date the era
of the city was reckoned. It was the seat of one of the councils instituted by
Gabinius for the government of the Jews (Ant., XIV, v, 4; BJ, I, viii, 5). It
was given by Augustus to Herod the Great in 30 BC (Ant., XV, vii, 3; BJ, I, xx,
3). The emperor would not listen to the accusations of the inhabitants against
Herod for oppressive conduct (Ant., XV, x, 2 f). After Herod's death it was joined
to the province of Syria, 4 BC (Ant., XVII, xi, 4; BJ, II, vi, 3). At the beginning
of the Jewish revolt the country around Gadara was laid waste (BJ, II, xviii,
1). The Gadarenes captured some of the boldest of the Jews, of whom several were
put to death, and others imprisoned (ibid., 5). A party in the city surrendered
it to Vespasian, who placed a garrison there (BJ, IV, vii, 3). It continued to
be a great and important city, and was long the seat of a bishop (Reland, Palestine,
776). With the conquest of the Moslems it passed under eclipse, and is now an
3. Identification and Description:
Umm Cheis answers the description given of Gadara by ancient writers. It was a
strong fortress (Ant., XIII, iii, 3), near the Hieromax--i.e. Yarmuk (Pliny N
H, xvi)--East of Tiberias and Scythopolis, on the top of a hill, 3 Roman miles
from hot springs and baths called Amatha, on the bank of the Hieromax (Onomasticon,
under the word). The narrow ridge on which the ruins lie runs out toward the Jordan
from the uplands of Gilead, with the deep gorge of Wady Yarmuk--Hieromax--on the
North, and Wady el 'Arab on the South. The hot springs, as noted above, are in
the bottom of the valley to the North. The ridge sinks gradually to the East,
and falls steeply on the other three sides, so that the position was one of great
strength. The ancient walls may be traced in almost their entire circuit of 2
miles. One of the great Roman roads ran eastward to Der'ah; and an aqueduct has
been traced to the pool of el Khab, about 20 miles to the North of Der'ah. The
ruins include those of two theaters, a basilica, a temple, and many important
buildings, telling of a once great and splendid city. A paved street, with double
colonnade, ran from East to West. The ruts worn in the pavement by the chariot
wheels are still to be seen.
That there was a second Gadara seems certain, and it may be intended in some of
the passages referred to above. It is probably represented by the modern Jedur,
not far from es-Salt (Buhl, Buhl, Geographic des alten Palastina, 255; Guthe).
Josephus gives Pella as the northern boundary of Peraea (BJ, III, iii, 3). This
would exclude Gadara on the Hieromax. The southern city, therefore, should be
understood as "the capital of Peraea" in BJ, IV; vii, 3.
Gadara was a member of the DECAPOLIS (which see).
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