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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

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.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

GADARA . A town whose ruins (extensive, but in recent years much destroyed by the natives) bear the name of Umm Keis , about six miles S. E. of the Sea of Galilee. It was a town of the Decapolis, probably Greek in origin, and was the chief city of Peræa. The date of its foundation is unknown, its capture by Antiochus (b.c. 218) being the first event recorded of it. It was famous for its hot baths, the springs of which still exist. The narrative of the healing of the demoniac, according to   Matthew 8:28 , is located in the ‘country of the Gadarenes ,’ a reading repeated in some MSS of the corresponding passage of Lk. (  Luke 8:26 ), where other MSS read Gergesenes . The probability is that neither of these is correct, and that we ought to adopt a third reading, Gerasenes , which is corroborated by   Mark 5:1 . This would refer the miracle not to Gadara, which, as noted above, was some distance from the Sea of Galilee, but to a more obscure place represented by the modern Kersa , on its Eastern shore.

R. A. S. Macalister.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [3]

Now Um-keis, a fortified chief city of Decapolis, of considerable importance in the time of Christ, and having many Greek inhabitants. It lay south of the river Hieromax, seven miles level summit of a steep limestone hill. A few ruins are found on the top of the hill; many excavated tombs on its sides, still partly occupied as residences; and warm springs at its base. The country of the Gadarenes extended to the Jordan and the Sea of Galilee; and in the part of its bordering on the lake occurred the miracle recorded in  Matthew 8:28   9:1   Mark 5:1-20   Luke 8:26-39 . A legion of demons were cast out of two men, and entered a herd of swine, causing their destruction. See Gergesenes .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [4]

 Mark 5:1 Luke 8:26-39 Matthew 8:28-34

"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."

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [5]

a city which gave name to the country of the Gadarenes; situated on a steep rocky hill on the river Hieromax, or Yermuck, about five miles from its junction with the Jordan. It was a place of considerable note in the time of Josephus, and the metropolis of Peraea, or the country beyond Jordan. It was also celebrated for its hot baths. The vicinity was likewise called the country of the Gergesenes, from Gerasa, or Gergesa, another considerable city in the same neighbourhood. Thus the miracle of our Lord performed here is represented by St. Mark to have been done in the country of the Gadarenes,  Mark 5:1; and by St. Matthew, in that of the Gergesenes,  Matthew 8:28 .

Morrish Bible Dictionary [6]

The capital of the Roman province of Peraea. It is referred to in the Gospels as in 'the country of the Gadarenes.' It has been identified with the ruins at Umm Keis, 32 40' N, 35 40' E , that is S.E. of the Sea of Galilee, but the town is too far from the sea to have been the scene of the miracle; besides which there is a deep ravine between the ruins of the town and the sea. There are many large tombs in the district, in which some of the rude inhabitants still take up their abode, as the demoniac had done.  Mark 5:1-3 . See GADARENES.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [7]

The district of Gadara bordered the Lake of Galilee on its eastern side and extended south into the territory known as Decapolis. Gadara was not so thickly populated as other districts around the lake, and was inhabited mainly by Gentiles, some of them pig farmers. The Gadarenes were known also as Gerasenes after the chief town of the district ( Matthew 8:28;  Mark 5:1;  Mark 5:11-14). (For map and other details see Decapolis .)

Holman Bible Dictionary [8]

 Matthew 8:28

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [9]

See Gadarenes

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [10]

gad´a - ra ( Γάδαρα , Gádara ):

1. Country of the Gadarenes

This city is not named in Scripture, but the territory belonging to it is spoken of as χώρα τῶν Γαδαρηνῶν , chō̇ra tō̇n Gadarēnō̇n , "country of the Gadarenes" ( Matthew 8:28 ). In the parallel passages ( Mark 5:1;  Luke 8:26 ,  Luke 8:37 ) we read: χώρα τῶν Γερασηνῶν , chō̇ra tō̇n Gerasēnō̇n "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 Ḳeis on the heights south of el - Ḥummeh - the hot springs in the Yarmūk 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. τῶν Γεργεσηνῶν , tṓn Gergesēnṓn , "of the Gergesenes," must be rejected (Westcott-Hort, II. App., 11).)

2. History

The name Gadara appears to be Semitic It is still heard in Jedūr , 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 utter ruin.

3. Identification and Description

Umm Ḳeis answers the description given of Gadara by ancient writers. It was a strong fortress ( Ant. , Xiii , iii, 3), near the Hieromax - i.e. Yarmūk (Pliny N H , xvi) - E ast 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 Wādy Yarmūk - H ieromax - on the North, and Wādy 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 Ḍer‛ah  ; and an aqueduct has been traced to the pool of el Ḳhab , about 20 miles to the North of Ḍer‛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 Jedūr , not far from es - Salṭ (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).

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [11]

Gad´ara was the chief city or metropolis of Peræa, lying in the district termed Gadaritis some small distance from the southern extremity of the Sea of Galilee, sixty stadia from Tiberias, to the south of the river Hieromax, and also of the Scheriat-al-Mandhur. It was fortified, and stood on a hill of limestone. Its inhabitants were mostly heathens. After the place had been destroyed in the domestic quarrels of the Jews, it was rebuilt by Pompey, in order to gratify Demetrius of Gadara, one of his freedmen. Augustus added Gadara, with other places, to the kingdom of Herod; from which, on the death of that prince, it was sundered, and joined to the province of Syria (Josephus, De Bell, Jud. ii. 6. 3). At a later period it was the seat of an episcopal see.

Most modern authorities find Gadara in the present village of Om-keis. The hill on which it stood was full of caverns, which were used for tombs. The summit of the hill commands a very fine view.

The city formed nearly a square. The upper part of it stood on a level spot, and appears to have been walled all round, the acclivities of the hill being on all sides exceedingly steep. The eastern gate of entrance has its portals still remaining. Among the ruins Buckingham found a theater, an Ionic temple, a second theater, besides traces and remnants of streets and houses. The prevalent orders of architecture are the Ionic and the Corinthian.

Burckhardt also found near Gadara warm sulphurous springs. According to Epiphanius, a yearly festival was held at these baths.

Gadara is the scene of the miracle recorded in;; . Buckingham's remarks on this event are well worth quoting:—'The accounts given of the habitation of the demoniac from whom the legion of devils was cast out here struck us very forcibly, while we ourselves were wandering among rugged mountains, and surrounded by tombs still used as dwellings by individuals and whole families. A finer subject for a masterly expression of the passions of madness in all their violence, contrasted with the serenity of virtue and benevolence in him who went about doing good, could hardly be chosen for the pencil of an artist; and a faithful delineation of the rugged and wild majesty of the mountain scenery here on the one hand, with the still calm of the waters of the lake on the other, would give an additional charm to the picture.' One of the ancient tombs was, when our traveler saw it, used as a carpenter's shop, the occupier of it being employed in constructing a rude plow. A perfect sarcophagus remained within, which was used by the family as a provision-chest.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [12]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Gadara'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.