For Bible Study Nerds

For Bible Study Nerds


Matthew 4:23-25; Jesus Heals the Sick (Geographical Background)

posted by Mike Nappa

The Decapolis referenced in Matthew 4:25 was not a single city or country.

Much as we collectively refer to the northeastern states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut as “New England,” people in Jesus’ day used Decapolis as a collective reference to a political league of 10 predominately Greek towns in eastern Palestine. Those communities comprised: Damascus, Raphana, Kanatha, Philadelphia, Gerasa, Pella, Scythopolis, Gadara, Dion, and Hippos.

The town of Hippos lay just across the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum, Christ’s home base. It was likely a place where fishermen like Peter and John sold fish. Additionally, the man suffering from a “Legion” of demons was from Gadara in the Decapolis, and thus was the first to spread the news of Christ into the Gentile world (see Mark 5:1-20).

Because of cultural similarities found in Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son, some commentators also speculate that the “far country” where the son squandered his fortune was based on one or more towns found in the Decapolis.

 

Hebrew map of The Decapolis

Hebrew map of The Decapolis

Works Cited:

[ZP2, 81, 84]

 

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