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Jerash possibly has a passing mention in the bible. Jerash was one of the most magnificent Greek cities in existence at the time of Christ, and possibly was the city that was referred to in the parable of the prodigal son. Note the affluence, location in another country, and the presence of pigs.  The Decapolis cities within the bible are emphasised as having gentile influence, and in particular the evidence of pigs in the events of Legion Matt 8:30-32; Mark 5:11-14; Luke 8:32,33 and the feeding of swine in the events of the prodigal son Luke 15:16. Swine were considered an abomination by the Jewish nation because of their unclean nature Lev 11:7; Deut 14:8 but were used of the moral character of the nation who inwardly were like pigs, but outside were “holier than (the gentiles)!” Isa 65:3,4. Deity had desperately attempted to reform this nation, but the response was not to return to Him, but a willing response was achieved with the gentiles which caused a stirring  jealousy Rom 10:20,21

Jerash is one of the cities of the Decapolis. A number are specifically of interest to the bible student. The number of the cities varies between author, but the list includes:

  1. Gerasa (Jerash) in Jordan Possibly the city of the prodigal son of the bible?
  2. Scythopolis (Beth-Shean) in Israel, the only city west of the Jordan River Beth-shean of the bible
  3. Hippos (Hippus or Sussita) in Israel
  4. Arabella (Irbid), in Jordan, Beth-arbel of the bible
  5. Al Husn, Jordan
  6. Raphana, Jordan
  7. Abila, Jordan  [see previous post]
  8. Gadara / Umm Qais, Jordan Gadara of the bible, the location of the parable of Legion
  9. Pella  in Jordan The location to which the christians fled in AD66f
  10. Philadelphia, modern day Amman, Jordan Rabbah of the bible
  11. Capitolias / Beit Ras, Jordan [Dion]
  12. Canatha / Qanawat  in Syria, Kenath of the bible [see previous post]
  13. Damascus, Syria;  Damascus of the bible
  14. Abila in Syria, Abilene of the bible

Jerash has had a long occupation since early Bronze age times. ca 3200 BC  It continued until a primary demise under the Persians in 614, and then further under the effects of the enormous earthquake of 749 AD which had considerable effects on the Jordan valley. One of the features of the city of Jerash was the cardo maximus. This feature was a recognised feature of cities in a roman tradition alongside the east-west tradition of the decumanus maximus. The same features are seen in the reconstructed Jerusalem under Hadrian and also in the planning of Damascus, Apomea in Syria, Petra in Jordan, Antioch of Syria in Turkey et al.


The lesson of the prodigal sons is the effect that restoration of sin has: “It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found” 15:32 To be involved with this world’s city is to be lost. To one son he had lost everything that [Jerash] had to offer and found everything with his father, the other thought he had missed out on some benefits, and his father had to go out of the house to enquire of his feelings, and he refused reconciliation. Cities had their origin in Cain, and the aspirations of business, pleasure, entertainment, and self-reliance created by his progeny are foreign to the servant of deity, and contrary to the invitation of God to be accepted on the receipt of a suitable offering and attitude. [see also Heb 11:10]