- Um Qais, Um Qeis, Umm Qays; the mother of Qays was a marble statue once standing in the amphitheatre. [Arabic Umm, Hebrew Imma, mother]
- Latin: Gedara; Greek MSS: Geresa, Gergesa,Gergesnes,Gerasenians those who take flight/pilgrimage. (1) These names should not be confused with Gerasa which is another name for Jerash, a Decapolis city around 45km further south.
- Kursi is retained as a name for both the area of northern Jordan, and for a specific location on the eastern sea of Galilee
- Gedar is incorporated into the name of the hot springs at the foot of the city of Gedara called Hammat Gedar
View of the Golan from Gedara
Mentioned in Matt 8:28; Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26 and amongst the cities of the Decapolis, the country surrounding Gedara gets the most attention within the biblical record. Whilst the capital is based in northern Jordan, its administrative area extended over the southern portion of the Golan heights, and the eastern margins of the sea of Galilee, in which location the parable of Legion was to occur. Some authors believe that the toponym is contained in Gergasa, Chorsia or mod Kursi, a location on the eastern shore of the sea of Galilee around 8km north of En Gev where this event occurred (2,3) It appears however, that the majority of the findings at the location relate to c5 ADf byzantine church(es), and it appears a byzantine tradition to locate the miracle here. Talmudic tradition has it as a place of idol worship (4) The Kursi national park now is located surrounding the site. It should be noted that the northern district of Jordan bordering the Yarmuk is also called al-Kursi.
View of Tiberias from Gedara
Alongside Jerash and Ammon (Philadelphia) the ruins of Gedara are the most visible. Colonnaded streets, theatre and public buildings and a local artefact museum are a delight during a visit of this location. Various greek, roman and other artefacts are displayed, but the most remarkable display is the view obtained from climbing onto the roof of the museum itself, for portrayed is an uninterrupted view of the Golan, the sea of Galilee, Gilboa and the northern Massif.
View of Tiberias from Gedara
Legion was convinced that this was the Messiah, as who else could survive the terrible storm? The psalmist wrote: “By terrible things in righteousness whit thou answer us, O God of our salvation, who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea which by his strength setteth fast the mountains; being girt with power. which stilleth the noise of the seas the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the peoples” Ps 65:5-7. If this man could still the seas, then he could still the tumult in the mind of Legion. A legion was 6000 men! represented the myriad of mankind in their struggles with human nature and it’s effects. He was naked, that is without covering or source of atonement. He was among the tombs, that is he was bound within the destiny of sin, a dying man. About 2000 swine were to be into the sea that could be calmed, and represented the 2000 years afforded for the conversion of the gentiles.
The result of the action was to be clothed and in a right mind. Mark 5:15 Atonement now offered, and a soundness of reasoning regarding decisions and action, and in nothing terrified of the enemies of sin, 2 Tim 1:7; Phil 1:27,28.
What a marvelous vista of the work that Christ can accomplish for all the troubles of life. The largest issues are the position of covering to which we find ourselves, and sitting of ourselves with our master.
- Augustin Calmet, Charles Taylor: Calmet’s dictionary of the Holy Bible: with the Biblical fragments, vol 1 pg 570
- Avraham Negev, Shimon Gibson: Archaeological encyclopedia of the Holy Land pg 286
- Bargil Pixner: Paths of the Messiah pg 152-155 An in-depth description of the excavations at Kursi, incl Gluck
- Amelia Thomas et al Israel and the Palestinian territories pg 266