Matthew tells us that during Jesus’ Galilean Ministry, “great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan (4:25, ESV).
I had the opportunity today to visit Hippos, one of the ten cities of the Decapolis.
In the foreground you can see the ancient ruins of a temple. If you look carefully to the left center you can get a glimpse of the Sea of Galilee.
Though Jesus would later go to the Decapolis (Mark 5, Mark 7), the text in Matthew is saying that people from all the areas listed, including the Decapolis, traveled to Galilee to see and hear Jesus when He was engaged in the Galilean Ministry.
The cities of the Decapolis are ordinarily listed as follows:
- Gerasa (Jerash) in Jordan.
- Scythopolis (Beth-Shean) in Israel, the only city west of the Jordan River.
- Hippos (or Sussita) in Israel (Golan Heights).
- Gadara (Umm Qais) in Jordan.
- Pella (West of Irbid) in Jordan.
- Philadelphia, modern-day Amman, the capital of Jordan.
- Capitolias, also Dion, today Beit Ras in Jordan.
- Canatha (Qanawat) in Syria.
- Raphana in Jordan.
- Damascus, the capital of modern Syria.
The city of Hippos (Sussita) was the central city of the Golan during the Hellenistic and Roman/Byzantine periods. It is located on a diamond (or horse) shaped mountain which rises 350M above the Sea of Galilee. Recent excavations revealed the impressive plan and structures of the city. During the Byzantine period there were eight churches, indicating its importance for Christians. The city was devastated by a massive earthquake in 749 AD which left it in ruins since then. (http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/Hippos.html)
Click image for larger view.
Hippos / Susita is uniquely located on the Sea of Galilee. When Jesus talked about a “city built on a hill” (Matt 5.14), I think Hippos would have been a prime example. I imagine the buildings and fires of that city would have been visible from anywhere around the Sea.
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