Cities of the Decapolis

July 18, 2018

I’m currently presenting a visualized survey of the Bible, with tonight’s lesson dealing with the Life of Christ. Following Jesus’ Galilean Ministry, He pursued a plan to invest more time alone with the Apostles, preparing them for the great work they were to do. This period is known as the Retirement Ministry, “retiring” from the crowds to be with the apostles. One region Jesus traveled during this time was the Decapolis. “Again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis” (Mark 7:31). This largely Gentile area was comprised of ten cities (hence the name) which were given autonomy by Rome.

One of the cities of the Decapolis was Jerash (Gerasa).

Hadrian Gate at entrance to Jerash, one of the cities of the Decapolis. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Here is a view down the Cardo of Jerash.

Cardo at Jerash. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Another city of the Decapolis was Hippos. From here you can see the Sea of Galilee.

Hippos of the Decapolis. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

We’ve previously written here on Hippos.

Back to our text of Mark 7:31. Here was the site of one of Jesus’ many miracles, which gave proof of His deity:

Again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis. 32 They brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they implored Him to lay His hand on him. 33 Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; 34 and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” 35 And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly. 36 And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it. 37 They were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” (Mark 7:31-37).

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Hippos, a City of the Decapolis

May 1, 2017

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.

Hippos, one of the cities of the Decapolis. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

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:

  1. Gerasa (Jerash) in Jordan.
  2. Scythopolis (Beth-Shean) in Israel, the only city west of the Jordan River.
  3. Hippos (or Sussita) in Israel (Golan Heights).
  4. Gadara (Umm Qais) in Jordan.
  5. Pella (West of Irbid) in Jordan.
  6. Philadelphia, modern-day Amman, the capital of Jordan.
  7. Capitolias, also Dion, today Beit Ras in Jordan.
  8. Canatha (Qanawat) in Syria.
  9. Raphana in Jordan.
  10. 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. (

The Decapolis. Ten cities given autonomy by Rome.

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