Umm Qais
Overview
 
Umm Qais is a town in Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 located on the site of the ruined
Ruins
Ruins are the remains of human-made architecture: structures that were once complete, as time went by, have fallen into a state of partial or complete disrepair, due to lack of maintenance or deliberate acts of destruction...

 Hellenistic-Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 city of Gadara . The town was also called Antiochia or Antiochia Semiramis (Ancient Greek: Ἀντιόχεια Σεμίραμις) and Seleucia. Gadara was a semi-autonomous city of the Roman Decapolis
Decapolis
The Decapolis was a group of ten cities on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire in Judea and Syria. The ten cities were not an official league or political unit, but they were grouped together because of their language, culture, location, and political status...

.
The current and most widely-used name, Umm Qais, is Arabic for "Mother of Qais," a modified pronunciation and spelling of the Roman name Caius
Caius
-Persons:*Caius , bishop of Milan in the early 3rd-century, saint*Caius , Christian writer*Caius Gabriel Cibber, sculptor*Caius of Korea, Catholic missionary*Caius Welcker, footballer...

.
Encyclopedia
Umm Qais is a town in Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 located on the site of the ruined
Ruins
Ruins are the remains of human-made architecture: structures that were once complete, as time went by, have fallen into a state of partial or complete disrepair, due to lack of maintenance or deliberate acts of destruction...

 Hellenistic-Roman
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 city of Gadara . The town was also called Antiochia or Antiochia Semiramis (Ancient Greek: Ἀντιόχεια Σεμίραμις) and Seleucia. Gadara was a semi-autonomous city of the Roman Decapolis
Decapolis
The Decapolis was a group of ten cities on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire in Judea and Syria. The ten cities were not an official league or political unit, but they were grouped together because of their language, culture, location, and political status...

.

History

The current and most widely-used name, Umm Qais, is Arabic for "Mother of Qais," a modified pronunciation and spelling of the Roman name Caius
Caius
-Persons:*Caius , bishop of Milan in the early 3rd-century, saint*Caius , Christian writer*Caius Gabriel Cibber, sculptor*Caius of Korea, Catholic missionary*Caius Welcker, footballer...

. The ancient name Gadara appears to be Semitic
Semitic
In linguistics and ethnology, Semitic was first used to refer to a language family of largely Middle Eastern origin, now called the Semitic languages...

. It is probably derived from the Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 gader (גדר), meaning "fence" or "border".
It is still heard in Jedūr, which is associated with the ancient rock tombs, with sarcophagi, to the east of the present ruins. These tombs are closed by carved stone doors, and are used as storehouses for grain, and also as dwellings by the inhabitants. The place is not mentioned till later times.

After Herod's death it was joined to the province of Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 (4 BC). At the beginning of the Jewish revolt in 66 AD, the country around Gadara was laid waste.

"So Vespasian marched to the city of Gadara. He came into it and slew all the youth, the Romans having no mercy on any age whatsoever. He set fire to the city and all the villas around it" - Josephus Wars of the Jews Book 7

The Gadarenes captured some of the boldest of the Jews, of whom several were put to death, and others imprisoned. Some in the city surrendered themselves to Vespasian
Vespasian
Vespasian , was Roman Emperor from 69 AD to 79 AD. Vespasian was the founder of the Flavian dynasty, which ruled the Empire for a quarter century. Vespasian was descended from a family of equestrians, who rose into the senatorial rank under the Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

, who placed a garrison there. The 2nd century AD Roman aqueduct to Gadara
Gadara Aqueduct
The Gadara Aqueduct was an Roman aqueduct to supply water to the city of Gadara, modern-day Jordan, and the longest known tunnel of antiquity. The 170 km long pipeline was constructed in the qanat technology, that is as a series of well-like vertical shafts, which were connected underground from...

 supplied drinking water through a 170 km long qanat
Qanat
A qanāt is a water management system used to provide a reliable supply of water for human settlements and irrigation in hot, arid and semi-arid climates...

. Its longest section running for 94 km underground, it is the longest known tunnel from ancient times
Ancient history
Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history to the Early Middle Ages. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, with Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC...

 to date. Gadara continued to be a great and important city during Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 times, and was long the seat of a bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

. With the conquest of the Arabs, following the Battle of Yarmouk
Battle of Yarmouk
The Battle of Yarmouk was a major battle between the Muslim Arab forces of the Rashidun Caliphate and the armies of the East Roman-Byzantine Empire. The battle consisted of a series of engagements that lasted for six days in August 636, near the Yarmouk River, along what is today the border...

 in 636, it came under Muslim rule. It was largely destroyed by an earthquake around 747 AD, and abandoned as a city.

Identification and description

Gadara was one of the Ten Cities of the Decapolis
Decapolis
The Decapolis was a group of ten cities on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire in Judea and Syria. The ten cities were not an official league or political unit, but they were grouped together because of their language, culture, location, and political status...

.
Umm Qais answers the description given of Gadara by ancient writers. It was a strong fortress (Ant., XIII, iii, 3), near the Hieromax - i.e. Yarmuk
Yarmouk
* Yarmouk River* Battle of Yarmouk* Yarmouk University in Jordan* Yarmouk , an upscale neighborhood in Iraq* Al-Yarmouk Hospital * Yarmouk , an unofficial Palestinian refugee camp in Syria...

 (Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

 N H, xvi) - east of Tiberias and Scythopolis, on the top of a hill, 3 Roman miles from hot springs and baths called Amatha, to the north on the banks of the Hieromax. The narrow ridge on which the ruins lie extends east toward the Jordan from the uplands of Gilead
Gilead
In the Bible "Gilead" means hill of testimony or mound of witness, , a mountainous region east of the Jordan River, situated in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It is also referred to by the Aramaic name Yegar-Sahadutha, which carries the same meaning as the Hebrew . From its mountainous character...

, with the deep gorge of Wadi
Wadi
Wadi is the Arabic term traditionally referring to a valley. In some cases, it may refer to a dry riverbed that contains water only during times of heavy rain or simply an intermittent stream.-Variant names:...

 Yarmouk - Hieromax - on the north, and Wadi Arab on the south. The ridge drops gradually to the East, but falls steeply on the other three sides, so that the position was one of great strategic value and strength. The ancient walls may be traced in almost their entire circuit of 3 km. One of the great Roman roads ran eastward to Ḍer‛ah; and an aqueduct has been traced to the pool of Ḳhab, about 20 miles to the north of Ḍer‛ah. The ruins include those of two theaters, a temple
Temple
A temple is a structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, or analogous rites. A templum constituted a sacred precinct as defined by a priest, or augur. It has the same root as the word "template," a plan in preparation of the building that was marked out...

, a basilica
Basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...

, and many important buildings, telling of a once great and splendid city. A paved street, with double colonnade
Colonnade
In classical architecture, a colonnade denotes a long sequence of columns joined by their entablature, often free-standing, or part of a building....

, ran from east to west. The ruts worn in the pavement by the chariot wheels are still to be seen.

That there was a second Gadara seems certain, and it may be intended in some of the passages referred to above. It is probably represented by the modern Jedūr, not far from es-Salt
Salt, Jordan
Salt is an ancient agricultural town and administrative centre in west-central Jordan. It is on the old main highway leading from Amman to Jerusalem. Situated in the Balqa highland, about 790–1100 metres above sea level, the town is built in the crook of three hills, close to the Jordan River...

̣ (Buhl, Geographic des alten Palastina, 255; Guthe). Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 gives Pella
Pella, Jordan
Pella is a village and the site of ancient ruins in northwestern Jordan. It is half an hour by car from Irbid, in the north of the country....

 as the northern boundary of Peraea
Perea (Holy Land)
Perea , a portion of the kingdom of Herod the Great occupying the eastern side of the Jordan River valley, from about one third the way down from the Sea of Galilee to about one third the way down the eastern shore of the Dead Sea; it did not extend too far inland...

 (BJ, III, iii, 3). This would exclude Gadara on the Hieromax. The southern city, therefore, should be understood as "the capital of Peraea" in BJ, IV; vii, 3.

Country of the Gadarenes

This city is not named in Scripture
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, but the territory belonging to it is spoken of as , chō̇ra tō̇n Gadarēnō̇n, “country of the Gadarenes” (Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

 8:28). In the parallel passages (Mark
Gospel of Mark
The Gospel According to Mark , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Mark or simply Mark, is the second book of the New Testament. This canonical account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth is one of the three synoptic gospels. It was thought to be an epitome, which accounts for its place as the second...

 5:1; Luke
Gospel of Luke
The Gospel According to Luke , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. This synoptic gospel is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his birth to his Ascension.The...

 8:26, Luke 8:37) is written: , chō̇ra tō̇n Gerasēnō̇n ("country of the Gerasenes”). Scholars debate which is the correct site of the miracle and modern translations have multiple readings of the Gospels. However, the earliest texts are very clear as to the original version of the synoptic Gospels. Upon close observation of the earliest Greek manuscripts, the Alexandrian texts, the original reading of Matthew is "in the region of the Gadarenes", and the original text of Mark and Luke is “in the country of the Gerasenes”. The earliest Greek manuscripts of Matthew, which precede the textual alteration made by Origen, locate the miracle to be within the “country of the Gadarenes” (Matt. 8:28). The Greek city of Gadara, was considered to belong to the larger region of Gerasa, though it still retained some local autonomy (Weber 1989: 9).

The miracle

A controversy exists regarding the site found in all three of the synoptic Gospels, where Jesus healed the demoniacs and cast the demons into a herd of swine which ran into the sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee, also Kinneret, Lake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias , is the largest freshwater lake in Israel, and it is approximately in circumference, about long, and wide. The lake has a total area of , and a maximum depth of approximately 43 m...

. The Gospel accounts record that Jesus, along with his disciples, stepped upon the shore and “immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man” possessed by demons named Legion
Legion (demon)
Legion is a group of demons referred to in the Christian Bible. The New Testament outlines an encounter where Jesus healed a man from Gadarenes possessed by demons while traveling, known as Exorcising the Gerasenes demonic.- In the Bible :...

 (Mark 5:9). Jesus then spoke to the demons and demanded them to depart, sending them into a nearby “herd of many swine feeding there on the mountain” (Luke 8:32). The possessed
Demonic possession
Demonic possession is held by many belief systems to be the control of an individual by a malevolent supernatural being. Descriptions of demonic possessions often include erased memories or personalities, convulsions, “fits” and fainting as if one were dying...

 pigs, “ran violently down the steep place into the sea” and “those who kept them fled and went away into the city” (Matt. 8:32-33). Based upon the Gospel accounts, the location of the miracle had to have a nearby port, tombs for the men to live in, an area for pigs to graze, a nearby city to which the men could flee, and most importantly, a steep bank for the herd to rush down.

The site’s topography has high ridges and steep slopes down which the pigs “ran violently down into the sea” (Matt 8:32). Above the port there are multiple hills which could potentially match up with the biblical account. The most likely site is found at the end of a chain of hills that has a bank descending into the sea. The bank is the modern site of Tell es S’alib located near the New Testament Gadaran suburb of es-Samrah (Laney 1977: 141). A visual representation of the location of this tell can be seen in Mendel Nun’s work The Land of the Gadarenes (1989: 5). Although this tell
Tell
A tell or tel, is a type of archaeological mound created by human occupation and abandonment of a geographical site over many centuries. A classic tell looks like a low, truncated cone with a flat top and sloping sides.-Archaeology:A tell is a hill created by different civilizations living and...

 may not have had as steep a slope as that found at Kursi
Kursi
Kursi may refer to:*Arabic word for throne, as in the Tunisian title Bey al-Kursi*Hindi and Urdu word for chair, may also be used for an official title, such as that of a president or chairman*Alternative name for the Curonians...

, it does have a hill that runs into the sea and could accommodate a “large herd of swine numbering about 2,000” (Mark 5:11). In addition to the slope, other features of the site make it match up well with the biblical account of the miracle. In excavations by B. De Vries completed in 1973, a Roman tomb from the time of Jesus was found in a valley nearby es-Samrah (Holm-Nielson 1992: 867). This could account for the tombs in which the demoniacs lived. Also, there is needed a nearby site where the swine would have grazed and “the groves of oak trees on the plateau above would have provided the acorns they favored” (Walking in their Sandals: 2). Thus, the site of Gadara can align both textually and geographically with the biblical account of the demoniacs and the herd of swine.

The ancient city of Gadara is represented today by the ruins at Umm Qais on the heights south of el-Ḥummeh - the hot springs in the Yarmouk
Yarmouk
* Yarmouk River* Battle of Yarmouk* Yarmouk University in Jordan* Yarmouk , an upscale neighborhood in Iraq* Al-Yarmouk Hospital * Yarmouk , an unofficial Palestinian refugee camp in Syria...

 valley and about 6 miles Southeast of the Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee, also Kinneret, Lake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias , is the largest freshwater lake in Israel, and it is approximately in circumference, about long, and wide. The lake has a total area of , and a maximum depth of approximately 43 m...

. It may be taken as certain that the jurisdiction of Gadara, as the chief city in these regions, extended over the country East of the Sea, including the lands of the subordinate town, Gerasa. The figure of a ship frequently appears on its coins: conclusive proof that its territory reached the sea. Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 also makes reference to the territory of Gadara “which lay on the frontiers of Tiberius and formed the eastern boundary of Galilee
Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

,” again placing the region of Gadara along the coast of the Sea of Galilee (Laney 1977: 134). The place might therefore be called with propriety, either “land of the Gadarenes”, with reference to the local center, or “land of the Gerasenes”, with reference to the superior city.

(NOTE - The Textus Receptus
Textus Receptus
Textus Receptus is the name subsequently given to the succession of printed Greek texts of the New Testament which constituted the translation base for the original German Luther Bible, the translation of the New Testament into English by William Tyndale, the King James Version, and for most other...

 of the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 reading. τῶν Γεργεσηνῶν, tṓn Gergesēnṓn, “of the Gergesenes”, must be rejected (Westcott
Brooke Foss Westcott
Brooke Foss Westcott was a British bishop, Biblical scholar and theologian, serving as Bishop of Durham from 1890 until his death.-Early life and education:...

-Hort
Fenton John Anthony Hort
Fenton John Anthony Hort was an Irish theologian and editor, with Brooke Westcott of a critical edition of The New Testament in the Original Greek.-Life:...

, II. App., 11).)

Umm Qais today

Umm Qais has become a popular tourist
Tourism in Jordan
Tourism is one of the most important sectors in Jordan's economy. In 2010, 8 million tourists from various countries visited Jordan, with tourist receipts amounting to about 3.5 billion dollars...

 attraction, a frequent destination for day trips from the capital, Amman, roughly 110 kilometres (68.4 mi) to the south. It is popular not only because of the extensive ruins but because its position on a high hill near the northwestern corner of the country allows for panoramic views. The Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee, also Kinneret, Lake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias , is the largest freshwater lake in Israel, and it is approximately in circumference, about long, and wide. The lake has a total area of , and a maximum depth of approximately 43 m...

 and Tiberias, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, are visible, and just across the valley of the Yarmouk River
Yarmouk River
The Yarmouk River is the largest tributary of the Jordan River. It drains much of the Hauran Plateau. It is one of three main tributaries which enter the Jordan between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. To the south, are the Jabbok/Zarqa and the Arnon/Wadi Mujib) rivers...

 is the southern end of the Golan Heights, claimed by and recognized as Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, but under Israeli administration since the Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

 in 1967. The high mountains
Mount Hermon
Mount Hermon is a mountain cluster in the Anti-Lebanon mountain range. Its summit straddles the border between Syria and Lebanon and, at 2,814 m above sea level, is the highest point in Syria. On the top there is “Hermon Hotel”, in the buffer zone between Syria and Israeli-occupied...

 bordering Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 are visible in the distance on clear days.

Beit Rousan, formerly the home of the Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 governor of the area, has been converted into a museum, with exhibits of Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

-era church mosaics and Greek statues. It is part of the complex as well.

External links

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