Gadarenes, Gergesenes, Gerasenes These three names are used indiscriminately to designate the place where Jesus healed two demoniacs. The first two are in the Authorized Version. (Matthew 8:28; Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26) In Gerasenes in place of Gadarenes. The miracle referred to took place, without doubt, near the town of Gergesa, the modern Kursi, close by the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, and hence in the country of Gergesenes. But as Gergesa was a small village, and little known, the evangelists, who wrote for more distant readers, spoke of the event as taking place in the country of the Gadarenes, so named from its largest city, Gadara; and this country included the country of the Gergesenes as a state includes a county. The Gerasenes were the people of the district of which Gerasa was the capital. This city was better known than Gadara or Gergesa; indeed in the Roman age no city of Palestine was better known. “It became one of the proudest cities of Syria.” It was situated some 30 miles southeast of Gadara, on the borders of Peraea and a little north of the river Jabbok. It is now called Jerash and is a deserted ruin. The district of the Gerasenes probably included that of the Gadarenes; so that the demoniac of Gergesa belonged to the country of the Gadarenes and also to that of the Gerasenes, as the same person may, with equal truth, be said to live in the city or the state, or in the United States. For those near by the local name would be used; but in writing to a distant people, as the Greeks and Romans, the more comprehensive and general name would be given.–ED.)
(the editor of the website – Bible Gateway)
Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry:
Matt. 8:28, Mark 5:1-2, and Luke 8:26-27
- Gadarenes ( 8:28)–“And when He had come to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs; they were so exceedingly violent that no one could pass by that road.”
- Gerasenes (Mark 5:1-2)–“And they came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. 2And when He had come out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him,”
- Gerasenes (Luke 8:26-27)–“And they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27And when He had come out onto the land, He was met by a certain man from the city who was possessed with demons; and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house, but in the tombs.”
In Matthew it says, “Gadarenes,” while in Mark and Luke it says, “Gerasenes.” There are two possible explanations for the difference in spelling. First, there could be a minor scribal copying error on the spelling as there are different spellings in different manuscripts. Second, Gadara may have been the capital of the region in the Gerasenes, and Matthew may have simply referred to it by a more local term: the Gaderenes.
(Christian Apologetics and research Ministry)
Inhabitants of Gadara, known from an alleged miracle of Jesus (Matt. viii.; Mark v.; Luke viii.) in which he transferred the demons afflicting a man to a number of swine, that thereupon rushed down a steep hill and perished. From the readings of the best texts and from the unsuitability of the locality around Gadara it appears that the proper reading should be “Gerasenes” and the place located at Kursi, on the left bank of the Wadi Samak, near the sea of Galilee. A discussion occurred between Professor Huxley and Mr. Gladstone in “The Nineteenth Century” for 1892 as to the morality of the act, the critical questions being whether (1) Gerasenes were Jews; and (2) if so, was it lawful for them to keep swine? As regards the first question, it would appear that that section of the country was chiefly inhabited by pagans in the first century, and Gerasa is at any rate included by Schürer among the Hellenistic cities (“Geschichte,” ii. 141-144). As to the second question, there is no doubt of the illegality, from a ritual point of view, of Jews keeping swine (B. B. vii. 7). The Gemara on the passage gives a historical foundation for the practise in the times of Aristobulus.
- The Nineteenth Century, 1892, passim;
- Cheyne, Encyc. Bibl. s.v.;
- Wünsche, Neue Beiträge zur Erläuterung der Evangelien aus Talmud und Midrasch, p. 119.
Many New Testament manuscripts refer to the “Country of the Gadarenes” or “Gerasenes” rather than the Gergesenes. Both Gerasa and Gadara were cities to the east of the Sea of Galilee. They were both Gentile cities filled with citizens who were culturally more Greek than Semitic; this would account for the pigs in the biblical account. Gerasa and Gadara are accounted for in historical accounts (by writers such as Pliny the Elder and Josephus) and by archaeological research. Today they are the modern towns of Jerash and Umm Qais.
A third city, Hippos, was similar in character to Gadara and Gerasa, and it may fit the biblical account even better. It was located on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, whereas Gerasa and Gadara were several kilometers south-east of it. Hippos, Gerasa, and Gadara were all counted in the Decapolis, an informal grouping of Greco-Roman cities in eastern Palestine.
Early Christian monks venerated a site called Kursi, a few kilometers north of Hippos on the lakeshore, as the location of the miracle. They built a walled monastic complex there and made it a destination for Byzantine Christian pilgrims. That monastery was destroyed by Sassanid Persian armies in the early 7th century. The remains of the monastery can be visited in the Kursi National Park. Christian artifacts from Kursi can be viewed at the Golan Archaeological Museum.
Some are of the opinion that Gergasa was the country of the ancient Girgashites; but it is more probable that ‘Gergesenes’ was introduced by Origen upon mere conjecture; as before him most copies seem to have read ‘Gadarenes’, agreeable to the Parallel Passages and the ancient Syriac version.
In any event, the “Country of the Gergesenes” in the New Testament Gospels refers to some location on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It draws its name from one of the two major cities in the region, Gergasa and Gadara.