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Cities of Ancient Israel

Philadelphia Rabbah

J10 on the Map.

Philadelphia (Rabbah). Amman. A city of Decapolis formerly called Rabbah, Rabbath ammon. In the sixth century B.C. Rabbah was destroyed by the "men of the east" who made it "a stable for camels" and "a resting place for flocks" (Ez 25:4-5).

Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-246 B.C.) rebuilt the city and renamed it Philadelphia. After the Roman conquest (63 B.C.) it became part of Decapolis and became Hellenized. Rabbah or Rabbath Ammon was the capital city of the Ammonites, on the border of the desert, near the River Jabbok. There was an important junction of roads leading from the Arabian Peninsula in the South to Damascus and the north, and from the Syrian desert on the east to Palestine and to the Mediterranean on the west.

There were features common to most the cities in this area especially the architectural features. There were the usual buildings of a Greek city of the Roman period, the Colonnaded street, arch, form, temple, theatre, bath and mausoleum, in florid Doric and Corinthian.

At Philadelphia 10 or 12 columns still stand to their full height in the street of Gerasa nearly 200. The best preserve buildings are the amphitheatres, and most beautiful are the temples. Some cities of the Decapolis had to amphitheatres with height tiers of benches for spectators, with vaulted chambers below used for actors, the victims, and wild beasts of the shows. At Gadara, one of the theaters rested on the hollow side of a hill. The Philadelphian theatre held about 7000 spectators, where most of the theaters held about or 4000.

Extensive excavations have revealed finds from many periods. Near the top of the Acropolis there have been Middle Bronze Age tombs discovered, and at the Amman airport a 14th century B.C. temple was discovered under its six-foot thick walls. The famous and only Ammonite inscriptions (9th century B.C.) were discovered there as well, including an inscription from Amminadab, king of the Ammonites (7th century B.C.). Most of the remains are from the Roman period including a nymphaeum, odeum and theatre, the propylaea and steps of the acropolis, and a temple to Zeus.

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