Sites - Israel: Magdala
Ancient Israel Sites
Ancient Magdala, on the northwestern shore of the Sea of
Galilee, was an important town in the days of its most
famous citizen, Mary Magdalene. Ancient sources say
fishermen and dyers had their own quarters, as well as 80
shops selling fine wool!
Its Greek name, Tarichae, means “pickled fish” indicating
it was also a center for this industry. It also had a
ship-building industry. Some scholars identify it as
Marks Dalmanutha (8:10) where Jesus went after the
feeding of the four thousand.
Some years ago during a drought, the lake receded to
reveal the foundations of a tower archaeologists believe
gave the town its name (which means tower), and might
have been a lighthouse.
The gorgeous scenery around Magdala includes the
impressive Arbel cliff and the Valley of Doves, the main
road Jesus would have taken to this area from Nazareth.
In fact, the best view of Magdala, whose excavations are
in a fenced-off area belonging to the Franciscans, is
from the top of Arbel, with the entire area of Jesus
ministry stretching out to the horizon. (Israel Minister
Magdala in Wikipedia
Magdala (Aramaic מגדלא Magdala, meaning "elegant," "great," or "magnificent"; Hebrew מגדל Migdal,
meaning "tower"; Arabic قرية المجدل, Qaryat Al Majdal) is the name of at least two places in
ancient Israel mentioned in the Jewish Talmud and one place that may be mentioned in the
Christian New Testament. Magdala was also a high stronghold in Ethiopia that was taken on April
13, 1868, by Sir Robert Napier, created Baron Napier of Magdala.
Disputed location names -
The New Testament makes one disputable mention of a place called Magdala. Matthew 15:39 of the
King James' Version (KJV ) reads, "And he [Jesus] sent away the multitude, and took ship, and
came into the coasts of Magdala". However, the most reliable Greek manuscripts give the name of
the place as "Magadan", and more modern scholarly translations (such as the Revised Version)
follow this. Although some commentators state confidently that the two refer to the same
place, others dismiss the substitution of Magdala for Magadan as simply "to substitute a known
for an unknown place". The parallel passage in Mark's gospel[8:10 ] gives (in the majority of
manuscripts) a quite different place name, Dalmanutha, although a handful of manuscripts give
either Magdala or Magadan presumably by assimilation to the Matthean text—believed in ancient
times to be older than that of Mark, though this opinion has now been reversed.
The Jewish Talmud distinguishes between two Magdalas only.
Magdala Gadar—One Magdala was in the east, on the River Yarmouk near Gadara (in the Middle Ages
"Jadar", now Umm Qais), thus acquiring the name Magdala Gadar.
Magdala Nunayya—There was another, better-known Magdala near Tiberias, Magdala Nunayya ("Magdala
of the fishes"), which would locate it on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Al-Majdal, a
Palestinian Arab village depopulated in the lead up to the 1948 Arab-Israeli war was identified
as the site of this Magdala. The modern Israeli municipality of Migdal (Khirbet Medjdel), founded
in 1910 and about 6 km NNW of Tiberias, has expanded into the area of the former village.
the Magdalene -
All four gospels refer to a follower of Jesus called Mary Magdalene, and it has usually been
assumed that this means "Mary from Magdala". There is no biblical information to indicate whether
this was her home or her birthplace. Most Christian scholars assume that she was from the place
the Talmud calls Magdala Nunayya, and that this is also where Jesus landed on the occasion
recorded by Matthew.
Josephus mentions a wealthy Galilean town, destroyed by the Romans in the Jewish War (III, x,)
that has the Greek name Tarichaeae from its prosperous fisheries. Josephus does not give its
Hebrew name. Some authors identify this with Magdala.
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