The Hike the Bible series is currently covering points of interest along two hiking trails through Galilee, the 40-mile Jesus Trail and the 39-mile Gospel Trail. These two trails re-create possible routes Jesus likely traversed during His sojourns in Galilee.
After discussing the Galilean points of interest, this Hike the Bible series will continue with reviews of other major hiking trails in the Lands of the Bible.
Our virtual hike has reached Magdala on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Magdala was a prosperous fishing town of 30,000 to 40,000 during Jesus’ day. Jesus would have visited it many times on trips between Nazareth and Capernaum.
Magdala was an important port city on the Via Maris and a center of the fishing trade. It had a busy market, theater, hippodrome, and a large aqueduct system. It was a wealthy Romanized city.
Magdala’s most famous personage is Mary Magdalene, a faithful follower of Jesus throughout His earthly ministry. Early in His ministry, He cast seven demons out of her (Luke 8:1-3). She was at the foot of the cross, witnessed His burial, and was the first to see Jesus after His Resurrection. The next post in the Hike the Bible series will be on Mary Magdalene.
The Jewish historian Josephus refers to Magdala by its Greek name Tarichess or Taricheae. He places Tarichess on the shore about 4 miles from Tiberias which is Magdala’s location.
(See Josephus, The Life Of Flavius Josephus, paragraph 32.)
Josephus fortified Magdala, but it was beseiged by Vespasian in the Jewish revolt of 66-67 AD and eventually fell to Vespasian’s son Titus. Forty thousand defenders were massacred with their blood and bodies choking the sea. The town never recovered.
(See Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, Book 3, Chap 10 and
Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, Book 1, Chap 8, paragraph 9.)
In 1910 Russian Jews established a new town called Migdal near the ruins of the old one. The ruins pictured above are not yet open to the public.
Migdal (Hebrew) and Magdala (Aramaic) mean “Tower.” The Jewish Talmud calls the site Magdala Nunayya meaning “Tower of the Fish”. The Greek name Taricheae means “fish preparation place.” The town was likely originally named for towers in which fish were dried.
Here’s a 7-minute video from July 2011 on the Discovery at Magdala. A synagogue dating back to the time of Jesus has been discovered in the Magdala ruins along with frescoes, mosaics, pottery, and coins from Bible days. The Magdala Stone has the oldest menorah sculpted on stone ever discovered. Jesus surely taught in this very synagogue and saw the Magdala Stone with His own eyes. The video shows pictures of the Magdala ruins and artifacts and of the archaeological work going on there.
Soli Deo Gloria.
This is the thirteenth installment in the Hike the Bible series reviewing major hiking trails in the Lands of the Bible.
Read the prequels:
1. Hike the Bible – Jesus Trail (with video)
2. Hike the Bible – Gospel Trail (with video)
3. Hike the Bible – Jesus Trail vs. Gospel Trail
4. Hike the Bible – Nazareth
5. Hike the Bible – Zippori
6. Hike the Bible – Mash’had
7. Hike the Bible – Cana (with video)
8. Hike the Bible – Roman Road
9. Hike the Bible – Via Maris
10. Hike the Bible – Horns of Hattin
11. Hike the Bible – Sermon on the Mount
12. Hike the Bible – Arbel Cliffs
Read the sequel:
14. Hike the Bible – Mary Magdalene
©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith” (Jude 1:3)
Wednesday May 2, 2012 A.D.
Read my April 2012 newspaper column:
Operation Geronimo and the Resurrection
Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23)