Gergesa: Site of the Demoniac’s Healing

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The recent discovery of many of the ancient harbors that ringed the Sea of Galilee is an exciting chapter in Sea of Galilee research. One of these harbors is located at Kursi, ancient Gergesa. In this article, Mendel Nun contends that the demoniac’s healing and the miracle of the swine took place at Gergesa, not Gadara or Gerasa.

The steep slope of the "precipice," swept bare by a recent fire (view west across the lake). (Photo courtesy of Janet Frankovic.)

The steep slope of the “precipice,” swept bare by a recent fire (view west across the lake). (Photo courtesy of Janet Frankovic.)

One of the miracles performed by Jesus during his stay with the Sea of Galilee fishermen is known in Christian tradition as the “Healing of the Demon-possessed Man,” and also, more popularly, as the “Miracle of the Swine” (Matt. 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39). The story actually begins at Capernaum, on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus lived for a time at the house of Jonah the fisherman and his sons, Simon Peter and Andrew.

One day Jesus wished to get away from the crowds that were surrounding him. It was winter, the season when fishermen, then as now, took their boats to sea in the afternoon, to the sardine fishing grounds near Gergesa, about eight kilometers across the water from Capernaum. Jesus went down to the harbor at Capernaum and entered the boat of one of his disciples. He sailed with his disciples “over to the other side.”

On this particular winter day, Jesus performed not one, but two miracles. The first had to do with the weather: his boat and the other boats that set out for the fishing grounds were suddenly struck by a great storm, and “waves beat into the boat” (Mark 4:37). Such sudden storms are typical of the Sea of Galilee in winter. The frightened disciples clustered around their master, who happened to be sleeping peacefully in the stern of the boat. They woke him and asked fearfully, “Master, don’t you care if we die?”

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Mendel Nun [1918-2010]

Mendel Nun [1918-2010]

Galilean fisherman, kibbutz member, author and foremost expert on the Sea of Galilee, Mendel Nun was born into a Zionist family in Latvia in 1918. In 1939 he immigrated to Palestine where he became a member of Ein Gev, which today is a thriving, modern…
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