Map of Roman Palestine showing Gadara and Gerasa

Gergesa, (also Gergasa or the Country of the Gergesenes) is a place on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee that is described in the New Testament Gospels of Mark and Luke. According to these books, in Gergasa Jesus drove Legion out of a wild man and into a herd of pigs.

Gergesenes means "those who come from pilgrimage or fight."[1]

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 east and south of it, respectively. Hippos, Gerasa, and Gadara were all counted in the Decapolis, an informal grouping of Greco-Roman cities in eastern Palestine.

Scholars debate the correct site of the miracle and modern translations have multiple readings of the Gospels. However, the earliest texts are very clear as to the original version of the synoptic Gospels. Upon close observation of the earliest and best Greek manuscripts, the Alexandrian texts, the original reading of Matthew is “in the region of the Gadarenes,” and the original text of Mark and Luke is “in the country of the Gerasenes” This explanation however, does not account for the name Gergesa, which never appears in the earliest Greek manuscripts, and must have been a later addition, not in the original autographs. It is therefore necessary to find if there was a change made to the text, introducing Gergesa as the appropriate site of the miracle. The original textual alteration was made during the early third century by the Christian teacher Origen. In his Commentary on John, Books 1-10, Origen changes the original text of Matthew from “in the region of the Gadarenes” to “in the region of the Gergasenes,” using one main reason to substantiate his bold alteration.[clarification needed] Because of the lasting impact Origen had upon the text and where the miracle was believed to be located, it is necessary to consider his motive for the change.

Early Christian monks venerated a village 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 600s AD. 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 probably draws its name from one of the two major cities in the region, Gerasa and Gadara. Its exact location cannot be known for certain.


  1. Hitchcock, Roswell D. (1869). "Gergesenes". An Interpreting Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names. New York City. Retrieved 2009-01-24. 

External links

  • Some or all of this article is forked from Wikipedia. The original article was at Gergesa. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

Coordinates: 32°49′16″N 35°38′57″E / 32.8210°N 35.6492°E / 32.8210; 35.6492

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