Magdala (Aramaic מגדלא Magdala; Hebrew מגדל Migdal, meaning "tower"; Arabic قرية الممجدل, Qaryat Al Majdal) is the name of at least two places in ancient Palestine 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.

The New Testament makes one disputable mention of a place called Magdala. 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[1] state confidently that the two refer to the same place, others[2] 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[3] presumably by assimilation to the Matthean text—believed in ancient times to be older than that of Mark, though this opinion has now reversed.

The Jewish Talmud distinguishes between two Magdalas only.[4]

  • 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 6km NNW of Tiberias, has expanded into the area of the former village.

All four gospels[5] 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.[4]

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[6] identify this with Magdala.


  1. Jones, 1994
  2. Horton, 1907
  3. Throckmorton, 1992, p. 96),
  4. 4.0 4.1 Merk, August. "Magdala." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 31 Oct. 2009 <>.
  5. Matthew 27:56,61,Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:9, Luke 8:2, John 20:1,18
  6. Achtemeier, 1996
  • Achtermeier, P. J. (Ed.) (1996). The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary. San Francisco: Harper Collins.
  • Horton, R. F. (1907). A devotional commentary on St. Matthew. London: National Council of the Evangelical Free Churches.
  • Jones, I. H. (1994). St Matthew. London: Epworth Press.
  • Throckmorton, B. H. (1992). Gospel parallels, 5th edn. Nashville TN: Thomas Nelson.

External links

  • Some or all of this article is forked from Wikipedia. The original article was at Magdala. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.
  • Catholic Encyclopedia—Magdala, the two possible locations mentioned in the Talmud Carmelle Grace Cabaron

Coordinates: 32°50′21″N 35°30′27″E / 32.83917°N 35.5075°E / 32.83917; 35.5075

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