GADARA , ancient city of Gilead. It is first mentioned as a Hellenistic settlement in the description of the conquest of Ereẓ Israel by *Antiochus iii (Polybius, 5:71, 3). Although the name is of Semitic origin, the new settlers called it Gadara after a Macedonian city. It was among the cities captured by Alexander *Yannai, but *Pompey took it from the Jews and included it in the *Decapolis. It was part of *Herod's domain in the Roman period and later became autonomous with the right of minting coins. An important center of Hellenistic culture, it was the birthplace of the poets *Meleager and Menippus and the philosopher *Philodemus. Jews lived there both during and after the Jewish War (60–70/73). In the days of R. Gamaliel and R. Akiva there is a reference to "Shizpar, the head of Geder" (rh 22a); the philosopher Oenomaus of Gadara (called "ha-Gardi" in the Talmud) was a friend of R. Meir (Lam. R., Proem 2; cf. Hag. 15b). In the Byzantine period, bishops of Geder are mentioned up to the sixth century. Under Arab rule the city declined and is the present-day village of Muqays (Umm Qeis) situated at a height of 1,194 ft. (364 m.) with a splendid view of the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan Valley, Galilee, and Mt. Hermon. First identified by Seetzen in 1806, the site has been frequently explored and excavated, especially since 1974 with the work of the German Evangelical Institute for the Archaeology of the Holy Land. The site contains many traces of ancient habitation: paved colonnaded streets; two temples, a fortified acropolis, baths, two theaters, a stadium; ruins of houses; tombs with sarcophagi, inscriptions, and statues, etc. The Jewish presence at Gadara is represented by the discovery of two blocks carved with a wreath containing a menorah flanked by a shofar and a palm branch; these may have come from a synagogue. On the bank of the Yarmuk are hot springs known as *Ḥammat Gader. The city's area may have extended to the Sea of Galilee as indicated in the New Testament story of the "Gadarene swine" but variants of the text mention different cities, e.g., Gerasa (Matt. 8:28; Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26).
S. Klein (ed.), Sefer ha-Yishuv, 1 (1939), s.v.; G. Schumacher, Northern Aylun (1890), 46ff.; Schuerer, Gesch, 2 (19073), 157–61. add. bibliography: S.J. Saller, Second Revised Catalogue of the Ancient Synagogues of the Holy Land (1972), 84; S. Holm-Nielsen et al., "Umm Qeis (Gadara)," in: D.H. Fredericq and J.B. Hennessy (eds.), Archaeology of Jordan, vol. 2 (1989); T. Weber, Umm Qeis, Gadara of the Decapolis (1989).
[Michael Avi-Yonah /
Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]