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Coasts of Magdala

(Sea of Galilee Region)

Jesus “took ship” after feeding the 4,000

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Jesus fed the 4,000 somewhere around the Sea of Galilee, in or near the Decapolis region (see Mark 7:31 below). Only Matthew and Mark mention the miracle (see Matthew 15:32-39 KJV, NASB, NIV, ESV, and Mark 8:1-10 KJV, NASB, NIV, ESV). After Jesus fed the 4,000 (“men, beside women and children)” with seven loaves and a few small fishes, “he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.”

Decapolis is mentioned only three times in the New Testament. It means “Ten Cities,” representing a league of semi-independent Greek cities outside the borders of 1st century Israel. Hippos is the only Decapolis city in view on the map. Scythopolis (Old Testament Beth-Shean), located 22 miles (37 kilometers) south of the Sea of Galilee, was the only Decapolis city west of the Jordan River.

  • Matthew 4:25 (KJV) – “Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and Jerusalem, and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.” (see NASB, NIV, ESV).
  • Mark 5:20 (KJV) – “And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.” (see NASB, NIV, ESV).
  • Mark 7:31 (KJV) – “And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis.” (see NASB, NIV, ESV for “region of Decapolis”).

From these verses, we cannot know how much time Jesus spent in the Decapolis region. We know that large crowds from the Decapolis followed him (see Matthew 5:25 above), but that could be because of the miracles performed on people who returned to the region and published it (see Mark 5:20 above).

The Magdala Church

Duc In Altum: Reflecting on personal faith

The words Duc In Altum appear above the Magdala Church entrance, which is Latin for “put out into the deep.” Jesus spoke these words to Simon Peter after he and the other fishermen toiled all night without success (see Luke 5:4 KJV, NASB, NIV, ESV).

The entry to the Magdala Church is called “The Women’s Atrium” and is dedicated to all women followers of Jesus Christ. Around the Atrium are four chapels. Each one is dedicated to an event from the ministry of Jesus in Galilee. You see the outside of two of the oval chapels in this photo.

Eight pillars surround the Atrium. Seven are engraved with the names of women mentioned in the Gospels. The eighth column, without a name, is dedicated to all women who visit the church. The four small chapels around the Atrium are places of reflection.

Mary Magdalene was one of the women who followed Jesus, “which ministered unto him of their substance.” Other women included “Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others” (see Luke 8:1-3 KJV, NASB, NIV, ESV).

Mary Magdalene (c. 1524) by the Italien Renaissance painter, Andrea Solari, showing her as a myrrhbearer.

Mary Magdalene (c. 1548) by the Italian Renaissance artist, Paolo Veronese, showing her conversion.

Mary Magdalene (c. 1435) by Rogier van der Weyden, showing her weeping at the crudifixion of Jesus.

The mosaic artwork inside this chapel depicts Jesus telling Simon Peter to “put out into the deep.” Peter did as Jesus directed and caught “a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake” (see Luke 5:1-10 KJV, NASB, NIV, ESV).

The mosaic artwork inside this chapel depicts Jesus walking on water. He saves Peter after the disciple takes his eyes off the Master, becomes fearful, and begins to sink (see Matthew 14:22-33 KJV, NASB, NIV, ESV).

The altar at the end of the main hall is shaped like a 1st-century fishing boat. It is situated on a raised apse paved with green marble.

The main hall faces east, looking out over the Sea of Galilee toward the eastern shore. The reflection on the apse makes the boat appear to be on the lake itself.

The Encounter Chapel

Located beneath the church’s main hall

The steps leading from the main hall to the Encounter chapel.

The entrance to the Encounter chapel with the 1st-century floor.

The Encounter chapel is built around a paved courtyard dating to the 1st century. The floor may be from the main fish market located near the wharf of ancient Magdala.

The painting behind the chapel’s altar depicts the woman “with an issue of blood” touching the hem of Jesus’s garment (see Matthew 9:20-22 KJV, NASB, NIV, ESV).