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Map of Roman Palestine showing Gadara and Gerasa

Gergesa,(32.282N 35.89E) (also Gergasa or the Country of the Gergesenes) is a place on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee located near the modern city of Jerash, Jordan that is described in the New Testament Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke. According to the Gospel of Matthew, in Gergasa Jesus drove Legion or Demons out of two Possessed men and into a herd of pigs. The whole herd of swine subsequently ran into the Sea of Galilee and perished.[1]

Gergesenes means "those who come from pilgrimage or fight."[2]

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

Early Christian monks venerated a site 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. The remains of the monastery can be visited in the Kursi National Park. 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 draws its name from one of the two major cities in the region, Gergasa and Gadara.


  1. ^ "Matthew 8.32; - Passage Lookup - American Standard Version". Retrieved 2013-10-09. 
  2. ^ Hitchcock, Roswell D. (1869). "Gergesenes". An Interpreting Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names. New York City. Retrieved 2009-01-24.