Magdala is the name of at least two places in ancient Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 mentioned in the Jewish
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

and one place that may be mentioned in the Christian
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

. Magdala was also a high stronghold in Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

 that was taken on April 13, 1868, by Sir Robert Napier, created Baron Napier of Magdala
Robert Napier, 1st Baron Napier of Magdala
Field Marshal Robert Cornelis Napier, 1st Baron Napier of Magdala, GCB, GCSI, CIE, FRS was a British soldier.-Early life:...


Disputed location names

The New Testament makes one disputable mention of a place called Magdala. Matthew 15:39 of the King James' Version reads, "And he [Jesus] sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala". However, the most reliable Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

 manuscripts give the name of the place as "Magadan", and more modern scholarly translations (such as the Revised Version
Revised Version
The Revised Version of the Bible is a late 19th-century British revision of the King James Version of 1611. It was the first and remains the only officially authorized and recognized revision of the King James Bible. The work was entrusted to over 50 scholars from various denominations in Britain...

) follow this. Although some commentators state confidently that the two refer to the same place, others dismiss the substitution of Magdala for Magadan as simply "to substitute a known for an unknown place". The parallel passage in Mark's gospel
Gospel of Mark
The Gospel According to Mark , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Mark or simply Mark, is the second book of the New Testament. This canonical account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth is one of the three synoptic gospels. It was thought to be an epitome, which accounts for its place as the second...

gives (in the majority of manuscripts) a quite different place name, Dalmanutha
Dalmanutha is the unknown destination of Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Gallilee after he fed the four thousand, as recorded in Mark's gospel,...

, although a handful of manuscripts give either Magdala or Magadan presumably by assimilation to the Matthean text—believed in ancient times to be older than that of Mark, though this opinion has now been reversed.

The Jewish
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

distinguishes between two Magdalas only.
  • Magdala Gadar—One Magdala was in the east, on the River Yarmouk
    Yarmouk River
    The Yarmouk River is the largest tributary of the Jordan River. It drains much of the Hauran Plateau. It is one of three main tributaries which enter the Jordan between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. To the south, are the Jabbok/Zarqa and the Arnon/Wadi Mujib) rivers...

     near Gadara (in the Middle Ages "Jadar", now Umm Qais
    Umm Qais
    Umm Qais is a town in Jordan located on the site of the ruined Hellenistic-Roman city of Gadara . The town was also called Antiochia or Antiochia Semiramis and Seleucia...

    ), 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
    Sea of Galilee
    The Sea of Galilee, also Kinneret, Lake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias , is the largest freshwater lake in Israel, and it is approximately in circumference, about long, and wide. The lake has a total area of , and a maximum depth of approximately 43 m...

    . Al-Majdal
    Al-Majdal, Tiberias
    Al-Majdal was a Palestinian Arab village located on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee , north of Tiberias and south of Khan Minyeh. It is identified with the site of the ancient town of Magdala, reputed to be the birthplace of Mary Magdalene...

    , a Palestinian
    Palestinian people
    The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

     Arab village depopulated in the lead up to the 1948 Arab-Israeli war was identified as the site of this Magdala. The modern Israel
    The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

    i municipality of Migdal (Khirbet Medjdel), founded in 1910 and about 6 km NNW of Tiberias, has expanded into the area of the former village.

Mary Magdalene

All four gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

s refer to a follower of Jesus called Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene was one of Jesus' most celebrated disciples, and the most important woman disciple in the movement of Jesus. Jesus cleansed her of "seven demons", conventionally interpreted as referring to complex illnesses...

, and it is usually 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.


Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 mentions a wealthy Galilean town, destroyed by the Romans in the Jewish War
The Wars of the Jews
The Jewish War , in full Flavius Josephus's Books of the History of the Jewish War against the Romans , also referred to in English as The Wars of the Jews and The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, is a book written by the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus.It is a description of Jewish...

(III, x,) that has the Greek name Tarichaeae from its prosperous fisheries. Josephus does not give its Hebrew name. Some authors identify this with Magdala.


Current excavations at Magdala are called The Magdala Center Project, with up-to-date information provided on a web-log.

Further reading

  • 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. imung nawong! :)

External links

  • Catholic Encyclopedia—Magdala, the two possible locations mentioned in the Talmud Carmelle Grace Cabaron

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