This photograph is taken from Mount Arbel on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee near Tiberias. The hilltop where Susita (Hippos) was located is clearly visible on the eastern shore. Towering over the Sea of Galilee, Susita is connected to the other hills by a thin ridge. The city was built on a 35-acre plateau. On both sides of the ridge are deep wadi beds, and the western edge drops steeply into the sea. Today the area around Susita is called the Golan Heights. In the first century, this was the region called the Decapolis.Susita had no running water, so an aqueduct more than 15 miles long was constructed to bring water into the city for its cisterns and fountains. The aqueduct, a significant achievement, was made of square stones with round openings inside, each fitting perfectly against the next one.

Viewed from above, this peak and its connecting ridge looks like a horse?s head and neck. The Greek word for “horse” is hippos, and the Aramaic word is susita (mare).hence the name of the city. In the time of Christ, this city was one of the modern Hellenistic cities of the Decapolis. Perched on its hill, Susita could be seen from other areas all around the sea, including Capernaum, where Jesus made his home. Susita’s pagan temples and theaters, magnificent Greek buildings, paved, colonnaded streets, and fountains probably made it inviting and forbidding at the same time. Jesus? deliberate choice to sail across the sea to visit Susita illustrated his desire to bring the good news of the kingdom to all people, including pagans.

Somewhere in this area, Jesus met two demon-possessed men (Mark 5:1-20). After he drove out the demons, Jesus sent these men home to tell others, how much God has done for you? (Luke 8:39). They told about their miraculous healing “all over town.” No one knows for certain what town this refers to, but Susita is a probable choice because it was the nearest large city of the Decapolis. But whether Susita was the exact town or not, certainly it as one of the Decapolis cities where people heard the story of what Jesus had done. Some of Susita’s citizens, who worshipped Zeus, Hera, and Tyche, among other deities, were attracted to the Jewish Rabbi from across the lake and followed him. This city became a center of early Christianity. Susita itself had several large churches (at least five), which constitute the majority of the archaeological remains of the city.


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