ruins of Byzantine monastery beneath Golan bluffs at el-Kursi 
on east shore of sea of Galilee 

Golan

Fertile plateau region on the east side of the Jordan river, north of the river Yarmuk, with steep cliffs descending to the north eastern shore of the sea of Galilee.

bend in the Yarmuk (green) 
separating Golan (Syria, left) from the Decapolis (Jordan, right) 

In early Israelite times, the Golan was settled by part of the tribe of Manasseh; & early Israelite tradition designated the city for which the region was named a place of refuge [Deut 4:43]. For more than a century the Romans assigned this district, which they called Gaulanitis, to the administration of Herod (ca. 20 BCE) & his heirs through Agrippa II (d. 92 CE). During the 1st c. CE the region was fairly densely populated, with several settlements like Gamala fiercely loyal to the cause of Jewish independence from Rome. In Jesus' lifetime, the Golan belonged to the tetrarchy of Philip. Though not named in the gospels, the Golan fits the description of scenes in which Jesus goes into the hills after crossing the sea of Galilee.

Arab village at oasis in the Golan

For further information about archaeological & historical evidence, see:

  • Buttrick, G. A., ed. Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible. vol. 2 (NY/Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962) p. 437.

Other resources on line:

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