P is for Pella

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Photo credit: Studium Biblicum Franciscum, Faculty of Biblical Sciences and Archaeology

Since the Paleolithic Era, some 100,000 years ago, the hills of northern Jordan have been home to people. It has been continuously occupied since the Neolithic Era. Pella, or Tabaqat Fahl is nestled in a fold of the hills and is astonishingly rich in archaeological riches. A spring that never runs dry is one of the primary reasons people settled here and stayed. In modern times, a small village, consisting of mud brick homes was in Pella until it was bombed in an Israeli strike across the border in 1970.

The area was disastrously destroyed in 83 CE by Alexander Jannaeus when the residents refused to embrace Judaism.

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Photo credit: Studium Biblicum Franciscum, Faculty of Biblical Sciences and Archaeology

During the time of Jesus, north Jordan was part of the Decapolis, where he taught and performed his miracles. Matthew 4:25 tells us that “… and there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.” With one exception, all the Decapolis cities were in northern Jordan and southern Syria.

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Photo credit: Studium Biblicum Franciscum, Faculty of Biblical Sciences and Archaeology

Eusebius of Caesarea wrote that Pella was a refuge for Jerusalem Christians who fled to escape Roman persecution and the First Jewish Revolt in 66-70 CE.

Today, it is possible to visit the remains of fifth and sixth century churches.

Shortly before his death, Jesus was looking over the temple mount in Jerusalem when he prophesied that the beautiful city would be destroyed within a generation. He warned them that they should run to the mountains when they saw the Roman armies surrounding the city. (Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14, Luke 21:20-24).

It is possible that Jesus visited Pella when he was in the Decapolis (Mark 7:31) and referred to it in his prophecy.

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