migdal in the bible

Migdal in the biblical times | City of Magdala

Migdal is the New Testament site better known in Europe as the name Magdala, the hometown of Mary Magdalene. In the New Testament, the place is called Magdala in the Aramaic form, Flavius ​​Josephus is called the place Tarichea, and in Arabic, it is called Qaryat al-Maǧdal. Migdal is a village on the western shore of the Sea of ​​Galilee, about 6 kilometers north of Tiberias. Archaeological excavations commissioned by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) conducted in 2006 revealed that settlement began in the Hellenistic period. (Between the 2nd and 1st centuries BC) and continued in the late Roman period (3rd to 1st centuries BC). 

Subsequent excavations in 2009-2013 brought to light the site’s most important discovery: an ancient synagogue, the so-called ” Migdal Synagogue. ” It is the oldest synagogue in Galilee and one of the few synagogues from this period found anywhere in the country. During the excavation work, theMagdala Stone was engraved with a seven-armed Menorah symbol. It is the earliest menorah of that period discovered outside of Jerusalem. 

History of Migdal

In ancient times, Migdal was a larger city. The Hellenistic-influenced Tarichea was probably no later than the 1st century BC., one of the most significant places in Galilee. With 37,600 inhabitants, according to Flavius ​​Josephus. Historical sources from Flavius ​​Josephus, Pliny the Elder, Cicero, and Suetonius, among others, emphasize the importance of this city in early Roman times due to the excellent salted fish and market. The New Testament Magdala is the home of Mary Magdalene (Mary of Magdala), one early follower of Jesus. Magdala is mentioned 11 times in the Bible and only in the four gospels in connection with Mary Magdalene.

In addition, it is reported in the Gospel of Matthew that after the miracle of feeding the 4000, Jesus got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan ( Mt 15.39 EU ). This place is referred to in the Gospel of Mark as Dalmanutha (Mk 8.10 EU). And is equated with Magdala in some older Bible translations (including the Luther Bible from 1953 and the Jörg-Zink Bible). Supporting this view is that Hebrew words often replace the letter n with an l in Aramaic. So it is possible that Magadan became Magdala. It can be assumed that Jesus himself was in Magdala and taught in the synagogue there ( Mt 4.23 EU ).

Who is Mary Magdalene?

Mary Magdalene came from the town of Magdala on the Sea of ​​Galilee. Her memorial day is July 22nd. Therefore, Mary Magdalene, or Mary of Magdala, is reported in the New Testament. Indeed, the evangelists mention her as a companion of Jesus and a witness of the resurrection. Her epithet refers to the location of Magdala on the Sea of ​​Galilee in the Holy Land. Magdala is probably to be understood as the place of origin: Magdala on the Sea of ​​Galilee near Tiberias, today’s Migdal in Israel. Her name is associated with the suffering and resurrection of Jesus in the Bible. Several women are mentioned here – one of them is Mary Magdalene. Mary of Magdala witnessed the Easter events.

migdal in the bible

Representation of Migdal in the Bible

Is Magdala mentioned in the New Testament?

According to the Gospels, Jesus cast out seven demons (Luke 8:2 EU; Mark 16:9 EU) to Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene was one of the women who followed Christ and cared for him and the disciples (Luke 8:3 EU). These women followed their Lord to Jerusalem and watched the crucifixion from afar (Mt 27.55f EU), helped with the burial (Mt 27.61 EU; Mk 15.47 EU), and discovered the empty tomb on Easter morning (Mk 16, 1-5 Lut17, Jn 20:1 EU). After Mary Magdalene had reported this to the disciples, she was the first to meet the resurrected Christ and told her to send the message of the resurrection to the disciples (Jn 20:11-18 EU).

“And when the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary, the mother of James. And Salome bought aromatic oils to go and anoint him. They came to the tomb very early on the first day of the week when the sun rose. And they said to one another, “Who is rolling the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” Also, they looked and saw that the stone had been rolled away, for it was huge. And they went into the tomb and saw a young man sitting on the right hand, who wore a long white robe, and they were amazed.” ( Mark 16:1-5 Lut17 ).”

You might also want to know.

According to Josephus, the locals of Migdal fought against Herod I and the Romans. They found shelter from their pursuers in the countless caves of Wadi el-Hamam, a canyon-like valley west of Migdal. As part of these conflicts, the site was destroyed in 67 AD. According to historical sources, in the 4th century, Helena – mother of Constantine the Great – had the ruins of ancient Magdalavisited and had a basilica built over the place where the house of Maria Magdalena was supposed to be. 

Crusaders built a church in the 12th century that later fell into disrepair. Until 1948 the Arab fishing village of al-Majdal was located here. During the War of Independence, the town was razed to the ground. The current agricultural settlement of Migdal dates back to 1910 and had 1880 inhabitants on 31 December 2016.


In the 1970s and from 2007 to 2009, excavations were carried out on the site of the Franciscans (OFM). In August 2009, during emergency excavations before the construction of a hotel. On the neighboring property of the Legionnaires of Christ, the remains of an approximately 120 square meter ancient synagogue, a mosaic floor, and surrounding stone benches. And frescoed walls were found. On May 28, 2014, the Archaeological Park of Magdala was open to tourists. It includes the most important find, the synagogue from the 1st century, the market area, private house complexes, the fisherman’s house, the ritual precinct with the place of the cube, and a warehouse on the quay. A north-south cobbled street connects to the south of the synagogue. The remains of small shops can be seen to the east of this street.

Indeed, remains of earthenware, weaving, and food were found in the ancient city of Migdal. Some of these shops have small tanks that may have been used for processing and trading fish. What is unique about the settlement remains found here is that stratum three dates from the early Roman period, i.e., from the 1st century BC. BC and 1st century AD, since this place was hardly settled and built over after its destruction in 67 AD (only a few remain in stratum, one from the Byzantine period and two from the late Roman Period). There were 2,500 coins found from both the 1st and 2nd centuries. Therefore, the latter shows that Migdal was probably not wholly destroyed – contrary to the report of Flavius ​​Josephus.