In search of Dalmanutha

After the feeding of the four thousand, Jesus went to the district of Dalmanutha.

And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. (Mark 8:10 ESV)

This is the only Biblical reference to a place called Dalmanutha. Where was it? When we read the parallel account in Matthew 15:32-39, we learn that Jesus came to the region of Magadan.

And after sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.  (Matthew 15:39 ESV)

Todd Bolen, at Bible Places Blog, notes that some scholars equate Dalmanutha with Magadan/Magdala. He says,

Mendel Nun has proposed that Dalmanutha be identified with a small anchorage north of Magdala (Anchor Bible Dictionary 2:4). Dalmanutha may not be a proper name but simply the Aramaic word for harbor.

In an article on “Ancient Harbors Of The Sea Of Galilee,” Gordon Franz discusses the location of Magdala/Dalmanutha. Perhaps Dalmanutha “is a transliteration of the Syrian word for harbor.” Or, the term may derive from the harbor that existed here. Franz describes the harbor:

It consisted of two parts; an open dock for loading and unloading during the summer, and a basin, with a 70 m breakwater to protect the ships from the winter storms. (Bible and Spade (1991) Volume 4, 04. p. 120.)

This new discussion about Dalmanutha has been prompted by a recent lecture by Dr. Ken Dart at the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins in the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh. Helen Bond reports here that Dart spoke of mapping the area around Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee. Notice the summary of Dart’s comments on Dalmanutha:

A new research project is synthesising existing data and using air- and satellite-photography to re-examine the area, combined with the first extensive archaeological survey of the Ginosar valley. The latter has identified a very large, but previously-unrecognised, Late Hellenistic, Roman-period, and later, settlement between the modern town of Migdal (on the western side of the valley) and the coast, just south of Kibbutz Ginosar.  It is hard to imagine that a Roman-period coastal community of this size is nowhere mentioned in textual sources, and the site might be identified with one of the unlocated toponyms known from the Bible, perhaps the Dalmanutha of Mark 8:10.

The aerial photo below shows the general area under consideration. Magdala is on the left of the photo. On the right you can see the museum at Nof Ginosaur where the Roman Boat is shown. Part of the building is hidden behind the wing strut of the airplane.

Aerial view of the Plain of Genessaret from Magdala on the south (left) to Nof Ginosaur on the north (right). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aerial view of the Plain of Genessaret from Magdala on the south (left) to Nof Ginosaur on the north (right). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The green strip between the water and the land is covered by water this year. You see two places where the growth has been cleared away to make room for a beach.

So, we have several options for the location or meaning of Dalmanutha. In a post to follow I will show you the traditional site of Dalmanutha.

HT: Bible Places Blog; Larry Hurtado’s Blog

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One response to “In search of Dalmanutha

  1. Pingback: The traditional site of Dalmanutha | Ferrell's Travel Blog

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