The Prodigal Son

Jerash (known in the Jesus’ time as Gerasa) – One of the Greco-Roman cities of the Decapolis (meaning “ten-cities,” but in Jesus’ day there were some 18 cities). In Jesus’ day Gerasa was approximately the same population as Jerusalem. But apart from the size and grandeur of the Jerusalem Temple, Gerasa was more impressive architecturally. Josephus tells us that Scythopolis (Beth-Shean) was the largest city of the Decapolis, and was less than 25 miles from Nazareth. In Jesus’ day, the contrast between Galilean towns, constructed of black basalt, homes having roofs of mud and sticks, would have been a striking contrast to the beauty and allure of the nearby Greco-Roman cities, with their theatres, athletic arenas, running water, indoor toilets, bathhouses, gymnasiums, beautiful streets, public buildings, and fleshly pleasures. Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son was a common problem for Israelite families, where Jewish boys were seduced away from Judaism and their families by the majesty and temptations that the pagan world offered. To illustrate this – when Jerusalem fell to the Roman legions and the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, it was a Jew who was second in command under Titus, Tiberius Julius Alexander, the Alexandrian Jew, was the embodiment of a Jewish prodigal.Jerash

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