The major cities in Israel during New Testament times include the following. In Abilene there was Abila and Damascus. Auranitis also had a city named Abila plus one named Dion. Decapolis, which is east of the Jordan, had Gerasa and Pella.
Galilee contained many important New Testament cities such as Cana, Capernaum, Chorazin, Gadara, Hippos, Magadan, Nain, Nazareth and Tiberias. Idumea, located in the very southern part of Israel, had Beersheba. Ituraea had Caesarea Philippi. Judea contained the important locations of Bethany, Bethlehem, Emmaus, Ephraim, Hebron, Jericho and Jerusalem.
Perea, to the east of the Jordan River, had the city of Philadelphia. Phoenicia, located on the Mediterraen sea coast, contained Sidon, Tyre and Zarephath. Lastly Samaria, from where the Good Samaritan lived, had the cities of Aenon, Salim, Samaria, Scythopolis and Sychar.
The general area of Israel is strategically situated between Egypt, Syria and Arabia. This location makes the region a major crossroad for religion, culture and commerce and has lent to its tumultuous history. The area, over the years, has been controlled by empires and powers like the Egyptians, Canaanites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, the Crusaders, Ottomans, the British Empire and others.
Many of Jesus' New Testament miracles occurred in the Galilee region of Israel. Close to half of his disciples lived in the area. About 60% of all the parables Jesus gave during his entire ministry were taught in Galilee. At least three-fourths or 75% of all of Christ's greatest miracles were performed in the Galilean area. Jesus also performed his very first public miracle in Cana.
Magdala and Mary Magdalene
Few who study the Bible know about the city of Magdala. It is mentioned only twice in the New Testament, in Matthew 15:39 where it is called Magdala in the KJV (or Magadan in other translations) and again in Mark 8:10 where it is referred to as Dalmanutha.
Magdala sat on the western shore of the sea of Galilee. The city and the surrounding area were known for their dye works and the ability to manufacture fine woolen textures. These industries made the area quite prosperous. In fact, Magdala became so wealthy that it was one of only three cities that had to send their contributions to Jerusalem's temple in a wagon!
Though little known, Magdala played an importance role in the gospels. It is the location where Jesus miraculously fed 4,000 people with only seven loaves of bread and a few small fishes. It is also the hometown of a woman named Mary, who was healed by Jesus when he cast seven demons out of her (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2 - 3).
After being healed Mary became part of a small circle of people who followed Jesus during his ministry. Because she was from the city of Magdala, she was given the last name of Magdalene.
Mary Magdalene was one of the very few people who stayed with Jesus to the very end of his ministry. She had the character and courage to personally witness Jesus' suffering on the cross when all his disciples (except John) were absent out of fear.
Mary was the first New Testament person to visit Jesus' tomb after his death. Additionally, she was the first human to see Jesus after his resurrection from the dead (Mark 16:9 - 11, John 20:11 - 18). Mary Magdalene was a woman of character and conviction who was willing to stand by Jesus when so many others did not.