Mk 7:24 Jesus travels to the Mediterranean coast near the Gentile (non-Jewish) city of Tyre (see 4 on Map 8).
In New Testament times, Tyre was the main seaport of the Roman province of Syria and Phoenicia – a prosperous city with pagan temples and twin harbours built on either side of a small island (see Map 8). The Roman settlement, to the south of the island, was constructed adjacent to the causeway linking it to the mainland, built by Alexander the Great during his seige in 332BC. Tyre became part of the Roman Empire in 64BC and was one of the first Roman cities in the region to embrace Christianity.
Modern-day visitors to Sour (Tyre) in Lebanon can still cross the causeway built by Alexander the Great to visit the picturesque northern harbour and the narrow alleyways of the Christian Quarter. To the south of the original island, visitors to the Al Mina archaeological site can see the Roman arena and the extensive bathhouse built alongside the colonnaded street that led to the southern harbour.
Further inland, 1 mile / 2 km to the east, the Al Bass archaeological site contains an extensive Roman necropolis (burial site) and the remains of a gigantic and well-preserved Roman hippodrome that seated twenty thousand spectators. The remains of the Holy Cross Cathedral, built by the Crusaders in the 12th century AD can be found to the north of the Roman agora (market place) at Al Mina.
Jesus among the Gentiles
Mk 7:25-30 A gentile woman born in Phoenicia (the coastal part of the Roman province of Syro-Phoenicia) begs Jesus to drive an evil spirit out of her daughter. Jesus tests her faith, then heals the child.
Mk 7:31 Jesus travels north to the Phoenician city of Sidon (see 5 on Map 8). Sidon was another prosperous port, and a popular place of healing in Roman times – with a temple to Echmoun, a local god who was regarded by the Romans as Asclepius, the Greek god of healing. Jesus then turns back south and returns to the region of the Decapolis on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee (see 6 on Map 8).
The Mediterranean Coast of Israel (Mark 7:31)
Mk 7:32-37 Jesus heals a deaf man with a speech impediment. The man begins to speak plainly and everyone is amazed.
Mk 8:1-21 On another occasion when Jesus is teaching a crowd of Jews and Gentiles on the eastern shore of Lake Galilee, he miraculously feeds four thousand families with seven loaves and a few small fish.
On returning across the lake to Dalmanutha, near Herod Antipas’s capital city of Tiberias on the western shore (see 7 on Map 8), Jesus uses the two feeding miracles to illustrate how abundant blessings can spring from small beginnings. He also warns his followers against the ‘yeast’ (the opposition) of the Pharisees and the supporters of Herod Antipas – as corruption and evil can expand like the small amounts of yeast that cause dough to rise.