Town in Palestine in the province of Galilee; probably the birthplace of Mary Magdalene. There is a Talmudic sentence which declares that Magdala was destroyed (by the Romans) on account of its immorality (Lam. R. ii. 2). Jesus once went to Magdala by ship on the Sea of Gennesaret (Matt. xv. 39; even if the reading Μαγαδάν [= Μαγλδάλ] be accepted in place of Μαγδαλά, it must be inferred that Magdala is meant). Because he made the journey by boat some have held that the town was on the eastern shore of the sea; such a conclusion is not necessary, however, and Magdala was more probably on the western shore, perhaps the present Al-majdal, a small village an hour and a quarter north of Tiberias.
Rabbinical accounts are clear only in indicating Magdala as situated near Tiberias. In Tosef., 'Er. vi. 13 (ed. Zuckermandel, p. 145; comp. Yer. 'Er. v. 22d, where the description is more detailed and accurate), it is true, Tiberias is placed near Gadara also, which latter place is known to have been situated east of the Jordan. But the proximity to Tiberias is noted also in Yer. Ma'as iii. 50c; andSimeon ben Laḳish, who had a quarrel with the patriarch, fled to Magdala from the neighboring Tiberias (Yer. Sanh. ii. 19d; Hor. iii. 47a). There were in Magdala a seminary or a synagogue, and a school for children (Eccl. R. x. 8). In several passages in the Talmud and Midrash "Magdala" occurs as a variant of "Migdal Ẓabba'aya" (tower of the dyers). Neubauer is consequently of the opinion that the latter as well as other names compounded with "Migdal" refers to a quarter in the town of Magdala; but this is not the case. Only so much is certain, that a few teachers of the Law were born in Magdala—e.g., R. Isaac (B. M. 25a) and Yudan (Yer. Ber. ix. 14a; Ta'an. i. 64b). In the Talmud besides the usual Aramaic name "Magdala" the Hebrew form "Migdol" occasionally occurs (e.g., Tosef. 'Er. vi. 13). This is without significance, however, as is shown by the fact that the Biblical "Migdol" is regularly rendered by the Septuagint as Μάγδωλος (e.g., in Num. xxxiii. 7).
- Winer, B. R.;
- Neubauer, G. T. p. 217;
- Lightfoot, Horoe Hebraicoe, p. 136.