Traveling throughout Galilee, Jesus taught in the synagogues, proclaimed the glad tidings of the kingdom (the message that revealed how to gain an approved relationship with his Father and to be part of realm where he is the Sovereign), and healed the sick and infirm. News about his activity spread among Jews living in areas beyond the borders of Galilee and Judea, including the Roman province of Syria, the Decapolis, and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon. This resulted in people coming to Jesus in large numbers from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and the region east of the Jordan. They would bring the sick, those whom they perceived to be demon possessed, the epileptics, and the crippled, and he would heal all of them. As power to heal proceeded from him, the afflicted would seek to touch him. (Matthew 4:23-25; Luke 6:17-19)
The Decapolis was a region of ten predominantly Greek cities, which appear to have formed a league sometime during the first century BCE. Of these cities, only Scythopolis was located west of the Jordan. Damascus occupied the most distant northeastern location, and the eight other cities were situated east of the Jordan.
In his Natural History (V, 16 [English translation edited by John Bostock and H. T. Riley]), the first-century Roman scholar Pliny the Elder wrote the following regarding the Decapolis: “On the side of Syria, joining up to Judaea, is the region of Decapolis, so called from the number of its cities; as to which all writers are not agreed. Most of them, however, agree in speaking of Damascus as one, a place fertilized by the river Chrysorroös, which is drawn off into its meadows and eagerly imbibed; Philadelphia, and Rhaphana, all which cities fall back towards Arabia; Scythopolis (formerly called Nysa by Father Liber, from his nurse having been buried there), its present name being derived from a Scythian colony which was established there; Gadara, before which the river Hieromix flows; Hippo [Hippos], which has been previously mentioned; Dion, Pella, rich with its waters; Galasa [Gerasa], and Canatha.”