In Aramaic, the word “Gamla” or “Gamala” means “camel”, the “beast of burden” in ancient Biblical times. In Hebrew, camel is “gamal”. The mountain and city of “Gamla” was described in the first century Jewish writings of Flavius Josephus, as he was the captain of the Galilee regiment at Gamla in the 67CE Roman seige that destroyed the city once and for all. Josephus clearly indicated that the name was “Gamla”, the Aramaic name and not the Hebrew name of Gamal. The inhabitants of Gamla in the first century BCE and CE spoke Aramiac, as Gamla is in the Syriac region of “Aram”, a territory “beyond” or “East of” the Jordan River. The Jordan River bisects the Sea of Galilee on its North Shore less than 10 miles west of Gamla, with Bethsaida and Capernaum on either side of the mouth of the Jordan River. This is important for a number of reasons. I’ve already surmised that Gamla is One of the Six Biblical Cities of Refuge, from the days of Moses and Joshua.
But there is more to this “mysterious” name of “Gamla”, In Book 4 Chapter 1:1 of Wars, Josephus writes this:
“…insomuch that it is like a camel in figure, from whence it is so named, although the people of the country do not pronounce it accurately…”
What’s that all about? What was the mispronunciation, and which “people of the country” mispronounced it, and why? Clearly there is more to this mystery. Also, Josephus records the following about the Roman invasion in Wars Book 4 Chapter 1:5:
“But there was a centurion whose name was Gallus, who, during this disorder, being encompassed about, he and ten other soldiers privately crept into the house of a certain person, where he heard them talking at supper, what the people intended to do against the Romans, or about themselves (for both the man himself and those with him were Syrians). So he got up in the night time, and cut all their throats, and escaped, together with his soldiers, to the Romans.”
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
It seems clear that what he is saying, is that one who trust in his “riches”, or his “self-sufficiency”, or his “Gamla”, if you will, cannot enter the kingdom of God! What makes this even more interesting, is that a case can be made that this “teaching” was done right in the shadow of Gamla, on the “other side of the Jordan”, as indicated in the first verse of Mark 10:
“And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again. “
This place is familiar to Jesus, as is described in Mark 6:45-46:
“And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. “
I’ve made the case in other articles that this “prayer” mountain, was Gamla, adjacent to Bethsaida and a short 5 mile walk to the Sea of Galilee. See: John the Baptist, the Wedding at “Cana” and Jesus’ First Five Disciples