For a small country, Israel is fortunate enough to have a plethora of stunning national parks. These parks feature not only unique ecosystems of flora and fauna; but also locations of historical; religious, and cultural significance. Kursi is yet another fantastic national park; it is one of the important Christian sites in Israel due to its ancient Byzantine monastery and as the location of the Miracle of the Swine. Christian pilgrims and curious travelers love visiting Kursi National Park as a way to revel in the religious stories, learn of the archaeological feats, and absorb the peaceful energy that surrounds this tranquil location.
Kursi National Park – An Accidental Discovery
Located on the southern banks of the Samkh rivers in the Golan Heights; the Kursi National Park ruins were discovered by accident. After the Six-Day War, a road was being paved to the foothills of the Golan Heights. It was set to pass right over the ruins when a man by the name of Mendel Nun found the ruins by chance. Due to this, the route was fortunately diverted; and the ruins were preserved for us today. After excavations were completed by Vassilios Tzaferis and Dan Orman, the Byzantine-era monastery turned out to be the largest monastery in Israel! In 1980, an excavation found the Holy Rock, where it is believed that Jesus performed the Miracle of the Swine. As you stand next to the small chapel; you can almost see the miracle unfolding right before your eyes.
Kursi National Park is considered one of the important Christian sites in Israel because it is the location of Jesus’ “Miracle of the Swine.” While there are various versions of the story; the oldest account comes from the Gospel of Mark. The story goes that there was a man possessed by a demon. While his people tried to tie him down; he was too strong and escaped again and again, after which he would cut himself with stones.
One day, Jesus approached the man and called the demon to come out of the man by asking his name. The demon replied that his name was “Legion, for we are many.” The demon begged Jesus not to torment him, but to instead send him into the herd of nearby pigs. Jesus did transfer the demon into the herd, which then rushed into the sea to drown. The man was healed and sane once again, thanks to Jesus’ miracle.