Chammath and Rakkath are joined together, Joshua 19:35. For they were very neighbouring cities; Rakkath is Tiberias,--and Chammath, the town Ammaus, in Josephus.
Of their neighbourhood, the Jerusalem Talmudists write thus: "The men of a great city may walk" (on the sabbath) "through a whole small city" (which was within a sabbath-day's journey); "but the inhabitants of a small city walk not through a whole great city." And then follows, "Formerly the men of Tiberias walked through all Chammath; but the men of Chammath passed not beyond the arch: but now those of Chammath and those of Tiberias do make one city."
And the Babylonian Talmudists thus, "from Chammath to Tiberias is a mile."
"Chammath is Tiberias. And why is it called Chammath? By reason of the Chammi, warm baths of Tiberias."
It is not seldom called 'Chammath of Gadara'; not only because it was very near the Gadarene country,--for the channel of Jordan only was between;--but because it was built, as it seems, on both the banks of Jordan, the two parts of the town joining by a bridge.
"Rabbah said, Chammath is the same with the warm baths of Gadara, and Rakkath is Tiberias."
"It was lawful for the Gadarenes, R. Judah Nasi permitting them, to go down into Chammath [on the sabbath], and to return into Gadara: but the men of Chammath might not go up into Gadara."
Behold! Tiberias so near to Chammath, that it was almost one city with it: and Chammath so near to the country of Gadara, that thence it took the name of 'Chammath of Gadara.'
"R. Samuel Bar Nathan, in the name of R. Chama Bar Chaninah, said, I and my father went up to Chammath of Gadara, and they set before us small eggs."
"R. Jonathan and R. Judah Nasi went to Chammath of Gadara."
"R. Immai and R. Judan Nasi" [he was grandson of R. Judah Nasi] "went to Chammath of Gadara."
Of the warm baths of Tiberias the Talmudists speak much. Let these few things be collected out of them:--
"R. Josua Ben Levi being sick, washed sometime in the warm baths of Tiberias, leaning on the shoulders of R. Chajia Bar Ba."
"Three warm baths remained from the waters of the deluge." I. The whirlpool of Gadara: that pool of Gadara, it may be, is that, which being drank of, as Strabo relates, cattle lose their hair, horns, and hoofs. II. The great fountain of Biram. Of Biram, see Bab. Rosh hashanah, fol. 23. 2. the first line. III. The warm baths of Tiberias.
"They allowed them the waters of Meara and the warm baths of Tiberias."
So also Josephus: "John (of Giscala) writ to me, praying 'that I would permit him the use of the warm baths which are at Tiberias.'"
And so Pliny before: "Tiberias, healthful for its warm waters."