Pliny numbers Pella also among the Decapolitan cities: and so also doth Epiphanius: and that it was of the same condition under which, we suppose, the other Decapolitan cities were put, namely, that it was inhabited by heathens, the words of Josephus make plain: "The Jews recovered these cities of the Moabites from the enemy, Essebon, Medaba, Lemba, Oronas, Telithon, Zara, Cilicium Aulon, Pella. But this (Pella) they overthrew, because the inhabitants would not endure to be brought over unto the customs of the country." Behold the citizens of Pella vigorously heathen, so that their city underwent a kind of martyrdom, if I may so call it, for retaining their heathenism. And when it was restored under Pompey, it was rendered back to the same citizens, the same Josephus bearing witness.
But take heed, reader, that his words do not deceive you concerning its situation; who writes thus of Perea, "The length of Perea is from Macherus to Pella, and the northern coasts are bounded at Pella": that is, of Perea, as distinct from Trachonitis and Batanea. For Pella was the furthest northern coast of Perea, and the south coast of Trachonitis. Hence Josephus reckons and ranks it together with Hippo, Dio, Scythopolis, in the place before cited.
There is no need to name more cities of Decapolis beyond Jordan; these things which have been said make sufficiently for our opinion, both concerning the situation of the places, and the nature of them. Let us only add this, while we are conversant beyond Jordan, and about Pella: "Ammon and Moab (say the Gemarists) tithe the tithe of the poor in the seventh year," &c. Where the Gloss thus; "Ammon and Moab are Israelites who dwell in the land of Ammon and Moab, which Moses took from Sichon. And that land was holy, according to the holiness of the land of Israel: but under the second Temple its holiness ceased. They sow it, therefore, the seventh year; and they appoint thence the first tithe, and the poor's tithe the seventh year, for the maintenance of the poor; who have not a corner of the field left, nor a gleaning that year: thither therefore the poor betake themselves, and have there a corner left, and a gleaning, and the poor's tithe."
We produce this, for the sake of that story which relates how the Christians fled from the siege and slaughter of Jerusalem to Pella. And why to Pella? Certainly if that be true which obtains among the Jews, that the destruction of Jerusalem was 'in the seventh year,' which was the year of release, when on this side Jordan they neither ploughed nor sowed, but beyond Jordan there was a harvest, and a tithing for the poor, &c.; hence one may fetch a more probable reason of that story than the historians themselves give; namely, that those poor Christians resorted thither for food and sustenance, when husbandry had ceased that year in Judea and Galilee. But we admire the story, rather than acquiesce in this reason.