Mary Magdalene, pt. 2
A Fishy Business
In Magdala, fish were caught, processed, dried, and packed in a fairly widespread and well-developed industrial complex consisting of docks, warehouses, drying towers, and packing stations. For the nearby and immediate needs of Tiberias and Herod Antipas’ guests, fresh food, especially fish, was essential. Marianne Sawicki says of Tiberias and Herod’s agenda:
Tiberias, in the 20’s of the first century CE (also known as A.D.), was becoming an international commercial hub for the promotion of agribusiness and industrial expansion. Nearby, Magdala was making necessary adjustments.
We can imagine that such “adjustments” include investment endeavors by Mary Magdalene, who could have injecting whatever financial capital she had into the new opportunities. We don’t know for sure, but much of this argument makes sense, has merit and enjoys mounting evidence.
When visiting the ruins of Magdala today, you can see how close the town is to the thriving city of modern Tiberias, and we can easily imagine how accessible this supply town of Magdala would have been to Herod’s palace and thriving spa city of ancient Tiberias.
Economic Opportunities Beyond Galilee
In addition to providing for the immediate needs of Herod’s tourism, workers in Magdala shipped fish beyond the Galilee area to other places of trade, tourism and commerce like Caesarea Philippi to the north, Damascus, and even Babylon. Any enterprising businessperson would have recognized the wide-ranging opportunities for making money in this beautiful well-populated, popular, and prosperous region.
The ruins recently uncovered along the Sea of Galilee at the archeological dig of Magdala reveal Mary’s town as a key supplier for the rich and famous in Tiberias. This, then, is invaluable evidence of Mary’s life from the very town where she lived and worked—and likely prospered.
Mary had no husband, she always remained identified with this important town, and she had substantial resources. All these clues point to a unique woman, potentially in an important business position in a strategic place at a crucial time.
She also had a valuable personal connection to the palace of Herod Antipas. Luke quietly tells us this vital piece of information as well.
 We can add “prosperous” here because of one bell-weather industry: wine-making. When wine is produced in a region, it indicates at least limited leisure and expendable time and income. Grape vines take several years to grow, wine takes several seasons to perfect, and vineyards and production facilities often take half a generation to be successful. To have such an industry as Galilee did in abundance, we know many there didn’t need to have their immediate needs satisfied. They didn’t need to eat what they produced to survive and were therefore prosperous.