The Apostle Paul

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Sea Castle located in Sidon
Sidon Sea Castle

Sidon (also known as Zidon in the KJV) is the third largest city in modern Lebanon. It was the principle city of ancient Phoenicia and is believed to be one of the oldest inhabited places in the world ( The city and those who lived in it (referred to as Zidonians in the KJV) are mentioned at least 45 times in the King James Bible.

Ancient Sidon was known for its skilled artisans who produced art made of bronze and silver. It was also known for skilled woodsmen (1Kings 5:6) and for producing textiles that were dyed purple. Its skills in artwork were noted in both the Iliad and the Odyssey written by Homer (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia article on city).

The city of Sidon was named after the man who founded it who was the firstborn son of Canaan (Genesis 10:15, 1Chronicles 1:13). Canaan, founder of the Canaanites, was the son of Ham, one of the three sons of Noah who survived the great flood (Genesis 10:6). The Biblical patriarch Israel (Jacob) prophesied that, in the end time, the descendants of his son Zebulun would live near this powerful city (Genesis 49:13).

Before Israel had a human king over them, those who lived in the city were some of the many groups of people whom God allowed to oppress them when they sinned (Judges 10:12).

Map of Division of the Promised Land

Map of Important cities in Ancient Israel

People in the Old Testament

The Bible states King Solomon married at least one "strange" or non-Israelite Zidonian woman (1Kings 11:1), which one tradition states was a daughter of Hiram, king of Tyre (Barnes' Notes on the Bible, note on 1Kings 11:1). This wife, like several others in his concubine, led him to worship false (pagan) gods.

4. For it came to pass when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods. And his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God as was the heart of David his father, 5. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians . . . (1Kings11:4 - 5, HBFV throughout)

Ahab, the eighth king of the Northern ten tribes of Israel (reigned 874 to 863 B.C.), like Solomon, married a Sidonian woman who led him away from worshipping the true God. She, however, was not just any woman, but the notorious Jezebel, daughter of the King of Sidon. She is one of the most evil people in the Bible and a symbol of leading people away from the Eternal through false doctrine (see Revelation 2:20 - 23).

30. And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all who were before him. 31. And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat (the first king of the Northern Ten Tribes), he also took Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, for a wife. And he went and served Baal . . . (1Kings 16:30 - 31).

Paul, after his arrest in Jerusalem in 58 A.D., is taken to Caesarea to await his hearing before the Roman Governor of the area. After languishing in prison for more than two years he is allowed to travel to Rome to have his case heard by Caesar (Acts 25:21, 27:1 - 2). Escorted by a Centurion, he is put on a boat on sails to Sidon. During his short stay in the city, he is allowed the liberty to visit fellow brethren (Acts 27:3). A well-known resource on Paul's life and journeys states the following regarding his trip to the city and its role in Israelite history.

"The passage from Caesarea to Sidon is sixty-seven miles, a distance easily accomplished, under favorable circumstances, in less than twenty-four hours. In the course of the night, they would pass by Ptolemais and Tyre, where Apostle Paul had visited the Christians two years before. Sidon is the last city on the Phoenician shore in which the Apostle's presence can be traced. It is a city associated, from the earliest times, with patriarchal and Jewish history.

"The limit of "the border of the Canaanites" in the description of the peopling of the earth after the Flood (Genesis 10:19), - "the haven of the sea, the haven of ships," in the dim vision of the dying Patriarch (Genesis 49:13), - the "great Sidon" of the wars of Joshua (Joshua 11:8), - the city that never was conquered by the Israelites (Judges 1:31), - the home of the merchants that "passed over the sea" (Isaiah 23), - its history was linked with all the annals of the Hebrew race (Life and Epistles of Apostle Paul by Conybeare and Howson, chapter 23, section on Sidon).

Additional Study Materials
Which cities did Paul visit during his ministry?
Kings of Ancient Israel and Judah
The most evil people in Scripture!
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