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Caesarea

Caesarea Maritima is located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. It was constructed by Herod the Great in honor of Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus. After being built, it soon became the capital of the Roman Province of Judea (Palestine) and the place where troops were headquartered. The first century Jewish historian Josephus wrote the following about this magnificent city.

"Now upon his (Herod's) observation of a place near the sea . . . he set about getting a plan for a magnificent city there, and erected many edifices with great diligence all over it, and this of white stone. He also adorned it with most sumptuous palaces and large edifices for containing the people . . . It was of excellent workmanship; and this was the more remarkable for its being built in a place that of itself was not suitable to such noble structures, but was to be brought to perfection by materials from other places, and at very great expenses" (Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus, Book 15, Chapter 9, Section 6).

The apostle Paul visited the city at least four times. He visited the churches in the coastal city of Palestine at the end of his second missionary journey (Acts 18:22) and near the end of his third journey he spent several days with Philip the evangelist who, along with his four virgin daughters, hosted a fellowship in their home (Acts 21:8 - 14). Caesarea is also the place where Peter baptized Cornelius, a Centurion in the Roman army. Cornelius is the first gentile (non-Jew) the New Testament states became a Christian (see Acts 10).

Map of Roman Empire in New Testament Times

Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire

Map of Jerusalem and its seven hills

Joppa

Joppa's modern name is Jaffa, an area annexed by the city of Tel Aviv. The city is located at the only natural harbor on the Mediterranean between Ptolemais and Egypt and was for centuries Jerusalem's main seaport.

Called Japho in the KJV Old Testament, Joppa is first mentioned as a city given to the Israelite tribe of Dan as an inheritance in the Promised Land (Joshua 19:40 - 46). It is also the place where the prophet Jonah boarded a ship to flee from God after he was told to condemn the ancient city of Nineveh (Jonah 1:1 - 3).

Christians in the city summon the apostle Peter when a generous fellow-believer named Dorcas dies. Upon his arrival, through the power of God's spirit, he miraculously raises her from the dead. He is the first disciple of Christ recorded as performing such a supernatural act (Acts 9:36 - 41). Joppa is also the place where Peter sees a vision from the Eternal that symbolically informs him that gentiles (non-Jews) are an acceptable audience for hearing the gospel (Acts 10).

Ptolemais

Ptolemais, a Mediterranean coastal city referred to as Accho in the KJV (Judges 1:31), is mentioned only in the Book of Acts. Toward the end of his third missionary journey Paul sails to the city and visits church members for one day before leaving for Jerusalem (Acts 21:7).

Sidon

Sidon, located in modern-day Lebanon, is considered one of the oldest, continuously inhabited cities of the Middle East. According to Barnes' Notes on the New Testament, the city was famous for its great trade and navigation. Those who lived in it were remarkable merchants and known for their luxury. In fact, even after coming under the control of the Roman Empire, Sidon still minted its own silver coins.

The city is mentioned at least fourteen times in Scripture, most notably as an area Jesus visited during his ministry and a place from which they came to hear him speak (Matthew 15:21, Mark 3:8, 7:24, 31, Luke 6:17). Paul, as a Roman prisoner bound from Rome, is taken to Sidon where he is allowed to visit fellow believers in the city (Acts 27:3).

Tyre

Ancient Tyre, like the Palestine city of Sidon situated twenty miles from it, is located in modern Lebanon and is mentioned several times in Scripture (2Samuel 5:11, Isaiah 23, Ezekiel 27, etc.). One of the city's kings, named Hiram, was an ally and trading partner of Israelite kings David and Solomon. He was instrumental in providing building materials for David's royal palace David (2Samuel 5:11) and generously offered materials and skilled craftsmen to build Jerusalem's Temple (2Chronicles 2:3 - 16).

Jesus visited the area near Tyre during his ministry (Matthew 15:21, Mark 7:24). Those who lived in the city were willing to travel to the shores of Galilee to hear Christ preach (Mark 3:8, Luke 6:17).

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Series Primary Sources

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
1913 Catholic Encyclopedia
Complete Book of When and Where in the Bible
Easton's Illustrated Bible Dictionary
Holman Bible Dictionary
Holy Bible a Faithful Version (HBFV)
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Life and Epistles of Apostle Paul
Parsons Bible Maps
Parsons Bible Atlas
Wikipedia


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