Holman Bible Dictionary
(al ehx an' dri uh) The capital of Egypt from 330 B.C., founded by Alexander the Great as an outstanding Greek cultural and academic center.
Alexandria bears the name of its founder, Alexander the Great, who planted the city about 332 B.C. When Ptolemy inherited Alexander's Egyptian empire, he made Alexandria its capital. The historian Strabo purports that Alexander was later buried here.
Alexandria was designed to act as the principal port of Egypt located on the western edge of the Nile delta. Built on a peninsula, it separated the Mediterranean Sea and Lake Mareotis. A causeway (Heptastadion, or “seven stadia”) connected the peninsula with Pharos Island and divided the harbor. The Pharos lighthouse was visible for miles at a height of over 400 feet and is remembered today as one of the seven wonders of the world.
The city was divided into sections with a substantial Jewish quarter, the Royal area, the Neapolis, and a necropolis to the far west. The city was known for its cultural and academic pursuits. The finest library in the ancient world with over 500,000 volumes attracted many scholars. The Mouseion (Museum) complimented the library as the center of worship for the Muses, goddesses of “music,” dancing, and letters. It became the most important center of Judaism outside of Jerusalem. Jewish rabbis gathered in Alexandria to produce the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Greek philosophers and mathematicians such as Euclid, Aristarchus, and Eratosthenes worked here. Octavian incorporated it into the Roman empire about 30 B.C. It quickly became second in importance to Rome. Its importance declined about 100 A.D.
The educated Jews of Alexandria contended with Stephen (Acts 6:9 ). Apollos, the great Christian orator, came from Alexandria (Acts 18:24 ), and Paul rode the ships of that port (Acts 27:6 ; Acts 28:11 ). Although the Christians suffered persecution there, they produced a school with such notables as Clement and Origen in leadership. The school was noted for its allegorical approach to Scripture.
Gary C. Huckabay
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