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American Tract Society Bible Dictionary


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The name of a celebrated city, the metropolis of Cilicia, in the southeastern part of Asia Minor; situated six miles from the Mediterranean, on the banks of the river Cydnus, which flowed through and divided it into two parts. Tarsus was distinguished for the culture of Greek literature and philosophy, so that at one time, in its schools and in the number of its learned men, it was the rival of Athens and Alexandria. In reward for its exertions and sacrifices during the civil wars of Rome, Tarsus was made a free city of Augustus. It was the privilege of such cities that they were governed by their own laws and magistrates, and were not subjected to tribute, to the jurisdiction of a Roman governor, nor to the power of a Roman garrison, although they acknowledged the supremacy of the Roman people, and were bound to aid them against their enemies.

That the freedom of Tarsus, however, was not equivalent to being a Roman citizen, appears from this, that the tribune, although he knew Paul to be a citizen of Tarsus, Acts 21:39 , yet ordered him to be scourged, Acts 22:24 , but desisted from his purpose when he learned that Paul was a Roman citizen, Acts 22:27 . It is therefore probable that the ancestors of Paul had obtained the privilege of Roman citizenship in some other way, Acts 9:30 11:25 22:3 . It is now called Tarsous; and though much decayed and full of ruins, is estimated to contain a population in summer of 7,000, and in winter of 30,000, chiefly Turks. During the excessive heat of summer, a large part of the people repair to the high lands of the interior.

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Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of the topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859.

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. Entry for 'Tarsus'. American Tract Society Bible Dictionary. 1859.

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