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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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(Καισάρεια or Καισάρεια Σεβαστή, named in honour of Augustus; known also as Caesarea Palaestinae, and in modern Arabic as el-Kaiṣârîyeh; to be distinguished clearly from Caesarea Philippi)

Caesarea was situated on the Mediterranean coast, 32 miles N. of Joppa, 25 S. of Carmel, and 75 N.W. of Jerusalem. It was once the chief port of Palestine. It was rebuilt by Herod the Great on the site of ‘Straton’s Tower’ (Jos. Ant. xv. ix. 6). The city is closely associated with the history of the Apostolic Church, being especially notable as the place where the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Gentiles (Acts 10:45). The name occurs in Acts only. Philip the deacon seems to have resided at Caesarea (Acts 8:40; Acts 21:8; Acts 21:16). St. Paul was sent hence to Tarsus (Acts 9:30). Cornelius, a Roman centurion, influenced by a vision to send to Joppa for St. Peter, here became the first convert of the Gentiles (Acts 10:1; Acts 10:24; Acts 11:11). Here Herod Agrippa I. died (Acts 12:19). Here St. Paul landed on his way from Ephesus (Acts 18:22), being later escorted hither on his return from Jerusalem (Acts 23:23; Acts 23:33), and here he was imprisoned for two years, and tried before Festus (Acts 25:1; Acts 25:4; Acts 25:6; Acts 25:13).

In apostolic times Caesarea was politically the capital of the province of Judaea , and the residence of the Roman procurators. Tacitus describes it as ‘the head of Judaea ’ (Hist. ii. 78). Among its inhabitants there were both Jews and Greeks. The city was elaborately beautified with temples, theatres, palaces, arches, and altars. It was especially famous for its harbour (Jos. Ant. xv. ix. 6). Aqueducts supplied the inhabitants with water from Carmel and the Crocodile River. In the 3rd cent. a.d., it became the seat of a famous school of theology, in which Origen taught; also of the bishopric of Syria, Eusebius being the most celebrated of these occupying the office. Under the Arabs it unfortunately lost its former prestige and rapidly degenerated. At the time of the Crusades it was rebuilt by Baldwin ii. Saladin took it in 1187. In 1251 it was re-fortified by St. Louis. Finally, in 1265, it was completely destroyed by the Sultan Bibars, since whose time it has remained in ruins.

Little is now left to mark the ancient city. Porter, writing in 1865, says: ‘I saw no man. The Arab and the shepherd avoid the spot’ (Giant Cities, 235). Thomson also (Land and Book, i. 72) speaks of it as ‘absolutely forsaken.’ Since 1889, however, a few Bosnians have settled among the ruins and carried on a small trade in brick. Most of the stones of the ancient city were used by Ibrahim Pasha in constructing the new fortifications at Acre. To the missionary, Caesarea is one of the most interesting spots on earth, having been the cradle of the Gentile Church.

Literature.-Josephus, Ant. xiv. iv. 4, xvii. xi. 4, Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) i. xxi. 5, ii. ix. 1; G. A. Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land (G. A. Smith) 138ff., article ‘Caesarea’ in Encyclopaedia Biblica , i. 617; C. R. Conder, article ‘Caesarea’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) , i. 337, Tent Work in Palestine, new ed., 1887, pp. 107-110; Schürer, History of the Jewish People (Eng. tr. of GJV).] , index, s.v.; SWP [Note: WP Memoirs of Survey of Western Palestine.] ii. [1882], sheet x.; Baedeker, Palestine and Syria5, 1912, p. 237ff.; A. Neubauer, Géog. du Talmud, 1868; G. Le Strange, Palestine under the Moslems, 1890, p. 474; H. B. Tristram, Bible places, 1897, p. 75; J. L. Porter, The Giant Cities of Bashan, 1873, p. 233ff.; W. M. Thomson, The Land and the Book, 1881, i. 69ff.; W. Smith, Dict. of the Bible 2, article ‘Caesarea.’

George L. Robinson.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Caesarea'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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