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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Fair Havens

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(Καλοὶ Λιμένες)

Fair Havens is a small bay in the S. coast of Crete, where St. Paul’s ship, after working slowly westward under the lee of the island, found shelter in rough weather (Acts 27:8). It is not referred to in any other ancient writing besides Acts, but its name is still preserved in the modern dialect-Λιμεῶνας Καλούς. While exposed to the E., it was protected on the S.W. by two small islands. In this roadstead the Apostle’s ship remained ‘a considerable time’ (ἱκανοῦ χρόνου) weather-bound, strong N. W. winds apparently continuing to blow. Two leagues westward is Cape Matala, where the coast abruptly trends to the N., so that if an attempt were made to round the point the ship would certainly be exposed to the full force of the Wind. But as it was feared that Fair Havens was not commodious enough to winter in, a council was held, the account of which affords a vivid and instructive glimpse into life on an ancient government transport. While the captain and Ship-master (ὁ ναύκληρος) thought it better to make a dash for Port Phœnix (q.v. [Note: quod vide, which see.] ), St. Paul considered it more prudent to remain where they were. The Roman centurion naturally ‘gave more heed’ to the nautical experts than to the landsman, as did the majority (οἱ πλείους); but, as Smith remarks, ‘the event justified St. Paul’s advice.’

‘It now appears … that Fair Havens is so well protected by islands, that though not equal to Lutro, it must be a very fair winter harbour; and that considering the suddenness, the frequency, and the violence with which gales of northerly wind spring up, and the certainty that, if such a gale sprang up in the passage from Fair Havens to Lutro, the ship must be driven off to sea, the prudence of the advice given by the master and owner was extremely questionable, and that the advice given by St. Paul may probably be supported even on nautical grounds’ (J. Smith, Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul, 1880, p. 85).

Literature.-W. M. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen, 1895, p. 320 f. See also articles in Bible Dictionaries, esp. Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) i. 826 (W. Muir).

James Strahan.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Fair Havens'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/f/fair-havens.html. 1906-1918.

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