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Seleucia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

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(Σελεύκεια)

Seleucia was the seaport of Antioch and the maritime stronghold of the Macedonian monarchy in Syria. It lay 5 miles to the north of the mouth of the Orontes, on the southern skirts of Mt. Pieria, whence it was called Σελεύκεια ἡ ἐν Πιερίᾳ, in distinction from the many other foundations of the same name. It was one of the cities which formed the Syrian Tetrapolis, the others being Antioch, Apameia, and Laodicea. ‘They were called sisters from the concord which existed between them. They were founded by Seleucus Nicator. The largest bore the name of his father, and the strongest his own. Of the others, Apameia had its name from his wife Apama, and Laodicea from his mother’ (Strabo, XVI. ii. 4).

Seleucia overlooked a bay ‘not unlike the Bay of Naples and scarcely less beautiful’ (G. L. Bell, Syria, the Desert and the Sown, 1908, p. 329). It was built partly at the foot and partly on the top of precipitous cliffs, the lower and the upper city being connected by a cutting through the solid rock 1100 yards long. Strongly protected by nature and by fortifications, Seleucia was regarded as the key of Syria (Polybius, v. 58). Ptolemy Energetes seized it in 246 b.c., and Antiochus III. (the Great) achieved renown recapturing it in 220. Ptolemy Philometor took it in 146 b.c. and ‘put on himself the diadem of Asia’ (1 Maccabees 11:8; 1 Maccabees 11:13), but after his death the city had to be restored to the Seleucids (ib. 18, 19). When Syria came under the sway of the Romans, they male Seleucia a free city-‘Seleucia libera, Pieria appellate’ (Pliny, Historia Naturalis (Pliny) v. xviii. 21).

Seleucia had great importance as an emporium of Levantine commerce. The Orontes was navigable as far as Antioch (Strabo, XVI. ii. 7), but only for smaller craft, while the harbour of Seleucia received the largest transport ships of Egypt, Phcenicia, Cyprus, Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy. From this seaport St. Paul and Barnabas sailed on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:4), and at the end of the adventure they ‘sailed to Antioch’ (14:26), landing probably at Seleucia.

The remains of Seleucia-citadel, amphitheatre, temples, etc.-are numerous and impressive. ‘Some day there will be much to disclose here, but excavation will be exceedingly costly owing to the deep silt’ (G. L. Bell, op. cit., p. 334).

Literature.-E. R. Bevan, The House of Seleucus, 2 vols., 1902, i. 208 ff.; Murray’s Handbook to Syria and Palestine, 1903, p. 390 f.; C. Baedeker, Palestine and Syria4, 1906, p. 358 f.

James Strahan.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Seleucia'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdn/​s/seleucia.html. 1906-1918.
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