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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

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(Δέρβη, Acts 14:20-21; Acts 16:1; adject. Δερβαῖος, Acts 20:4), a small town situated in the eastern part of the great upland plain of Lycaonia, which stretches from Iconium (q.v.) eastward along the north side of the chain of Taurus (Smith's Dict. of Class. Geogr. s.v.). It must have been somewhere near the place where the pass called the Cilician Gates opened a way from the low plain of Cilicia to the tableland of the interior; and probably it was a stage upon the great road which passed this way. It appears that Cicero went through Derbe on his route from Cilicia to Iconium (ad Fam. 13:73). Such was Paul's route on his second missionary journey (Acts 15:41; Acts 16:1-2), and probably also on the third (18:23; 19:1). In his first journey (14:20, 21) he approached from the other side, viz. from Iconium, in consequence of persecution in that place and at Lystra (q.v.). No incidents are recorded as having happened at Darbe. In harmony with this, it is not mentioned in the enumeration of places in 2 Timothy 3:11. In the apostolic history Lystra and Derbe are commonly mentioned together: in the quotation from the epistle, Lystra is mentioned and not Derbe. The distinction is accurate, for St. Paul is here enumerating his persecutions" (Paley, Iforae Paulinae, in loc.). It is uncertain whether Lystra or Derbe was the birthplace of Timothy; the former seems to be the more likely from Acts 16:1-2. Derbe was the home of another of Paul's favored companions, Gains (Acts 20:4). Strabo places Derbe at the edge of Isauria (Geogr. xi, p. 392, ed. Casaubon; comp. Ptolemy, v. 6, 17); but in the Synecdemus of Hierocles (Wesseling, p. 675, where the word is Δέρβει ) it is placed, as in the Acts of the Apostles, in Lycaonia. The boundaries of these districts were not very exactly defined. The whole neighborhood, to the sea-coast of Cilicia (q. v), was notorious for robbery and piracy. Antipater, the friend of Cicero (ad Fam. 13:73) was the bandit chieftain of Lycaonia. Amyntas, king of Galatia (successor of Deiotarus II), murdered Antipater, and incorporated his dominions with his own. Under the Roman provincial government, Derbe was at first placed in a corner of Cappadocia (q.v.); but other changes were subsequently made. See GALATIA. Derbe does not seem to be mentioned in the Byzantine writers. Leake says (Asia Minor, p. 102) that its bishop was a suffragan of the metropolitan of Iconium. A full account of the surrounding country is given in Conybeare and Howson's Life of St. Paul, 1:211, 296 sq. Consult also Hamilton in the Journal of the Geog. Society.

Three sites have been assigned to Derbe.

(1.) By Colonel Leake (Asia Minor, p. 101) it was supposed to be at Bin bir-Kilisseh, at the foot of the Karadagh, a remarkable volcanic mountain which rises from the Lycaonian plain; but this is almost certainly the site of Lystra.

(2.) In Kiepert's Map Derbe is marked farther to the east, at a spot where there are ruins, and which is in the line of a Roman road.

(3.) Hamilton (Researches in Asia Minor, 2:313) and Texier (Asie lineure, 2:129, 130) are disposed to place it at Divle, a little to the S.W. of the last position, and nearer to the roots of Taurus. In favor of this view there is the important fact that Steph. Byz. says that the place was sometimes called Δελβεία, which in the Lycaonian language (see Acts 14:11) meant a "juniper-tree" Moreover, he speaks of a λιμήν (harbor) here, which (as Leake and the French translators of Strabo suggest) ought probably to be λίμνη (lake); and, if this is correct, the requisite condition is satisfied by the proximity of the Lake Ak Gol. Wieseler (Chronol. der apost. Zeitalter, p. 24) takes the same view, though he makes too much of the possibility that Paul, on his second journey, traveled by a minor pass to the W. of the Ciliciar Gates. On the other hand, this location seems too far from the ancient road (compare Cellar. Notit. 2:202 sq.). (See LYCAONIA).

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Derbe'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​d/derbe.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
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