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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Fair Havens

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(Καλοί Διμένες ), a harbor in the island of Crete (Acts 27:8), not mentioned in any other ancient writing. There seems no probability that it is, as most early commentators thought (see Biscoe, On the Acts, page 347, ed. 1829), the Καλὴ Ἀκτή, or Fair Beach, of Steph. Byz. (see Kuindl, Comment. in loc.); for that is said to be a city, whereas Fair Havens is described as "a place near to which was a city called Lasma." Moreover, Mar. Pashley found (Travels in Crete, 2:57) a district called Acte; and it is most; likely that Καλη Ἀκτή was situated there; but that; district is in the west of the island, whereas Fair Havens was on the south. Its position is now quite certain. Though not mentioned by classical writers, if is still known by the old Greek name, as it was in the time of Rauwolf (who calls it Calismene), Pococke (2:250), and other early travelers mentioned by Mr, Smith (Voy. and Shipwr. of St. Paul, 2d ed. page 80-82). LASKEA, too, has recently been most explicitly discovered. In fact, Fair Havens appears to have been practically its harbor.

These places are situated four or five miles to the east of Cape Matala, which is the most conspicuous headland on the south coast of Crete, and inencediately to the west of which the coast trends suddenly to the north. This last circumstance explains why the ship which conveyed Paul was brought to anchor in Fair Havens. In consequence of violent and continuing northwest winds she had been unable to hold on her course towards Italy from Cnidus (Acts 27:7), and had ran down, by Salmone, under the lee of Crete. It was possible to reach Fair Havensa but beyond Cape Matala the difficulty would have recurred so long as the wind remained in the same quarter. A considerable delay took place (Acts 27:9), during which it is possible that Paul may have had: opportunities of preaching the Gospel at Lassea, or even at GORTYNA, where Jews resided (1 Maccabees 15:23), and which was not far distant; but all this is conjectural. A consultation took place, at which it was decided, against the apostle's advice, to make an attempt to reach a good harbor named PHENICE (1 Maccabees 15:12). However, the south wind, which sprang up afterwards (1 Maccabees 15:13), proved delusive; and the vessel was caught by a hurricane (See EUROCLYDON) on her way towards Phenice, and ultimately wrecked. Smith, s.v. (See SHIPWRECK) (of Paul). The name of the place is appropriate. It is shut in on the west by a bold headland, on the summit of which are the ruins of an ancient convent dedicated tose St. Paul. On the south it is sheltered by two little islands; and between these and the shore is a safe anchorage. The roadstead, however, is open to the sea, and we can thus see the truth of Luke's statement that it was " incommodious to winter in" (ἀνεύθετος πρὸς παραχειμασίαν, 1 Maccabees 15:12; see Smith, page 256; Conybeare and Howson, Life and Epistles of St. Paul, 2:320). (See CRETE).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Fair Havens'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/f/fair-havens.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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