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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Crete, one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean, now called Candia, and by the Turks, Kirid. It is 160 miles long, but of very unequal width—varying from thirty-five to six miles. It is situated at the entrance of the Archipelago, having the coast of the Morea to the south-west, that of Asia Minor to the north-east, and that of Libya to the south. Great antiquity was affected by the inhabitants, and it has been supposed by some that the island was originally peopled from Egypt; but this is founded on the conclusion that Crete was the Caphtor of , etc. and the country of the Philistines, which seems more than doubtful. Surrounded on all sides by the sea, the Cretans were excellent sailors, and their vessels visited all the neighboring coasts. The island was highly prosperous and full of people in very ancient times. The chief glory of the island, however, lay in its having produced the legislator Minos, whose institutions had such important influence in softening the manners of a barbarous age, not in Crete only, but also in Greece, where these institutions were imitated. The natives were celebrated as archers. Their character was not of the most favorable description; the Cretans or Kretans being, in fact, one of the three K's against whose unfaithfulness the Greek proverb was intended as a caution—Kappadokia, Krete, and Kilikia. In short, the ancient notices of their character fully agree with the quotation which St. Paul produces from 'one of their own poets,' in his Epistle to Titus (), who had been left in charge of the Christian church in the island:—'The Cretans are always liars (eternal liars), evil beasts (literally “brutes”), slow bellies' (gorbellies, bellies which take long to fill).

Crete is named in . But it derives its strongest Scriptural interest from the circumstances connected with St. Paul's voyage to Italy. The vessel in which he sailed, being forced out of her course by contrary winds, was driven round the island, instead of keeping the direct course to the north of it. In doing this, the ship first made the promontory of Salmone on the eastern side of the island, which they passed with difficulty, and took shelter at a place called Fair-Havens, near to which was the city Lasea. But after spending some time at this place, and not finding it, as they supposed, sufficiently secure to winter in, they resolved, contrary to the advice of St. Paul (the season being far advanced), to make for Phoenice, a more commodious harbor on the western part of the island; in attempting which they were driven far out of their course by a furious east wind called Euroclydon, and wrecked on the island of Melita (Acts 27).





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Crete'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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