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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Cy´prus, the modern Kebris, one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean, and next to Sicily in importance. It is about 140 miles in length, and varies in breadth from 50 to 5 miles. From its numerous headlands and promontories, it was called Kerastis, or the Horned; and from its exuberant fertility, Macaria, or the blessed. Its proximity to Asia Minor, Phoenicia, and Egypt, and its numerous havens, made it a general rendezvous for merchants. 'Corn, wine, and oil,' which are so often mentioned in the Old Testament as the choicest productions of Palestine (; ; ; ), were found here in the highest perfection. The forests also furnished large supplies of timber for ship-building, which rendered the conquest of the island a favorite project of the Egyptian kings. It was the boast of the Cyprians that they could build and complete their vessels without any aid from foreign countries. Among the mineral products were diamonds, emeralds, and other precious stones, alum, and asbestos; besides iron, lead, zinc, with a portion of silver, and, above all, copper.

Cyprus was originally peopled from Phoenicia [CHITTIM]. Amasis I, king of Egypt, subdued the whole island. In the time of Herodotus the population consisted of Athenians, Arcadians, Phoenicians, and Ethiopians. Under the Persians and Macedonians the whole island was divided into nine petty sovereignties. After the death of Alexander the Great it fell to the share of Ptolemy, the son of Lagus. It was brought under the Roman dominion by Cato. Under the Emperor Augustus it was at first an imperial province, and afterwards, with Gallia Narbonensis, made over to the senate. When the empire was divided it fell to the share of the Byzantine emperors. Richard I of England conquered it in 1191, and gave it to Guy Lusignan, by whose family it was retained for nearly three centuries. In 1473 the republic of Venice obtained possession of it; but in 1571 it was taken by Selim II, and ever since has been under the dominion of the Turks. The majority of the population belong to the Greek church; the archbishop resides at Leikosia. Cyprus was one of the first places out of Palestine in which Christianity was promulgated, though at first to Jews only (), by 'those who were scattered abroad' after Stephen's martyrdom. It was visited by Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary tour (), and subsequently by Barnabas and John Mark (). Paul sailed to the south of the island on his voyage to Rome (). [ELYMAS; PAPHOS; SERGIUS PAULUS; SALAMIS].





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

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Tuesday, November 24th, 2020
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