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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Cyre´ne, a city in Upper Libya, founded about the year B.C. 632, by a colony of Greeks from Thera (Santorini), a small island in the Aegean sea. Its name is generally supposed to be derived from a fountain called Cyre, near its site. It was built on a tableland, 1800 feet above the level of the sea, in a region of extraordinary fertility and beauty. It was the capital of a district, called from it Cyrenaica (Barca), which extended from the Gulf of Platea (Bomba) to the Great Syrtis (Gulf of Sidra). With its port Apollonia (Musa Soosa), about 10 miles distant, and the cities Barca, Teuchira, and Hesperis, which at a later period were named Ptolemais, Arsinoe, and Berenice, it formed the Cyrenaic Pentapolis. For above 180 years the form of government was monarchical; it then became republican; and at last, the country became tributary to Egypt, under Ptolemy Soter. It was bequeathed to the Romans by Apion, the natural son of Ptolemy Physcon, about 97 B.C., and was then formed into a province with Crete. Strabo says, that in Cyrene there were four classes of persons, namely—citizens, husbandmen, foreigners, and Jews, and that the latter enjoyed their own customs and laws. At the commencement of the Christian era, the Jews of Cyrene were so numerous in Jerusalem that they had a synagogue of their own (; ). Some of the first Christian teachers were natives of Cyrene (; ). Simeon, who was compelled to assist in bearing the cross of the Savior, was a Cyrenian (; ; ).





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

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