Traveling to the Bible Lands helps you to appreciate the stories so much more. Shortly after my first trip to Israel, I was given the privilege of teaching a class on the Book of Acts. With my newly found interest in the geography of the book, I approached the study very differently. As we were studying the later chapters of Acts, I mentioned that the Apostle Paul spent two years in the praetorium in Herod's palace in Caesarea Maritima. I also mentioned that he probably sat there and could hear the people of the city outside attending public events and having a fun time. How do I know this? Well, that is where a little knowledge about the city can aid you in having a deeper understanding of the scriptures.
This morning, Ferrell Jenkins continued his series of posts on locations in the Book of Acts. He provides two fantastic aerial pictures of the remains of the palace at Caesarea Maritima. The assumption is that the praetorium where Paul would have stayed would have been located at the far end of the palace (away from the coastline). You will also notice from the picture that the southern end of the hippodrome is very close to that same location.
Now, imagine that those stands are completely filled with citizens of the city enjoying chariot races or other forms of entertainment. No doubt, Paul would have been sitting in his room and could hear those cheers. All the while, he knows he can't go out and enjoy it.
The Bible never mentions this, and admittedly, this is mostly assumption on my part. However, isn't it interesting to consider things like that? I think that we often soften the suffering that Paul goes through in Caesarea because he wasn't in a "real prison". But I'm sure it was lonely. And, my guess is that it was very frustrating to him. He knew that within a few feet of his location, there were thousands of people that needed to hear the message that he carried with him. But, he was locked in a room.
So close...yet, so far away.