Viewing entries tagged
Caesarea Maritima

One Year Ago - From Sea to Sea

NOTE: I am continuing my series of retrospective posts on the our tour from one year ago. I invite you to start at the beginning and read through all of them. After getting a good night's rest and leaving Netanya, we arrived at Caesarea Maritima. Simply referred to as Caesarea in the New Testament, this city played a prominent role in the book of Acts. The Gospel was first shared with the Gentiles in Caesarea. And Paul passed through this city many times as he traveled.

Rising up from the coast, we arrived at the top of the Mount Carmel ridge. This location offered us our first view of the Jezreel Valley. From this location, we considered the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Ba'al.

Our next stop was at Megiddo. This ancient city has been destroyed and rebuilt more than 20 times. Its location overlooking the Jezreel Valley made it strategically important and explains why it was conquered so many times.

At Nazareth, we visited a reconstructed first century village. This stop allows you to get a good feel for life during the time of Jesus.

Our day ended with our arrival at the Sea of Galilee. Watching the changing colors across the sea as the sun set was a great way to end our day.

Tomorrow: Exploring Northern Galilee and the Hula Valley.

2015 Israel Poster B

Have you been enjoying these posts on last year's tour? Are you interested in traveling with me this year? Then, I would love to have you join me. Our 12-day tour is scheduled for October 12-23. We will stay one night on the Mediterranean Sea, three nights on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and five nights in beautiful Jerusalem. During the day, we will visit dozens of sites that will enhance your understanding of the land and of the Biblical stories that take place in them. Reservations are coming in, but we still have some availability! This is a first-class tour with many extras thrown in that many Israel tours overlook. If you are interested, I encourage you to read the itinerary and contact me personally for more details.

Caesarea Maritima Inner Harbor

DSCN0121 Among King Herod's building projects was a huge harbor in the city of Caesarea Maritima. It actually consisted of two harbors, an inner harbor and outer harbor. It was common for boat passengers to board a smaller boat in the inner harbor which would transport them to the larger boat in the outer harbor. The apostle Paul used this harbor a number of times during his missionary journeys. (Over the centuries, silt has filled in the inner harbor. Now, as a way of protecting the harbor, the Israel National Park Service has allowed grass to grow in this area. When visiting this site, it is very common to see families eating a picnic lunch on this grassy area.)

Herod's Swimming Pool

DSCN0093 In Caesarea Maritima, Herod built a fairly large palace that extended out into the Mediterranean Sea. The westernmost section of the palace contained a fresh water swimming pool, which is still visible today.

Caesarea Maritima Hippodrome

DSCN0107 For the rest of this week, we will feature a few pictures from the First Century Roman administrative city of Caesarea Maritima. During Roman times, it was common for many cities to have a hippodrome. The name is derived from the Greek words hippos (ἵππος; "horse") and dromos (δρόμος; "course"). It was commonly used for horse and chariot racing. These seats are on the southern end of the hippodrome in Caesarea Maritima and would have been adjacent to the beautiful palace built by King Herod. While Paul was imprisoned in the palace for two years, he would have been able to hear the crowd in the hippodrome cheering on the competitors.

Water and Caesarea Maritima

Water and Caesarea Maritima


I have always enjoyed the TV show M*A*S*H. As everyone knows, it was a 1970's comedy about a group of surgeons and nurses in the Korean War. The show wasn't just a comedy. It had great writers that were able to make serious points amidst all of the jokes. In one scene, Hawkeye Pierce (one of the surgeons) approaches a Korean woman who is leaving her village with a bucket.

Hawkeye: Where are you going? Woman: To get water from the spring about a mile away. Hawkeye: A mile away? Why are you walking that far? Woman: That's where the water is.

If you are like me, we take our access to water for granted. Including the outside spigots, I have seven locations around my house where I can turn a knob and out flows water.

Think about all of the major cities in the United States: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Tampa, Miami, St. Louis, San Diego, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Detroit, Boston, Washington DC, Houston. Why are those cities located where they are? It's simple: water. Even cities that are not located by large bodies of water, were founded in their locations due to water. (Ever been to the River Walk in San Antonio?)

The same thing occurred in Bible times. Jerusalem had the Gihon Spring. Capernaum, Magdala, Tiberias, Bethsaida all had the Sea of Galilee. Caesarea Philippi had the (what we now call) Banias River.

Caesarea Martima was built in its location due to two things. A local spring to supply fresh water and the Mediterranean Sea to help with the economy. However, what happens with the city's population grows to a point so that the small spring can no longer sustain the people? (At the time of King Herod, Caesarea grew to be one of the biggest cities in the region, with a population of over 100,000.) Well, you have to get water from somewhere else. In the First Century BC, King Herod determined that the other location would be Mount Carmel, about seven miles to the north-northeast.

Mount Carmel, from the top of the theatre at Caesarea Maritima.So, how do you get water from Mount Carmel, seven miles away, to Caesarea Maritima? If you are King Herod, with basically unlimited resources and "free" labor, you build an aqueduct. Now, think about how this aqueduct had to work. There are no electric pumps. And, water doesn't flow uphill. So, the aqueduct had to flow downhill continually for seven miles. In many places the slope of the aqueduct is so indiscernible that you literally have to put water in it to determine that the water will flow. Like many of King Herod's building projects, the architectural mastery is amazing given their primitive tools and equipment. And, he built it so well that it transported water almost continually for 1200 years.

Since the aqueduct is never mentioned in the Bible, you may be wondering why this is important. It's important because it helps us to better understand the people and places of the day. I would guess that Cornelius and his family was very happy that King Herod built the aqueduct. As was Peter when he visited the city. And Paul when he was imprisoned there for two years. You can not live with out water.

The Jerusalem Movie Trailer

The Jerusalem Movie Trailer


Since I posted about the official Jerusalem movie trailer last night, I've had a couple of people ask me about some of the locations. If you are interested, here is a run-down of all of the locations in the trailer: 0:05-0:09 - The Dead Sea 0:10-0:14 - Caesarea Maritima - This is the home city of Cornelius. The apostle Paul traveled through this city on his missionary journeys and then was imprisoned here for two years before traveling to Rome. 0:15-0:20 - Mar Saba Monastery in the Kidron Valley 0:21-0:25 - Masada 0:26-0:31 - Jerusalem from Mount Scopus 0:32-0:34 - Dome of the Rock 0:35-0:37 - Western Wall Plaza 0:38-0:43 - Western Wall 0:44-0:49 - Port of Joppa - Jonah tried to flee from God by boarding a boat at Joppa. The cedars from Lebanon were delivered for Solomon's temple via the port at Joppa. Peter saw a vision while he was at Simon the tanner's house which told him to go to Caesarea and find Cornelius. 0:50-0:52 - Franciscan Chapel on the Mount of Beatitudes overlooking the Sea of Galilee - This is the traditional location of the Sermon on the Mount. 0:53-0:57 - Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives - Jesus would have traveled in this direction a number of times during His final week as he spent the night in Bethany, but spent the day in Jerusalem. 0:58-1:01 - Descending the Mount of Olives toward the Kidron Valley 1:02-1:03 - One of the many streets in the Old City 1:04-1:06 - Dinner time in the Old City 1:07-1:10 - Worshippers walk the Via Dolorosa 1:11-1:12 - Prayers at the Western Wall 1:13-1:17 - Prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque 1:18-1:24 - Church of the Holy Sepulture - This is the traditional location of Calvary and the tomb. 1:25-1:30 - Hezekiah's Tunnel 1:31-1:33 - Coffins from Gaza at the Israel Museum 1:34-1:38 - Sunrise over the Old City 1:39-1:45 - Jerusalem from the southeast

Would you like to visit these places? Next June, I'm going and I'd love for you to join me. If you are a student of the Bible, it is a trip that you will never forget.

Paul in the Praetorium

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.

2012 Israel Trip Favorite Picture - Part II

2012 Israel Trip Favorite Picture - Part II


Today I'm continuing the series of favorite pictures that I took while on my trip to Israel in September. Today's picture is of the remains of the inner harbor at Caesarea Maritima. Between 22-9 BC, Herod the Great constructed a huge harbor in the coastal, Roman administrative city of Caesarea. When it was built, it was the largest artificial harbor built in the open sea, enclosing around 100,000 square meters. It consisted to two parts, and outer harbor and an inner harbor. The inner harbor was for smaller boats, which granted passengers transportation to the larger boats in the outer harbor.

The picture that I have attached is of the smaller, inner harbor. For centuries, this entire area was covered in dirt and has only recently been excavated. The grassy area is where the water would have been during the first century. On top of the large platform to the left is where Herod built one of the three large temples which he dedicated to Caesar Augustus. (The other two are in the region of Caesarea Philippi and Samaria.) You can imagine the travelers at that time coming into the harbor and looking up at that large temple just before they disembarked. If you look closely where the stones and grass meet, you can still see the steps that travelers would have used to get on and off the boats.

Looking at this picture, you can't help but think of all the people that probably walked along that harbor. This is the city where Cornelius lived (Acts 10). This is also the city where Philip lived (Acts 21). No doubt, both of them would have come down here during their lives. In addition, the Apostle Paul used this port a number of times in his travels. He probably used this port during his second and third missionary journeys. And, after being a prisoner for two years in the pratorium in Caesarea, Paul left from here on his journey to Rome (Acts 27:1,2).

I wonder what Paul was thinking about as he walked on this harbor before he left for Rome? Was he excited? Was he scared? It was probably a little of both. But, he knew that he was doing what he was meant to do.