Easton's Bible Dictionary
(Palestine) A city on the shore of the Mediterranean,
on the great road from Tyre to Egypt, about 70 miles northwest of Jerusalem, at
the northern extremity of the plain of Sharon. It was built by Herod the Great
(B.C. 10), who named it after Caesar Augustus, hence called Caesarea Sebaste (Gr.
Sebastos = "Augustus"), on the site of an old town called "Strato's Tower." It
was the capital of the Roman province of Judaea, the seat of the governors or
procurators, and the headquarters of the Roman troops. It was the great Gentile
city of Palestine, with a spacious artificial harbour. It was adorned with many
buildings of great splendour, after the manner of the Roman cities of the West.
Here Cornelius the centurion was converted through the instrumentality of Peter
10:24 ), and thus for the first time the door of faith was opened to the Gentiles.
Philip the evangelist resided here with his four daughters ( 21:8 ). From this
place Saul sailed for his native Tarsus when forced to flee from Jerusalem ( Acts
9:30 ), and here he landed when returning from his second missionary journey
18:22 ). He remained as a prisoner here for two years before his voyage to
Rome ( Acts
25:13 ). Here on a "set day," when games were celebrated in the theatre in
honour of the emperor Claudius, Herod Agrippa I. appeared among the people in
great pomp, and in the midst of the idolatrous homage paid to him was suddenly
smitten by an angel, and carried out a dying man. He was "eaten of worms" ( Acts
12:19 - 23
), thus perishing by the same loathsome disease as his granfather, Herod the Great.
It still retains its ancient name Kaiseriyeh, but is now desolate. "The present
inhabitants of the ruins are snakes, scorpions, lizards, wild boars, and jackals."
It is described as the most desolate city of all Palestine.
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
( Acts 8:40 ; 9:30 ; 10:1 , 10:24 ; 11:11 ; 12:19 ; 18:22
; 21:8 , 21:16 ; 23:23 , 23:33 ; 25:1 , 25:4 , 25:6 , 25:13 ) was situated on
the coast of Palestine, on the line of the great road from Tyre to Egypt, and
about halfway between Joppa and Dora. The distance from Jerusalem was about 70
miles; Josephus states it in round numbers as 600 stadia. In Strabos time there
was on this point of the coast merely a town called "Stratos Tower," with a landing-place,
whereas in the time of Tacitus Caesarea is spoken of as being the head of Judea.
It was in this interval that the city was built by Herod the Great. It was the
official residence of the Herodian kings, and of Festus, Felix and the other Roman
procurators of Judea. Here also lived Philip the deacon and his four prophesying
daughters. Caesarea continued to be a city of some importance even in the time
of the Crusades, and the name still lingers on the site (Kaisariyeh), which is
a complete desolation, many of the building-stones having been carried to other
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
ses-a-re'-a, se-za-re'-a (Kaisareia):
(1) Caesarea Palestina (pal-es-ti'na).
The ancient name in the Arabic form Qaisariyeh still clings to the ruins on the
sea shore, about 30 miles North of Jaffa. It was built by Herod the Great on the
site of Strato's Tower (Ant., XIII, xi, 2; XV, ix, 6), and the name Caesarea Sebaste
was given it in honor of Augustus (ibid., XVI, v, 1). With his usual magnificence
Herod lavished adornments on the city. He erected sumptuous palaces and public
buildings, a theater, and amphitheater with prospect to the sea; while a spacious
system of sewers under the city secured cleanliness and health. But "the greatest
and most laborious work of all" was a magnificent harbor "always free from the
waves of the sea," which Josephus says was not less than the Piraeus: this however
is an exaggeration. It was of excellent workmanship, and all the more remarkable
because the place itself was not suitable for such noble structures. The whole
coast line, indeed, is singularly ill-fitted for the formation of harbors. The
mighty breakwater was constructed by letting down stones 50 x 18 x 9 ft. in size
into twenty fathoms deep. The mole was 200 ft. wide. Part was surmounted by a
wall and towers. A promenade and dwellings for mariners were also provided. The
work was done in ten or twelve years. It became the residence of the Roman procurator.
It passed into the hands of Agrippa I; and here he miserably died (Acts 12:19
, 23). Here dwelt Philip the Evangelist (Acts 8:40 ; 21:8). To Caesarea Peter
was sent to minister to the Roman centurion Cornelius (Acts 10). Thrice Paul passed
through Caesarea (Acts 9:30 ; 18:22 ; 21:8); hither he was sent under guard from
Jerusalem to escape danger from the Jews (Acts 23:23); and here he was imprisoned
till his final departure for Rome.
Riots between Gentiles and Jews in Caesarea gave rise to the war (BJ, II, xiii,
7;. xiv, 4 f). Terrible cruelties were practiced on the Jews under Felix and Florus.
Here Vespasian was hailed emperor by his soldiers. Titus here celebrated the birthday
of his brother Domitian by setting 2,500 Jews to fight with beasts in the amphitheater.
Eusebius was bishop of Caesarea (313-40 AD). In 548 AD a massacre of the Christians
was organized and carried out by the Jews and Samaritans. The city passed into
Moslem hands in 638. In the time of the Crusades it fell, now to the Christians
and now to the Moslems; and was finally overthrown by Sultan Bibars in 1265 AD.
The cathedral stood on the site of a temple built by Herod, where the ruins are
seen today; as are also those of two aqueducts which conveyed water from Nahr
ez-Zerqa. The landward wall of the Roman city was nearly 3 miles in length.
(2) Caesarea Philippi (fi-lip'-i) (Kaisareia he Philippou).
At the Southwest base of Mt. Hermon, on a rocky terrace, 1,150 ft. above sea-level,
between Wady Khashabeh and Wady Za'areh, lie the ruins of the ancient city. It
was a center for the worship of Pan: whence the name Paneas, applied not only
to the city, but to the whole district (Ant., XV, x, 3). It is possible that this
may have been the site of ancient Baal-hermon; while Principal G. A. Smith would
place Da here (HGHL, 480). The district was given by Augustus to Herod the Great
20 BC, by whom a temple of white marble was built in honor of the emperor. Paneas
formed part of the tetrarchy of Philip. He rebuilt and beautified the town, calling
it Caesarea as a compliment to Augustus, and adding his own name to distinguish
it from Caesarea on the coast of Sharon (Ant., XVIII, ii, 1; BJ, II, ix, 1). From
Bethsaida Jesus and His disciples came hither, and on the way Peter made his famous
confession, after which Jesus began to tell them of His coming passion (Matthew
16:13; Mark 8:27). Some think that on a height near Caesarea Philippi Jesus was
transfigured. See TRANSFIGURATION, MOUNT OF. Agrippa II renamed the town Neronias
(Ant., XX, ix, 4). The ancient name however outlived both Caesare a and Neronias,
and survives in the Arabic form Banias. The modern village, built among the ruins,
contains 350 inhabitants. The walls and towers of which the remains are seen date
from Crusading times. The castle, ec-Cubeibeh, crowns the hill behind the town,
and must have been a place of strength from the earliest times. Its possession
must always have been essential to the holding of the valley to the west. Immediately
to the north of the town, at the foot of a steep crag, the fountain of the Jordan
rises. Formerly the waters issued from a cave, Magharet ras en-Neba', "cave of
the fountain head," now filled up with debris. Two niches cut in the face of the
rock recall the idolatries practiced here in olden times. A shrine of el-Khudr
stands on the west of the spring. With the rich soil and plentiful supplies of
water, in a comparatively temperate climate, average industry might turn the whole
district into a garden. As it is, the surroundings are wonderfully beautiful.
bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, caesar augustus, caesarea, capital, city, cornelius, define, herod the great, judaea, kaiseriyeh, palestine, roman province, strato's tower