Caesarea also is known at Palestinae, a city on the shore of the Mediterranean on the great road from Tyre to Egypt about seventy miles northwest of Jerusalem at the northern extremity of the plain of Sharon. It was built by Herod the Great in 20 BCE on the shores of the Mediterranean, who named it after Caesar Augustus. It’s one of the most splendid cities in the ancient world, filled with all the luxuries that constituted Greco-Roman culture. Caesarea was the capital of the Roman province of Judaea, the seat of the governors or procurators, the headquarters of the Roman troops. It was the great Gentile city of Palestine with a spacious artificial harbor.
The centurion Cornelius was converted here through Peter’s testimony (Acts 10:1, 24), and for the first time the door of faith was opened to the Gentiles. Paul sailed from here when he was forced to flee from Jerusalem to his native Tarsus (Acts 9:30), and it was at this exact location he landed when returning from his second missionary journey (Acts 18:22). Paul was held prisoner here for two years before his voyage to Rome.
Herod’s Harbor was an insignificant site until Herod the Great began to develop it into a magnificent harbor befitting his kingdom. The harbor was built using materials that would allow the concrete to harden underwater. The forty-acre harbor would accommodate 300 ships, much larger than the modern harbor existing today.
Herod’s Amphitheater was constructed by Herod the Great with a seating capacity of 5,000. According to Josephus, this is where the death of Herod Agrippa occurred, as told in Acts 12.
Herod’s Aqueduct was thirteen miles long. The lack of fresh water at Herod’s new city required a lengthy aqueduct to bring water from springs at the base of Mt. Carmel nearly ten miles away. In order that the water would flow by the pull of gravity, the aqueduct was built on arches, and the gradient was carefully measured.
Herod’s Hippodrome was an ancient Roman stadium for horse racing and chariot racing. This massive hippodrome and the extensive stadium brought visitors from around the world.
Tomorrow’s offering: a drive through Old Jerusalem! See you then.