Akko, Caesarea Maritima
28.11.2011 - 28.11.2011
Our first stop today was the site of Acre (Also Akko/Acco). This is a port city located north of Haifa. It is an ancient site which has been rebuilt many times. It was first founded during the Bronze Age, and most significantly, was conqurerd by the Crusaders in 1104AD.1 It is mentioned in Judges 1:31 as a city which Israel failed to hold.
It was interesting when Hannaniah told us that Messianic Jews in the area don’t want to call themselves Christians for fear of being associated with the Crusaders. Instead, they are encouraged to call themselves ‘believers,’ so people can then ask what they believe in and they can explain our faith. He also explained some of the Crusaders' theology, for example, when they got baptised they kept their right hand above the water in order to say that it was their ‘old self’ using a sword to destroy things and kill people. This just goes to show that bead theology can equal bad practical outworkings. Theology is not all head work!
When the crusaders crusaded, they brought with them their own culture, including medial practices and architectural designs. They had very poor hygene. They destroyed Eastern churches and set up their own nearby.
Together we read Acts 21. Here the site is mentioned as one of Paul’s stops in his final return to Jerusalem. It would have been a bustling little place back in the day!
We then went to Mt Carmel. Together we Read 1 Kings 18, Elijah challenging Baal. There was a fantastic view from the top of the mountain - it would have been quite a sight to be watching the challenge with the amazing view in the background, and to see our God win!
After Mt Carmel we went to Caesarea Maritima, a massive harbor built for Herod the Great. It also contained a theatre, baths, a swimming pool and prison. It is likely that Paul was prisoned in the grounds of this palace (Acts 23:35). It was also in this ampetheatre that Herod Aggripa died (Josephus, Acts 21). Also, it was probably where Paul preached to the governor in chains (Acts 24).
It was amazing to see the splendor and significance of Herod’s places. It would have been an imposing site to see, and if I was Paul I'd be quite terrified!
1 - Ridley College, Israel and Jordan Handbook, 2011