Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Caesarea Maritima

Caesarea Maritima was a city and harbor built by Herod the Great 20 years before Christ's birth.  Its ruins lie on the Mediterranean coast between Tel Aviv and Haifa and was the capital for 600 years.  Josephus, a 1st century Roman Jewish historian, described this city in detail.  Josephus must have been a busy man because almost every site we visited, this historian had written about it.  Herod died shortly after Jesus was born (Matthew 2:19) and in A.D. 6 Caesarea became the seat of the Roman procurators.  Herod's principal buildings and the medieval town can still be seen today.  Extensive excavations around the 1960's uncovered remains from Crusader fortifications, a hippodrome for horse racing, and a temple dedicated to Caesar.
All 3 bus groups entered through one of the vomitoria (arched tunnels serving as entrances) and found a seat with a view of the Mediterranean Sea and ruins of the Ancient Port City.  The theater seats 3,600 and special concerts are still held here today.  Only a few of the seats and stairs near the orchestra are original, the rest is reconstruction.     
In this Roman Theater of Caesarea Maritima, we had our Sunday morning worship service and communion.  Dave Kennedy gave a powerful message reminding us there is no favoritism in Christ and that the Gospel is for all.  
Galatians 3:26-28 "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
We were the outsiders and Jesus made it clear that his saving grace was for all.  (like I mentioned in the previous post, the vision Peter had in Joppa made it clear, salvation is offered to Jew and Gentile in the name of Jesus Christ.)  
Words of praise genuinely flowed from my heart as we all sang "Lord I'm Amazed..." 

All of the marble found in Ceasarea Maritima was imported from Turkey over 2000 years ago because they did not have marble in this area.  The picture below shows a "sarcophagus" (in Greek) which means flesh eater and later known as a "coffin".   
The limestone block (below) discovered in 1961 is the only archaeological find with an inscription mentioning the name "Pontious Pilatus"  The dedication on the limestone is by Pilate of a Tiberieum, stating that he was the prefect/governor of Judaea.  It is dated back to around 30 AD.  Obviously this picture is a replica and the original inscription stays in a Museum in Jerusalem.  (Matthew 27)
Ceasarea Maritima was incredible.  Herod had a double aqueduct built that brought water from the spring of Mt. Carmel (which I will show you later) as well as a boundary wall and wide moat to protect the harbor.  This harbor was the largest on the eastern Mediterranean coast.  The enormous Herodian Amphitheater is a horseshoe-shape stadium filled with rows of stone seats.  A crowd of 10,000 could watch races and events here during the time of Jesus.  

The picture above was at the location of the slaughter of over 2500 Jewish captives during Gladiatorial games in 70 AD.  Sadly, this was in celebration of victory after a Jewish revolt had been suppressed.  This place was called an arena which meant sand.  It received this name because the floor of this place was covered with sand because it absorbed blood the best during the Gladiatorial games.
Paul came to Caesarea often and was imprisoned here for two years before being taken to Rome.  Peter established a church here during the apostolic period and as seen in Acts 10, Peter converted the Roman Centurion Cornelius to Christianity.
(Acts 10, 23, 15)  

My Dad's YouTube video for Caesarea is {here}
  (this is only the morning of Day 2... )

1 comment

  1. WOW! Your photos are amazing! I can't wait to read all the details. It's fun to know I'm not the only one doing this! Great job!