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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Cyrene was a city of Libya in North Africa, lat. 32 degrees 40´ North, long. 22 degrees 15´ East. It lay West of ancient Egypt, from which it was separated by a portion of the Libyan desert, and occupied the territory now belonging to Barca and Tripoli. It was situated upon an elevated plateau about 2,000 ft. above the sea, from which it was distant some 10 miles. A high range of mountains lies to the South, about 90 miles inland. This shelters the coast land from the scorching heat of the Sahara. The range drops down toward the North in a series of terrace-like elevations, Thus giving to the region a great variety of climate and vegetation. The soil is fertile.
Cyrene was originally a Greek colony rounded by Battus in 630 bc. Because of the fertility of the soil, the great variety in climate and vegetation, together with its commercial advantages in location, the city soon rose to great wealth and importance. Greater fame, however, came to it through its distinguished citizens. It was the home of Callimachus the poet, Carneacles the founder of the New Academy at Athens, and Eratosthenes the mathematician. To these must be added, from later times, the elegant ancient Christian writer Synesius. So important did this Greek colony become that, in little more than half a century, Amasis
3. Biblical Importance
Cyrene comes into importance in Biblical history through the dispersion of the Jews. Ptolemy I, son of Lagus, transported Jews to this and other cities of Libya (Josephus, CAp , II, 4) and from this time on Jews were very numerous there. By the return of the Jews of the Dispersion to the feasts at Jerusalem, Cyrenians came to have a conspicuous place in the New Testament history. "A man of Cyrene, Simon by name," was caught by the Roman soldiers and compelled to bear the cross of Jesus (Matthew 27:32; compare Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26 ). See
In the ruins of Cyrene are to be seen the remains of some beautiful buildings, and a few sculptures have been removed. The most interesting remains of the wondrous civilization of this Greek colony are in a great system of tombs, some built, but the finest cut in the solid rock of the cliff. Doric architecture and brilliant decorative painting adorn these tombs.
Herodotus ii; Josephus, Apion; Thrige, Res Cyrenensium .
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Cyrene'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/c/cyrene.html. 1915.
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