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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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[strictly Philadelphi'a] (Φιλαδέλφεια , brotherly love), one of cities of Asia Minor to which the admonitions in the Apocalypse were addressed (Revelation 1:11; Revelation 2:7). The town stood about twenty-five miles south-east from Sardis, in N. lat. 320 28', E. long. 280 30', in the plain of Hermus, about midway between the river of that name and the termination of Mount Tmolus. It was the second in Lydia (Ptolemy, 5:2; Pliny, Hist. Nat. 5:30), and was built by king Attalus Philadelphus from whom it took its name. In B.C. 133 the place passed, with the dominion in which it lay, to the Romans. The soil was extremely favorable to the growth of vines, celebrated by Virgil (Georg. 2:98) for the soundness of the wine they produced; and in all probability Philadelphia was built by Attalus as a mart for the great wine-producing region, extending for 500 stadia in length by 400 in breadth. Its coins have on them the head of Bacchus or a female Bacchant. Strabo compares the soil with that in the neighborhood of Catana, in Sicily; and modern travellers describe the appearance of the country as resembling a billowy sea of disintegrated lava, with here and there vast trap-dikes protruding.

The original population of Philadelphia seems to have been Macedonian, and the national character to have been retained even in the time of Pliny. There was, however, as appears from Revelation 3:9, a synagogue of Hellenizing Jews there, as well as a Christian Church-a circumstance to be expected when we recollect that Antiochus the Great introduced into Phrygia 2000 families of Jews, removing them from Babylon and Mesopotamia, for the purpose of counteracting the seditious temper of the Phrygians; and that he gave them lands and provisions, and exempted them from taxes (Josephus, Ant. 12:3, 4). The locality continued to 'be subject to constant earthquakes, which in the time of Strabo (13:628) rendered even the town-walls of Philadelphia unsafe; but its inhabitants held pertinaciously to the spot, perhaps from the profit which naturally accrued to them from their city being the staple of the great wine-district. But the expense of reparation was constant, and hence perhaps the poverty of the members of the Christian Church (οιδα . . . ὅτι μικρὰν ἔχεις δύναμιν , Revelation 3:8), who no doubt were a portion of the urban popullation, and heavily taxed for public purposes, as well as subject to private loss by the destruction of their own property. Philadelphia was not of sufficient importance in the Roman times to have law-courts of its own, but belonged to a jurisdiction of which Sardis was the centre. It continued to be a place of importance and of strength down to the Byzantine age; and of all the towns in Asia Minor it withstood the Turks the longest. It was taken by Bajazet I in A.D. 1392. Furious at the resistance which he had met with, Bajazet put to death the defenders of the city, and many of the inhabitants besides (see G. Pachym. page 290; Mich. Due. page 70; Chalcond. page 33).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Philadelphia'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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