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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 8 - Verse 40

Verse 40. But Philip was found. That is, he came to Azotus; or, he was not heard of until he reached Azotus. The word is often used in this sense. See 1 Ch 29:17, margin; 2 Ch 29:29, margin; Ge 2:20. See also Lu 17:18; Ro 7:10. In all these places the word is used in the sense of to be, or to be present. It does not mean here that there was any miracle in the case, but that Philip, after leaving the eunuch, came to or was in Azotus.

Azotus. This is the Greek name of the city, which by the Hebrews was called Ashdod. It was one of the cities which were not taken by Joshua, and which remained in the possession of the Philistines. It was to this place that the ark of God was sent when it was taken by the Philistines from the Israelites; and here Dagon was cast down before it, 1 Sa 5:2,3. Uzziah, king of Judah, broke down its wall, and built cities or watch-towers around it, 2 Ch 26:6. It was a place of great strength and consequence. It was distant about thirty miles from Gaza. It was situated on the coast of the Mediterranean, and was a seaport. The distance which Philip had to travel, therefore, was not very great; and as Azotus lay almost directly north of Gaza, it shows that, in order to reach it, he must have parted from the eunuch, whose route was almost directly south of Gaza. It is at present inhabited by Arabs chiefly, and is by them called Mezdel. Dr. Wittman describes it at present as being entered by two small gates. In passing through it, he saw several fragments of columns, capitals, etc. In the centre of the town is a handsome mosque, with a minaret. The surrounding country is represented as remarkably verdant and beautiful. In the neighbourhood there stands an abundance of fine old olive-trees, and the region around it is fertile.

He preached in all the cities. Joppa, Lydda, Askelon, Arimathea, etc., lying along the coast of the Mediterranean.

Caesarea. This city was formerly called Strato's Tower. It is situated on the coast of the Mediterranean, at the mouth of a small river, and has a fine harbour. It is thirty-six miles south of Acre, and about sixty-two north-west of Jerusalem, and about the same distance north-east of Azotus. This city is supposed by some to be the Hazor mentioned in Jos 11:1. It was rebuilt by Herod the Great, and named Caesarea in honour of Augustus Caesar. The city was dedicated to him; the seaport was called Sebaste, the Greek word for Augustus. It was adorned with most splendid houses; and the temple of Caesar was erected by Herod over against the mouth of the haven, in which was placed the statue of the Roman emperor. It became the seat of the Roman governor, while Judea was a Roman province, Ac 23:33; Ac 25:6,13. Philip afterwards resided at this place. See Ac 21:8,9. Caesarea at present is inhabited only by jackals and beasts of prey. "Perhaps," says Dr. Clarke, "there has not been in the history of the world an example of any city that, in so short a space of time, rose to such an extraordinary height of splendour as did this of Caesarea; or that exhibits a more awful contrast to its former magnificence, by the present desolate appearance of its ruins. Not a single inhabitant remains. Of its gorgeous palaces and temples, enriched with the choicest Works of art, scarcely a trace can be discerned. Within the space of ten years after laying the foundation, from an obscure fortress, it became the most flourishing and celebrated city of all Syria." Now it is in utter desolation. (See Robinson's Calmet, Art. Caesarea.)

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