Biblical Ports in Israel

If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. PSALM 139:9-10
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. PSALM 119:105

Biblical ports israel Sea of Galilee kenneret Jesus Christ Tiberias
A view of Sea of Galilee, where Jesus spent three years of his Ministry along its shores! He performed most of his miracles here.

The Bible, although a religious book, is also perhaps, one of the original historical treatise and a travel guide to the Land of Canaan including Israel. When we visited Israel, we had the opportunity to explore some of the Biblical port cities.

Jaffa or Joppa or Yafo

Biblical Port , Jaffa Port
Jaffa was known to be a large exporter of Oranges once upon a time

Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. ACTS 9:36

Biblical Port , Jaffa Port
Rock where Andromeda was tied

Jaffa, originally known as Joppa, is said to be from the name of Iopeia mother of the beautiful Andromeda (Greek Mythology). We stand looking at the spot purported to be the place where Andromeda was chained to the rock.
The story played back in mind and I almost saw Perseus in his Pegasus swooping down to rescue Andromeda. So even Greek Mythology seems to have played out here.

Biblical Port , Jaffa Port
Jaffa port
Biblical Port , Jaffa Port
Jaffa Port

Several biblical stories of Jonah, Solomon and Saint Peter is associated with the port city of Jaffa. It has been more or less continuously inhabited for over 9000 years and probably known as Jaffa for 4000 years During the biblical times, this port was used to import construction materials, including cedar from Lebanon to build Solomon’s temple. After this was destroyed a second temple was built at the same place, again Jaffa port was used to ferry the materials. The second temple was extant during the time of Christ.
The location of the temple is believed to be Temple Mount where the Dome of rock is situated in Jerusalem, which is about 65KM from Jaffa. The Dome of rock is a Muslim shrine and Jews are not allowed inside. Hence Jews pray outside the western wall of the compound of this temple.

Biblical Port , Jaffa Port
View of Jaffa city and the Cathedral of St Peter

Back to Jaffa! During the time of St Peter, he is said to have brought back Tabitha (See the bible quote above) to life in Jaffa.
We can see that this port was most used for centuries as the gateway of economy. When we saw the Jaffa from our hotel in the dawn, knowing the above story, it had a strange look to it.

Caesaria Maritima (Caesarea by the sea)

Biblical ports, Caesarea
Fishing at the mediterranean Sea as seen from Caesarea.

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household. ACTS (10:1)

Biblical ports, Caesarea, Amphitheater
Amphitheatre at Caesarea. It is still being used!

The city of Caesarea, located about 50 KM north of Jaffa, was one of the most important cities during Christ and a few centuries after too.
The magnificent little city was the eastern capital of the Roman Empire. Augustus sent Herod the great to oversee the construction of the city and the port at the same place as the Phoenician city of Strato’s Tower. What Herod created was an architectural wonder spread over more than 100 acres. There was a big amphitheatre and a hippodrome for entertainment. We are told that the horse races are held in the hippodrome to re-enact the era.

Biblical ports , Caesarea
Bushnak or Bosniak mosque at Caesarea

On one side lies the long Aqueduct to bring water from the nearby Mount Carmel. It is said the labourers cut a 6 KM channel through the rocks of Mt. Carmel to the spring and built another 6KM long Aqueduct to get the water to the city. The city was protected by a moat and wall. We saw a movie that showed the humungous effort by the Romans and the locals to build this city.

Biblical ports, Caesarea
The carving says (TI)BERIEVM, (PONTI)V PILATVS, (PREFE)CTVS IVDEAEAE. Meaning TIBERIUM, PONITUS PILATUS, PREFECT of JUDAEA.

Also inside the city walls, on top of a rock, was the house of the Roman prefect of the province of Judaea, Pontius Pilate. Pontius Pilate would later gain notoriety for his actions in the New Testament. We saw the replica of the stone artifact bearing his name.
The imposing amphitheater still stands the test of time and as witness to the millenniums gone by.

Biblical ports, Caesarea
Mosaic Work at Port of Caesarea

Akko or Acco or Ptolemais or Acre

Biblical Port , Akko, Acre city
Akko Port

Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob. JUDGES 1:31

This quote refers to the tribe of Ashers who failed to hold the city of Acco.

Biblical Port , Akko, Acre city
Underground fort of Akko

Acco, located about 60 km north Caesarea, was later conquered by the Crusaders in 1104 AD and displaced Jaffa as the biggest port. The city fell again and rebuilt again. The excavations show the intricate labyrinth of tunnels still in existence. It was a strange feeling when we walked through the tunnel that was once used thousand years ago by the crusaders. In fact most of the old town of Acco is still buried under and cannot be excavated as it is believed the new city will cave under if any more explorations are undertaken.

Biblical Port , Akko, Acre city
Narrow passages at the underground fort of Akko
Biblical Port , Akko, Acre city
Underground fort of Akko

It was also again a strange feeling to be sharing the same ground on which Gen Moshe Dayan, Israel’s Military and political leader and also the defence minister during the 6 day war. You see, Moshe Dayan was held a prisoner here in 1939 by Jordanian forces!

Sea of Galilee or Lake Tiberias or Kinneret

Biblical Port , Sea of Galilee, Kenneret, Tiberius
“Let there be Light” …at Sea of Galilee

And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. MATTHEW 14:25

Sea of Galilee is not a sea but a large freshwater lake. It is located 180 km north of Jerusalem and is about 200 Metres below sea level. In the ancient times there were, according to legends 16 ports for use by travellers, traders and fishermen. This is where Christ is credited to have performed several miracle including walking on water. (See quote above)

Biblical Port , Sea of Galilee, Kenneret, Tiberius
The place where Jesus was Baptised by John the Baptist

It is here, where He appointed four of his apostles. In the bible it says “One Lord, one faith, one baptism”. The place where Jesus was baptised is just south of Sea of Galilee on the banks of River Jordan.

Biblical Port , Sea of Galilee, Kenneret, Tiberius
Notice on the walls in many languages including Pidgin and Hindi

Now the Sea of Galilee’s shoreline has changed considerably because of tourism and the natural coastline has been changed to manmade water fronts and walkways. Now only few ports that are still being used and mostly by tourists, pilgrims and fishermen.

Biblical Port , Sea of Galilee, Kenneret, Tiberius
City of Tiberius

Readers, do let us know if you know of any more biblical ports in Israel.

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50 thoughts on “Biblical Ports in Israel

  1. Let there be light! That photo actually resonates with the image of place. 🙂
    Fabulous pics. Akko looks like a scene out of a medieval movie. Interesting to see signs of Hindi. A lot of my catholic friends have done a tour here, it is called the Holy land tour. Very interesting post.

  2. I study art history and Jaffa is a place that was painted often. Never thought of visiting it in real life. So cool that you did. Thanks for sharing!

  3. This is just WOW. Loved the pics but the thing I loved the most is the writing part – highlighting of mythological side of the places. Thanks, Nisha, for the wonderful post. 🙂

  4. We are not religious but we are really interested and appreciate the rich history, art and culture of this area. The underground fort of Akko looks fascinating.

  5. I’ve always wanted to visit Israel and explore these amazing historical sites. The amphitheatre in Caesarea looks beautiful and Akko appears to also be a hit looking at the previous comments above. Thanks for the info!

    1. Prasad, I agree. It is steeped in the history of three monotheistic religions of this world. I am sure scratching the surface is right way to put it. If one is interested in Religious history, one can spend a lifetime here.

  6. I’m ashamed to say that I don’t know the Bible well enough to know all of the background of these places, but I’d love to visit and learn nonetheless. The history fascinates me, and I’d love to get to Israel in 2017.

  7. Israel has so much history – it’s fascinating to read about and would be even better to visit. Thank you for inspiring me to visit somewhere I would never have thought of!

  8. I know so very little about these aspects of Israel. This article was definitely a learning experience for me. The history in this city is exceptional though and would be a key reason for visiting.

    1. Exactly, thats what we thought before we started research for our visit to Israel. In fact we hope to trace the Greek Mythology along and in the Mediterranean some day.

  9. Wow so fascinating. Beautiful photos. I never knew all the history to do with the ports. We know so little about Israel. We would love to go there one day and learn more about the country and it’s history. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks Alesha. I do hope you visit it. In fact there is more to it than these ports too. You will find more posts in our blog, on Israel.

  10. I am not a religious person at all, so I don’t know anything about the Bible, but you presented all this places in a very interesting way, which I think everyone should know about it, as this is part of the world history and heritage. I’ve been to Israel, and went to some of these places, but never looked at them in your perspective. Thanks for sharing this 😉

  11. Israel really seems like a place to have a great spiritual experience, whether you’re religious or not. It was wonderful going through your journey with you and learning about why those specific places have so much religious significance.

    1. If you are spiritual then this is a pilgrimage! For likes of this is a lesson right out of history, Legend and some mythology too, perhaps.

  12. I would love to travel to Israel, and have the opportunity to explore some of the Biblical port cities. I’m no longer practicing Catholic, however Catholicism was a very big part of my childhood and school life so I’ve always been fascinated that it’s possible to visit the cities which shaped and gave way to the stories which in turn shaped our upbringing. It’s a little sad in a way to see that some of the ports are quite overrun with tourism and have been roped off etc with signs, but that’s to be expected in this day and age when you’ve got such a huge tourism boom … biblical tourism … that’s a term right!

    1. We are not very religious too and we are not even catholics! Even though we are Hindus, one hears of so many stories from the bible and it was interesting for me to connect Bible to our visit to Israel. I am sure there are reference in other religious and history books as well about these ports. Ports are so important for the economy. Thanks for stopping by Meg.

  13. What a great post! Just loved the cross you did between the passages and places referred to in the Bible and what they are today. Great idea! I’ve never been to Israel, but I believe history breathes in its streets.

    1. Thank you.

      We learnt a lot from this trip. Vasu is a history buff so that’s also a plus point to learn. 🙂

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