Road Trip Part 2

It’s been over a week now, but I did make another road trip with friends from Succat Hallel and wanted to share some of that with you.  We had the joy last January of seeing the ancient city of Akko, or Acre (or several other iterations of the same root) with our good friends Smadi Gerassy and her son Ram as our tour guides.  So while Julee elected to stay home in Jerusalem this time, I decided to visit Akko once again.  The bus trip from Jerusalem is a couple of hours, and we were a little late getting under way, so it was a relatively short visit.  A boat had been arranged for our group, and we made a short trip out of the harbor and into the beautiful Mediterranean to sing and pray and enjoy the water and the scenery, before turning about and returning to have lunch.

(from our ferry into the harbor)

My leader/mentor/friend from the COD, John G.

The Succat Hallel group getting some instruction from Rick Ridings (black shirt, center).

The following text and pics are selected from Wikipedia:

Akko in Antiquity

Acre is one of the oldest continuously inhabited sites in Israel. The name Aak, which appears on the tribute-lists of Thutmose III (c. 16th century BC), may be a reference to Acre. The Amarna letters also mention a place named Akka, as well as the Execration texts, that pre-date them. In the Hebrew Bible, (Judges 1:31), Akko is one of the places from which the Israelites did not drive out theCanaanites. It was in the territory of the tribe of Asher. According toJosephus, Akko was ruled by one of Solomon‘s provincial governors. Throughout the period of Israelite rule, it was politically affiliated with Phoenicia rather than the Philistines. Around 725 BC, Akko joinedSidon and Tyre in a revolt against Shalmaneser V.

Greek and Roman periods

Greek historians refer to the city as Ake, meaning “cure.” According to the Greek myth, Heracles found curative herbs here to heal his wounds. Josephus calls it Akre. The name was changed to Antiochia Ptolemais shortly after Alexander the Great‘s conquest, and then to Ptolemais, probably by Ptolemy Soter, after the partition of the kingdom of Alexander the Great.

Old City of Acre*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Acre Tower

Strabo refers to the city as once a rendezvous for thePersians in their expeditions against Egypt. About 165 BCJudas Maccabeus defeated the Syrians in many battles inGalilee, and drove them into Ptolemais. About 153 BCAlexander Balas, son of Antiochus Epiphanes, contesting the Syrian crown with Demetrius, seized the city, which opened its gates to him. Demetrius offered many bribes to theMaccabees to obtain Jewish support against his rival, including the revenues of Ptolemais for the benefit of theTemple in Jerusalem, but in vain. Jonathan Maccabaeusthrew in his lot with Alexander, and in 150 BC he was received by him with great honour in Ptolemais. Some years later, however, Tryphon, an officer of the Syrians, who had grown suspicious of the Maccabees, enticed Jonathan into Ptolemais and there treacherously took him prisoner.

The city was captured by Alexander JannaeusCleopatra VII of Egypt and Tigranes II of Armenia. Here Herod built agymnasium, and here the Jews met Petronius, sent to set up statues of the emperor in the Temple, and persuaded him to turn back. St Paul spent a day in Ptolemais (Acts 21:7). A Roman colonia was established at the city, Colonia Claudii Cæsaris. After the permanent division of the Roman Empire in 395 CE, Akko was administered by the Eastern (later Byzantine) Empire.

Arab and Crusader periods

Following the defeat of the Byzantine army of Heraclius by the Muslim army of Khalid ibn al-Walid in theBattle of Yarmouk, and the capitulation of the Christian city of Jerusalem to the Caliph Umar, Acre came under the rule of the Arab caliphate beginning in 638. The Arab conquest brought a revival to the town of Acre, and it served as the main port of Palestine through the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates that followed, and through Crusader rule into the 13th century. It was captured by King Baldwin I of Jerusalem in 1104 in the First Crusade and the Crusaders also made the town their chief port in Palestine. Around 1170 it became the main port of the eastern Mediterranean, and the kingdom of Jerusalem was regarded in the west as enormously wealthy above all because of Acre. According to an English contemporary, it provided more for the Crusader crown than the total revenues of the king of England. It was re-taken by Saladin in 1187, and unexpectedly besieged by Guy of Lusignan reinforced by Pisan naval and ground forces at first, in August 1189. But it was not captured until July 1191 byRichard I of England, Philip of France, Leopold of Austria, the spearhead Swabian and German armies and the rest of the crusader’s army. It then became the capital of the remnant of the Kingdom of Jerusalemin 1192. In 1229 it was placed under the control of the Knights Hospitaller. The Crusaders called the city “Acre” or “Saint-Jean d’Acre” since they mistakenly identified it with the Philistine city of Ekron, in northern Philistia, now southern Israel]. It was the final stronghold of the Crusader state, and fell to the Mameluks of Egypt in a bloody siege in 1291.

Ottoman period

Old City of Acre, 1878 byFélix Bonfils

The Ottomans under Sultan Selim I captured the city in 1517, after which it fell into almost total decay. English academic Henry Maundrell in 1697 found it a ruin, save for a khan (caravanserai) occupied by some French merchants, a mosque and a few poor cottages.

Towards the end of the 18th century it revived under the rule of Dhaher al-Omar, the local sheikh. His successor, Jezzar Pasha, governor ofDamascus, improved and fortified it, but by heavy imposts secured for himself all the benefits derived from his improvements. About 1780 Jezzar peremptorily banished the French trading colony, in spite of protests from the French government, and refused to receive a consul.

19th century mortarfacing the sea

In 1799 Napoleon, in pursuance of his scheme for raising a Syrian rebellion against Turkish domination, appeared before Acre, but after a siege of two months (March–May) was repulsed by the Turks, aided by SirSidney Smith and a force of British sailors. Having lost his siege cannons to Smith, Napoleon attempted to lay siege to the walled city defended by Ottoman troops on 20 March 1799, using only his infantry and small-calibre cannons, a strategy which failed, leading to his retreat two months later on 21 May.

Jezzar was succeeded on his death by his son Suleiman Pasha, under whose milder rule the town advanced in prosperity till his death in 1819. After his death, Haim Farhi, who was his adviser, paid a huge sum in bribes to assure that Abdullah Pasha (son of Ali Pasha, the deputy of Suleiman Pasha), whom he had known from youth, will be appointed as ruler. Abdullah Pasha ruled Acre until 1831, when Ibrahim Pasha besieged and reduced the town and destroyed its buildings. During the Oriental Crisis of 1840 it was bombarded on 4 November 1840 by the allied British, Austrian and French squadrons, and in the following year restored to Turkish rule.

British Mandate

Khan al-Umdan in the old city of Acre

The Citadel of Acre was used by the British as a prison. On May 4, 1947, the Irgun broke into the prison and succeeded in releasing Jewish underground movement activists. Over 200 Arab inmates also escaped.[14] In the 1947 UN Partition Plan, Acre was designated part of a future Arab state.

State of Israel

During the war of 1948, Acre was besieged by Israeli forces. A typhoid fever outbreak occurred in Acre at this time. Egypt claimed that the Haganah used typhus as a biological weapon against the inhabitants, though no evidence was forwarded in favour of the claim. Brigadier Beveridge, chief of the British medical services, proclaimed at the time that “Nothing like that ever happened in Palestine”. According to historian Ilan Pappé, investigation by Beveridge, Colonel Bonnet of the British army and delegates of the Red Cross concluded that the infection was caused by water-borne sources. Israel denies it has ever used biological weapons.

Acre was captured by Israel on May 17, 1948 displacing about three-quarters of the Arab population (13,510 of 17,395). (all preceding text from Wikipedia)

Once again, I am humbled and amazed at the beauty of this country and the depth of history and archaeology that exists on every square foot of it.  God grant us the wisdom to learn from our past and apply it to our future.

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1 Response to Road Trip Part 2

  1. Bill Denson says:


    Thank you & Julee so very much for sharing your journey. I have enjoyed reading the journey and seeing the awesome pictures along the way. Keep em coming…

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