From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]


Ptolemais is the ancient Canaanite town of Acco (mentioned in  Judges 1:31 and in the corrected text of  Joshua 19:30), still known in Arab. as ‛ Akka. Standing on the rocky promontory which forms the northern boundary of the sandy Bay of Acre, protected by the sea on the W., S., and S.E., and strongly fortified on the landward side, it came to be regarded as the key of Palestine, and its chequered history is chiefly a record of sieges, of which it has probably had to endure more in ancient and modern times than any other Syrian town. Between it and the hills of Galilee lies the fertile Plain of Acre, six miles in width, watered by the Nahr Namein, the ancient Belus, a river famous for the manufacture-Pliny (HN_ xxxvi. 65. 26) says the invention-of glass at its mouth, as well as for the murex shells from which purple dye was extracted by the Phcenicians.

The town rose to considerable importance under the Macedonian kings of Egypt, who converted it into a Greek city, and its new name-given probably by Ptolemy Soter, and retained when the rival kings of Syria gained the mastery-continued to be used till the end of the Roman period, after which the old native name was revived. The city played a prominent part in the Maccabaean wars. There Simon routed the Syrian Greeks ( 1 Maccabees 5:15), and there Jonathan was treacherously captured by Trypho ( 1 Maccabees 12:45-48). Ptolemais had an era dating from a visit of Julius Caesar in 47 b.c. Augustus was entertained in it by Herod the Great (Jos. Ant. xv. vi. 7), and Claudius established it as a colonia (Pliny, HN_ v. 17). The Romans used it as a base of operations in the Jewish war, at the outbreak of which its inhabitants proved their loyalty to Rome by massacring 2,000 Jews resident in the city and putting others in bonds (Jos. BJ_ II. xviii. 5).

Ptolemais is mentioned only once in the NT. St. Paul touched it in sailing from Tyre to Caesarea ( Acts 21:7). Its distance from Tyre is 25 miles. The Apostle saluted the Christians whom he found in the town, and remained a day in their company. The founder of the Church is not known. Philip the Evangelist, who laboured in Caesarea, has been suggested.

Under the name of Accon (St. Jean d’Acre of the Knights of St. John), the town was the scene of many conflicts in the time of the Crusaders, who made it their chief port in Palestine. Its capture by the Saracens brought the kingdom of the Franks to an end. The destruction of the city ‘produced terror all over Europe; for, with its fall in 1291, the power of the Christian nations of the West lost its last hold upon the East’ (C. Ritter, The Comparative Geography of Palestine and the Sinaitic Peninsula, 1866, iv. 361). Reconstructed in the 18th cent., besieged in vain by Napoleon (1799), captured by Ibrahim Pasha (1831), and bombarded by the fleets of Britain, Austria, and Turkey (1840), it still has some commercial importance, though the recent growth of Haifa has told heavily against it.

Literature.-A. P. Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, new ed., 1877, p. 265 f.; G. A. Smith, HGHL_4, 1897; W. M. Thomson, The Land and the Book, 1864, p. 308; C. Baedeker, Palestine and Syria4, 1906; E. Schürer, Hjp_ Ii [1885] i. 90 f.

James Strahan.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

PTOLEMAIS (  Acts 21:7 ). The same as Acco (  Judges 1:31 ), now the port ‘Akka , called in the West, since Crusading times. Acre or St. Jean d’Acre . Acco received the name Ptolemais some time in the 3rd cent b.c., probably in honour of Ptolemy ii., but although the name was in common use for many centuries, it reverted to its Semitic name after the decline of Greek influence. Although so very casually mentioned in OT and NT, this place has had as varied and tragic a history as almost any spot in Palestine. On a coast peculiarly unfriendly to the mariner, the Bay of ‘Akka is one of the few spots where nature has lent its encouragement to the building of a harbour; its importance in history has always been as the port of Galilee and Damascus, of the Hauran and Gilead, while in the days of Western domination the Roman Ptolemais and the Crusading St. Jean d’Acre served as the landing-place of governors, of armies, and of pilgrims. So strong a fortress, guarding so fertile a plain, and a port on the highroad to such rich lands to north, east, and south, could never have been overlooked by hostile armies, and so we find the Egyptian Thothmes iii., Setl i., and Rameses ii., the Assyrian Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, and Ashurbanipal, and several of the Ptolemys engaged in its conquest or defence. It is much in evidence in the history of the Maccabees, a queen Cleopatra of Egypt holds it for a time, and here some decades later Herod the Great entertains Cæsar. During the Jewish revolt it is an important base for the Romans, and both Vespasian and Titus visit it. In later times, such warriors as Baldwin i. and Guy de Lusignan, Richard CÅ“ur de Lion and Saladin, Napoleon i. and Ibrahim Pasha are associated with its history.

In the OT it is mentioned only as one of the cities of Asher ( Judges 1:31 ), while in   Acts 21:7 it occurs as the port where St. Paul landed, ‘saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day,’ on his way to the new and powerful rival port, Cæsarea, which a few decades previously had sprung up to the south.

The modern ‘Akka (11,000 inhabitants) is a city, much reduced from its former days of greatness, situated on a rocky promontory of land at the N. extremity of the bay to which it gives its name. The sea lies on the W. and S., and somewhat to the E. The ancient harbour lay on the S, and was protected by a mole running E. from the S. extremity, and one running S. from the S.E. corner of the city. Ships of moderate dimensions can approach near the city, and the water is fairly deep. The walls, partially Crusading work, which still surround the city, are in the ruined state to which they were reduced in 1840 by the bombardment by the English fleet under Sir Sidney Smith. Extending from Carmel in the south to the ‘Ladder of Tyre’ in the north, and eastward to the foothills of Galilee, is the great and well-watered ‘Plain of Acre,’ a region which, though sandy and sterile close to the sea, is of rich fertility elsewhere. The two main streams of this plain are the Nahr Na‘mân (R. Belus), just south of ‘Akka, and the Kishon near Carmel.

Under modern conditions, Haifa , with its better anchorage for modern steamships, and its new railway to Damascus, is likely to form a successful rival to ‘Akka .

E. W. G. Masterman.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

Originally ACCHO; the old name is resumed, Jean, d'Acre. Paul visited the Christians there on his return from his third missionary journey, between Tyre and Caesarea ( Acts 21:3;  Acts 21:7-8).

Smith's Bible Dictionary [4]

Ptolema'is. See Accho .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [5]

 Acts 21:7

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [6]

See Accho .

Morrish Bible Dictionary [7]


American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [8]


Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [9]

( Πτολεμαϊ v Σ ), the name of two places in Scripture.

1. The same as Accho (q.v.). The name is, in fact, an interpolation in the history of the place. The city which was called Accho in the earliest Jewish annals, and which is again the Akka or St. Jean D 'Acre of crusading and modern times, was named Ptolemais in the Macedonian and Roman periods. In the former of these periods it was the most important town upon the coast, and it is prominently mentioned in the first book of Maccabees ( 1 Maccabees 5:15;  1 Maccabees 5:55;  1 Maccabees 10:1;  1 Maccabees 10:58;  1 Maccabees 10:60;  1 Maccabees 12:48). In the latter its eminence was far outdone by Herod's new city of Caesarea. It is worthy of notice that Herod, on his return from Italy to Syria, landed at Ptolemais (Josephus, Ant. 14:15, 1). Still in the New Test. Ptolemais is a marked point in Paul's travels both by land and sea. He must have passed through it on all his journeys along the great coast road which connected Caesarea and Antioch ( Acts 11:30;  Acts 12:25;  Acts 15:2;  Acts 15:30;  Acts 18:22); and the distances are given both in the Antonine and Jerusalem itineraries (Wesseling, Itin. p. 158, 584). But it is specifically mentioned in  Acts 21:7 as containing a Christian community, visited for one dav by Paul. On this occasion he came to Ptolemais by sea. He was then on his return voyage from the third missionary journey. The last harbor at which he had touched was Tyre ( Acts 21:3). From Ptolemais he proceeded, apparently by land, to Caesarea ( Acts 21:8), and thence to Jerusalem ( Acts 21:17). (See Paul).

2. A place described as Ροοοφορος , Rose-Producing ( 3 Maccabees 7:17), and supposed to be the Ὅρμος Πτολεμαϊ v Σ of Ptolemy (4:5, 57), in Central Egypt, in the Arsinoite nome, a district still abounding in roses (Mannert, Geogr. Der Griechen U. Romanen, 10:1, p. 419; Ritter, Erdkunde, i, 795, 797).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [10]

tol - - mā´is ( Πτολεμαΐ́ς , Ptolemaı̄́s ): Same as "Acco" in   Judges 1:31 . Ptolemais was the most prominent town on the Phoenician seacoast in Maccabean times (1 Macc 5:15, 55; 10:1, 58, 60; 12:48), and is once mentioned in the New Testament in  Acts 21:7 as a seaport at which Paul landed for one day, visiting the "brethren" in the place. See Acco; Phoenicia .

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [11]

The name of certain cities of antiquity, the most celebrated being Acre, in Syria ( q. v .).

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [12]

Ptolema´is [ACCHO]