Influence of the Mediterranean Sea
Small Map of the Mediterranean Sea
The Ruler of the Mediterranean Sea
When the Bible mentions "the Sea" as in 2 Chr 20:2 it is referring to the Mediterranean Sea. By the time of Jesus, the Mediterranean Sea had been totally dominated by the Romans who gave it the name "Mare Nostrum", which means "our sea", because they believed that it was will of the gods that Rome should rule the world. Indeed they were given dominion for a season by the will and purpose of the one true God, and their way of life, language, customs, laws and government would infiltrate the farthest parts of the known world even to Israel, but their dominion would come to an end, and God would use the Roman mark on civilization to ultimately bring about a greater purpose than anyone had imagined, the spreading forth of the message of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, who would Himself rule the world.
Hellenization and Israel
When Pontius Pilate, the thirty-year old Roman Procurator, and his wife came for the first time to Israel they sailed into the absolutely marvelous harbor built by Herod the Great at Caesarea on the coast of Israel to take up residence in the Roman palace built on a rock in the middle of that harbor, the foundations of which still remain today. This really emphasized how important Israel was to the rest of the Mediterranean world. From Athens, Corinth, Rome, Alexandria and Ephesus, the rulers, merchants and scholars of the Mediterranean world entered into Israel.
The Jews of the Diaspora which had been living in other lands in the Mediterranean had sailed from all those ports and many others to come to Jerusalem for the great Feast of the Passover, combining the Hellenistic civilization and Roman order with the Hebraic ways of Israel.
The booths in the market-places of Jerusalem, Capernaum and Sebaste (Herod's capital of Samaria) contained a very large percentage of foreign-made goods that had come in by sea. In fact everything came to Israel by way of the Sea. The Roman rule and the procurator who condemned Jesus to death; as well as the Greek language, and that Greek view of life which not only created the ten cities of Decapolis but became a way of life for the more liberal Jews.
If, in reading the Gospels we make a note of all the times that Jesus meets with Roman centurions or soldiers and men like the publicans who were servants of Rome, we get a more incredible sense of the influence of the Mediterranean Sea upon the life of Israel.
Also see: Pontius Pilate
Israel Has No Natural Harbors
It is interesting that there are really no great natural harbors on the coast of Israel and this is due to the constant flow of Nilotic silt which comes up from Egypt. If you stand today on the rocky coastal land that was once the great harbor city of Tyre, the capital of the mighty Phoenician civilization at one time, you would see that its southern harbor does not exist anymore, though the northern harbor still remains to protects ships. The rock which has held up the silt on the southern side has protected the other harbor. Also, the harbor that created the port city of Joppa (Jaffa) is now completely silted up and forms a little flat plain.
The Seas Influence on the Climate of Israel
All of the coastal cities around the Mediterranean enjoy an almost tropical climate. In Israel, all of the rains that shower the hills and water the valleys of come from the Mediterranean. And the wonderful dews which, with the regularity of clockwork, settle during the rainless season in the cool of the evening upon Israel's hills 3/4 of the year round. The harvest, whether of grain or fruit, is nourished by these heavy dews.
Isaiah 60:5 "Then you shall see and become radiant, And your heart shall swell with joy; Because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, The wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you."
(More to come)
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