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Miletos - Biblical Sites in Turkey


Acts 20:15-17, II Tim. 4:20


The southern most Ionian port, Miletos stood at the mouth of the Meander River. It had a long and glorious history. In the C8-C6 BCE it was strong enough a power to settle new colonies in areas as far away as the Black Sea, and maintained an important and profitable trade relationship with Egypt.

Famous personalities were associated with the city that was dubbed the birthplace of Greek philosophy. The great father of philosophy named Thales lived in the city (640-546 BCE), and was followed by other important philosophers, such as the so called father of geography Anaximander (611-547 BCE), Hecataeus the chronicler and Anaximenes (550-500 BCE).

Pharoah Neco made an offering at the Milesian Temple after his victory at Megiddo and recapture of Charchemish (608 BCE, cp. 2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chron. 35:20). The offering did not help him from being overwhelmed a few years later by Nebuccadnezzar II (605 BCE).

The Persians destroyed the the original harbor in 495 BCE, and the whole area was reconstructed in 479 BCE. This new improved city suffered a crushing blow at the hands of Alexander the Great (334 BCE) during his campaign through the region. Rebuilt again, the city boasted four harbors and three agora (market) areas from the Hellenistic through Roman times (325 BCE to 325 CE).

The city was taken by Rome in 130 BCE, and somewhat redesigned. During Roman times, the harbor was silting slowly (now creating an inland lake five miles from the coast). This problem was causing constant problems and gradually forcing the city into an economic decline. Another market force also hurt the city.

The major export was likely superior wool called Milesia Vellera which sold in markets in Rome and Alexandria in the early Roman period, but also declined when the Romans bred the variety in their homeland. A city of former glory, it experienced the decline that eventually befell Ephesus.

St. Paul visited the city some thirty five miles from Ephesus (a two day journey on foot), allowing some time for the Apostle to strengthen the Milesian faithful, and to prepare for a moving moment with his beloved disciples arriving from Ephesus. He loved them, but he dared not stop in Ephesus if he was going to keep to his vow to visit Jerusalem by Shavuot. His heart for them as he ended this third journey is easily spotted in the record of the sermon (Acts 20:22ff).

Among the remains of the city is an impressive theatre that visitors can enjoy today. The original seated about 15,000 people. Found among the stones in the excavation between the third and sixth row of seats, was an inscription that read: Place of the Jews, also called the God fearing.

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