A Natural History of Biblical Lands


Tarsus, the capital of the ancient province of Cilicia, is located near the eastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Situated today, 10 miles (16 kilometres) inland from the sea, it served as a port city due to the Cydnus River (today the Tarsus Çayï) passing through Tarsus on its way to the sea. The river was navigable by ships from the Mediterranean coast to Tarsus.

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After Alexander’s death in 323BC, his generals, the Diadochi, divided up the territory he had conquered. Seleucus I Nicator secured the territory of Syria, and he proceeded to found four ‘sister cities’ in north-western Syria, one of which was Antioch on the river Orontes near the Mediterranean coast, a city named in honour of his father Antiochus.Today the city lies in southern Turkey.

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Seleucia in Mesopotamia

After the death of Alexander the Great in 323BC, the territories he had conquered were divided between his generals, and his friend Seleucus Nicator (r. 312–281BC) became king of the eastern provinces stretching from Lebanon to Afghanistan. In Daniel chapter 11 this territory and power was known as “the king of the north”. This huge dominion had two capitals, which Seleucus founded at around the same time (305BC), namely Seleucia in Mesopotamia (Iraq) followed by Antioch in Syria.

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There are two different references to “Moreh” mentioned in the Scriptures.

The first occurs in Genesis 12:6. It was the first recorded halting-place of Abram after his entrance into the land of Canaan and whilst the AV has “plain of Moreh”, the Hebrew should more accurately be rendered, oak or oaks. This Moreh was close to “the place of Shechem” in the centre of the land.

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