( Acts 27:28 ), an island in the Mediterranean, the modern Malta. Here the ship in which Paul was being conveyed a prisoner to Rome was wrecked. The bay in which it was wrecked now bears the name of "St. Paul's Bay", "a certain creek with a shore." It is about 2 miles deep and 1 broad, and the whole physical condition of the scene answers the description of the shipwreck given in Acts 28 . It was originally colonized by Phoenicians ("barbarians," 28:2 ). It came into the possession of the Greeks (B.C. 736), from whom it was taken by the Carthaginians (B.C. 528). In B.C. 242 it was conquered by the Romans, and was governed by a Roman propraetor at the time of the shipwreck ( Acts 28:7 ). Since 1800, when the French garrison surrendered to the English force, it has been a British dependency. The island is about 17 miles long and 9 wide, and about 60 in circumference. After a stay of three months on this island, during which the "barbarians" showed them no little kindness, Julius procured for himself and his company a passage in another Alexandrian corn-ship which had wintered in the island, in which they proceeded on their voyage to Rome ( Acts 28:13 Acts 28:14 ).
(honey ), the modern Malta. This island lies in the Mediterranean 60 miles south of Cape Passaro in Sicily, 900 miles from Gibraltar and about 1200 from Jerusalem. It is 17 miles long. by 13 or 10 broad. It is naturally a barren rock, with no high mountains, but has been rendered fertile by industry and toil. It is famous for its honey and fruits. It is now in the hands of the English. --McClintock and Strong. This island has an illustrious place in Scripture as the scene of that shipwreck of St. Paul which is described in such minute detail in the Acts of the Apostle. ( Acts 27:1 ) ... The wreck probably happened at the place traditionally known as St.Pauls day, an inlet with a creek two miles deep and one broad. The question has been set at rest forever by Mr. Smith of Jordan Hill, in his "Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul," the first published work in which it was thoroughly investigated from a sailors point of view. The objection that there are no vipers in Malta is overruled by the fact that Mr. Lewin saw such a serpent there and that there may have been vipers in the wilder ancient times, even were none found there now. As regards the condition of the island of Melitu, when St. Paul was there it was a dependency of the Roman province of Sicily. Its chief officer (under the governor of Sicily) appears from inscriptions to have had the title of protos Melitaion , or Primus Melitensium and this is the very phrase which Luke uses. ( Acts 28:7 ) Melita, from its position in the Mediterranean and the excellence of its harbors, has always been important in both commerce and war. It was a settlement of the Phoenicians at an early period, and their language in a corrupted form, was still spoken there in St. Pauls day.
mel'-i-ta (Melite, Acts 28:1):
Is now generally identified with Malta. The former error in attributing the reference to the island of Meleda on the East coast of the Adriatic Sea was due to the ancient practice of employing the term Adria to include the Ionian and Sicilian seas.
Malta is the largest of a group of islands including Gozo and the islets Comino, Cominotto and Filfla, lying about 56 miles from the southern extremity of Sicily, 174 from the mainland of Italy, and 187 from the African coast. Malta itself is 17 1/2 miles long and 9 1/4 broad, and contains an area of 95 square miles. Its modern capital, Valetta, is situated in 35 degrees 54' North latitude and 14 degrees 31' East longitude.
The central position of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea gave it great importance as a naval station. It was probably at first a Phoenician colony, and later passed under the influence, if not domination, of the Sicilian Greeks. But the Romans captured it from the Carthaginians in 218 BC (Livy xxi.51) and attached it definitely to the province of Sicily. Under Roman rule the inhabitants were famous for their industry, especially in the production of textile fabrics, probably of native cotton. The celebrated vestis melitensis was a fine and soft material for dresses and for the covering of couches (Cicero Verr. ii.72,176; ii.74,183; iv.46,103; Diodorus v.12,22). At the time when Paul visited the island it would seem that the administration was entrusted to a deputy of the proprietor of Sicily, who is referred to as protos Melitaion (Acts 28:7; CIG, 5754), or Melitensium primus omnium (CIL, x, 7495) (see PUBLIUS). A bay 2 1/2 miles Northwest of Valetta, the mouth of which is held by tradition to be the place where the vessel that bore Paul ran ashore, tallies admirably with the description of the locality in Acts. The Admiralty charts indicate places near the west side of the entrance to the bay, where the depth is first 20 ft. and then 15 ft., while the rush of the breakers in front of the little island of Salmoneta and behind it suit the reference to a place "where two seas met" (Acts 27:41). The inlet is called the Bay of Paul. The topographical question has been exhaustively treated by Ramsay in Paul the Traveler.
George H. Allen
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