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Holman Bible Dictionary

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Greek - Cilicia

(cih lihc' ih uh) A geographical area and/or Roman province in southeastern Asia Minor. The region was home to some of the people who opposed Stephen (Acts 6:9). It was located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the southeast part of Asia Minor. One of its important cities was Tarsus, the birthplace of Paul the apostle (Acts 21:39; Acts 22:3). By the time of the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1), Christianity had already penetrated Cilicia. Paul passed through the region during the course of his missionary travels (Acts 15:41; Acts 27:5; Galatians 1:21).

The western portion of the geographical area was about 130 miles long east to west and 50 to 60 miles wide, consisted almost entirely of the westernmost extension of the Taurus Mountains, was called “mountainous” Cilicia, and was sparsely populated and important primarily for timber. The eastern portion was about 100 miles long east to west and 30 to 50 miles wide, consisted of a fertile coastal plain, and was called “level” Cilicia. Through the Cilician Gates (pass) in the Taurus Mountains to the north, through “level” Cilicia itself, and through the Syrian Gates in the Ammanus Mountains to the east ran the great international highway between central Asia Minor and Syria, Mesopotamia, and Egypt. Tarsus was the most important city in Cilicia.

The area was conquered by the Romans between 102 and 67 B.C. Until A.D. 72 the western portion had the status of a client kingdom or was part of another such kingdom. In 38 B.C. the eastern portion was joined to the Province of Syria, the name of which then became Syria and Cilicia. In A.D. 72 the parts were united in a separate province.

In the Old Testament the same region is called Kue (1 Kings 10:28; 2 Chronicles 1:16, RSV, NAS, NIV). See Kue; Paul; Tarsus.

James A. Brooks

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'CILICIA'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".
<>. 1991.


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