Glimpses of Israel - Acre

by Joseph Hunting

Israel 's coastline, in the region of Acre, witnessed man's earliest attempts to navigate the oceans. 3,000 years ago Hiram, king of Tyre, assembled a fleet of huge rafts of cedar logs hewn in the mountains of Lebanon. These were towed down the coast and eventually hauled overland to be used in the construction of Solomon's Temple. Acre, as a principal port, would have played an important role in this great undertaking.

Phoenician sailors lit their campfires on the beach at Acre and wondered at the globules of a hard and shiny substance mixed with the ashes of their fires. And so the artisans of that period first learned the art of glass manufacture.

In Bible times Acre was called Ptolemais, and it was under that name the port was familiar to Paul. Later, known as Akko, the port was frequently fought over by Crusaders and Saracens. A massive sea wall and moat are relics of those days. In more recent times Napoleon attempted to wrest Acre from the Turks. Cannon balls embedded in the massive stone walls and an ancient cannon are reminders of Napoleon's ambitions.

A hulk abandoned near the sea wall and the grim fortress-like prison, dating from the Turkish period, are also reminders of the bitter travail as the nation of Israel struggled towards rebirth in the dark days following World War Two.

The Phoenicians, Romans, Crusaders, Saracens, Turks, Arabs and British have come and gone. Although Acre has had such a varied history it has slipped into a quiet backwater in the rapidly-developing Israel of today. Let them hurry across the bay in Haifa and Tel Aviv. Acre's stones were mellow with age before these cities took shape in this old-new land of Israel.