Glimpses of Israel - Aphek

by Joseph Hunting

There are several cities with the name Aphek or Afek, that are mentioned in the Old Testament. Two of them were Canaanite cities defeated by Joshua and were located on the northern coastline. A further town named Aphek was located near the Sea of Galilee on the highway to Damascus.

The fourth located in the plain of Sharon was the scene of a terrible defeat of the armies of Israel by the Philistines when the Ark of God was taken captive and 30,000 Israelites slain. The news of this humiliating defeat occasioned the death of the High Priest Eli.

It was the site of this historic battle that we visited one magnificent spring morning. It was hard to imagine the tragedy that had been enacted here three thousand years ago. Aphek's name was changed to Antipatris by Herod the Great in honour of his father, Antipater.

During New Testament times Antipatris was a Roman garrison on the road which linked their capital, Caesarea, with Jerusalem. It was here that the Roman soldiers brought Paul on the first stage of his final visit to Rome.

Today its name has changed back to Aphek and the only visible sign of occupation is the ruin of a Crusader fortress, no doubt also used during the Ottoman occupation of Palestine.