Acts 23:31

Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris.

Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul,.... Out of the castle, and put him upon a beast, as the chief captain had ordered the centurions, and they had directed the soldiers to do:

and brought him by night to Antipatris: they set out from Jerusalem at the third hour, or about nine o'clock at night, and travelled all night, and by break of day came to Antipatris; a city which lay in the road from Jerusalem to Caesarea: it was built by Herod the great, in the best soil of his kingdom, enriched with rivers and woods {t}; and was so called by him, in memory of his father Antipater; it before went by the name of Chabar Zaba {u}, or Capharsaba; the Jewish writers place it in the utmost borders of the land of Judea {w}; hence that phrase so often used by them, from Gebath to Antipatris {x}, in like sense as from Dan to Beersheba, these two places being the utmost borders of the land; here it was that Simon the just, with some of the principal inhabitants of Jerusalem, met Alexander the great, who travelled all night, as these soldiers with Paul did, and came to Antipatris at sun rising {y}. It was forty two miles from Jerusalem. It was in the road from Judea to Galilee, as appears from the following canon of the Jews, concerning divorces {z};

"if a husband says to his wife, lo, this is thy divorce, if I do not come thirty days hence, and he goes from Judea to Galilee, and comes to Antipatris and returns, it becomes void:''

the way from Jerusalem to Caesarea lay through Nicopolis, Lydda, Antipatris, and Betthar; from Jerusalem to Nicopolis, according to the old Jerusalem Itinerary {a}, were twenty two miles; from thence to Lydda, ten miles; and from Lydda to Antipatris ten more (which make forty two miles, as before observed); and from Antipatris to Betthar ten miles, and from thence to Caesarea, sixteen more: so that when the apostle was at Antipatris, he had twenty six miles more to go to Caesarea; and hence it appears, that the length of the journey from Jerusalem to Caesarea was sixty eight miles; though Josephus {b} makes the distance to be six hundred furlongs, or seventy five miles: and that the way from the one to the other lay through the places before mentioned, may be illustrated from what the same writer says, of some persons travelling from Caesarea to Jerusalem; so he relates {c}, concerning Quadratus governor of Syria, that from Tyre he came to Caesarea, from Caesarea to Lydda, and from Lydda to Jerusalem; and of Cestius the Roman general, he says {d}, that from Caesarea he came to Antipatris, and from Antipatris to Lydda, and from Lydda to Jerusalem, which clearly seems to be the same road the apostle went; and so Jerom {e}, in the account he gives of the journey of Paula, says, that she came to Caesarea, where she saw the house of Cornelius, the cottage of Philip, and the beds of the four virgin prophetesses; and from thence to Antipatris, a little town half pulled down, which Herod called after his father's name; and from thence to Lydda, now Diospolis, famous for the resurrection of Dorcas, and the healing of Aeneas. Antipatris is, by Ptolomy {f}, placed at the west of Jordan, and is mentioned along with Gaza, Lydda, and Emmaus; some take it to be the same with Capharsalama, mentioned in:

"Nicanor also, when he saw that his counsel was discovered, went out to fight against Judas beside Capharsalama:'' (1 Maccabees 7:31)

and others say, it is the same that is since called Assur or Arsuf, a town on the sea coast, which is not likely, since it does not appear that Antipatris was a maritime city. The apostle could not now stay to preach the Gospel in this place, nor do we elsewhere read or hear of a Gospel church state in it, until the "fifth" century; when it appears {g} there was a church here, and Polychronius was bishop of it, who was present at the council of Chalcedon, held in the year 451; and in the "eighth" century there were many Christians dwelt here, for in the year 744 there were many of them killed by the Arabians.

{t} Josephus De Bello Jud. l. 1. c. 21. sect 9.
{u} Ib. Antiqu. l. 13. c. 15. sect. 1. & l. 16. c. 5. sect. 2.
{w} Bartenora in Misn. Gittin, c. 7. sect. 7.
{x} T. Hieros. Taanioth, fol. 69. 2. & Megilia, fol. 70. 1. & T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 62. 2. & Sanhedrin, fol. 94. 2. Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 18. 2. & Juchasin, fol. 108. 1. & Jarchi in Eccl. xi. 6.
{y} T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 69. 1.
{z} Misn. Gittin, c. 7. sect. 7.
{a} Apud Reland. Palestina Illustrata, l. 2. c. 4. p. 417.
{b} De Bello Jud. l. 1. c. 3. sect. 5.
{c} Ib. l. 2. c. 12. sect. 5, 6.
{d} Ib. c. 19. sect. 1.
{e} Epitaph. Paulae, fol. 59. A.
{f} Geograph. l. 5. c. 16.
{g} Vid. Reland. Palestina Ilustrata, l. 3. p. 569, 570.