So then in our chartings, where was the ancient city of Berea? Although we think evidence for this one is rather slim, we will entertain it. The reason as to why this an unlikely location of Berea we will reveal further down in the post. However we will dive into it, and see what comes from it. Now according to our beloved Scriptures, The People of Berea (Acts 17,11):
"Now People of Berean Jews (Hebrews) were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."
In this verse we see descriptions of not only the city of Berea, but also another city, named Thessalonica. We will focus on Berea in this post. There is a possibility that this could be an ancient description of what we know today largely as the city of Durban. The Port of Natal, as it used to be called, has an official history that starts with Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama in 1497. But boy is this city older than that. They say that da Gama called the area Natal, or even named it by this name. Which is total nonsense as the tribes around would surely have enlightened the Portuguese trading traveler and explorer that this is indeed the land of Natali or Nobuhlali. We will go deeper into Natal and how this part would be connected to lush trees and also an Area where Solomons Forest or Jungle Castle was back in the day. So the Great Hilled Country of Lebanon will come in a not so distant and future post, but here lets look into Berea.
Now regardless of these shallow historical observations we are faced with when it comes to the history of Africa in general. In this post we will only focus on the Berea, which even TODAY bears the official name of a ridge just above the city of Durban, old Port of Natal. This particular area today enjoys a rather luxurious lifestyle and certainly did so in Apartheid times. Seeing the development in certain areas, one could make the argument that they indeed have been blessed for being interested and accepting of the Gospel and keeping the commands. One could say that, but uMlazi (lokshini) not far from these upmarket areas would attest that there are also other equally pressing problems. This is a tropical area with mild winters and hot summers. In times of old you would have found some seriously large trees and old forests in these now residential and industrial areas.
If we read Isaiah 60,13:
“The glory of Lebanon will come to you, the juniper, the fir and the cypress together, to adorn my sanctuary; and I will glorify the place for my feet.
We see here more hints that Lebanon might indeed have been parts of the area and province that is today called KZN (KwaZulu Natal). Lush hills and many different types of forests, in a very favourable climate. We think back of a time before the planted English or Oregon pines started making nutritional imbalances in the soil. We are doing a separate post on this, and putting fine Hill Country of Lebanon on the map. We could start with Berea here. But lets see.
So then we see that Paul of Tarsus and his brother in faith Silas, came to preach at Berea and we see the Scriptures saying that: `the inhabitants... (Acts 17,11:
... received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so", and many of them believed."
Now the historical problems of placing Berea in this part of the world, brings on another Empire, which also has to placed firmly on the African continent. And that is the Empire historically belonging to Alexander the Great (more than likely a black man from the continent) and that of Macedonia. Because if we place the Bereans, which where residents in the city of Berea in Macedonia, that places Macedonia in the Promised Land itself or further up the coast of Moab, today known as Mozambique. This can work, but can also be problematic. Therefore we are not fully convinced this might be the Berea of ancient times. There are interesting points to consider though.
Lets look at the Scriptures som more (Acts 17,10-15):
The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds. Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed."
There is allot of information here, and some we can use solidify the claim of Berea. Now the Bereans had several characteristics that made them respond well to the Gospel. We see that the Bereans (remember these are Black Bantus on the coastal line of either Israel itself in an area (city) called Berea), were more noble because of their willingness to receive the Gospel message. They were not like the unbelieving Bantus (Hebrews) in Thessalonika (perhaps further down the coast towards East London OR further up past Maputo). And we read that the Bereans was eager to hear the teaching of both Paul and Silas.
What the Bereans did was to examine what they heard by comparing it to the Old Testament writings, which was household knowledge in any Synagogue at the time. Everyone knew the Prophets of old and their sayings. The Bereans did honestly listen first and then conducted their research led by faith in uMsindisi as the Saviour. Now this preaching of the Gospel and understanding of the Prophets led many to believe, it says in the New Testament, and it did not only hit Bantu ears, but Greek men and women also living in Berea.
Another wonderful thing happened, to testify the Bereans claim to have turned from sin and to the Saviour. For when Pauls enemies came from Nearby Thessalonika, the Bereans protected Paul and got him out of the region. They did not turn him over to his enemies or disassociated from him like Bantus from the other regions did. After Paul left the Bereans continued to grow in their faith, and both Silas and Timothy remained in Berea. This is some statement, and attests to the important of this ancient city. It would have been a meeting point.
Now later in the Book of Acts, we are given some further knowledge about particular Bereans. Paul decides to return to Macedonia despite all the persecution he certainly was experiencing. And we find that one of the men who accompanied Paul, were from Berea (Acts 20,3-4):
Paul was ready to sail for Syria, but some Hebrews were planning something against him. So he decided to go back through Macedonia to Syria.4 These men were traveling with him: Sopater, the son of Pyrrhus, from the city of Berea; Aristarchus and Secundus, from the city of Thessalonica; Gaius, from the city of Derbe; Timothy; and two men from Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.
Here we find different men, Sopater a Berean who continued to assist Paul a good long time after Pauls first stop in Berea. Now the Bereans set an example of how a person or community should respond when handed Biblical teachings. All believers are called to eagerly learn from the Word no matter the teacher, and then investigate these teachings in comparison with what one finds in Scripture. The Bereans perfected this model of learning. A true example to follow. They were what we call today, opened minded or fair minded, willing to examine the Criptures to se if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth or if they were full of it. Now as the story goes on many men and women believed, but when the Hebrew Thessalonians (Non-believers) heard about these conversions, they came themselves to Berea and stirred up the crowds and started riots. This innhibited Paul and Silas to preach. Paul was then sent to another great city of old, Athens and word was given to Timothy and Silas to join as soon as they could (Acts 17,10-15).
So then, Athens, clearly could not be the same spot as being thought today. Makes sense that the Greek people even, are not the Europeans we find in Europe, but rather they were Black Africans with much in common with the Ancient great thinkers of the Griquas from Southern Africa. So then, two ancient Empires, Macedonia and Greece, must therefore have been along the African Coastlines, or along the African inland waters we believe now has dried up. So definitely all ancient stories from the continent, not European lands.
Now looking into reliable historical sources (our Scriptures), we also find the ancient Greek city of Corinth (Acts 18,5), which was not far from Athens. If we start to dig, we find a decent source in Onesimus, who was Philemons slave, he was the first Bishop of Berea (Apostolic Constitutions). And then we see a long line of famous councils come into the history lines. Second Council of Ephesus, then Council of Chalcedon, Means of Constantinople... Later on we see meetings like Fourth Council of Constantinople, where by all intends and purposes history seems to have started to count events on the African continent, shifted as events that now happened on European soil. We talked briefly about this schism of historical locations and events in the six series of the Trinity. Eish, this here is a long march and so much to unravel. It will all com to the light soon enough, when Israel take their inheritance and move from the ways thought them by their fathers, like Jeremia said (Jeremia 16,19):
"SoNiNi, my strength and my stronghold, And my refuge in the day of distress, To You the nations will come From the ends of the earth and say, “Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies, Futility, and things of no benefit.”