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by Wayne Blank
Cyprus, from the Greek word pronounced kupros, meaning copper, is a prominent land mass in the northeastern Mediterranean Sea, off the shores of Cilicia (southern Turkey) and Syria on the continent. Measuring about 150 miles / 240 kilometers long and 40 miles / 65 kilometers wide, it is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean.
The history of Cyprus reaches deep into ancient times. Although the pagans regarded it as the birthplace of their non-existent false god Zeus, Cyprus was the scene of numerous events in Bible History, where some Bible translations refer to it by the name Isles of Chittim or Kittim. As the above Scriptures from Daniel specify, Kittim is also a place involved in end-time prophecy.
As its name indicates, Cyprus has extensive copper deposits which attracted many conquerers to the island over the past 3,000 years. In their turn, Egyptians (see The Ancient Egyptians), Assyrians (see Ancient Empires - Assyria), Phoenicians, Hittites, Greeks (see Ancient Empires - Greece), Romans (see Ancient Empires - Rome), and in more modern times, Turks and British all controlled the island to some degree. It was also taken during the third Crusade (see The Crusades).
During Old Testament times, many Jews had already settled on the island, and many of their descendants were converted by Paul and those associated with him during his travels (see Paul's First Missionary Journey and Paul's Second Missionary Journey and Paul's Third Missionary Journey).
Paul's group travelled from Salamis to Paphos on the island, and while at Paphos, Sergius Paulus, the Roman governor of Cyprus became a believer in Jesus Christ (Acts 13:7,12), despite the efforts of Elymas the sorcerer to prevent his conversion. For his wickedness, Elymas was temporarily deprived of his sight by Paul (Acts 13:7-11). Barnabas and Mark were later active there after they separated from Paul (Acts 15:36-39). The Jews and converted Christians were expelled from the island during the reign of emperor Hadrian (reigned 117-138 AD).
Fact Finder: What prominent apostle was from Cyprus?