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To The Shores of Tripoli

Long known in Bible History, Libya has existed as a nation in north Africa, on the western border of Egypt (see also Bible Places) since very ancient times. One of its major cities was Cyrene, known today as Tripoli, a place name familiar to many from the "to the shores of Tripoli" in the US Marine Corps hymn - words that may have been a factor in Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gadhaffi's decision to discontinue his support for terrorism, such as the Lockerbie airliner bombing, and to dismantle his country's advanced nuclear arms program (while Iraq's Saddam Hussein was reduced to bluffing about "weapons of mass destruction," a bluff that got called, Colonel Gadhaffi really had them) in favor of closer and friendlier relations with the US and Britain. In the Bible, the people of Cyrene, or Tripoli, are referred to as Cyrenians - the most famous of whom was Simon the Cyrenian, the man who carried the cross of Jesus Christ.

The Mediterranean Sea

Simon the Cyrenian

A large number of Jews had been settled in and around Cyrene centuries before Christ by Ptolemy Soter (see The Ptolemies), however some still travelled to Jerusalem for the annual Holy Days. Simon, a Jew from Cyrene, was in Jerusalem for the Passover (see The Feast Of Unleavened Bread); he happened to be there as the procession to crucify the Christ was going by, and was forced into service by the Roman troops:

"Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto Him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped Him, and put on Him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand: and they bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon Him, and took the reed, and smote Him on the head. And after that they had mocked Him, they took the robe off from Him, and put His own raiment on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.

"And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear His cross." (Matthew 27:27-32 KJV)

Not much else is recorded about Simon, other than that he had two sons:

"And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear His cross." (Mark 15:21 KJV)

Although not specifically stated, considering what Simon witnessed, and his closeness to the Son of God as He was being sacrificed, Simon may have been among the men of Cyrene who later became very determined witnesses of The Gospel of The Kingdom of God:

"And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord." (Acts 11:20-21 KJV)

Fact Finder: Were people from Cyrene/Tripoli present when the Holy Spirit came upon the believers at Pentecost?
Acts 2:10

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