🔼The name Antipatris: Summary
- Antipaternal, Pertaining To Opposition To The Father
- From (1) αντι (anti), opposite, and (2) the noun πατηρ (pater), father.
🔼The name Antipatris in the Bible
The name Antipatris occurs only once in the Bible, namely in Acts 23:31. Right after his arrest in Jerusalem and his subsequent address of the Sanhedrin, because of which more than forty Jews conspired to kill Paul, the Roman commander Claudius Lysias mustered a whopping 200 soldiers and 70 horsemen and sent Paul to governor Felix in Caesarea Maritima, with the kind request for him to sort out the mess. Since Caesarea and Jerusalem were about 90 kilometer apart, and it was 9pm when they left, they stopped at Antipatris, about halfway.
Like Caesarea Maritima, Antipatris had been built by Herod the Great, reportedly to honor his own father, Antipater the Idumaean, or perhaps his grandfather Antipas, who had converted to Judaism when the Hasmoneans created their autonomous Jewish state in 140 BC. Herod was obsessed with the name Antipas/Antipater: two of his sons were named Antipas, including his firstborn (whom he had executed).
As we point out in our article on Onesimus, the authors of the New Testament used names not to helpfully identify their brethren to their Roman overlords (who by that time were killing Christians and Jews) but rather as a kind of code, or rather a literary technique that involved referring to hotspots in history or culture, kind of like old school hyperlinks (see our article on Aeneas for more on this). Why Luke found it necessary to include the otherwise inconsequential detail of the stay at Antipatris, where the 200 soldiers returned to the castle and the 70 horsemen accompanied Paul to Felix, isn't immediately clear. But Antipatris was built on the location of the ancient city of Aphek, and that name refers to restriction and discipline (and see our article on the name Agabus for more on restriction and discipline).
Several times in recorded history, enemy armies mustered at Aphek, right before engaging Israel: The Philistines gathered at Aphek to engage the Israelites at Jezreel (1 Samuel 29:1), just prior to the Battle on Mount Gilboa in which Saul and Jonathan fell (and because of which the Davidic dynasty, of which Jesus was the ultimate member, could commence). Centuries later, under king Ben-hadad, the Arameans "went up to Aphek to fight against Israel" (1 Kings 20:26). Israel's king was Ahab at the time (and Elijah had just called Elisha but had not yet transferred his powers to him), and the Arameans had been losing their invasive war for a while, but at Aphek "the sons of Israel camped before them like two little flocks of goats, but the Arameans filled the country" (20:26). The battle ensued and Israel defeated Aram, but because Ahab let Ben-hadad live (while God had told him to kill him), Ahab forfeited his own life. Israel would be tormented by Aram for years to come, but at the end of Elish's ministry, he foretold king Joash (or Jehoash) of Israel that he would finally completely destroy the Arameans, at yet another battle at Aphek (2 Kings 13:17).
Even more famous than the second Battle at Aphek (or the third and final one, which isn't specifically told of in the Bible, or even the very first one under Joshua; see Joshua 12:18) was the first Battle at Aphek. Israel, under the judge Eli and his corrupt sons Hophni and Phinehas, camped at Ebenezer to engage the Philistines, who were camped at Aphek (1 Samuel 4:1). But when Israel began to lose from the Philistines, they decided to bring to Ark of the Covenant from the tabernacle at Shiloh, to help win the battle. But Israel continued to lose, Hophni and Phinehas died and the Ark was taken by the Philistines. When Eli heard that the Ark had been taken, he collapsed and died.
The (first) Battle at Aphek, when the Ark was deported into enemy territory, was of course a precursor of the later destructions of Jerusalem and more importantly, the Temple: first by the Babylonians (597-587 BC) and later by the Romans (in 70 AD).
This continued series of violations of the Temple and the subsequent abscondence of the Ark was of course most urgently described by the death of Jesus: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19). Since the death (and resurrection) of Jesus in turn is obviously presaged by Pesah, the first event in this series is in fact Israel's Exodus out of Egypt.
Seven very dark months after the first Battle of Aphek, when Israel's army was utterly destroyed, its government dead and its defining and centralizing artifact abducted, the Ark was returned at Beth-shemesh and Israel could begin to be rebuilt. Eli and sons were succeeded by Samuel, the last of the judges: Israel soon became a kingdom, first under Saul and then under David. King David transported the Ark to Jerusalem, and his son Solomon built a massive temple around the Ark and an empire around the temple: the First Temple of YHWH.
Centuries later, the First Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, who deported the Jews and confiscated the templar artifacts. This presumably also included the Ark, which went "missing" around this time. Seventy dark years ensued but under Zerubbabel, the Jews returned home, and Nehemiah and friends repaired the city and rebuilt the temple: the Second Temple. A few hundred years later, King Herod the Great would greatly expand the temple complex, but technically it was still the same Second Temple. This was the Temple at which Jesus taught, and which he equated with his own body.
The Second Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, by the Romans under general Titus, mere years before Paul was held up in Antipatris. The familiar story tells that Jesus resurrected after a mere three days, but in physical reality, it took seven centuries for the Gaonic era to commence, when world Jewry settled upon a cohesive Talmudic standard issued by a Sanhedrin-style network of academia. From this tradition came not only religious Judaism as we know it today, but also the scientific tradition that first facilitated the Renaissance in Europe and later gave rise to our present technological age.
The alphabet and thus script and thus popular literacy, came from the First Temple Hebrews (without the alphabet there would have been no Greek philosophers or Roman Empire, or Holy Roman Empire, or modern age). The postal service was invented in Second Temple Period Persia, most probably to organize the communications of the Jewish wisdom schools, and without it there would have been no Internet. Even the weekend came from the Jews. Indeed, our modern world is a wholly Jewish world, like a restored Solomonic Empire (Zechariah 8:22-23). It may not be clear to everybody where the Third Temple is located, but indeed, our modern world is very much centered upon the Third Temple, which is centered upon the Eternal Ark.
🔼Etymology of the name Antipatris
The name Antipatris consists of the familiar prefix αντι (anti), meaning instead of:
The familiar preposition αντι (anti) means against, but more often in a complementary than in a competitive sense. On occasion it describes the contrariness of an adversary, but more often it means instead of, and indicates previousness or even substitution. As such it may relate to earlier times (antiquity) and even to monetary economy (substituting money for goods and back again).
The second part of our name Antipatris comes from the familiar noun πατηρ (pater), meaning father:
The familiar noun πατηρ (pater) means father, or rather: central authority figure, as it first and foremost applies to social leaders. It comes with a substantial list of compound derivations.
In names, the element πατηρ (pater) tends to be contracted into πας (pas), which is identical to the (unrelated) word meaning whole or all.
More specifically, the second part of our name consists of πατηρ (pater) plus the suffix -ιος (-ios) that makes an adjective out of a noun and means "pertaining to", or "of" or "belonging to". A poetic feminine of the resulting construct πατριος (patrios) is πατρις (patris), and that's the second part of our name.
The name Antipatris means Antipaternal or Pertaining To Antipater, and may simply be honorary of Herod the Great's father or grandfather, as such honorary naming was very common: hence cities like Alexandria, Antioch, Caesarea, Laodicea and so on. But, as we discuss in our article on the name Antipas, Herod had obviously very little respect for dynastic succession (he murdered several of his own sons, including crown prince Antipas), and to Herod the name Antipas may very well have expressed his disdain for dynastic succession and thus his favor for a merit-based succession (albeit still by a son of his). That way, our name would mean Pertaining To Being Against The Father, and with the Roman Emperor being the "father" of the world, it may even have been a monument to the Roman resistance movement that was brewing in Herod's realm and of which the Gospel of Jesus was the culmination and most successful manifestation. That would give Antipatris the meaning of Instead Of Centralized Governance, and refer to a decentralized Socialistic Republic in which everyone is an equal under the law, and the government comes organically out of a network of wisdom centers.
In antiquity, sonship, and thus fatherhood, was not as restricted to physical descent as it is in our times. Instead, a "son" was a talented youngster to whom an older someone (the "father") would bequeath his estate, and who would carry on the name and the "will" of the one he succeeded. This is how Augustus became the "son" of Julius: through legal adoption. And the familiar terms that describe Jesus, namely Son of God, King of Kings and Savior of the World were originally titles ascribed to Augustus (the son of the deified Julius). Likewise, followers of Christ become sons of God (John 1:12), via adoption (Romans 8:15). It's a slippery slope, but God even declared Jesus His Son, not because Jesus descended physically from Him (because everybody does: compare Genesis 1:2 to Luke 1:35), but rather because in Him He was well-pleased (Matthew 3:17).