The Typical Roman City
A brief tour of Caesarea Maritima, the residence of the Roman governor of Judea (Acts 8.40; 9.30; 10.1,24; 11.11; 12.19–23; 18.22; 21.8; 23.23; 25.1–13 ), reveals the outline of an ancient city from the perspective of the rich. It was originally a small military settlement dating from the mid‐third century BCE; Augustus gave it to Herod, who built a magnificent city of some 8,000 acres and a harbor to rival that of Alexandria. Two breakwaters created a sheltered harbor of 40 acres. An area with a temple, on a raised mound, dedicated to Rome and Augustus, faces the harbor at the south end of the forum that runs along the harborside. To the south of the city, a theater faces the sea, although the structure that has been unearthed is a later, rebuilt one. Among the discoveries there is a stone with an inscription referring to Pontius Pilate as prefect. There is also a large amphitheater similar to the Colosseum and a large racecourse (hippodrome).
An aqueduct supplied the city with water from springs on Mount Carmel and an elaborate sewer system under the city drained away waste. Walkways were decorated with mosaics, and promenades were lined with columns. Herod presumably spared no expense on his showcase; builders used imported marbles from Italy and Egypt and pink granite from Aswan. There were warehouses facing the harbor to store the goods that passed through the city from extensive maritime trade, which reached as far as south Asia. The residents of Palestine did not have to journey to Alexandria, Corinth, or Rome to see the world's riches on display for a wealthy elite.
Capernaum on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee was the base for Jesus' preaching activities around Galilee. It lay on the Via Maris, the road that connected Caesarea and Ptolemais (Acco) on the coast with Damascus in Syria. Even if they never visited the new city of Caesarea, the traffic along the highway between the coast and Damascus would have alerted Jesus and his contemporaries to the cultural realities of Greco‐Roman cities. Two other city foundations within Galilee itself, Sepphoris and Tiberias, contributed to the growth of urbanization. Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Perea from 4 BCE to 39 CE, resided at Sepphoris, a mere 7 km (4 mi) from Nazareth, until he moved to the newly built Tiberias on the lake in 19–20 CE. The term tekton used for Joseph and his sons (Mk 6.3; Mt 13.55 ) is usually translated “carpenter,” but there is no reason to assume that Jesus and his family were restricted to the carpenter's shop of a village. They are just as likely to have been employed in the building that occurred in Sepphoris and Tiberias. Jesus' view of the rich could have been shaped by such experiences, and his followers probably included some connected to the Herodian court (see Lk 8.3 ).