Abilla, Barada Gorge, SYRIA

Abilene is mentioned once in Luke 3:1 at the birth of the Lord as being under the Tetrarch Lysanius. Not to be confused with the Abilla of the Decapolis in northern Jordan, Abilene is located near the border crossing between Lebanon and Syria. The location is confirmed by an inscription high on the cliff walls behind the vendor in this picture which describes the victories of Marcus Aurelius in Armenia and how the road was repaired by emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius, having been damaged previously by the river. It further describes how the construction was performed at the expense of the Abilenians.

The town was governed by Ptolemaeus son of Mennaeus, (a late reference to Ptolemaic influence) until replaced by Lysanius ca 40BC. This man was put to death by Cleopatra in 33BC and the lands purchased by Zenodorus  were later passed in 31BC to the control of Herod the great. After Herod’s death it was transferred to his son Philip II but a remainder of pastoral land was retained by Lysanius referred to in Luke 3:1.

There stands a rare statute of early Roman emperors, dedicated to Marcus Aurelius on the Capitoline hill in Rome. Most were destroyed to extract the valuable brass but the statue of Marcus Aurelius remains as it was mistaken for the emperor Constantine.

Marcus Aurelius name is celebrated in the naming of the town Orleans in the Loire valley in France,  and subsequently in New Orleans in Florida USA. It was near here in France that the most western point of the campaign of Atilla the Hun was turned around, and the final resting place of Theodosius was found this century with his ornate swords confirming the authenticity of the campaigns of Atilla, and the amazing intervention of Deity in the trumpets of Rev 8