A city on a small promontory of the coast of Palestine, about 25 miles south of Tyre. The town looks across the bay of its own name to mount Carmel, about 8 miles to the south. It was assigned to the tribe of Asher, but was not occupied by the Hebrews (Judg. 1:31). In the time of Hoshea it submitted to Shalmaneser, king of Assyria (Antiq. 9:14, 2); and it suffered from the same nation in the reign of Ashurbanipal. A century or so before Christ its name was changed to Ptolemais, in honor of one of the early Ptolemies.
It acquired importance politically as the key of Galilee and as a seaport at the end of commercial routes to Decapolis and Arabia (1 Mac. 5:15, 21, 55; 10:1; Antiq. 13:12, 2 seq.). Jonathan Maecabaeus was treacherously slain there (1 Mac. 12:48 : Antiq. 13:6, 2).
A large number of Jews found a home within its walls (War, 2:18, 5), and a Christian community early grew up here. On his last journey to Jerusalem, Paul spent a day here with the brethren (Acts 21:7). Later the town became the seat of a Christian bishop. The Arabs restored the old name, which the Franks corrupted into Acre. It was taken in A.D. 1191 by Philip Augustus, king of France, and Richard I, king of England. From A.D. 1229 it was held by the Knights of St. John, and was often called in consequence St. Jean d Acre. Prior to 1799 it was strongly fortified by Jezzar Pasha, who ruled with energy, but with such cruelty that he was nicknamed "the Butcher". In that year it was attacked by Napoleon, who was baffled, and at once began his retreat from Syria. Jezzar's victory was largely due to English sailors, who had been landed to give him aid. In 1832 it was wrested from the Turkish sultan by one of his subjects, Ibrahim Pasha, son of Mohammed Ali, the ruler of Egypt. On November 3, 1840, it was bombarded by the British and Austrian fleets, until the day was decided by the explosion of the powder magazine, which caused the death of from 1700 to 2000 Egyptian soldiers. The place was given back to the sultan, under whose rule it still remains. It is now a walled town, with a single land gate at the southeast angle and a sea gate leading to the shipping in the harbor. Its ramparts, injured by the bombardment of 1840, have not been repaired; its bazaars look deserted, the chief support of its 5000 to 8000 inhabitants being the money spent by the garrison or obtained by the exportation of grain and cotton.