(Phoeʹnix) [date palm].
“A harbor of Crete.” (Acts 27:12) The grain boat on which Paul was traveling as a prisoner to Rome attempted to sail from Fair Havens to Phoenix for winter anchorage. Seized by a storm, it was subsequently wrecked on the island of Malta.—Acts 27:13–28:1.
As to the location of Phoenix, the Acts narrative indicates only that it was W of Fair Havens, on the S side of Crete, and that it provided safe winter anchorage. Two sites have therefore been proposed. One is Loutro, on the E side of a cape, some forty miles (64 kilometers) W of Fair Havens, and the other Phineka, on the opposite side of this cape. The literal Greek text describes the harbor at Phoenix as “looking down [ka·taʹ] the southwest wind and down [ka·taʹ] the northwest wind.” Scholars favoring Loutro interpret this to mean looking “along” or “toward” (ka·taʹ) the direction in which the SW and NW winds are blowing. (See NW, 1950 ed., ftn.) By this understanding the harbor is said to open ‘toward the NE and the SE’ (RS, NW), a description that could fit the large semicircular entrance to the harbor at Loutro. Phineka, because of its structure, is not used as a harbor today, though geologic changes in the vicinity may have affected its formation. However, Phineka does have two inlets, one facing SW and the other NW. Thus, those favoring this site understand the expression “looking down” to mean facing the direction from which the winds originate rather than that in which they blow. While there is some question as to the winter safety provided at Loutro, the inlets at Phineka appear to be capable of affording good winter shelter for boats.
According to the fourth-third century B.C.E. Greek writer Theophrastus, palm trees were indigenous to the Phoenix area; these possibly were the source of its name.