SIRTE – Encyclopedic Dictionary of Bible and Theology

Sirte (gr. Súrtis). One of the 2 gulfs that lie between Tunis and Sirenaica, greatly feared by ancient sailors for its many sandbanks and water currents. The Great Sirte (c 425 km wide), which lies to the southeast, is very shallow and full of sandbanks. Today it is known by the name of the Gulf of Sidra. But Little Sirte (c 110 km wide) poses a danger to navigation due to its strong winds, treacherous tides and numerous sandbars; its modern name is Gulf of Gabes. The sailors of the ship in which Paul was sailing prevented his ship from being dragged towards Sirte (Acts 27:17), probably the Greater Sirte of the east, since the Smaller one is a considerable distance to the southwest of Malta. Servant. See Slave; servant; servant. Temple servants. See Temple, Servants of.

Source: Evangelical Bible Dictionary

greek sandbar Name of two Mediterranean bays, S.

Mayor and S. Minor on the coast of North Africa. Due to a storm, the ship in which the apostle Paul traveled to Rome as a prisoner, had to drop anchor, so as not to collide with this sandbank, the S. Mayor, Acts 27, 17.

Digital Bible Dictionary, Grupo C Service & Design Ltda., Colombia, 2003

Source: Digital Bible Dictionary

On the coasts of North Africa there are two very famous shoals, the S. Mayor, which is located in the Gulf of Sidra, in Libya, and the Sirte Minor in the Gulf of Gabes, Tunisia. These are shallow areas, very dangerous for navigation, in which many ships have been shipwrecked. The ship that was taking Paul to Rome encountered a gale-force wind south of Crete. The sailors were “afraid to hit the S.”, evidently the S. Mayor, which was the closest (Acts 27:17).

Source: Christian Bible Dictionary

vet, These are the Great and Little Sirte, two shifting sandbanks, greatly feared by the crew of Paul’s ship (Acts 27:17) and by ancient navigators. The Great Sirte receives today the name of the Gulf of Sidra, and occupies the southeast of the African rift in front of Sicily. Little Sirte, now the Gulf of Gabes, forms to the southwest of this indentation. The Great Sirte penetrates more than 200 km into the interior of Africa. Its gulf measures 425 km between the cape of Misrata and the plateau of Barka (Cyrenaica); it is shallow and full of moving sands. Little Sirte doesn’t go that far inside. From north to south, from the Kerkenna archipelago to the island of Djerba, the gulf is 110 km long. The gusts of wind and its shallow water waves make this gulf a dangerous place for navigation.

Source: New Illustrated Bible Dictionary

(from a root meaning: †œdrag† ).
Greek name for two gulfs formed by the Mediterranean on the northern coast of Africa. The western gulf (between Tunis and Tripoli) was called Little Sirte (currently the Gulf of Gabes). Just to the E. was the Great Sirte, the modern Gulf of Sidra. Ancient mariners feared the two gulfs because of their treacherous sandbars, which the tides constantly shifted from place to place. Strabo, a geographer of the first century CE, reported of ships stranded in the shallows: “It is rare for a ship to come out unscathed.” (Geography, 17, III, 20.)
When the apostle Paul was being led to Rome as a prisoner, a stormy wind came from the NE. harassed the ship he was traveling in as it passed through S. Crete. The crew was afraid that the ship would run aground on the ‘Sirte’, probably the quicksand or sandbanks of the Gulf of Sidra. (Acts 27:14-17.)

Source: Dictionary of the Bible

surtis (suvrti”, 4950): “the Sirte” Major and Minor are found on the northern coast of Africa, between the capes of Tunis and Barce; the current Gulf of Sidra is the Sirte Mayor. From the most remote antiquity they have been considered by sailors as dangerous for navigation, both because of the sandbanks and because of the cross currents of the waters. On the voyage described in Act 27:17 the ship had left the shelter of Clauda Island, and was drifting, propelled by the Euroclidon wind, a northeasterly wind. The sailors might well have feared being stranded in the Sirtes on such a course. However, the changing nature of this storm eventually led them to the Adriatic Sea.¶

Source: Vine New Testament Dictionary

(gr. syrtis, ‘sandbank’, Hch. 27.17). The ship in which Paul was traveling was forced to take precautions to avoid being thrown on the Sirte major, quicksand W of Cyrene on the N coast of Africa. Today it is called the Gulf of Sidra; its treacherous sands and waters were greatly feared by sailors.


Douglas, J. (2000). New Biblical Dictionary: First Edition. Miami: United Bible Societies.

Source: New Bible Dictionary

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