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CENCHREAE sĕng’ krə e (Κεγχρεαί, G3020). The harbor of Corinth on the Saronic Gulf on the E side of the isthmus about seven m. from the city.

A village, it existed solely for the transportation of goods to and from Corinth and across the isthmus. Rather than sail around dangerous Cape Malea, the southern tip of the Peloponnesus, ships were dragged across the isthmus from Cenchreae to Lechaeum, the western harbor of Corinth on sleds. The cargo of larger ships was unloaded and moved the same way to a ship on the other side.

Named for Cenchrias, a child of Poseidon and Pirene, the area was sacred to Poseidon. There was a large bronze statue of him on a breakwater. At nearby Isthmia the Isthmian Games, sacred to Poseidon, were held. Periander, tyrant of Corinth c. 625-585 b.c., planned a canal across the isthmus and the Emperor Nero actually began one, but a canal was not completed until 1893.

After Paul had cut his hair at Cenchreae in fulfillment of a vow, he sailed with Priscilla and Aquila for Syria (Acts 18:18). Phoebe is commended for her service in the Epistle to the Romans (16:1).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

A seaport of Corinth on the eastern side of the isthmus (see Corinth). Here according to Ac 18:18, Paul had his hair shorn before sailing for Syria, since he had a vow. A local church must have been established there by Paul, since Phoebe, the deaconess of Cenchrea, was entrusted with the Epistle to the Romans, and was commended to them in the highest terms by the apostle, who charged them to "assist her in whatsoever matter she may have need" (Ro 16:1,2).