God's Geography Header


Map of Turkey
[Map from the Perry Castenada Library, Courtesy The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin]

Turkey is mentioned extensively in the Bible, especially in the book of Acts when it was known as Asia minor, and by the names of its provinces such as Pamphylia, Derbe, Lystra, and Phrygia. Turkey was the birthplace of the apostle Paul. He was from Tarsus which is in the shadow of the Taurus Mountains (Acts 9:11).

Tarsus and the Taurus Mountains

The word Taurus is Latin for 'bull' which is very interesting because Turkey is shaped like...

Turkey is an ox

...a bull!


Besides the obvious shape, we can look to Turkey's largest city of Istanbul for another clue: that's Istan-bull. And within this city is a major waterway called the Golden Horn:

Golden Horn

Istanbul was formerly called Constantinople after the Roman Emperor Constantine, and it was known as Byzantium before that. The city lies alongside the Bosporus Strait which connects the Sea of Marmara to the south, and the Black Sea to the north. Bosporus means 'cow crossing' or even 'ox ford'. Here's a satellite image of the entire strait:

Bosporus Strait
[Image courtesy NASA's Earthobservatory]

The Bosporus Strait is considered to be the border between Europe and Asia, but it also cuts off (so to speak) one of the bull's horns, creating a unicorn.

Of course there are no such animals as unicorns, but the word does occur nine times in the Bible. It's translated from the Hebrew word reym (Strong's Concordance #7214), and it means 'wild bull', so how did it come to be translated unicorn? I believe it was for a symbolic purpose; one horn signifying unity, like two horns becoming one. The two horns I'm thinking of are the Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh who become one in their father's tribe of Joseph, and who's sign is the ox, as we learn from Deuteronomy 33:

13 And of Joseph he said, "Blessed of the LORD be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, 14 And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, 15 And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills,

16 And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of Him That dwelt in the bush: let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren. 17 His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.

These tribes are likened to a powerful animal that can gore his enemies, and yet be very useful on the farm to till the earth, to prepare it for seed planting. This is not to say that these tribes live in Turkey. They migrated westward long ago.

Turkey is also the location of the seven churches in the book of Revelation as well as the island of Patmos where John wrote it:

The seven churches and Patmos

Revelation 1:

9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11 Saying, "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, what thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea."

The seven churches trace a rough circle in the head of the Turkish bull. In verse 20 we find that each church was represented by a candlestick so it's like there is a menorah in the bull's head.

20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

This bull has seen the light. He has eyes to see. This arrangement of seven candlesticks also reminded me of the seven eyes in Zechariah 4:10. Patmos, on the other hand, is an island that is just opposite the bull's forehead as though he is getting sealed by the truth that John received. So this is a bull with brains and brawn.

The seven churches and Patmos

The next question is, "What is this ox doing?" That, I believe, is answered for us if we take a look at Antioch.

[Map from the Perry Castenada Library, Courtesy The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin]

Antioch is located right on the bull's masculinity; on that with which he plants seeds. But we're mostly interested in spiritual seed planting. It was at Antioch where the term Christian was first used in God's Word, as we find in Acts 11:

19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. 20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. 22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.

23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. 25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

This was seed planting deluxe. This kind of seed has impact. Now we're going to take that seed from Antioch and travel to nearby Cyprus:

[Image courtesy NASA's Earthobservatory]

Cyprus is shaped like a huge club!

And where is this club headed? To find out we just need to trace a line from Antioch to Cyprus, and then to Africa:

From Antioch to Africa
[Map from the Perry Castenada Library, Courtesy The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin]

Cyprus is called Kittim or Chittim in the Old Testament such as the ships of Chittim in Daniel 11:30. Chittim means 'bruisers'. The point is to take this island of Cyprus, make it an extension of the Turkish bull, and use it to smite Africa. This illustrates how powerful it can be to plant seeds of truth from the word of God. His word will destroy the enemy (Deuteronomy 32:39). I think this is also why the Turkish bull has his head down, and is facing Africa, as if about to gore it in his fury. Palsm 92:

9 For, lo, Thine enemies, O LORD, for, lo, Thine enemies shall perish; all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered. 10 But my horn shalt Thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.

So whether our heavenly Father uses one man like Paul or one family like Joseph, the work gets done just as sure as a well trained bull can plow a field or attack an enemy. When God is on our side, we have the victory.

Charging bull

2006 God's Geography
For personal use only
Unless stated otherwise, images are copyright Clipart.com.