City and seaport of Phenicia, situated on a promontory at the foot of Mount Carmel (compare Josephus, "Ant." ii. 10, § 2), having (1901) a population of about 9,800, among whom there are a few Jews. Acre is mentioned in hieroglyphic inscriptions about 1500 B.C. under the form of A-ka and in the El-Amarna Tablets (Winckler's ed., Nos. 11, 65, 157, et seq.) as Ak-ka, the seat of a rapacious prince. On Phenician coins its name is . The tribe of Asher claimed it (Josh. xix. 30, where the name is distorted into Ummah, but is still correctly read 'Aκκώ in the better manuscripts of the Septuagint; see Dillmann, "Commentary," and Hollenberg, in Stade's "Zeitschrift," i. 100), but the tribe was unable to conquer it (Judges, i. 31, where the name is written Accho). Sennacherib conquered Akkú in 701 B.C., and gave it as a fief to Tubaalu (Ethobalos) of Sidon. Josephus ("Ant." ix. 14, § 2) refers this (after Menander) to the time of Shalmaneser (IV.). Asurbanipal, returning from his expedition against the Arabs (about 645 B.C.), suppressed a revolt of Akkû and Ushû (Schrader, "C. I. O. T." 161; Delitzsch, "Paradies," p. 284; Winckler, "Geschichte," pp. 252, 288). In Greek times the old name Akē (Strabo, 758) was little used;which of the Ptolemean kings of Egypt gave the new name Ptolemais to the city is doubtful (usually Ptolemy I., Soter, is assumed).
The great importance of the city as a port on the harborless coast of Palestine was manifest, especially in the wars of the Maccabees, when it was repeatedly the basis of operations against Palestine (I Macc. v. 15-22, xi. 22, xiii. 12). Demetrius could offer no greater inducement in order to win the Jews than to promise Ptolemais as a gift to the Temple of Jerusalem (compare I Macc. x. 39). The population showed a specially intense hatred toward the Jews (II Macc. xiii. 25). Jonathan the Maccabee was treacherously murdered there by Tryphon (I Macc. xii. 48). Alexander Jannæus vainly attempted to conquer it (Josephus, "Ant." xiii. 12, § 2). Ptolemy X. and his mother, Cleopatra III., disputed its possession with each other until Cleopatra handed it over to the Syrian king as the dowry of her daughter Selene. Tigranes plundered it 70 B.C. Under the emperor Claudius, Acco "received the rights of a Roman colony" (Pliny, 5, 17). Conquered by the Arabs in 668, the city reached its highest importance during the Crusades as a base of operations for the Christians. It was, for a time, the seat of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem and, until 1291, of the Knights of St. John, who transformed its name to St. Jean d'Acre. In modern times its successful defense by the Turks and English against Bonaparte in 1799, its conquest by the Egyptians under Ibrahim Pasha in 1832, and its recapture with European aid in 1840 are the most notable events.