Page images
PDF
EPUB

were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.

32 ¶ And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.

33 And there he found a certain man named Æneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy.

34 And Peter said unto him, Æneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately. 35 And all that dwelt in Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.

36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.

38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.

39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.

37 And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.

[blocks in formation]

2 Or, be grieved.

Verse 3. "He came near Dumascus."-The Christians of Damascus have not been less diligent than those of Jerusalem, in identifying the site of every transaction, which Scripture records to have occurred in that city or its neighbourhood. Among these, is the presumed spot where St. Paul was stricken to the ground. It occurs about half a mile from the eastern gate of the town. It is thus described by Dr. Hogg, who passed it ou leaving the city :-" We turned into a wide, open road, and passing through a large unenclosed Christian cemetery, soon reached the place, still highly venerated, of the apostle's miraculous conversion. The present track deviates from the straight line, leaving, a few yards to the right, the precise spot believed to be that where he fell to the earth.' This is evidently a portion of an ancient road, consisting entirely of firmly embedded pebbles, which, having never been broken up, stands alone like the fragment of an elevated causeway. The sides have been gradually lowered by numerous pilgrims, who, in all ages, have sought the pebbles to preserve as relics. A wide, arch-like excavation, through the centre of the causeway, produced by the same superstitious industry, has given it the semblance of a dismantled bridge. Through this aperture it is considered an act of devotion to pass; and one of our attendants performed this ceremony with all due solemnity, rubbing his shoulders against the pebbly sides, while he repeated his prayers with exemplary earnestness.” (“Visit to Alexandria, Damascus, and Jerusalem,' 1835.)

10. “Ananias.”—The supposed abode of this disciple, of whom nothing is known beyond what is here recorded, is still devoutly pointed out at Damascus. It is described by Dr. Richardson, as " a small grotto, situated among poor houses, near the Catholic convent, and seems to be held in equal veneration by Turks and Christians, and is equally a place of prayer for both. The Mussulmans frequent it every day, and the Christians say mass in it at stated times. This community of temples appears odd, but I have stated what I was told." It is equally odd that grottoes are so constantly pointed out as the places in which the eminent persons mentioned in Scripture abode, as if they had never lived in houses, or there were no houses to live in. But the reason is clear: a grotto is chosen, because the identity of a house, after the lapse of so many ages, even the strongest credulity might question; whereas no one will gainsay that any present grotto may have existed at the time to which the record refers.

11. "The street which is called Straight.”—The local traditions also point out this street, and even the house of Judas, We may here quote Maundrell: "This morning we went to see the street called Straight. It is about half a mile in length, running from east to west through the city. It being narrow, and the houses jutting out in several places on both sides, you cannot have a clear prospect of its length and straightness. In this street is shown the house of Judas with whom Paul lodged; and in the same house is an old tomb, said to be Ananias's: but how he should come to be buried here, they could not tell us, nor could we guess, his own house being shown us in another place. However, the Turks have a reverence for this tomb, and maintain a lamp always burning over it." (Journey,' p. 133.)

25. "Let him down by the wall in a basket."-A considerable number of Jews must have been engaged against Paul. if they watched all the gates of Damascus, which had many. The method of drawing up or letting down persons in baskets, is still very much resorted to in the East, when danger is apprehended from the ordinary mode of ingress or egress. The Christians of Damascus fail not to point out the precise part of the wall where the apostle was let down. It occurs at an old gate in the wall, which has long been walled up, on account of its being rendered of little use by the vicinity of the present eastern gate.

32. "Lydda."-This place was about eight miles to the east of Joppa. In the Old Testament (Ezra ii. 33; Neh. vii. 37), and in the Rabbinical writers, it occurs under the name of Lud, and in times posterior to the present, it went by the name of Diospolis. It is a place of some fame among the old Jewish writers, as having been the birth-place or residence of some of their famous Rabbins. Josephus describes it as being about this time a town scarcely inferior to a city in its extent (Antiq.' xx. 6, 2.) Its subsequent history is obscure; and, being somewhat out of the beaten track, its site has been rarely visited by travellers. We know, however, that it became a noted seat of Jewish learning pos

terior to the destruction of Jerusalem, being the place of one of the academies which the Jews then set up in different parts of Palestine. "In the time of the Christians," says Sandys, "it was the seat of a suffragan; now hardly a village." There was however still standing a Christian church, which was said to have been built, during the crusades, by a king of England, in honour of St. George of Cappadocia, who was supposed to have been martyred and buried at Lydda (now Loudd). This fine church is now in ruins: and Pococke, deeming its original architecture to be of higher antiquity than the Crusades, concludes that it is the church which Justinian built, and dedicated to St. Peter, when he erected Lydda into a bishopric; and that it was repaired by Richard Cœur de Lion, and by him dedicated to St. George. This seems the more probable as the town itself was, by the Crusaders, called the City St. George. Volney says, "A place lately ravaged by fire and sword would have precisely the appearance of this village. From the huts of the inhabitants of the village to the serai of the agha, is one vast heap of rubbish and ruins. A weekly market, however, is held at Loudd, to which the peasants of the environs bring their spun cotton for sale. The poor Christians who dwell here show, with great veneration, the ruins of the church of St. Peter, and make strangers sit down on a column, which, as they say, the saint once rested on. They point out the place where he preached, where he prayed, &c. The whole country is full of such traditions. It is impossible to stir a step without being shown the traces of some apostle, some martyr, or some virgin."

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?

22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.

23 Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

24 And the morrow after they entered into Cæsarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.

25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.

26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.

27 And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.

28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

29 Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me?

30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,

31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.

children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)

37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judæa, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;

32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.

33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.

38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:

40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;

41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.

42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

44 ¶ While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

48 And he commanded them to be bap tized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

Jer. 31. 34. Mic. 7. 18.

34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, 'Öf a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted

with him.

36 The word which God sent unto the

1 Deut. 10. 17. Rom. 2. 11. 1 Pet. 1. 17.

Verse 1. "The Italian band.”—It was was so called, probably, as being chiefly composed of natives of Italy, and was hence honourably distinguished from the bulk of the troops serving in Judea, which appear to have been mostly formed of provincial subjects. Being stationed at Cæsarea, which was the usual residence of the Roman governor, it is probable that they acted as his body-guard.

5. "Joppa."-This place occurs, under the name of Japho, in Josh. xix. 46; and which is still preserved in the present name of Jaffa, or Yaffa. It is situated about forty miles west of Jerusalem, on the shore of the Mediterranean. Its fame, as a sea-port, ascends to the remotest times in history, sacred and profane. In the former, we find it the principal port of Palestine, and the peculiar port of Jerusalem; being, in fact, the only port in Judea. Hence we find that the materials obtained from Tyre, for the building of Solomon's Temple, were brought to this port, to be conveyed thence by land to Jerusalem. But although Joppa was long the port of Judea-as its distance afforded an easy communication with the capital, while its geographical position opened an extensive trade to all the coasts and islands of the Mediterranean-it was never a safe or commodious harbour; and those travellers are mistaken who attribute its pre

[graphic][merged small]

sent condition to the neglect of ages. Josephus repeatedly explains its natural unfitness for a good haven, in nearly the same terms which are employed by modern travellers in describing its present condition (Antiq.' xv. 9, 6; De Bello Jud.' iii. 9, 3). This similarity is noticed by Mr. Buckingham, who himself says, "The port is formed by a ledge of rocks, running north and south before the promontory, leaving a confined and narrow space between the rocks and the town. Here the small trading-vessels of the country find shelter from the south and west winds, and land their cargoes on narrow wharfs, running along before the magazines. When the wind blows strong from the northward, they are obliged to warp out, and seek shelter in the small bay to the north-east of the town, as the sea breaks in here with great violence; and there is not more than three fathoms of water in the deepest part of the harbour: so accurately do the local features of the place correspond with those given of it by Josephus." Clarke also describes the harbour as one of the worst in the Mediterranean; so that ships generally anchor about a mile from the town, to avoid the rocks and shoals of the place. From this account it will appear that Joppa afforded the only port, though a bad one, for the important district behind it, inland. The bad state of the ancient roads, or rather perhaps the absence of any roads, made a near harbour, however incommodious, of more immediate consequence than a good one at any greater distance.

The coast of Joppa is low; but the town itself is seated on a conical promontory, jutting out into the sea, and rising to the height of about 150 feet above its level; having a desert coast to the north and south, the Mediterranean on the west, and fertile plains and gardens behind it, on the east. The base of the hill is surrounded by a wall, which begins and ends at the sea, and is fourteen or fifteen feet high, and two or three feet thick; with towers at certain distances, alternately round and square: being of stone, it was of sufficient strength to oblige the French army, under Buonaparte, to break ground and erect batteries against it, before a breach could be made. At present it is in a bad condition, many parts having given way from the violent rains of about seven years since; so that, if Ibrahim Pasha had been obliged to besiege it, he would have found the walls ready breached to his hands.

On the land side the town is approached through extensive and richly-productive gardens, by which it is surrounded; the light, sandy soil being very favourable to the production of various kinds of fruit. These gardens are fenced with hedges of the prickly-pear, and are abundantly stocked with orange, lemon, pomegranate, and fig-trees, and with watermelons. The oranges and lemons grow to a prodigious size; the pomegranates have also a great reputation; and the water-melons are celebrated over all the Levant for their delicious flavour. The town itself is thus noticed by Buckingham:

"The town, seated on a promontory, and facing chiefly to the northward, looks like a heap of buildings, crowded as closely as possible into a given space; and, from the steepness of its site, these buildings appear in some places to stand one on the other. The most prominent features of the architecture from without, are the flattened domes, by which most of the buildings were crowned, and the appearance of arched vaults. There are no light and elegant edifices, no towering minarets, no imposing fortifications, but all is mean and gloomy aspect... The walls and fortifications have a weak and contemptible appearance, compared even with those of Accho (Acre); and, as at that place,

the entrance is prepossessing, but its interior disappoints the expectations raised. After passing a gate crowned with three small cupolas, there is seen, on the right, a gaudy fountain, faced with marble slabs, and decorated with painted devices, and Arabic sentences in characters of gold. Passing within, however, the town has all the appearance of a poor village, and every part of it that we saw, was of corresponding meanness." Many of the streets are connected by Hights of steps. The Mussulman part of the town is very much dilapidated, but the street by the sea wall is clean and regular.

Besides the citadel on the top of the hill, there is a small fort, near the sea, on the west, another on the north, and a third near the eastern gate of entrance; mounting, in all, from fifty to sixty pieces of cannon. The religious structures are, three mosques, and the Latin, Greek, and Armenian convents. The population may be from 4000 to 5000, mostly Turks and Arabs; the Christians not being estimated at more than 600. Joppa still enjoys a traffic, which, considering the state of the country, may be called considerable, with the neighbouring coasts. In the way of manufacture it is chiefly noted for its soap, which is an article of export to Damascus and Cairo, and is used in all the baths of the principal cities. The delicious fruits of the vicinity are also largely exported, particularly the melons. There are no antiquities at Joppa, nor can any be expected in a town which has been so often sacked and destroyed-five times by the Assyrians and Egyptians, in their wars with the Jews; three times by the Romans; and twice by the Saracens, in the wars of the Crusades. (Volney's Travels,' i. 136, &c.; Chateaubriand, Itinéraire,' ii. 103, &c., edit. Bruxelles, 1826; Clarke, iv. 438, &c. 8vo.; Buckingham, i. 227, &c. 8vo.; Skinner's Adventures,' i. 175–184.)

6. “A tanner.”—This was regarded by the ancients as a very mean occupation; and was, by the Jews in particular, held in a degree of contempt which it is difficult to understand.

66

By the sea side."-This probably distinguishes that Simon's house was in the suburbs. The situation, by the seaside, seems to have been held a convenience in the business of a tanner; and, for the rest, it is certain that this trade was not allowed to be exercised within a town, nor within less than fifty cubits from its walls. This was on account of the disagreeable odour from the skins, and the manner of dressing them, and still more from that of the dead carcases, which the tanners often flayed.

28. "It is an unlawful thing," &c.—As the Jews were at this time subject to the heathen, and had, necessarily, much commercial intercourse with Gentiles, it may be desirable to distinguish by what line their intercourse was limited. They might not intermarry with the heathen; but, although such intermarriages were clearly forbidden in the Law, they sometimes took place among those Jews who lived in foreign countries. They might not eat with the Gentiles, nor enter their houses, nor walk with them in the streets: in short, although they might talk and traffic with them, after the manner of those who have no personal acquaintance, they might do nothing which tended to or indicated a closer and more endearing intimacy. Hence the Jews became obnoxious to the heathen for their unsocial character; their practice, however, in this matter, if not their principle, was, as St. Peter intimates, well known to the heathen among whom they lived in foreign lands, as well as to those who were their masters in their own country.

CHAPTER XI.

1 Peter, being accused for going in to the Gentiles, 5 maketh his defence, 18 which is accepted. 19 The Gospel being spread into Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, Barnabas is sent to confirm them. 26 The disciples there are first called Christians. 27 They send relief to the brethren in Judæa in time of famine.

AND the apostles and brethren that were in Judæa heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.

2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,

3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.

4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying,

5 I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me:

[ocr errors]

6 Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

1 Chap. 2. 4.

7 And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.

8 But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.

9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

10 And this was done three times and all were drawn up again into heaven.

11 And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Cæsarea unto me.

12 And the spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house:

13 And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;

14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.

15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, 'as on us at the beginning.

16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, 'John indeed bap

John 1. 26.

« PreviousContinue »