|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:12-14 God can find hiding-places for his people. They made supplication. All God's people are praying people. It was now a time of trouble and danger with the disciples of Christ; but if any is afflicted, let him pray; that will silence cares and fears. They had now a great work to do, and before they entered upon it, they were earnest in prayer to God for his presence. They were waiting for the descent of the Spirit, and abounded in prayer. Those are in the best frame to receive spiritual blessings, who are in a praying frame. Christ had promised shortly to send the Holy Ghost; that promise was not to do away prayer, but to quicken and encourage it. A little company united in love, exemplary in their conduct, fervent in prayer, and wisely zealous to promote the cause of Christ, are likely to increase rapidly.
Verse 12. - Nigh unto for from, A.V.; journey off for journey, A.V. Olivet, from the Vulgate Olivetum. The particular Greek form Ἐλαιὼν, Elaeon, occurs in the New Testament only here. In Luke 19:29; Luke 21:37, according to the T.R., and that followed in the R.V., it is Ἐλαιῶν, of Olives. But as St. Luke usually has τὸ ὄρος τῶν Ἐλαιῶν when he speaks of it as "the Mount of Olives" (Luke 19:37; Luke 22:39), and as here he calls it Elaeon, which is its name in Josephus ('Jud. Ant.,' 7:9, 2; see too 20:8, 6), it seems probable that in Luke 19:29; Luke 21:27, we ought to read, with Lachmann and Tischendorf (see Meyer on Luke 19:29), Ἐλαιὼν, Elaeon, Olivet. In the Old Testament, in 2 Samuel 15:30, it is "the ascent of the Olives" (A.V., "the ascent of Mount Olivet"); in Zechariah 14:4, "the Mount of Olives." A sabbath day's journey off; i.e. six, or according to Schleusner, seven and a half, furlongs (or two thousand cubits). Josephus ('Jud. Ant.,' 20:8, 6) calls it "five furlongs," but he only measured to the foot of the hill, whereas St. Luke gives the distance from the spot whence Christ ascended. Bethany itself, according to John 11:18, was fifteen furlongs from Jerusalem.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then returned they unto Jerusalem,.... With great joy, after the angels had told them that he should come again in like manner:
from the mount called Olivet; which was on the east side of Jerusalem, a mountain Christ much frequented, and from whence he ascended to heaven. This is the hill which in 1 Kings 11:7 is said to be "before Jerusalem"; and accordingly Jarchi interprets it of the Mount of Olives; and in Zechariah 14:4 it is expressly said to be "before Jerusalem on the east"; hence, when our Lord sat upon it, he is said to be over against the temple, Mark 13:3. It has its name from the multitude of olive trees which grew upon it: it is by the Jewish writers sometimes called , "the Mount of Olives" (n), as in Zechariah 14:4 and sometimes (o), and (p), "the Mount of Oil"; i.e. of olive oil, which was made out of the olives that grew upon it. It is said, that in an old edition of the Latin version of this text it is called "the Mountain of Three Lights"; and this reason is given for it, because on the west side it was enlightened in the night by the continual fire of the altar in the temple; and on the east side it had the first beams of the sun before the city was enlightened with them; and it produced plenty of olives, by which the light is maintained in the lamps. Josephus (q) relates, that in the earthquake in the times of Uzziah, half part of this mountain, which was to the west, was divided from it, and was rolled four furlongs to the eastern part of it, so that the ways and king's gardens were stopped up,
Which, is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey. The Syriac version renders it, "about seven furlongs", or near a mile; though Josephus (r) writes, that the Mount of Olives was but five furlongs from Jerusalem: perhaps this may be a mistake in the present copies of Josephus, since Chrysostom on this place cites this passage of Josephus, and reads seven furlongs; which exactly agrees with the Syriac version. A sabbath day's journey, according to the Jews, was two thousand cubits from any city or town, and which they often called, , "the bound of the sabbath" (s); and which they collect partly from Numbers 35:4 which they understand thus (t):
"a thousand cubits are the suburbs (of the city), and two thousand cubits the bounds of the sabbath.
And these were so many middling paces; for so they say (u),
"a walk of two thousand middling paces, this is the bound of the sabbath.
And that this was the proper space they also gather from Joshua 3:4 it being the distance between the ark and the people when they marched; and though this was not fixed by the law, yet being a tradition of the elders, was strictly observed by them: so when Ruth desired to become a proselytess, the Targumist on Ruth 1:16 introduces Naomi thus speaking to her,
"says Naomi, we are commanded to keep the sabbaths, and the good days, (or feasts,) and not to walk above "two thousand cubits";
i.e. on those days; for to go further was reckoned a profanation of them: so it is said (w),
"the sabbath day is profaned with the hands by work, and with the feet by walking more than "two thousand cubits".
Yea, this was punishable with beatings (x):
"a man might go on the sabbath without the city two thousand cubits on every side--but if he went beyond two thousand cubits, they beat him with the beating of rebels,
or in the same manner a rebellious son was beaten. Nay, not only they might not go out of a city or town where they were, further than this, but from whatsoever place they happened to be, as appears by these following rules (y),
"if anyone falls asleep in the way (or on the road), and he does not know that it was dark (and so that the sabbath is begun), he has two thousand cubits (allowed him) on every side.--Whoever is on a journey, and it is dark, and he knows a tree, or a hedge, and says, let my sabbath (or sabbatical seat) be under it, he says nothing; but if he says, let my sabbath be at the root of it, then he may go from the place of his feet, and to the root of it, two thousand cubits, and from the root of it to his house two thousand cubits; by which means he may go four thousand cubits after it is dark. But if he does not know (any), and is not expert in walking, and says, let my sabbath be in my place, (i.e. in which he stands,) then from his place he has two thousand cubits on every side.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ac 1:12-26. Return of the Eleven to Jerusalem—Proceedings in the Upper Room till Pentecost.
12-14. a sabbath day's journey—about two thousand cubits.
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