And having arisen, he went on, and lo, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch, a man of rank, of Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, who had come to worship to Jerusalem;
Acts 8:27 Additional TranslationsClarke's Commentary on the Bible
A man of Ethiopia - Ανηρ Αιθιοψ should be translated an Ethiopian, for the reasons given on Acts 7:2.
An eunuch - See this word interpreted, on Matthew 19:12 (note). The term eunuch was given to persons in authority at court, to whom its literal meaning did not apply. Potiphar was probably an eunuch only as to his office; for he was a married man. See Genesis 37:36; Genesis 39:1. And it is likely that this Ethiopian was of the same sort.
Of great authority - ΔυναϚης, A perfect lord chamberlain of the royal household; or, rather, her treasurer, for it is here said, he had charge of all her treasure, ην επι πασης της γαζης αυτης. The apparent Greek word Γαζα, Gaza, is generally allowed to be Persian, from the authority of Servius, who, in his comment on Aen. lib. i. ver. 118: -
Apparent rari nantes in gurgite vasto,
Arma virum, tabulaeque, et Troia Gaza per undas.
"And here and there above the waves are seen
Arms, pictures, precious goods, and floating men."
The words of Servius are: "Gaza Persicus sermo est, et significat divitias; unde Gaza urbs in Palaestina dicitur, quod in ea Cambyses rex Persarum cum Aegyptiis bellum inferret divitias suas condidit." Gaza is a Persian word, and signifies Riches: hence Gaza, a city in Palestine, was so called because Cambyses, king of Persia, laid up his treasures in it, when he waged war with the Egyptians. The nearest Persian word of this signification which I find is gunj, or ganz, and gunja, which signify a magazine, store, hoard, or hidden treasure. The Arabic kluzaneh, comes as near as the Persian, with the same meaning. Hence makhzen, called magazen by the Spaniards, and magazine by the English; a word which signifies a collection of stores or treasures, or the place where they are laid up. It is scarcely necessary to remark that this name is given also to certain monthly publications, which are, or profess to be, a store of treasures, or repository of precious, or valuable things.
But who was Candace? It is granted that she is not found in the common lists of Ethiopic sovereigns with which we have been favored. But neither the Abyssinians nor the Jews admitted women in their genealogies. I shall not enter into this controversy, but shall content myself with quoting the words of Mr. Bruce. "It is known," says he, "from credible writers engaged in no controversy, that this Candace reigned upon the Nile in Atbara, near Egypt. Her capital also, was taken in the time of Augustus, a few years before the conversion of the slave by Philip; and we shall have occasion often to mention her successors and her kingdom, as existing in the reign of the Abyssinian kings, long after the Mohammedan conquest: they existed when I passed through Atbara, and do undoubtedly exist there to this day." - Bruce's Travels, vol. ii. p. 431.
It does not appear, as some have imagined, that the Abyssinians were converted to the Christian faith by this eunuch, nor by any of the apostles; as there is strong historic evidence that they continued Jews and Pagans for more than three hundred years after the Christian era. Their conversion is with great probability attributed to Frumentius, sent to Abyssinia for that purpose by Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, about a.d. 330. See Bruce as above.
The Ethiopians mentioned here are those who inhabited the isle or peninsula of Meroe, above and southward of Egypt. It is the district which Mr. Bruce calls Atbara, and which he proves formerly bore the name of Meroe. This place, according to Diodorus Siculus, had its name from Meroe, daughter of Cambyses, king of Persia, who died there in the expedition which her father undertook against the Ethiopians. Strabo mentions a queen in this very district named Candace: his words are remarkable. Speaking of an insurrection of the Ethiopians against the Romans he says: Τουτων δ' ησαν και οἱ βασιλισσης Ϛρατηγοι της Κανδακης, ἡ καθ' ἡμας ηρξε των Αιθιοπων, ανδρικη τις γυνη, πεπηρωενη τον οφθαλμον, "Among these were the officers of Queen Candace, who in our days reigned over the Ethiopians. She was a masculine woman, and blind of one eye." Though this could not have been the Candace mentioned in the text, it being a little before the Christian era, yet it establishes the fact that a queen of this name did reign in this place; and we learn from others that it was a common name to the queens of Ethiopia. Pliny, giving an account of the report made by Nero's messengers, who were sent to examine this country, says, Aedificia oppidi (Meroes) pauca: regnare faeminam Candacen; quod nomen multis jam annis ad reginas transiit. Hist. Nat. lib. vi. cap. 29, ad fin. They reported that "the edifices of the city were few: that a woman reigned there of the name of Candace; which name had passed to their queens, successively, for many years." To one of those queens the eunuch in the text belonged; and the above is sufficient authority to prove that queens of this name reigned over this part of Ethiopia.
Had come to Jerusalem for to worship - Which is a proof that he was a worshipper of the God of Israel; but how came he acquainted with the Jewish religion? Let us, for a little, examine this question. In 1 Kings 10:1, etc., we have the account of the visit paid to Solomon by the queen of Sheba, the person to whom our Lord refers, Matthew 12:42, and Luke 11:31. It has been long credited by the Abyssinians that this queen, who by some is called Balkis, by others Maqueda, was not only instructed by Solomon in the Jewish religion, but also established it in her own empire on her return; that she had a son by Solomon named Menilek, who succeeded her in the kingdom; and, from that time till the present, they have preserved the Jewish religion. Mr. Bruce throws some light upon this subject: the substance of what he says is the following: "There can be no doubt of the expedition of the queen of Sheba; as Pagan, Moor, Arab, Abyssinian, and all the countries round, vouch for it, nearly in the terms of Scripture. Our Savior calls her queen of the south; and she is called, in 1 Kings 10:1, etc., 2 Chronicles 9:1, etc., queen of Sheba or Saba; for Saba, Azab, and Azaba, all signify the south: and she is said to have come from the uttermost parts of the earth. In our Saviour's time the boundaries of the known land, southward, were Raptam or Prassum; which were the uttermost parts of the known earth, and were with great propriety so styled by our Lord. The gold, myrrh, cassia, and frankincense, which she brought with her, are all products of that country. The annals of the Abyssinians state that she was a pagan when she left Saba or Azab, to visit Solomon; and that she was there converted and had a son by Solomon, who succeeded her in the kingdom, as stated above. All the inhabitants of this country, whether Jews or Christians, believe this; and, farther, that the 45th Psalm was a prophecy of her journey to Jerusalem; that she was accompanied by a daughter of Hiram from Tyre; and that the latter part of the Psalm is a prophecy of her having a son by Solomon, and of his ruling over the Gentiles." Travels, vol. ii. page 395, etc. All this being granted, and especially the Scripture fact of the queen of Sheba's visit, and the great probability, supported by uninterrupted tradition, that she established the Jewish religion in her dominions on her return, we may at once see that the eunuch in question was a descendant of those Jews; or that he was a proselyte in his own country to the Jewish faith, and was now come up at the great feast to worship God at Jerusalem. Mr. Bruce may be right; but some think that Saba, in Arabia Felix, is meant: see the note on Matthew 12:42.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
Matthew 21:2-6 Saying to them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway you shall find an donkey tied, and a colt with her: loose them...
Mark 14:13-16 And he sends forth two of his disciples, and said to them, Go you into the city...
John 2:5-8 His mother said to the servants, Whatever he said to you, do it...
Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out...
Psalm 68:31 Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands to God.
Psalm 87:4 I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there.
Isaiah 43:6 I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;
Isaiah 45:14 Thus said the LORD, The labor of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over to you...
Isaiah 60:3,6 And the Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising...
Isaiah 66:19 And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud...
Jeremiah 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may you also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.
Jeremiah 38:7 Now when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon...
Jeremiah 39:16 Go and speak to Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Thus said the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold...
Zephaniah 3:10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring my offering.
1 Kings 10:1 And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions.
Matthew 12:42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it...
1 Kings 8:41-43 Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of your people Israel, but comes out of a far country for your name's sake...
2 Chronicles 6:32,33 Moreover concerning the stranger, which is not of your people Israel, but is come from a far country for your great name's sake...
Psalm 68:29 Because of your temple at Jerusalem shall kings bring presents to you.
Isaiah 56:3-8 Neither let the son of the stranger, that has joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying...
John 12:20 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:
Acts 8:27 Parallel CommentariesArisen Authority Charge Controller Ethiopia Ethiopian Ethiopians Eunuch Great High Jerusalem Met Minister Position Power Queen Rank Rose Servant Started Treasure Treasurer Visited Way WorshipArisen Authority Charge Controller Ethiopia Ethiopian Ethiopians Eunuch Great High Jerusalem Met Minister Position Power Queen Rank Rose Servant Started Treasure Treasurer Visited Way WorshipTHE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica®.
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