Acts 10:9
On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:
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(9) As they went on their journey . . .—The distance from Cæsarea to Joppa was about thirty Roman miles.

To pray about the sixth hour.—As in Acts 3:1, we again find St. Peter observing the Jewish hours of prayer. The “hunger” mentioned in the next verse implies that up to that time he had partaken of no food, and makes it probable that it was one of the days, the second and fifth in the week, which the Pharisees and other devout Jews observed as fasts. The flat housetop of an Eastern house was commonly used for prayer and meditation (comp. Matthew 10:27; Matthew 24:17; Luke 17:31), and in a city like Joppa, and a house like that of the tanner, was probably the only place accessible for such a purpose.

Acts 10:9-10. On the morrow, as they went — For they set out too late to reach the place that night; Peter went up upon the house-top to pray — It has often been observed, in the course of these notes, that the houses in Judea had flat roofs, on which people walked for the sake of taking the air, and where they conversed, meditated, and prayed. About the sixth hour — Besides the two stated hours of prayer, at the time of the morning and evening sacrifice the more devout among the Jews were used to set apart a third, and to retire for prayer at noon. Thus David, (Psalm 55:17,) Evening and morning and at noon will I pray. And Daniel also kneeled upon his knees three times a day and prayed. Whether Peter was induced by this, or by some other reason, to retire for prayer at this time, it seems at least to have been customary, in the first ages of the Christian Church, to offer up their daily prayers at the third, the sixth, and the ninth hour. And he became very hungry — At the usual meal-time; or rather, his hunger now was supernatural, to prepare him for the trance and vision here mentioned; for the symbols in these extraordinary discoveries were generally suited to the state of the natural faculties. And he would have eaten — Greek, ηθελε γευσασθαι, would have taken some refreshment; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance — Or ecstasy, as the word, εκστασις, signifies; namely, such a rapture of mind as gives the person who falls into it a look of astonishment, and renders him insensible of the external objects around him, while, in the mean time, his imagination is agitated in an extraordinary manner with some striking scenes which pass before it, and take up all his attention. In this ecstasy of Peter, a very remarkable and instructive vision was presented to him, by which the Lord prepared him for the service to which he was immediately to be called; but to which, without some such discovery of the divine will as was now made to him, he would have had an insuperable objection.

10:9-18 The prejudices of Peter against the Gentiles, would have prevented his going to Cornelius, unless the Lord had prepared him for this service. To tell a Jew that God had directed those animals to be reckoned clean which were hitherto deemed unclean, was in effect saying, that the law of Moses was done away. Peter was soon made to know the meaning of it. God knows what services are before us, and how to prepare us; and we know the meaning of what he has taught us, when we find what occasion we have to make use of it.Peter went up ... - The small room in the second story, or on the roof of the house, was the usual place for retirement and prayer. See the notes on Matthew 6:6; Matthew 9:2. Even when there was no room constructed on the roof, the roof was a common resort for retirement and prayer. Around the edge a battlement or parapet was commonly made, within which a person could be quite retired from public view. "At Jaffa, the ancient Joppa," says Prof. Hackett (lllustrations of Scripture, p. 81), "where Peter was residing at the time of his vision on the house-top, I observed houses furnished with a wall around the roof, within which a person could sit or kneel without any exposure to the view of others, whether on the adjacent houses or in the streets. At Jerusalem I entered the house of a Jew early one morning, and found a member of the family, sitting secluded and alone on one of the lower roofs, engaged in reading the Scriptures and offering his prayers."

Dr. Thomson (Land and the Book, vol. i. p. 52) says of these roofs, "When surrounded with battlements, and shaded by vines trained over them, they afford a very agreeable retreat, even at the sixth hour of the day - the time when Peter was favored with that singular vision, by which the kingdom of heaven was thrown open to the Gentile world."

About the sixth hour - About twelve o'clock (at noon). The Jews had two stated seasons of prayer, morning and evening. But it is evident that the more pious of the Jews frequently added a third season of devotion, probably at noon. Thus, David says Psalm 55:17, "Evening and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud." Thus, Daniel "kneeled upon his knees three times a day and prayed," Daniel 6:10, Daniel 6:13. It was also customary in the early Christian church to offer prayer at the third, sixth, and ninth hours (Clem. Alex. as quoted by Doddridge). Christians will, however, have not merely stated seasons for prayer, but they will seize upon moments of leisure, and when their feelings strongly incline them to it, to pray.

9-16. upon the housetop—the flat roof, the chosen place in the East for cool retirement.

the sixth hour—noon.

These houses were flat on the tops, and therefore they were commanded to make battlements for them, Deu 22:8.

Peter went up upon the housetop to pray, that he might from thence view the temple, which was a type of Christ, through whom only we and our prayers can be acceptable unto God; hence, 1 Kings 8:30, &c., there is so often mention made of praying towards the city, and towards the place which God should choose; this Daniel practised, though upon the hazard of his life, when both city and temple were ruined, Daniel 6:10.

The sixth hour with them is high noon, or midday, and is accounted one of the three times of prayer, {see Acts 3:1} and was, as the Jews say, recommended to them by Isaac; howsoever, it was the time when they might begin to prepare the evening sacrifice: none of these causes need to be assigned, for doubtless this blessed apostle did watch unto prayer, 1 Peter 4:7, and desirously laid hold upon all opportunities to pour out his soul unto God.

On the morrow, as they went on their journey,.... From Caesarea to Joppa; Joppa is said to be six and thirty miles distant from Caesarea; so far Caesarea was from Lydda, but it seems to be further from Joppa; for according to Josephus (b), from Joppa to Antipatris were a hundred and fifty furlongs, which are almost nineteen miles, and from thence to Caesarea were twenty six miles; unless there was a nearer way by the sea shore, as there was a way by that from Caesarea to Joppa, of which the above author makes mention (c); wherefore they must either have set out the evening before, or early that morning, to get to Joppa by the sixth hour, or twelve o'clock at noon; as it seems they did, by what follows:

and drew nigh unto the city; that is, of Joppa, were but a little way distant from it:

Peter went up upon the housetop to pray; the roofs of houses in Judea were flat, and persons might walk upon them, and hither they often retired for devotion and recreation; See Gill on Matthew 10:27, Matthew 24:17, it was on the former count, namely for prayer, that Peter went up thither, and that he might, be private and alone, and undisturbed in the discharge of that duty. This being at a tanner's house, though not in his shop, brings to mind a canon of the Jews (d),

"a man may not enter into a bath, nor into a tanner's shop, near the Minchah,''

or time of prayer. Now this was about the sixth hour or twelve o'clock at noon, when Peter went up to pray; at which time the messengers from Cornelius were near the city of Joppa; this was another time of prayer used by the Jews, and is what they call the great Minchah, which began at the sixth hour and an half, and so was as is here said, about the sixth hour See Gill on Acts 3:1.

(b) Antiqu. l. 13. c. 13. (c) De Bello Jud. l. 5. c. 14. (d) Misn. Sabbat, c. 1. sect. 2.

On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:
Acts 10:9-10. On the following day (for Joppa was thirty miles from Caesarea), shortly before the arrival of the messengers of Cornelius at Peter’s house, the latter was, by means of a vision effected by divine agency in the state of ecstasy, prepared for the unhesitating acceptance of the summons of the Gentile; while the feeling of hunger, with which Peter passed into the trance, served the divine revelation as the medium of its special form.

ἐπὶ τὸ δῶμα] for the flat roofs (comp. Luke 5:19; Luke 12:3; Luke 17:31) were used by the Hebrews for religious exercises, prayers, and meditations. Winer, Realw. s.v. Dach. Incorrectly Jerome, Luther, Pricaeus, Erasmus, Heinrichs, hold that the ὑπερῷον is meant. At variance with N. T. usage; even the Homeric δῶμα (hall) was something different (see Herm. Privatalterth. § 19. 5); and why should Luke not have employed the usual formal word ὑπερῷον (Acts 1:13-14, Acts 9:37; Acts 9:39, Acts 20:8)? Moreover, the subsequent appearance is most in keeping with an abode in the open air.

ἕκτην] See on Acts 3:1. πρόσπεινος, hungry, is not elsewhere preserved; the Greeks say πειναλέος.

ἤθελε γεύσασθαι] he had the desire to eat (for examples of the absolute γεύσασθαι, see Kypke, II. p. 47)—and in this desire, whilst the people of the house (αὐτῶν) were preparing food (παρασκευαζόντων, see Elsner, Obss. p. 408; Kypke, l.c.) the ἔκστασις came upon him (ἐγένετο, see the critical remarks), by which is denoted the involuntary setting in of this state. Comp. Acts 5:5; Acts 5:11; Luke 1:65; Luke 4:37. The ἔκστασις itself is the waking but not spontaneous state, in which a man, transported out of the lower consciousness (2 Corinthians 12:2-3) and freed from the limits of sensuous restriction as well as of discursive thought, apprehends with his higher pneumatic receptivity divinely presented revelations, whether these reach the inner sense through visions or otherwise. Comp. Graf in the Stud. u. Krit. 1859, p. 265 ff.; Delitzsch, Psychol. p. 285.

Acts 10:9. ὁδοι.: the distance was thirty miles; only here in N.T., not LXX; but ὁδοιπορία is found in N.T. and LXX; ὁδοιπόρος in LXX and Ecclus., but not in N.T.: all three words are found in classical Greek. It is perhaps to be noted that the word here used was also much employed in medical language (Hobart).—δῶμα: sometimes taken here to mean a room on the roof, or an upper room, but the idea of prayer under the free canopy of heaven is better fitting to the vision; see Kennedy, Sources of N. T. Greek, p. 121; = flat roof in N.T. and LXX; in modern Greek = terrace.—περὶ ὥραν ἕκτην: about twelve o’clock, midday; see G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog., pp. 138–142.

9–16. Peter is prepared for their visit by a Vision

9. Peter went up upon the house] With the flat roofs of Eastern houses, to which access could be obtained from outside without passing through the rooms of the building, the housetop formed a convenient place for retirement. It was the place chosen by Samuel (1 Samuel 9:25-26) for his conference with Saul before he anointed him king. Cp. also 2 Samuel 11:2.

to pray] We find that the housetop was used for religious purposes (Jeremiah 19:13; Zephaniah 1:5). These instances are of worship paid to false gods, but if the one worship, we may believe that the other also was performed there.

about the sixth hour] i.e. midday, and the second of the Jewish stated hours of prayer. We see from Acts 10:23-24 that the journey from Joppa to Cæsarea occupied more than one day, so that the vision of Cornelius took place on the day before the trance of St Peter and the messengers had time almost to accomplish their journey before the Apostle, by his vision, was prepared to receive them. The distance between the two places was 30 Roman miles.

Acts 10:9. Δῶμα, the house-top) The house of the tanner had no ὑπερῷον, upper room.—προσεὑξασθαι, to pray) The time before dinner or supper (Acts 10:3) is seasonable for prayer.—ἕκτην, the sixth) dinner hour, and, before it, the hour of prayer: Psalm 55:17, “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray.” Unawares (not expecting it) he meets with so great a revelation.

Verse 9. - Now on for on, A.V.; were for went, A.V. The house top; the quietest and most retired place in an Eastern house (comp. 1 Samuel 9:25, 26). It is not inconsistent with this that the hour-top could also be made a place of special publicity, from its height and open space (see Luke 12:3). About the sixth hour. Noon, the second of the three hours of prayer among the Jews, called "the midday prayer." The last was the ninth hour (Acts 3:1) and the first the third hour, nine in the morning (Acts 2:15). See Psalm Iv. 17. Acts 10:9They (ἐκείνων)

Those messengers, the servants and the soldier. The pronoun has a more specific reference than the English they.

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