Acts 12:20
And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country.
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(20) Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon.—Literally, as in the margin, was in a hostile state of mind; was, in modern phrase, “contemplating hostilities.” The two Phœnician cities were not subject to Agrippa, but were under the control of Rome with a nominal independence.

Desired peace.—Literally, were seeking peace. They apparently feared that Herod would show his displeasure by prohibiting the export of corn, and oil, and wine, on which the Phœnician cities, with their large population and narrow strips of territory, were dependent for subsistence. Comp. 1Kings 5:11, and Ezekiel 27:17, as showing the identity of the commercial relations of the two countries at long intervals in their history.

Acts 12:20. Herod, &c. — The historian now proceeds to mention some circumstances that were introductory to the miserable end of Herod; was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon — On account of some supposed affront which he had received from them, and which provoked him so far that, having vowed a severe revenge, he was preparing with all speed to make war upon them. But they came with one accord to him — Being a trading people, and apprehensive of the consequences of the king’s displeasure, they unanimously adopted the resolution of sending proper representatives to Cesarea, to appear before him; and having made Blastus their friend, desired peace — They sued for, and obtained, reconciliation with Herod. And thus the Christians of those parts were, by the providence of God, delivered from scarcity: because their country was nourished — Was provided with corn; by the king’s country — Thus Hiram also, king of Tyre, desired of Solomon food, or corn, for his household, 1 Kings 5:9.12:20-25 Many heathen princes claimed and received Divine honours, but it was far more horrible impiety in Herod, who knew the word and worship of the living God, to accept such idolatrous honours without rebuking the blasphemy. And such men as Herod, when puffed with pride and vanity, are ripening fast for signal vengeance. God is very jealous for his own honour, and will be glorified upon those whom he is not glorified by. See what vile bodies we carry about with us; they have in them the seeds of their own dissolution, by which they will soon be destroyed, whenever God does but speak the word. We may learn wisdom from the people of Tyre and Sidon, for we have offended the Lord with our sins. We depend on him for life, and breath, and all things; it surely then behoves us to humble ourselves before him, that through the appointed Mediator, who is ever ready to befriend us, we may be reconciled to him, lest wrath come upon us to the utmost.And Herod was highly displeased ... - Greek: "bore a hostile mind," intending war. See the margin. The Greek word θυμομαχῶν thumomachōn does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It means to meditate war; to purpose war in the mind; or here, probably, to be enraged or angry at them. What was the cause of this hostility to the people of Tyre and Sidon is not mentioned, and conjecture is useless. It is not at all inconsistent, however, with the well known character of Herod. It was probably from some cause relating to commerce. Tyre and Sidon were under the Roman power, and had some shadow of liberty (Grotius), and it is probable that they might have embarrassed Herod in some of his regulations respecting commerce.

Tyre and Sidon - See the notes on Matthew 11:21. They were north of Caesarea.

They came with one accord - Fearing the effects of his anger, they united in sending an embassage to him to make peace.

Blastus, the king's chamberlain - See Romans 16:23. The word "chamberlain" denotes an officer who is charged with the direction and management of a chamber or chambers, particularly a bed-chamber. It denotes here a man who had charge of the bed chamber of Herod.

Because their country was nourished ... - Was supplied by the territories of Herod. The country of Tyre and Sidon included a narrow strip of land on the coast of the Mediterranean. Of course they were dependent for provisions, and for articles of commerce, on the interior country; but this belonged to the kingdom of Herod; and as they were entirely dependent on his country, as he had power to dry up the sources of their support and commerce, they were the more urgent to secure his favor.

Ac 12:20-25. Herod's Miserable End—Growing Success of the Gospel—Barnabas and Saul Return to Antioch.

20. Herod was … displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon—for some reason unknown; but the effect on their commercial relations made the latter glad to sue for peace.

their country was nourished by the king's country—See 1Ki 5:11; Ezr 3:7; Eze 27:17. Perhaps the famine (Ac 11:28) made them the more urgent for reconciliation.

Tyre and Sidon; these were two coast towns in Phoenicia, famous, especially the former, for their great trading; and being rich, might be insolent, or possibly might tempt Herod to a war against them, whose conquest would pay the charge of it.

The king’s chamberlain, or chief of his bed chamber.

Desired peace, or begged pardon; there being no war yet begun.

Their country was nourished by the king’s country; these cities lying upon the sea, had little land belonging to them, and of old were forced to have their provision from other places, especially from Judea; thus Solomon gave Hiram, king of Tyre, twenty thousand measures of wheat for his household, and twenty measures of pure oil yearly, 1 Kings 5:9,11; and long after that, they of Judah and Israel are said to have traded with their wheat in Tyre, Ezekiel 27:17. And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon,.... Two cities on the sea coast, in the land of Phoenicia; with the inhabitants of which Herod was so enraged, that though he had not declared war against them, yet he had meditated it in his mind, and intended to do it at a proper time: what gave him this offence is not certain; that it should be for entertaining and concealing of Peter, when he made his escape, is without any foundation; and nothing but this following on that account, could ever occasion such a thought:

but they came with one accord to him; the ambassadors from both cities united in an address to him, and joined in ways and means to reconcile him to them:

and having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend; not merely by arguments, entreaties, and good works, but very likely by gifts, by making presents to him: persons in such an office had usually very great interest in the princes they served (q), as Blastus doubtless had with Herod; Commodus the emperor did every thing at the instances of his chamberlains, and so other princes; for these officers had access when others could not, the king's bedchamber next to sacred; and therefore the Tyrians and Sidonians privately applied to him first:

desired peace; either of Herod himself, to whom, by the means of Blastus, they were introduced; and in their address to him, entreated he would forgive the offence, and be at peace with them; or else of Blastus, whom by some means or another they made their friend; and therefore entreated of him, that he would use his interest with the king, and procure peace for them: and this sense the Arabic version inclines to, which renders the words thus, "and they prayed him that he would take care of reconciliation and peace"; though the former seems to be the true sense: "because their country was nourished by the king's country". These cities were seaports, and the inhabitants of them were much concerned in sending ships to sea, and in merchandise; and it was in Judea and Galilee, which were under Herod's jurisdiction, where they vented the goods they imported, and from whence they were supplied with wheat, honey, and oil, both for their own use, and perhaps to export abroad; see 1 Kings 5:1 Ezekiel 27:3, &c. And it looks as if Herod had forbid all commerce with them, which if it had been continued, would have been the ruin of them.

(q) Vid. Pignorium de servis, p. 480, 481. Popmam de operis Servorum, p. 33. & Alstorph. de Lectis veterum, c. 12. p. 63.

{9} And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country.

(9) A miserable and shameful example of what happens to the enemies of the Church.

Acts 12:20.[277] Θυμομαχεῖν] signifies to fight violently, which may be meant as well of actual war as of other kinds of enmity. See Schweighäuser, Lex. Polyb. p. 303; Kypke, II. p. 63 f.; Valcken. p. 493. Now, as an actual war of Herod against the Roman confederate cities of Tyre and Sidon is very improbable in itself, and is historically quite unknown; as, further, the Tyrians and Sidonians, for the sake of their special advantage (διὰ τὸ τρέφεσθαιβασιλικῆς), might ask for peace, without a war having already broken out,—namely, for the preservation of the peace, a breach of which was to be apprehended from the exasperation of the king; the explanation is to be preferred (in opposition to Raphel and Wolf): he was at vehement enmity with the Tyrians, was vehemently indignant against them (Polyb. xxvii. 8. 4). The reason of this θυμομαχία is unknown, but it probably had reference to commercial interests.

ὁμοθυμαδόν] here also, with one accord, both in one and the same frame of mind and intention. See on Acts 1:14.

πρὸς αὐτόν] not precisely: with him, but before him, turned towards him (see on John 1:1).

Βλάστον] according to the original Greek name, perhaps a Greek or (see the inscription in Wetstein) a Roman in the service of Herod, his praefectus cubiculo (Sueton. Domit. 16), chamberlain, chief valet de chambre to the royal person[278] (ὁ ἐπὶ τοῦ κοιτῶος τοῦ βασιλέως, comp. on ἐπί, Acts 8:27, and on κοιτών, Wetstein and Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 252 f.). How they gained and disposed him in their favour (πείσαντες, see Nägelsb. on Iliad, p. 50 f.), possibly by bribery, is not mentioned.

διὰ τὸ τρέφεσθαιβασιλικῆς] sc. χώρας. This refers partly to the important commercial gain which Tyre and Sidon derived from Palestine, where the people from of old purchased in large quantities timber, spices, and articles of luxury from the Phoenicians, to whom, in this respect, the harbour of Caesarea, improved by Herod, was very useful (Joseph. Antt. xv. 9. 6); and partly to the fact, that Phoenicia annually derived a portion of its grain from Palestine, 1 Kings 5:9; 1 Kings 5:11; Ezekiel 27:17; Joseph. Antt. xiv. 10. 6.

[277] Chrysostom correctly remarks the internal relation of what follows: εὐθέως ἡ δίκη κατέλαβεν αὐτόν, εἰ καὶ μὴ διὰ Πέτρον, ἀλλὰ διὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ μεγαληγορίαν. Comp. Euseb. ii. 10. There is much subjectively supplied by Baumgarten, who considers it as the aim of this section to exhibit the character of the kingdom of the world in this bloody persecution directed against the apostles.

[278] Scarcely overseer of the royal treasure (Gerlach), as κοιτώς is used in Dio Cass. lxi. 5. For the meaning chamber, i.e. not treasure chamber, but sleeping room, is the usual one, and lies at the root of the designations of service, κοιτωνιάρχης (chamberlain) and κοιτωνίτης (valet de chambre). Comp. Lobeck, l.c. In the LXX. and Apocr. also κοιτ. is cubiculum. See Schleusn. Thes.Acts 12:20. θυμομαχῶν: lit[254], “to fight desperately” Polyb., ix., 40, 4; xxvii., 8, 4, and it might be used not only of open warfare, but of any violent quarrel; here almost = ὀργίζεσθαι. There could be no question of actual warfare, as Phœnicia was part of the province of Syria, and Herod had no power to wage war against it. Probably the cause of this θυμομαχία lay in commercial interests. The word is not found in LXX, or elsewhere in N.T.—ὁμοθυμαδόν, Acts 1:14.—πείσαντες, cf. Matthew 28:14, possibly with bribes, as Blass and Wendt suggest.—τὸν ἐπὶ τοῦ κοιτῶνος, “chamberlain,” perhaps best. κοιτών will imply that he was over the king’s bed-chamber. Exodus 8:3, cf. 2 Samuel 4:7, 2 Kings 6:12, 1Es 3:3 = Latin cubicularius. κοιτών, in Dio Cassius, lxi., 5, is used of the king’s treasury, but the ordinary usage is as above. In Attic Greek δωμάτιον, not κοιτών.—τρέφεσθαι, i.e., with corn (cf. 1 Kings 5:9, Ezra 3:7, Ezekiel 27:17; Jos., Ant., xiv, 10, 6), and see Blass, note in loco.

[254] literal, literally.20–25. Death of Herod Agrippa I. Growth of the Church

20. And Herod was highly displeased] The oldest MSS. omit Herod. Read, “Now he,” &c. The verb implies a deep-seated feeling of anger. It is not found elsewhere in the N. T.

with them of Tyre and Sidon] They were still seats of maritime industry, and perhaps Herod’s regard for the people of Berytus (Beyrout), another Phœnician seaport a little north of Sidon, may have been connected as cause or effect with his anger at the people of the two older cities. Josephus (xix.7. 5) gives an account of splendid buildings which this king provided for Berytus. It is clear that the way in which the royal anger had made itself felt was one which interfered with the commercial prosperity of Tyre and Sidon.

but they came with one accord to him] i.e. they joined in a common embassy and sent persons from both towns to make representations and use their influence to appease Herod’s anger.

Blastus the king’s chamberlain] Probably, as his name implies, some Roman who had taken office under this Eastern king who rejoiced in the favour of the Roman Emperor.

desired (asked for) peace] We are not to understand from these words that Agrippa was making war on Tyre and Sidon, but only that he was on unfriendly terms with them and was impeding their trade.

nourished by the king’s country] The extent of Herod’s rule was very great, and if he encouraged another port, and made regulations by which traffic was diverted from the towns of Tyre and Sidon, it was in his power to take away from them at least one-half of the commerce which was their support.Acts 12:20. Ἦν δὲ, but Herod was) A restless kind of life.—(θυμομαχῶν, warring in mind) θυμομαχεῖν is said of one who is borne with hostility against his enemy only in mind, when his strength has been now lost, as Raphelius, from Polybius, shows to have been the case with Herod, or else has not been yet collected. Even without recourse to arms, by withholding supplies of grain, etc., to their markets, Herod could press heavily on the people of Tyre and Sidon, as usually happens in the case of marts for commerce.—πείσαντες, having appeased or made a friend of) So the Christians also, in the providence of God, were relieved from the dearness of provisions there: comp. ch. Acts 11:28.—τὸν ἐπὶ τοῦ κοιτῶνος, the chamberlain) Such personages have often great power with kings; [and they were the more in need of peace on account of the dearness of provisions.—V. g.]—εἰρήνην, peace) They knew not to what lengths the offended king might proceed.—ἀπὸ τῆς βασιλικῆς, from the king’s) Repeat χώρας, country. Even Hiram, King of Tyre, had sought provisions for his household from Solomon: 1 Kings 5:9.Verse 20. - Now he for and Herod, A.V. and T.R.; and for but, A.V. ; they asked for for desired, A.V.; fed from for nourished by, A.V. Highly displeased (θυμομαχῶν); only here in the New Testament, but used by Polybius, as well as the kindred word ψυχομαχεῖν, in the sense of having a hostile spirit against any one, maintaining a strong resentment. It describes a state of feeling which may exist before war, during war, and after war when only a hollow peace has been made. Tyro and Sidon at this time were semi-independent cities under the Roman supremacy. The occasion of Herod's displeasure is not known. Chamberlain; literally, the officer over his bedchamber - his chief groom of the chambers - an office which would give him easy access to the king's private ear. Was fed. This commerce, by which Palestine supplied Tyro and Sidon with wheat in return for timber, was as old as the time of Solomon at least (1 Kings 5:9, 11); see too Ezekiel 27:17, and the decree of Caligula, in which he speaks of the large exportation of corn to Sidon from the Jewish harbor of Joppa ('Ant. Jud.,' 14. 10:6). Highly displeased (θυμομαχῶν)

Originally, to fight desperately: but as there is no record of any war of Herod with the Tyrians and Sidonians, the word is to be taken in the sense of the A.V. Only here in New Testament.

Chamberlain (τὸν ἐπὶ τοῦ κοιτῶνος)

Lit., the one over the bedchamber.

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