Acts 13:18
And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.
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(18) Suffered he their manners.—The Greek word so rendered differs by a single letter only from one which signifies “to nurse, to carry, as a father carries his child.” Many of the better MSS. versions and early writers give the latter reading, and it obviously falls in far better with the conciliatory drift of St. Paul’s teaching than one which implied reproach. The word is found in the Greek of Deuteronomy 1:31 (“bare thee, as a man doth bear his son”), where also some MSS. give the other word, and suggests the inference, already mentioned, that this chapter, as well as Isaiah 1, had been read as one of the lessons for the day.

13:14-31 When we come together to worship God, we must do it, not only by prayer and praise, but by the reading and hearing of the word of God. The bare reading of the Scriptures in public assemblies is not enough; they should be expounded, and the people exhorted out of them. This is helping people in doing that which is necessary to make the word profitable, to apply it to themselves. Every thing is touched upon in this sermon, which might best prevail with Jews to receive and embrace Christ as the promised Messiah. And every view, however short or faint, of the Lord's dealings with his church, reminds us of his mercy and long-suffering, and of man's ingratitude and perverseness. Paul passes from David to the Son of David, and shows that this Jesus is his promised Seed; a Saviour to do that for them, which the judges of old could not do, to save them from their sins, their worst enemies. When the apostles preached Christ as the Saviour, they were so far from concealing his death, that they always preached Christ crucified. Our complete separation from sin, is represented by our being buried with Christ. But he rose again from the dead, and saw no corruption: this was the great truth to be preached.And about the time of forty years - They were this time going from Egypt to the land of Canaan. Exodus 16:35; Numbers 33:38.

Suffered he their manners - This passage has been very variously rendered. See the margin. Syriac, "He nourished them," etc. Arabic, "He blessed them, and nourished them," etc. The Greek word is not elsewhere used in the New Testament. It properly means to tolerate, or endure the conduct of anyone, implying that that conduct is evil, and tends to provoke to punishment. This is doubtless its meaning here. Probably Paul referred to the passage in Deuteronomy 1:31, "The Lord thy God bare thee." But instead of this word, ἐτροποφόρησεν etropophorēsen to bear with, many mss. read ἐτροφοφόρησεν etrofoforēsen), "he sustained or nourished." This reading was followed by the Syriac, Arabic, and has been admitted by Griesbach into the text. This is also found in the Septuagint, in Deuteronomy 1:31, which place Paul doubtless referred to. This would well suit the connection of the passage; and a change of a single letter might easily have occurred in a ms. It adds to the probability that this is the true reading, that it accords with Deuteronomy 1:31; Numbers 11:12; Deuteronomy 32:10. It is furthermore not probable that Paul would have commenced a discourse by reminding them of the obstinacy and wickedness of the nation. Such a course would rather tend to exasperate than to conciliate; but by reminding them of the mercies of God to them, and showing them that He had been their protector, he was better fitting them for his main purpose - that of showing them the kindness of the God of their fathers in sending to them a Saviour.

In the wilderness - The desert through which they passed in going from Egypt to Canaan.

18-22. forty years suffered he their manners—rather, according to what appears the true reading, "cherished he them" (as a nurse the infant in her bosom). This is recorded, Psalm 95:10, and remembered by the apostle, Hebrews 3:8,9, and to be admired through all ages, that God should be so patient, or a people could be so perverse. Some instead of etropoforhsen, read etrofoforhsen, there being but one letter difference, (and such as are usually changed into one another), and then it speaks God’s providing for this people all that while, and carrying them as in his bosom, as a nurse bears the sucking child, Numbers 11:12 Deu 1:31; or as an eagle beareth her young ones on her wings, Deu 32:11,12. But it seems God did not bear with their fathers, but destroyed them in the wilderness, 1 Corinthians 10:5. First, God bare long with those that perished. Secondly, The succeeding generation took not that warning which did become them, but followed their fathers’ steps; and whilst one generation was wearing away, and another coming, this space of forty years was spent, through the abundant compassion of God towards them, who did not consume them, as they tempted him to do, in a moment.

And about the time of forty years,.... From their coming out of Egypt, to their entrance into the land of Canaan:

suffered he their manners in the wilderness; which were very perverse and provoking; as their murmuring for water, their rebellion against Moses and Aaron, their idolatry and the ill report brought on the good land by their spies; and yet the Lord fed them, and led them, and kept them as the apple of his eye: some think the true reading is "he bore", or "fed them", as a nurse bears and feeds her children; and so the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions render it, "he nourished them"; rained manna, and gave them quails from heaven, and furnished a table for them in the wilderness: and indeed, though there were instances of God's patience and forbearance with them, yet certain it is, that as he was tempted and proved by them, so he was grieved with them during the forty years in the wilderness; and often let fall his vengeance upon them, by cutting off great numbers of them; and even the carcasses of all that generation that came out of Egypt fell in the wilderness; nor did any of them enter into the land of Cannan, but Joshua and Caleb.

And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness.
Acts 13:18-19. Ὡς] might be the as of the protasis, so that καί, Acts 13:19, would then be the also of the apodosis (so Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 311 [E. T. p. 362]). But the common rendering circiter is simpler and more suitable to the non-periodic style of the entire context, as well as corresponding to the ὡς of Acts 13:20.

On the accentuation of τεσσαρακονταέτη (so Lachmann and Tischendorf), see Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 405 f.

ἐτροφοφόρ.] He bore them as their nourisher (as it were in his arms), i.e. he nourished and cherished them. There is here a reminiscence of the LXX. Deuteronomy 1:31, according to which passage God bore (נָשָׂא) the Israelites in the wilderness as a man (אִישׁ) beareth his son. The LXX. has rendered this נשׂא by ἐτροφοφ., whence it is evident, as the image is borrowed from a man, that it is based on the derivation from ὁ τροφός and not from ἡ τροφός. So also Cyril, in Oseam, p. 182, in Deut. p. 415. In the few other passages where the word is still preserved, women are spoken of—namely, 2Ma 7:27, and Macar. Hom. 46. 3 (where of a mother it is said: ἀναλαμβάνει καὶ περιθάλπει καὶ τροφοφορεῖ ἐν πολλῇ στοργῇ). But as in this place and in Deuteronomy 1:31 the notion of a male τροφός is quite as definitely presented (comp. Plat. Polit. p. 268 A B, Eur. Herc. f. 45, El. 409; usually τροφεύς, see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 316), it follows that the two references, the male and the female, are linguistically justified in an equal degree; therefore Hesychius explains ἐτροφοφόρησεν, entirely apart from sex, by ἔθρεψεν. From misapprehension of this, the word ἐτροποφ. was at an early period (among the Fathers, Origen already has it) introduced in Deut. l.c.; he bore their manners (Cic. ad Att. xiii. 29, Constitutt. ap. vii. 36, Schol. Arist. Ran. 1432), because the comparison of God to a nourishing mother or nurse, ἡ τροφός, was regarded as unsuitable,[10] and following this reading in Deut. l.c., ἐτροποφ. was also adopted in our passage for the same reason.

ἔθνη ἑπτά] see Deuteronomy 7:1. He destroyed them, i.e. καθελών; see Thuc. i. 4, and Krüger in loc.

κατεκληρον.] He distributed to them for an inheritance. LXX. Jdg 11:24; 1 Kings 2:8; Isaiah 14:2-3; Isaiah 3 Esdr. Acts 8:35. This compound is foreign to other Greek writers, but common in the LXX. in an active and neuter signification. The later Greeks have κατακληρουχεῖν.

[10] With the Greeks their fatherland is often represented under this image. See Stallb. ad Plat. Rep. p. 470 D.

Acts 13:18. ἐτροποφόρησεν, see critical notes. ἐτροπ., “suffered he their manners,” so A. and R.V. ἐτροφ., “bare he them as a nursing father,” R.V. margin. This latter rendering is supported by Bengel, Alford, Bethge, Nösgen, Hackett, Page, Farrar, Plumptre, etc., as more agreeable to the conciliatory drift of the Apostle’s words, but see above, cf. 2Ma 7:27.

18. suffered he their manners in the wilderness] This expression has the highest MSS. support. Yet the change of one letter in the Greek verb (reading ἐτροφοφόρησεν for ἐτροποφόρησεν) introduces a sense so much more beautiful, and at the same time so thoroughly in accord with the O. T. history and language, that it commends itself for acceptance above the Received Text. The rendering of the modified reading which has the support of many ancient authorities would be “he bare them as a nursing father in the wilderness.” This is the expression in Deuteronomy 1:31, where the LXX. have the Greek verb which this slight change would bring in here. There is no such close parallel found in the books of Moses for “he suffered their manners.”

Acts 13:18-19. Καὶἐτροφοφόρησεν, and—bore like a nurse [τροφὸς]) The beginning of this discourse, Acts 13:17-19, has three Greek verbs, which are partly rare, partly altogether peculiar to the sacred writings, ὕψεσεν, ἐτροποφόρησεν, and κατεκληρονόμησεν; of which the first occurs in Isaiah 1:2, the second and third in Deuteronomy 1:31; Deuteronomy 1:38. And moreover these two chapters, Deuteronomy 1 and Isaiah 1, are to the present day read on the one Sabbath: whence it is established with sufficient certainty that both were read on that very Sabbath, and that too in Greek, and that Paul referred especially to that reading of Moses and of the prophets spoken of in Acts 13:15. For even the mention of the Judges, Acts 13:20, accords with the Haphtara, or lesson read, Isaiah 1:26, “I will restore thy judges as at the first:” and it is customary with the Jews to take their discourses, or the beginnings of them, from the Sabbath lesson read in the synagogue. [It was also at that time the same part of the year in which the temple, along with the city, both had been formerly desolated by the Chaldeans, and was subsequently to be desolated by the Romans.—V. g.] Now, as relates to the verb ἐτροποφόρησεν, instead of which valuable MSS. have ἐτροφοφόρησεν, it is already put beyond dispute that the passage referred to in it is Deuteronomy 1:31, ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ ταύτῃ ἐτροφοφόρησέ σε Κύριος ὁ Θεός σου, ὡς εἴ τις τροφοφορήσαι ἄνθρωπος τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ. The Hebrew נשא, bore, expresses the simple notion: how did he bear with them? In endurance (tolerance) or in beneficence (kindness)? Answer: God bore, not merely led, the people of Israel in the wilderness, in a way most beneficent and altogether peculiar, such as would properly suit (apply to) that tender age, in which the people did not bear its own self as an adult man, but God bore it as a little child not yet able to help itself, so as that they were exempted from all anxiety concerning food, concerning raiment, and concerning their goings forth. Accordingly Scripture, in speaking of the people in the wilderness, distinguishes this peculiar way of their being borne from everything else of the kind. See Deuteronomy 8:2; Deuteronomy 8:5; Deuteronomy 8:15; Deuteronomy 32:10, etc.; Isaiah 63:9, at the end; Hosea 11:1, etc.; Amos 2:10; Nehem. Acts 9:21, in which passage the conjugate διέθρεψας also comp. Numbers 11:12, ὡσεὶ ἄραι τιθηνὸς τὸν θηλάζοντα. And it is to this that the passage also in Deuteronomy 1 has reference, and Paul here: whence Laud. 3, along with Æth. Arab. and Syr.[72] versions, has rendered the word nourished. For God bore with the manners (ἐτροποφόρησε) of the people even previously, Ezekiel 20:9, when bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt; and afterwards, Psalm 106:43-44, “Many times did He deliver them, but they provoked Him with their counsel.” Wherefore if τροποφορεῖν always had a different meaning from ΤΡΟΦΟΦΟΡΕῖΝ, ἘΤΡΟΦΟΦΌΡΗΣΕ should be by all means read; a verb which occurs also in 2Ma 7:27, and in Macar. homil. 46, § 3. But ἘΤΡΟΠΟΦΌΡΗΣΕΝ is used in the same sense. For this verb has a double force, according as it is derived from ΤΡΌΠΟς or ΤΡΟΦῸς (not from ΤΡΟΦῊ): for Φ before Φ passes into Π, as in writing the forms used are, not ἉΦῊ, ΘΑΦῊ, ἘΧΕΧΕΙΡΊΑ, ὈΧΕΘΗΓΊΑ, ΦΈΦΥΚΑ, ΧΙΘῺΝ, ἝΧΩ, ἈΜΦΈΧΩ (from which however come ἝΞΕ, ἈΜΦΈΞΩ), but ἈΦῊ, ΤΑΦῊ, ἘΚΕΧΕΙΡΊΑ, ὈΧΕΤΗΓΊΑ, ΠΈΦΥΚΑ, ΚΙΘῺΝ or ΧΙΤῺΝ, ἜΧΩ, ἈΜΠΈΧΩ, from a wish to avoid aspirates, a feeling which goes so far that the transcribers wrote everywhere, ΟἹ ΦΑΡΙΣΑῖΟΙ, ΑἹ ἩΜΈΡΑΙ, ΕἾς Ὁ, Κ.Τ.Λ. The Scholiast on Aristophanes employs it in the sense derived from ΤΡΌΠΟς: commenting on the verses,—

[72] Syr. the Peschito Syriac Version: second cent.: publ. and corrected by Cureton, from MS. of fifth cent.

Οὐ χρὴ λέοντος σκύμνον ἐκ πόλει τρέφειν,

Μάλιστα μὲν λέοντα μὴ ʼν πόλει τρέφειν.

Ἤν δʼ ἐκτραφῇ τίς, τοῖς τρόποις ὑπηρετεῖν

Ranæ, Acts 5, Scene 4, 185 f.—

he renders the last phrase by the verb τροποφορεῖν. Also Tully, l. 13, ad Att. Epist. 29, τὸν τύφον μου τροποφόρησον. But in Scripture, even those who write τροποφορεῖν, nevertheless mean τροφοφορεῖν. The Cod. Cantabrigiensis has in the Greek ἐτροποφόρησεν, and yet in the Latin, “ac si nutrix aluit.” The Apost. Constit. have ἐτροποφόρησεν αὐτοὺς ἐν παντοίοις ἀγαθοῖς, I. vii. c. 36. And so clearly Ephraim Syrus, ὥσπερ νήπιον,—οὕτω καὶ αἱ ψυχαὶ αἱ χάριτος θείας μέτοχοι γενόμεναι, τροποφοροῦνται ἐν τῇ γλυκύτητι καὶ ἀναπαύσει τοῦ πνεύματος, κ.τ.λ., fol. υκς. ed. Oxon. On the contrary, τροποφορεῖν from τρόπος, at least in the testimonies just quoted, implies some degree of consent (approval): but God by no means approved of the manners of the people in the wilderness. He says προσώχθισα, I was grieved, Hebrews 3:10; with which comp. Exodus 23:21, “Provoke Him not, for He will not pardon your transgressions;” Exodus 32:10; Psalm 106:23; Isaiah 63:10; Ezekiel 20:13. Then, even though it may be understood of an unobjectionable toleration of bad manners, yet in this passage, as Mill says, “perhaps it is not even true. For how can it be said that God bore their manners for forty years in the wilderness, seeing that He destroyed them all, excepting one and a second (Joshua and Caleb), in the wilderness?” Nor would that notion accord with the design of the apostle: for he would thus, by implication, be accusing the Israelites; which it is not probable that he wished to do immediately at the beginning of his address, especially as that beginning was so mild a one. Procopius Gazæus joins τρέπω and τρέφω in the derivation of this verb, explaining that ἐτροποφόρησεν, Deuteronomy 1, ὁ σύμμαχος ἐβάστασε, φησί. Κυρίως δὲ σημαίνει τὸ τοὺς παῖδας δυσκολαίνοντας τρέπειν καὶ μεταφέρειν διὰ συμψελλισμῶν καὶ συγκαταβάσεως. See Hoeschel on Orig. c. Cels., p. 480. At all events, whatever of good the notion has in it from the term τρόπος, still remains: for evidently a τροφὸς, nurse, also performs as well the other offices of kindness, as also especially tolerates patiently the manners (temper and ways) of a peevish little child: and God tolerated the manners of the Israelites, but He also, in many other ways, ἐτροφοφορησε: see the whole of Psalms 78. Comp. App. Crit. Ed. ii. on this passage.[73] We must say something also of the ΚΑΤΕΚΛΗΡΟΝΟΜΗΣΕΝ. It denotes not merely, to take an inheritance, but also to give an inheritance; Jdg 11:24, “That which Chemosh shall give thee to possess,” κληρονομήσει, and ΚΛΗΡΟΝΟΜΉΣΟΜΕΝ, “we will possess as an inheritance.” And in this passage of Luke it rests on the best MSS. A very few have κατεκληροδότησεν.[74] The same variety of reading is found in Deuteronomy 1:38, LXX.—Ὡς ΤΕΣΣΑΡΑΚΟΝΤΑΕΤῆ ΧΡΌΝΟΝ, about the space of four hundred years) Paul, in recounting the benefits of GOD towards the people in chronological method, at the same time furnishes to his hearers occasion (handle) for thinking about the length of the ages from the Exodus down to Christ, and invites his hearers on that account the rather to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ. Comp. Matthew 1:17, note (as to the three periods of fourteen generations from Abraham to Christ).

[73] AC corrected, E, have ἐτροφοφόρηοεν. Nutrivit in e: ac si nutrix aluit in d. But B (judging from the silence of the collators) D Vulg. have ἐτροποφόμησεν.—E. and T.

[74] ABCDE support κατεκληρονόμησεν. None of the oldest authorities support the κατεκληροδότησεν of the Rec. Text.—E. and T.

Verse 18. - For about for about, A.V. Suffered he their manners (ἐτροποφόρησεν). This word τροποφορέω, to bear or put up with any one's (perverse) manners, is found nowhere else in the New Testament. But in the Cod. Alex. of the LXX. it is the rendering of Deuteronomy 1:31, instead of ἐτροφόρησεν he bare or carried, as a nursing father carries his child, which is the read of the Cod. Vat. and of the margin of the R.T. here. The Hebrew נָשָׂא is capable of either sense. From this quotation from Deuteronomy it is conjectured that the Par-ashah on this occasion was from Deuteronomy 1, and if the ὕψωσεν of ver. 17 is taken from Isaiah 1, that would seem to have been the Haphtorah, and it is curious that Deuteronomy 1. and Isaiah 1. are read in the synagogues now on the same sabbath (but see note on ver. 17). Forty years is invariably the time assigned to the dwelling in the wilderness (Exodus 16:35; Numbers 14:33, 34; Numbers 32:13; Numbers 33:38; Deuteronomy 1:3; Psalm 95:10, etc.). Acts 13:18Suffered he their manners (ἐτροποφόρησεν)

From τρόπος fashion or manner, and φορέω, to bear or suffer. The preferable reading, however, is ἐτροφοφόρησεν; from τροφός, a nurse; and the figure is explained by, and probably was drawn from, Deuteronomy 1:31. The American revisers properly insist on the rendering, as a nursing-father bare he them.

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