Acts 2:9
Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
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(9-11) Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites. . . .—The list that follows is characteristic of the trained historian—trained, it may be, as in the school of Strabo (see Introduction to St. Luke)—who had carefully inquired what nations were represented at that great Pentecost, who had himself been present, at least, at one later Pentecost (Acts 21:15), and knew the kind of crowd that gathered to it. There is a kind of order, as of one taking a mental bird’s-eye view of the Roman empire, beginning with the great Parthian kingdom, which was still, as it had been in the days of Crassus, the most formidable of its foes; then the old territory of the Medes which had once been so closely connected with the history of their fathers; then, the name of the Persians having been thrown into the background, the kindred people of Elam (commonly rendered Persia in the LXX.) whom Strabo speaks of as driven to the mountains (xi. 13, § 6); then the great cities of the Tigris and Euphrates, where the “princes of the captivity” still ruled over a large Jewish population; then passing southward and westward to Judæa; then to Cappadocia, in the interior of Asia Minor; then to Pontus, on the northern shore washed by the Euxine; then westward to the Proconsular Province of Asia, of which Ephesus was the capital. From Ephesus the eye travels eastward to the neighbouring province of Phrygia; thence southward to Pamphylia; thence across the Mediterranean to Egypt; westward to Cyrene; northward, re-crossing the Mediterranean, to the great capital of the empire; then, as by an after-thought, to the two regions of Crete and Arabia that had been previously omitted. The absence of some countries that we should have expected to find in the list—Syria, Cilicia, Cyprus, Bithynia, Macedonia, Achaia, Spain—is not easy to explain, but it is, at any rate, an indication that what we have is not an artificial list made up at a later date, but an actual record of those whose presence at the Feast had been ascertained by the historian. Possibly they may have been omitted because Jews and converts coming from them would naturally speak Greek, and there would be no marvel to them in hearing Galileans speaking in that language. The presence of Judæa in the list is almost as unexpected as the absence of the others. That, we think, might have been taken for granted. Some critics have accordingly conjectured that “India” must be the true reading, but without any MS. authority. Possibly, the men of Judæa are named as sharing in the wonder that the Galileans were no longer distinguished by their provincial patois. (Comp. Note on Matthew 26:73.)

2:5-13 The difference in languages which arose at Babel, has much hindered the spread of knowledge and religion. The instruments whom the Lord first employed in spreading the Christian religion, could have made no progress without this gift, which proved that their authority was from God.Parthians ... - To show the surprising extent and power of this miracle, Luke enumerates the different nations that were represented then at Jerusalem. In this way the number of languages which the apostles spoke, and the extent of the miracle, can be ascertained. The enumeration of these nations begins at the east and proceeds to the west. Parthians mean those Jews or proselytes who dwelt in Parthia. This country was a part of Persia, and was situated between the Persian Gulf and the Tigris on the west, and the Indus River on the east. The term "Parthia" originally referred to a small mountainous district lying to the northeast of Media. Afterward it came to be applied to the great Parthian kingdom into which this province expanded. Parthia proper, or Ancient Parthia, lying between Asia and Hyrcania, the residence of a rude and poor tribe, and traversed by bare mountains, woods, and sandy steppes, formed a part of the great Persian monarchy. Its inhabitants were of Scythian origin. About 256 years before Christ, Arsaces rose against the Syro-Macedonian power, and commenced a new dynasty in her own person, designated by the title of Arsacidae. This was the beginning of the great Parthian empire, which extended itself in the early days of Christianity over all the provinces of what had been the Persian kingdom, having the Euphrates for its western boundary, by which it was separated from the dominions of Rome (Kitto's Encyclop.). Their empire lasted about 400 years. The Parthians were much distinguished for their manner of fighting. They usually fought on horseback, and when appearing to retreat, discharged their arrows with great execution behind them. They disputed the empire of the East with the Romans for a long time. The language spoken there was that of Persia, and in ancient writers Parthia and Persia often mean the same country.

Medes - Inhabitants of Media. This country was situated westward and southward of the Caspian Sea, between 35 degrees and 40 degrees of north latitude. It had Persia on the south and Armenia on the west. It was about the size of Spain, and was one of the richest parts of Asia. In the Scriptures it is called Madai, Genesis 10:2. The Medes are often mentioned, frequently in connection with the Persians, with whom they were often connected under the same government, 2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 18:11; Esther 1:3, Esther 1:14, Esther 1:18-19; Jeremiah 25:25; Daniel 5:28; Daniel 6:8; Daniel 8:20; Daniel 9:1. The language spoken here was also that of Persia.

Elamites - Elam is often mentioned in the Old Testament. The nation was descended from Elam, the son of Shem, Genesis 10:22. It is mentioned as being in alliance with Amraphel, the king of Shinar, and Arioch, king of Ellasar, and Tidal, king of nations, Genesis 14:1. Of these nations in alliance, Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, was the chief, Genesis 14:4. See also Ezra 2:7; Ezra 8:7; Nehemiah 7:12, Nehemiah 7:34; Isaiah 11:11; Isaiah 21:2; Isaiah 22:6, etc. They are mentioned as a part of the Persian empire, and Daniel is said to have resided at Shushan, which is in the province of Elam, Daniel 8:2. The Greeks and Romans gave to this country the name of Elymais. It is now called Kusistan. It was bounded by Persia on the east, by Media on the north, by Babylonia on the west, and by the Persian Gulf on the south. The Elamites were a warlike people, and celebrated for the use of the bow, Isaiah 22:6; Jeremiah 49:35. The language of this people was of course the Persian. Its capital, Shusan, called by the Greeks Susa, was much celebrated. It is said to have been fifteen miles in circumference, and was adorned with the celebrated palace of Ahasuerus. The inhabitants still pretend to show there the tomb of the prophet Daniel.

Mesopotamia - This name, which is Greek, signifies between the rivers; that is, the region lying between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. In Hebrew it was called Aram-Naharaim; that is, Aram, or Syria, of the two rivers. It was also called Padan Aram, the plain of Syria. In this region were situated some important places mentioned in the Bible: "Ur of the Chaldees, the birthplace of Abraham Genesis 11:27-28; Haran, where Terah stopped on his journey and died Genesis 11:31-32; Charchemish 2 Chronicles 35:20; Hena 2 Kings 19:13; Sepharvaim 2 Kings 17:24. This region, known as Mesopotamia, extended between the two rivers from their sources to Babylon on the south. It had on the north Armenia, on the west Syria, on the east Persia, and on the south Babylonia. It was an extensive, level, and fertile country. The language spoken here was probably the Syriac, with perhaps a mixture of the Chaldee.

In Judea - This expression has greatly perplexed commentators. It has been thought difficult to see why Judea should be mentioned, as if it were a matter of surprise that they could speak in this language. Some have supposed that there is an error in the manuscripts, and have proposed to read Armenia, or India, or Lydia, or Idumea, etc. But all this has been without any authority. Others have supposed that the language of Galilee was so different from that of the other parts of Judea as to render it remarkable that they could speak that dialect. But this is an idle supposition. This is one of the many instances in which commentators have perplexed themselves to very little purpose. Luke recorded this as any other historian would have done. In running over the languages which they spoke, he enumerated this as a matter of course; not that it was remarkable simply that they should speak the language of Judea, but that they should steak so many, meaning about the same by it as if he had said they spoke every language in the world. It is as if a similar miracle were to occur at this time among an assembly of native Englishmen and foreigners. In describing it, nothing would be more natural than to say they spoke French, and German, and Spanish, and English, and Italian, etc. In this there would be nothing remarkable except that they spoke so many languages.

Cappadocia - This was a region of Asia Minor, and was bounded on the east by the Euphrates and Armenia, on the north by Pontus, west by Phrygia and Galatia, and south by Mount Taurus, beyond which are Cilicia and Syria. The language which was spoken here is not certainly known. It was probably, however, a mixed dialect, made up of Greek and Syriac, perhaps the same as that of their neighbors, the Lycaonians, Acts 14:11. This place was formerly celebrated for iniquity, and is mentioned in Greek writers as one of the three eminently wicked places whose name began with C. The others were Crete (compare Titus 1:12) and Cilicia. After its conversion to the Christian religion, however, it produced many eminent men, among whom were Gregory Nyssen and Basil the Great. It was one of the places to which Peter directed an epistle, 1 Peter 1:1.

In Pontus - This was another province of Asia Minor, and was situated north of Cappadocia, and was bounded west by Paphlagonia. Pontus and Cappadocia under the Romans constituted one province. This was one of the places to which the apostle Peter directed his epistle, 1 Peter 1:1. This was the birthplace of Aquila, one of the companions of Paul, Acts 18:2, Acts 18:18, Acts 18:26; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19.

And Asia - Pontus and Cappadocia, etc., were parts of Asia. But the word Asia is doubtless used here to denote the regions or provinces west of these, which are not particularly enumerated. Thus, it is used Acts 6:9; Acts 16:6; Acts 20:16. It probably embraced Mysia, Aeolis, Ionia, Caria, and Lydia. "The term probably denoted not so much a definite region as a jurisdiction, the limits of which varied from time to time, according to the plan of government which the Romans adopted for their Asiatic provinces" (Prof. Hackett, in loco). The capital of this region was Ephesus. See also 1 Peter 1:1. This region was frequently called Ionia, and was afterward the seat of the seven churches in Asia, Revelation 1:4.

9-11. Parthians, &c.—Beginning with the farthest east, the Parthians, the enumeration proceeds farther and farther westward till it comes to Judea; next come the western countries, from Cappadocia to Pamphylia; then the southern, from Egypt to Cyrene; finally, apart from all geographical consideration, Cretes and Arabians are placed together. This enumeration is evidently designed to convey an impression of universality [Baumgarten]. Elamites; descended from Elam, Genesis 10:22, thought to be the Persians.

Mesopotamia; between the two rivers, Tigris and Euphrates.

Judea; the apostles being Galileans, spake a distinct dialect from the rest of the Jews, till now enabled to speak as they did.

Asia; some particular district, at that time especially so called, as 1 Peter 1:1; otherwise the places before named are in Asia in a larger sense.

Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites,.... These are the words of the men continued, and not of the historian, as appears from Acts 2:10 and so the Arabic version reads, "of us Persians, Parthians, and Medes"; that is, we hear them speak in the language of everyone of us: the order in this version is inverted, otherwise the same persons are intended; for the Elamites and Persians are the same: by the Parthians are meant, Jews that were born in Parthia, and had dwelt there, and who spoke the language of that country; and that there were Jews, in those parts, is clear from Josephus (z), who speaks of them together with the Jews of other nations. Many of the Parthian Jews were afterwards converted to the Christian faith; to whom the Apostle John is thought, by some, to have written his first epistle; and which, by some of the ancients, is called the epistle to the Parthians. The kingdom of Parthia, according to Pliny (a), Ptolomy (b), and Solinus (c), had Media on the west, Hyrcania on the north, Aria, or Ariana, on the east, and the desert of Carmania on the south; the metropolis of it was Hecatompylos, so called from the hundred gates that belonged to it; and which, it is thought, stood on the same spot of ground that Ispahan does now, the seat of the Sophies of Persia. And by the Medes are intended the Jews that were natives of Media: so called from "Madai", one of the sons of Japhet, Genesis 10:2 and this, according to Ptolomy (d), has on the north the Hyrcanian, or Gasptan sea, on the west Armenia Major and Assyria, and on the east Hyrcania and Parthia, and on the south Parthia. The Elamites are so called, from Elam the son of Shem, Genesis 10:22 and these, according to Josephus (e), were the founders of the Persians, or from whom they sprung; and so we find Elam and Media, and the kings of Elam, and the kings of the Medes, mentioned together in Scripture, Isaiah 21:2. And certain it is, that Elam was at least a part of the empire of Persia, in Daniel's time; for Shushan, where the kings of Persia then kept their palace, was in the province of Elam, Daniel 8:2 and it is evident, that hither the Jews were carried captive, Isaiah 11:11. So that there might be some remaining in those parts, that were their descendants; and from hence also were people brought by Asnapper, into the cities of Samaria, to supply the room of those who were carried captive, and are called Elamites, Ezra 4:9 And that there were Elamite Jews, may be concluded from the writings of the Jews; for so they say (f), that "the Hagiographa, or holy writings, which were written in the Coptic, Median, Hebrew, "Elamite", and Greek tongues; though they did not read in them (on the sabbath day in time of service) they delivered them from the fire,

when in danger of being burned: so the Megilla, or book of Esther, might not be read in the Coptic, Hebrew, Elamite, Median, and Greek languages; but it might be read in Coptic to Coptites, in Hebrew to Hebrews, , in "Elamite" to the "Elamites", and in Greek to the Greeks (g); and such sort of Jews as the Elamite ones, were these in the text: the Syriac version reads Elanites; and so R. Benjamin in his Itinerary (h), makes mention of a country called, "Alania", and of a people called, "Alan"; and whom he speaks of in company with Babylon, Persia, Choresan, Sheba, and Mesopotamia; and may intend the same people as here: now these Parthian, Median, and Elamite Jews were such who descended from the captives of the ten tribes, carried away by Shalmaneser king of Assyria, whom he placed in Halah and Habor, and in the cities of the Medes, 2 Kings 17:6. But besides these, there were also at Jerusalem, at this time, those who are next mentioned:

and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia; who came not quite so far off as the former: Mesopotamia is the same with what is called in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, Aram Naharaim, or Syria between the two rivers; that is, Tigris and Euphrates; the former was on the east of it, and the latter on the west, and Babylon was on the south, and Caucasus on the north; and so the Greek word Mesopotamia signifies a place between two rivers; see Genesis 24:10. And the Jews have adopted it into their own language, calling it, "Mesopotamia" (i); and the same name obtains with other writers (k), and it has since been called Azania and Halopin; it belonged to that part of Assyria, called Chaldea; and these Mesopotamian Jews were the remains of those who were carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon; and though the Chaldean, or Syriac language was now spoken by the Jews, yet in a different manner than it was in Chaldea and Syria: and there were also the dwellers in Judea; by which is meant, that part of the land of Israel, which was distinct from Galilee, and where they used a different dialect from the Galilean Jews; and there were others, who were born, and had lived in Cappadocia. This was a country in Asia, in which were many famous cities; as Archalais, where Claudius Caesar put a Roman colony; and Neo Caesarea (the birth place of Gregory Thaumaturgus); and Melita, built by Semiramis; and Mazaca (l), which was the chief city; and so called from Meshech, the son of Japhet, since called Caesarea. The inhabitants of this country, Herodotus says (m),

"were by the Greeks called Syrians, and they were Syrians; and before the Persians had the government, they were subject to the Medea, and then to Cyrus.

And by Pliny (n) they are called, Leucosyrians. This country, according to Ptolomy (o), had Galatia, and part of Pamphylia on the west, and on the south Cilicia, and part of Syria, and on the east Armenia the great, and on the north, part of the Euxine Pontus; it is now called Amasia, or Almasin: here were many Jews scattered abroad, some of which were afterwards believers in Christ, to whom Peter sent his epistles, 1 Peter 1:1. It had its former name from the river Cappadox, which, as Pliny (p) says, divided the Galatians and Leucosyrians, and this indeed is the reason of its name; in the Syriac language it is called, "Capdac", which comes from which signifies to "cut off", or "divide", as this river did the above people from one another; and hence the country was called Cappadocia, and the inhabitants Cappadocians: in the Jewish writings it is called, Capotakia; and which Maimonides (q) says, is the same with Caphtor; and in the Arabic language, is called Tamiati; and so Caphtor is rendered Cappadocia, and the Caphtorim Cappadocians, in the Targums of Onkelos, Jonathan, and Jerusalem, in Genesis 10:14 and so in the Septuagint version of Deuteronomy 2:23. This country was near the land of Israel, and in it dwelt many Jews; they had schools of learning here, and had traditions peculiarly relating to it: as for instance,

"if a man married a wife in the land of Israel, and divorced her in Cappadocia, he must give her (her dowry) of the money of the land of Israel; and if he marries a wife in Cappadocia, and divorces her in the land of Israel, he may give her of the money of the land of Israel; Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel says, he must give her of the money of Cappadocia (r);

for it seems the Cappadocian money was larger, and weighed more than that in the land of Israel: however,

"if a man marries a wife in Cappadocia, and divorces her in Cappadocia, he must give her of the money of Cappadocia.

And so R. Akiba speaks (s) of one, that he saw shipwrecked at sea; and when, says he, I came to the province of Cappadocia, he came and sat, and judged before me in the constitutions and traditions of the elders: from whence it is manifest, that here were people of the Jewish nation that dwelt in this country, and so at this time. As also in Pontus; hence the first epistle of Peter is sometimes called the epistle to the Pontians; that is, to the Jews of Pontus, then become Christians; Pontus was a country in lesser Asia, and according to Ptolomy (t), it had on the west the mouth of Pontus, and the Thracian Bosphorus, and part of Propontis, on the north, part of the Euxine sea, and on the south the country which is properly called Asia, and on the east Galatia by Paphlagonia; it was the birth place of Marcion the heretic, of which Tertullian gives a most dismal account (u): Asia here intends, neither Asia the greater, nor the less, but Asia properly so called; which had Lycia and Phrygia on the east, the Aegean shores on the west, the Egyptian sea on the south, and Paphlagonia on the north (w); in which were Ephesus the chief city, and Smyrna and Pergamus, and where were many Jews; these might be the remains of those that were carried captive, and dispersed by Ptolomy Lagus; those who dwelt in the three last places spoke the Greek language,

(z) Prooem. ad Lib. de Bello Jud. sect. 2. & l. 2. c. 16. (a) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 15, 25. (b) Geograph. l. 6. c. 5. (c) Polyhistor. c. 69. (d) Geograph. l. 6. c. 2.((e) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 6. sect. 4. (f) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 115. 1.((g) T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 18. 1.((h) P. 73. (i) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 30. fol. 25. 1. & sect. 44. fol. 38. 3.((k) Plin. l. 5. c. 12, 26. & 6. 26, 27. Ptolom. l. 5. c. 18. (l) Solin. Polyhistor. c. 57. (m) L. 1. c. 72. (n) L. 6. c. 3.((o) L. 5. c. 6. (p) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 3.((q) In Misn. Cetubot, c. 13. sect. 11. & Bartenora in ib. (r) Misn. Cetubot, c. 13. sect. 11. T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 110, 2.((s) T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 121. 1.((t) L. 5. c. 1.((u) Adv. Marcion. l. 1. c. 1.((w) Solinus, ib. c. 53.

Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
Acts 2:9-11. ΠάρθοιἌραβες is a more exact statement, placed in apposition, of the subject of ἐγεννήθημεν. After finishing the list, Acts 2:11, Luke again takes up the verb already used in Acts 2:8, and completes the sentence already there begun, but in such a way as once more to bring forward the important point τῇ ἰδίᾳ διαλέκτῳ, only in a different and more general expression, by ταῖς ἡμετ. γλώσσαις. Instead, therefore, of simply writing λαλούντ. αὐτ. τὰ μεγαλ. τ· Θεοῦ without this resumption in Acts 2:11, he continues, after the list of nations, as if he had said in Acts 2:8 merely καὶ πῶς ἡμεῖς.

The list of nations itself, which is arranged not without reference to geography, yet in a desultory manner (east, north, south, west), is certainly genuine (in opposition to Ziegler, Schulthess, Kuinoel), but is, of course, not to be considered, at any rate in its present order and completeness, as an original constituent part of the speech of the people (which would be psychologically inappropriate to the lively expression of strong astonishment), but as an historical notice, which was designedly interwoven in the speech and put into the mouth of the people, either already in the source whence Luke drew, or by Luke himself, in order to give very strong prominence to the contrast with the preceding Γαλιλαῖοι.

ʼΕλαμῖται, on the Persian Gulf, are so named in the LXX. (Isaiah 21:2); called by the Greeks ʼΕλυμαῖοι. See Polyb. 5. 44. 9, al. The country is called ʼΕλυμαΐς, Pol. xxxi. 11. 1; Strabo, xvi. p. 744.

ʼΙουδαίαν] There is a historical reason why Jews should be also mentioned in this list, which otherwise names none but foreigners. A portion of those who had received the Spirit spoke Jewish, so that even the native Jews heard their provincial dialect. This is not at variance with the ἑτέραις γλώσσαις, because the Jewish dialect differed in pronunciation from the Galilean, although both belonged to the Aramaic language of the country at that time; comp. on Matthew 26:73. Heinrichs thinks that ʼΙουδαίαν is inappropriate (comp. de Wette), and was only included in this specification in fluxu orationis; while Olshausen holds that Luke included the mention of it from his Roman point of view, and in consideration of his Roman readers. What a high degree of carelessness would either suggestion involve! Tertull. c. Judges 1:7, read Armeniam. Conjectural emendations are: ʼΙδουμαίαν (Caspar Barth), ʼΙνδίαν (Erasmus Schmid), Βιθυνίαν (Hemsterhuis and Valckenaer). Ewald guesses that Syria has dropped out after Judaea.

τὴν ʼΑσίαν] is here, as it is mentioned along with individual Asiatic districts, not the whole of Asia Minor, nor yet simply Ionia (Kuinoel), or Lydia (Schneckenburger), to which there is no evidence that the name Asia was applied; but the whole western coast-region of Asia Minor (Caria, Lydia, Mysia), according to Plin. H. N. v. 28; see Winer, Realw., Wieseler, p. 32 ff.

τὰ μέρη τῆς Λιβύης τῆς κατὰ Κυρήνην] the districts of the Libya situated towards Cyrene, i.e. Libya Cyrenaica, or Pentapolitana, Upper Libya, whose capital was Cyrene, nearly one-fourth of the population of which were Jews; see Joseph. Antt. xiv. 7. 2, xvi. 6. 1.[125] So many of the Cyrenaean Jews dwelt in Jerusalem, that they had there a synagogue of their own (Acts 6:9).

οἱ ἐπιδημοῦντες Ῥωμαῖοι] the Romans

Jews dwelling in Rome and the Roman countries of the West generally—residing (here in Jerusalem) as strangers (pilgrims to the feast, or for other reasons). On ἐπιδημ., as distinguished from κατοικοῦντες, comp. Acts 17:21. Plat. Prot. p. 342 C: ξένος ὢν ἐπιδημήσῃ. Legg. viii. p. 8, 45 A; Dem. 1352. 19; Athen. viii. p. 361 F: οἱ Ῥώμην κατοικοῦντες καὶ οἱ ἐπιδημοῦντες τῇ πόλει. As ἐπιδημοῦντες, they are not properly included under the category of κατοικοῦντες in the preparatory Acts 2:5, but are by zeugma annexed thereto.

ʼΙουδαῖοί τε καὶ προσήλυτοι is in apposition not merely to οἱ ἐπιδ. Ῥωμαῖοι (Erasmus, Grotius, van Hengel, and others), but, as is alone in keeping with the universal aim of the list of nations, to all those mentioned before in Acts 2:9-10. The native Jews (ʼΙουδαῖοι) heard the special Jewish local dialects, which were their mother-tongues; the Gentile Jews (προσήλυτοι) heard their different non-Hebraic mother-tongues, and that likewise in the different idioms of the several nationalities.

Κρῆτες καὶ Ἄραβες] are inaccurately brought in afterwards, as their proper position ought to have been before ʼΙουδ. τε καὶ προσήλ., because that statement, in the view of the writer, held good of all the nationalities.

τ. ἡμετέραις γλώσσαις] ἡμετ. has the emphasis of contrast: not with their language, but with ours. Comp. Acts 2:8. That γλώσσ. comprehends also the dialectic varieties serving as a demarcation, is self-evident from Acts 2:6-10. The expression τ. ἡμετ. γλ. affirms substantially the same thing as was meant by ἑτέραις γλώσσαις in Acts 2:4.

τὰ μεγαλεῖα τ. Θεοῦ] the great things of God (which God has done; comp. Psalm 71:19; Sir 17:8; Sir 18:3; Sir 33:8; 3Ma 7:22). It is the glorious things which God has provided through Christ, as is self-evident in the case of that assembly in that condition. Not merely the resurrection of Christ (Grotius), but “tota huc οἰκονομία gratiae pertinet,” Calovius. Comp. Acts 10:46.

[125] See Schneckenburger, neutest. Zeitgesch. p. 88 ff.

Acts 2:9-11. The list which follows has been described as showing the trained hand of the historian, whilst it has also been regarded as a distinctly popular utterance in Greek style (Ramsay, Church in the Roman Empire, p. 149; but see also Rendall, Acts, Introd., p. 13). But, as Dean Plumptre well remarks, the omission of many countries which one might have expected shows that the list was not a made up list after the event, but that St. Luke had accurately mentioned the nations present at the Feast. The reference throughout is of course to Jews of the Dispersion, and Schürer (see too Schöttgen) well parallels the description given here of the extent of the Diaspora with the description in Agrippa’s letter to the Emperor Caligula given by Philo (Legat. ad Gaium, 36. Mang., ii., 587). All commentators seem to be agreed in regarding the list as framed to some extent on geographical lines, beginning from Parthia the furthest east. Mr. Page holds that the countries named may be regarded as grouped not only geographically but historically. Of the Jews of the Dispersion there were four classes: (1) Eastern or Babylonian Jews, corresponding in the list to Parthians, Medes, Elamites; (2) Syrian Jews, corresponding to Judæa, Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia; (3) Egyptian Jews, corresponding to Egypt and the parts of Libya over against Cyrene; (4) Roman Jews. (1) Parthia, mentioned here only in the N.T., is placed first, not only because of the vast extent of its empire from India to the Tigris, but because it then was the only power which had tried issues with Rome and had not been defeated, “Parthia” B.D. (Rawlinson). In Mesopotamia, Elam, and Babylonia were to be found the descendants of the kingdom of the Ten Tribes and of the kingdom of Judah, transported thither by the Assyrians and Chaldeans, now and until the reign of Trajan the subjects of the Parthians, but always of political importance to Rome from their position on the eastern borders of the Empire (Schürer, ubi supra, div. ii., vol. ii., pp. 223, 224 E.T.). At the head of (2), Ἰουδαίαν is placed by Mr. Page, i.e., at the head of the group with which in his view it is geographically connected. Of Asia, as of Syria, it could be said that Jews dwelt in large numbers in every city, and the statement that Jews had settled in the most distant parts of Pontus is abundantly confirmed by the Jewish inscriptions in the Greek language found in the Crimea. Seleucus Nicator granted to the Jews in Syria and Asia the same privileges as those bestowed upon his Greek and Macedonian subjects (Jos., Ant., xii., 31); and to Antiochus the Great was due the removal of two thousand Jewish families from Mesopotamia and Babylonia to Lydia and Phrygia (Schürer, l. c., and “Antiochus III.,” B.D.2; Jos., Ant., xii., 3, 4). Mr. Page uses the word Ἰουδαία as equivalent to the land of the Jews, i.e., Palestine and perhaps also to some part of Syria. In the former sense the word could undoubtedly be employed (Hamburger, “Judâa,” Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, i., 5; so too by classical writers and by Strabo, “Judæa,” B.D.). But it is very doubtful how far the term can be extended to include any part of Syria, although Josephus (B.J., iii., 3, 5) speaks of the maritime places of Judæa extending as far as Ptolemais. It may well be that Syria was regarded as a kind of outer Palestine, intermediate between it and heathendom (Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life, pp. 16–19, 71, 73). St. Jerome reads Syria instead of Judæa, a reading to which Blass apparently inclines. Tertullian conjectured Armenia, c. Judges 1:7, and Idumæa (so again Spitta), Bithynia and India have been proposed. It is often very difficult to say exactly what is meant by Asia, whether the term refers to the entire Roman province, which had been greatly increased in the first century B.C. since its formation in 133 B.C., or whether the word is used in its popular sense, as denoting the Ægean coast lands and excluding Phrygia. Here the term is used with the latter signification (Ramsay, Church in the Roman Empire, p. 150, and also “Asia” in Hastings, B.D.). At the head of (3) stands Egypt, where the Jewish Dispersion, especially in Alexandria, played so important a part in the history of civilisation. The greatest prosperity of the Jews in Egypt began with Alexander the Great, but long before his time, in the seventh century B.C., Jewish immigrants were in the country (Schürer, ubi supra, pp. 226, 227, and “Alexandria,” B.D.2). From Egypt the Dispersion penetrated further westward (Schürer, u. s., pp. 230, 231, and note), and in Libya Cyrenaica or Pentapolitana, the modern Tripoli, the Jews were very numerous; cf. for their history in Cyrene 1Ma 15:23; 2Ma 2:23; Jos., Ant., xvi., 6, 1, 5, and Acts 6:9; Acts 11:30; Acts 13:1; Schürer, u. s., p. 232, and Merivale, Romans under the Empire, pp. 364, 365. The expression used here, τὰ μέρη τῆς Λ. τῆς κατὰ Κ., affords a striking parallel to that used by Dio Cassius, ἡ πρὸς Κυρήνην Λιβύη, liii., 12; cf. also Jos., Ant., xvi., 16; “Cyrene,” B.D.2, and Hastings’ B.D. In (4) we have οἱ ἐπιδ. Ῥωμαῖοι. There is no ground for supposing that any Jews dwelt permanently in Rome before the time of Pompey, although their first appearance there dates from the days of the Maccabees (1Ma 8:17; 1Ma 14:24; 1Ma 15:15 ff.). Of the numerous Jewish families brought to Rome by Pompey many regained their freedom, and settled beyond the Tiber as a regular Jewish community with the rights of Roman citizenship. In 19 A.D., however, the whole Jewish population was banished from the imperial city, Jos., Ant., xviii., 3, 5; but after the overthrow of Sejanus it may be safely assumed that Tiberius allowed their return to Rome (Schürer, u. s., p. 232 ff.).—οἱ ἐπιδημοῦντες Ῥωμαῖοι, “Sojourners from Rome,” R.V., i.e., the Jews who live at Rome as sojourners—Roman Jews. Others take ἐπιδ. as referring to the Roman Jews who were making a temporary sojourn in Jerusalem for the Feast, or for some other purpose, the word being thus in a certain degree opposed to the κατοικοῦντες (of permanent dwelling) in Acts 2:5. Others again apparently take the expression as describing Roman Jews who, born in Rome, had taken up their dwelling in Jerusalem, and who are thus distinguished from those Jews who, born in Jerusalem, were Romans by right of Roman citizenship. The only other passage in which ἐπιδημοῦντες occurs is Acts 17:21 (but cf. Acts 18:27, [120] and [121] (Blass)), and it is there used of the ξένοι sojourning in Athens, and so probably thus making a temporary sojourn, or who were not Athenians by birth or citizenship, as distinct from the regular inhabitants of Athens. Cf. Athenæus, viii., p. 361 F.—οἱ Ῥώμην κατοικοῦντες, καὶ οἱ ἐνεπιδημοῦντες τῇ πόλει, which passage shows that ἐπιδ. “minus significat quam κατοικεῖν” (Blass), and other instances in Wetstein. Hilgenfeld, whose pages contain a long discussion of recent views of the words in question, argues that according to what precedes we should expect καὶ οἱ κατοικοῦντες Ῥώμην, and according to what follows we should expect simply Ῥωμαῖοι, and he solves the difficulty by the arbitrary method of omitting καὶ οἱ ἐπιδ. before Ῥωμαῖοι, and Ἰουδ. τε καὶ προσήλυτοι after it, Zeitschrift für wissenschaft. Theol., p. 93 ff. (1895); see further Actus Apost., p. 260, 1899.—Ἰουδαῖοί τε καὶ προσήλυτοι. Not only would St. Luke in writing to a Roman convert of social rank like Theophilus be likely to mention the presence of Roman Jews at the first Christian Pentecost, but he would also emphasise the fact that they were not only Jews, or of Jewish origin, but that proselytes from heathendom were also included (Felten, Belser). In thus explaining the words Felten refers them, with Erasmus and Grotius, to οἱ ἐπιδ. Ῥωμαῖοι only, whilst Overbeck, Weiss, Holtzmann, Wendt, Belser, so Page, Hackett, refer them to the whole of the preceding catalogue. It is evident that Schürer takes the same view, for in speaking of the large offerings contributed by proselytes to the Temple at Jerusalem he mentions that in stating the number of Jews of every nationality living in Jerusalem the Acts does not forget to mention the proselytes along with the Jews, Acts 2:10 (u. s., p. 307).

[120] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[121] R(omana), in Blass, a first rough copy of St. Luke.

9, 10. Under all the nationalities mentioned in this and the following verse we are to understand the Jews, either by birth or conversion (as is indicated in the case of Rome), whose homes were in the countries named.

Parthians] A people who occupied a wide extent of country south of the Caspian Sea, from which they were separated by Hyrcania. They stretched in the Apostolic times from India to the Tigris, and no doubt stand foremost in this list because of their great fame among the nations of the time.

Medes] Their country lay east of Assyria, north-west of Persia and south and south-west of the Caspian Sea.

Elamites] These dwelt in the district known to the Greeks and Romans as Susiana. It lay at the north of the Persian Gulf and was bounded on the west by the Tigris, touching Media on the north and Persia on the south and east. They were a Semitic people, perhaps taking their name from Elam, son of Shem (Genesis 10:22). “Shushan in the province of Elam” is mentioned Daniel 8:2.

Mesopotamia] The country between the Euphrates and the Tigris.

Judea] These would comprise the Jews from the neighbouring towns.

Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia] These were all countries within Asia Minor, Pontus lying in the N. E. and forming, on the north, part of the shore of the Euxine. Cappadocia was south of Pontus, Phrygia was westward of Cappadocia, separated from it by Lycaonia, while Pamphylia stretched on the south coast of Asia Minor between Lycia on the W. and Cilicia on the E. By Asia in this verse, and everywhere else in the Acts, is meant the Roman province known as Proconsular Asia. It comprised all the western coast of Asia Minor and may be roughly considered as embracing the countries known as Mysia, Lydia and Caria. Its capital was Ephesus, and in this district were the seven churches of the Apocalypse.

Egypt] The cities of the north of Egypt, and especially Alexandria, were the abodes of great numbers of Jews.

Libya] was the name anciently applied to the African continent. The parts of it about Cyrene means the district called Cyrenaica. This lay E. of the Syrtis Major and contained five chief cities of which Cyrene was the best known. We find Simon a Cyrenian living in Jerusalem at the time of the Crucifixion (Matthew 27:32). Josephus has a passage (Antiq. xiv. 7. 2) which testifies to the wide dispersion of the Jews at this time, and also mentions specially Egypt and the parts of Libya about Cyrene as full of them.

“Strabo in another place bears witness to this [the wealth and influence of the Jews]; saying that when Sulla crossed over into Greece to war against Mithridates, he also sent Lucullus to put down in Cyrene the revolution raised there by our nation, of whom the whole world is full. His words are: There were four classes in the city of the Cyrenians, that of citizens, that of husbandmen, that of resident aliens, and the fourth of the Jews. Now this last class has already spread into every city, and it is not easy to find a place in the world which has not admitted this tribe, and which is not swayed by them. And with regard to Egypt and Cyrene as being under the same governors and many portions of other countries, it has come to pass that they imitate them [the Jews], and also give special support to companies of the Jews, and flourish from their adoption of the ancestral laws of the Jews. For instance in Egypt there is a special district set apart for the Jews, and beside this a large part of the city of Alexandria is apportioned to this race. And a special magistrate is appointed for them, who governs their nation and administers judgment, and takes charge of their contracts[2] and agreements, as if he were the governor of an independent state.”

[2] This is specially interesting as it corresponds with what was done in our own country. The Jewish contract is called Shetar, and such contracts were taken care of by the English authorities in old times, and from their name is derived what we now write Star-chamber.

strangers of Rome] Better, sojourners from Rome both Jews &c. We know from the allusions to them in Latin writers that Jews were numerous in Rome (Hor. Sat. 1. 5; Juv. x. 14, &c.). It is most probable that converts from among these Romans founded the Church which we know from Acts 28:14-15 was flourishing there when St Paul first came to that city.

proselytes] Gk. προσήλυτοςone who has come over; here, and generally, of converts from heathenism to the religion of the Jews.

Acts 2:9. Πάρθοι, Parthians) There is no doubt but that these Jews of all nations, who moreover were dwelling at Jerusalem, knew Hebrew; wherefore this variety of tongues [addressed to them instead of the usual Hebrew, which they no doubt would have understood], a thing unheard of in the Old Testament, indicates that the Gospel was about to come (extend) to all nations in their own tongues. Furthermore, the series in which the peoples are enumerated, seems to denote the order partly of the geographic position, partly of the conversion, of these nations. First in order are placed the posterity of Shem, next those of Japhet, also those of Ham; those from Asia, Africa, Europe, and again Asia. The nation of the Parthians, at that time eminent in power, is placed first.—οἱ κατοικοῦντες) we who dwell or who were dwelling. By the employment of this participle the naming of the nations which follow becomes more convenient.—Ἰουδαίαν, Judea) The dialect of which differed from that of Galilee, Acts 2:7. Thus also a miracle was being given to the native Jews. Augustine reads Armenia: and it lies between Mesopotamia and Cappadocia: but we may suppose, that the ancient tongue of the Armenians is probably included under that of some other nation here mentioned.[10]—ΤῊΝ ἈΣΊΑΝ, Asia) Asia strictly so called. The article [which does not occur before Ἰουδαίαν,—ΠΌΝΤΟΝ] forms an Epitasis [See Append.], so as that there may be denoted the region the most remote towards the west.

[10] Jerome reads Syriam. But his Vulgate and the oldest authorities read Ιουδαίαν.—E. and T.

Verse 9. - In Judaea for and in Judaea, A.V. Parthians and Medes and Elamites. These would be the Israelites of the first dispersion, the descendants of those of the ten tribes who were deported by the Assyrians, and of whom the Afghans are perhaps a remnant, and of the first Babylonian captivity. Mesopotamia and Babylon were at this time in possession of the Parthians. Babylon was a great Jewish colony, the seat of "the princes of the Captivity," and of one of the great rabbinical schools. Judaea. The mention of Judaea here is very odd, and can scarcely be right, both from its situation between Mesopotamia and Cappadocia, and because Jews (Judaeans) are mentioned again in ver. 10 (where, however, see note). India, which seems to have been in Chrysostom's Codex ('Hem.'4, end of [3]), Idumaea, Bithynia, and Armenia, have all been suggested as conjectural emendations. One might have expected Galatia, with its different Celtic dialect, and which goes with Pontus, Cappadocia, and Asia in 1 Peter 1:1; a passage, by the way, which shows that there were many Jews in those provinces: Aquila, too, was a Jew from Pontus (Acts 18:2). ΛΨΔΙΑ, Lydia, would be very like ΙΟΥΔΑΙΑ; but all manuscripts read Judaea. Acts 2:9Parthians, Medes, and Elamites

Representing portions of the Persian empire.


The dialect of Galilee being different from that of Judaea.


Not the Asiatic continent nor Asia Minor. In the time of the apostles the term was commonly understood of the proconsular province of Asia, principally of the kingdom of Pergamus left by Attalus III. to the Romans, and including Lydia, Mysia, Caria, and at times parts of Phrygia. The name Asia Minor did not come into use until the fourth century of our era.

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