Acts 22:23
And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air,
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(23) Cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air.—The latter gesture would seem to have been a natural relief, as with other Oriental nations, to the violence of uncontrolled passion. It may be, however, that the handfuls of dust were aimed at the Apostle as a sign of loathing (comp. Notes on Acts 18:6; Matthew 10:14); and if we take the English version, the “casting off” their outer garments looked very much like preparing for the act of stoning, as in Acts 7:58. The verb may, however, mean only that they “shook their garments,” as St. Paul had done in Acts 18:6, and so the two gestures might be parts of the same act. On the whole, the latter view seems the more probable.

Acts 22:23-24. And as they cried out — In this furious manner; and cast — Or tore; off their clothes — In token of indignation and horror at this pretended blasphemy: or, as Dr. Whitby thinks, as in the case of Stephen, that they might be ready to stone him; and threw dust into the air — Through vehemence of rage, which they knew not how to give vent to; the chief captain — Not knowing the particulars of what had passed, but perceiving, by the effect, that Paul had rather exasperated than appeased them by the apology which he had been permitted to make, commanded that he should be brought into the castle, and — As no witnesses were produced in a regular way to give information against him, he bade that he should be examined by scourging — In order that he might get to know by his own confession, since he could not learn it any other way; wherefore they cried so against him — That the Romans used this method of scourging to compel real or supposed criminals to make confession, is proved by Dr. Lardner, and several other learned writers.22:22-30 The Jews listened to Paul's account of his conversion, but the mention of his being sent to the Gentiles, was so contrary to all their national prejudices, that they would hear no more. Their frantic conduct astonished the Roman officer, who supposed that Paul must have committed some great crime. Paul pleaded his privilege as a Roman citizen, by which he was exempted from all trials and punishments which might force him to confess himself guilty. The manner of his speaking plainly shows what holy security and serenity of mind he enjoyed. As Paul was a Jew, in low circumstances, the Roman officer questioned how he obtained so valuable a distinction; but the apostle told him he was free born. Let us value that freedom to which all the children of God are born; which no sum of money, however large, can purchase for those who remain unregenerate. This at once put a stop to his trouble. Thus many are kept from evil practices by the fear of man, who would not be held back from them by the fear of God. The apostle asks, simply, Is it lawful? He knew that the God whom he served would support him under all sufferings for his name's sake. But if it were not lawful, the apostle's religion directed him, if possible, to avoid it. He never shrunk from a cross which his Divine Master laid upon his onward road; and he never stept aside out of that road to take one up.Cast off their clothes - Their outer garments. Probably they did it now intending to stone him, Acts 7:58.

And threw dust into the air - As expressive of them abhorrence and indignation. This was a striking exhibition of rage and malice. Paul was guarded by Roman soldiers so that they could not injure him; and their only way of expressing their wrath was by menaces and threats, and by these tokens of furious indignation. Thus, Shimei expressed his indignation against David by cursing him, throwing stones at him, and casting dust, 2 Samuel 16:13.

22, 23. gave him audience to this word … then … Away with such a fellow from the earth, &c.—Their national prejudices lashed into fury at the mention of a mission to the Gentiles, they would speedily have done to him as they did to Stephen, but for the presence and protection of the Roman officer. Cast off their clothes; they that stoned the blasphemer cast off their upper garments, that they might be the readier to do that execution, and carry the heavier stones; as Acts 7:58. They might also cast or rend them off, in sign of grief and detestation of Paul’s (supposed) blasphemy.

Threw dust into the air; out of raging madness, having no stones at present in that place to throw at him; or stamping on the ground first with their feet, and taking thence the loosened earth, threw it up, to show that Paul had sinned against heaven, and provoked the God who dwells there; and that he was not worthy to tread on the earth, which, as well as they could, they took from him. And as they cried out,.... In this furious manner:

and cast off their clothes; either like madmen, that knew not what they did, or in order to stone him; see Acts 7:57.

and threw dust into the air either with their hands, or by striking the earth, and scraping it with their feet, through indignation and wrath, like persons possessed, or mad.

And as they {c} cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air,

(c) The description of a seditious tumult, and of a foolish and mad multitude.

Acts 22:23. They cast off their clothes, and hurled dust in the air (as a symbol of throwing stones),—both as the signal of a rage ready and eager personally to execute the αἶρε ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς τὸν τοιοῦτον! The objection of de Wette, that in fact Paul was in the power of the tribune, counts for nothing, as the gesture of the people was only a demonstration of their own vehement desire. Chrysostom took it, unsuitably as regards the sense and the words, of shaking out their garments (τὰ ἱμάτια ἐκτινάσσοντες κονιορτὸν ἔβαλον· ὥστε χαλεπωτέραν γενέσθαι τὴν στάσιν τοῦτο ποιοῦσιν, ἢ καὶ φοβῆσαι βουλόμενοι τὸν ἄρχοντα). Wetstein, Heinrichs, Kuinoel, Hackett, and others explain it of waving their garments, by which means those at a distance signified their assent to the murderous exclamations of those standing near; and the throwing of the dust at all was only signum tumultus. But the text contains nothing of a distinction between those standing near and those at a distance, and hence this view arbitrarily mutilates and weakens the unity and life of the scene. The ῥίπτ. τ. ἱμάτ. is not to be explained from the waving of garments in Lucian, de saltat. 83 (but see the emendation of the passage in Bast, ad Aristaenet. epp. p. 580, ed. Boisson.); Ovid, Amor. iii. 2. 74 (when it is a token of approbation, see Wetstein); but—in connection with the cry of extermination that had just gone before—from the laying aside of their garments with a view to the stoning (Acts 22:20; Acts 7:58), to which, as was well known, the Jews were much inclined (Acts 5:26, Acts 14:19; John 10:31 ff.). On ῥίπτειν τὰ ἱμάτ., comp. Plat. Rep. p. 473 E; Xen. Anab. i. 5. 8.Acts 22:23. κραυγαζόντων δὲ (τε, Weiss, Wendt, W.H[369]), only here in Acts (cf. Luke 4:41, but doubtful: W.H[370] read κράζοντα), six times in St. John, and four times in his narrative of the Passion of the cries of the Jewish multitude, cf. especially Acts 19:15, so too in 2Es 3:13, in classical Greek rare (Dem.), used by Epict., Diss., iii., 4, 4, of the shouts in the theatres.—ῥιπτ. τὰ ἱμἁτια: not throwing off their garments as if preparing to stone Paul (for which Zöckler compares Acts 7:58, and see Plato, Rep., 474 A), for the fact that the Apostle was in the custody of the Romans would have prevented any such purpose. The verb may be used as a frequentative, ῥιπτεῖν, jactare, ῥίπτειν, jacere, while some of the old grammarians associate with it a suggestion of earnestness or effort, others of contempt, Grimm-Thayer, sub v. (for the form in LXX cf. Dan., Theod., ix., 18, 20). The word here rather means “tossing about their garments,” a manifestation of excitement and uncontrollable rage, cf. Ovid, Am., iii., 2, 74, and also instances in Wetstein, cf. Chrys., who explains ῥιπτάζοντες, ἐκτινάσσοντες. Dean Farrar refers to Pal. Expln. Fund, 1879, p, 77, for instances of the sudden excitability of Oriental crowds, and for similar illustrations see Hackett, in loco.κονιορτὸν βαλλ.: best taken as another sign of the same rage and fury, a similar demonstration; this is preferable to the supposition that they threw dust into the air to signify that they would throw stones if they could. εἰς τὸν ἀέρα seems to imply the interpretation adopted; the dust could scarcely have been aimed at Paul, for he was out of reach; but see 2 Samuel 16:13.

[369] Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.

[370] Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.23. cast off their clothes] i.e. the loose upper robe, which could easily be laid aside, and which in such an excitement would interfere with their movements. Compare the conduct of the crowd when our Lord rode into Jerusalem, and also the behaviour of Jehu’s friends, 2 Kings 9:13.

and threw dust into the air] Compare the action of Shimei, 2 Samuel 16:13, where the marginal rendering shews that the dust was thrown at David. Perhaps it may have been meant in the present case to be thrown at St Paul, who was above the crowd, at the top of the stairs. The attempt to reach him with what they threw was futile, but it shewed what they would fain have done. For a like action as a sign of grief cp. Job 2:12.Acts 22:23. Κονιορτὸν βαλλόντων, as they threw dust into the air) with most violent agitation of mind.Verse 23. - Threw off their garments for east off their clothes, A.V.; east for threw, A.V. Threw off their garments. Either "wild signs of fury, gestures by which they gave to understand that they would gladly accomplish the cry, 'Away with him from the earth!'" (Lunge), tokens of applause and consent at the sentiment of the cry (see the passages quoted by Kuinoel, Τὴν ἐσθῆτα ἀνασείων ἐκρότει τὸν Προαιρέσιον "The proconsul applauded Proairesius the rhetorician by shaking his purple robe," Eunapius, 'Life of the Emperor Julian;' "The whole theatre raved together, and leaped, and shouted, and threw off their garments (τὰς ἐσθῆτας ἀπεῥῤίπτουν)," Lucian, ' De Salt,'); or (so Meyer) signifying that they were ready to stone the culprit (see ver. 20).
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