Acts 27:12
And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.
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(12) And because the haven was not commodious to winter in . . .—The anchorage in the Fair Havens, while it gave immediate shelter from the north-west gales, was open to those from other points of the compass, and it was therefore decided by the majority (there would seem to have been something like a vote taken on the question) to press on and face the immediate risk for the sake of the more permanent advantages.

Phenice . . . which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.—The precise meaning of the phrase is that the harbour looked, as we say, down these winds, in the direction to which they blew—i.e., that it faced the north-east and south-east, the words used being the names, not of points of the compass, but of the winds which blew from them. The harbour so described has been identified with the modern Lutro, on the east of the promontory of Kavo Muros, which looks eastward, and so corresponds to the interpretation just given of the words that describe it. The harbour is named by Ptolemy (iii. 17) as Phoenikous, and a city named Phoenix lay a few miles inland. It is still used as a harbour by Greek pirates, and was marked as such in the French admiralty charts of 1738; but, owing to the silting up of the sand, has become unsuitable for larger vessels. An inscription of the time of Nerva, of the nature of a votive tablet to Jupiter and Serapis, found near the spot, records the fact that it was erected by Epictetus, the tabularius, or agent, of the fleet to which the ship belonged, with the assistance of Dionysius of Alexandria, the pilot (the same word as that which St. Luke uses) of a ship which had as its sign (the same word as in Acts 28:4) the Isopharia. It is a natural inference from this that the Alexandrian ship (we note the Egyptian element in the dedication to Serapis, and possibly in the connection of the sign with the Pharos, or lighthouse of Alexandria) had anchored, and possibly wintered, at Phœnice, and that the tablet was a thank-offering for its preservation. (See Alford, Prolegomena.)

27:12-20 Those who launch forth on the ocean of this world, with a fair gale, know not what storms they may meet with; and therefore must not easily take it for granted that they have obtained their purpose. Let us never expect to be quite safe till we enter heaven. They saw neither sun nor stars for many days. Thus melancholy sometimes is the condition of the people of God as to their spiritual matters; they walk in darkness, and have no light. See what the wealth of this world is: though coveted as a blessing, the time may come when it will be a burden; not only too heavy to be carried safely, but heavy enough to sink him that has it. The children of this world can be prodigal of their goods for the saving their lives, yet are sparing of them in works of piety and charity, and in suffering for Christ. Any man will rather make shipwreck of his goods than of his life; but many rather make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience, than of their goods. The means the sailors used did not succeed; but when sinners give up all hope of saving themselves, they are prepared to understand God's word, and to trust in his mercy through Jesus Christ.The haven - The fair havens, Acts 27:8.

Was not commodious to winter in - Not safe or convenient to remain there. Probably it furnished rather a safe anchorage ground in time of a storm than a convenient place for a permanent harbor.

The more part - The greater part of the crew.

To Phenice - In the original this is Phoenix - Φοῖνιξ Foinix. So it is written by Strabo. The name was probably derived from the palmtrees which were common in Crete. This was a port or harbor on the south side of Crete, and west of the fair havens. It was a more convenient harbor, and was regarded as more safe. It appears, therefore, that the majority of persons on board concurred with Paul in the belief that it was not advisable to attempt the navigation of the sea until the dangers of the winter had passed by.

And lieth toward - Greek: looking toward; that is, it was open in that direction.

The southwest - κατὰ λίβα kata liba. Toward Libya, or Africa. That country was situated southwest of the mouth of the harbor. The entrance of the harbor was in a southwest direction.

And northwest - κατὰ χῶρον kata chōron. This word denotes "a wind blowing from the northwest." The harbor was doubtless curved. Its entrance was in a southwest direction. It then turned so as to lie in a direction toward the northwest. It was thus rendered perfectly safe from the winds and heavy seas; and in that harbor they might pass the winter in security. It is sometimes called "Lutro." Of this harbor Mr. Urquhart, in a letter to James Smith, Esq., whose work on this voyage of Paul has obtained so wide a reputation, says, "Lutro is an admirable harbor. You open it like a box; unexpectedly the rocks stand apart, and the town appears within ... We thought we had cut him off, and that we were driving him right upon the rocks. Suddenly he disappeared - and, rounding in after him, like a change of scenery, the little basin, its shipping, and the town presented themselves ... Excepting Lutro, all the roadsteads looking to the southward are perfectly exposed to the south or east."

12. Phenice—"Phenix," now called Lutro.

which lieth toward the southwest and northwest—If this means that it was open to the west, it would certainly not be good anchorage! It is thought therefore to mean that a wind from that quarter would lead into it, or that it lay in an easterly direction from such a wind [Smith]. Ac 27:13 seems to confirm this.

This Phenice was a port town in Candia, and not the country in Syria.

Lieth toward the south-west and northwest; being on the south part of that island, having a bay or road like unto a half-moon or crescent, one horn or part of it (admitting entrance into it) toward the south-west, and the other toward the north-west.

And because the haven was not commodious to winter in,.... Which was called the "Fair Havens", Acts 27:8 which name it might have by an antiphrasis, it being just the reverse; it might be a good summer haven, but not be fit for winter: perhaps it might be an open road or bay, and having nothing to shelter from the boisterous waves, was a place very improper for a ship to be in, in stormy weather; for in open places, as bays and roads, the sea tumbles in very violently in bad weather: this was a haven fit for fair weather only, and therefore might be so called:

the more part advised to depart thence also; the major part of the ship's company were of the same opinion with the master and owner of it, and advised as well as they, to sail from the Fair Havens in quest of a better port; the Syriac version reads, "the most of ours", of the apostle's companions; so that they were against him, according to that version, which is not likely; however, the majority in the ship were for sailing:

if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter, which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west: this place is called in the Syriac version Phoenix; and Ptolomy (q) makes mention both of the city and haven of Phoenix, as on the south side of the island of Crete: and whereas it is here said to lie towards the south west and north west, this may be reconciled to that, as well as to itself; for the haven considered in general lay towards the south, but having its windings and turnings, with respect to them it lay towards both the south west and the north west, and so was a very commodious haven to winter in.

(q) Geograph, l. 3. c. 17.

And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.
Acts 27:12. Ἀνευθέτου] not well situated, Hesychius and Suidas, elsewhere not found; the (later) Greeks have δύσθετος. They ought, according to the counsel of Paul, to have chosen the least of two evils.

πρὸς παραχειμασίαν] for passing the winter. Diod. Sic. xix. 68, and more frequently in Polybius. Comp. Acts 28:11.

κἀκεῖθεν] also from thence. As they had not hitherto lain to with a view to pass the winter, the resolution come to by the majority was to the effect of sailing onward from thence also. On ἔθεντο βουλήν, comp. Jdg 19:30; Psalm 13:3.

εἴπως δύναιντο] i.e. in order to try, whether perhaps they would be able. See Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 206.

The haven Φοῖνιξ is called in Ptolem. Acts 3:17, Φοινικοῦς, and the adjacent town Φοῖνιξ. Stephanus Byzantinus, on the other hand, remarks: Φοινικοῦς πόλις Κρήτης. Perhaps the two names were used in common of the haven and the city. Whether the haven was the modern Lutro, is uncertain. In opposition to Smith, p. 88, see Hackett.

βλέπειν] quite like spectare, of the direction of the geographical position. See Alberti, Obss. p. 274; Kypke, II. p. 134 f.

Λίψ is the Africus, the south-west wind, and Χῶρος the Caurus, the north-west. See Kapp, ad Aristot. de mundo Exc. III. The haven formed such a curve, that one shore stretched toward the north-west and the other toward the south-west.

Acts 27:12. ἀνευθέτου: here only, but in later Greek we have δύσθετος, so in Jos. St. Luke, however, uses εὔθετος in his Gospel, Luke 9:62, Luke 14:35 (found only once elsewhere in N.T., Hebrews 6:7). We may compare J. Smith’s 1James , 4 th edition, p. 85. In the latter he points out that recent surveys show that Fair Havens may have been a very fair winter harbour, and that even on nautical grounds St. Paul’s action may have been justified, but Blass, in loco, adheres to the view that the harbour was only fit for use during the summer.—πρὸς παραχειμασίαν: noun only here in N.T., not found in LXX, but in Polyb. and Diod. Sic. παραχειμάσαι: only in Luke and Paul in N.T., 1 Corinthians 16:6, cf. Acts 28:11, Titus 3:12, not in LXX, but used by Dem., Polyb., Plut., Diod. Sic.—οἱ πλείονες: πλείονες (πλείους) with the article only by Luke and Paul in N.T., cf. Acts 19:32; by St. Paul seven times in his Epistles. Bengel well says, “plura suffragia non semper meliora”.—ἔθεντο βουλὴν: on the noun and its use by St. Luke see above, Acts 2:23, and for the phrase cf. Luke 23:51, in LXX, Psalm 12:2 (Jdg 19:30, A al[411]); so also in classical Greek.—ἀναχθῆναι: “to put to sea,” R.V., see on Acts 13:13.—εἴ πως δύναιντο: on the optative see Simcox, Language of the N.T., p. 172; and Burton, p. 111; cf. Mark 11:13, Acts 8:22; Acts 18:27, Romans 1:10; Romans 11:14, Php 3:11.—καταντήσαντες: Lucan and Pauline, see above, Acts 16:1.—εἰς φοίνικα, Strabo, x., 4; Ptolemy, iii., 17. Generally taken as = modern Lutro, so Ramsay, Alford, Renan, Rendall, Blass, J. Smith (pp. 87, 88), Lewin, Rendall, Plumptre, and Muir in Hastings’ B.D., “Fair Havens”; so amongst recent German writers on this voyage, cf. Breusing, p. 162, and Goerne, u. s., p. 360, both of whom quote Findlay, Mediterranean Directory, p. 67, “Port Lutro, the ancient Phœnix, or Phœnice, is the only bay on the south coast where a vessel could be quite secure in winter”; but on the other hand Hackett, in loco. Wordsworth, Humphry and Page (whose full note should be consulted) suppose the modern Phineka to be meant; so also C. H. Prichard in Hastings’ B.D., “Crete”; see below. Alford, Acts, Proleg., p. 28, quotes from J. Smith’s Appendix (2nd edition) the words from Mr. G. Brown’s Journal (1855, l856) stating that Lutro is the only secure harbour in all winds on the south coast of Crete, words quoted by Ramsay, St. Paul, p. 326, and Muir, Hastings’ B.D., “Fair Havens”.—λιμένα τῆς Κ. κ.τ.λ.: “a harbour of Crete which faces south-west and north-west,” so Ramsay, and so A.V. and Vulgate. But R.V. so Rendall, “looking north-east and south-east,” which is a correct description of the entrance of the harbour of Lutro, so J. Smith, Alford, Lumby and Plumptre, who interpret “looking down the south-west and north-west winds,” literally translated as = in the direction of these winds, i.e., the direction to which they blew, and so north-east and south-east, κατά indicating the line of motion, Cf. R.V. margin, and so Rendall and Knabenbauer, in loco. C. and H., so Ramsay and Farrar, find an explanation of the rendering in A.V. in the subjectivity of the sailors, who describe a harbour from the direction in which they sail into it; and thus by transmission from mouth to mouth the wrong impression arose that the harbour itself looked south-west and north-west. As against Rendall’s interpretation and that of R.V., see Page and Hackett’s learned notes in loco. Both lay stress upon the phrase, βλέπειν κατά τι, as used only of that which is opposite, and which you face. cf. Luke’s own use of κατά, Acts 3:13, Acts 8:26, Acts 16:7, Acts 27:7. Page, and so C. H. Prichard, Hastings’ B.D., “Crete,” would adopt A.V. reading, but would apply it to the harbour Phineka, opposite Lutro, which does look south-west and north-west. λίψ, (prob. λείβω) Herod., ii., 25, Polyb., x., 103, etc., south-west wind Africus, χῶρος, north-west wind Corus or Caurus.

[411] Alford’s Greek Testament.

12. not commodious to winter in] And this was what they most likely would have to do, wherever they stopped, as the season for sailing was nearly over.

to depart thence also] The oldest MSS. do not represent the last word. (R. V. “to put to sea from thence).” The word is the technical term, and not the ordinary word for “depart.”

they might attain to Phenice] (R. V. “they could reach Phœnix.”) Phœnix is no doubt the correct orthography of the name. The place is mentioned both by Strabo and Ptolemy, and has been identified with the modern port of Lutro (Spratt’s Crete ii. 250 seqq.).

and lieth toward the south west and north west] [R. V. looking north-east and south-east) The original is “looking down the south-west wind and down the north-west wind.” To look down a wind is to look in the direction in which it blows. So as a south-west wind would blow towards N.E., the Rev. Ver. appears to give the correct sense, and the haven of Lutro answers these conditions, being open towards the east.

Acts 27:12. Οἱ πλείους, the majority) In time of danger, even those give their votes and opinions who are not entitled to do so: but the majority of votes does not always prove a thing to be really better.—ἔθεντο βουλὴν) gave their advice: Pricæus observes, that consilium posuerunt is a Petronian phrase. LXX., Jdg 19:30, θέσθε βουλήν: and so Psalms 13 (12):3, θήσομαι βουλάς.—Φοίνικα, λιμένα) Φοίνιξ was the name of a town: its port is called Φοινικοῦς by Ptolemy. An easy Metonymy.—κατὰ Λίβα καὶ κατὰ Χῶρον, towards the south-west [Africus], and towards the north-west [Corus]) By the putting down of the two winds, it is more distinctly expressed, how open the harbour was, and how great their hope of being able to put in there, than if the west wind (Zephyrus) only were put down, from which the wind called Africus or Λίβς declines towards the south, Corus declines towards the north.

Verse 12. - Put to sea from thence for depart thence also, A.V. and T.R.; could reach Phoenix for might attain to Phenice, A.V.; winter there for there to winter, A.V.; a haven for an haven, A.V.; looking north-east and south-east for and lieth toward the south-west and north-west, A.V. Not commodious; ἀνευθέτου (not well placed, or disposed), only here. But the simple εὔθετος is used twice by St. Luke (Luke 9:62; Luke 14:35), in the sense of "fit" (also Hebrews 6:7), and is of frequent use in medical writers, for "convenient," "well adapted to," and the like. To put to sea (αναχθῆναι); see ver. 3, note. Reach; καταντῆσαι, only in the Acts (frequently) and in St. Paul's Epistles. It is generally, if not always, used of coming from the higher to the lower place, and from the sea to the land (see Acts 16:1; Acts 18:19, 24; Acts 20:15; Acts 21:7; Acts 28:13, etc.). Phoenix. It is variously written Phoenicus, Phoenice, and Phoenix; and probably derived its name from the palm tree, (φοῖνιξ), which is indigenous in Crete. It is identified with almost certainty with the modern Lutro or Loutro, which is both "an admirable harbor," situated exactly where Phoenice ought to be, and further by its proximity to a village called Aradhene, and another called Anopolis, shown to be the same as. Phoenix, or Phenice, which is described m ancient writers (Hierocles and Stephanus of Byzantium) as identical with or close to Aradhena and Anopolls (the upper city). Winter; παραχειμάσαι, so too Acts 28:11; 1 Corinthians 16:6; Titus 3:12, and παραχειμασία in this verse. It is found also in classical writers. Looking north-east and south-east. The margin of the R.V. has "Greek, down the southwest wind, and down the north-west." This phrase has caused considerable perplexity to commentators. To say, as a recommendation of a harbor for winter quarters, that it lies or looks toward the south-west and north-west, and consequently is exposed to the most furious winter storms, is obviously impossible. If Phoenix was open to the south-west and the north-west, it would not be as commodius a place to winter in as Fair Havens was which was sheltered by Cape Matala. Two methods, therefore, have been adopted of explaining the phrase so as to make it give a reasonable sense. One, that adopted by Dean Howson and Bishop Wordsworth, viz. that it looks southwest and north-west, from the point of view of the sailor, or any one approaching it from the sea, the object upon which it looks being the land which locks it in and shelters it. The other is that supported by Alford, and adopted by the R.V., and rests upon the observation that λίβς and χῶρος are not points or' the compass, but the names of the south-west and north-west winds, and that to look down (κατά) a wind is the same as looking down a stream. If the harbour looks down the south-west wind it looks toward the north-east, and if it looks down the north-west wind it looks toward the southeast. Its open side would be from northeast to south-east, it would be entirely sheltered on the south-west and north-west side. This is the explanation adopted also by Dean Plumptre. The south-west wind; λίψ, only here in the New Testament, but frequent in classical Greek and in the LXX. (see Psalm 78. [82, Septuagint] 26). As a point of the compass, it is the rendering of נֶגֶב (Genesis 13:14, etc.), תֵימָן (Numbers 2:10, etc.), of דָרום (Deuteronomy 33:23). The north-west wind; χῶρος (the Latin Caurus or Corus), only here in the New Testament, and not found in Greek writers. Acts 27:12Not commodious (ἀνευθέτου)

Lit., not well situated.

Lieth toward the southwest and northwest (βλέποντα κατὰ Αίβα καὶ κατὰ Χῶρον)

Instead of lieth, Rev., literally and correctly, renders looking. The difference between the Rev. and A. V., as to the points of the compass, turns on the rendering of the preposition κατά. The words southwest and northwest mean, literally, the southwest and northwest winds. According to the A. V., κατά means toward, and has reference to the quarter from which these winds blow. According to the Rev., κατά means down: "looking down the southwest and northwest winds," i.e., in the direction toward which they blow, viz., northeast and southeast. This latter view assumes that Phenice and Lutro are the same, which is uncertain. For full discussion of the point, see Smith, "Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul;" Hackett, "Commentary on Acts ;" Conybeare and Howson, "Life and Epistles of St. Paul."

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