Acts 28:11
And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) After three months.—The date may be approximately fixed. The Fast, falling on the 10th of Tisri, which has been calculated as falling in that year on September 24th, was passed, we are not told how long, when the ship left the Fair Havens (Acts 27:9). Then came the “fourteen days” of Acts 27:27, bringing us to the end of October or beginning of November. Three months from this carries us to the beginning of February. This was earlier than that usually fixed for the general navigation of the Mediterranean (see Note on Acts 27:9), but the officers and the crew of the Alexandrian ship were naturally anxious to take the earliest opportunity for pressing on to their destination. The fact that the latter had wintered in the island is obviously in favour of the identification of Melita with Malta, which lay on the usual line of the voyage from Alexandria to Italy, while Meleda was altogether out of the way.

Whose sign was Castor and Pollux.—Literally, the Dioscuri, the two sons of Zeus and Leda, who were regarded as the guardian deities of sailors. So Horace (Od. i. 3, 2) speaks of the “fratres Helenœ, lucida sidera” (“brothers of Helen, beaming stars”), and (Od. i. 12, 25) of the “puerosque Ledce” (“the children of Leda”), whose bright star shines propitiously on sailors. In Greek mythology, Zeus had rewarded their brotherly devotion by placing them among the stars as the Gemini, which were connected with the month of May in the signs of the Zodiac, and Poseidon (= Neptune) had given them power over the winds and waves that they might assist the shipwrecked. So in the Helena of Euripides they appear, in 1550–60, as promising a fair wind and a safe voyage. The figure-heads of the Greek and Roman ships were commonly placed both at the prow and the stern.

Acts 28:11. And after three months — The three winter months, which time Paul doubtless improved, as a true labourer in the Lord’s vineyard. We departed in a ship of Alexandria, whose sign was Castor and Pollux — Two fabulous semi-deities of the Greeks and Romans, who were said to be the sons of Jupiter and Leda, and, being translated to the heavens, formed the constellation called Gemini, or the Twins, a constellation which, when it appeared, was deemed propitious to mariners. And, as it was the custom of the ancients to have images of their gods, both on the head and stern of their ships, this Alexandrian ship had these, either on her prow or stern. And yet, in a ship having such an idolatrous image, Paul did not refuse to sail, considering it as being only the name of the ship.

28:11-16 The common events of travelling are seldom worthy of being told; but the comfort of communion with the saints, and kindness shown by friends, deserve particular mention. The Christians at Rome were so far from being ashamed of Paul, or afraid of owning him, because he was a prisoner, that they were the more careful to show him respect. He had great comfort in this. And if our friends are kind to us, God puts it into their hearts, and we must give him the glory. When we see those even in strange places, who bear Christ's name, fear God, and serve him, we should lift up our hearts to heaven in thanksgiving. How many great men have made their entry into Rome, crowned and in triumph, who really were plagues to the world! But here a good man makes his entry into Rome, chained as a poor captive, who was a greater blessing to the world than any other merely a man. Is not this enough to put us for ever out of conceit with worldly favour? This may encourage God's prisoners, that he can give them favour in the eyes of those that carry them captives. When God does not soon deliver his people out of bondage, yet makes it easy to them, or them easy under it, they have reason to be thankful.And after three months - Probably they remained there so long because there was no favorable opportunity for them to go to Rome. If they arrived there, as is commonly supposed, in October, they left for Rome in January.

In a ship of Alexandria - See the notes on Acts 27:6.

Whose sign - Which was ornamented with an image of Castor and Pollux. It was common to place on the prow of the ship the image of some person or god, whose name the ship bore. This custom is still observed.

Castor and Pollux - These were two semi-deities. They were reputed to be twin brothers, sons of Jupiter and Leda, the wife of Tyndarus, king of Sparta. After their death, they are fabled to have been transported to heaven, and made constellations under the name of Gemini, or the Twins. They then received divine honors, and were called the sons of Jupiter. They were supposed to preside over sailors, and to be their protectors; hence it was not uncommon to place their image on ships. Compare Lempriere's Dictionary.

11. we departed in a ship of Alexandria—(See on [2139]Ac 27:6).

which had wintered in the isle—no doubt driven m by the same storm which had wrecked on its shores the apostle's vessel—an incidental mark of consistency in the narrative.

whose sign—or "figurehead"; the figure, carved or painted on the bow, which gave name to the vessel. Such figureheads were anciently as common as now.

was Castor and Pollux—the tutelar gods of mariners, to whom all their good fortune was ascribed. St. Anthony is substituted for them in the modern superstitions of Mediterranean (Romanist) sailors. They carry his image in their boats and ships. It is highly improbable that two ships of Alexandra should have been casually found, of which the owners were able and willing to receive on board such a number of passengers (Ac 27:6). We may then reasonably conceive that it was compulsory on the owners to convey soldiers and state travellers [Webster and Wilkinson].

These three months that St. Paul staid at Malta, he spent like a true labourer in the Lord’s vineyard, planting a church that was famous for its stedfastness in the truth.

Had wintered in the isle; it was their wont to lay up their ships all the winter season; as we may see, Acts 27:12. And to this day the galleys seldom go out on those seas in winter.

Castor and Pollux; feigned to be the sons of Jupiter, and to have the ordering of tempests, and the care of mariners, and were chosen for the patrons of that ship, by the pagan owners of it.

And after three months we departed,.... From Melita; here they stayed the three winter months, which were unseasonable for navigation; but now the spring coming on, and the weather agreeable, they left the island, and sailed

in a ship of Alexandria; See Gill on Acts 27:6;

which had wintered in the isle; perhaps all the said three months, for the same reason:

whose sign was Castor and Pollux; or Dioscuri, that is, the sons of Jupiter; for Castor and Pollux were his sons, by Leda: these are placed among the constellations in the Zodiac, and go by the name of Gemini, or the twins; and these were supposed to have a power of saving men in danger at sea: wherefore such as were about to go to sea, first paid their devoirs, and made vows to them; which they performed when they returned, and were delivered from shipwreck; and when they were in danger at sea, they used to pray unto them: the fiery exhalations that sometimes appear at sea, they took for them; and when only one appeared, it was looked on as a bad omen; but when both, it was reckoned to portend a prosperous voyage; hence they were considered as sea deities; and the Ethiopic version accordingly renders it here "Dioscoura", and adds, "who is the god of the mariners": now the images of these two brothers were sometimes set at the head, or forepart of the ship, as they were in this, from whence the ship took its name; as it is very common for the names of ships to be the same with the pictures or images that are placed at the head of them: whether the centurion chose this ship because of its sign, imagining there might be more safety in it, he having suffered shipwreck already; or whether this was the only one in the island, that was going for Italy, is not certain, nor very material: the Arabic version takes the word rendered Castor and Pollux, to be the name of a man, who was the owner of the ship; for it reads the words thus, "in a ship of Alexandria", that belonged "to a man of Alexandria, called Dioscorides".

{7} And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose {d} sign was Castor and Pollux.

(7) Idols do not defile the saints, who do in no way give consent of them.

(d) So they used to deck the front part of their ships, because of which their ships were called by such names.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 28:11. Παρασήμῳ Διοσκούροις] παρασ. is not an adjective (marked with the Dioscuri), as the adjective παράσημος has always a derogatory reference (e.g. falsely stamped, stigmatised, ill-famed, etc.), but a substantive, so that the dative is connected with ἀνήχθημεν: we put to sea … with a sign, which was the Dioscuri. An image of the Dioscuri was, namely, the ship’s device, i.e. the παράσημον (Plut. Mor. p. 162 A, and see Wetstein) or ἐπίσημον (Herod. viii. 88), the insigne of the ship. This name was given to the image of a divinity, of an animal, or of any other selected object, which was to be found either painted or sculptured on the prow (Lucian, Nav. 5) See on this, as well as on the distinction from the image of the Tutela navis at the stern, Ruhnken, de tutel. et ins. nav. p. 5, 42; Drackenb. and Ruperti, ad Sil. It. 16:84; the interpreters, ad Hor. Od. i. 14. 14; Stanl. ad Aesch. II. p. 751.

For such a παράσημον the image of the Dioscuri was very suitably chosen, as Castor and Pollux (“fratres Helenae, lucida sidera,” Hor. Od. i. 3. 2) were honoured as the ἀρωγοναῦται and generally as protectors in dangers. See Wetstein, and Lobeck, Aglaoph. p. 1231 f. On the forms under which they were represented, see Müller, Archaol. § 414. On the modes of writing Διόσκουροι and Διόσκοροι, see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 235; Pflugk, ad Eur. Hec. 943.

The mention of the ship’s sign belongs to the special accuracy of the recollection of an eye-witness. According to Baumgarten, Luke designs to intimate “that in this vessel there did not prevail that former presumptuous security, but confidence in a super-human protection and assistance.” So much the more arbitrarily invented, as we know not what παράσημον the wrecked ship had. Luke has noticed the sign in the case of the one, and not in the other. It is conceivable enough, even without assuming any set purpose, that after the surmounted disaster his attention was the more alive to such a special feature in the ship in which they now embarked.

Acts 28:11. τρεῖς μῆνας: no account is given of St. Paul’s doings in Malta, or of his preaching or founding a Church, but the writer’s interest is centred on the Apostle’s journey to Rome, and what immediately concerns it.—ἀνήχ., see above on Acts 13:13; in the earlier part of February, as the shipwreck took place probably before the middle of November (Ramsay), but Blass thinks March, as he places the shipwreck about the commencement of December, but with a favourable wind the ship would risk the voyage, even before the regular sailing season commenced (so Wendt and Ramsay).—Ἀλεξ.: very likely a corn ship, driven for refuge by the same gale; on the accent here and in Acts 27:6 see Winer-Schmiedel, p. 73.—παρακεχειμακότι: only in Luke and Paul in N.T., cf. Acts 27:12, 1 Corinthians 16:6, Titus 3:12, and in classical Greek.—παρασήμῳ Διοσκ.: “whose sign was the Twin Brothers,” R.V., i.e., Castor and Pollux; or perhaps in a ship “marked with the image or figure of the Dioscuri,” or the latter word in the dative may be a dedicatory inscription—marked “To the Dioscuri,” i.e., in honour of them, so Wendt, Holtzmann, Grimm-Thayer. Others take παρας as a noun, so Alford, Page, quoting from an inscription found near Lutro and given by J. Smith, in which reference is made to a Dionysius of Alexandria as gubernator navis parasemo Isopharia. Phryn. prefers the form Διόσκοροι Blass has ᾧ ἦν παράσημον Διοσκούρων, see critical note and Blass, in loco; cf. for the word 3Ma 2:29. Castor and Pollux were best known as the tutelary gods of sailors, and probably at this date they were both the insigne and the tutela of the ship. St. Cyril of Alexandria tells us that it was always the Alexandrian method to ornament each side of the prow with the figures of deities, probably in this case Castor and Pollux, one on each side of the vessel; and we may further note that the twin brothers were specially honoured in the district of Cyrenaica, not far from Alexandria (Schol., Pind., Pyth., v., 6). For other classical notices cf. Hor., Od., i., 3, 2; iii., 29, 64; Catull., iv., 27; lxviii., 65; Eur., Helen., 1663, and “Castor and Pollux,” B.D.2, and “Dioscuri,” Hastings’ B.D. The mention of the ship’s sign shows the minuteness of the information of an eyewitness, and the fact that an Alexandrian ship thus wintered in the island is a strong piece of incidental evidence in favour of the identification of the island with Malta; the latter would be a natural harbour for a ship of Alexandria on the way to Italy, but Meleda would be altogether out of the course (see J. Smith, p. 278, fourth edit.).

11–16. The voyage from Malta and the arrival in Rome

11. And after three months] The proper season for sailing having again come round, now that the winter was over.

we departed] [R. V. set sail]. The verb is the same as in the preceding verse.

in a ship of Alexandria] Another vessel employed in the same trade probably as that in which (Acts 28:6) they had embarked at Myra, and suffered so many perils.

which had wintered in the isle] Having got so far on the voyage out before the stormy weather came on. As the harbour was then where it now is, the ship had wintered in what is now Valetta.

whose sign was Castor and Pollux] [R. V. the Twin Brothers]. The Greek is Dioscuri, the name given to Jupiter’s two sons born of Leda, who, when they were translated to the sky, became a constellation of special favour towards sailors. Horace speaks of them as “lucida sidera” (Od. i. 3. 2), where he describes their beneficent influence on the ocean. By “sign” is meant what we now call “figure-head,” only that the ancient ships had such signs both at stem and stern, and often the figure was that of some divinity.

If for no other reason than the description of the vessel in which the further journey was performed we cannot accept the theory that the wreck took place in the Adriatic sea. It would be hard to conceive of a vessel from Alexandria, which had stopped on its voyage to Italy to avoid the storms of winter, being found so far out of its course as Meleda in the Adriatic.

Acts 28:11. Τρεῖς μῆνας, three months) So Paul obtained rest: [—and the inhabitants of the island, through Paul, reaped an abundant harvest of blessings.—V. g.]—παρασήμῳ) The sign of a ship was in the prow, and it was from it that ships took their names.—Διοσκούροις, the Twin-Sons of Jove) These were Castor and Pollux, or the Castors, esteemed to be sons of Jupiter, whom the sailors thought to be propitious to them.

Verse 11. - Set sail for departed, A.V.; island for isle, A.V.; The Twin Brothers for Castor and Pollux, A.V. After three months. At the very earliest period when the sailing season began after the winter. It would be, perhaps, about the middle of February, or, as Alford thinks, about March 10. If the weather was fine, having so short a voyage before them, they would venture to sail without further delay. Set sail (see preceding verso, note). A ship of Alexandria. Some ship, better fated than that one (Acts 27:6) which was wrecked in St. Paul's Bay, which had weathered or avoided the gale, and probably got into the harbor of Valetta in good time. One would have thought that this ship wintering at Malta on its way from Alexandria to Italy, via Sicily, would be of itself a sufficient proof that Melita was Malta. Which had wintered (παρακεχειμακότι); see Acts 27:12, note. Whose sign was The Twin Brothers (Δίοσκουροι, Latin the constellation Gemini). The twin sons of Jupiter and Leda, Castor and Pollux, brothers of Helena ("fratres Helenis, lucida sidera," Horace, 'Od.,' 1:3, 2), were called by the Greeks Dioscuri, the sons of Jove. It was their special office to assist sailors in danger of shipwreck. Hence Horace, in the ode just quoted, prays that Castor and Pollux, in conjunction with other deities, would carry the ship in which Virgil sailed safe to Attica. And in Ode 12:27, etc., he describes the subsidence of the storm, and the calming of the waves, at the appearance of the twin stars, of Leda's sons. It was, therefore, very natural to have the Dioscuri for the παράσημον, the sign of the ship. Every ancient ship had a παράσημον, "a painted or carved representation of the sign which furnished its name on the prow, and at the stern a similar one of their tutelary deity." (Alford), which was called the tutela. These were sometimes the same, and perhaps were so in this instance. Ovid tells us that Minerva was the tutela of the ship in which he sailed, and that her painted helmet gave it its name ('Trist.,' 1 9:1), Galea, or the like. We may notice the continual trial to Jews and Christians of having to face idolatry in all the common actions of life. Acts 28:11Sign

Answering to the ship's name in modern times. It was the image of a god, a man, a beast, or of some other object, sculptured or painted on the prow. The figure of the guardian deity was affixed to the stern.

Castor and Pollux

Known as the twin brothers and the Dioscuri, or sons of Jove. They were regarded as tutelary deities of sailors.

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