And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)A certain man lame from his mother’s womb.—The careful record of the duration of his suffering is more or less characteristic of St. Luke (Luke 9:33; Luke 14:8). The minuteness in this narrative suggests the thought that St. Luke’s informant may have been the cripple himself.
Was carried.—Better, was being carried.
The gate of the temple which is called Beautiful.—Literally, door, though “gate” is used in Acts 3:10. No gate of this name is mentioned by other writers, but it was probably identical either (1) with the gate of Nicanor (so called, according to one tradition, because the hand of the great enemy of Judah had been nailed to it as a trophy), which was the main eastern entrance of the inner court (Stanley’s Jewish Church, iii. p. 323); or (2) the Susa gate, also on the eastern side, and named in memory of the old historical connection between Judah and Persia, leading into the outer court of the women. The latter was of fine Corinthian brass, so massive that twenty men were required to open or shut it (Jos. Wars, v. 5, § 3).
To ask alms of them that entered into the temple.—The approaches of the Temple, like those of modern mosques, were commonly thronged with the blind, lame, and other mendicants. (Comp. John 9:8.) The practice was common at Constantinople in the time of Chrysostom, and has prevailed largely throughout Christendom.Acts 3:2. And a certain man — Well known, it appears, by those who frequented the temple; lame from his mother’s womb, was carried — Thither by the help of others, being unable to walk, through a weakness in his ankles; whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple, called Beautiful — This gate, which was between the court of the Gentiles and that of Israel, and is here called Beautiful, for the richness of the metal of which it was formed, and its curious workmanship, is termed by Josephus the Corinthian gate. About one hundred and eighty years before this, the city of Corinth had been taken and burned by the Romans; and in the burning of it multitudes of statues and images of brass, gold, and silver, being melted down and running together, made that mixture of metals, which, from that time, was called Corinthian brass, and was valued, by the ancients, above gold or silver. This gate, on the east side of the temple, was made of that brass, and exceeded the other gates, as in its dimensions, so especially in its workmanship and splendour, though most of them were covered over with silver or gold. It was thirty cubits high, and fifteen broad, and was added by Herod the Great.
Whom they laid daily - That is, his friends laid him there daily. He would therefore be well known to those who were in the habit of entering the temple. Among the ancients there were no hospitals for the sick, and no alms-houses for the poor. The poor were dependent, therefore, on the Charity of those who were in better circumstances. It became an important matter for them to be placed where they would see many people. Hence, it was customary to place them at the gates of rich men Luke 16:20; and they also sat by the highway to beg where many persons would pass, Mark 10:46; Luke 18:35; John 9:1-8. The entrance to the temple would be a favorable place for begging; for:
(1) great multitudes were accustomed to enter there; and,
(2) when going up for the purposes of religion, they would be more inclined to give alms than at other times; and especially was this true of the Pharisees, who were particularly desirous of publicity in bestowing charity. It is recorded by Martial (i. 112) that the custom prevailed among the Romans of placing the poor by the gates of the temples; and the custom was also observed a long time in the Christian churches.
At the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful - In regard to this gate there have been two opinions, one of which supposes that it was the gate commonly called Nicanor, which led from the court of the Gentiles to the court of the women (see Plan in notes on Matthew 21:12), and the other that it was the gate at the eastern entrance of the temple, commonly called Susan. It is not easy to determine which is intended; though from the fact that what is here recorded occurred near Solomon's porch (Acts 3:11; compare the Plan of the Temple, Matthew 21:12), it seems probable that the latter was intended. This gate was large and splendid. It was made of Corinthian brass, a most valuable metal, and made a magnificent appearance (Josephus, Jewish Wars, book 5, chapter 5, section 3).
was carried—was wont to be carried.Lame from his mother’s womb, and not by any casualty, that so the miracle might be the greater, and the power of the God of nature appear.
They laid daily; by which it was manifest, that it could not be by any correspondence between the apostles and the lame man upon this occasion.
At the gate of the temple; where there must needs be the greater notice taken of him; none going in or out but such as might see him.
Called Beautiful, for the excellency of the workmanship: it was at the entering into the second court, or the court of the Jews from that of the Gentiles. This man, out of pride, being unwilling to beg of the Gentiles, though proselyted, (whom they did contemn), or out of policy, hoping to receive more of the Jews, whom he is nearer related to,
asked alms of them that entered into the temple. Poverty is no sign of God’s disfavour (our blessed Redeemer is in an especial manner called Caput pauperum); but lameness in this man, divers miseries and calamities in others, bring them to the knowledge of Christ, and salvation through him.
was carried; he could not walk of himself, or go, being led, but they were obliged to carry him:
whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple; it had been a common usage, it may be, for years past, to bring him every day, at prayer time, and lay him at the gate of the temple where the people went in; hence he was well known by the people, and to have been of a long time lame, even ever since he was born; so that there could be no imposture in this case: and it was at the gate of the temple he lay,
which is called beautiful; which some think was the gate Shushan, which was the eastern gate of the mountain of the house, or the outmost wall, and was so called, because Shushan, the metropolis of Persia, was pourtrayed upon it (q), which made it look very beautiful. The reason commonly given by the Jewish commentators (r) why this was done, is this; when the Jews returned from captivity, the king of Persia commanded that they should make a figure of the palace of Shushan upon one of the gates of the temple, that they might fear the king, and not rebel against him; and accordingly they drew one upon the eastern gate: but some say (s), that the children of the captivity did this (upon their return) that they might remember the wonder of Purim, (their deliverance from Haman,) which was done in Shushan; moreover, it might be so called from the word Shushan, which signifies joy and gladness: but this does not bid so fair to be the gate here meant, since it was lower than all the rest; for as the eastern wall was lower than the rest of the walls, that when the high priest burnt the red heifer on the top of Mount Olivet, he might see the gate of the temple at the time of the sprinkling of the blood; so the gate itself was four cubits lower than the others (t), and therefore could not look so grand and beautiful as the rest. Indeed, concerning this eastern gate of the mountain of the house, it is said (u), that
"in the time when the sanctuary stood, when they prayed on the mountain of the house, they went in by the way of the eastern gate.''
And as this was now the hour of prayer, and the people were going to the temple to pray, whose entrance was at the east gate; here it might be thought, in all probability, was laid the lame man: though it seems rather to be the eastern gate of the court of the women, which was made of Corinthian brass, and looked brighter than gold itself; of which Josephus (w) thus speaks:
"nine of the gates were covered all over with gold and silver, likewise the side posts and lintels; but there was one, without the temple, of Corinthian brass, which in dignity greatly exceeded the silver and golden ones.''
And since at this gate was the greatest frequency of persons, both men and women entering here; it is most likely, that here lay the lame man a begging: this is thought, by some, to be the higher gate of the house of the Lord; said to be built by Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, 2 Kings 15:35 upon which text, a Jewish commentator of great note (x) has this remark,
"observe it is said of Jotham, that he built it, because he made a building on it, "more glorious and great" than it had been:''
and this is also called the new gate of the house of the Lord, Jeremiah 26:10 and which both the Targum and Kimchi on the place say is the eastern gate.
To ask alms of them that entered into the temple; who going to religious exercises, might be thought to be more disposed to acts of liberality and charity: and besides, these were known to be Jews, of whom only alms were to be asked and taken; for so run their canons (y),
"it is forbidden to take alms of Gentiles publicly, except a man cannot live by the alms of Israelites; and if a king, or a prince of the Gentiles, should send money to an Israelite for alms, he must not return it, because of the peace of the kingdom, but must take it of him, and give it to the poor of the Gentiles secretly, that the king may not hear.''
(q) Misn. Middot, c. 1. sect. 3.((r) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. ib. (s) Vid. Juchasin, fol. 65. 2.((t) Misn. Middot, c. 2. sect. 4. Maimon. Hilchot Beth Habechirah, c. 6. sect. 5. (u) Gloss. in T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 15. 2. Vid. Maimon. Hilch. Taanith, c. 4. sect. 15. (w) De Bello Jud. l. 5. c. 5. sect. 3.((x) Abarbinel in loc. (y) Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora, pr. Affirm. 162.And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Acts 3:2. Χωλὸς ἐκ κοιλ. μητρ.] born lame. Comp. Acts 14:8; John 9:1. And he was above forty years old, Acts 4:22.
The imperfect ἐβαστάζετο, he was being brought, denotes the action in reference to the simultaneous ἀνέβαινον, Acts 3:1; and ἐτίθουν, its daily repetition.
τὴν λεγομ. ὡραίαν] which bears the by-name (see Schaefer, Melet. p. 14) “Beautiful.” The proper name was, “gate of Nicanor.” It lay on the. eastern side of the outermost court of the temple, leading towards the valley of Kidron, and is described by Josephus, Bell. v. 5. 3, as surpassingly splendid: τῶν δὲ πυλῶν αἱ μὲν ἐννέα χρυσῷ καὶ ἀργύρῳ κεκαλυμμέναι πανταχόθεν ἦσαν, ὁμοίως τε παραστάδες καὶ τὰ ὑπέρθυρα· μία δὲ ἡ ἔξωθεν τοῦ νεῶ Κορινθίου χαλκοῦ πολὺ τῇ τιμῇ τὰς καταργύρους καὶ περιχρύσους ὑπεράγουσα. Καὶ δύο μὲν ἑκάστου τοῦ πυλῶνος θύραι, τριάκοντα δὲ πηχῶν τὸ ὕψος ἑκάστης, καὶ τὸ πλάτος ἦν πεντεκαίδεκα. Others (Wagenseil, Lund, Bengel, Walch) understand it of the gate Susan, which was in the neighbourhood of Solomon’s porch, and at which the market for pigeons and other objects for sacrifice was held. But this is at variance with the signification of the word ὡραῖος; for the name Susan is to be explained from the Persian capital (שׁוּשַׁן, town of lilies), which, according to Middoth, 1 Kal. 3, was depicted on the gate. Others (Kuinoel, et al.) think that the gate Chulda, i.e. tempestiva, leading to the court of the Gentiles, is meant. See Lightf. Hor. ad Joh. p. 946 f. But this derivation of the name (from חלד tempus) cannot be historically proved, nor could Luke expect his reader to discover the singular appellation porta tempestiva in ὡραίαν, seeing that for this the very natural “porta speciosa” (Vulg.) could not but suggest itself.
Among the Gentiles also beggars sat at the gates of their temples (Martial. 1:112)—a usage probably connected with the idea (also found in ancient Israel) of a special divine care for the poor (Hermann, Privatalterth. § 14. 2).
τοῦ αἰτεῖν] eo fine, ut peteret.
 Perhaps, however, this picture of Susa on the gate of the temple is only an invention on account of the name, and the latter might be sufficiently explained from the lily-shaped decorations of the columns (מַעֲשֵׂה שׁוּשַׁן, 1 Kings 5:18).Acts 3:2. τις, by its position as in Luke 11:27 directs attention to this man, “the man was conspicuous both from the place and from his malady” Chrys., Hom., viii.—χωλὸς … ὑπάρχων: “a certain man that was lame” R.V., otherwise ὑπάρχων is not noticed, fittingly used here in its classical sense expressing the connection between the man’s present state and his previous state, see on Acts 2:30.—ἐβαστάζετο: imperf., expressing a customary act, the man was being carried at the hour of worship when the Temple would be filled with worshippers (Chrysostom); or the verb may mean that he was being carried in the sense that the bearers had not yet placed him in the accustomed spot for begging, cf. 2 Kings 18:14, Sir 6:25, Bel and the Dragon, ver. 36; Theod.—ὃν ἐτίθουν: the imperfect used of customary or repeated action in past time, Burton, Syntax of Moods and Tenses, etc., p. 12, on the form see Winer-Schmiedel, p. 121; Blass, Grammatik des N. G., p. 48: in Acts there are several undoubted instances of the way in which the imperfect 3rd plural of verbs in μι was often formed as if from a contract verb, cf. Acts 4:33; Acts 4:35, Acts 27:1—πρὸς τὴν θύραν: R.V. “door,” although in Acts 3:10 we have not θύρα but πύλη·—τὴν λεγ. Ὡραίαν: it may have been the gate of Nicanor (so called because Judas Maccabæus had nailed to the gate the hand of his conquered foe, 1Ma 7:47). The description given of it by Josephus, B. J., v., 5, 3, marks it as specially magnificent, cf. also Hamburger, Real-Encycl., ii., 8, p. 1198. This view was held by Wetstein, see, in loco, Nicanor’s gate. Another interpretation refers the term to the gate Shushan, which was not only close to the Porch of Solomon, but also to the market for the sale of doves and other offerings, and so a fitting spot for a beggar to choose (Zöckler). The gate may have been so called because a picture of the Persian capital Susa was placed over it (Hamburger, u. s.), i.e., Town of Lilies. Cf. Hebrew Shushan, a lily, the lily being regarded as the type of beauty. Wendt suggests that the title may be explained from the decoration on the pillars of lily work מַעֲשֵׂה שׁוּשַׁן, Mr. Wright, Some N.T. Problems, 1898, has recently argued that the eastern gate of the Court of the Women is meant, p. 304 ff. (so too Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. i., p. 180, E.T.). This court was the place of assembly for the services, and a beggar might naturally choose a position near it. The decision as to which of these gates reference is made to is rendered more difficult by the fact that, so far as we know, no gate bore the name “Beautiful”. But the decision apparently lies between these alternatives, although others have been proposed, cf. John Lightfoot, Hor. Heb., in loco, and Wright, u. s. In such notices as the mention of the Beautiful Gate, Solomon’s Porch, Feine sees indications of a true and reliable tradition.—τοῦ αἰτεῖν: genitive of the purpose, very frequent in this form, genitive of the article with the infinitive both in the N.T. and in the LXX, cf. Genesis 4:15, 1 Kings 1:35, Ezekiel 21:11; Luke 24:16, see especially Burton, Syntax of Moods and Tenses, p. 159. It is very characteristic of St. Luke, and next to him of St. Paul—probably indicates the influence of the LXX, although the construction is found in classical Greek, cf. Xen., Anab., iii., 5, see Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 172 (1893). It was a common thing for beggars amongst the Jews as amongst the Christians (just as amongst the Romans, Martial, i., 112) to frequent the Temple and Churches for alms. St. Chrysostom notes the custom as common as it is today in continental cathedrals or modern mosques.—ἐλεημοσύνην: common in the LXX but not classical, sometimes used for the feeling of mercy (ἔλεος), Proverbs 3:3; Proverbs 19:22, and constantly through the book; and then for mercy showing itself in acts of pity, almsgiving, Tob 1:3; Tob 12:8, cf. Acts 9:36; Acts 10:2, where it is used in the plural, as often in the LXX. Our word alms is derived from it and the German Almosen, both being corruptions of the Greek word.2. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb] There is the verb expressed in the original, and it should be translated a certain man who was, &c.
was carried] i.e. regularly every day, and the position in which he had been daily set for the greater part of his forty years’ life (see Acts 4:22) made it certain that he would be widely and well known. So Bartimæus sat by the wayside to beg (Mark 10:46).
whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful] The gateways of the Temple gave admission to the inner court from the court of the Gentiles and the court of the women; there were three on the north and the same number on the south, but the Beautiful Gate meant in this verse was probably the gate on the east which led from the court of the women. The other gates, Josephus says (B. J. v. 5. 3), were overlaid with gold and silver, but this one was “made of Corinthian bronze, and much surpassed in worth those enriched with silver and gold.”Acts 3:2. Καί τις ἀνὴρ, and a certain man) The man is fully described, in the case of whom Peter performed the first miracle.—ἐβαστάζετο) Middle [used to have himself carried].—θύραν, the door or gate) whereby many used to enter. It is called πύλη, a gate, in Acts 3:10.—Ὡραίαν, Beautiful) Heb., the Gate Susan in the same sense.—τοῦ αἰτεῖν, in order to ask) Although the people ought not to have had beggars.Verse 2. - That was lame for lame, A.V.; door for gate, A.V. Door. If any distinction is intended between the θύρα here and the πύλη of ver. 10 (which is not certain, as θύρα is often used for a gate), we must understand θύρα of the double doors of the gate described by Josephus. Perhaps the lame man leant against one of the open doors. Which is called Beautiful. It is not certain what gate this was. In the 'Dictionary of the Bible' it is described as "the great eastern gate leading from the court of the women to the upper court," following apparently Josephus, 'De Bell. Jud.,' 5. 5:3. But it is impossible to reconcile Josephus's two accounts - that in the 'Bell. Jud.,' 5:05. and that in 'Ant. Jud.,' 15. 11. In the former he says distinctly that there were ten gates - four on the north, four on the south, and two on the east. In the latter he says there were three gates on the north, three on the south, and one on the east. In the former he says that fifteen steps led up from the women's enclosure to the great gate, exactly opposite the gate of the temple itself (ἄντικρυ τῆς τοῦ ναοῦ πυλῆς); in the latter he says very distinctly that women were allowed to enter through the great gate on the east. With such discrepancies in the description of the only eye-witness whose evidence has been preserved, it is impossible to speak with certainly. But it seems probable that there were two gates on the east - one the beautiful and costly gate of Corinthian brass, elaborately described by Josephus, through which the women did pass; the other the greater gate, just opposite to and above the beautiful gate (ἡ ὑπὲρ τὴν Κορινθίαν), leading from the court of the women to the inner court; and that Josephus has confounded one with the other in his descriptions. Anyhow, the beautiful gate was probably on the east. Its correct name is said to be the gate of Nicanor. The temple. It must be remembered that the whole platform, including the porches, and the courts of the Gentiles and of the women, and the outer court and the court of the priests, was called τὸ ἱερόν; the actual house was called ὁ ναός; that part of the ἱερόν to which only Israelites were admitted, was called τὸ ἅγιον. Josephus also divides the precincts into the first, second, and third ἱερόν. The description of this lame man laid at the gate of the temple to ask alms is very similar to that in Luke 16:20 of Lazarus laid at the rich man's gate; only that the word for laid is in St. Luke ἐπέβλητο, and here is ἐτίθουν.
Lit., being. See on James 2:15.
Was carried (ἐβαστάζετο)
Imperfect: "was being carried as they were going up (Acts 3:1).
They laid (ἐτίθουν)
Imperfect: "they were wont to lay."
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