Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.—After the manner of most Eastern nations, to whom silent reading is almost unknown, the eunuch was reading aloud. Philip heard him, and so gained an opening for conversation. Was the roll of Isaiah a new-found treasure? Had he bought the MS. in Jerusalem, and was he reading the wonderful utterances for the first time? The whole narrative implies that he was reading the LXX. version.
Reading Esaias ... - Isaiah. Reading doubtless the translation of Isaiah called the Septuagint. This translation was made in Egypt for the special use of the Jews in Alexandria and throughout Egypt, and was what was commonly used. "Why" he was reading the Scriptures, and especially this prophet, is not certainly known. It is morally certain, however, that he was in Judea at the time of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus; that he had heard much of him; that this would be a subject of discussion; and it was natural for him, in returning, to look at the prophecies respecting the Messiah, either to meditate on them as a suitable subject of inquiry and thought, or to examine the claims of Jesus of Nazareth to this office. The prophecy in Isaiah 53:1-12; was so striking, and coincided so clearly with the character of Jesus, that it was natural for a candid mind to examine whether "he" might not be the person intended by the prophet. On this narrative we may remark:
(1) It is a proper and profitable employment, upon returning from "worship," to examine the Sacred Scriptures.
(2) it is well to be in the habit of reading the Scriptures when we are on a journey. It may serve to keep the heart from worldly objects, and secure the affections for God.
(3) it is well at all times to read the Bible. It is one of the means of grace. And it is when we are searching his will that we obtain light and comfort. The sinner should examine with a candid mind the sacred volume. It may be the means of conducting him in the true path of salvation.
(4) God often gives us light in regard to the meaning of the Bible in unexpected modes. How little did this eunuch expect to be enlightened in the manner in which he actually was. Yet God, who intended to instruct and save him, sent the living teacher (Philip), and opened to him the Scriptures, and led him to the Saviour.
and sitting in his chariot, read Esaias—Not contented with the statutory services in which he had joined, he beguiles the tedium of the journey homeward by reading the Scriptures. But this is not all; for as Philip "heard him read the prophet Esaias," he must have been reading aloud and not (as is customary still in the East) so as merely to be audible, but in a louder voice than he would naturally have used if intent on his own benefit only: evidently therefore he was reading to his charioteer.
and sitting in his chariot: as was the manner of princes and great persons:
read Esaias the Prophet; the Book of the Prophecies of Isaiah the Prophet; and in Luke 4:17 it is called the "Book of the Prophet Esaias"; and in the note there; see Gill on Luke 4:17, I have observed, that the prophets, especially the larger ones, were sometimes in separate and distinct books, and so might be the prophecy of Isaiah; and such an one was delivered to Christ, in the synagogue of Nazareth; and such an one the eunuch might have, and be reading in it: hence we read (s), that Daniel should say to the Israelites, who came to discourse with him about the prophecies of Jeremiah, bring me, says he, , the Book of Isaiah"; he began to read, and went on till he came to this verse, "the burden of the desert of the sea", &c. Isaiah 21:1 and both the Arabic and Ethiopic versions here read, "the Book of the Prophet Isaiah." See Gill on Luke 4:17. Some think the eunuch might be reading over some passages of Scripture in this prophet, which he had heard expounded at Jerusalem, to refresh his memory with what he had heard. This prophet is a very evangelical one, and very delightful and profitable to read: many things are prophesied by him concerning the Messiah, and particularly in the chapter in which the eunuch was reading; and this being a time when there was great expectation of the Messiah, such passages might be read and expounded in their synagogues, which concerned him: however, the eunuch improved his time, as he was travelling in a religious way, which was very commendable; and as this was the occasion and opportunity which the Holy Ghost took to bring on his conversion, it may serve greatly to recommend the reading of the Scriptures.Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Acts 8:28-31. He read aloud (see Acts 8:30), and most probably from the LXX. translation widely diffused in Egypt. Perhaps he had been induced by what he had heard in Jerusalem of Jesus and of His fate to occupy himself on the way with Isaiah in particular, the Evangelist among the prophets, and with this very section concerning the Servant of God. Acts 8:34 is not opposed to this.
εἶπε δὲ τ. πνεῦμα denotes the address of the Holy Spirit inwardly apprehended. Comp. Acts 10:19.
κολλήθητι] attach thyself to, separate not thyself from. Comp. Ruth 2:8; Tob 6:17; 1Ma 6:21.
ἆρά γε γινώσκεις ἅ ἀναγινώσκεις;] For instances of a similar paronomasia, see Winer, p. 591 [E. T. 794 f.]. Comp. 2 Corinthians 3:2; 2 Thessalonians 3:11. ἎΡΑ, num (with the strengthening γέ), stands here as ordinarily: “ut aliquid sive verae sive fictae dubitationis admisceat,” Buttmann, ad Charmid. 14. Comp. Herm. ad Viger. p. 823, and on Luke 18:8; Galatians 2:17; Baeuml. Partik. p. 40 f. Philip doubts whether the Aethiopian was aware of the Messianic reference of the words which he read.
πῶς γὰρ ἂν δυναίμην κ.τ.λ.] an evidence of humility and susceptibility, ἂν, with the optative, denotes the subjective possibility conditionally conceived and consequently undecided. See Kühner, § 467. ΓΆΡ is to be taken without a no to be supplied before it: How withal, as the matter stands. See on Matthew 27:23.
 Compare the well-known saying of Julian:ἀνέγνων, ἔγνων, κατέγνων.Acts 8:28. ἄρματος: the chariot was regarded as a mark of high rank: very frequent word in LXX, but in N.T. only here, and in Revelation 9:9; cf. Revelation 18:13. “Chariot,” Hastings’ B.D., properly in classics a war-chariot, but here for ἁρμάμαξα, a covered chariot (Blass), Herod., vii., 41.—ἀνεγίνωσκεν: evidently aloud, according to Eastern usage; there is no need to suppose that some slave was reading to him (Olshausen, Nösgen, Blass). As the following citation proves, he was reading from the LXX, and the widespread knowledge of this translation in Egypt would make it probable a priori (Wendt), cf. Professor Margoliouth, “Ethiopian Eunuch,” Hastings’ B.D. It may be that the eunuch had bought the roll in Jerusalem “a pearl of great price,” and that he was reading it for the first time; Acts 8:34 is not quite consistent with the supposition that he had heard in Jerusalem rumours of the Apostles’ preaching, and of their reference of the prophecies to Jesus of Nazareth: Philip is represented as preaching to him Jesus, and that too as good news. “The eunuch came to worship—great was also his studiousness—observe again his piety, but though he did not understand he read, and after reading, examines,” Chrys., Hom., xix., and Jerome, Epist., liii., 5. See also Corn. à Lapide, in loco, on the diligence and devotion of the eunuch.28. was returning] The original has a conjunction, “and was returning,” i.e. at the termination of the feast.
read Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet] He was evidently reading aloud (see Acts 8:30), and this was common among Orientals and was specially the practice of the Jews, who accompanied the reading with a good deal of bodily motion and considered this helpful to study. Thus T. B. Erubin 53 b ad fin. “Beruriah found a student who was reading, but not aloud; she pushed him and said to him, Is it not written ‘Only when it is well ordered then it is kept’? If it is put in order by all thy two hundred and forty-eight limbs [thy study] will abide, but if not it will not abide. We have heard of a pupil of Rabbi Eliezer who studied but not aloud; and after three years he had forgotten his learning.” And a little afterwards we read “Shemuel said to Rab Jehudah, Clever fellow! Open thy mouth when thou readest the Bible, and open thy mouth when thou studiest the Mishna, in order that the reading may abide, and that thy life may be prolonged. For it says (Proverbs 4:22), For life are they to them that find them” (or as the Rabbis preferred to interpret it, “to them that utter them forth”).Acts 8:28. Ἀνεγίνωσκε, was reading) aloud: Acts 8:30, “Philip heard him read.” We ought to read, hear, search thoroughly, even upon a journey, even though we imperfectly understand. It is to him that hath that it is given. Scripture [above all worldly books, however clear.—V. g.] affects by its sweetness, and retains its hold on the reader, however deficient in intelligence, just in the same way as perfumes transmit their odours even through the coverings in which they are wrapped.Verse 28. - And he was for was, A.V. ; was reading for read, A.V.; Isaiah for Esaias, A.V., the Hebrew for the Greek form. The diffusion of the Holy Scriptures among the Gentiles by means of the Jewish dispersion and the facility given to Gentiles for reading the Scriptures by their translation into Greek at Alexandria, and by the universal use of the Greek language through the conquests of Alexander the Great, are striking instances of the providence of God working all things after the counsel of his own will.
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