Acts 9:43
And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.
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(43) Many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.—Either as bringing with it, through contact with the carcases and hides of dead beasts, the risks of ceremonial defilement, or being generally a repulsive and noisome business, the occupation was one from which the stricter Jews generally shrunk. The Rabbis held that if a tanner about to marry concealed his occupation from his intended wife, the concealment was of the nature of a fraud that invalidated the contract (Schöttgen, Hor. Heb., in loc.). In taking up his abode with one of this calling, Peter must accordingly have been taking one step in advance towards greater freedom. He had learnt, partially at least, the lesson which his Master had taught as to that which alone can bring with it real defilement (Mark 7:17-23), and was thus being trained for a fuller illumination. We have no data for determining the length of time implied in the “many days.” In Acts 9:23, as we have seen, the words covered a period of nearly three years.

9:36-43 Many are full of good words, who are empty and barren in good works; but Tabitha was a great doer, no great talker. Christians who have not property to give in charity, may yet be able to do acts of charity, working with their hands, or walking with their feet, for the good of others. Those are certainly best praised whose own works praise them, whether the words of others do so or not. But such are ungrateful indeed, who have kindness shown them, and will not acknowledge it, by showing the kindness that is done them. While we live upon the fulness of Christ for our whole salvation, we should desire to be full of good works, for the honour of his name, and for the benefit of his saints. Such characters as Dorcas are useful where they dwell, as showing the excellency of the word of truth by their lives. How mean then the cares of the numerous females who seek no distinction but outward decoration, and who waste their lives in the trifling pursuits of dress and vanity! Power went along with the word, and Dorcas came to life. Thus in the raising of dead souls to spiritual life, the first sign of life is the opening of the eyes of the mind. Here we see that the Lord can make up every loss; that he overrules every event for the good of those who trust in him, and for the glory of his name.And many believed ... - A similar effect followed when Jesus raised up Lazarus. See John 12:11.

This was the first miracle of this kind that was performed by the apostles. The effect was that many believed. It was not merely a work of benevolence, in restoring to life one who contributed largely to the comfort of the poor, but it was a means of extending and establishing, as it was designed doubtless to do, the kingdom of the Saviour.

43. with one Simon a tanner—a trade regarded by the Jews as half unclean, and consequently disreputable, from the contact with dead animals and blood which was connected with it. For this reason, even by other nations, it is usually carried on at some distance from towns; accordingly, Simon's house was "by the seaside" (Ac 10:6). Peter's lodging there shows him already to some extent above Jewish prejudice. The miracle had only prepared them to receive his doctrine, which Peter tarried some time with them to instruct them in: the miracle had prepared the ground, and now he takes this season to sow the seed of the word into it.

And it came to pass,.... Or so it was;

that he tarried many days in Joppa; conversing with the saints, confirming the disciples, and preaching the Gospel, to the conversion of sinners; and his abode

was with one Simon a tanner; it seems as if persons of this trade used to dwell in towns near the sea, as fit for their business; so we read of some at Sidon, a city on the sea coast, as Joppa was;

"it happened at Sidon that a certain "tanner", (the same word here used, adopted into the Hebrew language,) died, and he had a brother a tanner, &c. (r)''

where the Gemara (s) distinguishes between a great tanner and a little tanner; the latter, the gloss says, is one that is poor and has but few skins: which of these Simon was, cannot be said. This business was very contemptible with the Jews; they say (t),

"woe to him whose trade is a tanner:''

and further observe (u) that they never make one a king, nor a high priest: but their doctors many of them were of as mean trades, as shoemakers, skinners, &c. See Gill on Mark 6:3 and Simon the Athenian philosopher was "a leather cutter" (w); and according to the Ethiopic version, this our Simon was a shoemaker; with him Peter chose to abide, and not with Dorcas.

(r) Misn. Cetubot, c. 7. sect. 10. (s) T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 77. 1.((t) T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 82. 2. & Bava Bathra, fol. 16. 2.((u) Kiddush, fol. 82. 1.((w) Laert. in Vit. Simon.

And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.
Acts 9:43. ἐγένετο δὲ, see on Acts 9:37, Plummer, St. Luke, p. 45, on the use of ἐγένετο. The phrase also marks (as often in Luke) a transition to the following narrative (Nösgen).—ἡμέρας ἱκανὰς, see on Acts 8:11, and Acts 27:7. Kennedy speaks of the adjective as used in the vernacular sense of “long,” “many,” Aristoph., Pax., 354.—βυρσεῖ, in classics βυρσοδέψης: it is difficult to suppose that the common estimate of the work of a tanner amongst the Jews as unclean, on account of their constant contact with dead animals, has here no significance. At least the mention of the trade seems to show that St. Peter was already in a state of mind which would fit him for the further revelation of the next chapter, and for the instructions to go and baptise the Gentile Cornelius. On the detestation in which this trade was held by the Jews, see Wetstein, in loco; Edersheim, Jewish Social Life, p. 158; cf. Mishna, Khethuboth, vii., 10. It does not in any way militate against the historical character of the narrative, as Overbeck maintains, to admit that the description is meant to introduce the “universalism” of the following incident. Both Chrysostom and Theophylact (so too Erasmus) dwell upon this incident in St. Peter’s life as illustrating his unassuming conduct.—Ἰόππῃ, see on Acts 9:36. Heb. יָפוֹ, “beauty,” Jaffa; see for references Joshua 19:46, 2 Chronicles 2:16, Jonah 1:3, Ezra 3:7; the port of Jerusalem from the days of Solomon (from which it was distant some thirty-five miles), situated on a hill so high that people affirmed, as Strabo mentions, that the capital was visible from its summit. It was comparatively (Schürer) the best harbour on the coast of Palestine (although Josephus, B. J., iii., 9, correctly describes it as dangerous), and in this lay its chief importance. The Maccabees were well aware of this, and it is of Simon that the historian writes: “With all his glory he took Joppa for an haven, and made an entrance to the isles of the sea” 1Ma 14:5 (about 144 B.C.). The Judaising of the city was the natural result of the Maccabean occupation, although the Syrians twice retook Joppa, and twice Hyrcanus regained it for the Jews. Taken by Pompey B.C. 63, restored to the Jews by Cæsar 47, Jos., Ant., xiv., 4, 4; B. J., i., 7, 7, and Ant., xiv., 10, 6, and at length added to the kingdom of Herod the Great, Ant., xv., 7, 3; B. J., i., 20, 3, Joppa remained Jewish, imbued with all the fanatic patriotism of the mother-city, and in the fierce revolt of 66 A.D. Joppa still remained alone in her undivided allegiance to Judaism, and against Joppa the first assault of Cestius Gallus was directed. On the Joppa which St. Peter entered, Acts 10, and its contrast to the neighbouring Cæsarea, see Acts 8:40 and G. A. Smith, Hist. Geog., p. 136 ff.; see also Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. i., p. 79 ff. E.T.; Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, i., 4, 601; B.D.2, “Joppa”.

43. he tarried many days] On the indefinite nature of the time indicated here see above, Acts 9:23, note.

with one Simon a tanner] The trade of a tanner was held as abominable by the Jews. A wife, it is said, could claim a divorce from a husband who became a tanner (Mishna Khethuboth vii. 10, where is recorded the following story): “It happened at Sidon that a tanner died, and left a brother who was also a tanner. The sages held that his (childless) widow had a right to plead, Thy brother I could bear but I cannot bear thee,” and so in this case the woman might refuse to marry her husband’s brother.

It is a sign that in the mind of St Peter some usages and prejudices of the Jews were already becoming of small account, when he makes his abode at the house of Simon a tanner. Such a step prepares us for the history of the next chapter, where he is instructed to go and preach to and baptize the Gentile Cornelius.

Acts 9:43. Ἱκανὰς, a considerable number of days) He did more than they had asked, Acts 9:38.—Σίμωνι, Simon) who lived perhaps near the place.—[βυρσεῖ, a tanner) What condescending familiarity with the people did the illustrious apostle in this instance exhibit in external things, after the great deed which he accomplished in this very town, Joppa, and before the grand business which he was about to undertake at Cæsarea!—V. g.]

Verse 43. - Abode for tarried, A.V. Many days (ἡμέρας ἱκανάς); the same phrase as ver. 23; spoken of a time of indeterminate length. Here probably it means some months, luring which Peter would be evangelizing the whole neighborhood. The Jews are said to have considered the trade of a tanner unclean; but if this were so, it would not be safe to infer that Peter was already indifferent to ceremonial uncleanness. We know he was not so (Acts 10:14), but probably in his line of life he could not act up to all the nicer distinctions of the strictest Pharisees.

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