Acts 19:19
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

King James Bible
Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

Darby Bible Translation
And many of those that practised curious arts brought their books of charms and burnt them before all. And they reckoned up the prices of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

World English Bible
Many of those who practiced magical arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. They counted the price of them, and found it to be fifty thousand pieces of silver.

Young's Literal Translation
and many of those who had practised the curious arts, having brought the books together, were burning them before all; and they reckoned together the prices of them, and found it five myriads of silverlings;

Acts 19:19 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Curious arts - Arts or practices requiring skill, address, cunning. The word used here (περίεργα perierga) denotes properly "those things that require care or skill," and was thus applied to the arts of "magic, jugglery, and sleight of hand" that were practiced so extensively in Eastern countries. That such arts were practiced at Ephesus is well known. The Ephesian letters, by which incantations and charms were supposed to be produced, were much celebrated. They seem to have consisted of certain combinations of letters or words, which, by being pronounced with certain intonations of voice, were believed to be effectual in expelling diseases, or evil spirits; or which, by being written on parchment and worn, were supposed to operate as amulets, or charms, to guard from evil spirits or from danger. Thus, Plutarch (Sympos., 7) says, "The magicians compel those who are possessed with a demon to recite and pronounce the Ephesian letters, in a certain order, by themselves." Thus, Clemens Alex. (Strom. ii.) says, "Androcydes, a Pythagorean, says that the letters which are called Ephesian, and which are so celebrated, are symbols, etc." Erasmus says (Adagg. Cent., 2) that there were certain marks and magical words among the Ephesians, by using which they succeeded in every undertaking. Eustath. a.d. Homer, Odyssey τ, says "that those letters were incantations which Croesus used when on the funeral pile, and which greatly befriended him." He adds that, in the war between the Milesians and Ephesians, the latter were thirteen times saved from ruin by the use of these letters. See Grotius and Kuinoel.

Brought their books - Books which explained the arts, or which contained the magical forms and incantations - perhaps pieces of parchment, on which were written the letters which were to be used in the incantations and charms.

And burned them before all men - Publicly. Their arts and offences had been public, and they sought now to undo the evil, as much as lay in their power, as extensively as they had done it.

And they counted - The price was estimated. By whom this was done does not appear. Probably it was not done by those who had been engaged in this business, and who had suffered the loss, but by the people, who were amazed at the sacrifice, and who were astonished at their folly in thus destroying their own property.

Fifty thousand pieces of silver - What coin the word ἀργυρίου arguriou here translated "silver" denotes, it is impossible to tell, and consequently the precise value of this sacrifice cannot be ascertained. If it refers to the Jewish shekel, the sum would be 25,000 (about 5,420 British pounds), since the shekel was worth about half a dollar (circa 1880's). If it refers to Grecian or Roman coin - which is much more probable, as this was a pagan country, where the Jewish coin would not, probably, be much used the value would be much less. Probably, however, it refers to the Attic drachma, which was a silver coin worth about 9d. sterling, or not far from 17 cents, and then the value would be about 8,500 (1,875 British pounds). The precise value is not material. It was a large sum; and it is recorded to show that Christianity had power to induce people to forsake arts that were most lucrative, and to destroy the means of extending and perpetuating those arts, however valuable in a pecuniary point of view they might be. We are to remember, however, that this was not the intrinsic value of these books, but only their value as books of incantation. In themselves they might have been of very little worth. The universal prevalence of Christianity would make much that is now esteemed valuable pro, retry utterly worthless, as, for example, all that is used in gambling, in fraud, in counterfeiting, in distilling ardent spirits for drink, in the slave-trade, and in attempts to impose on and defraud mankind.

Acts 19:19 Parallel Commentaries

Library
The Fight with Wild Beasts at Ephesus
'After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. 22. So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season. 23. And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. 24. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

Paul's Journeys Acts 13:1-38:31
On this third journey he was already planning to go to Rome (Acts 19:21) and wrote an epistle to the Romans announcing his coming (Rom. 1:7, 15). +The Chief City+, in which Paul spent most of his time (Acts 19:1, 8, 10), between two and three years upon this journey, was Ephesus in Asia Minor. This city situated midway between the extreme points of his former missionary journeys was a place where Ephesus has been thus described: "It had been one of the early Greek colonies, later the capital
Henry T. Sell—Bible Studies in the Life of Paul

The Spirit and Power of Elias.
(LUKE I. 17.) "Oh, may I join the choir invisible Of those immortal dead who live again In minds made better by their presence: live In pulses stirred to generosity; In deeds of daring rectitude; in scorn For miserable aims that end with self; In thoughts sublime that pierce the night like stars, And with their mild persistence urge man's search To vaster issues." The Old Covenant and the New--Elijah and the Baptist--A Parallel--The Servant inferior to the Lord--The Baptism of the Holy Ghost--The
F. B. Meyer—John the Baptist

Baptism unto Repentance
(MARK I. 4.) "The last and greatest herald of heaven's King, Girt with rough skins, hies to the desert wild; Among that savage brood the woods doth bring, Which he more harmless found than man, and mild. "His food was locusts and what there doth spring, With honey that from virgin hives distill'd, Parch'd body, hollow eyes, some uncouth thing Made him appear, long since from earth exiled." W. DRUMMOND, of Hawthornden. Repentance: its Nature--Repentance: how Produced--Repentance: its Evidences--Repentance:
F. B. Meyer—John the Baptist

Cross References
Luke 15:8
"Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?

Acts 8:9
Now there was a man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great;

Acts 19:18
Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices.

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