New International Version
A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.
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
CommentaryClarke's Commentary on the Bible
Which used curious arts - Τα περιεργα. From the use of this word in the Greek writers, we know that it signified magical arts, sorceries, incantations, etc. Ephesus abounded with these. Dio Cassius, speaking of the Emperor Adrian, says, Ὁ Αδριανος περιεργοτατος ην και μαντειαις και μαγγανειαις παντοδαπαις εχρητο. "Adrian was exceedingly addicted to curious arts, and practised divination and magic." These practices prevailed in all nations of the earth.
Brought their books together - The Εφεσια γραμματα, or Ephesian characters, are celebrated in antiquity; they appear to have been amulets, inscribed with strange characters, which were carried about the body for the purpose of curing diseases, expelling demons, and preserving from evils of different kinds. The books brought together on this occasion were such as taught the science, manner of formation, use, etc., of these charms.
Suidas, under Εφεσια γραμματα, Ephesian letters, gives us the following account. "Certain obscure incantations. - When Milesius and Ephesius wrestled at the Olympic games, Milesius could not prevail, because his antagonist had the Ephesian letters bound to his heels; when this was discovered, and the letters taken away, it is reported that Milesius threw him thirty times."
The information given by Hesychius is still more curious: Εφεσια γραμματα. ην μεν παλαι Ϛ'· ὑϚερον δε προσεθεσαν τινες απατεωνες και αλλα· φασι δε των πρωτων τα ονοματα, ταδε ΑΣΚΙΟΝ, ΚΑΤΑΣΚΙΟΝ, ΛΙΞ, ΤΕΤΡΑΞ, ΔΑΜΝΑΜΕΝΕΥΣ, ΑΙΣΙΟΝ· Δηλοι δε, το μεν Ασκιον, σκοτος· το δε Κατα σκιον, φως· το δε Λιξ, γη· τετραξ δε, ενιαυτος· Δαμναμενευς δε, ἡλιος· Αισιον δε, αληθες. Ταυτα ουν ἱερα εϚι και ἁγια. "The Ephesian letters or characters were formerly six, but certain deceivers added others afterwards; and their names, according to report, were these: Askion, Kataskion, Lix, Tetrax, Damnameneus, and Aislon. It is evident that Askion signifies Darkness; Kataskion, Light; Lix, the Earth; Tetrax, the Year; Damnameneus, the Sun; and Aision, Truth. These are holy and sacred things." The same account may be seen in Clemens Alexandrinus; Strom. lib. v. cap. 8, where he attempts to give the etymology of these different terms. These words served, no doubt, as the keys to different spells and incantations; and were used in order to the attainment of a great variety of ends. The Abraxas of the Basilidians, in the second century, were formed on the basis of the Ephesian letters; for those instruments of incantation, several of which are now before me, are inscribed with a number of words and characters equally as unintelligible as the above, and in many cases more so.
When it is said they brought their books together, we are to understand the books which treated of these curious arts; such as the Εφεσια γραμματα, or Ephesian characters.
And burned them before all - These must have been thoroughly convinced of the truth of Christianity, and of the unlawfulness of their own arts.
Fifty thousand pieces of silver - Some think that the αργυριον, which we translate piece of silver, means a shekel, as that word is used Matthew 26:16, where see the note; 50,000 shekels, at 3s., according to Dean Prideaux's valuation, (which is that followed throughout this work), would amount to 7,500.
But, as this was a Roman and not a Jewish country, we may rationally suppose that the Jewish coin was not here current; and that the αργυριον, or silver coin, mentioned by St. Luke, must have been either Greek or Roman; and, it is very likely that the sestertius is meant, which was always a silver coin, about the value, according to Arbuthnot, of two-pence, or 1d. 3q3/4., which answers to the fourth part of a denarius, rated by the same author at 7 3/4d. Allowing this to be the coin intended, the 50,000 sestertii would amount to 403. 12s. 11d.
The Vulgate reads, denariorum quinquaginta millium, fifty thousand denarii, which, at 7 3/4 d., will amount to 1,614. 11s. 8d. The reading of the Itala version of the Codex Bezae is very singular, Denariorum sestertia ducenta. "Two hundred sesterces of denarii;" which may signify no more than "two hundred sestertii of Roman money:" for in this sense denarius is certainly used by Cicero, Orat. pro Quint.; where ad denarium solvere, means to pay in Roman money, an expression similar to our word sterling. This sum would amount to no more than 1. 12s. 3 1/2d. But that which is computed from the sestertius is the most probable amount.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
curious. [Periergos,] curious, that is, magical arts, in which sense the word is used in the Greek writers. The study of magic was prosecuted with such zeal at Ephesus, that [Ephesios gramma,] the Ephesian letters, certain charms, or words used in incantation, became much celebrated in antiquity.
fifty. Probably Attic drachms; which at
7.?d. each, would amount to
10s. or at,
9d. each, to
'...Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?' --ACTS xix. 15. These exorcists had no personal union with Jesus. To them He was only 'Jesus whom Paul preached.' They spoke His name tentatively, as an experiment, and imitatively. To command 'in the name of Jesus' was an appeal to Jesus to glorify His name and exert His power, and so when the speaker had no real faith in the name or the power, there was no answer, because there was really no appeal. I. The only power which can cast out the evil …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts
"Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn't she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?
Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great,
Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done.
Jump to PreviousArts Bits Books Burned Burnt Counted Curious Drachmas Experts Few Fifty Fire Found Front Great Magic Pieces Practiced Practised Presence Price Publicly Reckoned Scrolls Sight Silver Sorcery Thousand Together Total Used Value Valued
Jump to NextArts Bits Books Burned Burnt Counted Curious Drachmas Experts Few Fifty Fire Found Front Great Magic Pieces Practiced Practised Presence Price Publicly Reckoned Scrolls Sight Silver Sorcery Thousand Together Total Used Value Valued
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