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Acts 12:19-23

Context
12:19 When Herod 1  had searched 2  for him and did not find him, he questioned 3  the guards and commanded that they be led away to execution. 4  Then 5  Herod 6  went down from Judea to Caesarea 7  and stayed there.

12:20 Now Herod 8  was having an angry quarrel 9  with the people of Tyre 10  and Sidon. 11  So they joined together 12  and presented themselves before him. And after convincing 13  Blastus, the king’s personal assistant, 14  to help them, 15  they asked for peace, 16  because their country’s food supply was provided by the king’s country. 12:21 On a day determined in advance, Herod 17  put on his royal robes, 18  sat down on the judgment seat, 19  and made a speech 20  to them. 12:22 But the crowd 21  began to shout, 22  “The voice of a god, 23  and not of a man!” 12:23 Immediately an angel of the Lord 24  struck 25  Herod 26  down because he did not give the glory to God, and he was eaten by worms and died. 27 

1 sn King Herod was Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod I (Herod the Great).

2 tn Or “had instigated a search” (Herod would have ordered the search rather than conducting it himself).

3 tn “Questioned” is used to translate ἀνακρίνας (anakrina") here because a possible translation offered by BDAG 66 s.v. ἀνακρίνω for this verse is “examined,” which could be understood to mean Herod inspected the guards rather than questioned them. The translation used by the NIV, “cross-examined,” also avoids this possible misunderstanding.

4 tn The meaning “led away to execution” for ἀπαχθῆναι (apacqhnai) in this verse is given by BDAG 95 s.v. ἀπάγω 2.c. Although an explicit reference to execution is lacking here, it is what would usually occur in such a case (Acts 16:27; 27:42; Code of Justinian 9.4.4). “Led away to torture” is a less likely option (Pliny the Younger, Letters 10, 96, 8).

5 tn Grk “and,” but the sequence of events is better expressed in English by “then.” A new sentence is begun in the translation because of the length of the sentence in Greek, which exceeds normal English sentence length.

6 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Herod) has been specified in the translation for clarity. Since Herod has been the subject of the preceding material, and the circumstances of his death are the subject of the following verses (20-23), it is best to understand Herod as the subject here. This is especially true since according to Josephus, Ant. 19.8.2 [19.343-352], Herod Agrippa I died at Caesarea in a.d. 44, and vv. 20-23 here describe his death. Thus the end of v. 19 provides Luke’s transition to explain how Herod got from Jerusalem to Caesarea where he died. In spite of all this evidence, the NRSV translates this phrase “Then Peter went down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there,” understanding the referent to be Peter rather than Herod Agrippa I.

sn King Herod was Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod I (Herod the Great), who died at Caesarea in a.d. 44 according to Josephus, Ant. 19.8.2 [19.343-352].

7 sn Caesarea was a city on the coast of Palestine south of Mount Carmel (not Caesarea Philippi). See the note on Caesarea in Acts 10:1.

map For location see Map2 C1; Map4 B3; Map5 F2; Map7 A1; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

8 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Herod) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

sn Herod was Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod I (Herod the Great).

9 tn Or “was extremely angry.” L&N 33.453 gives the meaning “be angry and quarrel, quarrel angrily” here. However, in L&N 88.180 the alternative “to be violently angry, to be furious” is given. The term is used only once in the NT (BDAG 461 s.v. θυμομαχέω).

10 sn Tyre was a city and seaport on the coast of Phoenicia.

map For location see Map1 A2; Map2 G2; Map4 A1; JP3 F3; JP4 F3.

11 sn Sidon was an ancient Phoenician royal city on the coast between Berytus (Beirut) and Tyre (BDAG 923 s.v. Σιδών).

map For location see Map1 A1; JP3 F3; JP4 F3.

12 tn Or “with one accord.”

13 tn Or “persuading.”

14 tn On the term translated “personal assistant” BDAG 554 s.v. κοιτῶν states, “used as part of a title: ὁ ἐπὶ τοῦ κοιτῶνος the one in charge of the bed-chamber, the chamberlain.” This individual was not just a domestic servant or butler, but a highly respected person who had considerable responsibility for the king’s living quarters and personal affairs. The English word “chamberlain” corresponds very closely to this meaning but is not in common use today. The term “personal assistant,” while it might convey more business associations than management of personal affairs, nevertheless communicates the concept well in contemporary English.

15 tn The words “to help them” are not in the Greek text, but are implied.

16 tn Or “for a reconciliation.” There were grave political risks in having Herod angry at them. The detail shows the ruler’s power.

17 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Herod) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

sn Herod was Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod I (Herod the Great).

18 tn Or “apparel.” On Herod’s robes see Josephus, Ant. 19.8.2 (19.344), summarized in the note at the end of v. 23.

19 tn Although BDAG 175 s.v. βῆμα 3 gives the meaning “speakers platform” for this verse, and a number of modern translations use similar terms (“rostrum,” NASB; “platform,” NRSV), since the bema was a standard feature in Greco-Roman cities of the time, there is no need for an alternative translation here.

sn The judgment seat (βῆμα, bhma) was a raised platform mounted by steps and sometimes furnished with a seat, used by officials in addressing an assembly or making pronouncements, often on judicial matters. The judgment seat was a familiar item in Greco-Roman culture, often located in the agora, the public square or marketplace in the center of a city.

20 tn Or “delivered a public address.”

21 tn The translation “crowd” is given by BDAG 223 s.v. δῆμος; the word often means a gathering of citizens to conduct public business. Here it is simply the group of people gathered to hear the king’s speech.

22 tn The imperfect verb ἐπεφώνει (epefwnei) is taken ingressively in the sequence of events. Presumably the king had started his speech when the crowd began shouting.

23 sn The voice of a god. Contrast the response of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 14:13-15.

24 tn Or “the angel of the Lord.” See the note on the word “Lord” in 5:19.

25 sn On being struck…down by an angel, see Acts 23:3; 1 Sam 25:28; 2 Sam 12:15; 2 Kgs 19:35; 2 Chr 13:20; 2 Macc 9:5.

26 tn Grk “him”; the referent (Herod) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

27 sn He was eaten by worms and died. Josephus, Ant. 19.8.2 (19.343-352), states that Herod Agrippa I died at Caesarea in a.d. 44. The account by Josephus, while not identical to Luke’s account, is similar in many respects: On the second day of a festival, Herod Agrippa appeared in the theater with a robe made of silver. When it sparkled in the sun, the people cried out flatteries and declared him to be a god. The king, carried away by the flattery, saw an owl (an omen of death) sitting on a nearby rope, and immediately was struck with severe stomach pains. He was carried off to his house and died five days later. The two accounts can be reconciled without difficulty, since while Luke states that Herod was immediately struck down by an angel, his death could have come several days later. The mention of worms with death adds a humiliating note to the scene. The formerly powerful ruler had been thoroughly reduced to nothing (cf. Jdt 16:17; 2 Macc 9:9; cf. also Josephus, Ant. 17.6.5 [17.168-170], which details the sickness which led to Herod the Great’s death).



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