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Acts 12:21-23

Context
12:21 On a day determined in advance, Herod 1  put on his royal robes, 2  sat down on the judgment seat, 3  and made a speech 4  to them. 12:22 But the crowd 5  began to shout, 6  “The voice of a god, 7  and not of a man!” 12:23 Immediately an angel of the Lord 8  struck 9  Herod 10  down because he did not give the glory to God, and he was eaten by worms and died. 11 

1 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).

2 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.

3 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.

4 tn Or “delivered a public address.”

5 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.

6 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.

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

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

9 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.

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

11 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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