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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 23

Verse 23. And he called unto him two centurions, etc. Each centurion had under him one hundred men. The chief captain resolved to place Paul beyond the power of the Jews, and to protect him as became a Roman citizen.

Two hundred soldiers. These foot-soldiers were designed only to guard Paul till he was safely out of Jerusalem. The horsemen only were intended to accompany him to Caesarea. Ac 23:32.

And horsemen. These were commonly attached to foot-soldiers. In this case, however, they were designed to attend Paul to Caesarea.

And spearmen. dexiolabouv. This word is found nowhere else in the New Testament, and occurs in no classic writer. It properly means those who take, or apprehend by the right hand; and might be applied to those who apprehend prisoners, or to those who hold a spear or dart in the right hand for the purpose of throwing it. Some have conjectured that it should be read dexiobolouv, —those who cast or throw [a spear] with the right hand. So the Vulgate, the Syriac, and the Arabic understand it. They were probably those who were armed with spears or darts, and who attended on the tribune as a guard.

At the third hour of the night. At nine o'clock. This was in order that it might be done with secrecy, and to elude the band of desperadoes that had resolved to murder Paul. If it should seem that this guard was very numerous for one man, it should be remembered,

(1.) that the number of those who had conspired against him was also large; and,

(2.) that they were men accustomed to scenes of blood, of desperate characters, and who had solemnly sworn that they would take his life. In order, therefore, to deter them effectually from attacking the guard, it was made very numerous and strong, and nearly five hundred men were appointed to guard Paul as he left Jerusalem.

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