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7. Stephen's Speech to Sanhedrin

1And the high priest said, Are these things so? 2And he said, Brethren and fathers, hearken: The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, 3and said unto him, Get thee out of thy land, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall show thee. 4Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Haran: and from thence, when his father was dead, God removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell: 5and he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: and he promised that he would give it to him in possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child. 6And God spake on this wise, that his seed should sojourn in a strange land, and that they should bring them into bondage, and treat them ill, four hundred years. 7And the nation to which they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place. 8And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob, and Jacob the twelve patriarchs. 9And the patriarchs, moved with jealousy against Joseph, sold him into Egypt: and God was with him, 10and delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. 11Now there came a famine over all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance. 12But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent forth our fathers the first time. 13And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph's race became manifest unto Pharaoh. 14And Joseph sent, and called to him Jacob his father, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls. 15And Jacob went down into Egypt; and he died, himself and our fathers; 16and they were carried over unto Shechem, and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a price in silver of the sons of Hamor in Shechem. 17But as the time of the promise drew nigh which God vouchsafed unto Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, 18till there arose another king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph. 19The same dealt craftily with our race, and ill-treated our fathers, that they should cast out their babes to the end they might not live. 20At which season Moses was born, and was exceeding fair; and he was nourished three months in his father's house. 21and when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. 22And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians; and he was mighty in his words and works. 23But when he was well-nigh forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. 24And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, smiting the Egyptian: 25and he supposed that his brethren understood that God by his hand was giving them deliverance; but they understood not. 26And the day following he appeared unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? 27But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? 28Wouldest thou kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian yesterday? 29And Moses fled at this saying, and became a sojourner in the land of Midian, where he begat two sons. 30And when forty years were fulfilled, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. 31And when Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold, there came a voice of the Lord, 32I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob. And Moses trembled, and durst not behold. 33And the Lord said unto him, Loose the shoes from thy feet: for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 34I have surely seen the affliction of my people that is in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I am come down to deliver them: and now come, I will send thee into Egypt. 35This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? him hath God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the hand of the angel that appeared to him in the bush. 36This man led them forth, having wrought wonders and signs in Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years. 37This is that Moses, who said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me. 38This is he that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel that spake to him in the Mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received living oracles to give unto us: 39to whom our fathers would not be obedient, but thrust him from them, and turned back in their hearts unto Egypt, 40saying unto Aaron, Make us gods that shall go before us: for as for this Moses, who led us forth out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him. 41And they made a calf in those days, and brought a sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their hands. 42But God turned, and gave them up to serve the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets,

Did ye offer unto me slain beasts and sacrifices

Forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?

43And ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch,

And the star of the god Rephan,

The figures which ye made to worship them:

And I will carry you away beyond Babylon.

44Our fathers had the tabernacle of the testimony in the wilderness, even as he appointed who spake unto Moses, that he should make it according to the figure that he had seen. 45Which also our fathers, in their turn, brought in with Joshua when they entered on the possession of the nations, that God thrust out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; 46who found favor in the sight of God, and asked to find a habitation for the God of Jacob. 47But Solomon built him a house. 48Howbeit the Most High dwelleth not in houses made with hands; as saith the prophet,

49The heaven is my throne,

And the earth the footstool of my feet:

What manner of house will ye build me? saith the Lord:

Or what is the place of my rest?

50Did not my hand make all these things?

51Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye. 52Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? and they killed them that showed before of the coming of the Righteous One; of whom ye have now become betrayers and murderers; 53ye who received the law as it was ordained by angels, and kept it not. 54Now when they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God. 57But they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and rushed upon him with one accord; 58and they cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59And they stoned Stephen, calling upon the Lord, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

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43. You took to you the tabernacle of Moloch. Some take the copulative for the adversative [particle,] as if he should say, Yea, rather, ye worshipped the idol. It may be resolved also into the conjunction causal, thus, You did not offer sacrifices to me, because ye erected a tabernacle to Moloch. But I expound it somewhat otherwise, to wit, that God doth first accuse the fathers for the more vehemency; and then afterwards he addeth, that their posterity did increase the superstitions, because they gat to themselves new and diverse idols; as if the prophet had spoken thus in the person of God, If I shall rip up from the beginning, (O house of Jacob,) how your kindred hath behaved itself toward me; your fathers began to overthrow and corrupt, even in the wilderness, that worship which I had commanded; but you have far passed their ungodliness, for you have brought in an infinite company of gods. And this order is fitter for Stephen’s purpose; for he intendeth to prove, (as we have already said,) that after the Israelites felt away unto strange and bastardly rites, they never made an end of sinning, but being stricken with blindness, they polluted themselves every now and then with new idolatries, until they were come even unto the last end 454454     “Ad extermum,” to the extreme. of impiety. Therefore, Stephen confirmeth this sentence fitly with the testimony of the prophet, that the Jews, descending of wicked and rebellious fathers, had never ceased to wax worse and worse. And although the prophet’s words be somewhat unlike to these, yet is the sense all one. It is to be thought that Stephen, who had to deal with the Jews, did repeat word for word in their tongue that which is in the prophet; Luke, who wrote in Greek, did follow the Greek interpreter. The prophet saith, Ye honored Succoth your king, and Chiun your image, the star of your gods. The Greek interpreter made a noun common of a noun proper, because of the alliance 455455     “Affinitatem,” its affinity to. of the word Succoth, which signifieth a tabernacle. Furthermore, I cannot tell whence he fetcheth that his Remphan, unless it were because that word was more used in that time.

And figures which ye made. The word image, which is in the prophet, doth of itself signify no evil thing. Moreover, the word [τυπος]; is taken amongst the Grecians in good part. For the ceremonies which God appointed are called [τυποι]; notwithstanding the prophet condemneth expressly the figures [types] which the Jews had made. Why so? Because God will not be worshipped under a visible and external form. If any man object that he speaketh in this place of stars; that is true, I confess; but I stand only upon this, that although the prophet doth give their idols some honest name, yet doth he sharply condemn their corrupt worship; whereby the foolish and childish caviling of the Papists is refuted. Because they deny that those images which they worship are idols, they say, that that mad worship of theirs is, [εικονοδουλεια], or serving of images, and not [ειδολοδουλεια], or worshipping of idols. Seeing they mock God sophistically, there is no man that is endued even but with common understanding, which doth not see that they are more than ridiculous even in such toys. For although I move no question about the word, it is certain that the word [τυπος]; is more honorable than [εικων]. But those same [τυποι], or figures, are simply condemned in this place, which men make to themselves, not only [προς την λατρειαν], or that they may worship them, but [προς την προσκυνησιν], that is, that they may give them even any reverence at all. Therefore that filthy distinction falleth flat to the ground, wherein the Papists think they have a crafty starting-hole. 456456     “Effugium,” evasion.

Beyond Babylon. The prophet nameth Damascus; neither doth the Greek interpretation dissent from the same. Wherefore it may be that the word Babylon cropt [crept] in here through error; though in the sum of the thing there be no great difference. The Israelites were to be carried away to Babylon; but because they thought that they had a sure and strong fortress in the kingdom of Syria, whose head Damascus was, therefore the prophet saith that Damascus shall not help them, but that God shall drive them farther; as if he should say, So long as you have Damascus set against your enemies, you think that you are well fenced; but God shall carry you away beyond it; even into Assyria and Chaldea.