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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 9

Verse 9. Parthians, etc. To show the surprising extent and power of this miracle, Luke enumerates the different nations that were represented then at Jerusalem. In this way the number of languages which the apostles spoke, and the extent of the miracle, can be ascertained. The enumeration of these nations begins at the east, and proceeds to the west. Parthians mean those Jews, or proselytes, who dwelt in Parthi. This country was a part of Persia, and was situated between the Persian Gulf and the Tigris on the west, and the river Indus on the east. To the south it was bounded by the desert of Caramania, and it had Media on the north. Their empire lasted about four hundred years, and they were much distinguished for their manner of fighting. They usually fought on horseback; and when appearing to retreat, discharged their arrows with great execution behind them. They were a part of the vast Scythian horde of Asia, and disputed the empire of the east with the Romans. The language spoken there was that of Persia; and, in ancient writers, Parthis and Persia often mean the same country.

Medes. Inhabitants of Media. This country was situated north of Parthis, and south of the Caspian Sea. It was about the size of Spain, and was one of the richest parts of Asia. In the Scriptures it is called Madai, Ge 10:2. The Medes are often mentioned, frequently in connexion with the Persians, with whom they were often connected under the same government, 2 Ki 17:6; 18:11; Es 1:3,14,18,19; Jer 25:25; Da 5:28; 6:8; 8:20; 9:1.

The language spoken here was also that of Persia. In his whole region many Jews remained after the Babylonish captivity, who chose not to return with their brethren to the land of their fathers. From the descendants of these probably were those who were now assembled from those places at Jerusalem.

Elamites. Elam is often mentioned in the Old Testament. The nation was descended from Elam, the son of Shem, Ge 10:22. It is mentioned as being in alliance with Axnraphel, the king of Shinar, and Arioch, king of Ellasar, and Tidal, king of nations, Ge 14:1. Of these nations in alliance, Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, was the chief, Ge 14:4. See also Ezr 2:7; 8:7; Ne 7:12,34; Isa 11:11; 21:2; 22:6; etc. They are mentioned as a part of the Persian empire, and Daniel is said to have resided "at Shushan, which is in the province of Elam," Da 8:2. The Greeks and Romans gave to this country the name of Elymais. It is now called Kusistan. It was bounded by Persia on the east, by Media on the north, by Babylonia on the west, and by the Persian Gulf on the south. The Elamites were a warlike people, and celebrated for the use of the bow, Isa 22:6; Jer 49:35. The language of this people was of course the Persian. Its capital Shusan, called by the Greeks Susa, was much celebrated. It is said to have been fifteen miles in circumference; and was adorned with the celebrated palace of Ahasuerus. The inhabitants still pretend to show there the tomb of the prophet Daniel.

Mesopotamia. This name, which is Greek, signifies between the rivers; that is, the region lying between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. In Hebrew it was called Aram-Naharaim; that is, Aram, or Syria of tho two rivers. It was also called Padam Aram, the plain of Syria. In this region were situated some important places mentioned in the Bible:—Ur of the Chaldees the birthplace of Abraham, Ge 11:27,28; Haran where Terah stopped on his journey and died, Ge 11:31,32; Charchemish, 2 Ch 35:20; Hena, 2 Ki 19:13; Sepharvaim, 2 Ki 17:24. This region, known as Mesopotamia, extended between the two rivers from their sources to Babylon on the south. It had on the north, Armenia; on the west, Syria; on the east, Persia; and on the south, Babylonia. It was an extensive, level, and fertile country. The language spoken here was probably the Syriac, with perhaps a mixture of the Chaldee.

In Judea. This expression has greatly perplexed commentators. It has been thought difficult to see why Judaea should be mentioned, as if it were a matter of surprise that they could speak in this language. Some have supposed an error in the manuscripts, and have proposed to read Armenia, or India, or Lydia, or Idumea, etc. But all this has been without any authority. Others have supposed that the language of Galilee was so different from that of the other parts of Judea, as to render it remarkable that they could speak that dialect. But this is an idle supposition. This is one of the many instances in which commentators have perplexed themselves to very little purpose. Luke recorded this as any other historian would have done. In running over the languages which they spoke, he enumerated this as a matter of course; not that it was remarkable simply that they should speak the language of Judea, but that they should speak so many, meaning about the same by it as if he had said they spoke every language in the world. Just as if a similar miracle were to occur at this time among an assembly of native Englishmen and foreigners. In describing it, nothing would be more natural than to say, they spoke French, and German, and Spanish, and English, and Italian, etc. In this there would be nothing remarkable, except that they spoke so many languages.

Cappadocia. This was a region of Asia Minor, and was bounded on the east by Armenia, on the north by Pontus and the Euxine Sea, west by Lycaonia, and south by Cilicia. The language which was spoken here is not certainly known. It was probably, however, a mixed dialect made up of Greek and Syriac, perhaps the same as their neighbours, the Lycaonians, Ac 14:11. This place was formerly celebrated for iniquity, and is mentioned in Greek writers as one of the three eminently wicked places, whose name began with "C". The others were Crete (Comp. Tit 1:12) and Cilicia. After its conversion to the Christian religion, however, it produced many eminent men, among whom were Gregory Nyssen, and Basil the Great. It was one of the places to which Peter directed an epistle, 1 Pe 1:1.

In Pontus. This was another province of Asia Minor, and was situated north of Cappadocia, and was bounded west by Paphlagonia. Pontus and Cappadocia under the Romans constituted one province. This was one of the places to which the apostle Peter directed his epistle, 1 Pe 1:1. This was the birthplace of Aquila, one of the companions of Paul, Ac 18:2,18,26; Ro 16:3; 1 Co 16:19; 2 Ti 4:19.


And Asia. Pontus, and Cappadocia, etc., were parts of Asia. But the word Asia is doubtless used here to denote the regions or provinces west of these, which are not particularly enumerated. Thus it is used, Ac 6:9; 16:6; 20:16.

The capital of this region was Ephesus. See also 1 Pe 1:1. This region was frequently called Ionia, and was afterwards the seat of the seven churches in Asia, Re 1:4.

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