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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 2

Verse 2. And the High Priest Ananias. This Ananias was, doubtless, the son of Nebedinus, (Jos. Ant. xx. chap. v. § 3,) who was high priest when Quadratus, who preceded Felix, was president of Syria. He was sent bound to Rome by Quadratus, at the same time with Ananias, the prefect of the temple, that they might give an account of their conduct to Claudius Caesar. Josephus, Ant. b. xx. chap. vi. & 2. But in consequence of the intercession of Agrippa the Younger, they were dismissed, and returned to Jerusalem. Ananias, however, was not restored to the office of high priest; for, when Felix was governor of Judea, this office was filled by Jonathan, who succeeded Ananias. Josephus, Ant. b. xx. chap. x. Jonathan was slain in the temple itself, by the instigation of Felix, by assassins who had been hired for the purpose. This murder is thus described by Josephus, (Ant. b. xx. chap. viii. § 5 :)

"Felix bore an ill-will to Jonathan, the high priest, because he

frequently gave him admonitions about governing the Jewish

affairs better than he did, lest complaints should be made

against him, since he had procured of Caesar the appointment

of Felix as procurator of Judea. Accordingly, Felix contrived

a method by which he might get rid of Jonathan, whose

admonitions had become troublesome to him. Felix persuaded one

of Jonathan's most faithful friends, of the name Doras,

to bring the robbers upon him, and to put him to death."

This was done in Jerusalem. The robbers came into the city as if to worship God, and with daggers, which they had concealed under their garments, they put him to death. After the death of Jonathan, the office of high priest remained vacant, until king Agrippa appointed Ismael, the son of Fabi, to the office. Josephus, Ant. b. xx. chap. viii. § 8. It was during this interval, while the office of high priest was vacant, that the events which are here recorded took place. Ananias was then at Jerusalem; and as the office of high priest was vacant, and as he was the last person who had borne the office, it was natural that he should discharge, probably by common consent, its duties, so far at least as to preside in the sanhedrim. Of these facts Paul would be doubtless apprized; and hence what he said Ac 23:5 was strictly true, and is one of the evidences that Luke's history accords precisely with the peculiar circumstances which then existed. When Luke here calls Ananias "the high priest," he evidently intends not to affirm that he was actually such; but to use the word as the Jews did, as applicable to one who had been ill that office, and who, on that occasion, when the office was vacant, performed its duties.

To smite him on the mouth. To stop him from speaking; to express their indignation at what he had said. The anger of Ananias was excited, because Paul affirmed that all that he had done had been with a good conscience. Their feelings had been excited to the utmost; they regarded him as certainly guilty; they deemed him to be an apostate; and they could not bear it that he, with such coolness and firmness, declared that all his conduct had been under the direction of a good conscience. The injustice of the command of Ananias is apparent to all. A similar instance of violence occurred on the trial of the Saviour, Joh 18:22.

{a} "smite him on the mouth" Joh 18:22

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