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“… out of Tziyon will go forth Torah, the word of ADONAI from Yerushalayim.”
(Isaiah 2:3)

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Please read the Introductory Notes to this commentary.

For a glossary of unfamiliar terms, CLICK HERE. For assistance in
pronouncing Hebrew terms, a pronunciation guide is located HERE.

Sections of the Apostolic Writings
The Gospels and Acts • The “Pauline” Letters • General Letters • End Times

Acts: Introductory Notes and Outline
Chapters:   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14
15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28

P’yilut HaSh'liakim
The Acts of the Emissaries

~ 12 ~

[Jerusalem [MAP] Spring 44 CE]

G. Fifth Persecution (ch 12)

1. Kefa Arrested; Yochanan Bar-Zavdai Executed (12:1-4)

1Now about that time, King Herod[1a] began[1b] to persecute some members of HaDerek.[GN] 2He had Ya'akov, Yochanan’s brother,[2] put to death with the sword. 3When he saw that this pleased the Judeans[3a], he proceeded to arrest Kefa during the Feast of Matzah.[3b] 4When he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of four soldiers each to guard him, intending to bring him to public trial after PesachPassover.

[Historical Note: Ya'akov, brother of Yeshua, writes his letter to the Diaspora]

2. Kefa Miraculously Released from Prison (12:5-19)

 5While Kefa was being kept in prison, the Messianic Community[GN] fervently prayed to God for him. 6On the night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Kefa was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, with sentries posted in front of the prison door.

7Suddenly an angel of ADONAI appeared and a light shone in the cell. The angel tapped Kefa on his side and woke him up.

“Get up quickly!” the Angel said, and the chains fell off Kefa’s wrists. 8The angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” He did so, then othe angel told him, “Now put on your cloak and follow me.” 9Kefa followed him, but he didn’t know that what the Angel was doing was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10When they were past the first and the second guards, they came to the iron gate that leads out into the city, which opened for them by itself. They went out and went down one street, and suddenly the angel left him.

11When Kefa came to his senses, he said to himself, “Now I know for sure that the Lord has His angel and delivered me from Herod’s grasp and from everything the Judeans[GN] were hoping for.” 12Realizing what was happening, he went to the home of Miryam, the mother of Yochanan Mordichai,[12] where many were gathered and praying. 13When Kefa knocked on the outside door, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14When she recognized Kefa’s voice, she was so overjoyed that instead of opening the door she ran back into the house, and told everyone that Kefa was standing at the front door.

15“You’re crazy!” they told her. But when she insisted that it was true, they said, “It is his [guardian?] angel.”[15] 16But Kefa continued knocking, and when they finally opened the door, they saw him and were amazed.[16] 17Beckoning to them with his hand for them to be quiet, he described how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. He said, “Send word to Ya'akov[17] and the brothers.” Then he left and went somewhere else.

18As soon as it was daylight, there was a major commotion among the soldiers about what had become of Kefa. 19When Herod sent for him but he couldn’t be found, he interrogated the guards and ordered their execution.[19] Then he went down from Y'hudahJudea [MAP] to Caesarea,  [MAP] and stayed there for a while.

[Caesarea [MAP] Spring 44 CE]

3. Herod Blasphemes and Dies (12:20-24)

20Now Herod had become infuriated with the people of TzorTyre and TzidonSidon. [MAP] They came together to see him. Having secured the support of Blastus, the king’s chamberlain,[20] they asked for peace, because their region depended on the king’s lands for food. 21On the appointed day, Herod dressed himself in his royal robes, sat on his throne, and made a speech to them. 22The people began to shout, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man!” 23Immediately an angel of ADONAI struck him down because he didn’t give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died.[23]

24But the word of God continued to spread and multipy.

4. Bar-Nabba, Sha'ul, and Yochanan Mordichai Return to Antioch (12:25)

25When they had completed their mission to Yerushalayim, Bar-Nabba and Sha'ul returned [to Antioch], taking Yochanan Mordichai with them.

Chapter 13


 1a. Herod Agrippa I (11 BCE-44CE) ruled Israel under the Romans from 41 to 44 CE. He was  the grandson of Herod the Great (Matt 2:1) and father of Herod Agrippa II (Acts 25:13-26:32). [RETURN]

 1b. Began: literally “reached out his hand.” [RETURN]

  2. Ya'akov (Jacob, mistranslated as “James”), brother of Yochanan (John), the sons of Zebedee. [RETURN]

 3a. Although most English translations render this word Ἰουδαῖος (Ioudaios) as “Jews” it is actually “Judeans” and in most cases in the Apostolic Writings refers not to the Jewish people, but to the corrupt government leaders, i.e., the Sanhedrin. [RETURN]

 3b. Matzah (the Feast of Unleavened Bread) immediately follows Pesach (Passover); see Exodus 12:15-20. Technically, Pesach is only a few hours on the evening of 14 Nisan and into the very early hours of 15 Nisan (remembering that on the Hebrew calendar the day begins and ends at sunset. Matzah then follows for seven days. However, for hundreds of years Matzah has been celebrated as part of the eight days of Pesach (more HERE). [RETURN]

12. Yochanan Mordichai (John Mark) was the cousin of Bar-Nabba (Col 4:10) and the author of the second Gospel account, which bears his name. [RETURN]

15. The idea of a guardian angel is found in Matthew 18:10 and Psalm 91:11. Is it possible that they meant his disembodied spirit? [RETURN]

16. It is quite likely they were praying for Kefa’s release. Faith is an interesting thing. So often we pray intellectually, thinking we are praying in faith, then we find outselves surprised when HaShem answers our prayer. [RETURN]

17. Ya'akov was the half-brother of Yeshua (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3). Although he was not a believer during Yeshua’s early ministry (John 7:3-8), he was probably convinced by the Resurrection, and became the leader of the Messianic Community in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13; Acts 21:18; Galatians 2:9-12) after Kefa left to establish communities elsewhere, and is the author of the Apostolic Letter which bears his name (James 1:1). If there ever was a true first “Pope” it would be Ya'akov, not Kefa, as Ya'akov exercised ecclesiastical authority over the entire Messianic Community in its earlt years, though Kefa may have been the leader of HaDerek in Rome for a time. See my additional note on his name in the Introduction to this commentary. [RETURN]

19. Herod was a brutal, bloodthirsty tyrant who murdered — or had murdered — most of his own family. [RETURN]

20. Chamberlain. An officer attached to the court of a king, who formerly had charge of the private apartments or chambers of the palace. Greek κοιτῶνος (koitōnos), a bed-chamber; from koite, a bedroom. He kept the accounts of the public revenues. It was a post of honor which involved great intimacy and influence with the king. [RETURN]

23. History has long recorded that Herod was literally eaten up with syphillis at the time of his death. A more recent report however added more details:

More than 2,000 years after Herod the Great succumbed at age 69, doctors have now settled on exactly what killed the king of ancient Judea: chronic kidney disease complicated by a very uncomfortable case of maggot-infested gangrene of the genitals.

The clues to Herod’s diagnosis were listed in ancient history books and, according to Jan Hirschmann, the lead diagnosing doctor in the case, included “intense itching, painful intestinal problems, breathlessness, convulsions in every limb and gangrene of the genitals.” …

Hirschmann, who is a physician at the Veterans Affairs Puget Sounds Health Care System in Washington state, said chronic kidney disease could explain nearly all of Herod’s symptoms. However, he said the king’s case of gangrene (now a rare condition known as Fournier’s gangrene) could not be explained by kidney disease and was “unusual.”

Hirschmann suspects one of three conditions likely introduced Fournier’s gangrene to the leader’s “privy parts.” An infection in Herod’s abdomen could have spread to his groin and rectal areas (Herod is said to have complained of abdominal pain).

He may have sexually contracted gonorrhea, which could have led to an infection of the urethra — the tube connecting the bladder to the outside world. This infection could have cause urine to leak inside the king’s body, spreading bacteria.

Finally, since reports indicate the king “had a terrible desire to scratch himself,” this scratching could have introduced gangrene directly into the area.

Records also indicate the swelling at the leader’s groin was further wracked by an infestation of worms. Hirschmann says what may have looked like “worms” could have actually been shredded pieces of skin, although, he says there is a possibility they were real.

“There could have been maggots feeding on the tissue,” said Philip Mackowiak, chief of the Medical Care Clinical Center at the Veterans Affairs Maryland Healthcare System, who oversees an annual conference at the center to diagnose historical figures. “It’s tough to know how long he was suffering but it was probably months, possibly a couple years.” [Source: ABC News, “Researchers Diagnose Herod the Great,” 7 January 2006. Accessed 29 April 2020] [RETURN]

Originally posted on Wednesday, 29 April 1010
Outline, dates, and additional notes added on Friday, 11 June 2021

Page last updated on Wednesday, 01 June 2022 12:52 PM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes are identified as "Revisions”)

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