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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

~ 22 ~

[Jerusalem [MAP] Late Summer 58 CE]

E. Sha'ul’s Defense Before the Mob (22:1-21)

1. He Recounts His Awakening (22:1-16)

1“Brothers and fathers, listen to my defense now!”

2When they heard him speaking to them in Hebrew,[2] they were even quieter. Then he said, 3“I am a Y'hudiJew, born in Tarsus [MAP] of Cilicia, but brought up in this city and educated at the feet of Gamli'el,[3] instructed in the smallest detail of the Torah of our fathers, and zealous for God, even as you all are today. 4I persecuted to the death the followers of HaDerekTheWay, arresting both men and women and delivering them to prison. 5As the Cohen HaGadolHigh Priest and the entire Sanhedrin can testify, I obtained letters to from them to their brothers in DammesekDamascus [MAP] and was on the way there to arrest the ones there and bring them to Yerushalayim to be punished. 6About the sixth hournoon I was getting close to Dammesek, when suddenly a bright light from heaven shone down on me. 7I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Sha'ul, Sha'ul, why do you keep persecuting Me?8I asked, ‘Who are you, Sir?’ He said to me, ‘I am Yeshua of Nazareth, and you are persecuting Me.

9“Those who were with me saw the light and were afraid, but they couldn’t understand the voice of the One Who spoke to me. 10Then I asked, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ The Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go on into DammasekDamascus. There you will be told about everything that has been appointed for you to do.11I had been blinded by the brightensss of that light, so my companions led me by the hand into Dammesek. 12A man named HananyahAnanias, a devout follower of the Torah who was highly regarded by all the Y’hudim living in Dammasek, 13came and stood by me and said, ‘Brother Sha'ul, receive your sight!’ At that very moment I looked up and could see him. 14Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has determined that you should know His will, to see HaTzaddikthe Righteous One, and to hear His voice. 15You will be a witness for Him to everyone of all that you have seen and heard.  16What are you waiting for? Get up, immerse yourself, and have your sins washed away by calling upon the Name of ADONAI.’[16]

2. He Recounts His Commission to the Gentiles (22:17-21)

17“Later, when I had returned to Yerushalayim and was praying in the Temple, I fell into a trance, 18and saw Yeshua. He told me, ‘Hurry and leave Yerushalayim immediately, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.19I said, ‘Lord, they know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and flogged those who trusted in You. 20And when the blood of your witness StephenosStephen was being shed, I was standing by and approving of his death; I was even guarding the cloaks of those who were killing him.’ 21“He said to me, ‘Leave now! I’m sending you far away — to the GoyimGentiles, non-Jews.’”

F. The Mob Interrupts His Defense (22:22-23)

22They had been listening to him until he said that; then they started screaming, “Rid the earth of this man! He isn’t fit to live!”[22]

23They kept sceaming, ripped off their cloaks, and threw dust into the air.

G. The Romans Seek to Interrogate Him by Scourging (22:24)

 24The commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks and to be interrogated by scourging, so he could find out the reason they were shouting at him like that.

H. He Asserts His Rights as a Roman Citizen (22:25-29)

 25As they were stretching him out to be scourged, Sha'ul asked the centurion who was there, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman citizen, who hasn’t been found guilty of any crime?”

26When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and told him, “Think carefully about what you’re about to do; this man is a Roman citizen!”

27The commander came and asked Sha'ul, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”

“Yes,” he answered.

28The commander said, “I paid a lot of money for my citizenship.”

“But I was born a citizen,” Sha'ul answered.

29Those who were about to interrogate him immediately left, and the commander was afraid when he realized that he had put a Roman citizen in chains.

I. Sha'ul Brought Before the Sanhedrin (22:30-23:5)

 30But the next day, since he wanted to know the truth about why the Y'hudim had accused Sha'ul, he released him and ordered the Cohenim GadolimLeading Priests and the entire Sanhedrin to meet, and brought Sha'ul in and sat him down before them.

Chapter 23


  2.  Greek Ἑβραΐς, Hebrais. I find it quite difficult to believe that most commentators are being honest when they insist that the language of first-century Israel was Aramaic. They certainly cannot come to this conclusion by translating Ἑβραΐς as “Aramaic.”

Hebrew was certainly spoken in first-century [Israel]. The key questions are: 1) by whom, and 2) how much?

We know that most religious documents were written in Hebrew in the centuries after the Babylonian exile. Most of the documents from the Qumran community—including nearly all of the Dead Sea Scrolls—are written in Hebrew. Much deutero-canonical literature is also in Hebrew, including 1 Maccabees and Ecclesiasticus. Shmuel Safrai has noted that “all of the inscriptions found in the temple” are written in Hebrew.

This alone doesn’t tell us Hebrew was spoken. It only tells us it was written.

 However, several documents from the Bar-Kokhba revolt [132-136 CE] show some evidence of slang terms, abbreviations, and “other characteristics of everyday speech.” So it seems Hebrew was spoken as well.

Additional evidence pointing to Hebrew as a living, spoken language comes, again, from Josephus. In AD 69, with the Romans approaching Jerusalem, Titus asked Josephus to deliver a message to John of Giscala, who had previously captured the city. Josephus delivered this message in Hebrew.

We’ve already seen that Josephus was a priest, so it’s no surprise he knew Hebrew. But his choice to use Hebrew in this public way is telling. Josephus writes (in the third person):

Upon this, Josephus stood in such a place where he might be heard, not by John only, but by many more, and then declared to them what Caesar had given him in charge, and this in the Hebrew language.

It appears that, a generation after Jesus, Hebrew was still widely enough understood that not only could Josephus speak it, but he could do so knowing a large crowd would understand him. (Zondervan Academic, “What Language Did Jesus Speak?” accessed 10 May 2020) [RETURN]

  3. The phrase “at the feet of” is an idiom indicating who one’s teacher was. It comes from the practice of the teacher sitting on a stool (or a stone) teaching while his talmidim (students) sat on the ground around him. [RETURN]

16. See Joel 3:5 (2:32), CJB: “At that time, whoever calls on the name of ADONAI [יְהוָֹה] will be saved.” and Joel 2:32, HCSB “Then everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh [יְהוָֹה] will be saved,…” [RETURN]

22. The Jews were perfectly OK with everything up until the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s Kingdom without requiring them to “convert” and become Jews. Now it’s the exact opposite; for most of “the Church” Jews cannot have a part in the Kingdom of God unless they “convert” and become “Gentile Christians.” [RETURN]

Originally posted on Sunday, 10 May 2020
Revised some text; added historical notes, map references, and outline on Thursday, 17 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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