(2.) Before the priests approached the altar of God, they were required, on pain of death, to wash their hands and their feet to cleanse them from the soil of common life ( Ex. 30:17-21). To this practice the Psalmist alludes, Ps. 26:6.
(3.) There were washings prescribed for the purpose of cleansing from positive defilement contracted by particular acts. Of such washings eleven different species are prescribed in the Levitical law (Lev. 12-15).
(4.) A fourth class of ablutions is mentioned, by which a person purified or absolved himself from the guilt of some particular act. For example, the elders of the nearest village where some murder was committed were required, when the murderer was unknown, to wash their hands over the expiatory heifer which was beheaded, and in doing so to say, "Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it" ( Deut. 21:1-9). So also Pilate declared himself innocent of the blood of Jesus by washing his hands ( Matt. 27:24). This act of Pilate may not, however, have been borrowed from the custom of the Jews. The same practice was common among the Greeks and Romans.
The Pharisees carried the practice of ablution to great excess, thereby claiming extraordinary purity ( Matt. 23:25). Mark ( Matt 7:1-5) refers to the ceremonial ablutions. The Pharisees washed their hands "oft," more correctly, "with the fist" (R.V., "diligently"), or as an old father, Theophylact, explains it, "up to the elbow." (Compare also Mark 7:4; Lev. 6:28; Lev 11: 32-36; Lev 15:22) (See WASHING.)
Abner - father of light; i.e., "enlightening", the son of Ner and uncle of Saul. He was commander-in-chief of Saul's army (1 Sam. 14:50;1 Sam 17:55;1 Sam 20:25). He first introduced David to the court of Saul after the victory over Goliath (1 Sam. 17:57). After the death of Saul, David was made king over Judah, and reigned in Hebron. Among the other tribes there was a feeling of hostility to Judah; and Abner, at the head of Ephraim, fostered this hostility in the interest of the house of Saul, whose son Ish-bosheth he caused to be proclaimed king (2 Sam. 2:8). A state of war existed between these two kings. A battle fatal to Abner, who was the leader of Ish-boseth's army, was fought with David's army under Joab at Gibeon (2 Sam. 2:12). Abner, escaping from the field, was overtaken by Asahel, who was "light of foot as a wild roe," the brother of Joab and Abishai, whom he thrust through with a back stroke of his spear (2 Sam. 2: 18-32).
Being rebuked by Ish-bosheth for the impropriety of taking to wife Rizpah, who had been a concubine of King Saul, he found an excuse for going over to the side of David, whom he now professed to regard as anointed by the Lord to reign over all Israel. David received him favourably, and promised that he would have command of the armies. At this time Joab was absent from Hebron, but on his return he found what had happened. Abner had just left the city; but Joab by a stratagem recalled him, and meeting him at the gate of the city on his return, thrust him through with his sword (2 Sam. 3:27,2 Sam. 3:31-39;2 Sam 4:12. Comp. 1 Kings 2:5,1 Kings 2:32). David lamented in pathetic words the death of Abner, "Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?" (2 Sam. 3:33-38.)
Abomination - This word is used, (1.) To express the idea that the Egyptians considered themselves as defiled when they ate with strangers ( Gen. 43:32). The Jews subsequently followed the same practice, holding it unlawful to eat or drink with foreigners ( John 18:28; Acts 10:28; Acts 11:3).
(2.) Every shepherd was "an abomination" unto the Egyptians ( Gen. 46:34). This aversion to shepherds, such as the Hebrews, arose probably from the fact that Lower and Middle Egypt had formerly been held in oppressive subjection by a tribe of nomad shepherds (the Hyksos), who had only recently been expelled, and partly also perhaps from this other fact that the Egyptians detested the lawless habits of these wandering shepherds.
(3.) Pharaoh was so moved by the fourth plague, that while he refused the demand of Moses, he offered a compromise, granting to the Israelites permission to hold their festival and offer their sacrifices in Egypt. This permission could not be accepted, because Moses said they would have to sacrifice "the abomination of the Egyptians" ( Ex. 8:26); i.e., the cow or ox, which all the Egyptians held as sacred, and which they regarded it as sacrilegious to kill.
(4.) Daniel ( Ex 11:31), in that section of his prophecies which is generally interpreted as referring to the fearful calamities that were to fall on the Jews in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, says, "And they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate." Antiochus Epiphanes caused an altar to be erected on the altar of burnt-offering, on which sacrifices were offered to Jupiter Olympus. (Comp. 1 Macc. 1:57). This was the abomination of the desolation of Jerusalem. The same language is employed in Dan. 9:27 (comp. Matt. 24:15), where the reference is probably to the image-crowned standards which the Romans set up at the east gate of the temple (A.D. 70), and to which they paid idolatrous honours. "Almost the entire religion of the Roman camp consisted in worshipping the ensign, swearing by the ensign, and in preferring the ensign before all other gods." These ensigns were an "abomination" to the Jews, the "abomination of desolation."
This word is also used symbolically of sin in general ( Isa .66:3); an idol ( Isa 44:19); the ceremonies of the apostate Church of Rome ( Rev. 17:4); a detestable act ( Ezek. 22:11).
Abraham - father of a multitude, son of Terah, named ( Gen. 11:27) before his older brothers Nahor and Haran, because he was the heir of the promises. Till the age of seventy, Abram sojourned among his kindred in his native country of Chaldea. He then, with his father and his family and household, quitted the city of Ur, in which he had hitherto dwelt, and went some 300 miles north to Haran, where he abode fifteen years. The cause of his migration was a call from God ( Acts 7:2-4). There is no mention of this first call in the Old Testament; it is implied, however, in Gen. 12. While they tarried at Haran, Terah died at the age of 205 years. Abram now received a second and more definite call, accompanied by a promise from God ( Gen. 12:1,Gen. 12:2); whereupon he took his departure, taking his nephew Lot with him, "not knowing whither he went" ( Heb. 11:8). He trusted implicitly to the guidance of Him who had called him.
Abram now, with a large household of probably a thousand souls, entered on a migratory life, and dwelt in tents. Passing along the valley of the Jabbok, in the land of Canaan, he formed his first encampment at Sichem ( Gen. 12:6), in the vale or oak-grove of Moreh, between Ebal on the north and Gerizim on the south. Here he received the great promise, "I will make of thee a great nation," etc. ( Gen. 12:2,Gen. 12:3,Gen. 12:7). This promise comprehended not only temporal but also spiritual blessings. It implied that he was the chosen ancestor of the great Deliverer whose coming had been long ago predicted ( Gen. 3:15). Soon after this, for some reason not mentioned, he removed his tent to the mountain district between Bethel, then called Luz, and Ai, towns about two miles apart, where he built an altar to "Jehovah." He again moved into the southern tract of Palestine, called by the Hebrews the Negeb; and was at length, on account of a famine, compelled to go down into Egypt. This took place in the time of the Hyksos, a Semitic race which now held the Egyptians in bondage. Here occurred that case of deception on the part of Abram which exposed him to the rebuke of Pharaoh ( Gen. 12:18). Sarai was restored to him; and Pharaoh loaded him with presents, recommending him to withdraw from the country. He returned to Canaan richer than when he left it, "in cattle, in silver, and in gold" ( Gen. 12:8;Gen 13:2. Comp. Ps. 105:13, Ps. 105:14). The whole party then moved northward, and returned to their previous station near Bethel. Here disputes arose between Lot's shepherds and those of Abram about water and pasturage. Abram generously gave Lot his choice of the pasture-ground. (Comp. 1 Cor. 6:7.) He chose the well-watered plain in which Sodom was situated, and removed thither; and thus the uncle and nephew were separated. Immediately after this Abram was cheered by a repetition of the promises already made to him, and then removed to the plain or "oak-grove" of Mamre, which is in Hebron. He finally settled here, pitching his tent under a famous oak or terebinth tree, called "the oak of Mamre" ( Gen. 13:18). This was his third resting-place in the land.
Some fourteen years before this, while Abram was still in Chaldea, Palestine had been invaded by Chedorlaomer, King of Elam, who brought under tribute to him the five cities in the plain to which Lot had removed. This tribute was felt by the inhabitants of these cities to be a heavy burden, and after twelve years they revolted. This brought upon them the vengeance of Chedorlaomer, who had in league with him four other kings. He ravaged the whole country, plundering the towns, and carrying the inhabitants away as slaves. Among those thus treated was Lot. Hearing of the disaster that had fallen on his nephew, Abram immediately gathered from his own household a band of 318 armed men, and being joined by the Amoritish chiefs Mamre, Aner, and Eshcol, he pursued after Chedorlaomer, and overtook him near the springs of the Jordan. They attacked and routed his army, and pursued it over the range of Anti-Libanus as far as to Hobah, near Damascus, and then returned, bringing back all the spoils that had been carried away. Returning by way of Salem, i.e., Jerusalem, the king of that place, Melchizedek, came forth to meet them with refreshments. To him Abram presented a tenth of the spoils, in recognition of his character as a priest of the most high God ( Gen. 14:18-20).
In a recently-discovered tablet, dated in the reign of the grandfather of Amraphel ( Gen. 14:1), one of the witnesses is called "the Amorite, the son of Abiramu," or Abram.
Having returned to his home at Mamre, the promises already made to him by God were repeated and enlarged ( Gen. 13:14). "The word of the Lord" (an expression occurring here for the first time) "came to him" ( Gen 15:1). He now understood better the future that lay before the nation that was to spring from him. Sarai, now seventy-five years old, in her impatience, persuaded Abram to take Hagar, her Egyptian maid, as a concubine, intending that whatever child might be born should be reckoned as her own. Ishmael was accordingly thus brought up, and was regarded as the heir of these promises (Gen. 16). When Ishmael was thirteen years old, God again revealed yet more explicitly and fully his gracious purpose; and in token of the sure fulfilment of that purpose the patriarch's name was now changed from Abram to Abraham ( Gen. 17:4,Gen. 17:5), and the rite of circumcision was instituted as a sign of the covenant. It was then announced that the heir to these covenant promises would be the son of Sarai, though she was now ninety years old; and it was directed that his name should be Isaac. At the same time, in commemoration of the promises, Sarai's name was changed to Sarah. On that memorable day of God's thus revealing his design, Abraham and his son Ishmael and all the males of his house were circumcised (Gen. 17). Three months after this, as Abraham sat in his tent door, he saw three men approaching. They accepted his proffered hospitality, and, seated under an oak-tree, partook of the fare which Abraham and Sarah provided. One of the three visitants was none other than the Lord, and the other two were angels in the guise of men. The Lord renewed on this occasion his promise of a son by Sarah, who was rebuked for her unbelief. Abraham accompanied the three as they proceeded on their journey. The two angels went on toward Sodom; while the Lord tarried behind and talked with Abraham, making known to him the destruction that was about to fall on that guilty city. The patriarch interceded earnestly in behalf of the doomed city. But as not even ten righteous persons were found in it, for whose sake the city would have been spared, the threatened destruction fell upon it; and early next morning Abraham saw the smoke of the fire that consumed it as the "smoke of a furnace" ( Gen. 19:1-28).
After fifteen years' residence at Mamre, Abraham moved southward, and pitched his tent among the Philistines, near to Gerar. Here occurred that sad instance of prevarication on his part in his relation to Abimelech the King ( Gen. 20:1). (See ABIMELECH.) Soon after this event, the patriarch left the vicinity of Gerar, and moved down the fertile valley about 25 miles to Beer-sheba. It was probably here that Isaac was born, Abraham being now an hundred years old. A feeling of jealousy now arose between Sarah and Hagar, whose son, Ishmael, was no longer to be regarded as Abraham's heir. Sarah insisted that both Hagar and her son should be sent away. This was done, although it was a hard trial to Abraham ( Gen. 21:12). (See HAGAR ; ISHMAEL.)
At this oint there is a blank in the patriarch's history of perhaps twenty-five years. These years of peace and happiness were spent at Beer-sheba. The next time we see him his faith is put to a severe test by the command that suddenly came to him to go and offer up Isaac, the heir of all the promises, as a sacrifice on one of the mountains of Moriah. His faith stood the test ( Heb. 11:17-19). He proceeded in a spirit of unhesitating obedience to carry out the command; and when about to slay his son, whom he had laid on the altar, his uplifted hand was arrested by the angel of Jehovah, and a ram, which was entangled in a thicket near at hand, was seized and offered in his stead. From this circumstance that place was called Jehovah-jireh, i.e., "The Lord will provide." The promises made to Abraham were again confirmed (and this was the last recorded word of God to the patriarch); and he descended the mount with his son, and returned to his home at Beer-sheba ( Gen. 22:19), where he resided for some years, and then moved northward to Hebron.
Some years after this Sarah died at Hebron, being 127 years old. Abraham acquired now the needful possession of a burying-place, the cave of Machpelah, by purchase from the owner of it, Ephron the Hittite (Gen. 23); and there he buried Sarah. His next care was to provide a wife for Isaac, and for this purpose he sent his steward, Eliezer, to Haran (or Charran, Acts 7:2), where his brother Nahor and his family resided ( Gen. 11:31). The result was that Rebekah, the daughter of Nahor's son Bethuel, became the wife of Isaac (Gen. 24). Abraham then himself took to wife Keturah, who became the mother of six sons, whose descendants were afterwards known as the "children of the east" ( Judg. 6:3), and later as "Saracens." At length all his wanderings came to an end. At the age of 175 years, 100 years after he had first entered the land of Canaan, he died, and was buried in the old family burying-place at Machpelah ( Gen .25:7-10).
The history of Abraham made a wide and deep impression on the ancient world, and references to it are interwoven in the religious traditions of almost all Eastern nations. He is called "the friend of God" ( James 2:23), "faithful Abraham" ( Gal. 3:9), "the father of us all" ( Rom. 4:16).
Abraham's bosom - ( Luke 16:22,Luke 16:23) refers to the custom of reclining on couches at table, which was prevalent among the Jews, an arrangement which brought the head of one person almost into the bosom of the one who sat or reclined above him. To "be in Abraham's bosom" thus meant to enjoy happiness and rest ( Matt. 8:11; Luke 16:23) at the banquet in Paradise. (See BANQUET ; MEALS.)
Abram - exalted father. (see ABRAHAM.)
Abronah - R.V., one of Israel's halting-places in the desert ( Num .33:34,Num .33:35), just before Ezion-gaber. In A.V., "Ebronah."
Absalom - father of peace; i.e., "peaceful" David's son by Maacah (2 Sam .3:3; comp. 1 Kings 1:6). He was noted for his personal beauty and for the extra-ordinary profusion of the hair of his head (2 Sam. 14:25,2 Sam. 14:26). The first public act of his life was the blood-revenge he executed against Amnon, David's eldest son, who had basely wronged Absalom's sister Tamar. This revenge was executed at the time of the festivities connected with a great sheep-shearing at Baal-hazor. David's other sons fled from the place in horror, and brought the tidings of the death of Amnon to Jerusalem. Alarmed for the consequences of the act, Absalom fled to his grandfather at Geshur, and there abode for three years (2 Sam. 3:3;2 Sam 13:23-38).
David mourned his absent son, now branded with the guilt of fratricide. As the result of a stratagem carried out by a woman of Tekoah, Joab received David's sanction to invite Absalom back to Jerusalem. He returned accordingly, but two years elapsed before his father admitted him into his presence (2 Sam. 14:28). Absalom was now probably the oldest surviving son of David, and as he was of royal descent by his mother as well as by his father, he began to aspire to the throne. His pretensions were favoured by the people. By many arts he gained their affection; and after his return from Geshur (2 Sam. 15:7; marg., R.V.) he went up to Hebron, the old capital of Judah, along with a great body of the people, and there proclaimed himself king. The revolt was so successful that David found it necessary to quit Jerusalem and flee to Mahanaim, beyond Jordan; where upon Absalom returned to Jerusalem and took possession of the throne without opposition. Ahithophel, who had been David's chief counsellor, deserted him and joined Absalom, whose chief counsellor he now became. Hushai also joined Absalom, but only for the purpose of trying to counteract the counsels of Ahithophel, and so to advantage David's cause. He was so far successful that by his advice, which was preferred to that of Ahithophel, Absalom delayed to march an army against his father, who thus gained time to prepare for the defence.
Absalom at length marched out against his father, whose army, under the command of Joab, he encountered on the borders of the forest of Ephraim. Twenty thousand of Absalom's army were slain in that fatal battle, and the rest fled. Absalom fled on a swift mule; but his long flowing hair, or more probably his head, was caught in the bough of an oak, and there he was left suspended till Joab came up and pierced him through with three darts. His body was then taken down and cast into a pit dug in the forest, and a heap of stones was raised over his grave. When the tidings of the result of that battle were brought to David, as he sat impatiently at the gate of Mahanaim, and he was told that Absalom had been slain, he gave way to the bitter lamentation: "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" (2 Sam. 18:33. Comp. Ex.32:32; Rom. 9:3).
Absalom's three sons (2 Sam. 14:27; comp. 18:18) had all died before him, so that he left only a daughter, Tamar, who became the grandmother of Abijah.
Acacia - (Heb. shittim) Ex. 25:5, R.V. probably the Acacia seyal (the gum-arabic tree); called the "shittah" tree ( Isa. 41:19). Its wood is called shittim wood ( Ex. 26:15,Ex. 26:26;Ex 25:10,Ex. 26:13,Ex. 26:23,Ex. 26:28, etc.). This species (A. seyal) is like the hawthorn, a gnarled and thorny tree. It yields the gum-arabic of commerce. It is found in abundance in the Sinaitic peninsula.
Accad - the high land or mountains, a city in the land of Shinar. It has been identified with the mounds of Akker Kuf, some 50 miles to the north of Babylon; but this is doubtful. It was one of the cities of Nimrod's kingdom ( Ge 10:10). It stood close to the Euphrates, opposite Sippara. (See SEPHARVAIM.)
It is also the name of the country of which this city was the capital, namely, northern or upper Babylonia. The Accadians who came from the "mountains of the east," where the ark rested, attained to a high degree of civilization. In the Babylonian inscriptions they are called "the black heads" and "the black faces," in contrast to "the white race" of Semitic descent. They invented the form of writing in pictorial hieroglyphics, and also the cuneiform system, in which they wrote many books partly on papyrus and partly on clay. The Semitic Babylonians ("the white race"), or, as some scholars think, first the Cushites, and afterwards, as a second immigration, the Semites, invaded and conquered this country; and then the Accadian language ceased to be a spoken language, although for the sake of its literary treasures it continued to be studied by the educated classes of Babylonia. A large portion of the Ninevite tablets brought to light by Oriental research consists of interlinear or parallel translations from Accadian into Assyrian; and thus that long-forgotten language has been recovered by scholars. It belongs to the class of languages called agglutinative, common to the Tauranian race; i.e., it consists of words "glued together," without declension of conjugation. These tablets in a remarkable manner illustrate ancient history. Among other notable records, they contain an account of the Creation which closely resembles that given in the book of Genesis, of the Sabbath as a day of rest, and of the Deluge and its cause. (See BABYLON ; CHALDEA.)
Accho - sultry or sandy, a town and harbour of Phoenicia, in the tribe of Asher, but never acquired by them (< target="toc" href="/logos/scripts/biblesyntax.asp?goto=/logos/asp/verses4.asp&passage=%20Judg.%201%3A31"> Judg. 1:31). It was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans by the name of Ptolemais, from Ptolemy the king of Egypt, who rebuilt it about B.C. 100. Here Paul landed on his last journey to Jerusalem ( Acts 21:7). During the crusades of the Middle Ages it was called Acra; and subsequently, on account of its being occupied by the Knights Hospitallers of Jerusalem, it was called St. Jean d'Acre, or simply Acre.
Accuser - Satan is styled the "accuser of the brethren" ( Rev. 12:10. Comp. Job 1:6; Zech. 3:1), as seeking to uphold his influence among men by bringing false charges against Christians, with the view of weakening their influence and injuring the cause with which they are identified. He was regarded by the Jews as the accuser of men before God, laying to their charge the violations of the law of which they were guilty, and demanding their punishment. The same Greek word, rendered "accuser," is found in John 8:10 (but omitted in the Revised Version); Acts 23:30, Acts 23:35; Acts 24:8; Acts 25:16, Acts 23:18, in all of which places it is used of one who brings a charge against another.
Aceldama - the name which the Jews gave in their proper tongue, i.e., in Aramaic, to the field which was purchased with the money which had been given to the betrayer of our Lord. The word means "field of blood." It was previously called "the potter's field" ( Matt. 27:7,Matt. 27:8; Acts 1:19), and was appropriated as the burial-place for strangers. It lies on a narrow level terrace on the south face of the valley of Hinnom. Its modern name is Hak ed-damm.
Achaia - the name originally of a narrow strip of territory in Greece, on the north-west of the Peloponnesus. Subsequently it was applied by the Romans to the whole Peloponnesus, now called the Morea, and the south of Greece. It was then one of the two provinces (Macedonia being the other) into which they divided the country when it fell under their dominion. It is in this latter enlarged meaning that the name is always used in the New Testament ( Acts 18:12,Acts 18:27;Acts 19:21; Rom. 15: 26; 16:5, etc.). It was at the time when Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles under the proconsular form of government; hence the appropriate title given to Gallio as the "deputy," i.e., proconsul, of Achaia (Acts 18:12).
Achaichus - (1 Cor. 16:17), one of the members of the church of Corinth who, with Fortunatus and Stephanas, visited Paul while he was at Ephesus, for the purpose of consulting him on the affairs of the church. These three probably were the bearers of the letter from Corinth to the apostle to which he alludes in 1 Cor. 7:1.
Achan - called also Achar, i.e., one who troubles (1 Chr. 2:7), in commemoration of his crime, which brought upon him an awful destruction ( Josh. 7:1). On the occasion of the fall of Jericho, he seized, contrary to the divine command, an ingot of gold, a quantity of silver, and a costly Babylonish garment, which he hid in his tent. Joshua was convinced that the defeat which the Israelites afterwards sustained before Ai was a proof of the divine displeasure on account of some crime, and he at once adopted means by the use of the lot for discovering the criminal. It was then found that Achan was guilty, and he was stoned to death in the valley of Achor. He and all that belonged to him were then consumed by fire, and a heap of stones was raised over the ashes.
Achbor - gnawing = mouse. (1.) An Edomitish king ( Gen. 36:38; 1 Chr. 1:49).
(2.) One of Josiah's officers sent to the prophetess Huldah to inquire regarding the newly-discovered book of the law (2 Kings 22:12,2 Kings 22:14). He is also called Abdon (2 Chr. 34:20).
Achish - angry, perhaps only a general title of royalty applicable to the Philistine kings. (1.) The king with whom David sought refuge when he fled from Saul (1 Sam. 21:10-15). He is called Abimelech in the superscription of Ps. 34:1. It was probably this same king to whom David a second time repaired at the head of a band of 600 warriors, and who assigned him Ziklag, whence he carried on war against the surrounding tribes (1 Sam. 27:5-12). Achish had great confidence in the valour and fidelity of David (1 Sam .28:1,1 Sam .28:2), but at the instigation of his courtiers did not permit him to go up to battle along with the Philistine hosts (1 Sam .29:2-11). David remained with Achish a year and four months. (2.) Another king of Gath, probably grandson of the foregoing, to whom the two servants of Shimei fled. This led Shimei to go to Gath in pursuit of them, and the consequence was that Solomon put him to death (1 Kings 2:39-46).
Achmetha - ( Ezra 6:2), called Ecbatana by classical writers, the capital of northern Media. Here was the palace which was the residence of the old Median monarchs, and of Cyrus and Cambyses. In the time of Ezra, the Persian kings resided usually at Susa of Babylon. But Cyrus held his court at Achmetha; and Ezra, writing a century after, correctly mentions the place where the decree of Cyrus was found.
Achor - trouble, a valley near Jericho, so called in consequence of the trouble which the sin of Achan caused Israel ( Josh. 7:24,Josh. 7:26). The expression "valley of Achor" probably became proverbial for that which caused trouble, and when Isaiah ( Isa. 65:10) refers to it he uses it in this sense: "The valley of Achor, a place for herds to lie down in;" i.e., that which had been a source of calamity would become a source of blessing. Hosea also (Hos.2:15) uses the expression in the same sense: "The valley of Achor for a door of hope;" i.e., trouble would be turned into joy, despair into hope. This valley has been identified with the Wady Kelt.
Achsah - anklet, Caleb's only daughter (1 Chr. 2:49). She was offered in marriage to the man who would lead an attack on the city of Debir, or Kirjath-sepher. This was done by Othniel (q.v.), who accordingly obtained her as his wife ( Josh. 15:16-19; Judg. 1:9-15).
Achshaph - fascination, a royal city of the Canaanites, in the north of Palestine ( Josh. 11:1;Josh 12:20;Josh 19:25). It was in the eastern boundary of the tribe of Asher, and is identified with the modern ruined village of Kesaf or Yasif, N.E. of Accho.
Achzib - falsehood. (1.) A town in the Shephelah, or plain country of Judah ( Josh. 15:44); probably the same as Chezib of Gen. 38:5 = Ain Kezbeh.
(2.) A Phoenician city (the Gr. Ecdippa), always retained in their possession though assigned to the tribe of Asher ( Josh. 19:29; Judg. 1:31). It is identified with the modern es-Zib, on the Mediterranean, about 8 miles north of Accho.
Acre - is the translation of a word (tse'med), which properly means a yoke, and denotes a space of ground that may be ploughed by a yoke of oxen in a day. It is about an acre of our measure ( Isa. 5:10; 1 Sam. 14:14).
Acts of the Apostles - the title now given to the fifth and last of the historical books of the New Testament. The author styles it a "treatise" ( Acts 1:1). It was early called "The Acts," "The Gospel of the Holy Ghost," and "The Gospel of the Resurrection." It contains properly no account of any of the apostles except Peter and Paul. John is noticed only three times; and all that is recorded of James, the son of Zebedee, is his execution by Herod. It is properly therefore not the history of the "Acts of the Apostles," a title which was given to the book at a later date, but of "Acts of Apostles," or more correctly, of "Some Acts of Certain Apostles."
As regards its authorship, it was certainly the work of Luke, the "beloved physician" (comp. Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1). This is the uniform tradition of antiquity, although the writer nowhere makes mention of himself by name. The style and idiom of the Gospel of Luke and of the Acts, and the usage of words and phrases common to both, strengthen this opinion. The writer first appears in the narrative in Lu 16:11, and then disappears till Paul's return to Philippi two years afterwards, when he and Paul left that place together ( Lu 20:6), and the two seem henceforth to have been constant companions to the end. He was certainly with Paul at Rome (Lu 28; Col. 4:14). Thus he wrote a great portion of that history from personal observation. For what lay beyond his own experience he had the instruction of Paul. If, as is very probable, 2 Tim. was written during Paul's second imprisonment at Rome, Luke was with him then as his faithful companion to the last (2 Tim. 4:11). Of his subsequent history we have no certain information.
The design of Luke's Gospel was to give an exhibition of the character and work of Christ as seen in his history till he was taken up from his disciples into heaven; and of the Acts, as its sequel, to give an illustration of the power and working of the gospel when preached among all nations, "beginning at Jerusalem." The opening sentences of the Acts are just an expansion and an explanation of the closing words of the Gospel. In this book we have just a continuation of the history of the church after Christ's ascension. Luke here carries on the history in the same spirit in which he had commenced it. It is only a book of beginnings, a history of the founding of churches, the initial steps in the formation of the Christian society in the different places visited by the apostles. It records a cycle of "representative events."
All through the narrative we see the ever-present, all-controlling power of the ever-living Saviour. He worketh all and in all in spreading abroad his truth among men by his Spirit and through the instrumentality of his apostles.
The time of the writing of this history may be gathered from the fact that the narrative extends down to the close of the second year of Paul's first imprisonment at Rome. It could not therefore have been written earlier than A.D. 61 or 62, nor later than about the end of A.D. 63. Paul was probably put to death during his second imprisonment, about A.D. 64, or, as some think, 66.
The place where the book was written was probably Rome, to which Luke accompanied Paul.
The key to the contents of the book is in Lu 1:8, "Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." After referring to what had been recorded in a "former treatise" of the sayings and doings of Jesus Christ before his ascension, the author proceeds to give an account of the circumstances connected with that event, and then records the leading facts with reference to the spread and triumphs of Christianity over the world during a period of about thirty years. The record begins with Pentecost (A.D. 33) and ends with Paul's first imprisonment (A.D. 63 or 64). The whole contents of the book may be divided into these three parts:
(1.) Chaps. 1-12, describing the first twelve years of the Christian church. This section has been entitled "From Jerusalem to Antioch." It contains the history of the planting and extension of the church among the Jews by the ministry of Peter.
(2.) Chaps. 13-21, Paul's missionary journeys, giving the history of the extension and planting of the church among the Gentiles.
(3.) Chaps. 21-28, Paul at Rome, and the events which led to this. Chaps. 13-28 have been entitled "From Antioch to Rome."
In this book it is worthy of note that no mention is made of the writing by Paul of any of his epistles. This may be accounted for by the fact that the writer confined himself to a history of the planting of the church, and not to that of its training or edification. The relation, however, between this history and the epistles of Paul is of such a kind, i.e., brings to light so many undesigned coincidences, as to prove the genuineness and authenticity of both, as is so ably shown by Paley in his Horae Paulinae. "No ancient work affords so many tests of veracity; for no other has such numerous points of contact in all directions with contemporary history, politics, and topography, whether Jewish, or Greek, or Roman." Lightfoot. (See PAUL.)