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RECEPTION OF ST. PAUL AT MELITA-CHAP. XIV.
Julian Pe- ness : for they kindled a fire, and received us every one,
Cesarea. riod, 4773. Valgarðra,
because of the present rain, and because of the cold.
which is almost peculiar to moist situations and stagnant waters ;
The following are the principal objections, with their an.
The learned Dr. Gray, author of the invaluable Key to the Old Testament, in his work on the connection between the sacred writings and the literature of Jewish and heathen authors, favours the opinion of Mr. Bryant, and confirms its probability by a similar incident in the life of Josephus, who was wreck. ed on his way to Rome, in the Adriatic Sea, in the same year with St. Paul.
The account in the life of Josephus (says Dr. Gray) written by himself, appears to relate to this voyage, and seems to prove that Josephus was a companion in a part of it with St. Paul. There are, indeed, difficulties which interfere with this opinion, which, as the subject is of some moment, may be proposed for critical investigation.
The relation is as follows:-After the twenty-sixth year of my age, it happened that I went up to Rome on the occasion that I shall now mention. At the time when Felix was Procurator of Judea, there were certain priests of my acquaintance, good and worthy persons, whom on a small and trifling occasion he bad put into bonds, and sent to Rome to plead their cause before Cesar. For these I was desirous to procure deliverance, and that especially because I was informed that they were not unmindful of piety towards God, even under their affliction, but supported themselves with figs and nuts : accordingly I came to Rome, though it was often through great bazards by sea, for our ship being wrecked in the midst of the Adriatic Sea, we that were in it, being about six hundred in number, swam for our lives all the night, when, upon the first appearance of the day, a ship of Cyrene appearing to us, by the providence of God, I and some others, eighty in all, preventing the rest, were taken up into the ship; and when I had thus escaped, and come to Puteoli, I became acquainted with Aliturus, an actor of plays, a Jew by birth, and much beloved by Nero, and through
Julian Pe- 3 And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and Cesarea.
care as soon as possible to intreat her to procure that the priests
The dates, says this learned writer, might be shewn so
It is not improbable that Josepbus, who was of sacerdotal descent, and brought up in the strict profession of the Pharisaic opinions, should have felt an interest in the welfare of St. Paul, who was a Pharisee, brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, and who might be called a priest, as he was a doctor of the law, and assumed the character of a preacher of righteousness. What Josephus says of Felix hav. ing, as Procurator of Judea, sent the persons spoken of to Rome, may be inaccurately stated, or may relate to some order first given by Felix to this effect, but the execution of which was delayed by the change of governor. This would accord witb the account of St. Luke, and would not be inconsistent with what is further stated by him, that St. Paul was detained two years in confinement, and that Festus, not long after his arrival to take possession of the government, examined Paul at Cesarea ; aad after having again heard his defence in presence of Agrippa, directed bim to be conveyed to Rome. Josephus, then, speaking of the imprisooment and sending of St. Paul to Rome, ascribes both the measures to their first author, whose unpopular government was the subject of very general complaint, and whose proceedings were most likely to be traversed at Rome.
The piety and resignation which the historian ascribes to his companions, accord well with the character of St. Paul; and the circumstance of their supporting themselves by figs and nuts, may belp to explain what is stated in the Acts, that the
passengers fasted fourteen days;" that is, had no regular food. It might have been by means of the interest of Aliturus, that St. Paul was allowed the liberty of residing at his own house at Rome. The other difficulties which occur are not so easily removed, and present a fair subject for discussion-it is stated by Josephus, that there were six hundred persons in the ship in which be sailed, though in the vessel in which St. Paul was wrecked, there were but two hundred and seventy-six.
The number, however, mentioned by Josephus is so great, as to lead us to suspect some mistake, since it is not by any means credible that trading vessels at that time were accustomed to contain, or capable of accommodating, so great a number of per
With respect to the difference between the accounts in the Acts, and that of Josephus, as to the circumstances of the escape, it is to be considered whether Josephus, and the seventy-nine with bim, might not have been separated from those, who swam to shore at Melita, and have been taken up in the ship of Cyrede, being the persons who first cast “themselves into the sea," as is related in the Acts; and whether the remainder of the crew, who, Josephus states, were swimming with him all the night, and of whose subsequent fate he says nothing, might not have reached the land together with st. Paul. Why, when Josephus afterwards, upon this supposition, must have received the account of St. Paul's escape with the rest, he should omit to record it, can be explained only from a reluctance which he might feel, to confirm or report the miracu. lous circumstances which demonstrated the divine countenance to St. Paul's mission, which, if he had admitted, be must have
A VIPER FASTENS ON ST. PAUL'S HAND-CHAP. XIV.
Julian Pe- laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, Cesaren. riod, 4771. and fastened on his hand. Vulgar Æra, 60.
4 And when the barbarians' saw the venomous beast
been a convert to Christianity. He certainly speaks inaccu.
The integrity of the miracle, and the declarations of St. Paul,
9 Mr. Bryant fully proves that the people of Malta, in the Mediterranean, could not be justly called “barbarous.” On this point the testimony of Diodorus Siculus (see Note 8), is decisive. Mr. Bryant, after some extracts on the magnificence of the temples at Malta, goes on to contrast the description of the African Malta, given by the classical writers, with the brief but forcible account of the Adriatic Melite in the New Testament. The island is situated in the Adriatic Gulf, near the river Naro, in the province of the Nestiæans, an Illyrian people. What is the character of these Illyrians ? barbarous beyond measure ; so that they are seldom mentioned without this denomination. Thucydides, speaking of Epidamnus, says, it was " in the neighbourhood of the Taulantii, a barbarous set of people, Illyrians.” (Hist. lib. i.) Polybius says, that in his time “they did not seem so much to have feuds and quarrels with any particular nation, as to be at war with all the world.” (Hist. lib. ii. p. 100. Edit. Casaub. Item excerptæ Legatines, sect. cxxv.) Diodorus seldom mentions them, but he terms them barbarians. Speaking of the Lacedæmonians giving them a remarkable check, he says, (lib. xiv. p. 464. Edit. Stephan.) τα πολλα θρασες επαυσαν τις βαρβαρες. One Illyrian nation was called the Dardanians; of whom Nicolaus Da
Julian Pe- hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt Cesarea. riod, 4773. this man is a murderer, whom though he hath escaped Vulgar Æra. 60.
the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.
5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.
6 Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.
7 In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously.
8 And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever, and of a bloody flux : to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.
9 So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed :
10 Who also honoured us with many honours; and
mascenus (Euvaywyn napadotwv n3wv,) mentions an odd rule,
ST. PAUL'S VOYAGE TO ROME-CHAP. XIV.
Julian Pe- when we departed, they laded us with such things as Cesarea. riod, 4773. were necessary. VulgarÆra, 60.
After three Months they sail to Rome.
ACTS xxviii. 11, to part of ver. 14.
12 And landing at Syracuse", we tarried there three
13 And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium : and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli:
14. Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days;
10 It was the custom with the ancient Greeks and Romans, to place the image or picture of the Deity, to whose care and protection they committed the ship, at the stern, and to place the sign, by the name of which the ship was called, at the head (a). It is a dispute among learned men, whether the tutelar Deity were not also sometimes the sign, and for that reason placed both at head and stern. There are undeniable instances in an. cient authors, wherein some of the heathen deities are placed at the head. And it is not very likely, that such ships should have other deities at the stern, to whose tutelage they were committed. or this sort is the ship which carried Paul to Italy. It had Castor and Pollux, two beatben deities, at the head, and doubtless, if any, bad the same also at the stern, as the tutelar gods, protectors, and patrons of the ship, these being esteemed deities peculiarly favourable to mariners.
(a) Vid. Hammond in loc. Virg. Æneid. I 10. v. 157. 166. et 171. Ovid. de Trist. Eleg. 9. v. 1, 2. Perf. Sat. 6. v. 30.
11 An argument has been brought in favour of the opinion, that the island here in question was the island of Malta, “ from St. Paul's calling at Syracuse, in his way to Rhegium ; which is so far out of the track, that no example can be produced in the history of oavigation, of any ship going so far out of ber course, except it was driven by a violent tempest.” This argument tends principally to shew, that a very incorrect idea has been formed of the relative situation of these places. The ship which carried St. Paul from the Adriatic Sea to Rhegium, would not deviate from its course more than half a day's sail by touching at Syracuse, and the delay so occasioned would probably be but a few hours more than it would have been, bad they proceeded to Syracuse in their way to the Straits of Messina, froin Malta, as the map will shew. Besides, the master of the ship migbt have, and probably had, some business at Syracuse, which had origiuated at Alexandria, from which place it must baru been originally intended the ship should commence ber voyage to Puteoli; and in this course the calling at Syracuse would bave been the smallest deviation possible.