And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.
And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.
Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?
God did smite him in a remarkable manner; for about five years after this, after his house had been reduced to ashes, in a tumult raised by his own son, he was besieged and taken in the royal palace; where having attempted in vain to hide himself, he was dragged out and slain.
Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.
Soon after the holding of the first council at Jerusalem, Ananias, son of Nebedenus, was deprived of the high priest's office, for certain acts of violence, and sent to Rome, whence he was afterwards released, and returned to Jerusalem. Between the death of Jonathan, who succeeded him and was murdered by Felix, and the high priesthood of Ismael, who was invested with that office by Agrippa, an interval elapsed in which this dignity was vacant. This was the precise time when Paul was apprehended; and the Sanhedrin being destitute of a president, Ananias undertook to discharge the office. It is probable that Paul was ignorant of this circumstance.
But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.
of the hope
And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided.
For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.
And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.
And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.
And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.
And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.
under a curse
or, with an oath of execration.
Such execrable vows as these were not unusual among the Jews, who, from their perverted traditions, challenged to themselves a right of punishing without any legal process, those whom they considered transgressors of the law; and in some cases, as in the case of one who had forsaken the law of Moses, they thought they were justified in killing them. They therefore made no scruple of acquainting the chief priests and elders with their conspiracy against the life of Paul, and applying for their connivance and support; who, being chiefly of the sect of the Sadducees, and the apostle's bitterest enemies, were so far from blaming them for it, that they gladly aided and abetted them in this mode of dispatching him, and on its failure they soon afterwards determined upon making a similar attempt. (ch. 25:2, 3.) If these were, in their bad way, conscientious men, they were under no necessity of perishing for hunger, when the providence of God had hindered them from accomplishing their vow; for their vows of abstinence from eating and drinking were as easy to loose as to bind, any of their wise men or Rabbis having power to absolve them, as Dr. Lightfoot has shown from the Talmud.
And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy.
And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul.
Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him.
And when Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.
Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain: for he hath a certain thing to tell him.
So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee.
Then the chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me?
And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly.
But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him: and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee.
So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me.
And he called unto him two centurions, saying, Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea, and horsemen threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night;
About nine o'clock in the evening, for the greater secrecy, and to elude the cunning, active malice of the Jews.
And provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor.
Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting.
This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman.
And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council:
Whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds.
And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell.
Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris.
Who, when they came to Caesarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him.
And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia;
I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod's judgment hall.