Ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them - This is a literal translation of the place, as it stands in the Septuagint; but in the Hebrew text it stands thus: But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Molech, and Chiun, your images, the star of your god which ye made to yourselves. This is the simple version of the place, unless we should translate מלככם סכות את ונסאתם venasatem eth Siccuth malkekem, ye took Sikuth your king, (instead of ye took up the tabernacle of your Molek), as some have done. The place is indeed very obscure, and the two texts do not tend to cast light on each other. The rabbins say siccuth, which we translate tabernacle, is the name of an idol. Molech is generally understood to mean the sun; and several persons of good judgment think that by Remphan or Raiphan is meant the planet Saturn, which the Copts call Ῥηφαν, Rephan. It will be seen above that instead of Remphan, or, as some of the best MSS. have it, Rephan, the Hebrew text has כיון Chiun, which might possibly be a corruption of ריפן Reiphan, as it would be very easy to mistake the כ caph for ר resh, and the vau shurek ו for פ pe . This emendation would bring the Hebrew, Septuagint, and the text of Luke, nearer together; but there is no authority either from MSS. or versions for this correction: however, as Chiun is mentioned in no other place, though Molech often occurs, it is the more likely that there might have been some very early mistake in the text, and that the Septuagint has preserved the true reading.
It was customary for the idolaters of all nations to carry images of their gods about them in their journeys, military expeditions, etc.; and these, being very small, were enclosed in little boxes, perhaps some of them in the shape of temples, called tabernacles; or, as we have it, Acts 19:24, shrines. These little gods were the penates and lares among the Romans, and the tselems or talismans among the ancient eastern idolaters. The Hebrew text seems to refer to these when it says, the tabernacle of your Molech, and Chiun, your images, צלמיכם tsalmeycem, your tselems, τους τυπους, the types or simulachres of your gods. See the note on Genesis 31:19. Many of those small portable images are now in my own collection, all of copper or brass; some of them the identical penates of the ancient Romans, and others the offspring of the Hindoo idolatry; they are from an ounce weight to half a pound. Such images as these I suppose the idolatrous Israelites, in imitation of their neighbors, the Moabites, Ammonites, etc., to have carried about with them; and to such the prophet appears to me unquestionably to allude.
I will carry you away beyond Babylon - You have carried your idolatrous images about; and I will carry you into captivity, and see if the gods in whom ye have trusted can deliver you from my hands. Instead of beyond Babylon, Amos, from whom the quotation is made, says, I will carry you beyond Damascus. Where they were carried was into Assyria and Media, see 2 Kings 17:6; : now, this was not only beyond Damascus, but beyond Babylon itself; and, as Stephen knew this to be the fact, he states it here, and thus more precisely fixes the place of their captivity. The Holy Spirit, in his farther revelations, has undoubted right to extend or illustrate those which he had given before. This case frequently occurs when a former prophecy is quoted in later times.
Yea, ye took up - That is, you bore, or you carried with you, for purposes of idolatrous worship.
The tabernacle - This word properly means a “tent”; but it is also applied to the small tent or house in which was contained the image of the god; the shrine, box, or tent in which the idol was placed. It is customary for idolatrous nations to bear their idols about with them, enclosed in cases or boxes of various sizes, usually very small, as their idols are commonly small. Probably they were made in the shape of small “temples” or tabernacles; and such appear to have been the “silver shrines” for Diana, made at Ephesus, Acts 19:24. These shrines, or images, were borne with them as a species of amulet, charm, or talisman to defend them from evil. Such images the Jews seem to have carried with them.
Moloch - This word comes from the Hebrew word signifying “king.” This was a god of the Ammonites, to whom human sacrifices were offered. Moses in several places forbids the Israelites, under penalty of death, to dedicate their children to Moloch, by making them pass through the fire, Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2-5. There is great probability that the Hebrews were addicted to the worship of this deity after they entered the land of Canaan. Solomon built a temple to Moloch on the Mount of Olives 1 Kings 11:7; and Manasseh made his son pass through the fire in honor of this idol, 2 Kings 21:3, 2 Kings 21:6. The image of this idol was made of brass, and his arms extended so as to embrace anyone; and when they offered children to him, they heated the statue, and when it was burning hot, they placed the child in his arms, where it was soon destroyed by heat. It is not certain what this god was supposed to represent. Some suppose it was in honor of the planet Saturn; others, the sun; others, Mercury, Venus, etc. What particular god it was is not material. It was the most cutting reproof that could be made to the Jews, that their fathers had been guilty of worshipping this idol.
And the star - The Hebrew in this place is, “Chiun your images, the star of your god.” The expression used here leads us to suppose that this was a star which was worshipped, but what star it is not easy to ascertain; nor is it easy to determine why it is called both “Chiun” and “Remphan.” Stephen quotes from the Septuagint translation. In that translation the word “Chiun” is rendered by the word “Raiphan,” or “Rephan,” easily changed into “Remphan.” Why the authors of that version adopted this is not known. It was probably, however, from one of two causes:
(1) Either because the word “Chiun” in Hebrew meant the same as “Remphan” in the language of Egypt, where the translation was made; or,
(2) Because the “object” of worship called “Chiun” in Hebrew was called “Remphan” in the language of Egypt. It is generally agreed that the object of their worship was the planet “Saturn,” or “Mars,” both of which planets were worshipped as gods of evil influence. In Arabic, the word “Chevan” denotes the planet Saturn. Probably “Rephan,” or “Remphan,” is the Coptic name for the same planet, and the Septuagint adopted this because that translation was made in Egypt, where the Coptic language was spoken.
Figures which ye made - Images of the god which they made. See the article “Chiun” in Robinson‘s Calmet.
And I will carry you away - This is simply expressing in few words what is stated at greater length in Amos 5:27. In Hebrew it is “Damascus”; but this evidently denotes the Eastern region, in which also Babylon was situated.
This chapter is based on Acts 17:1-10.
After leaving Philippi, Paul and Silas made their way to Thessalonica. Here they were given the privilege of addressing large congregations in the Jewish synagogue. Their appearance bore evidence of the shameful treatment they had recently received, and necessitated an explanation of what had taken place. This they made without exalting themselves, but magnified the One who had wrought their deliverance. AA 221.1Read in context »
As Stephen stood face to face with his judges to answer to the charge of blasphemy, a holy radiance shone upon his countenance, and “all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.” Many who beheld this light trembled and veiled their faces, but the stubborn unbelief and prejudice of the rulers did not waver. AA 99.1
When Stephen was questioned as to the truth of the charges against him, he began his defense in a clear, thrilling voice, which rang through the council hall. In words that held the assembly spellbound, he proceeded to rehearse the history of the chosen people of God. He showed a thorough knowledge of the Jewish economy and the spiritual interpretation of it now made manifest through Christ. He repeated the words of Moses that foretold of the Messiah: “A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear.” He made plain his own loyalty to God and to the Jewish faith, while he showed that the law in which the Jews trusted for salvation had not been able to save Israel from idolatry. He connected Jesus Christ with all the Jewish history. He referred to the building of the temple by Solomon, and to the words of both Solomon and Isaiah: “Howbeit the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool: what house will ye build Me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of My rest? Hath not My hand made all these things?” AA 99.2
When Stephen reached this point, there was a tumult among the people. When he connected Christ with the prophecies and spoke as he did of the temple, the priest, pretending to be horror-stricken, rent his robe. To Stephen this act was a signal that his voice would soon be silenced forever. He saw the resistance that met his words and knew that he was giving his last testimony. Although in the midst of his sermon, he abruptly concluded it. AA 100.1Read in context »
Stephen was questioned as to the truth of the charges against him, and took up his defense in a clear, thrilling voice that rang through the council hall. He proceeded to rehearse the history of the chosen people of God in words that held the assembly spellbound. He showed a thorough knowledge of the Jewish economy, and the spiritual interpretation of it now made manifest through Christ. He began with Abraham and traced down through history from generation to generation, going through all the national records of Israel to Solomon, taking up the most impressive points to vindicate his cause. SR 264.1
He made plain his own loyalty to God and to the Jewish faith, while he showed that the law in which they trusted for salvation had not been able to preserve Israel from idolatry. He connected Jesus Christ with all the Jewish history. He referred to the building of the temple by Solomon, and to the words of both Solomon and Isaiah: “Howbeit the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands.” “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool: what house will ye build Me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of My rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?” The place of God's highest worship was in heaven. SR 264.2Read in context »