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No. 1309.-ACTS iii. 1.
The hour of prayer.
The Jews had stated hours both for public and private prayer. It was Daniel's custom tu pray three times a day, Dan. vi. 10. and this was also the practice of David, Psalm lv. 17. From hence we learn not only how frequently, but at what times of the day that duty was commonly performed. It is generally supposed that the morning and evening prayers were at the time of offering the morning and evening sacrifice, that is, at the third and ninth hour : and the noon prayer was at the sixth hour, or twelve o'clock. We find in scripture no express institution of the stated hours of prayer. The Jews say they received them from the patriarchs ; the first hour from Abraham ; the second from Isaac; and the third from Jacob.
From the Jews the Mahometans have borrowed their hours of prayer, enlarging the number of them from three to five; which all Mussulmans are bound to observe. The first is in the morning before sun-rise : the second when noon is past, and the sun begins to decline from the meridian: the third in the afternoon, before sun-set : the fourth in the evening after sun-set, and before the day is shut in : the fifth after the day is shut in, and before the first watch of the night. To these some of their devotees add two more, the first an hour and a half after the day is shut in, and the other at midnight ; but these are looked upon as voluntary services, practised in imitation of Mahomet's example, but not enjoined by his law. See Sale's Koran, Prelim. Dis. sect. iv. p. 107.
No. 1310.--vi. 1. Their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.] A distribution of alms was made every day. This practice obtained among the Jews in common, for they used to collect every day for the poor, and give it daily to them. Maimonides speaks of it in this manner : “ They appoint collectors, who receive every day from every court a piece of bread, or any sort of food, or fruit, or money, from whomsoever that offers freely for the time ; and they divide that which is collected, in the evening, among the poor, and they give to every poor person of it his daily sustenance :" from hence the apostles might take up this custom, and follow it.
No. 1311-vii. 30. . There appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai an angel of the Lord, in a flame of fire in a bush.]. The heathens had either read or heard of this circumstance, as appears by Artapanus, who mentions it; (in Eusebius, 1. ix. Præpar. Evang. 6. xxvii.) but he disguises it, and misreports it, saying, it was a fire which suddenly broke forth out of the earth, and flamed, when there was no matter nor any kind of wood in the place to feed it. However, in the next chapter but one an ancient tragedian reports it exactly, saying just as Moses does here, that the bush burned with fire, and yet remained intire in the flame, which he calls the greatest miracle. There is a story something like this in Dion Prusæus, Orat. xxxvi. where he saith, the Persians relate concerning Zoroaster, that the love of wisdom and virtue leading him to a solitary life upon a mountain, he found it one day all in a flame, shining with celestial fire, out of the midst of which he came without any harm, and instituted certain sacrifices to God, who, he declared, then appeared to him. Both Ursinus and Huet have endeavoured. to prove, that this was a corrupt tradition of this vision of Moses.
Patrick, on Exod. iii. 2.
No. 1312.-ix. 36. Now there was at Hoppa a ceru tain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas.] It was common not only among the Arabs, but also among the Greeks, to give their females the names of agreeable animals. Tabitha appears to have been a word used in the Syriac, which being interpreted is Dorcas ; that is, an antelope ; an animal remarkable for beautiful eyes. On this account it might have been given to the person here designated by it. ...
PARKHURST's Greek Lex. p. 692. .
No. 1313.xiii. 15. And after the reading of the law and the prophets.] The custom of reading the law, the Jews say, existed a hundred and seventy years before the time of Christ. The division of it into sections is ascribed to Ezra. The five books of Moses, here called the law, contained fifty-three sections, so that by reading one on each sabbath, and two in one day, they read through the whole in the course of a year; finishing at the feast of Tabernacles, which they called “ the rejoicing of the law.” When Antiochus Epiphanes burnt the book of the law, and forbad the reading of it, the Jews in the room of it selected some passages out of the prophets, which they thought came nearest in words and sense to the section of the law, and read them in their stead; but when the law was restored again, they still continued the reading of the prophetic sections; and the section for the day was called the dismission, because usually the people were dismissed upon it, unless any one stood up and expounded the word of God to them. This is the reason of the message sent to the apostles, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.
GILL, in loc.
No. 1314.xiii. 43. Religious proselytes.] The reVOL. II.
1 3 A
ception of proselytes required a particular previous preparation : the person who offered himself as 'a proselyte was examined by three of the magistrates as to the motives by which he was actuated: if he gave a satisfactory answer, he was instructed in the Jewish religion ; after which he solemnly professed his assent to the doctrines which had been proposed to him, and promised to persevere in the faith and practice of the law. As to the form and manner of admission, the rabbis make it to consist of three articles ; circumcision, baptism, and sacrifice. Thus admitted, the proselyte was considered as born again. The bond of natural relation between him and all his kindred was now desolved. He was now to all intents and purposes a Jew; and entitled to a share in all their privileges. The Jews however were very apt to look with a jealous eye upon proselytes, preferring Israelites by descent to all : , others. JENNINGS's Jewish Antiq. vol. i. p. 132.
No. 1315.-xiv. 12. And Paul Mercury, because he was the chief speaker.] The Greeks had a custom of making an oblation of tongues at the conclusion of their sacrifices, pouring on them a libation of wine. This was to purge themselves from any evil words which they might have uttered: or because the tongue was reckoned the best part of the sacrifice, and so reserved for the completion of it: or they offered the tongues to the gods, as witnesses of what they had spoken. They offered the tongue to Mercury, because they believed him the giver of eloquence. Upon this practice Dacier remarks, that the people feared lest through wine and the joy of the festival they might have uttered some words. unbecoming the sanctity of the occasion. By this sacrifice of the tongues they signified that they purged away whatever they had spoken amiss during the festival ; and asked pardon of Mercury, who pre
sided over discourse, that they might not carry home any uncleanness, which might prevent the communi. cation of the blessings expected from the sacrifice.
No. 1316.—xiv. 13. Brought oxen and garlands unto the gates.] Garlands or crowns were used in sacrifices for different purposes. Sometimes they crowned the gods to whom they sacrificed, (Tertul. de Corona, c. 10.) Sometimes the priests wore them. (Paschalius de Coronis, l. iv. c. 13.) The altars also on which they of. fered sacrifices were crowned with these garlands, as well as the sacrifices themselves. (Ovid. de Tristibus, 'l. iii. el. 13.) They were for the most part made of cypress ; sometimes of the pine-tree ; and of other leaves and Aowers, such as were peculiar to the gods. Something similar to these practices obtained amongst the Jews at the offering of their first-fruits..
No. 1317.-xvi. 16. A certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination.] Virgil has described an inflated prophetess of this kind :
Ait, Deus, ecce Deus, cui talia fanti
Æn. vi. 46.
The virgin cries, the God, behold the God,
Archbishop Potter says, that there were few that pretended to inspiration but raged after this manner, foam