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28 And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms and Cesarea. riod, 4773. when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, Vulgar Æra, and found it fifteen fathoms.
29 Then fearing lest they should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.
30 And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship,
31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.
32 Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off.
33 And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing.
34 Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you.
35 And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all and when he had broken it, he began to eat.
36 Then were they all of good cheer, took some meat.
and they also
37 And we were in all in the ship, two hundred threescore and sixteen souls.
38 And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.
39 And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the
ii. p. 102, edit. Casaub. Par. 1609), confirm Mr. Bryant's opi-
Strabo says expressly, that the Adriatic Sea is bounded by
And Ptolomy, so far from accounting Malta to be an island of the Adriatic Sea, reckons it to be a part of Africa; and Pomponius Mela inclines to the same arrangement: the latter writer speaks of Corcyra, which is in latitude thirty-nine degrees thirty min. north, (nearly half a degree to the south of the Ceraunian Mountains,) as being situated in the neighbourhood (Vicina), not in the Adriatic Sea; so that he probably meant to assign the same limits with Strabo,
THE PASSENGERS AND MARINERS-CHAP. XIV.
Julian Pe- which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in Ces area. riod, 4773. the ship. Vulgar Era,
40 And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudderbands", and hoisted up the main sail to the wind, and made toward shore.
41 And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the fore part stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves.
42 And the soldiers' council was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.
43 But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land.
44 And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.
They land on the Island of Melita.
ACTS XXviii. 1–11.
1 And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita ".
See on the rudder-bands, Pocock's Travels, vol. i. p. 135.-
7 Aláλaooog is properly (says Bochart) an isthmus, or a nar-
The τόπος διθάλασσος, (says Bryant) is nothing else but the natural barrier of an harbour where this is wanting, they make an artificial one, called a mole, or pier; otherwise there can be no security for shipping, the harbour being little better than a road without it. Such a barrier or headland was here, which they endeavoured to get round, and failed. This may be learned from the context--Περιπεσόντες δὲ εῖς τόπον διθάλασσον, ἐπώκειλαν τὴν ναῦν; where the word εκπεσόντες was before : it signifies falling upon a place in taking a round or circuit. The mariners saw a bay, into which they had a mind to run their ship; but they met with a small promontory, that projected and formed the entrance into the bay, and which was washed on each side by the sea. This impeded them, and in endeavouring to get round it, their ship struck, and stood fast. Mr. Bryant confirms this interpretation of the word by the authority of Chrysostom.-See Kuinoel in loc. and Bryant's Dissertation,
8 Many commentators have been of opinion that St. Paul was wrecked at Meleda or Melite, in the Adriatic, and not at Malta, in the Mediterranean. Kuinoel mentions Rhoer as the principal continental divine who has defended this opinion. The
Julian Pe- 2 And the barbarous people shewed us no little kind- Cesarea.
Vulgar Era, most celebrated treatise, however, with which we are acquaint
ed, is that of Mr. Bryant, who has defended this opinion at
I am of opinion, he observes, that the island Meleda, last men-
"Malta," says Diodorus Siculus, "is furnished with many
It is difficult to suppose that a place of this description could be meant by such an expression, as of an island called " Melite;" nor could the inhabitants, with any propriety of speech, be understood by the epithet "barbarous."
But the Adriatic Melite perfectly corresponds with that description. Though too obscure and insignificant to be particularly noticed by the ancient geographers, the opposite and neighbouring coast of Illyricum is represented by Strabo as perfectly corresponding with the expression of St. Paul.
The circumstance of the viper or poisonous snake that fas tened on St. Paul's hand, merits consideration.
Father Giorgi, an ecclesiastic of Melite Adriatica, who has written on this subject, suggests very properly, that as there are now no serpents in Malta, and as it should seem were none in the time of Pliny, there never were any there, the country being dry and rocky, and not affording shelter or proper nourishment for animals of that description. But Meleda abounds with those reptiles, being woody and damp, and favourable to their way of life and propagation. The discase with which the father of Publius was afflicted (dysentery, combined with fever, probably intermittent) affords a presumptive evidence of the nature of the island.
Such a place as Melite Africana (Malta), dry and rocky, and remarkably healthy, was not likely to produce such a disease,
RECEPTION OF ST. PAUL AT MELITA-CHAP. XIV.
Julian Pe- ness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, Cesarea. riod, 4773. 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 answers, to Mr. Bryant's and Rhoer's hypothesis:-1. Tradition has unvaryingly asserted this as the place of the apostle's shipwreck.-The tradition cannot be traced to the time of the wreck. 2. The island in the Venetian Gulf, in favour of which Mr. Bryant so learnedly contends, is totally out of the track in which the Euroclydon must have driven the vessel. The contrary has been shewn. (See note 4.) 3. It is said, in verse 11 of this chapter, that another ship of Alexandria, bound as we must suppose for Italy, and very probably carrying wheat thither, as St. Paul's vessel did, (chap. xxvii. 38.) had been driven out of its course.-The same Levanter which drove one from its course, might have driven the other also. 4. In St. Paul's voyage to Italy from Melita, on board the Alexandrian ship that had wintered there, he and his companions landed at Syracuse, (ver. 12, 13.) and from thence went to Rhegium. But if it had been the Illyrian Melita, the proper course of the ship would have been first, to Rhegium, before it reached Syracuse at all; whereas, in a voyage from the present Malta to Italy, it was necessary to reach Syracuse, in Sicily, before the ship could arrive at Rhegium, in Italy. This is the strongest argument; but see Note 11, p. 450.
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 wrecked 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 had 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 Period, 4773.
3 And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and Cesarea. Vulgar Era, his interest became known to Poppea, Cesar's wife, and took care as soon as possible to intreat her to procure that the priests might be set at liberty.
The dates, says this learned writer, might be shewn so far to correspond, that there would be no objection from this source. It is not improbable that Josephus, 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 having, 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 with 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 him to be conveyed to Rome. Josephus, then, speaking of the imprisonment 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 help 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 he 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 him, might not have been separated from those, who swam to shore at Melita, and have been taken up in the ship of Cyrene, 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 miraculous circumstances which demonstrated the divine countenance to St. Paul's mission, which, if he had admitted, he must have