Herod Puts Peter’s Guards to Death: Part 2 of 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
The Tyrians and Sidonians were both subjects of the Roman Empire, as was the inhabitants of Galilee; Herod, therefore, could not go to war with them; but, since he was angry with them, he could prevent their supplies from getting through, and disrupt the commerce that the two cities depended upon for their prosperity. Therefore, they endeavored to be on peaceable, that is, friendly, terms with him. It seems that Blastus, the king’s chamberlain was bribed by the representatives of Tyre and Sidon to use his influence with Herod on their behalf. It is not certain how peace finally came about, but we can be reasonably sure that after Blastus introduced them to Herod, they implored Herod to forgive them for the offence that had created the bad blood between them; or perhaps, Blastus, whom by some means or another they made their friend was convinced to use his influence with the king, to procure peace for them. Regardless of how it came about, they were successful—they sued for, and obtained, reconciliation with Herod. And thus the Christians of those parts were, by the providence of God, delivered from further persecution.
Because their country was nourished by the king's country
“Their country was nourished by the king's country,” which simply means that they obtained all their supplies from Galilee, the reason being that Tyre and Sidon were seaports located on a narrow strip of land on the coast of the Mediterranean. Their citizens were concerned with sending ships to sea, in trading with other cities and in obtaining merchandise; and it was in Judea and Galilee, which were under Herod's jurisdiction, where they sold the goods they imported, and from there they were supplied with wheat, honey, and oil, both for their own use, and perhaps to export abroad. Being cities of trade and commerce, with little territory, they were forced to obtain all their provisions from the countries under Herod's jurisdiction. This had been the case even from the days of Solomon, as we learn from 1 Kings 5:11; where it is said that every year Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat, for food for his household; and twenty measures of pure oil. And it looks as if Herod had forbidden all commerce with them, which if it had been continued, would have been the ruin of them. It is easy to see why they were so keen on mending fences with King Herod and even securing his favor.
21 And upon a set day
Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.
And upon a set day Herod
“And upon a set day” means “an appointed, public holiday.” This was the second day of the sports and games which Herod celebrated in Caesarea in honor of Claudius Caesar. Josephus has given an account of this occurrence, which coincides remarkably with the narrative here. He wrote, “Now when Agrippa had reigned three years over all Judea, he came to the city Caesarea, which was formerly called Strato's Tower; and there he exhibited shows in honor of Caesar, upon his being informed that there was a certain festival celebrated to make vows for his safety. At which festival a great multitude was gotten together of the principal persons, and such as were of dignity throughout his province. On the second day of which shows he put on a garment made wholly of silver, etc.” This could have been the day appointed by Herod, for receiving the ambassadors of Tyre and Sidon, and of hearing their petitions.
Arrayed in royal apparel
“Arrayed in royal apparel,” that is, “In the apparel of a king.” Josephus describes how Herod was dressed on that occasion. “He put on a garment made wholly of silver, and of wonderful contexture, and early in the morning came into the theater place of the shows and games, at which time the silver of his garment, being illuminated by the first reflection of the sun's rays upon it, shone after a surprising manner, and was so resplendent as to spread a horror over those that looked intently on him.” The royal garment was covered with so much silver that when the rays of the rising sun reflected from it, the glare dazzled the eyes of the beholders. It must have been very heavy, and uncomfortable!
Sat upon his throne
This does not indicate a throne in the usual sense of that word, but “a high seat” in the theater, where he sat, and had a full view of the games and sports. It is very likely that he wore a crown on his head and had a scepter in his hand. Other royalty and dignitaries were probably seated nearby. From this place, he made his speech.
And made an oration unto them
Herod did not make a speech merely to the Tyrian and Sidonian ambassadors, but to all the people assembled on this grand occasion, which included Josephus. The subject of his speech was not recorded by the historian.