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Book of Acts Chapters 6 and 7 - Christogenea Internet Radio 06-21-2013
VI 1 And in those days with the multiplying of students, there was a murmuring among the Hellenists towards the Hebrews, because in the daily administration their widows were neglected.
The phrase “in those days” tells us only that what is transpiring is some time after the first Pentecost. It is evident that a functioning Christian community has been established. Many of those who have come to this community since that Pentecost have sold farms and estates, things which usually take some time to accomplish. As it was established here in the very first segment of our presentation of Acts, and as we hope to explain again when we arrive at the appropriate portions of the narrative, the chronological details left to us in Acts and in the epistles of Paul, when compared to what we know from history, tell us that Paul's conversion must have most likely taken place in 34 AD, and therefore the events related in these earlier chapters of Acts all transpired over the two year period which began with the Pentecost of 32 AD.
The word which the King James Version renders as “Grecian” here is Ἑλληνιστής (1675), Hellenist, one who follows Greek lifestyles and customs, as opposed to Hebrew customs. The distinction is not one of nation or religion here but solely of tradition, for Peter hadn’t yet had his vision and therefore the gospel was not yet taken to non-Judaeans, a fact established by Peter's own words as they are recorded in Acts chapter 15. While men of different regions are mentioned in various places in the early chapters of Acts, such as at Acts 2:9-11 and here in this chapter in verse 9, the context always informs us that these are Judaean men from those different regions, for there was already a great distribution of Judaeans – whether they were Israelite or Canaanite -Edomite is immaterial in this regard – who had habitations throughout the Roman world (see, for example Josephus’ Antiquities 14:115 and Wars 7:43), and many of these visited Jerusalem often for feasts and other reasons. We discussed this diaspora of Judaeans, which is not to be confused with the ancient and much larger diaspora of Israel and Judah, at great length here while presenting Acts chapter 4. While in this context the lexicons attempt to limit the use of “Hellenist” to language, it can be shown both from the Biblical accounts and manuscripts, and from archaeology, that many Judaeans commonly spoke Greek. The term must indicate more than language, and the Hellenists were likely following Greek manners of dress, diet, and possibly even some of their philosophies. Such Hellenists are also mentioned at Acts 9:29 and 11:20. Since these were all Israelites converting to Christianity, we see that they were discriminating among each other, so far as to neglect old women in their daily care. It is evident in many places, that Judaeans who had clung to the ancient traditions despised even their own kinsmen who did not, and here is an example.
2 Then the twelve summoning the multitude of students said “It is not acceptable to us, abandoning the Word of Yahweh to serve tables.
The role of the apostles within the community was to preach the Gospel of Christ, continually edifying the Body of Christ which Yahweh was collecting in that place, or steadfastly persisting in prayer, as we see in verse 4. This too is a model example for Christians today, that as Paul illustrated in 1 Corinthians chapter 12, the body has many members but not all members have the same function, and neither can one member serve every function. Therefore we see the delegation of authority by the apostles as recorded in verse 3:
3 But you consider, brethren, seven accredited men from among you, full of spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint over this business,
The Codices Alexandrinus (A), Ephraemi Syri (C), and the Majority Text have “Holy Spirit”; the text follows the 4th century papyrus P8, and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Vaticanus (B), and Bezae (D).
The pronoun in the phrase “whom we shall appoint” must refer not to the apostles only, but to the apostles and the people collectively. This is evident because the apostles did not ordain men to these recommended positions unilaterally, but rather they asked the people to consider who it was whom they would have to fill such positions. This is the same model which Paul later used, for example when it came time for the assemblies of Greece to appoint a minister of the funds which they were contributing to the poor at Jerusalem, for which see 2 Corinthians 8:19. Christian assemblies should pick their own ministers, or servants, and here it is clear that such an example is the original apostolic model.
4 and we shall persist in prayer and in the attendance of the Word.”
The prayer is probably just as much for guidance as it is for things such as favor and protection, healing and other such things. The “attendance of the Word” is ostensibly the study of Scripture just as much as the expounding of the Gospel.
5 And this word was satisfactory before all of the multitude and they selected Stephanos, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philippos and Prochoros and Nikanor and Timon and Parmenas and Nikolaos a convert of Antiocheus, 6 who stood before the ambassadors, and praying they laid the hands upon them.
All seven of these men’s names are Greek names. All seven of these names are from common Greek words: Stephanos is crowned; Philippos is lover of horses; Prochoros is before the dance; Nikanor is victorious; Timon is valuable; Parmenas is enduring; and Nikolaos is victory over people or conqueror of people. Here the adoption of the Greek language by many of the Judaean people is clearly evident, as it is also in many other places in Acts (i.e. 3:2, 4:6, 9:33). Six of these men were certainly born as Judaeans. Because of the use of the word προσήλυτος, however, usually proselyte in the King James Version, it may be argued that Nikolaos was not born as a Judaean, which is the the usual interpretation. However in the first century, Judaean was not properly a racial distinction, but one of nationality or religion, since Judaea itself was only a multiethnic political entity. Antioch being a Hellenistic city, if Nikolaos were a Greek, most Greek tribes being descended from Israelites dispersed in antiquity, and if he were circumcised, then he was just as much a Judaean as any natural-born Judaean. On the other hand, it is possible here that the word προσήλυτος in this context may describe a Judaean of Antioch who had been a Hellenist and had recently come over to Christianity. In any case, there is no reason to dispute the testimony of Peter in reference to his converting the household of Cornelius, as related in Acts chapters 10 and 11, that he was the first to convert the uncircumcised to Christ. It is this which he refers to in Acts chapter 15: “6 Then the ambassadors and the elders gathered together to see concerning this account. 7 And there being much debate, Petros arising said to them: “Men, brethren, you know that from the first days Yahweh has chosen among you through my mouth for the Nations to hear the account of the good message and to believe. 8 And Yahweh who knows the heart has accredited them to give the Holy Spirit just as also to us.”
The laying on of hands was also a part of the sacrifice rituals, and in the passing of judgement in a capital offense, which is seen at Leviticus 24:14. The laying on of hands in this sense is first seen in Scripture in Deuteronomy 34:9, where the death of Moses is recorded: “9 And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses.” So in this sense it is symbolic of the passing of one's godly authority, favor, or spiritual gifts to another.
7 And the Word of Yahweh was magnified and the number of students in Jerusalem multiplied exceedingly, and a great crowd of the priests were obedient in the faith.
Rather than priests, the Codex Sinaiticus (א) has Judaeans. If a significant number of true Levitical priests had submitted to Christianity, that may have proven the greatest risk to the temple authorities, most effectively undermining the presumed authority of the Sadducee high priests.
8 And Stephanos, full of favor and power had done wonders and great signs among the people.
The Codex Bezae (D) inserts at the end of this sentence the words “through the name of Prince Yahshua Christ.” The Majority Text, and therefore the King James Version, has faith rather than favor, the text of the Christogenea New Testament is in agreement with the 3rd century papyrus P45, the 4th century papyrus P8, and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), Bezae (D) and the 5th century 0175.
It is fitting, in the most ancient Hebrew tradition, that Stephanos would be destined the first Christian martyr, his name meaning crowned.
Psalm 132: “11 The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne. 12 If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore.”
From the message to the assembly at Smyrna, a name which refers to the oil of anointing, at Revelation 2:10: “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
From the message to the assembly at Philadelphia, a name which means brotherly love, at Revelation 3:10-11: “10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. ”
9 Then there arose some of those from the assembly hall called “of the Freedmen”, and of the Kurenaians [men from Cyrene] and Alexandrians and of those from Kilikia [where Paul was from] and Asia [the Codices Alexandrinus and Bezae want the reference to Asia, being Asia Minor of course] disputing with Stephanos, 10 yet they were not able to withstand the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke.
Where the text has “and the spirit by which he spoke”, the Codex Bezae (D) has a long interpolation, reading “and the Holy Spirit in which he spoke, by which for them to be censured by him with all frankness, therefore they were not able to meet face to face with the truth.”
For a brief description of what some believe to be this very assembly hall, the “synagogue of the Libertines” as the King James Version has it, or if not then one which was certainly quite similar, there is a sidebar to an article concerning the Israeli Antiquities Authority, which appeared in the Biblical Archaeology Review magazine issued for July/August 2003, on page 25. Here is a reproduction:
The Theodotus Inscription
“Hundreds of synagogues stood in ancient Jerusalem before their destruction by Titus’s [sic] Roman forces in 70 A.D.; in one of them hung the following Greek inscription, carved prominently into the 25-by-17-inch limestone slab shown above: “Theodotus son of Vettenus, priest and synagogue leader, son of a synagogue leader, grandson of a synagogue leader, rebuilt this synagogue for the reading of the Law and the teaching of the commandments, and the hostelry, rooms and baths, for the lodging of those who have need from abroad. It was established by his forefathers, the elders and Simonides.” The fact that the language of the inscription is Greek, not Hebrew, and its allusion to “those who have need from abroad,” suggest that this synagogue was used by Jews from the Diaspora, and that it housed large numbers of visiting pilgrims. Some scholars have identified it with the Synagogue of the Freedmen (former slaves in the Roman Empire), mentioned in Acts 6:9.”
The actual building to which the plaque bearing the Theodotus Inscription belonged has not been found, so far as the date of publication of the article. That the inscription was in Greek is another indication of the prevalent use of Greek in Jerusalem at the time. However that the two synagogues are connected is merely educated speculation.
That the assembly hall here in Acts chapter 6 was called “of the Freedmen”, or as the King James Version has it, Libertines, indicates that those who founded it, or their ancestors, were Judaeans once enslaved and returned to Judaea when they were granted freedom, a practice which was common in the Greco-Roman world. It was customary for Romans to take as slaves the survivors of such cities as were taken by force, for which there are examples at Jerusalem when it was taken by Pompey, and again later by Herod along with the Roman general Sossius, described in Josephus’ Wars of the Judaeans 1:154 (1.7.6) and 1:135 (1.18.3), and later when Titus took the city, Wars 6:420 (6.9.3). Surely these freedmen descended from those taken as slaves in one of the earlier Roman conquests of Judaea, by Pompey and Herod. Josephus, while he does not tell us their exact history, often mentions a class of such freedmen in Judaea, linking them to Caesar who had restored many of the honors and privileges to Jerusalem which had earlier been taken by Pompey.
There is another issue which must be discussed here, that there are some Biblical commentators who attempt to connect Saul of Tarsus with this assembly hall of the Freedmen, since Saul is introduced as Stephen is executed, which is described at the end of chapter 7. However this interpretation seems to miss the point that the council to which Stephen is led, as described in verse 12, is actually the official council of the high priests at the temple, which is fully evident at the opening of chapter 7. Therefore Saul may have come into the picture any time after Stephen was taken to the temple, and he is not necessarily connected to this assembly hall.
11 Then they suborned men, saying that “We heard him speaking blasphemous words in regard to Moses and God!” 12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes and coming upon him they seized him and led him to the council, 13 and false witnesses stood saying “This man does not stop speaking words against this holy place and the law!
That they suborned men, as the King James Version also has the word ὑποβάλλω, which suggests that these witnesses were instructed privately, and perhaps even bribed, and that in any case, their testimony was dishonest.
In verse 13, the Majority Text, and therefore the King James Version, once again has the phrase “blasphemous words”. The text of the Christogenea New Testament is in agreement with the 3rd century papyrus P45, the 4th century papyrus P8, and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Vaticanus (B), Ephraemi Syri (C), and the 5th century 0175, and the Codices Alexandrinus (A) and Bezae (D) which have a different word order.
The Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Bezae (D), the 5th century 0175 and the Majority Text have “the holy place”. Here the text follows the 4th century papyrus P8, and the Codices Vaticanus (B) and Ephraemi Syri (C). The phrase may be interpreted as a reference to Jerusalem, and in this instance I had chosen to follow these manuscripts because they are consistent with the reading in verse 14, where all manuscripts agree where it says “this place”.
Many of these differences between the Majority Text and the ancient manuscripts which I have pointed out are rather irrelevant, and even some of the more significant ones do not really compel us to reconsider important matters of doctrine. However that so many differences between the Majority Text and the most ancient manuscripts exist, must be an indication to all Christians that the Majority Text upon which the King James Version is based is by no means sacrosanct. In truth, it contains many flaws, and some of them are quite significant. Where so many of the more ancient manuscripts agree, they must be given the greater authority.
14 For we heard him saying that this Yahshua the Nazoraian shall destroy this place and change the customs which Moses transmitted to us!” 15 And all those sitting in the council gazing at him saw his face as if it were the face of a messenger.
The phrase “sitting in the council” refers to the official council presided over by the high priest in Jerusalem, which the jews now call by the name sanhedrin. This is fully evident in the opening verse of chapter 7.
A messenger, or an angel. The Codex Bezae (D) inserts at the end of this sentence the words “standing in their midst.” This first report concerning the substance of the testimony of Stephen establishes that Christians at this early time were indeed focused upon one of the more famous of the discourses given by Christ, that which concerned the fate of the temple and Jerusalem, from Matthew chapter 24: “1 And departing Yahshua went from the temple, and His students came forth to point out to Him the buildings of the temple. 2 Then He responding said to them: 'Do you see all these things? Truly I say to you, by no means should there be left here a stone upon a stone which shall not be thrown down!'” Of course, these things were all in fulfillment of that most precise prophecy of the Messiah found in Daniel Chapter 9, which the jews deny unto this very day. In fact, many jews vainly deny that Daniel was a prophet at all.
With this we shall commence with Acts Chapter 7:
VII 1 Then the high priest said “So, do you hold these things to be thusly?”
Literally only “If you have these things thusly?” The word εἰ (1487) is if, or whether here where it marks a question, therefore it is rendered “So...?” The Codex Bezae (D) and the Majority Text have words which may be rendered “So then...?” The text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B) and Ephraemi Syri (C).
With the presence of the high priest, we see that the men from the assembly hall of the Freedmen have taken Stephen to that council which the jews call the sanhedrin, the official council of the leaders at the temple in Jerusalem. The word for council is a Greek word, συνέδριον (4892), which literally means a council. The jewish word sanhedrin is a yiddish corruption of the Greek.
In the apology which follows, Stephen attempts to demonstrate to the council and the people that the hope of Israel rests upon the promises to Abraham which were perpetuated through Moses to Israel, which had nothing to do with the temple or the works of men's hands, and everything to do with kinship, brotherhood, and the counsel of God which men have perpetually rejected.
2 And he said: “Men, brothers and fathers, listen! Yahweh of effulgence appeared to Abraham our father, who was in Mesopotamia before when he settled in Charran. 3 And He said to him ‘Depart from your land and from your kinsmen, and come to the land which I shall show to you.’
Genesis 12: “1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee”.
4 Then departing from the land of the Chaldaeans he settled in Charran.
Chaldaea is mentioned in inscriptions as early as the annals of the Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II, who reigned circa 883 to 859 BC. Earlier documents referred to the same area as the sea-land. It was adjacent to Elam, an important component of what later became Persia. This late Chaldaea was east of the Tigris, where the ancient city of Ur was located on the west bank of the Euphrates, precisely opposite this narrow strip of lower Mesopotamia known as the land of Sumer. The word Chaldee is in Hebrew Kasdiy (3778). The Chaldees of later history possessed what was once Sumer, and the Babylonians of the Israelite Kingdom period were actually Chaldaeans.
As it is evident from throughout the Genesis account, while Abraham was first called by Yahweh in Ur, Haran in far northern Syria, the ancient land of Padan-Aram, was Abraham;'s ancestral home. Haran is also the same name as one of Abraham's brothers.
And there after the death of his father He moved him into this land in which you are now settled, 5 and He had not given to him an inheritance in it nor a footstep, yet He promised ‘to give it to him for a possession and to his offspring after him,’ there not being a child with him.
Abraham himself was never a king in the land of Canaan, however even before he had a child of his own, the land was promised to his offspring. Verse 5 paraphrases Genesis 17:8: “And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
6 But Yahweh had spoken thusly, that ‘It shall be that his offspring sojourns in a foreign land and they shall enslave them and mistreat them four hundred years.
The Septuagint version of Genesis 15:13: “And it was said to Abram, Thou shalt surely know that thy seed shall be a sojourner in a land not their own, and they shall enslave them, and afflict them, and humble them four hundred years.”
Literally “they [meaning the foreigners] shall enslave it [meaning the seed, or offspring]”, the word for seed (σπέρμα, 4690) is singular here, as is the pronoun, yet it refers to many people, being a collective noun, as it does everywhere else, including Galatians 3:16. The 6th century papyrus P33 and the Codex Bezae (D) both have the singular word for seed along with a corresponding plural pronoun, they.
Regardless of what one may think of the “four hundred years” clause in this statement to Abraham, it is not necessary that this period of time be reckoned as if it referred only to that period of the actual enslavement of Israel in Egypt. This is a very common misconception. Yet Paul explains in Galatians that it was four hundred and thirty years from the original Genesis 12 promise to Abraham to the time of the giving of the Law to Israel by Yahweh at Mount Sinai (Galatians 3:17).
Once it is realized that Moses was only the third generation from Levi (1 Chronicles 6:1-3), and that Moses was eighty years old when the Exodus began (Exodus 7:7), and all of the leaders of the Israelites as they are reckoned from the twelve sons of Jacob to the time of the Exodus, compared with the genealogies in the Book of Numbers and in Chronicles, are only as many as six or seven generations removed from the twelve sons of Jacob, then it is clear that the time of the actual enslavement of Israel was only about 150 to 180 years. But the time from Yahweh's utterance to Abraham in Genesis 15:3 unto the Exodus was indeed about four hundred years, and therefore Yahweh had all of that time in consideration.
Abraham was seventy-five when he departed from Haran (Genesis 12:4), the beginning of Paul's 430 years. He was one hundred years old when Isaac was born (Genesis 21:5). Isaac was sixty years old when Jacob was born (Genesis 25:26). Jacob was 130 years old when he went down to Egypt with his sons (Genesis 47:9). Therefore we can add 25 and 60 and 130 and that leaves another 215 years for the time from Jacob's going to Egypt unto the giving of the law at Sinai.
Those who cannot imagine how Israel could grow to as many as 2 million people in so short a time may dispute this chronology. They are actually only disputing with Scripture, because upon examination these things are indeed substantiated.
There were seventy people with Jacob going into Egypt, or seventy five in the Septuagint (Genesis 46:27), and they were joined there by the family of Joseph. If we start with 35 married couples (without doing a lengthy examination as to exactly how many there could have been at this time), and each couple has 7 children over a twenty-year reproductive span, which is a low number and a relatively short period of time, they would multiply by three-and-a-half times every generation. Here are the results:
After 1 generation and 20 years, the seventy would be 245 people. After 2 generations and 40 years they would be 857 people. After 3 generations and 60 years they would be 3001 people. After 4 generations and 80 years they would be 10,504 people. After 5 generations and 100 years they would be 36,765 people. After 6 generations and 120 years they would be 128,677 people. After 7 generations and 140 years they would be 450,371 people. After 8 generations and 160 years they would be 1,576,299 people. From Sinai unto the numbering of the children of Israel on the plains of Moab was yet another 40 years, and there they were numbered to have over 600,000 men of an age eligible for war (Numbers 3). Under the grace of God, this is a very plausible figure even in such a short time. There were certainly many more than what we have illustrated here, seeing that even before the Exodus many Israelites had already departed from Egypt by sea.
Exodus 1:7: “And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.”
7 And the nation in which when they shall be enslaved I shall judge, says Yahweh, and after these things they shall depart and they shall serve Me in this place.’
The Greek word ἐάν (1437) is “when” here, for which see Thayer, ἐάν I. 1. c. for this irregular use of the particle.
While Stephen is clearly referring to Genesis 15:14, in our modern Bibles that passage reads somewhat differently: “And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.” In this case, the Septuagint corroborates the King James Version and the Masoretic Text, but all of the New Testament manuscripts of Acts are consistent in their readings of this verse. Josephus’ condensation of this part of Genesis, found at Antiquities 1:185 (1.10.3), supports neither version: “185 After which, before he built his altar, where the birds of prey flew about, as desirous of blood, a divine voice came to him, declaring that their neighbours would be grievous to his posterity, when they should be in Egypt, for four hundred years, during which time they should be afflicted; but afterward should overcome their enemies, should conquer the Canaanites in war, and possess themselves of their land, and of their cities.”
8 And He gave to him the covenant of circumcision, and thus he begot Isaak and he circumcised him on the eighth day, and Isaak Jakob, and Jakob the twelve patriarchs.
While many doubters even in Christian Israel Identity have taken to the idea that circumcision was a later innovation of wicked people, it is quite certain that neither Stephen, as we see recorded here in Acts, nor John, nor Paul had any such imagining. According to the New Testament, circumcision was indeed a part of the Abrahamic and Levitical covenants.
John 7: “22 Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. 23 If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day?”
9 “And the patriarchs being jealous of Ioseph gave him up to Egypt, yet Yahweh was with him 10 and delivered him from all of his afflictions and gave to him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh King of Egypt, and he appointed him governor over Egypt and over his whole house. 11 Then came a famine over the whole of Egypt and Chanaan and great affliction, and our fathers did not find food.
In verse 10 the Codex Alexandrinus (A) wants the words “to him”. In verse 11 the Majority Text has “the whole land of Egypt”. The New Testament testimony confirms our trust in the general narrative of the books of the Old Testament.
12 But Jakob hearing that there was grain in Egypt sent off our fathers the first time. 13 Then with the second time Ioseph was recognized by his brethren, and the family of Ioseph was made known to Pharaoh. 14 And Ioseph sending called for Jakob his father and all the kinsmen, with seventy-five souls.
Rather than the phrase “recognized by”, from the Greek word ἀναγνωρίζομαι (319) the Codices Alexandrinus (A) and Vaticanus (B) have a word which can be rendered “made known to”, from the Greek word γνωρίζω. The text of the Christogenea New Testament agrees with the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Ephraemi Syri (C), Bezae (D), and the Majority Text, and also with the Septuagint Greek of Genesis 45:1 which Stephen cites here. Both the King James Version and Brenton in his Septuagint translated the word “made known to” regardless.
All of the New Testament texts agree with the Septuagint version of Genesis 46:27, and not with the Masoretic Text, where the number of Jacob's family are seventy-five, and not seventy.
15 And Jakob went down into Egypt [the Codex Vaticanus want “into Egypt”] and he died, and our fathers, 16 and they were moved to Suchem and buried in the tomb which Abraham bought for a price of silver from the sons of Emmor in Suchem. 17 Then just as the time approached of the promise which Yahweh had promised to Abraham, the people grew and were multiplied in Egypt, 18 until there stood another king over Egypt, who had not known Ioseph.
In verse 17 the Majority Text has ὀμνύω (3660), or sworn. The text, promised, follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B) and Ephraemi Syri (C), which have ὁμολογέω. The 3rd century papyrus P45 and the Codex Bezae have a synonym, ἐπαγγέλλω, also promised.
The 3rd century papyrus P45, the Codex Bezae and the Majority Text all want the words “over Egypt” in verse 18. The text here agrees with the 6th century papyrus P33, and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B) and Ephraemi Syri (C).
19 He dealing craftily with our race mistreated the fathers, causing their infants to be exposed for which not to be produced alive.
The Greek word κατασοφίζω (2686) appears only here in the New Testament and it is “to deal craftily with”. In another context it may be “to outwit”. The NA27, following the Codices Alexandrinus (A), Ephraemi Syri (C), and the Majority Text has “our fathers”; the text agrees with the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Vaticanus (B) and Bezae (D).
The word race here is from γένος (1085), and again the King James Version, which so often renders it as generation, has it as kindred here. In the King James Version, the word kindred at both Acts 7:3 and 14 is from the Greek word συγγένεια (4772), which properly refers to closer relations and is kinsmen in the Christogenea New Testament in both places. In the King James Version, the word kindred at both Acts 7:13 and 7:19 is from γένος, a term which should be applied more widely in contrast to συγγένεια. In the context of verse 14, here it is rendered family, in reference to “the family of Joseph”, however properly it may have been race. In this verse it is race, and clearly in this context it should be so. It is unfortunate, however, that here, as well as in Acts 4:6 in reference to the “race of the high priest”, the King James Version consistently fails to distinguish between the words συγγένεια and γένος.
The exposure of children also figures greatly in early Greek literature. The Greeks were said to have often willingly exposed unwanted children, or children that they could not afford, especially female infants. Doing this supposedly left their consciences unburdened, supposing that exposure of an infant left its fate in the hands of the gods. One famous story retold by Herodotus was that the great Persian king Cyrus was exposed at the demand of his grandfather, Astyages the king of the Medes, only to learn of his identity and to claim his inheritance later in life.
Concerning the exposure of children, Stephen refers to the account provided in Exodus Chapter 1: “15 And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: 16 And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. 17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.”
Regardless of the mainstream academic contentions over the pharaoh and the time of the Exodus, which generally place it in the 19th Dynasty and at the time of Ramses, both the testimony of Josephus and an honest study of the chronology of the period tell us that an 18th Dynasty pharaoh named Thutmose, whom Josephus calls Tethmosis, was the pharaoh of the Exodus. There were four pharaohs by this name, and they were all related. Thutmose I and Thutmose II were the third and fourth pharaohs of this dynasty. Hatshepsut was fifth, and it is very likely she who drew Moses out of the water, thereby giving him a form of her family name. The sixth and eighth pharaohs of this dynasty were Thutmose III and IV. The death of one more Thutmose, who never became pharaoh, led to the ascension of his brother Akhenaten. It was during the reign of Akhenaten that the Amarna Letters were written. These archaeological relics were written to Akhenaten by various kings of the land of Canaan and in them it is apparent that they had beseeched him for protection from the invading Hebrews.
Thutmose III was a bastard, the son of a Hurrian (or Horite, a branch of the Canaanites) wife. The female Hatshepsut, his half sister, had kept him from the throne until her death. He would have been the “pharaoh who knew not Joseph”, who enslaved Israel. He ruled Egypt for nearly 55 years, circa 1479-1424 BC. The Exodus was most likely towards the end of this very period.
20 At that time Moses was born and was favored by Yahweh, who was raised in the house of his father[his is inferred] three months, 21 but upon his being exposed he was taken up by the daughter of Pharaoh and he was raised up as her own son. 22 And Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was powerful in his words and deeds.
In reference to this word favored, ἀστεῖος (791) is “of the town: hence, like Latin urbanus, town-bred, polite, courteous...refined, elegant, pretty, witty, clever...” (Liddell & Scott, from their Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon). In context, again of Moses at Hebrews 11:23 the word is “handsome” (our masculine counterpart for “pretty”). Here the word is used in a context where I can only write favored, in spite of having no direct lexical support. Yet the 9th edition of the Liddell & Scott Greek-English Lexicon adds popular to the word’s definition, and that seems to support my rendering here. The word only occurs in the New Testament on these two occasions.
Exodus 2: “1 And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. 2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. 3 And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink. 4 And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him. 5 And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. 6 And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children. 7 Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? 8 And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother. 9 And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it. 10 And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.”
And the daughter of pharaoh called his name Moses, because that was ostensibly a form of her own family name, and she is the one who found him and adopted him. The last pharaoh of the 17th Dynasty was Kamose. The first pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty was Ahmose, the brother of Kamose. From him there were several – at least five – descendants named Tutmose, four of whom were pharaohs, and this was also the family of Hatshepsut, who was certainly this very princess and for over twenty years a pharaoh herself. The third of these was ostensibly the pharaoh of the Exodus.