Acts 7:42
Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O you house of Israel, have you offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?
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(42) The host of heaven.—The word includes the host or army of the firmament, sun, moon, and stars, as in 2Chronicles 33:3; 2Chronicles 33:5; Jeremiah 8:2. The sin of Israel was that it worshipped the created host, instead of Jehovah Sabaoth, the “Lord of hosts.”

In the book of the prophets.—The term is used in conformity with the Rabbinic usage which treated the Twelve Minor Prophets as making up a single book.

Have ye offered to me . . .?—Better, did ye offer . . . ? The words are, with one exception, from the LXX. of Amos 5:25-26. The narrative of the Pentateuch is inconsistent with the statement that no sacrifices were offered to Jehovah during the forty years’ wandering; but the question emphasises the thought which Amos desired to press upon the men of his generation, that Jehovah rejected the divided worship offered to them by a people who were all along hankering after, and frequently openly returning to, the worship of Egypt or Chaldæa. Moloch, and not the true God of Abraham, had been their chosen deity.

Acts 7:42-43. Then God turned — Upon this, God, being most righteously provoked, turned away from them in anger, and, as in many other instances, punished one sin by letting them fall into another; and at length gave them up, in succeeding ages, to the most abandoned, public, and general idolatry, even to worship all the host of heaven — The stars and other heavenly bodies, and that with as little reserve, and as little shame, as the most stupid of the heathen nations. As it is written in the book of the prophets — Namely, of the twelve minor prophets, which the Jews always connected together in one book. What is here quoted is taken from the Prophet Amos 5:25; where see the note. The passage consists of two parts; of which the former confirms Acts 7:41, concerning the sin of the people; the latter, the beginning of Acts 7:42, respecting their punishment: O house of Israel, have ye offered to me — To me alone; slain beasts, &c., forty years in the wilderness? — You know that even then you began to revolt, and provoke me to jealousy with your abominations. They had offered many sacrifices, but did not offer them to God alone, but sacrificed to idols also; and God did not accept even those that they offered to him, because they did not offer them with an upright heart. And in succeeding ages you were continually renewing and aggravating your rebellions and treasons against me. Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch — Instead of confining yourselves to my tabernacle; and the star of your god Remphan — Or Chium, as it is called in Amos. Moloch probably meant the sun, and Remphan, or Chium, the moon; or some other star. Aben Ezra thinks Saturn; figures which ye made — Images, or emblematical representations, of these supposed deities; to worship them — Both the images, and the supposed deities which they were intended to represent. See note on Amos 5:26. I will carry you away beyond Babylon — Into countries more distant. So Dr. Prideaux reconciles Stephen’s quotation with the original passages in Amos, where we read, beyond Damascus. This was fulfilled by the king of Assyria, 2 Kings 17:6.7:42-50 Stephen upbraids the Jews with the idolatry of their fathers, to which God gave them up as a punishment for their early forsaking him. It was no dishonour, but an honour to God, that the tabernacle gave way to the temple; so it is now, that the earthly temple gives way to the spiritual one; and so it will be when, at last, the spiritual shall give way to the eternal one. The whole world is God's temple, in which he is every where present, and fills it with his glory; what occasion has he then for a temple to manifest himself in? And these things show his eternal power and Godhead. But as heaven is his throne, and the earth his footstool, so none of our services can profit Him who made all things. Next to the human nature of Christ, the broken and spiritual heart is his most valued temple.Then God turned - That is, turned away from them; abandoned them to their own desires.

The host of heaven - The stars, or heavenly bodies. The word "host" means "armies." It is applied to the heavenly bodies because they are very numerous, and appear to be "marshalled" or arrayed in military order. It is from this that God is called Yahweh "of hosts," as being the ruler of these well-arranged heavenly bodies. See the notes on Isaiah 1:9. The proof that they did this Stephen proceeds to allege by a question from the prophets.

In the book of the prophets - Amos 5:25-26. The twelve minor prophets were commonly written in one volume, and were called the Book of the Prophets; that is, the book containing these several prophecies, Daniel, Hosea, Micah, etc. They were small "tracts" separately, and were bound up together to preserve them from being lost. This passage is not quoted literally; it is evidently made from memory; and though in its main spirit it coincides with the passage in Amos, yet in some important respects it varies from it.

O ye house of Israel - Ye people of Israel.

Have ye offered ... - That is, ye have not offered. The interrogative form is often an emphatic way of saying that the thing had "not" been done. But it is certain that the Jews did offer sacrifices to God in the wilderness, though it is also certain that they did not do it with a pure and upright heart. They kept up the form of worship generally, but they frequently forsook God, and offered worship to idols. through the continuous space of forty years they did "not" honor God, but often departed from him, and worshipped idols.

42-50. gave them up—judicially.

as … written in the book of the prophets—the twelve minor prophets, reckoned as one: the passage is from Am 5:25.

have ye offered to me … sacrifices?—The answer is, Yes, but as if ye did it not; for "neither did ye offer to Me only, nor always, nor with a perfect and willing heart" [Bengel].

Then God turned, from being as a Father to them, to be a Judge over them, to punish them; whereas formerly he had blessed them.

And gave them up; this was indeed to deliver them to Satan; God withholding his grace which they had abused, Romans 1:21,25, and giving them up, (to fall from one sin unto another), though not positively, yet permissively.

The host of heaven; the angels are so called, Luke 2:13; but it is rather here to be understood of the sun, moon, and stars, which are called so, Deu 17:3 Isaiah 40:26.

In the book of the prophets: the words here referred to are in Amos 5:25. It is said to be

in the book, in the singular number, because the twelve small prophets are by the Jews mentioned but as one book.

Have ye offered to me slain beasts, &c.: this positive question does vemently deny that they had offered any sacrifices unto God whilst they were in the wilderness; but at the same time they had offered sacrifices unto idols; for when they had corrupted God’s worship, their sacrifices were as no sacrifices unto him, Isaiah 1:11 Isaiah 43:23. Then God turned,.... Away from them, withdrew his presence, and his favours from them:

and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; not angels, but the sun, moon, and stars; for since they liked not to retain the knowledge and worship of the true God, who made the heavens, and the earth, God in righteous judgment, in a judicial way, gave them up to a reprobate mind, to commit all the idolatry of the Gentiles, as a punishment of their former sin in making and worshipping the calf:

as it is written in the book of the prophets; of the twelve lesser prophets, which were all in one book; and which, as the Jews say (e), were put together, that a book of them might not be lost through the smallness of it; among which Amos stands, a passage in whose prophecy is here referred to; namely, in Amos 5:25 "O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness"; no; they offered to devils, and not to God, Deuteronomy 32:17 and though there were some few sacrifices offered up; yet since they were not frequently offered, nor freely, and with all the heart, and with faith, and without hypocrisy, they were looked upon by God as if they were not offered at all.

(e) Kimchi praefat. ad Hoseam.

Then God turned, and {o} gave them up to worship the {p} host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?

(o) Being destitute and void of his Spirit, he gave them up to Satan, and wicked lusts, to worship stars.

(p) By the host of heaven here he does not mean the angels, but the moon, and sun, and other stars.

Acts 7:42. Ἔστρεψε δὲ ὁ Θεός] but God turned,—a figurative representation of the idea: He became unfavourable to them. The active in a neuter sense (1Ma 2:63; Acts 5:22; Acts 15:16; Kühner, II. pp. 9, 10); nothing is to be supplied. Incorrectly Vitringa, Morus, and others hold that ἔστρεψε connected with παρέδ. denotes, after the Hebrew שׁוּב, rursus tradidit. This usage has not passed over to the N. T., and, moreover, it is not vouched for historically that the Israelites at an earlier period practised star-worship. Heinrichs connects ἔστρ. with αὐτούς: “convertit animos eorum ab una idololatria ad aliam.” But the expression of divine disfavour is to be retained on account of the correlation with Acts 7:39.

καὶ παρέδ. αὐτοὺς λατρ.] and gave them up to serve (an explanatory infinitive). The falling away into star-worship (στρατ. τ. οὐρανοῦ = צְבָא הַשָּׁמַיִם, in which, from the worshipper’s point of view, the sun, moon, and stars are conceived as living beings) is apprehended as wrought by an angry God by way of punishment for that bull-worship, according to the idea of sin being punished by sin. The assertion, often repeated since the time of Chrysostom and Theophylact, that only the divine permission or the withdrawal of grace is here denoted, is at variance with the positive expression and the true biblical conception of divine retribution. See on Romans 1:24. Self-surrender (Ephesians 4:19) is the correlative moral factor on the part of man.

μὴ σφάγια κ.τ.λ.] Amos 5:25-27, freely after the LXX. Ye have not surely presented unto me sacrifices and offerings (offerings of any kind) for forty years in the wilderness? The question supposes a negative answer; therefore without an interrogation the meaning is: Ye cannot maintain that ye have offered … to me. The apparent contradiction with the accounts of offerings, which were actually presented to Jehovah in the desert (Exodus 24:4 ff.; Numbers 7; Numbers 9:1 ff.) disappears, when the prophetic utterance, understood by Stephen as a reproach,[207] is considered as a sternly and sharply significant divine verdict, according to which the ritual offerings in the desert, which were rare and only occurred on special occasions (comp. already Lyra), could not be taken at all into consideration against the idolatrous aberrations which testified the moral worthlessness of those offerings. Usually (as by Morus, Rosenmüller, Heinrichs, Olshausen, similarly Kuinoel) μοι is considered as equivalent to mihi soli. But this is incorrect on account of the enclitic pronoun and its position, and on account of the arbitrarily intruded μόνον. Fritzsche (ad Marc. p. 65 f.) puts the note of interrogation only after προσκυνεῖν αὐτοῖς, Acts 7:43 : “Sacrane et victimas per XL annos in deserto mihi obtulistis, et in pompa tulistis aedem Molochi etc.?” In this way God’s displeasure at the unstedfastness of His people would be vividly denoted by the contrast. But this expedient is impossible on account of the μή presupposing a negation. Moreover, it is as foreign to the design of Stephen, who wishes to give a probative passage for the λατρεύειν τῇ στρατιᾷ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, to concede the worship of Jehovah, as it is, on the other hand, in the highest degree accordant with that design to recognise in Acts 7:42 the negative element of his proof (the denial of the rendering of offering to Jehovah), and in Acts 7:43 the positive proof (the direct reproach of star-worship).

[207] According to another view, the period of forty years without offerings appears in the prophet as the “golden age of Israel,” and as a proof how little God cares for such offerings. See Ewald, Proph. in loc.Acts 7:42. ἔστρεψε: properly intransitive. Weiss takes it transitively: God turned them from one idol worship to another; but here probably means that God turned away from them, in the sense that He cared no longer for them as before; so Grimm, sub v.; or that He actually changed so as to be opposed to them; cf. Joshua 24:20, Heb., so Wetstein “Deus se ab iis avertit,” and cf. LXX, Isaiah 63:10.—παρέδωκεν, cf. Romans 1:24, and εἴασε in Acts 14:16; Ephesians 4:19, “gave themselves up”. ἑαυτοὺς παρέδωκαν, from the side of man.—λατρεύειν τῇ στρατιᾷ τοῦ οὐρ., cf. Deuteronomy 17:3, 2 Kings 17:16; 2 Kings 21:3, 2 Chronicles 33:3; 2 Chronicles 33:5, Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 19:13, a still grosser idolatry: “antiquissima idolatria, ceteris speciosior” Bengel. The created host was worshipped in place of Jehovah Sabaoth, “the Lord of Hosts”. The word, though used always in the N.T. of religious service, is sometimes applied to the worship of idols, as well as of the One God; cf. Romans 1:25 (LXX, Exodus 20:5; Exodus 23:24, Ezekiel 20:32), so λατρεία is used of the worship of idols in 1Ma 1:43; see Trench, Synonyms, i., p. 142 ff.—ἐν βίβλῳ τῶν προφ.: here part of the Hebrew Scriptures which the Jews summed up under the title of “the Prophets,” as a separate part, the other two parts being the Law and the Hagiographa (the Psalms, Luke 24:44); or Twelve Minor Prophets which probably formed one book.—Μὴ σφάγια κ.τ.λ.: a quotation from Amos 5:25-27, with little variation—the quotation in Acts 7:42 is really answered by the following verse. The question does not mean literally that no sacrifices were ever offered in the wilderness, which would be directly contrary to such passages as Exodus 24:4, Numbers 7:9. The sacrifices no doubt were offered, but how could they have been real and effectual and acceptable to God while in their hearts the people’s affections were far from Him, and were given to idol deities? μή, expecting a negative answer = num (see Zöckler’s note, in loco).—οἶκος: nominative for vocative, as often, as if in apposition to the ὑμεῖς contained in προσηνέγκατε (Blass). Some emphasise μοι = mihi soli, or suppose with Nösgen that the question is ironical.42. Then God turned] Read, But. Cp. Joshua 24:20, “If ye forsake the Lord and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt.”

and gave them up to worship [serve] the host of heaven] God had previously warned them against this kind of idolatry (Deuteronomy 4:19), but we learn from the records of their historians (2 Kings 17:16) and their prophets (Jeremiah 19:13; Zephaniah 1:5) that the warning was given in vain.

as it is written in the book of the prophets] The Hebrews divided their Scriptures into three sections, the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa (called the Psalms, Luke 24:44), and each of these parts is looked upon as a special and separate book. The Law comprised the five books of Moses. The earlier prophets were the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings: the later prophets were Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the twelve which we now call Minor Prophets. The Hagiographa consisted of the following books in the order here given: Psalms (and the expression of Luke 24:44 will be understood because the Psalms stand first in this section), Proverbs, Job, the Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther (these five last mentioned were called the five rolls, being written on separate rolls for use at special festival and fast services), Daniel, Ezra (Nehemiah), and Chronicles.

O ye house of Israel, have ye offered, &c.] It is more emphatic to keep the order of the Greek. Read, Did ye offer unto me slain beasts and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? The whole passage to the end of Acts 7:43 is a quotation from Amos (Acts 5:25-27). The question in this verse is to be answered in the negative, for in their hearts, though they were sacrificing to Jehovah, they had turned back into Egypt, and such service God counts as no service at all.Acts 7:42. Ἔστρεψε, turned) because our fathers ἐστράφησαν, turned back (from Him towards Egypt): Acts 7:39.—παρέδωκεν, gave them up) often, from the time of their making the calf down to the times of Amos, and subsequently, as the perversity of the people continually increased.—τῇ στρατίᾳ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, the host of heaven) for example, Mars and Saturn. See the foll. ver. The oldest form of idolatry, which looked more plausible than the others.[49] It is called a host or army, on account of its multitude, order, and power.—τῶν προφητῶν, of the prophets) the twelve.—μὴμοι ἔτηἐρήμῳ, ΟἾΚΟς ἸΣΡΑΉΛ;—ῬΕΜΦᾺΝἘΠΟΙΉΣΑΤΕ ΠΡΟΣΚΥΝΕῖΝ ΑὐΤΟῖςἘΠΈΚΕΙΝΑ ΒΑΒΥΛῶΝΟς) Amos 5:25-26, LXX., ΜῊΜΟΙ ΟἾΚΟς ἸΣΡΑῊΛ ἜΤΗἘΡΉΜῼ; ῬΑΙΦᾺΝ (instead of ῬΕΜΦᾺΝ)—ἘΠΟΙΉΣΑΤΕ ἙΑΥΤΟῖςἘΠΈΚΕΙΝΑ ΔΑΜΑΣΚΟῦ (instead of ΒΑΒΥΛῶΝΟς). The prophecy of Amos has two parts: the former of which confirms Acts 7:41, as to the guilt of the people; the latter confirms the beginning of Acts 7:42, as to the judgment of GOD, there being subjoined the mention of their being carried away to Babylon.—ΣΦΆΓΙΑ, slain victims) They had offered these to the Lord; but they had not done so either to Him alone, or at all times, or with a perfect and willing heart.

[49] Called Sabeanism, from Saba, Sabaoth, the heavenly hosts. See Job 31:26-27.—E. and T.Verse 42. - But for then, A.V.; to serve for to worship, A.V.; did ye offer unto me slain beasts and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? for O ye house of Israel, have ye offered, etc., by the space of forty years in the wilderness? A.V. The passage which follows is nearly verbatim et literatim the LXX. of Amos 5:25, 27, except the well-known substitution of "Babylon" for "Damascus" in Amos. This, according to Lightfoot, with whom most commentators agree, was in accordance with a very common practice of readers in the schools and pulpits of the Jews, to adapt and accommodate a text to their own immediate purpose, keeping, however, to historical truth. Here Stephen points to the Babylonish Captivity as the punishment of the sins of their fathers, thus warning them of more terrible judgments to follow their rejection of Christ. To worship (λατρεύειν)

Rev., more correctly, serve, See on Luke 1:74.

The host of heaven

Star-worship, or Sabaeanism, the remnant of the ancient heathenism of Western Asia, which consisted in the worship of the stars, and spread into Syria, though the Chaldaean religion was far from being the simple worship of the host of heaven; the heavenly bodies being regarded as real persons, and not mere metaphorical representations of astronomical phenomena. It is to the Sabaean worship that Job alludes when, in asserting the purity of his life (Job 31:26, Job 31:27), he says: "If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness, and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hands: this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above." Though not a part of the religion of the Egyptians, Rawlinson thinks it may have been connected with their earlier belief, since prayer is represented in hieroglyphics by a man holding up his hands, accompanied by a star (Herodotus, vol. ii., p. 291).

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