Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city,
&c.] Not that the priest was before the city, but Jupiter; and the phrase denotes either his presidency over the city, and so the Arabic version renders it, "who was the chief god of their city"; or the place where his image stood, which was out of the city, and so may be said to be before it; accordingly the Syriac version renders it, "who was without the city"; he who officiated as priest to him:
brought oxen and garlands unto the gates;
either "of the city", as the Arabic and Ethiopic versions add, where was the statue of Jupiter; or else, and which is most likely, he brought them to the gates of the house, where Paul and Barnabas were; and to this sense the Syriac version renders it, "to the door of the dwelling place where they abode": what the oxen were brought for is easy to conceive, had it not been expressed; but for what should garlands or crowns be brought? These were used in sacrifices, for different purposes; sometimes they crowned the gods F20, to whom they sacrificed, and these might be brought to be put upon the heads of Paul and Barnabas; and sometimes the priests wore them F21, and which seems to be in imitation of the mitre, wore by the high priest among the Jews; and sometimes even those who came to sacrifice, and implore the assistance of their deities, wore them F23; likewise the altars on which they offered sacrifice were crowned with these garlands F24; and the sacrifices themselves, and which last seems to be the case here: the garlands were brought to be put upon the oxen; and these were for the most part made of cypress; sometimes of the pine tree, and sometimes of other leaves and flowers, such as were peculiar to the gods F25: and there was something like this among the Jews, at the offerings of their first fruits, which were done in this manner F26;
``they that were nearest (to Jerusalem) brought green figs and grapes; and they that were more remote brought dried figs and raisins; and an ox went before them, whose horns were covered with gold, (tyz lv trjew) , "and a crown of olives" on his head; a pipe sounded before them, till they came near to Jerusalem, and then they sent some before them, who "crowned" their first fruits.''And would have done sacrifice with the people;
that is, the priest and the people with him, would have offered sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas, as to two deities; and the Syriac and Ethiopic versions add, "to them"; to both the apostles, with which agrees the Arabic version.
F20 Baruch vi. 9. Justin. Apolog. 2. p. 57. Tertull. de Corona, c. 10. Alex. ab. Alex. Gen. dier. l. 4. c. 17.
F21 Tertull. de Idolatria, c. 18. Alex. ab. Alex. ib. Paschalius de Coronis. l. 4. c. 13.
F23 Paschal. ib.
F24 Ovid de Tristibus, l. 3. eleg. 13.
F25 Paschal. ib. c. 16.
F26 Misn. Biccurim, c. 3. sect. 3.