And found a certain Jew named Aquila
This seems to have been his Roman name, which he had took, or was given him, while he was at Rome; very likely his Jewish name was (dvn) , "Nesher", which signifies an eagle, as "Aquila" does: unless it should rather be thought to be a Greek name; and as "Olympas" is from "Olympios", and "Nymphas" from Nymphios"; so "Akilas", as it in the Greek text, from Akylios", and this from (akulov) , "Akylos", which signifies an acorn. There was a Jewish proselyte of this name, who translated the Bible into Greek, who is called by the Jewish writers (olyqe) , "Akilas" F1; and Eusebius F2 calls him (akulav o pontikov) , or "Akylas" or "Aquila" of Pontus, as here, but cannot be the same; for one was a Jew, the other a Gentile, then a Christian, and afterwards a Jewish proselyte, and lived after the destruction of Jerusalem many years, even in the times of Adrian: nor is it the same name with Onkelos, the famous Chaldee paraphrast, as some have thought, and much less the same person; for though their age better agrees, yet neither their name, nor their nation; for Onkelos was only a proselyte, not a Jew, as this man was; and the agreement the names of these proselytes may be thought to have with this, does but confirm it to be a Roman name; and in a decree of Claudius the Roman emperor, mention is made of Akylas, or Aquila, a Roman governor of Alexandria F3: and in the reign of Caius Caligula, there was a consul of Rome whose name was M. Aquila Julianus. This is said to be afterwards bishop of Heraclea; but that is not to be depended upon:
born in Pontus; a country in Asia; (See Gill on Acts 2:9) where many Jews lived; though he was born in an Heathen country, his parents were Jews:
lately come from Italy;
a famous and well known country in Europe: (See Gill on Hebrews 13:24).
because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome;
of which edict Suetonius F4 makes mention, who says, that Claudius
``expelled the Jews from Rome, who were continually making tumults, being moved thereunto by one Chrestus,''who is generally understood to be Christ; and it is thought that the reason of this edict was, that the Jews in Rome continually opposing and disputing with the Christians, about Jesus being the Messiah, Claudius, who was of a timorous disposition, was afraid of a tumult, and that it might issue in his detriment, and therefore banished all the Jews, with whom the Christians were involved; for by the Heathens they were all called Jews, the first Christians being Jews: though others say the reason was, that the Jews had contracted an acquaintance with Agrippina, the wife of Claudius, and had drawn her into Judaism: but be it as it will, such an edict was made, on account of which Aquila and Priscilla were obliged to leave Rome, and come to Corinth. It must be something that was very provoking to him, otherwise before he had shown much favour to the Jews; for he not only granted to the Jews at Alexandria, that they should continue in the observance of their laws and customs, but permitted the same to them in all parts of the empire, by a special decree, which runs thus F5;
``Tiberius Claudius Caesar decrees, seeing the Kings Agrippa and Herod, my dearest friends, have entreated me that I would suffer the Jews in every government under the Romans, to observe their laws as in Alexandria; I most willingly grant it, not only for the sake of gratifying those who ask it, but judging that those are worthy, for whom it is asked, because of their faithfulness and friendship to the Romans; especially accounting it most just that no Grecian city should be deprived of these rights, seeing they were kept for them by the divine Augustus; wherefore it is right also that the Jews throughout all our empire should observe the customs of their country without any hinderance, whom I now command that in love to us they would behave more moderately, and not despise the religion of other nations, but keep their own laws; and I will that governors of cities, and colonies, and freedoms, both in Italy and without, have this my edict transcribed, and also kings and princes by their ambassadors, and that it be put in such a place in less than thirty days, from whence it may be plainly read.''This Claudius was the "fifth" emperor of Rome; and this decree passed in the "ninth", or, as others, in the "eleventh" year of his reign, and about the year of Christ 51, or, as others, 54.
And came unto them:
that is, the apostle, having found out Aquila and Priscilla, he came and visited them, and took up his lodging with them.
F1 Ganz Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 28. 2.
F2 Eccl. Hist. l. 5. c. 8.
F3 Joseph. Antiqu. l. 19. c. 5. sect. 2.
F4 In Vita. Cluadii, c. 25.
F5 Joseph. ib. sect. 3.