and compelled them to blaspheme;
the Lord Jesus Christ, both to deny him to be the Messiah, and to call him accursed; as the Jews and Heathens obliged some professors of Christianity to do, who were only nominal ones, and had not grace and strength to stand against their threatenings, and to endure their persecutions:
and being exceeding mad against them;
full of malice, envy, and hatred:
I persecuted them even to strange cities;
particularly Damascus; and of his journey thither, he gives an account in the following verse; or through the violence of his persecution he obliged them to fly to strange cities, where they were foreigners and strangers; though he himself might not follow them there, since we do not read of his going anywhere but to Damascus; whereas they that were scattered by the persecution, in which he was concerned, travelled as far as Phenice, Cyprus, and Antioch, ( Acts 9:19 ) . The phrase may be rendered, "even to cities without"; i.e. without the land of Israel: frequent mention is made in Jewish writings of such and such cities being (Ural huwx) , "without the land".