Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites
These are the words of the men continued, and not of the historian, as appears from ( Acts 2:10 ) and so the Arabic version reads, "of us Persians, Parthians, and Medes"; that is, we hear them speak in the language of everyone of us: the order in this version is inverted, otherwise the same persons are intended; for the Elamites and Persians are the same: by the Parthians are meant, Jews that were born in Parthia, and had dwelt there, and who spoke the language of that country; and that there were Jews, in those parts, is clear from Josephus F26, who speaks of them together with the Jews of other nations. Many of the Parthian Jews were afterwards converted to the Christian faith; to whom the Apostle John is thought, by some, to have written his first epistle; and which, by some of the ancients, is called the epistle to the Parthians. The kingdom of Parthia, according to Pliny F1, Ptolomy F2, and Solinus F3, had Media on the west, Hyrcania on the north, Aria, or Ariana, on the east, and the desert of Carmania on the south; the metropolis of it was Hecatompylos, so called from the hundred gates that belonged to it; and which, it is thought, stood on the same spot of ground that Ispahan does now, the seat of the Sophies of Persia. And by the Medes are intended the Jews that were natives of Media: so called from "Madai", one of the sons of Japhet, ( Genesis 10:2 ) and this, according to Ptolomy F4, has on the north the Hyrcanian, or Gasptan sea, on the west Armenia Major and Assyria, and on the east Hyrcania and Parthia, and on the south Parthia. The Elamites are so called, from Elam the son of Shem, ( Genesis 10:22 ) and these, according to Josephus F5, were the founders of the Persians, or from whom they sprung; and so we find Elam and Media, and the kings of Elam, and the kings of the Medes, mentioned together in Scripture, ( Isaiah 21:2 ) ( Jeremiah 25:25 ) . And certain it is, that Elam was at least a part of the empire of Persia, in Daniel's time; for Shushan, where the kings of Persia then kept their palace, was in the province of Elam, ( Daniel 8:2 ) and it is evident, that hither the Jews were carried captive, ( Isaiah 11:11 ) ( Jeremiah 49:34-39 ) . So that there might be some remaining in those parts, that were their descendants; and from hence also were people brought by Asnapper, into the cities of Samaria, to supply the room of those who were carried captive, and are called Elamites, ( Ezra 4:9 ) And that there were Elamite Jews, may be concluded from the writings of the Jews; for so they say F6, that
``the Hagiographa, or holy writings, which were written in the Coptic, Median, Hebrew, (tymlye) , "Elamite", and Greek tongues; though they did not read in them (on the sabbath day in time of service) they delivered them from the fire,''when in danger of being burned: so the Megilla, or book of Esther, might not be read in the Coptic, Hebrew, Elamite, Median, and Greek languages; but it might be read in Coptic to Coptites, in Hebrew to Hebrews, (Mymlyel tymlye) , in "Elamite" to the "Elamites", and in Greek to the Greeks F7; and such sort of Jews as the Elamite ones, were these in the text: the Syriac version reads Elanites; and so R. Benjamin in his Itinerary F8, makes mention of a country called, (hynla) , "Alania", and of a people called, (Nala) , "Alan"; and whom he speaks of in company with Babylon, Persia, Choresan, Sheba, and Mesopotamia; and may intend the same people as here: now these Parthian, Median, and Elamite Jews were such who descended from the captives of the ten tribes, carried away by Shalmaneser king of Assyria, whom he placed in Halah and Habor, and in the cities of the Medes, ( 2 Kings 17:6 ) ( 18:11 ) . But besides these, there were also at Jerusalem, at this time, those who are next mentioned:
and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and
Pontus and Asia;
who came not quite so far off as the former: Mesopotamia is the same with what is called in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, Aram Naharaim, or Syria between the two rivers; that is, Tigris and Euphrates; the former was on the east of it, and the latter on the west, and Babylon was on the south, and Caucasus on the north; and so the Greek word Mesopotamia signifies a place between two rivers; see ( Genesis 24:10 ) ( Deuteronomy 23:4 ) ( Judges 3:8 Judges 3:10 ) ( 1 Chronicles 19:6 ) . And the Jews have adopted it into their own language, calling it, (aymjwpom) , "Mesopotamia" F9; and the same name obtains with other writers F11, and it has since been called Azania and Halopin; it belonged to that part of Assyria, called Chaldea; and these Mesopotamian Jews were the remains of those who were carried captive by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon; and though the Chaldean, or Syriac language was now spoken by the Jews, yet in a different manner than it was in Chaldea and Syria: and there were also the dwellers in Judea; by which is meant, that part of the land of Israel, which was distinct from Galilee, and where they used a different dialect from the Galilean Jews; and there were others, who were born, and had lived in Cappadocia. This was a country in Asia, in which were many famous cities; as Archalais, where Claudius Caesar put a Roman colony; and Neo Caesarea (the birth place of Gregory Thaumaturgus); and Melita, built by Semiramis; and Mazaca F12, which was the chief city; and so called from Meshech, the son of Japhet, since called Caesarea. The inhabitants of this country, Herodotus says F13,
``were by the Greeks called Syrians, and they were Syrians; and before the Persians had the government, they were subject to the Medea, and then to Cyrus.''And by Pliny F14 they are called, Leucosyrians. This country, according to Ptolomy F15, had Galatia, and part of Pamphylia on the west, and on the south Cilicia, and part of Syria, and on the east Armenia the great, and on the north, part of the Euxine Pontus; it is now called Amasia, or Almasin: here were many Jews scattered abroad, some of which were afterwards believers in Christ, to whom Peter sent his epistles, ( 1 Peter 1:1 ) . It had its former name from the river Cappadox, which, as Pliny F16 says, divided the Galatians and Leucosyrians, and this indeed is the reason of its name; in the Syriac language it is called, (Kdpq) , "Capdac", which comes from (dpq) ; which signifies to "cut off", or "divide", as this river did the above people from one another; and hence the country was called Cappadocia, and the inhabitants Cappadocians: in the Jewish writings it is called, (ayqjwpq) , Capotakia; and which Maimonides F17 says, is the same with Caphtor; and in the Arabic language, is called Tamiati; and so Caphtor is rendered Cappadocia, and the Caphtorim Cappadocians, in the Targums of Onkelos, Jonathan, and Jerusalem, in ( Genesis 10:14 ) ( Deuteronomy 2:23 ) ( Jeremiah 47:4 ) ( Amos 9:7 ) and so in the Septuagint version of ( Deuteronomy 2:23 ) ( Amos 9:7 ) . This country was near the land of Israel, and in it dwelt many Jews; they had schools of learning here, and had traditions peculiarly relating to it: as for instance,
``if a man married a wife in the land of Israel, and divorced her in Cappadocia, he must give her (her dowry) of the money of the land of Israel; and if he marries a wife in Cappadocia, and divorces her in the land of Israel, he may give her of the money of the land of Israel; Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel says, he must give her of the money of Cappadocia F18;''for it seems the Cappadocian money was larger, and weighed more than that in the land of Israel: however,
``if a man marries a wife in Cappadocia, and divorces her in Cappadocia, he must give her of the money of Cappadocia.''And so R. Akiba speaks F19 of one, that he saw shipwrecked at sea; and when, says he, I came to the province of Cappadocia, he came and sat, and judged before me in the constitutions and traditions of the elders: from whence it is manifest, that here were people of the Jewish nation that dwelt in this country, and so at this time. As also in Pontus; hence the first epistle of Peter is sometimes called the epistle to the Pontians; that is, to the Jews of Pontus, then become Christians; Pontus was a country in lesser Asia, and according to Ptolomy F20, it had on the west the mouth of Pontus, and the Thracian Bosphorus, and part of Propontis, on the north, part of the Euxine sea, and on the south the country which is properly called Asia, and on the east Galatia by Paphlagonia; it was the birth place of Marcion the heretic, of which Tertullian gives a most dismal account F21: Asia here intends, neither Asia the greater, nor the less, but Asia properly so called; which had Lycia and Phrygia on the east, the Aegean shores on the west, the Egyptian sea on the south, and Paphlagonia on the north F23; in which were Ephesus the chief city, and Smyrna and Pergamus, and where were many Jews; these might be the remains of those that were carried captive, and dispersed by Ptolomy Lagus; those who dwelt in the three last places spoke the Greek language.
F26 Prooem. ad Lib. de Bello Jud. sect. 2. & l. 2. c. 16.
F1 Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 15, 25.
F2 Geograph. l. 6. c. 5.
F3 Polyhistor. c. 69.
F4 Geograph. l. 6. c. 2.
F5 Antiqu. l. 1. c. 6. sect. 4.
F6 T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 115. 1.
F7 T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 18. 1.
F8 P. 73.
F9 Bereshit Rabba, sect. 30. fol. 25. 1. & sect. 44. fol. 38. 3.
F11 Plin. l. 5. c. 12, 26. & 6. 26, 27. Ptolom. l. 5. c. 18.
F12 Solin. Polyhistor. c. 57.
F13 L. 1. c. 72.
F14 L. 6. c. 3.
F15 L. 5. c. 6.
F16 Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 3.
F17 In Misn. Cetubot, c. 13. sect. 11. & Bartenora in ib.
F18 Misn. Cetubot, c. 13. sect. 11. T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 110, 2.
F19 T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 121. 1.
F20 L. 5. c. 1.
F21 Adv. Marcion. l. 1. c. 1.
F23 Solinus, ib. c. 53.