And it came to pass that the father of Publius
So that Publius was not an old man, though of so much dignity and wealth: the Arabic version, contrary to all copies, and other versions, reads, "the son of Publius":
lay sick of a fever;
or fevers, of different sorts, a complication of them, which sometimes is the case; unless this was an intermitting fever, and the several fits of it are intended; or rather the plural number is put for the singular, to denote the vehemence of it, and which was attended with another disorder, and might be brought on by it:
and of a bloody flux;
or dysentery, a pain of the bowels, as the Syriac version renders it; or an ulceration of the bowels, as the Arabic version; which occasioned a discharge of blood, so that his case was very threatening. This disease, according to modern writers F25, is attended with a fever. The word "dysentery" here used properly signifies that kind of flux of the belly, characterized by the frequency of stools, or dejections, mixed with blood, and accompanied with gripes: the fever, ulcer which attend it, are not essential to the disease; though many both of the ancients and moderns think the ulcer is.--There are three kinds of "dysenteries"; the "first" when a laudable blood is evacuated from a mere plethora, or plenitude, without any disorder of the intestines, as in the haemorrhoidal flux; the "second" when a thin watery blood is evacuated, called the "hepatic" flux, though really arising from haemorrhoidal vessels; the "third" kind, which is that that is properly called the dysentery, is when blood is cast out, mixed with a purulent matter in the excrements: this is either "benign", i.e. without a fever, and not contagious; or "malignant", which is attended with a pestilential fever, and frequently ravages whole cities and provinces, happening most commonly in armies; in the last stage, a sort of caruncles are frequently ejected along with the purulent matter, which are difficult to be accounted for, unless from an excoriation and ulceration of the intestines: sometimes the intestines are even gangrened: this seems to have been the case of the father of Publius, which makes the following cure the more remarkable:
to whom Paul entered in;
into the room where he was, no doubt with the consent and leave, if not at the request of Publius; the Ethiopic version adds, "and he entreated him to put his hand upon him"; that is, either Publius asked this favour of the apostle for his father, having heard of the affair of the viper, from whence he concluded there was something divine and extraordinary in him; or the father of Publius asked this for himself:
and prayed and laid his hands on him, and healed him;
when Paul had entered the room, and found in what a bad condition the sick man was, he either kneeled down and prayed by him, or stood and prayed over him, and for him, that God would restore him to his health; and this he did, to let them know that he himself was not a god; and that the cure that would now be wrought would be from God, and not from himself, and therefore all the glory should be given to God; and he laid his hands on him, as a sign or symbol, or rite that was used in extraordinary cases, and agreeably to the direction and promise of Christ, ( Mark 16:18 ) ; and upon this a cure followed; both the diseases left him at once, and he was restored to health.
F25 See Chambers's Cyclopaedia in the word "Dysentery".