Gevurot 8

1 And Rav Sha’ul was giving approval to the murder of Stefanos. And there came about in that day a great pogrom keneged (against) the Brit Chadasha Kehillah in Yerushalayim, and everyone was scattered throughout the regions of Yehudah and Shomron except the Moshiach’s Shlichim.
2 And chasidim came and gave kevurah (burial) to Stefanos and they made loud lamentation over him.
3 But Rav Sha’ul was making havoc of the Moshiach’s Kehillah, barging in bais by bais, dragging off both anashim and nashim, and delivering them over to the beis hasohar.
4 The ones therefore having been scattered went about preaching the dvar Hashem.
5 Now Philippos [Ac 6:5], having gone down to the city of Shomron, was preaching to them the Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach.
6 And the multitudes with one accord were paying attention to the things being said by Philippos, as they heard him and saw the otot which he was accomplishing.
7 For many had ruchot teme’ot coming out, crying out with a kol gadol, and many having been paralyzed and many pisechim (lame ones) were given refu’ah shleimah.
8 And there was great simchah in that city.
9 Now a certain ish by name Shimon was previously in the city practicing magic and astonishing the people of Shomron, saying that he himself was an ish of gadlus (with remarkable superiority) and gadol.
10 And to this certain Shimon everyone from katon to gadol was paying attention, saying, "Hinei! This man is the ko’ach (power) of Hashem, the ko’ach hagadol."
11 And they were giving heed to him, because he for a long time had astonished them by magic tricks.
12 But when they had emunah (faith) in what Philippos preached about the Malchut Hashem and the Shem of Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach Yehoshua, they, both anashim and nashim, were submitting to Moshiach’s tevilah of teshuva.
13 And Shimon himself also had emunah, and, having submitted to Moshiach’s tevilah of teshuva, was following Philippos, and, seeing otot and nifla’ot and moftim hagedolim taking place, he was constantly mishpoyel (standing in awe).
14 And when Moshiach’s Shlichim heard in Yerushalayim that Shomron has accepted the dvar Hashem, they sent Kefa and Yochanan to them,
15 Who, having come down, davened for them that they might receive the Ruach Hakodesh.
16 For the Ruach Hakodesh had not yet fallen upon any one of them, but only they had received a tevilah of teshuva in a mikveh mayim b’Shem Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach Yehoshua Adoneinu.
17 Then Kefa and Yochanan were laying their hands upon them, and they were receiving the Ruach Hakodesh.
18 And when Shimon saw that through the laying on of hands of Moshiach’s Shlichim that the Ruach Hakodesh is given, he brought to them kesef,
19 Saying, "Give me also this samchut that on whomever I may lay my hands such may receive the Ruach Hakodesh."
20 But Kefa said to him, "May your kesef perish with you because the matnat Hashem you thought by kesef to acquire. [2Kg 5:16; Dt 5:17]
21 "There is not to you a chelek (allotted portion) nor share in this matter, for your lev (heart) is krum (deviant) and not upright before Hashem. [Neh 2:20; Ps 78:37]
22 "Therefore make teshuva from your wickedness and daven (pray) to Hashem if efsher (perhaps) you will receive selicha (forgiveness) for the intent of your lev,
23 "For I see you are in bitter gall and the bond of haresha." [Dt 29:18 TARGUM HASHIVIM; Jer 4:18; Isa 58:6]
24 And in reply Shimon said, "Daven for me to Hashem that nothing may come upon me of which you have spoken." [SHEMOT 8:8; BAMIDBAR 21:7; MELACHIM ALEF 13:6; YIRMEYAH 42:2]
25 The ones then having testified and spoken the dvar Adonoi were returning to Yerushalayim and to many villages of the Shomronim preaching the Besuras HaGeulah.
26 And a malach Adonoi spoke to Philippos, saying, "Get up and go south on the derech going down from Yerushalayim to Gaza." This is desert.
27 And having got up, Philippos went. And, hinei, an Ethiopian man, a eunuch, a court official of the Kandake of the Ethiopians! He was over all of her Otzrot (treasury) and had come worshipping to Yerushalayim, [Ps 68:31; 87:4; Zeph 3:10; Isa 56:3-5; 1Kgs 8:41-43]
28 And he was returning and sitting in his chariot and he was reading Yeshayah HaNavi.
29 And the Ruach Hakodesh said to Philippos, "Approach and join this chariot."
30 And having run, Philippos heard him reading Yeshayah HaNavi, and Philippos said, "So do you have binah of what you are reading?"
31 And he said, "How then might I be able, unless someone will guide me?" And he invited Philippos to come up and sit with him.
32 Now the keta (section) of the Tanakh which he was reading was this: KASEH LATEVACH YUVAL ("He [Moshiach] was led as a lamb to the slaughter") and as a Seh (Lamb, YESHAYAH 53:7) before the one having sheared it is silent, LO YIFTACH PIV ("He does not open his mouth").
33 ‘In humiliation his justice was taken away. The descendants of him who will tell? Because he is taken away from HA’ARETZ CHAYYIM.' [Isa 53:7,8; 57:7f TARGUM HASHIVIM]
34 And in reply the eunuch said to Philippos, "I ask you about whom the Navi (prophet) says this? About himself or about some other person?"
35 And having opened his mouth, and beginning from this keta (section) of the Kitvei Hakodesh, Philippos began to preach and fier ois (elucidate) Yehoshua/Yeshua to him.
36 And as they were going along the derech, they came upon some mayim and the eunuch says, "Hinei, mayim! What prevents me from being given Moshiach’s tevilah of teshuva in the mikveh mayim?"
37 [And Philippos said, “If you have emunah b’chol levavcha, it is mutar. And he answered, saying, Ani ma’amin ki Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach Yehoshua Ben HaElohim hu.]
38 And he commanded the chariot to stop and both went down into the mikveh mayim, both Philippos and the eunuch, and Philippos gave him Moshiach’s tevilah of teshuva in the mikveh mayim.
39 And when they came up from the mikveh mayim, the Ruach Hakodesh of Hashem took Philippos away, and the eunuch did not see him any longer, but was going on his way with lev same’ach. [1Kgs 18:12; 2Kgs 2:16; Ezek 3:12,14; 8:3; 11:1,24; 43:5]
40 But Philippos was found in Ashdod, and passing through, he was preaching the Besuras HaGeulah to all the towns until he came to

Gevurot 8 Commentary

Chapter 8

Saul persecutes the church. (1-4) Philip's success at Samaria. Simon the sorcerer baptized. (5-13) The hypocrisy of Simon detected. (14-25) Philip and the Ethiopian. (26-40)

Verses 1-4 Though persecution must not drive us from our work, yet it may send us to work elsewhere. Wherever the established believer is driven, he carries the knowledge of the gospel, and makes known the preciousness of Christ in every place. Where a simple desire of doing good influences the heart, it will be found impossible to shut a man out from all opportunities of usefulness.

Verses 5-13 As far as the gospel prevails, evil spirits are dislodged, particularly unclean spirits. All inclinations to the lusts of the flesh which war against the soul are such. Distempers are here named, the most difficult to be cured by the course of nature, and most expressive of the disease of sin. Pride, ambition, and desire after grandeur have always caused abundance of mischief, both to the world and to the church. The people said of Simon, This man is the great power of God. See how ignorant and thoughtless people mistake. But how strong is the power of Divine grace, by which they were brought to Christ, who is Truth itself! The people not only gave heed to what Philip said, but were fully convinced that it was of God, and not of men, and gave up themselves to be directed thereby. Even bad men, and those whose hearts still go after covetousness, may come before God as his people come, and for a time continue with them. And many wonder at the proofs of Divine truths, who never experience their power. The gospel preached may have a common operation upon a soul, where it never produced inward holiness. All are not savingly converted who profess to believe the gospel.

Verses 14-25 The Holy Ghost was as yet fallen upon none of these coverts, in the extraordinary powers conveyed by the descent of the Spirit upon the day of Pentecost. We may take encouragement from this example, in praying to God to give the renewing graces of the Holy Ghost to all for whose spiritual welfare we are concerned; for that includes all blessings. No man can give the Holy Spirit by the laying on of his hands; but we should use our best endeavours to instruct those for whom we pray. Simon Magus was ambitious to have the honour of an apostle, but cared not at all to have the spirit and disposition of a Christian. He was more desirous to gain honour to himself, than to do good to others. Peter shows him his crime. He esteemed the wealth of this world, as if it would answer for things relating to the other life, and would purchase the pardon of sin, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and eternal life. This was such a condemning error as could by no means consist with a state of grace. Our hearts are what they are in the sight of God, who cannot be deceived. And if they are not right in his sight, our religion is vain, and will stand us in no stead. A proud and covetous heart cannot be right with God. It is possible for a man to continue under the power of sin, yet to put on a form of godliness. When tempted with money to do evil, see what a perishing thing money is, and scorn it. Think not that Christianity is a trade to live by in this world. There is much wickedness in the thought of the heart, its false notions, and corrupt affections, and wicked projects, which must be repented of, or we are undone. But it shall be forgiven, upon our repentance. The doubt here is of the sincerity of Simon's repentance, not of his pardon, if his repentance was sincere. Grant us, Lord, another sort of faith than that which made Simon wonder only, and did not sanctify his heart. May we abhor all thoughts of making religion serve the purposes of pride or ambition. And keep us from that subtle poison of spiritual pride, which seeks glory to itself even from humility. May we seek only the honour which cometh from God.

Verses 26-40 Philip was directed to go to a desert. Sometimes God opens a door of opportunity to his ministers in very unlikely places. We should study to do good to those we come into company with by travelling. We should not be so shy of all strangers as some affect to be. As to those of whom we know nothing else, we know this, that they have souls. It is wisdom for men of business to redeem time for holy duties; to fill up every minute with something which will turn to a good account. In reading the word of God, we should often pause, to inquire of whom and of what the sacred writers spake; but especially our thoughts should be employed about the Redeemer. The Ethiopian was convinced by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, of the exact fulfilment of the Scripture, was made to understand the nature of the Messiah's kingdom and salvation, and desired to be numbered among the disciples of Christ. Those who seek the truth, and employ their time in searching the Scriptures, will be sure to reap advantages. The avowal of the Ethiopian must be understood as expressing simple reliance on Christ for salvation, and unreserved devotion to Him. Let us not be satisfied till we get faith, as the Ethiopian did, by diligent study of the Holy Scriptures, and the teaching of the Spirit of God; let us not be satisfied till we get it fixed as a principle in our hearts. As soon as he was baptized, the Spirit of God took Philip from him, so that he saw him no more; but this tended to confirm his faith. When the inquirer after salvation becomes acquainted with Jesus and his gospel, he will go on his way rejoicing, and will fill up his station in society, and discharge his duties, from other motives, and in another manner than heretofore. Though baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, with water, it is not enough without the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Lord, grant this to every one of us; then shall we go on our way rejoicing.

Gevurot 8 Commentaries