20 Now Herod had been very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; but they came to him with one accord, and having made Blastus the king’s personal aide their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was supplied with food by the king’s country.
21 So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them.
22 And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!”
23 Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.
24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.
25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.
Tyre (v.20) — An ancient Phoenician town, about halfway between Sidon and Acre, built partly on the mainland and partly on an island which lay half a mile off the coast. Affording excellent shelter for shipping, it was the most famous port of the ancient world, the island containing two harbors well protected by breakwaters. Alexander the Great was occupied seven months in reducing it; and, after various vicissitudes, it passed into Roman hands.
Sidon (v.20) — About twenty miles north of Tyre. A natural breakwater, in the shape of a rocky reef, rendered it a capital harbor. It rivaled Tyre as a center of merchandise and, at times, surpassed it. Like Tyre, it fell to Alexander; and, later, to the Romans. Herod is known to have favored Berytus, a maritime port twenty miles north of Sidon, and this may possibly have been the bone of contention between them. — The Acts of the Apostles, by Thomas Walker, page 272.
Blastus (v.20) — a Roman name. He was probably “befriended” with a bribe
chamberlain (v.20) — in charge of the king’s bedchambers
their country was supplied with food (v.20) — Phoenicia was a narrow strip of land along the coast, part of the Roman province of Syria and not under Herod’s jurisdiction. It was dependent on Galilee for wheat (1 Kings 5:9-11; Ezra 3:7).
Josephus, the Jewish historian, informs us that [Herod’s] garment was made of the brightest silver, which, with the sunlight falling upon it, dazzled the eyes of the multitude. He sat on his throne, the bema, or judgment seat. Then he made an oration, most likely announcing to the ambassadors of Tyre and Sidon that he was now reconciled. The scene must have been a brilliant one. The people were carried away by the magnificent spectacle and flattering oration of the king, and cried out, “it is the voice of a god and not of a man.” No doubt the aim of Herod was this very acclamation. He had planned it all. The zenith of his glory seemed reached. Monarchs were then deified, and Augustus, the emperor, was also worshiped. He gave not the glory to God, but usurped His glory, and the result was a sudden judgment.
What happened to Herod is mentioned by Josephus. He, however, tries to shield the king, though he speaks of Herod’s wickedness. He says that sudden pains attacked him, which were produced by the sight of an owl, a bird he dreaded, and which was seen sitting on one of the ropes of the awning of the theater. The Word of God gives us the true account. It was an angel of the Lord that smote him, and he was eaten of worms. A most awful and loathsome disease took hold of him, and literally he was eaten, after a few days, of worms. “He was seized with violent internal pains, and carried to his palace. There he lingered five days in extreme agony; being eaten of worms, the cause of his intestine disorder.” — The Acts of the Apostles, by Arno C. Gaebelein, page 227
throne (v.21) — the royal dais set up in the theater where the king presided over the proceedings.
After Herod’s death (in A.D. 44), Palestine was ruled directly by Rome.
Barnabas and Saul returned (v.25) — probably in A.D. 46 or 47.