850. Town Clerk Diana of Ephesus

Acts 19:35  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 11
Acts 19:3535And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? (Acts 19:35). When the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshiper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?
1. The grammateus, scribe, or “townclerk,” as the word is here rendered, seems to have been charged with duties of a higher order than those of the ordinary scribes among the Greeks. It is supposed that, under the Roman rule in Asia Minor, the work of the scribes was not limited to recording the laws and reading them in public. They presided over popular assemblies, and sometimes legally assumed the functions of magistrates. The title is preserved on ancient coins and marbles, and the scribes were evidently regarded as governors of cities or districts.
2. While the Diana of the Romans corresponded to the Artemis of the Greeks, this Ephesian Diana or Artemis was a totally distinct divinity of Asiatic origin. Her worship was found by the Greeks in Ionia when they settled there, and to her they gave the name of Artemis. There was in many respects a resemblance between the Ephesian Artemis and the Syrian Astarte. See note on 1 Kings 11:55For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. (1 Kings 11:5) (#304). Her worship extended over a vast region, and cities vied with each other for the honor of being called neokoron, sweeper, or keeper, of the temple; “worshiper” in the text. The original Ephesian image was said to have fallen from heaven, as was also asserted of images of other deities in other cities. This has given rise to the opinion that this and similar images were aerolites, and were worshiped according to the ancient superstition which gave sanctity and divinity to certain stones. See note on Isaiah 57:66Among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion; they, they are thy lot: even to them hast thou poured a drink offering, thou hast offered a meat offering. Should I receive comfort in these? (Isaiah 57:6) (#527). Ancient authorities, however, assert that the Ephesian Artemis was of wood, some say of ebony, others of vine-wood. Whatever the material, the figure was very coarse and rude. The later image of the Ephesian goddess was elaborately made, and was covered with carefully-wrought symbols and mystic figures. See note on verse 19 (#845).
The following is the description given of this statue by Mr. Falkener (Ephesus, pp. 290-291): “The circle round her head denotes the nimbus of her glory, the griffins inside of which express its brilliancy. In her breast are the twelve signs of the zodiac, of which those seen in front are the ram, bull, twins, crab, and lion; they are divided by the hours. Her necklace is composed of acorns, the primeval food of man. Lions are on her arms to denote her power, and her hands are stretched out to show that she is ready to receive all who come to her. Her body is covered with various beasts and monsters, as sirens, sphinxes, and griffins, to show she is the source of nature, the mother of all things. Her head, hands, and feet are of bronze, while the rest of the statue is of alabaster, to denote the ever-varying light and shade of the moon’s figure.... Like Rhea, she was crowned with turrets, to denote her dominion over terrestrial objects” (Fairbairn, Imperial Bible Dictionary).