Did You Know?
Was it of some special significance that the apostle Peter is mentioned as having lodged with a tanner before being told to go to Cornelius?
▪ The account in Acts says that Peter stayed “for quite a few days . . . in Joppa with a certain Simon, a tanner,” who had “a house by the sea.” (Acts 9:43; 10:6) The work of a tanner was considered unclean and demeaning from a Jewish perspective. The Talmud put tanners on a level below dung collectors. Simon’s work brought him into regular contact with the dead bodies of animals, meaning that he would be in a constant state of ceremonial impurity. (Leviticus 5:2; 11:39) According to different sources on the subject, Simon may well have used seawater in his work, and his workshop was likely located on the outskirts of the town because tanning was “a malodorous process.”
Despite this, Peter evidently had no objection to lodging with Simon. This shows that perhaps Peter had learned to reject prevailing Jewish prejudices toward people considered impure, just as Jesus had rejected such prejudices before him.—Matthew 9:11; Luke 7:36-50.
What is the meaning of Jesus’ words “you yourself said it”?
▪ When charged by Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest, to declare openly whether he was Christ, the Son of God, Jesus answered: “You yourself said it.” (Matthew 26:63, 64) What did he mean?
Jesus was not trying to evade Caiaphas’ question. The expression “you yourself said it” was apparently a common Jewish idiom affirming that a statement was true. For example, the Jerusalem Talmud, a Jewish religious work compiled in the fourth century C.E., tells of a Jewish man who when asked if a rabbi had died, replied: “You said it.” This was taken as confirmation that the rabbi was, in fact, dead.
Jesus recognized the high priest’s authority to put him under oath to state the facts. Moreover, to remain silent could have been construed as a denial that Jesus was the Christ. So Jesus’ response: “You yourself said it” was an affirmative reply to the high priest. In Mark’s parallel account, when directly challenged by Caiaphas to reveal if He was the Messiah, Jesus courageously replied: “I am.”—Mark 14:62; see also Matthew 26:25 and Mark 15:2.
[Picture on page 18]
A tannery in Fez, Morocco