Elymas

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Elymas the Sorcerer is struck blind before Sergius Paulus. Painting by Raphael from the Raphael Cartoons.

Elymas, also known as Bar-Jesus (arc. Bar-Shuma, lat. Bariesu), is a Jewish person in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 13,[1] in the New Testament. Acts of the Apostles calls him a magus, which the King James Bible here translates as "sorcerer". He is represented as opposing the missionary Paul of Tarsus, who is called at this point for the first time with his Roman name, and Barnabas in the city of Paphos on Cyprus, when Sergius Paulus, the Roman Proconsul, wishes to hear Paul and Barnabas speak about Jesus. Because of this opposition, Paul claims that God had decided to make him temporarily blind. A cloud of darkness immediately begins blocking his sight;[2] after this Sergius Paulus is converted to Christianity.[3]

We are not aware of Elymas’ intensions for Sergius, only that he was desperate to keep him from receiving the word about Jesus. Perhaps he had the proconsul’s ear and was his advisor on matters of faith. This would make sense as Sergius is obviously learned about Jewish teachings and Elymas is Jewish. The message Paul and Barnabas bring threatens the false-prophet’s usefulness to the islands most powerful administrator.

Interestingly, Bar-Jesus received the same curse that Paul himself did: temporary blindness.[4] It is clear from the passage that Bar-Jesus had the ear of the proconsul and was well known throughout the region. He was a self-proclaimed prophet of God who no doubt used his magician’s tricks to convince the people he was from God. What would happen to him should his deceit and treachery become known? The Holy Spirit, through Paul, exposed him for who he was, a son of the devil (Ben-Belial in Hebrew) rather than a servant of God.

Name[edit]

Elymas means "Wise" in Arabic, while Bar-Shuma' literally means "son of Shuma" in Aramaic. Bar-Jesus means "Son of Joshua" or "Son of Yeshua" in Hebrew.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Acts 13
  2. ^ "Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand;" Acts 13:11
  3. ^ "When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord."Acts 13:12
  4. ^ Acts 9:8

sorcerer