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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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Samos is one of the fairest and most fertile islands of the aegean, 27 miles long from E. to W. and 14 miles at its greatest breadth, separated from the mainland by the strait of Mycale (the Little Boghaz), seven stadia in width, in which the Greek fleet gained a great victory over the Persians in 479 b.c. The island attained its highest prosperity in the days of Polycrates, and held for a time the naval supremacy of the aegean. It was the birthplace of Pythagoras, and a Samian mariner, ‘not without divine direction’ (Herod. iv. 152), was the first to sail beyond the Pillars of Hercules. Its chief city, also called Samos, was a libera civitas in St. Paul’s time. Situated in the S.E. of the island, it had the largest temple Herodotus ever saw (iii. 60), and disputed with Smyrna and Ephesus the title ‘first city of Ionia.’ There were many Jews in the island (1 Maccabees 15:23), which was visited by Herod in a.d. 14 (Jos. Ant. XVI. ii. 2).

In a voyage down the aegean the ship in which St. Paul was sailing left Chios on a Wednesday morning, ‘struck across to Samos’-here probably the island is meant-and rounded either the west or the east extremity. The Revised Version rendering, ‘touched at Samos,’ conveys the idea of a stoppage, which is not implied in the Greek (παρεβάλομεν εἰς Σάμον, Acts 20:15). Probably the attempt was made to get as far as Miletus the same day, but when Trogyllium, a promontory 5 miles E. of the city of Samos, was reached, the aegean N. wind apparently died away, as it generally does in the late afternoon throughout the summer months, and the passage had to be completed next day with the aid of the fresh breeze that springs up in the early morning. The clause in the Bezan text regarding Trogyllium, which is found in the Authorized Version but relegated to the margin of the Revised Version , was in all probability omitted by the scribes of the great uncials under the mistaken notion that a night had been spent at the city of Samos, and that a second anchorage only 5 miles farther east was out of the question.

Literature.-Strabo, XIV. i. 12-18; H. P. Tozer, The Islands of the aegean, 1890; W. M. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen, 1895, p. 293 f.

James Strahan.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Samos'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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