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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Lydia

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(Λυδία ), the name of a country, and also of a woman in the New Testament.

1. The Hebrew LUD ("Lydia" in Ezekiel 30:5; (See LUDIM) ), a province in the west of Asia Minor, supposed to have derived its name from Lud, the fourth son of Shem (Genesis 10:22). Thus Josephus states "those who are now called Lydians (Λυδοί ), but anciently Ludimn (Λούδοι ), sprung from Lud" (Λούδα, Ant. 1:6, 4; compare Bochart, Opera, 1:83, and the authorities cited there). (See ETHNOLOGY).

Lydia was bounded on the east by Greater Phrygia, on the north by AEolis or Mysia, on the west by Ionia and the AEgaean Sea, and or the south it was separated from Caria by the Meander (see Smith's Dict. of Class. Geogr. s.v.). The country is for the most part level (Schubert, Reisen, 1:369 sq.). Among the mountains, that of Tmolus was celebrated for its saffron and red wine (Xenoph. Cyrop. 6:2, 21). Lydia, however, lay on the west coast of Asia Minor, and thus was far removed from the other possessions of the Shemitic nations. Greek writers inform us that Lydia was originally peopled by a Pelasgic race called hicseonians (Homer, Iliad, 2:866; 10:431), who received their name from Maeon, an ancient king (Bochart, 1.c.). They also state that the name Lydians was derived from a king who ruled them at a later period (Herod. 1:7) About eight centuries B.C. a tribe of another race migrated from the east, and subdued the Maeonians. These were the Lydians. For some time after this conquest both nations are mentioned promiscuously, but the Lydians gradually obtained power, and gave their name to the country (Kalisch, On Genesis 10; Dionysius, 1:30; Pliny, 5:30; comp. Strabo, 12:572; 14:679). The best and most recent critics regard these Lydians as a Shemitic tribe, and consequently the descendants of Lud (Movers, Die Phonicier, 1:475). This view is strengthened by the description of the character and habits of the Lydians. They were warlike (Herod. 1:79), skilled in horsemanship (ib.), and accustomed to serve as mercenaries under foreign princes (7:71). Now, in Isaiah 66:19, a warlike people called Lud is mentioned in connection with Tarshish and Pul; and again in Ezekiel 27:10, the prophet says of Tyre, "They of Persia, and of Lud, and of Phut, were in thine army, thy men of war." There can scarcely be a doubt that this is the Shemitic nation mentioned in Genesis, and which migrated to Western Asia, and gave the province of Lydia its name.

The identity has recently been called in question by professor and Sir Henry Rawlinson, but their arguments do not seem sufficient to set aside the great mass of circumstantial evidence in its favor (Rawlinson's Herodotus, 1:160, 659, 667; comp. Kalisch, ad loc. Gen.; Prichard, Physical History of Mankind, 4:562 sq.; Niebuhr, Lectures on Ancient History, 1:87; Gesenius, Thesaurus, page 745). In the palmy days of Lydia its kings ruled from the shores of the AEgean to the river Halys; and Craesus, who was its king in the time of Solon and of Cyrus, was reputed the richest monarch in the world (Strabo, 15:735). He was able to bring into the field an army of 420,000 foot and 60,000 horse against Cyrus, by whom, however, he was defeated, and his kingdom annexed to the Persian empire (Herod. 1:6). Lydia afterwards formed part of the kingdom of the Seleucidae; and it is related in 1 Maccabees 8:8, that Antiochus the Great was compelled by the Romans to cede Lydia to king Eumenes (comp. Apian. Syr. 38). Some difficulty arises in the passage referred to from the names "India and Media" found in connection with it; but if we regard these as incorrectly given by the writer or by a copyist for "Ionia and Mysia," the agreement with Livy's account of the same transaction (37:56) will be sufficiently established, the notice of the maritime provinces alone in the book of Maccabees being explicable on the ground of their being best known to the inhabitants of Palestine. In the time of the travels of the apostles it was a province of the Roman empire (Ptolemy, 5:2, 16; Pliny, 5:30). Its chief towns were Sardis (the capital), Thyatira, and Philadelphia, all of which are mentioned in the New Testament, although the name of the province itself does not occur. Its connection with Judaea, under the Seleucidne, is referred to by Josephus (Ant. 12:3, 4). The manners of the Lydians were corrupt even to a proverb (Herod. 1:93). See Th. Menke, Lydiaea (Berlin, 1844); Cramer, Asia Minor, 1:413; Forbiger, Handb. der Alten Geogrs. 2:167; Clinton, Fasti Hellen. Appendix, page 361; Niebuhr, Lectures on Anc. Hist. 1:82; Cellarius, Notitiae, 1:108 sq.; Mannert, Geogr. VI, 3:345 sq.; Allgem. Welhistor. 4:623 sq.; Beck, Weltg. 1:308 sq.; Heeren, Ideen, I, 1:154 sq.

2. A woman of Thyatira, "a seller of purple," who dwelt in the city of Philippi, in Macedonia (Acts 16:14-15). A.D. 47. The commentators are not agreed whether "Lydia" should be regarded as an appellative, or a derivative from the country to which the woman belonged, Thyatira, her native place, being in Lydia. There are examples of this latter sense; but the preceding word ὀνόματι seems here to support the former, and the name was a common one. (See Biel and I. Hase in the Bibl. Brem. 2:411; 3:275; 5:670; 6:1041; Symb. Brem. II, 2:124; compare Ugolini Thesaur. 13:29.) Lydia was not by birth a Jewess, but a proselyte, as the phrase "who worshipped God" imports. It was at the Jewish Sabbath-worship by the side of a stream (Acts 16:13) that the preaching of the Gospel by Paul reached her heart. She was converted, being the first person in Europe who embraced Christianity there, and after she and her household had been baptized she pressed the use of her house so earnestly upon the apostle and his associates that they were constrained to accept the invitation. As her native place was in the province of Asia (Acts 16:14; Revelation 2:18), it is interesting to notice that through her, indirectly, the Gospel may have come into that very district where Paul himself had recently been forbidden directly to preach it (Acts 16:6). We infer that she was a person of considerable wealth partly from the fact that she gave a home to Paul and his companions, partly from the mention of the conversion of her "household," under which term, whether children are included or not, slaves are no doubt comprehended. Of Lydia's character we are led to form a high estimate from her candid reception of the Gospel, her urgent hospitality, and her continued friendship to Paul and Silas when they were persecuted. Whether she was one of "those women who labored with Paul in the Gospel" at Philippi, as mentioned afterwards in the epistle to that place (Philippians 4:3), it is impossible to say. The Lydians were famous for the art of dyeing purple vests (Pliny, 7:57; Max. Tyr. 40:2; Valer. Flacc. 4:368; Claud. Rapt. Proserp. 1:275; AElian, Anim. 4:46), and Lydia, as "a seller of purple," is supposed to have been a dealer in vests so dyed rather than in the dye itself (see Kuinol on Acts 14:14).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Lydia'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/l/lydia.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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