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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Tabitha

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(Ταβιθά ; Vulg. Tabitha), also called, Dorcas (Δορκάς ), a female disciple of Joppa, "full of good works," among which that of making clothes for the poor is specifically mentioned (Acts 9:36-42). A.D. 32. While Peter was at the neighboring town of Lydda, Tabitha died, upon which the disciples at Joppa sent an urgent message to the apostle, begging him to come to them without delay. It is not quite evident from the narrative whether they looked for any exercise of miraculous power on his part, or whether they simply' wished for Christian consolation under what they regarded as the common calamity of their Church; but the miracle recently performed on AEneas (Acts 9:34), and the expression in Acts 9:38 (διελθεῖν ἕως ἡμῶν ), lead to the former supposition. Upon his arrival Peter found the deceased already prepared for burial, and laid out in an upper chamber, where she was surrounded by the recipients and the tokens of her charity. After the example of our Savior in the house of Jairus (Matthew 9:25; Mark 5:40), "Peter put them all forth," prayed for the divine assistance, and then commanded Tabitha to arise (comp. Mark 5:41; Luke 8:54). She opened her eyes and sat up, and then, assisted by the apostle, rose from her couch. This great miracle, as we are further told, produced an extraordinary effect in Joppa, and was the occasion of many conversions there (Acts 9:42). (See PETER).

The name of "Tabitha" (טְבַיתָא ) is the Aramaic form answering to the Hebrew צַבַיָּה, tsebiyâ h, a "female gazelle," the gazelle being regarded in the East, among both Jews and Arabs, as a standard of beauty indeed, the word צַבַי properly means "beauty." Luke gives "Dorcas" as the Greek equivalent of the name.

Similarly we find δορκάς as the Sept. rendering of צְבַי in Deuteronomy 12:15; Deuteronomy 12:22; 2 Samuel 2, 18; Proverbs 6:5. It has been inferred from the occurrence of the two names that Tabitha was a Hellenist (see Whitby, ad loc.). This, however; does not follow, even if we suppose that the two names were actually borne by her, as it would seem to have been the practice even of the Hebrew Jews at this period to have a Gentile name in addition to their Jewish name. But it is by no means clear from the language of Luke that Tabitha actually bore the name of Dorcas. All he tells us is that the name of Tabitha means gazelle" (δορκάς ), and for the benefit of his Gentile readers he afterwards speaks of her by the Greek equivalent. At the same time it is very possible that she may have been known by both names; and we learn from Josephus (War, 4:3, 5) that the name of Dorcas was not unknown in Palestine. Among the Greeks also, as we gather from Lucretius (4, 1154), it was a term of endearment. Other examples, of the use of the name will be found in Wettstein, ad lo., (See DORCAS).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Tabitha'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/t/tabitha.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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