He examined the keepers - The soldiers who were entrusted with his custody. Probably only those who had the special care of him at that watch of the night. The word "examine" here means "to inquire diligently, to make investigation." He subjected them to a rigid scrutiny to ascertain the manner of his escape; for it is evident that Herod did not mean to admit the possibility of a miraculous interposition.
Should be put to death - For having failed to keep Peter. This punishment they had a right to expect for having suffered his escape.
And he went down ... - How soon after the escape of Peter he went down to Caesarea, or how long he abode there, is not known. Caesarea was rising into magnificence, and the Roman governors made it often their abode. See the notes on Acts 8:40. Compare Acts 25:1, Acts 25:4. This journey of Herod is related by Josephus ( Antiq. , book 19, chapter 8, section 2). He says that it was after he had reigned over all Judea for three years.
And there abode - That is, until his death, which occurred shortly after. We do not learn that he made any further inquiry after Peter, or that he attempted any further persecutions of the Christians. The men on guard were undoubtedly put to death; and thus Herod used all his power to create the impression that Peter had escaped by their negligence; and this would undoubtedly be believed by the Jews. See Matthew 28:15. He might himself, perhaps, have been convinced, however, that the escape was by miracle, and afraid to attempt any further persecutions; or the affairs of his government might have called off his attention to other things; and thus, as in the case of the. "persecution that arose about Stephen," the political changes and dangers might divert the attention from putting Christians to death. See the notes on Acts 9:31. Thus, by the providence of God, this persecution, that had been commenced, not by popular tumult, but by royal authority and power, and that was aimed at the very pillars of the church, ceased. The prayers of the church prevailed; and the monarch was overcome, disappointed, bummed, and, by divine judgment, soon put to death.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing Acts 12:19:
1 Corinthians 9:3
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