DORCAS (Gr. Dorkas, gazelle). An early Christian disciple living at Joppa who was well known for her works of charity. When she died, her friends sent for Peter. He prayed, and she was raised from the dead. As a result, many believed (Acts.9.36-Acts.9.43).
DORCAS dôr’ kəs
; Aram. טָבִיתָא
, meaning gazelle
). A feminine name not uncommon to both Jews and Greeks, used in the NT to denote the Christian woman of Joppa who died and was raised from the dead by Peter (Acts 9:36-43
). While Peter was healing Aeneas at Lydda, about ten m. distant from Joppa, the ailing Dorcas had died. She was held in high esteem for her outstanding service to others; and her example has inspired the founding of numerous “Dorcas societies” in congregations today. She was described as a μαθήτρια
, the only citation in the NT where the feminine form of “disciple” is used. On the occasion of her death, two men were sent to Lydda to summon Peter. When Peter arrived the body already had been washed for burial and placed in an upper room. The widows were mourning and in deep appreciation were showing the handiwork of Dorcas as they displayed the garments she had made, perhaps for these very individuals. Like Jesus (Matt 9:25
) Peter sent everyone out, and knelt and prayed. Upon the command to arise, Dorcas responded; and she was presented to the others alive. Because of this miracle many believed in the Lord.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
The name was borne by a Christian woman of Joppa. She is called a disciple (mathetria: Ac 9:36, the only place in the New Testament where the feminine form is used). She seems to have had some means and also to have been a leader in the Christian community. Dorcas was beloved for the manner in which she used her position and means, for she "was full of good works, and almsdeeds which she did." Among her charities was the clothing of the poor with garments she herself made (Ac 9:39), and by following her example, numerous "Dorcas societies" in the Christian church perpetuate her memory. There is a local memorial in the "Tabitha School" in Jaffa devoted to the care and education of poor girls.
Her restoration to life by Peter is recorded. At the time of her death Peter was in Lydda where he had healed Aeneas. Being sent for, he went to Joppa, and, by the exercise of the supernatural powers granted to him, "he presented her alive" to the mourning community. In consequence of this miracle "many believed on the Lord" (Ac 9:42).