ELYMAS (ĕl'ĭmăs, Gr. Elymas). A Jew, Bar-Jesus (meaning son of Jesus or Joshua), a sorcerer who was with
ELYMAS ĕl’ ə məs (̓Ελύμας, G1829). A Jewish magician and false prophet whom Paul found on his first missionary journey, in the retinue of , the Rom. proconsul of Cyprus (
Bar-Jesus, which means “son of Jesus” or “Joshua,” was a member of the proconsul’s court and prob. had considerable influence over him. Ancient lit. abounds in stories of men skilled in the lore of the occult who became favorites of men in power. Juvenal (VI. 562; XIV. 248) and Horace (Sat. I. 2. 1), for example, mention Chaldaean astrologers and imposters who were prob. Babylonian Jews. It must not be assumed that such men were necessarily cheap frauds, like gypsy fortune tellers. Often they were the men of science of the day, better acquainted than most people of their time with the powers and processes of nature, but also learned in the strange skills of the Median priests.
Afraid that he might lose his influence over Sergius Paulus if the proconsul were persuaded of the truth of the Christian religion, Elymas spoke against Paul and Barnabas and sought to turn the proconsul from the faith. Paul, filled with the Spirit, looked intently upon him and told him that because he had opposed the truth of God he would become blind and be unable to see for a time. Immediately Elymas lost his sight; and when Sergius Paulus saw what befell the magician he believed, “for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord” (
Josephus (Antiq. XX. vii. 2) tells of a Jew of Cyprus who was a magician and who helped the procurator Felix to win Drusilla (
There is a problem regarding the name of this man.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)