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Artemis, also known as Diana, was the name of the goddess worshiped in Ephesus. The silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines for the goddess, feared his livelihood would be destroyed by the apostle Paul's preaching about Jesus Christ. To prevent this, he gathered together his fellow artisans and rioted in the streets[1].


Etymology

Though the origin of the Greek name of this Goddess, ʼΆρτεμις, is debated, the mythology behind it supports a connection to the moon, and even to the morning star. The name is related to the verb αἴρω, meaning to lift up. In a sense, she was lifted up honorably as the protector of women, and especially childbirth.

The Roman equivalent of Diana is derived from the root dium, meaning the sky. The mythology links her to the early morning and the new day (dies, pronounced dee-es).

The Temple of Artemis

The temple erected around the image of Artemis was one of the greatest feats of architecture of the ancient world. The ground was so sacred, that a thriving business was created by silversmiths and other artisans to build tiny replicas to allow worshipers a reminder of the ancient image that was said to have fallen from heaven. The temple was destroyed centuries later, but in the days of Paul it was the regional center for pagan worship.

The Riot

Demetrius had not wanted to stand aside and let strangers preach about another God in the city that honored the king of the gods, Zeus, who had sent the image of his daughter down for them. He rallied his co-workers and much of the city to uphold the dignity of their goddess. Though the image remained hidden in the midst of the temple, the "strange" preaching threatened both worship and commerce.

For this cause, a riot raged in the streets demanding the evangelists leave. When they resisted, one of their local friends named Alexander was grabbed and pulled into the crowd. The town clerk, knowing his people, plead the case for calm. To him, no crime had been committed--not even blasphemy against the goddess[2].

  1. Acts 19:24-29 (Link)
  2. Acts 19:35-39 (Link)
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