Dorcas is the Greek name of a Christian woman who lived in Joppa. Her name in Aramaic was Tabitha, which means “gazelle.” The Greek word for “gazelle” is Dorcas.
“At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did.” (Acts 9:36, KJV)
Dorcas is thought to have had the means or the wherewithal to be a leading figure in the Christian community of her day. Dorcas was loved very much because of how she used her “wealth” and position. She did many good works and she performed many acts of “charity” or love.
Dorcas made clothing and gave them to the poor and needy. As a result of her generosity and industry many churches today continue her “work” in what are known as “Dorcas Societies.”
Dorcas, and her loving sacrificial service may have gone unnoticed beyond her generation accept for the fact that one day she took sick. As a matter of fact her sickness resulted in her death. She had been “washed” and “laid” out for viewing and mourning prior to her burial.
Some of her friends heard that the Apostle Peter was in Lydda. They probably had heard how Peter healed Aeneas. Peter was sent for and asked to come to Joppa. We don’t know why they sent for Peter or what they had actually expected him to do. We do know that two men traveled to Lydda and escorted Peter back to Joppa.
Upon arriving in Joppa and at the house of Dorcas, Peter was shown samples of the clothing that Dorcas made prior to her death. Peter saw many of the women who were present and mourning Dorcas’ death.
The inspired account tells us that Peter sent everyone out the room. He then knelt down and prayed. We are told that Peter turned to her body and said, “Tabitha, arise.” (Acts 9:40, NKJV) It is probable that Peter had grown up speaking both Aramaic and Greek. For reasons unknown to us he called Dorcas by her Aramaic name. Regardless, she “heard” his command to arise; she opened her eyes, looked at Peter, and then sat up.
Can we stop for a moment? I wonder what she thought. The Jews believed that the soul hovered over or around the body for approximately three (3) days after a person died. Scripture of course does not support this; the bible says, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” (II Corinthians 5:8, NKJV) A believer is translated immediately in the presence of the Lord (in heaven) upon his or her death. Other than a few exceptions no one returned from death. I wonder if Dorcas would have preferred to have remained in the presence of her Lord?
Regardless, of my curios speculation she was restored to life. As a result of this miracle, many people believed in the Lord.