A Commentary of the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica


Bishop John Lightfoot

Bishop J. Lightfoot’s Works; 2 vol.’s; 1684,1st Ed.


Vol.One | Vol.Two | Vol.Three | Vol.Four



“That the destruction of Jerusalem and the whole Jewish state is described as if the whole frame of the world were to be dissolved. Nor is it strange, when God destroyed his habitation and city, places once so dear to him, with so direful and sad an overthrow; his own people, whom he accounted of as much or more than the whole world beside, by so dreadful and amazing plagues. Matt. 24:29,30, ‘The sun shall be darkened &c. Then shall appear the ‘sign of the Son of man,’ &c; which yet are said to fall out within that generation, ver. 34.”

“With the same reference it is, that the times and state of things immediately following the destruction of Jerusalem are called ‘a new creation,’ new heavens,’ and ‘a new earth.’ When should that be? Read the whole chapter; and you will find the Jews rejected and cut off; and from that time is that new creation of the evangelical world among the Gentiles.

Compare 2 Cor. 5:17 and Rev. 21:1,2; where, the old Jerusalem being cut off and destroyed, a new one succeeds; and new heavens and a new earth are created.

2 Peter 3:13: ‘We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth.’ The heaven and the earth of the Jewish church and commonwealth must be all on fire, and the Mosaic elements burnt up; but we, according to the promise made to us by Isaiah the prophet, when all these are consumed, look for the new creation of the evangelical state” (On John 21:22)


Exercitations upon St. Matthew

A Chorographical Century
[chorography: the art of describing or mapping a region or district.
Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary]

Exercitations upon St. Mark

A Chorographical Decad;
searching into some places of the Land of Israel;
those especially whereof mention is made in St. Mark.

Exercitations upon St. Luke

A Few Chorographical Notes
upon the places mentioned in St. Luke.

 Exercitations upon St. John

A Chorographical Inquiry
into some places of the Land of Israel,
particularly those which we find mentioned in the Evangelist St. John.

To His Dear Friends, the Students of Catharine-Hall, Health.


Those very arguments which, first and chiefly, moved me to turn over the Talmudical writings, moved me also to this present work: so that, from the same reasons whence that reading first proceeded, from them proceed also this fruit and benefit of it.

For, first, when all the books of the New Testament were written by Jews, and among Jews, and unto them; and when all the discourses made there, were made in like manner by Jews, and to Jews, and among them; I was always fully persuaded, as of a thing past all doubting, that that Testament could not but everywhere taste of and retain the Jews’ style, idiom, form, and rule of speaking.

And hence, in the second place, I concluded as assuredly that, in the obscurer places of that Testament (which are very many), the best and most natural method of searching out the sense is, to inquire how, and in what sense, those phrases and manners of speech were understood, according to the vulgar and common dialect and opinion of that nation; and how they took them, by whom they were spoken, and by whom they were heard. For it is no matter what we can beat out concerning those manners of speech on the anvil of our own conceit, but what they signified among them, in their ordinary sense and speech. And since this could be found out no other way than by consulting Talmudic authors, who both speak in the vulgar dialect of the Jews, and also handle and reveal all Jewish matters; being induced by these reasons, I applied myself chiefly to the reading these books. I knew, indeed, well enough, that I must certainly wrestle with infinite difficulties, and such as were hardly to be overcome; yet I undervalued them all, and armed myself with a firm purpose, that, if it were possible, I might arrive to a fuller and more deep knowledge and understanding of the style and dialect of the New Testament.

The ill report of those authors, whom all do so very much speak against, may, at first, discourage him that sets upon the reading of their books. The Jews themselves stink in Marcellinus, and their writings stink as much amongst all; and they labour under this I know not what singular misfortune, that, being not read, they displease; and that they are sufficiently reproached by those that have read them, but undergo much more infamy by those that have not.

The almost unconquerable difficulty of the style, the frightful roughness of the language, and the amazing emptiness and sophistry of the matters handled, do torture, vex, and tire him that reads them. They do everywhere abound with trifles in that manner, as though they had no mind to be read; with obscurities and difficulties, as though they had no mind to be understood: so that the reader hath need of patience all along, to enable him to bear both trifling in sense and roughness in expression.

I, indeed, propounded three things to myself while I turned them over, that I might, as much as I could, either under-value those vexations of reading, or soften them, or recreate myself with them, and that I might reap and enjoy fruit from them, if I could, and as much as I could.

I. I resolved with myself to observe those things which seemed to yield some light to the holy Scriptures, but especially either to the phrases, or sentences, or history of the New Testament.

II. To set down such things in my note-books, which carried some mention of certain places in the land of Israel, or afforded some light into the chorography of that land.

III. To note those things which referred to the history of the Jews, whether ecclesiastical, or scholastic, or civil; or which referred to the Christian history, or the history of the rest of the world.

And now, after having viewed and observed the nature, art, matter, and marrow of these authors with as much intention as we could, I cannot paint out, in little, a true and lively character of them better than in these paradoxes and riddles: There are no authors do more affright and vex the reader; and yet there are none who do more entice and delight him. In no writers is greater or equal trifling; and yet in none is greater or so great benefit. The doctrine of the gospel hath no more bitter enemies than they; and yet the text of the gospel hath no more plain interpreters. To say all in a word, to the Jews, their countrymen, they recommend nothing but toys, and destruction, and poison; but Christians, by their skill and industry, may render them most usefully serviceable to their studies, and most eminently tending to the interpretation of the New Testament.

We here offer some specimen of this our reading and our choice, for the reader’s sake, if so it may find acceptance with the reader. We know how exposed to suspicion it is to produce new things; how exposed to hatred the Talmudic writings are; how exposed to both, and to sharp censure also, to produce them in holy things. Therefore, this our more unusual manner of explaining Scripture cannot, upon that very account, but look for a more unusual censure, and become subject to a severer examination. But when the lot is cast, it is too late at this time to desire to avoid the sequel of it; and too much in vain in this place to attempt a defence. If the work and book itself does not carry something with it which may plead its cause, and obtain the reader’s pardon and favour; our oration, or begging Epistle, will little avail to do it. The present work, therefore, is to be exposed and delivered over to its fate and fortune, whatsoever it be. Some there are, we hope, who will give it a milder and more gentle reception; for this very thing, dealing favourably and kindly with us, that we have been intent upon our studies; that we have been intent upon the gospel; and that we have endeavoured after truth: they will show us favour that we followed after it, and, if we have not attained it, they will pity us. But as for the wrinkled forehead, and the stern brow, we are prepared to bear them with all patience, being armed and satisfied with this inward patronage, that “we have endeavoured to profit.”

But this work, whatever it be, and whatever fortune it is like to meet with, we would dedicate to you, my very dear Catharine-Hall men, both as a debt, and as a desire. For by this most close bond and tie wherewith we are united, to you is due all that we study, all that we can do; if so be that all is any thing at all. And when we desire to profit all (if we could) which becomes both a student and a Christian to do; by that bond and your own merits, you are the very centre and rest of those desires and wishes. We are sufficiently conscious to ourselves how little or nothing we can do either for the public benefit, or for yours; yet we would make a public profession, before all the world, of our desire and study; and, before you, of our inward and cordial affection.

Let this pledge, therefore, of our love and endearment be laid up by you; and, while we endeavour to give others an account of our hours, let this give you an assurance of our affections. And may it last in Catharine-Hall, even to future ages, as a testimony of service, a monument of love, and a memorial both of me and you!

From my Study,
The Calends of June, 1658.

Chapter 1

1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

[The book of the generation of Jesus Christ.] Ten stocks came out of Babylon: 1. Priests. 2. Levites. 3. Israelites. 4. Common persons, as to the priesthood: such whose fathers, indeed, were sprung from priests, but their mothers unfit to be admitted to the priests’ marriage-bed. 5. Proselytes. 6. Liberti, or servants set free. 7. Nothi: such as were born in wedlock; but that which was unlawful. 8. Nethinims. 9. Bastards: such as came of a certain mother, but of an uncertain father. 10. Such as were gathered up out of the streets, whose fathers and mothers were uncertain.

A defiled generation indeed! and, therefore, brought up out of Babylon in this common sink, according to the opinion of the Hebrews, that the whole Jewish seed still remaining there might not be polluted by it. For Ezra went not up out of Babylon, until he had rendered it pure as flour. They are the words of the Babylonian Gemara, which the Gloss explains thus; “He left not any there that were illegitimate in any respect, but the priests and Levites only, and Israelites of a pure and undefiled stock. Therefore, he brought up with him these ten kinds of pedigrees, that these might not be mingled with those, when there remained now no more a Sanhedrim there, which might take care of that matter. Therefore he brought them to Jerusalem, where care might be taken by the Sanhedrim fixed there, that the legitimate might not marry with the illegitimate.”

Let us think of these things a little while we are upon our entrance into the Gospel-history:

I. How great a cloud of obscurity could not but arise to the people concerning the original of Christ, even from the very return out of Babylon, when they either certainly saw, or certainly believed that they saw, a purer spring of Jewish blood there than in the land of Israel itself!

II. How great a care ought there to be in the families of pure blood, to preserve themselves untouched and clean from this impure sink; and to lay up among themselves genealogical scrolls from generation to generation as faithful witnesses and lasting monuments of their legitimate stock and free blood!

Hear a complaint and a story in this case: “R. Jochanan said, By the Temple, it is in our hand to discover who are not of pure blood in the land of Israel: but what shall I do, when the chief men of this generation lie hid?” (that is, when they are not of pure blood, and yet we must not declare so much openly concerning them). “He was of the same opinion with R. Isaac, who said, A family (of the polluted blood) that lies hid, let it lie hid. Abai also saith, We have learned this also by tradition, That there was a certain family called the family of Beth-zeripha, beyond Jordan, and a son of Zion removed it away.” (The Gloss is, Some eminent man, by a public proclamation, declared it impure.) “But he caused another which was such” [that is, impure] “to come near. and there was another which the wise men would not manifest.”

III. When it especially lay upon the Sanhedrim, settled at Jerusalem to preserve pure families, as much as in them lay, pure still; and when they prescribed canons of preserving the legitimation of the people (which you may see in those things that follow at the place alleged), there was some necessity to lay up public records of pedigrees with them: whence it might be known what family was pure, and what defiled. Hence that of Simon Ben Azzai deserves our notice: “I saw (saith he) a genealogical scroll in Jerusalem, in which it was thus written; ‘N., a bastard of a strange wife.'” Observe, that even a bastard was written in their public books of genealogy, that he might be known to be a bastard, and that the purer families might take heed of the defilement of his seed. Let that also be noted: “They found a book of genealogy at Jerusalem, in which it was thus written; ‘Hillel was sprung from David. Ben Jatsaph from Asaph. Ben Tsitsith Hacceseth from Abner. Ben Cobisin from Achab,'” &c. And the records of the genealogies smell of those things which are mentioned in the text of the Misna concerning ‘wood-carrying’: “The priests’ and people’s times of wood-carrying were nine: on the first day of the month Nisan, for the sons of Erach, the sons of Judah: the twentieth day of Tammuz, for the sons of David, the son of Judah: the fifth day of Ab, for the sons of Parosh, the son of Judah: the seventh of the same month for the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab: the tenth of the same for the sons of Senaah, the son of Benjamin,” &c.

It is, therefore, easy to guess whence Matthew took the last fourteen generations of this genealogy, and Luke the first forty names of his; namely, from the genealogical scrolls at that time well enough known, and laid up in the public repositories, and in the private also. And it was necessary, indeed, in so noble and sublime a subject, and a thing that would be so much inquired into by the Jewish people as the lineage of the Messiah would be, that the evangelists should deliver a truth, not only that could not be gainsaid, but also that might be proved and established from certain and undoubted rolls of ancestors.

[Of Jesus Christ.] That the name of Jesus is so often added to the name of Christ in the New Testament, is not only that thereby Christ might be pointed out for the Saviour, which the name Jesus signifies; but also, that Jesus might be pointed out for true Christ: against the unbelief of the Jews, who though they acknowledged a certain Messiah, or Christ, yet they stiffly denied that Jesus of Nazareth was he. This observation takes place in numberless places of the New Testament; Acts 2:36, 8:35; 1 Corinthians 16:22; 1 John 2:22, 4:15, &c.

[The Son of David.] That is, “the true Messias.” For by no more ordinary and more proper name did the Jewish nation point out the Messiah than by The Son of David. See Matthew 12:23, 21:9, 22:42; Luke 18:38; and everywhere in the Talmudic writings, but especially in Bab. Sanhedrim: where it is also discussed, What kind of times those should be when the Son of David should come.

The things which are devised by the Jews concerning Messiah Ben Joseph (which the Targum upon Canticles 4:5 calls ‘Messiah Ben Ephraim’) are therefore devised, to comply with their giddiness and loss of judgment in their opinion of the Messiah. For, since they despised the true Messiah, who came in the time fore-allotted by the prophets, and crucified him; they still expect I know not what chimerical one, concerning whom they have no certain opinion: whether he shall be one, or two; whether he shall arise from among the living, or from the dead; whether he shall come in the clouds of heaven, or sitting upon an ass, &c.: they expect a Son of David; but they know not whom, they know not when.

2. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;

[Judas.] In Hebrew, Jehudah. Which word not only the Greeks, for want of the letter “h” in the middle of a word, but the Jews themselves, do contract into Judah: which occurs infinite times in the Jerusalem Talmud. The same person who is called R. Jose Bi R. Jehudah, in the next line is called R. Jose Bi R. Judah

5. And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;

[Booz of Rachab.] So far the Jewish writers agree with Matthew, that they confess Rachab was married to some prince of Israel, but mistaking concerning the person: whether they do this out of ignorance, or wilfully, let themselves look to that. Concerning this matter, the Babylonian Gemara hath these words: “Eight prophets and those priests sprung from Rachab, and they are these, Neriah, Baruch, Seraiah, Maaseiah, Jeremiah, Hilkiah, Hanameel, and Shallum. R. Judah saith, Huldah also was of the posterity of Rachab.” And a little after, “There is a tradition, that she, being made a proselytess, was married to Joshua”: which Kimchi also produceth in Joshua 6. Here the Gloss casts in a scruple: “It sounds somewhat harshly (saith it), that Joshua married one that was made a proselyte, when it was not lawful to contract marriage with the Canaanites, though they became proselytes. Therefore we must say that she was not of the seven nations of the Canaanites, but of some other nation, and sojourned there. But others say that that prohibition took not place before the entrance into the promised land,” &c.

8. And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;

[And Joram begat Ozias.] The names of Ahazias, Joash, and Amazias, are struck out. See the history in the books of the Kings, and 1 Chronicles 3:11, 12.

I. The promise that “the throne of David should not be empty,” passed over, after a manner, for some time into the family of Jehu, the overthrower of Joram’s family. For when he had razed the house of Ahab, and had slain Ahaziah, sprung, on the mother’s side, of the family of Ahab, the Lord promiseth him that his sons should reign unto the fourth generation, 2 Kings 10:30. Therefore however the mean time the throne of David was not empty, and that Joash and Amazias sat during the space between, yet their names are not unfitly omitted by our evangelist, both because they were sometimes not very unlike Joram in their manners; and because their kingdom was very much eclipsed by the kingdom of Israel, when Ahazias was slain by Jehu, and his cousin Amazias taken and basely subdued by his cousin Joash, 2 Chronicles 25:23.

II. “The seed of the wicked shall be cut off,” Psalm 37:28. Let the studious reader observe that, in the original, in this very place, the letter Ain, which is the last letter of wicked, and of seed, is cut off, and is not expressed; when, by the rule of acrostic verse (according to which this Psalm is composed), that letter ought to begin the next following verse.

III. “Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image, &c. For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation,” (Exodus 20:5.

Joram walked in the idolatrous ways of the kings of Israel, according to the manner of the family of Ahab, 2 Kings 8:18. Which horrid violation of the second command God visits upon his posterity, according to the threatening of that command; and therefore the names of his sons are dashed out unto the fourth generation.

IV. The Old Testament also stigmatizeth that idolatry of Joram in a way not unlike this of the New; and shows that family unworthy to be numbered among David’s progeny, 2 Chronicles 22:2: Ahazias, the son of two and forty years: that is, not of his age (for he was not above two-and-twenty, 2 Kings 8:26), but of the duration of the family of Omri, of which stock Ahazias was, on the mother’s side; as will sufficiently appear to him that computes the years. A fatal thing surely! that the years of a king of Judah should be reckoned by the account of the house of Omri.

V. Let a genealogical style not much different be observed, 1 Chronicles 4:1; where Shobal, born in the fifth or sixth generation from Judah, is reckoned as if he were an immediate son of Judah. Compare chapter 2:50.

In the like manner, Ezra 7, in the genealogy of Ezra, five or six generations are erased.

11. And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:

[And Josias begat Jechonias.] The sons of Josias were these: the first-born, Jochanan; the second, Joachim; the third, Zedekiah; the fourth, Shallum, 1 Chronicles 3:15. Who this Shallum was, the Jerusalem Talmudists do dispute: “R. Jochanan saith, Jochanan and Jehoachaz were the same. And when it is written, Jochanan the first-born, it means this; that he was the first-born to the kingdom: that is, he first reigned. And R. Jochanan saith, Shallum and Zedekias are the same. And when it is written, Zedekias the third Shallum the fourth; he was the third in birth, but he reigned fourth.” The same things are produced in the tract Sotah. But R. Kimchi much more correctly: “Shallum (saith he) is Jechonias, who had two names, and was reckoned for the son of Josias, when he was his grandchild” (or the son of his son); “For the sons of sons are reputed for sons.” Compare Jeremiah 22:11 with 24; and the thing itself speaks it. And that which the Gemarists now quoted say, Zedekiah was also called Shallum, because in his days ‘Shalmah,’ ‘an end was put to’ the kingdom of the family of David: this also agrees very fitly to Jechonias, Jeremiah 22:28-30.

12. And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;

[Jechonias begat Salathiel.] That is, “a son of the kingdom,” or successor in that dignity of the house of David, whatsoever it was, which was altogether withered in the rest of the sons of Josiah, but did somewhat flourish again in him, 2 Kings 25:27. And hence it is, that of all the posterity of Josiah, Jechonias only is named by St. Matthew.

Jechonias, in truth, was without children, Jeremiah 22:30; and Salathiel, properly speaking, was the son of Neri, Luke 3:27: but yet Jechonias is said to beget him; not that he was truly his father, but that the other was his successor; not, indeed, in his kingly dignity, for that was now perished, but in that which now was the chief dignity among the Jews. So 1 Chronicles 3:16, Zedekias is called the son, either of Jehoiakim, whose brother indeed he was, or of Jechonias, whose uncle he was; because he succeeded him in the kingly dignity.

The Lord had declared, and that not without an oath, that Jechonias should be without children. The Talmudists do so interpret “R. Judah saith, All they of whom it is said, These shall be without children; they shall have no children. And those of whom it is said, They shall die without children; they bury their children.” [Lev 20:2021.]

So Kimchi also upon the place; “The word (saith he) means this; That his sons shall die in his life, if he shall now have sons: but if he shall not now have sons, he never shall. But our Rabbins of blessed memory say, That he repented in prison. And they say moreover, Oh! how much doth repentance avail, which evacuates a penal edict! for it is said, ‘Write ye this man childless’: but, he repenting, this edict turned to his good,” &c. “R. Jochanan saith, His carrying away expiated. For when it is said, ‘Write this man childless,’ after the carrying away it is said, ‘The sons of Coniah, Assir his son, Shealtiel his son.'” These things are in Babyl. Sanhedrim, where these words are added, “Assir his son, because his mother conceived him in prison.”

But the words in the original (1 Chron 3:17) are these…Now the sons of Jechonias bound [or imprisoned] were Shealtiel his son. Which version both the accents and the order of the words confirm…

16. And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

[And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary.The mother’s family is not to be called a family. Hence the reason may very easily be given, why Matthew brings down the generation to Joseph, Mary’s husband; but Luke to Eli, Mary’s father. These two frame the genealogy two ways, according to the double notion of the promise of Christ. For he is promised, as the ‘seed of the woman,’ and as the ‘Son of David’; that, as a man, this, as a king. It was therefore needful, in setting down his genealogy, that satisfaction should be given concerning both. Therefore Luke declareth him the promised seed of the woman, deducing his mother’s stock, from whence man was born, from Adam; Matthew exhibits his royal original, deriving his pedigree along through the royal family of David to Joseph, his (reputed) father.

17. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

[Fourteen generations.] Although all things do not square exactly in this threefold number of fourteen generations, yet there is no reason why this should be charged as a fault upon Matthew, when in the Jewish schools themselves it obtained for a custom, yea, almost for an axiom, to reduce things and numbers to the very same, when they were near alike. The thing will be plain by an example or two, when a hundred almost might be produced.

Five calamitous things are ascribed to the same day, that is, to the ninth day of the month Ab. “For that day (say they) it was decreed, That the people should not go into the promised land: the same day, the first Temple was laid waste, and the second also: the city Bitter was destroyed, and the city Jerusalem ploughed up.” Not that they believed all these things fell out precisely the same day of the month; but, as the Babylonian Gemara notes upon it, That they might reduce a fortunate thing to a holy day, and an unfortunate to an unlucky day.

The Jerusalem Gemara, in the same tract, examines the reason why the daily prayers consist of the number of eighteen, and among other things hath these words; “The daily prayers are eighteen, according to the number of the eighteen Psalms, from the beginning of the Book of Psalms to that Psalm whose beginning is, ‘The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble,'” [which Psalm, indeed, is the twentieth Psalm]. “But if any object, that nineteen Psalms reach thither, you may answer, The Psalm which begins, ‘Why did the heathen rage,’ is not of them,” a distinct Psalm. Behold, with what liberty they fit numbers to their own case.

Inquiry is made, whence the number of the thirty-nine more principal servile works, to be avoided on the sabbath-day, may be proved. Among other, we meet with these words; “R. Chaninah of Zippor saith, in the name of R. Abhu, Aleph denotes one,Lamed thirty, He five, Dabar one, Debarim two. Hence are the forty works, save one, concerning which it is written in the law. The Rabbins of Caesarea say, Not any thing is wanting out of his place: Aleph one, Lamed thirty, Cheth eight: our profound doctors do not distinguish between He and Cheth“: that they may fit number to their case…

“R. Joshua Ben Levi saith, In all my whole life I have not looked into the [mystical] book of Agada but once; and then I looked into it, and found it thus written, A hundred and seventy-five sections of the law; where it is written, He spake, he said, he commanded, they are for the number of the years of our father Abraham.” And a little after; “A hundred and forty and seven Psalms, which are written in the Book of the Psalms [note this number], are for the number of the years of our father Jacob. Whence this is hinted, that all the praises wherewith the Israelites praise God are according to the years of Jacob. Those hundred and twenty and three times, wherein the Israelites answer Hallelujah, are according to the number of the years of Aaron,” &c.

They do so very much delight in such kind of concents, that they oftentimes screw up the strings beyond the due measure, and stretch them till they crack. So that if a Jew carps at thee, O divine Matthew, for the unevenness of thy fourteens, out of their own schools and writings thou hast that, not only whereby thou mayest defend thyself, but retort upon them.

18. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

[When as his mother was espoused] No woman of Israel was married, unless she had been first espoused. “Before the giving of the law (saith Maimonides), if the man and the woman had agreed about marriage, he brought her into his house, and privately married her. But after the giving of the law, the Israelites were commanded, that, if any were minded to take a woman for his wife, he should receive her, first, before witnesses; and thenceforth let her be to him a wife, as it is written, If any one take a wife. This taking is one of the affirmative precepts of the law, and is called espousing.” Of the manner and form of espousing, you may read till you are weary, in that tractate, and in the Talmudic tract, Kiddushin.

[Before they came together.] “In many places the man espouseth the woman; but doth not bring her home to him, but after some space of time.” So the Gloss upon Maimonides.

Distinction is made by the Jewish canons, and that justly and openly, between private society or discourse between the espouser and the espoused, and the bringing of the espoused into the husband’s house. Of either of the two may those words be understood, before they came together, or, rather, of them both. He had not only not brought her home to him, but he had no manner of society with her alone, beyond the canonical limits of discourse, that were allowed to unmarried persons; and yet she was found with child.

[She was found with child.] Namely, after the space of three months from her conception, when she was now returned home from her cousin Elizabeth. See Luke 1:56, and compare Genesis 38:24.

The masters of the traditions assign this space to discover a thing of that nature. “A woman (say they) who is either put away from her husband, or become a widow, neither marrieth, nor is espoused, but after ninety days: namely, that it may be known, whether she be big with child or no; and that distinction may be made between the offspring of the first husband and of the second. In like manner, a husband and wife, being made proselytes, are parted from one another for ninety days, that judgment may be made between children begotten in holiness,” (that is, within the true religion; see 1 Cor 7:14) “And children begotten out of holiness.”

19. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

[But Joseph, being a just man, &c.] There is no need to rack the word just, to fetch out thence the sense of gentleness or mercy, which many do; for, construing the clauses of the verse separately, the sense will appear clear and soft enough, Joseph, being a just man, could not, would not, endure an adulteress: but yet not willing to make her a public example, being a merciful man, and loving his wife, was minded to put her away privily.

[To make her a public example.] This doth not imply death, but rather public disgrace, to make her public. For it may, not without reason, be inquired, whether she would have been brought to capital punishment, if it had been true that she had conceived by adultery. For although there was a law promulged of punishing adultery with death, Leviticus 10:10, Deuteronomy 22:22, and, in this case, she that was espoused, would be dealt withal after the same manner as it was with her who was become a wife; yet so far was that law modified, that I say not weakened, by the law of giving a bill of divorce, Deuteronomy 24:1, &c., that the husband might not only pardon his adulterous wife, and not compel her to appear before the Sanhedrim, but scarcely could, if he would, put her to death. For why otherwise was the bill of divorce indulged?

Joseph, therefore, endeavours to do nothing here, but what he might, with the full consent both of the law and nation. The adulteress might be put away; she that was espoused could not be put away without a bill of divorce; concerning which thus the Jewish laws: “A woman is espoused three ways; by money, or by a writing, or by being lain with. And being thus espoused, though she were not yet married, nor conducted into the man’s house, yet she is his wife. And if any shall lie with her beside him, he is to be punished with death by the Sanhedrim. And if he himself will put her away, he must have a bill of divorce.”

[Put her away privily.] Let the Talmudic tract ‘Gittin’ be looked upon, where they are treating of the manner of delivering a bill of divorce to a wife to be put away: among other things, it might be given privately, if the husband so pleased, either into the woman’s hand or bosom, two witnesses only present.

23. Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

[Behold, a virgin shall be with child.] That the word virgin, in the prophet, denotes an untouched virgin, sufficiently appears from the sense of the place, Isaiah 7:14. King Ahaz there was afraid, lest the enemies that were now upon him might destroy Jerusalem, and utterly consume the house of David. The Lord meets this fear by a signal and most remarkable promise, namely, ‘that sooner should a pure virgin bring forth a child, than the family of David perish.’ And the promise yields a double comfort: namely, of Christ hereafter to be born of a virgin; and of their security from the imminent danger of the city and house of David. So that, although that prophecy, of a virgin’s bringing forth a son, should not be fulfilled till many hundreds of years after, yet, at that present time, when the prophecy was made, Ahaz had a certain and notable sign, that the house of David should be safe and secure from the danger that hung over it. As much as if the prophet had said, “Be no so troubled, O Ahaz; does it not seem an impossible thing to thee, and that never will happen, that a pure virgin should become a mother? But I tell thee, a pure virgin shall bring forth a son, before the house of David perish.”

Hear this, O unbelieving Jew! and shew us now some remainders of the house of David: or confess this prophecy fulfilled in the Virgin’s bringing forth: or deny that a sign was given, when a sign is given.

In what language Matthew wrote his Gospel.

[Which is, being interpreted.] I. All confess that the Syriac language was the mother-tongue to the Jewish nation dwelling in Judea; and that the Hebrew was not at all understood by the common people may especially appear from two things:

1. That, in the synagogues, when the law and the prophets were read in the original Hebrew, an interpreter was always present to the reader, who rendered into the mother-tongue that which was read, that it might be understood by the common people. Hence those rules of the office of an interpreter, and of some places which were not to be rendered into the mother-tongue.

2. That Jonathan the son of Uzziel, a scholar of Hillel, about the time of Christ’s birth, rendered all the prophets (that is, as the Jews number them, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, the Books of the Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve lesser prophets) into the Chaldee language; that is, into a language much more known to the people than the Hebrew, and more acceptable than the mother-tongue. For if it be asked why he translated them at all, and why he translated not rather into the mother-tongue, which was known to all? and if it be objected concerning St. Matthew and St. Paul, that, writing to the Jews, one his Gospel, the other his Epistle (to the Hebrews), they must have written in the Syriac tongue (if so be they wrote not in Hebrew), that they might be understood by all:–we answer,

First, It was not without reason that the paraphrast Jonathan translated out of the Hebrew original into the Chaldee tongue, because this tongue was much more known and familiar to all the people than the Hebrew. The holy text had need of an interpreter into a more known tongue, because it was now in a tongue not known at all to the vulgar. For none knew the Hebrew but such as learned it by study. However, therefore, all the Jews inhabiting the land of Canaan, did not so readily understand the Chaldee language as the Syriac, which was their mother-language, yet they much more readily understood that than the Hebrew, which, to the unlearned, was not known at all. Hence it was not without necessity that the prophets were turned into the Chaldee language by Jonathan, and the law, not much after, by Onkelos, that they might a little be understood by the common people, by whom the Hebrew original was not understood at all. We read also that the Book of Job had its Targum in the time of Gamaliel the Elder; that is, Paul’s master.

Secondly, it is no impertinent question, Why Jonathan and Onkelos did not rather translate into the Syriac language, which was the mother-language to all the people, when both they themselves were in Judea, while they were employed about this work, and laboured in it for the use of the Jews that dwelt there? To which we give this double answer; 1. That, by turning it into the Chaldee language, they did a thing that might be of use to both them that dwelt in Judea, and in Babylon also. 2. The Syriac language was not so grateful unto the Jews, who used it for their mother-tongue, as the Chaldee was; as being a language more neat and polite, and the mother-tongue to the brethren in Babylon, and which they that came up out of Babylon, carried thence with them into Judea. You may wonder, reader, when you hear that canon which permits a single man “to say his prayers in any language, when he asks those things that are needful for him, except only the Syriac: While he asketh necessaries for himself, let him use any language but the Syriac.” But you will laugh when you hear the reason: “Therefore, by all means, because the angels do not understand the Syriac language.”

Whether they distinguish the Syriac language here from the pure Chaldee, is not of great moment solicitously to inquire: we shall only produce these things of the Glosser upon Beracoth, which make to our purpose:–“There are some (saith he) who say, that that prayer which begins ‘sermon,’ is therefore to be made in the Syriac language, because it is a noble prayer, and that deserves the highest praise; and therefore it is framed in the Targumistical language, that the angels may not understand it, and envy it to us,” &c. And a little after; “It was the custom to recite that prayer after sermon: and the common people were there present, who understood not the Hebrew language at all; and therefore they appointed it to be framed in the Targumistical language, that it might be understood by all; for this is their tongue.”

Mark, the Hebrew was altogether unknown to the common people: no wonder, therefore, if the evangelists and apostles wrote not in Hebrew when there were none who understood things so written, but learned men only.

That also must not be passed over, which, at first sight, seems to hint that the Syriac language was not understood even by learned men. “Samuel the Little, at the point of death, said, Simeon and Ismael to the sword; and all the other people to the spoil: and there shall be very great calamities.” And because he spoke these things in the Syriac language, they understood not what he had said. This story you have repeated in the Babylonian Gemara, where the words of the dying man are thus related; Let the Glosser upon the place be the interpreter: “Simeon and Ismael to the sword [that is, Rabban Simeon the prince, and R. Ismael Ben Elisha the high-priest, were slain with the sword], and his fellows to slaughter [that is, R. Akibah and R. Chananiah Ben Teradion were slain by other deaths; namely R. Akibah by iron teeth, and R. Chananiah by burning alive before idols]; and the other people for a prey: and very many calamities shall fall upon the world.”

Now where it is said that, “They understood not what he said, because he spake in the Syrian tongue,” we also do not easily understand. What! for the Jerusalem doctors not to understand the Chaldee language! For Samuel the Little died before the destruction of the city; and he spake of the death of Rabban Simeon, who perished in the siege of the city; and he spake these things when some of the learnedest Rabbins were by: and yet that they understood not these words, which even a smatterer in the oriental tongues would very easily understand!

Therefore, perhaps, you may beat out the sense of the matter from the words of the author of Juchasin, who saith, He prophesied in the Syriac language, But now, when prophecies were spoken only in the Hebrew language, however they understood the sense of the words, yet they reputed it not for a prophecy, because it was not uttered in the language that was proper for prophetical predictions. But we tarry not here. That which we would have is this, that Matthew wrote not in Hebrew (which is proved sufficiently by what is spoken before), if so be we suppose him to have written in a language vulgarly known and understood; which, certainly, we ought to suppose: not that he, or the other writers of the New Testament, wrote in the Syriac language, unless we suppose them to have written in the ungrateful language of an ungrateful nation, which, certainly, we ought not to suppose. For when the Jewish people were now to be cast off, and to be doomed to eternal cursing, it was very improper, certainly, to extol their language, whether it were the Syriac mother-tongue, or the Chaldee, its cousin language, unto that degree of honour; that it should be the original language of the New Testament. Improper, certainly, it was, to write the Gospel in their tongue, who, above all the inhabitants of the world, most despised and opposed it.

II. Since, therefore, the Gentiles were to be called to the faith, and to embrace the Gospel by the preaching of it, the New Testament was written very congruously in the Gentile language, and in that which, among the Gentile languages, was the most noble; viz. the Greek. Let us see what the Jews say of this language, envious enough against all languages besides their own.

“Rabban Simeon Ben Gamaliel saith, Even concerning the holy books, the wise men permitted not that they should be written in any other language than Greek. R. Abhu saith that R. Jochanan said, The tradition is according to Rabban Simeon; that R. Jochanan said, moreover, Whence is that of Rabban Simeon proved? From thence, that the Scripture saith, ‘The Lord shall persuade Japhet, and he shall dwell in the tents of Sem’: the words of Japhet shall be in the tents of Sem”: and a little after, God shall persuade Japhet; i.e. The grace of Japhet shall be in the tents of Sem.” Where the Gloss speaks thus; “‘The grace of Japhet’ is the Greek language; the fairest of those tongues which belonged to the sons of Japhet.”

“Rabban Simeon Ben Gamaliel saith, Even concerning the sacred books, they permitted not that they should be written in any other language than Greek. They searched seriously, and found, that the law could not be translated according to what was needful for it, but in Greek.” You have this latter clause cut off in Massecheth Sopherim, where this story also is added: “The five elders wrote the law in Greek for Ptolemy the king: and that day was bitter to Israel, as the day wherein the golden calf was made, because the law could not be translated according to what was needful for it.” This story of the ‘five interpreters’ of the law is worthy of consideration, which you find seldom mentioned, or scarce anywhere else. The tradition next following after this, in the place cited, recites the story of the Seventy. Look at it.

When, therefore, the common use of the Hebrew language had perished, and when the mother Syriac or Chaldee tongue of a cursed nation could not be blessed, our very enemies being judges, no other language could be found, which might be fit to write the (new) divine law, besides the Greek tongue. That this language was scattered, and in use among all the eastern nations almost, and was in a manner the mother tongue, and that it was planted every where by the conquests of Alexander, and the empire of the Greeks, we need not many words to prove; since it is every where to be seen in the historians. The Jews do well near acknowledge it for their mother-tongue even in Judea.

“R. Jochanan of Beth Gubrin said, There are four noble languages which the world useth; the mother-tongue, for singing; the Roman, for war; the Syriac, for mourning; and the Hebrew, for elocution: and there are some who say, the Assyrian for writing.” What is that which he calls the mother-tongue? It is very easily answered, the Greek, from those encomiums added to it, mentioned before: and that may more confidently be affirmed from the words of Midras Tillin, respecting this saying of R. Jochanan, and mentioning the Greek language by name. “R. Jochanan said, There are three languages; the Roman, for war; the Greek, for speech; the Assyrian, for prayer.” To this also belongs that, that occurs once and again in Bab. Megillah, In the Greek mother tongue. You have an instance of the thing; “R. Levi, coming to Caesarea, heard some reciting the phylacteries in the Hellenistical language.” This is worthy to be marked. At Caesarea flourished the famous schools of the Rabbins. The Rabbins of Caesarea are mentioned in both Talmuds most frequently, and with great praise, but especially in that of Jerusalem. But yet among these, the Greek is used as the mother-tongue, and that in reciting the phylacteries, which, you may well think, above all other things, in Judea were to be said in Hebrew.

In that very Caesarea, Jerome mentions the Hebrew Gospel of St. Matthew, to be laid up in the library of Pamphilus, in these words: “Matthew, who was also called Levi, from a publican made an apostle, first of all in Judea composed the Gospel of Christ in Hebrew letters and words, for their sakes, who were of the circumcision and believed. Which Gospel, who he was that afterward translated it into Greek, it is not sufficiently know. Moreover, that very Hebrew Gospel is reserved to this day in the library at Caesarea, which Pamphilus the martyr, with much care, collected. I also had leave given me by the Nazarenes, who use this book in Berea, a city of Syria, to write it out.”

It is not at all to be doubted, that this Gospel was found in Hebrew; but that which deceived the good man was not the very handwriting of Matthew, nor, indeed, did Matthew write the Gospel in that language: but it was turned by somebody out of the original Greek into Hebrew, that so, if possible, the learned Jews might read it. For since they had little kindness for foreign books, that is, heathen books, or such as were written in a language different from their own, which might be illustrated from various canons, concerning this matter; some person converted to the gospel, excited with a good zeal, seems to have translated this Gospel of St. Matthew out of the Greek original into the Hebrew language, that learned men among the Jews, who as yet believed not, might perhaps read it, being now published in their language: which was rejected by them while it remained in a foreign speech. Thus, I suppose, this gospel was written in Greek by St. Matthew, for the sake of those that believed in Judea, and turned into Hebrew by somebody else, for the sake of those that did not believe.

The same is to be resolved concerning the original language of the Epistle to the Hebrews. That Epistle was written to the Jews inhabiting Judea, to whom the Syriac was the mother-tongue; but yet it was writ in Greek, for the reasons above named. For the same reasons, also, the same apostle writ in Greek to the Romans, although in that church there were Romans, to whom it might seem more agreeable to have written in Latin; and there were Jews, to whom it might seem more proepr to have written in Syriac.

Chapter 2

A calculation of the times when Christ was born.

1. Now when Jesus was born in Beth-lehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem.

[Now when Jesus was born.] We thus lay down a scheme of the times when Christ was born:

I. He was born in the year of the world 3928.

For from the creation of the world to the deluge are commonly reckoned 1656 years.

From the deluge to Abraham’s promise are 427 years. This being supposed, that Abraham was born the 130th year of Terah: which must be supposed.

From the promise given, to the going out of Egypt, 430 years, Exodus 12:40; Galatians 3:17.

From the going out of Egypt to the laying the foundations of the Temple are 480 years, 1 Kings 6:1.

The Temple was building 7 years, 1 Kings 6:38.

Casting up, therefore, all these together, viz. 1656 + 427 + 430 + 480 + 7 = The sum of years amounts to 3000.

And it is clear, the building of the Temple was finished and completed in the year of the world 3000.

The Temple was finished in the eleventh year of Solomon, 1 Kings 6:38: and thence to the revolting of the ten tribes, in the first year of Rehoboam, were 30 years. Therefore, that revolt was in the year of the world 3030.

From the revolt of the ten tribes to the destruction of Jerusalem under Zedekiah were three hundred and ninety years: which appears sufficiently from the chronical computation of the parallel times of the kings of Judah and Israel: and which is implied by Ezekiel 4:4-6: “Thou shalt sleep upon thy left side, and shalt put the iniquities of the house of Israel upon it, &c. according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days. And when thou shalt have accomplished them, thou shalt sleep upon thy right side the second time, and shalt take upon thee the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days.” Concerning the computation of these years, it is doubted, whether those forty years are to be numbered together within the three hundred and ninety years, or by themselves, as following after those three hundred and ninety years. We, not without cause, embrace the former opinion, and suppose those forty years to be included within the sum of three hundred and ninety; but mentioned by themselves particularly, for a particular reason. For by the space of forty years before the destruction of the city by the Chaldeans, did Jeremiah prophesy daily, namely, from the third year of Josias to the sacking of the city: whom the people not hearkening to, they are marked for that peculiar iniquity with this note.

Therefore, these three hundred and ninety years being added to the year of the world, 3030, when the ten tribes fell off from the house of David, the age of the world when Jerusalem perished, arose to the year 3420.

At that time there remained fifty years of the Babylonian captivity to be completed. For those remarkable seventy years took their beginning from the third year of Jehoiakim, Daniel 1:1, whose fourth year begins the Babylonian monarchy, Jeremiah 25:1. And, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, the Temple was destroyed, 2 Kings 25:8, when now the twentieth year of the captivity passed; and other fifty remained: which fifty being added to the year of the world 3420, a year fatal to the Temple, the years of the world amount, in the first year of Cyrus, unto 3470.

From the first of Cyrus to the death of Christ are seventy weeks of years, or four hundred and ninety years, Daniel 9:24. Add these to the three thousand four hundred and seventy, and you observe Christ crucified in the year of the world 3960. When, therefore, you have subtracted thirty-two years and a half, wherein Christ lived upon the earth, you will find him born in the year of the world 3928.

II. He was born in the one-and-thirtieth year of Augustus Caesar, the computation of his monarchy beginning from the victory at Actium. Of which matter thus Dion Cassius writes: “This their sea-fight was on the second of September: and this I speak upon no other account (for I am not wont to do it), but because then Caesar first obtained the whole power: so that the computation of the years of his monarchy must be precisely reckoned from that very day.” We confirm this our computation, by drawing down a chronological table from this year of Augustus to the fifteenth year of Tiberius, when Christ, having now completed the nine-and-twentieth year of his age, and entering just upon his thirtieth, was baptized. Now this table, adding the consuls of every year, we thus frame:










Caes. Aug. XIV. and L. Aemil. Paulus.





Publius Vinicius and Pub. Alfenus Varus.





L. Aelius Lamia, and M. Servilius.





Sext. Aemilius Carus, and C. Sentius Saturninus.





L. Valerius Messala, and Cn. Corn. Cinna Magn.





M. Aemil. Lepidus, and L. Aruntius.





A. Licin. Nerv. Silanus, and Q. Caecil. Metell. Cret.





Furius Camillus, and Sext. Nonius quintilianus.





Q. Sulpit. Camarin, and C. Poppaeus Sabinus.





Pub. Corn. Dolabella, and C. Junius Silanus.





M. Aemil. Lepid. and T. Statilius Taurus.





Germanicus Caes. and C. Fonteius Capito.





L. Munatius Plancus, and C. Silius Caecina.





Sext. Pomp. Sexti F. and Sext. Apuleius Sexti F.

[A.M Latin anno mundi = in the year of the world.
A.U.C. Latin ab urbe condita = from the year of the founding of the city (of Rome).]

Augustus Caesar died the 19th day of August: on which day he had formerly entered upon the first consulship. He lived seventy-five years, ten months, and twenty-six days. He bore the empire alone, from the victory at Actium, forty-four years, wanting only thirteen days.

“Tiberius held the empire in great slothfulness, with grievous cruelty, wicked covetousness, and filthy lust.”










Drusus Caes. and C. Norbanus Flaccus.





C. Statil. Sisenna Taurus, and Scribonius Libo.





C. Caecil. Rufus, and L. Pomponianus Flaccus.





Tiber. Caes. Augu. III. and Germanicus Caes. II.





M. Julius Silanus, and L. Norban Flac. vel Balbus.





M. Valerius Messala, and M. Aurel. Cotta.





Tiber. Caes. Aug. IV. and Drusus Caes. II.





D. Haterius Agrippa, and C. Sulpitius Galba.





C. Asinius Pollio, and C. Antistius Veter.





Sext. Cornel. Cethegus, and Visellius Varro.





M. Asinius Agrippa, and Cossus Cornel Lentulus.





Cn. Lentulus Getulicus, and C. Calvisius Sabinus.





M. Licinius Crassus, and P. L. Calphurnius Piso.





Appius Jul. Silanus, and P. Silvius Nerva.





C. Rubellius Geminus, and C. Fusius Geminus.

In the early spring of this year came John baptizing. In the month Tisri Christ is baptized, when he had now accomplished the nine-and-twentieth year of his age, and had now newly entered upon his thirtieth. The thirtieth of Christ is to be reckoned with the sixteenth of Tiberius.

Of Augustus, now entering upon his one-and-thirtieth year, wherein Christ was born, Dion Cassius hath moreover these words: “Having now completed thrice ten years, being compelled, indeed, to it, he continued his government, and entered upon a fourth ten of years: being now more easy and slothful by reason of age.” In this very year was the taxation under Cyrenius, of which Luke speaks, chapter 2. So that if it be asked when the fifth monarchy of the Romans arose, after the dissolution of those four mentioned by Daniel, an easy answer may be fetched from St. Luke, who relates that in that very year wherein Christ was born, Augustus laid a tax upon the whole world.

III. Christ was born in the thirty-fifth year of the reign of Herod: which we gather from the observation of these things: 1. Herod reigned, from that time he was first declared king by the Romans, seven-and-thirty years. 2. Between the death of Herod and the death of Augustus there was this space of time:

1. The ten years current of the reign of Archelaus.

2. Coponius succeeds him, banished to Vienna in the presidentship of Judea.

3. Marcus Ambibuchus [Ambivius] succeeds Coponius.

4. Annius Rufus succeeds Ambibuchus [Ambivius], during whose presidentship Augustus dies.

Since, therefore, only fourteen years passed from the nativity of Christ to the death of Augustus, out of which sum when you shall have reckoned the ten years current of Archelaus, and the times of the three presidents, we must reckon that Christ was not born but in the last years of Herod. Thus we conjecture:

In his thirty-fifth Christ was born.

In his thirty-seventh, now newly begun, the wise men came: presently after this was the slaying of the infants; and, after a few months, the death of Herod.

IV. Christ was born about the twenty-seventh year of the presidentship of Hillel in the Sanhedrim.

The rise of the family of Hillel took its beginning at the decease of the Asmonean family (Herod, indeed, succeeded in the kingly government); a family sprung from Babylon, and, as was believed, of the stock of David. For “a book of genealogy was found at Jerusalem” (which we mentioned before), “in which it was written, that Hillel was sprung from the stock of David, by his wife Abital.” Now Hillel went up out of Babylon to Jerusalem, to inquire of the wise men concerning some things, when now, after the death of Shemaia and Abtalion, the two sons of Betira held the chief seats. And when he who had resorted thither to learn something, had taught them some things of the Passover rites, which they had forgot, they put him into the chair. You have the full story of it in the Jerusalem Talmud. We mention it chapter 26:1.

Now Hillel went up to Jerusalem and took the chair a hundred years before the destruction of the city: “Hillel and his son Simeon, and his son Gamaliel, and his son Simeon, bare the government for a hundred years before the laying waste of the Temple.” Of those hundred years if you take away two-and-thirty and a half of the life of Christ, and forty years (as it is commonly deputed) coming between the death of Christ and the destruction of the city, there remain the twenty-seven years of Hillel before the birth of our Saviour.

Hillel held the government forty years: so that his death happened about the twelfth or thirteenth year of Christ. his son also held it after him, and his grandsons, in a long succession, even to R. Judah the Holy. The splendour and pomp of this family of Hillel had so obscured the rest of the families of David’s stock, that perhaps they believed or expected the less, that the Messias should spring from any of them. Yea, one in the Babylonian Gemara was almost persuaded, that “Rabbi Judah the Holy, of the Hillelian family, was the Messias. Rabh said, If Messiah be among the living, our Holy Rabbi is such: if among the dead, Daniel was he.”

V. Christ was born in the month of Tisri; somewhat answering to our September. This we conclude, omitting other things, by computing backwards from his death. For if he died in his two-and-thirtieth year and a half, at the feast of the Passover, in the month Nisan, you must necessarily lay the time of his birth in the month Tisri. But that he died at that age, not to make any delay by mentioning more things, appears hence, that he was baptized now beginning his thirtieth year, and that he lived after his baptism three years and a half; as the space of his public ministry is determined by the angel Gabriel, Daniel 9; “In the half of a week” (that is, three years and a half), “he shall make the sacrifice to cease,” &c. But of this hereafter.

This month was ennobled in former times, 1. For the creation of the world. Weigh well Exodus 23:15; Joel 2:23. 2. For the nativity of the first fathers; which the Jews assert not without reason. 3. For the repairing the tables of the law. For Moses, after the third fast of forty days, comes down from the mountain, a messenger of good things, the tenth day of this month, which was from hence appointed for the feast of Expiation to following ages. 4. For the dedication of the Temple, 1 Kings 8:2. And, 5. For three solemn feasts, namely, that of the Beginning of the Year, that of Expiation, and that of Tabernacles. From this month also was the beginning of the Jubilee.

VI. It is probable Christ was born at the feast of Tabernacles.

1. So it ariseth exactly to three-and-thirty years and a half, when he died at the feast of the Passover.

2. He fulfilled the typical equity of the Passover and Pentecost, when, at the Passover, he offered himself for a passover, at Pentecost he bestowed the Holy Ghost from heaven, as at that time the law had been given from heaven. At that time the first-fruits of the Spirit were given by him (Rom 8:23), when the first-fruits of corn had been wont to be given, Leviticus 23:17. It had been a wonder if he had honoured the third solemnity, namely, the feast of Tabernacles, with no antitype.

3. The institution of the feast of Tabernacles agrees excellently with the time of Christ’s birth. For when Moses went down from the mount on the tenth day of the month Tisri, declaring that God was appeased, that the people was pardoned, and that the building of the holy tabernacle was forthwith to be gone in hand with (hitherto hindered by and because of the golden calf), seeing that God now would dwell among them, and forsake them no more; the Israelites immediately pitch their tents, knowing they were not to depart from that place before the divine tabernacle was finished, and they set upon this work with all their strength. Whence the tenth day of that month, wherein Moses came down and brought this good news with him, was appointed for the feast of Expiation; and the fifteenth day, and seven days after, for the feast of Tabernacles, in memory of their dwelling in tents in the wilderness, when God dwelt in the midst of them: which things with how aptly typical an aspect they respect the incarnation, when God dwelt among men in human flesh, is plain enough.

4. Weigh Zechariah 14:16, 17: “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up, from year to year, to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem, to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no more rain.”

[In Beth-lehem.] It will not be improper here to produce the Gemarists themselves, openly confessing that the Messias was born now a good while ago before their times. For so they write: “After this the children of Israel shall be converted, and shall inquire after the Lord their God, and David their king, Hosea 3:5. Our Rabbins say, That is king Messias: if he be among the living, his name is David; or if dead, David is his name. R. Ranchum said, Thus I prove it: ‘He showeth mercy to David his Messiah’ (Psa 18:50). R. Joshua Ben Levi saith, His name is A branch (Zech 3:8). R. Judan Bar Aibu saith, His name is Menahem [that is, the comforter]. And that which happened to a certain Jew, as he was ploughing, agreeth with this business:–A certain Arabian travelling, and hearing the ox bellow, said to the Jew at plough, ‘O Jew, loose thy oxen, and loose thy ploughs: for behold! the Temple is laid waste.’ The ox bellowed the second time; the Arabian said to him, O Jew, Jew, yoke thy oxen and fit thy ploughs, for behold! King Messiah is born. But, saith the Jew, ‘What is his name?’ ‘Menahem,’ saith he. ‘And what is the name of his father?’ ‘Hezekiah,’ saith the Arabian. To whom the Jew, ‘But whence is he?’ The other answered, ‘From the palace of the king of Beth-lehem Judah.’ Away he went, and sold his oxen and his ploughs, and became a seller of infants’ swaddling-clothes, going about from town to town. When he came to that city [Beth-lehem], all the women bought of him, but the mother of Menahem bought nothing. He heard the voice of the women saying, ‘O thou mother of Menahem, thou mother of Menahem, carry thy son the things that are here sold.’ But she replied, ‘May the enemies of Israel be strangled, because on the day that he was born the Temple was laid waste!’ To whom he said, ‘But we hoped, that as it was laid waste at his feet, so at his feet it would be built again.’ She saith, ‘I have no money.’ To whom he replied, ‘But why should this be prejudicial to him? Carry him what you buy here; and if you have no money to-day, after some days I will come back and receive it.’ After some days he returns to that city, and saith to her, ‘How does the little infant?’ And she said, ‘From the time you saw me last, spirits and tempests came, and snatched him away out of my hands.’ R. Bon saith, What need have we to learn from an Arabian? Is it not plainly written, ‘And Lebanon shall fall before the powerful one?’ (Isa 10:34). And what follows after? ‘A branch shall come out of the root of Jesse'” (Isa 11:1).

The Babylonian doctors yield us a confession not very unlike the former: “R. Chaninah saith, After four hundred years are past from the destruction of the Temple, if any one shall say to you, ‘Take to thyself for one penny a field worth a thousand pence,’ do not take it.” And again; “After four thousand two hundred thirty-and-one years from the creation of the world, if any shall say to you, ‘Take for a penny a field worth a thousand pence,’ take it not.” The Gloss is, “For that is the time of redemption; and you shall be brought back to the holy mountain, to the inheritance of your fathers: why, therefore, should you misspend your penny?”

You may fetch the reason of this calculation, if you are at leisure, out of the tract Sanhedrim: “The tradition of the school of Elias, The world is to last six thousand years,” &c. And a little after; “Elias said to Rabh Judah, ‘The world shall last not less than eighty-five jubilees; and in the last jubilee shall the Son of David come.’ He saith to him, ‘Whether in the beginning of it, or in the end?’ He answered him, ‘I know not.’ ‘Whether is this whole time to be finished first, or not?’ He answered him, ‘I know not.’ But Rabh Asher asserts that he answered thus, ‘Until then expect him not, but from thence expect him.'” Hear your own countrymen, O Jew, how many centuries of years are past by and gone from the eighty-fifth jubilee of the world, that is, the year 4250, and yet the Messias of your expectation is not yet come.

Daniel’s weeks had so clearly defined the time of the true Messias’s coming, that the minds of the whole nation were raised into the expectation of him. Hence it was doubted of the Baptist whether he were not the Messias, Luke 3:15. Hence it was that the Jews are gathered together from all countries unto Jerusalem [Acts 2], expecting, and coming to see, because at that time the term of revealing the Messias, that had been prefixed by Daniel, was come. Hence it was that there was so great a number of false Christs, Matthew 24:5, &c., taking the occasion of their impostures hence, that now the time of that great expectation was at hand, and fulfilled: and in one word, “They thought the kingdom of God should presently appear”; Luke 19:11.

But when those times of expectation were past, nor did such a Messias appear as they expected (for when they saw the true Messias, they would not see him), they first broke out into various and those wild conjectures of the time; and at length all those conjectures coming to nothing, all ended in this curse (the just cause of their eternal blindness), May their soul be confounded who compute the times!

[Wise men from the east.] Magi, that is, wizards, or such as practised ill arts: for in this sense alone this word occurs in holy writ.

From the east. This more generally denotes as much as, ‘Out of the land of the heathen,’ in the same sense as ‘the queen of the south’ is taken, Matthew 12:42; that is, ‘a heathen queen.’ Consider this passage in the Talmud, “From Rekam to the east, and Rekam is as the east: from Ascalon to the south, and Ascalon is as the south: from Acon to the north, and Acon is as the north.” These words R. Nissim quotes from R. Judah, and illustrates it with this Gloss, “From Rekam to the furthest bounds of the land eastward is heathen land; and Rekam itself is reckoned for the east of the world, and not for the land of Israel. So also from Ascalon onwards to the south is the heathen country, and Ascalon itself is reckoned for the south”: that is, for heathen land.

Those countries where the sons of Abraham by his wife Keturah were dispersed, are more particularly called the ‘eastern’ countries, Genesis 25:6, Judges 6:3, and elsewhere often. And hence came these first-fruits of the Gentiles: whence it is not unlikely that Jethro also came, the first proselyte to the law. And that which is spoken by the Gemara concerning the Arabian, the first pointer-out of the Messias born, is perhaps some shadow of this story of the magicians’ coming out of Arabia, and who first publicly declared him to be born.

2. Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

[For we have seen his star in the east.] We, being in the east, have seen his star:–that heavenly light, which in that very night wherein the Saviour was born shone round about the shepherds of Beth-lehem, perhaps was seen by these magicians, being then a great distance off, resembling a star hanging over Judea; whence they might the more easily guess that the happy sign belonged to the Jews.

4. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

[And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together.] That is, he assembled the Sanhedrim. Herod is said by very many authors to have slain the Sanhedrim, but this is neither to be understood of the whole Sanhedrim, nor, if it were to be understood of the whole, would it denote the total subversion of the Sanhedrim. The Babylonian Gemarists do thus relate the story: “Herod was a servant of the Asmonean family. He cast his eyes upon a young maid [of that family]. On a certain day he heard the Bath Kol [a voice from heaven] saying, Whatsoever servant shall now rebel shall prosper. He arose up against his masters, and slew them all.” And a little after; “Herod said, Who is there that interprets these words, ‘Thou shalt set a king over thee out of the midst of thy brethren?’ (Deut 17:15). The Rabbins [interpreted the words]. He rose up and slew all the Rabbins, leaving only Bava Ben Buta, with whom he consulted.”

Herod was to overcome two difficulties, that he might, with the peace and favour of the Jews, become their king. For, although he had been raised unto the kingdom by the Romans, nevertheless, that he might establish his throne, the people remaining quiet and accepting him, first it seemed necessary to him that the Asmonean family should be removed out of the way, which, formerly governing the people, they had some affection and love for, and which still remaining, he suspected he could scarce be secure. Secondly, that law of setting no king over them but of their brethren debarred him, since he himself was of the stock of Edom. Therefore he took away all those Rabbins, who, adhering stiffly to this law, opposed, what they could, his coming to the kingdom. “But all the Rabbins indeed he slew not (saith the Gloss upon the place alleged); for the sons of Betira were left alive, who held the chair when Hillel came out of Babylon.”

Therefore he slew not all the elders of the Sanhedrim, but those only who, taking occasion from that law, opposed his access to the kingdom. Out of that slaughter the two sons of Betira escaped, who held the first places in the Sanhedrim after the death of Shemaiah and Abtalion. Shammai also escaped, who, according as Josephus relates, foretold this slaughter. Hillel escaped likewise, if he were then present; and Menahem, who certainly was there, and who thenceforth sat second in the chair. Bava Ben Buta escaped also, as the Gemara relates, who afterward persuaded Herod that he should repair the Temple to expiate this bloody impiety. And others escaped.

[The chief priests.] When the Sanhedrim consisted of priests, Levites, and Israelites (as Maimonides teacheth), under the word chief priests, are comprehended the two former; namely, whosoever of the clergy were members of the Sanhedrim; and under the scribes of the people are comprehended all those of the Sanhedrim who were not of the clergy.

Among the priests were divers differences:

I. Of the priests some were called, as if you would say the plebeian priests; namely, such who indeed were not of the common people, but wanted school education, and were not reckoned among the learned, nor among such as were devoted to religion. For seeing the whole seed of Aaron was sacerdotal, and priests were not so much made as born, no wonder if some ignorant and poor were found among them. Hence is that distinction, The poor Israelites and the poor priests are gatherers. A Votary priest, and a Plebeian priest. And caution is given, That the oblation be not given to a Plebeian priest. And the reason of it is added, “Because whosoever giveth an oblation to a Plebeian priest doth all one as if he should give it to a lion; of which it may be doubted whether he will treat it under his feet and eat it or not. So it may be doubted of a Plebeian priest, whether he will eat it in cleanness or in uncleanness.” However ignorant and illiterate these were, yet they had their courses at the altar according to their lot, being instructed at that time by certain rules for the performing their office, appointed them by lot. You would stand amazed to read those things which are supposed concerning the ignorance and rudeness even of the high-priest himself.

II. There were others who were called Idiot, or private, priests; who although they both were learned, and performed the public office at the altar, yet were called private, because they were priests of a lower, and not of a worthier, order.

III. The worthier degree of priests was fourfold, besides the degree of the high-priest, and of the sagan his substitute. For, 1. There were the heads of the Ephemeries, or courses; in number twenty-four. 2. There were the heads of the families in every course. Of both, see the Jerusalem Talmud. 3. The presidents over the various offices in the Temple. Of them, see Shekalim. 4. Any priests or Levites, indeed, (although not of these orders), that were chosen into the chief Sanhedrim. Chief priests, therefore, here and elsewhere, where the discourse is of the Sanhedrim, were they who, being of the priestly or Levitical stock, were chosen into that chief senate.

[The scribes of the people.] A scribe, denotes more generally any man learned, and is opposed to the word rude, or clownish. “Two, who ate together, are bound to give thanks each by themselves, when both of them are scribes: But if one be a scribe, and the other ignorant [or a clown], let the scribe give thanks, and thence satisfaction is made for the duty of the ignorant, or unlearned person.” So we read of The scribes of the Samaritans; that is, the learned among the Samaritans: for among them there were no traditionarians.

More particularly, scribes, denote such, who, being learned, and of scholastic education, addicted themselves especially to handling the pen, and to writing. Such were the public notaries in the Sanhedrim, registrars in the synagogues, amanuenses who employed themselves in transcribing the law, phylacteries, short sentences to be fixed upon the door-posts, bills of contracts, or divorce, &c. And in this sense a scribe, and a Talmudic doctor, are sometimes opposed; although he was not Tanna, a Talmudic doctor, who was not Sophra, a scribe, in the sense above mentioned. In the Babylonian Talmud it is disputed (a passage not unworthy our reading), what disagreement in calculation may be borne with between an expounder out of the chair, or the pulpits, and a writer of contracts, or bills of divorce, or a register, &c., in reckoning up the year of the Temple, of the Greek empire, &c. Concerning which matter, this, among other things, is concluded on, that a scribe computes more briefly, a doctor more largely. It will not repent one to read the place; nor that whole tract called The tract of the scribes; which dictates to the scribes of that sort of which we are now speaking, concerning writing out the law, the phylacteries, &c.

But, above all others, the fathers of the traditions are called scribes (who were, indeed, the elders of the Sanhedrim): which is clear enough in these and such-like expressions: The words of the scribes are more lovely than the words of the law; that is, traditions are better than the written law: This is of the words of the scribes: that is, ‘this is from the traditionary decrees.’

These, therefore, whom Matthew calls the scribes of the people, were those elders of the Sanhedrim, who were not sprung from the sacerdotal or Levitical stock, but of other tribes: the elders of the Sanhedrim, sprung of the blood of the priests, were the scribes of the clergy, the rest were the scribes of the people.

We may therefore guess, and that no improbable conjecture, that, in this assembly, called together by Herod, these were present, among others:–1. Hillel, the president. 2. Shammai, vice-president. 3. The sons of Betira, Judah, and Joshua. 4. Bava Ben Buta. 5. Jonathan the son of Uzziel, the Chaldee paraphrast. 6. Simeon, the son of Hillel.

6. And thou Beth-lehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

[Art not the least.] These words do not at all disagree with the words of the prophet whence they are taken, Micah 5:2, which I thus render, “But thou, Beth-lehem Ephrata, it is a small thing that thou art” [or, art reckoned] “among the thousands of Israel”; for thou art to be crowned with higher dignity; “for from thee shall go forth a ruler,” &c. And in effect to this sense, unless I mistake, does the Chaldee paraphrast plainly render it, whom I suspect to be present at this very council, “Thou art within a little to become chief.” See the same sense of the word in the Targum upon Psalm 73:2, Hosea 1:4, &c.

9. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

[The star, which they saw in the east, went before them.] It is probable the star had shone in the very birthnight: and thence-forward to this very time it had disappeared. The wise men had no need of the star to be their guide when they were going to Jerusalem, a city well known; but going forward thence to Beth-lehem, and that, as it seems, by night, it was their guide.

14. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt.

[Departed into Egypt.] Egypt was now replenished with Jews above measure, and that, partly by reason of them that travelled thither under Jochanan, the son of Kareah, Jeremiah 43; partly with them that flocked thither, more latewardly, to the temple of Onias, of which Josephus writes, and both Talmuds: “When Simeon the Just said, ‘I shall die this year,’ they said to him, ‘Whom, therefore, shall we put in thy place?’ He answered, ‘Behold! my son Onias is before you.’ They made Onias therefore high-priest. But his brother Simeon envied him. Onias, therefore, fled, first into the Royal Mountain, and then into Egypt, and built there an altar, repeating that of the prophet, ‘In that day there shall be an altar to the Lord in the midst of Egypt.'”

“He that hath not seen the cathedral church of Alexandria hath never seen the glory of Israel. It was after the manner of a court-walk, double cloistered. There were sometimes there so many as doubly exceeded the number of those that went out of Egypt. There were seventy golden chairs set with gems, according to the number of the seventy elders. A wooden pulpit also placed in the middle, in which the bishop of the synagogue stood. And when the law was read, after every benediction, a sign being given by a private person waving a handkerchief, they all answered ‘Amen.’ But they sat not confusedly and mixedly together; but every artificer with the professors of the same art: so that if a stranger came, he might mingle himself with the workmen of the same trade, &c. These did wicked Trajan destroy,” &c.

The Babylonian Gemara repeats almost the same things, alleging these last matters after this manner: “They sat not confusedly, but the artificers by themselves, the silversmiths by themselves, the braziers by themselves, the weavers by themselves, &c.; so that if a poor stranger came in, he might know his own fellow-workmen, and betake himself to them, and thence receive sustenance for himself and family.”

So provision was made for the poverty of Joseph and Mary, while they sojourned in Egypt (at Alexandria, probably), partly by selling the presents of the wise men for food and provision by the way; and partly by a supply of victuals from their country-folks in Egypt when they had need.

There are some footsteps in the Talmudists of this journey of our Saviour into Egypt, but so corrupted with venomous malice and blasphemy (as all their writings are), that they seem only to have confessed the truth, that they might have matter the more liberally to reproach him; for so they speak: “When Jannai the king slew the Rabbins, R. Josua Ben Perachiah, and Jesus, went away unto Alexandria in Egypt. Simeon Ben Shetah sent thither, speaking thus, ‘From me Jerusalem the holy city, to thee, O Alexandria in Egypt, my sister, health. My husband dwells with thee, while I, in the mean time, sit alone. Therefore he rose up, and went.'” And a little after; “He brought forth four hundred trumpets, and anathematized” [Jesus]. And a little before that; “Elisaeus turned away Gehazi with both his hands, and R. Josua Ben Perachiah thrust away Jesus with both his hands.”

“Did not Ben Satda bring enchantments out of Egypt in the cutting which was in his flesh?” Under the name of Ben Satda they wound our Jesus with their reproaches, although the Glosser upon the place, form the authority of R. Tam, denies it: for thus he; R. Tam saith, This was not Jesus of Nazareth, because they say here, Ben Satda was in the days of Paphus, the son of Judah, who was in the days of R. Akiba: but Jesus was in the days of R. Josua, the son of Perachiah, &c.

16. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

[From two years old, and under.] It was now two years ago, or thereabouts, since the star had shone, and Christ was born. The reason of the tarrying of Joseph and Mary in Beth-lehem was this; that they believed that the Messias, who, according to the prophet was born there, should have been brought up nowhere but there also; nor dared they to carry him elsewhere, before they had leave to do so by an angel from heaven.

The Jewish nation are very purblind, how and whence the Messias shall arise; and “Nemo novit, no man knows whence the Son of man is,” John 7:27; that is, from what original. It was doubted whether he should come from the living or from the dead. Only it was confessed by all without controversy, that he should first make some show of himself from Beth-lehem, which the priests and scribes of the people assert, verse 4. Hence you have Christ now in his second year at Beth-lehem, whither Joseph and Mary had again betaken themselves with him, when they had now presented him in the Temple, according to the law, being forty days old, Luke 2:22. And they had taken care for his education in this place, and not elsewhere, until he himself, going forth from hence, might show himself openly the Messias, if they had not been sent away somewhere else by permission from heaven.

23. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

[He shall be called a Nazarene.] Those things which are brought from Isaiah 11:1 concerning Netzer, the Branch; and those things also produced concerning Samson the Nazarite, a most noble type of Christ, have their weight, by no means to be despised. We add, that Matthew may be understood concerning the outward, humble, and mean condition of our Saviour. And that by the word, Nazarene, he hints his separation and estrangement from other men, as a despicable person, and unworthy of the society of men.

I. Let it be observed, that the evangelist does not cite some one of the prophets, but all: “spoken by the prophets.” But now all the prophets, in a manner, do preach the vile and abject condition of Christ; none, that his original should be out of Nazareth.

II. David, in his person, speaks thus; I was a stranger to my brethren, Psalm 69:9.

III. If you derive the word Nazarene, which not a few do, from Nazir, a Nazirean, that word denotes not only a separation, dedicated to God, such as that of the Nazarenes was; but it signifies also the separation of a man from others, as being unworthy of their society; Genesis 49:26, “They shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.”

Therefore, let us digest the sense of the evangelist by this paraphrase: Joseph was to depart with Christ to Beth-lehem, the city of David, or to Jerusalem, the royal city, had not the fear of Archelaus hindered him. Therefore, by the signification of an angel, he is sent away into Galilee, a very contemptible country, and into the city Nazareth, a place of no account: whence, from this very place, and the name of it, you may observe that fulfilled to a tittle which is so often declared by the prophets, that the Messias should be Nazor, a stranger, or separate from men, as if he were a very vile person, and not worthy of their company.

Chapter 3

1. In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,

[John The Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea.] That John was born in Hebron, one may not unfitly conjecture by comparing Luke 1:39 with Joshua 21:11; and that he was born about the feast of the Passover, namely, half a year before the nativity of our Saviour, Luke 1:36. So the conceptions and births of the Baptist and our Saviour ennobled the four famous tekuphas [revolutions] of the year: one being conceived at the summer solstice, the other at the winter; one born at the vernal equinox, the other at the autumnal.

“John lived in the deserts, until he made himself known unto Israel,” Luke 1:80. That is, if the pope’s school may be interpreter, he led the life of a hermit. But,

I. Be ashamed, O papist, to be so ignorant of the sense of the word wilderness, or desert; which in the common dialect sounds all one as if it had been said, “He lived in the country, not in the city; his education was more coarse and plain in the country, without the breeding of the university, or court at Jerusalem.” An oblation for thanksgiving consists of five Jerusalem seahs, which were in value six seahs of the wilderness; that is, six country seahs.

“A Jerusalem seah exceeds a seah of the wilderness by a sixth part.”

The trees of the wilderness are those which are common, and not appropriate to one master”: that is, trees in groves and common meadows.

So 2 Corinthians 11:26: “in perils in the city, and in perils in the country.

II. The wildernesses of the land of Canaan were not without towns and cities; nor was he presently to be called an Eremite who dwelt in the wilderness. The hill-country of Judea, John’s native soil, is called by the Talmudists, The royal mountain, or hill; and by the Psalmist, The desert hill-country, Psalm 75:6; and yet “in the royal mountain were a myriad of cities.”

III. David passed much of his youth in the wilderness, 1 Samuel 17:28: but yet, who will call him an eremite? In the like sense I conceive John living in the deserts, not only spending his time in leisure and contemplation, but employing himself in some work, or studies. For when I read, that the youth of our Saviour was taken up in the carpenter’s trade, I scarcely believe his forerunner employed his youth in no calling at all.

Beginning now the thirtieth year of his age, when, according to the custom of the priests, he ought to have come to the chief Sanhedrim to undergo their examination, and to be entered into the priesthood by them, “the word of God coming unto him,” Luke 3:2, as it had done before to the prophets, he is diverted to another ministry.

2. And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

[Repent ye.] A doctrine most fit for the gospel, and most suitable to the time, and the word or the phrase as agreeable to the doctrine.

I. A nation leavened with the error of the Pharisees, concerning justification by the works of the law, was necessarily to be called off to the contrary doctrine of repentance. No receiving of the gospel was otherwise to be expected.

II. However the schools of the Pharisees had illy defined repentance, which we observe presently, yet they asserted that repentance itself was necessary to the reception of the Messias. Concerning this matter the Babylonian Gemarists do dispute: whom Kimchi also upon Isaiah 54:19 cites, and determines the question: “From the words of our Rabbins (saith he) it is plain there arose a doubt among them concerning this matter, namely, whether Israel were to be redeemed with repentance or without repentance. And it sprang from this occasion, that some texts of Scripture seemed to go against them: such as those; ‘He saw, and there was no man, and he wondered, that there was none to intercede; therefore, his own arm brought salvation.’ And also, ‘Not for your sake, O Israel, do I this.’ And again, ‘I will remember for them my old covenant,’ &c. And these places, on the other hand, make for repentance: ‘Thou shalt return to the Lord thy God, and shalt hearken to his voice.’ And again; ‘And thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, and shalt find him, if thou seekest him with all thy heart,’ &c. But these may be reconciled after this manner; namely, that many of Israel shall repent, when they shall see the signs of redemption. And hence is that which is said, ‘And he saw that there was no man,’ because they will not repent until they see the beginning of redemption.”

“If Israel shall repent but one day, forthwith the Redeemer cometh” (Taanith).

Therefore, it is very fitly argued by the Baptist, and by our Saviour after him, Matthew 4:17, from the approach of the kingdom of heaven to repentance, since they themselves to whom this is preached do acknowledge that thus the kingdom of heaven, or the manifestation of the Messias, is to be brought in. For however the Gemarists who dispute of this were of a later age, yet for the most part they do but speak the sense of their fathers.

III. The word repentance as it does very well express the sense of true repentance, so among the Jews it was necessary that it should be so expressed, among whom repentance, for the most part, was thought to consist in the confession of the mouth only.

“Whosoever, out of error or presumption, shall transgress the precepts of the law, whether they be those that command or those that forbid, when he repents and returns from his sins, he is bound to make confession. Whosoever brings an offering for a sin, committed either out of ignorance or presumption, his sin is not expiated by the offering, until he makes an oral confession. Or whosoever is guilty of death, or of scourging by the Sanhedrim, his sin is not taken away by his death, or by his scourging, if he do not repent and make confession. And because the scape-goat is the expiation for all Israel, therefore the high priest makes confession over him for all Israel.”

It is worthy observing, that, when John urgeth those that came to his baptism to repent, it is said, that they were baptized, “confessing their sins”: which was a sign of repentance highly requisite among the Jews, and necessary for those that were then brought in to the profession of the Gospel; that hereby they might openly profess that they renounced the doctrine of justification by the works of the law.

It is worthy of observing also, that John said not, “Repent, and believe the gospel,” which our Saviour did, Matthew 4:17, (and yet John preached the gospel, Mark 1:1,2; John 1:7); for his office, chiefly, was to make Christ known, who when he should come was to be the great preacher of the gospel.

Therefore the Baptist doth very properly urge repentance upon those that looked for the Messias; and the text of the Gospel used a very proper word to express true and lively repentance.

[For the kingdom of heaven is at hand.] I. The kingdom of heaven, in Matthew, is the kingdom of God, for the most part, in the other evangelists. Compare these places:

“The poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” Matthew 5:3.

“The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,” Matthew 13:11.

The kingdom of God is at hand,” Mark 1:15.

“The least in the kingdom of God,” Luke 7:28.

“Little children, of such is the kingdom of God,” Mark 10:14.

And so we have it elsewhere very often, For Heaven is very usually, in the Jewish dialect, taken for God, Daniel 4:23; Matthew 21:25; Luke 15:21; John 3:27. And, in these and such-like speeches, scattered in the Talmudists: Death by the hand of heaven: The name of heaven is profaned: The worship of heaven: by the help of heaven, &c. “For they called God by the name of Heaven, because his habitation is in heaven” (Tishbi).

The story of the Jews is related, groaning out under their persecution these words, O Heavens! that is, as the Gloss renders it, Ah! Jehovah!

II. This manner of speech, the kingdom of heaven, is taken from Daniel, chapter 7:13, 14; where, after the description of the four earthly and tyrannical monarchies, that is, the Babylonian, Mede-Persian, Grecian, and Syro-Grecian, and the destruction of them at last; the entrance and nature of the reign of Christ is described, as it is universal over the whole world, and eternal throughout all ages: “under whom the rule, and dominion, and authority of kingdoms under the whole heaven is given to the people of the saints of the Most High,” verse 27: that is, “Whereas, before, the rule had been in the hands of heathen kings, under the reign of Christ there should be Christian kings.” Unto which that of the apostle hath respect, 1 Corinthians 6:2; “know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?”

Truly I admire that the fulfilling of that vision and prophecy in Daniel should be lengthened out still into I know not what long and late expectation, not to receive its completion before Rome and antichrist shall fall; since the books of the Gospel afford us a commentary clearer than the sun, that that kingdom of heaven took its beginning immediately upon the preaching of the Gospel. When both the Baptist and Christ published the approach of the kingdom of heaven from their very first preaching; certainly, for any to think that the fulfilling of those things in Daniel did not then begin, for my part, I think it is to grope in the dark, either through wilfulness or ignorance.

III. The kingdom of heaven implies, 1. The exhibition and manifestation of the Messias, Matthew 12:28; “But if I, by the finger of God, cast out devils, the kingdom of God is come upon you”: that is, ‘Hence is the manifestation of the Messias.’ See John 3:3, 12:13, &c. 2. The resurrection of Christ; death, hell, Satan, being conquered: whence is a most evident manifestation that he is that ‘eternal King,’ &c.: see Matthew 26:29; Romans 1:4. 3. His vengeance upon the Jewish nation, his most implacable enemies: this is another, and most eminent manifestation of him: see Matthew 16:28, 19:28. 4. His dominion by the sceptre of the gospel among the Gentiles, Matthew 21:43. In this place which is before us it points out the exhibition and revelation of the Messias.

IV. The phrase the kingdom of heaven very frequently occurs in the Jewish writers. We will produce some places; let the reader gather the sense of them:

“R. Joshua Ben Korcha saith, In reciting the phylacteries, why is Hear, O Israel, [Deut 6:4, &c.] recited before that passage And it shall come to pass, if you shall hearken [Deut 11:13], &c. To wit, that a man first take upon himself the kingdom of heaven, and then the yoke of the precept.” So the Jerusalem Misna hath it; but the Babylonian thus: “That a man first take upon himself the yoke of the kingdom of heaven, and then the yoke of the precept.”

“Rabh said to Rabbi Chaijah, We never saw Rabbi [Judah] taking upon himself the kingdom of heaven. Bar Pahti answered, At that time when he put his hands to his face, he took upon himself the kingdom of heaven.” Where the Gloss speaks thus: “We saw not that he took upon himself the kingdom of heaven; for until the time came of reciting the phylacteries, he instructed his scholars; and when that time was come, I saw him not interposing any space.”

“Doth any ease nature? Let him wash his hands, put on his phylacteries, repeat them, and pray, and this is the kingdom of heaven fulfilled.” “If thou shalt have explained Shaddai, and divided the letters of the kingdom of heaven, thou shalt make the shadow of death to be cool to thee”; that is, “If, in the repeating of that passage of the phylacteries [Deut 6:4], ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord,’ &c., you shall pronounce the letters distinctly and deliberately, so that you shall have sounded out the names of God rightly, ‘thou shalt make cool the shades of death.'” For the same Gloss had said, The repeating of that passage, ‘Hear, O Israel,’ &c., is the taking of the kingdom of heaven upon thee. But the repeating of that place, ‘And it shall be, if thou shalt hearken,’ &c. [Deut 19:13] is the taking of the yoke of the precept upon thee.

“Rabban Gamaliel recited his phylacterical prayers on the very night of his nuptials. And when his scholars said unto him, ‘Hast thou not taught us, O our master, that a bridegroom is freed from the reciting of his phylacteries the first night?’ he answered, ‘I will not hearken to you, nor will I lay aside the kingdom of heaven from me, no, not for an hour.'”

“What is the yoke of the kingdom of heaven? In like manner as they lay the yoke upon an ox, that he may be serviceable; and if he bear not the yoke, he becomes unprofitable: so it becomes a man first to take the yoke upon himself, and to serve in all things with it: but if he casts it off, he is unprofitable: as it is said, ‘Serve the Lord in fear.’ What means, ‘in fear?’ the same that is written, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’ And this is the kingdom of heaven.”

“The scholars of Jochanan Ben Zaccai asked, Why a servant was to be bored through the ear, rather than through some other part of the body? He answered, When he heard with the ear those words from mount Sinai, ‘Thou shalt have no other Lord before my face,’ he broke the yoke of the kingdom of heaven from him, and took upon himself the yoke of flesh and blood.”

If by the kingdom of heaven, in these and other such-like places, which it would be too much to heap together, they mean the inward love and fear of God, which indeed they seem to do; so far they agree with our gospel sense, which asserts the inward and spiritual kingdom of Christ especially. And if the words of our Saviour, “Behold, the kingdom of God is within you,” Luke 17:21, be suited to this sense of the nation concerning the kingdom of heaven, there is nothing sounds hard or rough in them: for it is as much as if he had said “Do you think the kingdom of heaven shall come with some remarkable observation, or with much show? Your very schools teach that the kingdom of God is within a man.”

But, however they most ordinarily applied this manner of speech hither, yet they used it also for the exhibition and revelation of the Messiah in the like manner as the evangelical history doth. Hence are these expressions, and the like to them, in sacred writers: “The Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God should come.” “They thought that the kingdom of God should presently be manifested.” “Josephus of Arimathea waited for the kingdom of God.”

And these words in the Chaldee paraphrast, “Say ye to the cities of Judah, The kingdom of your God is revealed,” Isaiah 40:9: “They shall see the kingdom of their Messiah,” Isaiah 53:11.

The Baptist, therefore, by his preaching, stirs up the minds of his hearers to meet the coming of the Messiah, now presently to be manifested, with that repentance and preparation as is meet.

4. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

[His food was locusts.He that by vow tieth himself from flesh, is forbidden the flesh of fish and of locusts. See the Babylonian Talmud (Cholin) concerning locusts fit for food.

5. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan.

[The region round about Jordan.] The word the region round about, is used by the Jerusalem Gemara: “From Beth-horon to the sea is one region round about,” or, one circumjacent region. Perhaps, both in the Talmudist and in the evangelist, is one and the same thing with a coast, or a country along a coast, in Pliny: “The country (saith he) along the coast is Samaria”: that is, the sea-coast, and the country further, lying along by that coast: which may be said also concerning the region round about Jordan. Strabo, concerning the plain bordering on Jordan, hath these words; “It is a place of a hundred furlongs, all well watered and full of dwellings.”

A few things concerning Baptism.

6. And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

[And were baptized.] It is no unfit or unprofitable question, whence it came to pass that there was so great a conflux of men to the Baptist, and so ready a reception of his baptism?

I. The first reason is, Because the manifestation of the Messias was then expected, the weeks of Daniel being now spent to the last four years. Let us consult a little his text:–

Daniel 9:24. “Seventy weeks [of years] are decreed concerning thy people,” &c. That is, four hundred and ninety years, from the first of Cyrus to the death of Christ. These years are divided into three parts, and they very unequal.

1. Into seven weeks, or forty-nine years, from the giving of Cyrus’ patent for the rebuilding Jerusalem, to the finishing the rebuilding of it by Nehemiah.

2. Into sixty-two weeks, or four hundred thirty-four years,–namely, from the finishing the building of the city to the beginning of the last week of the seventy. In which space of time, the times of the Persian empire (which remained after Nehemiah, if indeed there was any time now remaining), and the times of the Grecian empire, and of the Syro-Grecian, were all run out, and those times also, wherein the Romans ruled over the Jews.

3. The holy text divides the last week, or the last seven years, into two equal parts, verse 27; which I thus render; “And he shall strengthen, or confirm, the covenant with many in that one week: and the half of that week shall make the sacrifice and oblation to cease: or, in the half of that week he shall make to cease,” &c. Not in the middle of that week, but in the latter half, that is, the latter three years and a half of the seven.

First, seven weeks having been reckoned up before, and then sixty-two weeks, verse 25,–now there remained one only of the seventy; and in reference to that, in the middle of it the Messias shall begin his ministry; which being finished in three years and a half (the latter halved part of that week), “he shall make the sacrifice and oblation to cease,” &c.

The nation could not but know, could not but take great notice of, the times so exactly set out by the angel Gabriel. Since, therefore, the coming of the Messias was the great wish and desire of all,–and since the time of his appearing was so clearly decreed by the angel that nothing could be more,–and when the latter half of the last seven years, chiefly to be observed, was now, within a very little, come:–it is no wonder if the people, hearing from this venerable preacher that the kingdom of heaven was now come, should be stirred up beyond measure to meet him, and should flock to him. For, as we observed before, “They thought that the kingdom of God would immediately be manifested,” Luke 19:11.

II. Another reason of it was this,–the institution of baptism, for an evangelical sacrament, was first in the hand of the Baptist, who, “the word of the Lord coming to him,” (Luke 3:2) went forth, backed with the same authority as the chiefest prophets had in times past. But yet the first use of baptism was not exhibited at that time. For baptism, very many centuries of years backwards, had been both known and received in most frequent use among the Jews,–and for the very same end as it now obtains among Christians,–namely, that by it proselytes might be admitted into the church; and hence it was called Baptism for proselytism: and was distinct from Baptism [or washingfrom uncleanness. See the Babylonian Talmud in Jevamoth.

I. I ascribe the first use of it, for this end, to the patriarch Jacob, when he chose into his family and church the young women of Sychem, and other heathens who then lived with him. “Jacob said to his family, and to all who were with him, Put away from you the strange gods, and be ye clean, and change your garments,” &c. Genesis 35:2. What that words means, and be ye clean, Aben Ezra does very well interpret to be the washing of the body, or baptism; which reason itself also persuades us to believe.

II. All the nation of Israel do assert, as it were with one mouth, that all the nation of Israel were brought into the covenant, among other things, by baptism. “Israel (saith Maimonides, the great interpreter of the Jewish law) was admitted into the covenant by three things,–namely, by circumcision, baptism, and sacrifice. Circumcision was in Egypt; as it is said, ‘None uncircumcised shall eat of the passover.’ Baptism was in the wilderness before the giving of the law; as it is said, ‘Thou shalt sanctify them to-day and to-morrow, and let them wash their garments.'”

III. They assert, that that infinite number of proselytes in the day of David and Solomon were admitted by baptism: “The Sanhedrims received not proselytes in the days of David and Solomon: not in the days of David, lest they should betake themselves to proselytism out of a fear of the kingdom of Israel: not in the days of Solomon, lest they might do the same by reason of the glory of the kingdom. And yet abundance of proselytes were made in the days of David and Solomon before private men; and the great Sanhedrim was full of care about this business: for they would not cast them out of the church, because they were baptized,” &c.

IV. “Whensoever any heathen will betake himself, and be joined to the covenant of Israel, and place himself under the wings of the divine Majesty, and take the yoke of the law upon him, voluntary circumcision, baptism, and oblation, are required: but if it be a woman, baptism and oblation.”

That was a common axiom No man is a proselyte until he be circumcised and baptized. It is disputed by the Babylonian Gemara, “A proselyte, that is circumcised and not baptized, what of him? R. Eliezer saith Behold, he is a proselyte: for so we find concerning our fathers, that they were circumcised, but not baptized. One is baptized, but not circumcised; what of him? R. Joshua saith, Behold, he is a proselyte: for so we find concerning the maidservants, who were baptized, but not circumcised. But the wise men say, Is he baptized, and not circumcised? Or, Is he circumcised, and not baptized? He is not a proselyte, until he be circumcised and baptized.”

But baptism was sufficient for women so far forth as this held good, “One baptizeth a heathen woman in the name of a woman, we can assert that for a deed rightly done.” Where the Gloss is this; “To be baptized in the name of a woman, was to be baptized with the washing of a woman polluted, and not with the baptism to proselytism. But we may, nevertheless, assert her, who is so baptized, for a complete proselytess; because that baptism of washing for uncleanness serves for proselytism to her; for a heathen woman is not baptized [or washed] for uncleanness.”

V. They baptized also young children (for the most part with their parents). They baptize a little proselyte according to the judgment of the Sanhedrim: that is, as the Gloss renders it, “If he be deprived of his father, and his mother brings him to be made a proselyte, they baptize him [because none becomes a proselyte without circumcision and baptism] according to the judgment [or right] of the Sanhedrim; that is, that three men be present at the baptism, who are now instead of a father to him.”

And the Gemara a little after; If with a proselyte his sons and his daughters are made proselytes also, that which is done by their father redounds to their good. R. Joseph saith, When they grow into years, they may retract. Where the Gloss writes thus; “This is to be understood of little children, who are made proselytes together with their father.”

“A heathen woman, if she is made a proselytess, when she is now big with child,–the child needs not baptism: for the baptism of his mother serves him for baptism.” Otherwise, he were to be baptized.

If an Israelite take a Gentile child, or find a Gentile infant, and baptizeth him in the name of a proselyte,–behold, he is a proselyte.”

We cannot also pass over that, which indeed is worthy to be remembered: “Any one’s servant is to be circumcised, though he be unwilling; but any one’s son is not to be circumcised, if he be unwilling. R. Jochanan inquired, Behold a little son; do you circumcise him by force? Yea, although he be as the son of Urcan. R. Hezekiah saith, Behold, a man finds an infant cast out, and he baptizeth him in the name of a servant: in the name of a freeman, do you also circumcise him in the name of a freeman.”

We have therefore alleged these things the more largely, not only that you may receive satisfaction concerning the people flocked, in so universal a concourse, to John’s baptism (because baptism was no strange thing to the Jews); but that some other things may be observed hence, which afford some light to certain places of Scripture, and will help to clear some knotty questions about baptism.

First, You see baptism inseparably joined to the circumcision of proselytes. There was, indeed, some little distance of time; for “they were not baptized till the pain of circumcision was healed, because water might be injurious to the wound.” But certainly baptism ever followed. We acknowledge, indeed, that circumcision was plainly of divine institution; but by whom baptism, that was inseparable from it, was instituted, is doubtful. And yet it is worthy of observation, our Saviour rejected circumcision, and retained the appendix to it: and when all the Gentiles were now to be introduced into the true religion, he preferred this ‘proselytical introductory’ (pardon the expression) unto the sacrament of entrance into the gospel.

One might observe the same almost in the eucharist. The lamb in the Passover was of divine institution, and so indeed was the bread. But whence was the wine? But yet, rejecting the lamb, Christ instituted the sacrament in the bread and wine.

Secondly, Observing from these things which have been spoken, how very known and frequent the use of baptism was among the Jews, the reason appears very easy why the Sanhedrim, by their messengers, inquired not of John concerning the reason of baptism, but concerning the authority of the baptizer; not what baptism meant, but whence he had a license so to baptize, John 1:25.

Thirdly, Hence also the reason appears why the New Testament doth not prescribe, by some more accurate rule, who the persons are to be baptized. The Anabaptists object, ‘It is not commanded to baptize infants,–therefore they are not to be baptized.’ To whom I answer, ‘It is not forbidden to baptize infants,–therefore they are to be baptized.’ And the reason is plain. For when Paedobaptism in the Jewish church was so known, usual, and frequent, in the admission of proselytes, that nothing almost was more known, usual, and frequent,–

1. There was no need to strengthen it with any precept, when baptism was now passed into an evangelical sacrament. For Christ took baptism into his hands, and into evangelical use, as he found it; this only added, that he might promote it to a worthier end and a larger use. The whole nation knew well enough that little children used to be baptized: there was no need of a precept for that which had ever, by common use, prevailed. If a royal proclamation should now issue forth in these words, “Let every one resort, on the Lord’s day, to the public assembly in the church”; certainly he would be mad, who, in times to come, should argue hence that prayers, sermons, singing of psalms, were not to be celebrated on the Lord’s day in the public assemblies, because there is no mention of them in the proclamation. For the proclamation provided for the celebration of the Lord’s day in the public assemblies in general: but there was no need to make mention of the particular kinds of the divine worship to be celebrated there, when they were always, and every where, well known and in daily use before the publishing of the proclamation, and when it was published. The case is the very same in baptism. Christ instituted it for an evangelical sacrament, whereby all should be admitted into the possession of the gospel, as heretofore it was used for admission into proselytism to the Jewish religion. The particulars belonging to it,–as, the manner of baptizing, the age, the sex to be baptized, &c.–had no need of a rule and definition; because these were, by the common use of them, sufficiently known even to mechanics and the most ignorant men.

2. On the other hand, therefore, there was need of a plain and open prohibition that infants and little children should not be baptized, if our Saviour would not have had them baptized. For, since it was most common, in all ages foregoing, that little children should be baptized, if Christ had been minded to have that custom abolished, he would have openly forbidden it. Therefore his silence, and the silence of the Scripture in this matter, confirms Paedobaptism, and continueth it unto all ages.

Fourthly, It is clear enough, by what hath been already said, in what sense that is to be taken in the New Testament which we sometimes meet with,–namely, that the master of the family was baptized with his whole family, Acts 16:15, 33, &c. Nor is it of any strength which the Anti-paedobaptists contend for, that it cannot be proved there were infants in those families; for the inquiry is not so proper, whether there were infants in those families, as it is concluded truly and deservedly,–if there were, they had all been to be baptized. Nor do I believe this people, that flocked to John’s baptism, were so forgetful of the manner and custom of the nation, that they brought not their little children also with them to be baptized.

Some things are now to be spoken of the manner and form which John used.

First, In some things he seems to have followed the manner whereby proselytes were baptized; in other things, not to have followed them. Concerning it the Talmudic Canons have these sayings:–

I. They do not baptize a proselyte by night. Nor, indeed, “were the unclean to be washed but in the day-time.” Maimonides adds, “They baptized not a proselyte on the sabbath, nor on a holy-day, nor by night.”

II. A proselyte hath need of three: that is, it is required, that three men, who are scholars of the wise men, be present at the baptism of a proselyte; who may take care that the business be rightly performed, and may briefly instruct the catechumen [the person to be baptized], and may judge of the matter itself. For the admission of a proselyte was reckoned no light matter; Proselytes are dangerous to Israel, like the itch, was an axiom. For they, either tenacious of their former customs, or ignorant of the law of Israel, have corrupted others with their example; or, being mingled with Israel, were the cause that the divine glory did rest the less upon them; because it resteth not on any but upon families of a nobler pedigree. These reasons the Glossers give. When, therefore, the admission of proselytes was of so great moment, they were not to be admitted but by the judicial consistory of three.

III. They baptize a proselyte in such a confluence of waters as was fit for the washing of a menstruous woman. Of such a confluence of waters the lawyers have these words: “A man that hath the gonorrhea is cleansed nowhere but in a fountain: but a menstruous woman, as also all other unclean persons, were washed in some confluence of waters; in which so much water ought to be as may serve to wash the whole body at one dipping. Our wise men have esteemed this proportion to be a cubit square, and three cubits depth: and this measure contains forty seahs of water.”

When it is said, that “he that hath the gonorrhea is to wash in a spring [or a stream]; but a menstruous woman, and all other unclean persons, in some confluence of waters,”–it forbids not a menstruous woman, and other unclean persons, to wash in streams, where they might: but it permits, where they might not, to wash in some confluence of water; which was not lawful for a man that had the gonorrhea to do. The same is to be understood concerning the baptism of a proselyte, who was allowed to wash himself in streams: and was allowed also, where there were no streams, to wash in a confluence of waters.

IV. When a proselyte was to be circumcised, they first asked him concerning the sincerity of his conversion to Judaism: whether he offered not himself to proselytism for the obtaining riches, for fear, or for love to some Israelite woman, &c. And when they saw that he came out of love of the law, they instructed him concerning the various articles of the law, of one God, of the evil of idolatry, of the reward of obedience, of the world to come, of the privileges of Israel, &c. All which, if he professed that he embraced them he is forthwith circumcised.

“As soon as he grows whole of the wound of circumcision, they bring him to baptism; and being placed in the water, they again instruct him in some weightier and in some lighter commands of the law. Which being heard, he plunges himself, and comes up, and behold, he is as an Israelite in all things. The women place a woman in the waters up to the neck; and two disciples of the wise men, standing without, instruct her about some lighter precepts of the law and some weightier, while she, in the meantime, stands in the waters. And then she plungeth herself; and they, turning away their faces, go out, while she comes up out of the water.”

In the baptizing of a proselyte, this is not to be passed over, but let it be observed, namely, that others baptized him, and that he baptized himself, or dipped, or plunged himself in the waters. Now, what that plunging was, you may understand from those things which Maimonides speaks in Mikvaoth in the place before cited. “Every person baptized” [or dipped, whether he were washed from pollution, or baptized into proselytism], “must dip his whole body, now stripped and made naked, at one dipping. And wheresoever in the law washing of the body or garments is mentioned, it means nothing else than the washing of the whole body. For if any wash himself all over, except the very top of his little finger, he is still in his uncleanness. And if any hath much hair, he must wash all the hair of his head, for that also was reckoned for the body. But if any should enter into the water with their clothes on, yet their washing holds good; because the water would pass through their clothes, and their garments would not hinder it.”

And now, a little to compare the baptism of John with that proselytical baptism, and ours with both, these things are to be considered:–

I. If you compare the washing of polluted persons, prescribed by the law, with the baptism of proselytes,–both that and this imply uncleanness, however something different, that implies legal uncleanness,–this, heathen,–but both polluting. But a proselyte was baptized not only into the washing-off of that Gentile pollution, nor only thereby to be transplanted into the religion of the Jews; but that by the most accurate rite of translation that could possibly be, he might so pass into an Israelite, that, being married to an Israelite woman, he might produce a free and legitimate seed, and an undefiled offspring. Hence, servants that were taken into a family were baptized,–and servants also that were to be made free: not so much because they were defiled with heathen uncleanness, as that, by that rite becoming Israelites in all respects, they might be more fit to match with Israelites, and their children be accounted as Israelites. And hence the sons of proselytes, in following generations, were circumcised indeed, but not baptized. They were circumcised, that they might take upon themselves the obligation of the law; but they needed not baptism, because they were already Israelites. From these things it is plain that there was some difference as to the end, between the Mosaical washings of unclean persons, and the baptism of proselytes; and some between the baptism of proselytes and John’s baptism: not as though they concurred not in some parallel end; but because other ends were added over and above to this or that, or some ends were withdrawn.

II. The baptism of proselytes was the bringing over of Gentiles into the Jewish religion; the baptism of John was the bringing over of Jews into another religion. And hence it is the more to be wondered at, that the people so readily flocked to him, when he introduced a baptism so different from the known proselytical baptism. The reason of which is to be fetched from hence,–that at the coming of the Messias they thought, not without cause, that the state of things was plainly to be changed; and that, from the oracles of the prophets, who, with one mouth, described the times of the Messias for a new world. Hence was that received opinion, That God, at that time, would renew the world for a thousand years…And that also, that they used the world to come by a form of speech very common among them, for the times of the Messias; which we observe more largely elsewhere.

III. The baptism of proselytes was an obligation to perform the law; that of John was an obligation to repentance. For although proselytical baptism admitted of some ends,–and circumcision of others,–yet a traditional and erroneous doctrine at that time had joined this to both, that the proselytes covenanted in both, and obliged himself to perform the law; to which that of the apostle relates, Galatians 5:3, “I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.”

But the baptism of John was a ‘baptism of repentance’; Mark 1:4: which being undertaken, they who were baptized professed to renounce their own legal righteousness; and, on the contrary, acknowledged themselves to be obliged to repentance and faith in the Messias to come. How much the Pharisaical doctrine of justification differed from the evangelical, so much the obligation undertaken in the baptism of proselytes differed from the obligation undertaken in the baptism of John: which obligation also holds amongst Christians to the end of the world.

IV. That the baptism of John was by plunging the body (after the same manner as the washing of unclean persons, and the baptism of proselytes was), seems to appear from those things which are related of him; namely, that he “baptized in Jordan”; that he baptized “in Aenon, because there was much water there”; and that Christ, being baptized, “came up out of the water”: to which that seems to be parallel, Acts 8:38, “Philip and the eunuch went down into the water,” &c. Some complain, that this rite is not retained in the Christian church, as though it something derogated from the truth of baptism; or as though it were to be called an innovation, when the sprinkling of water is used instead of plunging. This is no place to dispute of these things. Let us return these three things only for a present answer:–

1. That the notion of washing in John’s baptism differs from ours, in that he baptized none who were not brought over from one religion, and that an irreligious one too,–into another, and that a true one. But there is no place for this among us who are born Christians: the condition, therefore, being varied, the rite is not only lawfully, but deservedly, varied also. Our baptism argues defilement, indeed, and uncleanness; and demonstrates this doctrinally,–that we, being polluted, have need of washing: but this is to be understood of our natural and sinful stain, to be washed away by the blood of Christ and the grace of God: with which stain, indeed, they were defiled who were baptized by John. But to denote this washing by a sacramental sign, the sprinkling of water is as sufficient as the dipping into water,–when, in truth, this argues washing and purification as well as that. But those who were baptized by John were blemished with another stain, and that an outward one, and after a manner visible; that is, a polluted religion,–namely, Judaism or heathenism; from which, if, according to the custom of the nation, they passed by a deeper and severer washing,–they neither underwent it without reason; nor with any reason may it be laid upon us, whose condition is different from theirs.

2. Since dipping was a rite used only in the Jewish nation and proper to it, it were something hard, if all nations should be subjected under it; but especially, when it is neither necessarily to be esteemed of the essence of baptism, and is moreover so harsh and dangerous, that, in regard of these things, it scarcely gave place to circumcision. We read that some, leavened with Judaism to the highest degree, yet wished that dipping in purification might be taken away, because it was accompanied with so much severity. “In the days of R. Joshua Ben Levi, some endeavoured to abolish this dipping, for the sake of the women of Galilee; because, by reason of the cold, they became barren. R. Joshua Ben Levi said unto them, Do ye go about to take away that which hedges in Israel from transgression?” Surely it is hard to lay this yoke upon the neck of all nations, which seemed too rough to the Jews themselves, and not to be borne by them, men too much given to such kind of severer rites. And if it be demanded of them who went about to take away that dipping, Would you have no purification at all by water? it is probable that they would have allowed of the sprinkling of water, which is less harsh, and not less agreeable to the thing itself.

3. The following ages, with good reason, and by divine prescript, administered a baptism differing in a greater matter from the baptism of John; and therefore it was less to differ in a less matter. The application of water was necessarily of the essence of baptism; but the application of it in this or that manner speaks but a circumstance: the adding also of the word was of the nature of a sacrament; but the changing of the word into this or that form, would you not call this a circumstance also? And yet we read the form of baptism so changed, that you may observe it to have been threefold in the history of the New Testament.

Secondly, In reference to the form of John’s baptism [which thing we have propounded to consider in the second place], it is not at all to be doubted but he baptized “in the name of the Messias now ready to come”: and it may be gathered from his words, and from his story. As yet he knew not that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messias; which he confesseth himself, John 1:31: yet he knew well enough, that the Messias was coming; therefore, he baptized those that came to him in his name, instructing them in the doctrine of the gospel, concerning faith in the Messias, and repentance; that they might be the readier to receive the Messias when he should manifest himself. Consider well Malachi 3:1, Luke 1:17, John 1:7,31, &c. The apostles, baptizing the Jews, baptized them “in the name of Jesus”; because Jesus of Nazareth had now been revealed for the Messias; and that they did, when it had been before commanded them by Christ, “Baptize all nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” So you must understand that which is spoken, John 3:23, 4:2, concerning the disciples of Christ baptizing; namely, that they baptized in ‘the name of Jesus,’ that thence it might be known that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messias, in the name of whom, suddenly to come, John had baptized. That of St. Peter is plain, Acts 2:38; “Be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ”: and that, Acts 8:16, “They were baptized in the name of Jesus.”

But the apostles baptized the Gentiles, according to the precept of our Lord, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” Matthew 28:19. For since it was very much controverted among the Jews about the true Messias, and that unbelieving nation denied, stiffly and without ceasing, that Jesus of Nazareth was he (under which virulent spirit they labour even to this day), it was not without cause, yea, nor without necessity, that they baptized in the name of Jesus; that by that seal might be confirmed this most principal truth in the gospel, and that those that were baptized might profess it; that Jesus of Nazareth was the true Messias. But among the Gentiles, the controversy was not concerning the true Messias, but concerning the true God: among them, therefore, it was needful that baptism should be conferred in the name of the true God, “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

We suppose, therefore, that men, women, and children came to John’s baptism, according to the manner of the nation in the reception of proselytes; namely, that they standing in Jordan were taught by John that they were baptized into the name of the Messias, that was now immediately to come; and into the profession of the doctrine of the gospel concerning faith and repentance; that they plunged themselves into the river, and so came out. And that which is said of them, that they were baptized by him “confessing their sins,” is to be understood according to the tenour of the Baptist’s preaching; not that they did this man by man, or by some auricular confession made to John, or by openly declaring some particular sins; but when the doctrine of John exhorted them to repentance and to faith in the Messias, they renounced and disowned the doctrine and opinion of justification by their works, wherewith they had been beforetime leavened, and acknowledged and confessed themselves sinners.

[In Jordan.] John could not baptize in any part of Jordan, so it were within the bounds of Judea (which the evangelists assert), which had not been dried up, and had afforded a passage to the Israelites when they came out of Egypt, and were now entering into the promised land.

Some few remarks concerning the Pharisees and Sadducees.

7. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

[And seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees.] To attempt a history of the Pharisees and Sadducees, after so many very learned men, who have treated of their original, manners, and institutions, would be next to madness: we will briefly touch at a few things, and those, perhaps, less obvious.

1. That the Pharisees do not derive their name (as some would have it) from the word which signifies to expound is sufficiently evinced by this, that there were women-Pharisees as well as men. “R. Joshua saith, A religious man foolish, a wicked man crafty, a woman-Pharisee, and the dashing of the Pharisees [against the stones], destroy the world.” Those things are worthy observing, which are spoke by the Babylonian Gemarists on that clause, A woman-Pharisee“The Rabbins teach. A praying [procax] maid, a gadding widow, and a boy whose months are not fulfilled, these corrupt the world. But R. Jochanan saith, We learn the shunning of sin from a maid, and the receiving of a reward from a widow. ‘The shunning of sin from a maid’; for R. Jochanan heard a certain maid prostrate on her face thus praying; Eternal Lord, thou hast created Paradise, thou hast created hell also, thou hast created the righteous, and thou hast created the wicked: let it be thy good pleasure that I be not a scandal to men. ‘The receiving of a reward from a widow’; for there was a certain widow, who, when there were synagogues nearer everywhere, she always resorted to the school of R. Jochanan to pray: to whom R. Jochanan said, O my daughter, are there not synagogues at hand round about you? But she answered, Will there not be a reward for my steps [or, for my journey hither]? for [the tradition] saith, These destroy the world, as Joanna, the daughter of Retib.”

…[O]ne Gloss [says] a maid given to prayer, or a maid of many prayers. By another it is rendered, a maid given to fasting: losing her virginity by fasting.

A gadding widow they call her, “who always goes about from place to place to visit her neighbours”; they are the words of the Gloss. “And these corrupt the world, because they are no other but bawds and sorceresses, and yet they pretend sanctity.”

“Joanna the daughter of Retib [the Gloss also being witness] was a certain sorceress widow, who, when the time of any child’s birth drew near, shut up the womb of the child-bearing woman with magic arts, that she could not be delivered. And when the poor woman had endured long and great torments, she would say, ‘I will go and pray for you; perhaps my prayers will be heard’: when she was gone, she would dissolve the enchantments, and presently the infant would be born. On a certain day as a hired man wrought in her house, she being gone to a woman’s labour, he heard the charms tinkling in a pan; and, taking off the cover, the charms presently came out, and strait the infant is born; and hence it was known that she was a witch.”

I have therefore cited these passages, not only that it may be shown that there were women-Pharisees, and so that the name is not take from interpreting or expounding, but that it may be observed also what kind of women, for the most part, embrace Pharisaism; namely, widows and maids, under the veil of sanctity and devotion, hiding and practising all manner of wickedness. And so much we gain of the history of the Pharisees, while we are tracing the etymology of the word.

II. That the Pharisees therefore were so called from the word signifying separation, is more commonly asserted, and more truly; and the thing itself, as well as the word, speaks it. So that by a word more known to us, you might rightly call the Pharisees, Separatists; but in what sense, has need of more narrow inquiry. The differences of the Jewish people are to be disposed here into diverse ranks: and, first, we will begin with the women.

1. It were an infinite task to search particularly, how their canons indulged (shall I say?) or prescribed the woman a freedom from very many rites, in which a great part of the Jewish religion was placed. How numberless are the times that that occurs in the Talmudic pandect, “Women, servants, and children, are not bound to these things. Women, servants, and children, are not bound to recite their phylacteries, nor to wear them. The Passovers of women are at their own will.” And, not to dwell upon things that are obvious, let this one serve instead of many: “A certain matron asked R. Eleazar, Why, when Aaron sinned in making the golden calf, the people are punished with a threefold death? He answered, Let not a woman be learned beyond her distaff. Hircanus his son said unto him, Because no answer is given her in one word out of the law, she will withdraw from us three hundred tenth cori yearly. To whom he replied, Let them rather go and be burnt, than the words of the law be delivered to women.”

From hence it appears that the women that embraced Pharisaism did it of their own free will and vow, not by command: which the men-Pharisees also did.

2. Pass we from the women to the men; and, first, to the lowest degrees of men in the distinction relating to religion; namely, to them whom they ordinarily called illiterate, and the people of the earth, or the plebeians. Of them, thus the Gemara in Sotah newly cited: “One reads the Scriptures, and recites the Misna, and yet he waits not upon the scholars of the wise men; what of him? R. Eleazar said, This is one of the people of the earth. R. Samuel Bar Nachmani saith, Behold, this is an illiterate man. R. Jannai saith, ‘Behold, this is a Cuthean.’ R. Achabar saith, ‘Behold, this is a magician.'” And a little after, “Who is the people of the earth? R. Meith saith, ‘He that recites not his phylacteries morning and evening with his prayers.’ But the wise men say, ‘He, whosoever he be, that lays not up his phylacteries.’ Ben Azzai saith, ‘He who hath not a fringe on his garment.’ R. Jochanan Ben Joseph saith, ‘He that instructs not his sons in the doctrine of the law.’ Others say, ‘He who, although he read the Scriptures, and repeats the traditions, yet attends not on the scholars of the wise men, this is, the people of the earth [or the plebeians]. Does he read the Scriptures, and not repeat the tradition? Behold, this man is illiterate.'” The Gloss upon the place speaks thus, “The people of the earth are they of whom there is suspicion of tenths and cleanness”: that is, lest they tithe not rightly, nor take care aright concerning cleansings. And the illiterate person is “more vile than, or inferior to, the people of the earth.” Compare that, John 7:49, “this people that knoweth not the law is cursed.”

The colleagues or associates, and scholars of the wise men, were opposed to these vulgar persons. Under the title of scholars of the wise men are comprehended all that were learned and studious: under the title of religious, as well learned as unlearned. There were some of the learned whom they commonly called colleagues of the Rabbins; who as yet were candidates, and not preferred to the public office of teaching or judging. The thing may be illustrated by one example: “Do the colleagues enter in to appoint the new moon? R. Hoshaia said, When I was a colleague, R. Samuel Ben R. Isaac led me in to the appointment of the new moon, but I knew not whether I were of the number or no.” And a little later; “Do the colleagues [or fellows] go in to intercalate the year? Let us learn this from the example of Rabban Gamaliel, who said, Let the seven seniors meet me in the chamber. But eight entered, ‘Who came in hither,’ saith he, ‘without leave?’ ‘I,’ answered Samuel the Little.”

In this sense the word a colleague, differs nothing from a scholar of a wise man, in that both signify a student and a learned man. But the word a colleague, hath a wider sense, denoting all such who have more professedly devoted themselves to religion, and have professed a more devout life and rule than the common people, whether they were learned or unlearned, whether of the sect of the Pharisees, or of the Sadducees, or some other. Hence you have mention of a religious Samaritan, and of a religious baker. And the phrase seems to be drawn from Psalm 119:63; “I am a companion of all those that fear thee”: They take upon them the habit of religion. See the Babylonian Talmud in Avodah Zarah in the Gloss. That distinction also is worthy of consideration, of The greater and the less religious.

Yet the word seems sometimes to be appropriated to the Pharisees, as being men who, above all others, put on a splendidly cloaked religion, which appears enough from the history of the Gospel. So, perhaps, is that to be understood, The religious Galileans purify: that is, as the Gloss explains it, “They cleanse their wine and their oil for a drink-offering, if perhaps the Temple may be built in their days.” Which, nevertheless, the Aruch citing, thus explains them, The religious eat their common food in cleanness. By which very thing the Gloss defines Pharisees; To the Pharisees; that is, to them that eat their common food in cleanness. Behold, how the word religious, and Pharisees, are convertible terms; and how this was the proper notion whereby a Pharisee was defined, “That he ate his common food in cleanness”: that is, that he washed his hands when he ate.

III. We must not think that Pharisaism arose altogether and at once, but it was long a-conceiving, and of not fixed form when it was brought forth. The same may, in a manner, be said of this, which is of the traditions: both these and that were the issue of many years. The traditionarians do refer the first conception of the Traditions to the times of Ezra. But how many centuries of years passed before the birth of this whole monster was full ripe? In like manner, the first seeds of Pharisaism were cast long before its birth; and being now brought forth, was a long time growing, before it came to maturity; if so be any can define what its maturity was.

We observe presently, that the foundations of Sadduceeism were laid in the days of Ezra, before there were any Sadducees: in his days also, I suspect, the foundations of Pharisaism were laid long before there were any Pharisees. For, since the Pharisees were marked with that title because they separated themselves from other men, as more profane; and since, in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, it was the great care, and that a holy care too, to separate the seed of Israel from the heathen inhabitants of the land, to wit, the Samaritans, the Ashdodites, the Moabites, &c., not much after; some men, arrogating too much for themselves, took occasion hence of separating themselves from the men of the Israelitic seed, as too profane, and very unfit (alas!) for their communion. Which very thing we experience in our present Separatists. For when the Scripture commands Christians that they communicate not “with unbelievers, with those who are without,” &c., that is, with heathens; some do hence make a pretence of withdrawing themselves from the assemblies of Christians: by what right, by what foundation, let themselves look to it.

We shall not trace the time wherein the name of Pharisee first arose; this is done by learneder men: and therefore let it be enough to have observed that only. After once this pretence of religion was received, “that it was a pious matter to separate a man’s self from the common people,” superstition increased every day, which served for a stay and patronage to this sect and separation. For when they had espoused a religion so supercilious, that they commonly said, “Stand off, I am holier than thou” (which was also foretold by the prophet with an execration, Isaiah 65:5), and that they place the highest sanctimony in this, to withdraw themselves from the common people, as profane; it was certainly necessary to circumscribe, and to put themselves under a more austere rule and discipline, that they might retain the name and fame of religious person in other things besides that separation, that argued so much pride and arrogancy. Hence the troubles about tithings and washings arose, and increased age after age: hence sprang the frequent fasting and prayers, the cares of the phylacteries, fringes, and other matters without number: so that (a thing fatal to Separatists) this sect, at last, was crumbled into sects, and a Pharisee was, in a manner, the same to a Pharisee, that the people of the earth was to a Pharisee.

Both Talmuds reckon seven sects of Pharisees, and so does the Aruch: which it will not be irksome to describe with their pencil, that the reader may see to what a degree of madness this sect was come, as well as to what a degree of hypocrisy. The Pharisees are seven:

1. A Shechemite Pharisee. This [Pharisee] does as Shechem Where the Gloss is, “Who is circumcised, but not for the honour of God.” He carrieth his precepts upon his shoulders: that is, as the Aruch explains it, “wood to make a booth [in the feast of Tabernacles], or something of that nature.”

2. A Pharisee struck or dashing. Who dasheth his feet. The Gloss is, “He who walketh in humility, the heel of one foot touching the great toe of the other: nor did he lift up his feet from the earth, so that his toes were dashed against the stones.” The Aruch writes, “Who withdrew himself a great way off, that he might not press upon men in the ways, and dashed his feet against the stones.” Strike me (or surround me), and yet I will perform the command.

3. A Pharisee that lets out his blood. “He strikes out his blood against the walls.” The Gloss is; “He shows himself such a one as if his eyes were hoodwinked, that he might not look upon a woman; and hereupon dashed his head against the walls, and let out his blood.” The Aruch writes, “He so pressed up himself against the walls, that he might not touch those that passed by, that by the dashing he fetched blood of himself.”–“He performed one precept, and one duty, and struck out blood at each.”

4. A Pharisee of the mortar. The Aruch thus describes him; “He went in a loose coat, resembling a mortar with the mouth turned downwards. So he, with his loose garment, was straiter above and broader below.” In the Jerusalem Talmud he is called “who saith, I withdraw whatsoever is mine and fulfil the command.”

5. “The Pharisee which saith, Let me know what my duty is, and I will do it.” “I have done my duty, that the command may be performed according to it.” The Aruch thus; “As though he should say, There is no man can show me wherein I have transgressed.”

6. A Pharisee of fear: such was Job.

7. A Pharisee of love: Among all these, none is worthy to be loved but the Pharisee of love: as Abraham.

Whether Pharisaism ran out into any of these sects in the days of the Baptist, we dispute not. Let it be granted, that the best and the most modest of that order came to his baptism: the best of the Pharisees certainly were the worst of men. And it is so much the more to be wondered at that these men should receive his baptism after that manner as they did; when it was highly contrary to the rule of the Pharisees to converse among the common people, of whom there was so great a concourse to John; and highly contrary to the doctrine of the Pharisees, so much as to dream of any righteousness, besides that which was of the works of the law, which the doctrine of John diametrically contradicted.

The original of the Sadducees, learned men as well Jews as Christians, do, for the most part, refer to one Zadoc, a scholar of Antigonus Socheus; which Antigonus took the chief seat in the Sanhedrim after the death of Simeon the Just. Of him thus speaks the tract Avoth: “Antigonus of Socho received traditions of Simeon the Just. He said, Be not as servants, who wait upon their master for the sake of the reward; but be ye like servants who wait upon their master not for the sake of the reward: but let the fear of the Lord rule you.”

“This wise man (saith Rambam upon the place) had two scholars, Zadoc and Baithus; who, when they heard this from their master, said among themselves, when they were gone away. Our master in his exposition teacheth us that there is neither reward nor punishment, nor any expectation at all [for the future]: for they understood not what he meant: therefore, they mutually strengthened one another, and departed from the rule, and forsook the law: and some company adhered to both. The wise men, therefore, called them Sadducees and Baithusees.” And a little after; “But in these countries, namely in Egypt, they call them Karaites, but Sadducees and Baithusees are their names among the wise men.” See also the Avoth of R. Nathan.

Yet that raiseth a scruple here: “At the conclusion of all prayers in the Temple they said, for ever. But when the heretics brake in and said, There was no age but one, it was appointed to be said, for ever and ever, or from age to age.” Upon these words thus the Gloss; “In the first Temple they said only, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for ever.’ But when the heretics brake in and said there was no age but this, Ezra and his consistory appointed that it should be said, for ever and ever, or from age to age, to imply there is a double world [this, and one to come], to root out of the heart the opinion of those that deny the resurrection of the dead.”

Take notice, reader, that “there were some who denied the resurrection of the dead in the days of Ezra,” when as yet Zadoc, the father of the Sadducees, was not born. After Ezra, and his great synagogue (which endured many a year after Ezra was dead), sat Simeon the Just, performing the office of the high-priest, for the space of forty years: and Antigonus Socheus, the master of Zadoc, succeeded him in the chair of the Sanhedrim. So that although the Sadducees, with good reason, do bear an ill report for denying the resurrection, and that was their principal heresy; yet that heresy was, when as yet there were no heretics, called by the name of Sadducees. To which, perhaps, those words do agree (which sufficiently taste of such a heresy), “Ye have said, It is in vain to serve God,” &c., Malachi 3:14.

It is not, therefore, to be denied that the Sadducee-heretics were so named from Zadoc; but that the heresy of the Sadducees, concerning the resurrection, was older than that name, one may suppose not without reason; nor that that cursed doctrine first arose from the words of Antigonus, illy understood by Zadoc and Baithus, but was of an ancienter original, when as yet the prophets Zecharias, Malachi, and Ezra himself, were alive, if that Ezra were not the same with Malachi, as the Jews suppose. Therefore I do rather think that heresy sprang from the misunderstanding of the words of Ezekiel, chapter 37; which some understanding according to the letter, and, together with it, seeing no resurrection, dreamt that there would be none afterward. And this doctrine increased, and exalted itself into a sect; when, at length, Zadoc and Baithus asserted that it was so determined out of the chair by their master Antigonus, the president of the Sanhedrim.

When I fetch the rise of the Sadducees not much after the death of Simeon the Just, that does not unseasonably come into my mind, which is mentioned by the Talmudists, that the state of things became worse after his death. “All the days of Simeon the Just, the scape-goat had scarce come to the middle of the precipice of the mountain [whence he was cast down], but he was broken into pieces: but, when Simeon the Just was dead, he fled away [alive] into the desert, and was eaten by Saracens. While Simeon the Just lived, the lot of God [in the day of expiation] went forth always to the right hand: Simeon the Just being dead, it went forth sometimes to the right hand and sometimes to the left. All the days of Simeon the Just, the little scarlet tongue looked always white; but when Simeon the Just was dead, it sometimes looked white and sometimes red. All the days of Simeon the Just, the west light always burnt; but when he was dead, it sometimes burnt and sometimes went out. All the days of Simeon the Just, the fire upon the altar burnt clear and bright; and, after two pieces of wood laid on in the morning, they laid on nothing else the whole day: but when he was dead, the force of the fire languished in that manner that they were compelled to supply it all the day. All the days of Simeon the Just, a blessing was sent upon the two loaves and the show-bread, so that a portion came to every priest, to the quantity of an olive at least; and there were some others to whom something remained after they had eaten their fill: but when Simeon the Just was dead, that blessing was withdrawn, and so little remained to each, that those that were modest withdrew their hands, and those that were greedy still stretched them out.”

[Generation of vipers.] I. Serpents,, chapter 23:33. Not so much “the seed of Abraham,” which ye boast of, as “the seed of the serpent,” “O, the Antichrist, the Opposer, 2 Thessalonians 2:4. A nation and offspring diametrically opposite, and an enemy to that seed of the woman, and which was to bruise his heel.”

II. Hence, not without ground, it is concluded that that nation was rejected and given over to a reprobate sense, even before the coming of Christ. They were not only a generation, but an offspring of vipers, serpents sprung from serpents. Nor is it wonder that they were rejected by God, when they had long since rejected God, and God’s word, by their traditions. See that Matthew 13:13-15, 1 Peter 2:10, “Ye were not a people.”

There was, indeed, a certain remnant among them to be gathered by Christ: and when that was gathered, the rest of the nation as delivered over to everlasting perdition. This is that remnant of the apostle, Romans 11:5, which then was, when he writ those things; which then as to be gathered, before the destruction of that nation.

[To fly from the wrath to come.] These words respect the very last words of the Old Testament, “lest I smite the earth with a curse,” Malachi 4; and denote the most miserable destruction of the nation, and now almost ready to fall upon them.

The receiving of John’s baptism signed and fenced those that received it from the ruin that was just coming. To this belongs that of St. Peter, Epistle 1, chapter 3:20, 21: in that manner as Noah and his sons were by water delivered from the flood, “so also baptism now, the antitype of that type, saveth us” from the deluge of divine indignation, which in a short time is to overflow the Jewish nation. Think here, if those that came to baptism brought not their little ones with them to baptism: when, by the plain words of the Baptist, those that are baptized are said to “fly from the wrath to come?” that is, ‘the wrath of God,’ that was not long hence to destroy the nation by a most sad overthrow.

9. And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

[Think not to say.] A Jerusalem phrase, to be met with everywhere in the Talmud: To think a word, or to be of that opinion.

10. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

[The axe is laid to the root.] These words seem to be taken from Isaiah 5:33,34. The destruction of the nation was to proceed from the Romans, who had now a great while held them under the yoke. That axe, now laid to the root of the tree, shall certainly cut it down, if from this last dressing by the gospel it bears not fruit. In the Talmud, those words of Isaiah are applied to the destruction of the city; and thence it is argued, that the Messias should be born not much after the time of that destruction, because presently after the threatening of that ruin follows, “A Branch shall arise out of the stock of Jesse,” Isaiah 11:1.

11. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

[Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear.] In Luke it is to unloose the latchet of his shoes: which comes to the same thing: both sound to the same import, as if he had said, ‘Whose servant I am not worthy to be.’

“A Canaanite servant is like a farm, in respect of buying: for he is bought with money, or with a writing, or by some service done as a pledge or pawn. And what is such a pawning in the buying of servants? Namely, that he looseth the shoe of him [who buys], or binds on his shoe, or carries to the bath such things as be necessary for him,” &c. These things Maimonides produceth out of the Talmud, where these words are, “How is a servant bought by service? He looseneth the buyer’s shoe; he carrieth such things after him as are necessary for the bath; he unclothes him; washes, anoints, rubs, dresses him; puts on his shoes, and lifts him up from the earth,” &c. See also the Tosaphta.

This, by the way, is to be noted, which the Gloss intimates, that all servants, of what heathen nation soever, bought by the Jews, were called ‘Canaanite servants,’ because it is said of Canaan, “Canaan a servant of servants.”

[Thus it becomes us to fulfil all righteousness.] That is, ‘that we fulfil every thing that is just.’ Now in the baptism of Christ there were these two just things especially:–I. That this great priest, being initiated into his ministerial office, should answer the type of the admission of the Levitical priests, who were initiated by washing and anointing; so was he by baptism, and the Holy Ghost. II. When, by the institution of Christ, those that entered into the profession of the gospel were to be introduced by baptism, it was just, yea, necessary, that Christ, being to enter into the same profession, and to preach it too, should be admitted by baptism.

16. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

[And Jesus being baptized.] I. That Christ conversed upon earth two-and-thirty years and a half (as many years as David lived at Jerusalem; compare 2 Samuel 5:5), is proved hence:–1. That he was baptized when he had now completed his twenty-ninth year, and had newly begun his thirtieth. That the words of Luke imply, He began to be about thirty years old. Which words, although they are applied by some Christians to I know not what large latitude,–yet in the Jewish schools, and among that nation, they would not admit, certainly, of another sense than we produce. For there this axiom holds, The first day of the year is reckoned for that year. And, questionless, Luke speaks with the vulgar. For let it be supposed that the evangelist uttered these words in some Jewish school, “N. was baptized beginning to be about thirty years old“: how could it be understood by them of the thirtieth complete (much less of the thirty-first, or thirty-second, as some wrest it)? when the words beginning to be about, do so harmoniously agree with the said axiom, as scarcely any thing can do more clearly. 2. That, from his baptism to his cross, he lived three years and a half. This is intimated by the angel Gabriel, Daniel 9:27; “In the half of a week” (that is, in three years and a half) “he shall make the sacrifice and oblation to cease”; and it is confirmed from the computation in the evangelists, but especially in John, who clearly mentioneth four Passovers (chap 2:13, 5:1, 6:4, and 13:1) after his forty days’ fast, and not a little time spent in Galilee.

II. Therefore, we suppose Christ was baptized about the feast of Tabernacles, in the month Tisri, at which time we suppose him born; and that John was born about the feast of the Passover, and at that time began to baptize. For when Christ lived two-and-thirty years and a half, and died at the feast of the Passover, you must necessarily reduce his birth to the month Tisri, and about the time of the feast of Tabernacles: and when John the Baptist was elder than he by half a year, you must necessarily suppose him born about the feast of the Passover. But of these things we have said something already.

17. And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

[And behold, a voice from heaven.] Christ was honoured with a threefold testimony, pronounced by a voice from heaven, according to his threefold office. See what we say at chapter 17:2.

You find not a voice sent from heaven between the giving of the law and the baptism of Christ. What things the Jews relate of Bath Kol, they must pardon me if I esteem them, partly, for Jewish fables,–partly, for devilish witchcrafts. They hold it for a tradition: “After the death of the last prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, the Holy Spirit departed from Israel [which was most true] but they used thenceforth the Bath Kol.” “The Bath Kol was this: When a voice (or thundercame out of heaven, another voice came out from it.”

But why, I pray, was prophecy withdrawn, if heavenly oracles were to be continued? Why, also, was Urim and Thummim taken away? Or rather, why was it not restored after the Babylonian captivity? For “Five things (say they) were wanting under the second Temple, which were under the first; namely, the fire from heaven, the ark, Urim and Thummim, the oil of anointing, and the Holy Spirit.” It would certainly be a wonder, if God, taking away from his people his ordinary oracles, should bestow upon them a nobler oracle, or as noble; and that when the nation had degenerated, and were sunk into all kind of impiety, superstition, heresy. When the last prophets, Haggai and the rest, were dead, the Sadducean heresy, concerning the resurrection crept in, and the Pharisaical heresy also, weakening all Scripture, and making it of none effect by vain traditions. And shall I believe that God should so indulge his people, when they were guilty of so grievous apostasy, as to vouchsafe to talk familiarly with them from heaven, and to afford them oracles so sublime, so frequent, as the prophets themselves had not the like? If I may speak plainly what I think, I should reduce those numberless stories of the Bath Kol which occur everywhere under these two heads; namely, that very many are mere fables, invented for this purpose, that hence the worth of this or that Rabbin or story may be illustrated: the rest are mere magical and diabolical delusions.

When I read these and such-like passages, that the Bath Kol in Jericho gave witness to Hillel, that he was worthy to have the Holy Ghost abide upon him; that the Bath Kol in Jabneh yielded the same testimony to Samuel the Little; that the Bath Kol again in Jabneh determined the controversies between the schools of Shammai and Hillel, for those of Hillel; and innumerable other stories of that kind, I cannot but either suspect these to be tales, or that these voices were framed by art magic for the honour of the Rabbins.

It is remarkable what is related in the Jerusalem Talmud; R. Eliezer saith, They follow the hearing of Bath Kol. And a little after; “R. Jochanan, and R. Simeon Ben Lachish, desired to see the face of Samuel [the Babylonian Doctor]; Let us follow, say they, the hearing of Bath Kol. Travelling therefore, near a school, they heard a boy’s voice reading [in 1 Samuel 25:1] And Samuel died. They observed this, and so it came to pass, for Samuel of Babylon was dead.”

“R. Jonah and R. Josah went to visit R. Acha lying sick: Let us follow, say they, the hearing of Bath Kol. They heard the voice of a certain woman speaking to her neighbour, ‘The light is put out.’ To whom she said, ‘Let it not be put out, nor let the light of Israel be quenched.'”

Behold! reader, a people very well contented to be deceived with a new kind of Bath Kol. Compare these things with Virgil’s lots, of which the Roman historians speak frequently. Not to be more tedious therefore in this matter, let two things only be observed: 1. That the nation, under the second Temple was given to magical arts beyond measure. And, 2. That it was given to an easiness of believing all manner of delusions beyond measure. And one may safely suspect, that those voices which they thought to be from heaven, and noted with the name of Bath Kol, were either formed by the devil in the air to deceive the people, or by magicians by devilish art to promote their own affairs. Hence the apostle Peter saith with good reason, that “the word of prophecy was surer than a voice from heaven”; 2 Peter 1:19.

The very same which I judge of the Bath Kol, is my opinion also of the frequent appearances of Elias, with which the leaves of the Talmud do every where abound; namely, that in very many places the stories are false, and, in the rest, the apparitions of him were diabolical. See the notes upon the tenth verse of the seventeenth chapter.

Chapter 4

1. Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

[He was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted, &c.] The war, proclaimed of old in Eden between the serpent, and the seed of the serpent, and the seed of the woman, Genesis 3:15, now takes place; when that promised seed of the woman comes forth into the field (being initiated by baptism, and anointed by the Holy Ghost, unto the public office of his ministry) to fight with that old serpent, and at last to bruise his head. And, since the devil was always a most impudent spirit, now he takes upon him a more hardened boldness than ever, even of waging war with him whom he knew to be the Son of God, because from that ancient proclamation of this war he knew well enough that he should bruise his heel.

The first scene or field of the combat was the ‘desert of Judea,’ which Luke intimates, when he saith, that “Jesus returned from Jordan, and that he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness”; that is, from the same coast or region of Jordan in which he had been baptized.

The time of his temptations was from the middle of the month Tisri to the end of forty days; that is, from the beginning of our month of October to the middle of November, or thereabouts: so that he conflicted with cold, as well as want and Satan.

The manner of his temptations was twofold. First, invisibly, as the devil is wont to tempt sinners; and this for forty days: while the tempter endeavoured with all his industry to throw in his suggestions, if possible, into the mind of Christ, as he does to mortal men. Which when he could not compass, because he found ‘nothing in him’ in which such a temptation might fix itself, John 14:30, he attempted another way, namely, by appearing to him in a visible shape, and conversing with him, and that in the form of an angel of light. Let the evangelists be compared. Mark saith, “he was tempted forty days”: so also doth Luke: but Matthew, that “the tempter came to him after forty days”; that is, in a visible form.

The matter of his temptations was very like the temptations of Eve. She fell by the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life”: which are the heads of all sins, 1 John 2:16.

By “the lust of the eyes”: for “she saw the fruit, that it was pleasant to the sight.”

By “the lust of the flesh”: she lusted for it, because “it was desirable to be eaten.”

By “the pride of life”; not contented with the state of perfection wherein she was created, she affected a higher; and she “took of the fruit, and did eat,” that she might become wiser by it.

The same tempter set upon our Saviour with the same stratagems.

I. As Eve was deceived by mistaking his person, supposing a good angel discoursed with her when it was a bad, so the devil in like manner puts on the good angel here, clothed with light and feigned glory.

II. He endeavours to ensnare Christ by “the lust of the flesh”; “Command that these stones be made bread”: by “the lust of the eye”; “All these things will I give thee, and the glory of them”: by “the pride of life”; “‘Throw thyself down,’ and fly in the air, and be held up by angels.”

5. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple.

[Upon the pinnacle of the Temple.] Whether he placed him upon the Temple itself, or upon some building within the holy circuit, it is in vain to seek, because it cannot be found. If it were upon the Temple itself, I should reflect upon the top of the porch of the Temple: if upon some other building, I should reflect upon the royal gallery. The priests were wont sometimes to go up to the top of the Temple, stairs being made for this purpose, and described in the Talmudic book entitled Middoth; and they are said to have ascended hither, “When fire was first put to the Temple, and to have thrown up the keys of the chambers of the Temple towards heaven, with these words; ‘O thou eternal Lord, because we are not worthy to keep these keys, to thee they are delivered.’ And there came, as it were, the form of a hand out of heaven, and took them from them: and they leaped down, and fell into the fire.”

Above all other parts of the Temple the porch of the Temple, yea, the whole space before it, may not unfitly be called the wing of the Temple, because, like wings, it extended itself in breadth on each side, far beyond the breadth of the Temple: which we take notice of elsewhere.

If, therefore, the devil had placed Christ in the very precipice of this part of the Temple, he may well be said to have placed him upon the wing of the Temple, both because this part was like a wing to the Temple itself, and that that precipice was the wing of this part.

But if you suppose him placed upon the royal gallery, look upon it thus painted out by Josephus: “On the south part [of the court of the Gentiles] was the king’s gallery, that deserves to be mentioned among the most magnificent things under the sun: for upon a huge depth of a valley, scarcely to be fathomed by the eye of him that stands above, Herod erected a gallery of a vast height; from the top of which if any looked down, he would grow dizzy, his eyes not being able to reach to so vast a depth.”

8. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

[Showed him all the kingdoms of the world, &c.] That is, Rome with her empire and state. For, 1. That empire is called all the world, (which word Luke useth in this story), both in sacred and profane writers. 2. At this time all cities were of little account in comparison of Rome, nor did any part of the earth bear any vogue without that empire. 3. Rome was ‘the seat of Satan,’ Revelation 13:2; and he granted to the beast of that city both it and the dominion. 4. This therefore seems to be that whereby he attempts to ensnare our Saviour in this object, namely, that he promiseth to give him the pomp and power of Caesar, and to deliver into his hand the highest empire of the world, that is, the Roman. This, antichrist afterward obtained.

13. And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:

[And, leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt at Capernaum.] Why he left Nazareth after he had passed six or seven-and-twenty years there, the reason appears, Luke 4:28, &c. We do not read that he returned thither again; and so, unhappy Nazareth, thou perishest by thine own folly and perverseness. Whether his father Joseph had any inheritance at Capernaum, which he possessed as his heir, or rather dwelt there in some hired house, we dispute not. This is certainly called his city, Matthew 9:1, &c.; and here, as a citizen, he paid the half-shekel, Matthew 17:24. Where it is worthy marking what is said by the Jews: How long does a man dwell in some city before he be as one of the citizens? Twelve months. The same is recited again elsewhere. The Jerusalem Gemara thus explains it; “If he tarry in the city thirty days, he becomes as one of the citizens in respect of the alms-chest; if six months, he becomes a citizen in respect of clothing; if twelve months, in respect of tributes and taxes.” The Babylonian adds, “if nine months, in respect of burial.” That is, if any abide in a city thirty days, they require of him alms for the poor; if six months, he is bound, with the other citizens, to clothe the poor; if nine months, to bury the dead poor; if twelve months, he is bound to undergo all other taxes with the rest of the citizens.

15. The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles;

[The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthali.] It is needful that the words of Isaiah be considered, whence these words are taken. He had been discoursing, in the eighth chapter towards the end, concerning the straits and miseries that compassed the transgressors of the law and the testimony. “To the law and to the testimony,” &c., verse 20. “But if a man transgress against it [that is, the law and the testimony], it will redound to his hardship, and he shall suffer hunger,” &c., verse 21. “And he shall look to the earth, and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish, and he shall be driven to darkness,” verse 22. And then it follows, chapter 9:1, “For the dimness shall not be like to that wherein it was ill with him, at what time the former [afflicter] lightly touched the land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthali, and the latter grievously afflicted,” &c. “That people who sat in darkness, saw a great light,” &c.

That which the prophet means here is this: 1. That the contemners of Emanuel and his testimony, that is, the gospel, should undergo far greater calamities than those places had undergone, either under their first conqueror Ben-hadad, or under the second, the king of Assyria. For those places saw light at last restored to them, when the Messias preached the gospel there: but the contemners of the gospel are driven into eternal darkness. 2. He foretells the morning of liberty, and of evangelical light, to arise there, where the first darkness and the calamities of their captivity had arisen. St. Matthew citing these words, that he might show the prophecy to be fulfilled, of that light that should arise there, omits those words which speak of their former misery, that is, the first clause of the verse; and produceth those words only, and that very fitly too, which make to his purpose, and which aim directly thither by the prophet’s intention. The prophet Hosea affords us an instance of curtailing a sentence after that manner, chapter 1:11, 2:1; when he proclaims Israel and Judah miserable, he calls them ‘Lo-Ammi,’ and ‘Lo-Ruchamah’; when happy, ‘Ammi,’ and ‘Ruchamah.’

[Beyond Jordan.] Not by Jordan, but beyond Jordan. For the latter afflicter, the king of Assyria, had carried away that country also into banishment and bonds, 1 Chronicles 5:26. Here is an ellipsis of the conjunction and.

18. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

[Casting a net into the sea.Fishing in the sea of Tiberias, in Talmudic speech. There the fathers of the traditions dream that Joshua the son of Nun gave ten laws to the Israelites concerning having some things in common, as lawful, and to be allowed of: Our Rabbins have a tradition that Joshua ordained ten conditions: That cattle graze in common in woody places. And that a man gather wood in common in his neighbour’s field, &c. Among others, And that any, in common, spread his nets for fishing in the sea of Tiberias. But yet under this caution, That none set up a wall, which may be any stop to ships. The Gloss is, “It is the manner of fishermen to fasten stakes in the water, and to make fences of canes or reeds, in which the fish may be taken: but this is not permitted, because it is an impediment to the ships.” However therefore the sea of Tiberias belonged to the tribe of Nephthali, yet it was free for any Israelite to fish in it, so it were under the condition mentioned.

19. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

[Fishers of men.] This phrase is something agreeable with that of Maimonides upon the Talmud, A fisher of the law.

21. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.

[James the son of Zebedee.] We meet with a certain Rabbin of this very same name, R. Jacob the son of Zabdi.

23. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

[Teaching in their synagogues.] Since we meet with very frequent mention of synagogues every where in the books of the Gospel, it may be needful to know something more clearly what the customs and institutions of the synagogues were, for the better understanding very many things which have some reference thereunto in the New Testament; let us here despatch the history of them as briefly as we may, now when the mention of synagogues first occurs.

Of the Synagogues.

I. A synagogue was not formed anywhere but where there were ten learned men professedly students of the law. 1. Let that of the Talmud be observed. “What is a great city? That in which were ten men of leisure. If there be less than this number, behold, it is a village.” 2. Observe that of Maimonides; “Wheresoever there be ten of Israel, there a house must needs be built, to which they may resort to prayers in the time of prayer, and this house is called a synagogue.” Not that any ten of Israel made a synagogue; but wheresoever were ten learned men, and studious of the law, these were called Batlanin, men of leisure; “who were not to be esteemed for lazy and idle persons, but such who,” not being encumbered with worldly things, “were at leisure only to take care of the affairs of the synagogues, and to give themselves to the study of the law.”

The reason of the number of ten, though lean and empty enough, is given in the Talmud: and it is this; A congregation consists of ten: which they prove hence, because it is said, “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, &c. (Num 14:27). Take away Joshua and Caleb, and there remain only ten”; namely, of the spies of the land.

II. Of these ten men:

1. Three bear the magistracy, and were called The bench of three: whose office it was to decide the differences arising between the members of the synagogue, and to take care about other matters of the synagogue. These judged concerning money-matters, thefts, losses, restitutions, ravishing a virgin, of a man enticing a virgin, of the admission of proselytes, laying on of hands, and divers other things, of which see the tract Sanhedrim. These were properly, and with good reason, called rulers of the synagogue, because on them laid the chief care of things, and the chief power.

2. Besides these there was ‘the public minister of the synagogue,’ who prayed publicly, and took care about the reading of the law, and sometimes preached, if there were not some other to discharge this office. This person was called the angel of the church, and the Chazan or bishop of the congregation. The Aruch gives the reason of the name: “The Chazan (saith he) is the angel of the church (or the public minister), and the Targum renders…[it as] one that oversees; for it is incumbent on him to oversee how the reader reads, and whom he may call out to read in the law.” The public minister of the synagogue himself read not the law publicly; but, every sabbath, he called out seven of the synagogue (on other days, fewer) whom he judged fit to read. He stood by him that read, with great care observing that he read nothing either falsely or improperly; and calling him back and correcting him if he had failed in any thing…Certainly the signification of the word bishop, and angel of the church, had been determined with less noise, if recourse had been made to the proper fountains, and men had not vainly disputed about the signification of words, taken I know not whence. The service and worship of the Temple being abolished, as being ceremonial, God transplanted the worship and public adoration of God used in the synagogues, which was moral, into the Christian church; to wit, the public ministry, public prayers, reading God’s word, and preaching, &c. Hence the names of the ministers of the Gospel were the very same, the angel of the church, and the bishop; which belonged to the ministers in the synagogues.

3. There were also three deacons, or almoners, on whom was the care of the poor; and these were called Parnasin, or Pastors. And these seven perhaps were reputed the seven good men of the city; of whom there is frequent remembrance in the Talmudists.

Of these Parnasin we shall only produce these things. There were two, who demanded alms of the townsmen; and they were called, the two collectors of alms. To whom was added a third to distribute it.

“R. Chelbo in the name of R. Ba Bar Zabda saith, They do not make fewer than three Parnasin. For I see the judgments about many matters to be managed by three: therefore much more these which concern life. R. Josi in the name of R. Jochanan saith, They do not make two brethren Parnasin. R. Josi went to Cephar, intending there to set Parnasin over them, but they received him not. He went away, after he had said these words before them, Ben Bebai was only set over the threaded [linen of the lamps], and yet he was reckoned worthy to be numbered with the eminent men of that age. Ye who are set over the lives of men, how much more are ye so! R. Chaggai, when he appointed the Parnasin, argued to them out of the law, all dominion that is given is given from the law. By me kings reign. R. Chaiia Bar Ba set rulers, over them, that is, he appointed Parnasin. R. Lazar was a Parnas.”

This perhaps holds out a light to those words of the apostle, 1 Timothy 3:13, “They that have performed the office of a deacon well have obtained to themselves a good degree”: that is, being faithful in their care and provision for the poor, as to their corporal life, they may well be probationers for the care of souls. For when those Parnasin, as also all the ten, were learned and studious, they might with good reason be preferred from the care of bodies to that of souls. The apostles’ deacons are to be reckoned also of the same learned and studious rank. And now let us turn our eyes a little from the synagogues to Christian churches, in the history of the New Testament. When the Romans permitted the Jewish synagogues to use their own laws and proper government, why, I pray, should there not be the same toleration allowed to the apostolical churches? The Roman censure had as yet made no difference between the Judaizing synagogues of the Jews, and the Christian synagogues or churches of Jews; nor did it permit them to live after their own laws, and forbid these. I am not, therefore, afraid to assert, that the churches of that first age were wanting to themselves, if they took not up the same liberty of government as the Romans allowed the Jewish synagogues to use. And I do not think that was said by the apostle, 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3, &c. without this foundation. Therefore, this power of their own government being allowed them, if so be they were minded to enjoy what they might, how easily may those words of the apostle be understood, which have so racked learned men (shall I say?), or which have been so racked by them, 1 Timothy 5:17: “Let the elders that rule well,” &c.

4. We may reckon the eighth man of these ten to be the interpreter in the synagogue; who, being skilled in the tongues, and standing by him that read in the law, rendered in the mother-tongue, verse by verse, those things that were read out of the Hebrew text. The duty of this interpreter, and the rules of his duty, you may read at large in the Talmud.

The use of such an interpreter, they think, was drawn down to them from the times of Ezra, and not without good reason. “And they read in the book of the law: that was the text. Explaining: that was the Targum. And added the meaning: they are the accents: and they understood the text: that was the Masoreth.” See Nehemiah 8:8; see also Buxtorf’s Tiberias, chapter 8.

5. We do not readily known whom to name for the ninth and tenth of this last three. Let us suppose them to be the master of the divinity-school, and his interpreter: of whom we shall have a fuller occasion of inquiry. And thus much concerning the head of the synagogue, that learned Decemvirate, which was also the representative body of the synagogue.

III. The days wherein they met together in the synagogue were the sabbath, and the second day and the fifth of every week. Of the sabbath there is no question. They refer the appointment of the second and fifth days to Ezra. “Ezra (say they) decreed ten decrees. He appointed the public reading of the law in the second and fifth days of the week. Also on the sabbath at the time of the sacrifice. He appointed washing to those that had the gonorrhea. He appointed the session of the judges in cities on the second and fifth days of the week,” &c. Hence, perhaps, it will appear in what sense that is to be understood, Acts 13:42. “The Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath, or the sabbath between“; that is, on the days of that intervening week, wherein they met together in the synagogue.

IV. Synagogues were anciently builded in fields. “To the evening recital of the phylacteries are to be added two prayers going before, and two following after.” Where the Gloss thus; “The Rabbins instituted that prayer that they might retain their colleagues in the synagogue. And this certainly respected their synagogues at that time; because they were situated in the fields, where they might be in danger.” And so Rabbenu Asher upon the same tract; “Anciently their synagogues were in fields: therefore they were afraid to tarry there, until the evening prayers were ended. It was therefore appointed that they should recite some verses, in which a short sum of all the eighteen prayers had been compacted”…

But the following times brought back their synagogues for the most part into the cities; and provision was made by sharp canons, that a synagogue should be built in the highest place of the city, and that no house should be built higher than it.

V. The like provision was made, that every one at the stated times of prayer should frequent the synagogue. “God does not refuse the prayers, although sinners are mingled there. Therefore it is necessary that a man associate himself with the congregation, and that he pray not alone when an opportunity is given of praying with the congregation. Let every one therefore come morning and evening to the synagogue.” And “It is forbidden to pass by the synagogue in the time of prayer, unless a man carry some burden upon his back: or unless there be more synagogues in the same city; for then it may be judged that he goes to another; or unless there be two doors in the synagogue; for it may be judged that he passed by one to go in at another. But if he carry his phylacteries upon his head, then it is allowed him to pass by, because they bear him witness that he is not unmindful of the law.” These things are taken out of the Babylonian Talmud: where these are also added: “The holy blessed one saith, Whosoever employeth himself in the study of the law, and in the returning of mercy, and whosoever prays with the synagogue, I account concerning him, as if he redeemed me and my sons from the nations of the world. And whosoever prays not with the synagogue is called an ‘ill neighbour,’ as it is said, ‘Thus saith the Lord of all my evil neighbours,'” &c. Jeremiah 12:14.

VI. When they were met together in the synagogue on the sabbath-day (for this being observed, there is no need to speak any thing of the other days), the service being begun, the minister of the church calls out seven, whomsoever he pleases to call out, to read the law in their order. First, a priest, then a Levite, if they were present; and after these five Israelites. Hence it is, O young student in Hebrew learning, that in some editions of the Hebrew Bible you see marked in the margin of the Pentateuch, 1. The priest. 2. The Levite. 3. The third. 4. The fourth. 5. The fifth. 6. The sixth. 7. The seventh:–denoting by these words the order of the readers, and measuring out hereby the portion read by each one. Thus, I suppose, Christ was called out by the angel of the church of Nazareth, Luke 4:16, and reading according to the custom as a member of that synagogue.

There is no need to mention that prayers were made publicly by the angel of the church for the whole congregation, and that the congregation answered Amen to every prayer: and it would be too much particularly to enumerate what those prayers were, and to recite them. It is known enough to all that prayers, and reading of the law and the prophets, was the chief business in the synagogue, and that both were under the care of the angel of the synagogue.

I. There seemed to have been catechizing of boys in the synagogue. Consider what that means, “What is the privilege of women? This, that their sons read in the synagogue. That their husbands recite in the school of the doctors.” Where the Gloss thus, “The boys that were scholars were wont to be instructed [or to learn] before their master in the synagogue.”

II. The Targumist, or Interpreter, who stood by him that read in the law, and rendered what was read out of the Hebrew original into the mother-tongue,–sometimes used a liberty of enlarging himself in paraphrase. Examples of this we meet with in the Talmud, and also in the Chaldee paraphrast himself.

III. Observe that of the Glosser, Women and the common people were wont to meet together to hear the exposition or the sermon. But of what place is this better to be understood than of the synagogue? That especially being well weighed which immediately followeth, And they had need of expounders [or preachers] to affect their hearts: which is not much unlike that which is said Acts 13:13, If ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.

IV. Service being done in the synagogue, they went to dinner. And after dinner to the school, or the church, or a lecture of divinity; call it by what name you will. It is called also not seldom by the Talmudists The synagogue. In this sense, it may be, is upper synagogue to be taken, mentioned in the Talmud; if it be not to be taken of the Sanhedrim. In this place a doctor read to his auditors some traditional matter, and expounded it. In the Beth Midrash they taught traditions, and their exposition.

There are three things to be taken notice of concerning the rites used in this place.

1. He that read to the auditors spake not out with an audible voice, but muttered it with a small whisper in somebody’s ear; and he pronounced it aloud to all the people. So that here the doctor had his interpreter in this sense, as well as the reader of the law his in the synagogue. “Rabh went to the place of R. Shilla, and there was no interpreter to stand by R. Shilla; Rabh therefore stood by him.” Where the Gloss hath these words, “He had no speaker, that is, he had no interpreter present, who stood before the doctor when he was reading the lecture. And the doctor whispered him in the ear in Hebrew, and he rendered it in the mother-tongue to the people.” Hither that of our Saviour hath respect, Matthew 10:27; “What ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the house-tops.” Consult the same place.

2. It was customary in this place, and in these exercises, to propound questions. In that remarkable story of removing Rabban Gamaliel of Jafne from his presidentship, which we meet with in divers places of both Talmuds: when they met together in the Beth Midrash, “The questioner stood forth and asked, The evening prayer, is it observed by way of duty, or of free will?” And after a few lines, the mention of an interpreter occurs: “The whole multitude murmured against it, and said to Hotspith the interpreter, ‘Hold your peace’; and he held his peace,” &c.

3. While the interpreter preached from the mouth of the doctor, the people sat upon the earth. “Let not a judge go upon the heads of the holy people.” The Gloss is, “While the interpreter preached the synagogue [or the whole congregation] sat on the ground: and whosoever walked through the middle of them to take his place, seemed as if he walked upon their heads.”

One may safely be of opinion that the word synagogue, was used sometimes in the New Testament in this sense; and that Christ sometimes preached in these divinity-schools, as well as in the synagogues.

But by what right was Christ permitted by the rulers of the synagogue to preach, being the son of a carpenter, and of no learned education? Was it allowed any illiterate person, or mechanic, to preach in the synagogues, if he had the confidence himself to it? By no means. For it was permitted to none to teach there but those that were learned. But there were two things especially that gave Christ admission to preach in every synagogue; namely, the fame of his miracles, and that he gave out himself the head of a religious sect. For however the religion of Christ and his disciples was both scorned and hated by the scribes and Pharisees, yet they accounted them among the religious in the same sense as they did the Sadducees; that is, distinguished from the common people, or the seculars, who took little care of religion. When, therefore, Christ was reckoned among the religious, and grew so famous by the rumour of his miracles, and the shining rays of his doctrine, no wonder if he raised among the people an earnest desire of hearing him, and obtained among the governors of the synagogues a liberty of preaching.

Chapter 5


3-5. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

[Blessed, blessed, &c.] It is commanded, Deuteronomy 27, that, upon the entrance of the people into the promised land, blessings and curses should be denounced from the mounts Gerizim and Ebal: the curses being particularly reckoned up, but the blessings not so. Which seems not to be without a mystery, since the law brought the curse with it; but Christ, who should bring the blessing, was yet to come a great while hence. Now he is present pronouncing the blessings, and that on a mountain. The Jewish writers do thus relate that matter:

“Six tribes went up to the top of mount Gerizim, and six to the top of mount Ebal. But the priests and the Levites stood below with the ark of the covenant. The priests compassed the ark; the Levites compassed the priests; and the whole people of Israel stood on one side and on that other: as it is said, ‘All Israel and the elders,’ &c. (Josh 8:33). Turning their faces to mouth Gerizim, they began with the blessing, ‘Blessed is the man that shall make no idol, or molten image,’ &c. And both the one and the other answered, Amen. Turning their faces to mount Ebal, they pronounced the curse, ‘Cursed is the man who shall make an idol, or molten image’: and both the one and the other answered, Amen. And so of the rest. And at last, turning their faces to Gerizim, they began with the blessing, ‘Blessed is the man who shall continue in all the words of the law’; and the answer on both sides is, Amen. Turning their faces to Ebal, they pronounce the curse, ‘Cursed is every one that shall not continue in all the words of the law’: and the answer from both sides is, Amen,” &c.

In like manner Christ here, having begun with blessings, “Blessed, blessed,” thundereth out curses, “Woe, woe,” Luke 6:24-26.

That which many do comment concerning the octonary number of beatitudes hath too much curiosity, and little benefit. It hath that which is like it among the Jews: for thus they write; “There is a tradition from the school of R. Esaiah Ben Korcha, that twenty blessings are pronounced in the Book of the Psalms, and in like manner twenty woes in the Book of Isaiah. ‘But I say,’ saith Rabbi, ‘that there are two-and-twenty blessings, according to the number of the two-and-twenty letters.'”

“Abraham was blessed with seven blessings.”

“These six are blessed, every one with six blessings, David, Daniel, and his three companions, and king Messias.”

8. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

[Blessed are the pure in heart.] Hearken, O Pharisee, all whose praise lies in outward cleanness. How foolish is this boasting of a Jew! “Come and see, saith R. Simeon Ben Eleazar, how far the purity of Israel extends itself: when it is not only appointed, that a clean man eat not with an unclean woman; but [that an unclean man eat not with an unclean man] that a Pharisee that hath the gonorrhea eat not with a common person that hath the gonorrhea.”

9. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

[Blessed are the peacemakers.] Making peace between neighbours is numbered among those things which bring forth good fruit in this life, and benefit in the life to come.

17. Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

[Think not that I am come to destroy the law, &c.] I. It was the opinion of the nation concerning the Messias, that he would bring in a new law, but not at all to the prejudice or damage of Moses and the prophets: but that he would advance the Mosaic law to the very highest pitch, and would fulfil those things that were foretold by the prophets, and that according to the letter, even to the greatest pomp.

II. The scribes and Pharisees, therefore, snatch an occasion of cavilling against Christ; and readily objected that he was not the true Messias, because he abolished the doctrines of the traditions which they obtruded upon the people for Moses and the prophets.

III. He meets with this prejudice here and so onwards by many arguments, as namely, 1. That he abolished not the law when he abolished traditions; for therefore he came that he might fulfil the law. 2. That he asserts, that “not one iota shall perish from the law.” 3. That he brought in an observation of the law much more pure and excellent than the Pharisaical observation of it was: which he confirms even to the end of the chapter, explaining the law according to its genuine and spiritual sense.

18. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

[Verily, I say unto you.] I. Such an asseveration was usual to the nation, though the syllables were something changed, “A certain matron said to R. Judah Bar Allai, Thy face is like to a swineherd or a usurer. To whom he answered, In truth, both are forbidden me.” The Gloss there, “In truth is a manner of speech used in swearing.”

II. But our Saviour useth this phrase by the highest divine right. 1. Because he is “Amen, the faithful witness,” Revelation 3:14, 2 Corinthians 1:20: see also Isaiah 65:16; and Kimchi there. 2. Because he published the gospel, the highest truth, John 18:37, &c. 3. By this asseveration he doth well oppose his divine oracles against the insolent madness of the traditional doctors, who did often vent their blasphemous and frivolous tales under this seal, They speak in truth: and “wheresoever this is said (say they), it is a tradition of Moses from Sinai.”

[One jot.] The Jerusalem Gemarists speak almost to the same sense: “The Book of Deuteronomy came and prostrated itself before God, and said, ‘O Lord of the universe, thou hast written in me thy law, but now a testament defective in some part is defective in all. Behold, Solomon endeavours to root the letter Jod out of me’ [to wit, in this text, He shall not multiply wives, Deuteronomy 17:17]. The holy blessed God answered, ‘Solomon and a thousand such as he shall perish, but the least word shall not perish out of thee.’ R. Honna said in the name of R. Acha, The letter Jod which God took out of the name of Sarai our mother, was given half to Sara and half to Abraham. A tradition of R. Hoshaia: The letter Jod came and prostrated itself before God, and said, ‘O eternal Lord, thou hast rooted me out of the name of that holy woman.’ The blessed God answered, ‘Hitherto thou hast been in the name of a woman, and that in the end [viz. in Sarai]; but henceforward thou shalt be in the name of a man, and that in the beginning.’ Hence is that which is written, ‘And Moses called the name of Hoshea, Jehoshua.'” The Babylonians also do relate this translation of the letter Jod out of the name of Sarai to the name of Joshua, after this manner: “The letter Jod, saith God, which I took out of the name of Sarai, stood and cried to me for very many years, How long will it be ere Joshua arise? to whose name I have added it”…

There is a certain little city mentioned by name Derokreth, which, by reason of the smallness of it, was called Jod in the Gloss. And there was a rabbin named Rabh Jod. Of the letter Jod, see Midrash Tillin upon the hundred and fourteenth Psalm.

[One tittle.] It seems to denote the little heads or dashes of letters, whereby the difference is made between letters of a form almost alike. The matter may be illustrated by these examples, If it were Daleth, and a man should have formed it into Resh [on the sabbath], or should have formed Resh into Daleth, he is guilty.

“It is written [Lev 22:32] Ye shall not profane my holy name: whosoever shall change Cheth into He, destroys the world…It is written [Psa 150:6], Let every spirit praise the Lord: whosoever changeth He into Cheth, destroys the world. It is written [Jer 5:12], They lied against the Lord: whosoever changeth Beth into Caph, destroys the world. It is written [1 Sam 2:2] There is none holy as the Lord: whosoever changeth Caph into Beth, destroys the world. It is written [Deut 6:4], The Lord our God is one Lord: he that changeth Daleth into Resh, destroys the world.”

But that our Saviour, by jot and tittle, did not only understand the bare letters, or the little marks that distinguished them, appears sufficiently from verse 19, where he renders it, one of “these least commands”: in which sense is that also in the Jerusalem Gemara of Solomon’s rooting out Jod, that is, evacuating that precept He shall not multiply wives. And yet it appears enough hence, that our Saviour also so far asserts the uncorrupt immortality and purity of the holy text, that no particle of the sacred sense should perish, from the beginning of the law to the end of it.

To him that diligently considers these words of our Saviour, their opinion offers itself, who suppose that the whole alphabet of the law, or rather the original character of it is perished; namely, the Samaritan, in which they think the law was first given and written; and that that Hebrew wherein we now read the Bible was substituted in its stead. We shall not expatiate in the question; but let me, with the reader’s good leave, produce and consider some passages of the Talmud, whence, if I be not mistaken, Christians seem first to have taken up this opinion.

The Jerusalem Talmud treats of this matter in these words: “R. Jochanan de Beth Gubrin saith, There are four noble tongues which the world useth: the mother-tongue, for singing; the Roman, for war; the Syriac, for mourning; the Hebrew, for elocution: and there are some which add the Assyrian, for writing. The Assyrian hath writing [that is, letters or characters], but a language it hath not. The Hebrew hath a language, but writing it hath not. They chose to themselves the Hebrew language in the Assyrian character. But why is it called the Assyrian? Because it is blessed (or directin its writing. R. Levi saith, Because it came up into their hands out of Assyria.”

“A tradition. R. Josi saith, Ezra was fit, by whose hands the law might have been given, but that the age of Moses prevented. But although the law was not given by his hand, yet writing [that is, the forms of the letters] and the language were given by his hand. ‘And the writing of the epistle was writ in Syriac, and rendered in Syriac,’ Ezra 4:7. ‘And they could not read the writing,’ Daniel 5:8. From whence is shown that the writing [that is, the form of the characters and letters] was given that very same day. R. Nathan saith: The law was given in breaking [that is, in letters more rude and more disjoined]: and the matter is as R. Josi saith. Rabbi [Judah Haccodesh] saith, The law was given in the Assyrian language; and when they sinned it was turned into breaking. And when they were worthy in the days of Ezra, it was turned for them again into the Assyrian. I show to-day, that I will render to you Mishneh, the doubled, or, as if he should say the seconded (Zech 9:12). And he shall write for himself the Mishneh (the doubled) of this law in a book (Deut 17:18), namely, in a writing that was to be changed. R. Simeon Ben Eleazar saith, in the name of R. Eleazar Ben Parta, and he in the name of R. Lazar the Hammodean, The law was given in Assyrian writing…” So the Jerusalem Talmudists.

Discourse is had of the same business in the Babylonian Talmud, and almost in the same words, these being added over: The law was given to Israel in Hebrew writing, and in the holy language. And it was given to them again in the days of Ezra, in Assyrian writing, and the Syriac language. The Israelites chose to themselves the Assyrian writing, and the holy language; and left the Hebrew writing and the Syriac language to ignorant persons. But who are those idiots (or ignorant persons)? R. Chasda saith, The Samaritans. And what is the Hebrew writing? R. Chasda saith…according to the Gloss, “Great letters, such as those are which are writ in charms and upon doorposts.”

That we may a little apprehend the meaning of the Rabbins, let it be observed,

I. That by ‘the mother-tongue’ (the Hebrew, Syriac, Roman, being named particularly) no other certainly can be understood than the Greek, we have shown at the three-and-twentieth verse of the first chapter…

Many nations were united into one language, that is, the old Syriac,–namely, the Chaldeans, the Mesopotamians, the Assyrians, the Syrians. Of these some were the sons of Sem and some of Ham. Though all had the same language, it is no wonder if all had not the same letters. The Assyrians and Israelites refer their original to Sem; these had the Assyrian writing: the sons of Ham that inhabited beyond Euphrates had another; perhaps that which is now called by us the Samaritan, which it may be the sons of Ham the Canaanites used.

III. That the law was given by Moses in Assyrian letters, is the opinion (as you see) of some Talmudists; and that, indeed, the sounder by much. For to think that the divine law was writ in characters proper to the cursed seed of Ham, is agreeable neither to the dignity of the law, nor indeed to reason itself. They that assert the mother-writing was Assyrian, do indeed confess that the characters of the law were changed; but this was done by reason of the sin of the people, and through negligence. For when under the first Temple the Israelites degenerated into Canaanitish manners, perhaps they used the letters of the Canaanites, which were the same with those of the inhabitants beyond Euphrates. These words of theirs put the matter out of doubt: “The law was given to Israel in the Assyrian writing in the days of Moses: but when they sinned under the first Temple and contemned the law, it was changed into breaking to them.”

Therefore, according to these men’s opinion, the Assyrian writing was the original of the law, and endured and obtained unto the degenerate age under the first Temple. Then they think it was changed into the writing used beyond Euphrates or the Samaritan; or, if you will, the Canaanitish (if so be these were not one and the same); but by Ezra it was at last restored into the original Assyrian.

Truly, I wonder that learned men should attribute so much to this tradition (for whence else they have received their opinion, I do not understand), that they should think that the primitive writing of the law was in Samaritan: seeing that which the Gemarists assert concerning the changing of the characters rests upon so brittle and tottering a foundation, that it is much more probable that there was no change at all (but that the law was first writ in Assyrian by Moses, and in the Assyrian also by Ezra), because the change cannot be built and established upon stronger arguments.

A second question might follow concerning Keri and Kethib: and a suspicion might also arise, that the test of the law was not preserved perfect to one jot and one tittle, when so many various readings do so frequently occur. Concerning this business we will offer these few things only, that so we may return to our task:–

I. These things are delivered by tradition; “They found three books in the court, the book Meoni, the book Zaatuti, and the book Hi. In one they found written, ‘The eternal God is thy refuge’: but in the two other they found it written, (Deut 33:27); They approved [or confirmed] those two, but rejected that one”…

I do much suspect that these three books laid up in the court answered to the threefold congregation of the Jews, namely, in Judea, Babylon, and Egypt, whence these copies might be particularly taken. For, however that nation was scattered abroad almost throughout the whole world, yet, by number and companies scarcely to be numbered, it more plentifully increased in these three countries than any where else: in Judea, by those that returned from Babylon; in Babylon, by those that returned not; and in Egypt, by the temple of Onias. The two copies that agreed, I judge to be out of Judea and Babylon; that that differed to be out of Egypt: and this last I suspect by this, that the word Zaatuti smells of the Seventy interpreters, whom the Jews of Egypt might be judged, for the very sake of the place, to favour more than any elsewhere. For it is asserted by the Jewish writers that Zaatuti was one of those changes which the Septuagint brought into the sacred text.

II. It is therefore very probable, that the Keri and Kethib were compacted from the comparing of the two copies of the greatest authority, that is, the Jewish and the Babylonian: which when they differed from one another in so many places in certain little dashes of writing, but little or nothing at all as to the sense, by very sound counsel they provided that both should be reserved, so that both copies might have their worth preserved, and the sacred text its purity and fulness, whilst not one jot nor one title of it perished.

21. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

[Ye have heard.] That is, ye have received it by tradition. If they have heard [that is, learned by tradition], they speak to them. They learned by hearing, that is, by tradition; a saying very frequent in Maimonides.

[That it was said by them of old time.] That is, “it is an old tradition.” For the particular passages of the law which are here cited by our Saviour are not produced as the bare words of Moses, but was clothed in the Glosses of the Scribes; which most plainly appears above the rest, verse 43, and sufficiently in this first allegation, where those words, “Whosoever shall kill shall be guilty of the judgment,” do hold out the false paint of tradition, and, as we observe in the following verses, such as misrepresents the law, and makes it of none effect. If it be asked, why Christ makes mention of “those of old time?” it may be answered, that the memory of the ancienter Fathers of the Traditions was venerable among the people. Reverend was the name of the first good men, and the first wise men. Therefore Christ chose to confute their doctrines and Glosses, that he might more clearly prove the vanity of traditions, when he reproved their most famous men. But the sense which we have produced is plain, and without any difficulty; as if he should say, “It is an old tradition which hath obtained for many ages.”

22. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

[But I say unto you.] But I say, the words of one that refutes or determines a question, very frequently to be met with in the Hebrew writers. To this you may lay that of Isaiah, chapter 2:3, “And he will teach us of his ways,” &c. Where Kimchi writes thus, This teacher is king Messias. And that of Zechariah, chapter 11:8; where this great Shepherd destroys “three evil shepherds,” namely, the Pharisee, and the Sadducee, and the Essene.

[That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, &c.] First let us treat of the words, and then of the sentences.

[With his brother:] The Jewish schools do thus distinguish between a brother and a neighbour; that a brother signifies an Israelite by nation and blood: a neighbour, an Israelite in religion and worship, that is, a proselyte. The author of Aruch, in the word A son of the covenant, writes thus; “The sons of the covenant, these are Israel. And when the Scripture saith, ‘If any one’s ox gore the ox of his neighbour,’ it excludes all the heathen, in that it saith, ‘of his neighbour.'” Maimonides writes thus: “It is all one to kill an Israelite and a Canaanite servant: for both, the punishment is death; but an Israelite who shall kill a stranger-inhabitant shall not be punished with death, because it is said, ‘Whosoever shall proudly rise up against his neighbour to kill him’ Exodus 21:14: and it is needless to say he shall not be punished with death for killing a heathen.” Where this is to be noted, that heathens and stranger-in-habitants, who were not admitted to perfect and complete proselytism, were not qualified with the title of neighbour, nor with any privileges.

But under the Gospel, where there is no distinction of nations or tribes, brother is taken in the same latitude as among the Jews both brother and neighbour were; that is, for all professing the gospel: and is contradistinguished to the heathen, 1 Corinthians 5:11, “If any one who is called a brother“: and Matthew 18:15, “If thy brother sin against thee,” &c., verse 17, “If he hear not the church, let him be a heathen.”

But neighbour is extended to all, even such as are strangers to our religion: Luke 10:29,30, &c.

[He shall be guilty:] [W]ords signifying guilt or debt [are] to be met with a thousand times in the Talmudists. Isaiah 24:23; “They shall be gathered together, as captives are gathered into prison.” Where R. Solomon speaks thus, Guilty of hell unto hell: which agrees with the last clause of this verse.

[Of the council:] Of the Sanhedrim: that is, of the judgment, or tribunal of the magistrate. For that judgment, in the clause before, is to be referred to the judgment of God, will appear by what follows.

[Raca.] A word used by one that despiseth another in the highest scorn: very usual in the Hebrew writers, and very common in the mouth of the nation.

“One returned to repentance: his wife said to him, Raca, if it be appointed you to repent, the very girdle wherewith you gird yourself shall not be your own.”

“A heathen said to an Israelite, Very suitable food is made ready for you at my house. What is it? saith the other. To whom he replied, Swine’s flesh. Raca (saith the Jew), I must not eat of clean beasts with you.”

“A king’s daughter was married to a certain dirty fellow. He commands her to stand by him as a mean servant, and to be his butler. To whom she said, Raca, I am a king’s daughter.”

“One of the scholars of R. Jochanan made sport with the teaching of his master: but returning at last to a sober mind, Teach thou, O master, saith he, for thou art worthy to teach: for I have found and seen that which thou hast taught. To whom he replied, Raca, thou hadst not believed, unless thou hadst seen.”

“A certain captain saluted a religious man praying in the way, but he saluted him not again: he waited till he had done his prayer, and saith to him, Raca, it is written in your law,” &c.

[Into hell-fire.] The Jews do very usually express hell, or the place of the damned, by the word Gehinnom, which might be shown in infinite examples; the manner of speech being taken from the valley of Hinnom, a place infamous for foul idolatry committed there; for the howlings of infants roasted to Moloch; filth carried out thither; and for a fire that always was burning, and so most fit to represent the horror of hell.

“There are three doors of Gehenna; one in the wilderness, as it is written, ‘They went down, and all that belonged to them, alive into hell’ (Num 16:33). Another in the sea, as it is written, ‘Out of the belly of hell have I called; thou hast heard my voice’ (Jonah 2:2). The third in Jerusalem, as it is written, ‘Thus saith the Lord, whose fire is in Sion, and his furnace in Jerusalem,’ Isaiah 31:9. The tradition of the school of R. Ismael; ‘Whose fire is in Sion,’ this is the gate of Gehenna.”

The Chaldee paraphrast upon Isaiah, chapter 33:14, Gehenna, eternal fire, &c. The Gehenna of eternal fire.

We come now to the sentences and sense of the verse. A threefold punishment is adjudged to a threefold wickedness. Judgment to him that is angry…without cause. Judgment also, and that by the Sanhedrim, to him that calls Raca. Judgment of hell to him that calleth Fool.

That which is here produced of the threefold Sanhedrim among the Jews pleases me not, because, passing over other reasons, mention of the Sanhedrim is made only in the middle clause.

How the judgment in the first clause is to be distinguished from the judgment of the Sanhedrim in the second, will very easily appear from this Gloss and commentary of the Talmudists, “Of not killing”: “he is a manslayer, whosoever shall strike his neighbour with a stone or iron, or thrust him into the water, or fire, whence he cannot come out, so that he die, he is guilty. But if he shall thrust another into the water or fire, whence he might come out, if he die, he is guiltless. A man sets a dog or serpent on another, he is guiltless.” See also the Babylonian Gemara there; “Whosoever shall slay his neighbour with his own hand, striking him with his sword, or with a stone, so that he kills him; or shall strangle or burn him so that he die, in any manner whatsoever killing him in his own person; behold, such a one is to be put to death by the Sanhedrim. But he that hires another by a reward to kill his neighbour, or who sends his servants, and they kill him; or he that thrusts him violently upon a lion, or upon some other beast, and the beast kill him; or he that kills himself, every one of these is a shedder of blood, and the iniquity of manslaughter is in his hand, and he is liable to death by the hand of God; but he is not to be punished with death by the Sanhedrim.”

Behold a double manslayer! Behold a double judgment! Now let the words of our Saviour be applied to this Gloss of the ancients upon the law of murder: “Do ye hear,” saith he, “What is said by the ancients, Whosoever shall kill, after what manner soever a man shall kill him, whether by the hand of one that he hath hired, or by his servants, or by setting a beast on him; he is guilty of the judgment of God, though not of the judgment of the Sanhedrim: and whosoever shall kill his neighbour by himself, none other interposing, this man is liable to the judgment of the Sanhedrim: but I say unto you, That whosoever is rashly angry with his brother, this man is liable to the judgment of God; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, he is liable to the Sanhedrim.”

These words of our Saviour, perhaps, we shall more truly understand by comparing some more phrases and doctrines, very usual in the Jewish schools. Such as these, Absolved from the judgment of men, but guilty in the judgment of Heaven, that is, of God. Death by the Sanhedrim, and death by the hand of Heaven.

And in a word, cutting off, speaks vengeance by the hand of God. They are very much deceived who understand…cutting off, of which there is very frequent mention in the Holy Bible, concerning the cutting-off from the public assembly by ecclesiastical censure, when as it means nothing else than cutting off by divine vengeance. There is nothing more usual and common among the Hebrew canonists, than to adjudge very many transgressions to cutting off, in that worn phrase…“If he shall do this out of presumption, he is guilty of cutting off; but if he shall do it out of ignorance, he is bound for a sacrifice for sin.” When they adjudge a thing or a guilty person to cutting off, they deliver and leaven him to the judgment of God; nevertheless, a censure and punishment from the Sanhedrim sometimes is added, and sometimes not. Which might be illustrated by infinite examples, but we are afraid of being tedious. Let these two be enough on both sides.

I. Of mere delivering over to the judgment of God, without any punishment inflicted by the Sanhedrim, those words speak, which were lately cited, “He is absolved from the judgment of men, but liable to the judgment of Heaven.”

II. Of the judgment of God and of the Sanhedrim joined together, these words in the same place speak: “If he that is made guilty by the Sanhedrim be bound to make restitution, Heaven [or God] doth not pardon him until he pay it.” But he that bears a punishment laid on him by the Sanhedrim is absolved from cutting off. “All persons guilty of cutting off, when they are beaten are absolved from their cutting off: as it is said, ‘And thy brother become vile in thy sight.’ When he shall be beaten, behold, he is thy brother.”

Liable or guilty even to the hell-fire. He had said, guilty of judgment and of the council, before; but now he saith unto hell, and that in a higher emphasis; as if he should have said, “Whosoever shall say to his brother, Fool, shall be guilty of judgment, even unto the judgment of hell.”

But what was there more grievous in the word fool, than in the word Raca? Let king Solomon be the interpreter, who everywhere by a fool understands a wicked and reprobate person; foolishness being opposed to spiritual wisdom. Raca denotes indeed morosity, and lightness of manners and life: but fool judgeth bitterly of the spiritual and eternal state, and decreeth a man to certain destruction. Let the judgings and censures of the scribes and Pharisees concerning the common people serve us instead of a lexicon. They did not only suffer themselves to be styled wise men, but also arrogated it to themselves, as their merit and due. But what do they say of the common people? “This people, that knoweth not the law, is cursed,” John 7:49.

You have a form of speaking, not much unlike this which is now under our hands: He that calls his neighbour Servant, let him be in excommunication. The Gloss is, “They therefore excommunicate him, because he vilified an Israelite: him, therefore, they vilify in like manner.” “If he call him bastard, let him be punished with forty stripes. If wicked man, let it descend with him into his life”: that is, according to the Gloss, “into misery and penury.”

After this manner, therefore, our Saviour suits a different punishment to different sins by a most just parity, and a very equal compensation: to unjust anger, the just anger and judgment of God; to public reproach, a public trial; and hell-fire to the censure that adjudgeth another thither.

23. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;

[That thy brother hath ought against thee, &c.] …that which the Jews restrained only to pecuniary damages, Christ extends to all offences against our brother.

“He that offers an oblation, not restoring that which he had unjustly taken away, does not do that which is his duty.” And again; “He that steals any thing from his neighbour, yea, though it be but a farthing, and swears falsely, is bound to restitution, meeting the wronged party half way.” See also Baal Turim upon Leviticus 6.

“An oblation is not offered for a sin, unless that which is [wrongfully] taken away, be first restored either to the owner or the priest.” In like manner, “He that swears falsely, either of the Pruta [small money], or what the Pruta is worth, is bound to inquire after the owner, even as far as the islands in the sea, and to make restitution.”

Observe, how provision is here made for pecuniary damages only and bare restitution, which might be done without a charitable mind and a brotherly heart. But Christ urgeth charity, reconciliation of mind, and a pure desire of reunion with our offended brother; and that not only in money matters, but in any other, and for whatever cause, wherein our neighbour complains that he is grieved.

24. Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

[Leave there thy gift before the altar.] This business was altogether unusual in gifts offered at the altar, in such a cause. We read, indeed, of the drink-offering, delayed after the sacrifice was offered: “For the wise men say, That a man is not held in his sin, when the drink-offering is put off by some delay; because one may offer his sacrifice to-day, but his drink-offering twenty days hence.” We read also that the oblation of a sacrifice presented even at the altar, in some cases hath not only been delayed, but the sacrifice itself hath been rejected; that is, if, in that instant, discovery was made, in sacrificing the best, either of a blemish, or of somewhat else, whereby it became an illegal sacrifice; or if some uncleanness or other cause appeared in the offerer, whereby he was rendered unfit for the present to offer a gift. Of which things, causing the oblation of the sacrifice already presented at the altar to be deferred, the Hebrew lawyers speak much. But among those things we do not meet at all with this whereof our Saviour is here speaking: so that he seems to enjoin some new matter,–and not new alone, but seemingly impossible. For the offended brother might perhaps be absent in the furthest parts of the land of Israel, so that he could not be spoke with, and his pardon asked in very many days after: and what shall become of the beast in the mean time, which is left at the altar? It is a wonder indeed that our Saviour, treating of the worship at the altar, should prescribe such a duty, which was both unusual (in such a case) and next to impossible. But it is answered:–

I. It was a custom and a law among the Jews, that the sacrifices of particular men should not presently, as soon as they were due, be brought to the altar, but that they should be reserved to the feast next following, whatsoever that were, whether the Passover, or Pentecost, or Tabernacles, to be then offered. “Teeming women, women that have the gonorrhea, and men that have the gonorrhea, reserve their pigeons until they go up to the feast.”–“The oblations which were devoted before the feast shall be offered at the feast: for its is said, These things shall ye do in their solemnities,” &c. But now all the Israelites were present at the feasts; and any brother, against whom one had sinned, was not then far off from the altar. Unto which time and custom of the nation it is equal to think Christ alluded.

II. He does silently chastise the curiosity used in deferring of a sacrifice brought about lesser matters, when this that was greater was unregarded. And he teacheth, that God is worshipped in vain without true charity to our brother. The same also, in effect, do the Gemarists confess.

25. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.

[Whilst thou art in the way with him.] That is, “while thou goest with him to the magistrate,” Luke 12:58; where there is a clear distinction between the magistrate, and the judge: so that by magistrate, or ruler, one may understand the judges in the lower Sanhedrims; by judge, the judges in the highest. That allusion is here made to contentions about money matters, sufficiently appears from the following words, verse 26; “Thou shalt by no means come out of prison till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.” Now it was the business of the bench, that consisted of three men, to judge of such matters.

The words, therefore, of the verse have this sense: ‘Does your neighbour accuse you of some damage, or of money that is due to him? and are ye now going in the way to the bench of three to commence the suit? compound with your adversary, lest he compel you to some higher tribunal, where your danger will be greater.’ “For if the lender say to the debtor, ‘Let us go, that judgment may be had of our case from the chief Sanhedrim,’ they force the debtor to go up thence with him. In like manner, if any accuse another of something taken away from him, or of some damage done him, and he that is the accuser will have the higher Sanhedrim to judge of the suit; they force the debtor to go up thence with him. And so it is done with all other things of that nature.”

Before, Christ had argued from piety, that men should seek to be reconciled; now he argues from prudence, and an honest care of a man’s self.

[And the judge deliver thee to the officer.] A word answering to an executioner, a whipper, among the Rabbins. Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, Deuteronomy 16:18. …”vergers and scourge-bearers [executioners] who stand before the judges. These go through the lanes and streets and inns, and take care about weights and measures; and scourge those that do amiss. But all their business is by the order of the judges. Whomsoever they see doing evil, they bring before the judges,” &c. And Whosoever goes out into the street, let him reckon concerning himself, as if he were already delivered over to the officer; that is, as the Gloss hath it, “Contentions and contentious men will there be met with Gentiles and Israelites: so that let him reckon concerning himself, as though he were already delivered over to the officer, ready to lead him away before the judges.” The Gloss upon Babyl. Joma writes thus; “is the executioner of the Sanhedrim, whose office is to whip.”

26. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

[Farthing.] According to the Jerusalem Talmud, it is Kordiontes; according to the Babylonian, Kontrik. For thus they write:

“Two assars make a pondion.
Two semisses make an assar.
Two farthings a semissis.
Two prutahs a farthing.
pondion is in value two assars.
An assar is two semisses.
semissis is two farthings.
kontric, or a farthing, is two prutahs.”

That which is here said by the Jerusalem Talmud, Two prutahs make a farthing, is the very same thing that is said, Mark 12:42, Two mites, which make a farthing. A prutah was the very least piece among coins. So Maimonides, That which is not worth a prutah, is not to be reckoned among riches. Hence are those numberless passages in the Talmudic Pandects relating to the prutah: “He that steals less than a prutah is not bound to pay five-fold.” “No land is bought for a price less than a prutah,” that is, given as an earnest.

You have the value of these coins in the same Maimonides: “Selaa (saith he) is in value four-pence: a penny, six meahs. Now a meah, in the days of Moses our master, was called a gerah; it contains two pondions; a pondion, two assars; and a prutah is the eighth part of an assar. The weight of a meah, which is also called a gerah, is sixteen barleycorns. And the weight of an assar is four barleycorns. And the weight of a prutah is half a barleycorn.”

Luke hath, the last mite, chapter 12:59; that is, the last prutah, which was the eighth part of the Italian assarius. Therefore, a farthing, was so called, not that it was the fourth part of a penny, but the fourth part of an assar; which how very small a part of a penny it was, we may observe by those things that are said by both Gemaras in the place before cited.

“Six silver meahs make a penny.
meah is worth two pondions.
pondion is worth two assars.”

Let this be noted by the way; a meah, which, as Maimonides before testifies, was anciently called a gerah, was also commonly called zuz, in the Talmudists. For as it is said here, six meahs of silver make a penny, so in Rambam, a penny contains six zuzim.

The prutah, as it was the least piece of money among the Jews, so it seems to have been a coin merely Jewish, not Roman. For although the Jews, being subjects to the Romans, used Roman money, and thence, as our Saviour argues, confessed their subjection to the Romans; yet they were permitted to use their own money, which appears by the common use of the shekels and half-shekels among them: with good reason, therefore, one may hold the farthing was the least Roman coin, and the prutah, the least Jewish. Whilst our Saviour mentions both, he is not inconstant to his own speech, but speaks more to the capacity of all.

27. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

[Ye have heard, that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery.] He citeth not the command or text of Moses, as barely delivered by Moses, but as deformed by those of old time with such a gloss as almost evacuated all the force of the command; for they interpreted it of the act of adultery only, and that with a married woman. So the enumeration of the six hundred and thirteen precepts of the law, and that, Exodus 20:14, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery,’ hath these words, “This is the thirty-fifth precept of the law, namely, That no man lie with another man’s wife.”

28. But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

[Whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her, &c.] “He that looketh upon a woman’s heel, is as if he looked upon her belly: and he that looks upon her belly, is as if he lay with her.” And yet, It was Rabban Gamaliel’s custom to look upon women. And in the other Talmud; “He that looks upon the little finger of a woman, is as if he looked upon her privy parts.” And yet “Rabh Gidal and R. Jochanan were wont to sit at the place of dipping, where the women were washed; and when they were admonished by some of the danger of lasciviousness, R. Jochanan answered, ‘I am of the seed of Joseph, over whom an evil affection could not rule.'”

30. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

[If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off.] See here Babyl. Niddah, fol. 13, quite through. Among other things, R. Tarphon saith, “Whosoever brings his hand to his modest parts, let his hand be cut off unto his navel.” And a little after; “It is better that his belly should be cleft in two, than that he should descend into the well of corruption.” The discourse is of moving the hand to the privy member, that, by the handling it, it might be known whether the party had the gonorrhea, or no: and yet they adjudge never so little handling it to cutting off the hand. Read the place, if you have leisure.

31. It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:

[Whosoever putteth away his wife, let him giver her a bill of divorcement] Notice is to be taken how our Saviour passeth into these words, namely, by using the particle but. “But it hath been said.” This particle hath this emphasis in this place, that it whispers a silent objection, which is answered in the following verse. Christ had said, “Whosoever looks upon a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery already”: but the Jewish lawyers said, “If any one sees a woman which he is delighted withal above his wife, let him dismiss his wife and marry her.”

Among the chapters of Talmudical doctrine, we meet with none concerning which it is treated more largely, and more to a punctilio, than of divorces: and yet there the chief care is not so much of a just cause of it as of the manner and form of doing it. To him that turns over the book Gittin (as also, indeed, the whole Seder Nashim, that part of the Talmud that treats of women), the diligence of the Masters about this matter will appear such that they seem to have dwelt, not without some complacency, upon this article above all others.

God, indeed, granted to that nation a law concerning divorces, Deuteronomy 24:1, permitted only “for the hardness of their hearts,” Matthew 19:8: in which permission, nevertheless, they boast, as though it were indulged them by mere privilege. When God had established that fatal law of punishing adultery by death (Deut 22), for the terror of the people, and for their avoiding of that sin; the same merciful God foreseeing also how hard (occasion being taken from this law) the issue of this might be to the women, by reason of the roughness of the men; lusting, perhaps, after other women, and loathing their own wives; he more graciously provided against such kind of wife-killing by a law, mitigating the former, and allowed the putting away a wife in the same case, concerning which that fatal law was given; namely, in the case of adultery. So that that law of divorce, in the exhibition of it, implied their hearts to be hard; and, in the use of it, they shewed them to be carnal. And yet hear them thus boasting of that law: “The Lord of Israel saith, That he hateth putting away, Malachi 2:16. Through the whole chapter, saith R. Chananiah in the name of R. Phineas, he is called the Lord of Hosts: but here, of Israel, that it might appear that God subscribed not his name to divorces, but only among the Israelites. As if he should say, ‘To the Israelites I have granted the putting way of wives; to the Gentiles I have not granted it.’ R. Chaijah Rabbah saith, Divorces are not granted to the nations of the world.”

Some of them interpreted this law of Moses (as by right they ought to interpret it), of the case of adultery only. “The school of Shamaai said, A wife is not to be divorced, unless for filthiness [that is, adultery] only, because it is said, Because he hath found filthy nakedness in her,” that is, adultery.

“Rabh Papa said, If he find not adultery in her, what then? Rabba answered, When the merciful God revealed concerning him that corrupted a maid, that it was not lawful for him to put her away in his whole life (Deut 22:29), you are thence taught concerning the matter propounded, that it is not lawful to put her away, if he shall not find filthiness in his wife.”

With the like honesty have some commented upon those words cited out of the prophet, For he hateth putting away. “R. Jochanan saith, The putting away of a wife is odious.” Which others also have granted, indeed, of the first wife, but not of those that a man took to himself over and above. For this is approved among them for a canon, “Let no man put away his first wife unless for adultery.” And “R. Eliezer saith, For the divorcing of the first wife, even the altar itself sheds tears.” Which Gloss they fetch from thence, where it is said, “Let no man deal treacherously towards the wife of his youth”; Malachi 2:15.

The Jews used polygamy, and the divorcing of their wives, with one and the same license: and this, that they might have change, and all for the sake of lust. “It is lawful (say they) to have many wives together, even as many as you will: but our wise men have decreed, That no man have above four wives.” But they restrained this, not so much out of some principles of chastity, as that lest a man, being burdened with many wives, might not be able to afford them food and clothing, and due benevolence: for thus they comment concerning this bridle of polygamy.

For what causes they put away their wives there is no need to inquire; for this they did for any cause of their own free will.

I. “It is commanded to divorce a wife that is not of good behavior, and who is not modest as becomes a daughter of Israel.” So they speak in Maimonides and Gittin in the place above specified: where this also is added in the Gemarists: “R. Meir saith, As men have their pleasures concerning their meat and their drink, so also concerning their wives. This man takes out a fly found in his cup, and yet will not drink: after such a manner did Papus Ben Judah carry himself: who, as often as he went forth, bolted the doors and shut in his wife. Another takes out a fly found in his cup, and drinks up his cup; that he doth, who sees his wife talking freely with her neighbours and kinsfolk, and yet allows of it. And there is another, who, if he find a fly in his basket, eats it: and this is the part of an evil man, who sees his wife going out, without a veil upon her head, and with a bare neck, and sees her washing in the baths, where men are wont to wash, and yet cares not for it; whereas by the law he is bound to put her away.”

II. “If any man hate his wife, let him put her away”: excepting only that wife that he first married. In like manner, R. Judah thus interprets that of the prophet, If he hate her, let him put her away. Which sense some versions, dangerously enough, have followed. R. Solomon expresses the sense of that place thus: “It is commanded to put away one’s wife, if she obtain not favour in the eyes of her husband.”

III. “The school of Hillel saith, If the wife cook her husband’s food illy, by over-salting or over-roasting it, she is to be put away.”

IV. Yea, “If, by any stroke from the hand of God, she become dumb or sottish,” &c.

V. But not to relate all the things for which they pronounce a wife to be divorced (among which they produce some things that modesty allows not to be repeated), let it be enough to mention that of R. Akibah instead of all: “R. Akibah said, If any man sees a woman handsomer than his own wife, he may put her away; because it is said, ‘If she find not favour in his eyes.'”

[Bill of divorce.] And, A bill of divorce, Matthew 19:7; and in the Septuagint, Deuteronomy 24:1. Of which Beza thus; “This bill may seem to be called a bill of divorce [as much as, departing away], not in respect of the wife put away, as of the husband departing away form his wife.” Something hard, and diametrically contrary to the canonical doctrine of the Jews: for thus they write, “It is written in the bill, Behold, thou art put away; Behold, thou art thrust away, &c. But if he writes, I am not thy husband, or, I am not thy spouse, &c.; it is not a just bill: for it is said, He shall put her away, not, He shall put himself away.”

This bill is called by the Jews a bill of cutting off, and a bill of expulsion, and an instrument, and an instrument of dismission, and letters of forsaking, &c.

I. A wife might not be put away, unless a bill of divorce were given. “Therefore it is called (saith Baal Turim) A bill of cutting off, because there is nothing else that cuts her off from the husband. For although a wife were obtained three ways” [of which see the Talmud], “yet there was no other way of dismissing her, besides a bill of divorce.”

II. “A wife was not put away, unless the husband were freely willing; for if he were unwilling, it was not a divorce: but whether the wife were willing or unwilling, she was to be divorced, if her husband would.”

III. “A bill of divorce was written in twelve lines, neither more nor less.” R. Mordecai gives the reason of this number, in these words; “Let him that writes a bill of divorce comprise it in twelve lines, according to the value of the number of the letters in the word Get. But Rabh Saadias interprets, that the bill of divorce should be written with the same number of lines wherein the books of the law are separated. For four lines come between the Book of Genesis and the Book of Exodus; four between the Book of Exodus and the Book of Leviticus; four between the Book of Leviticus and the Book of Numbers. But the four between the Book of Numbers and Deuteronomy are not reckoned, because that book is only a repetition of the law,” &c.

IV. You have the copy of a bill of divorce in Alphesius upon Gittin, in this form:

A Bill of Divorce

“On the day of the week N., of the month of N., of the year of the world’s creation N., according to the computation by which we are wont to reckon in the province N.; I, N., the son of N., and by what name soever I am called, of the city N., with the greatest consent of my mind, and without any compulsion urging me, have put away, dismissed, and expelled thee; thee, I say, N., the daughter of N., by what name soever thou art called, of the city N., who heretofore wert my wife. But now I have dismissed thee,–thee, I say, N., the daughter of N., by what name soever thou art called, of the city N. So that thou art free, and in thine own power to marry whosoever shall please thee; and let no man hinder thee, from this day forward even for ever. Thou art free, therefore, for any man. And let this be to thee a bill of rejection from me, letters of divorce, and a schedule of expulsion, according to the law of Moses and Israel.

REUBEN the son of Jacob witness.
ELIEZER the son of Gilead witness.”

See also this form varied in some few words in Maimonides (Gerushin).

V. This bill, being confirmed with the husband’s seal, and the subscription of witnesses, was to be delivered into the hand of the wife, either by the husband himself, or by some other deputed by him for this office: or the wife might deput somebody to receive it in her stead.

VI. It was not to be delivered to the wife, but in the presence of two, who might read the bill both before it was given into the hand of the wife and after: and when it was given, the husband, if present, said thus, “Behold, this is a bill of divorce to you.”

VII. The wife, thus dismissed, might, if she pleased, bring this bill to the Sanhedrim, where it was enrolled among the records, if she desired it, in memory of the thing. The dismissed person likewise might marry whom she would: if the husband had not put some stop in the bill, by some clause forbidding it.

32. But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

[Whosoever shall put away his wife, &c.] I. Our Saviour does not abrogate Moses’ permission of divorces, but tolerates it, yet keeping it within the Mosaic bounds, that is, in the case of adultery, condemning that liberty in the Jewish canons, which allowed it for any cause.

II. Divorce was not commanded in the case of adultery, but permitted. Israelites were compelled, sometimes even by whipping, to put away their wives, as appears in Maimonides (Gerushin). But our Saviour, even in the case of adultery, does not impose a compulsion to divorce, but indulgeth a license to do it.

III. “He that puts away his wife without the cause of fornication makes her commit adultery”: that is, if she commits adultery: or although she commit not adultery in act, yet he is guilty of all the lustful motions of her that is put away; for he that lustfully desires, is said “to commit adultery,” verse 28.

33. Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:

[It hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, &c.] The law forbids perjury, Leviticus 19:12, &c. To which the Fathers of the Traditions reduced the whole sin of swearing, little caring for a rash oath. In this chapter of oaths they doubly sinned:

I. That they were nothing at all solicitous about an oath, so that what was sworn were not false. They do but little trouble themselves, what, how, how often, how rashly, you swear, so that what you swear be true.

In the Talmudic tract Shevuoth, and in like manner in Maimonides, oaths are distributed into these four ranks:

First, A promissory oath: when a man swore that he would do, or not do, this or that, &c. And this was one of the twofold oaths, which were also fourfold; that is, a negative or affirmative oath; and again, a negative or affirmative oath concerning something past, or a negative or affirmative oath concerning something to come: namely, when any one swears that he hath done this or that, or not done it; or that he will do this or that, or that he will not do it. “Whosoever, therefore, swears any of these four ways, and the thing is not as he swears, (for example, that he hath not cast a stone into the sea, when he hath cast it; that he hath cast it, when he hath not; that he will not eat, and yet eats; that he will eat, and yet eateth not,) behold, this is a false oath, or perjury.”

“Whosoever swears that he will not eat, and yet eats some things which are not sufficiently fit to be eaten, this man is not guilty.”

Secondly, A vain or a rash oath. This also is fourfold, but not in the same manner as the former: 1. When they asserted that with an oath which was contrary to most known truth; as, “If he should swear a man were a woman, a stone-pillar to be a pillar of gold,” &c.; or when any swore that was or was not, which was altogether impossible; as, “that he saw a camel flying in the air.” 2. When one asserted that by an oath, concerning which there was no reason that any should doubt. For example, that “Heaven is heaven, a stone is a stone,” &c. 3. When a man swore that he would do that which was altogether impossible; namely, “that he would not sleep for three days and three nights; that he would taste nothing for a full week,” &c. 4. When any swore that he would abstain from that which was commanded; as, “that he would not wear phylacteries,” &c. These very examples are brought in the places alleged.

Thirdly, An oath concerning something left in trust: namely, when any swore concerning something left in trust with him, that it was stolen or broke or lost, and not embezzled by him, &c.

Fourthly, A testimonial oath, before a judge or magistrate.

In three of these kinds of swearing, care is taken only concerning the truth of the thing sworn, not of the vanity of swearing.

They seemed, indeed, to make some provision against a vain and rash oath: namely, 1. That he be beaten, who so swears, and become cursed: which Maimonides hints in the twelfth chapter of the tract alleged: with whom the Jerusalem Gemarists do agree; “He that swears two is two, let him be beaten for his vain oath.” 2. They also added terror to it from fearful examples, such as that is in the very same place. “There were twenty-four assemblies in the south, and they were all destroyed for a vain oath.” And in the same tract, a woman buried her son for an oath, &c. Yet they concluded vain oaths in so narrow a circle, that a man might swear a hundred thousand times, and yet not come within the limits of the caution concerning vain swearing.

II. It was customary and usual among them to swear by the creatures; “If any swear by heaven, by earth, by the sun, &c. although the mind of the swearer be under these words to swear by Him who created them, yet this is not an oath. Or if any swear by some of the prophets, or by some of the books of the Scripture, although the sense of the swearer be to swear by Him that sent that prophet, or that gave that book, nevertheless this is not an oath.”

“If any adjure another by heaven or earth, he is not guilty.”

They swore by Heaven. By Heaven so it is.

They swore by the Temple. “When turtles and young pigeons were sometimes sold at Jerusalem for a penny of gold, Rabban Simeon Ben Gamaliel said, By this habitation [that is, by this Temple] I will not rest this night, unless they be sold for a penny of silver.”

“R. Zechariah Ben Ketsab said, By this Temple, the hand of the woman departed not out of my hand.” “R. Jochanan said, By the Temple it is in our hand,” &c.

“Bava Ben Buta swore by the Temple in the end of the tract Cherithuth, and Rabban Simeon Ben Gamaliel in the beginning; And so was the custom in Israel.” Note this, “so was the custom.”

They swore by the city Jerusalem. “R. Judah saith, He that saith, ‘By Jerusalem,’ saith nothing, unless with an intent purpose he shall vow towards Jerusalem.” Where, also, after two lines coming between those forms of swearing and vowing are added, “Jerusalem, for Jerusalem, by Jerusalem. The Temple, for the Temple, by the Temple. The altar, for the altar, by the altar. The lamb, for the lamb, by the lamb. The chambers of the Temple, for the chambers of the Temple, by the chambers of the Temple. The wood, for the wood, by the wood. The sacrifices on fire, for the sacrifices on fire, by the sacrifices on fire. The dishes, for the dishes, by the dishes. By all these things, that I will do this to you.”

They swore by their own heads. “One is bound to swear to his neighbour, and he saith, Vow (or swearto me by the life of thy head,” &c.

34. But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:

[Swear not at all.] In the tract Demai are some rules prescribed to a religious man: among others, That he be not too much in swearing and laughing. Where the Gloss of R. Solomon is this; “means this, Be not much in oaths, although one should swear concerning things that are true: for in much swearing it is impossible not to profane.” Our Saviour, with good reason, binds his followers with a straiter bond, permitting no place at all for a voluntary and arbitrary oath. The sense of these words goes in the middle way, between the Jew, who allowed some place for an arbitrary oath; and the Anabaptist, who allows none for a necessary one.

36. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.

[Thou canst not make one hair white or black.] That is, Thou canst not put on gray hairs, or lay them aside.

37. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

[Let your communication be, Yea, yea; nay, nay.] In Hebrew, Giving and receiving [that is, businessamong the disciples of the wise men, Let it be in truth and faith, by saying, Yes, yes; No, no: or, according to the very words, concerning Yes, yes; concerning No, no.

“If it be said to a lunatic, Shall we write a bill of divorce for your wife? and he nod with his head, they try thrice; and if he answer to No, no; and to Yes, yes; they write it, and give it to his wife.”

38. Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.

[Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, &c.] This law he also cites, as clothed in the Gloss of the scribes, and now received in the Jewish schools. But they resolved the law not into a just retaliation, but into a pecuniary compensation.

“Does any cut off the hand or foot of his neighbour? They value this according to the example of selling a servant; computing at what price he would be sold before he was maimed, and for how much less now he is maimed. And how much of the price is diminished, so much is to be paid to the maimed person, as it is said, ‘An eye for an eye,’ &c. We have received by tradition, that this is to be understood of pecuniary satisfaction. But whereas it is said in the law, ‘If a man cause a blemish in his neighbour, the same shall be done to him’ [Lev 24:19]; it means not that he should be maimed, as he hath maimed another; but when he deserveth maiming, he deserveth to pay the damage to the person maimed.” They seemed, out of very great charity, to soften that severe law to themselves, when, nevertheless, in the mean time, little care was taken of lively charity, and of the forgiving an offence,–an open door being still left them to exaction and revenge, which will appear in what follows.

39. But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

[Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek.] That the doctrine of Christ may here more clearly shine out, let the Jewish doctrine be set against it; to which he opposeth his.

“Does any one give his neighbour a box on the ear? let him give him a shilling. R. Judah in the name of R. Josi of Galilee saith, Let him give him a pound.”

Does he give him a blow upon the cheek? Let him give him two hundred zuzes: if with the other hand, let him give four hundred.” Compare with this passage verse 39: ‘If any shall strike thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.’

Does he twitch him by the ear; or does he pull off his hair; or does he spit, so that his spittle falls upon him; or does he take away his coat” [note this also, and compare verse 40 with it, ‘He that will take away thy coat,’ &c.]; “or does he uncover a woman’s head in public? Let him give four hundred zuzees.”

They fetch the reason of so severe a mulct chiefly from the shame done him that is thus injured, and from the disgrace of the thing itself; and, moreover, from the dignity of an Israelite: which is declared at large by the Gemarists upon the words cited, and by Maimonides.

“Those mulcts [say they] are established and inflicted according to the dignity of the person injured. But R. Akibah said, ‘Even the poorest Israelites are to be esteemed as though they were persons of quality divested of their estates, because they are the sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.'”

Hence the entrance to our Saviour’s doctrine lies easy: 1. He cites the law of retaliation, that, by laying one against the other, Christian charity and forgiveness might shine the clearer. 2. He mentions these particulars which seemed to be the most unworthy, and not to be borne by the high quality of a Jew, that he might the more preach up evangelical humility, and patience, and self-denial. But why was the law of retaliation given, if at last it is melted down into this? On the same reason as the law of death was given concerning adultery, namely, for terror, and to demonstrate what the sin was. Both were to be softened by charity; this by forgiveness, that by a bill of divorce: or, if the husband so pleased, by forgiveness also.

40. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

[And if any will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, &c.] Coat, that is, Talith. So in the words of the Talmud alleged, he takes his coat Of this garment, thus the Rauch; Talith is a cloak: and why is it called Talith? Because it is above all the garments; that is, because it is the outermost garment.

In this upper garment were woven in those fringes that were to put them in mind of the law, of which there is mention Numbers 15:38. Hence is that, He that takes care of his skirts deserves a good coat. Hereupon the disgrace was increased together with the wrong, when that was taken away, concerning which they did not a little boast, nay, and in which they placed no small religion: Matthew 23:5, an upper and an inward garment… “If any give a poor man a penny to buy an inward garment, let him not buy a coat, nor an upper garment.” He lends him an inner garment and a coat.

41. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

[And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, &c.] To him that had some corporeal wrong done him were these five mulcts to be paid, according to the reason and quality of the wrong: A mulct for maiming, if so be the party were maimed: a mulct for pain, caused by the blow or wound given: a mulct for the cure of the wound or blow; a mulct for the reproach brought upon him: and a mulct for ceasing, when, being wounded or beaten, he kept his bed, and could not follow his business.

To the first, the first words of our Saviour, That ye resist not evil, seem to relate: Do not so resist or rise up against an injurious person, as to require the law of retaliation against him. The second and fourth, the words following seem to respect, viz. ‘Whosoever smiteth thee, so that it cause pain and shame’: and those words also, ‘Him that will take away thy coat.’ To the last do these words under our hand refer, and to the second certainly, if “some intolerable kind of service be propounded,” which the famous Beza asserts.

The word very usual among the Talmudists, whereby they denote accompanying him that goes elsewhere, out of honour and respect, reaches not the sense of the word compel, but is too soft and low for it. It is reckoned for a duty to accompany a dead corpse to the grave, and a Rabbin departing somewhere. Hence is that story, “Germani, the servant of R. Judah Nasi, willing to conduct R. Illa going away, met a mad dog,” &c. The footsteps of this civility we meet with among the Christians, Titus 3:13; John, Ep. 3 verse 6; they were marks of respect, love, and reverence: but that which was required by the Jewish masters, out of arrogance and a supercilious authority, was to be done to a Rabbin, as a Rabbin.

But to compel to go a mile, sounds harsher, and speaks not so much an impulse of duty, as a compulsion of violence: and the Talmudists retain that very word Angaria, and do show, by examples not a few, what it means. “It is reported of R. Eliazar Ben Harsum, that his father bequeathed him a thousand cities on the dry land, and a thousand ships on the sea: but yet he, every day carrying along with him a bottle of meal on his shoulder, travelled from city to city, and from country to country, to learn the law. On a certain day his servants met him, and angariate, compel him. He saith to them, ‘I beseech you, dismiss me, that I may go and learn the law.’ They say to him, ‘By the life of R. Eliazar Ben Harsum, we will not dismiss you,'” &c. Where the Gloss is, “Angariah is the service of the governor of the city; and he was here to serve himself [for he was the lord of the city]. But they knew him not, but thought him to belong to one of those his cities: for its was incumbent on them to attend on their master.”

Again; “R. Eliezer saith, ‘Why was Abraham our father punished, and why were his sons afflicted in Egypt two hundred and ten years?’ Because he ‘angariavit,’ ‘compelled’ the disciples of the wise men to go with him: as it is said he armed his catechumens, or his trained, or instructed,” Genesis 14:14.

The same almost is said of King Asa: “Rabba asked, Why was Asa punished [with the gout]? Because he compelled the disciples of the wise men to go along with him: as it is said, ‘And Asa gathered together all Judah, none excepted,'” &c., 1 Kings 15:22.

We meet with mention also of angariating cattle; “An ass is hired for a hilly journey; but he that hireth him travels in the valley: although both be of the like distance, that is, ten miles, if an ass dies, he who hired him is guilty, &c. But if the ass were angariated, the hirer saith to the owner, Behold, take your beast to yourself,” &c. The Gooss is, “If he were angariated, that is, if they take him for some work of the king,” &c.

You see, then, whither the exhortation of our Saviour tends: 1. To patience under an open injury, and for which there is no pretence, verse 39. 2. Under an injury, for which some right and equity in law is pretended, verse 40. 3. Under an injury, compulsion, or violence, patronized by the authority of a king, or of those that are above us.

43. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

[Thou shalt hate thine enemy.] Here those poisonous canons might be produced, whereby they are trained up in eternal hatred against the Gentiles, and against Israelites themselves, who do not, in every respect, walk with them in the same traditions and rites. Let this one example be instead of very many, which are to be met with everywhere: “The heretical Israelites, that is, they of Israel that worship idols, or who transgress, to provoke God: also Epicurean Israelites, that is, Israelites who deny the law and the prophets, are by precept to be slain, if any can slay them, and that openly; but if not openly, you may compass their death secretly, and by subtilty.” And a little after (O! the extreme charity of the Jews towards the Gentiles); “But as to the Gentiles, with whom we have no war, and likewise to the shepherds of smaller cattle, and others of that sort, they do not so plot their death; but it is forbidden them to deliver them from death if they are in danger of it.” For instance; “A Jew sees one of them fallen into the sea; let him by no means lift him out thence: for it is written, ‘Thou shalt not rise up against the blood of thy neighbour’: but this is not thy neighbour.” And further; “An Israelite, who alone sees another Israelite transgressing, and admonisheth him, if he repents not, is bound to hate him.”

46. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

[Do not even the publicans the same?] How odious the publicans were to the Jewish nation, especially those that were sprung of that nation, and how they reckoned them the very worst of all mankind, appears many ways in the evangelists; and the very same is their character in their own writers.

“It is not lawful to use the riches of such men, of whom it is presumed that they were thieves; and of whom it is presumed that all their wealth was gotten by rapine; and that all their business was the business of extortioners, such as publicans and robbers are; nor is their money to be mingled with thine, because it is presumed to have been gotten by rapine.”

Among those who were neither fit to judge, nor to give a testimony in judgment, are numbered the collectors of taxes, and the publicans.

Publicans are joined with cut-throats and robbers. “They swear to cut-throats, to robbers and to publicans [invading their goods], This is an offering, &c. He is known by his companion.”

They were marked with such reproach, and that not without good reason; partly by reason of their rapine, partly, that to the burden laid upon the nation they themselves added another burden.

“When are publicans to be reckoned for thieves? when he is a Gentile; or when of himself he takes that office upon him; or when, being deputed by the king, he doth not exact the set sum, but exacts according to his own will.” Therefore the father of R. Zeira is to be reputed for a rare person, who, being a publican for thirteen years, did not make the burdens of the taxes heavier, but rather eased them.

“When the king laid a tax, to be exacted of the Jews, of each according to his estate, these publicans, being deputed to proportion the thing, became respecters of persons, burdening some and indulging others, and so became plunderers.”

By how much the more grievous the heathen yoke was to the Jewish people, boasting themselves a free nation, so much the more hateful to them was this kind of men; who, though sprung of Jewish blood, yet rendered their yoke much more heavy by these rapines.

Chapter 6

<scripCom type=”Commentary” passage=”Matthew 6″ parsed=”|Matt|6|0|0|0″ osisRef=”Bible:Matt.6″ />

1. Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

[Take heed, that ye do not your alms, &c.] It is questioned, whether Matthew writ alms, or righteousness. I answer;

I. That our Saviour certainly said righteousness…I make no doubt at all; but that that word could not be otherwise understood by the common people than of alms, there is as little doubt to be made. For although the word righteousness, according to the idiom of the Old Testament, signifies nothing else than righteousness; yet now, when our Saviour spoke those words, it signified nothing so much as alms.

II. Christ used also the same word righteousness in the three verses next following, and Matthew used the word alms: but by what right, I beseech you, should he call it righteousness, in the first verse, and alms in the following,–when Christ every where used one and the same word? Matthew might not change in Greek, where our Saviour had not changed in Syriac.

Therefore we must say, that the Lord Jesus used the word righteousness in these four first verses: but that, speaking in the dialect of common people, he was understood by the common people to speak of alms.

Now they called alms by the name of righteousness, in that the Fathers of the Traditions taught, and the common people believed, that alms conferred very much to justification. Hear the Jewish chair in this matter:

“For one farthing, given to a poor man in alms, a man is made partaker of the beatifical vision.” Where it renders these words [Psa 17:15] ‘I shall behold thy face in righteousness,’ after this manner; ‘I shall behold thy face because of alms.’

One saith, “This money goes for alms, that my sons may live, and that I may obtain the world to come.”

“A man’s table now expiates by alms, as heretofore the altar did by sacrifice.”

“If you afford alms out of your purse, God will keep you from all damage and harm.”

“Monobazes the king bestowed his goods liberally upon the poor, and had these words spoke to him by his kinsmen and friends, ‘Your ancestors increased both their own riches and those that were left them by their fathers; but you waste both your own and those of your ancestors.’ To whom he answered, ‘My fathers laid up their wealth on earth; I lay up mine in heaven; as it is written, Truth shall flourish out of the earth, but righteousness shall look down from heaven. My fathers laid up treasure that bears no fruit; but I lay up such as bear fruit; as it is said, It shall be well with the just, for they shall be at the fruit of their works. My fathers treasured up where power was in their hands; but I where it is not; as it is said, Justice and judgment is the habitation of his throne. My fathers heaped up for others; I for myself; as it is said, And this shall be to thee for righteousness. They scraped together for this world; I for the world to come; as it is said, Righteousness shall deliver from death.'” These things are also recited in the Babylonian Talmud.

You see plainly in what sense he understands righteousness, namely, in the sense of alms: and that sense not so much framed in his own imagination, as in that of the whole nation, and which the royal catechumen had imbibed from the Pharisees his teachers.

Behold the justifying and saving virtue of alms from the very work done, according to the doctrine of the Pharisaical chair. And hence the opinion of this efficacy of alms so far prevailed with the deceived people, that they pointed out alms by no other name (confined within one single word) than righteousness. Perhaps those words of our Saviour are spoken in derision of this doctrine; “Yea, give those things which ye have in alms, and behold all things shall be clean to you,” Luke 11:41. With good reason, indeed, exhorting them to give alms, but yet withal striking at the covetousness of the Pharisees, and confuting their vain opinion of being clean by the washing of their hands, from their own opinion of the efficacy of alms. As if he had said, “Ye assert that alms justifies and saves; and therefore ye call it by the name of righteousness: why, therefore, do ye affect cleanness by the washing of hands, and not rather by the performance of charity?” See the praises of alms, somewhat too high for it, in the Talmud.

“R. Jannai saw one giving money openly to a poor man; to whom he said, It is better you had not given at all, than so to have given.”

[Otherwise ye have no reward.] He therefore seems the rather to speak of a reward, because they expected a reward for their alms-doing without all doubt; and that, as we said, for the mere work done.

“R. Lazar was the almoner of the synagogue. One day going into his house, he said, ‘What news?’ They answered, ‘Some came hither, and ate and drank, and made prayers for thee.’ ‘Then,’ saith he, ‘there is no good reward.’ Another time going into his house, he said, ‘What news?’ It was answered, ‘Some others came, and ate and drank, and railed upon you.’ ‘Now,’ saith he, ‘there will be a good reward.'”

2. Therefore when thou doest thinealms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

[Do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues, and in the streets.] It is a just scruple, whether this sounding a trumpet be to be understood according to the letter, or in a borrowed sense. I have not found, although I have sought for it much and seriously, even the least mention of a trumpet in almsgiving. I would most willingly be taught this from the more learned.

You may divide the ordinary alms of the Jews into three parts:

I. The alms’-dish. They gave alms to the public dish or basket: Tamchui (according to the definition of the author of Aruch, and that out of Bava Bathra in the place lately cited) was a certain vessel, in which bread and food was gathered for the poor of the world. You may not improperly call it the alms-basket; he calls it a dish. By the poor of the world are to be understood any beggars, begging from door to door; yea, even heathen beggars. Hence the Jerusalem Talmud in the place above quoted, The alms-dish was for every man. And the Aruch moreover, This alms was gathered daily by three men, and distributed by three. It was gathered of the townsmen by collectors within their doors; which appears by that caution; The collection of alms may not separate themselves one from another, unless that one may go by himself to the gate, and another to the shop. That is, as the Gloss explains it, they might not gather this alms separately and by themselves; that no suspicion might arise, that they privily converted what was given to their own use and benefit. This only was allowed them; when they went to the gate, one might betake himself to the gate, and another to a shop near it, to ask of the dwellers in both places: yet with this proviso, that withal both were within sight of one another. So that at each door it might be seen that this alms was received by the collectors. And here was no probability at all of a trumpet, when this alms was of the lowest degree, being to be bestowed upon vagabond strangers, and they very often heathen.

II. The poor’s-chest. They gave alms also in the public poor’s-box: which was to be distributed to the poor only of that city. The alms’-dish is for the poor of the world, but the alms’-chest for the poor only of that city. This was collected of the townsmen by two Parnasin, of whom before, to whom also a third was added, for the distributing it. The Babylonian Gemarists give a reason of the number, not unworthy to be marked: “A tradition of the Rabbins. The alms’-chest is gathered by two, and distributed by three. It is gathered by two, because they do not constitute a superior office in the synagogue less than of two, and it is distributed by three, as pecuniary judgments are transacted by three.”

This alms was collected in the synagogue, on the sabbath (compare 1 Corinthians 16:2), and it was distributed to the poor on the sabbath-eve. Hence is that, “The alms’-chest is from the sabbath-eve to the sabbath-eve; the alms’-dish, every day.”

Whether, therefore, the trumpet sounded in the synagogue when alms were done, it again remains obscure, since the Jewish canonists do not openly mention it, while yet they treat of these alms very largely. Indeed, every synagogue had its trumpet. For,

1. They sounded with the trumpet in every city in which was a judiciary bench, at the coming in of the new year. But this was not used but after the destruction of the Temple.

2. They sounded with the trumpet when any was excommunicated. Hence among the utensils of a judge is numbered a trumpet. For the instruments of judges, as appears there, were a rod, a whip, a trumpet, and a sandal. “A trumpet (saith the Gloss) for excommunication and anathematizing: and a sandal for the taking off of the shoe of the husband’s brother.” And in the same place mention is made of the excommunicating of Jesus, four hundred trumpets being brought for that business.

3. The trumpet sounded six times at the coming in of every sabbath: that from thence, by that sign given, all people should cease from servile works. Of this matter discourse is had in the Babylonian Talmud, in the tract of the Sabbath.

Thus, there was a trumpet in every synagogue; but whether it were used while alms were done, I still inquire. That comes into my mind, “The collectors of alms do not proclaim on a feast-day, as they proclaim on a common day: but collect it privately, and put it up in their bosom.” But whether this proclamation did publish what was giving by every one, or did admonish of not giving any thing, but what might rightly be given; let the more learned judge by looking upon the place.

III. They gave alms also out of the field, and that was especially fourfold: 1. The corner of the field not reaped. 2. Sheaves left in the field, either by forgetfulness, or voluntarily. 3. The gleaning of the vintage; of which see Leviticus 19:9,10, Deuteronomy 24:19. And, 4. The poor’s tenth; of which the Talmudists largely in the tracts, Peah, Demai, and Maaseroth. To the gathering of these, the poor were called, “By three manifestations in the day; namely, in the morning, and at noon, and at Minchah,” or ‘the evening.’ That is, the owner of the field openly shewed himself three times in the day, for this end, that then the poor should come and gather: in the morning, for the sake of nurses; because, in the mean time, while their young children slept, they might the more freely go forth for this purpose: at noon, for the sake of children, who also at that time were prepared to gather: at Minchah, for the sake of old men. So the Jerusalem Gemarists, and the Glossers upon the Babylonian Talmud.

There were the ordinary alms of the Jewish people: in the doing which, seeing as yet I cannot find so much as the least sound of a trumpet in their writers, I guess that either our Saviour here spoke metaphorically; or, if there were any trumpet used, that it was used in peculiar and extraordinary alms.

The Jews did very highly approve of alms done secretly; hence the treasury of the silent was of famed memory in the Temple; whither “some very religious men brought their alms in silence and privacy, when the poor children of good men were maintained.” And hence is that proverb, He that doth alms in secret is greater than our master Moses himself. And yet they laboured under such an itch to make their alms public, lest they should not be seen by men, that they did them not without a trumpet; or, which was as good as a trumpet, with a proud desire of making them known: that they might the more be pointed at with the finger, and that it might be said of them, ‘These are the men.’

3. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

[Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth.] He seems to speak according to the custom used in some other things; for in some actions, which pertained to religion, they admitted not the left hand to meet with the right. “The cup of wine which was used to sanctify the coming in of the sabbath, was to be taken with the right hand, without the assistance of the left.” “Let not man receive into a vessel the blood of the sacrifice, bring it to the altar, or sprinkle it with his left hand.” And in the same tract, it is related of Shammai, that he would feed himself only with one hand.

5. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

[They love to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corner of the streets.] 1. They prayed standing, Luke 18:11,13, Mark 11:25. “It is written, ‘And Abraham rose early in the morning at the place where he had stood before the Lord.’ But to stand was nothing else than to pray: as it is said, And Phineas stood and judged.”

“One entereth into the synagogue, and found them standing in prayer.” “Let scholar of the wise men look downwards, when he stands praying.” And to name no more, the same Maimonides asserts these things are required in prayer; that he that prayeth, stand; that he turn his face towards Jerusalem; that he cover his head; and that he fix his eyes downwards.

II. They loved to pray in the synagogues. “He goes to the synagogue to pray.”

“Why do they recite their phylacteries in the synagogue, when they are not bound to do it? R. Josi saith, They do not recite them in the synagogue for that end, that so the whole office of the phylacteries may be performed, but to persevere in prayer. For this recitation was to be said over again, when they came home.”

Rabbenu Asher hath these words: “When any returns home in the evening from the field, let him not say, ‘I will go into my house’; but first let him betake himself to the synagogue: and if he can read, let him read something; if he can recite the traditions, let him recite them. And then let him say over the phylacteries, and pray.”

But that we be not too tedious, even from this very opinion, they were wont to betake themselves to the synagogues, because they were persuaded that the prayers of the synagogue were certainly heard.

III. They prayed in the streets. So Maimonides; “They prayed in the streets on the feasts and public fasts.” “What are the rites of the fasts? They brought out the ark into the streets of the city, and sprinkled ashes upon the ark, and upon the head of the president of the Sanhedrim, and the vice-president; and every one put ashes upon his own head. One of the elders makes this exhortation; ‘It is not said, O brethren, of the Ninevites, that God saw their sackcloth, or their fastings; but, that he saw their works,’ &c. They stand praying, and they set some fit elder before the ark, and he prays four-and-twenty prayers before them.”

But doth our Saviour condemn all prayers in the synagogue? By no means. For he himself prayed in and with the synagogue. Nor did he barely reprove those public prayers in the streets, made by the whole multitude in those great solemnities, but prayers everywhere, both in the synagogues, and the streets, that were made privately, but yet publicly also, and in the sight of all, that thereby he that prayed might get some name and reputation from those that saw him.

I. While public prayers were uttered in the synagogue, it was customary also for those that hunted after vainglory, to mutter private prayers, and such as were different from those of the synagogue, whereby the eyes of all might be the more fixed upon him that prayed.

“Hath not a man prayed his morning prayers? When he goes into the synagogue, does he find them praying the additionary prayer? If he is sure he shall begin and end, so that he may answer ‘Amen’ after the angel of the church, let him say his prayers.”

II. They prayed also by themselves in the streets. “R. Jochanan said, I saw R. Jannai standing and praying in the streets of Tsippor, and going four cubits, and then praying the additionary prayer.”

Two things especially shew their hypocrisy here:

1. That so much provision is made concerning reciting the phylacteries, and the prayers added (that it might be done within the just time), that wheresoever a man had been, when the set time was come, he presently betakes himself to prayers: “A workman, or he that is upon the top of a tree, he that rides on an ass, must immediately come down, and say his prayers,” &c. These are the very instances that the canonists give, which, with more of them, you may find in the tract Beracoth. Hence, therefore, those vainglorious hypocrites got an occasion of boasting themselves. For the hour of the phylacterical prayers being come, their care and endeavour was, to be taken in the streets: whereby the canonical hour compelling them to their prayers in that place, they might be the more seen by all persons, and that the ordinary people might admire and applaud both their zeal and religion. To which hypocritical pride they often added this also, that they used very long pauses, both before they began their prayers, and after they had done them: so that very usually, for three hours together, they were seen in a praying habit and posture. See the Babylonian Talmud. So that the Canonists played the madmen with some reason, when they allowed the space, from the rising of the morning to the third hour of the day, for the phylacterical prayers; because those three-hour praying men scarcely despatched them within less space, pausing one hour before they began prayer, and as much after they were ended.

2. They addicted themselves to ejaculations, prayers, and blessings, upon the sight almost of any thing meeting them either in the streets or in the way. “When one saw a place, wherein some miracle was done for Israel; a place, from whence idolatry was rooted out; or a place, where an idol now was, a short prayer was to be used. When any saw a blackamoor, a dwarf, a crooked, a maimed person, &c. they were to bless. Let him that sees a fair tree, or a beautiful face, bless thus, Blessed be He, who created the beauty of the creature,” &c.

7. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

[ROSARY, a chaplet of roses or beads used as an aid to memory in the repeating of prayers, as the Paternosters and Ave Marias. There are various patterns in use; one is a rosary of fifty-five beads, fifty small ones for the Ave Marias, separated into groups of ten by five large ones to mark Paternosters. Hindus, Mohammedans, and Buddhists all employ the rosary. The name is also given to a series of prayers (“Rosary of the Blessed Virgin”) consisting of fifteen decades, comprising fifteen paternosters and doxologies, and 150 Ave Marias, divided into three parts.–Universal Standard Encyclopedia

ROSARY. Part of the ritual of the Roman Catholic Church is the rosary, fifteen groups or series of prayers, each series consisting of a Paternoster (Lord’s Prayer), ten Aves (salutes to the Virgin Mary), and a Gloria. The string of beads used in counting the prayers is also called a rosary. It is symbolic, for the large beads stand for Paternosters (Our Father’s) and Glorias, and the small beads for Aves (Hail Mary’s), while the crucifix on the pendant symbolized the Apostles’ Creed. The groups of beads are “decades”; generally only five decades are said at one time. Instead of a large bead at the end and at the beginning of each decade, only one bead is used to represent the Gloria and the Paternoster. During the telling of the beads in each decade, the worshiper meditates on one of the fifteen mysteries of the life and death of Christ.

In the Greek Church, the monks, and not the lay members of the congregation, recite their prayers with the rosary, which is composed of a hundred beads of equal size. In the Russian Church, the rosary consists of 103 beads which are divided into groups by four larger ones, representing the Evangelists. Rosaries are also used by Buddhists and Mohammedans.–The Wonderland of Knowledge Encyclopedia, 1965]

[Use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do] See the civil battology [vain repetitions] of the heathen in their supplications: “Let the parricide be dragged: we beseech thee. Augustus, let the parricide be dragged. This is the thing we ask, let the parricide be dragged. Hear us, Caesar. Let the false accusers be condemned to the lion. Hear us, Caesar. Let the false accusers be condemned to the lion. Hear us, Caesar,” &c.

“Antoninus the pious, the gods keep thee. Antoninus the merciful, the gods keep thee. Antoninus the merciful, the gods keep thee.” See also Capitolinus, in the Maximini.

Those words savour of vain repetition in prayer, 1 Kings 18:26; “The priest of Baal called upon the name of Baal from morning to noon, saying, O Baal, hear us.”

After the same manner almost as the heathen mixed vain repetitions, in their prayers, did the Jews in their using divers words importing the same thing: not repeating, indeed, the same thing in varied phrases; which appears sufficiently to him that reads their liturgies through, as well the more ancient as those of a later date. And certainly the sin is equally the same in using different words of the same thing, as in a vain repetition of the same words; if so be there were the same deceit and hypocrisy in both; in words only multiplied, but the heart absent.

And in this matter the Jew sinned little less than the heathen. For this was an axiom with them, Every one that multiplies prayer is heard. Christ, therefore, does not so much condemn the bare saying over again the same petitions, either in the same words, or in words of the same import (for he himself spake the same things thrice, when he prayed in the garden), as a false opinion, as if there were some power, or zeal, or piety, in such kind of repetitions; and that they would be sooner heard, and more prevail with God. While he strikes the heathen, he strikes the Jews also, who laboured under the same phrensy: but there is mention only of the heathen, partly because this savoured rather of heathen blindness than of the profession of true religion, which the Jews boasted of; partly, and especially, that he might not condemn the public prayers of the Jews without cause, in which they sinned not at all by using synonymous expressions, if it were done out of a pious and sincere heart.

9. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

[After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father, &c.] Some things, which seem more difficult about this divine form of prayer, will perhaps pass into a softer sense, if certain things, very usual in the Jewish church and nation, be observed, to which the apostles could not but have regard when they clearly acknowledged here the highest conformity with them. For that it was customary with our Saviour, for the most part, to conform himself to the church and nation, both in religious and civil matters, so they were lawful, most evidently appears also in this form of prayer. Let these things, therefore, be observed:

I. That the stated prayers of the Jews, daily to be said at that time when Christ prescribed this form to his disciples, were eighteen in number, or in a quantity equalling it. Of this number of their prayers, the Gemarists of both Talmuds treat at large. Whom consult.

Whether they were reduced to the precise number of eighteen, in the order that they afterward appeared in while Christ was upon earth, some scruple ariseth from some things which are said by the Babylonian Talmudists in the place alleged: but it might be plainly proved, if there were need, that little, or indeed nothing at all, wanted of the quantity and bulk of such a number. “The Rabbins have a tradition (say they), that Simeon Pekoli reduced into order the eighteen prayers according to their course, before Rabban Gamaliel in Jafne. Rabban Gamaliel said to the wise men, ‘Is there any that knows to compose a prayer against the Sadducees?’ Samuel the Little stood forth and constituted one,” &c. That Rabban Gamaliel, which is here spoke of, was Paul’s master. For, although Rabban Gamaliel (who was commonly styled ‘Jafnensis,’ of Jafne) was the nephew of Paul’s master. Gamaliel, and this thing is mentioned to be done in Jafne; yet Paul’s master also lived in Jafne: and that this was he of whom is the story before us, sufficiently appears hence, because his business is with Samuel the Little, who certainly died before the destruction of the city.

Under Gamaliel the elder, therefore, were those daily prayers reduced first into that order wherein they were received by the following ages. Which, however it was done after the death of our Saviour, in regard of their reducing into order, yet so many there were in daily use at that time when he conversed on earth. Now he condemned not those prayers altogether, nor esteemed them of no account; yea, on the contrary, he joined himself to the public liturgy in the synagogues, and in the Temple: and when he delivereth this form to his disciples, he extinguisheth not other forms.

II. When all could not readily repeat by heart those numerous prayers, they were reduced into a brief summary, in which the marrow of them all was comprised; and that provision was made for the memory, that they should have a short epitome of those prayers, whom the weakness of their memory, or sometime the unavoidable necessity of business, permitted not to repeat a longer prayer, or to be at leisure to do it. This summary they called a fountain. “Rabban Gamaliel saith, ‘Let every one pray the eighteen prayers every day.’ R. Joshua saith, Let him pray the summary of those eighteen. But R. Akibah saith, If prayer be free in his mouth, let him pray the eighteen; but if not, let him pray the summary of those eighteen.” That our Saviour comprised the sum of all prayers in this form, is known to all Christians; and it is confessed that such is the perfection of this form, that it is the epitome of all things to be prayed for, as the Decalogue is the epitome of all things to be practised.

III. It was very usual with the doctors of the Jews,

1. To compose forms of short prayers, and to deliver them to their scholars (which is asserted also of John, Luke 11:1); whereof you will find some examples, and they not a few, in the Babylonian Gemara, in the tract Beracoth, and elsewhere. Not that by those forms they banished or destroyed the set and accustomed prayers of the nation; but they superadded their own to them, and suited them to proper and special occasions.

2. To the stated prayers, and others framed by themselves, it was very usual to add some short prayer over and above, which one may not amiss call ‘the concluding prayer.’ Take these examples of these prayers: “R. Eliezer, when he had finished his prayers, was wont to say thus, ‘Let it be thy good pleasure, O Lord, that love and brotherhood dwell in our portion,’ &c. R. Jochanan, when he had finished his prayers, was wont to say thus, ‘Let it be thy good pleasure, O Lord, to take notice of our reproach, and to look upon our miseries,'” &c. In like manner,

1. Our Saviour, while he delivers this form to his disciples, does not weaken the set forms of the church; nor does he forbid his disciples not to use private prayers: but he delivers this most exact summary of all prayers, to be added, over and above, to our prayers; his most perfect to our most imperfect.

2. The apostles, sufficiently accustomed to the manners of the nation, could not judge otherwise of this form. In interpreting very many phrases and histories of the New Testament, it is not so much worth, what we think of them from notions of our own, feigned upon I know not what grounds, as in what sense these things were understood by the hearers and lookers on, according to the usual custom and vulgar dialect of the nation. Some inquire by what authority we do subjoin or superadd the Lord’s Prayer to ours; and feign arguments to the contrary out of their own brain. But I ask, whether it was possible that the apostles and disciples, who from their very cradles had known and seen such forms instituted for common use, and added moreover to the set prayers and others, should judge otherwise of this form given by our Lord; which bore so great conformity with those, and with the most received rite and custom of the nation?

IV. That church held it for a just canon, and that indeed no discommendable one neither, He that prays ought always, when he prays, to join with the church. Which is not strictly to be understood only of his presence in the synagogue (that is elsewhere and otherwise commanded many times over), but wheresoever in the world he be placed, yea, when he is most alone, that he say his prayers in the plural number: for thus the Gloss explains it, Let none pray the short prayer (that is, one different from the set prayers) in the singular number, but in the plural. In which number our Saviour teacheth us also to pray in this form; and that upon very good reason, when, in whatsoever solitude or distance we are, yet we ought to acknowledge ourselves joined with the church, and to pray for her happiness as well as for our own.

[Our Father which art in heaven.] I. This epithet of God was very well known among the Jews, and very usual with them:

Our Father which art in heaven, deal so with us as thou hast promised by the prophets.” And in another place this is thrice recited; “Whom have we whereon to rely, besides our Father which is in heaven?” “Blessed are ye, O Israelites; who cleanseth you? Your Father, who is in heaven.” “Ye gave not to your Father, who is in heaven, but to me the priest.”

II. But in what sense did the Jews call God their Father in heaven, when they were altogether ignorant of the doctrine and mystery of adoption, besides that adoption whereby God had adopted them for a peculiar people? I answer, For that very cause they were taught by God himself so to call him, Exodus 4:22, Deuteronomy 32:6, &c. Nor was there any among them who not only might not do this, but also who ought not to do it. While the heathen said to his idol, ‘Thou art my father,’ Jeremiah 2:27, the Israelite was bound to say, Our Father which art in heaven, Isaiah 63:16, 64:8.

III. When Christ useth this manner of speech so very well known to the nation, does he not use it in a sense that was known to the nation also? Let them answer who would have the Lord’s Prayer to be prayed and said by none but by those who are indeed believers, and who have partook of true adoption. In what sense was our Saviour, when he spake these words, understood of the hearers? They were thoroughly instructed, from their cradles, to call God the Father in heaven: they neither hear Christ changing the phrase, nor curtailing any thing from the latitude of the known and used sense. Therefore let them tell me, Did not Peter, John, and the rest of the apostles, think that it was as lawful for all Christians to say to God, Our Father which art in heaven, as it was lawful for all Jews? They called God Father, because he had called them into the profession of him, because he took care of them, and instructed them, &c. And what, I beseech you, hinders, but all Christians, obtaining the same privileges, may honour God with the same compellation? There is nothing in the words of Christ that hinders, and there is somewhat in the very phrase that permits it.

9,10. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

[Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come.] This obtained for an axiom in the Jewish schools; That prayer, wherein there is not mention of the kingdom of God, is not a prayer. Where these words are also added: “Abai saith, Like to this is that of Rabh to be reckoned, that it is a tradition I have not transgressed thy precepts, nor have I forgotten them” (they are the words of him that offereth the first-fruits, Deuteronomy 26:13). “‘I have not transgressed,’ that is, by not giving thanks: ‘And I have not forgotten them’; that is, I have not forgot to commemorate thy name, and thy kingdom.”

[Thy will be done, as in heaven, &c.] “What is the short prayer? R. Eliezer saith, Do thy will in heaven, and give quietness of spirit to them that fear thee beneath,” or in earth.

11. Give us this day our daily bread.

[Our daily bread.] That is, provide to-morrow’s bread, and give it us to-day, that we be not solicitous for to-morrow…

“The necessities of thy people Israel are many, and their knowledge small, so that they know not how to disclose their necessities; let it be thy good pleasure to give to every man what sufficeth for food,” &c.

13. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

[Deliver us from evil.] “Rabbi [Judah] was wont thus to pray: ‘Let it be thy good pleasure to deliver us from impudent men, and impudence; from an evil man, and from an evil chance; from an evil affection, from an evil companion, from an evil neighbour, from Satan the destroyer, from a hard judgment, and from a hard adversary,'” &c.

[For thine is the kingdom, &c.] I. In the public service in the Temple, the commemoration of the kingdom of God was the respond; instead of which the people answered Amen, when the priests ended their prayers. “For the tradition is, that they answered not ‘Amen’ in the house of the sanctuary. What said they then? Blessed be the name of the glory of his kingdom for ever.” Hence in the tract Joma (where the rubric of the day of Expiation is), after various prayers recited, which, on that day, the high priest makes, is added, “And the people answered, Blessed be the name of the glory of his kingdom for ever and ever.” See the places of that tract noted in the margin. There a short prayer of the high priest is mentioned, in which he thus concludes; “Be ye clean before Jehovah”; and these words are added, “But the priests and people standing in the court, when they heard the name Jehovah pronounced out in its syllable, adoring, and falling prostrate upon their face, they said, Blessed be the name of the glory of his kingdom for ever and ever.” See also the tract Taanith, where a reason is given of this doxology in the Gloss there.

II. This also they pronounced softly, and in a gentle whisper, while they were reciting the phylacteries. It is said of the men of Jericho, that they folded up the Schemah. It is disputed what this means; “And R. Judah saith, That they made some small pause after the reciting of this period, ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord’: but they said not, ‘Blessed be the name of the glory of his kingdom for ever and ever.’ But by what reason do we say so? R. Simeon Ben Levi explains the mystery, who saith, Our father Jacob called his sons, and said, ‘Gather yourselves together, and I will declare unto you.’ It was in his mind to reveal to them the end of days, and the Holy Spirit departed from him: he said, therefore, ‘Perhaps there is something profane in my bed, (which God forbid!) as it was to Abraham, from whom proceeded Ishmael; and to Isaac, from whom proceeded Esau.’ His sons said unto him, ‘Hear, Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord’; as, in thy heart, there is but one; so, in our hearts, there is but one. At that time our father Jacob began, and said, Blessed be the name of the glory of his kingdom for ever and ever. The Rabbins said, What shall we do? Shall we say this doxology? Our master Moses said it not. Shall we not say it? Our father Jacob said it. Therefore it was appointed to say it softly,” &c.

You see how very public the use of this doxology was, and how very private too. Being a response, it was pronounced in the Temple by all with a loud voice; being an ejaculation, it was spoken in the phylacterical prayers, by every single man, in a very low voice. And you see how great an agreement it hath with the conclusion of the Lord’s prayer, “For thine is the kingdom,” &c.

III. As they answered Amen, not at all in the public prayers in the Temple, so they seldom joined it to the end of their private prayers. In the synagogue, indeed, the people answered Amen to the prayers made by the minister: and also at home, when the master of the family blessed or prayed; but seldom, or indeed never, any one praying privately joined this to the end of his prayers.

And now, to apply those things which have been said to the matter under our hands, consider the following things:

1. That this prayer was twice delivered by our Saviour: first, in this sermon in the mount, when he was not asked; and afterward, when he was asked, almost half a year after, Luke 11.

2. That this conclusion is added in St. Matthew, “For thine is the kingdom,” &c.; but in St. Luke it is not. In St. Matthew is added moreover the word Amen; but in St. Luke it is wanting. Upon the whole matter, therefore, we infer,

I. That Christ, in exhibiting this form of prayer, followed a very usual rite and custom of the nation.

II. That the disciples also, receiving this form delivered to them, could not but receive it according to the manner and sense of the nation, used in such cases: since he introduced no exception at all from that general rule and custom.

III. That he scarcely could signify his mind, that this prayer should be universally and constantly used, by any marks or signs more clear than those which he made use of. For,

First, He commanded all, without any exception or distinction, “After this manner pray ye”; and, “When ye pray, say, Our Father,” &c.

Secondly, As, according to the ordinary custom of the nation, forms of prayer, delivered by the masters to the scholars, were to be used, and were used by them all indifferently, and without distinction of persons; so also he neither suggested any thing concerning this his prayer, either besides the common custom, or contrary to it.

Thirdly, The form itself carries along with it certain characters, both of its public and private and constant use. It may certainly with good reason be asked, Why, since Christ had delivered this prayer in such plain words in his sermon upon the mount, this command moreover being added, “After this manner pray ye,” it was desired again, that he would teach them to pray? What! had they forgotten that prayer that was given them there? Were they ignorant that it was given them for a form of prayer, and so to be used? But his seems rather the cause why they desired a second time a form of prayer, namely, because they might reckon that first for a public form of prayer; since this might easily be evinced, both by the addition of the conclusion so like the public response in the Temple, and especially by the addition of Amen used only in public assemblies: therefore, they beseech him again, that he would teach them to pray privately; and he repeats the same form, but omits the conclusion, and Amen, which savoured of public use. Therefore you have in the conclusion a sign of the public use, by the agreement of it to the response in the Temple; and of the private, by the agreement of it to the ejaculation in the phylacterical prayers. A sign of the public use was in the addition of Amen; a sign of the private use was in the absence of it: a sign of both in the conformity of the whole to the custom of the nation. Christ taught his disciples to pray, as John had taught his, Luke 11:1: John taught his, as the masters among the Jews had theirs, by yielding them a form to be used by all theirs daily, verbatim, and in terms.

16. Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

[They disfigure their faces.] That is, they disguised their faces with ashes; as he heretofore upon another cause, 1 Kings 20:38: “In the public fasts every one took ashes, and put upon his head. They say of R. Joshua Ben Ananiah, that, all the days of his life, his face was black by reason of is fastings. Why is his name called Ashur? (1 Chron 4:5). Because his face was black by fastings.”

Here let that of Seneca come in; “This is against nature, to hate easy cleanliness, and to affect nastiness.”

17. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

[But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, &c.] For those that fasted neither anointed themselves nor washed. “On the day of Expiation it was forbidden to eat, to drink, to wash, to anoint themselves, to put on their sandals, to lie with their wives. But the king and the bride may wash their faces, and a midwife may put on her sandals.” See the Babylonian Gemara here. See also the Babylonian Talmud in the tract Taanith, concerning other fasts, and the fasts of private men.

They were wont to anoint their bodies and heads upon a threefold reason:

I. For finer dress. “Anointing is permitted to be used on the sabbath, whether it be for ornament, or not for ornament. On the day of Expiation both are forbidden. On the ninth day of the month Ab, and in the public fasts, anointing for dress is forbid; anointing not for dress is allowed.”

II. They anointed themselves often, not for excess, or bravery, or delight, but for the healing of some disease, or for the health of the body. He that is troubled with the head-ache, or on whom scabs arise, let him anoint himself with oil.

“A tradition of the Rabbins. It is forbidden [in fasts] to wash a part of the body, as well as the whole body. But if it be defiled with dirt or dung, let him wash according to the custom, and let him not be troubled. It is also forbidden to anoint a part of the body, as well as the whole body: but if a man be sick, or if a scab arise on his head, let him anoint himself according to the custom.”

Hence, when the apostles are said “to anoint the sick with oil, and to heal them,” Mark 6:13, they used an ordinary medicine, and obtained an extraordinary and infallible effect.

Hence that of St. James, chapter 5:14: “Let the sick man call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord”: that is, to that ordinary medicine, namely, anointing for recovery of health, let the prayers of the ministers of the church be used.

III. They used sometimes a superstitious anointing of the head, and nothing differing from magical anointing: He that mutters, let him put oil upon his head, and mutter. this muttering is to be understood concerning the manner of saying a charm upon the wound, or some place of the body that feels pain; muttering over the wound; of which mention is made in the tract Sanhedrim. Mention also is made in the tract Schabbath now alleged, that some used this enchanting muttering in the name of Jesus: “One being sick, a certain person came to him, and muttered upon him in the name of Jesus of Pandira, and he was healed.” And a little after; “R. Eliezer Ben Damah was bitten by a serpent. James of Capharsam came to heal him in the name of Jesus: but R. Ismael permitted him not,” &c. See Acts 19:13.

If the words of James before alleged be compared with this cursed custom, they may well sound to this sense; ‘It is customary for the unbelieving Jews to use anointing of the sick joined with a magical and enchanting muttering; but how infinitely better is it to join the pious prayers of the elders of the church to the anointing of the sick!’

20-24. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

[If thine eye be single. If thine eye be evil.] That the business here is about a covetous, or a not covetous mind, may be gathered,

I. From the context on either hand: for, verse 20, 21, the discourse is concerning treasures either earthly or heavenly, and, verse 24, concerning serving either God or Mammon.

II. From a very usual manner of speech of the nation. For a good eye, to the Jews, is the same with a bountiful mind; and an evil eye is the same with a covetous mind. “This is the measure of the Truma” (or, of the oblation yielded to the priests), A good eye yieldeth one out of forty; that is, the fortieth part. “The school of Shammai saith, One out of thirty. A middling eye, one out of fifty. And an evil eye, one out of sixty. He that gives a gift, let him give with a good eye: and he that dedicates any thing, let him dedicate it with a good eye.” See Matthew 20:15. Hence covetousness is called the lust of the eyes, 1 John 2:16. Therefore our Saviour shows here with how great darkness the mind is clouded and dimmed by covetousness, and too much care of worldly things.

26. Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are you not much better than they?

[The fowls of the air, they sow not, &c.] “Have you ever seen beasts or fowls that had a workshop? And yet they are fed without trouble of mind,” &c. See also Midras Tillin.

30. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

[O ye of little faith.] Small of faith, a phrase very frequent in the Talmudists. He that prayed with a loud voice, is to be numbered among those that are little of faith. The Israelites in the wilderness were of little faith. R. Abuhabh in the preface to Menorath hammaor; “R. Eliezer saith, ‘Whosoever hath but a small morsel in his basket, and saith, What have I to eat to-morrow, behold, he is to be reckoned among those of little faith.'”

34. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

[Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.] There is enough of trouble in the very moment.

Chapters 7,8,9

<scripCom type=”Commentary” passage=”Matthew 7, 8, 9″ parsed=”|Matt|7|0|0|0;|Matt|8|0|0|0;|Matt|9|0|0|0″ osisRef=”Bible:Matt.7 Bible:Matt.8 Bible:Matt.9″ />

2. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

[With what measure ye mete.] This is a very common proverb among the Jews: In the measure that a man measureth, others measure to him. See also the tract Sotah, where it is illustrated by various examples.

4. Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

[Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye, &c.] And this also was a known proverb among them: “It is written in the days when they judged the judges, that is, in the generation which judged their judges, When any [judgesaid to another, Cast out the mote out of thine eye; he answered, Cast you out the beam out of your own eye,” &c.

“R. Tarphon said, ‘I wonder whether there be any in this age that will receive reproof: but if one saith to another, Cast out the mote out of thine eye, he will be ready to answer, Cast out the beam out of thine own eye.'” Where the Gloss writes thus; “Cast out the mote, that is, the small sin that is in thine hand; he may answer, But cast you out the great sin that is in yours. So that they could not reprove, because all were sinners.”

9. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

[Will he give him a stone?] Here that of Seneca comes into my mind; “Verrucosus called a benefit roughly given from a hard man, panem lapidosum, ‘stony bread.'”

12. Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

[Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, &c.] A certain Gentile came to Shammai, and said, ‘Make me a proselyte, that I may learn the whole law, standing upon one foot’: Shammai beat him with the staff that was in his hand. He went to Hillel, and he made him a proselyte, and said, That which is odious to thyself, do it not to thy neighbour: for this is the whole law.

13. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

[Broad is the way.] In these words, concerning the broad and narrow way, our Saviour seems to allude to the rules of the Jews among their lawyers concerning the public and private ways. With whom, “a private way was four cubits in breadth; a public way was sixteen cubits.” See the Gloss in Peah.

14. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

[Gate.] Under this phrase are very many things in religion expressed in the Holy Scripture, Genesis 28:17, Psalm 118:19,20, Matthew 16:18, &c.; and also in the Jewish writers. ‘The gate of repentance’ is mentioned by the Chaldee paraphrast upon Jeremiah 33:6; and ‘the gate of prayers,’ and ‘the gate of tears.’ “Since the Temple was laid waste, the gates of prayer were shut, but the gates of tears were not shut.”

Strait gate, seems to be the Greek rendering of Pishpesh, a word very usual among the Talmudists: “With a key he opened the little door, and out of Beth-mokad” (the place of the fire-hearth) “he entereth into the court.” Pishpesh, saith the Aruch, is a little door in the midst of a great door.

15. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

[In sheep’s clothing.] Not so much in woolen garments as in the very skins of sheep: so that outwardly they might seem sheep, but “inwardly they were ravening wolves.” Of the ravenousness of wolves among the Jews, take these two examples besides others. “The elders proclaimed a fast in their cities upon this occasion, because the wolves had devoured two little children beyond Jordan. More than three hundred sheep of the sons of Judah Ben Shamoe were torn by wolves.”

16. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

[By their fruits ye shall know them.] That is a proverb not unlike it. A gourd, a gourd, is known by its branch.

29. For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

[As one having authority, and not as the scribes.] It is said with good reason, in the verse going before, that “the multitude were astonished at Christ’s doctrine”: for, besides his divine truth, depth, and convincing power, they had not before heard any discoursing with that authority, that he did. The scribes borrowed credit to their doctrine from traditions, and the fathers of them: and no sermon of any scribe had any authority or value, without The Rabbins have a tradition, or The wise men say; or some traditional oracle of that nature. Hillel the Great taught truly, and as the tradition was concerning a certain thing; “But, although he discoursed of that matter all day long, they received not his doctrine, until he said at last, So I heard from Shemaia and Abtalion.”

Chapter 8

2. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

[Thou canst make me clean.] The doctrine in the law concerning leprosy paints out very well the doctrine of sin.

I. It teacheth, that no creature is so unclean by a touch as man. Yea, it may with good reason be asked, whether any creature, while it lived, was unclean to the touch, beside man? That is often repeated in the Talmudists, that “he that takes a worm in his hand, all the waters of Jordan cannot wash him from his uncleanness”; that is, while the worm is as yet in his hand; or the worm being cast away, not until the time appointed for such purification be expired. But whether it is to be understood of a living or dead worm, it is doubted, not without cause, since the law, treating of this matter, speaketh only of those things that died of themselves. See Leviticus 11:31: “Whosoever shall touch them when they be dead,” &c.: and verse 32, “Upon whatsoever any of them, when they are dead, shall fall,” &c. But whether he speaks of a living worm, or a dead, uncleanness followed by the touch of it for that day only: for “he shall be unclean (saith the law) until the evening”: but the carcase of a man being touched, a week’s uncleanness followed. See Numbers 19.

II. Among all the uncleannesses of men, leprosy was the greatest, inasmuch as other uncleannesses separated the unclean person, or rendered him unclean, for a day, or a week, or a month; but the leprosy, perhaps, for ever.

III. When the leper was purified, the leprosy was not healed: but the poison of the disease being evaporated, and the danger of the contagion gone, the leper was restored to the public congregation. Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, was adjudged to perpetual leprosy; and yet he was cleansed, and conversed with the king (2 Kings 8:5); cleanse, not healed. Thus under justification and sanctification there remain still the seeds and filth of sin.

IV. He that was full of the leprosy was pronounced clean; he that was otherwise, was not. Leviticus 13:12; “If the leprosy shall cover the whole body from head to foot, thou shalt pronounce him clean,” &c. A law certainly to be wondered at! Is he not clean, till the whole body be infected and covered with the leprosy? Nor shalt thou, O sinner, be made clean without the like condition. Either acknowledge thyself all over leprous, or thou shalt not be cleansed.

3. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

[Jesus touched him.] It was indeed a wonder, that when the leprosy was a creeping infection, the priest, when he judged of it, was not hurt with the infection. It cannot be passed over without observation, that Aaron, being bound under the same guilt with Miriam, bore not the same punishment: for she was touched with leprosy, he not, Numbers 12. And also that Uzziah should be confuted concerning his encroaching upon the priesthood no other way than by the plague of leprosy. In him God would magnify the priesthood, that was to judge of the leprosy; and he would shew the other was no priest, by his being touched with the leprosy. It can scarcely be denied, indeed, that the priests sometimes might be touched with that plague; but certainly they catched not the contagion while they were doing their office in judging of it. This is a noble doctrine of our High Priest, the Judge and Physician of our leprosy, while he remains wholly untouched by it. How much does he surpass that miracle of the Levitical priesthood! They were not touched by the contagion when they touched the leprous person; he, by his touch, heals him that hath the infection.

4. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

[Go, shew thyself to the priest, &c.] I. Our Saviour would not have the extraordinary manner whereby he was healed discovered to the priest, that he might pay the ordinary duty of his cleansing. And surely it deserves no slight consideration, that he sends him to the priest. However now the priesthood was too degenerate both from its institution and its office, yet he would reserve to it its privileges, while he would reserve the priesthood itself. Corruption, indeed, defiles a divine institution, but extinguishes it not.

II. Those things which at that time were to be done in cleansing of the leprosy, according to the Rubric, were these: “Let him bring three beasts: that is, a sacrifice for sin, a sacrifice for transgression, and a burnt-offering. But a poor man brought a sacrifice for sin of birds, and a burnt-offering of birds. He stands by the sacrifice for transgression, and lays both his hands upon it, and slays it: and two priests receive the blood; the one in a vessel, the other in his hand. He who receives the blood in his hand goes to the leper in the chamber of the lepers”: this was in the corner of the Court of the Women, looking north-west. “He placeth him in the gate of Nicanor,” the east gate of the Court of Israel; “he stretcheth forth his head within the court, and puts blood upon the lowest part of his ear: he stretcheth out his hand also within the court, and he puts blood upon his thumb and his foot, and he puts blood also upon his great toe, &c. And the other adds oil to the same members in the same place,” &c. The reason why, with his neck held out, he so thrust forth his head and ears into the court, you may learn from the Glosser: “The gate of Nicanor (saith he) was between the Court of the Women and the Court of Israel: but now it was not lawful for any to enter into the Court of Israel for whom there was not a perfect expiation: and, on the contrary, it was not lawful to carry the blood of the sacrifice for transgression out of the court.” Hence was that invention, that the leper that was to be cleansed should stand without the court; and yet his ears, his thumbs, and his toes, to which the blood was to be applied, were within the court. We omit saying more; it is enough to have produced these things, whence it may be observed what things they were that our Saviour sent back this healed person to do.

The cure was done in Galilee, and thence he is sent away to Jerusalem; silence and sacrifice are enjoined him: See thou tell no man, &c.: and offer the gift, &c. And why all these things?

First, Christ makes trial of the obedience and gratitude of him that was cured, laying upon him the charge of a sacrifice and the labour of a journey.

Secondly, He would have him restored to the communion of the church (from which his leprosy had separated him), after the wonted and instituted manner. He provides that he himself give no scandal, and the person healed make no schism: and however both his words and gestures sufficiently argue that he believed in Christ, yet Christ will by no means draw him from the communion of the church, but restore him to it. Hence is that command of his to him; “See thou tell no man, but offer a gift for a testimony to them”: that is, ‘Do not boast the extraordinary manner of thy healing; think not thyself freed from the bond of the law, in case of a leper, because of it; thrust not thyself into the communion of the church before the rites of admission be duly performed: but, however you have no business with the priest in reference to the purification and cleansing, go to the priest nevertheless, and offer the gift that is due, for a testimony that you are again restored into communion with them.’ This caution of our Saviour hath the same tendency with that, Matthew 17:27, “That we be not an offence to them,” &c.

6. And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.

[LiethLaid forth. Thus, A dead man laid forth, in order to his being carried out. The power and dominion of the disease is so expressed. The weak person lieth so, that he is moved only by others; he cannot move himself, but is, as it were, next door to carrying out. So, verse 14, of Peter’s mother-in-law, was laid, and sick of a fever.

16. When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:

[When the even was come.] Mark adds, when the sun was now set, and the sabbath was now gone.

I. The sabbath was ended by the Jews at the supper, or the feast. In which they used a candle (as they did upon the entrance of the sabbath), and wine, and spices; and the form of a blessing over a cup of wine, and then over the candle, and then over the spices: “Does the sabbath end when he is now in the middle of his feast? He puts an end to his eating; washes his hands; and over a cup of wine he gives thanks for his food; and afterward over that cup he useth the form of prayer in the separation of the sabbath from a common day: if he be now drinking when the sabbath goes out, he ceaseth from drinking, and recites the form of separation, and then returns to his drinking.”

II. The proper limits of the sabbath were from sun-set to sun-set. This is sufficiently intimated by St. Mark, when he saith, that when the sun was now set, they brought the sick to be healed: which they held unlawful to do while the sun was yet going down, and the sabbath yet present.

The Talmudic canons give a caution of some works, that they be not begun on the day before the sabbath, if they may not be ended and finished, while it is yet day: that is (as they explain it), while the sun is not yet set. He that lights a [sabbath] candle, let him light it while it is yet day, before sun-set. “On the sabbath-eve it is permitted to work until sun-set.” The entrance of the sabbath was at sun-set, and so was the end of it.

III. After the setting of sun, a certain space was called Bin Hashmashuth: concerning which these things are disputed; “What is Bin Hashmashuth? R. Tanchuma saith, It is like a drop of blood put upon the very edge of a sword, which divides itself every where. What is Bin Hashmashuth? It is from that time when the sun sets, whilst one may walk half a mile. R. Josi saith, Bin Hashmashuth is like a wink of the eye,” &c. Bin Hashmashuth properly signifies, between the suns: and the manner of speech seems to be drawn thence, that there are said to be two sun-sets. Concerning which, read the Glosser upon Maimonides. Where thus also Maimonides himself: “From the time that the sun sets till the three middle stars appear, it is called between the suns: and it is a doubt whether that time be part of the day or of the night. However, they every where judge of it to render the office heavy. Therefore, between that time they do not light the sabbatical candle: and whosoever shall do any servile work on the sabbath-eve, and in the going out of the sabbath, is bound to offer a sacrifice for sin.” So also the Jerusalem Talmudists in the place last cited: “Does one star appear? Certainly, as yet it is day. Do two? It is doubted whether it be day. Do three? It is night without doubt.” And a line after; “On the sabbath-eve, if any work after one star seen, he is clear: if after two, he is bound to a sacrifice for a transgression; if after three, he is bound to a sacrifice for sin. Likewise, in the going out of the sabbath, if he do any work after one star is seen, he is bound to a sacrifice for sin; if after two, to a sacrifice for transgression: if after three, he is clear.”

Hence you may see at what time they brought persons here to Christ to be healed, namely, in the going out of the sabbath; if so be they took care of the canonical hour of the nation, which is not to be doubted of.

17. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

[Himself took our infirmities.] Divers names of the Messias are produced by the Talmudists, among others “The Rabbins say, His name is, ‘The leper of the house of Rabbi‘: as it is said, Certainly he bare our infirmities,” &c. And a little after, “Rabh saith, If Messias be among the living, Rabbenu Haccodesh is he.” The Gloss is, “If Messias be of them that are now alive, certainly our holy Rabbi is he, as being one that carries infirmities,” &c. R. Judah, whom they called ‘the Holy,’ underwent very many sicknesses (of whom, and of his sicknesses, you have the story in the Talmud, “thirteen years Rabbi laboured under the pain of the teeth,” &c.); because of which there were some who were pleased to account him for the Messias; because, according to the prophets, Messias should be ‘a man of sorrows’: and yet they look for him coming in pomp.

This allegation of Matthew may seem somewhat unsuitable and different from the sense of the prophet: for Isaiah speaks of the Messias carrying our infirmities in himself; but Matthew speaks concerning him healing them in others: Isaiah of the diseases of the soul (see 1 Peter 2:24); Matthew of the diseases of the body. But in this sense both agree very well, that Christ’s business was with our infirmities and sorrows, and he was able to manage that business: his part was to carry and bear them, and in him was strength and power to carry and bear them. In this sense, therefore, is Matthew to be understood; he healed the demoniacs and all diseased persons with his word, that that of Isaiah might be fulfilled, He it is who is able to bear and carry our sorrows and sicknesses. And so, whether you apply the words to the diseases of the mind or the body, a plain sense by an equal easiness does arise. The sense of Isaiah reacheth indeed further; namely, That Messias himself shall be a man of sorrows, &c., but not excluding that which we have mentioned, which Matthew very fitly retains, as excellently well suiting with his case.

28. And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.

[Into the country of the Gergesenes.] In Mark and Luke it is, of the Gadarenes, both very properly: for it was the city Gadara, whence the country had its name: there was also Gergasa, a city or a town within that country; which whether it bare its name from the ancient Canaanite stock of the Gergashites, or from the word Gargushta, which signifies clay or dirt, we leave to the more learned to discuss. Lutetia, [Paris], a word of such a nature, may be brought for an example.

[Two possessed with devils coming out of the tombs, &c.] “These are the signs of a madman. He goes out in the night, and lodges among the sepulchres, and teareth his garments, and tramples upon whatsoever is given him. R. Houna saith, But is he only mad in whom all these signs are? I say, Not. He that goes out in the night is condriacus, hypochondriacal. He that lodgeth a night among the tombs burns incense to devils. He that tears his garments is melancholic. And he that tramples under his feet whatsoever is given him is cardiacus, troubled in mind.” And a little after, “one while he is mad, another while he is well: while he is mad, he is to be esteemed for a madman in respect of all his actions: while he is well, he is to be esteemed for one that is his own man in all respects.” See what we say at chapter 17:15.

30. And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.

[A herd of many swine feeding.] Were these Gadarenes Jews, or heathens?

I. It was a matter of infamy for a Jew to keep swine: “R. Jonah had a very red face, which a certain woman seeing said thus, Seignior, Seignior, either you are a winebibber, or a usurer, or a keeper of hogs.”

II. It was forbidden by the canon: “The wise men forbade to keep hogs anywhere, and a dog, unless he were chained.” Hogs upon a twofold account: 1. By reason of the hurt and damage that they would bring to other men’s fields. Generally, “the keeping smaller cattle was forbid in the land of Israel”; among which you may very well reckon hogs even in the first place: and the reason is given by the Gemarists, “That they break not into other men’s grounds.” 2. The feeding of hogs is more particularly forbidden for their uncleanness. It is forbidden to trade in any thing that is unclean.

III. Yea, it was forbid under a curse: “The wise men say, Cursed is he that keeps dogs and swine; because from them ariseth much harm.”

“Let no man keep hogs anywhere. The Rabbins deliver: When the Asmonean family were in hostility among themselves, Hyrcanus was besieged within Jerusalem, and Aristobulus was without. The besieged sent money in a box let down by a rope; and they which were without bought with it the daily sacrifices, which were drawn up by those that were within. Among the besiegers there was one skilled in the Greek learning, who said, ‘As long as they thus perform the service of the Temple, they will not be delivered into your hands.’ The next day, therefore, they let down their money, and these sent them back a hog. When the hog was drawing up, and came to the middle of the wall, he fixed his hoofs to the wall, and the land of Israel was shaken, &c. From that time they said, ‘Cursed be he who keeps hogs, and cursed be he who teacheth his son the wisdom of the Greeks.'” This story is cited in Menachoth.

Therefore you will wonder, and not without cause, at that which is related in their Talmud: “They said sometimes to Rabh Judah, There is a plague among the swine. He therefore appointed a fast.” What! is a Jew concerned for a plague among swine? But the reason is added: “For Rabh Judah thought that a stroke laid upon one kind of cattle would invade all.”

You may not, therefore, improperly guess, that these hogs belonged not to the Jews, but to the heathen dwelling among the Gadarene Jews; for such a mixture was very usual in the cities and countries of the land of Israel. Which we observe elsewhere of the town Susitha or Hippo, but some small distance from Gadara.

Or if you grant that they were Jews, their manners will make that opinion probable, as being persons whose highest law the purse and profit was wont to be. Since brawn and swine’s flesh were of so great account with the Romans and other heathens, there is no reason to believe that a Jew was held so straitly by his canons, as to value them before his own profit, when there was hope of gain.

Chapter 9

9. And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.

[He saw a man sitting at the receipt of custom, called Matthew.] Five disciples of Christ are mentioned by the Talmudists, among whom Matthew seems to be named: “The Rabbins deliver, There were five disciples of Jesus, Mathai, Nakai, Nezer, and Boni, and Thodah.” These, they relate, were led out and killed. See the place. Perhaps five are only mentioned by them, because five of the disciples were chiefly employed among the Jews in Judea: namely, Matthew who wrote his Gospel there, Peter, James, John, and Judas.

Matthew seems to have sat in the custom-house of Capernaum near the sea, to gather some certain toll or rate of those that sailed over. See Chapter 2:13, 14.

“He that produceth paper [on the Sabbath] in which a publican’s note is writ, and he that produceth a publican’s note, is guilty.” The Gloss is, “When any pays tribute to the lord of the river, or when he excuses him his tribute, he certifies the publican by a note [or some bill of free commerce], that he hath remitted him his duty: and it was customary in it to write two letters greater than ours.” See also the Gemara there.

14. Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?

[We and the Pharisees fast oft.] Monsters, rather than stories, are related of the Pharisees’ fasts:–

I. It is known to all, from Luke 18:12, that they were wont to fast twice every week. The rise of which custom you may fetch from this tradition: “Ezra decreed ten decrees. He appointed the public reading of the law the second and fifth days of the week: and again on the sabbath at the Mincha [or evening service]. He instituted the session of the judges in cities on the second and fifth days of the week,” &c. Of this matter discourse is had elsewhere: “If you ask the reason why the decree was made concerning the second and fifth days, &c., we must answer, saith the Gloss, from that which is said in Midras concerning Moses; namely, that he went up into the mount to receive the second tables on the fifth day of the week, and came down, God being now appeased, the second day. When, therefore, that ascent and descent was a time of grace, they so determined of the second and fifth days. And therefore they were wont to fast also on the second and fifth days.”

II. It was not seldom that they enjoined themselves fasts, for this end, to have lucky dreams; or to attain the interpretation of some dream; or to turn away the ill import of a dream. Hence was that expression very usual, A fast for a dream; and it was a common proverb, A fast is as fit for a dream, as fire is for flax. For this cause it was allowed to fast on the sabbath, which otherwise was forbidden. See the Babylonian Talmud, in the tract Schabbath: where also we meet with the story of R. Joshua Bar Rabh Idai, who on the sabbath was splendidly received by R. Ishai, but would not eat because he was under a fast for a dream.

III. They fasted often to obtain their desires: “R. Josi fasted eighty fasts, and R. Simeon Ben Lachish three hundred for this end, that they might see R. Chaijah Rubbah.” And often to avert threatening evils; of which fasts the tract Taanith does largely treat. Let one example be enough instead of many; and that is, of R. Zadok, who for forty years, that is, from the time when the gates of the Temple opened of their own accord (a sign of the destruction coming), did so mortify himself with fastings, that he was commonly called Chalsha, that is, The weak. And when the city was now destroyed, and he saw it was in vain to fast any longer, he used the physicians of Titus to restore his health, which, through too much abstinence, had been wasted.

15. And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

[The children of the bridechamber.] The sons of the bridechamber, an ordinary phrase. There is no need to relate their mirth in the time of the nuptials: I will relate that only, and it is enough, which is spoke by the Glosser, They were wont to break glass vessels in weddings And that for this reason, that they might by this action set bounds to their mirth, lest they should run out into too much excess. The Gemara produceth one or two stories there: “Mar the son of Rabbena made wedding feasts for his son, and invited the Rabbins: and when he saw that their mirth exceeded its bounds, he brought forth a glass cup worth four hundred zuzees, and brake it before them; whereupon they became sad.” The like story is also related of Rabh Ishai. And the reason of this action is given; Because it is forbidden a man to fill his mouth with laughter in this world.

…the days of the bridechamber, to the sons of the bridechamber, that is, to the friends and acquaintance, were seven: hence there is frequent mention of “the seven days of the marriage-feast”: but to the bride, the days of the bridechamber were thirty. It is forbidden to eat, drink, wash or anoint oneself on the day of Expiation: But it is allowed a king and a bride to wash their faces “For the bride is to be made handsome (saith the Gloss upon the place), that she may be lovely to her husband. And all the thirty days of her bridechamber she is called The Bride.”

It is worth meditation, how the disciples, when Christ was with them, suffered no persecution at all; but when he was absent, all manner of persecution overtook them.

18. While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.

[Behold, a ruler.] Distinction is made between the bishop of the congregation, and the head of the congregation. For while the discourse is there of the high priest reading a certain portion of the law on the day of Expiation agreeable to the day, thus it is said, The bishop of the synagogue takes the book of the law, and gives it to the ruler of the synagogue. Where the Gloss thus, “The synagogue was in the mount of the Temple, near the court [which is worthy to be marked]: The Chazan [or bishop, or overseerof the synagogue is the minister: and the ruler of the synagogue is he by whose command the affairs of the synagogue are appointed; namely, who shall read the prophet, who shall recite the phylacteries, who shall pass before the ark.”

Of this order and function was Jairus, in the synagogue of Capernaum: so that the word ruler, being understood in this sense, admits of little obscurity, although one, or a certain, be not there: “he speaking these words, ‘Behold, the ruler of that synagogue,'” &c.

20. And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:

[Diseased with an issue of blood.] Zeba, in Talmudic language. The Talmudic tract may serve for a commentary here.

These things were acted in the streets of Capernaum: for there Matthew lived, and there Jairus also: and in his passage from the house of the one to the house of the other, this diseased woman met him. Weigh the story well, and you will easily judge what is to be thought of that story concerning the statues of this woman and Christ, set up at Paneas, or Caesarea Philippi: of which Eusebius speaks.

23. And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise,

[Seeing the minstrels.] Dion Cassius concerning the funeral of Augustus: “Tiberius, and Drusus his son,…sacrificed frankincense themselves; but they used not a minstrel.

Even the poorest among the Israelites [his wife being dead], will afford her not less than two pipes, and one woman to make lamentation.

“He that hireth an ass-keeper, or a waggoner, to bring pipes, either for a bride, or for a dead person“: that is, either for a wedding, or a funeral.

“The husband is bound to bury his dead wife, and to make lamentations and mournings for her, according to the custom of all countries. And also the very poorest among the Israelites will afford her not less than two pipes and one lamenting woman: but if he be rich, let all things be done according to his quality.”

“If an idolater bring pipes on the sabbath to the house where anyone is dead, an Israelite shall not lament at those pipes.”

This multitude was got together on a sudden: neighbours, for civility’s sake; minstrels, perhaps for the sake of gain; both the more officious in this business, as we may guess, by how much the parents of the deceased maid were of more eminent quality. She died, when Christ, together with Jairus, was going forward to the house (Mark 5:35); and yet, behold what a solemn meeting and concourse there was to lament her. There were two things which, in such cases, afforded an occasion to much company to assemble themselves to the house of mourning:

First, some, as it is very probable, resorted thither to eat and drink: for at such a time some banqueting was used. “A tradition. They drink ten cups in the house of mourning; two before meat, five while they are eating, and three after meat.” And a little after: “When Rabban Simeon Ben Gamaliel died, they added three more. But when the Sanhedrim saw that hence they became drunk, they made a decree against this.”

Secondly, others came to perform their duty of charity and neighbourhood: for they accounted it the highest instance of respect to lament the dead, to prepare things for the burial, to take care of the funeral, to put themselves under the bier, and to contribute other things needful for that solemnity with all diligence. Hence they appropriated The rendering [or bestowingof mercies to this duty, in a peculiar sense, above all other demonstrations of charity; “One of the disciples of the wise men died, and mercy was not yielded him“: that is, no care was taken of his funeral. “But a certain publican died, and the whole city left off work to yield him mercy.”

Mourning for the dead is distinguished by the Jewish schools into Aninuth, and EbluthAninuth was on the day of the funeral only, or until the corpse was carried out; and then began Ebluth, and lasted for thirty days. Of these mournings take these few passages: “He that hath his dead laid out before him, and it is not in his power to bury him, useth not Aninuth [that kind of mourning]. For example: If any die in prison, and the magistrate [or governor of the place], permits not his burial, he that is near of kin to him is not bound to that mourning which is called Aninuth,” &c. And the reason is given a little after; namely, because he who hath his dead laid out before him, or upon whom the care of his burial lies, is forbidden to eat flesh, to drink wine, to eat with others, to eat in the same house (under which prohibition, thou, Jairus, now art), and he was free from reciting his phylacteries, and from prayer, and from all such-like precepts of the law. “But when the funeral is carried out of the door of the house, then presently begins the mourning called Ebluth.” From thence he is free from the foregoing prohibitions, and now is subject to others. Hence,

1. The bending down of the beds; of which the Talmudists speak very much: “From what time (say they) are the beds bended? from that time the dead body is carried out of the gate of the court of the house; or, as R. Josua, From such time, as the grave-stone is stopped up”: for so it is commonly rendered; but the Gloss somewhere, the cover, or the uppermost board of the bier. What this bending of the beds should mean, you may observe from those things which are spoken in the tract Beracoth: “Whence is the bending of the beds? R. Crispa, in the name of R. Jochanan saith, From thence, because it is said, And they sat with him to the earth (Job 2:13). It is not said, ‘upon the earth,’ but ‘to the earth’: it denotes a thing not far from the earth. Hence it is that they sat upon beds bended down.”

2. “He that laments all the thirty days is forbidden to do his work; and so his sons, and his daughters, and servants, and maids, and cattle,” &c.

These things concerned him to whom the dead person did belong. His friends and neighbours did their parts also, both in mourning, and in care of the funeral, employing themselves in that affair by an officious diligence, both out of duty and friendship. “Whosoever sees a dead corpse (say they), and does not accommodate [or accompany] him to his burial, is guilty of that which is said, ‘He that mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker,’ &c. But now (say they) no man is so poor as the dead man,” &c.

24. He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.

[The maid is not dead, but sleepeth.] It was very ordinary among them to express the death of any one by the word which properly signifies to sleepWhen N. slept; that is, when he died: a phrase to be met with hundreds of times in the Talmudists. And this whole company would say, The daughter of Jairus sleeps; that is, she is dead. Therefore it is worthy considering what form of speech Christ here used. The Syriac hath, She is not dead, but asleep.

33. And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel.

[It was never so seen in Israel.] These words seem to refer, not to that peculiar miracle only that was then done, but to all his miracles. Consider how many were done in that one day, yea, in the afternoon. Christ dines at Capernaum with Matthew: having dined, the importunity of Jairus calls him away: going with Jairus, the woman with the issue of blood meets him, and is healed: coming to Jarius’ house, he raiseth his dead daughter: returning to his own house (for he had a dwelling at Capernaum), two blind men meet him in the streets, cry out Messias after him, follow him home, and they are cured. As they were going out of the house, a dumb demoniac enters, and is healed. The multitude, therefore, could not but cry out, with very good reason, “Never had any such thing appeared in Israel.”

34. But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.

[Through the prince of the devils, &c.] See the notes at chapter 12:24.

Chapters 10,11

<scripCom type=”Commentary” passage=”Matthew 10, 11″ parsed=”|Matt|10|0|0|0;|Matt|11|0|0|0″ osisRef=”Bible:Matt.10 Bible:Matt.11″ />

1. And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.

[And when he had called to him the twelve disciples.] Concerning the number of twelve, corresponding to the tribes of Israel, see Luke 22:30, Revelation 21:12,14. These were called the twelve apostles…under which title Moses and Aaron are marked by the Chaldee paraphrast, Jeremiah 2:1: a word that does not barely speak a messenger, but such a messenger as represents the person of him that sends him. For The ‘apostle’ of any one is as he himself from whom he is deputed. See the fortieth verse of this chapter. If you read over the tract of Maimonides here, entitled messengers and companions, perhaps you will not repent your labour.

For these ends were these twelve chosen, as the evangelists relate:

I. That they might be with him, eyewitnesses of his works, and students of his doctrine. For they did not presently betake themselves to preach, from the time they were first admitted disciples, no, nor from the time they were first chosen; but they sat a long while at the feet of their Master, and imbibed from his mouth that doctrine which they were to preach.

II. That they might be his prophets, both to preach and to do miracles. Thence it comes to pass, that the gift of miracles, which of a long time had ceased, is now restored to them.

The ‘seven shepherds, and eight principal men,’ Micah 5:5, are the disciples of the Messias, according to Kimchi.

[Power of unclean spirits.] That is, ‘over, or upon unclean spirits’: which therefore are called unclean spirits that by a clearer antithesis they might be opposed to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of purity.

More particularly the unclean spirit, Zechariah 13:2; and unclean spirits, Revelation 16:13,14, are diabolical spirits in false prophets, deceiving Pythons.

By a more particular name yet, according to the Talmudists concerning this business: “There shall not be with thee a necromancer, Deuteronomy 18:11. He is a necromancer who mortifies himself with hunger, and goes and lodges a-nights among the burying-places for that end, that the unclean spirit may dwell upon him. When R. Akibah read that verse he wept. Does the unclean spirit, saith he, come upon him that fasts for that very end, that the unclean spirit may come upon him? Much more would the Holy Spirit come upon him that fasts for that end, that the Holy Spirit might come upon him. But what shall I do, when our sins have brought that on us which is said, ‘Your sins separate between you and your God?'” Where the Gloss thus; “That the unclean spirit dwell upon him: that is, that the demon of the burial-place may love him, and may help him in his enchantments.”

When I consider with myself that numberless number of demoniacs which the evangelists mention, the like to which no history affords, and the Old Testament produceth hardly one or two examples, I cannot but suspect these two things especially for the cause of it:–

First, That the Jewish people, now arriving to the very top of impiety, now also arrived to the very top of those curses which are recited, Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28.

Secondly, That the nation, beyond measure addicted to magical arts, did even affect devils and invited them to dwell with them.

2. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;

[Simon.] Simon is a name very usual among the Talmudists for Simeon. By which name our apostle is also called, Acts 15:14.

Let these words be taken notice of, “R. Eliezer inquired of R. Simon concerning a certain thing; but he answered him not. He inquired of R. Joshua Ben Levi, and he answered. R. Eliezer was enraged that R. Simeon answered him not.”

[Peter.] Christ changed the names of three disciples with whom he held more inward familiarity, Simon, James, and John. Simon was called by him Peter, or Petrosus, that is, referring to a rock, because he should contribute not only very much assistance to the church that was to be built on a rock, but the very first assistance, when, the keys being committed to him, he opened the door of faith to Cornelius, and so first let in the gospel among the Gentiles. Of which matter afterward.

[Andrew.] this also was no strange name among the Talmudists. Andrew Bar Chinna.

3. Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus:

[Bartholomew.] Compare the order wherein the disciples are called (John 1) with the order wherein they are for the most part reckoned, and you will find Bartholomew falling in at the same place with Nathanael: so that one may think he was the same with him: called Nathanael by his own name, and Bartholomew by his father’s; that is, the son of Talmai: for the Greek interpreters render Talmai, Tolmi, 2 Samuel 13:37. And Tholomaeus occurs in Josephus.

[Of Alpheus.] The name occurs also in the Talmudists: a word that may admit a doubt pronunciation; namely, either to sound Alphai, or Cleophi. Hence that Alpheus, who was the father of four apostles, is also called Cleopas, Luke 24; which sufficiently appears from hence, that she who is called “Mary, the mother of James the Less, and Joses,” Mark 15:40, by John is called, “Mary the wife of Cleopas,” John 19:25.

[Lebbeus, whose surname was Thaddeus.] Thaddai was a name known also to the Talmudists: R. Jose the son of Thaddeus. Eliezer Ben Thaddeus. It is a warping of the name Judas, that this apostle might be the better distinguished from Iscariot, He was called Lebbeus, I suppose, from the town Lebba, a sea-coast town of Galilee: of which Pliny speaks; “The promontory Carmel, and in the mountain a town of the same name, heretofore called Ecbatana: near by Getta Lebba,” &c.

4. Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

[Simon the Canaanite.] In Luke it is Zealot. See who are called Zealots in Josephus. Of whose sect, if you should say this Simon was before his conversion, perhaps you would do him no more wrong than you would do his brother Matthew, when you should say that he was a publican.

[Iscariot.] It may be inquired whether this name was given him while he was alive, or not till after his death. If while he was alive, one may not improperly derive it from Skortja, which is written also Iskortja: where, while the discourse is of a man vowing that he would not use this or that garment, we are taught these things;…”These are garments, some, of leather, and some of a certain kind of clothing.” The Gemara asketh, “What is Iskortja? Bar Bar Channah answered, A Tanner’s garment” The Gloss is, “A leathern apron that tanners put on over their clothes.” So that Judas Iscariot may perhaps signify as much as Judas with the apron. But now in such aprons they had purses sewn, in which they were wont to carry their money, as you may see in Aruch…which we shall also observe presently. And hence, it may be, Judas had that title of the purse-bearer, as he was called Judas with the apron.

Or what if he used the art of a tanner before he was chose into discipleship? Certainly we read of one Simon a tanner, Acts 9:43; and that this Judas was the son of Simon, John 12:4.

But if he were not branded with this title till after his death, I should suppose it derived from Iscara: which word what it signifies, let the Gemarists speak: “Nine hundred and three kinds of death were created in the world, as it is said, and the issues of death, Psalm 68:21. The word issues arithmetically ariseth to that number. Among all those kinds, Iscara is the roughest death…” Where the Gloss is, ‘Iscara’ in the mother-tongue is estrangulament. By learned men for the most part it is rendered angina, the quinsy. The Gemara sets out the roughness of it by this simile, “The Iscara is like to branches of thorns in a fleece of wool; which if a man shake violently behind, it is impossible but the wool will be pulled off by them.” It is thus defined in the Gloss, ‘The Iscara’ begins in the bowels, and ends in the throat. See the Gemara there.

When Judas therefore perished by a most miserable strangling, being strangled by the devil (which we observe in its place), no wonder if this infamous death be branded upon his name, to be commonly styled Judas Iscariot, or ‘that Judas that perished by strangling.’

[Who also betrayed him.] Let that of Maimonides be observed: “It is forbidden to betray an Israelite into the hands of the heathen, either as to his person, or as to his goods,” &c. “And whosoever shall so betray an Israelite shall have no part in the world to come.” Peter spake agreeably to the opinion of the nation, when he said concerning Judas, “He went unto his own place,” Acts 1:25. And so doth Baal Turim concerning Balaam; “‘Balaam went to his place,’ Numbers 24:25; that is (saith he), he went down to hell.”

5. These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:

[Into any city of the Samaritans, enter ye not.] Our Saviour would have the Jews’ privileges reserved to them, until they alienated and lost them by their own perverseness and sins. Nor does he grant the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles or Samaritans, before it was offered to the Jewish nation. The Samaritans vaunted themselves sons of the patriarch Jacob, John 4:12 (which, indeed, was not altogether distant from the truth); they embraced also the law of Moses; and being taught thence, expected the Messias as well as the Jews: nevertheless, Christ acknowledges them for his sheep no more than the heathen themselves.

I. Very many among them were sprung, indeed, of the seed of Jacob, though now become renegades and apostates from the Jewish faith and nation, and hating them more than if they were heathens, and more than they would do heathens. Which also, among other things, may perhaps be observed in their very language. For read the Samaritan version of the Pentateuch; and, if I mistake not, you will observe that the Samaritans, when, by reason of the nearness of the places, and the alliance of the nations, they could not but make use of the language of the Jews, yet used such a variation and change of the dialect, as if they scorned to speak the same words that they did, and make the same language not the same.

II. In like manner they received the Mosaic law, but, for the most part, in so different a writing of the words, that they seem plainly to have propounded this to themselves, that retaining indeed the law of Moses, they would hold it under as much difference from the Mosaic text of the Jews as ever they could, so that they kept something to the sense. “R. Eliezer Ben R. Simeon said, ‘I said to the scribes of the Samaritans, Ye have falsified your law without any manner of profit accruing to you thereby. For ye have written in your law, near the oaken groves of Moreh, which is Sychem,'” &c….Let the Samaritan text at Deuteronomy 11:30 be looked upon.

III. However they pretended to study the religion of Moses, yet, in truth, there was little or no difference between them and idolaters, when they knew not what they worshipped; which our Saviour objects against them, John 4:22: and had not only revolved as apostates from the true religion of Moses, but set themselves against it with the greatest hatred. Hence the Jewish nation held them for heathens, or for a people more execrable than the heathens themselves. A certain Rabbin thus reproaches their idolatry: “R. Ismael Ben R. Josi went to Neapolis [that is, Sychem]: the Samaritans came to him, to whom he spake thus; ‘I see that you adore not this mountain, but the idols which are under it: for it is written, Jacob hid the strange gods under the wood, which is near Sychem.'”

It is disputed whether a Cuthite ought to be reckoned for a heathen, which is asserted by Rabbi, denied by Simeon; but the conclusion, indeed, is sufficiently for the affirmative.

IV. The metropolis of the Samaritans laboured under a second apostasy, being brought to it by the deceit and witchcraft of Simon Magus, after the receiving of the gospel from the mouth of our Saviour himself. Compare Acts 8:9 with John 4:41.

From all these particulars, and with good reason for the thing itself, and to preserve the privileges of the Jews safe, and that they might not otherwise prove an offence to that nation, the Samaritans are made parallel to the heathen, and as distant as they from partaking of the gospel.

9. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,

[In your purses, &c.] these things, which are forbidden the disciples by our Saviour, were the ordinary provision of travellers; to which the more religious added also the book of the law.

“Some Levites travelled to Zoar, the city of palm-trees: and when one of them fell sick by the way, they brought him to an inn. Coming back, they inquired of the hostess concerning their companion. ‘He is dead,’ said she, ‘and I have buried him.'” And a little after, she brought forth to them his staff, and his purse, and the book of the law, which was in his hand. So the Babylonian Misna: but the Jerusalem adds also shoes: and instead of that which in the Misna is his purse, in the Gemara is…an inner garment, with pockets to hold money and necessaries.

That also is worthy mention; Let no man enter into the mount of the Temple with his staff, nor with his shoes, nor with his purse, nor with dust on his feet. Which words are thus rendered by the Gemara: “Let no man enter into the mount of the Temple, neither with his staff in his hand, nor with his shoes upon his feet, nor with money bound up in his linen, nor with a purse hanging on his back.” Where the Gloss thus: ‘Ponditho’ is a hollow girdle [or a hollow belt], in which they put up their money. See the Aruch in Aponda, and Ponda.

10. Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.

[Nor scrip for your journey.] The Syriac version reads, No purse

A proselyte is brought in thus speaking; “If an Israelite approaching to the holy things shall die, how much more a stranger, who comes with his staff and his pouch!”

[Nor two coats.] A single coat bespake a meaner condition; a double, a more plentiful. Hence is that counsel of the Baptist, Luke 3:11, “He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none.” It is disputed by the Babylonian Talmudists, how far it is lawful to wash garments on the common days of a festival-week; and the conclusion is, “It is lawful for him that hath one coat only, to wash it.”

[Neither shoes.] That shoes are here to be understood, and not sandals, appears from Mark 6:9: and that there was a difference between these, sufficiently appears from these very places. The contrary to which I read in Beza, not without wonder: “But then from this place (saith he), as also from Acts 12:8, it appears that the evangelists put no difference between shoes and sandals as Erasmus hath rightly observed.”

Let the Jewish schools be heard in this matter: “The pulling off of the shoe [of the husband’s brother, Deuteronomy 25:9] is right: and of the sandal if it hath a heel, is right; but if not, it is not right.”

“R. Josi saith, I went to Nisibin, and I saw there a certain elder, and I said to him, ‘Are you well acquainted with R. Judah Ben Betira?’ And he answered, ‘I am a money changer in my city; and he came to my table very often.’ I said, ‘Did you ever see him putting off the shoe? What did he put off, shoe or sandal?’ He answered, ‘O Rabbi, are there sandals among us?’ Whence therefore, say I, did R. Meir say, They do not put off the shoe? Rabbi Ba, Rabh Judah say, in the name of Rabh, If Elias should come, and should say, ‘They pull off the shoe of the husband’s brother, let them hearken to him’: if he should say, ‘They pull off the sandal,’ let them not hearken to him. And yet, for the most part, the custom is to pull off the sandal: and custom prevails against tradition.” See more there, and in the Babylonian tract Jevamoth.

Shoes were of more delicate use; sandals were more ordinary, and more for service. A shoe was of softer leather, a sandal of harder, &c. There were sandals also, whose sole, or lower part, was of wood, the upper of leather; and these were fastened together by nails. There were some sandals also made of rushes, or of the bark of palm-trees, &c. Another difference also between shoes and sandals is illustrated by a notable story in the tract Schabbath, in the place just now cited: “In a certain time of persecution, when some were hidden in a cave, they said among themselves, ‘He that will enter, let him enter; for he will look about him before he enters, that the enemies see him not: but let none go out; for perhaps the enemies will be near, whom he sees not when he goes out, and so all will be discovered.’ One of them by chance put on his sandals the wrong way: for sandals were open both ways, so that one might put in his foot either before or behind: but he putting on his the wrong way, his footsteps, when he went out, seemed as if he went in, and so their hiding-place was discovered to the enemies,” &c.

Money therefore in the girdle, and provision in the scrip, were forbidden the disciples by Christ; first, that they might not be careful for temporal things, but resign themselves wholly to the care of Christ; secondly, they ought to live of the gospel, which he hints in the last clause of this verse, “The workman is worthy of his hire.”

That, therefore, which he had said before, “Freely ye have received, freely give,” forbade them to preach the gospel for gain: but he forbade not to take food, clothing, and other necessaries for the preaching of the gospel.

Two coats and shoes are forbidden them, that they might not at all affect pride or worldly pomp, or to make themselves fine; but rather, that their habit and guise might bespeak the greatest humility.

11. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.

[Who in it is worthy.] In the Talmudic language, who deserves.

14. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

[Shake off the dust of your feet.] The schools of the scribes taught that the dust of the heathen land defiled by the touch. “The dust of Syria defiles, as well as the dust of other heathen countries.”

“A tradition-writer saith, ‘They bring not herbs into the land of Israel out of a heathen land: but our Rabbins have permitted it.’ What difference is there between these? R. Jeremiah saith, The care of their dust is among them.” The Gloss is, “They take care, lest, together with the herbs, something of the dust of the heathen land be brought, which defiles in the tent, and defiles the purity of the land of Israel.”

“By reason of six doubts, they burn the truma: the doubt of a field, in which heretofore might be a sepulchre; the doubt of dust brought from a heathen land,” &c. Where the Gloss is this; “Because it may be doubted of all the dust of a heathen land, whether it were not from the sepulchre of the dead.”

“Rabbi saw a certain priest standing in a part of the city Aco, which part was without the bounds of the land of Israel: he said to him, ‘Is not that heathen land concerning which they have determined that it is as unclean as a burying-place?'”

Therefore that rite of shaking the dust off the feet, commanded the disciples, speaks thus much; “Wheresoever a city of Israel shall not receive you, when ye depart, shew, by shaking off the dust from your feet, that ye esteem that city, however a city of Israel, for a heathen, profane, impure city; and, as such, abhor it.”

17. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;

[They shall scourge you in their synagogues.] Beza here, as he does very often when he cannot explain a case, suspects it: for thus he writes; “When I neither find synagogues elsewhere to have their names from houses of judgment, as the Hebrews speak, nor that civil punishments were taken in synagogues, I suspect this place.” But without any cause, for,

I. In every synagogue there was a civil triumvirate, that is, three magistrates, who judged of matters in contest arising within that synagogue; which we have noted before.

II. Scourging was by that bench of three. So that fivefold scourging of St. Paul (2 Cor 11:24) was in the synagogue; that is, By that bench of three magistrates, such as was in every synagogue.

It is something obscure that is said, But beware of men. Of whom else should they beware? But perhaps the word men may occur in that sense, as men in these forms of speech;…the men of the great assembly, and, the men of the house of judgment &c. But we will not contend about it.

23. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

[Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, &c.] “Ye shall not have travelled through the cities of Israel preaching the gospel, before the Son of man is revealed by his resurrection,” (Romans 1:4. Lay to this Acts 3:19,20, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, that the times of refreshment may come” (for ye expect refreshment and consolation under the Messias); “and he may send Jesus Christ first preached to you.” And verse 26, “To you first God, raising up his Son, sent him to bless you,” &c. The epoch of the Messias is dated from the resurrection of Christ.

25. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?

[Beelzebub.] See chapter 12:24.

27. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.

[What ye hear in the ear.] We have observed before, that allusion is here made to the manner of the schools, where the doctor whispered, out of the chair, into the ear of the interpreter, and he with a loud voice repeated to the whole school that which was spoken in the ear.

“They said to Judah Bar Nachmani, the interpreter of Resh Lachish, Do you stand for his expositor.” The Gloss is, “To tell out the exposition to the synagogue, which he shall whisper to you.” We cannot here but repeat that which we produced before, The doctor whispered him in the ear in Hebrew. And we cannot but suspect that that custom in the church of Corinth which the apostle reproves, of speaking in the synagogue in an unknown tongue, were some footsteps of this custom.

We read of whispering in the ear done in another sense, namely, to a certain woman with child, which longed for the perfumed flesh; “Therefore Rabbis said, Go whisper her that it is the day of Expiation. They whispered to her, and she was whispered“: that is, she was satisfied and at quiet.

[Preach ye upon the housetops.] Perhaps allusion is made to that custom when the minister of the synagogue on the sabbath-eve sounded with a trumpet six times upon the roof of an exceeding high house, that thence all might have notice of the coming in of the sabbath. The first sound was, that they should cease from their works in the fields; the second, that they should cease from theirs in the city; the third, that they should light the sabbath candle, &c.

34. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

[Think not that I am come to send peace, &c.] Although these words may be understood truly of the difference between believers and unbelievers by reason of the gospel, which all interpreters observe; yet they do properly and primarily point out, as it were with the finger, those horrid slaughters and civil wars of the Jews among themselves, such as no other age ever saw, nor story heard.

“R. Eliezer saith, The days of the Messias are forty years, as it is said, ‘Forty years was I provoked by this generation.'” And again; “R. Judah saith, In that generation, when the Son of David shall come, the schools shall be harlots; Galilee shall be laid waste; Gablan shall be destroyed; and the inhabitants of the earth [the Gloss is ‘the Sanhedrim’] shall wander from city to city, and shall not obtain pity; the wisdom of the scribes shall stink; and they that fear to sin shall be despised; and the faces of that generation shall be like the faces of dogs; and truth shall fail, &c. Run over the history of these forty years, from the death of Christ to the destruction of Jerusalem (as they are vulgarly computed), and you will wonder to observe the nation conspiring to its own destruction, and rejoicing in the slaughters and spoils of one another beyond all example, and even to a miracle. This phrensy certainly was sent upon them from heaven. And first, they are deservedly become mad who trod the wisdom of God, as much as they could, under their feet. And secondly, the blood of the prophets and of Christ, bringing the good tidings of peace, could not be expiated by a less vengeance. Tell me, O Jew, whence is that rage of your nation towards the destruction of one another, and those monsters of madness beyond all examples? Does the nation rave for nothing, unto their own ruin? Acknowledge the Divine vengeance in thy madness, more than that which befell thee from men. He that reckons up the difference, contentions, and broils of the nation, after the dissension betwixt the Pharisees and the Sadducees, will meet with no less between the scholars of Shammai and Hillel, which increased to that degree, that at last it came to slaughter and blood.

“The scholars of Shammai and Hillel came to the chamber of Chananiah Ben Ezekiah Ben Garon, to visit him: that was a woeful day, like the day wherein the golden calf was made. The scholars of Shammai stood below, and slew some of the scholars of Hillel. The tradition is, That six of them went up, and the rest stood there present with swords and spears.”

It passed into a common proverb, that “Elias the Tishbite himself could not decide the controversies between the scholars of Hillel and the scholars of Shammai.” They dream they were determined by a voice from heaven; but certainly the quarrels and bitternesses were not at all decided.

“Before the Bath Kol [in Jabneh] went forth, it was lawful equally to embrace either the decrees of the school of Hillel, or those of the school of Shammai. At last the Bath Kol came forth, and spake thus; ‘The words, both of the one party and the other, are the words of the living God; but the certain decision of the matter is according to the decrees of the school of Hillel.’ And from thenceforth, whosoever shall transgress the decrees of the school of Hillel is guilty of death.”

And thus the controversy was decided; but the hatreds and spites were not so ended. I observe, in the Jerusalem Gemarists, the word Shamothi, used for a scholar of Shammai: which I almost suspect, from the affinity of the word Shammatha, which signifies Anathema, to be a word framed by the scholars of Hillel, in hate, ignominy, and reproach of those of Shammai. And when I read more than once of R. Tarphon’s being in danger by robbers, because in some things he followed the custom and manner of the school of Shammai; I cannot but suspect snares were daily laid by one another, and hostile treacheries continually watching to do each other mischief.

“R. Tarphon saith, ‘As I was travelling on the way, I went aside to recite the phylacteries, according to the rite of the school of Shammai, and I was in danger of thieves.’ They said to him, and deservedly too, ‘Because thou hast transgressed the words of the school of Hillel.'” This is wanting in the Jerusalem Misna.

“R. Tarphon went down to eat figs of his own, according to the school of Shammai. The enemies saw him, and kicked against him: when he saw himself in danger, ‘By your life,’ saith he, ‘carry word unto the house of Tarphon, that graveclothes be made ready for him.'”

Thus, as if they were struck with a phrensy from heaven, the doctors of the nation rage one against another; and from their very schools and chairs flow not so much doctrines, as animosities, jarrings, slaughters, and butcheries. To these may be added those fearful outrages, spoils, murders, devastations of robbers, cut-throats, zealots, and amazing cruelties, beyond all example. And if these things do not savour of the divine wrath and vengeance, what ever did?

Chapter 11

3. And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?

[Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?] The reason of the message of John to Christ is something obscure:

First, That it was not because he knew not Christ, is without all controversy, when he had been fully instructed from heaven concerning his person, when he was baptized; and when he had again and again most evidently borne witness to him, in those words, “This is the Lamb of God,” &c.

Secondly, Nor was that message certainly, that the disciples of John might receive satisfaction about the person of Christ: for, indeed, the disciples were most unworthy of such a master, if they should not believe him without further argument, when he taught them concerning him.

Thirdly, John therefore seems in this matter to respect his own imprisonment, and that his question, “Art thou he which should come,” &c. tends to that. He had heard that miracles of all sorts were done by him, that the blind received their sight, the dead were raised, devils were cast out, &c. And why, therefore, among all the rest, is not John set at liberty? This scruple, as it seems, stuck with the good man; ‘Why do all receive benefit and comfort from Christ, but only I?’ Perhaps he laboured under that dim-sightedness which the disciples of Christ and the whole nation did concerning his earthly kingdom, victories, and triumphs: from which how distant (alas!) was this, that his forerunner and the chief minister should lie in chains! ‘If thou art he, concerning whose triumphing the prophets declare so much, why am I so long detained in prison? Art thou he, or is another to be expected, from whom these things are to be looked for?’

First, “That I am he that should come, these things which I do bear witness, ‘The blind receive their sight, the lame walk,'” &c.

Secondly, “As to the present case of John, who expects somebody to come to deliver him out of bonds, and to free the people from the yoke of men, Let him (saith he) acquiesce in my divine dispensation, and, ‘Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me,’ however all things are not according to his mind, which he hath expected to fall out, for his present and bodily advantage.”

And the words of our Saviour, verse 11, seem to express some secret reproof of this error in John, “He that is less in the kingdom of heaven, is greater than he.” The Vulgar version renders well the word less, not least: as if he should say, “When ye went out into the desert to John, ye neither looked for trifles nor earthly pomp, neither ‘a reed shaken with the wind,’ nor ‘a man clothed in soft raiment’; but ye looked in good earnest for a prophet: and in that ye did very well; for he was the greatest of prophets, nay, of men, as to his office; honoured in this above all others, that he is the forerunner of the Messias. howbeit, there are some, which, indeed, in respect of office, are much less than he in the kingdom of heaven, or in the commonwealth of Christ, who yet are greater than he in respect of the knowledge of the state and condition of his kingdom.” A comparison certainly is not here made, either in respect of office, or in respect of dignity, or in respect of holiness, or in respect of eternal salvation; for who, I pray, exceeded the Baptist in all these, or in any of them? but in respect of clear and distinct knowledge, in judging of the nature and quality of the kingdom of heaven.

Let the austerity of John’s life, and the very frequent fasts which he enjoined his disciples, be well considered, and what our Saviour saith of both, and you will easily believe that John also, according to the universal conceit of the nation, expected temporal redemption by the Messias, not so clearly distinguishing concerning the nature of the kingdom and redemption of Christ. And you will the more easily give credit to this, when you shall have observed how the disciples of Christ themselves, that conversed a long time with him, were dim-sighted, likewise, in this very thing.

12. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

[The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence.] And these words also make for the praise of John. That he was a very eminent prophet, and of no ordinary mission or authority, these things evince; that from his preaching, the kingdom of heaven took its beginning, and it was so crowded into by infinite multitudes, as if they would take and seize upon the kingdom by violence. The divine warmth of the people in betaking themselves thither by such numberless crowds, and with so exceeding a zeal, sufficiently argued the divine worth both of the teacher and of his doctrine.

14. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.

[If ye will receive it, this is Elias.] If ye will receive it. The words hint some suspicion, that they would not receive his doctrine; which the obstinate expectation of that nation unto this very day, that Elias is personally to come, witnesseth also. Upon what ground some Christians are of the same opinion, let themselves look to it. See the notes on chapter 17:10.

21. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

[In Tyre and Sidon.] He compares the cities of the Jews with the cities of the Canaanites, who were of a cursed original; “but yet these cities, of a cursed seed and name, if they had been partakers of the miracles done among you, had not hardened themselves to such a degree of madness and obstinacy as you have done: but had turned from their heathenism and Canaanitism unto the knowledge of the gospel; or, at least, had betook themselves to such a repentance as would have prevented vengeance.” So the repentance of the Ninevites, however it were not to salvation, yet it was such as preserved them, and freed their city from the wrath and scourge that hung over them. The most horrid stiffness of the Jews is here intimated, of all impious men the most impious, of all cursed wretches the most cursed.

22. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.

[At the day of judgment.] In the day of judgment: and In the day of the great judgment: a form of speech very usual among the Jews.

29. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

[My yoke.] So The yoke of the law: The yoke of the precept: The yoke of the kingdom of heaven.

Chapters 12,13

<scripCom type=”Commentary” passage=”Matthew 12, 13″ parsed=”|Matt|12|0|0|0;|Matt|13|0|0|0″ osisRef=”Bible:Matt.12 Bible:Matt.13″ />

1. At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were a hungered, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat.

[At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn.] The time is determined by Luke in these words, on the sabbath from the second-first.

I. Provision was made by the divine law, that the sheaf of firstfruits should be offered on the second day of the Passover-week, Leviticus 23:10,11: On the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall shake [orwaveit. Not on the morrow after the ordinary sabbath of the week, but the morrow after the first day of the Passover week, which was a sabbatic day, Exodus 12:16; Leviticus 23:7. Hence the Seventy, the morrow of the first day; the Chaldee, after the holy-day. The Rabbins Solomon and Menachem, on the morrow after the first day of the Passover-feast: of which mention had been made in the verses foregoing.

II. But now, from that second day of the Passover-solemnity, wherein the sheaf was offered, were numbered seven weeks to Pentecost. For the day of the sheaf and the day of Pentecost did mutually respect each other. For on this second day of the Passover, the offering of the sheaf was supplicatory, and by way of prayer, beseeching a blessing upon the new corn, and leave to eat it, and to put in the sickle into the standing corn. Now the offering of the first fruit loaves on the day of Pentecost (Lev 23:15-17) did respect the giving of thanks for the finishing and inning of barley harvest. Therefore, in regard of this relation, these two solemnities were linked together, that both might respect the harvest: that, the harvest beginning; this, the harvest ended: this depended on that, and was numbered seven weeks after it. Therefore, the computation of the time coming between could not but carry with it the memory of that second day of the Passover-week; and hence Pentecost is called the ‘Feast of weeks’ (Deut 16:10). The true calculation of the time between could not otherwise be retained as to sabbaths, but by numbering thus: This is the first sabbath after the second day of the Passover. This is the second sabbath after that second day. And so of the rest. In the Jerusalem Talmud, the word the sabbath of the first marriage, is a composition not very unlike.

When they numbered by days, and not by weeks, the calculation began on the day of the sheaf: “A great number of certain scholars died between the Passover and Pentecost, by reason of mutual respect not given to one another. There is a place where it is said that they died fifteen days before Pentecost, that is, thirty-three days after the sheaf.”

At the end of the Midrash of Samuel which I have, it is thus concluded; “This work was finished the three-and-thirtieth day after the sheaf.”

III. Therefore by this word the second-first, added by St. Luke, is shown, first, that this first sabbath was after the second day of the Passover; and so, according to the order of evangelic history, either that very sabbath wherein the paralytic man was healed at the pool of Bethesda, John 5, or the sabbath next after it. Secondly, that these ears of corn plucked by the disciples were of barley: how far, alas! from those dainties wherewith the Jews are wont to junket, not out of custom only, but out of religion also! Hear their Gloss, savouring of the kitchen and the dish, upon that of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 58:13: “‘Thou shalt call the sabbath a delight’:–It is forbidden,” say they, “to fast on the sabbath; but, on the contrary, men are bound to delight themselves with meat and drink. For we must live more delicately on the sabbath than on other days: and he is highly to be commended who provides the most delicious junkets against that day. We must eat thrice on the sabbath, and all men are to be admonished of it. And even the poor themselves who live on alms, let them eat thrice on the sabbath. For he that feasts thrice on the sabbath shall be delivered from the calamities of the Messias, from the judgment of hell, and from the war of Gog and Magog.” ‘Whose god is their belly,’ Philippians 3:19.

IV. But was the standing corn ripe at the feast of the Passover? I answer,

I. The seed-time of barley was presently after the middle of the month Marchesvan; that is, about the beginning of our November: “He heard that the seed sown at the first rain was destroyed by hail; he went and sowed at the second rain, &c.: and when the seed of all others perished with the hail, his seed perished not.” Upon which words the Gloss writes thus; “The first rain was the seventeenth day of the month Marchesvan; the second rain, the three-and-twentieth day of the same month; and the third was in the beginning of the month Chisleu. When, therefore, the rain came down, that which was sown at the first rain was now become somewhat stiff, and so it was broken by the hail; but that which was sown at the second rain, by reason of its tenderness, was not broken, &c. Therefore the barley was sown at the coming in of the winter, and growing by the mildness of the weather, in winter, when the Passover came in, it became ripe: so that from that time (the sheaf being then offered) barley-harvest took its beginning.

2. But if, when the just time of the Passover was come, the barley were not ripe, the intercalary month was added to that year, and they waited until it ripened: “For, for three things they intercalated the year; for the equinox, for the new corn, and for the fruit of the trees. For the elders of the Sanhedrim do compute and observe if the vernal equinox will fall out on the sixteenth day of the month Nisan, or beyond that; then they intercalate that year, and they make that Nisan the second Adar; so that the Passover might happen at the time of new corn. Or if they observe that there is no new corn, and that the trees sprouted not when they were wont to sprout, then they intercalate the year,” &c.

You have an example of this thing: “Rabban Gamaliel to the elders of the great Sanhedrim, our brethren in Judea and Galilee, &c.; health. Be it known unto you, that since the lambs are too young, and the doves are not fledged, and there is no young corn, we have thought good to add thirty days to this year,” &c.

[And his disciples were an hungered.] The custom of the nation, as yet, had held them fasting; which suffered none, unless he were sick, to taste any thing on the sabbath before the morning prayers of the synagogue were done. And on common days also, and that in the afternoon, provision was made by the canons, “That none, returning home from his work in the evening, either eat, or drink, or sleep, before he had said his prayers in the synagogue.”

Of the public or private ways that lay by the corn-fields, let him that is at leisure read Peah, chapter 2.

2. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.

[They do that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath day.] They do not contend about the thing itself, because it was lawful, Deuteronomy 23:25; but about the thing done on the sabbath. Concerning which the Fathers of the Traditions write thus; “He that reaps on the sabbath, though never so little, is guilty. And to pluck the ears of corn is a kind of reaping; and whosoever plucks any thing from the springing of his own fruit is guilty, under the name of a reaper.” But under what guilt were they held? He had said this before, at the beginning of chapter 7, in these words: “The works whereby a man is guilty of stoning and cutting off, if he do them presumptuously; but if ignorantly, he is bound to bring a sacrifice for sin, are either primitive or derivative” Of ‘primitive,’ or of the general kinds of works, are nine-and-thirty reckoned; “To plough, to sow, to reap, to gather the sheaves, to thrash, to sift, to grind, to bake, &c.; to shear sheep, to dye wool,” &c. The derivative works, or the particulars of those generals, are such as are of the same rank and likeness with them. For example, digging is of the same kind with ploughing; chopping of herbs is of the same rank with grinding; and plucking the ears of corn is of the same nature with reaping. Our Saviour, therefore, pleaded the cause of the disciples so much the more eagerly, because now their lives were in danger; for the canons of the scribes adjudged them to stoning for what they had done, if so be it could be proved that they had done it presumptuously. From hence, therefore, he begins their defence, that this was done by the disciples out of necessity, hunger compelling them, not out of any contempt of the laws.

3. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was a hungered, and they that were with him;

[David, and those that were with him.] For those words of Ahimelech are to be understood comparatively, “Wherefore art thou alone, and no man with thee?” (1 Sam 21:1) that is, comparatively to that noble train wherewith thou wast wont to go attended, and which becomes the captain-general of Israel. David came to Nob, not as one that fled, but as one that came to inquire at the oracle concerning the event of war, unto which he pretended to come by the king’s command. Dissembling, therefore, that he hastened to the war, or to expedite some warlike design, he dissembles likewise that he sent his army to a certain place; and that he had turned aside thither to worship God, and to inquire of the vent; that he had brought but a very few of his most trusty servants along with him, for whom, being an hungered, he asketh a few loaves.

[When he was an hungered.] Here hearken to Kimchi, producing the opinion of the ancients concerning this story in these words: “Our Rabbins, of blessed memory, say, that he gave him the show-bread, &c. The interpretation also of the clause, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel [v 6] is this; It is a small thing to say, that it is lawful for us to eat these loaves taken from before the Lord when we are hungry; for it would be lawful to eat this very loaf which is now set on, which is also sanctified in the vessel (for the table sanctifieth); it would be lawful to eat even this, when another loaf is not present with you to give us, and we are so hunger-bitten.” And a little after; “There is nothing which may hinder taking care of life, beside idolatry, adultery, and murder.”

These words do excellently agree with the force of our Saviour’s arguments; but with the genuine sense of that clause, methinks they do not well agree. I should, under correction, render it otherwise, only prefacing this beforehand, that it is no improbable conjecture that David came to Nob either on the sabbath itself, or when the sabbath was but newly gone. “For the show-bread was not to be eaten unless for one day and one night; that is, on the sabbath and the going-out of the sabbath; David, therefore, came thither in the going-out of the sabbath.” And now I render David’s words thus; “Women have been kept from us these three days,” [so that there is no uncleanness with us from the touch of a menstruous woman], “and the vessels of the young men were holy, even in the common way,” [that is, while we travelled in the common manner and journey]; “therefore, much more are they holy as to their vessels this [sabbath] day.” And to this sense perhaps does that come: “But there was there one of the servants of Saul detained that day before the Lord,” [v 8]. The reverence of the sabbath had brought him to worship, and as yet had detained him there.

5. Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?

[The priests in the Temple profane the sabbath, and are guiltless.] “The servile work which is done in the holy things is not servile. The same works which were done in the Temple on the other days were done also on the sabbath.” And There is no sabbatism at all in the Temple.

8. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.

[For the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.] I. He opposed this very argument against their cavils before the Sanhedrim, John 5. When he was summoned into the court concerning his healing the paralytic man on this very sabbath, or on the sabbath next before, he shews his dominion over the sabbath from this very thing, that he, the Son, was invested and honoured with the same authority, power, and dignity, in respect of the administration of the New Testament, as the Father was in regard of the Old.

II. The care of the sabbath lay upon the first Adam under a double law, according to his double condition: 1. Before his fall, under the law of nature written in his heart: under which he had kept the sabbath, if he had remained innocent. And here it is not unworthy to be observed, that although the seventh day was not come before his fall, yet the institution of the sabbath is mentioned before the history of his fall. 2. After his fall, under a positive law. For when he had sinned on the sixth day, and the seventh came, he was not now bound under the bare law of nature to celebrate it; but according as the condition of Adam was changed, and as the condition of the sabbath was not a little changed also, a new and positive law concerning the keeping the sabbath was superinduced upon him. It will not be unpleasant to produce a few passages from the Jewish masters of that first sabbath:–

“Circumcision,” saith R. Judah, “and the sabbath, were before the law.” But how much backward before the law? Hear Baal Turim: “The Israelites were redeemed (saith he) out of Egypt, because they observed circumcision and the sabbath-day.” Yea, and further backward still: “The inheritance of Jacob is promised to those that sanctify the sabbath, because he sanctified the sabbath himself.” Yea, and more backwards yet, even to the beginning of the world: “The first psalm in the world was, when Adam’s sin was forgiven: and when the sabbath entered, he opened his mouth and uttered the psalm of the sabbath.” So also the Targum upon the title of Psalm 92: “The psalm or song which Adam composed concerning the sabbath-day.” Upon which psalm, among other things, thus Midrash Tillin: “What did God create the first day? Heaven and earth. What the second? The firmament, &c. What the seventh? The sabbath. And since God had not created the sabbath for servile works, for which he had created the other days of the week, therefore it is not said of that as of the other days, ‘And the evening and the morning was the seventh day.'” And a little after, “Adam was created on the eve of the sabbath: the sabbath entered when he had now sinned, and was his advocate with God,” &c.

“Adam was created on the sabbath-eve, that he might immediately be put under the command.”

III. Since, therefore, the sabbath was so instituted after the fall, and that by a law and condition which had a regard to Christ now promised, and to the fall of man, the sabbath could not but come under the power and dominion of the Son of man, that is, of the promised seed, to be ordered and disposed by him as he thought good, and as he should make provision, for his own honour and the benefit of man.

10. And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.

[Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days?] These are not so much the words of inquirers, as deniers. For these were their decisions in that case; “Let not those that are in health use physic on the sabbath day. Let not him that labours under a pain in his loins, anoint the place affected with oil and vinegar; but with oil he may, so it be not oil of roses, &c. He that hath the toothache, let him not swallow vinegar to spit it out again; but he may swallow it, so he swallow it down. He that hath a sore throat, let him not gargle it with oil: but he may swallow down the oil, whence if he receive a cure it is well. Let no man chew mastich, or rub his teeth with spice for a cure; but if he do this to make his mouth sweet, it is allowed. They do not put wine into a sore eye. They do not apply fomentations or oils to the place affected,” &c. All which things, however they were not applicable to the cure wrought by Christ (with a word only), yet they afforded them an occasion of cavilling: who, indeed, were sworn together thus to quarrel him; that canon affording them a further pretence, “This certainly obtains, that whatsoever was possible to be done on the sabbath eve driveth not away the sabbath.” To which sense he speaks, Luke 13:14.

Let the reader see, if he be at leisure, what diseases they judge dangerous, and what physic is to be used on the sabbath.

11. And he saith unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?

[If a sheep fall into a ditch on the sabbath days, &c.] It was a canon, We must take a tender care of the goods of an Israelite. Hence,

“If a beast fall into a ditch, or into a pool of waters, let [the owner] bring him food in that place if he can; but if he cannot, let him bring clothes and litter, and bear up the beast; whence, if he can come up, let him come up,” &c.

“If a beast, or his foal, fall into a ditch on a holy-day, R. Lazar saith, ‘Let him lift up the former to kill him, and let him kill him: but let him give fodder to the other, lest he die in that place.’ R. Joshua saith, ‘Let him lift up the former, with the intention of killing him, although he kill him not: let him lift up the other also, although it be not in his mind to kill him.'”

16. And charged them that they should not make him known:

[That they should not make him known.] But this, not that he refused to heal the sick, nor only to shun popular applause; but because he would keep himself hid from those who would not acknowledge him. This prohibition tends the same way as his preaching by parables did, Matthew 13:13; “I speak to them by parables, because seeing they see not.” He would not be known by them who would not know him.

20. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.

[A bruised reed shall he not break.] These words are to be applied, as appears by those that went before, to our Saviour’s silent transaction of his own affairs, without hunting after applause, the noise of boasting, or the loud reports of fame. He shall not make so great a noise as is made from the breaking of a reed now already bruised and half broken, or from the hissing of smoking flax only when water is thrown upon it. How far different is the Messias thus described, from the Messias of the expectation of the Jews! And yet it appears sufficiently that Isaiah, from whom these words are taken, spake of the Messias, and the Jews confess it.

[Till he send forth judgment unto victory.] The Hebrew and LXX in Isaiah read it thus, “He shall bring forth judgment unto truth.” The words in both places mean thus much, That Christ should make no sound in the world, or noise of pomp, or applause, or state, but should manage his affairs in humility, silence, poverty, and patience, both while he himself was on earth, and by his apostles, after his ascension, labouring under contempt, poverty, and persecution; but at last “he should bring forth judgment to victory”; that is, that he should break forth and show himself a judge, avenger, and conqueror, against that most wicked nation of the Jews, from whom both he and his suffered such things: and then, also, “he sent forth judgment unto truth,” and asserted himself the true Messias, and the Son of God, before the eyes of all; and confirmed the truth of the gospel, by avenging his cause upon his enemies, in a manner so conspicuous and so dreadful. And hence it is, that that sending forth and execution of judgment against that nation is almost always called in the New Testament “his coming in glory.” When Christ and his kingdom had so long laid hid under the veil of humility, and the cloud of persecution, at last he brake forth a revenger, and cut off that persecuting nation, and shewed himself a conqueror before the eyes of all, both Jews and Gentiles. Let it be observed in the text before us, how, after the mention of that judgment and victory (against the Jews), presently follows, “and in his name shall the Gentiles trust.”

24. But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

[By Beelzebub; the prince of the devils.] For the searching out the sense of this horrid blasphemy, these things are worthy observing:

I. Among the Jews it was held, in a manner, for a matter of religion, to reproach idols, and to give them odious names.

“R. Akibah saith, Idolatry pollutes, as a menstruous woman pollutes: as it is said, ‘Thou shalt cast away the [idol] as something that is menstruous, and thou shalt say to it, Get thee hence’ (Isa 30:22). R. Lazar saith, Thou shalt say to it, Get thee hence: that which they call the face of God, let them call the face of a dog: that which they call the fountain of a cup, let them call the fountain of toil [or of flails]: that which they call fortune, let them call a stink, &c. That town which sometimes was called Beth-el, was afterward called Beth-aven.” See also the tract Schabbath, where these same words are.

All jeering is forbidden, except the jeering of idolatry. This also is repeated in the tract Megillah: where this is added, “It is lawful for a Jew to say to a Cuthite, Take your idol, and put it under your buttocks.”

II. Among the ignominious names bestowed upon idols, the general and common one was Zebul, dung, or a dunghill. “Even to them who have stretched out their hands in a dunghill [that is, in an idol-temple, or in idolatry], there is hope. Thou canst not bring them [into the church], because they have stretched forth their hands in a dunghill: but yet you cannot reject them, because they have repented.” And a little after, “He that sees them ‘dunging’ [that is, ‘sacrificing‘] to an idol, let him say, Cursed be he that sacrifices to a strange god.”

Let them therefore, who dare, form this word in Matthew into Beelzebub. I am so far from doubting that the Pharisees pronounced the word Beelzebul, and that Matthew so wrote it, that I doubt not but the sense fails if it be writ otherwise.

III. Very many names of evil spirits or devils occur in the Talmudists, which it is needless here to mention. Among all the devils, they esteemed that devil the worst, the foulest, and, as it were, the prince of the rest, who ruled over the idols, and by whom oracles and miracles were given forth among the heathens and idolaters. And they were of this opinion for this reason, because they held idolatry above all other things chiefly wicked and abominable, and to be the prince and head of evil. This demon they called Baal-zebul, not so much by a proper name, as by one more general and common; as much as to say, the lord of idolatry: the worst devil, and the worst thing: and they called him the “prince of devils,” because idolatry is the prince (or chief) of wickedness.

We meet with a story, where mention is made of the prince of spirits. Whether it be in this sense, let the reader consult and judge. Also in the Aruch we meet with these words, the demon Asmodeus, the prince of spirits.

IV. The Talmudists, being taught by these their fathers, do give out, horribly blaspheming, that Jesus of Nazareth our Lord was a magician, a broacher of strange and wicked worship; and one that did miracles by the power of the devil, to beget his worship the greater belief and honour.

“Ben Satda brought magic out of Egypt, by cuttings which he had made in his flesh.” By Ben Satda, they understand Jesus of Nazareth, as we have said before; whom they dishonour by that name, that they might, by one word and in one breath, reproach him and his mother together. For Satda, or Stada, sounds as much as an adulterous wife, which the Gemara shews after a few lines, She went aside from her husband. They feign that Jesus travelled with Joshua Ben Perachiah into Egypt, when the said Joshua fled from the anger and sword of Janneus the king, which we have mentioned at the second chapter; and that he brought thence magical witchcrafts with him, but under the cutting of his flesh, that he might not be taken by the Egyptian magicians, who strictly examined all that went out of that land, that none should transport their magic art into another land. And in that place they add these horrid words, Jesus practised magic, and deceived, and drove Israel to idolatry. Those whelps bark, as they were taught by these dogs.

To this, therefore, does this blasphemy of the Pharisees come; as if they should say, “He casts out devils indeed; but he doth this by the help of the devil, the lord of idols, that dwells in him; by him, that is the worst of all devils, who favours him and helps him, because it is his ambition to drive the people from the worship of the true God to strange worship.”

25. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:

[But Jesus knowing their thoughts.] Behold, O Pharisee, a sign of the true Messias, for a sign you would have: he smells out a wicked man.

“It is written of Messias, The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, and shall make him smell in the fear of the Lord. Rabba said, he shall smell and judge; as it is said, he shall not judge by the sight of his eyes, &c. Ben Cozba reigned two years and a half, and said to the Rabbins, I am the Messias: they said to him, It is written of Messias that he shall smell and judge (the Gloss is, he shall smell out the man, and shall judge and know whether he be guilty). Let us see whether thou canst smell and judge. And when they saw that he could not smell and judge, they slew him.”

27. And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.

By whom do your children cast them out?] By your children, Christ seems to understand some disciples of the Pharisees; that is, some of the Jews, who using exorcisms seemed to cast out devils such as they, Acts 19:13; and yet they said not to them, “Ye cast out devils by Beelzebul.” It is worthy marking, that Christ presently saith, “If I by the Spirit of God cast out devils, then the kingdom of God is come among you.” For what else does this speak, than that Christ was the first who should cast out devils? which was an undoubted sign to them that the kingdom of heaven was now come. But that which was performed by them by exorcisms was not so much a casting out of devils, as a delusion of the people; since Satan would not cast out Satan, but by compact with himself and with his company he seemed to be cast out, that he might the more deceive.

The sense, therefore, of Christ’s words comes to this: “That your disciples cast out devils, ye attribute not to Beelzebul, no nor to magic; but ye applaud the work when it is done by them: they, therefore, may in this matter be your judges, that you pronounce these words of my actions out of the rankness and venom of your minds.”

In the Gloss mention is made of a devil cast out by a Jew at Rome.

32. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

[It shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come.] They that endeavour hence to prove the remission of some sins after death, seem little to understand to what Christ had respect when he spake these words. Weigh well this common and most known doctrine of the Jewish schools, and judge:

“He that transgresses an affirmative precept, if he presently repent, is not moved until the Lord pardon him. And of such it is said, ‘Be ye converted, O backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.’ He that transgresses a negative precept and repents, his repentance suspends judgment, and the day of expiation expiates him; as it is said, ‘This day shall all your uncleannesses be expiated to you.’ He that transgressed to cutting off [by the stroke of God,] or to death by the Sanhedrim, and repents, repentance, and the day of expiation do suspend judgment, and the strokes that are laid upon him wipe off sin; as it is said, ‘And I will visit their transgression with a rod, and their iniquity with scourges.’ But he by whom the name of God is profaned [or blasphemed], repentance is of no avail to him to suspend judgment, nor the day of expiation to expiate it, nor scourges [or corrections inflicted] to wipe it off, but all suspend judgment, and death wipes it off.” Thus the Babylonian Gemara writes: but the Jerusalem thus; “Repentance and the day of expiation expiate as to the third part, and corrections as to the third part, and death wipes it off: as it is said, and your iniquities shall not be expiated to you until ye die. Behold, we learn that death wipes off.” Note this, which Christ contradicts, concerning blasphemy against the Holy Ghost; “It shall not be forgiven, (saith he,) neither in this world, nor in the world to come”; that is, neither before death, nor, as you dream, by death.

[In the world to come.] I. Some phrases were received into common use, by which in common speech they opposed the heresy of the Sadducees, who denied immortality. Of that sort were the world to come: paradise: hell, &c.

“At the end of all the prayers in the Temple” (as we observed before) “they said for ever. But when the heretics brake in and said, ‘There was no age but one,’ it was appointed to be said, for ever and ever.”

This distinction of this world, and of the world to come, you may find almost in every page of the Rabbins.

“The Lord recompense thee a good reward for this thy good word in this world, and let thy reward be perfected in the world to come.”

“It [that is, the history of the creation and of the Bible] begins therefore with the letter Beth [in the word Bereshith], because two worlds were created, this world and a world to come.”

II. The world to come, hints two things especially (of which see Rambam): 1. The times of the Messias: “Be mindful of the day wherein thou camest out of Egypt, all the days of thy life. The wise men say, By ‘the days of thy life,’ is intimated ‘this world’: by ‘all the days of thy life,’ the days of the Messias are superinduced.” In sense the apostle seems to speak, Hebrews 2:5 and 6:5. 2. The state after death, The world to come is, when a man is departed out of this world.

39. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

[An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign.] I. Their schools also confessed, that signs and miracles were not to be expected but by a fit generation.

“The elders being once assembled at Jericho, the Bath Kol went forth and said, There is one among you who is fit to have the Holy Ghost dwell upon him, but that [thisgeneration is not fit. They fix their eyes upon Hillel the Elder. The elders being assembled again in an upper room in Jabneh, Bath Kol came forth and said, There is one among you who is fit to have the Holy Spirit dwell upon him, but that the generation is not fit. They cast their eyes upon Samuel the Little.”

II. That generation by which and in which the Lord of life was crucified lay, and that deservedly, under an ill report for their great wickedness above all other, from the beginning of the world until that day. Whence that of the prophet, “Who shall declare his generation?” Isaiah 53:2; that is, his generation (viz. that generation in which he should live) should proceed to that degree of impiety and wickedness, that it should surpass all expression and history. We have observed before, how the Talmudists themselves confess, that that generation in which the Messias should come should exceed all other ages in all kinds of amazing wickedness.

III. That nation and generation might be called adulterous literally; for what else, I beseech you, was their irreligious polygamy than continual adultery? And what else was their ordinary practice of divorcing their wives, no less irreligious, according to every man’s foolish or naughty will?

[But the sign of Jonah the prophet.] Here and elsewhere, while he gives them the sign of Jonah, he does not barely speak of the miracle done upon him which was to be equalled in the Son of man, but girds them with a silent check; instructing them thus much, that the Gentiles were to be converted by him, after his return out of the bowels of the earth, as heathen Nineveh was converted, after Jonah was restored out of the belly of the whale. Than which doctrine scarce anything bit that nation more sharply.

40. For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

[The Son of man shall be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.] 1. The Jewish writers extend that memorable station of the unmoving sun at Joshua’s prayer to six-and-thirty hours; for so Kimchi upon that place: “According to more exact interpretation, the sun and moon stood still for six-and-thirty hours: for when the fight was on the eve of the sabbath, Joshua feared lest the Israelites might break the sabbath: therefore he spread abroad his hands, that the sun might stand still on the sixth day, according to the measure of the day of the sabbath, and the moon, according to the measure of the night of the sabbath, and of the going-out of the sabbath; which amounts to six-and-thirty hours.”

II. If you number the hours that passed from our Saviour’s giving up the ghost upon the cross to his resurrection, you shall find almost the same number of hours; and yet that space is called by him “three days and three nights,” when as two nights only came between, and only one complete day. Nevertheless, while he speaks these words, he is not without the consent both of the Jewish schools, and their computation. Weigh well that which is disputed in the tract Schabbath, concerning the uncleanness of a woman for three days; where many things are discussed by the Gemarists concerning the computation of this space of three days. Among other things these words occur; “R. Ismael saith, Sometimes it contains four Onoth sometimes five, sometimes six. But how much is the space of an Onah? R. Jochanan saith either a day or a night.” And so also the Jerusalem Talmud; “R. Akiba fixed a day for an Onah, and a night for an Onah: but the tradition is, that R. Eliezar Ben Azariah said, A day and a night make an Onah, and a part of an Onah is as the whole.” And a little after, R. Ismael computeth a part of the Onah for the whole.

It is not easy to translate the word Onah into good Latin: for to some it is the same with the half of a natural day; to some it is all one with a whole natural day. According to the first sense we may observe, from the words of R. Ismael, that sometimes four Onoth, or halves of a natural day, may be accounted for three days: and that they also are so numbered that one part or the other of those halves may be accounted for a whole. Compare the latter sense with the words of our Saviour, which are now before us: “A day and a night (saith the tradition) make an Onah, and a part of an Onah is as the whole.” Therefore Christ may truly be said to have been in his grave three Onoth, or three natural days (when yet the greatest part of the first day was wanting, and the night altogether, and the greatest part by far of the third day also), the consent of the schools and dialect of the nation agreeing thereunto. For, “the least part of the Onah concluded the whole.” So that according to this idiom, that diminutive part of the third day upon which Christ arose may be computed for the whole day, and the night following it.

45. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

[So shall it be to this evil generation.] These words foretell a dreadful apostasy in that nation and generation.

I. It is something difficult so to suit all things in the parable aforegoing, that they may agree with one another: 1. You can hardly understand it of unclean spirits cast out of men by Christ; when through the whole evangelic history there is not the least shadow of probability that any devil cast out by him did return again into him out of whom he had been cast. 2. Therefore our Saviour seems to allude to the casting out of devils by exorcisms: which art, as the Jews were well instructed in, so in practising it there was need of dexterous deceits and collusions. 3. For it is scarcely credible that the devil in truth finds less rest in dry places than in wet: but it is credible that those diabolical artists have found out such kind of figments for the honour and fame of their art. For, 4. It would be ridiculous to think that they could by their exorcisms cast a devil out of a man into whom he had been sent by God. They might, indeed, with a compact with the devil, procure some lucid intervals to the possessed; so that the inhabiting demon might deal gently with him for some time, and not disturb the man: but the demoniacal heats came back again at last, and the former outrages returned. Therefore, here there was need of deceits well put together, that so provision might the better be made for the honour of the exorcistical art; as, that the devil, being sent away into dry and waste places, could not find any rest; that he could not, that he would not always wander about here and there, alone by himself, without rest; that he therefore returned into his old mansion, which he had formerly found so well fitted and prepared for him, &c.

Therefore these words seem to have been spoken by our Saviour according to the capacity of the common people, or rather, according to the deceit put upon them, more than according to the reality or truth of the thing itself; taking a parable from something commonly believed and entertained, that he might express the thing which he propounded more plainly and familiarly.

II. But however it was, whether those things were true indeed, or only believed and conceived so, by a most apt and open comparison is shown that the devil was first cast out of the Jewish nation by the gospel; and then, seeking for a seat and rest among the Gentiles, and not finding it, the gospel everywhere vexing him, came back into the Jewish nation again, fixed his seat there, and possessed it much more than he had done before. The truth of this thing appears in that fearful apostasy of an infinite multitude of Jews, who received the gospel, and most wickedly revolted from it afterward; concerning which the New Testament speaks in abundance of places.

Chapter 13

2. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

[So that he sat, and the whole multitude stood.] So was the manner of the nation, that the masters when they read their lectures sat, and the scholars stood: which honorary custom continued to the death of Gamaliel the Elder; and then so far ceased, that the scholars sat when their masters sat. Hence is that passage: “From that time that old Rabban Gamaliel died, the honour of the law perished, and purity and Pharisaism died.” Where the Gloss, from Megillah, writes us; “Before his death health was in the world, and they learned the law standing; but when he was dead sickness came down into the world, and they were compelled to learn the law sitting.”

3. And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow.

[In parables.] I. No figure of Jewish rhetoric was more familiarly used than that of parables: which perhaps, creeping in from thence, among the heathen ended in fables. It is said, in the place of the Talmud just now cited, From the time that R. Meir died, those that spake in parables ceased: not that that figure of rhetoric perished in the nation from that time, but because he surpassed all others in these flowers; as the Gloss there from the tract Sanhedrim speaks; A third part [of his discourses or sermons] was tradition, a third part allegory, and a third part parable. The Jewish books abound everywhere with these figures, the nation inclining by a kind of natural genius to this kind of rhetoric. One might not amiss call their religion Parabolical, folded up within the coverings of ceremonies; and their oratory in their sermons was like to it. But it is a wonder indeed, that they who were so given to and delighted in parables, and so dextrous in unfolding them, should stick in the outward shell of ceremonies, and should not have fetched out the parabolical and spiritual sense of them; neither should he be able to fetch them out.

II. Our Saviour (who always and everywhere spake with the vulgar) useth the same kind of speech, and very often the same preface, as they did in their parables. To what is it likened, &c. But in him, thus speaking, one may both acknowledge the Divine justice, who speaks darkly to them that despise the light; and his Divine wisdom likewise, who so speaks to them that see, and yet see not, that they may see the shell and not see the kernel.

4. And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:

[Some fell by the way side, &c.] Concerning the husbandry of the Jews, and their manner of sowing, we meet with various passages in the tracts Peah, Demai, Kilaim, Sheviith: we shall only touch upon those things which the words of the text under our hands do readily remind us of.

There were ways and paths as well common as more private along the sown fields; see chapter 12:1. Hence in the tract Peah, where they dispute what those things are which divide a field so that it owes a double corner to the poor; thus it is determined, “These things divide: a river, an aqueduct, a private way, a common way, a common path, and a private path,” &c. See the place and the Gloss.

5. Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

[Some fell among stony places.] Discourse is had concerning some laws of the Kilaim (or, of the seeds of different kinds), and of the seventh year: where, among other things, we meet with these words; “R. Simeon Ben Lachish saith that he is freed [from those laws] who sows his seed by the sea, upon rocks, shelves, and rocky places.” These words are spoken according to the reason and nature of the land of Israel, which was very rocky; and yet those places that were so were not altogether unfit for tillage.

7. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:

[Others fell among thorns.] Here the distinction comes into my mind of a white field, that is, which is all sown; and of a woody field, that is, in which trees and bushes grow here and there: concerning which see the tract Sheviith. So there is very frequent mention in the Talmudists of beds, in fields and vineyards, which speaks the same thing. And of baldness in a field: that is, when some places are left not sown, and some places lying between are.

8. But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

[And brought forth fruit, some a hundred, &c.] These words are spoken according to the fruitfulness of the land of Israel; concerning which the Talmudists speak much, and hyperbolically enough: which nevertheless they confess to be turned long since into miserable barrenness; but are dim-sighted as to the true cause of it.

They treat of this matter, and various stories are produced, which you may see: we will only mention these two:–

“R. Jochanan said, The worst fruit which we eat in our youth excelled the best which we now eat in our old age: for in his days the world was changed.”

“R. Chaijah Bar Ba said The Arbelite bushel formerly yielded a bushel of flour, a bushel of meal, a bushel of bran, and a bushel of coarse bran, and a bushel of coarser bran yet, and a bushel of the coarsest bran also: but now one bushel scarcely comes from one bushel.”

13. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

[They seeing see not.] Here you may observe this people to have been given up to a reprobate mind, and a spirit of deep sleep, now a great while before the death of Christ. Which being observed, the sense of the apostle will more easily appear, Romans 11:8; where these very words are repeated. If you there state aright the rejection of that people, you will understand more clearly the apostle concerning their call, which is there handled. Pharisaism and the sottishness of traditions had, now a good while ago, thrown them into blindness, stupidity, and hardness of heart; and that for some ages before Christ was born: but when the gospel came, the Lord had his gleanings among them, and there were some that believed, and unto whom the participation of the promises was granted: concerning them the apostle speaks in that chapter: see verse 5. At this present time there is a remnant according to election,” &c., which we have observed before at chapter 3:7.

25. But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

[Tares.] Zunin, in Talmudic language. Wheat and ‘Zunin’ are not seeds of different kinds. Where the Gloss is this; “Is a kind of wheat, which is changed in the earth, both as to its form, and to its nature.” By the best Lexicographers it is rendered zizania, in Latin.

So that that field, in this parable, was sown by the lord with good wheat; by the enemy, with bad and degenerate wheat; but all of it was sown with wheat, one or the other. These words do not so barely mean good and bad men, as good and bad Christians; both distinguished from other men, namely, from heathens, as wheat is distinguished from other seeds: but they are distinguished also among themselves, as good wheat is distinguished from that which is degenerate. So chapter 25, all those ten women, expecting the bridegroom, are virgins; but are distinguished into wise and foolish.

32. Which indeed is the least of all seeds [mustard]: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

[Which, indeed, is the least of all seeds, &c.] Hence it is passed into a common proverb, According to the quantity of a grain of mustard: and According to the quantity of a little drop of mustard, very frequently used by the Rabbins, when they would express the smallest thing, or the most diminutive quantity.

[Is the greatest among herbs.] “There was a stalk of mustard in Sichin, from which sprang out three boughs: of which, one was broke off, and covered the tent of a potter, and produced three cabes of mustard. R. Simeon Ben Chalaphta said, A stalk of mustard was in my field, into which I was wont to climb, as men are wont to climb into a fig-tree.”

33. Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

[In three (sata) measures of meal] That is, in an ephah of meal. Exodus 16:36; “Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah.” The Chaldee reads, The tenth part of three sata. The LXX reads, The tenth part of three measures. And Ruth 2:17, “It was as an ephah of barley.” Where the Targum reads, As it were three sata of barley.

“A seah contains a double hin, six cabes, twenty-four login, a hundred and forty-four eggs.”

52. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

[Bringeth forth out of his treasury things new and old.] These words are spoken according to the dialect of the schools, where the question was not seldom started, What wine, what corn, or fruits were to be used in the holy things, and in some rites, new or more old; namely, of the present year, or the years past. But now, a thrifty man, provident of his own affairs, was stored both with the one and the other, prepared for either, which should be required. So it becomes a scribe of the gospel to have all things in readiness, to bring forth according to the condition and nature of the thing, of the place, and of the hearers. “Do ye understand all these things (saith Christ), both the things which I have said, and why I have said them? So a scribe of the gospel ought to bring forth,” &c.

Chapters 14,15,16

<scripCom type=”Commentary” passage=”Matthew 14, 15, 16″ parsed=”|Matt|14|0|0|0;|Matt|15|0|0|0;|Matt|16|0|0|0″ osisRef=”Bible:Matt.14 Bible:Matt.15 Bible:Matt.16″ />

2. And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him.

[This is John, &c.] Was not Herod of the Sadducean faith? For that which is said by Matthew, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” chapter 16:6, is rendered by Mark, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod,” chapter 8:15; that is, ‘of their doctrine.’

If, therefore, Herod embraced the doctrine of the Sadducees, his words, “This is John the Baptist, he is risen from the dead,” seem to be extorted from his conscience, pricked with the sting of horror and guilt, as though the image and ghost of the Baptist, but newly butchered by him, were before his eyes: so that his mind is under horror; and forgetting his Sadduceism, groaning and trembling, he acknowledgeth the resurrection of the dead, whether he will or no.

Or let it be supposed, that with the Pharisees he owned the resurrection of the dead; yet certainly it was unusual for them that confessed it to dream of the resurrection of one that was but newly dead: they expected there should be a resurrection of the dead hereafter: but this, which Herod speaks, believes, and suspects, is a great way distant from that doctrine, and seems, indeed, to have proceeded from a conscience touched from above.

4. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. [Herod has taken his brother’s wife.]

[It is not lawful for thee to have her.] “There are thirty-six cuttings off in the law”: that is, sinners who deserve cutting off. And among the rest, he that lies with his brother’s wife. Philip was now alive, and lived to the twentieth year of Tiberius.

6. But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.

[And when Herod’s birthday was kept.] The Jewish schools esteem the keeping of birthdays a part of idolatrous worship: perhaps they would pronounce more favourably and flatteringly of thine, O tetrarch, because thine.

These are the times of idolaters: the Kalends; the Saturnalia;…the birthday of the kingdom; and the day of a man’s birth

[The daughter of Herodias danced.] Not so much out of lightness, as according to the custom of the nation, namely, to express joy and to celebrate the day. The Jews were wont in their public and more than ordinary rejoicings, and also in some of their holy festivals, to express their cheerfulness by leaping and dancing. Omitting the examples which occur in the holy Bible, it is reported by the Fathers of the Traditions, that the chief part of the mirth in the feast of Tabernacles consisted in such kind of dancing: the chief men, the aged, and the most religious, dancing in the Court of the Women; and by how much the more vehemently they did it, so much the more commendable it was. The gesture, therefore, or motion of the girl that danced took not so much with Herod, as her mind and affection: namely, because hereby she shewed honour towards his birthday, and love and respect towards him, and joy for his life and health: from whom, indeed, Herod had little deserved such things, since he had deprived her father Philip of his wife, and defiled her mother with unlawful wedlock and continual incest.

7. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.

[He promised her with an oath, &c.] This kind of oath is called by the Talmudists a rash oath: concerning which see Maimonides, and the Talmudic tract under that title. If the form of the oath were “by his head,” which was very usual, the request of the maid very fitly, though very unjustly, answered to the promise of the king; as if she should say, ‘You swore by your head that you would give me whatsoever I shall ask; give me, then, the head of John Baptist.’

10. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.

[He beheaded John.] Josephus relates that John was imprisoned by Herod in Machaerus: Through the suspicion of Herod he was sent prisoner to Machaerus. Now Machaerus was the utmost bounds of Perea: and Perea was within Herod’s jurisdiction. But now if John lay prisoner there, when the decree went out against his life, the executioner must have gone a long journey, and which could scarcely be performed in two days from Tiberias, where the tyrant’s court was, to execute that bloody command. So that that horrid dish, the head of the venerable prophet, could not be presented to the maid but some days after the celebration of his birthday.

The time of his beheading we find out by those words of the evangelist John, “but now the Passover was nigh,” by reasoning after this manner: It may be concluded, without all controversy, that the disciples, as soon as they heard of the death of their master, and buried him, betook themselves to Christ, relating his slaughter, and giving him caution by that example to take care of his own safety. He hearing of it passeth over into the desert of Bethsaida, and there he miraculously feeds five thousand men, when the Passover was now at hand, as John relates, mentioning that story with the rest of the evangelists. Therefore we suppose the beheading of the Baptist was a little before the Passover, when he had now been in durance half a year, as he had freely preached by the space of half a year before his imprisonment.

13. When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.

[He departed thence by ship into a desert place, &c.] That is, from Capernaum into the desert of Bethsaida, which is rendered by John, He went over the sea Which is to be understood properly, namely, from Galilee into Perea. The chorographical maps have placed Bethsaida in Galilee, on the same coast on which Capernaum is also: so also commentators feign to themselves a bay of the sea only coming between these two cities, which was our opinion once also with them: but at last we learned of Josephus, that Bethsaida was in the upper Gaulanitis, (which we observe elsewhere,) on the east coast of the sea of Gennesaret in Perea.

[They followed him on foot.] From hence interpreters argue that Capernaum and Bethsaida lay not on different shores of the sea, but on the same: for how else, say they, could the multitude follow him afoot? Very well, say I, passing Jordan near Tiberias, whose situation I have elsewhere shewn to be at the efflux of Jordan out of the sea of Galilee. They followed him afoot from the cities, saith our evangelist: now there were cities of some note very near Capernaum, Tarichea on one side, Tiberias on the other. Let it be granted that the multitude travelled out of these cities after Christ; the way by which they went afoot was at the bridge of Jordan in Chammath: that place was distant a mile or something less from Tiberias, and from Capernaum three miles or thereabouts. Passing Jordan, they went along by the coast of Magdala; and, after that, through the country of Hippo: now Magdala was distant one mile from Jordan, Hippo two; and after Hippo was Bethsaida, at the east shore of the sea; and after Bethsaida was a bay of the sea, thrusting out itself somewhat into the land; and from thence was the desert of Bethsaida. When, therefore, they returned back from thence, he commands his disciples to get into a ship, and to go to Bethsaida, while he sent the multitude away, whence he would afterward follow them on foot, and would sail with them thence to Capernaum.

17. And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.

[Two fishes.] What kind of fish they were we do not determine. That they were brought hither by a boy to be sold, together with the five loaves, we may gather from Chapter 6:9. The Talmudists discourse very much of salt fish. I render the word salt fish, upon the credit of the Aruch: he citing this tradition out of Beracoth, “Do they set before him first something salt, and with it a morsel? He blesseth over the salt meat, and omits [the blessing] over the morsel, because the morsel is, as it were, an appendix to it. The salt meat, saith he, is to be understood of fish, as the tradition teacheth, that he that vows abstinence from salt things is restrained from nothing but from salt fish.” Whether these were salt fish, it were a ridiculous matter to attempt to determine; but if they were, the manner of blessing which Christ used is worthy to be compared with that which the tradition now alleged commands.

20. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.

[And they did all eat, and were filled.] So eating, or a repast after food, is defined by the Talmudists; namely, “When they eat their fill. Rabh saith, All eating, where salt is not, is not eating.” The Aruch citing these words, for salt, reads something seasoned, and adds, “It is no eating, because they are not filled.”

22. And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.

[And immediately he compelled his disciples, &c.] The reason of this compulsion is given by St. John, namely, because the people seeing the miracle were ambitious to make him a king: perhaps that the disciples might not conspire to do the same, who as yet dreamed too much of the temporal and earthly kingdom of the Messias.

23. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

[When the evening was come.] So verse 15, but in another sense: for that denotes the lateness of the day; this, the lateness of the night. So evening, in the Talmudists, signifies not only the declining part of the day, but the night also: “from what time do they recite the phylacteries in the evening? From the time when the priests go in to eat their Truma, even to the end of the first watch, as R. Eliezer saith; but, as the wise men say, unto midnight; yea, as Rabban Gamaliel saith, even to the rising of the pillar of the morning.” Where the Gloss is, in the evening, that is, in the night.

25. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

[In the fourth watch of the night.] That is, after cock crowing: the Jews acknowledge only three watches of the night, for this with them was the third; The watch is the third part of the night. Thus the Gloss upon the place now cited. See also the Hebrew commentators upon Judges 7:19. Not that they divided not the night into four parts, but that they esteemed the fourth part, or the watch, not so much for the night as for the morning. So Mark 13:35, that space after cockcrowing is called the morning. See also Exodus 14:24. There were, therefore, in truth, four watches of the night, but only three of deep night. When, therefore, it is said that Gideon set upon the Midianites in the “middle watch of the night,” Judges 7:19, it is to be understood of that watch which was indeed the second of the whole night, but the middle watch of the deep night: namely, from the ending of the first watch to midnight.

Chapter 15

2. Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

[Why do they transgress the tradition of the elders?] How great a value they set upon their traditions, even above the word of God, appears sufficiently from this very place, verse 6. Out of infinite examples which we meet with in their writings, we will produce one place only; “The words of the scribes are lovely above the words of the law: for the words of the law are weighty and light; but the words of the scribes are all weighty.”

“He that shall say, ‘There are no phylacteries, transgressing the words of the law,’ is not guilty; but he that shall say, ‘There are five Totaphoth, adding to the words of the scribes,’ he is guilty.”

The words of the elders are weightier than the words of the prophets.”

“A prophet and an elder, to what are they likened? To a king sending two of his servants into a province. Of one he writes thus, ‘Unless he shew you my seal, believe him not’: of the other thus, ‘Although he shews you not my seal, yet believe him.’ Thus it is written of the prophet, ‘He shall shew thee a sign or a miracle’; but of the elders thus, ‘According to the law which they shall teach thee,'” &c. But enough of blasphemies.

[For they wash not their hands, &c.] The undervaluing of the washing of hands is said to be among those things for which the Sanhedrim excommunicates: and therefore that R. Eleazar Ben Hazar was excommunicated by it, because he undervalued the washing of hands; and that when he was dead, by the command of the Sanhedrim, a great stone was laid upon his bier. “Whence you may learn (say they) that the Sanhedrim stones the very coffin of every excommunicate person that dies in his excommunication.”

It would require a just volume, and not a short commentary, or a running pen, to lay open this mystery of Pharisaism concerning washing of hands, and to discover it in all its niceties: let us gather these few passages out of infinite numbers:

I. The washing of hands and the plunging of them is appointed by the words of the scribes: but by whom, and when, it is doubted. Some ascribe the institution of this rite to Hillel and Shammai, others carry it back to ages before them: “Hillel and Shammai decreed concerning the washing of hands. R. Josi Ben Rabbi Bon, in the name of R. Levi, saith, ‘That tradition was given before, but they had forgotten it’: these second stand forth, and appoint according to the mind of the former.”

II. “Although it was permitted to eat unclean meats, and to drink unclean drinks, yet the ancient religious eat their common food in cleanness, and took care to avoid uncleanness all their days; and they were called Pharisees. And this is a matter of the highest sanctity, and the way of the highest religion; namely, that a man separate himself, and go aside from the vulgar, and that he neither touch them, nor eat nor drink with them: for such separation conduceth to the purity of the body from evil works,” &c. Hence that definition of a Pharisee which we have produced before, The Pharisees eat their common food in cleanness: and the Pharisaical ladder of heaven, “Whosoever hath his seat in the land of Israel, and eateth his common food in cleanness, and speaks the holy language, and recites his phylacteries morning and evening, let him be confident that he shall obtain the life of the world to come.”

III. Here that distinction is to be observed between forbidden meats, and unclean meats. Of both Maimonides wrote a proper tract. Forbidden meats, such as fat, blood, creatures unlawful to be eaten (Lev 2), were by no means to be eaten: but meats, unclean in themselves, were lawful indeed to be eaten, but contracted some uncleanness elsewhere: it was lawful to eat them, and it was not lawful; or, to speak as the thing indeed is, they might eat them by the law of God, but by the canons of Pharisaism they might not.

IV. The distinction also between unclean, and profane or polluted, is to be observed. Rambam, in his preface to Toharoth, declares it.

Profane or polluted denotes this, that it does not pollute another beside itself. For every thing which uncleanness invades so that it becomes unclean, but renders not another thing unclean, is called profane. And hence it is said of every one that eats unclean meats, or drinks unclean drinks, that his body is polluted: but he pollutes not another. Note that, “The body of the eater is polluted by unclean meats.” To which you may add that which follows in the same Maimonides, in the place before alleged: “Separation from the common people, &c., conduces to the purity of the body from evil works; the purity of the body conduceth to the sanctity of the soul from evil affections; the sanctity of the soul conduces unto likeness to God, as it is said, ‘And ye shall be sanctified, and ye shall be holy, because I, the Lord that sanctify you, am holy.'” Hence you may more clearly perceive the force of Christ’s confutation, which we have verses 17-20.

V. They thought that clean food was polluted by unclean hands, and that the hands were polluted by unclean meats. You would wonder at this tradition: “Unclean meats and unclean drinks do not defile a man if he touch them not, but if he touch them with his hands, then his hands become unclean; if he handle them with both hands, both hands are defiled; if he touch them with one hand only, one hand only is defiled.”

VI. This care, therefore, laid upon the Pharisee sect, that meats should be set on free, as much as might be, from all uncleanness: but especially since they could not always be secure of this, that they might be secure that the meats were not rendered unclean by their hands. Hence were the washings of them not only when they knew them to be unclean, but also when they knew it not.

Rambam in the preface to the tract of hands, hath these words; “If the hands are unclean by any uncleanness, which renders them unclean; or if it be hid from a man, and he knows not that he is polluted; yet he is bound to wash his hands in order to eating his common food,” &c.

VII. To these most rigid canons they added also bugbears and ghosts to affright them.

It was the business of Shibta. Where the Gloss is, “Shibta was one of the demons who hurt them that wash not their hands before meat.” The Aruch writes thus, “Shibta is an evil spirit which sits upon men’s hands in the night: and if any touch his food with unwashen hands, that spirit sits upon that food, and there is danger from it.”

Let these things suffice as we pass along: it would be infinite to pursue all that is said of this rite and superstition. Of the quantity of water sufficient for this washing; of the washing of the hands, and of the plunging of them; of the first and second water; of the manner of washing; of the time; of the order, when the number of those that sat down to meat exceeded five, or did not exceed; and other such like niceties: read, if you have leisure, and if the toil and nauseousness of it do not offend you, the Talmudic tract of hands, Maimonides upon the tract lavers, and Babylonian Beracoth: and this article, indeed, is inserted through the whole volume entitled cleanness. Let this discourse be ended with this canon; “For a cake, and for the washing of hands, let a man walk as far as four miles.”

5. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;

[It is a gift by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me, &c.] I. Beside the law alleged by Christ, “Honour thy father and thy mother,” &c., they acknowledge this also for law, A son is bound to provide his father meat and drink, to clothe him, to cover him, to lead him in and out, to wash his face, hands and feet. Yea, that goes higher, “A son is bound to nourish his father, yea, to beg for him.” Therefore it is no wonder if these things which are spoken by our Saviour are not found verbatim in the Jewish pandect; for they are not so much alleged by him to shew that it was their direct design to banish away all reverence and love towards parents, as to show how wicked their traditions were, and into what ungodly consequences they oftentimes fell. They denied not directly the nourishment of their parents, nay, they command it, they exhorted to it; but consequently by this tradition they made all void. They taught openly, indeed, that a father was to be made no account of in comparison of a Rabbin that taught them the law; but they by no means openly asserted that parents were to be neglected: yet openly enough they did by consequence drawn from this foolish and impious tradition.

II. One might readily comment upon this clause, “It is a gift” (or, as Mark, “it is Corban“) by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me, if we have read the Talmudic tracts Nedarim and Nazir, where the discourse is of vows and oaths; and the phrase which is before us speaks a vow or a form of swearing.

1. Vows were distinguished into two ranks, vows of consecration, and vows of obligation, or of prohibition. A vow of consecration was when any thing was devoted to holy uses, namely, to the use of the altar or the Temple: as when a man, by a vow, would dedicate this or that for sacrifice, or to buy wood, salt, wine, &c. for the altar: or for the reparation of the Temple, &c. A vow of obligation or prohibition was, when a man bound himself by a vow from this or that thing, which was lawful in itself; as, that he would not eat, that he would not put on, that he would not do this or that, &c.

2. This went for a noted axiom among them, All epithets of vows are as the vows themselves. They added certain short forms, by which they signified a vow, and which carried with it the force of a vow, as if the thing were spoken out in a larger periphrasis: as for example, “If one should say to his neighbour, Konem, Konah, Kones, behold, these are epithets of a thing devoted unto sacred uses.”

The word Konem, Rambam thus explains; Let it be upon me as a thing devoted. So also R. Nissim, Konem, Koneh, are words of devoting.

We produced before, at chapter 5:33, some forms of oaths, which were only Assertive: these under our hands are Votive also. In the place from Beracoth just now alleged, one saith, Let the wine be ‘Konem,’ which I shall taste, for wine is hard to the bowels: that is, Let the wine which I taste be as devoted wine: as though he had said, I vow that I will not taste wine. “To which others answered, Is not old wine good for the bowels? Then he held his peace.”

III. But above all such like forms of vowing, the word Corban, was plainest of all; which openly speaks a thing devoted and dedicated to sacred use. And the reader of those tracts which we have mentioned shall observe these forms frequently to occur. Let it be ‘Corban,’ whereby I am profitable to thee; and, Let it be ‘Konem,’ whereby I am profitable to thee. Which words sound the very same thing, unless I am very much mistaken, with the words before us, “Let it be Corban, or a gift, by which whatsoever thou mayest be profited by me.”

Which words that they may be more clearly understood, and that the plain and full sense of the place may be discovered, let these things be considered:

First, That the word a gift is rather to be rendered, Let it be a gift, than It is a gift. For Konem and Corban, as we have noted, signified not ‘It is’ as something devoted, but ‘Let it be’ as something devoted. and He, of whom we had mention before…meant not, The wine which I shall taste is as something devoted, but Let whatsoever wine I shall taste be as something devoted: that is, To me let all wine be devoted, and not to be tasted.

Secondly, This form of speech A gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me, does neither argue, that he who thus spake devoted his goods to sacred uses, nor obliged him (according to the doctrine of the scribes) to devote them; but only restrained him by an obligation from that thing, for the denying of which he used such a form; that is, from helping him by his goods, to whom he thus spake. He might help others with his wealth, but him he might not.

Thirdly, The words are brought in as though they were pronounced with indignation; as if, when the needy father required food from his son, he should answer in anger and with contempt, Let it be as a thing devoted, whatsoever of mine may profit thee. But now, things that were devoted were not to be laid out upon common uses.

Fourthly, Christ not only cites the law, ‘Honour thy father and mother,’ but adds this also, He that curseth father or mother. But now there was no cursing here at all; if the son spoke truly and modestly, and as the thing was, namely, that all his estate was devoted before.

Fifthly, Therefore, although these words should have been spoken by the son irreverently, wrathfully, and inhumanly, towards his father, yet such was the folly, together with the impiety, of the traditional doctrine in this case, which pronounced the son so obliged by these his words, that it was lawful by no means to succour his needy father. He was not at all bound by these words to dedicate his estate to sacred uses; but not to help his father he was inviolably bound. O excellent doctrine and charity!

Sixthly, The words of the verse, therefore, may thus be rendered, without any addition put between, which many interpreters do: Whosoever shall say to his father or mother, Let it be a [devoted] gift, in whatsoever thou mayest be helped by me: then let him not honour his father and mother at all.

11. Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

[Defileth the man.] Or, maketh him common;…because they esteemed defiled men for common and vulgar men: on the contrary, a religious man among them is a singular man

20. These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

[With unwashen hands.] He saith not with unclean hands, but unwashen; because, as we said before, they were bound to wash, although they were not conscious that their hands were unclean. In Mark it is with common or defiled hands, Mark 7:2; which seem to be called by the Talmudists impure hands, merely because not washed. Judge from that which is said in the tract Challah: “A cake is owing out of that dough which they knead with the juice of fruits: and it is eaten with unclean hands.”

22. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

[A woman of Canaan.] In Mark it is, A Greek woman, a Syrophoenician by nation, chapter 7:26.

I. Of Canaan. It is worthy observing, that the Holy Bible, reckoning up the seven nations, which were to be destroyed by the Israelites, names the Perizzites, who were not at all recited among the sons of Canaan, Genesis 10; and the Canaanites as a particular nation, when all the seven, indeed, were Canaanites. See Deuteronomy 7:1, Joshua 9:1, 11:3, Judges 3:5, &c.

The reason of the latter (with which our business is) is to be fetched thence, that Canaan himself inhabited a peculiar part of that (northern) country, with his first-born sons, Sidon and Heth: and thence the name of Canaanites was put upon that particular progeny, distinguished from all his other sons; and that country was peculiarly called by the name of ‘Canaan,’ distinctly from all the rest of the land of Canaan. Hence Jabin, the king of Hazor, is called the ‘king of Canaan,’ Judges 4:2, and the kings of Tyre and Sidon, if I mistake not, are called ‘the kings of the Hittites,’ 1 Kings 10:29.

II. A Greek woman, a Syrophoenician Although Judea, and almost the whole world, had now a long while stooped under the yoke of the Romans, yet the memory of the Syro-Grecian kingdom, and the name of the nation, was not yet vanished. And that is worthy to be noted, In the captivity, they compute the years only from the kingdom of the Greeks. They said before, “That the Romans, for a hundred and fourscore years, ruled over the Jews before the destruction of the Temple”; and yet they do not compute the times to that destruction by the years of the Romans, but by the years of the Greeks. Let the Jews themselves well consider this, and the Christians with them, who reckon the Roman for the fourth monarchy in Daniel.

Therefore that woman that is here spoken of (to reduce all into a short conclusion) was a Syro-Grecian by nation, a Phoenician in respect of her habitation, and from thence called a woman of Canaan.

26. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and cast it to dogs.

[To the dogs.] By this title the Jews, out of spite and contempt, disgraced the Gentiles, whose first care it was to hate, to mock, and to curse, all beside themselves. The nations of the world [that is, the heathenare likened to dogs. From the common speech of the nation, rather than from his own sense, our Saviour uses this expression, to whom ‘the Gentiles’ were not so hateful, and whose custom was to speak with the vulgar.

This ignominious name, like a stone cast at the heathen, at length fell upon their own heads; and that by the hand and justice of God directing it: for although they out of pride and contempt fixed that disgraceful name upon the Gentiles, according to their very just desert, the Holy Spirit recoiled it upon themselves. See Psalm 59:6; Philippians 3:2; Revelation 22:15, &c.

36. And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

[He gave thanks and brake.] See here the tract Beracoth, where it is discoursed of the manner of giving thanks when many ate together: Three who eat together ought to give thanks together: that is, one gave thanks for the rest (as the Gloss writes) “in the plural number, saying, Let us give thanks.” So when there were ten, or a hundred, or a thousand or more, one gave thanks for all, and they answered after him Amen, or some words which he had recited.

Chapter 16

3. And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

[Can ye not discern the signs of the times?] The Jews were very curious in observing the seasons of the heavens, and the temper of the air.

“In the going out of the last day of the feast of Tabernacles, all observed the rising of the smoke. If the smoke bended northward, the poor rejoiced, but the rich were troubled; because there would be much rain the following year, and the fruits would be corrupted: if it bended southward, the poor grieved, and the rich rejoiced; for then there would be fewer rains that year, and the fruit would be sound: if eastward, all rejoiced: if westward, all were troubled.” The Gloss is, “They observed this the last day of the feast of Tabernacles, because the day before, the decree of their judgment concerning the rains of that year was signed, as the tradition is, In the feast of Tabernacles they judged concerning the rains.”

“R. Acha said, If any wise man had been at Zippor when the first rain fell, he might foretell the moistness of the year by the very smell of the dust,” &c.

But they were dim-sighted at the signs of times; that is, at those eminent signs, which plainly pointed, as with the finger and by a visible mark, that now those times that were so much foretold and expected, even the days of the Messias, were at hand. As if he had said, “Can ye not distinguish that the times of the Messias are come, by those signs which plainly declare it? Do ye not observe Daniel’s weeks now expiring? Are ye not under a yoke, the shaking off of which ye have neither any hope at all nor expectation to do? Do ye not see how the nation is sunk into all manner of wickedness? Are not miracles done by me, such as were neither seen nor heard before? Do ye not consider an infinite multitude flowing in, even to a miracle, to the profession of the gospel? and that the minds of all men are raised into a present expectation of the Messias? Strange blindness, voluntary, and yet sent upon you from heaven: your sin and your punishment too! They see all things which may demonstrate and declare a Messias, but they will not see.”

6. Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

[Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, &c.] There were two things, especially, which seem to have driven the disciples into a mistaken interpretation of these words, so that they understood them of leaven properly so called.

I. That they had more seldom heard leaven used for doctrine. The metaphorical use of it, indeed, was frequent among them in an ill sense, namely, for evil affections, and the naughtiness of the heart; but the use of it was more rare, if any at all, for evil doctrine.

Thus one prays: “Lord of ages, it is revealed and known before thy face that we would do thy will; but do thou subdue that which hinders: namely, the leaven which is in the lump, and the tyranny of [heathen] kingdoms.” Where the Gloss is thus; “The ‘leaven which is in the lump,’ are evil affections, which leavens us in our hearts.”

Cyrus was leavened, that is, grew worse. Sometimes it is used in a better sense; “The Rabbins say, Blessed is that judge who leaveneth his judgment.” But this is not to be understood concerning doctrine, but concerning deliberation in judgment.

II. Because very exact care was taken by the Pharisaical canons, what leaven was to be used and what not; disputations occur here and there, whether heathen leaven is to be used, and whether Cuthite leaven, &c. With which caution the disciples thought that Christ armed them, when he spake concerning the leaven of the Pharisees: but withal they suspected some silent reproof for not bringing bread along with them.

13. When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

[Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?] I. That phrase or title, the Son of man, which Christ very often gives himself, denotes not only his humanity, nor his humility (for see that passage, John 5:27, “He hath given him authority of executing judgment, because he is the Son of man“); but it bespeaks the ‘seed promised to Adam, the second Adam’: and it carried with it a silent confutation of a double ignorance and error among the Jews: 1. They knew not what to resolve upon concerning the original of the Messias; and how he should rise, whether he should be of the living, as we noted before, the manner of his rise being unknown to them; or whether of the dead. This phrase unties this knot and teaches openly, that he, being a seed promised to the first man, should arise and be born from the seed of the women. 2. They dreamed of the earthly victories of the Messias, and of nations to be subdued by him; but this title, The Son of man, recalls their minds to the first promise, where the victory of the promised seed is the bruising of the serpent’s head, not the subduing of kingdoms by some warlike and earthly triumph.

II. When, therefore, the opinion of the Jews concerning the person of the Messias, what he should be, was uncertain and wavering, Christ asketh, not so much whether they acknowledged him the Messias, as acknowledging the Messias, what kind of person they conceived him to be. The apostles and the other disciples whom he had gathered, and were very many, acknowledged him the Messias: yea, those blind men, chapter 9:27, had confessed this also: therefore that question had been needless as to them, “Do they think me to be the Messias?” but that was needful, “What do they conceive of me, the Messias?” and to this the answer of Peter has regard, “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God”: as if he should say, “We knew well enough a good while ago that thou art the Messias: but as to the question, ‘What kind of person thou art,’ I say, ‘Thou art the Son of the living God.'” See what we note at chapter 17:54.

Therefore the word whom asks not so much concerning the person, as concerning the quality of the person. In which sense also is the word who, in those words, 1 Samuel 17:55, not “The son of whom,” but the son “of what kind of man,” is this youth?

14. And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

[But others, Jeremias.] The reason why they name Jeremiah only of all the prophets, we give at chapter 27:9. You observe that recourse is here made to the memory of the dead, from whom the Messias should spring, rather than from the living: among other things, perhaps, this reason might persuade them so to do, that that piety could not in those days be expected in any one living, as had shined out in those deceased persons. (One of the Babylonian Gemarists suspects that Daniel, raised from the dead, should be the Messias.) And this perhaps persuaded them further, because they thought that the kingdom of the Messias should arise after the resurrection: and they that were of this opinion might be led to think that the Messias himself was some eminent person among the saints departed, and that he rising again should bring others with him.

17. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

[Flesh and blood.] The Jewish writers use this form of speech infinite times, and by it oppose men to God.

“If they were about to lead me before a king of flesh and blood, &c.; but they are leading me before the King of kings.”

“A king of flesh and blood forms his picture in a table, &c.; the Holy Blessed One, his, &c.” This phrase occurs five times in that one column: “the Holy Blessed God doth not, as flesh and blood doth, &c. Flesh and blood wound with one thing and heal with another: but the Holy Blessed One wounds and heals with one and the same thing. Joseph was sold for his dreams, and he was promoted by dreams.”

18. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

[Thou art Peter, &c.] I. There is nothing, either in the dialect of the nation, or in reason, forbids us to think that our Saviour used this very same Greek word, since such Graecizings were not unusual in that nation. But be it granted (which is asserted more without controversy) that he used the Syriac word; yet I deny that he used that very word Cepha, which he did presently after: but he pronounced it Cephas, after the Greek manner; or he spoke it Cephai, in the adjective sense, according to the Syriac formation. For how, I pray, could he be understood by the disciples, or by Peter himself, if in both places he had retained the same word Thou art a rock, and upon this rock I will build my church? It is readily answered by the Papists, that “Peter was the rock.” But let them tell me why Matthew used not the same word in Greek, if our Saviour used the same word in Syriac. If he had intimated that the church should be built upon Peter, it had been plainer and more agreeable to be the vulgar idiom to have said, “Thou art Peter, and upon thee I will build my church.”

II. The words concerning the rock upon which the church was to be built are evidently taken out of Isaiah, chapter 28:16; which, the New Testament being interpreter, in very many places do most plainly speak Christ. When therefore Peter, the first of all the disciples (from the very first beginning of the preaching of the gospel), had pronounced most clearly of the person of Christ, and had declared the mystery of the incarnation, and confessed the deity of Christ, the minds of the disciples are, with good reason, called back to those words of Isaiah, that they might learn to acknowledge who that stone was that was set in Sion for a foundation never to be shaken, and whence it came to pass that that foundation remained so unshaken; namely, thence, that he was not a creature, but God himself, the Son of God.

III. Thence, therefore, Peter took his surname; not that he should be argued to be that rock, but because he was so much to be employed in building a church upon a rock: whether it were that church that was to be gathered out of the Jews, of which he was the chief minister, or that of the Gentiles (concerning which the discourse here is principally of), unto which he made the first entrance by the gospel.

19. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

[And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.] That is, Thou shalt first open the door of faith to the Gentiles. He had said that he would build his church to endure for ever, against which “the gates of hell should not prevail”… “and to thee, O Peter (saith he), I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven, that thou mayest open a door for the bringing in the gospel to that church.” Which was performed by Peter in that remarkable story concerning Cornelius, Acts 10. And I make no doubt that those words of Peter respect these words of Christ, Acts 15:7; A good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel by my mouth, and believe.

[And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth &c. And whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, &c.] I. We believe the keys were committed to Peter alone, but the power of binding and loosing to the other apostles also, chapter 18:18.

II. It is necessary to suppose that Christ here spake according to the common people, or he could not be understood without a particular commentary, which is nowhere to be found.

III. But now to bind and loose, a very usual phrase in the Jewish schools, was spoken of things, not of persons; which is here also to be observed in the articles what and whatsoever, chapter 18.

One might produce thousands of examples out of their writings: we will only offer a double decad; the first, whence the frequent use of this word may appear; the second, whence the sense may:

1. “R. Jochanan said [to those of Tiberias], ‘Why have ye brought this elder to me? Whatsoever I loose, he binds; whatsoever I bind, he looseth.'”

2. Thou shalt neither bind nor loose.

3. “Nachum, the brother of R. Illa, asked R. Jochanan concerning a certain matter. To whom he answered, Thou shalt neither bind nor loose.”

4. This man binds, but the other looseth.

5. “R. Chaija said, Whatsoever I have bound to you elsewhere, I will loose to you here.”

6. He asked one wise man, and he bound: Do not ask another wise man, lest perhaps he loose.

7. The mouth that bindeth is the mouth that looseth.

8. “Although of the disciples of Shammai, and those of Hillel, the one bound, and the other loosed; yet they forbade not but that these might make purifications according to the others.”

9. A wise man that judgeth judgment, defileth and cleanseth [that is, he declares defiled or clean]; he looseth and bindeth. The same also is in Maimonides.

10. Whether it is lawful to go into the necessary-house with the phylacteries only to piss? Rabbena looseth, and Rabh Ada bindeth. The mystical doctor, who neither bindeth nor looseth.

The other decad shall show the phrase applied to things:

1. “In Judea they did [servile] works on the Passover-eve” (that is, on the day going before the Passover), “until noon, but in Galilee not. But that which the school of Shammai binds until the night, the school of Hillel looseth until the rising of the sun.”

2. “A festival-day may teach us this, in which they loosed by the notion of a [servile] work,” killing and boiling, &c., as the Gloss notes. But in which they bound by the notion of a sabbatism: that is, as the same Gloss speaks, ‘The bringing in some food from without the limits of the sabbath.’

3. “They do not send letters by the hand of a heathen on the eve of a sabbath, no, nor on the fifth day of the week. Yea, the school of Shammai binds it, even on the fourth day of the week; but the school of Hillel looseth it.”

4. “They do not begin a voyage in the great sea on the eve of the sabbath, no, nor on the fifth day of the week. Yea, the school of Shammai binds it, even on the fourth day of the week; but the school of Hillel looses it.”

5. “To them that bathe in the hot-baths in the sabbath-day, they bind washing, and they loose sweating.”

6. “Women may not look into a looking-glass on the sabbath-day, if it be fixed to a wall, Rabbi loosed it, but the wise men bound it.”

7. “Concerning the moving of empty vessels [on the sabbath-day], of the filling of which there is no intention; the school of Shammai binds it, the school of Hillel looseth it.”

8. “Concerning gathering wood on a feast-day scattered about a field, the school of Shammai binds it, the school of Hillel looseth it.”

9. They never loosed to us a crow, nor bound to us a pigeon.

10. “Doth a seah of unclean Truma fall into a hundred seahs of clean Truma? The school of Shammai binds it, the school of Hillel looseth it.” There are infinite examples of this nature.

Let a third decad also be added (that nothing may be left unsaid in this matter), giving examples of the parts of the phrase distinctly and by themselves:

1. “The things which they bound not, that they might have a hedge to the law.”

2. “The scribes bound the leaven.”

3. They neither punished nor bound, unless concerning the leaven itself.

4. “The wise men bound the eating of leaven from the beginning of the sixth hour,” of the day of the Passover.

5. “R. Abhu saith, R. Gamaliel Ben Rabbi asked me. What if I should go into the market? and I bound it him.”

1. The Sanhedrim, which looseth two things, let it not hasten to loose three.

2. “R. Jochanan saith, They necessarily loose saluting on the sabbath.”

3. The wise men loose all oils, or all fat things.

4. “The school of Shammai saith, They do not steep ink, colours, and vetches” on the eve of the sabbath, “unless they be steeped before the day be ended: but the school of Hillel looseth it.” Many more such like instances occur there.

5. “R. Meir loosed the mixing of wine and oil, to anoint a sick man on the sabbath.”

To these may be added, if need were, the frequent (shall I say?) or infinite use of the phrases, bound and loosed, which we meet with thousands of times over. But from these allegations, the reader sees abundantly enough both the frequency and the common use of this phrase, and the sense of it also; namely, first, that it is used in doctrine, and in judgments, concerning things allowed or not allowed in the law. Secondly, That to bind is the same with to forbid, or to declare forbidden. To think that Christ, when he used the common phrase, was not understood by his hearers in the common and vulgar sense, shall I call it a matter of laughter or of madness?

To this, therefore, do these words amount: When the time was come, wherein the Mosaic law, as to some part of it, was to be abolished and left off; and as to another part of it, was to be continued, and to last for ever: he granted Peter here, and to the rest of the apostles, chapter 18:18, a power to abolish or confirm what they thought good, and as they thought good, being taught this and led by the Holy Spirit: as if he should say, “Whatsoever ye shall bind in the law of Moses, that is, forbid, it shall be forbidden, the Divine authority confirming it; and whatsoever ye shall loose, that is, permit, or shall teach, that it is permitted and lawful, shall be lawful and permitted.”

Hence they bound, that is, forbade, circumcision to the believers; eating of things offered to idols, of things strangled, and of blood for a time to the Gentiles; and that which they bound on earth was confirmed in heaven. They loosed, that is, allowed purification to Paul, and to four other brethren, for the shunning of scandal, Acts 21:24: and in a word, by these words of Christ it was committed to them, the Holy Spirit directing that they should make decrees concerning religion, as to the use or rejection of Mosaic rite and judgments, and that either for a time or for ever.

Let the words be applied, by way of paraphrase, to the matter that was transacted at present with Peter: “I am about to build a Gentile church (saith Christ); and to thee, O Peter, do I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven, that thou mayest first open the door of faith to them; but if thou askest, by what rule that church is to be governed, when the Mosaic rule may seem so improper for it, thou shalt be so guided by the Holy Spirit, that whatsoever of the law of Moses thou shalt forbid them shall be forbidden; whatsoever thou grantest them shall be granted, and that under a sanction made in heaven.”

Hence in that instant, when he should use his keys, that is, when he was now ready to open the gate of the gospel to the Gentiles, Acts 10:28, he was taught from heaven, that the consorting of the Jew with the Gentile, which before had been bound, was now loosed; and the eating of any creature convenient for food was now loosed, which before had been bound; and he, in like manner, looses both these.

Those words of our Saviour, John 20:23, “Whose sins ye remit, they are remitted to them,” for the most part are forced to the same sense with these before us; when they carry quite another sense. Here the business is of doctrine only, not of persons; there of persons, not of doctrine: here of things lawful or unlawful in religion to be determined by the apostles; there of persons obstinate or not obstinate, to be punished by them, or not to be punished.

As to doctrine, the apostles were doubly instructed: 1. So long sitting at the feet of their Master, they had imbibed the evangelical doctrine. 2. The Holy Spirit directing them, they were to determine concerning the legal doctrine and practice; being completely instructed and enabled in both by the Holy Spirit descending upon them. As to their persons, they were endowed with a peculiar gift, so that the same Spirit directing them, if they would retain and punish the sins of any, a power was delivered into their hands of delivering to Satan, of punishing with diseases, plagues, yea, death itself; which Peter did to Ananias and Sapphira; Paul to Elymas, Hymeneus, and Philetus, &c.

Chapters 17,18,19

<scripCom type=”Commentary” passage=”Matthew 17, 18, 19″ parsed=”|Matt|17|0|0|0;|Matt|18|0|0|0;|Matt|19|0|0|0″ osisRef=”Bible:Matt.17 Bible:Matt.18 Bible:Matt.19″ />

2. And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

[And was transfigured.] When Christ was baptized, being now ready to enter upon his evangelical priesthood, he is sealed by a heavenly voice for the High Priest, and is anointed with the Holy Spirit, as the high priests were wont to be with holy oil.

In this transfiguration, he is sealed for the high priest: for mark, 1. How two of the greatest prophets, Moses and Elias, resort to him. 2. How to those words, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” which also were heard from heaven at his baptism, is added that clause, “hear ye him”: which compare with the words of Moses, concerning a prophet to be raised up by God, Deuteronomy 18:19, “Whosoever shall not hearken to my words, which I shall put into his mouth,” &c. 3. How the heavenly voice went out of the cloud that overshadowed them, when at his baptism no such cloud appeared. Here that is worthy observing, which some Jews note, and reason dictates, namely, That the cloud of glory, the conductor of Israel, departed at the death of Moses; for while he lived, that cloud was the people’s guide in the wilderness; but when he was dead, the ark of the covenant led them. Therefore, as that cloud departed at the death of Moses, that great prophet, so such a cloud was now present at the sealing of the greatest Prophet. 4. Christ here shines with such a brightness, nay, with a greater than Moses and Elias now glorified; and this both for the honour of his person and for the honour of his doctrine; both which surpassed by infinite degrees the persons and the doctrines of both of them. When you recollect the face of Christ transfigured, shining with so great lustre when he talked with Moses and Elias, acknowledge the brightness of the gospel above the cloudy obscurity of the law and of the prophets.

4. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

[Let us make here three tabernacles, &c.] The transfiguration of Christ was by night. Compare Luke 9:37. The form of his face and garments is changed while he prays; and Moses and Elias come and discourse with him concerning his death (it is uncertain how long), while as yet the disciples that were present were overcharged with sleep. When they awaked, O what a spectacle had they! being afraid, they observe and contemplate, they discover the prophets: whom, now departing, Peter would detain; and being loath that so noble a scene should be dispersed, made this proposition, “Let us make here three tabernacles,” &c. Whence he should know them to be prophets, it is in vain to seek, because it is nowhere to be found; but being known, he was loath they should depart thence, being ravished with the sweetness of such society, however astonished at the terror of the glory; and hence those words, which when he spake he is said by Luke “not to know what he said”; and by Mark, “not to know what he should say”; which are rather to be understood of the misapplication of his words, than of the sense of the words. He knew well enough that he said these words, and he knew as well for what reason he said them; but yet “he knew not what he said”; that is, he was much mistaken when he spake these words, while he believed that Christ, Moses, and Elias, would abide and dwell there together in earthly tabernacles.

5. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

[While he yet spake, behold, a cloud, &c.] Moses and Elias now turning their backs, and going out of the scene, Peter speaks his words; and as he speaks them when the prophets were now gone, “Behold, a cloud,” &c. They had foretold Christ of his death (such is the cry of the Law and of the Prophets, that “Christ should suffer,” Luke 24:44); he preaches his deity to his disciples, and the heavenly voice seals him for the true Messias. See 2 Peter 1:16,17.

10. And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?

[Why therefore say the scribes that Elias must first come?] I. It would be an infinite task to produce all the passages out of the Jewish writings which one might concerning the expected coming of Elias: we will mention a few things in passing which sufficiently speak out that expectation, and the ends also of his expected coming.

I. Let David Kimchi first be heard upon those words of Malachi, “Behold, I send you Elias the prophet”: “God (saith he) shall restore the soul of Elias, which ascended of old into heaven, into a created body, like to his former body: for his first body returned to earth when he went up to heaven, each element to its own element. But when God shall bring him to life in the body, he shall send him to Israel before the day of judgment, which is ‘the great and terrible day of the Lord’: and he shall admonish both the fathers and the children together to turn to God; and they that turn shall be delivered from the day of judgment,” &c. Consider whither the eye of the disciples looks, in the question under our hands. Christ had commanded in the verse before, “Tell the vision” of the transfiguration “to no man, until the Son of man be risen from the dead.” But now, although they understood not what the resurrection from the dead meant, (which Mark intimates,) yet they roundly retort, “Why therefore say the scribes that Elias shall first come?” that is, before there be a resurrection and a day of judgment: for as yet they were altogether ignorant that Christ should rise. They believed, with the whole nation, that there should be a resurrection at the coming of the Messias.

2. Let Aben Ezra be heard in the second place: “We find (saith he) that Elias lived in the days of Ahaziah the son of Ahab: we find also, that Joram the son of Ahab and Jehoshaphat, inquired of Elisha the prophet; and there it is written [2 Kings 3:11], ‘This is Elisha the son of Shaphat, who poured water upon the hands of Elijah.’ And this is a sign that Elias was first gone up into heaven in a whirlwind: because it is not said ‘who poureth water,’ but ‘who poured.’ Moreover, Elisha departed not from Elijah from the time that he first waited upon him until Elias went up. And yet we find that, after the death of Jehoshaphat, in the days of Ahaziah his son it was written, ‘And a letter came to him from Elijah the prophet.’ And this proves that he then writ and sent it: for if it had been written before his ascension, it would be said, a letter was found or brought to him, which Elias had left behind him. And it is without controversy, that he was seen in the days of our holy wise men. God of his mercy hasten his prophecy, and the times of his coming.” So he upon Malachi 4.

3. The Talmudists do suppose Elias keeping the sabbath in mount Carmel: “Let not the Trumah (saith one), of which it is doubted whether it be clean or unclean, be burnt; lest Elias, keeping the sabbath in mount Carmel, come and testify of it on the sabbath that it is clean.”

4. The Talmudical books abound with these and the like trifles: “If a man finds any thing that is lost, he is bound to declare it by a public outcry; but if the owners come not to ask for it, let him lay it up by him until Elias shall come.” And, “If any find a bill of contract between his countrymen, and knows not what it means, let him lay it up until Elias shall come.”

5. That we be not tedious, it shall be enough to produce a few passages out of Babylonian Erubhin: where, upon this subject, “If any say, Behold, I am a Nazarite, on the day wherein the Son of David comes, it is permitted to drink wine on the sabbaths and feast-days,” it is disputed what day of the week Messias shall come, and on what day, Elias: where, among other things, these words occur, Elias came not yesterday: that is, the same day wherein he comes he shall appear in public; and shall not lie hid to day, coming yesterday. The Gloss thus: “If thou sayest, perhaps he shall come on the eve of the sabbath, and shall preach the gospel on the sabbath; you may answer with that text, ‘Behold, I send you Elias the prophet, before the day of the Lord come’: you may argue, that he shall preach on that very day in which he shall come.”

The Israelites are certain that Elias shall come, neither on the sabbath eves, nor on the eves of the feast days, by reason of labour.” And again, Elias cometh not on the sabbath day. Thus speak the scholars of Hillel: “We are sure Elias will not come on the sabbath, nor on a feast day.” The Glossers give the reason, “Not on the sabbath eves, or the eves of the feast days, by reason of labour”; that is, by reason of the preparation for the sabbath; namely, lest they should leave the necessaries for the sabbath unfinished, to go to meet him: “Nor on the sabbaths, by reason of labour” in the banquets; that they omit not those feastings and eatings which were esteemed so necessary to the sabbath, whiles they went out to meet Elias.

Let these three observations out of the Glossers upon the page cited serve for a conclusion:–

1. Before the coming of the Son of David, Elias shall come to preach of him.

2. “Messias cometh not on the first day of the sabbath, because Elias shall not come on the sabbath.” Whence it appears that Elias is expected the day before the Messias’ appearing.

3. Is not Messias Ben Joseph to come first?

II. We meet with numberless stories in the Talmudists concerning the apparitions of Elias: according to that which was said before by Aben Ezra, “It is without controversy that Elias was seen in the days of our wise men.” There is no need of examples, when it may not be so much doubted who of these wise men saw Elias, as who saw him not. For my part I cannot esteem all those stories for mere fables; but in very many of them I cannot but suspect witchcrafts, and the appearances of ghosts, which we also said before concerning the Bath Kol. For thus the devil craftily deluded this nation, willing to be deceived; and even the capacity of observing that the coming of the Messias was now past was obliterated, when here and there, in this age and in the other, his forerunner Elias appeared, as if he intended hence to let them know that he was yet to come.

11. And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.

[And he shall restore all things.] The Jews feign many things which Elias shall restore: “He shall purify the bastards, and restore them to the congregation. He shall render to Israel the pot of manna, the vial of holy oil, the vial of water; and there are some who say, the rod of Aaron.”

He shall restore, or make up, not into the former state, but into a better. There were times of restitution of all things determined by God, Acts 3:21; wherein all things were to be framed into a gospel-state, and a state worthy of the Messias: a church was to be founded, and the doctrine of the gospel dispersed, the hearts of the fathers, the Jews, to be united to the sons, the Gentiles; and the hearts of the sons, the Gentiles, to the fathers the Jews: which work was begun by the Baptist, and finished by Christ and the apostles. Which term of the restitution of all these expiring, the commonwealth of the Jews expired also; and the gifts of revelation and miracles granted for this purpose, and so necessary to it, failed. “However, therefore, ye have crucified Christ,” saith Peter in that place of the Acts now cited, “yet God shall still send you Jesus Christ in the preaching of the gospel to fulfil these things. Him, indeed, as to his person the heavens do contain, and shall contain, until all these things be perfected; expect not, therefore, with the erring nation, his personal presence always on earth: but he shall make up and constitute all things by us his ministers, until the times determined and prefixed for the perfecting of this restitution shall come.”

15. Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is a lunatic, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.

[He is lunatic.] Luke 9:39, a spirit taketh him; Mark 9:17, hath a dumb spirit.

I. He that is skilled in the Talmudic writings will here remember what things are said concerning a deaf and mad man, concerning whom there is so much mention in their writings.

“There are five who do not pay the Trumah; but if they do, their Trumah is no Trumah: the deaf and dumb, the lunatic,” &c. “Any one is fit to sacrifice a beast, except a dumb and deaf, a lunatic, and a child“: and very many passages of this nature, &c. I have rendered deaf and dumb, according to the sense of the masters, who, in the first place cited, do thus interpret the word; “concerning which the wise men speak, is he who neither heareth nor speaketh.” See there the Jerusalem Gemara, where, among other things, this occurs not unworthy our noting; “That all the sons of R. Jochanan Ben Gudgoda were deaf and dumb.”

II. It was very usual to the Jews to attribute some of the more grievous diseases to evil spirits, specially those wherein either the body was distorted, or the mind disturbed and tossed with a phrensy.

If any one, vexed with an evil spirit, shall say, when the disease did first invade him, Write a bill of divorce for my wife,” &c.

If any, whom Kordicus vexeth, say, Write a bill of divorce for my wife,” &c. “Kordicus, say the Glossers, is a demon, which rules over those that drink too much new wine. What is ‘Kordicus?’ Samuel saith, When new wine out of the press hath caught any one.” Rambam, upon the place, hath these words; “Kordicus is a disease, generated from the repletion of the vessels of the brain, whereby the understanding is confounded; and it is a kind of falling-sickness.” Behold the same a demon and a disease! to which the Gemarists applied exorcisms and a diet.

“Shibta is an evil spirit, who, taking hold on the necks of infants, dries up and contracts their nerves.”

“He that drinks up double cups, is punished by the devils.”

From this vulgar opinion of the nation, namely, that devils are the authors of such kind of diseases, one evangelist brings in the father of this child, saying of him he is lunatic, another, he hath a spirit. He had been dumb and deaf from his birth; to that misery was added a phrensy, or a lycanthropy, which kind of disease it was not unusual with the nation to attribute to the devil; and here, in truth, a devil was present.

17. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

[O faithless and perverse generation, &c.] The edge of these words is levelled especially against the scribes (see Mark 9:14); and yet the disciples escaped not altogether untouched.

Christ and his three prime disciples being absent, this child is brought to the rest to be healed: they cannot heal him, partly, because the devil was really in him; partly, because this evil had adhered to him from his very birth. Upon this the scribes insult and scoff at them and their master. A faithless and perverse generation, which is neither overcome by miracles, when they are done, and vilify, when they are not done! The faith of the disciples (v 20) wavered by the plain difficulty of the thing, which seemed impossible to be overcome, when so many evils were digested into one, deafness, dumbness, phrensy, and possession of the devil: and all these from the cradle.

20. And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

[Faith as a grain of mustard seed, &c.] As a seed of mustard, or as a drop of mustard, in Talmudic language. See chapter 13:23.

[Ye shall say to this mountain, &c.] See what we note at chapter 21:21.

21. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

[This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.] It is not much unlike this, which is said, By reason of an evil spirit a singular or religious man may afflict himself with fastings.

24. And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?

[They that receive the (didrachma) tribute-money.] Two things persuade me that this is to be understood of the half-shekel, to be yearly paid into the treasury of the Temple:

1. The word itself whereby this tribute is called, Concerning this, thus Josephus writes: “He laid a tax upon all the Jews wheresoever they were, namely, two drachms: commanding every one, of whatever age, to bring it into the Capitol, as before they had paid it into the Temple at Jerusalem.” And Dion Cassius of the same thus, “He commanded all to bring the didrachm yearly to Jupiter Capitolinus.”

The Seventy Interpreters, indeed, upon Exodus 30:13, render it half a didrachm; but adding this moreover, which is according to the holy didrachm. Be it so; the whole shekel was the holy didrachm: then let the half shekel be, the common didrachm. However, the thing is, he that paid the half-shekel, in the vulgar dialect, was called, he that paid the shekels; and that which is here said by Matthew, they that receive the didrachm, the Talmudists express they that demand or collect the shekels. The Targumists render that place, Exodus 3 [13], the half of the shekel; the reason of which see, if you please, in Maimonides. “The shekel (saith he) concerning which the Law speaks, did weigh three hundred and twenty grains of barley; but the wise men sometime added to that weight, and made it to be of the same value with the money Sela, under the second Temple, that is, three hundred eighty-four middling grains of barley.” See the place and the Gloss.

2. The answer of Christ sufficiently argues that the discourse is concerning this tax, when he saith, He is son of that king for whose use that tribute was demanded: for, “from thence were bought the daily and additional sacrifices, and their drink offerings, the sheaf, the two loaves (Lev 23:17), the shewbread, all the sacrifices of the congregation, the red cow, the scapegoat, and the crimson tongue, which was between his horns,” &c.

But here this objection occurs, which is not so easy to answer. The time of the payment of the half shekel was about the feast of the Passover; but now that time was far gone, and the feast of Tabernacles at hand. It may be answered, 1. That Matthew, who recites this story, observed not the course and order of time, which was not unusual with him, as being he among all the evangelists that most disjoints the times of the stories. But let it be granted that the order of the history in him is right and proper here, it is answered, 2. Either Christ was scarcely present at the Passover last past; or if he were present, by reason of the danger he was in by the snares of the Jews, he could not perform this payment in that manner as it ought to have been. Consider those words which John speaks of the Passover last past, chapter 6:4, “The Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near”; and chapter 7:1, “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for he would not walk any more in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.” 3. It was not unusual to defer the payment of the half shekels of this year to the year following, by reason of some urgent necessity. Hence it was, when they sat to collect and receive this tribute, the collectors had before them two chests placed; in one of which they put the tax of the present year, in the other of the year past.

But it may be objected, Why did the collectors of Capernaum require the payment at that time, when, according to custom, they began not to demand it before the fifteenth day of the month Adar? I answer, 1. It is certain there were, in every city, moneychangers to collect it, and, being collected, to carry it to Jerusalem. Hence is that in the tract cited, “The fifteenth day of the month Adar, the collectors sit in the cities,” to demand the half shekel; “and the five-and-twentieth they sit in the Temple.” 2. The uncertain abode of Christ at Capernaum gave these collectors no unjust cause of demanding this due, whensoever they had him there present; at this time especially, when the feast of Tabernacles was near, and they about to go to Jerusalem, to render an account, perhaps, of their collection.

But if any list to understand this of the tax paid the Romans, we do not contend. And then the words of those that collected the tribute, “Does not your master pay the didrachm?” seem to sound to this effect, “Is your master of the sect of Judas of Galilee?”

Chapter 18

1. At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

[Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?] It cannot be passed over without observation, that the ambitious dispute of the disciples concerning primacy, for the most part followed the mention of the death of Christ and his resurrection. See this story in Mark 9:31-33, and Luke 9:44-46: “He said to his disciples, Lay up these discourses in your ears: for the time is coming that the Son of man is delivered into the hands of men. But they knew not that saying, &c.; and there arose a contest between them, who among them should be greatest.” Also Matthew 20:18-20: “He said to them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests, &c. Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, saying, Grant that these my two sons may sit, one on thy right hand,” &c. And Luke 22:22-24; “The Son of man indeed goeth as it is determined, &c.; and there arose a contention among them, who of them should seem to be the greater.”

The dream of the earthly kingdom of the Messias did so possess their minds (for they had sucked in this doctrine with their first milk), that the mention of the most vile death of the Messias, repeated over and over again, did not at all drive it thence. The image of earthly pomp was fixed at the bottom of their hearts, and there it stuck; nor by any words of Christ could it as yet be rooted out, no, not when they saw the death of Christ, when together with that they saw his resurrection: for then they also asked, “Wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6.

However, after Christ had oftentimes foretold his death and resurrection, it always follows in the evangelists that “they understood not what was spoken”; yet the opinion formed in their minds by their doctors, that the resurrection should go before the kingdom of the Messias, supplied them with such an interpretation of this matter, that they lost not an ace of the opinion of a future earthly kingdom.

See more at chapter 24:3.

6. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

[It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, &c.] It is good for him, in Talmudic language.

A millstone seems to be said in distinction from those very small mills wherewith they were wont to grind the spices that were either to be applied to the wound of circumcision, or to be added to the delights of the sabbath. Hence the Gloss of R. Solomon upon Jeremiah 25:10; “The sound of mills and the light of the candle”: “The sound of mills (saith he), wherewith spices were ground and bruised for the healing of circumcision.”

That Christ here speaks of a kind of death, perhaps nowhere, certainly never used among the Jews; he does it either to aggravate the thing, or in allusion to drowning in the Dead sea, in which one cannot be drowned without some weight hung to him: and in which to drown any thing, by a common manner of speech, implied to devote to rejection, hatred, and execration; which we have observed elsewhere.

10. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

[Their angels in heaven do always behold, &c.] This one may very well expound by laying to it that which is said, Hebrews 1:14, “The angels are ministering spirits, sent to minister for them who shall be heirs of the salvation to come”: as if he should say, “See that ye do not despise one of these little ones, who have been received with their believing parents into the gospel-church: for I say unto you, that after that manner as the angels minister to adult believers, they minister to them also.”

12. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

[If one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety-and-nine, &c.] A very common form of speech:–“In distributing some grapes and dates to the poor, although ninety-nine say, ‘Scatter them’; and only one, ‘Divide them’: they hearken to him, because he speaks according to the tradition.” “If ninety-nine die by an evil eye,” that is, by bewitchings; “and but one by the hand of Heaven,” that is, by the stroke of God, &c. “If ninety-nine die by reason of cold, but one by the hand of God,” &c.

15. Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

[Tell him his fault between thee and him alone.] The reason of the precept is founded in that charitable law, Leviticus 19:17; “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart; but thou shalt surely reprove him, and shalt not suffer sin in him.”

Here the Talmudists speak not amiss: “The Rabbins deliver, ‘Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart.’ Perhaps he does not beat him, he does not pull off his hair, he does not curse him: the text saith, ‘in thy heart,’ speaking of hatred in the heart. But whence is it proved that he that sees his brother doing some foul action is bound to reprove him? Because it is said, In reproving, thou shalt reprove. He reproves, but he heareth not: whence is it proved he is bound to a second reproof? The text saith, ‘In reproving, thou shalt reprove.'” And a little after, “How long must we reprove? Rabh saith, ‘Even to blows'”; that is, until he that is reproved strikes him that reproves him: “Samuel saith, ‘Until he is angry.'” See also Maimonides.

16. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

[Take with thee one or two more, &c.] The Hebrew lawyers require the same thing of him that sins against his brother: “Samuel saith, ‘Whosoever sins against his brother, he must say to him, I have sinned against thee. If he hear, it is well: if not, let him bring others, and let him appease him before them. If perhaps he die, let him appease him at his sepulchre, and say, I have sinned against thee.'”

But our Saviour here requires a higher charity; namely, from him who is the offended party. In like manner, “The great Sanhedrim admonished a city lapsed to idols, by two disciples of the wise men. If they repented, well: if not, all Israel waged war against it.” In like manner also, “The jealous husband warned his wife before two witnesses, ‘Do not talk with N.'”

17. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.

[Tell it unto the church.] That which was incumbent upon him against whom the sin was committed was this, that he should deliver his soul by reproving his brother, and by not suffering sin in him. This was the reason that he had need of witnesses, for what else could they testify? They could not testify that the brother had sinned against him that reproved him; for this, perhaps, they were altogether ignorant of: but they might testify this, that he against whom the sin was committed used due reproof, and omitted nothing which was commanded by the law in that case, whereby he might admonish his brother, and, if possible, bring him back into the right way. The witnesses also added their friendly admonition: whom if the offender hearkened not unto, “let it be told the church.”

We do not here enter upon that long dispute concerning the sense of the word church in this place. However you take it, certainly the business here is not so much concerning the censure of the person sinning, as concerning the vindication of the person reproving; that it might be known to all that he discharged his duty, and freed his soul.

It was very customary among the Jews to note those that were obstinate in this or that crime after public admonition given them in the synagogue, and to set a mark of infamy upon them.

All these have need of public admonition in the consistory. The business there is about some shepherds, collectors, and publicans; and it is declared how incapable they are of giving evidence in any judiciary matter; but not before public admonition is gone out against them in the consistory.

“If any deny to feed his children, they reprove him, they shame him, they urge him: if he still refuse, they make proclamation against him in the synagogue, saying, ‘N. is a cruel man, and will not nourish his children: more cruel than the unclean birds themselves, for they feed their young ones,'” &c.

“A provoking wife who saith, ‘I will create vexation to my husband, because he hath done thus or thus to me, or because he hath miscalled me, or because he hath chid me,’ &c. The consistory by messengers send these words to her, ‘Be it known unto you, if you persist in your perverseness, although your dowry be a hundred pounds, you have lost it all.’ And moreover they set forth a public proclamation against her in the synagogues, and in the divinity schools every day for four sabbaths.”

[Let him be to thee as a heathen and a publican.] He saith, Let him be to ‘thee’; not, Let him be to ‘the church’: because the discourse is of peculiar and private scandal against a single man; who, after three admonitions given, and they to no purpose, is freed from the law of brotherly obligation; and he who being admonished does not repent, is not to be esteemed so much for a brother to him, as for a heathen, &c.

I. Christ does not here prescribe concerning every offender, according to the full latitude of that law, Leviticus 19:17; but of him that particularly offends against his brother; and he does particularly teach what is to be done to that brother.

II. Although he, against whom the offence is committed, had a just cause, why he should be loosed from the obligation of the office of a brother towards him, who neither would make satisfaction for the wrong done, nor be admonished of it; yet to others in the church there is not the same reason.

III. The words plainly mean this; “If, after a threefold and just reproof, he that sinned against thee still remains untractable, and neither will give thee satisfaction for the injury, nor, being admonished, doth repent, thou hast delivered thine own soul, and art free from brotherly offices towards him”; just as the Jews reckon themselves freed from friendly offices towards heathens and publicans. That of Maimonides is not much different: “A Jew that apostatizes, or breaks the sabbath presumptuously, is altogether like a heathen.”

1. They reckoned not heathens for brethren or neighbours: “If any one’s ox shall gore his neighbour’s ox: his neighbour’s, not a heathen’s: when he saith neighbour’s, he excludes heathens.” A quotation which we produced before.

2. They reputed publicans to be by no means within religious society: A religious man, who becomes a publican, is to be driven out of the society of religion.

3. Hence they ate neither with heathens nor with publicans: concerning which thing they often quarrel [with] our Saviour. Hence that of the apostle, 1 Corinthians 5:11; “With such an one no not to eat,” is the same with what is spoke here, “Let him be to thee as a heathen,” &c.

“It is forbidden a Jew to be alone with a heathen, to travel with a heathen,” &c.

4. They denied also brotherly offices to heathens and publicans: “It is forbidden to bring home any thing of a heathen’s that is lost.” “It is lawful for publicans to swear that is an oblation which is not; that you are of the king’s retinue when you are not,” &c. that is, publicans may deceive, and that by oath.

18. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

[Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, &c.] These words depend upon the former. He had been speaking concerning being loosed from the office of a brother in a particular case: now he speaks of the authority and power of the apostles of loosing and binding “any thing” whatsoever seemed them good, being guided in all things by the Holy Ghost. We have explained the sense of this phrase at chapter 16; and he gives the same authority in respect of this, to all the apostles here, as he did to Peter there; who were all to be partakers of the same Spirit and of the same gifts.

This power was built upon that noble and most self-sufficient foundation, John 16:13, “The Spirit of truth shall lead you into all truth.” There lies an emphasis in those words, “into all truth.” I deny that any one, any where, at any time, was led, or to be led, into all truth, from the ascension of Christ, unto the world’s end, beside the apostles. Every holy man, certainly, is led into all truth necessary to him for salvation: but the apostles were led into all truth necessary both for themselves and the whole church; because they were to deliver a rule of faith and manners to the whole church throughout all ages. Hence, whatsoever they should confirm in the law was to be confirmed; whatsoever they should abolish was to be abolished: since they were endowed, as to all things, with a spirit of infallibility, guiding them by the hand into all truth.

19. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

[That if two of you shall agree upon earth, &c.] And these words do closely agree with those that went before: there the speech was concerning the apostles’ determination in all things respecting men; here, concerning their grace and power of obtaining things from God.

I. [Two of you.] Hence Peter and John act jointly together among the Jews, Acts 2, 3, &c., and they act jointly among the Samaritans, Acts 8:14; and Paul and Barnabas among the Gentiles, Acts 13:2. This bond being broke by Barnabas, the Spirit is doubled as it were upon Paul.

II. [Agree together.] That is, to obtain something from God; which appears also from the following words, touching any thing that they shall ask: suppose, concerning conferring the Spirit by the imposition of hands, of doing this or that miracle, &c.

20. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

[For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.] The like do the Rabbins speak of two or three sitting in judgment, that the divine presence is in the midst of them.

21. Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

[Shall I forgive him? till seven times?] This question of Peter respects the words of our Saviour, verse 15. “How far shall I forgive my brother before I proceed to the extremity? What! seven times?” He thought that he had measured out, by these words, a large charity, being, in a manner, double to that which was prescribed by the schools: “He that is wronged (say they) is forbidden to be difficult to pardon; for that is not the manner of the seed of Israel. But when the offender implores him once and again, and it appears he repents of his deed, let him pardon him: and whosoever is most ready to pardon is most praiseworthy.” It is well; but there lies a snake under it; “For (say they) they pardon a man once, that sins against another; secondly, they pardon him; thirdly, they pardon him; fourthly, they do not pardon him,” &c.

Chapter 19

1. And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and come into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan;

[He came unto the coasts of Judea beyond Jordan.] If it were barely said, the coasts of Judea beyond Jordan, by the coasts of Judea one might understand the bounds of the Jews beyond Jordan. Nor does such a construction want its parallel in Josephus; for “Hyrcanus (saith he) built a fortification, the name of which was Tyre, between Arabia and Judea, beyond Jordan, not far from Essebonitis.” But see Mark here, chapter 10:1, relating the same story with this our evangelist: He came, saith he, into the coasts of Judea, (taking a journey from Galilee,) along the country beyond Jordan.

3. The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

[Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?] Of the causes, ridiculous (shall I call them?) or wicked, for which they put away their wives, we have spoke at chapter 5:31. We will produce only one example here; “When Rabh went to Darsis (‘whither,’ as the Gloss saith, ‘he often went’), he made a public proclamation, What woman will have me for a day? Rabh Nachman, when he went to Sacnezib, made a public proclamation, What woman will have me for a day?” The Gloss is, “Is there any woman who will be my wife while I tarry in this place?”

The question here propounded by the Pharisees was disputed in the schools, and they divided into parties concerning it, as we have noted before. For the school of Shammai permitted not divorces, but only in the case of adultery; the school of Hillel, otherwise.

8. He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

[Because Moses for the hardness of your hearts suffered, &c.] Interpreters ordinarily understand this of the unkindness of men towards their wives; and that not illy: but at first sight hardness of heart for the most part in Scripture denotes rather obduration against God than against men. Examples occur everywhere. Nor does this sense want its fitness in this place: not to exclude the other, but to be joined with it here.

I. That God delivered that rebellious people for the hardness of their hearts to spiritual fornication, that is, to idolatry, sufficiently appears out of sacred story, and particularly from these words of the first martyr Stephen, Acts 7:42: God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven, &c. And they seem not less given up to carnal fornication, if you observe the horrid records of their adulteries in the Holy Scripture, and their not less horrid allowances of divorces and polygamies in the books of the Talmudists: so that the particle…carries with it a very proper sense, if you interpret it to, according to its most usual signification; “Moses to the hardness of your hearts added this, that he permitted divorces; something that savours of punishment in itself, however you esteem it for a privilege.”

II. But you may interpret it more clearly and aptly of the inhumanity of husbands towards their wives: but this is to be understood also under restriction: for Moses permitted not divorces, because, simply and generally men were severe and unkind towards their wives; for then, why should he restrain divorces to the cause of adultery? but because, from their fierceness and cruelty towards their wives, they might take hold of and seek occasions from that law which punished adultery with death, to prosecute their wives with all manner of severity, to oppress them, to kill them.

Let us search into the divine laws in case of adultery a little more largely.

1. There was a law made upon the suspicion of adultery, that the wife should undergo a trial by the bitter waters, Numbers 5: but it is disputed by the Jewish schools, rightly and upon good ground, whether the husband was bound in this case by duty to prosecute his wife to extremity, or whether it were lawful for him to connive at and pardon her, if he would. And there are some who say he was bound by duty; and there are others who say that it was left to his pleasure.

2. There was a law of death made in case of the discovery of adultery, Deuteronomy 22:21-23: “If a man shall be found lying with a married woman, both shall die,” &c. Not that this law was not in force unless they were taken in the very act; but the word shall be found is opposed to suspicion, and means the same as if it were said, “When it shall be found that a man hath lain,” &c.

3. A law of divorce also was given in case of adultery discovered, Deuteronomy 24:1; for in that case only, and when it is discovered, it plainly appears from our Saviour’s gloss, and from the concession of some Rabbins also, that divorces took place: for, say they in the place last cited, “Does a man find something foul in his wife? he cannot put her away, because he hath not found foul nakedness in her“; that is, adultery.

But now, how do the law of death and that of divorce consist together? It is answered, They do not so consist together that both retain their force; but the former was partly taken off by the latter, and partly not. The Divine Wisdom knew that inhuman husbands would use that law of death unto all manner of cruelty towards their wives: for how ready was it for a wicked and unkind husband to lay snares even for his innocent wife, if he were weary of her, to oppress her under that law of death! And if she were taken under guilt, how cruelly and insolently would he triumph over her, poor woman, both to the disgrace of wedlock and to the scandal of religion! Therefore the most prudent, and withal merciful lawgiver, made provision that the woman, if she were guilty, might not go without her punishment; and if she were not guilty, might go without danger; and that the wicked husband that was impatient of wedlock might not satiate his cruelty. That which is said by one does not please me, “That there was no place for divorce where matrimony was broke off by capital punishment”; for there was place for divorce for that end, that there might not be place for capital punishment. That law indeed of death held the adulterer in a snare, and exacted capital punishment upon him, and so the law made sufficient provision for terror: but it consulted more gently for the woman, the weaker vessel, lest the cruelty of her husband might unmercifully triumph over her.

Therefore, in the suspicion of adultery, and the thing not discovered, the husband might, if he would, try his wife by the bitter waters; or if he would he might connive at her. In case of the discovery of adultery, the husband might put away his wife, but he scarce might put her to death; because the law of divorce was given for that very end, that provision might be made for the woman against the hardheartedness of her husband.

Let this story serve for a conclusion; “Shemaiah and Abtalion compelled Carchemith, a libertine woman-servant, to drink the bitter waters.” The husband of this woman could not put her away by the law of Moses, because she was not found guilty of discovered adultery. He might put her away by the traditional law, which permitted divorces without the case of adultery; he might not, if he had pleased, have brought her to trial by the bitter waters; but it argued the hardness of his heart towards his wife, or burning jealousy, that he brought her. I do not remember that I have anywhere in the Jewish pandect read any example of a wife punished with death for adultery. There is mention of the daughter of a certain priest committing fornication in her father’s house, that was burnt alive; but she was not married.

13. Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.

[Then were little children brought unto him.] Not for the healing of some disease; for if this had been the end propounded, why did the disciples keep them back above all others, or chide any for their access? Nor can we believe that they were the children of unbelieving Jews, when it is scarcely probable that they, despising the doctrine and person of Christ, would desire his blessing. Some therefore of those that believe brought their infants to Christ, that he might take particular notice of them, and admit them into his discipleship, and mark them for his by his blessing. Perhaps the disciples thought this an excess of officious religion; or that they would be too troublesome to their Master; and hence they opposed them: but Christ countenanceth the same thing, and favours again that doctrine which he had laid down, chapter 18:3; namely, that the infants of believers were as much disciples and partakers of the kingdom of heaven as their parents.

18. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,

[Thou shalt do no murder, &c.] It is worthy marking, how again and again in the New Testament, when mention is made of the whole law, only the second table is exemplified, as in this place; so also Romans 13:8,9, and James 2:8,11, &c. Charity towards our neighbour is the top of religion, and a most undoubted sign of love towards God.

21. Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

[Sell that thou hast, and give to the poor.] When Christ calls it perfection to sell all and give to the poor, he speaks according to the idiom of the nation, which thought so: and he tries this rich man, boasting of his exact performance of the law, whether, when he pretended to aspire to eternal life, he would aspire to that perfection which his countrymen so praised. Not that hence he either devoted Christians to voluntary poverty, or that he exhorted this man to rest ultimately in a Pharisaical perfection; but lifting up his mind to the renouncing of worldly things, he provokes him to it by the very doctrine of the Pharisees which he professed.

“For these things the measure is not stated; for the corner of the field” to be left for the poor; “for the firstfruits for the appearance in the Temple” (according to the law, Exodus 23:15,17, where, what, or how great an oblation is to be brought, is not appointed), “for the shewing mercy, and for the study of the law.” The casuists, discussing that point of ‘shewing mercy,’ do thus determine concerning it: “A stated measure is not indeed prescribed to the shewing of mercy, as to the affording poor men help with thy body,” that is, with thy bodily labour; “but as to money there is a stated measure, namely, the fifth part of thy wealth; nor is any bound to give the poor above the fifth part of his estate, unless he does it out of extraordinary devotion.” See Rambam upon the place, and the Jerusalem Gemara: where the example of R. Ishbab is produced, distributing all his goods to the poor.

24. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

[A camel to go through the eye of a needle, &c.] A phrase used in the schools, intimating a thing very unusual and very difficult. There, where the discourse is concerning dreams and their interpretation, these words are added. They do not shew a man a palm tree of gold, nor an elephant going through the eye of a needle. The Gloss is, “A thing which he was not wont to see, nor concerning which he ever thought.”

In like manner R. Sheshith answered R. Amram, disputing with him and asserting something that was incongruous, in these words; “Perhaps thou art one of those of Pombeditha, who can make an elephant pass through the eye of a needle”: that is, as the Aruch interprets it, “who speak things that are impossible.”

28. And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

[Ye that have followed me, in the regeneration.] That the world is to be renewed at the coming of the Messias, and the preaching of the gospel, the Scriptures assert, and the Jews believe; but in a grosser sense, which we observe at chapter 24. Our Saviour, therefore, by the word regeneration, calls back the mind of the disciples to a right apprehension of the thing; implying that renovation, concerning which the Scripture speaks, is not of the body or substance of the world; but that it consists in the renewing of the manners, doctrine, and a dispensation conducing thereunto: men are to be renewed, regenerated,–not the fabric of the world. This very thing he teaches Nicodemus, treating concerning the nature of the kingdom of heaven, John 3:3.

[When the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit.] These words are fetched out of Daniel, chapter 7:9,10; which words I wonder should be translated by the interpreters, Aben Ezra, R. Saadia, and others, as well Jews as Christians, thrones were cast down. R. Solomon the Vulgar, and others, read it righter, thrones were set up: where Lyranus thus, “He saith thrones in the plural number, because not only Christ shall judge, but the apostles, and perfect men, shall assist him in judgment, sitting upon thrones.” The same way very many interpreters bend the words under our hands, namely, that the saints shall at the day of judgment sit with Christ, and approve and applaud his judgment. But, 1. besides, that the scene of the last judgment, painted out in the Scripture, does always represent as well the saints as the wicked standing before the tribunal of Christ, Matthew 25:32, 2 Corinthians 5:10, &c.; we have mention here only of “twelve thrones.” And, 2, we have mention only of judging the “twelve tribes of Israel.” The sense, therefore, of the place may very well be found out by weighing these things following:

I. That those thrones set up in Daniel are not to be understood of the last judgment of Christ, but of his judgment in his entrance upon his evangelical government, when he was made by his Father chief ruler, king, and judge of all things: Psalm 2:6, Matthew 28:18, John 5:27. For observe the scope and series of the prophet, that, after the four monarchies, namely, the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Grecian, and the Syro-Grecian, which monarchies had vexed the world and the church by their tyranny, were destroyed, the kingdom of Christ should rise, &c. Those words, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” that judiciary scene set up Revelation 4 and 5, and those thrones Revelation 20:1, &c. do interpret Daniel to this sense.

II. The throne of glory, concerning which the words before us are, is to be understood of the judgment of Christ to be brought upon the treacherous, rebellious, wicked people. We meet with very frequent mention of the coming of Christ in his glory in this sense; which we shall discourse more largely of at chapter 24.

III. That the sitting of the apostles upon thrones with Christ is not to be understood of their persons, it is sufficiently proved; because Judas was now one of the number: but it is meant of their doctrine: as if he had said, “When I shall bring judgment upon this most unjust nation, then our doctrine, which you have preached in my name, shall judge and condemn them.” See Romans 2:16.

Hence it appears that the gospel was preached to all the twelve tribes of Israel before the destruction of Jerusalem.

Chapters 20,21,22

<scripCom type=”Commentary” passage=”Matthew 20, 21, 22″ parsed=”|Matt|20|0|0|0;|Matt|21|0|0|0;|Matt|22|0|0|0″ osisRef=”Bible:Matt.20 Bible:Matt.21 Bible:Matt.22″ />

1. For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

[Who went out early in the morning to hire labourers.] You have such a parable as this, but madly applied, in the Talmud: we will produce it here for the sake of some phrases: “To what was R. Bon Bar Chaija like? To a king who hired many labourers; among which there was one hired, who performed his work extraordinary well. What did the king? He took him aside, and walked with him to and fro. When even was come, those labourers came, that they might receive their hire, and he gave him a complete hire with the rest. And the labourers murmured, saying, ‘We have laboured hard all the day, and this man only two hours, yet he hath received as much wages as we’: the king saith to them, ‘He hath laboured more in those two hours than you in the whole day.’ So R. Bon plied the law more in eight-and-twenty years than another in a hundred years.”

[Early in the morning.] “The time of working is from sunrising to the appearing of the stars, and not from break of day: and this is proved from the chapter the president of the priests saith to them; where they say, ‘It is light all in the east, and men go out to hire labourers’: whence it is argued that they do not begin their work before the sun riseth. It is also proved from the tract Pesachin, where it is said that it is prohibited on the day of the Passover to do any servile work after the sun is up; intimating this, that that was the time when labourers should begin their work,” &c.

[To hire labourers.] Read here, if you please, the tract Bava Mazia, cap. 7; which begins thus, He that hireth labourers: and Maimonides, a tract entitled Hiring.

2. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

[Agreed for a penny a day.] A penny of silver, which one of gold exceeded twenty-four times; for A penny of gold is worth five-and-twenty of silver. The canons of the Hebrews concerning hiring of labourers distinguish, as reason requires, between being hired by the day, and being hired (only) for some hours: which may be observed also in this parable: for in the morning they are hired for all the day, and for a penny, but afterward for certain hours; and have a part of a penny allotted them, in proportion to the time they wrought.

8. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.

[Call the labourers.] For “it is one of the affirmative precepts of the law, that a hired labourer should have his wages paid him when they are due, as it is said, ‘You shall pay him his wages in his day’: and if they be detained longer, it is a breach of a negative precept; as it is said, ‘The sun shall not go down upon him,'” &c.

13. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

[Didst not thou agree with me for a penny?] In hiring of labourers, the custom of the place most prevailed; hence came that axiom, Observe the custom of the city; speaking of this very thing. There is also an example, “Those of Tiberias that went up to Bethmeon to be hired for labourers, were hired according to the custom of Bethmeon,” &c. By the by also we may observe that which is said by the Babylonians in the place cited…as the Gloss renders it, “Notice must be taken whether they come from several places; for at some places they go to work sooner, and at some later.”

Hence two things may be cleared in the parable before us: 1. Why they are said to be hired at such different hours; namely, therefore, because they are supposed to have come together from several places. 2. Why there was no certain agreement made with those that were hired at the third, sixth, and ninth hours, as with those that were hired early in the morning; but that he should only say, “Whatsoever is right I will give you”: that is, supposing that they would submit to the custom of the place. But, indeed, when their wages were to be paid them, there is, by the favour of the lord of the vineyard, an equality made between those that were hired for some hours, and those that were hired for the whole day; and when these last murmured, they are answered from their own agreement, You agreed with me. Note here the canon; “The master of the family saith to his servant, ‘Go, hire me labourers for fourpence’: he goes and hires them for threepence; although their labour deserves fourpence, they shall not receive but three, because they bound themselves by agreement, and their complaint is against the servant.”

22. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.

[The baptism that I am baptized with.] The phrase that goes before this, concerning the cup, is taken from divers places of Scripture, where sad and grievous things are compared to draughts of a bitter cup. You may think that the cup of vengeance, of which there is mention in Bab. Beracoth, means the same thing, but it is far otherwise: give me leave to quote it, though it be somewhat out of our bounds: “Let them not talk (say they) over their cup of blessing; and let them not bless over their cup of vengeance. What is the cup of vengeance? The second cup, saith R. Nachman Bar Isaac.” Rabbena Asher and Piske are more clear: “If he shall drink off two cups, let him not bless over the third.” The Gloss, “He that drinks off double cups is punished by devils.” But to the matter before us.

So cruel a thing was the baptism of the Jews, being a plunging of the whole body into water, when it was never so much chilled with ice and snow, that, not without cause, partly, by reason of the burying as I may call it under water, and partly by reason of the cold, it used to signify the most cruel kind of death. The Jerusalem Talmudists relate, that “in the days of Joshua Ben Levi, some endeavoured quite to take away the washings [baptisms] of women, because the women of Galilee grew barren by reason of the coldness of the waters”; which we noted before at the sixth verse of the third chapter.

Chapter 21

1. And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,

[To the mount of Olives.] Mons Olivarum, Zechariah 14:4.

2. Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.

[An ass and her foal.] In the Talmudists we have the like phrase, an ass and a little colt. In that treatise Mezia, they speak concerning a hired ass, and the terms that the hired is obliged to. Among other things there, the Babylon Gemara hath these words, Whosoever transgresses against the will of the owner is called a robber. For instance, if any one hires an ass for a journey on the plains, and turns up to the mountains, &c. Hence this of our Saviour appears to be a miracle, not a robbery; that without any agreement or terms this ass should be led away; and that the owner and those that stood by should be satisfied with these bare words, “The Lord hath need of him.”

5. Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

[Meek, and sitting upon an ass.] This triumph of Christ completes a double prophecy: 1. This prophecy of Zechariah here mentioned. 2. The taking to themselves the Paschal lamb, for this was the very day on which it was to be taken, according to the command of the law, Exodus 12:3; “In the tenth day of this month, they shall take to them every man a lamb.”

It scarce appears to the Talmudists, how those words of Daniel concerning the Messias, that “he comes with the clouds of heaven,” are consistent with these words of Zechariah, that “he comes sitting upon an ass.” “If (say they) the Israelites be good, then he shall come with the clouds of heaven; but if not good, then riding upon an ass.” Thou art much mistaken, O Jew: for he comes “in the clouds of heaven,” as judge and revenger; but sitting upon an ass, not because you are, but because he is, good. “King Sapores said to Samuel, ‘You say your Messias will come upon an ass, I will send him a brave horse.’ He answers him, ‘You have not a horse with a hundred spots as is his ass.” In the greatest humility of the Messias they dream of grandeur, even in his very ass.

8. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strowed them in the way.

[Strewed branches in the way.] Not that they strewed garments and boughs just in the way under the feet of the ass to be trod on; this perhaps might have thrown down the rider; but by the wayside they made little tents and tabernacles of clothes and boughs, according to the custom of the feast of Tabernacles. John also adds, that taking branches of palm trees in their hands, they went forth to meet him. That book of Maimonides entitled Tabernacles and palm branches, will be an excellent comment on this place, and so will the Talmudic treatise, Succah. We will pick out these few things, not unsuitable to the present story: “Doth any one spread his garment on his tabernacle against the heat of the sun, &c.? it is absurd; but if he spread his garment for comeliness and ornament, it is approved.” Again, “The boughs of palm trees, of which the law, Leviticus 23:40, speaks, are the young growing sprouts of palms, before their leaves shoot out on all sides; but when they are like small staves, and these are called young branches of palms.” And a little after, “It is a notable precept, to gather young branches of palms, the boughs of myrtle and willow, and to make them up into a small bundle, and to carry them in their hands,” &c.

9. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

[Hosanna to the Son of David.] Some are at a loss why it is said to the Son, and not O Son: wherefore they fly to Caninius as to an oracle, who tells us, that those very bundles of boughs are called Hosanna; and that these words, Hosanna to the Son of David, signify no more than boughs to the Son of David. We will not deny that bundles are sometimes so called, as seems in these clauses…where it is plain, that a branch of palm is called Lulab, and boughs of myrtle and willow bound together are called Hosanna: but, indeed, if Hosanna to the Son of David signifies boughs to the Son of David, what do those words mean, Hosanna in the highest? The words therefore here sung import as much as if it were said, We now sing Hosanna to the Messias.

In the feast of Tabernacles, the great Hallel, as they call it, used to be sung, that is, Psalm 113-118. And while the words of the Psalms were sung or said by one, the whole company used sometimes to answer at certain clauses, Halleluia. Sometimes the same clauses that had been sung or said were again repeated by the company: sometimes the bundles of boughs were brandished or shaken. “But when were the bundles shaken?” The rubric of the Talmud saith, “At that clause Give thanks unto the Lord, in the beginning of Psalm 118, and at the end. And at that clause, Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord, (Psa 118:25) as saith the school of Hillel: but the school of Shammai saith also, at that clause, O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. R. Akibah said, I saw R. Gamaliel and R. Joshuah, when all the company shook their bundles they did not shake theirs, but only at that clause, Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord.”

On every day of the feast, they used once to go round the altar with bundles in their hands, singing this, Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord; I beseech thee, O Lord, send now prosperity. But on the seventh day of the feast they went seven times round the altar, &c. “The tossing or shaking of the bundles was on the right hand, on the left hand, upwards and downwards.”

“The reason of the bundles was this, because it is written, ‘Then let all the trees of the wood sing,’ (Psa 96:12). And afterward it is written, ‘Give thanks unto the Lord, because he is good,’ (Psa 106:1). And afterward, ‘Save us, O Lord, O our God,’ &c. (Psa 106:47). And the reason is mystical. In the beginning of the year, Israel and the nations of the world go forth to judgment; and being ignorant who are to be cleared and who guilty, the holy and blessed God commanded Israel that they should rejoice with these bundles, as a man rejoiceth who goeth out of the presence of his judge acquitted. Behold, therefore, what is written, ‘Let the trees of the wood sing’; as if it were said, Let them sing with the trees of the wood, when they go out justified from the presence of the Lord,” &c.

[For more information on feast days, please see “The Temple: Its Ministry and Services” by Alfred Edersheim.]

These things being premised concerning the rites and customs of that feast, we now return to our story:–

I. It is very much worth our observation, that the company receives Christ coming now to the Passover with the solemnity of the feast of Tabernacles. For what hath this to do with the time of the Passover? If one search into the reason of the thing more accurately, these things occur; First, The mirth of that feast above all others; concerning which there needs not much to be said, since the very name of the feast (for by way of emphasis it was called Festivity or Mirth) sufficiently proves it. Secondly, That prophecy of Zechariah, which, however it be not to be understood according to the letter, yet from thence may sufficiently be gathered the singular solemnity and joy of that feast above all others; and, perhaps, from that same prophecy, the occasion of this present action was taken. For being willing to receive the Messias with all joyfulness, triumph, and affection of mind (for by calling him the Son of David, it is plain they took him for the Messias), they had no way to express a more ardent zeal and joy at his coming, than by the solemn procession of that feast. They have the Messias before their eyes; they expect great things from him; and are therefore transported with excess of joy at his coming.

II. But whereas the Great Hallel, according to the custom, was not now sung, by reason of the suddenness of the present action, the whole solemnity of that song was, as it were, swallowed up in the frequent crying out and echoing back of Hosanna; as they used to do in the Temple, while they went round the altar. And one while they sing Hosanna to the Son of David; another while, Hosanna in the highest; as if they had said, “Now we sing Hosanna to the Son of David; save us, we beseech thee, O thou [who dwellest] in the highest, save us by the Messias.”

12. And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

[He cast out all them that sold and bought in the Temple.] I. There was always a constant market in the Temple in that place which was called the shops; where every day was sold wine, salt, oil, and other requisites to sacrifices; as also oxen and sheep, in the spacious Court of the Gentiles.

II. The nearness of the Passover had made the market greater; for innumerable beasts being requisite to this solemnity, they were brought hither to be sold. This brings to mind a story of Bava Ben Buta: “He coming one day into the court found it quite empty of beasts. ‘Let their houses,’ said he, ‘be laid waste, who have laid waste the house of our God.’ He sent for three thousand of the sheep of Kedar; and having examined whether they were without spot, brought them into the Mountain of the House”; that is, into the Court of the Gentiles.

[Overthrew the tables of the moneychangers.] Who those moneychangers were, may be learned very well from the Talmud, and Maimonides in the treatise Shekalim:–

“It is an affirmative precept of the law, that every Israelite should give half a shekel yearly: even the poor, who live by alms, are obliged to this; and must either beg the money of others, or sell their clothes to pay half a shekel; as it is said, ‘The rich shall give no more, and the poor shall give no less.'”

“In the first day of the month Adar, they made a public proclamation concerning these shekels, that every one should provide his half shekel, and be ready to pay it. Therefore, on the fifteenth day of the same month, the exchangers sat in every city, civilly requiring this money: they received it of those that gave it, and compelled those that did not. On the five-and-twentieth day of the same month they sat in the Temple; and then compelled them to give; and from him that did not give they forced a pledge, even his very coat.”

“They sat in the cities, with two chests before them; in one of which they laid up the money of the present year, and in the other the money of the year past. They sat in the Temple with thirteen chests before them; the first was for the money of the present year; the second, for the year past; the third, for the money that was offered to buy pigeons,” &c. They called these chests trumpets, because, like trumpets, they had a narrow mouth, and a wide belly.

“It is necessary that every one should have half a shekel to pay for himself. Therefore, when he comes to the exchanger to change a shekel for two half shekels, he is obliged to allow him some gain, which is called kolbon. And when two pay one shekel [between them], each of them is obliged to allow the same gain or fee.”

And not much after, “How much is that gain? At that time when they paid pence for the half shekel, a kolbon [or the fee that was paid to the moneychanger] was half a mea, that is, the twelfth part of a penny, and never less. But the kolbons were not like the half shekel; but the exchangers laid them by themselves till the holy treasury were paid out of them.” You see what these moneychangers were, and whence they had their name. You see that Christ did not overturn the chests in which the holy money was laid up, but the tables on which they trafficked for this unholy gain.

[Of those that sold dovesSellers of doves. See the Talmudic treatise of that title. “Doves were at one time sold at Jerusalem for pence of gold. Whereupon Rabban Simeon Ben Gamaliel said, By this temple I will not lie down this night, unless they be sold for pence of silver, &c. Going into the council-house, he thus decreed, A woman of five undoubted labours, or of five undoubted fluxes, shall be bound only to make one offering; whereby doves were sold that very day for two farthings.” The offering for women after childbirth, and fluxes, for their purification, were pigeons, &c. But now, when they went up to Jerusalem with their offerings at the feasts only, there was at that time a greater number of beasts, pigeons, and turtles, &c. requisite. See what we have said at the fifth chapter, and the three-and-twentieth verse.

15. And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased.

[The children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna.] Children, from their first infancy, were taught to manage the bundles, to shake them, and in shaking, to sing Hosanna. A child, so soon as he knows how to wave the bundle, is bound to carry a bundle Where the Gemara saith thus; “The Rabbins teach, that so soon as a little child can be taught to manage a bundle, he is bound to carry one: so soon as he knows how to veil himself, he must put on the borders: as soon as he knows how to keep his father’s phylacteries, he must put on his own: as soon as he can speak, let his father teach him the law, and to say the phylacteries,” &c.

19. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.

[Found nothing thereon but leaves only.] This place is not a little obscure, being compared with Mark 11:13, who seems to say, that therefore figs were not found on this tree, because it was not yet the time of figs. Why then did our Saviour expect figs, when he might certainly know that it was not yet the time of figs? And why, not finding them, did he curse the tree, being innocent and agreeable to its own nature?

I. We will first consider the situation of this tree. Our evangelist saith, that it was in the way. This minds me of a distinction used very often by the Talmudists, between the fruits of trees of common right, which did not belong to any peculiar master, but grew in woody places, or in common fields; and the fruits of trees which grew in gardens, orchards, or fields, that had a proper owner. How much difference was made between these fruits by the canonists, as to tithing, and as to eating, is in many places to be met with through the whole classes, entitled Seeds. This fig-tree seems to have been of the former kind: a wild fig-tree, growing in a place or field, not belonging to any one in particular, but common to all. So that our Saviour did not injure any particular person, when he caused this tree to wither; but it was such a tree, that it could not be said of it, that it was mine or thine.

II. He found nothing thereon but leaves, because the time of figs was not yet a great while, Mark 11:13.

1. “At what time in the seventh year do they forbear to lop their trees? The school of Shammai saith All trees from that time, they bring forth [leaves].” The Gloss, “The beginning of leaves is in the days of Nisan.”

2. “Rabban Simeon Ben Gamaliel saith, From the putting forth of leaves, till there be green figs, is fifty days; from the green figs, till the buds fall off, fifty days; and from that time till the figs be ripe are fifty days.” If, therefore, the first putting out of the leaves was in the month Nisan, and that was five months’ time before the figs came to be ripe, it is plain enough that the figs of that year coming on were not expected by our Saviour, nor could be expected.

That we may pursue the matter somewhat home, and make it appear that the text of Mark, as it is commonly read, for the time of figs was not yet, is uncorrupted,

I. We must first observe what is said about the intercalation of the year: “They intercalate the year upon three accounts; for the green year, for the fruit of the tree, and for Tekupha.” Maimonides is more large; whom see. Now if you ask what means the intercalation for the fruit of the tree, the Gloss answers, “If the fruit be not ripened till Pentecost is past, they intercalate the year; because Pentecost is the time of bringing the firstfruits: and if at that time one should not bring them along with him when he comes to the feast, he would be obliged to make another journey.” But now this is not to be understood of all trees, but of some only, which put forth their fruit about the time of the Passover, and have them ripe at the feast of Pentecost. For thus Maimonides in the place cited: “If the council sees that there is not yet any green ear, and that the fruit of the trees which used to bud at the feast of the Passover is not yet budded [mark that, ‘used to bud’], moved by these two causes, they intercalate the year.” Among these the fig-tree can by no means be reckoned: for since, our Saviour being witness, the putting forth of its leaves is a sign that summer is at hand, you could not expect any ripe figs, nay (according to the Talmudists), not so much as the putting out of leaves, before the Passover. When it is before said that Pentecost was the time of bringing the firstfruits, it must not be so understood as if the firstfruits of all trees were then to be brought, but that before Pentecost it was not lawful to bring any; for thus it is provided for by a plain canon, “The firstfruits are not to be brought before Pentecost. The inhabitants of mount Zeboim brought theirs before Pentecost, but they did not receive them of them, because it is said in the law, ‘And the feast of harvest, the firstfruit of thy labours which thou hast sown in thy field.'”

II. There are several kinds of figs mentioned in the Talmudists besides these common ones; namely, figs of a better sort, which grew in gardens and paradises: 1. Shithin. Concerning which the tract Demai, among those things which were accounted to deserve lesser care, and among those things which were doubtful as to tithing were shithin: which the Glosser tells us were wild figs. 2. There is mention also in the same place of…a fig mixed with a plane-tree. 3. But among all those kinds of figs, they were memorable which were called a kind of fig; and they yet more, which were called white figs; which, unless I mistake, make to our purpose: not that they were more noble than the rest, but their manner of bearing fruit was more unusual. There is mention of these in Sheviith, in these words, we will render the words in the paraphrase of the Glossers: “…white figs, and a kind of fig: the seventh year” (that is, the year of release) “is to those the second” (viz of the seven years following); “to these, the gong out of the seventh. White figs put forth fruit every year, but it is ripe only every third year: so that on that tree every year one might see three sorts of fruit, namely, of the present year, of the past, and of the year before that. Thus the kind of fig bring forth ripe fruit in two years,” &c.

Concerning white figs thus the Jerusalem Gemara: “Do they bear fruit every year, or once in three years? They bear fruit every year; but the fruit is not ripe till the third year. But how may one know which is the fruit of each year? R. Jona saith, ‘By the threads that hang to them.’ The tradition of Samuel, ‘He makes little strings hang to it,'” &c.

III. The fruit of very many trees hung upon them all the winter, by the mildness of the weather, if they were not gathered or shaken off by the wind: nay, they ripened in winter. Hence came those cautions about tithing: “The tree which puts forth its fruit before the beginning of the year of the world” [that is, before the beginning of the month Tisri, in which month the world was created], “must be tithed for the year past: but if after the beginning of the world, then it must be tithed for the year coming on. R. Judan Bar Philia answered before R. Jonah, ‘Behold the tree Charob puts forth its fruits before the beginning of the world, and yet it is tithed for the year following.’ R. Jissa saith, ‘If it puts forth a third part before the year of the world, it must be tithed for the year past; but if after, then for the year following.’ R. Zeira answers before R. Jissa ‘Sometimes palm-trees do not bring forth part of their fruit till after the beginning of the year of the world; and yet they must be tithed for the year before.’ Samuel Bar Abba saith, ‘If it puts forth the third part of its fruit before the fifteenth day of the month Shebat, it is to be tithed for the year past; if after the fifteenth day of the month Shebat, for the year to come.'” Hence that axiom in Rosh Hashanah, “The first day of the month Shebat is the beginning of the year for trees, according to the school of Shammai; but, according to that of Hillel, the fifteenth day.”

However, fig-trees were not among those trees that put forth their fruit after the beginning of Tisri; for you have seen before, out of the Talmudists, that they used to put forth their leaves in the month Nisan: and that their fruit used to be ripe in thrice fifty days after this. Yet, perhaps, it may be objected about them, what we meet with in the Jerusalem Gemara, at the place before cited: “One gathers figs (say they), and knows not at what time they were put forth” (and thereby is at a loss for what year to tithe them). “R. Jonah saith, ‘Let him reckon a hundred days backwards; and if the fifteenth day of the month Shebat falls within that number, then he may know when they were put forth.'” But this must be understood of figs of a particular sort, which do not grow after the usual manner, which is plain also from that which follows; for, “they say to him, ‘With you at Tiberias there are fig-trees that bear fruit in one year’: to which he answers, ‘Behold, with you at Zippor there are trees that bear fruit in two years.'” Concerning common fig-trees, their ordinary time of putting out green figs was sufficiently known; as also the year of tithing them: but concerning those trees of another sort, which had ripe fruit only in two or three years, it is no wonder if they were at a loss in both.

IV. Christ, therefore, came to the tree seeking fruit on it, although the ordinary time of figs was not yet; because it was very probable that some fruit might be found there. Of the present year, indeed, he neither expected nor could expect any fruit, when it was so far from being the time of figs, that it was almost five months off: and it may be doubted whether it had yet so much as any leaves of the present year. It was now the month Nisan, and that month was the time of the first putting out of leaves; so that if the buds of the leaves had just peeped forth, they were so tender, small, and scarce worth the name of leaves (for it was but the eleventh day of the month), that to expect figs of the same year with those leaves had not been only in vain, but ridiculous. Those words seem to denote something peculiar, having leaves; as if the other trees thereabout had been without leaves, or, at least, had not such leaves as promised figs. Mark seems to give the reason why he came rather to that tree than to any other; namely, because he saw leaves on it, and thereby hoped to find figs. “For when he saw (saith he) a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon.” From the leaves he had hopes of figs: these, therefore, certainly were not the leaves of the present spring, for those were hardly so much as in being yet: but they were either the leaves of the year past, that had hung upon the tree all winter; or else this tree was of that kind which had figs and leaves together hanging on it for two or three years before the fruit grew ripe. And I rather approve of this latter sense, which both renders the matter itself more clear, and better solves the difficulties that arise from the words of Mark. This tree, it seems, had leaves which promised fruit, and others had not so; whereas, had they all been of the same kind, it is likely they would all have had leaves after the same manner. But when others had lost all their leaves of the former year by winds and the winter, and those of the present year were not as yet come out, this kept its leaves, according to its nature and kind, both summer and winter. St. Mark, therefore, in that clause, which chiefly perplexes interpreters, for the time of figs was not yet, doth not strictly and only give the reason why he found no figs, but gives the reason of the whole action; namely, why on that mountain which abounded with fig trees he saw but one that had such leaves; and being at a great distance when he saw it, he went to it, expecting figs only from it. The reason, saith he, was this, “Because it was not the usual time of figs”: for had it been so, he might have gathered figs from the trees about him; but since it was not, all his expectation was from this, which seemed to be the kind of fig or white fig, which never wanted leaves or figs. For to take an instance in the tree: That tree (suppose) bore figs such a summer, which hung upon the boughs all the following winter; it bore others also next summer; and those, together with the former, hung on the boughs all this winter too: the third summer it bore a third degree, and this summer brought those of the first bearing to ripeness, and so onwards continually; so that it was no time to be found without fruit of several years. It is less, therefore, to be wondered at, if that which promised so much fruitfulness by its looks, that one might have expected from it at least the fruit of two years, did so far deceive the hopes it had raised, as not to afford one fig; if that, I say, should suffer a just punishment from our Lord, whom it had so much, in appearance, disappointed: an emblem of the punishment that was to be inflicted upon the Jews for their spiritual barrenness and hypocrisy.

21. Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

[But if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.] this is a hyperbolical way of speaking, taken from the common language of the schools of the Jews, and designed after a manner for their refutation. Such a hyperbole concerning this very mountain you have Zechariah 14:4.

The Jews used to set out those teachers among them, that were more eminent for the profoundness of their learning, or the splendour of their virtues, by such expressions as this; He is a rooter up (or a removerof mountains. “Rabh Joseph is Sinai, and Rabbah is a rooter up of mountains.” The Gloss; “They called Rabh Joseph Sinai, because he was very skilful in clearing of difficulties; and Rabbah Bar Nachmani, A rooter up of mountains, because he had a piercing judgment.” “Rabba said, I am like Ben Azzai in the streets of Tiberias.” The Gloss; “Like Ben Azzai, who taught profoundly in the streets of Tiberias; nor was there in his days such another rooter up of mountains as he.” “He saw Resh Lachish in the school, as if he were plucking up mountains and grinding them one upon another.”

The same expression with which they sillily and flatteringly extolled the learning and virtue of their men, Christ deservedly useth to set forth the power of faith, as able to do all things, Mark 9:23.

33. Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:

[Planted a vineyard.] Concerning vines and their husbandry see Kilaim, where there is a large discourse of the beds of a vineyard, the orders of the vines, of the measure of the winepress, of the hedge, of the trenches, of the void space, of the places within the hedge which were free from vines, whether they were to be sown or not to be sown, &c.

35. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.

[Beat; killed; stoned.] There seems to be an allusion to the punishments and manners of death in the council: 1. Beat, which properly signifies the flaying off of the skin, is not amiss rendered by interpreters beat; and the word seems to related to whipping where forty stripes save one did miserably flay off the skin of the poor man…2. Killed, signifies a death by the sword…Four kinds of death are delivered to the Sanhedrim, stoning, burning, killing, and strangling.

38. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.

[This is the heir, &c.] Compare this verse with John 11:48; and it seems to hint, that the rulers of the Jews acknowledged among themselves that Christ was the Messias; but being strangely transported beside their senses, they put him to death; lest, bringing in another worship and another people, he should either destroy or suppress their worship and themselves.

44. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

[And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken, &c.] Here is a plain allusion to the manner of stoning, concerning which thus Sanhedrim: “The place of stoning was twice as high as a man. From the top of this, one of the witnesses striking him on his loins felled him to the ground: if he died of this, well; if not, the other witness threw a stone upon his heart,” &c. “R. Simeon Ben Eleazar saith, There was a stone there as much as two could carry: this they threw upon his heart.”

Chapter 22

9. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.

[Go ye into the highways, &c.] That is, ‘Bring in hither the travellers.’ “What is the order of sitting down to meat? The travellers come in and sit down upon benches or chairs, till all are come that were invited.” The Gloss; “It was a custom among rich men to invite poor travellers to feasts.”

16. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.

[With the Herodians.] Many things are conjectured concerning the Herodians. I make a judgment of them from that history which is produced by the author Juchasin, speaking of Hillel and Shammai. “Heretofore (saith he) Hillel and Menahem were (heads of the council); but Menahem withdrew into the family of Herod, together with eighty men bravely clad.” These, and such as these, I suppose were called Herodians, who partly got into the court, and partly were of the faction both of the father and son. With how great opposition of the generality of the Jewish people Herod ascended and kept the throne, we have observed before. There were some that obstinately resisted him; others that as much defended him: to these was deservedly given the title of Herodians; as endeavouring with all their might to settle the kingdom in his family: and they, it seems, were of the Sadducean faith and doctrine; and it is likely had leavened Herod, who was now tetrarch, with the same principles. For (as we noted before) ‘the leaven of the Sadducees’ in Matthew, is in Mark ‘the leaven of Herod.’ And it was craftily contrived on both sides that they might be a mutual establishment to one another, they to his kingdom, and he to their doctrine. When I read of Manaem or Menahem, the foster-brother of Herod the tetrarch, it readily brings to my mind the name and story before mentioned of Menahem, who carried over with him so many eminent persons to the court of Herod.

20. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

[Whose is this image and superscription?] They endeavour by a pernicious subtilty to find out whether Christ were of the same opinion with Judas of Galilee. Which opinion those lewd disturbers of all things, whom Josephus brands everywhere under the name of zealots, had taken up; stiffly denying obedience and tribute to a Roman prince; because they persuaded themselves and their followers that it was a sin to submit to a heathen government. What great calamities the outrageous fury of this conceit brought upon the people, both Josephus and the ruins of Jerusalem at this day testify. They chose Caesar before Christ; and yet because they would neither have Caesar nor Christ, they remain sad monuments to all ages of the divine vengeance and their own madness. To this fury those frequent warnings of the apostles do relate, “That every one should submit himself to the higher powers.” And the characters of these madmen, “they contemn dominations,” and “they exalt themselves against every thing that is called God.”

Christ answers the treachery of the question propounded, out of the very determinations of the schools, where this was taught, “Wheresoever the money of any king is current, there the inhabitants acknowledge that king for their lord.” Hence is that of the Jerusalem Sanhedrim: “Abigail said to David, ‘What evil have I done, or my sons, or my cattle?’ He answered, ‘Your husband vilifies my kingdom.’ ‘Are you then,’ said she, ‘a king?’ To which he, ‘Did not Samuel anoint me for a king?’ She replied, ‘The money of our lord Saul as yet is current‘”: that is, ‘Is not Saul to be accounted king, while his money is still received commonly by all?’

23. The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,

[The Sadducees, who say that there is no resurrection.] “The Sadducees cavil, and say, The cloud faileth and passeth away; so he that goeth down to the grave doth not return.” Just after the same rate of arguing as they use that deny infant baptism; because, forsooth, in the law there is no express mention of the resurrection. Above, we suspected that the Sadducees were Herodians, that is to say, courtiers: but these here mentioned were of a more inferior sort.

32. I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

[God is not the God of the dead.] Read, if you please, the beginning of the chapter Chelek, where you will observe with what arguments and inferences the Talmudists maintain the resurrection of the dead out of the law; namely, by a manner of arguing not unlike this of our Saviour’s. We will produce only this one; “R. Eliezer Ben R. Josi said, In this matter I accused the scribes of the Samaritans of falsehood, while they say, That the resurrection of the dead cannot be proved out of the law. I told them, You corrupt your law, and it is nothing which you carry about in your hands; for you say, That the resurrection of the dead is not in the law, when it saith, ‘That soul shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity is upon him.’ ‘Shall be utterly cut off’; namely, in this world. ‘His iniquity is upon him’: when? Is it not in the world to come?” I have quoted this, rather than the others which are to be found in the same place; because they seem here to tax the Samaritan text of corruption; when, indeed, both the text and the version, as may easily be observed, agree very well with the Hebrew. When, therefore, the Rabbin saith, that they have corrupted their law, he doth not so much deny the purity of the text, as reprove the vanity of the interpretation: as if he had said, “You interpret your law falsely, when you do not infer the resurrection from those words which speak it so plainly.”

With the present argument of our Saviour compare, first, those things which are said by R. Tanchum: “R. Simeon Ben Jochai saith, God, holy and blessed, doth not join his name to holy men while they live, but only after their death; as it is said, ‘To the saints that are in the earth.’ When are they saints? When they are laid in the earth; for while they live, God doth not join his name to them; because he is not sure but that some evil affection may lead them astray: but when they are dead, then he joins his name to them. But we find that God joined his name to Isaac while he was living: ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac.’ The Rabbins answer, He looked on his dust as if it were gathered upon the altar. R. Berachiah said, Since he became blind, he was in a manner dead.” See also R. Menahem on the Law.

Compare also those words of the Jerusalem Gemara: “The righteous, even in death, are said to live; and the wicked, even in life, are said to be dead. But how is it proved that the wicked, even in life, are said to be dead? From that place where it is said, I have no delight in the death of the dead. Is he already dead, that is already here called dead? And whence is it proved that the righteous, even in death, are said to live? From that passage, ‘And he said to him, This is the land, concerning which I sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob’…He saith to him, Go and tell the fathers, whatsoever I promised to you, I have performed to your children.”

The opinion of the Babylonians is the same; “The living know that they shall die. They are righteous who, in their death, are said to live: as it is said, ‘And Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, the son of a living man,’ [The son of a valiant man. A.V. 2 Samuel 23:20] ” &c. And a little after; “The dead know nothing: They are the wicked who, even in their life, are called dead, as it is said, And thou, dead wicked prince of Israel.” The word which is commonly rendered profane in this place, they render it also in a sense very usual, namely, for one wounded or dead.

There are, further, divers stories alleged, by which they prove that the dead so far live, that they understand many things which are done here; and that some have spoke after death, &c.

Chapter 23

<scripCom type=”Commentary” passage=”Matthew 23″ parsed=”|Matt|23|0|0|0″ osisRef=”Bible:Matt.23″ />

2. Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:

[In Moses’ seat, &c.] this is to be understood rather of the legislative seat (or chair), than of the merely doctrinal: and Christ here asserts the authority of the magistrate, and persuadeth to obey him in lawful things.

Concerning the chairs of the Sanhedrim there is mention made in Bab. Succah: “There were at Alexandria seventy-one golden chairs, according to the number of the seventy-one elders of the great council.” Concerning the authority of Moses and his vicegerent in the council, there is also mention in Sanhedrim: “The great council consisted of seventy-one elders. But whence was this number derived? From that place where it is said, ‘Choose me out seventy men of the elders of Israel: and Moses was president over them.’ Behold seventy-one!”

What is here observed by Galatinus from the signification of the aorist sat is too light and airy: “He saith, They sat and not, They sit, that he might plainly demonstrate, that their power was then ceased.” But if we would be so curious to gather any thing from this aorist, we might very well transfer it to this sense rather: “The scribes and Pharisees, the worst of men, have long usurped Moses’ seat; nevertheless, we ought to obey them, because, by the dispensation of the divine providence, they bear the chief magistracy.”

Concerning their authority, thus Maimonides: “The great council of Jerusalem was the ground (the pillar and ground) of the traditional law, and the pillar of doctrine: whence proceeded statutes and judgments for all Israel. And concerning them the law asserts this very thing, saying, ‘According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee.’ Whosoever, therefore, believes Moses our master and his law, is bound to rely upon them for the things of the law.”

Christ teacheth, that they were not to be esteemed as oracles, but as magistrates.

4. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers

[Heavy burdens.] …a heavy prohibition; Let him follow him that imposeth heavy things. There are reckoned up four-and-twenty things of the weighty things of the school of Hillel, and the light things of that of Shammai. “R. Joshua saith, A foolish religious man, a crafty wicked man, a she-pharisee, and the voluntary dashing of the Pharisees, destroy the world.” It is disputed by the Gemarists, who is that crafty wicked man: and it is answered by some, “He that prescribes light things to himself, and heavy to others.”

5. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments.

[They make broad their phylacteries.] These four places of the law, Exodus 13:3-10, Exodus 13:11-16, Deuteronomy 6:5-9, Deuteronomy 11:13-21; being writ upon two parchment labels (which they called tephillin), were carried about with them constantly with great devotion, being fastened to their forehead and their left arm. To the forehead, in that place where the pulse of an infant’s brain is. This of the forehead was most conspicuous, and made broad: hence came that, “Let nobody pass by the synagogue while prayers are saying there.–But if he hath phylacteries upon his head, he may pass by, because they show that he is studious of the law.”–“It is not lawful to walk through burying-places with phylacteries on one’s head, and the book of the law hanging at one’s arm.”

They are called in Greek phylacteries, that is, observatories; because they were to put them in mind of the law; and perhaps they were also called preservatories, because they were supposed to have some virtue in them to drive away devils: “It is necessary that the phylacteries should be repeated at home a-nights, to drive away devils.”

Concerning the curious writing of the phylacteries, see Maimonides on Tephellin. Concerning their strings, marked with certain small letters, see Tosaphoth on Megillah. Concerning the repeating of them, see both the Talmuds in Beracoth. How the Jews did swear touching their phylacteries, see Maimonides in Shevuoth: and how God is brought in swearing by the phylacteries, see Tanchum.

Our Saviour does not so much condemn the bare wearing of them, as the doing it out of pride and hypocrisy. It is not unlikely that he wore them himself, according to the custom of the country: for the children of the Jews were to be brought up from their infancy in saying the phylacteries; that is, as soon as they were capable of being catechised. The scribes and Pharisees made theirs very broad and visible, that they might obtain a proportional fame and esteem for their devotion with the people; these things being looked upon as arguments of the study of the law, and signs of devotion.

[Enlarge the borders of their garments.] See Numbers 15:38; Deuteronomy 22:12–“He that takes care of the candle of the sabbath, his children shall be the disciples of wise men. He that takes care to stick up labels against the posts shall obtain a glorious house; and he that takes care of making borders to his garment, shall obtain a good coat.”

7. And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

[And to be called Rabbi, Rabbi.] I. Concerning the original of this title, see Aruch: “The elder times, which were more worthy, had not need of the title either of Rabban, or Rabbi, or Rabh, to adorn either the wise men of Babylon or the wise men of the land of Israel: for, behold, Hillel comes up out of Babylon, and the title of Rabbi is not added to his name: and thus it was with those who were noble among the prophets; for he saith, Haggai the prophet [not Rabbi Haggai]. Ezra did not come up out of Babylon, &c. [not Rabbi Ezra]; whom they did not honour with the titles of Rabbi when they spoke their names. And we have heard that this had its beginning only in the presidents [of the council] from Rabban Gamaliel the old man, and Rabban Simeon his son, who perished in the destruction of the second Temple: and from Rabban Jochanan Ben Zaccai, who were all presidents. And the title also of Rabbi began from those that were promoted [to be elders] from that time, Rabbi Zadok, and R. Eliezer Ben Jacob: and the thing went forth from the disciples of Rabban Jochanan Ben Zaccai, and onwards. Now the order, as all men use it, is this: Rabbi is greater than Rabh, and Rabban is greater than Rabbi; and he is greater who is called by his own (single) name, than he who is called Rabban.”

That this haughty title of Rabbi was not in use before the times of Hillel sufficiently appears from thence, that the doctors before that were called by their plain names, and knew nothing of this title. Antigonus Socheus, Shemaiah and Abtalion, Gebihah Ben Pesisa, Calba Savua, Admon and Hanan, Hillel and Shammai, and many others, whose names we meet with in the Jewish story. Yet you shall find these, that were more ancient, sometimes officiously honoured by the writers of their nation with this title, which they themselves were strangers to. They feign that king Jehoshaphat thus called the learned men: “When he saw (say they) a disciple of the wise men, he rose up out of his throne and embraced him, and kissed him, and called him O Father, Father, Rabbi, Rabbi, Lord, Lord.” And Joshua Ben Perachia is called Rabbi Joshua…

II. It was customary, and they loved it, to be saluted with this honourable title, notwithstanding the dissembled axiom among them, Love the work, but hate the title.

1. Disciples were thus taught to salute their masters: “R. Eliezer saith, he that prayeth behind the back of his master, and he that salutes his master,–or returns a salute to his master,–and he that makes himself a separatist from the school of his master,–and he that teaches any thing, which he hath not heard from his master,–he provokes the Divine Majesty to depart from Israel.” The Glossers on these words, ‘He that salutes, or returns a salute to his master,’ thus comment; “he that salutes his master in the same form of words that he salutes other men, and doth not say to him, God save you, Rabbi.” It is reported also, that the council excommunicated certain persons four and twenty times, for the honour of master; that is, for not having given due honour to the Rabbins.

2. The masters saluted one another so. “R. Akibah said to R. Eleazar, Rabbi, Rabbi.”–“R. Eleazar Ben Simeon, of Magdal Gedor, came from the house of his master, sitting upon an ass: he went forward along the bank of the river rejoicing greatly, and being very much pleased with himself, because he had learned so much of the law. There meets him a very deformed man, and said Save you, Rabbi: he did not salute him again, but on the contrary said thus, ‘Raca, how deformed is that man! perhaps all your townsmen are as deformed as you.’ He answered, ‘I know nothing of that, but go you to the workman that made me, and tell him, how deformed is this vessel which thou hast made!'” &c. And a little after, “when that deformed man was come to his own town, his fellow citizens came out to meet him and said, Save you, O Rabbi, Rabbi, master, master. He [R. Eleazar] saith to them, ‘To whom do you say Rabbi, Rabbi?’ They answer, ‘To him that followeth thee.’ He replied, ‘If this be a Rabbi, let there not be many such in Israel.'”

14. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

[Ye devour widows’ houses.] The scribes and Pharisees were ingenious enough for their own advantage. Hear one argument among many, forged upon the anvil of their covetousness, a little rudely drawn, but gainful enough: “The Lord saith, ‘Make me an ark of shittim wood.’ Hence it is decided (say they) in behalf of a disciple of the wise men, that his fellow citizens are bound to perform his servile work for him.”–O money, thou mistress of art and mother of wit! So he that was preferred to be president of the council, was to be maintained and enriched by the council! See the Gloss on Babylonian Taanith.

They angled with a double hook among the people for respect, and by respect for gain.

I. As doctors of the law: where they, first and above all things, instilled into their disciples and the common people, that a wise man, or a master, was to be respected above all mortal men whatsoever. Behold the rank and order of benches according to these judges! “A wise man is to take place of a king; a king of a high priest; a high priest of a prophet; a prophet of one anointed for war; one anointed for war of a president of the courses; a president of the courses of the head of a family; the head of a family of a counsellor; a counsellor of a treasurer; a treasurer of a private priest; a private priest of a Levite; a Levite of an Israelite; an Israelite of a bastard; a bastard of a Nethinim; a Nethinim of a proselyte; a proselyte of a freed slave. But when is this to be? namely, when they are alike as to other things: but, indeed, if a bastard be a disciple, or a wise man, and the high priest be unlearned, the bastard is to take place of him. A wise man is to be preferred before a king: for if a wise man die, he hath not left his equal; but if a king die, any Israelite is fit for a kingdom.”

This last brings to my mind those words of Ignatius the martyr, if indeed they are his, in his tenth epistle: My son, saith he, honour God and the king: but I say, ‘Honour God as the cause and Lord of all: the bishop as the chief priest, bearing the image of God; in respect of his rule bearing God’s image, in respect of his priestly office, Christ’s; and, after him, we ought to honour the king also.’

II. Under a pretence of mighty devotion, but especially under the goodly show of long prayers, they so drew over the minds of devout persons to them, especially of women, and among them of the richer widows, that by subtle attractives they either drew out or wrested away their goods and estates. Nor did they want nets of counterfeit authority, when from the chair they pronounced, according to their pleasures, of the dowry and estate befalling a widow, and assumed to themselves the power of determining concerning those things. Of which matter, as it is perplexed with infinite difficulties and quirks, you may read, if you have leisure, the treatises Jevamoth, Chetuboth, and Gittin.

Concerning the length of their prayers, it may suffice to produce the words of the Babylon Gemara in Beracoth: “The religious anciently used to tarry an hour [meditating before they began their prayers]: whence was this? R. Joshua Ben Levi saith, ‘It was because the Scripture saith, Blessed are they who sit in thy house.’ R. Joshua Ben Levi saith also, ‘He that prays ought to tarry an hour after prayers: as it is said, The just shall praise thy name, the upright shall sit before thy face‘: it is necessary, therefore, that he should stay [meditating] an hour before prayers, and an hour after; and the religious anciently used to stay an hour before prayers, an hour they prayed, and an hour they stayed after prayers. Since, therefore, they spent nine hours eery day about their prayers, how did they perform the rest of the law? and how did they take care of their worldly affairs? Why herein, in being religious, both the law was performed, and their own business well provided for.” And in the same place, “Long prayers make a long life.”

15. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

[To make one proselyte.] The Talmudists truly speak very ill of proselytes: “Our Rabbins teach, that proselytes and Sodomites hinder the coming of the Messias. Proselytes are as a scab to Israel.” The Gloss; “For this reason, that they were not skilled in the commandments, that they brought in revenge, and moreover, that the Israelites perchance may imitate their works,” &c.

Yet in making of these they used their utmost endeavours for the sake of their own gain, that they might some way or other drain their purses, after they had drawn them in under the show of religion, or make some use or benefit to themselves by them. The same covetousness, therefore, under a veil of hypocrisy, in devouring widows’ houses, which our Saviour had condemned in the former clause, he here also condemns in hunting after proselytes; which the scribes and Pharisees were at all kind of pains to bring over to them. Not that they cared for proselytes, whom they accounted as “a scab and plague”; but that the more they could draw over to their religion, the greater draught they should have for gain, and the more purses to fish in. These, therefore, being so proselyted, “they made doubly more the children of hell than themselves.” For when they had drawn them into their net, having got their prey, they were no further concerned what became of them, so they got some benefit by them. They might perish in ignorance, superstition, atheism, and all kind of wickedness: this was no matter of concern to the scribes and Pharisees; only let them remain in Judaism, that they might lord it over their consciences and purses.

16. Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple; he is a debtor!

[Whosoever shall swear by the gold of the Temple, he is a debtor.] These words agree in the same sense with those of the Corban, chapter 15:5. We must not understand the gold of the Temple here, of that gold which shined all about in the walls and ceilings; but the gold here meant is that which was offered up in the Corban. It was a common thing with them, and esteemed as nothing, to swear by the Temple, and by the altar, which we have observed at the 31st verse of the fifth chapter: and therefore they thought themselves not much obliged by it; but if they swore Corban, they supposed they were bound by an indispensable tie. For example: if any one should swear thus, ‘By the Temple, or, By the altar, my money, my cattle, my goods shall not profit you’; it was lawful, nevertheless, for the swearer, if he pleased, to suffer them to be profited by these: but if he should swear thus, ‘Corban, my gold is for the Temple, Corban, my cattle are for the altar,’ this could noways be dispensed with.

23. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

[Ye pay tithe of mint.] I. “This is the general rule about tithes; whatsoever serves for food, whatsoever is kept [that is, which is not of common right], and whatsoever grows out of the earth, shall be tithed.”

II. According to the law, cattle, corn, and fruit were to be tithed: the way and measure of which, as the scribes teach, was this: “Of bread-corn that is thrashed and winnowed, 1. A fifth part is taken out for the priest; this was called the great offering. 2. A tenth part of the remainer belong to the Levite; this was called the first tenth, or tithe. 3. A tenth part again was to be taken out of the remainder, and was to be eaten at Jerusalem, or else redeemed; this was called the second tithe. 4. The Levite gives a tenth part out of his to the priest; this was called the tithe of the tithe.” These are handled at large in Peah, Demai, Maaseroth, &c.

III. The tithing of herbs is from the Rabbins. This tithing was added by the scribes, and yet approved of by our Saviour, when he saith, “Ye ought not to have left these undone.” Hear this, O thou who opposest tithes. The tithing of herbs was only of ecclesiastical institution, and yet it hath the authority of our Saviour to confirm it, “Ye ought not to have left these things undone”: and that partly on account of the justice of the thing itself, and the agreeableness of it to law and reason, partly that it was commanded by the council sitting in Moses’ chair, as it is, verse 2.

IV. [Mint.] …is reckoned among those things which come under the law of the seventh year. Where Rambam saith, “In the Aruch it is minta.” It is called sometimes mintha: where R. Solomon writes, “In the Aruch it is minta in the mother tongue, and it hath a sweet smell; therefore they strew it in synagogues for the sake of its scent.”

[Anise.] …R. Solomon, “anise is a kind of herb, and is tithed, both as to the seed and herb itself.” Rambam writes thus: “It is eaten raw after meat, and is not to be boiled; while, therefore, it is not boiled, it comes under the law of tithing.” The Gloss “in the Roman language is anethum [anise], and is tithed, whether it be gathered green or ripe.”

[Cummin.] …It is reckoned among things that are to be tithed.

27. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

[Ye are like whited sepulchres.] Sepulchres are distinguished by the masters of the Jews into a deep sepulchre, which cannot be known to be a sepulchre; graves that appear not [Luke 11:44]; and a painted sepulchre, such as were all those that were known, and to be seen. Our Saviour compares the Scribes and Pharisees to both; to those, in the place of Luke last mentioned; to these, in the place before us, each upon a different reason.

Concerning the whiting of sepulchres, there are these traditions: “In the fifteenth day of the month Adar they mend the ways, and the streets, and the common sewers, and perform those things that concern the public, and they paint (or markthe sepulchres.” The manner is described in Maasar Sheni; They paint the sepulchres with chalk, tempered and infused in water. The Jerusalem Gemarists give the reason of it in abundance of places: “Do they not mark the sepulchres (say they) before the month Adar? Yes, but it is supposed that the colours are wiped off. For what cause do they paint them so? That this matter may be like the case of the leper. The leprous man crieth out, ‘Unclean, unclean’; and here, in like manner, uncleanness cries out to you and saith, ‘Come not near.'” R. Illa, in the name of R. Samuel Bar Nachman, allegeth that of Ezekiel; “If one passing through the land seeth a man’s bone, he shall set up a burial sign by it.”

The Glossers deliver both the reason and the manner of it thus: “From the fifteenth day of the month Adar they began their search; and wheresoever they found a sepulchre whose whiting was washed off with the rain, they renewed it, that the unclean place might be discerned, and the priests who were to eat the Trumah might avoid it.” Gloss on Shekalim, and again on Maasar Sheni: “They marked the sepulchres with chalk in the likeness of bones; and mixing it with water, they washed the sepulchre all about with it, that thereby all might know that the place was unclean, and therefore to be avoided.” Concerning this matter also, the Gloss speaks; “They made marks like bones on the sepulchres with white chalk,” &c. See the place.

28. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

[Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men.] Such kind of hypocrites are called distained, or coloured. Jannai the king, when he was dying, warned his wife that she should take heed of painted men, pretending to be Pharisees, whose works are as the works of Zimri, and yet they expect the reward of Phineas. The Gloss is “Those painted men are those whose outward show doth not answer to their nature; they are coloured without, but their inward part doth not answer to their outward; and their works are evil, like the works of Zimri; but they require the reward of Phineas, saying to men, That they should honour them as much as Phineas.” They had forgotten their own axiom, A disciple of the wise, who is not the same within that he is without, is not a disciple of the wise.

[But within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.] The masters themselves acknowledged this to their own shame. They inquire, what were those sins under the first Temple for which it was destroyed; and it is answered, “Idolatry, fornication, and bloodshed.” They inquire, what were the sins under the second; and answer, “Hate without cause, and secret iniquity”; and add these words, “To those that were under the first Temple their end was revealed, because their iniquity was revealed: but to those that were under the second their end was not revealed, because their iniquity was not revealed.” The Gloss, “They that were under the first Temple did not hide their iniquity; therefore their end was revealed to them: as it is said, ‘After seventy years I will visit you in Babylon’: but their iniquity under the second Temple was not revealed: those under the second Temple were secretly wicked.”

29. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,

[Ye garnish the sepulchres of the righteous.] Let them raise some pillar upon his sepulchre. The Glossers are divided about the rendering of the word pillar. Some understand it of a kind of building or pillar; some of the whiting or marking of a sepulchre above spoken of. The place referred to speaks concerning the remains of the didrachms paid for the redemption of the soul: and the question is, if there be any thing of them due, or remaining from the man now dead, what shall be done with it; the answer is, “Let it be laid up till Elias come: but R. Nathan saith, Let them raise some pillar [or buildingupon his sepulchre.” Which that it was done for the sake of adorning the sepulchres is proved from the words of the Jerusalem Gemara upon the place; They do not adorn the sepulchres of the righteous, for their own sayings are their memorial. Whence those buildings or ornaments that were set on their sepulchres seem to have been sacred to their memory, and thence called as much as souls, because they preserved the life and soul of their memory.

These things being considered, the sense of the words before us doth more clearly appear. Doth it deserve so severe a curse, to adorn the sepulchres of the prophets and righteous men? Was not this rather an act of piety than a crime? But according to their own doctrine, O ye scribes and Pharisees, their own acts and sayings are a sufficient memorial for them. Why do ye not respect, follow, and imitate these? But neglecting and trampling upon these, you persuade yourselves that you have performed piety enough to them, if you bestow some cost in adorning their sepulchres, whose words indeed you despise.

33. Ye serpents, ye of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

[The damnation of hell.] The judgment of Gehenna. See the Chaldee paraphrast on Ruth 2:12; Baal Turim on Genesis 1:1; and Midras Tillin.

34. Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:

[Wise men and scribes.] Let them observe this, who do not allow the ministers of the word to have a distinct calling. The Jews knew not any that was called a wise man, or a scribe, but who was both learned, and separated from the common people by a distinct order and office.

35. That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

[Unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias.] That the discourse here is concerning Zacharias the son of Jehoiada, killed by king Joash, we make appear by these arguments:

I. Because no other Zacharias is said to have been slain before these words were spoken by Christ. Those things that are spoke of Zacharias, the father of the Baptist, are dreams; and those of Zacharias, one of the twelve prophets, are not much better. The killing of our Zacharias in the Temple is related in express words: and why, neglecting this, should we seek for another, which in truth we shall nowhere find in any author of good credit?

II. The Jews observe, that the death of this Zacharias, the son of Jehoiada, was made memorable by a signal character [nota] and revenge: of the martyrdom of the other Zacharias they say nothing at all.

Hear both the Talmuds: “R. Jochanan said, Eighty thousand priests were killed for the blood of Zacharias. R. Judah asked R. Acha, ‘Whereabouts they killed Zacharias, whether in the Court of the Women, or in the Court of Israel?’ He answered, ‘Neither in the Court of Israel nor in the Court of the women, but in the Court of the Priests.’ And that was not done to his blood which useth to be done to the blood of a ram or a kid. Concerning these it is written, ‘And he shall pour out his blood, and cover it with dust.’ But here it is written, ‘Her blood is in the midst of her; she set it upon the top of a rock, she poured it not upon the ground.’ And why this? ‘That it might cause fury to come up to take vengeance. I have set her blood upon a rock, that it should not be covered.’ They committed seven wickednesses in that day. They killed a priest, a prophet, and a judge: they shed the blood of an innocent man: they polluted the court: and that day was the sabbath day, and the day of Expiation. When therefore Nebuzar-adan went up thither, he saw the blood bubbling: so he said to them, ‘What meaneth this?’ ‘It is the blood,’ say they, ‘of calves, lambs, and rams, which we have offered on the altar.’ ‘Bring then,’ said he, ‘calves, lambs, and rams, that I may try whether this be their blood.’ They brought them and slew them, and that blood still bubbled, but their blood did not bubble. ‘Discover the matter to me,’ said he, ‘or I will tear your flesh with iron rakes.’ Then they said to him, ‘This was a priest, a prophet, and a judge, who foretold to Israel all these evils which we have suffered from you, and we rose up against him, and slew him.’ ‘But I,’ saith he, ‘will appease him.’ He brought the Rabbins, and slew them upon that blood; and yet it was not pacified: he brought the children out of the school, and slew them upon it, and yet it was not quiet: he brought the young priests, and slew them upon it, and yet it was not quiet. So that he slew upon it ninety-four thousand, and yet it was not quiet. He drew near to it himself, and said, ‘O Zacharias, Zacharias! thou hast destroyed the best of thy people’ [that is, they have been killed for your sake]; ‘would you have me destroy all?’ Then it was quiet, and did not bubble any more,” &c.

The truth of this story we leave to the relators: that which makes to our present purpose we observe: that it was very improbable, nay, next to impossible, that those that heard the words of Christ (concerning Zacharias slain before the Temple and the altar) could understand it of any other but of this, concerning whom and whose blood they had such famous and signal memory; and of any other Zacharias slain in the Temple there was a profound silence. In Josephus, indeed, we meet with the mention of one Zacharias, the son of Baruch, (which is the same thing with Barachias,) killed in the Temple, not long before the destruction of it: whom some conjecture to be prophetically marked out here by our Saviour: but this is somewhat hard, when Christ expressly speaks of time past, ye slew; and when, by no art nor arguments, it can be proved that this Zacharias ought to be reckoned into the number of prophets and martyrs.

There are two things here that stick with interpreters, so that they cannot so freely subscribe to our Zacharias: 1. That he lived and died long before the first Temple was destroyed; when the example would have seemed more home and proper to be taken under the second Temple, and that now near expiring. 2. That he was plainly and notoriously the son of Jehoiada; but this is called by Christ “the son of Barachias.”

To which we, after others who have discoursed at large upon this matter, return only thus much:

I. That Christ plainly intended to bring examples out of the Old Testament; and he brought two, which how much the further off they seemed to be from deriving any guilt to this generation, so much heavier the guilt is if they do derive it. For a Jew would argue, “What hath a Jew to do with the blood of Abel, killed almost two thousand years before Abraham the father of the Jews was born? And what hath this generation to do with the blood of Zacharias, which was expiated by cruel plagues and calamities many ages since?” Nay, saith Christ, this generation hath arrived to that degree of impiety, wickedness, and guilt, that even these remote examples of guilt relate, and are to be applied to it: and while you think that the blood of Abel, and the following martyrs doth nothing concern you, and believe that the blood of Zacharias hath been long ago expiated with a signal punishment; I say unto you, that the blood both of the one and the other, and of all the righteous men killed in the interval of time between them, shall be required of this generation; 1. Because you kill him who is of more value than they all. 2. Because by your wickedness you so much kindle the anger of God, that he is driven to cut off his old church; namely, the people that hath been of a long time in covenant with him. For when Christ saith, That on you may come all the righteous blood, &c.; it is not so much to be understood of their personal guilt as to that blood, as of their guilt for the killing of Christ, in whose death, the guilt of the murder of all those his types and members is in some measure included: and it is to be understood of the horrible destruction of that generation, than which no former ages have ever seen any more woeful or amazing, nor shall any future, before the funeral of the world itself. As if all the guilt of the blood of righteous men, that had been shed from the beginning of the world, had flowed together upon that generation.

II. To the second, which has more difficulty, namely, that Zacharias is here called the son of Barachias, when he was the son of Jehoiada, we will observe, by the way, these two things out of the writings of the Jews, before we come to determine the thing itself:

1. That that very Zacharias of whom we speak is by the Chaldee paraphrast called the son of Iddo. For thus saith he on Lamentations 3:20: “‘Is it fit that the daughters of Israel should eat the fruit of their womb?’ &c. The rule of justice answered and said, ‘Is it also fit that they should slay a priest and prophet in the Temple of the Lord, as ye slew Zacharias and the son of Iddo, the high priest and faithful prophet, in the house of the Sanctuary, on the day of Expiation?'” &c.

2. In the place of Isaiah, concerning Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah, the Jews have these things: “It is written, ‘I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Barachiah,’ Isaiah 8:1. But what is the reason that Uriah is joined with Zechariah? for Uriah was under the first Temple; Zechariah under the second: but the Scripture joineth the prophecy of Zechariah to the prophecy of Uriah. By Urias it is written, ‘For your sakes Sion shall be ploughed as a field.’ By Zechariah it is written, ‘As yet old men and ancient women shall sit in the streets of Jerusalem.’ When the prophecy of Uriah is fulfilled, the prophecy of Zechariah shall also be fulfilled.” To the same sense also speaks the Chaldee paraphrast upon the place: “‘And I took unto me faithful witnesses.’ The curses which I foretold I would bring, in the prophecy of Uriah the priest, behold they are come to pass: likewise all the blessings which I foretold I would bring, in the prophecy of Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah, I will bring to pass.” See also there RR. Jarchi and Kimchi.

From both these we observe two things: 1. If Iddo did not signify the same thing with Jehoiada to the Jewish nation, why might not our Saviour have the same liberty to call Barachias the father of Zacharias, as the Chaldee paraphrast had to call him Iddo? 2. It is plain that the Jews looked upon those words of Isaiah as the words of God speaking to Isaiah, not of Isaiah relating a matter of fact historically…

For if it had been to be construed in the preter tense, it should have been pointed by Kamets, And I caused to witness. Which being well observed, (as I confess it hath not been by me heretofore,) the difficulty under our hand is resolved, as I imagine, very clearly: and I suppose that Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah in Isaiah is the very same with our Zacharias the son of Jehoiada; and that the sense of Isaiah comes to this: in that and the foregoing chapter there is a discourse of the future destruction of Damascus, Samaria, and Judea. For a confirmation of the truth of this prophecy, God makes use of a double testimony: first, he commands the prophet Isaiah to write, over and over again, in a great volume, from the beginning to the end, “To hasten the spoil, he hastened the prey”: and this volume should be an undoubted testimony to them, that God would certainly bring on and hasten the forementioned spoiling and destruction. “And moreover (saith God), I will raise up to myself two faithful martyrs,” (or witnesses,) who shall testify and seal the same thing with their words and with their blood, namely, Uriah the priest, who shall hereafter be crowned with martyrdom for this very thing, Jeremiah 26:20,23, and Zechariah the son of Barachiah, or Jehoiada, who is lately already crowned: he, the first martyr under the first Temple; this, the last. Hear, thou Jew, who taxest Matthew in this place: your own authors assert, that Uriah the priest is to be understood by that Uriah who was killed by Jehoiakim; and that truly. We also assert, that Zechariah the son of Jehoiadah is to be understood by Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah; and that Matthew and Christ do not at all innovate in this name of Barachias, but did only pronounce the same things concerning the father of the martyr Zacharias, which God himself had pronounced before them by the prophet Isaiah.

Objection. But since our Saviour took examples from the Old Testament, why did he not rather say, “from the blood of Abel to the blood of Uriah the priest?” that is, from the beginning of the world to the end of the first Temple? I answer,

1. The killing of Zechariah was more horrible, as he was more high in dignity; and as the place wherein he was killed was more holy.

2. The consent of the whole people as more universal to his death.

3. He was a more proper and apparent type of Christ.

4. The requiring of vengeance is mentioned only concerning Abel and Zechariah: “Behold, the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me.” And, “Let the Lord look upon it, and require it.”

5. In this the death of Christ agrees exactly with the death of Zechariah; that, although the city and nation of the Jews did not perish till about forty years after the death of Christ, yet they gave themselves their death’s wound in wounding Christ. So it was also in the case of Zechariah: Jerusalem and the people of the Jews stood indeed many years after the death of Zechariah, but from that time began to sink, and draw towards ruin. Consult the story narrowly, and you will plainly find, that all the affairs of the Jews began to decline and grow worse and worse, from that time when “blood touched blood,” (the blood of the sacrificer mingled with the blood of the sacrifice), and when “the people became contentious and rebellious against the priest.”

37. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

[Jerusalem, that killest the prophets.] R. Solomon on those words, “But now murderers”: “They have killed (saith he) Uriah, they have killed Zechariah.” Also on these words, “Your sword hath devoured your prophets”; “Ye have slain (saith he) Zechariah and Isaiah.” “Simeon Ben Azzai said, ‘I have found a book of genealogies at Jerusalem, in which it was written, Manasseh slew Isaiah,'” &c.

Chapters 24,25

<scripCom type=”Commentary” passage=”Matthew 24, 25″ parsed=”|Matt|24|0|0|0;|Matt|25|0|0|0″ osisRef=”Bible:Matt.24 Bible:Matt.25″ />

1. And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple.

[To shew him the buildings of the Temple.] “He that never saw the Temple of Herod never saw a fine building. What was it built of? Rabba saith, Of white and green marble. But some say, Of white, green, and spotted marble. He made the laver to sink and to rise” (that is, the walls were built winding in and out, or indented after the manner of waves), “being thus fitted to receive the plaster, which he intended to lay on; but the Rabbins said to him, ‘O let it continue, for it is very beautiful to behold: for it is like the waves of the sea’: and Bava Ben Buta made it so,” &c. See there the story of Bava Ben Buta and Herod consulting about the rebuilding of the temple.

2. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

[There shall not be left one stone upon another.] The Talmudic Chronicles bear witness also to this saying, “On the ninth day of the month Ab the city of Jerusalem was ploughed up”; which Maimonides delivereth more at large: “On that ninth day of the month Ab, fatal for vengeance, the wicked Turnus Rufus, of the children of Edom, ploughed up the Temple, and the places about it, that that saying might be fulfilled, ‘Sion shall be ploughed as a field.'” This Turnus Rufus, of great fame and infamy among the Jewish writers, without doubt is the same with Terentius Rufus, of whom Josephus speaks, Rufus was left general of the army by Titus; with commission, as it is probable, and as the Jews suppose, to destroy the city and Temple. Concerning which matter, thus again Josephus in the place before quoted, The emperor commanded them to dig up the whole city and the Temple. And a little after, “Thus those that digged it up laid all level, that it should never be inhabited, to be a witness to such as should come thither.”

3. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

[And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?] What the apostles intended by these words is more clearly conceived by considering the opinion of that people concerning the times of the Messias. We will pick out this in a few words from Babylonian Sanhedrin.

“The tradition of the school of Elias: The righteous, whom the Holy Blessed God will raise up from the dead, shall not return again to their dust; as it is said, ‘Whosoever shall be left in Zion and remain in Jerusalem shall be called holy, every one being written in the book of life.’ As the Holy (God) liveth for ever, so they also shall live for ever. But if it be objected, What shall the righteous do in those years in which the Holy God will renew his world, as it is said, ‘The Lord only shall be exalted in that day?’ the answer is, That God will give them wings like an eagle, and they shall swim (or float) upon the face of the waters.” Where the Gloss says thus; “The righteous, whom the Lord shall raise from the dead in the days of the Messiah, when they are restored to life, shall not again return to their dust, neither in the days of the Messiah, nor in the following age: but their flesh shall remain upon them till they return and live to eternity. And in those years, when God shall renew his world (or age), this world shall be wasted for a thousand years; were, then, shall those righteous men be in those years, when they shall not be buried in the earth?” To this you may also lay that very common phrase, the world to come; whereby is signified the days of the Messiah: of which we spoke a little at the thirty-second verse of the twelfth chapter: “If he shall obtain (the favour) to see the world to come, that is, the exaltation of Israel,” namely, in the days of Messiah. “The Holy Blessed God saith to Israel, In this world you are afraid of transgressions; but in the world to come, when there shall be no evil affection, you shall be concerned only for the good which is laid up for you; as it is said, ‘After this the children of Israel shall return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king,'” &c.; which clearly relate to the time of the Messiah. Again, “Saith the Holy Blessed God to Israel, ‘In this world, because my messengers (sent to spy out the land) were flesh and blood, I decreed that they should not enter into the land: but in the world to come, I suddenly send to you my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before my face.'”

See here the doctrine of the Jews concerning the coming of the Messiah:

1. That at that time there shall be a resurrection of the just: The Messias shall raise up those that sleep in the dust.

2. Then shall follow the desolation of this world: This world shall be wasted a thousand years. Not that they imagined that a chaos, or confusion of all things, should last the thousand years; but that this world should end and a new one be introduced in that thousand years.

3. After which eternity should succeed.

From hence we easily understand the meaning of this question of the disciples:–

1. They know and own the present Messiah; and yet they ask, what shall be the signs of his coming?

2. But they do not ask the signs of his coming (as we believe of it) at the last day, to judge both the quick and the dead: but,

3. When he will come in the evidence and demonstration of the Messiah, raising up the dead, and ending this world, and introducing a new; as they had been taught in their schools concerning his coming.

7. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

[Nation shall rise against nation.] Besides the seditions of the Jews, made horridly bloody with their mutual slaughter, and other storms of war in the Roman empire from strangers, the commotions of Otho and Vitellius are particularly memorable, and those of Vitellius and Vespasian, whereby not only the whole empire was shaken, and the fortune of the empire changed with the change of the whole world, (they are the words of Tacitus), but Rome itself being made the scene of battle, and the prey of the soldiers, and the Capitol itself being reduced to ashes. Such throes the empire suffered, now bringing forth Vespasian to the throne, the scourge and vengeance of God upon the Jews.

9. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.

[Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted.] To this relate those words of 1 Peter 4:17, “The time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God”; that is, the time foretold by our Saviour is now at hand, in which we are to be delivered up to persecution, &c. These words denote that persecution which the Jews, now near their ruin, stirred up almost everywhere against the professors of the gospel. They had indeed oppressed them hitherto on all sides, as far as they could, with slanders, rapines, whippings, stripes, &c. which these and such like places testify; 1 Thessalonians 2:14,15; Hebrews 10:33, &c. But there was something that put a rub in their way, that, as yet, they could not proceed to the utmost cruelty; “And now ye know what withholdeth”; which, I suppose, is to be understood of Claudius enraged at and curbing in the Jews. Who being taken out of the way, and Nero, after his first five years, suffering all things to be turned topsy turvy, the Jews now breathing their last (and Satan therefore breathing his last effects in them, because their time was short), they broke out into slaughter beyond measure, and into a most bloody persecution: which I wonder is not set in the front of the ten persecutions by ecclesiastical writers. This is called by Peter (who himself also at last suffered in it) a fiery trial; by Christ, dictating the epistles to the seven churches, tribulation for ten days; and the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world of Christians. And this is “the revelation of that wicked one” St. Paul speaks of, now in lively, that is, in bloody colours, openly declaring himself Antichrist, the enemy of Christ. In that persecution James suffered at Jerusalem, Peter in Babylon, and Antipas at Pergamus, and others, as it is probable, in not a few other places. Hence, Revelation 6:11,12 (where the state of the Jewish nation is delivered under the type of six seals), they are slain, who were to be slain for the testimony of the gospel under the fifth seal; and immediately under the sixth followed the ruin of the nation.

12. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

[The love of many shall wax cold.] These words relate to that horrid apostasy which prevailed everywhere in the Jewish churches that had received the gospel. See 2 Thessalonians 2:3, &c.; Galatians 3:1; 1 Timothy 1:15, &c.

14. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

[And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world.] Jerusalem was not to be destroyed before the gospel was spread over all the world: God so ordering and designing it that the world, being first a catechumen in the doctrine of Christ, might have at length an eminent and undeniable testimony of Christ presented to it; when all men, as many as ever heard the history of Christ, should understand that dreadful wrath and severe vengeance which was poured out upon that city and nation by which he was crucified.

15. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand):

[The abomination of desolation.] These words relate to that passage of Daniel (chapter 9:27) which I would render thus; “In the middle of that week,” namely, the last of the seventy, “he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease, even until the wing or army of abomination shall make desolate,” &c.; or, even by the wing of abominations making desolate….

[Let him that readeth understand.] This is not spoken so much for the obscurity as for the certainty of the prophecy: as if he should say, “He that reads those words in Daniel, let him mind well that when the army of the prince which is to come, that army of abominations, shall compass round Jerusalem with a siege, then most certain destruction hangs over it; for, saith Daniel, ‘the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city, and the sanctuary,’ &c., verse 26. ‘And the army of abominations shall make desolate even until the consummation, and that which is determined shall be poured out upon the desolate.’ Flatter not yourselves, therefore, with vain hopes, either of future victory, or of the retreating of that army, but provide for yourselves; and he that is in Judea, let him fly to the hills and places of most difficult access, not into the city.” See how Luke clearly speaks out this sense in the twentieth verse of the one-and-twentieth chapter.

20. But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:

[That your flight be not in the winter.] R. Tanchum observes a favour of God in the destruction of the first Temple, that it happened in the summer, not in winter. For thus he: “God vouch-safed a great favour to Israel; for they ought to have gone out of the land on the tenth day of the month Tebeth, as he saith, ‘Son of man, mark this day; for on this very day,’ &c. What then did the Lord, holy and blessed? ‘If they shall now go out in the winter,’ saith he, ‘they will all die’: therefore he prolonged the time to them, and carried them away in summer.”

22. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

[Those days shall be shortened.] God lengthened the time for the sake of the elect, before the destruction of the city; and in the destruction, for their sakes he shortened it. Compare with these words before us 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise,” &c. It was certainly very hard with the elect that were inhabitants of the city, who underwent all kinds of misery with the besieged, where the plague and sword raged so violently that there were not living enough to bury the dead; and the famine was so great, that a mother ate her son (perhaps the wife of Doeg Ben Joseph, of whom see such a story in Babyl. Joma). And it was also hard enough with those elect who fled to the mountains, being driven out of house, living in the open air, and wanting necessaries for food: their merciful God and Father, therefore, took care of them, shortening the time of their misery, and cutting off the reprobates with a speedier destruction; lest, if their stroke had been longer continued, the elect should too far have partaken of their misery.

The Rabbins dream that God shortened the day on which wicked king Ahab died, and that ten hours; lest he should have been honoured with mourning.

24. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

[Shall shew great signs and wonders.] It is a disputable case, whether the Jewish nation were more mad with superstition in matters of religion, or with superstition in curious arts.

I. There was not a people upon earth that studied or attributed more to dreams than they. Hence

1. They often imposed fastings upon themselves to this end, that they might obtain happy dreams; or to get the interpretation of a dream; or to divert the ill omen of a dream: which we have observed at the fourteenth verse of the ninth chapter.

2. Hence their nice rules for handling of dreams; such as these, and the like: Let one observe a good dream two-and-twenty years, after the example of Joseph: “If you go to bed merry, you shall have good dreams,” &c.

3. Hence many took upon them the public profession of interpreting dreams; and this was reckoned among the nobler arts. A certain old man (Babyl. Beracoth) relates this story; “There were four-and-twenty interpreters of dreams in Jerusalem: and I, having dreamed a dream, went to them all: every one gave a different interpretation, and yet they all came to pass,” &c. You have R. Joses Ben Chelpatha, R. Ismael Ben R. Joses, R. Lazar, and R. Akiba interpreting divers dreams, and many coming to them for interpretation of their dreams. Nay, you see there the disciples of R. Lazar in his absence practising this art. See there also many stories about this business, which it would be too much here to transcribe.

II. There were hardly any people in the whole world that more used, or were more fond of, amulets, charms, mutterings, exorcisms, and all kinds of enchantments. We might here produce innumerable examples; a handful shall serve us out of the harvest: “Let not any one go abroad with his amulet on the sabbath day, unless that amulet be prescribed by an approved physician” (or, “unless it be an approved amulet”; see the Gemara). Now these amulets were either little roots hung about the necks of sick persons, or, what was more common, bits of paper with words written on them whereby they supposed that diseases were either driven away or cured: which they wore all the week, but were forbid to wear on the sabbath, unless with a caution: “They do not say a charm over a wound on the sabbath, that also which is said over a mandrake is forbid” on the sabbath. “If any one say, Come and say this versicle over my son, or lay the book” of the law “upon him, to make him sleep; it is forbid”: that is, on the sabbath, but on other days is usual.

They used to say the psalm of meetings (that is, against unlucky meetingsat Jerusalem. R. Judah saith, Sometimes after such a meeting, and sometimes when no such meeting had happened. But what is the Psalm of Meetings? The third psalm, ‘Lord, how are my foes increased!’ even all the psalm: and the ninety-first psalm, ‘He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High,’ to the ninth verse.” There is a discourse of many things, which they used to carry about with them, as remedies against certain ailments; and of mutterings over wounds: and there you may see, that while they avoid the enchantments of the Amorites, they have and allow their own. You have, Bab. Joma, fol, 84.1, the form of an enchantment against a mad dog. And, Avodah Zarah, fol. 12.2, the form of enchantment against the devil of blindness. You have, Hieros. Schab. fol 13.4, and Avod. Zarah, fol. 40.4, mutterings and enchantments, even in the name of Jesus. See also the Babyl. Sanhedr. fol. 101.1, concerning these kind of mutterings.

III. So skilful were they in conjurings, enchantments, and sorceries, that they wrought great signs, many villanies, and more wonders. We pass by those things which the sacred story relates of Simon Magus, Elymas, the sons of Sceva, &c., and Josephus, of others; we will only produce examples out of the Talmud, a few out of many.

You will wonder, in the entrance, at these two things, in order to the speaking of their magical exploits; and thence you will conjecture at the very common practice of these evil arts among that people: 1. That “the senior who is chosen into the council ought to be skilled in the arts of astrologers, jugglers, diviners, sorcerers, &c., that he may be able to judge of those who are guilty of the same.” 2. The Masters tell us, that a certain chamber was built by a magician in the temple itself: “The chamber of Happarva was built by a certain magician, whose name was Parvah, by art-magic.” “Four-and-twenty of the school Rabbi, intercalating the year at Lydda, were killed by an evil eye”: that is, with sorceries. R. Joshua outdoes a magician in magic, and drowns him in the sea. In Babyl. Taanith, several miracles are related that the Rabbins had wrought. Elsewhere, there is a story told of eighty women-sorceresses at Ascalon, who were hanged in one day by Simeon Ben Shetah: “and the women of Israel (saith the gloss) had generally fallen to the practice of sorceries”: as we have mentioned before. It is related of abundance of Rabbis, that they were skilful in working miracles: thus Abba Chelchia, and Chanin, and R. Chanina Ben Dusa; of which R. Chanina Ben Dusa there is almost an infinite number of stories concerning the miracles he wrought, which savour enough and too much of magic.

And, that we may not be tedious in producing examples, what can we say of the fasting Rabbis causing it to rain in effect when they pleased? of which there are abundance of stories in Taanith. What can we say of the Bath Kol very frequently applauding the Rabbins out of heaven? of which we have spoken before. What can we say of the death or plagues foretold by the Rabbins to befall this or that man? which came to pass just according as they were foretold. I rather suspect some magic art in most of these, than fiction in all.

IV. False Christs broke out, and appeared in public with their witchcrafts, so much the frequenter and more impudent, as the city and people drew nearer to its ruin; because the people believed the Messias should be manifested before the destruction of the city; and each of them pretended to be the Messias by these signs. From the words of Isaiah, “Before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child,” the doctors concluded, “that the Messias should be manifested before the destruction of the city.” Thus the Chaldee paraphrast upon the place; “She shall be saved before her utmost extremity, and her king shall be revealed before her pains of childbirth.” Mark that also; “The Son of David will not come, till the wicked empire [of the Romans] shall have spread itself over all the world nine months; as it is said, ‘Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth.'”

27. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

[For as the lightning, &c.] To discover clearly the sense of this and the following clauses, those two things must be observed which we have formerly given notice of:–

1. That the destruction of Jerusalem is very frequently expressed in Scripture as if it were the destruction of the whole world, Deuteronomy 32:22; “A fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell” (the discourse there is about the wrath of God consuming that people; see verses 20,21), “and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” Jeremiah 4:23; “I beheld the earth, and lo, it was without form and void; and the heavens, and they had no light,” &c. The discourse there also is concerning the destruction of that nation, Isaiah 65:17; “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered,” &c. And more passages of this sort among the prophets. According to this sense, Christ speaks in this place; and Peter speaks in his Second Epistle, third chapter; and John, in the sixth of the Revelation; and Paul, 2 Corinthians 5:17, &c.

2. That Christ’s taking vengeance of that exceeding wicked nation is called Christ’s “coming in glory,” and his “coming in the clouds,” Daniel 7. It is also called, “the day of the Lord.” See Psalm 1:4; Malachi 3:1,2, &c.; Joel 2:31; Matthew 16:28; Revelation 1:7, &c. See what we have said on chapter 12:20; 19:28.

The meaning, therefore, of the words before us is this: “While they shall falsely say, that Christ is to be seen here or there: ‘Behold, he is in the desert,’ one shall say; another, ‘Behold, he is in the secret chambers’: he himself shall come, like lightning, with sudden and altogether unexpected vengeance: they shall meet him whom they could not find; they shall find him whom they sought, but quite another than what they looked for.”

28. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

[For wheresoever the carcase is, &c.] I wonder any can understand these words of pious men flying to Christ, when the discourse here is of quite a different thing: they are thus connected to the foregoing: Christ shall be revealed with a sudden vengeance; for when God shall cast off the city and people, grown ripe for destruction, like a carcase thrown out, the Roman soldiers, like eagles, shall straight fly to it with their eagles (ensigns) to tear and devour it. And to this also agrees the answer of Christ, Luke 17:37; when, after the same words that are spoke here in this chapter, it was inquired, “Where, Lord?” he answered, “Wheresoever the body is,” &c.; silently hinting thus much, that Jerusalem, and that wicked nation which he described through the whole chapter, would be the carcase, to which the greedy and devouring eagles would fly to prey upon it.

29. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

[The sun shall be darkened, &c.] That is, the Jewish heaven shall perish, and the sun and moon of its glory and happiness shall be darkened, and brought to nothing. The sun is the religion of the church; the moon is the government of the state; and the stars are the judges and doctors of both. Compare Isaiah 13:10, and Ezekiel 32:7,8, &c.

30. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

[And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man.] Then shall the Son of man give a proof of himself, whom they would not before acknowledge: as proof, indeed, not in any visible figure, but in vengeance and judgment so visible, that all the tribes of the earth shall be forced to acknowledge him the avenger. The Jews would not know him: now they shall now him, whether they will or no, Isaiah 26:11. Many times they asked of him a sign: now a sign shall appear, that he is the true Messias, whom they despised, derided, and crucified, namely, his signal vengeance and fury, such as never any nation felt from the first foundations of the world.

31. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

[And he shall send his angels, &c.] When Jerusalem shall be reduced to ashes, and that wicked nation cut off and rejected, then shall the Son of man send his ministers with the trumpet of the gospel, and they shall gather together his elect of the several nations from the four corners of heaven: so that God shall not want a church…

34. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

[This generation shall not pass, &c.] Hence it appears plain enough, that the foregoing verses are not to be understood of the last judgment, but, as we said, of the destruction of Jerusalem. There were some among the disciples (particularly John), who lived to see these things come to pass. With Matthew 16:28, compare John 21:22. And there were some Rabbins alive at the time when Christ spoke these things, that lived till the city was destroyed, viz. Rabban Simeon, who perished with the city, R. Jochanan Ben Zaccai, who outlived it, R. Zadoch, R. Ismael, and others.

36. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

[No man knoweth, no, not the angels.] This is taken from Deuteronomy 32:34: “Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures?”

37. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

[But as the days of Noe were, &c.] Thus Peter placeth as parallels, the ruin of the old world, and the ruin of Jerusalem, 1 Peter 3:19-21; and by such a comparison his words will be best understood. For, see how he skips from the mention of the death of Christ to the times before the flood, in the eighteenth and nineteenth verses, passing over all the time between. Did not the Spirit of Christ preach all along in the times under the law? Why then doth he take an example only from the times before the flood? that he might fit the matter to his case, and shew that the present state of the Jews was like theirs in the times of Noah, and that their ruin should be like also. So, also, in his Second Epistle, chapter 3:6,7.

The age or generation of the flood hath no portion in the world to come: thus Peter saith, that “they were shut up in prison”: and here our Saviour intimates that “they were buried in security,” and so were surprised by the flood.

Chapter 25

1. Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

[Ten virgins.] The nation of the Jews delighted mightily in the number ten, both in sacred and civil matters: A synagogue consisted not but of ten at the least: which we have observed before, when we spoke about synagogues. This also was current among them, An order or ring of men consisted not but of ten at the least. The text is speaking of a company to comfort mourners: which the Gloss thus describes, “When the company was returned from burying a dead body, they set themselves in order about the mourners, and comforted them: but now such an order or ring consisted of ten at the least.” To this commonly received number there seems to be an alluding in this place: not but that they very frequently exceeded that number of virgins in weddings of greater note, but rarely came short of it.

[To meet the bridegroom.] To go to a wedding was reckoned among the works of mercy.

The shewing of mercy implies two things: 1. That one should assist an Israelite with one’s wealth, namely, by alms and redeeming of captives. 2. That one should assist him in one’s own person; to wit, by comforting the mourners, by attending the dead to burial, and by being present at the chambers of bridegrooms.” The presence of virgins also adorned the pomp and festivity of the thing. Marriages are called by the Rabbins receivings, &c. The introducing of the bride, namely, into the house of her husband. There were no marriages but of such as had been before betrothed; and, after the betrothing, the bridegroom might not lie with the bride in his father-in-law’s house before he had brought her to his own. That ‘bringing’ of her was the consummation of the marriage. This parable supposeth that the bride was thus fetched to the house of her husband, and that the virgins were ready against her coming; who yet, being either fetched a great way, or some accident happening to delay her, did not come till midnight.

[Took lamps.] The form of lamps is described by Rambam and R. Solomon, whom see. These things are also mentioned by R. Solomon: “It is the fashion in the country of the Ismaelites to carry the bride from the house of her father to the house of the bridegroom before she is put to bed; and to carry before her about ten wooden staves, having each of them on the top a vessel like a dish, in which there is a piece of cloth with oil and pitch: these, being lighted, they carry before her for torches.”

2. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

[Five wise; Five foolish.] A parable, not unlike this, is produced by Kimchi: “Rabban Jochanan Ben Zaccai saith (as he hath it), This thing is like a king, who invited his servants, but did not appoint them any set time. Those of them that were wise adorned themselves, and sat at the gate of the palace; those that were foolish were about their own business. The king on a sudden called for his servants: those went in adorned; these, undressed. The king was pleased with the wise, and angry at the foolish.”

5. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

[They all slumbered and slept.] “If some sleep” [while they celebrate the paschal supper], “let them eat; if all, let them not eat. R. Josi saith, Do they slumber? let them eat. Do they sleep? let them not eat.” The Gemarists inquire, “Whence a man is to be reputed as a slumberer? R. Ishi saith, He sleeps and doth not sleep, he wakes and is not awake. If you call him, he answers; but he cannot answer to the purpose.” The Gloss, “If you speak to him, he will answer yes, or no; but if you ask any thing that hath need of thinking; as, for instance, where such a vessel is laid up? he cannot answer you.”

15. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

[And unto one he gave five talents, &c.] You have a like and almost the same parable, Luke 19; yet, indeed, not the very same; for, besides that there is mention there of pounds being given, here of talents,–that parable was spoken by Christ, going up from Jericho to Jerusalem, before the raising up of Lazarus; this, as he was sitting on Mount Olivet, three days before the Passover. That, upon this account, “because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear,” Luke 19:11, and that he might shew that it would not be long before Jerusalem should be called to an account for all the privileges and benefits conferred upon it by God (see verses the fourteenth and seventeenth); but this, that he might warn all to be watchful, and provide with their utmost care concerning giving up their accounts at the last judgment.

27. Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

[Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, &c.] The lord did not deliver the talents to his servants with that intent, that they should receive the increase and profit of them by usury; but that, by merchandise and some honest way of trade, they should increase them. He only returns this answer to the slothful servant, as fitted to what he had alleged; “You take me for a covetous, griping, and sordid man: why then did you not make use of a manner of gain agreeable to these qualities, namely, interest or usury (since you would not apply yourself to any honest traffic), that you might have returned me some increase of my money, rather than nothing at all?” So that our Lord, in these words, doth not so much approve of usury, as upbraid the folly and sloth of his servant.

Exchangers, answering to the word trapezita very usual among the Talmudists: “An exchanger (trapezitasells money; and because a table is always before him, upon which he buys and sells, therefore he is called mensarius,” one that stands at a table.

Of the same employment was the shopkeeper of whom is as frequent mention among them. He exercised the employment of a usurer in buying and changing of fruits, as the other in money: for in these two especially consisted usury: of which you may see, if you please, the tract Bava Mezia.

Chapter 26

<scripCom type=”Commentary” passage=”Matthew 26″ parsed=”|Matt|26|0|0|0″ osisRef=”Bible:Matt.26″ />

Of the present Authority of the Council, and of its Place.

3. Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas.

[Assembled together unto the palace of the high priest.] Those ominous prodigies are very memorable, which are related by the Talmudists to have happened forty years before the destruction of the Temple.

“A tradition. Forty years before the Temple was destroyed, the western candle” (that is, the middlemost in the holy candlestick) “was put out. And the crimson tongue” (that was fastened to the horns of the scapegoat, or the doors of the Temple) “kept its redness. And the lot of the Lord” (for the goat that was to be offered up on the day of Expiation) “came out on the left hand. And the gates of the Temple, which were shut over night, were found open in the morning. Rabban Jochanan Ben Zaccai said, ‘Therefore, O Temple, wherefore dost thou trouble us? we know thy fate; namely, that thou art to be destroyed: for it is said, Open, O Lebanon, thy gates, that the flame may consume thy cedars.'” “A tradition. Forty years before the Temple was destroyed, judgment in capital causes was taken away from Israel.” “Forty years before the Temple was destroyed, the council removed and sat in the sheds.”

With these two last traditions lies our present business. What the Jews said, John 18:31, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death, signifies the same thing with the tradition before us, “Judgments in capital causes are taken away from Israel.” When were they first taken away? “Forty years before the destruction of the Temple,” say the Talmudists: no doubt before the death of Christ; the words of the Jews imply so much. But how were they taken away? It is generally received by all that the Romans did so far divest the council of its authority, that it was not allowed by them to punish any with death; and this is gathered from those words of the Jews, “It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.”

But if this, indeed, be true, 1. What do then those words of our Saviour mean, they will deliver you up to the councils? 2. How did they put Stephen to death? 3. Why was Paul so much afraid to commit himself to the council, that he chose rather to appeal to Caesar?

The Talmudists excellently well clear the matter: “What signifieth that tradition (say they) of the removal of the council forty years before the ruin of the Temple? Rabh Isaac Bar Abdimi saith, ‘It signifieth thus much, that they did not judge of fines.'” And a little after; “But R. Nachman Bar Isaac saith, ‘Do not say that it did not judge of fines, but that it did not judge in capital causes.’ And the reason was this, because they saw murderers so much increase that they could not judge them. They said therefore, ‘It is fit that we should remove from place to place, that so we may avoid the guilt.'” That is, the number and boldness of thieves and murderers growing so great that, by reason thereof, the authority of the council grew weak, and neither could nor dared put them to death. “It is better (say they) for us to remove from hence, out of this chamber Gazith, where, by the quality of the place, we are obliged to judge them, than that, by sitting still here, and not judging them, we should render ourselves guilty.” Hence it is that neither in the highest nor in the inferior councils any one was punished with death. (“For they did not judge of capital matters in the inferior councils in any city, but only when the great council sat in the chamber Gazith,” saith the Gloss.) The authority of them was not taken away by the Romans, but rather relinquished by themselves. The slothfulness of the council destroyed its own authority. Hear it justly upbraided in this matter: “The council which puts but one to death in seven years is called Destruction. R. Lazar Ben Azariah said, ‘Which puts one to death in seventy years.’ R. Tarphon and R. Akiba said, ‘If we had been in the council’ (when it judged of capital matters), ‘there had none ever been put to death by it.’ R. Simeon Ben Gamaliel said, ‘These men have increased the number of murderers in Israel.'” Most certainly true, O Simeon! for by this means the power of the council came to be weakened in capital matters, because they, either by mere slothfulness, or by a foolish tenderness, or, as indeed the truth was, by a most fond estimation of an Israelite as an Israelite, they so far neglected to punish bloodshed and murder, and other crimes, till wickedness grew so untractable that the authority of the council trembled for fear of it, and dared not kill the killers. In this sense their saying must be understood, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: their authority of judging not being taken from them by the Romans, but lost by themselves, and despised by their people.

Notwithstanding it was not so lost, but that sometimes they exercised it; namely, when they observed they might do it safely and without danger. “Dat veniam corvis,” &c spares crows, but vexeth pigeons. Thieves, murderers, and wicked men armed with force, they dared not call into their judgment; they were afraid of so desperate a crew: but to judge, condemn, torture, and put to death poor men and Christians, from whom they feared no such danger, they dreaded it not, they did not avoid it. They had been ready enough at condemning our Saviour himself to death if they had not feared the people, and if Providence had not otherwise determined of his death.

We may also, by the way, add that also which follows after the place above cited, In the day of Simeon Ben Jochai, judgments of pecuniary matters were taken away from Israel. In the same tract this is said to have been in “the days of Simeon Ben Shetah,” long before Christ was born: but this is an error of the transcribers.

But now, if the Jewish council lost their power of judging in pecuniary causes by the same means as they lost it in capital, it must needs be that deceits, oppressions, and mutual injuries were grown so common and daring that they were let alone, as being above all punishment. The Babylonian Gemarists allege another reason; but whether it be only in favour of their nation, this is no fit place to examine.

That we may yet further confirm our opinion, that the authority of that council in capital matters was not taken away by the Romans, we will produce two stories, as clear examples of the thing we assert: one is this; “R. Lazar son of R. Zadok said, ‘When I was a little boy, sitting on my father’s shoulders, I saw a priest’s daughter that had played the harlot compassed round with fagots and burnt.'” The council no doubt judging and condemning her, and this after Judea had then groaned many years under the Roman yoke; for that same R. Lazar saw the destruction of the city.

The other you have in the same tract, where they are speaking of the manner of pumping out evidence against a heretic and seducer of the people: “They place (say they) two witnesses in ambush, in the inner part of the house, and him in the outward, with a candle burning by him that they may see and hear him. Thus they dealt with Ben Satda in Lydda. They placed two disciples of the wise in ambush for him, and they brought him before the council, and stoned him.” The Jews openly profess that this was done to him in the days of R. Akiba, long after the destruction of the city; and yet then, as you see, the council still retained its authority in judging of capital causes. They might do it for all the Romans, if they dared do it to the criminals.

But so much thus far concerning its authority: let us now speak of its present seat. “The council removed from the chamber Gazith to the sheds, from the sheds into Jerusalem, from Jerusalem to Jafne, from Jafne to Osha, from Osha to Shepharaama, from Shepharaama to Bethshaarim, from Bethshaarim to Tsippor, from Tsippor to Tiberias,” &c. We conjecture that the great bench was driven from its seat, the chamber Gazith, half a year, or thereabout, before the death of Christ; but whether they sat then in the sheds [a place in the Court of the Gentiles] or in the city, when they debated about the death of Christ, does not clearly appear, since no authors make mention how long it sat either here or there. Those things that are mentioned in chapter 27:4-6, seem to argue that they sat in the Temple; these before us, that they sat in the city. Perhaps in both places; for it was not unusual with them to return thither, as occasion served, from whence they came; only to the chamber Gazith they never went back. Whence the Gloss upon the place lately cited, “They sat in Jafne in the days of Rabban Jochanan; in Osha, in the days of Rabban Gamaliel; for they returned from Osha to Jafne,” &c. Thus the council, which was removed from Jerusalem to Jafne before the destruction of the city, returned thither at the feast, and sat as before. Hence Paul is brought before the council at Jerusalem when Jafne at that time was its proper seat. And hence Rabban Simeon, president of the council, was taken and killed in the siege of the city; and Rabban Jochanan his vice-president was very near it, both of them being drawn from Jafne to the city, with the rest of the bench, for observation of the Passover.

Whether the hall of the high priest were the ordinary receptacle for the council, or only in the present occasion, we do not here inquire. It is more material to inquire concerning the bench itself, and who sat president in judging. The president of the council at this time was Rabban Gamaliel, (Paul’s master,) and the vice-president, Rabban Simeon his son, or Rabban Jochanan Ben Zaccai (which we do not dispute now). Whence therefore had the chief priest, here and in other places, the precedence and the chief voice in judging? For thus in Stephen’s case the high priest is the chief of the inquisition, Acts 7:1; also in Paul’s case, Acts 23:2, see also Acts 9:1. Had the priests a council and judgment seat of their own? or might they in the chief council, when the president was absent, hear causes of life and death? To this long question, and that enough perplexed, we reply these few things:

I. We confess, indeed, that the priests had a bench and council of their own, yet denying that there was a double council, one for ecclesiastical, the other for civil affairs, as some would have it.

We meet often with mention of the chamber of the counsellors, next the court…Concerning which thus the Babyl. Joma: “The tradition of R. Juda. What, was it the chamber of? Was it not the chamber of the counsellors? At first it was called the chamber of the counsellors: but when the high priesthood came to be bought with money, and changed yearly as the king’s presidents are changed every year, from that time forward it was called the chamber of the presidents.”

Hear the Glosser on this place: “The high priests were wicked, and did not fulfil their whole year; and he that succeeded the other changed this building and adorned it, that it might be called by his own name.” Hear also the Gemara: “The first Temple stood four hundred and ten years, and there were not above eighteen priests under it. The second stood four hundred and twenty years, and there were more than three hundred under it. Take out forty years of Simeon the Just, eighty of Jochanan, ten of Ismael Ben Phabi, and eleven of Eleazar Ben Harsum, and there doth not remain one whole year to each of the rest.”

Behold the chamber of the counsellors, properly so called, because the priests did meet and sit there not to judge, but to consult; and that only of things belonging to the Temple! Here they consulted, and took care that all persons and things belonging and necessary to the worship of God should be in readiness; that the buildings of the Temple and the courts should be kept in repair; and that the public Liturgy should be duly performed: but in the meantime they wanted all power of judging and punishing; they had not authority to fine, scourge, or put to death, yea, and in a word, to exercise any judgment; for by their own examination and authority they could not admit a candidate into the priesthood, but he was admitted by the authority of the council: “In the chamber Gazith sat the council of Israel, and held the examinations of priests: whosoever was not found fit was sent away in black clothes, and a black veil; whosoever was found fit was clothed in white, and had a white veil, and entered and ministered with his brethren the priests.”

2. We meet also with mention of the council house of the priests. “The high priests made a decree, and did not permit an Israelite to carry the scapegoat into the wilderness.” But in the Gloss, The council of the priests did not permit this. “The council of the priests exacted for the portion of a virgin four hundred zuzees, and the wise men did not hinder it.”

First, This was that council of which we spoke before in the chamber of the counsellors. Secondly, That which was decreed by them concerning the carrying away of the scapegoat belonged merely to the service of the Temple, as being a caution about the right performance of the office in the day of atonement. Thirdly, and that about the portion of a virgin was nothing else but what any Israelite might do: and so the Gemarists confess; “If any noble family in Israel (say they) would do what the priests do, they may.” The priests set a price upon their virgins, and decreed by common consent, that not less than such a portion should be required for them; which was lawful for all the Israelites to do for their virgins if they pleased.

3. There is an example brought of “Tobias a physician, who saw the new moon at Jerusalem, he and his son, and his servant whom he had freed. The priests admitted him and his son for witnesses, his servant they rejected: but when they came before the bench, they admitted him and his servant, and rejected his son.” Observe, 1. That the council is here opposed to the priests. 2. That it belonged to the council to determine of the new moon, because on that depended the set times of the feasts: this is plain enough in the chapter cited. 3. That what the priests did was matter of examination only, not decree.

4. “The elders of the city (Deut 22:18) are the triumvirate bench”: ‘at the gate’ (v 24) means the bench of the chief priest. The matter there in debate is about a married woman, who is found by her husband to have lost her virginity, and is therefore to be put to death: Deuteronomy 22:13, &c. In that passage, among other things, you may find these words, verse 18: “And the elders of that city shall lay hold of that man and scourge him.” The Gemarists take occasion from thence to define what the phrase there and in other places means, “The elders of the city”: and what is the meaning of the word gate, when it relates to the bench: “That (say they) signifies the triumvirate bench: this the bench or council of the high priest”: that is, unless I be very much mistaken, every council of twenty-three; which is clear enough both from the place mentioned and from reason itself:

1. The words of the place quoted are these: “R. Bon Bar Chaija inquired before R. Zeira, What if the father [of the virgin] should produce witnesses which invalidate the testimony of the husband’s witnesses? if the father’s witnesses are proved false, he must be whipped, and pay a hundred selaim in the triumvirate court; but the witnesses are to be stoned by the bench of the twenty-three, &c. R. Zeira thought that this was a double judgment: but R. Jeremias, in the name of R. Abhu, that it was but a single one: but the tradition contradicts R. Abhu; for To the elders of the city, verse 5, is, To the triumvirate-bench, but at the gate, means the bench of the high priest.” It is plain, that the bench of the high priest is put in opposition to the triumvirate bench; and, by consequence, that it is either the chief council, or the council of the twenty-three, or some other council of the priests, distinct from all these. But it cannot be this third, because the place cited in the Talmudists, and the place in the law cited by the Talmudists, plainly speak of such a council, which had power of judging in capital causes. But they that suppose the ecclesiastical council among the Jews to have been distinct from the civil, scarce suppose that that council sat on capital causes, or passed sentence of death; much less is it to be thought that that council sat only on life and death; which certainly ought to be supposed from the place quoted, if the council of the high priest did strictly signify such a council of priests. Let us illustrate the Talmudical words with a paraphrase: R. Zeira thought, that that cause of a husband accusing his wife for the loss of her virginity belonged to the judgment of two benches; namely, of the triumvirate, which inflicted whipping and pecuniary mulcts; and of the ‘twenty-three,’ which adjudged to death; but Rabbi Abhu thinks it is to be referred to the judgment of one bench only. But you are mistaken, good Rabbi Abhu; and the very phrase made use of in this case refutes you; for the expression which is brought in, “To the elders of the city,” signifies the triumviral bench; and the phrase, “at the gate,” signifies the bench of twenty-three; for the chief council never at in the gate.

2. Now the council of twenty-three is called by the Talmudists the bench, or the council of the chief priest, alluding to the words of the lawgiver, Deuteronomy 17:9, where the word priests denotes the inferior councils, and judge the chief council.

II. In the chief council, the president sat in the highest seat, (being at this time, when Christ was under examination, Rabban Gamaliel, as we said); but the high priest excelled him in dignity everywhere: for the president of the council was chosen not so much for his quality, as for his learning and skill in traditions. He was (a phrase very much used by the author of Juchasin, applied to presidents), that is, keeper, father, and deliver of traditions; and he was chosen to this office, who was fittest for these things. Memorable i