A Chorographical Decad;
a searching unto some places of the Land of Israel;
those especially whereof mention is made in St. Mark.
When this our evangelist, whom we have undertaken to handle, makes mention of some places in the land of Canaan, whose situation is somewhat obscure and more remote from vulgar knowledge; I might seem to be wanting to my task, if I should pass them over unsaluted, and not clear them, as much as lies in me, with some illustration: which I thought very convenient to do here in the very entrance; partly, lest, by the thrusting-in of these discourses into the body of this comment, whatsoever it be, the order of it might be too much broken; and partly, because I would do the same here that I did before my animadversion on St. Matthew.
That I have enlarged upon some places, besides those in the evangelists, I have done it for the reader's sake; to whom, I hope, it will not be unacceptable to hear such things, which do either bring with them profit or pleasure,or, at least, such as are not commonly heard of.
1. Idumea: Mark 3:8.
There was a time when the land of Israel and Idumea were not only distinct countries, but separated with an iron wall, as it were, of arms and hostility: but, I know not how, Idumea at last crept into Judea; and scarcely left its name at home, being swallowed up in Arabia.
They were truths, which Pliny speaks, in that time, when he spake them; "Arabia(1) 1. Nat. Hist. lib. 5. cap. 12. is bounded by Pelusium sixty-five miles. Then Idumea begins, and Palestine, at the rising up of the Sirbon lake." But "thou art deceived, O Pliny," would the ancienter ages have said; for Idumea is bounded by Pelusium sixty-five miles: then begins Palestine, at the rising up of the Sirbon.
We are beholden to Strabo,(2) 2. Geog. lib. 16. that we know the reason of the transmigration of that people and of the name. For thus he writes: "The Idumeans and the lake [of Sirbon] take up the farthest western parts of Judea, next to Casius. The Idumeans are Nabateans: but being cast out thence by a sedition, they joined themselves to the Jews, and embraced their laws."
Every one knows what the land of Edom, or Idumea, in the Old Testament, was: but it is not the same in the New; and if that old Idumea retained its name (which it scarcely did, but was swallowed up under the name of Arabia), then, by way of distinction, it was called "Great Idumea."(3) 3. Josephus de Bell. lib. 4.9.4. Idumea the Less, or the New, is that which we are seeking, and concerning which St. Mark speaks, no small part of Judea;so called either from its nearness to Idumea properly so called, or because of the Idumeans that travelled thither and possessed it, and that became proselytes to the law and manners of the Jews. Such a one was Herod Ascalonita. When, therefore, it is said by the evangelist, that "a great multitude followed Jesus from Galilee, and from Judea, and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea," he speaketh either of the Jews inhabiting that part of Judea, which, at that time, was called Idumea,or at least of the Idumeans, who inhabited it, being now translated into the religion of the Jews. Concerning the country now contained under that name, we shall speak by and by, following, first, Pliny's footsteps a little, from the place where he sets out his progress,namely, from Pelusium.
2. A few things of Pelusium.
In Ezekiel 30:15,16, סין Sin, in the Vulgar interpreter is 'Pelusium': which the Latin interpreter of the Chaldee paraphrast follows there: nor without good reason. For סין Sin, and טין Tin, among the Chaldees, is Mud. See the Targum upon Isaiah 57:21. And 'Pithom' and 'Raamses' (Exo 1:11), in the Targums of Jerusalem and Jonathan, are טניס ופילוסין Tanis and Pelusium: thence those two gates of Nile, the 'Tanitic' and the 'Pelusiac,' in Ptolemy and the maps. But now, that country or place, which the Syrians and Chaldeans call Sin, that is, Muddy,the Greeks call Pelusium, from Πηλος Mud. And who sees not that Tanis is derived from טין Tin?
And here, for the sake of learners, let me observe, that Pelusium is called in the Talmudists,קפוטקיא; which who would not presently interpret Cappadocia?
Would not any render the words thus, "If(4) 4. Kethuboth, fol. 110b. a man marries a wife in Cappadocia and divorces her in Cappadocia, let him give her the money of Cappadocia." But hear Rambam upon the place;קפוטקיא saith he, "is Caphtor, and is called by the Arabians טמיאטי Damiata: which all know is the same with Pelusium."
Hence the Targums of Jerusalem and Jonathan, and the Syriac interpreter upon Genesis 10:14, for Caphtorim, read Cappadokia; but the Arabic reads Damiatenos; and the Seventy, upon Deuteronomy 2:23, for "The Caphtorim going out of Caphtor," read "The Cappadocians going out of Cappadocia."
The Targum upon Jeremiah 47:4, for "The remnant of the country of Caphtor," hath "of Kapotokia." Where Kimchi saith, "R. Saadias interprets Caphtor Damiata."
"These(5) 5. Baba Bathra, 58b. words were written upon the gate of Pelusium; 'Anpak, Anbag, Antal.'" Which were the names of some measures, that it might be known to all, that they were to buy and sell according to that measure.
We now go on from Pelusium to mount Casius: so Pliny; "From Pelusium, the trenches of Chabrias.(6) 6. Of Chabrias, see Diod. Sic. pag. 347. Mount Casius, the temple of Jupiter Casius. The tomb of Pompey the Great," &c.
Casius(7) 7. Strab. ubi ante. Tabb. Asiæ, c. 5. was distant about three hundred furlongs from Pelusium (in Antoninus it is forty miles), and the lake of Sirbon was twenty-eight miles from Casius. Thus Pliny's sixty-five miles arise from 'Pelusium to the ending of Arabia.'
Casius, in Ptolemy, is written 'Cassion,' and 'Cassiotis,' with a double s; and so also it is in Dion Cassius, who adds this story:
"Pompey(8) 8. Dion. Cas. lib. 42. died at mount Cassius, on that very day whereon formerly he had triumphed over Mithridates and the pirates. And when, from a certain oracle, he had suspicion of the Cassian nation, no Cassian laid wait for him, but he was slain and buried at the mountain of that name."
Those words of Moses do rack interpreters, Exodus 17:16: Jad Al Cas-jah. The Seventy render it, "The Lord wars with a secret hand." All other versions almost render it to this sense, "The hand upon the throne of the Lord." So the Samaritan, Syrian, Arabic, Vulgar, and the Rabbins,that is, 'God hath sworn.'
What if כֵּסיָהּ Cas-jah be Casiotis? For that country was the country of the Edomites, but especially of the Amalekites, concerning whom Moses treats in that history. We will not too boldly depart from the common consent of all, and we do modestly and humbly propound this conjecture: which if it may take any place, the words may there be rendered, without any scruple or knot, to this sense, "The hand of the Lord is against Cassiotis," (the country of the Amalekites; for) "the Lord hath war with Amalek from generation to generation."
4. Rhinocorura. The Arabic Interpreter noted.
We are now come to the river Sichor; called 'the river of Egypt'; not because it was within the Egyptian territories, but because it was the Jews' limits towards Egypt. There, heretofore, was 'Rhinocorura.' Whence the Seventy, in Isaiah 27:12, render "Unto the river of Egypt," "Unto the Rhinocoruri." I suppose the Arabic interpreter imitated them, and writ first Corura; but that at last a little point crept in into the last letter, and so it was changed from 'r' into 'n.' So that now we read Coronis, in the Latin interpreter.
5. The country of the Avites: a part of the new Idumea.
Passing the river, we enter into new Idumea, anciently the region of the Avites; in the Holy Scripture called Hazerim, Deuteronomy 2:23: in the eastern interpreters, Raphia: in Pliny, Rhinocorura, and Raphia Inwards. Sometimes also in the Holy Scripture it is called Shur; and instead of it, in those interpreters, it is called 'Chagra.' Whence is the name of mount Angaris concerning which Pliny speaks,"Gaza, and inwards Anthedon, mount Angaris." For when the Syrians pronounced 'Chaggara,' the Greeks would sound a double Gamma by 'n' and 'g,' and would say 'Angara.'
Shur also is sometimes rendered by the eastern interpreters Chaluzzah, as the Jerusalem Targum upon Genesis 16:7; and Jonathan upon Exodus 15:22. The Arabic so renders Gerarim, Genesis 20:1; and Jonathan, Bared, Genesis 16:14. Bared indeed, which signifies hail, you call in Greek χαλαξα: and whether the Targumists use the Greek word, when they render it Chaluzah, let the reader judge.
Shur, sometimes in the Syriac interpreter, is Sud, as Exodus 15:22; the point for difference in the last letter being placed amiss. In Genesis 16:7,14, Shur and Bared are rendered by them Gedar, instead of Gerar, by the same error. Bared in the Arabic is Jared there, with two points placed under the first letter instead of one.
The country of the Avites, call it by what name you will, ended at Gaza, being stretched out thither in length, from the river of Egypt, forty-four miles. But the Idumea which we seek ended not there, but extended itself farther into Judea, swallowing up, under the name, that whole breadth of the land, from the Mediterranean sea to the sea of Sodom, according to the length of it.
6. The whole portion of Simeon within Idumea.
It swallowed up, first, the whole portion of Simeon, a great part of which was contained within the country of the Avites; but not a small part also extended itself farther into Judea. Mention is made of his 'fourteen cities,' Joshua 19 if you tell them one by one; but they are said to be only thirteen, verse 6; where the LXX make an even number, while they take שָׁרוּחֶן Sharuhen, not for a city, but render it, Οι αγροι αυτων, as if they had read שְׂדֵיהֶן 'their fields.' But Sheba seems rather to be one and the same with Beersheba; and so the number is made equal.
7. The whole southern country of Judea within Idumea.
It swallowed up also the whole country of south Judea, which was more generally marked out by two names, 'The Upper and the Nether South': more(9) 9. Jer. Sanhedr. fol. 18. 4. Beresh. Rabb, S. 52. particularly and diffusively, as some of the Jews please, it is divided into seven parts;
- סינינים or סינים and sometimes מדבר הרים.
So that when the Holy Scripture divides the south of Judea from Idumea, Numbers 34 and Joshua 15we must know that dividing line now is broken, and all the south of Judea is called Idumea. But here, by the way, I cannot but note the Arabic interpreter, who renders Edom, in Joshua 15:1, by Rome:by what authority let himself look to it; so let the Jews do too, who commonly call the 'Romans,' 'Edomites.'
How much this New Idumea shot itself into Judea is not to be defined; since it admitted indeed no limits, but where either the force or fraud of that nation could not thrust itself in farther. If you betake yourself to Josephus, here and there speaking of that nation, you would think that it extended almost as far as Hebron. Thence, perhaps, were those endeavours of some, of(10) 10. Jer. Demai, fol. 24. 4. freeing the hill-country of Judea from tithing. Of which endeavour we can scarce conceive another reason, than that that country was now too much turned heathen, and tithes should not be taken from heathens. For these Idumeans were but a remove from heathen: they had passed into the Jewish rites; but they were neither friends to the Jews nor to their religion.
8. Of the third Palestine, or Palestine called 'the Healthful.'
While I am thinking of this New Idumea, I have a suspicion whether the 'third Palestine,' which is also called(11) 11. In Notit. Imper. Orient. 'the Healthful,' may not be understood of this very part of Palestine; and, while I think upon it, I doubt again of the division of Palestine into two parts, in the code of Justinian and Theodosius; and into three parts in the Notitia.
In(12) 12. Cod. lib. 1. tit. de Jud. et cælic, S. 17. the edict of Theodosius and Valentinian are these words; "The chief of the Jews, who were over the Sanhedrims in both Palestines, or live in other provinces," &c.
The mention of 'both Palestines' seems plainly to exclude a threefold division; or at least to conclude, that there were no Sanhedrims in the third part. For without all scruple, the 'Notitia Imperii' gives us a 'third part,' in which are ranked, "Under the disposition of the worthy man, the Earl of the East, these provinces underwritten: Palestine, Phoenice, Syria, Cyprus, Palestine the second, Palestine the Healthful, Phoenice of Libanus."
And Justinian(13) 13. Novel. 103. hath these words; "When all Palestine formerly was one, it was afterward divided into three parts."
The head of the first the same emperor assigns to be Caesarea; Gulielmus Tyrius(14) 14. De Bell. Sacr. lib. 13. cap. 2. to be Jerusalem: and concerning the second and third, he and Pancirolus do not agree. For the metropolis of the second, according to Tyrius, is Caesarea,and Scythopolis of the third:according to Pancirolus, Samaria is the metropolis of the second,and Jerusalem of the third.
On the credit of Justinian, you may with good reason suppose the first to be that, whose head is Caesarea; the second, reason itself will persuade us to have been that of Jerusalem; and where you will go to seek the third, I, for my part, know not, if not in this our Idumea. It is not indeed to be dissembled, that, in the Notitia Imperii, in the scheme adorned with the pictures of the Roman garrisons, Jordan is painted, running between them, five being placed on this side, and eight on that. So that it may seem that the country beyond Jordan was the third part. But I shall not dispute here, whether that be not in part to be disposed under the governor of Syria or Arabia; but there are some things which seem to favour such an opinion, partly in the Notitia itself, but especially in the authors alleged.
If, therefore, I may be allowed my conjecture concerning this New Idumea, then some answer may be given about the Sanhedrims of both Palestines, in the meantime not denying the threefold division of it. We must consider, indeed, that there were councils or Sanhedrims in the times of Theodosius and Valentinian, &c. They were, in times past, in that Palestine whose head was Caesarea, and in that Palestine whose head was Jerusalem: but not in that Idumea concerning which we speak, whose head, whether ye state it to be Gaza or Ascalon, or Eleutheropolis, concerning which Jerome so often speaks, and perhaps Bereshith Rabba,(15) 15. In sect. 42. we do not define.
Mention indeed occurs in the Talmudists of "The southern Rabbins"; but not so called, because they dwelt in the furthest southern parts of Judea, for those of Jafne and Lydda had that name, but because Judea was south of Galilee. For the Rabbins of Tiberias give them that title.
But, whatsoever at last that 'Third Palestine' was, no less scruple arises why it was called 'Salutaris,' the 'Healthful.' Pancirolus will have it to be from the wholesome waters: and he learned from Sozomen,(16) 16. Lib. 5. c. 21. that they ran from Emmaus into Judea, namely, that fountain where Christ washed his disciples' feet: "From whence the water (to use his words), became medicinal for divers distempers."
But besides that that story savours enough of fable, the word Emmaus, if I may be judge, deceived its first author, which indeed sometimes is written for Ammaus, denoting "hot baths," and translates the word Chammath into Greek pronunciation; but he, whosoever was the first author of it, had scarcely found that town of Judea called Emmaus, written by the Jews Chammath, but Ammaus, very far from the signification of 'warm baths.'
To this add also, that mention is made in the same Notitia, of Galatia Salutaris, or the 'Healthful'; and there is a distinction between Macedonia and Macedonia the Healthful; Phrygia Pacatiana, and Phyrgia the Healthful; Syria of Euphrates, and Syria the Healthful. In all which it will be somewhat hard to find medicinal waters: and the examples which the author alleged produecth concerning some of them are so incredulous, that I would be ashamed to relate them after him.
I should rather think these countries so called from the companies and wings of the Roman army, called 'Salutares': for mention is made, in the same Notitia, of 'Ala Salutis,' 'the wing of health,' or safety; as 'the second wing of safety,' under the duke of Phoenice; or perhaps the best appointed and strongest garrisons of the Romans, and such as conduced most to the safety and peace of the whole country, had their stations there. And in this our Idumea, which we suppose to be the Third Palestine, or Salutaris, were placed, and that out of the greater muster-roll,
"The Dalmation horse of Illyria, at Berosaba," or in Beersheba.
"The shield-bearing horse of Illyria, at Chermula," or in Carmel, where Nabal dwelt.
"The promoted horse, inhabitants at Zodecath"; which I suspect to be the cave of Zedekiah, concerning which the Talmudists speak.
"The javelin-bearing horse, inhabitants at Zoar." But let these things be left in suspense.
And now to return thither whence this whole dispute was raised, when it is said by St. Mark, that "a great multitude followed Jesus from Galilee and Judea, and Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and from beyond Jordan"; he retains the known and common division of the land of Israel at that time, although not in the same terms. The division was into Judea, and Galilee: and "The country beyond Jordan."'Galilee and the country beyond Jordan,' he expresseth in terms: and for Judea in general, he names the parts of it, Jerusalem and Judea, as distinguished from Idumea, and Idumea as the south part of Judea.
1. The wilderness: Mark 1:4, 12.
The word wilderness stops us in a wilderness, if it is of so various and doubtful signification.
I. Sometimes it denotes only the fields, or the country in opposition to the city; which we observed at Matthew 3:1: where if any one be displeased that I rendered 'Seah of the wilderness' by 'the country Seah,' when it might be rendered, and perhaps ought, 'the Seah which the Israelites used when they encamped in the wilderness,' let him, if he please, take another example for it.
"They(17) 17. Shabbath, fol. 45b. Bezah, fol. 40a. do not water and kill the cattle of the wilderness." The Gloss is, "It was usual to water cattle before killing them, that they might the more easily be flayed. But they water domestic [or tame] cattle. And these are cattle of the wilderness, those that go out to pasture in time of the Passover, and return home at the first rain, that is, in the month Marchesvan. Rabba saith, These are cattle of the wilderness, all that feed in the meadows and come not home." The Gloss is "The cattle of the wilderness are those that are abroad in the fields."
II. The word מדבר "the wilderness," denotes a champaign country, where one man's ground is not distinguished from another's by fences.
"They(18) 18. Baba Kamma, fol. 79b. do not breed up smaller cattle in the land of Israel, but in Syria they do. And in the wildernesses of the land of Israel." Where the Gloss thus: "They do not breed such cattle in the land of Israel, that they feed not down the fields: now the fields in the land of Israel do belong, without doubt, to some Israelite." But they fed in the deserts; that is, where field was not distinguished from field, but all was common. Hence you may understand what is signified by the desert of Ziph, of Maon, of Tekoah, &c.; namely, a region or country near to cities, where also were scattered houses; but especially, either champaign, where no fences were to make distinction of lands; or mountainous, and that which was barren and without improvement.
III. There is no need to speak of the deserts that were altogether desolate and without inhabitant; such as the deserts of Arabia, of Libya, &c.
2. The wilderness of Judah.
Perhaps I shall be laughed at if I distinguish between the wilderness of Judah and the wilderness of Judea. And formerly such a distinction did deserve laughter; but when the name of Idumea, as I have shewed, swallowed up a great part of Judea, then it was not only to be borne with, but necessary also, to distinguish between the wilderness of Judah, of which Joshua 15:61, and the title of Psalm 63, and the wilderness of Judea where John baptized.
The title of that Psalm in the original Hebrew is thus, "A Psalm of David when he was in the desert of Judah." But the Greek interpreters render it, "A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Idumea." And the Vulgar, "A Psalm of David when he was in the desert of Idumea": acting the part of no good interpreters, but of no ill paraphrasts. So Jeremiah 9:26; "Upon Idumea, and upon Edom."
If you ask where David was when he composed that Psalm, it is answered (1 Sam 24:1), "In the wilderness of En-gedi": and if you search further for the precise place, it was there where the castle Masada was afterward built. For I doubt not at all, that that place, as Josephus(19) 19. De Bell. lib. 7, cap. 13. describes it, was the same with "the rocks of the wild goats." [1 Sam 24:3]
I appeal here to the maps and their authors, in whom 'En-gedi' and 'Masada' (and 'Lot's cave') are placed not very far from the utmost north cost of Asphaltites: let them say whether Idumea stretched out itself so far. If not, let them correct the interpreters whom we have named; and thought it be so, they might show by what authority they place those places there, and let them friendly correct me putting them far elsewhere.
3. A scheme of Asphaltites, and of the wilderness of Judah, or Idumea adjacent.
We are now indeed out of our bounds; but we hope not out of the bounds of truth. Therefore, in one or two words, we thus confirm the situation that we have assigned to these places:
I. In Genesis 10:19, Gaza and Sodom are made to lie in a parallel line.
II. Lasha is Callirrhoe. So Jonathan renders 'unto Lasha,' 'unto Callirrhoe.' So also Bereshith Rabbah,(20) 20. Sect. 37. and the Jerusalem Talmudists,(21) 21. Megill. fol. 71. 2. in the places cited at the margin.
You have the situation of it in Pliny, on the same coast with Macherus. "Arabia(22) 22. Nat. Hist. lib. 5. cap. 16. of the Nomades looks upon Asphaltites on the east,Macherus, on the south. On the same side is Callirrhoe, a warm spring, of a medicinal wholesomeness."
And now let it be observed, from the place alleged out of Genesis, that, after the same manner as Sidon and Gaza, the limits on the west part, are placed, so are Sodom and Lasha seated on the east, one on the south, and the other on the north; and the other cities stood in this order: from Lasha, southward, Zeboim; after it, Admah; after it, Gomorrah; and after it, on the utmost southern coast, Sodom.
III. The Asphaltites, saith Josephus,(23) 23. De Bell. lib. 4.8.4.. is extended in length, "unto Zoar of Arabia"; and, Deuteronomy 34:3, Moses, from mount Nebo, beheld Zoar from the utmost bounds of the land on that side, as he had beheld the utmost bounds of it from other sides.
IV. En-gedi is Hazezon-tamar; so the Targum of Onkelos in Genesis 14:7: see 2 Chronicles 20:2; and Tamar was the utmost south border: Ezekiel 47:19.(24) 24. Bereshith Rabba, sect. 26.
V. "The border of Judea (saith Solinus)(25) 25. Cap. 38. was the castle Masada. And that not far from Asphaltites."(26) 26. Plin. lib. 5. cap. 17.
Josephus(27) 27. De Bell. lib. 4.7.2. indeed saith, that his castle was "not far from Jerusalem"; which seems to thwart me in placing it as I have done. But, besides that we might contend about that reading, when it is very usual with historians to use the words 'not far off,' and 'near,' in a very wide and loose sense,one can hardly build any thing upon this. So Solinus;(28) 28. Cap. 38. "Calirrhoe is a fountain very near Jerusalem"; when yet how far off was it! And in Strabo,(29) 29. Geogr. lib. 8. Lecheus is "a port near Italy"; when yet it was distant many hundreds of miles.
Masada in Hebrew is מצדה Matsadah, which implies fortification: and that with good reason, when that castle was fortified even to a miracle. The name is taken from 1 Samuel 23:14,19; [במצדות] where the Seventy, the Syriac, and Arabic seem to have read מצרה with ר Resh, and not with ד Daleth. For they read in the former place, "in the strait places"; and in the latter, "in Maserem" (otherwise Masereth), "in the strait places." The Syriac and Arabic read Masroth; as though they had read in the original במצרות במצרות. So Josephus;(30) 30. Antiq. lib. 4.13.14. "He (David), with those that were with him, went up to the strait place of Mastheri."
4. The wilderness of Judea, where John Baptist was.
Thus far we have launched out into the wilderness of Judah, or Idumea; and that the more willingly, because in describing it, I have described also some part of New Idumea, of which discourse was had in the chapter aforegoing. Now we seek "the wilderness of Judea," concerning which the Gospels speak in the history of the Baptist.
I. And first, we cannot pass it over without observation, that it was not only without prophetical prediction that he first appeared preaching in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3, but it was not without a mystery also. For when the heathen world is very frequently in the prophets called 'the wilderness,' and God promiseth that he would do glorious things to that wilderness, that he would produce there pools of waters, that he would bring in there all manner of fruitfulness, and that he would turn the horrid desert into the pleasure of a paradise (all which were to be performed in a spiritual sense by the gospel); it excellently suited even in the letter with these promises, that the gospel should take its beginning in the wilderness.
II. I, indeed, think the Baptist was born in Hebron, a city of Aaron, in the hill-country of Judea, Joshua 21:11, Luke 1:5,39; he being an Aaronite by father and mother. The house of his cradle is shown to travellers elsewhere; concerning which, inquire whether Beth Zachariah, mentioned in Josephus,(31) 31. Antiq. lib. 12.9.4. and the Book of the Maccabees,(32) 32. 1 Macc 6:33. afforded not a foundation to that tradition. It was distant from Bethsura only seventy furlongs, or thereabouts, as may be gathered from the same Josephus (by which word the Seventy render South Beth-el in 1 Samuel 30:27); and whether the situation does not agree, let them inquire who please.
A little cell of his is also shewed further in the wilderness, as it is called, of Judea, cut out of a rock, together with his bed, and a fountain running by; which we leave to such as are easy of belief: the wilderness certainly where he preached and baptized is to be sought for far elsewhere.
III. Luke saith, that "the word of the Lord came to John in the wilderness and he went into all the country about Jordan." He sojourned from wilderness to wilderness. In the wilderness, in the hill-country of Judea, he passed his youth as a private man; not as an eremite, but employed in some work or study; and assumed nothing of austerity, besides Nazariteship, before the thirtieth year of his age. Then the Spirit of prophecy came upon him, and "the word of the Lord came unto him," teaching him concerning his function and office, instructing him about his food and clothing, and directing him to the place where he should begin his ministry.
The region about Jericho was that place, or that country, that lay betwixt that city and Jordan, and so on this side of it and on that about the same space; also on this side Jericho, towards Jerusalem. A country very agreeable to the title which the evangelists give it, and very fit for John's ministry. For,
I. It was sufficiently desert, according to what is said, "John came preaching in the wilderness."
"The space (saith Josephus)(33) 33. De Bello, lib. 4.8.3. from Jericho to Jerusalem, is desert and rocky; but towards Jordan and the Asphaltites, more level, but as desert and barren." And Saligniac writes; "The(34) 34. Tom. 9. cap. 5. journey from Jerusalem is very difficult, stony, and very rough; the like to which I do not remember I have seen. Jericho is distant from Jordan almost ten miles," &c.
II. This country might, for distinction, be called 'the wilderness of Judea,' because other regions of Judea had other names: as, 'The King's mountain,' 'The plain of the South,' 'The plain of Lydda,' 'The valley from En-gedi,' 'The region about Betharon,'(35) 35. Jer. Shebiith, fol. 38. 4. &c.
III. Although that country were so desert, yet it abounded very much with people. For, besides that abundance of villages were scattered here and there in it, 1. Jericho itself was the next city to Jerusalem in dignity. 2. There were always twelve thousand men in it, of the courses of the priests. 3. That way was daily trodden by a very numerous multitude, partly of such who travelled between those cities, partly of such who went out of other parts of Judea, and likewise out of the land of Ephraim into Perea, and of them who went out of Perea into those countries. 4. John began his ministry about the time of the Passover, when a far greater company flocked that way.
IV. This country was very convenient for food and provision, in regard of its wild honey; of which let me say a few things.
5. Wild honey; Mark 1:6.
When it is so often repeated in the Holy Scripture, that God gave to his people Israel "a land flowing with milk and honey," hence, 1. One would conclude that the whole land flowed with it; and, 2. Hence one would expect infinite hives of bees. But hear what the Talmudists say of these things:
"R. Jonah saith,(36) 36. Jer. Biccurim, fol. 64. 2. The land flowing with milk and honey is the land, some part of which flows with milk and honey." And that part, they say, is in Galilee: for thus they speak; "For sixteen miles every way from Zippor is a land flowing with milk and honey": of which thing and country we shall speak elsewhere.
"R. Jose(37) 37. Biccurim, cap. 1. hal. 15. of Galilee saith, They bring not the firstfruits out of the country which is beyond Jordan, because that is not the land flowing with milk and honey." And he that brought the firstfruits was to say, "The Lord gave us this land flowing with milk and honey; and now I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O Lord, hast given me." Deuteronomy 26:9,10.
But that part that flowed, how did it flow with honey? Learn that from Rambam upon the place: "When he saith 'and honey,' he understands the honey of palms. For the palm trees, which are in the plain and in the valleys, abound very much with honey."
There was honey also distilling from fig-trees. "R. Jacob(38) 38. Kethuboth, fol. 111b. Ben Dositheus saith, I went on a certain time from Lydda to Ono before day-break, up to the ancles in the honey of figs."
This is the 'wild honey,' of which the evangelists speak, as of the Baptist's food. And how convenient for this the region about Jericho was, which was called 'The country of palm-trees,' is clear to every eye. Diodorus Siculus(39) 39. Lib 19. hath these words of a certain nation of Arabians: "They have pepper from the trees, and much honey, called wild honey, which they use to drink with water." Whether it were also as plentiful in locusts we do not say; certainly, in this also it gave place to no country, if either barrenness or fruitfulness served for the breeding them: for Jericho and the adjacent parts was like a garden of pleasure in the midst of a desert. Certainly, the place was very convenient for that great work to be performed by the Baptist; that is, baptizing in Jordan.
6. "The region round about Jordan." Matthew 3:5.
Here that of Borchard is not unuseful: "Know,(40) 40. Cap. 7. 26. that from the rise of Jordan under Libanus, unto the desert of Pharan, almost a hundred miles, Jordan itself, on both shores, hath spacious and pleasant fields, which are compassed behind with very high mountains." The truth of which, if his eyes had not experienced it, he might have learned from Josephus, who speaks thus:
"Over(41) 41. De Bell. lib. 4.8.2. Jericho hangs a mountain stretched forth northward, even to the country of Scythopolis; and southward to the country of Sodom, and the utmost borders of the Asphaltites. It is craggy, and not habitable by reason of barrenness. Against it runs out a mountain near Jordan, beginning at Julias, and the north country, and stretched out southward unto Gomorrah, where it bounds the rock of Arabia. The middle between these two mountainous regions is called The great plain, extended from the town Ginnabri into the Asphaltites: in length twelve hundred furlongs, in breadth one hundred and twenty. And it is cut in the middle by Jordan." The plain of Jordan before the overthrow of Sodom, &c. Genesis 19 is 'the country about it,' in the Seventy.
Those words teach what is "the region about Jordan": and the word, 'all,' added by the evangelist, may persuade us that the further side may also be taken in, especially if it be considered how small a distance the river made. The space was so little, that, as the Gemarists relate, "a(42) 42. Jer. Baba Kamma, fol. 5. 3. fire kindled on one side reached over to the other." And they suppose, water on this side might be spirted to the other, in that caution: "Let(43) 43. Bab. Yebamoth, fol. 116b. no man take the waters of purification and the ashes of purification, and carry them beyond Jordan; nor let him stand on this side, and spirt to the other."
However, the river was not so broad, but that two, standing on each bank, might look upon one another, cast something over from the one side to the other, yea, and talk together. And then think, whether the inhabitants of the further side resorted not to the Baptist, being so near him, and, as it were, within sight of him.
The masters dispute, whether Jordan be to be esteemed as 'the bounds of the land of Israel,' or as 'the land itself'; and the occasion of that dispute ariseth from another question, namely this: The flock of one man is separated and divided into two parts, and those two parts feed in distant places: it is asked, Whether tithe is to be taken as of one flock, or two? Hence the discussion of the point glides to Jordan; one part of the flock is on this side Jordan, the other on the other. If Jordan be to be esteemed for 'the bounds of the land,' then one part is within the land, the other without. But if it be to be reputed for 'the land itself,' then the business is otherwise. Among other things in this dispute,
"Saith(44) 44. Bekoroth, fol. 55a. Rabbah Bar Bar Channah, R. Jochanan saith Jordan is not, but inwards from Jericho, and beneath it." You would think me more skilful than a diver, to fetch this secret from the bottom. 'Jordan is not Jordan above Jericho,' is a paradox that vexes the Glossers themselves, much more therefore may it me. One understands the thing according to the bare letter; for "he that voweth (saith he) that he will not drink of Jordan, may drink above Jericho." Another understands it of Jericho, as being a bounds, yea, as the bounds named below Jericho only; Joshua 18:20. We make no tarrying upon the business. But if Jordan had such a limitation, that Jordan was not above Jericho, 'The region about Jordan,' is to be understood in the same limitation, namely, that it is only below Jericho. See the Seventy on Genesis 13:10,12.
The masters, sifting this business, out of one scruple move another; for they speak these words; "Jordan floweth out of the cave of Paneas, goes along by the Sibbechean sea, by the sea of Tiberias, by the sea of Sodom, and passeth on, and glides into the Great sea; but Jordan is not but inwards from Jericho, and below it." Let any shew me where Jordan flows out of the sea of Sodom into the Mediterranean. The river Shihor, carrying blackness in its name, may be taken for it, if it be any other; but neither does this appear concerning it.
While you see multitudes gathered together to John, and gladly baptized in Jordan, without fear, without danger, alas, how much was Jordan changed from that Jordan in that story of Saligniac! "Jordan (saith he),(45) 45. Tom. 9. cap. 6. in which place Christ was baptized, is famous for a ruinous building. Here, therefore, all we pilgrims went into the holy river, and washed our bodies and our souls; those from filth, and these from sin; a matter of very great joy and health, had not an unhappy accident disturbed our joys. For a certain physician, a Frenchman, of our company, an honest man, going something further into the river, was caught with a crocodile (whether one should call it a dragon or a beast, it is uncertain), and swallowed him up, not without the common grief of our brethren."
The wilderness also, where our Saviour underwent his forty days' temptation, was on the same bank of Jordan where the baptism of John was; St. Luke witnessing it, that Jesus, being now baptized, "returned from Jordan," namely, from the same tract whereby he came thither.
1. The Treasury; Mark 12:41.
That which the Talmudists say of some other things, that(46) 46. Shebuoth, cap. 1. hal. 1. "they were two, which at last became four," may have place as to the Corbans, or holy treasuries. They(47) 47. Zebahim, fol. 54b. were two, as to their end; but four, as to the despatch of them to that end.
There(48) 48. Shekalim, cap. 5. hal. 6. was a Corban for the repair of the building of the Temple; and there was a Corban for the preparing such things as were necessary for the divine service in the Temple. And both were two. The duplicity of the former you have in this tradition:
"There were two chambers in the Temple. The chamber of the silent [or of the private]; where pious men offered privately; whence the children of pious parents were nourished also privately"; that is, they did their charity secretly for this pious use, that it might not be known who did it. There are some who think these silent ones, were the same with the Essenes; of which we will not dispute: nor do we number this charitable treasury among the Corbans, concerning which we are now treating; because it conferred nothing to the business of the Temple. But the tradition goes forward;
"And there was the chamber of the vessels, where whosoever offered any vessel laid it. And after thirty days the treasurers opened the chambers; and whatsoever vessel was found in it, which was useful to the repairing of the building, was laid up for that use. And whatsoever was not useful was sold; and the price of it went to the chamber for the repairing of the house."
You observe, how there was a 'Corban of vessels,' or instruments of iron, brass, silver, &c.; and a 'Corban of money'; both for the same end, that is, for the repair of the building and structure of the Temple and courts, if by some means or other they might fall down, or might receive damage by the injury of time, of tempests, or rains.
Maimonides(49) 49. In Shekalim, cap. 4. adds, The veils of the Temple also come out of the chamber for the repair of the building; but the veils of the doors out of the Corban chamber: of which afterward.
2. The Corban chests..
There was also a double Corban, whence the charges of things necessary for the divine worship were defrayed. The first was certain chests, of which thus the masters:
"There(50) 50. Shekalim, cap. 6. hal. 5. Yoma, fol. 55b. were thirteen chests in the Temple, in which was written, New shekels [that is, of the present year], Old shekels [or, shekels of the year past], Turtles," &c.
Maimonides(51) 51. Shekalim, cap. 2. still more largely and plainly: "In the Temple were thirteen chests formed like trumpets"; that is, narrower below, and more broad above.
"The first was for the shekels of the present year. The second was for the shekels of the year past. The third, for those who were to bring an oblation of two turtles, or pigeons, one for a burnt-offering, the other for a sacrifice for sin; the price of it they cast into this chest. The fourth, for him who otherwise ought an oblation of birds. The price of it he cast into this chest. The fifth for him who voluntarily offered money to buy wood for the altar. The sixth, for him who offered money to buy frankincense. The seventh, for him who offered gold for the mercy-seat. The eighth, for that which remained of the sacrifice for sin: namely, when one dedicated money for the sacrifice for sin, and bought a sacrifice with it, and something remained over and above, let him cast that into this chest. The ninth, for that which remained of the sacrifice for transgression. The tenth, for that which remained of the pigeons for the women that had fluxes, and that were delivered from childbirth. The eleventh, for that which remained of the oblations of the Nazarite. The twelfth, for that which remained of the sacrifice of the leper. The thirteenth, for him who offered moneys for the burnt-offering of cattle. And upon each chest was written that for which the money that was laid up in it was appointed."
In one of these chests the widow, commended by our Saviour, cast in her two mites: but where they were placed, we will inquire by and by.
3. The Corban chamber.
There was also a chamber in which whatsoever money was collected in these chests, of which we have spoken, was emptied out into three other chests; which is called by the Talmudists, emphatically the chamber.
"There(52) 52. Yoma, fol. 64a. were three chests, each containing three seahs, into which they empty the Corban, and on them were written Aleph, Beth, Gimel. And why, saith R. Jose, was Aleph, Beth, Gimel, written upon them? namely, that it might be known which of them was filled first, that it might first be emptied. R. Ishmael saith, The inscription was in Greek, Alpha, Beta, Gamma."(53) 53. Shekalim, cap. 3.
The chests which are here spoken of were those into which the three greater were emptied, which always stood unmovable in the chamber. The manner of the emptying of which take from the words of the Gloss in the place alleged: "Those chests in which the money was laid-up did contain twenty seven seahs (each nine); and they were covered with a linen cloth. He who was to empty entered with three chests containing nine seahs. He first filled the chest marked Aleph, out of the first of the three great chests; and then covered it with the linen cloth. Then he uncovered the second of the great chests; and out of it he filled the second chest, marked with Beth; and covered it again. Then he uncovered the third of the great chests, and filled the third chest, marked Gimel but covered not the other again," &c.
Moreover, of the manner and time of this emptying, thus the masters speak: "Thrice(54) 54. Shekalim, cap. 3. in a year they take care about the chamber" (for let me render it thus in this place); that is, as the Gloss writers [out of the thirteen chests they transferred whatsoever had been collected in them into these three great ones, which were in this chamber, and in like manner they emptied them into three less, of which before], "About the space of half a month before Passover, before Pentecost, and before the Feast of Tabernacles: or, in the beginning of the month Nisan, and of the month Tisri, and fifteen days before Pentecost."
And here I cannot but transcribe the words of the Glosser in that place of the Talmud, which we are now upon, as not a little illustrating the place in the Evangelists.
"They published (saith he) and made known that they should bring the oblation of the Lord (the half-shekel), they that were near (to Jerusalem), at the Passover; and they that were further off, at Pentecost; and they that were most remote, at the Feast of Tabernacles." These words serve for a light to the story in St. Matthew, chapter 17, of the collectors of the Didrachm, or half-shekel, requiring it of Christ at Capernaum, when the feast of the Passover was now past a great while ago. But we go on.
"He who went into the chamber to empty the chest, went not in with a folded garment, nor with shoes, nor with sandals, nor with phylacteries, nor with charms," &c. And the reason was, that there might be no opportunity, and all suspicion might be removed, of stealing and hiding any of the money under them.
The money taken thence served to buy the daily sacrifice, and the drink-offerings, salt, wood, frankincense, the showbread, the garments of the priests, and, in a word, whatsoever was needful for the worship and service of the Temple.
Yea, "Rabh(55) 55. Kethuboth, fol. 105a. Asa saith, the judges of things stolen, who were at Jerusalem, received as their stipend ninety-nine manas out of the rent of the chamber."
4. Where the treasury was.
We have searched out the things; now let us inquire after the places.
I. Those thirteen chests, which were called trumpets, we have fixed, without all doubt, in the court of the women: and that upon the credit of Josephus; "The(56) 56. De Bell. lib. 5.5.2. walks (saith he, speaking of that court), running along between the gates, extended inwardly from the wall before the treasuries, were borne up with fair and great columns." To this let us add the words of the evangelist John, 8:20: "These words spake Jesus in the treasury":if it had been said, over-against the treasury, which Mark saith, it might be understood of one of the chambers of which we have spoken: which sense the Arabic interpreter seems to follow; who renders it, that "Jesus sat at the gate of the treasury." But when it is said that he spake those words in the treasury, those chambers are wholly excluded, into which it would be ridiculous to think that they permitted Christ to enter.
But note, the word treasuries, in Josephus, is the plural number, and that he speaks of the court of the women, and you will be past doubting that he respected these chests under the word treasuries: and you will doubt as little that Mark looked the same way when you shall have observed that his speech is of the women, how both she and others cast money into the treasury; which, as appears from those things we have produced out of the Talmudists, was neither customary, nor allowed to do into other Corbans.
This court, indeed, is commonly called in the Jewish writers, the court of the women; not that women only entered in there, but because women might not go further; in the same sense as the outward court is called 'the court of the Gentiles,' not that heathens only might enter there, but because they might not go further. That court was also most ordinarily called the Mountain of the Temple; so this also whereof we are treating was called the treasury.
When, therefore, it is said by St. Mark that Jesus sat over-against the treasury, it comes to this, that he sat under the walk before which those chests were placed. And when John saith, "Jesus spake these words in the treasury," it is all one as if he had said, 'He spake these words in the court of the women'; yea, in that place where those chests were, that that place might be distinguished from others which were in that court; for in every corner of that court there was a little court, each one called by its own name, as appears in the places written in the margin.(57) 57. Middoth, cap. 2. hal. 5. Yoma, fol. 16a.
II. To trace the situation of the rest of the Corbans, concerning which we have made mention, is not now the business before us; for that which was propounded as our task we have despatched. But this we cannot but advise for the reader's sake, that on the north side of the court of Israel was a gate which was called 'the Corban-gate'(58) 58. Middoth, cap. 2. hal. 6.; yea, by comparing the words of the masters, there seem to be two gates of the same name: one of which if you make to belong to that Corban-chamber, into which the money out of the thirteen chests was emptied, and the other to belong to that Corban that was appointed for the repair and amending of the building itself, perhaps you will not mistake. Certainly you will not find any place more probable in those writers.
5. Gad Javan in the Temple.
In the Talmudic book Zavim(59) 59. Cap. 1. hal. 5. these words occur obscure enough: "He saw one [woman] multiplied [or continued] like three, which are as from Gad Javan to Siloah." The thing discoursed of is of the discovery of some profluvious issue. For example, one discovers such a profluvious issue in himself, now one by and by another, presently after a third; it is disputed how great or how little distance of time is to be assigned, to make it one or two profluviums; and consequently, to how great or how small an oblation the party is bound for his purification. The tradition which we have produced comes to this: namely, if one sees such an issue at one time, which is so continued, that it contains the space of three discoveries; that is, so much time as one might walk "from Gad Javan to Siloam, behold! such a man is completely profluvious."
The Glossers and the Aruch teach us what was Gad Javan. Hear themselves; "Gad Javan is a phrase drawn from those words: 'That prepare a table for that troop': (Isa 65:11: where the LXX read, 'preparing a table for the devil.' The Vulgar reads, 'who set a table for fortune.' The Interlinear, 'a table of Jupiter.') And it is a place where the kings of Grecia erected an idol: as it is said in the book Avodah Zarah, In the corner looking north-east the Asmoneans hid the stones of the altar, which the Greeks had profaned with their idols."
But whether these our interpreters suppose Gad Javan to be that chamber where those stones lay hid, laid up there by the Asmoneans when they repaired the altar, concerning which place see if you please the place in the margin(60) 60. Middoth, cap. 1. hal. 6.; or whether they suppose it to be the place itself where the idol stood, inquire. But how much space it was thence, and what way they went from thence to Siloam, I heartily wish they had told us. They say only thus much of that matter, that "it was so much space as one might walk while a man twice bathed, and twice dried himself."
Being now in the Temple we cannot but take notice of a name of it usual(61) 61. Middoth, cap. 1. hal. 9. among the masters, namely, Birah, that is, as the Aruch explains it, a palace. "If a mischance in the night [or a gonorrhea] happened to any Levite going forth, he went down into a secret walk which led away under Birah, or the sanctuary, to a bath," &c. These things are related of the second Temple. But elsewhere, when it is disputed 'Whether men were better under the first Temple or the second,' Rabba determines it, Birah may teach this which they had that lived before; but they had not that lived after. If by Birah, is to be understood the Temple itself, both they that lived before and they that lived after had it; if some particular part of the Temple, they that lived after had that also, as appears from the places alleged. But by the thread of the discourse in the place quoted, it seems, that by Birah, Rabbah understood not the Temple itself, but the glory of the Temple, and those divine endowments of it, "The heavenly fire, the ark, Urim," &c. which were present to the first Temple, but absent from the second. For presently they slip into discourse concerning the ceasing of prophecy under the second Temple, and the Bath Kol's succeeding in its places. The word Birah is in David's mouth, 1 Chronicles 29:19; "to build the palace for which I have made provision."
6. Jerusalem, in Herodotus, is Cadytis.
Let us also salute Jerusalem, and that under its most glorious name, 'The Holy City.' Herodotus points it out, if we are not much mistaken, under the name of Cadytis. "From(62) 62. In Thalia, cap. 5. Phoenice unto the mountains of Cadytis, which is the city of those Syrians who are called Palestines." That Jerusalem is pointed out by him under this name, these things following persuade me:
I. It was commonly called Kedoshah, Holy. The Jewish money, wheresoever dispersed, spoke out this title of the city.(63) 63. It is still called El Kods by the Arabs. But now when it was very common in the Syrian dialect to change Shin into Thau, how easy was it among them, and among other nations imitating them, that Cadysha should pass into Cadyta and Caditis: as Chadasha, New, passed into Chadatha.
II. He compareth Cadytis to the great city of Sardis. For "From the city Cadytis," as he goes on, "not much less than Sardis, as I think." But now there was no city at all within Palestine worthy to be compared with Sardis, a most famous metropolis in times past, except Jerusalem.
III. These things also he speaks of Nechoh king of Egypt: "But(64) 64. Herodot. in Euterpe, cap. 159. Necus joining in a foot battle with the Syrians in Magdolus, obtained the victory: and after that, too, Cadytis the great city of Syria."
Which passage, if it be compared with the holy story of Pharaoh Nechoh overcoming Josiah in the battle in the vale of Megiddo, and disposing of the Jewish throne, 2 Kings 23:33,34, it fixeth the thing beyond all controversy.
Herodotus(65) 65. Chap. 3. 5. goes forward; "From Cadytis, the sea mart towns as far as Jenysus, belong to Arabia; from Jenysus onward to the Serbon lake belong to the Syrians." Words obscure enough; especially which was the city Jenysus: the Talmudists(66) 66. Jer. Demai, fol. 22. 4. indeed mention Jenush among the towns which they say are in the confines; but the situation does not agree. But we will not pursue the matter in this place.
7. The streets of Jerusalem.
"The(67) 67. Pesachim, fol. 7a. and Mezia, fol. 26a. streets of Jerusalem were swept every day." Hence, "The moneys that were found in Jerusalem before those that bought cattle are always tenths. The moneys found in the mount of the Temple are profane or common. In Jerusalem on other days of the year they are common; but in the time of the feasts they are all tenths. But, saith R. Shemaia, Upon what reason is this? when the streets of Jerusalem are swept every day."
The Gloss writes thus; "They are always tenths: both in the time of the feasts, and in the time when there are no feasts. But moneys found in the mount of the Temple were common, even in the time of the feasts. For it is supposed, those moneys fell from them [or were lost], in the mount of the Temple; and thereupon they are common. But why were they tenths in Jerusalem in the time of the feasts? And why is it not said, That they had fallen from them there before the feast, as we say of the mount of the Temple? Because the streets of Jerusalem were swept every day; and if moneys had been lost there before the feast, they who swept the street had found them before. But the mount of the Temple had no need to be swept every day: for dirt and dust remained not there; because the mount was shelving: and moreover, it was not lawful for any to enter there with his shoes, or with dust on his feet."
I cannot omit what he saith besides: "Much of the flesh which was eaten at Jerusalem," in the time of the feasts, 'was of the second tithes.' For scarce any one tarried there until he had eaten all his tithes; but he gave the moneys of the tithes either to the poor, or to his friends in the city. And, for the most part, with the moneys of the tithes they bought their thank-offerings.
8. The street leading from the Temple towards Olivet.
"Rabban(68) 68. Pesach. fol. 26a. Jochanan Ben Zaccai sat under the shadow of the Temple, and taught the people the whole day," The Gloss, "When the Temple was a hundred cubits high, it cast its shadow a great way in length, unto that street which was before the Mountain of the House. And because that street was spacious, and might contain a great multitude of men, Jochanan taught there by reason of the heat. For no synagogue could contain his hearers."
That street which was before the mount of the Temple, according to the accustomed form of speech, was that by which they went to the Temple at the east gate; concerning which street, and the people convened thither by Hezekiah, mention is made 2 Chronicles 29:4. This street went out into the valley of Kedron, by the Water-gate. And this way the priest went out, that was to burn the red cow in Olivet. And this way our great High Priest entered with palms and Hosanna. This was called "the Street of the Temple," Ezra 10:9.
1. A sabbath-day's journey.
"As they came near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany." So also Luke: when, according to the order of the story, one would think it should rather be said, 'To Bethany and Bethphage.' For Christ, in his travelling, came to Bethany, and there lodged, John 12; and from that city went forward by the space almost of a mile, before he came as far as Bethphage. And yet it is named by them in this order, "To Bethphage and Bethany"; that it might be shewn that the story is to be understood of the place where Bethany and Bethphage touch upon one another: Matthew therefore names Bethphage alone.
We have elsewhere shewn more at large these two things out of the Talmudists, which do not a little tend to the clearing of this matter:
I. That a tract, or one part of mount Olivet, was called Bethany, not from the town of that name, where Lazarus dwelt, but the town was so called from that tract; and that tract from the dates or palm trees growing there, Beth Hene, the place of dates.
II. That there was no town at all named Bethphage, but another tract of Olivet was so called, for green figs growing there; that is the meaning of Beth-phagi, 'The place of green figs'; and that the village, or outmost street of Jerusalem, lying next it, was called by the same name.
We observed also, that that place in mount Olivet, where these two tracts Bethany and Bethphage touched on one another, was a sabbath-day's journey from the city, or thereabouts. Which how it may be applied to illustrate the present business we are upon, let us say a few things concerning such a journey.
How far the bounds of a sabbath-day's journey reached, every one knows: and every one knows that that space was measured out every way without the cities, that the certain bounds might be fixed, and that there might be no mistake; and that, by some evident mark, the limits might be known, that they might not remain doubtful in a thing wherein they placed so much religion.
These are the rules of the masters concerning measuring two thousand cubits from every side of the city:
"A city(69) 69. Maimon. in Schab. cap. 28. which is long or square, when it hath four just corners, they let be as it is; and they measure two thousand cubits for it on every side. If it be round, they frame it into a square, and they measure from the sides of that square. If it be triangular, they frame it into a square, and measure from the sides of the square," &c. And after, "They measure only with a line of fifty cubits, and that of flax."
An intimation is given concerning the marks of those bounds by that canon; "They(70) 70. Bezah, fol. 36b. do not ride upon a beast" (on the sabbath, and on a holy-day), "that they go not forth beyond the bounds." Where the Gloss is, "Because he that walketh not on foot seeth not the marks of the bounds."
It is said by St. Mark, that the two disciples sent by Christ "found the colt tied where two ways met." Let me pass my conjecture,that it was in such a place where a mark was set up of a sabbath-day's journey from the city; where the sabbath-way from the city, and the common way thence into the country, touched on one another.
2. Shops in mount Olivet.
"The shops(71) 71. Jer. Berak. fol. 16. 1. of the children of Chanan, were laid waste three years before the destruction of the Temple." "And(72) 72. Bab. Mezia, fol. 88a. why were the shops of Beth Heno laid waste three years before the destruction of the Temple? Because they established their doings upon the words of the law," &c. The Gloss is, "That which was forbidden by the words of the wise men, they found allowed by the words of the law."
The story is the same in both places. In the former place the shopkeepers are named; in the latter, the place of the shops. The shopkeepers were the sons of Chanan or Jochanan; for, in the Jerusalem language, Chanan and Jochanan are the same. The place was Beth Heno; which I fear not to assert to be the same with Bethany. The reason of my confidence is twofold: 1. Because the Talmudists call Bethany Beth Hene; to which how near does Beth Heno come! 2. Because in them there is open mention of shops in mount Olivet.
"There(73) 73. Jer. Taanith, fol. 69. 2. were two cedars (say they) in mount Olivet: under one of them there were four shops, where all things needful for purification were sold. From one of them they produced forty seahs of pigeons every month, whence women to be purified were supplied." Four shops were under one; and how many were there under another, whence so many pigeons should come? Therefore, either shew me some other village between the town of Bethany and the first skirt of Bethphage; or else allow me to believe that this was that to which the two disciples were sent, and which, then when they were sent, was "the village over-against you": namely, either a village consisting of those various shops only, or a village, a part of which those shops were.
3. The lavatory of Bethany.
Pardon the word which I am forced to frame, lest, if I had said the bath, or the laver, they might straiten the sense of the thing too much. That place whereof we are now speaking was a pool, or a collection of waters, where people were wont to wash; and it agreeth very well with those things that were spoken before concerning purifications. Here either unclean men or unclean women might wash themselves; and presently buying in the neighbouring shops what was needful for purification, they betook themselves to Jerusalem, and were purified in the Temple.
Of this place of washing, whatsoever it was, the Gemarists speak in that story, "A fox(74) 74. Bab. Hullin, fol. 53a. rent a sheep at the lavatory of Beth Hene: and the cause was brought before the wise men, and they said, It is not a rending." We doubt not that Beth Hene is Bethany: and this cause was brought thence before the wise men of Jerusalem, that they might instruct them whether it were lawful to eat of the carcase of that sheep, when the eating of a beast that was torn was forbidden. See, if you please, their distinction between snatching away by a wild beast, and tearing, in the place cited, where they discuss it at large.
Travellers speak of a cistern near the town of Bethany, "near which, in a field, is shewn the place where Martha met our Lord coming to Bethany." They are the words of Borchard the monk. Whether the thing itself agrees with this whereof we are speaking, must be left uncertain.
4. Migdal Eder.
By occasion of these places discovered to us by the Talmudists, I cannot but observe another also out of them on another side of the city, not further distant from the city than that whereof we now spake, if it were as far distant as that; that is, Migdal Eder, or the Tower of the Flock, different from that mentioned Genesis 35:21. The Jerusalem Talmudists, of this our place, speak thus: "The cattle(75) 75. Jer. Kidd. fol. 63. 1. which are found from Jerusalem as far as Migdal Eder on every side," &c. The Babylonian writers more fully; "The cattle(76) 76. Bab. Kidd. fol. 55a. which are found from Jerusalem as far as Migdal Eder, and in the same space on every side being males, are burnt-offerings, females are peace-offerings."
In that place the masters are treating and disputing, Whether it is lawful to espouse a woman by some consecrated thing given in pledge to assure the thing. And concerning cattle found between Jerusalem and Migdal Eder, and the same space every where about Jerusalem, they conclude that they are to be reputed for consecrated. "Because it may be supposed" (as the Gloss speaks), "that they were strayed out of Jerusalem; for very many cattle going out thence were to be sacrificed."
They have a tradition not unlike this, as we said before, of money found within Jerusalem: "Moneys(77) 77. Baba Mezia, fol. 26a. which are found in Jerusalem, before those that buy cattle, are always tithes," &c.
But to our business. From the words alleged we infer that there was a tower or a place by name Migdal Eder, but a very little space from Jerusalem, and that it was situate on the south side of the city: I say, "a little space from Jerusalem"; for it had been a burden to the inhabitants dwelling about the city not to be borne, if their oxen or smaller cattle, upon any occasion straying away and taken in stray, should immediately become consecrated, and that the proper owner should no longer have any right in them. But this tower seems to be situate so near the city, that there was no town round about within that space. We say also, that that tower was on the south side of the city; and that upon the credit, (shall I say?) or mistake of the Seventy interpreters.
5. The Seventy Interpreters noted.
Here, reader, I will resolve you a riddle in the Seventy, in Genesis 35. In Moses the story of Jacob in that place is thus: "They went from Beth-el; and when it was but a little space to Ephrath, Rachel travailed," &c. And afterward; "Israel went on and pitched his tabernacle beyond the tower Edar."
The Seventy invert the order of the history, and they make the encamping of Jacob beyond Migdal Eder to be before his coming to the place where Rachel died. For thus they write: "And Jacob, departing from Beth-el, pitched his tent over-against the tower Gader. And it came to pass when he approached to Chabratha to come to Ephratha, Rachel travailed," &c.
I suspect, unless I fail in my conjecture, that they inverted the order of the history, fixing their eyes upon that Migdal Eder which was very near Jerusalem. For when Jacob travelled from Beth-el to the place of Rachel's sepulchre, that tower was first to be passed by, before one could come to the place; and when Jacob in his journey travelled southward, it is very probable that tower was on that quarter of the city.
There was, indeed, a Migdal Eder near Beth-lehem, and this was near Jerusalem; and perhaps there were more places of that name in the land of Israel. For as that word denotes the Tower of a Flock, so those towers seem to have been built for the keeping of flocks; that shepherds might be there ready also a-nights; and that they might have weapons in a readiness to defend their flocks, not only from wild beasts, but from robbers also. And to this sense we suppose that expression, 'the Tower of the Keepers,' is to be taken in that saying, "From the Tower of the Keepers to the strong city," 2 Kings 17:9, 18:8.
Hence the Targumist Jonathan, to distinguish Migdal Eder of Beth-lehem from all others, thus paraphraseth Moses' words: "And Israel went forward and pitched his tabernacle beyond Migdal Eder, the place whence the Messias is to be revealed in the end of days." Which very well agree with the history, Luke 2:8. Whether Micah, chapter 4:8, speak of the same, inquire.
6. The pomp of those that offered the firstfruits.
We have spoken of the places nearest the city, the mention of them taking its rise from the triumph of Christ sitting upon the ass, and the people making their acclamations: and this awakens the remembrance of that pomp which accompanied the bringing of the firstfruits from places also near the city. Take it in the words of the masters, in the place cited(78) 78. Biccurim, c. 3. in the margin:
"After what manner did they bring their firstfruits? All the cities which were of one station" (that is, out of which one course of priests proceeded) "were gathered together into a stationary city, and lodged in the streets. In the morning, he who was the first among them said, Arise, let us go up to Zion, to the house of the Lord our God."
"An ox went before them with gilded horns, and an olive crown upon his head" (the Gloss is, that ox was for a peace-offering); "And the pipe played before them until they approached near to Jerusalem. When then they came to Jerusalem, they crowned their firstfruits" (that is, they exposed them to sight in as much glory as they could), "and the chief men, and the high officers, and treasurers of the Temple came to meet them, and that to do the more honour to them that were coming; and all the workmen in Jerusalem rose up to them" (as they were in their shops), "and saluted them in this manner, 'O our brethren, inhabitants of the city N., ye are welcome.'"
"The pipe played before them till they came to the Mount of the Temple. When they came to the Mount of the Temple, even king Agrippa himself took the basket upon his shoulder, and went forward till he came to the court; the Levites sang, 'I will exalt thee, O Lord, because thou hast exalted me, and hast not made mine enemies to rejoice over me' (Psa 30:1). While the basket is yet upon his shoulder, he recites that passage (Deut 26:3), 'I profess this day to the Lord my God,' &c. R. Judah saith, When he recites these words, 'A Syrian ready to perish was my father,' &c. verse 5, he casts down the basket from his shoulders, and holds its lips while the priest waves it hither and thither. The whole passage being recited to verse 10, he placeth the basket before the altar, and adores, and goes out."
Dalmanutha. Mark 8:10.
Matthew 15:39: "And came to the coasts of Magdala."Mark 8:10: "came into the parts of Dalmanutha."
The story is one and the same; and that country is one and the same: but the names Magdala and Dalmanutha are not so to be confounded, as if the city 'Magdala' was also called Dalmanutha; but Dalmanutha is to be supposed to be some particular place within the bounds of Magdala. I observe the Arabic interpreter in the London Polyglott Bible, for Dalmanutha, in Mark, reads Magdala, as it is in Matthew; in no false sense, but in no true interpretation. But the Arabic of Erpenius' edition reads Dalmanutha."Erasmus notes (saith Beza upon the place), that a certain Greek copy hath Magdala. And Austin writes, that most copies have Mageda. But in our very old copy, and in another besides, 'into the parts of Dalmanutha,' is written 'into the coasts of Madegada.'"
If the name and situation of Magdala in the Talmudists had been known to these interpreters, I scarcely think they would have dashed upon so many uncertainties. We have largely and plainly treated of it in another volume, out of those authors: and out of the same, unless I mistake, something may be fetched, which may afford light to Mark's text of Dalmanutha. Which thing before we take in hand, perhaps it will not be unacceptable to the reader, if we describe the sea of Gennesaret, and the places adjoining, by some kind of delineation, according to their situation, which we take up from the Hebrew writers.
1. A scheme of the sea of Gennesaret, and the places adjacent.
Comparing this my little map with others, since you see it to differ so much from them, you will expect that I sufficiently prove and illustrate the situation of the places, or I shall come off with shame. I did that, if my opinion deceive me not, a good while ago, in some chapters in the Chorographical century. I will here despatch the sum total in a few lines:
I. "Chammath was so called,(79) 79. Megill. fol. 6. 1. Jer. Erub. fol. 23. 4. Id. Kiddush. fol. 64. 3. Id. Shebiith, fol. 36. 6. because of the warm baths of Tiberias: from which it was so very little distant, that, as to a sabbath-day's journey, the men of Tiberias and the men of Chammath might make but one city."
It is called Chammath of Gadara, not only to distinguish it from Chammath of Pella, that is, 'Callirrhoe'; but because a part of it was built upon the bank of Gadara, and another part upon the bank of Nephthali, or Tiberias, the bridge lying between: which shall be shewn presently.
Tiberias stood touching on the sea; "for(80) 80. Megill. fol. 6. 1. on one side it had the sea for a wall."
"Gennesaret was a place near Tiberias, where were gardens and paradises." They are the words of the Aruch.
Capernaum we place within the country of Gennesaret upon the credit of the evangelists, Matthew 14:34, and Mark 6:53, compared with John 6:22,24.
Taricha(81) 81. Josephus in his own Life. was distant from Tiberias thirty furlongs: Bethmaus, four furlongs.
Magdala was beyond Jordan; for it is called Magdala of Gadara: and that which is said by the Talmudists, "The(82) 82. Jer. in Erubh. fol. 23. 4. Gadarenes might, by the permission of R. Juda Nasi, come down to Chammath on the sabbath, and walk through it, unto the furthest street, even to the bridge," is expressed and expounded by them in the same place, "That the people of Magdala, by the permission of R. Judah Nasi, went up to Chammath," &c. From which single tradition one may infer, 1. That Magdala was on the bank of Gadara. 2. That it was not distant from Chammath above a sabbath-day's journey. 3. That it was on that side of Chammath, which was built on the same bank of Gadara by which it reached to the bridge above Jordan, which joined it to the other side on the bank of Galilee.
"Hippo(83) 83. Josephus in his own Life. was distant from Tiberias thirty furlongs." With which measure compare these words, which are spoken of Susitha; which that it was the same with Hippo, both the derivation of the words and other things do evince:
"R. Juda saith, The(84) 84. Bereshith Rab. sect. 31. monoceros entered not into Noah's ark, but his whelps entered. R. Nehemiah saith, Neither he nor his whelps entered, but Noah tied him to the ark. And he made furrows in the waves, for as much space as is from Tiberias to Susitha." And again, "The(85) 85. Bereshith Rab. sect. 32. ark of Noah swam upon the waters as upon two rafters, as much space as is from Tiberias to Susitha."
Gadara(86) 86. Josephus in his own Life. was distant sixty furlongs from Tiberias.
"Bethsaida(87) 87. Josephus De Bell. lib. 2.9.1. was in lower Gaulonitis," beyond Jordan in Batanea. It is shown to pilgrims on the shore of the sea of Gennesaret in Galilee; and thence the error of the maps was taken. Hear our countryman Biddulph, who saw those places about the year 1600:
"March the twenty-fourth, we rode by the sea of Galilee, which hath two names, John 6:1, 'The sea of Galilee,' and 'Tiberias of Galilee,' because it is in Galilee; and 'of Tiberias,' because the city of Tiberias was built near it: also Bethsaida, another ancient city. We saw some ruins of the walls of both. But it is said in that chapter, John 6:1, that Jesus sailed over the sea of Galilee. And elsewhere, that he went over the lake; and Luke 9:10, it is said that he departed into a desert place near the city Bethsaida. Which text of John I learned better to understand by seeing, than ever I could by reading. For when Tiberias and Bethsaida were both on the same shore of the sea, and Christ went from Tiberias to, or near, Bethsaida; hence I gather, that our Saviour Christ sailed not over the length or breadth of the sea, but that he passed some bay, as much as Tiberias was distant from Bethsaida. Which is proved thence, in that it is said elsewhere, That a great multitude followed him thither on foot; which they could not do if he had sailed over the whole sea, to that shore among the Gergasenes which is without the holy land." These are his words.
But take heed, sir, that your guides, who show those places under those names, do not impose upon you. If you will take Josephus for a guide, he will teach, that "Philip(88) 88. Antiq. lib. 18.2.1. repaired the town Bethsaida; and he called it Julias, from Julias the daughter of Caesar": and, that "that(89) 89. De Bell. lib. 2.9.1. Julias was in lower Gaulonitis." Nor is the argument good, "otherwise they would not follow him a-foot"; for, from Capernaum and Tiberias, there was a very beaten and common way by the bridge of Chammath into the country of the Gadarenes, and so to Bethsaida.
Cana was a great way distant from Tiberias: Josephus(90) 90. In his own Life. spent a whole night travelling from this town to that with his army. It was situate against Julias of Betharamphtha, as may be gathered from the same author in the place quoted(91) 91. In his own Life. in the margin. Now that Julias was situate at the very influx of Jordan into the sea of Gennesaret.
These things might be more largely explained and illustrated, but we are afraid of being too long; and so much the more, because we have treated copiously of them elsewhere. This will be enough to an unbiased reader, to whose judgment we leave it; and now go on to Dalmanutha.
2. Zalmon. Thence Dalmanutha.
If we may play a little with the name Dalmanutha, hear a Talmudical tradition. "He(92) 92. Baba Bathra, fol. 98b. that sells a farm to his neighbour, or that receives a place from his neighbour, to make him a house of betrothing for his son, or a house of widowhood for his daughter; let him build it four cubits this way, and six that." Where the Gloss, "A house of widowhood for his daughter, whose husband is dead, and she now returns to the house of her father."
The meaning of this tradition is, 'When the son of any one had married a wife, he did not use to dwell with his father-in-law; but it was more customary for his father to build him a little house near his own house.' So also when the husband was dead, and the daughter, now being a widow, returned to her father, it was also customary for the father to build her a little house; in which she dwelt, indeed, alone, but very near her father.
But now from some such house of more note than ordinary, built for some eminent widow; or from many such houses standing thick together, this place, perhaps, might be called Dalmanutha, that is, "The place of widowhood." And if some more probable derivation of the name occurred not, it might, not without reason, have had respect to this.
But we suppose the name is derived elsewhere; namely, from Zalmon, Tsade being changed into Daleth; which is no strange thing to the Syrians and Arabians.
Of Zalmon we meet with mention, Judges 9:48;namely, a mountain, or some tract in a mountain, near Sychem: but that place is a very great way off of that concerning which we are now treating. But the Talmudists(93) 93. Yebamoth, fol. 122a. mention a place called Zalmon, which agrees excellently well with Dalmanutha. "There is a story (say they) of a certain man in Zalmon, who said, I, N., the son of N., am bitten by a serpent, and behold I die. They went away and found him not: they went away, therefore, and married his wife." The Gloss is, "They heard the voice of him crying, and saying, Behold, I die; but they found not such a man in Zalmon." And again;(94) 94. Kilayim, cap. 4. hal. 9. Baba Bathra, fol. 82b. "There is a story in Zalmon, of a certain man who planted his vineyard sixteen and sixteen cubits; and a gate of two ranks of vines: now he turned on this side, and the year following on the other, and ploughed on both sides. And the cause was brought before the wise men, and they approved of it."
None will suspect this Zalmon to be the same with that near Sychem, when it is said, that "they brought the cause before the wise men": for what had the Samaritans to do with the wise men of the Jews? One might rather believe it to be some place near to Tiberias (where was a university of wise men), well known and commonly spoke of, and mentioned in the traditions cited as a place so known. So divers places about Tiberias are mentioned by the Talmudists as well known, which you will scarce find any where but in the books of the Talmudists. Such are Chammath, Magdala, Beth Meon, Paltathah, Caphar Chittaia, &c. Concerning which we have spoken in another place. There was also Mizgah, the(95) 95. Bereshith Rabb. sect. 34. seat of Simeon Ben Lachish; and Eltis of Tiberias,(96) 96. Bereshith Rabb. sect. 31. a place near Tiberias, of an unwholesome air; and The cave of Tiberias(97) 97. Jer. Horayoth, fol. 48. 1.; and Bar Selene; and others which are nowhere mentioned but in these authors; but in them of very noted name. Of this number we suppose this Zalmon was, a place so near to Tiberias, and so known, that it was enough to name it only. But now, when any that spake Hebrew would pronounce it Zalmon and Zalmanutha, he that spake Syriac would pronounce it Dalmon and Dalmanutha.
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