Exercitations upon the Gospel of St. Matthew
Verses: 2, 4, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 29
Verses: 2, 3, 4, 6, 16, 17, 28, 30
Verses: 9, 14, 15, 18, 20, 23, 24, 33, 34
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(1) 1. Bab. Sanhedrin fol. 100a near the end. the measure that a man measureth, others measure to him. See also the tract Sotah,(2) 2. Cap. 1. hal. 7, 8, 9. 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(3) 3. Bab. Baba Bathra, fol. 15b. is written in the days when they judged the judges, that is, in the generation which judged their judges, When any [judge] said 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(4) 4. Bab. Erachin, fol. 16b. 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(5) 5. De Benefic. lib. ii. cap. 7. 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(6) 6. Bab. Shabbath, fol. 31a. 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.(7) 7. Cap. 2. hal. 1.
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(8) 8. Bab. Berakoth, fol. 32b. 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(9) 9. Tamid, cap. 1. hal. 3. 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(10) 10. Taanith, cap. 3. hal. 7. elders proclaimed a fast in their cities upon this occasion, because the wolves had devoured two little children beyond Jordan. More(11) 11. Jer. Yom. tobh, fol. 60. 1. 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(12) 12. Bab. Berakoth fol. 48a. 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,(13) 13. Jer. Pesachin, fol. 33. 1. 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."
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.
[Lieth] Laid 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."(14) 14. Maimon. Schab. cap. 29.
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.(15) 15. Shab. cap. 1. He that lights a [sabbath] candle, let him light it while it is yet day, before sun-set.(16) 16. Maimon. in Schab. cap. 5., &c. "On the sabbath-eve it is permitted to work until sun-set."(17) 17. Jer. Shebiith, fol. 33. 1. 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;(18) 18. Jer. Berak. fol. 2. 2. "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.(19) 19. In Schab. cap. 5. 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,(20) Bab. Sanhedrin fol. 98b. 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(21) 21. Jer. Kilayim, fol. 32. 1. 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(22) 22. Jer. Terumoth, fol. 40. 2. 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(23) 23. Jer. Shekalim, fol. 47. 3. 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(24) 24. Maimon. in Nizke Mammon. cap. 5. 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(25) 25. Baba Kamma, cap. 7. hal. 7. 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.(26) 26. Gloss. in Kamma, in the place before.
III. Yea, it was forbid under a curse: "The(27) 27. Maimon. in the place above. wise men say, Cursed is he that keeps dogs and swine; because from them ariseth much harm."
"Let(28) Bab. Kamma, fol. 82b. 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.(29) 29. Fol. 64b.
Therefore you will wonder, and not without cause, at that which is related in their Talmud: "They(30) 30. Bab. Taanith, fol. 21b. 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.
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(31) 31. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 43a. 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
Mark, chapter 2:13, 14.
"He(32) 32. Shabbath, cap. 8. hal. 2. 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(33) 33. Bab. Baba Kamma, fol. 82a. 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(34) 34. Jer. in Megill. fol. 75. 1. 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:(35) 35. Fol. 11a. 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(36) 36. Jer. Kilayim, fol. 32. 2. 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,(37) 37. In Bab. Berakoth, fol. 31a. 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.
חופה, or 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(38) 38. In Yoma, cap. 7. hal. 1. 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(39) 39. In Yoma, cap. 7. hal. 1. 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 overseer] of 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(40) 40. Eccles. Hist. lib. vii. cap. 14. 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(41) 41. Lib. lvi. ed. Reimar, p. 830. concerning the funeral of Augustus: "Tiberius, and Drusus his son, . . . sacrificed frankincense themselves; but they used not a minstrel.
Even(42) 42. Ketuboth, cap. 4. hal. 6. the poorest among the Israelites [his wife being dead], will afford her not less than two pipes, and one woman to make lamentation.
"He(43) 43. Baba Mezia, cap. 6. hal. 1. 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(44) 44. Maimon. in אישות cap. 14. 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(45) 45. Shabath, cap. 23. hal. 4. 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(46) 46. Jer. Berakoth, fol. 6. 1. 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 bestowing] of mercies to this duty, in a peculiar sense, above all other demonstrations of charity; "One(47) 47. Jer. Sanhedrin, fol. 23. 3. 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 Ebluth. Aninuth 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(48) 48. Bab. Berakoth, fol. 18a. 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(49) 49. Jer. Berak. fol. 6. 1. 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,"(50) 50. Massecheth Semach. cap. 5. &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,"(51) 51. Bab. Berakoth, in the place above. &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 sleep. When 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.
And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke: And ye shall give her unto Eleazar the priest, that he may bring her forth without the camp, and one shall slay her before his face: And Eleazar the priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle of her blood directly before the tabernacle of the congregation seven times: And one shall burn the heifer in his sight; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn: And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer. Then the priest shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp, and the priest shall be unclean until the even. And he that burneth her shall wash his clothes in water, and bathe his flesh in water, and shall be unclean until the even. And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up without the camp in a clean place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water of separation: it is a purification for sin. And he that gathereth the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: and it shall be unto the children of Israel, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among them, for a statute for ever. He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days. He shall purify himself with it on the third day, and on the seventh day he shall be clean: but if he purify not himself the third day, then the seventh day he shall not be clean. Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself, defileth the tabernacle of the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet upon him. This is the law, when a man dieth in a tent: all that come into the tent, and all that is in the tent, shall be unclean seven days. And every open vessel, which hath no covering bound upon it, is unclean. And whosoever toucheth one that is slain with a sword in the open fields, or a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days. And for an unclean person they shall take of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for sin, and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel: And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave: And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day: and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, and wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even. But the man that shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he hath defiled the sanctuary of the LORD: the water of separation hath not been sprinkled upon him; he is unclean. And it shall be a perpetual statute unto them, that he that sprinkleth the water of separation shall wash his clothes; and he that toucheth the water of separation shall be unclean until even. And whatsoever the unclean person toucheth shall be unclean; and the soul that toucheth it shall be unclean until even.
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