He shall be called a Nazarene

Matti 2:23. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets,

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

I. Let it be observed, that the evangelist does not cite some one of the prophets, but all:

“spoken by the prophets.” But now all the prophets, in a manner, do preach the vile and abject condition of Christ; none, that his original should be out of Nazareth.

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

III. If you derive the word Nazarene, which not a few do, from Nazir, a Nazirean, that word denotes not only a separation, dedicated to God, such as that of the Nazarenes was; but it signifies also the separation of a man from others, as being unworthy of their society; Genesis

49:26, “They shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.” Therefore, let us digest the sense of the evangelist by this paraphrase: Joseph was to depart with Christ to Beth-lehem, the city of David, or to Jerusalem, the royal city, had not the fear of Archelaus hindered him. Therefore, by the signification of an angel, he is sent away into Galilee, a very contemptible country, and into the city Nazareth, a place of no account: whence, from this very place, and the name of it, you may observe that fulfilled to a tittle which is so often declared by the prophets, that the Messias should be Nazor, a stranger, or separate from men, as if he were a very vile person, and not worthy of their company.

Yochanan 3


1. There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

[Nicodemus.] The Talmudists frequently mention Nicodemus. Now the Jews derive this name, not from the Greek original, but from this story:
“Upon a certain time, all Israel ascended up to Jerusalem to the feast, and there wanted water for them. Nicodemus Ben Gorion comes to a great man, and prays him, saying, ‘Lend me twelve wells of water, for the use of those that are to come up to the feast, and I will give you back twelve wells again; or else engage to pay you twelve talents of silver’: and they appointed a day. When the day of payment came, and it had not yet rained, Nicodemus went to a little oratory, and covered himself, and prayed: and of a sudden the clouds gathered, and a plentiful rain descended, so that twelve wells were filled, and a great deal over. The great man cavilled that the day was past, for the sun was set: Nicodemus goes into his oratory again, covers himself and prays, and the clouds dispersing themselves, the sun breaks out again. Hence that name given him Nicodemus, because the sun shone out for him.”
If there be any thing of truth in this part of the story, it should seem Nicodemus was a priest, and that kind of officer whose title was a digger of wells; under whose peculiar care and charge was the provision of water for those that should come up to the feast. His proper name was not Nicodemus, but Bonai; as Taanith in the place above quoted. Now in Sanhedrim, Bonai is reckoned amongst the disciples of Jesus, and accounted one of the three richest men amongst the Jews at that time, when Titus besieged Jerusalem. “There were three the most wealthy men in Jerusalem, Nicodemus Ben Gorion, Calba Sabua, and Zizith Hakkeesoth.” But inEchah Rabbathi, “There were then in Jerusalem four counsellors, Ben Zizith, and Ben Gorion, and Ben Nicodemon, and Ben Calba Sabua; men of great wealth,” &c.
There is mention also of a “daughter of Nicodemus Ben Gorion, the furniture of whose bed was twelve thousand deniers.” But so miserably was she and the whole family impoverished, that “Rabban Jochanan Ben Zaccahi saw her gathering barleycorns out of the dung of the Arabs’ cattle: saith he to her, ‘Who art thou, my daughter?’ ‘I am (saith she) the daughter of Nicodemus Ben Gorion.’ ‘What then (saith he) is become of all thy father’s wealth?'” &c.
I leave it with the reader to determine with himself whether the Nicodemusmentioned amongst them be the same with this of ours or no. It is not much for the reputation of that Nicodemus (whatever may be supposed in the affirmative), that these authors should all along make so honourable mention of him. However, some passages look as if it might be the same man, viz., the name Bonai, by which he went for a disciple of Jesus; the impoverishment of his family, which may be conceived to fall upon them in the persecution of Christianity, &c.: but it is not tantithat we should labour at all in a thing so very perplexed, and perhaps no less unprofitable.
2. The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
[We know.] It may be a question whether Nicodemus, using the plural number [weknow], does by that seem to own that the whole Sanhedrim (of which himself was a member) acknowledge the same thing. I am apt to think the fathers of the Sanhedrim could not well tell how indeed to deny it: which will be more largely discussed upon chapter 11:48. But we know may either be the plural or the singular, which in the first person is most commonly used in all languages. Or else, we know, may signify as much as, it is commonly owned and acknowledged.
[Thou art a teacher come from God.] Nicodemus seems to have reference to the long cessation of prophecy which had not been known in that nation for above four hundred years now past; in which space of time there had been no masters or teachers of the people instituted but by men and the imposition of hands; nor had there in that appeared any one person that would pretend to teach them by a spirit of prophecy:–But we see that thou art a teacher sent from God.
3. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
[Jesus answered, &c.] You may ask how this answer suits with the question that Nicodemus put: it may appear very apposite upon this account: “You seem, O Nicodemus, to see some sign of the approaching kingdom of heaven in these miracles that are done by me. Verily, I say unto thee, No one can see the kingdom of God as he ought, if he be not born from above.”
[Except a man be born again.] By what word our Saviour expressed born again in the Jewish language, it is not easy determining. The subject of the question, well considered, may afford us some light in the solution of it.
I. We must not suppose it a set discourse merely, and on purpose directed upon the subject of regeneration, though the doctrine of the new birth may be well enough asserted and explained from hence: but the question is about the aptitude and capacity of the man qualified to be a partaker of the kingdom of God, or of heaven, or of the times or benefits of the Messiah. For that the kingdom of God or of heavenare terms convertible in the evangelist, is obvious to every one that will take the pains to compare them: and that by the kingdom of God or of heaven is meant the kingdom and times of the Messiah, is so plain, that it needs no argument to prove it.
When, therefore, there was so vehement and uersal an expectation of the coming and reign of the Messiah amongst the Jews, and when some token and indication of these times might appear to Nicodemus in the miracles that Christ had wrought, our Saviour instructs him by what way and means he may be made apt and capable for seeing and entering into this kingdom, and enjoying the benefits and advantages of Messiah’s days. For,
II. The Jews thought that it was enough for them to have been of the seed of Abraham, or the stock of Israel, to make them fit subjects for the kingdom of heaven, and the happiness that should accrue to them from the days of the Messiah. Hence that passage, There is a part allotted to all Israel in the world to come; that is, in the participation of the Messiah. But whence comes it that uersal Israel claim such a part? Merely because they are Israelites; i.e. merely because they come of the stock and lineage of Israel. Our Saviour sets himself against this error of theirs, and teacheth that it is not enough for them to be the children of Abraham, or the stock of Israel, to give them any title to or interest in the Messiah; but they must further be born from above; they must claim it by a heavenly, not anearthly birth. These words of his seem to fall in and bear the same kind of sense with those of John Baptist, “Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our Father.”
III. The Jews acknowledged, in order to proselytism, some kind of regeneration ornew birth absolutely necessary: but then this was very slightly and easily attainable.If any one become a proselyte, he is like a child new born. But in what sense is he so?
“The Gentile that is made a proselyte, and the servant that is made free, behold, he is like a child new born. And all those relations he had whiles either Gentile or servant, they now cease from being so. By the law it is lawful for a Gentile to marry his mother, or the sister of his mother, if they are proselyted to the Jewish religion. But the wise men have forbidden this, lest it should be said, We go downward from a greater degree of sanctity to a less; and that which was forbidden yesterday is allowable today.” Compare this with 1 Corinthians 5:1.
Christ teaches another kind of new birth, requisite for those that partake of the kingdom of the Messiah, beyond what they have either as Israelites or proselytes; viz., that they should be born from above, or by a celestial generation, which only makes them capable of the kingdom of heaven.
4. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
[Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb?] The common opinion of the Jews about the qualification of an Israelite, qua Israelite, still sticks in the mind of this Pharisee: and although our Saviour useth that term, which in the Jewish language plainly enough intimates the necessity of being born from heaven, yet cannot he easily get off from his first prejudice about the Israelitish generation: “Whereas the Israelites, as they are Israelites, have a right to be admitted into the kingdom of the Messiah, do you therefore mean by this expression of yours, that it is necessary for any to enter a second time into his mother’s womb, that he may be an Israelite anew?”
He knew and acknowledged, as we have already said, that there must be a sort of anew birth in those that come over to the Jewish religion; but he never dreamt of any new proselytism requisite in one that had been born an Israelite. He could not therefore conceive the manner of a new birth, that he should be made an Israelite anew, unless it were by entering into the mother’s womb a second time; which to him seemed an impossible thing.
5. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
[Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit.] He tells him, that the Jew himself cannot be admitted into the kingdom of the Messiah unless he first strip himself of his Judaism by baptism, and then put off his carnal and put on a spiritual state. That by water here is meant baptism, I make no doubt: nor do I much less question but our Saviour goes on from thence to the second article of the evangelical doctrine. And as he had taught that towards the participation of the benefits to be had by the Messiah, it is of little or of no value for a man to be born of the seed of Abraham, or to be originally an Israelite, unless he was also born from above.
10. Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
[Art thou a master of Israel?] Art thou a Wise man in Israel? It was the answer of a boy to R. Joshua, when he asked him, “Which is the shortest way to the city? The boy answered, ‘This is the shortest way though it is the longest: and that is the longest way though it is the shortest.’ R. Joshua took that way which was the shortest, though the longest. When he came very near the city, he found gardens and places of pleasure hedged in [so that he could go no further]. He returned therefore to the boy, and said to him, ‘My son, is this the shortest way to the city?’ The boy answered, ‘Art thou a wise man in Israel? did I not thus say to thee, That is the shortest way though the longest?'” &c.
14. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
[And as Moses lifted up the serpent, &c.] The Jews dote horribly about this noble mystery. There are those in Bemidbar Rabba, that think that the brazen serpent was not affixed to a pole, but thrown up into the air by Moses, and there to have settled without any other support.
“Moses put up the serpent for a sign; as he that chastiseth his son sticks up the rod in some eminent place, where the child may see it, and remember.”
Thou shalt remove the mischief by that which did the mischief; and thou shalt heal the disease by that which made thee sick. The same hath R. Bechai; and both confess that it was a miracle within a miracle. But it is not for a Jew to understand the mystery; this is the Christian’s attainment only.
17. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
[Not to condemn the world.] In what sense (beside that which is most common and proper) the Jewish schools use the word the world, we may see from these and such like instances:
I. The whole world hath forsaken the Misnas, and followed the Gemara. Where something may be noted in the story as well as in the grammar of it.
So John 12:19: Behold the world is gone after him. We very often meet with All the world confesseth, &c. and The whole world doth not dissent, &c. By which kind of phrase, both amongst them and all other languages, is meant a very great number or multitude.
II. When they distinguish, as frequently they do, betwixt the poor of their own city, and the poor of the world; it is easy to discern, that by the poor of the world are meant those poor that come from any other parts.
III. “R. Ulla requires not only that every great man should be worthy of belief, but that the man of the world should be so too.” It is easy to conceive, that by the man of the world is meant any person, of any kind or degree.
IV. But it is principally worthy our observation, that they distinguish the whole world into Israel, and the nations of the world; the Israelites and the Gentiles. This distinction, by which they call the Gentiles the nations of the world, occurs almost in every leaf, so that I need not bring instances of this nature. Compare Luke 12:30 with Matthew 6:32; and that may suffice.
V. They further teach us, that the nations of the world are not only not to be redeemed, but to be wasted, destroyed, and trodden underfoot. “This seems to me to be the sense: the rod of the exactor shall not depart from Judah, until his Son shall come to whom belongs the subduing and breaking of the people; for he shall vanquish them all with the edge of his sword.” So saith Rambam upon that passage in Genesis 49.
“‘The morning cometh, and also the night,’ Isaiah 21:12. It will be the morning to Israel [when the Messiah shall come]; but it will be night to the nations of the world.”
“R. Abin saith, That the Holy Blessed God will make the elders of Israel sit down in a semicircle, himself sitting president, as the father of the Sanhedrim; and shall judge the nations of the world.”
“Then comes the thrashing; the straw they throw into the fire, the chaff into the wind; but the wheat they keep upon the floor: so the nations of the world shall be as the burning of a furnace; but Israel alone shall be preserved.”
I could be endless in passages of this nature out of these authors: but that which is very observable in all of them is this; That all those curses and dreadful judgments which God in his holy writ threatens against wicked men, they post it off wholly from themselves and their own nation, as if not at all belonging to them, devolving all upon the Gentiles and the nations of the world. So that it was not without great reason that the apostle asserteth, Romans 3:19, “Whatsoever things the law saith, it saith to them which are under the law.” Which yet they will by no means endure.
Christ, therefore, by this kind of phrase or scheme of speech, well enough known to Nicodemus, teacheth him (contrary to a vulgar opinion, which he also could not be ignorant of), that the Messiah should become a Redeemer and propitiation, as well to the Gentiles as to the Jews. They had taught amongst themselves, that God had no regard to the nations of the world, they were odious to him, and the Messiah, when he came, would destroy and condemn them: but the Truth saith, “God so loved the world, that he hath sent his Son not to condemn, but to save the world.” This very evangelist himself is the best commentator upon this expression, 1 John 2:2; “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world”; i.e. not for us Jews only, but for the nations of the world.
25. Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying.
[A question about purifying.] I. Question, Syriac, inquire: which calls to mind that which is so perpetually in use amongst the Talmudic authors; R. N. inquired of R. N.Whence that also, as familiarly used, If you ask I will tell you. If the word in this place be taken according to this scholastic use of it, as it may very well be, then we may expound this passage thus:
The disciples of John, having heard that Jesus did baptize also, they with the Jews inquire, what sort of purifying resulted from the baptism of Christ; whether that purified more than the baptism of John. They inquire jointly, Doth Jesus superinduce a baptism upon the baptism of John? and John his upon the baptisms or washing of the Jews? Whither will this purifying at last tend? and what virtue hath this of Jesus’ beyond that of John’s?
II. Or, if you will, suppose we that this be a dispute betwixt the disciples of St. John and the Jews about the legal purifications and the baptism now introduced: there is no doubt but both parties contended to the uttermost of their power.
27. John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.
[A man can receive nothing.] The rendering of this word receive , may be a little questioned. The Syriac hath it to receive. Perhaps it might be more fitly translatedto perceive or apprehend. For the Baptist seems in these words to rebuke the incredulity and stupidity of these men: q.d. “Ye see, by this very instance of yourselves, that no man can learn, perceive, or believe, unless it be given him from heaven. For ye yourselves are my witnesses, that I did prefer Jesus before myself, that I testified of him that he was the Son of God, the Lamb of God, &c.; and ye now would cavil against him, and prefer me before him. It is apparent that no one can perceive or discern what he ought to do, unless it be given from heaven.” Compare with this, verse 32, “No man receiveth his testimony.”
29. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.
[But the friend of the bridegroom.] Of which we have already spoken in our notes upon chapter 2.
His friend, that is, his ‘shoshebin.’ Where the Gloss hath this passage, which at first sight the reader may a little wonder at:
The friend of the bridegroom is not allowed him all the days of the nuptials. The sense is; He is not admitted to be a judge or witness for him all that time, wherein for certain days of the nuptials he is his shoshebin, or the friend of the bridegroom.
31. He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.
[He that is of the earth is earthly.] Mark but the antithesis, and you will not suspect any tautology:
1. He that is of the earth, and He that cometh from heaven. Where the antithesis is not so much between Christ and John, as betwixt Christ and all mankind.
2. He is of the earth, and He is above all. He that is of the earth is only of earthly degree, or rank: and he that is from heaven is above all degree.
3. He speaks of the earth, and what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth. He that is of the earth speaketh earthly things, and what he hath learned upon the earth; but he that is from heaven speaketh those things which he learned in heaven, viz., those things which he hath seen and heard from God. The Baptist seems to allude to the manner of bearing witness, and teaching. In matter of fact there was need of an eyewitness; in matter of doctrine, they delivered what they had heard from their Master.

Yochanan 2


Yochanan 2

1. And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:
[And the third day there was a marriage, &c.] A virgin marries on the fourth day of the week, and a widow on the fifth. “This custom came not in but from the decree of Ezra, and so onward: for the Sanhedrim doth not sit but on the second and the fifth days; but before the decree of Ezra, when the Sanhedrim assembled every day, then was it lawful to take a wife on any day.” There is a twofold reason given for this restraint:
I. The virgin was to be married on the fourth day of the week because the assembly of the twenty-three met on the fifth: so that if the husband should find his wife to be no virgin, but already violated, he might have recourse to the consistory in the heat of his displeasure, and procure just punishment for her according to law. But why then might they not as well marry on the first day of the week, seeing the Beth Dinmet on the second as well as the fifth?
II. Lest the sabbath should be polluted by preparations for the nuptials: for the first, second, and third days of the week are allowed for those kind of preparations. And the reason why the widow was to be married on the fifth day was, that her husband might rejoice with her for three days together, viz. fifth, sixth, and the sabbath day.
If therefore our bride in this place was a virgin, then the nuptials were celebrated on the fourth day of the week, which is our Wednesday: if she was a widow, then she was married on the fifth day of the week, which is our Thursday. Let us therefore number our days according to our evangelist, and let it be but granted that that was the sabbath in which it is said, “They abode with him all that day,” chapter 1, verse 39; then on the first day of the week Christ went into Galilee and met with Nathanael. So that the third day from thence is the fourth day of the week; but as to that, let every one reckon as he himself shall think fit.
[A marriage.] I. The virgin to be married cometh forth from her father’s house to that of her husband, “in some veil, but with her hair dishevelled, or her head uncovered.”
II. If any person meets her upon that day, he gives her the way; which once was done by king Agrippa himself.
III. They carry before her a cup of wine, which they were wont to call the cup of Trumah, which denoted that she, for her unspotted virginity, might have married a priest, and eaten of the Trumah.
IV. Skipping and dancing, they were wont to sing the praises of the bride. In Palestine they used these words “She needs no paint nor stibium, no plaiting of the hair, or any such thing; for she is of herself most beautiful.”
V. They scattered some kind of grain or corn amongst the children; that they, if occasion should serve, might bear witness hereafter that they saw that woman a married virgin.
VI. They sprinkled also or sowed barley before them, by that ceremony denoting their fruitfulness. Whether these sports were used at the wedding where our Saviour was present, let others inquire.
VII. In Sotah there is mention of crowns which the bride and bridegroom wore; as also what fashion they were of, and of what materials they were made.
VIII. Because of the mirth that was expected at nuptial solemnities, they forbade all weddings celebrating within the feasts of the Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles, “because there were great rejoicings at nuptials, and they must not intermingle one joy with another”; that is, the joy of nuptials with the joy of a festival.
IX. The nuptial festivity was continued for the whole seven days; which we also see of old, Judges 19:12.
[And the mother of Jesus was there.] The mother of Jesus was there, not invited (as it should seem) with Christ and his disciples, but had been there before the invitation made to them.
You may conceive who were the usual nuptial guests by those words of Maimonides: “The bridegroom and his companions, the children of the bridechamber, are not bound to make a tabernacle.”
I. In a more general sense, denotes a friend or companion, as in the Targum, Judges 14:2; 2 Samuel 13:3: but it is more particularly applied to those friends that are thenuptial guests.
II. But in a most strict sense to those two mentioned Chetubb. fol. 12. 1: “Of old they appointed two Shoshbenin, one for the bridegroom, the other for the bride, that they should minister to them especially at their entry into the bridal chamber.” They were especially instituted for this end, that they should take care and provide that there should be no fraud nor deceit as to the tokens of the bride’s virginity. So Gloss upon the place. The Rabbins very ridiculously (as they almost always do) tell a trifling story, that Michael and Gabriel were the two Shoshbenin at Adam and Eve’s wedding.
III. But as to the signification of this nuptial term in a more large sense, we may see farther: “If any amongst the brethren make a Shoshbenuth while the father is yet alive, when the Shoshbenuth returns, that also is returned too; for the Shoshbenuthis required even before the Beth Din; but if any one send to his friend any measures of wine, those are not required before the Beth Dinfor this was a deed of gift? orwork of charity.”
The words are very obscure, but they seem to bear this sense, viz.: This was the manner of the Shoshbenuth: some bachelor or single person, for joy of his friend’s marriage, takes something along with him to eat and be merry with the bridegroom: when it comes to the turn of this single person to marry, this bridegroom, to whom he had brought this portion, is bound to return the same kindness again. Nay, if the father should make a wedding for his son, and his friends should bring gifts along with them in honour of the nuptials, and give them to his son [the bridegroom], the father was bound to return the same kindness whenever any of those friends should think fit to marry themselves. But if any one should send the bridegroom to congratulate his nuptials, either wine or oil, or any such gift, and not come himself to eat and make merry with them, this was not of the nature of the Shoshbenuth, nor could be required back again before the tribunal, because that was a free gift.
IV. Christ therefore, and five of his disciples, were not of these voluntaryShoshbenin at this wedding, for they were invited guests, and so of the number of those that were called the children of the bridechamber, distinguished from theShoshbenin. But whether our Saviour’s mother was to be accounted either the one or the other is a vain and needless question. Perhaps she had the care of preparing and managing the necessaries for the wedding, as having some relation either with the bridegroom or the bride.
6. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
[Six waterpots.] Gloss, “If any one have water fit to drink, and that water by chance contract any uncleanness, let him fill the stone vessel with it.”
The number of the six waterpots, I suppose, needs not be ascribed to any custom of the nation, but rather to the multitude then present. It is true indeed that at nuptials and other feasts, there were waterpots always set for the guests to wash their hands at; but the number of the vessels and the quantity of water was always proportioned according to the number of the guests; for both the hands and vessels, and perhaps the feet of some of them, were wont to be washed.
Mashicala mashi culla, the greater vessel out of which all wash; maschilta mashia callatha, the lesser vessel in which the bride washes, and (saith the Gloss) the better sort of the guests.
[Firkins.] The Greek version thus expresseth the measure of a bath, 2 Chronicles 4:5: so Haggai 2:16, where the same measure of a bath is to be understood. Now if every one of these waterpots in our story contained two or three baths apiece, how great a quantity of wine must that be which all that water was changed into!
The waterpots of Lydda and Bethlehem: where the Gloss, “They were wont to make pots in Lydda from the measure of the seah to that of the log; and in Bethlehem from the measure of two seahs to that of one.” How big were these pots that contained six or nine seahs: for every bath contained three seahs.
As to the washing of the hands, we have this in Jadaim; “they allot a fourth part of a log for the washing of one person’s hands, it may be of two; half a log for three or four; a whole log to five or ten, nay, to a hundred; with this provision, saith R. Jose, that the last that washeth hath no less than a fourth part of a log for himself.”
7. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
[Jesus said, Fill, &c.] I. It is probable that the discourse betwixt Jesus and his mother was not public and before the whole company, but privately and betwixt themselves: which if we suppose, the words of the son towards the mother, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” will not seem so harsh as we might apprehend them if spoken in the hearing of all the guests. And although the son did seem by his first answer to give a plain denial to what was propounded to him, yet perhaps by something which he afterward said to her, (though not expressed by the evangelist,) or some other token, the mother understood his mind so far, that when they came into company again she could intimate to them, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.”
II. He answered his mother, “Mine hour is not yet come”: for it might be justly expected that the first miracle he would exert should be done in Jerusalem, the metropolis of that nation.
8. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.
[The governor of the feast.] This governor of the feast I would understand to have been in the place of chaplain, to give thanks, and pronounce blessings in such kind of feasts as these were. There was the bridegroom’s blessing, recited every day for the whole space of the seven days, besides other benedictions during the whole festival time, requisite upon a cup of wine (for over a cup of wine there used to be a blessing pronounced;) especially that which was called the cup of good news, when the virginity of the bride is declared and certified. He, therefore, who gave the blessing for the whole company, I presume, might be called the governor of the feast. Hence to him it is that our Saviour directs the wine that was made of water, as he who, after some blessing pronounced over the cup, should first drink of it to the whole company, and after him the guests pledging and partaking of it.
As to what is contained in verses 14, 15, and 16 of this chapter, I have already discussed that in Matthew 21:12.
18. Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?
[What sign showest thou unto us?] “Noah, Hezekiah, &c., require a sign; much more the wicked and ungodly.”
Since there had been so many, no less than four hundred years past, from the time that the Holy Spirit had departed from that nation, and prophecies had ceased, in which space there had not appeared any one person that pretended to the gift either of prophesying or working miracles, it is no wonder if they were suspicious of one that now claimed the character, and required a sign of him.
19. Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
[Destroy this Temple.] I. Christ showeth them no sign that was a mere sign, Matthew 12:39. The turning of Moses’ rod into a serpent, and returning the serpent into a rod again; the hand becoming leprous, and restored to its proper temperament again; these were mere signs; but those wonders which Moses afterward wrought in Egypt were not mere signs, but beneficent miracles; and whoever would not believe upon those infinite miracles which he wrought, would much less have believed upon mere signs. And, indeed, it was unbecoming our blessed Lord so far to indulge to their obstinate incredulity, to be showing newsigns still at every beck of theirs, who would not believe upon those infinite numbers he put forth upon every proper occasion.
II. Matthew 12:39,40. When they had required a sign, Christ remits them to the signof the prophet Jonah; and he points at the very same sense in these words, Destroy this Temple, &c.: that is, “My resurrection from the dead will be a sign beyond all denial, proving and affirming, that what I do I act upon divine authority, and that I am he who is to come (Rom 1:4). Further than this you must expect no other sign from me. If you believe me not while I do such works, at least believe me when I arise from the dead.”
He acted here, while he is purging the Temple, under that notion as he was the authorized Messiah, Malachi 3:1,3, and expressly calls it “his Father’s house,” verse 16. Show us therefore some sign, (say the Jews,) by which it may appear that thou art the Messiah the Son of God; at least, that thou art a prophet. I will show you a sufficient sign, saith Christ: destroy this temple, viz. of my body, and I will raise it from the dead again; a thing which was never yet done, nor could be done by any of the prophets.
20. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
[Forty-and-six years.] I. That this was spoken of the Temple as beautified and repaired by Herod, not as built by Zorobabel, these reasons seem to sway with me:
1. That these things were done and discoursed betwixt Christ and the Jews in Herod’s Temple.
2. That the account, if meant of the Temple of Zorobabel, will not fall in either with the years of the kings of Persia; or those seven weeks mentioned Daniel 9:25, in which Jerusalem was to be built, “even in troublous times.” For whoever reckons by the kings of Persia, he must necessarily attribute at least thirty years to Cyrus; which they willingly do that are fond of this account: which thirty years too, if they do not reckon to him after the time that he had taken Babylon, and subverted that monarchy, they prove nothing as to this computation at all.
“Cyrus destroyed the empire of the Medes, and reigned over Persia, having overthrown Astyages, the king of the Medes”: and from thence Eusebius reckons to Cyrus thirty years. But by what authority he ascribes the Jews’ being set at liberty from their captivity to that very same year, I cannot tell. For Cyrus could not release the Jews from their captivity in Babylon before he had conquered Babylon for himself; and this was a great while after he had subdued the Medes, as appears from all that have treated upon the subversion of that empire: which how they agree with Xenophon, I shall not inquire at this time: content at present with this, that it doth not appear amongst any historians that have committed the acts of Cyrus to memory, that they have given thirty or twenty, no, not ten years to him after he had taken Babylon. Leunclavius gives him but eight years; and Xenophon himself seems to have given him but seven. So that this account of forty-and-six years falls plainly to the ground, as not being able to stand, but with the whole thirty years of Cyrus included into the number.
Their opinion is more probable who make these forty-and-six years parallel with the seven weeks in Daniel 9:25. But the building of the Temple ceased for more years than wherein it was built; and, in truth, if we compute the times wherein any work was done upon the Temple, it was really built within the space of ten years.
II. This number of forty-six years fits well enough with Herod’s Temple; for Josephus tells us, that Herod began the work in the eighteenth year of his reign; nor does he contradict himself when he tells us, in the fifteenth year of his reign he repaired the Temple; because the fifteenth year of his reign alone, after he had conquered Antigonus, was the eighteenth year from the time wherein he had been declared king by the Romans. Now Herod (as the same Josephus relates) lived thirty-seven years from the time that the Romans had declared him king; and in his thirty-fifth year Christ was born; and he was now thirty years old when he had this discourse with the Jews. So that between the eighteenth of Herod and the thirtieth of Christ exclusively there were just forty-six years complete.
III. The words of our evangelist therefore may be thus rendered in English: “Forty-and-six years hath this Temple been in building”: and this version seems warranted by Josephus, who, beginning the history of G. Florus, the procurator of Judea, about the 11th of Nero, hath this passage; From that time particularly our city began to languish, all things growing worse and worse. He tells us further, that Albinus, when he went off from his government, set open all the gaols and dismissed the prisoners, and so filled the whole province with thieves and robberies. He tells withal, that king Agrippa permitted the Levite singing-men to go about as they pleased in their linen garments: and at length concludes, “And now was the Temple finished [note that]; wherefore the people, seeing the workmen, to the number of eighteen thousand, were at a stand, having nothing to do…besought the king that he would repair the porch upon the east,” &c. If therefore the Temple was not finished till that time, then much less was it so when Christ was in it. Whence we may properly enough render those words of the Jews into such a kind of sense as this: “It is forty-and-six years since the repairing of the Temple was first undertook, and indeed to this day is not quite perfected; and wilt thou pretend to build a new one in three days?”
21. But he spake of the temple of his body.
[But he spake of the temple of his body.] If we consider how much the second Temple came behind that of the first, it will the more easily appear why our blessed Saviour should call his body the Temple.
“In the second Temple there wanted the Fire from heaven, the Ark with the Propitiatory and Cherubims, Urim and Thummim, the Divine Glory, the Holy Ghost, and the anointing Oil.”
These things were all in Solomon’s Temple, which therefore was accounted a full and plenary type of the Messiah: but so long as the second Temple had them not, it wanted what more particularly shadowed and represented him.
I. There was indeed in the second Temple a certain ark in the Holy of Holies; but this was neither Moses’ ark nor the ark of the covenant: which may not unfitly come to mind when we read that passage, Revelation 11:19, “The Temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his Temple the ark of his testament.” It was not seen, nor indeed was it at all in the second Temple.
The Jews have a tradition, that Josias hid the ark before the Babylonish captivity, lest it should fall into the hands of the enemy, as once it did amongst the Philistines; but there is no mention that it was ever found and restored again.
II. In Moses’ Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple the divine presence sat visibly over the Ark in the Propitiatory, in a cloud of glory: but when the destruction of that Temple drew near, it went up from the Propitiatory, Ezekiel 10:4, and never returned into the second Temple, where neither the Ark nor the Propitiatory was ever restored.
III. The high priest, indeed, ministered in the second Temple as in the first, in eight several garments. Amongst these was the pectoral, or breastplate, wherein the precious stones were put (out of which the jasper chanced to fall and was lost): but the oracle by Urim and Thummim was never restored: see Ezra 2:63; Nehemiah 7:63. And if not restored in the days of Ezra or Nehemiah, much less certainly in the ages following, when the spirit of prophecy had forsaken and taken leave of that people. For that is a great truth amongst the Talmudists; “Things are not asked or inquired after now [by Urim and Thummim] by the high priest, because he doth not speak by the Holy Ghost, nor does there any divine afflatus breathe on him.”
This, to omit other things, was the state of Zorobabel’s Temple with respect to those things which were the peculiar glory of it. And these things being wanting, how much inferior must this needs be to that of Solomon’s!
But there was one thing that degraded Herod’s Temple still lower; and that was the person of Herod himself, to whom it is ascribed. It was not without scruple, even amongst the Jews themselves, that it was built and repaired by such a one: (and who knew not what Herod was?) and they dispute whether by right such a person ought to have meddled with it; and invent arguments for their own satisfaction as to the lawfulness of the thing.
They object first, It is not permitted to any one to demolish one synagogue till he hath built another: much less to demolish the Temple. But Herod demolished the Temple before he had built another. Ergo,
They answer, “Baba Ben Buta gave Herod that counsel, that he should pull it down.” Now this Baba was reckoned amongst the great wise men, and he did not rashly move Herod to such a work; for he saw such clefts and breaches in the Temple that threatened its ruin.
They object, secondly, concerning the person of Herod, that he was a servant to the Asmonean family, that he rose up against his masters and killed them, and had killed the Sanhedrim.
They answer, We were under his power, and could not resist it. And if those hands stained with blood would be building, it was not in their power to hinder it.
These and other things they apologize for their Temple; adding this invention for the greater honour of the thing–that all that space of time wherein it was a building, it never once rained by day, that the work might not be interrupted.
The Rabbins take a great deal of pains, but to no purpose, upon those words, Haggai 2:9, “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former.” “R. Jochanan and R. Eliezer say; one, that it was a greater for the fabric; the other, that it was greater for the duration.” As if the glory of the Temple consisted in any mathematical reasons of space, dimension, or duration; as if it lay in walls, gilding, or ornament. The glory of the first Temple was the Ark, the divine cloud over the Ark, the Urim and the Thummim, &c. Now where or in what can consist the greater gloryof the second Temple when these are gone?
Herein it is indeed that the Lord of the Temple was himself present in his Temple: he himself was present in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, Colossian 2:9; as the divine glory of old was over the ark typically, or by way of shadow only.
This is the glory, when he himself is present who is the great High Priest and the Prophet; who, answerably to the Urim and Thummim of old, reveals the counsels and will of God; he who is the true and living Temple, whom that Temple shadowed out. “This Temple of yours, O ye Jews, does not answer its first pattern and exemplar: there are wanting in that, what were the chief glory of the former; which very defect intimates that there is another Temple to be expected, that in all things may fall in with its first type, as it is necessary the antitype should do. And this is the Temple of my body.” No further did he think fit to reply to them at that time.

Yochanan 1


1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
[In the beginning was the Word.] In the beginning; in the same sense with Bereshith, In the beginning, in the history of the creation, Genesis 1:1. For the evangelist proposeth this to himself, viz. to shew how that, by the Word, by which the creation was perfected, the redemption was perfected also: That the second person in the holy Trinity, in the fulness of time, became our Redeemer, as in the beginning of time he had been our Maker. Compare this with verse 14:
Verse 1 
In the beginning was the Word. 
Was with God. 
The Word was God.
Verse 14 
The Word was made flesh. 
Dwelt among us. 
Was made flesh, and we beheld, &c.
[Was the Word.] There is no great necessity for us to make any very curious inquiry, whence our evangelist should borrow this title, when in the history of the creation we find it so often repeated, And God said. It is observed almost by all that have of late undertaken a commentary upon this evangelist, that the Word of the Lord, doth very frequently occur amongst the Targumists, which may something enlighten the matter now before us. “And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet the Word of the Lord.” “And the Word of the Lord accepted the face of Job.” And the Word of the Lord shall laugh them to scorn. “They believed in the name of his Word.” And my Word spared them. To add no more, Genesis 26:3, instead of “I will be with thee,” the Targum hath it And my Word shall be thine help. So Genesis 39:2, “And the Lord was with Joseph”: Targ. And the Word of the Lord was Joseph’s helper. And so, all along, that kind of phrase is most familiar amongst them…
4. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
[In him was life.] The evangelist proceeds from the creation by the Word, to the redemption of the world by the same Word. He had declared how this Word had given to all creatures their first being, verse 3; “All things were made by him”: and he now sheweth how he restored life to man when he lay dead in trespasses and sins. “Adam called his wife’s name Hevah, life,” [Eve, AV Chavah, margin] Genesis 3:20: the Greek reads Adam called his wife’s name, ‘Life.’ He called her Life who had brought in death; because he had now tasted a better life in the promise of the woman’s seed. To which it is very probable our evangelist had some reference in this place.
[And the life was the light of men.] Life through Christ was light arising in the darkness of man’s fall and sin; a light by which all believers were to walk. St. John seems in this clause to oppose the life and light exhibited in the gospel, to that lifeand light which the Jews boasted of in their law. They expected life from the works of the law, and they knew no greater light than that of the law; which therefore they extol with infinite boasts and praises which they give it. Take one instance for all: “God said, Let there be light. R. Simeon saith, Light is written there five times, according to the five parts of the law [i.e. the Pentateuch], and God said, Let there be light; according to the book of Genesis, wherein God, busying himself, made the world. And there was light; according to the book of Exodus, wherein the Israelites came out of darkness into light. And God saw the light that it was good; according to the Book of Leviticus, which is filled with rites and ceremonies. And God divided betwixt the light and the darkness; according to the Book of Numbers, which divided betwixt those that went out of Egypt, and those that entered into the land. And God called the light, day; according to the Book of Deuteronomy, which is replenished with manifold traditions.” A gloss this is upon light, full of darkness indeed!
5. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
[And the light shineth in darkness.] This light of promise and life by Christ shined in the darkness of all the cloudy types and shadows under the law and obscurity of the prophets. And those dark things ‘comprehended it not,’ i.e. did not so cloud and suppress it but it would break out; nor yet so comprehended it, but that there was an absolute necessity there should a greater light appear. I do so much the rather incline to such a paraphrase upon this place, because I observe the evangelist here treateth of the ways and means by which Christ made himself known to the world before his great manifestation in the flesh; first, in the promise of life, verse 4; next, by types and prophecies; and lastly, by John Baptist.
9. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
[Which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.] All the men that are in the world. “Doth not the sun rise upon all that come into the world?” “All that come into the word are not able to make one fly.” “In the beginning of the year, all that come into the world present themselves before the Lord.” There are numberless examples of this kind. The sense of the place is, that Christ, shining forth in the light of the gospel, is a light that lightens all the world. The light of the law shone only upon the Jews; but this light spreads wider, even over the face of the whole earth.
12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
[He gave them power.] He empowered them, so Ecclesiastes 5:19, and 6:2. He gave them the privilege, the liberty, the dignity, of being called and becoming the sons of God. Israel was once the son and the first-born, Exodus 4:22: but now the adoption of sons to God was open and free to all nations whatever.
13. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
[Which were born, not of blood.] It may be a question here, whether the evangelist in this place opposeth regeneration to natural generation, or only to those ways by which the Jews fancied men were made the sons of God. Expositors treat largely of the former: let us a little consider the latter.
I. Not of bloods. Observe the plural number: “Our Rabbins say, That all Israel had thrown off circumcision in Egypt–but at length they were circumcised, and the blood of the passover was mingled with the blood of the circumcised, and God accepted every one of them and kissed them.” “I said, while thou wert in thy bloods, Live: i.e. in the twofold blood, that of the passover, and that of the circumcision.” The Israelites were brought into covenant by three things; by circumcision, by washing, and by offering of sacrifices. In the same manner, a heathen, if he would be admitted into covenant, he must of necessity be circumcised, baptized, and offer sacrifice. We see how of bloods of the passover and circumcision, they say the Israelites were recovered from the degeneracy: and how of the bloods of circumcision and sacrifices (with the addition only of washing), they supposed the Gentiles might become the sons of God, being by their proselytism made Israelites, and the children of the covenant: for they knew of no other adoption or sonship.
II. Of the will of the flesh. In the same sense wherein the patriarchs and other Jews were ambitious by many wives to multiply children of themselves, as being of the seed of Israel and children of the covenant.
III. Of the will of man, in that sense wherein they coveted so many proselytes, to admit them into the religion of the Jews, and so into covenant and sonship with God.
These were the ways by which the Jews thought any became the sons of God, that is, by being made Israelites. But it is far otherwise in the adoption and sonship that accrues to us by the gospel.
14. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.
[The glory as of the only begotten.] This glory in this place imports the same thing as worthy. We saw his glory as what was worthy or became the only-begotten Son of God. He did not glister in any worldly pomp or grandeur according to what the Jewish nation fondly dreamed their Messiah would do; but he was decked with the glory, holiness, grace, truth, and the power of miracles.
16. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
[And grace for grace.] He appeared amongst us full of grace and truth; and all we who conversed with him, and saw his glory, “of his fulness did receive” grace and truth. Nay farther, we received grace towards the propagation of grace, i.e. thegrace of apostleship, that we might dispense and propagate the grace of the gospel towards others.
21. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
[Art thou that prophet?] That is, Luke 9:8,19, one of the old prophets that was risen again.
I. The Masters of Traditions were wont to say that “the spirit of prophecy departed from Israel after the death of Zechariah and Malachi.” So that we do not find they expected any prophet till the days of the Messiah; nor indeed that any, in that interim of time, did pretend to that character.
II. They believed that at the coming of the Messiah the prophets were to rise again.
“‘Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice, with the voice together shall they sing,’ Isaiah 52:8. R. Chaia Bar Abba and R. Jochanan say, All the prophets shall put forth a song with one voice.”
“All the just whom God shall raise from the dead shall not return again into the dust.” Gloss, “Those whom he shall raise in the days of the Messiah.”
To this resurrection of the saints they apply that of Micah 5:5: “We shall raise against him seven shepherds; David in the middle, Adam, Seth, Methuselah on his right hand; Abraham, Jacob, and Moses on his left. And eight principal men: but who are these? Jesse, Saul, Samuel, Amos, Zephaniah, Zedekiah [or rather Hezekiah, as Kimch. in loc.], Messiah and Elijah. But indeed [saith R. Solomon] I do not well know whence they had these things.” Nor indeed do I.
The Greek interpreters, instead of eight principal men have eight bitings of men, a very foreign sense.
Hence by how much nearer still the ‘kingdom of heaven,’ or the expected time of Messiah’s coming, drew on, by so much the more did they dream of the resurrection of the prophets. And when any person of more remarkable gravity, piety, and holiness appeared amongst them, they were ready to conceive of him as a prophet raised from the dead, Matthew 16:14. That therefore is the meaning of this question, “Art thou one of the prophets raised from the dead?”
25. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?
[Why then baptizest thou?] The Jews likewise expected that the world should be renewed at the coming of the Messiah. “In those years wherein God will renew his world.” Aruch, quoting these words, adds, “In those thousand years.” So also the Gloss upon the place.
Amongst other things, they expected the purifying of the unclean. R. Solomon upon Ezekiel 36:26; “I will expiate you, and remove your uncleanness, by the sprinkling of the water of purification.” Kimchi upon Zechariah 9:6; “The Rabbins of blessed memory have a tradition that Elias will purify the bastards and restore them to the congregation.” You have the like in Kiddushin, Elias comes to distinguish the unclean and purify them, &c.
When therefore they saw the Baptist bring in such an unusual rite, by which he admitted the Israelites into a new rule of religion, they ask him by what authority he doth these things if he himself were not either the Messiah or Elias, or one of the prophets raised from the dead.
It is very well known that they expected the coming of Elias, and that, from the words of Malachi 4:5, not rightly understood. Which mistake the Greek version seems to patronise; I will send you Elias the Tishbite; which word the Tishbite, they add of themselves in favour of their own tradition; which indeed is too frequent a usage in that version to look so far asquint towards the Jewish traditions as to do injury to the sacred text.
29. The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
[The Lamb of God.] St. John alludes plainly to the lamb of the daily sacrifice. Which in shadow took away the sins of Israel.
I. It was commanded in the law that he that offered the sacrifice should lay his hand upon the head of the sacrifice, Leviticus 1:4, 3:2, 4:4, &c.
II. The reason of which usage was, that he might, as it were, transfer his sins and guilt upon the head of the offering, which is more especially evident in the scapegoat, Leviticus 16:22.
Hence Christ is said “himself to have borne our sins in his own body on the tree,” 1 Peter 2:24, as the offering upon the altar was wont to do. He was made by God a “sin for us,” 2 Corinthians 5:21; that is, a sacrifice for sin.
III. The same rite was used about the lamb of the daily sacrifice that was offered for all Israel; “The stationary men [as they were called], or the substitutes of the people, laying their hands upon the head of the lamb.”
To this therefore the words of the Baptist refer: “The lamb of God, that is, the daily sacrifice, taketh away the sins of the world, as the sacrifice did for all Israel. But behold here the true Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world.”
38. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master), where dwellest thou?
[Where dwellest thou?] The proper and most immediate sense of this is, Where dwellest, or, Where lodgest thou? But I could willingly render it as if it had been said, ‘Where dost thou keep thy sabbath?’ and from thence conjecture that day was the evening of the sabbath. For whereas it is said, “and they abode with him that day,” it would be a little hard to understand it of the day that was now almost gone; and therefore we may suppose it meant of the following day, for it is added it was now the tenth hour. It was about the middle of our November when these things fell out in Bethabara, as will easily appear to any one that will be accurate in calculating the times, and that little that was left of that day was then the tenth hour. It was then about sunset, and, as it were, the entrance of a new day: so that it might more properly have been said, “They abode with him that night,” rather than that day; only the evangelist seems to point out that they remained with him the next day; which that it was the sabbath I will not so much contend, as (not without some reason) suppose.
“Caesar, for two reasons, would not fight that day; partly because he had no soldiers in the ships, and partly because it was after the tenth hour of the day.”
41. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
[He findeth his brother.] So “Rab Nachman Bar Isaac found him with Rab Houna“: and many such-like expressions, in the Talmudic authors, as also We have found!
42. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.
[The son of Jona.] I do not see any reason why the word Joannes, or Joannas, should be here put for Jona; or why any should contend (as many do) that it should be the same with Joannas.
I. In the third chapter of St. Luke the name of Jochanan is sounded three ways in the Greek pronunciation of it, Janna, verse 24; Joanna, verse 27; and Jonan, verse 30: but never Jona.
II. Jona was a name amongst the Jews very commonly used, and we meet with it frequently in the Talmudic authors written Jonah: why, therefore, should not Peter’s father be allowed the name of Jonah as well as that of John?
III. Especially when this son of Jonah imitated the great prophet of that name in this, that both preached to the Gentiles, and both began their journey from Joppa.
[Which is by interpretation, A stone.] So Acts 9:26, “Tabitha, which, being interpreted, is Dorcas“: Beza, Caprea, a goat. But what! do the holy penmen of the Scriptures make lexicons, or play the schoolmasters, that they should only teach that the Syriac word Cepha signifies in the Greek language a stone; and Tabitha, Dorcas, that is, a goat? No; they rather teach what Greek proper names answer to those Syriac proper names: for the Syriac proper name is here rendered into the Greek proper name, and not an appellative into an appellative, nor a proper name into an appellative.
But let the Vulgar have what it desires, and be it so, “Thou shalt be called a rock”; yet you will scarce grant that our blessed Saviour should call Simon a rock in the direct and most ordinary sense; “There is no rock save our God,” 2 Samuel 22:32: where the Greek interpreters, instead of a rock, have the Creator. Which word St. Peter himself makes use of, 1 Peter 4:19, showing who is that rock indeed.
There is a rock, or ‘stone of stumbling,’ indeed, as well as a ‘foundation-stone’; and this stone of stumbling hath St. Peter been made, to the fall of many thousands; not by any fault of his, but theirs, who, through ignorance or frowardness, or both, will esteem him as a rock upon which the church is built.
If, therefore, they will so pertinaciously adhere to that version, Et tu vocaberis Petra, let it be rendered into English thus, Thou wilt be called a rock: and let us apprehend our blessed Lord speaking prophetically, and foretelling that grand error that should spring up in the church, viz., that Peter is a rock, than which the Christian world hath not known any thing more sad and destructive.
46. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
[Come and see.] Nothing more common in the Talmudic authors than Come and behold, come and see.
47. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!
[An Israelite indeed.] Compare it with Isaiah 63:8. “I saw thee (saith Christ) when thou wert under the fig tree.” What doing there? Doubtless not sleeping, or idling away his time, much less doing any ill thing. This would not have deserved so remarkable an encomium as Christ gave him. We may therefore suppose him, in that recess under the fig tree, as having sequestered himself from the view of men, either for prayer, meditation, reading, or some such religious performance; and so indeed from the view of men, that he must needs acknowledge Jesus for the Messiah for that very reason, that, when no mortal eye could see, he saw and knew that he was there. Our Saviour, therefore, calls him an “Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile,” because he sought out that retirement to pray, so different from the usual craft and hypocrisy of that nation, that were wont to pray publicly, and in the streets, that they might be seen of men.
And here Christ gathered to himself five disciples, viz., Andrew, Peter, Philip, Nathanael (who seems to be the same with Bartholomew), and another, whose name is not mentioned, verse 35, 40; whom, by comparing John 21:2, we may conjecture to have been Thomas.
51. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
[Verily, verily.] If Christ doubled his affirmation, as we here find it, why is it not so doubled in the other evangelists? If he did not double it, why is it so here?
I. Perhaps the asseveration he useth in this place may not be to the same things and upon the same occasion to which he useth the single Amen in other evangelists.
II. Perhaps, also, St. John, being to write for the use of the Hellenists, might write the word in the same Hebrew letters wherein Christ used it, and in the same letters also wherein the Greeks used it, retaining still the same Hebrew idiom.
III. But, however, it may be observed, that, whereas by all others the word Amen was generally used in the latter end of a speech or sentence, our Lord only useth it in the beginning, as being himself the Amen, Revelation 3:14; and Isaiah 65:16, the God of truth.
So that that single Amen which he used in the other evangelists contained in it the germination, Amen, Amen. I, the Amen, the true and faithful witness, Amen, i.e. “of a truth do say unto you,” &c. Nor did it become any mortal man to speak Amen in the beginning of a sentence in the same manner as our Saviour did. Indeed, the very Masters of Traditions, who seemed to be the oracles of that nation, were wont to say, I speak in truth; but not “Amen, I say unto you.”
IV. Amen contains in it Yea and Amen; 2 Corinthians 1:20; Revelation 1:7; i.e. truthand stability, Isaiah 25:1. Interlin. faithfulness and truth. The other evangelists express the word which our Saviour useth: St. John doubles it, to intimate the full sense of it.
I have been at some question with myself, whether I should insert in this place the blasphemous things which the Talmudic authors belch out against the holy Jesus, in allusion (shall I say?) or derision of this word Amen, to which name he entitled himself, and by which asseveration he confirmed his doctrines. But that thou mightest, reader, both know, and with equal indignation abhor, the snarlings and virulency of these men, take it in their own words, although I cannot without infinite reluctancy allege what they with all audaciousness have uttered.
They have a tradition, that Imma Shalom, the wife of R. Eliezer, and her brother Rabban Gamaliel, went to a certain philosopher (the Gloss hath it ‘a certain heretic’) of very great note for his integrity in giving judgment in matters, and taking no bribes. The woman brings him a golden candlestick, and prayeth him that the inheritance might be divided in part to her. Rabban Gamaliel objects, “It is written amongst us, that the daughter shall not inherit instead of the son. But the philosopher answered, ‘Since the time that you were removed from your land, the law of Moses was made void: and Aven was given‘ [he means the Gospel, but marks it with a scurrilous title]; and in that it is written, The son and the daughter shall inherit together. The next day Rabban Gamaliel brought him, a Libyan ass. Then saith he unto them, ‘I have found at the end of Aven [i.e. the Gospel] that it is written there, I, Aven, came not to diminish, but to add to the law of Moses'”: where he abuseth both the name of our Saviour and his words too, Matthew 5:17.
And now, after our just detestation of this execrable blasphemy, let us think what kind of judge this must be, to whose judgment Rabban Gamaliel, the president of the Sanhedrim, and his sister, wife to the great Eliezer, should betake themselves. A Christian, as it should seem by the whole contexture of the story; but, alas! what kind of Christian, that should make so light of Christ and his gospel! However, were he a Christian of what kind soever, yet if there be any truth in this passage, it is not unworthy our taking notice of it, both as to the history of those times, and also as to that question, Whether there were any Christian judges at that time?
[Ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God, &c.] There are those that in this place observe an allusion to Jacob’s ladder. The meaning of this passage seems to be no other than this: “Because I said, ‘I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou?’ Did this seem to thee a matter of such wonder? ‘Thou shalt see greater things than these.’ For you shall in me observe such plenty, both of revelation and miracle, that it shall seem to you as if the heavens were opened and the angels were ascending and descending, to bring with them all manner of revelation, authority, and power from God, to be imparted to the Son of man.” Where this also is included, viz., that angels must in a more peculiar manner administer unto him, as in the vision of Jacob the whole host of angels had been showed and promised to him in the first setting out of his pilgrimage.
Of this ladder the Rabbins dream very pleasantly: “The ladder is the ascent of the altar and the altar itself. The angels are princes or monarchs. The king of Babylon ascended seventy steps; the king of the Medes fifty-and-two; the king of Greece one hundred and eighty; the king of Edom, it is uncertain how many,” &c. They reckon the breadth of the ladder to have been about eight thousand parasangae, i.e. about two-and-thirty thousand miles; and that the bulk of each angel was about eight thousand English miles in compass. Admirable mathematicians these indeed!

Matthew 26


Of the present Authority of the Council, and of its Place.
3. Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas.
[Assembled together unto the palace of the high priest.] Those ominous prodigies are very memorable, which are related by the Talmudists to have happened forty years before the destruction of the Temple.
“A tradition. Forty years before the Temple was destroyed, the western candle” (that is, the middlemost in the holy candlestick) “was put out. And the crimson tongue” (that was fastened to the horns of the scapegoat, or the doors of the Temple) “kept its redness. And the lot of the Lord” (for the goat that was to be offered up on the day of Expiation) “came out on the left hand. And the gates of the Temple, which were shut over night, were found open in the morning. Rabban Jochanan Ben Zaccai said, ‘Therefore, O Temple, wherefore dost thou trouble us? we know thy fate; namely, that thou art to be destroyed: for it is said, Open, O Lebanon, thy gates, that the flame may consume thy cedars.'” “A tradition. Forty years before the Temple was destroyed, judgment in capital causes was taken away from Israel.” “Forty years before the Temple was destroyed, the council removed and sat in the sheds.”
With these two last traditions lies our present business. What the Jews said, John 18:31, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death, signifies the same thing with the tradition before us, “Judgments in capital causes are taken away from Israel.” When were they first taken away? “Forty years before the destruction of the Temple,” say the Talmudists: no doubt before the death of Christ; the words of the Jews imply so much. But how were they taken away? It is generally received by all that the Romans did so far divest the council of its authority, that it was not allowed by them to punish any with death; and this is gathered from those words of the Jews, “It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.”
But if this, indeed, be true, 1. What do then those words of our Saviour mean, they will deliver you up to the councils? 2. How did they put Stephen to death? 3. Why was Paul so much afraid to commit himself to the council, that he chose rather to appeal to Caesar?
The Talmudists excellently well clear the matter: “What signifieth that tradition (say they) of the removal of the council forty years before the ruin of the Temple? Rabh Isaac Bar Abdimi saith, ‘It signifieth thus much, that they did not judge of fines.'” And a little after; “But R. Nachman Bar Isaac saith, ‘Do not say that it did not judge of fines, but that it did not judge in capital causes.’ And the reason was this, because they saw murderers so much increase that they could not judge them. They said therefore, ‘It is fit that we should remove from place to place, that so we may avoid the guilt.'” That is, the number and boldness of thieves and murderers growing so great that, by reason thereof, the authority of the council grew weak, and neither could nor dared put them to death. “It is better (say they) for us to remove from hence, out of this chamber Gazith, where, by the quality of the place, we are obliged to judge them, than that, by sitting still here, and not judging them, we should render ourselves guilty.” Hence it is that neither in the highest nor in the inferior councils any one was punished with death. (“For they did not judge of capital matters in the inferior councils in any city, but only when the great council sat in the chamber Gazith,” saith the Gloss.) The authority of them was not taken away by the Romans, but rather relinquished by themselves. The slothfulness of the council destroyed its own authority. Hear it justly upbraided in this matter: “The council which puts but one to death in seven years is called Destruction. R. Lazar Ben Azariah said, ‘Which puts one to death in seventy years.’ R. Tarphon and R. Akiba said, ‘If we had been in the council’ (when it judged of capital matters), ‘there had none ever been put to death by it.’ R. Simeon Ben Gamaliel said, ‘These men have increased the number of murderers in Israel.'” Most certainly true, O Simeon! for by this means the power of the council came to be weakened in capital matters, because they, either by mere slothfulness, or by a foolish tenderness, or, as indeed the truth was, by a most fond estimation of an Israelite as an Israelite, they so far neglected to punish bloodshed and murder, and other crimes, till wickedness grew so untractable that the authority of the council trembled for fear of it, and dared not kill the killers. In this sense their saying must be understood, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: their authority of judging not being taken from them by the Romans, but lost by themselves, and despised by their people.
Notwithstanding it was not so lost, but that sometimes they exercised it; namely, when they observed they might do it safely and without danger. “Dat veniam corvis,” &c spares crows, but vexeth pigeons. Thieves, murderers, and wicked men armed with force, they dared not call into their judgment; they were afraid of so desperate a crew: but to judge, condemn, torture, and put to death poor men and Christians, from whom they feared no such danger, they dreaded it not, they did not avoid it. They had been ready enough at condemning our Saviour himself to death if they had not feared the people, and if Providence had not otherwise determined of his death.
We may also, by the way, add that also which follows after the place above cited, In the day of Simeon Ben Jochai, judgments of pecuniary matters were taken away from Israel. In the same tract this is said to have been in “the days of Simeon Ben Shetah,” long before Christ was born: but this is an error of the transcribers.
But now, if the Jewish council lost their power of judging in pecuniary causes by the same means as they lost it in capital, it must needs be that deceits, oppressions, and mutual injuries were grown so common and daring that they were let alone, as being above all punishment. The Babylonian Gemarists allege another reason; but whether it be only in favour of their nation, this is no fit place to examine.
That we may yet further confirm our opinion, that the authority of that council in capital matters was not taken away by the Romans, we will produce two stories, as clear examples of the thing we assert: one is this; “R. Lazar son of R. Zadok said, ‘When I was a little boy, sitting on my father’s shoulders, I saw a priest’s daughter that had played the harlot compassed round with fagots and burnt.'” The council no doubt judging and condemning her, and this after Judea had then groaned many years under the Roman yoke; for that same R. Lazar saw the destruction of the city.
The other you have in the same tract, where they are speaking of the manner of pumping out evidence against a heretic and seducer of the people: “They place (say they) two witnesses in ambush, in the inner part of the house, and him in the outward, with a candle burning by him that they may see and hear him. Thus they dealt with Ben Satda in Lydda. They placed two disciples of the wise in ambush for him, and they brought him before the council, and stoned him.” The Jews openly profess that this was done to him in the days of R. Akiba, long after the destruction of the city; and yet then, as you see, the council still retained its authority in judging of capital causes. They might do it for all the Romans, if they dared do it to the criminals.
But so much thus far concerning its authority: let us now speak of its present seat. “The council removed from the chamber Gazith to the sheds, from the sheds into Jerusalem, from Jerusalem to Jafne, from Jafne to Osha, from Osha to Shepharaama, from Shepharaama to Bethshaarim, from Bethshaarim to Tsippor, from Tsippor to Tiberias,” &c. We conjecture that the great bench was driven from its seat, the chamber Gazith, half a year, or thereabout, before the death of Christ; but whether they sat then in the sheds [a place in the Court of the Gentiles] or in the city, when they debated about the death of Christ, does not clearly appear, since no authors make mention how long it sat either here or there. Those things that are mentioned in chapter 27:4-6, seem to argue that they sat in the Temple; these before us, that they sat in the city. Perhaps in both places; for it was not unusual with them to return thither, as occasion served, from whence they came; only to the chamber Gazith they never went back. Whence the Gloss upon the place lately cited, “They sat in Jafne in the days of Rabban Jochanan; in Osha, in the days of Rabban Gamaliel; for they returned from Osha to Jafne,” &c. Thus the council, which was removed from Jerusalem to Jafne before the destruction of the city, returned thither at the feast, and sat as before. Hence Paul is brought before the council at Jerusalem when Jafne at that time was its proper seat. And hence Rabban Simeon, president of the council, was taken and killed in the siege of the city; and Rabban Jochanan his vice-president was very near it, both of them being drawn from Jafne to the city, with the rest of the bench, for observation of the Passover.
Whether the hall of the high priest were the ordinary receptacle for the council, or only in the present occasion, we do not here inquire. It is more material to inquire concerning the bench itself, and who sat president in judging. The president of the council at this time was Rabban Gamaliel, (Paul’s master,) and the vice-president, Rabban Simeon his son, or Rabban Jochanan Ben Zaccai (which we do not dispute now). Whence therefore had the chief priest, here and in other places, the precedence and the chief voice in judging? For thus in Stephen’s case the high priest is the chief of the inquisition, Acts 7:1; also in Paul’s case, Acts 23:2, see also Acts 9:1. Had the priests a council and judgment seat of their own? or might they in the chief council, when the president was absent, hear causes of life and death? To this long question, and that enough perplexed, we reply these few things:
I. We confess, indeed, that the priests had a bench and council of their own, yet denying that there was a double council, one for ecclesiastical, the other for civil affairs, as some would have it.
We meet often with mention of the chamber of the counsellors, next the court…Concerning which thus the Babyl. Joma: “The tradition of R. Juda. What, was it the chamber of? Was it not the chamber of the counsellors? At first it was called the chamber of the counsellors: but when the high priesthood came to be bought with money, and changed yearly as the king’s presidents are changed every year, from that time forward it was called the chamber of the presidents.”
Hear the Glosser on this place: “The high priests were wicked, and did not fulfil their whole year; and he that succeeded the other changed this building and adorned it, that it might be called by his own name.” Hear also the Gemara: “The first Temple stood four hundred and ten years, and there were not above eighteen priests under it. The second stood four hundred and twenty years, and there were more than three hundred under it. Take out forty years of Simeon the Just, eighty of Jochanan, ten of Ismael Ben Phabi, and eleven of Eleazar Ben Harsum, and there doth not remain one whole year to each of the rest.”
Behold the chamber of the counsellors, properly so called, because the priests did meet and sit there not to judge, but to consult; and that only of things belonging to the Temple! Here they consulted, and took care that all persons and things belonging and necessary to the worship of God should be in readiness; that the buildings of the Temple and the courts should be kept in repair; and that the public Liturgy should be duly performed: but in the meantime they wanted all power of judging and punishing; they had not authority to fine, scourge, or put to death, yea, and in a word, to exercise any judgment; for by their own examination and authority they could not admit a candidate into the priesthood, but he was admitted by the authority of the council: “In the chamber Gazith sat the council of Israel, and held the examinations of priests: whosoever was not found fit was sent away in black clothes, and a black veil; whosoever was found fit was clothed in white, and had a white veil, and entered and ministered with his brethren the priests.”
2. We meet also with mention of the council house of the priests. “The high priests made a decree, and did not permit an Israelite to carry the scapegoat into the wilderness.” But in the Gloss, The council of the priests did not permit this. “The council of the priests exacted for the portion of a virgin four hundred zuzees, and the wise men did not hinder it.”
First, This was that council of which we spoke before in the chamber of the counsellors. Secondly, That which was decreed by them concerning the carrying away of the scapegoat belonged merely to the service of the Temple, as being a caution about the right performance of the office in the day of atonement. Thirdly, and that about the portion of a virgin was nothing else but what any Israelite might do: and so the Gemarists confess; “If any noble family in Israel (say they) would do what the priests do, they may.” The priests set a price upon their virgins, and decreed by common consent, that not less than such a portion should be required for them; which was lawful for all the Israelites to do for their virgins if they pleased.
3. There is an example brought of “Tobias a physician, who saw the new moon at Jerusalem, he and his son, and his servant whom he had freed. The priests admitted him and his son for witnesses, his servant they rejected: but when they came before the bench, they admitted him and his servant, and rejected his son.” Observe, 1. That the council is here opposed to the priests. 2. That it belonged to the council to determine of the new moon, because on that depended the set times of the feasts: this is plain enough in the chapter cited. 3. That what the priests did was matter of examination only, not decree.
4. “The elders of the city (Deut 22:18) are the triumvirate bench”: ‘at the gate’ (v 24) means the bench of the chief priest. The matter there in debate is about a married woman, who is found by her husband to have lost her virginity, and is therefore to be put to death: Deuteronomy 22:13, &c. In that passage, among other things, you may find these words, verse 18: “And the elders of that city shall lay hold of that man and scourge him.” The Gemarists take occasion from thence to define what the phrase there and in other places means, “The elders of the city”: and what is the meaning of the word gate, when it relates to the bench: “That (say they) signifies the triumvirate bench: this the bench or council of the high priest”: that is, unless I be very much mistaken, every council of twenty-three; which is clear enough both from the place mentioned and from reason itself:
1. The words of the place quoted are these: “R. Bon Bar Chaija inquired before R. Zeira, What if the father [of the virgin] should produce witnesses which invalidate the testimony of the husband’s witnesses? if the father’s witnesses are proved false, he must be whipped, and pay a hundred selaim in the triumvirate court; but the witnesses are to be stoned by the bench of the twenty-three, &c. R. Zeira thought that this was a double judgment: but R. Jeremias, in the name of R. Abhu, that it was but a single one: but the tradition contradicts R. Abhu; for To the elders of the city, verse 5, is, To the triumvirate-bench, but at the gate, means the bench of the high priest.” It is plain, that the bench of the high priest is put in opposition to the triumvirate bench; and, by consequence, that it is either the chief council, or the council of the twenty-three, or some other council of the priests, distinct from all these. But it cannot be this third, because the place cited in the Talmudists, and the place in the law cited by the Talmudists, plainly speak of such a council, which had power of judging in capital causes. But they that suppose the ecclesiastical council among the Jews to have been distinct from the civil, scarce suppose that that council sat on capital causes, or passed sentence of death; much less is it to be thought that that council sat only on life and death; which certainly ought to be supposed from the place quoted, if the council of the high priestdid strictly signify such a council of priests. Let us illustrate the Talmudical words with a paraphrase: R. Zeira thought, that that cause of a husband accusing his wife for the loss of her virginity belonged to the judgment of two benches; namely, of the triumvirate, which inflicted whipping and pecuniary mulcts; and of the ‘twenty-three,’ which adjudged to death; but Rabbi Abhu thinks it is to be referred to the judgment of one bench only. But you are mistaken, good Rabbi Abhu; and the very phrase made use of in this case refutes you; for the expression which is brought in, “To the elders of the city,” signifies the triumviral bench; and the phrase, “at the gate,” signifies the bench of twenty-three; for the chief council never at in the gate.
2. Now the council of twenty-three is called by the Talmudists the bench, or the council of the chief priest, alluding to the words of the lawgiver, Deuteronomy 17:9, where the word priests denotes the inferior councils, and judge the chief council.
II. In the chief council, the president sat in the highest seat, (being at this time, when Christ was under examination, Rabban Gamaliel, as we said); but the high priest excelled him in dignity everywhere: for the president of the council was chosen not so much for his quality, as for his learning and skill in traditions. He was (a phrase very much used by the author of Juchasin, applied to presidents), that is, keeper, father, and deliver of traditions; and he was chosen to this office, who was fittest for these things. Memorable is the story of Hillel’s coming to the presidentship, being preferred to the chair for this only thing, because he solved some doubts about the Passover, having learned it, as he saith himself, from Shemaiah and Abtalion. We will not think it much to transcribe the story: “The sons of Betira once forgot a tradition: for when the fourteenth day [on which the Passover was to be celebrated] fell out on the sabbath, they could not tell whether the Passover should take place of the sabbath or no. But they said, There is here a certain Babylonian, Hillel by name, who was brought up under Shemaiah and Abtalion; he can resolve us whether the Passover should take place of the sabbath or no. They sent therefore for him, and said to him, ‘Have you ever heard in your life, [that is, have you received any tradition,] whether, when the fourteenth day falls on the sabbath, the Passover should take place of the sabbath or no?’ He answered, ‘Have we but one Passover that takes place of the sabbath yearly? or are there not many Passovers that put by the sabbath yearly? namely, the continual sacrifice.’ He proved this by arguments a pari, from the equality of it, from the less to the greater, &c. But they did not admit of this from him, till he said, ‘May it thus and thus happen to me, if I did not hear this of Shemaiah and Abtalion.’ When they hear this they immediately submitted, and promoted him to the presidentship,” &c.
It belonged to the president chiefly to sum up the votes of the elders, to determine of a tradition, to preserve it, and transmit it to posterity; and, these things excepted, you will scarce observe any thing peculiar to him in judging which was not common to all the rest. Nothing therefore hindered but that the high priest and the other priests (while he excelled in quality, and they in number) might promote acts in the council above the rest, and pursue them with the greatest vigour; but especially when the business before them was about the sum of religion, as it was here, and in the examples alleged of Paul and Stephen. It was lawful for them, to whose office it peculiarly belonged to take care of scared things, to show more officious diligence in matters where these were concerned than other men, that they might provide for their fame among men, and the good of their places. The council, indeed, might consist of Israelites only, without either Levites or priests, in case such could not be found fit: “Thus it is commanded that in the great council there should be Levites and priests; but if such are not to be found, and the council consists of other Israelites only, it is lawful.” But such a scarcity of priests and Levites is only supposed, was never found; they were always a great part, if not the greatest, of the council. Rabban Jochanan Ben Zacchai, the priest, was either now vice-president of the council, or next to him. Priests were everywhere in such esteem with the people and with the council, and the dignity and veneration of the high priest was so great, that it is no wonder if you find him and them always the chief actors, and the principal part in that great assembly.
6. Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper.
[Now when Jesus was in Bethany, &c.] That this supper in Bethany was the same with that mentioned John 13, I dare venture to affirm; however that be taken by very many for the paschal supper. Let us examine the matter a little home:
I. This supper was before the Passover; so was that: that this was, none need doubt; no more may they of the other, if we consider these things:
1. It is said by John in express words, before the feast of the Passover, verse 1, Passover, indeed, not seldom signifies the lamb itself; sometimes the very time of eating the lamb; sometimes the sacrifice of the day following, as John 18:28. But the feast of the Passover, alway signifies the whole seven days’ paschal feast, both in the language of the Scripture and of the Talmudists: a Jew would laugh at one that should interpret it otherways.
2. When Christ said to Judas going out, “What thou doest, do quickly,” some thought he meant this, “Buy those things that we have need of against the feast,” at the twenty-ninth verse. For what feast, I pray? for the paschal supper? That, according to the interpreters which we here oppose, was just past. For the remaining part of the feast of that solemnity? Alas, how unseasonable! Where were those things, I pray, then to be bought, if this were the very night on which they had just eaten the lamb? The night of a feast day was festival: where were there any such markets to be found then? It was an unusual thing indeed, and unheard of, to rise from the paschal supper to go to market: a market on a festival-night was unusual and unheard of. It would argue some negligence, and a little good husbandry, if those things that were necessary for the feast were not yet provided; but that they must be to run, now late at night, to buy those things they knew not where, they knew not how. It is certainly very harsh, and contrary to reason, to understand these things thus, when, from the first verse, the sense is very plain, before the feast of the Passover. The Passover was not yet come, but was near at hand: the disciples, therefore, thought that our Saviour had given order to Judas to provide all those things that were necessary to the paschal solemnity against it came.
3. Observe that also of Luke 22:3, &c.: “Satan entered into Judas, and he went his way, and communed with the chief priests,” &c. And after, in the seventh verse, “Then came the day of unleavened bread.” Hence I inquire, Is the method of Luke direct or no? If not, let there be some reason given of the transposition; if it be direct, then it is plain that the devil entered into Judas before the Passover: but he entered into him at that supper in John 13:27; therefore that supper was before the Passover. For,
4. Let them who take that supper in John 13 for the paschal supper, tell me how this is possible, that Judas after the paschal supper (at which they do not deny that he was present with the rest of the disciples) could make his agreement with the priests, and get his blades together ready to apprehend our Saviour, and assemble all the council, verse 57. The evangelists say that he made an agreement with the chief priests, Matthew 26:14, and with the captains, Luke 22:4, and “with all the council,” Mark 14:10,11. But now, which way was it possible that he could bargain with all these in so small a space as there was between the going out of Judas from supper and the betraying of our Lord in the garden? What! were these all together at supper that night? This is a matter to be laughed at rather than credited. Did he visit all these from door to door? And this is as little to be thought, since he had scarce time to discourse with any one of them. Every one supped this night at home, the master of a family with his family. It would be ridiculous to suppose that these chief priests supped together, while, in the mean time, their families sat down at home without their head. It is required by the law that every master of a family should be with his family that night, instructing them, and performing sacred rites with and for them. These were, therefore, to be sought from house to house by Judas, if that were the first time of his treating with them about this matter: and let reason answer whether that little time he had were sufficient for this? We affirm, therefore, with the authority of the evangelists, that that supper, John 13, was before the Passover; at which, Satan entering into Judas, he bargained with the priests before the Passover, he appointed the time and place of his betraying our Saviour, and all things were by them made ready for this wicked deed before the Passover came. Observe the method and order of the story in the evangelists, Matthew 26:14-17; Mark 14:10-12: “Then went Judas to the priests, and said, ‘What will ye give me,’ &c. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him. Now, the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, the disciples came,” &c. When was it that Judas came to the priests to treat about betraying Christ? surely before the first day of unleavened bread. Luke also, whom we quoted before, proceeds in the very same method: “From that time (say they), he sought for an opportunity to betray him.” If then first he went to and agreed with the priests when he rose up from the paschal supper, as many suppose, he did not then seek for an opportunity, but had found one. The manner of speaking used by the evangelists most plainly intimates some space of deliberation, not sudden execution.
5. Let those words of John be considered, chapter 14:31, Arise, let us go hence, and compared with the words, chapter 18:1, “When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron.” Do not these speak of two plainly different departures? Did not Christ rise up and depart when he said, “Arise, let us go hence?” Those words are brought in by the evangelist without any end or design, if we are not to understand by them that Christ immediately changed his place: and certainly this change of place is different from that which followed the paschal supper, John 18:1.
6. In that thirteenth chapter of John there is not the least mention nor syllable of the paschal supper. There is, indeed, plain mention of a supper before the feast of the Passover, that is, before the festival day; but of a paschal supper there is not one syllable. I profess seriously, I cannot wonder enough how interpreters could apply that chapter to the paschal supper, when there is not only no mention at all in it of the paschal supper, but the evangelist hath also pronounced, in most express words, and than which nothing can be more plain, that that supper of which he speaks was not on the feast of the Passover, butbefore the feast.
7. If those things which we meet with, John 13, of the sop given to Judas, &c. were acted in the paschal supper, then how, I pray, was it possible for the disciples to mistake the meaning of those words, “What thou doest, do quickly?” In the paschal supper he said, “He that dips with me in the dish is he”; and the hand of Judas, as some think, was at that very moment in the dish. To Judas asking, “Is it I?” he plainly answered, “Thou hast said”: and besides, he gave him a sop for a token, as they say who maintain that opinion: then with what reason, or with what ignorance, after so clear a discovery of the thing and person, could the disciples imagine that Christ said, “Buy quickly those things that are necessary, or give something to the poor?”
8. And to what poor, I pray? It was unseasonable, truly, late at night, to go to seek for poor people here and there, who were now dispersed all about in several families eating the passover: for the poorest Israelite was obliged to that duty as well as the richest. They who supposed that Christ commanded him to give something to the poor, could not but understand it of a thing that was presently to be done. For it had been ridiculous to conceive, that Christ sent him so hastily away form supper to give something to the poor tomorrow. But, if it be granted that the matter was transacted at Bethany, and that two days before the Passover, which we assert, then it is neither necessary you should suppose that supper to have been so late at night; nor were poor people, then and there, to be far sought for, since so great a multitude of men followed Christ everywhere.
II. This supper was at Bethany, two days before the Passover: the same we conclude of that supper, John 13, both as to the place and time; and that, partly, by the carrying on of the story to that time, partly, by observing the sequel of that supper. Six days before the Passover Christ sups at Bethany, John 12:1.
The next day (five days before the Passover) he came to Jerusalem riding on an ass, John 12:12: and in the evening he returned to Bethany, Matthew 21:17; Mark 11:11.
The day following (four days before the Passover) he went to Jerusalem, Mark 11:11,15, &c.; and at evening he returned the same way to Bethany, Mark 11:19.
The day after (three days before the Passover), he goes again to Jerusalem, Mark 11:27. In the evening, he went out to the mount of Olives, Matthew 24:1,3; Mark 13:1,3; Luke 21:37. Now where did he sup this night? at Bethany. For so Matthew and Mark, “After two days was the Passover,” &c. “Now when Jesus was in Bethany.” And from this time forward there is no account either of his supping or going to Jerusalem till the evening of the Passover.
From that supper both the evangelists begin their story of Judas’ contriving to betray our Lord; Matthew 26:14; Mark 14:10: and very fitly; for at that supper the devil had entered into him, and hurried him forward to accomplish his villainy.
We therefore thus draw up the series of the history out of the holy writers: Before the feast of the Passover (John 13:1), namely, two days (Matt 26:2,6), as Jesus was supping in Bethany, a woman anoints his head: and some of the disciples murmur at it. Our Saviour himself becomes both her advocate and encomiast. Before supper was done Christ riseth from the table, and washeth his disciples’ feet; and, sitting down again, acquaints them with the betrayer. John asking privately about him, he privately also gives him a token by a sop, and gives a sop to Judas. With this the devil entered into him, and now he grows ripe for his wickedness: “The devil had before put it into his heart to betray him,” verse 2; now he is impatient till he hath done it. He riseth up immediately after he had the sop, and goes out. As he was going out, Jesus said to him, “What thou doest, do quickly”: which some understood of buying necessaries for the feast, that was now two days off. It was natural and easy for them to suppose, that he, out of his diligence (having the purse, and the care of providing things that were necessary), was now gone to Jerusalem, though it were night, there being a great deal to be done, to get all things ready against the feast. He goes away; comes to Jerusalem; and the next day treats with the priests about betraying our Lord, and concludes a bargain with them. They were afraid for themselves, lest they should be either hindered by the people, or suffer some violence from them on the feast day. He frees them from this fear, provided they would let him have soldiers and company ready at the time appointed. Our Saviour lodges at Bethany that night, and spends the next day and the night after there too: and, being now ready to take his leave of his disciples, he teaches, instructs, and comforts them at large. Judas, having craftily laid the design of his treachery, and set his nets in readiness, returns, as is probable, to Bethany; and is supposed by the disciples, who were ignorant of the matter, to have performed his office exceeding diligently, in providing necessaries for the approaching feast. On the day itself of the Passover, Jesus removes from Bethany with his disciples: “Arise (saith he), let us go hence,” John 14:31, and comes to Jerusalem.
7. There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.
[Poured it upon his head, as he sat at meat.] Therefore, it was not the same supper with that in John 12:1; for then our Saviour’s feet were anointed, now his head. I admire that any one should be able to confound these two stories. Oil, perfumed with spices, was very usual in feasts, especially sacred; and it was wont to be poured upon the head of some one present.
“The school of Shammai saith, He holds sweet oil in his right hand, and a cup of wine in his left. He says grace first over the oil, and then over the wine. The school of Hillel saith, Oil in his right hand, and wine in his left. He blesseth the sweet oil, and anoints the head of him that serves: but if the waiter be a disciple of the wise, he anoints the wall; for it is a shame for a disciple of the wise to smell of perfumes.” Here the waiter anoints the head of him that sits down.
8. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?
[To what purpose is this waste?] It was not without cause that it was called “precious ointment,” verse 7, and “very costly,” John 12:3: to shew that it was not of those common sorts of ointments used in feasts, which they thought it no waste to pour upon the waiter’s head, or to daub upon the wall. But this ointment was of much more value, and thence arose the cavil.
9. For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
[And be given to the poor.] That it was Judas especially who cavilled at this, we have reason to believe from what is said of him in another supper, John 12:4. Compare this with those words, John 13:29. When Jesus said to Judas, “What thou doest, do quickly,” some thought he had meant, “Give something to the poor.” That supper, I presume, was the same with this: and see, how these things agree! When a complaint arose of that prodigal waste of the ointment here, and before in John 12, and that it seemed unfit to some that that should be spent so unadvisedly upon our Lord which might have been bestowed much better, and more fitly, upon the poor, how easily might the others think that Christ had spoken to him about giving somewhat to the poor, that he might show his care of the poor, notwithstanding what he had before said concerning them, and the waste of the ointment.
12. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
[She did it for my burial.] She had anointed his feet, John 12:3, out of love, duty, and honour to him; but this (which is added over and above to them) is upon account of his burial; and that not only in the interpretation of Christ, but in the design of the woman. She, and she first, believes that Christ should die; and, under that notion, she pours the ointment upon his head, as if she were now taking care of his body, and anointing it for burial: and it is as if Christ had said to those that took exceptions and complained, “You account her too officious and diligent for her doing this; and wasteful rather than prudent, in the immoderate profession of her friendship and respect; but a great and weighty reason moves her to it. She knows I shall die, and now takes care of my burial: what you approve of towards the dead, she hath done to one ready to die. Hence her fame shall be celebrated, in all ages, for this her faith, and this expression of it.”
15. And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
[Thirty pieces of silver.] The price of a slave, Exodus 21:32. Maimon. “The price of a slave, whether great or little, he or she, is thirty selaim of pure silver: if the slave be worth a hundred pounds, or worth only one penny.” Now a selaa, in his weight, weighed three hundred and eighty-four barleycorns.
17. Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?
[Where wilt thou that we prepare, &c.] For they might anywhere; since the houses at Jerusalem were not to be hired, as we have noted elsewhere, but during the time of the feast they were of common right.
19. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.
[Please see “The Temple: Its Ministry and Services” by Alfred Edersheim, “The Passover” for information on the workings of the Temple during this feast.]
[They made ready the Passover.] Peter and John were sent for this purpose, Luke 22:8: and perhaps they moved the question, where wilt thou, &c. They only knew that Judas was about another business, while the rest supposed he was preparing necessaries for the Passover.
This Peter and John were to do, after having spoken with the landlord, whom our Saviour pointed out to them by a sign, to prepare and fit the room.
I. A lamb was to be bought, approved, and fit for the Passover.
II. This lamb was to be brought by them into the court where the altar was.
“The Passover was to be killed only in the court where the other sacrifices were slain: and it was to be killed on the fourteenth day after noon, after the daily sacrifice, after the offering of the incense,” &c. The manner of bringing the Passover into the court, and of killing it, you have in Pesachin, in these words: “The Passover is killed in three companies; according as it is said, [Exodus 12:6,] and all the assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it (the Passover); assembly, congregation, and Israel. The first company enters and fills the whole court: they lock the doors of the court: the trumpets sound: the priests stand in order, having golden and silver vials in their hands: one row silver, and the other gold; and they are not intermingled: the vials had no brims, lest the blood should stay upon them, and be congealed or thickened: an Israelite kills it, and a priest receives the blood, and gives it to him that stands next, and he to the next, who, taking the vial that was full, gives him an empty one. The priest who stands next to the altar sprinkles the blood at one sprinkling against the bottom of the altar: that company goes out, and the second comes in,” &c. Let them tell me now, who suppose that Christ ate his Passover one day sooner than the Jews did theirs, how these things could be performed by him or his disciples in the Temple, since it was looked upon as a heinous offence among the people not to kill or eat the Passover in the due time. They commonly carried the lambs into the court upon their shoulders: this is called its carrying, inPesachin: where the Gloss, “The carrying of it upon a man’s shoulders, to bring it into the court, as into a public place.”
III. It was to be presented in the court under the name of the Paschal lamb, and to be killed for the company mentioned. See what the Gemarists say of this thing in Pesachin: “If they kill it for such as are not to eat, or as are not numbered, for such as are not circumcised or unclean, it is profane: if for those that are to eat, and not to eat, numbered and not numbered, for circumcised and not circumcised, clean and unclean, it is right”: that is, for those that are numbered, that atonement may be made for the not numbered; for the circumcised, that atonement may be made for the uncircumcised, &c. So the Gemarists and the Glosses.
IV. The blood being sprinkled at the foot of the altar, the lamb flayed, his belly cut up, the fat taken out and thrown into the fire upon the altar, the body is carried back to the place where they sup: the flesh is roasted, and the skin given to the landlord.
V. Other things were also provided. Bread according to God’s appointment, wine, some usual meats, and the same called Charoseth: of which commentators speak everywhere.
20. Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.
[He sat down with the twelve.]
I. The schools of the Rabbins distinguish between sitting at the table, and lying at the table: “If they sit to eat, every one says grace for himself; if they lie, one says grace for all.” But now “that lying,” as the Gloss on the place saith, “was when they leaned on their left side upon couches, and ate and drank as they thus leaned.” And the same Gloss in another place; “They used to eat lying along upon their left side, their feet being on the ground, every one on a single couch”: Babyl. Berac. As also the Gemara; to lie on one’s back is not called lying down; and to lie on one’s right side is not called lying down.
II. The Israelites accounted such lying down in eating a very fit posture requisite in sacred feasts, and highly requisite and most necessary in the Paschal supper: “We do not use lying down but only to a morsel,” &c. “And indeed to those that did eat leaning, leaning was necessary. But now our sitting is a kind of leaning along. They were used to lean along every one on his own couch, and to eat his meat on his own table: but we eat all together at one table.”
Even the poorest Israelite must not eat till he lies down. The canon is speaking about the Paschal supper; on which thus the Babylonians: “It is said that the feast of unleavened bread requires leaning or lying down, but the bitter herbs not: concerning wine, it is said in the name of Rabh Nachman that it hath need of lying down: and it is said in the name of Rabh Nachman, that it hath not need of lying down: and yet these do not contradict one another; for that is said of the two first cups, this of the two last.” They lie down on the left side, not on the right, “because they must necessarily use their right hand in eating.” So the Gloss there.
III. They used and were fond of that custom of lying down, even to superstition, because it carried with it a token and signification of liberty: “R. Levi saith, It is the manner of slaves to eat standing: but now let them eat lying along, that it may be known that they are gone out of bondage to liberty. R. Simon in the name of R. Joshua Ben Levi, Let that which a man eats at the Passover, and does his duty, though it be but as big as an olive, let it be eaten lying along.” “They eat the unleavened bread the first night lying down, because it is a commemoration of deliverance. The bitter herbs have no need of lying down, because they are in memory of bondage. Although it be the bread of affliction, yet it is to be eaten after the manner of liberty.” See more there. “We are obliged to lie down when we eat, that we may eat after the manner of kings and nobles.”
IV. “When there were two beds, the worthiest person lay uppermost; the second to him, next above him. But when there were three beds, the worthiest person lay in the middle, the second above him, the third below him.” On which thus the Gloss: “When there were two, the principal person lay on the first couch, and the next to him lay above him, that is, on a couch placed at the pillow of the more worthy person. If there were three, the worthiest lay in the middle, the next above him, and the third below him; that is, at the coverlids of his feet. If the principal person desires to speak with the second, he must necessarily raise himself so as to sit upright; for as long as he sits bending he cannot speak to him; for the second sat behind the head of the first, and the face of the first was turned another away: and it would be better with the second [in respect of discourse] if he sat below him; for then he might hear his words, even as he lay along.” This affords some light to that story, John 13:23,24; where Peter, as seems likely, lying behind our Saviour’s head in the first place next after him, could not discourse with him, nor ask about the betrayer: therefore looking over Christ’s head upon John, he gave him a sign to inquire. He sitting in the second place from Christ with his face towards him, asketh him,
22. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?
[Lord, is it I?] The very occasion, namely, eating together and fellowship, partly renews the mention of the betrayer at the Paschal supper; as if he had said, “We are eating here friendly together, and yet there is one in this number who will betray me”: partly, that the disciples might be more fully acquainted with the matter itself: for at the supper in John 13, he had privately discovered the person to John only; unless perhaps Peter understood it also, who knew of John’s question to Christ, having at first put him upon it by his beckoning. The disciples ask, Is it I? partly through ignorance of the thing, partly out of a sincere and assured profession of the contrary.
24. The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.
[It had been good for him if he had not been born] It were better for him that he were not created. A very usual way of speaking in the Talmudists.
26. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
[Jesus took bread, &c.] Bread at supper, the cup after supper: “After supper he took the cup,” saith Luke 22:20; and Paul, 1 Corinthians 11:25; but not so of the bread.
That we may more clearly perceive the history of this supper in the evangelists, it may not be amiss to transcribe the rubric of the paschal supper, with what brevity we can, out of the Talmudists; that we may compare the things here related with the custom of the nation.
I. The paschal supper began with a cup of wine: “They mingle the first cup for him. The school of Shammai saith, He gives thanks, first for the day, and then for the wine: but the school of Hillel saith, He first gives thanks for the wine, and then for the day.” The Shammeans confirm their opinion, Because the day is the cause of their having wine: that is, as the Gloss explains it, that they have it before meat. “They first mingle a cup for every one, and [the master of the family] blesseth it; ‘Blessed be he that created the fruit of the vine’: and then he repeats the consecration of the day, [that is, he gives thanks in the plural number for all the company, saying, ‘Let us give thanks,’] and drinks up the cup. And afterward he blesseth concerning the washing of hands, and washeth.” Compare this cup with that, Luke 22:17.
II. Then the bitter herbs are set on: “They bring in a table ready covered, upon which there is sour sauce and other herbs.” Let the Glossers give the interpretation: “They do not set the table till after the consecration of the day: and upon the table they set lettuce. After he hath blessed over the wine, they set herbs, and he eats lettuce dipped, but not in the sour sauce, for that is not yet brought: and this is not meant simply of lettuce, unless when there be other herbs.” His meaning is this, before he comes to those bitter herbs which he eats after the unleavened bread, when he also gives thanks for the eating of the bitter herbs, “as it is written,” Ye shall eat (it) with unleavened bread and bitter herbs: “First unleavened bread, and then bitter herbs. And this first dipping is used only for that reason, that children may observe and inquire; for it is unusual for men to eat herbs before meat.”
III. “Afterward there is set on unleavened bread, and the sauce…and the lamb, and the flesh also of theChagigah of the fourteenth day.” Maimonides doth not take notice of any interposition between the setting on the bitter herbs, and the setting on the unleavened bread: but the Talmudic Misna notes it in these words; They set unleavened bread before him. Where the Gloss, “This is said, because they have moved the table from before him who performed the duty of the Passover: now that removal of the table was for this end, that the son might ask the father, and the father answered him, ‘Let them bring the table again, that we may make the second dipping’; then the son would ask, ‘Why do we dip twice?’ Therefore they bring back the table with unleavened bread upon it, and bitter herbs,” &c.
IV. He begins, and blesseth, “‘Blessed be He that created the fruits of the earth’: and he takes the herbs and dips them in the sauce Charoseth, and eats as much as an olive, he, and all that lie down with him; but less than the quantity of an olive he must not eat: then they remove the table from before the master of the family.” Whether this removal of the table be the same with the former is not much worth our inquiry.
V. “Now they mingle the second cup for him: and the son asks the father; or if the son doth not ask him, he tells him himself, how much this night differs from all other nights. ‘On other nights (saith he) we dip but once, but this night twice. On other nights we eat either leavened or unleavened bread; on this, only unleavened, &c. On other nights we eat either sitting or lying; on this, all lying.'”
VI. “The table is set before them again; and then he saith, ‘This is the passover, which we therefore eat, because God passed over the houses of our fathers in Egypt.’ Then he lifts up the bitter herbs in his hand and saith, ‘We therefore eat these bitter herbs, because the Egyptians made the lives of our fathers bitter in Egypt.’ He takes up the unleavened bread in his hand, and saith, ‘We eat this unleavened bread, because our fathers had not time to sprinkle their meal to be leavened before God revealed himself and redeemed them. We ought therefore to praise, celebrate, honour, magnify, &c. him, who wrought all these wonderful things for our fathers and for us, and brought us out of bondage into liberty, out of sorrow into joy, out of darkness into great light; let us therefore say, Hallelujah: Praise the Lord, praise him, O ye servants of the Lord, &c. to, And the flint-stone into foundations of waters’ [that is, from the beginning of Psalm 113 to the end of Psalm 114]. And he concludes, ‘Blessed be thou, O Lord God, our King eternal, redeeming us, and redeeming our fathers out of Egypt, and bringing us to this night; that we may eat unleavened bread and bitter herbs’: and then he drinks off the second cup.”
VII. “Then washing his hands, and taking two loaves, he breaks one, and lays the broken upon the whole one, and blesseth it; ‘Blessed be he who causeth bread to grow out of the earth’: and putting some bread and bitter herbs together, he dips them in the sauce Charoseth,–and blessing, ‘Blessed be thou, O Lord God, our eternal King, he who hath sanctified us by his precepts, and hath commanded us to eat,’ he eats the unleavened bread and bitter herbs together; but if he eats the unleavened bread and bitter herbs by themselves, he gives thanks severally for each. And afterward, giving thanks after the same manner over the flesh of the Chagigah of the fourteenth day, he eats also of it, and in like manner giving thanks over the lamb, he eats of it.”
VIII. “From thenceforward he lengthens out the supper, eating this or that as he hath a mind, and last of all he eats of the flesh of the passover, at least as much as an olive; but after this he tastes not at all of any food.” Thus far Maimonides in the place quoted, as also the Talmudists in several places in the last chapter in the tract Pesachin.
And now was the time when Christ, taking bread, instituted the eucharist: but whether was it after the eating of those farewell morsels, as I may call them, of the lamb, or instead of them? It seems to be in their stead, because it is said by our evangelist and Mark, As they were eating, Jesus took bread. Now, without doubt, they speak according to the known and common custom of that supper, that they might be understood by their own people. But all Jews know well enough, that after the eating of those morsels of the lamb it cannot be said, As they were eating; for the eating was ended with those morsels. It seems therefore more likely that Christ, when they were now ready to take those morsels, changed the custom, and gave about morsels of bread in their stead, and instituted the sacrament. Some are of opinion, that it was the custom to taste the unleavened bread last of all, and to close up the supper with it; of which opinion, I confess, I also sometimes was. And it is so much the more easy to fall into this opinion, because there is such a thing mentioned in some of the rubrics about the passover; and with good reason, because they took up this custom after the destruction of the Temple.
[Blessed and brake it.] First he blessed, then he brake it. Thus it always used to be done, except in the paschal bread. One of the two loaves was first divided into two parts, or, perhaps, into more, before it was blessed. One of them is divided: they are the words of Maimonides, who also adds, “But why doth he not bless both the loaves after the same manner as in other feasts? Because this is called the bread of poverty. Now poor people deal in morsels, and here likewise are morsels.”
Let not him that is to break the bread, break it before Amen be pronounced from the mouths of the answerers.
[This is my body.] These words, being applied to the Passover now newly eaten, will be more clear: “Thisnow is my body, in that sense, in which the paschal lamb hath been my body hitherto.” And in the twenty-eighth verse, “This is my blood of the new testament, in the same sense, as the blood of bulls and goats hath been my blood under the Old.” Exodus 24, Hebrews 9.
27. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
[The cup.] Bread was to be here at this supper by divine institution: but how came the wine to be here? and how much? and of what sort?
I. “A tradition. It is necessary that a man should cheer up his wife and his children for the feast. But how doth he cheer them up? With wine.” The same things are cited in the Babylonian Talmud: “The Rabbins deliver,” say they, “that a man is obliged to cheer up his wife and his domestics in the feast; as it is said, ‘And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast.’ (Deut 16:14). But how are they cheered up? With wine. R. Judah saith, ‘Men are cheered up with something agreeable to them; women, with that which is agreeable to them.’ That which is agreeable to men to rejoice them is wine. But what is that which is agreeable to women to cheer them? Rabh Joseph saith, ‘Dyed garments in Babylon, and linen garments in the land of Israel.'”
II. Four cups of wine were to be drunk up by every one: “All are obliged to four cups, men, women, and children: R. Judah saith, ‘But what have children to do with wine?’ But they give them wheat and nuts,” &c.
The Jerusalem Talmudists give the reason of the number, in the place before quoted, at full. Some, according to the number of the four words made use of in the history of the redemption of Israel out of Egypt, And I will bring forth, and I will deliver, and I will redeem, and I will take: some, according to the number of the repetition of the word cup, in Genesis 40:11,13, which is four times; some, according to the number of the four monarchies; some, according to the number of the four cups of vengeance which God shall give to the nations to drink, Jeremiah 25:15, 51:7; Psalm 11:6, 75:8. And according to the number of the four cups which God shall give Israel to drink, Psalm 23:5, 16:5, 116:13. The cup of two salvations.
III. The measure of these cups is thus determined: “Rabbi Chaia saith, ‘Four cups contain an Italian quart of wine.'” And more exactly in the same place: “How much is the measure of a cup? Two fingers square, and one finger and a half, and a third part of a finger deep.” The same words you have in the Babylonian Talmud at the place before quoted, only with this difference, that instead of the third part of a finger, there is the fifth part of a finger.
IV. It is commanded, that he should perform this office with red wine. So the Babylonian, “It is necessary that it should taste, and look like wine.” The Gloss, that it should be red.
V. If he drinks wine pure, and not mingled with water, he hath performed his duty; but commonly they mingled water with it: hence, when there is mention of wine in the rubric of the feasts, they always use the word they mingle him a cup. Concerning that mingling, both Talmudists dispute in the forecited chapter of the Passover: which see. “The Rabbins have a tradition. Over wine which hath not water mingled with it they do not say that blessing, ‘Blessed be He that created the fruit of the vine’; but, ‘Blessed be he that created the fruit of the tree.'” The Gloss, “Their wine was very strong, and not fit to be drunk without water,” &c. The Gemarists a little after: “The wise agree with R. Eleazar, ‘That one ought not to bless over the cup of blessing till water be mingled with it.'” The mingling of water with every cup was requisite for health, and the avoiding of drunkenness. We have before taken notice of a story of Rabban Gamaliel, who found and confessed some disorder of mind, and unfitness for serious business, by having drunk off an Italian quart of wine. These things being thus premised, concerning the paschal wine, we now return to observe this cup of our Saviour.
After those things which used to be performed in the paschal supper, as is before related, these are moreover added by Maimonides: “Then he washeth his hands, and blesseth the blessing of the meat” [that is, gives thanks after meat], “over the third cup of wine, and drinks it up.” That cup was commonly called the cup of blessing; in the Talmudic dialect. The cup of blessing is when they give thanks after supper, saith the Gloss on Babyl. Berac. Where also in the text many thinkings are mentioned of this cup: “Ten things are spoken of the cup of blessing. Washing and cleansing“: [that is, to wash the inside and outside, namely, that nothing should remain of the wine of the former cups]. “Let pure wine” be poured into the cup, and water mingled with it there. “Let it be full: the crowning“; that is, as the Gemara, “by the disciples.” While he is doing this, let the disciples stand about him in a crown or ring. The veiling; that is, “as Rabh Papa, he veils himself and sits down; as R. Issai, he spreads a handkerchief on his head. He takes up the cup in both hands, but puts it into his right hand; he lifts it from the table, fixeth his eyes upon it, &c. Some say he imparts it (as a gift) to his family.”
Which of these rites our Savior made use of, we do not inquire; the cup certainly was the same with the “cup of blessing”: namely, when, according to the custom, after having eaten the farewell morsel of the lamb, there was now an end of supper, and thanks were to be given over the third cup after meat, he takes that cup, and after having returned thanks, as is probable, for the meat, both according to the custom, and his office, he instituted this for a cup of eucharist or thanksgiving; The cup of blessing which we bless, 1 Corinthians 10:16. Hence it is that Luke and Paul say that he took the cup “after supper”; that is, that cup which closed up the supper.
It must not be passed by, that when he instituted the eucharistical cup, he said, “This is my blood of the new testament,” as Matthew and Mark: nay, as Luke and Paul, “This cup is the new testament in my blood.” Not only the seal of the covenant, but the sanction of the new covenant: the end of the Mosaical economy, and the confirming of a new one. The confirmation of the old covenant was by the blood of bulls and goats, Exodus 24, Hebrews 9, because blood was still to be shed: the confirmation of the new was by a cup of wine; because, under the new testament, there was no further shedding of blood. As it is here said of the cup, “This cup is the new testament in my blood,” so it might be said of the cup of blood (Exo 24:8), “That cup was the old testament in the blood of Christ.” There, all the articles of that covenant being read over, Moses sprinkled all the people with blood, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which God hath made with you”: and thus that old covenant or testimony was confirmed. In like manner, Christ having published all the articles of the new covenant, he takes the cup of wine, and gives them to drink, and saith, “This is the new testament in my blood”: and thus the new covenant is established.
There was, besides, a fourth cup, of which our author speaks also; “Then he mingled a fourth cup, and over it he finished the Hallel; and adds, moreover, the blessing of the hymn, which is, ‘Let all thy works praise thee, O Lord,’ &c.; and saith, ‘Blessed is He that created the fruit of the vine’; and afterward he tastes of nothing more that night,” &c. ‘Finisheth the Hallel‘; that is, he begins there where he left off before, to wit, at the beginning of Psalm 115, and goes on to the end of Psalm 118.
Whether Christ made use of this cup also, we do not dispute; it is certain he used the hymn, as the evangelist tells us, when they had sung a hymn, at the thirtieth verse. We meet with the very same word inMidras Tillim.
And now looking back on this paschal supper, let me ask those who suppose the supper in John 13 to be the same with this, What part of this time they do allot to the washing of the disciples’ feet? what part to Judas’ going out? and what part to his discoursing with the priests, and getting ready his accomplices for their wicked exploit?
I. It seems strange, indeed, that Christ should put off the washing of the disciples’ feet to the paschal supper, when, 1. That kind of action was not only unusual and unheard of at that supper, but in nowise necessary or fitting: for 2. How much more conveniently might that have been performed at a common supper before the Passover, as we suppose, when he was not straitened by the time, than at the paschal supper, when there were many things to be done which required despatch!
II. The office of the paschal supper did not admit of such interruption, nor was it lawful for others so to decline from the fixed rule as to introduce such a foreign matter: and why should Christ so swerve from it, when in other things he conformed himself to the custom of the nation, and when he had before a much more fit occasion for this action than when he was thus pressed and straitened by the time?
III. Judas sat at super with the rest, and was there when he did eat, Matthew 26:20,21; Mark 14:18: and, alas! how unusual was it for any to depart, in that manner, from that supper before it was done! It is enough doubted by the Jewish canons whether it were lawful; and how far any one, who had joined himself to this or that family, might leave it to go to another, and take one part of the supper here, and another part there: but for a person to leave the supper and go about another business, is a thing they never in the least dreamed of; they would not, they could not, suppose it. You see how light a matter Judas’ going away to buy necessaries, as the disciples interpreted it, seemed to them, because he went away from a common supper: but if they had seen him thus dismissed, and sent away from the paschal supper, it would have seemed a monstrous and wonderful thing. What! to leave the paschal supper, now begun, to go to market! To go from a common supper at Bethany, to buy necessaries for the Passover, against the time of the Passover, this was nothing strange or unusual: but to go from the paschal supper, before it was done, to a market or fair, was more unusual and strange than that it should be so lightly passed over by the disciples.
We, therefore, do not at all doubt that Judas was present both at the Passover and the eucharist; which Luke affirms in direct words, 22:20,21: nor do we doubt much of his being present at the hymn, and that he went not away before all was done: but when they all rose up from the table, and prepared for their journey to mount Olivet (in order to lie at Bethany, as the disciples supposed), the villainous traitor stole away, and went to the company [cohortes], that he had appointed the priests two days before to make ready for him at such a time and place. Methinks I hear the words and consultations of this bloody wretch: “Tomorrow (saith he) will be the Passover, and I know my Master will come to it: I know he will not lie at Jerusalem, but will go back to Bethany, however late at night, where he is used to lie. Make ready, therefore, for me armed men, and let them come to a place appointed immediately after the paschal supper; and I will steal out privately to them while my Master makes himself ready for his journey; and I will conduct them to seize upon him in the gardens without the city, where, by reason of the solitariness of the place and the silence of the night, we shall be secure enough from the multitude. Do ye make haste to despatch your passovers, that you may meet together at the council after supper, to examine and judge him, when we shall bring him to you; while the silence of the night favours you also, and protects you from the multitude.” Thus, all things are provided against the place and time appointed; and the thief, stealing away from the company of the disciples as they were going out towards the mount of Olives and hastening to his armed confederates without delay, brings them prepared along with him, and sets upon his Master now in the garden.
34. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
[Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.] The same also he had said, John 13:38, “The cock shall not crow till thou hast denied me thrice.” Therefore some say, that that was the same supper with this of the Passover. Very right indeed, if [it] ought to be rendered, the cock shall not crow once, or the cock shall not crow at all. But it is not so; but it amounts to this sense, “Within the time of cockcrowing” thou shalt deny me thrice; for Peter had denied him but once before the first crowing of the cock, and thrice before the second, Mark 14:68,72. From hence, therefore, we may easily observe in what sense those words are to be understood, which were spoken to Peter two days before the Passover, John 13:38, “The cock shall not crow,” &c.: not that the cock should not crow at all between that time and Peter’s denying; but as if our Saviour had said, “Are you so secure of yourself, O Peter? Verily, I say unto you, the time shall be, and that shortly, when you shall deny me thrice within the time of cockcrowing.” At cockcrowing, Mark 13:35. At the Paschal supper it is said, “This night, before the cock crow,” &c. Matt 26:34; Mark 14:30; Luke 22:34. But there is nothing of this said in that supper, John 13.
Concerning the cockcrowing, thus the masters: “R. Shilla saith, Whosoever begins his journey before cockcrowing, his blood be upon his head. R. Josia saith, If before the second crowing: but some say, Before the third. But of what kind of cock is this spoken?” Of a middling cock; that is, as the Gloss explains it, “a cock that doth not crow too soon nor too late.” The Misna on which this Gloss is hath these words; “Every day they remove the ashes from the altar about cockcrowing; but on the day of atonement at midnight,” &c.
You may wonder that a dunghill cock should be found at Jerusalem, when it is forbid by the canons that any cocks should be kept there: “They do not keep cocks at Jerusalem, upon account of the holy things; nor do the priests keep them throughout all the land of Israel.” The Gloss gives the reason; “Even Israelites are forbid to keep cocks at Jerusalem, because of the holy things: for Israelites have eaten there peace offerings and thank offerings: but now it is the custom of dunghill cocks to turn over dunghills, where perhaps they might find creeping things that might pollute those holy things that are to be eaten.” By what means, and under what pretence, the canon was dispensed with, we do not dispute. It is certain there were cocks at Jerusalem, as well as at other places. And memorable is the story of a cock which was stoned by the sentence of the council for having killed a little child.
36. Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
[Gethsemane.] The place of the olive presses, at the foot of mount Olivet. In John, it is “a garden beyond Cedron.” “They do not make gardens or paradises in Jerusalem, because of the stink. The Gloss, “Because of the stink that riseth from the weeds which are thrown out: besides, it is the custom to dung gardens; and thence comes a stink.” Upon this account there were no gardens in the city, (some few gardens of roses excepted, which had been so from the days of the prophets,) but all were without the walls, especially at the foot of Olivet.
49. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.
[Kissed him.] It was not unusual for a master to kiss his disciple; but for a disciple to kiss his master was more rare. Whether therefore Judas did this under pretence of respect, or out of open contempt and derision, let it be inquired.
60. But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses.
[Many false witnesses came.] …
65. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard this blasphemy.
[Then the high priest rent his clothes.] “When witnesses speak out the blasphemy which they heard, then all, hearing the blasphemy, are bound to rend their clothes.” “They that judge a blasphemer, first ask the witnesses, and bid him speak out plainly what he hath heard; and when he speaks it, the judges standing on their feet rend their garments, and do not sew them up again,” &c. See there the Babylonian Gemara discoursing at large why they stand upon their feet, why they rend their garments, and why they may not be sewed up again [Sanhedr. cap. 7. hal. 10].

Mathew 25

1. Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

[Ten virgins.] The nation of the Jews delighted mightily in the number ten, both in sacred and civil matters: A synagogue consisted not but of ten at the least: which we have observed before, when we spoke about synagogues. This also was current among them, An order or ring of men consisted not but of ten at the least. The text is speaking of a company to comfort mourners: which the Gloss thus describes, “When the company was returned from burying a dead body, they set themselves in order about the mourners, and comforted them: but now such an order or ring consisted of ten at the least.” To this commonly received number there seems to be an alluding in this place: not but that they very frequently exceeded that number of virgins in weddings of greater note, but rarely came short of it.

[To meet the bridegroom.] To go to a wedding was reckoned among the works of mercy.

“The shewing of mercy implies two things: 1. That one should assist an Israelite with one’s wealth, namely, by alms and redeeming of captives. 2. That one should assist him in one’s own person; to wit, by comforting the mourners, by attending the dead to burial, and by being present at the chambers of bridegrooms.” The presence of virgins also adorned the pomp and festivity of the thing. Marriages are called by the Rabbins receivings, &c. The introducing of the bride, namely, into the house of her husband. There were no marriages but of such as had been before betrothed; and, after the betrothing, the bridegroom might not lie with the bride in his father-in-law’s house before he had brought her to his own. That ‘bringing’ of her was the consummation of the marriage. This parable supposeth that the bride was thus fetched to the house of her husband, and that the virgins were ready against her coming; who yet, being either fetched a great way, or some accident happening to delay her, did not come till midnight.

[Took lamps.] The form of lamps is described by Rambam and R. Solomon, whom see. These things are also mentioned by R. Solomon: “It is the fashion in the country of the Ismaelites to carry the bride from the house of her father to the house of the bridegroom before she is put to bed; and to carry before her about ten wooden staves, having each of them on the top a vessel like a dish, in which there is a piece of cloth with oil and pitch: these, being lighted, they carry before her for torches.”

2. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

[Five wise; Five foolish.] A parable, not unlike this, is produced by Kimchi: “Rabban Jochanan Ben Zaccai saith (as he hath it), This thing is like a king, who invited his servants, but did not appoint them any set time. Those of them that were wise adorned themselves, and sat at the gate of the palace; those that were foolish were about their own business. The king on a sudden called for his servants: those went in adorned; these, undressed. The king was pleased with the wise, and angry at the foolish.”

5. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

[They all slumbered and slept.] “If some sleep” [while they celebrate the paschal supper], “let them eat; if all, let them not eat. R. Josi saith, Do they slumber? let them eat. Do they sleep? let them not eat.” The Gemarists inquire, “Whence a man is to be reputed as a slumberer? R. Ishi saith, He sleeps and doth not sleep, he wakes and is not awake. If you call him, he answers; but he cannot answer to the purpose.” The Gloss, “If you speak to him, he will answer yes, or no; but if you ask any thing that hath need of thinking; as, for instance, where such a vessel is laid up? he cannot answer you.”

15. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

[And unto one he gave five talents, &c.] You have a like and almost the same parable, Luke 19; yet, indeed, not the very same; for, besides that there is mention there of pounds being given, here of talents,–that parable was spoken by Christ, going up from Jericho to Jerusalem, before the raising up of Lazarus; this, as he was sitting on Mount Olivet, three days before the Passover. That, upon this account, “because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear,” Luke 19:11, and that he might shew that it would not be long before Jerusalem should be called to an account for all the privileges and benefits conferred upon it by God (see verses the fourteenth and seventeenth); but this, that he might warn all to be watchful, and provide with their utmost care concerning giving up their accounts at the last judgment.

27. Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

[Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, &c.] The lord did not deliver the talents to his servants with that intent, that they should receive the increase and profit of them by usury; but that, by merchandise and some honest way of trade, they should increase them. He only returns this answer to the slothful servant, as fitted to what he had alleged; “You take me for a covetous, griping, and sordid man: why then did you not make use of a manner of gain agreeable to these qualities, namely, interest or usury (since you would not apply yourself to any honest traffic), that you might have returned me some increase of my money, rather than nothing at all?” So that our Lord, in these words, doth not so much approve of usury, as upbraid the folly and sloth of his servant.

Exchangers, answering to the word trapezita very usual among the Talmudists: “An exchanger (trapezita) sells money; and because a table is always before him, upon which he buys and sells, therefore he is called mensarius,” one that stands at a table.

Of the same employment was the shopkeeper of whom is as frequent mention among them. He exercised the employment of a usurer in buying and changing of fruits, as the other in money: for in these two especially consisted usury: of which you may see, if you please, the tract Bava Mezia.

John 6 study Pesach

4. And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.

[And the Passover was nigh.] “It is a tradition. They inquire and discourse about the rites of the Passover, thirty days before the feast.”

From the entrance of these thirty days and so onward, this feast was in the eyes and mouth of this people, but especially in the fifteen days immediately before the Passover. Hence, perhaps, we may take the meaning of these words, the Passover was nigh.

From the entrance or beginning of these thirty days, viz. “From the fifteenth day of the month Adar, they repaired the ways, the streets, the bridges, the pools, and despatched all other public business; they painted the sepulchres, and proceeded about matters of a heterogeneous nature.”

“These are all the businesses of the public: they judged all pecuniary faults, those also that were capital, and those for which the offenders were scourged. They redeemed devoted things; they made the suspected wife drink; they burnt the red heifer; they bored the ear of the Hebrew servant; they cleansed the lepers, and removed the covers from the well,” that every one might be at liberty to drink.

The Gloss is, “And some that were deputed in that affair went abroad to see if the fields were sown with corn, and the vineyards planted with heterogeneous trees.”

9. There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

[Five barley loaves.] Compare 2 Kings 4:42, and see Chetub.: where the masters enhance the number of men fed by Elisha to two thousand two hundred. “Every hundred men had their single loaf set before them.” The Gloss is, “Twenty loaves, and the loaf of the first fruits, behold one-and-twenty; the green ear, behold two-and-twenty: these were all singly set, each of them before a hundred men; and so behold there were two thousand and two hundred fed.” By the same proportion, in our Saviour’s miraculous feeding the people, one single loaf must serve for a thousand.

12. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

[The fragments that remain.] It was a custom and rule, that when they ate together, they should leave something to those that served: which remnant was called peah. And it is remarked upon R. Joshua, that, upon a journey, having something provided for him by a hospitable widow, he ate all up, and left nothing to her that ministered. Where the Gloss: “Every one leaves a little portion in the dish, and gives it to those that serve; which is called the servitor’s part.”

Although I would not confound the fragments that remain with the peah, nor would affirm that what was left was in observation of this rule and custom; yet we may observe, that the twelve baskets full of fragments left at this time answered to the number of the twelve apostles that ministered. It is otherwise elsewhere.

24. When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.

[They also took shipping.] They had gone afoot from Capernaum to the desert of Bethsaida, Mark 6:33, by the bridge of Chammath, near Tiberias. But they sail back in ships, partly that they might follow Jesus with the greater speed; and perhaps that they might reach time enough at the synagogue: for that was the day in which they assembled in their synagogues.

27. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

[For him hath God the Father sealed.] The Jews speak much of the seal of God; which may not be impertinently remembered at this time. “What is the seal of the holy blessed God? R. Bibai, in the name of R. Reuben, saith, Truth. But what is truth? R. Bon saith, The living God and King eternal. Resh Lachish saith, Aleph is the first letter of the alphabet, Mem the middle, and Tav the last: q.d. I the Lord am the first; I received nothing of any one; and beside me there is no God: for there is not any that intermingles with me; and I am with the last.”

There is a story of the great synagogue weeping, praying, and fasting; “At length there was a little scroll fell from the firmament to them, in which was written, Truth. R. Chaninah saith, Hence learn that truth is the seal of God.”

We may easily apply all this to Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life,” John 14:6: he is the express image of his Father, the truth of the Father; whom the Father, by his seal and diploma, hath confirmed and ratified; as the great ruler both of his kingdom and family.

28. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

[What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?] Observe, first, the rule about workmen or labourers: “It is granted by the permission of the law, that the labourer shall eat of those things wherein he laboureth. If he works in the vintage, let him eat of the grapes; if in gathering the fig trees, let him eat of the figs; if in the harvest, let him eat of the ears of the corn,” &c.

Nay further; “It is lawful for the workmen to eat of those things wherein he worketh; a melon, to the value of a penny; and dates, to the value of a penny,” &c.

Compare these passages with what our Saviour speaks; “Labour (saith he) for that meat which endureth to everlasting life.” Now, what is that work of God which we should do, that might entitle us to eat of that food? Believe in Christ, and ye shall feed on him.

31. Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

[Our fathers did eat manna.] I. They seek a sign of him worthy the Messiah; and in general they seem to look towards those dainties which that nation fondly dreamed their Messiah would bring along with him when he should come; but more particularly they expect manna.

“Ye seek me (saith our Saviour), not because ye did see the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled.” Were all these so very poor that they had need to live at another man’s charge? or should follow Christ merely for bread? It is possible they might expect other kind of dainties, according to the vain musings of that nation. Perhaps he was such a kind of slave to his belly that said, “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God,” Luke 14:15.

“Many affirm that the hope of Israel is, that Messiah shall come and raise the dead; and they shall be gathered together in the garden of Eden, and shall eat and drink, and satiate themselves all the days of the world….and that there are houses built of precious stones, beds of silk, and rivers flowing with wine and spicy oil.” “He made manna to descend for them, in which were all manner of tastes; and every Israelite found in it what his palate was chiefly pleased with. If he desired fat in it, he had it. In it the young men tasted bread, the old men honey, and the children oil….So it shall be in the world to come [the days of the Messias]: he shall give Israel peace, and they shall sit down and eat in the garden of Eden; and all nations shall behold their condition; as it is said, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry, Isaiah 65:13.”

Alas, poor wretches! how do you deceive yourselves! for it is to you that this passage of being hungry while others eat does directly point.

Infinite are the dreams of this kind, particularly about Leviathan and Behemoth, that are to be served up in these feasts.

II. Compare with this especially what the Jews propound to themselves about their being fed with manna: “The latter Redeemer” [that is, Messiah; for he had spoken of the former redeemer, Moses, immediately before] “shall be revealed against them, &c. And whither will he lead them? Some say into the wilderness of Judah; others, into the wilderness of Sihon and Og.” [Note that our Saviour the day before, when he fed such a multitude so miraculously, was in the desert of Og, viz. in Batanea, or Bashan.] And shall make manna descend for them. Note that. So Midras Coheleth: “The former redeemer caused manna to descend for them; in like manner shall our latter Redeemer cause manna to come down, as it is written, ‘There shall be a handful of corn in the earth,’ Psalm 72:16.”

32. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

[Moses gave you not that bread from heaven.] The Gemarists affirm that manna was given for the merits of Moses. “There were three good shepherds of Israel, Moses, Aaron, and Miriam: and there were three good things given us by their hands, a well, a cloud, and manna: the well, for the merits of Miriam; the pillar of the cloud, for the merits of Aaron; manna, for the merits of Moses.”

Contrary, therefore, to this opinion of theirs, it may well be said, Moses did not give you this bread: i.e. it was by no means for any merits of his. But what further he might intend by these words, you may learn from the several expositors.

39. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

[Should raise it up again at the last day.] So also verse 40 and 44, the emphasis lies in the last day.

I. They looked (as hath been already said) for the resurrection of the dead at the coming of the Messiah. Take one instance: “R. Jeremiah said, ‘When I die, bury me in my shirt, and with my shoes on, &c.; that when Messiah comes I may be ready dressed to meet him.'”

Apply here the words of our Saviour: “Ye look for the resurrection when Messiah comes; and since ye seek a sign of me, perhaps ye have it in your minds that I should raise some from the dead. Let this suffice, that whoever comes to me and believes in me shall be raised up at the last day.”

II. This was the opinion of that nation concerning the generation in the wilderness. “The generation in the wilderness have no part in the world to come, neither shall they stand in judgment.”

Now as to this generation in the wilderness, there had been some discourse before, verse 31; viz. of those that had eaten manna in the wilderness. “But that manna did not so feed them unto eternal life (as you yourselves confess) as that they shall live again, and have any part in the world to come. But I, the true bread from heaven, do feed those that eat of me to eternal life; and such as do eat of me, i.e. that believe in me, I will raise them up at the last day, so that they shall have part in the world to come.”

45. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

[And they shall be all taught of God.] Isaiah 54:13: “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord.” The ‘children of Israel,’ ‘of Jerusalem,’ and ‘of Zion,’ are very frequently mentioned by the prophets for those Gentiles that were to be converted to the faith: taught before of the devil, by his idols and oracles; but they should become the children of the church, and be taught of God.

The Rabbins do fondly apply these words of the prophet, when by thy children they understand the disciples of the wise men. “The disciples of the wise men multiply peace in the world; as it is written, ‘All thy children shall be taught of God, and great shall be the peace of thy children.’ Do not read, thy children; butthy builders.”

But who were there among mortals that were more taught of men and less of God, being learned in nothing but the traditions of the fathers? He must be taught of the Father that would come to the Son; not of those sorry fathers: he must be taught of God, not those masters of traditions.

51. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

[The bread that I will give is my flesh.] He tacitly confutes that foolish conceit of theirs about I know not what dainties the Messiah should treat them with; and slights those trifles, by teaching that all the dainties which Christ had provided were himself. Let them not look for wonderful messes, rich feasts, &c.; he will give them himself to eat; bread beyond all other provisions whatever; food from heaven; and such as bringeth salvation.

As to this whole passage of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ, it will be necessary to premise that of Mark 4:11, 12: “I speak by parables; and all these things are done in parables; that seeing they may see, and not perceive,” &c. Verse 34: “Without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.”

And what can we suppose in this place but parable wholly?

I. There was nothing more common in the schools of the Jews than the phrases of ‘eating and drinking’ in a metaphorical sense. And surely it would sound very harsh, if not to be understood here metaphorically, but literally. What! to drink blood? a thing so severely interdicted the Jews once and again. What! to eat man’s flesh? a thing abhorrent to human nature; but above all abhorrent to the Jews, to whom it was not lawful to eat a member of a living beast, nor touch the member of a dead man.

“Every eating and drinking of which we find mention in the book of Ecclesiastes is to be understood of the Law and good works,” i.e. by way of parable and metaphor. By the Capernaite’s leave, therefore, and the Romanist’s too, we will understand the eating and drinking in this place figuratively and parabolically.

II. Bread is very frequently used in the Jewish writers for doctrine. So that when Christ talks of eating his flesh, he might perhaps hint to them that he would feed his followers not only with his doctrines, but withhimself too.

The whole stay of bread, Isaiah 3:1. “These are the masters of doctrine; as it is written, ‘Come, eat of my bread,’ Proverbs 9:5.” “Feed him with bread, that is, Make him take pains in the warfare of the Law, as it is written, ‘Come, eat of my bread.'”

Moses fed you with doctrine and manna, but I feed you with doctrine and my flesh.

III. There is mention, even amongst the Talmudists themselves, of eating the Messiah. “Rabh saith, Israel shall eat the years of Messiah.” [The Gloss is, “The plenty and satiety that shall be in the days of the Messiah shall belong to the Israelites.”] “Rabh Joseph saith, ‘True, indeed: but who shall eat thereof? Shall Chillek and Billek [two judges in Sodom] eat of it?’ We must except against that of R. Hillel, who saith,Messiah is not likely to come to Israel, for they have already devoured him in the days of Hezekiah.” Those words of Hillel are repeated, fol. 99. 1.

Behold, here is mention of eating the Messiah, and none quarrel the phraseology. They excepted against Hillel, indeed, that he should say that the Messiah was so eaten in the days of Hezekiah, that he was not like to appear again in Israel; but they made no scruple of the scheme and manner of speech at all. For they plainly enough understood what was meant by eating the Messiah; that is, that in the days of Hezekiah they so much partook of the Messiah, they received him so greedily, embraced him so gladly, and in a manner devoured him, that they must look for him no more in the ages to come. Gloss upon the place: “Messiah will come no more to Israel, for Hezekiah was the Messiah.”

IV. But the expression seems very harsh, when he speaks of “eating his flesh” and “drinking his blood.” He tells us, therefore, that these things must be taken in a spiritual sense: “Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?” That is, “When you shall have seen me ascending into heaven, you will then find how impossible a thing it is to eat my flesh and drink my blood bodily: for how can you eat the flesh of one that is in heaven? You may know, therefore, that I mean eating me spiritually: ‘for the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.'”

V. But what sense did they take it in that did understand it? Not in a sacramental sense surely, unless they were then instructed in the death and passion of our Saviour; for the sacrament hath a relation to his death: but it sufficiently appears elsewhere that they knew or expected nothing of that. Much less did they take it in a Jewish sense; for the Jewish conceits were about the mighty advantages that should accrue to them from the Messiah, and those merely earthly and sensual. But to partake of the Messiah truly is to partake of himself, his pure nature, his righteousness, his spirit; and to live and grow and receive nourishment from that participation of him. Things which the Jewish schools heard little of, did not believe, did not think; but things which our blessed Saviour expresseth lively and comprehensively enough, by that of eating his flesh and drinking his blood.