« FöregåendeFortsätt »
I endeavoured to shew that the transaction referred to at the commencement of the narrative, the death of certain Galilæans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices, was probably a recent event; that the sufferers in question were not followers of Judas of Galilee, but in all probability some of the inhabitants of Galilee; that there had been a disturbance or riot in Jerusalem, in consequence of which these Galilæans, while engaged in the act of sacrificing in the temple, had unfortunately lost their lives; that Barabbas was probably the ringleader of this sedition; that the slaughter of some of the subjects of Herod the tetrarch of Galilee, by the soldiers of Pilate, in quelling this disturbance, was probably the reason of the enmity between Herod and Pilate, which is said to have been existing at the tiine of the last passover, as well as the cause of the presence of the former in Jerusalem, with an armed force; that all these things had occurred between the beginning and the conclusion of our Lord's last circuit, and perhaps not long before his arrival at Jerusalem itself a.
For the necessary proof of these particulars, I refer the reader to my former work. Without saying any more, then, of the occasion which gave rise to the present conversation, I shall proceed to the discourse itself; which being distributed by the narrative into two parts, the first of them not only preceding, but conducting to, the second, the consideration of the former will be requisite as preliminary to that of the latter. The first of these divisions consists of the answer returned by our Saviour di
a Dissertations, vol. ii. Diss. xx. p. 553-562. VOL. III.
rectly, to the persons who had just made the communication in question, respecting the fate of the Galilæans; the second of the parable of the fig-tree, planted in the vineyard.
When our Saviour was thus informed of what had recently happened in Jerusalem, there is every reason to believe that he was travelling somewhere in Galilee, in the dominions of Herod Antipas; and as a part of the inhabitants of that country had been sufferers by the event, it is not improbable also that they were some of their countrymen, who told him of what had happened to them. It might be of importance to know the precise description of the persons who addressed this communication to him, in order the better to comprehend the drift and application of the answer, which he himself returned to them. But nothing can be inferred with certainty on this subject, from what passed at the time, further than that, whether belonging to Galilee, or to any other part of Judæa, they must have been some of the still unbelieving and impenitent Jews in general. It is not clear from our Lord's reply, whether he included the persons to whom he was speaking, among all the Galilæans, who had survived the disastrous fate of a part of their countrymen, or excluded them from that number; but it is clear that he supposed even those to whom he was speaking, to be still impenitent, and still in urgent need of repentance, for some sin ; which sin is distinctly implied to be the sin of unbelief-of the continued refusal to listen to the preaching of our Lord, as a minister of repentance, or to acknowledge his claims to the character of the expected Messiah.
It has been imagined, that the persons who made the present communication, were some of our Lord's most constant attendants, the Scribes or Pharisees; to which supposition perhaps it would be no objection, that it is not expressly stated by the evangelist who they were; but that they are described in general terms, as “ certain that were present at the “ self-same season” merely. But the opinion itself appears to be founded on a precarious assumption, which however worthy it may be of the possible malignity of Scribes or Pharisees, in other instances, is not supported by the evidence of the fact, in the present case; and without support from unquestionable testimony, ought not gratuitously to be assumed even of them. The Galilæans who had suffered on the recent occasion, being justly concluded to be some of the inhabitants of Galilee, it has been taken for granted that the persons who told our Saviour of their fate, were certain of the Scribes and Pharisees—because, in common with the rest of the Jews of Judæa proper, they held the inhabitants of Galilee in almost as much contempt or abhorrence, compared with themselves, as they did Gentiles or Samaritans; and that their motive in mentioning the news of the event to him, was a malicious satisfaction, which they could not help feeling in the evil that had just happened to some of an hated nation ; as if none of them deserved any better treatment.
But the calamity which had befallen these Galilæans in particular, was accompanied by a direct profanation of the temple, and a very grievous outrage on the national religion ; if it be true, as we have supposed, that the scene of the disturbance was the temple, and the blood of the sufferers from the fury or vengeance of Pilate, was mingled with
that of their sacrifices. This was a distinct circumstance of aggravation, to which no Jew could possibly be indifferent; and to be willing to excuse such an outrage on the sanctity of the temple, and the honour of their religion, merely because the principal sufferers in its consequences, were certain of a nation whom they despised or disliked, would be a refinement of malice, greater than we can suppose possible even of the Scribes and Pharisees; to whose other bad qualities it cannot be added, that they were deficient in zeal, real or pretended, for the immunity of the established religion, and the inviolability of the temple.
The truth of the assumption itself, that the native Jews did actually concur to think so contemptuously and so uncharitably, of their Galilæan countrymen, may very well be questioned. It is true, that some of the fathers, as Chrysostom and Theophylact, in their commentaries on the Gospels, may be found to assert it; but the assertion is not confirmed by Josephus : who, though he describes the Galilæans as not so refined and polished as the Jews of Jerusalem, and as of a more turbulent and refractory spirit than others of their countrymen, yet gives no reason to suppose that they were not acknowledged by the rest, and treated, as brethren. If the native Jews held the Galilæans in an inferior estimation, it was not to the extent of disliking or hating them, but merely with regard to certain honorary distinctions or privileges, in which they claimed the precedence to themselves. Thus it was, that the Pharisees told Nicodemus, “no prophet “ had arisen out of Galilee";" and so it is, that the rabbis inform us, no master or teacher, to be endowed with an adequate degree of personal repute and authority, could be of the same country.
b John vii. 52.
In the present instance, however, the supposition that either any unfavourable opinion of the Galilæans in general, or any secret satisfaction in what had happened to them, was entertained by the persons who informed our Lord of their fate, is overthrown by the tenor of his reply, and by the nature of the case to which he appeals as parallel, in the fact of another incident, analogous to the recent one. For, first, though his answer is certainly addressed to some persuasion which must have existed in the minds of the persons present, relating to these Galilæans, it is clearly not to any persuasion which concerned communities as such, but individuals; not to what the persons present must have thought of the Galilæans generally, but what they must have thought of these Galilæans in particular. In the next place, he appeals to another instance of a misfortune which had affected Jews, just as much as the recent disaster had affected Galilæans; an instance which he produces as analogous, in the matter of fact, to the other, and in respect to the opinions, judgments, or feelings of the persons who knew of it, with regard to those who had suffered by it—as authorizing precisely the same conclusions. If then they had taken a malicious pleasure in the fate of the Galilæans, they must have done the same in the death of the eighteen, who perished at Siloam; and if the motive to the pleasure in the former instance, was that they hated, and wished only evil to the Galilæans, the cause of the satisfaction in the latter must have been, that they entertained the same