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bordered upon Judæa, so, many of the Jews who lived there, complied in some things with the Gentiles, as we find by Josephus, and, among others of their customs, very probably in eating swine's flesh; and if this were the case, part of those swine might belong to them, which by the number two thousand according to St. Mark, seem to have been a common or town herd : it was therefore a just punishment upon them when Christ permitted their swine to be thus destroyed : and as to the other inhabitants, it was nothing more than what often happens in common calamities, that all suffer alike, and was abundantly made up to them by a favor of infinitely greater importance.—See Ostervald. IX. _l. “ And came into his own city.”
This was Capernaum, where Christ chiefly dwelt and paid tribute as an inhabitant. According to the Jewish canons, he was entitled to citizenship by dwelling there twelve months, or by purchasing a dwelling house. One or other of these things it is probable Christ had done, on which account the city is denominated his. Burder's Oriental Customs, vol. ii. page 299.
IX.-2. “They brought to him a man sick of the palsy.” The palsy of the New Testament is a disease of very wide import, and the Greek word which is so translated, comprehended not fewer than five different maladies, viz. Ist. Apoplexy, a paralytic shock which affected the whole body, 2nd. Hemiplegy, which affects and paralyses only one side of the body; the case mentioned in Matthew ix. 2. appears to have been of this sort. 3d. Paraplegy, which paralyses all the parts of the system below the neck. 4th. Catalepsy, which is caused by a contraction of the muscles in the whole or part of the body; the hands, for instance. This is a very dangerous disease; and the effects upon the parts seized are very violent and deadly. Thus, when a person is struck with it, if his hand happens to be extended, he is unable to draw it back; if the hand be not extended
when he is so struck, he is unable to extend it. It seems to be diminished in size and dried up in appearance; whence the Hebrews were accustomed to call it a withered hand. See cases of this kind in 1 Kings xiii. 4. to 6. and Matthew xii. 10. 5th, The Cramp. This in Oriental countries is a fearful malady, and by no means unfrequent. It originates from the chills of the night : the limbs, when seized with it, remain immoveable, sometimes turned in and sometimes out, in the very same position as when they were first seized. See St. Matthew viji. 6.-Horne, vol. iii. page 481.
Thy sins be forgiven thee.” Physicians, both antient and modern, tell us, that palsies are often occasioned by intemperance : therefore if this paralytic brought his disease upon himself by drunkenness or lust, the propriety of the terms in which the cure was pronounced will more fully appear, “thy sins be forgiven thee.”_Ostervald.
IX. -6. Arise, take up thy bed and go unto thine house.” The furniture of the Oriental dwellings, at least in the earliest ages, was very simple : that of the poorer classes consisted of but few articles, and those such as were absolutely necessary. Instead of chairs, they sat on mats or skins; and the same articles, on which they laid a mattress, served them instead of bed-steads, while their upper garment served them for a covering. Exodus xxii. 26, 27. Deut. xxiv. 12. This circumstance accounts for our Lord's commanding the paralytic to take up his bed, and go unto his house.--Horne, vol. iii. page 389.
IX.-9. “ Sitting at the receipt of custom." The provincial tributes were usually farmed by Roman knights, who had under them inferior collectors : Josephus has made mention of several Jews who were Roman knights, whence Dr. Lardner thinks it probable that they had merited the equestrian rank by their good services in collecting some nart of the revenue. The collectors of these tributes were known by the general name of publicans, or tax-gatherers. Some of them appear to have been receivers-general for a Jarge district, as Zaccheus, who is styled a chief publican. Matthew, who is termed simply a publican, was one who sat at the receipt of custom where the duty was paid on imports and exports.--Horne, vol. iii. page 179.
The publicans had houses or booths built for them at the foot of bridges, at the mouth of rivers, and by the sea-shore, where they took toll of passengers that went to and fro. Hence we read of the tickets or seals of the publicans, which, when a man had paid toll on one side of a river, were given him by the publican to shew to him that sat on the other side, that it might appear he had paid. On these were written two great letters ; larger than those in common use.- Burder's Oriental Customs, vol. ii. page 300.
Respecting the circumstance of St. Matthew speaking of himself in the third person, see Horne's Introduction, vol. iv. page 242. where we have the following remark. “ It is an undeniable fact that this oblique way of writing is common among profane historians, both antient and modern; who frequently speak of themselves not in the first but in the third person. Moses uniformly speaks thus of himself; as Jesus Christ and his disciples also very frequently did. So that the objection of Faustus falls to the ground for want of proof."
IX.-13. “I will have mercy and not sacrifice.” This should be rendered, rather than sacrifice. Sacrifices were of God's own appointment, but when they were not offered up according to the spirit of that appointment, he exclaims When ye come to appear
me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts. Bring no more vain oblations, &c." Isa. i. 12. &c. “For I will have mercy and not sacrifice.”
IX.-14. “ The Pharisees fast oft." These are not the public fasts, but the private ones, which are referred to.
These were very frequent: for besides their fasting twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, they had a multitude of fasts upon divers occasions, particularly for rain. On this account they sometimes appointed thirteen fast days. They observed them on other accounts, as because of pestilence, famine, war, sieges, or inundations; sometimes for trifling things, as for dreams.-Burder's Oriental Customs, vol. ii.
IX.- 15. " Can the children of the bride-chamber mourn.” The Scripture informs us that the marriage festivals of the Jews lasted a whole week; as they do to this day among the Christian inhabitants of Palestine. Laban said: It must not be so done in our country to give the younger before the first-born. Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also. Genesis xxix. 26. 27. And Sampson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you: if you can certainly declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty sheets and thirty change of garments : Judges xiv. 12. This week was spent in feasting, and was devoted to universal joy.-Horne, vol. iii.
IX. -17. “ New wine into old bottles.” By remembering that the bottles of the Jewish people were made of skins, as also those of the modern Arabs, will elucidate many passages such as the following: Josh. ix. 4. Psm. cxix. 83. Also the one in question.
IX.--20. “And touched the hem of his garment." To kiss the fringe of any consecrated robe was an act of the most profound reverence, so by touching the hem of our Saviour's garment she was persuaded that she should not only pay him the greatest respect, but dispose him to pity her, and heal her disease ; which was instantly done. The garment of Christ in consequence of the humble appearance which he made upon earth, was not ornamented with that striking appendage, which usually adorned the borders of the eastern garments; a beautiful fringe. Had his garment been in the prevailing fashion of the East, the woman, probably, would have been represented as touching the fringe of his garment, instead of its hem.---Burder's Oriental Customs, vol: ii. p. 301.
IX.-23. “ And saw the minstrels and the people making a noise.” The following account from Josephus will tend to illustrate the above passage. Respecting the fate of Jotapata and the supposed death of Josephus himself, our historian states, “ Yet were there fictitious stories added to what was really done; for it was reported that Josephus was slain at the taking of the city; which piece of news filled Jerusalem full of sorrow.
In every house also, and among all to whom any of the slain were allied, there was a lamentation for them ; but the mourning for the cominander (meaning himself) was a public one; and some mourned for those that had lived with them, others for their kindred, others for their friends, and others for their brethren, but all mourned for Josephus; insomuch that the lamentation did not cease in the city before the thirtieth day; and a great many, hired mourners with their pipes, who should begin the melancholy ditties for them."Josephus, Art. Wars, b. iii. c. ix. s. 5.
IX.-36. “ He was moved with compassion." Namely, his bowels yearned over them: for such is the sense of the Greek.
X.-4. “Simon the Canaanite.” St. Luke says that this Simon was called Zelotes (vi. 15.) probably, because he had been one of those Galileans, or furious bigots, who obstinately refused to pay tribute to the Romans. Why St. Matthew calls him the Canaanite, may be because he was of Cana in Galilee. It is also very probable that St. Matthew, on the present cccasion, as on some others, has chosen rather to express himself in the language in which he thought, which was Syriac, than in the general language of his Gospel, which was Greck. According to this supposition, St. Matthew and Luke