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Luke xiii. 6. 9. is founded on the Oriental mode of gardening: and the method of improving the palm (whose barrenness may be remedied in the way there mentioned,) is transferred to the fig tree.-Horne, vol. iii. page 60.
XXI.-21. “Ye shall say unto this mountain-Be thou removed," &c. Removing a mountain is an eastern figure for performing a difficult matter. Ben Azzai, say the Tal. mudists, was so profound a teacher, that there was not, in his days, such another rooter up of mountains as he.Valpy's Greek Testament.
XI.- 44. “ Whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be broken,” &c. Here is a transposition: this verse should immediately follow verse 42nd.
seems to be whosoever shall stumble at my doctrine, while I am here upon earth, he shall be damaged by it; but whosoever shall oppose me after my exaltation to glory, he will bring upon himself unavoidable destruction.—Doddridge. Lightfoot says, that the judicial mode of stoning among the Jews, to which this appears to allude, was this; that the first witness endeavoured to crush the criminal with a large stone, but if that had not its effect, they threw upon his heart a stone as much as two men could lift.–Valpy's Greek Testament.
XXII. -3. “And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding.” To explain the reason why the servants were sent to call them that were already bidden, Grotius informs us, that it was sometimes customary to give two invitations to a feast.—Burder's Oriental Customs, vol. ii.
XXII.-11. “A wedding garment.” The following extract will shew the importance of having a suitable garment for a marriage feast, and the offence taken against those who refuse it when presented as a gift. “The next day, December 3, the king sent to invite the ambassadors to dine with him once more. The Mehemander told them, it was the custom that they should wear over their own clothes the best of those garments which the king had sent them. The ambassadors at first made some scruple of that compliance : but when they were told that it was a custom observed by all ambassadors, and that no doubt the king would take it very ill at their hands if they presented themselves before him without the marks of his liberality, they at last resolved to do it; and, after their example, all the rest of the retinue.”—Burder's Oriental Customs, vol. ii. page 307.
The people of the East among whom the fashion of clothes was not changeable as with us, esteemed it a principal part of their magnificence to have their wardrobes stored with rich habits. Thus Job, speaking of the wicked, says,
* Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay," chap. xxvii. 16. We may therefore very naturally suppose, that this king, having invited his guests to his feast, would order his servants to make each of them a present of splendid apparel, as a farther mark of his respect, and that they might be all clothed in a manner becoming the magnificence of the solemnity; doubtless, therefore, the man that was sentenced to be bound and cast into outer darkness, had been offered a wedding garment with the rest, but would not receive it, and haughtily entered the palace in his ragged and filthy dress.--Ostervald.
XXII. -16. The Herodians.” The Herodians were rather a political faction than a religious sect of the Jews; they derived their name from Herod the Great, king of Judæa, to whose family they were strongly attached. They were distinguished from the other Jewish sects, first, by their concurring in Herod's plan of subjecting himself and his people to the dominion of the Romans; and secondly, in complying with the latter in many of their heathen practices, such as erecting temples with images for idolatrous worship, raising statues, and instituting games in honour of Augustus; which symbolising with idolatry upon views of interest and worldly policy, is supposed to have been a part, at least, of the leaven of Herod, against which Jesus Christ cautioned his disciples (Mark viii. 15.); consequently they were directly opposed to the Pharisees, who, from a misinterpretation of Deut. xvii. 15. maintained that it was not lawful to submit to the Roman emperor, or to pay taxes to him. But Herod and his followers, understanding the text to exclude only a voluntary choice and not a necessary submission where force had overpowered choice, held an opinion directly contrary, and insisted that in this case it was lawful both to submit to the Roman emperor, and also to pay taxes to him.-Horne, vol. iii. p. 370.
XXII.-23. “The Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection.” The sect of the Sadducees derived its name from Sadok, a pupil of Antigonus Sochæus, president of the Sanhedrim, or great council; who flourished about two hundred and sixty years before the Christian æra, and who inculcated the reasonableness of serving God disinterestedly, and not under the servile impulse of the fear of punishment, or the mercenary hope of reward. Sadok, misunderstanding the doctrine of his master, deduced the inference that there was no future state of rewards or punishments. Their principal tenets were the following: 1st. That there is no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit, (Matt. xxii. 23. Acts xxiii. 8.) and that the soul of man perishes together with the body. 2nd. That there is no fate or overruling providence, but that all men enjoy the most ample freedom of action; in other words,
the absolute power of doing either good or evil according to their own choice; hence, they were very severe judges. 3rd. They paid no regard whatever to any tradition, adhering strictly to the letter of Scripture, but preferring the five books of Moses to the rest.-Horne, vol. iii. p. 360. .
XXII.-30. "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage.” This declaration of Christ is die
rectly contrary to the opinion and practice of some of the antient idolaters, and particularly the Persians. · From a notion that married people were peculiarly happy in a future state, they used often to hire persons to be espoused to such of their relations as had died in celibacy.--See Burder's O. Customs, vol. ii. p. 308.
XXII. -32. “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” &c. The force of this argument goes to prove a future state of existence; which the Greek word at the 23rd verse, erroneously rendered "resurrection," strictly means.
See remark at Acts xxiii. 8. XXII.35. “A lawyer asked him a question.” Lawyers and scribes appear to be synonymous terms, importing one and the same order of men; as St. Matt. (xxii. 35.) calls him a lawyer whom St. Mark (xii. 28.) terms one of the scribes. Dr. Macknight conjectures the scribes to have been the public expounders of the law, and that the lawyers studied it in private: perhaps, as Dr. Lardner conjectures, they taught in the schools.-Horne, vol. i. p. 367.
XXIII. -2. “The scribes and pharisees sit in Moses' seat.” They were the successors of Moses in expounding the law, which they were accustomed to do sitting.
XXIII.-5. “They make broad their phylacteries.” These were four sections of the law written on parchments folded up in the skin of a clean beast, and tied to the head and hand. The four sections were the following: Exodus xii. 2-11. Exodus xüi. 11-17. Deut. vi. 4-10. Deut. xi. 13-22. Those that were for the head were written and rolled up separately, and put in four distinct places in one skin, which was fastened with strings to the crown of the head towards the face. Those that were for the hands were written in four columns on one parchment, which being rolled up, was fastened to the inside of the left arm between the shoulder and the elbow, that it might be over against the heart.-Burder's 0. Customs, vol. ii. p. 308.
XXIII.-6. “ The chief seats in the synagogues.” In speaking of the synagogues, Mr. Horne says, vol. iii. p. 241: : “ The seats were so disposed that the people always sat with their faces towards the elders, and the place where the law was kept; and the elders sat in the opposite direction, that is to say, with their backs to the ark and their faces to the people. The seats of the latter, as being placed nearer the ark, were accounted the more holy, and hence they are in the New Testament termed the chief seats in the synagogue; which the pharisees affected ; and for which our Lord inveighed against them.” XXIII. -9. “Call no man
the earth." Namely, in the sense of the Scribes and Pharisees, which was that men should follow them ignorantly and implicitly in the traditions which they taught.
XXIII. -13. “Hypocrites.” This word, in its most exact application, signifies players, who antiently acted a part under a mask.-More's Theological Works.
XXIII. -15. "Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte." To this practice of the Jews Horace alludes,
Lib. i. Sat. iv. line 142.
XXIII.-24. “Ye strain at a gnat.” Rather, strain out a gnat: a fly being reckoned an unclean animal, the Pharisees would not drink any liquor till it had been strained through a linen cloth. See Ostervald.
XXIII.-27. “ Ye are like unto whited sepulchres," &c. The graves of the principal persons were distinguished by square rooms with cupolas built over them, which being constantly kept clean, white washed and beautified, they continue to this day an excellent comment upon this expression of our Saviour. They were thus whitened, that