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of the feast, who certainly was sober; for those who on such occasions are intrusted with this office observe the strictest sobriety, that they may be able properly to regulate the whole. -See Burder's Oriental Customs, vol. i. page 324.
II.-15. “And when he had made a scourge," &c. The reason why no one resisted our Saviour was, that there. was a law among the Jews, that whoever profaned the holiness of God, or the temple, it was lawful for any of them to kill him, or to scourge him. They who put this law in execution were called Zealots. The scourge might be designed for driving out beasts.-See Ostervald.
II.-20. “ Forty and six years was this temple in building.” The words of our version imply that the building of the temple was finished'; which was not the case. The words should be rendered,—forty and six years hath this temple been in building; for such is the import of the Greek. This was the forty-sixth year current from the time that Herod laid the foundation, B. C. 17. The temple continued increasing in magnificence till the time of Nero, when it was completed, and 18,000 workmen were dismissed from that service.--See Valpy's Greek Testament.
III.-3. Except a man be-born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." The mode of expression adopted in these words is not unknown in the East. The author of the Institutes of Menu, who flourished 1280 years before Christ, uses the following remarkable language: “ Of him who gives natural birth, and him who gives knowledge of the whole veda, the giver of sacred knowledge is the more venerable father; since the second or divine birth insures life to the twice born, both in this life and hereafter eternally. Let a man consider that as a mere human birth, which his parents gave him for their mutual gratification, and which he receives after lying in the womb; but that birth, which his principal acharya, who knows the whole veda, procures for him by his divine mother, the gayatri, is a true birth; that birth is exempt from age and from death.”—See Burder's Oriental Customs, vol. i. page 325.
III._10. “ Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things." There were several ceremonies to be performed by all who became Jewish proselytes. The lst, was circumcision : the 2nd, was washing or baptism : and the 3rd, was that of offering sacrifice. It was a common opinion among the Jews concerning those who had gone through all these ceremonies, that they ought to be looked upon as new born infants : Maimonides says it in express terms: “A Gentile who is become a proselyte, and a slave who is set at liberty, are both as it were new born babes ; which is the reason why those who before were their parents are now no longer so.” Hence, it is evident that nothing could be more just than Christ's reproaching Nicodemus with his being a master in Israel, and yet being at the same time ignorant how a man could be born a second time.-See Burder's Oriental Customs, vol. ii. page 341.
IV.-ll. “Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with,” &c. We are informed by travellers that people who go to dip water out of the wells, and the merchants who go
in caravans, are provided with small leathern buckets and a line, because in these countries more cisterns or wells are found than springs that lie high. This easily accounts for the Samaritan woman remarking that the water was deep and that our Lord had nothing to draw with, though he spoke of presenting her with water.—Valpy's Greek Testament.
IV: 20. “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain." Sanballat, by permission of Alexander the Great, had built a temple on mount Gerizim, for Manasseh his son-in-law; who, for marrying Sanballat's daughter, was expelled from the priesthood and from Jerusalem. This was the place where the Samaritans used to worship, in opposition to Jerusalem ; it stood very near Sychem.---See Josephus, Antiq. b. xi. chap. viii. s. 1. &c.
V.2. “There is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, &c.” It is argued by some, that Jerusalem was still standing when St. John wrote this passage ; for if it had lain at that time in ruins, it is presumed that St. John would not have said, as rendered, there is, in which reading the Greek Mss. are unanimous. But there is great likelihood, according to Dr. Townson, that Bethesda, escaped the general devastation. There is, indeed, no doubt that St. John wrote much later than any other Evangelist and after the destruction of Jerusalem.--See Valpy's Greek Testament.
V.-17. “My Father worketh hitherto and I work.” At the ii. Gen. and 2nd verse, Moses says, God rested on the seventh day from all his works : these passages, however, are not at variance; for Moses is speaking of the works of creation, and Jesus of the works of providence.-See Horne, vol. i. page 537.
V.-35. “He was a burning and shining light.” This character of John the Baptist is perfectly conformable to the mode of expression adopted by the Jews. It was usual with them to call any person who was celebrated for knowledge, a candle. Thus they say that Shuah, the father-in-law of Judah (Gen. xxxviii. 2.) was the candle or light of the place where he lived, because he was one of the most famous men in the city, enlightening their eyes; hence they call a rabbin, the candle of the law, and the lamp of light.-See Lightfoot's Works, vol. ii. page 550.
V.-37. “ Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.” This passage seems to be at variance with Exod. iii. 4. The true solution according to the Scriptures, is this: That the Lord God never spake or appeared in person, but always by a proxy, nuncius, or messenger who represented him and spake in his name and authority. It was this messenger of Jehovah (or angel of Jehovah) who appeared unto Moses (Exod. iii. 2.) and who is called in verse 4th, Jehovah or Lord (whence it is evident that he was no created human being); and who spake to Moses, in verse 5th, and following. All which words were pronounced by an angel, but are true, not of the angel, but of God whom he represented. So a herald reads a proclamation in the king's name and words, as if the king himself were speaking. The word angel, both in the Greek language and in the Hebrew, signifies a messenger or nuncius, an ambassador; one who acts and speaks, not in his own naine or behalf, but in the name, person, and behalf of him who sends him. Thus, the word is frequently rendered in our authorised translation ; and if it had always been rendered the messenger of the Lord, instead of the angel of the Lord, the case would have been very plain. But angel, being a Greek word, which the English reader does not understand, throws some obscurity upon such passages. See Horne's Introduction, vol. i.
VI.l. 6 Which is the sea of Tiberias.”
This ex planation of the lake, which the Evangelist gives, may be adduced as a proof that he wrote much later than the others. He wrote when the new name of Tiberias had prevailed over the antient, which had already grown into disuse. The other Evangelists call this lake the sea of Galilee.-Valpy's Greek Testament.
VIL-2. “The Jews' feast of tabemacles was at hand." The feast of abernacles continued for a week. It was instituted to commemorate the dwelling of the Israelites in tents while they wandered in the desert. (Levit. xxii. 34. 43.). Hence it is called by St. John, according to the Greek, the feast of tents. It is likewise termed the feast of in-gatherings. (Exod. xxiii. 16. xxxiv. 22.) Further, the design of this feast was, to return thanks to God, for the
fruits of the vine, as well as of other trees, which were gathered about this time, and also to implore his blessing upon those of the ensuing year.-See Horne, vol. iii. 311.
VII. 14. “Now about the midst of the feast, Jesus went up into the temple and taught."-See the 8th verse. The days between the first and last of those feasts which lasted a week, were the least solemn: at this time, therefore, Christ went up into the temple, because he could not do it sooner for the crowd.—See Introd. for a New Translation.
VII. ----22. “And ye on the sabbath-day circumcise a man.” The sacrament of circumcision 'was enjoined to be observed on the eighth day (Gen. xvii. 12.) including the day when the child was born, and that on which it was performed, and so 'scrupulous were the Jews in obeying the letter of the law, that they never neglected it, even though it happened on the sabbath day. This they termed “driving away the sabbath.” If they were obliged to perform circumcision, either sooner or later, it was considered as a misfortune, and the circumcision so administered, though valid, was not deemed equally good with that done on the eighth day: and when this ceremony was deferred, it was never used to drive away the sabbath. It was for this reason that St. Paul accounted it no small privilege to have been circumcised on the eighth day. Accordingly, John the Baptist (Luke i. 59.) and Jesus Christ (Luke ii. 21.) were circumcised exactly on that day.--Horne's Introd. vol. iii. p. 259.
VII.-37. “ In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink.” Our Lord here avails himself of the occasion of the following custom, as recorded in Mr. Horne's valuable work, vol. iii. p. 40. In speaking of the fountain of Siloam, our Author remarks, “ From this pool, on the last day of the feast of tabernacles, which was a day of great festivity among the Jews, it was the custom to fetch water, some of