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it stood very near Sychem.-See Josophus, 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 ïi. 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 name 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 hare 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. “ Which is the sea of Tiberias.”- This explanation 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
“The Jews' feast of tabernacles 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. 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
(Levit. xxü. 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 which they drank with loud acclamations of joy and thanksgiving, and some was brought to the altar, where it was poured upon the evening sacrifice. During this solemn offering the people sang with transports of joy the 12th chapter of Isaiah's prophecy, particularly the 3rd verse-With joy shall 'ye draw water from the wells of salvation. It was observed, in commemoration of their forefathers being miraculously relieved when they thirsted in the wilderness; and the water poured on the altar was brought as a drink-offering to God, when they prayed for rain against the following seed-time.
VII.-39. “For the Holy Ghost was not yet given.” That is, the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This distinction is well known to those acquąinted with Bishop Middleton's doctrine of the Greek article. The same author observes, “ This passage is then not indeed direct evidence, but what is much more valuable, an indirect appeal to the world for the truth of what St. Luke has recorded in Acts ii. The unavoidable inference is, either that this evangelist contrived obliquely to countenance a notorious falsehood, and that his readers conspired to give it currency, or else that our religion is true.”
VII.-46. “Never man spake like this man.” Plutarch mentions it as a memorable proof of the extraordinary eloquence of Mark Antony, when Marius sent soldiers to kill him, that when he began to plead for his life, he disarmed their resolution, and melted them into tears : but these officers are thus vanquished, merely by hearing Christ's gracious discourses to the people, which is a circumstance much more remarkable.-Doddridge.
VIII.----7. “Let him first cast a stone at her.” According to Bishop Middleton, this should have been rendered the stone, in order to distinguish it from other stones. The allusion is to the particular manner of stoning, which required that one of the witnesses,—for two at the least were necessary, see Deut. xvii. 6.-should throw the stone, which was to serve
as a signal to the by-standers to complete the punishment. And the Bishop regards this as a circumstance in favor of the authenticity of this passage, that the Greek word for stone has the article prefixed. For an interpolator was not likely to have been thus exact in his phraseology, or to have adverted to this apparently trifling circumstance. The objection, therefore, to the authenticity of the eleven first verses of this chapter, founded on the following at the 11th verse, “Neither do I condemn thee,” will not hold good; particularly when we reflect that Jesus refused only to condemn the woman in a magisterial capacity. As a sinner he condemned her, and bad her sin no more.—See Valpy's Greek Testament. VIII. “ If the son therefore shall make
free." This alludes to a custom in some of the cities of Greece, and elsewhere, whereby the son and heir had a liberty to adopt brethren, and give them the privileges of the family.—Burder's 0. Customs, vol. i. p. 331.
VIII. -57. “ Thou art not yet fifty years old.” The age of fifty is often spoken of by the Jews, and much observed : at the age of fifty they say a man is fit to give counsel; hence the Levites were dismissed from service at that age, it being more proper for them then to give advice than to bear burthens. A methurgeman, or an interpreter in a congregation, was not chosen under fifty years of age : and if a man died before he was fifty, this was called the death of cutting off; a violent death, a death inflicted by God as a punishment.-See Burder's Oriental Customs, vol. ii. page 344.
VIII.-_-58. “I am.” This is generally allowed to be a reference to the name which God assumed when speaking lo Moses (Exod. iii. 14.) “I am that I am," again “I am, hath sent me unto you.” The septuagint renders this expression from the original Hebrew, I am the EXISTING ONE ; again, THE EXISTING ONE hath sent me unto you. Although