Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

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 acquainted 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.”

VI.-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.

“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

-7.

[ocr errors]

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.-36. “If the son therefore shall make

you

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.

-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 10 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

M

St. John's Greek expression may be sufficiently full for conveying this singular and incommunicable name of The Great and Eternal God, yet it must be remembered that our Lord spoke in Syriac or Chaldee, the meaning of which would be immediately recognized by the Jews; and hence we find in the next verse, they took up stones to cast at him.

VIII.59. “Then took they up stones to cast at him." After describing various punishments which were inflicted by the Jews upon offenders and criminals, Lewis in his Origines Hebrææ, vol. i. page 85. says, “there was another punishment, called the rebel's beating, which was often fatal, and inAlicted by the mob with their fists, or staves, or stones, without mercy, or the sentence of the judges. Whoever transgressed against a prohibition of the wise men, or of the scribes, that had its foundation in the law, was delivered over to the people to be used in this manner, and was called a son of rebellion. The frequent taking up of stones by the people to stone our Saviour, and the incursion upon him and upon St. Stephen for blasphemy, as they would have it, and upon St. Paul for defiling the temple, as they supposed, were of this nature.—Burder's Oriental Customs, vol. i. page 331.

IX.-2. “Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind ?" From the account given of the Pharisees by Josephus, it appears that their notion of the immortality of the soul was the Pythagorean metempsychosis; that the soul, after the dissolution of one body, winged its flight into another; and that these removals were perpetuated and diversified through an infinite succession, the soul animating a sound and healthy body, or being confined in a deformed and diseased frame, according to its conduct in a prior state of existence. From the Pharisees, whose tenets and traditions the people generally received, it is evident that the disciples of our Lord had adopted this philosophical doctrine of the transmigration of souls ; when having met a man who had been

born blind, they asked him whether it were the sins of this man in a pre-existent state which had caused the Sovereign Disposer to inflict upon him this punishment. To this inquiry Christ replied, that neither his vices or sins in a pre-existent state, nor those of his parents, were the cause of this calamity. A reference to this doctrine may be found at Matt. xvi. 14. Luke ix. 19.-See Horne, vol. iii. page 361.

X.-l. “He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold,” &c. The sheepfold was an inclosure sometimes in the manner of a building and made of stone, or fenced with reeds. In it was a large door, at which the shepherd went in and out, when he led in or brought out the sheep. At tithing, which was done in the sheepfold, they made a little door, so that two lambs could not come out together. To this inclosure there is an allusion in these words.-Burder's Oriental Customs, vol. ii. page 345.

. X-3. “ He calleth his own sheep by name.' The | eastern shepherds gave particular names to their sheep, as most men do to their horses, dogs, &c:-Ostervald. X.

And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.' This must be the feast instituted by Judas Maccabeus, on his having purified the temple and altar, which were polluted by Antiochus Epiphanes. It was celebrated every year for eight days successively in the month of December. The text adds, it was winter, which the Greek word signifies; but the same word is also used for a storm, which will account, as some say, for the reason of our Lord's walking in the porch or piazza.

XI.-16. “Thomas which is called Didymus." It was customary with the Jews, when travelling into foreign countries, or familiarly conversing with the Greeks and Romans, to assume to themselves a Greek or Latin name of great affinity, and sometimes of the very same signification with that of their own country, as those of Thomas and Didymus,

-22.

one in the Syriac and the other in the Greek, do both signify a twin.-Burder's Oriental Customs, vol. i. page 332.

XI.-26. “Shall never die.” More correctly rendered, according to the Greek, shall not die for ever.

XI.-39. “He hath been dead four days." The word for dead is not in the original. The expression-four days, therefore, has a reference to what is said in the 17th verse, i. e. that Lazarus had been in the grave four days. At the time when Jesus came, it is probable that Lazarus had been dead six or seven days. This circumstance renders the miracle more conspicuous.

XI. 44, And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes.” The Jewish sepulchres were generally caves or rooms hewn out of rocks. And as the Jews did not make use of coffins, they placed their dead separately in niches or little cells cut into the sides of these caves. or rooms. This form of the Jewish sepulchre suggests an easy solution of a very important difficulty in the history of Lazarus's resurrection. It is said, that when Jesus called upon Lazarus to come forth, he came out bound hand and foot. But deists, talking of this miracle commonly ask with a sneer, how he should come out of a grave who was bound in that manner? The answer however is obvious. The evangelist does not mean that Lazarus walked out of the sepulchre, but that, lying on his back, he raised himself into a sitting posture, then putting his legs over the edge of his niche or cell, slid down, and stood upright upon the floor; all which he might easily do, notwithstanding his arms were close bound to his body, and his legs were tied straight together by means of the shroud and rollers with which he was swathed. Accordingly, when he was come forth, it is said, that Jesus ordered them to loose him and let him go; a circumstance plainly importing, that the historian knew that Lazarus could not walk till he was unbound.-See Burder's 0. Customs, vol.ii. p. 349.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »