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Verse 19. “ They went upon the housetop, and let him down through the filing."--This has many difficulties to the English reader. It has rightly been understood that an explanation is to be soughť by a reference to the construction of Oriental houses : but as the explanation given under this reference does not appear by any means satisfactory, we will renture to hazard another, which does not seem liable to any of the objections which have reasonably been urged against that which is now currently received.
We have already stated many particulars concerning Oriental houses ; and we may now recapitulate or add so much as may be necessary to the understanding of the present account. Such a house, then, does not front the street, towards which it only offers the low door of entrance, with perhaps a small lattice or latticed balcony, which allows of no observation from without. From the door a blind passage conducts into an interior court or quadrangle, towards which all the buildings of the mansion front. There may indeed, in a superior dwelling, be one or two more such courts, beyond this; and then the external one is appropriated to the more public affairs of the owner, such as the reception of friends and clients, and the transaction of business, the interior being occupied by the private apartments to which no strangers have access. But it suffices for every purpose to suppose that there was, in the present case, but one interior quadrangle, having on one or more of its sides the buildings which formed the house. The court is pared with marble, or tiles, or left unpaved, according to the rank of the house and the means of its occupier; and in a sa: perior and spacious house, there may perhaps be a piece of water in the centre, or some trees or shrubs may be planted there. There are usually no apartments on the ground floor occupied by the family; but there are cellars, offices, and store-rooms, fronted perhaps by a corridor extending around the court, or around so much as is fronted by buildings. The principal apartments are above, on the first floor, which is fronted by a gallery, which, of course covers the corridor below, if there be any. This gallery is roofed over—the roof being as high as that of the house, and supported by pillars of wood. All the apartments of the first floor open into this gallery, which is usually from five to eight feet wide, and floored with squared stones, having in front a strong balustrade of wood. On this floor, and in the centre of the side of the quadrangle which faces the entrance, is the state room, a large and lofty hall, open in front, and often richly furnished and adorned, in which the master of the house receives and entertains his visiters and guests. Now the reader will perceive that on viewing the internal front of such a house, the front wall of the main building is screened by the gallery, with its pillars and roof, and by the corridor below, or in the absence of a corridor, by the screen wall and doors of the lower offices. Behind, under the gallery, appears the grand hall, with its interior exposed to view, and the doors and windows of the other apartments. The access to the gallery from the court, is by an esternal stair, generally of stone; and from one of the corners of the gallery, a covered stair generally conducts to the house top. That the roofs are flat, and protected by parapet walls towards the streets and neighbouriug houses, and by a lower wall, or else a balustrade or rail towards the court, are circumstances which we have already fully meztioned. (Deut. xxii.)
After this preliminary explanation, which is not intended as a description of an Oriental house, but only as a specifcation of such particulars as the occasion requires—we may attend to the passage before us.
The current explanation, which we alluded to above, is that offered by Dr. Shaw in his valuable “Travels.' After stating that, on occasions where a considerable concourse assembles, as at a wedding or circumcision, it is customary to entertain them in the court, which is laid for the purpose with mats and carpets, and protected above by an awning es: tended from wall to wall,—he suggests that this was the case on the present occasion ; that our Lord was with the people in the court, which was covered with such an awning or veil ; and that the men went to the top of the house, and, lifting up a part of the veil above the place where our Lord stood, lowered the sick man down at his feet. The sufficiency of this explanation has been of late years questioned. on purely critical grounds, by Professor Paxton, Dr. Bloomfield, and others. Our own objections, on other grounds, are—that such an occasion as the present was not likely to have been prepared for by covering the court with an awning, which is a work of soine labour and preparation, and only resorted to on extraordinary festival occasions; that although the multitude were doubtless in the court, it is far more probable that Christ himself, for the sake of being better seen and heard by the people while he preached to them, as well as to avoid the pressure, was in the gallery above, where also, or behind him, in the great chamber, the Scribes and Pharisees were probably sitting; and, lastly, if Christ were in the court, and allowing that he there stood near the wall (which is necessarily assumed), we do not see how it was possible to lower the sick man down to his feet. Dr. Shaw supposes, as we do, the existence of the gallery we have mentioned. Consequently, to enable the sick man to be lowered into the court, it was necessary that his bearers should get outside the parapet or balustrade upon the housetop, and stand upon the roofing of the gallery while they let the sick man down. But this roofing is quite distinct from the firm and substantial roof of the house itself. It is not intended for, or calculated to bear any weight; and as several men must in this case have stood upon it, there is every reason to conclude that the part on which they stood must have given way under them. We have ourselves repeatedly witnessed single persons cautioned from venturing out upon this roofing, to pick up things which had fallen thereon from the inner parapet or balustrade. Other objections occur to us, but these will suffice, when we add, that the terms of the original cannot, without great and unauthorized violence, be made to apply to the throwing back such an awning or veil as Shaw supposes to have covered the inner court.
Lightfoot, finding, as he thought, some notice of a trap-door in roofs, supposes the sick man was let down through such a door into the room in which Jesus sat. In this he has been followed by others; but we are convinced that what he understood his rabbinical authorities to indicate as a trap-door, was nothing else than the head of the staircase leading from below to the roof of the house.
Dr. Bloomfield (Recens. Synop. on Mark ii.), feeling these difficulties, says, “The case seems plainly to have been this; not being able to approach Jesus, because of the crowd, they ascended to the flat roof, whether of tiling or thatching, including the lath and plaster, about the place where Jesus sat, and having pulled it away, let down the couch by the orifice. In all this I see no difficulty ; certainly no objection ought to be raised (as by Woolston, &c.) at the damage occasioned, which, with any tolerable care, and considering the slight structure of thin roofing (which was chiefly thatch) of the houses of eastern countries, could not be great." We fear this does not obviate any difficulty. For the roofs of the houses of the East have no tiling, no thatch, no lath and plaster; they are the farthest possible from being thin or of a slight structure, and the damage would be very great indeed. The length to which this note has extended renders it inexpedient to show this by a more detailed account of the construction of the roof than has already been given under Deut. xxii. 8; to which we beg to refer. The roofs being flat, and the object being not merely to exclude the rain, but to form a terrace on which the inmates may walk, sleep, eat, and sport, during the fine season of the year, it is evidently necessary that it should be of the most substantial construction; and, accordingly, such a thick and dense mass is formed, by successive layers of various materials over the beams, that it would have been an undertaking of no ordinary difficulty to form an opening in the roof, and no Oriental would dream of such a mode of access to a room below; and besides, if it were done. the room would be absolutely filled, and the people in it overwhelmed, by an inundation of earth and rubbish of all kinds. This therefore is, to our minds, the least tenable of all hypotheses.
Our own explanation is short and easy, after what we have already stated. We have shown it probable that Christ was in the gallery preaching to the multitude in the court below; and this is further corroborated by the difficulty of finding how he could so preach if he were in a room within the house: we have also stated that the roofing of this gallery was distinct from that of the house, and that not being intended for a terrace, it is of very slight constructionsay, of boards with a thin superficial covering of composition or plaster. We think therefore, that the men having mounted to the terraced roof, proceeded to remove (which they might easily do) a part of this light roofing of the gallery, over the place where Jesus sat below. An additional circumstance in favour of this explanation is, that the distance from the roof to the gallery is so much less than from the roof to the court-yard. The acknowledged difficulty of this passage, the greater difficulties which explanations have created, and tắe infidel cavils and sneers to which the narrative has been exposed, will be considered to justify the degree of attention we have given to the subject.
2 And certain of the Pharisees said unto 1 Christ reproveth the Pharisees' blindness about them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to
the observation of the subbath, by Scripture, rea- do on the sabbath days? son, and miracle: 13 chooseth twelve apostles : 3 And Jesus answering them said, Have 17 healeth the diseased : 20 preacheth to his dis
ye not read so much as this, what David ciples before the people of blessings and curses: 21 how we must love our enemies : 46 and join did, when himself was an hungred, and they the obedience of good works to the hearing of the which were with him; word : lest in the evil day of temptation we fall 4 How he went into the house of God, like an house built upon the face of the earth, and did take and eat the shewbread, and without any foundation.
also to them that were with him ; which AND 'it came to pass on the second sabbath it is not lawful to eat but for the Priests after the first, that he went through the corn alone? fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of 5 And he said unto them, That the Son corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their of man is Lord also of the sabbath. hands.
6 'And it came to pass also on another
I Matt, 12. 1.
* Matt. 14. 9.
sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue their company, and shall reproach you, and and taught: and there was a man whose cast out your name as evil, for the Son of right hand was withered.
man's sake. 7 And the Scribes and Pharisees watched 23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for him, whether he would heal on the sabbath joy: for, behold, your reward is great in day; that they might find an accusation heaven: for in the like manner did their faagainst him.
thers unto the prophets. 8 But he knew their thoughts, and said 24 °But woe unto you that are rich! for to the man which had the withered hand, ye have received your consolation. Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And 25 "Woe unto you that are full! for ye he arose and stood forth.
shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh 9 Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask now! for
weep. you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath 26 Woe unto you, when all men shall days to do good, or to do evil ? to save life, speak well of you! for so did their fathers to or to destroy it?
the false prophets. 10 And looking round about upon them 27 1 But I say unto you which hear, all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy Love your enemies, do good to them which hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
28 Bless them that curse you, and
pray 11 And they were filled with madness; | for them which despitefully use you. and communed one with another what they 29 'And unto him that smiteth thee on might do to Jesus.
the one check offer also the other; and him 12 And it came to pass in those days, that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take that he went out into a mountain to pray, thy coat also. and continued all night in prayer to God. 30 Give to every man that asketh of thee;
13 | And when it was day, he called unto and of him that taketh away thy goods ask him his disciples : Sand of them he chose them not again. twelve, whom also he named apostles ;
31 "And as ye would that men should do 14 Simon, (whom he also named Peter) to you, do ye also to them likewise. and Andrew his brother, James and John, 32 1?For if ye love them which love you, Philip and Bartholomew,
what thank have ye? for sinners also love 15 Matthew and Thomas, James the son those that love them. of Alphæus, and Simon called Zelotes, 33 And if ye do good to them which do
16 And Judas 'the brother of James, and good to you, what thank have ye? for sinJudas Iscariot, which also was the traitor. ners also do even the same.
17 | And he came down with them, and 34 "And if ye lend to them of whom ye stood in the plain, and the company of his hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sindisciples, and a great multitude of people ners also lend to sinners, to receive as much out of all Judaa and Jerusalem, and from again. the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came 35 But love ye your enemies, and do to hear him, and to be healed of their dis- good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; eases;
and your reward shall be great, and ye shall 18 And they that were vexed with un- be the children of the Highest: for he is clean spirits : and they were healed.
kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 19 And the whole multitude sought to 36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Fatouch him: for there went virtue out of him, ther also is merciful. and healed them all.
37 "Judge not, and ye shall not be judg. 20 s And he lifted up his eyes on his dis-ed: condemn not, and shall not be conciples, and said, 'Blessed be ye poor: for demned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: your's is the kingdom of God.
38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; 21 Blessed are ye that hunger now: for good measure, pressed down, and shaken ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that wecp together, and running over, shall men give now: for ye shall laugh.
into your bosom. For with the same mea22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate sure that ye mete withal it shall be meayou, and when they shall separate you from sured to you again.
10 1 Cor. 6.a.
3 Matt. 10. 1.
4 Jude l. 5 Matt. 5. 3.
11 Tob. 4. 15. Matt. 7. 12.
6 Amos 6. 1. 7 Isa. 65. 13. 8 Matt. 5. 44,
13 Matt, 5. +2
9 Matt. 5, 39. 14 Matt. 7. 1.
39 And he spake a parable unto them, 45 A good man out of the good treasure "Can the blind lead the blind? shall they of his heart bringeth forth that which is not both fall into the ditch ?
good; and an evil man out of the evil trea40 The disciple is not above his master: sure of his heart bringeth forth that which but every one that is perfect shall be as is evil : for of the abundance of the heart his his master.
mouth speaketh. 41 "And why beholdest thou the mote 46 "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest and do not the things which I say? not the beam that is in thine own eye? 47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth
42 Either how canst thou say to thy bro my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew ther, Brother, let me pull out the mote that you to whom he is like: is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest 48 He is like a man which built an house, not the beam that is in thine own eye? and digged deep, and laid the foundation Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out on a rock: and when the flood arose, the of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see stream beat vehemently upon that house, clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy and could not shake it: for it was founded
upon a rock.
16 Matt. 10. 24.
18 Matt. 7. 3.
43 "For a good tree bringeth not forth 49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree like a man that without a foundation built bring forth good fruit.
an house upon the earth; against which the 44 For every tree is known by his own stream did beat vehemently, and immedifruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, ately it fell; and the ruin of that house was nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. great. 13 Matt. 15. 14. 17 Or, shall be perfected as his master.
19 Matt. 7. 16. 20 Matt. 7.21. Verse 35. "Lore ye your enemies.”—The benign and impressive precepts of our Lord enjoining general affection, tenderness, and forbearance, cannot well be understood, in their full force, without a reference to the low and narrow doctrines which were about this time inculcated by the Jewish teachers and acted upon by the people. As we have shown on a former occasion, a limit was fixed beyond which it was lawful to hate an offending brother, though he might be at first forgiven. Apostatizing or heretical Israelites it was lawful and meritorious to slay, openly, if opportunity served, and legally if expedient; but at all events to slay him, even if by subtilty and craft. And in exact conformity with this principle the rabbinical writers hesitate not to avow-almost with boasting—that by such subtilty and craft Christ himself was slain; thus affording an unintentional corroboration of the truth of the evangelical narratives of his condemnation. And then, as to the Gentiles, even those with whom they had no war or contention, they said,—there was no instruction to plot their death ; but it was not lauful to deliver them from death. Witness the following, cited by Lightfoot from the Babylon Talmud : “A Jew sees one of them fallen into the sea ; let him by no means lift him out thence: for it is written, • Thou shalt not rise up against the blood of thy neighbour: but this man is not thy neighbour.” A precious specimen this of their interpretation of the Scriptures. After this, how noble appear such instructions as these ; and how beautiful the answer of Christ, a little farther on, to the question of the lawyer, “Who is my neighbour?” (Chap. X. 29.)
3 And when he heard of Jesus, he sent CHAPTER VII.
unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching i Christ findeth a greater faith in the centurion a
him that he would come and heal his serGentile, than in any of the Jews : 10 healeth his
vant. servant being absent: 11 raiseth from death the widow's son at Nain: 19 answereth John's mes- 4 And when they came to Jesus, they besengers with the declaration of his miracles :, 24 sought him instantly, saying, That he was testifieth to the people uhat opinion he held of
worthy for whom he should do this : John : 30 inveigheth against the Jews, who with
5 For he loveth our nation, and he hath neither the manners of John nor of Jesus could be won: 36 and sheveth by occasion of Mary
built us a synagogue. Magdalene, how he is a friend to sinners, not to 6 Then Jesus went with them. And when maintain them in sins, but to forgive them their
he was now not far from the house, the censins, upon their faith and repentance.
turion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Now when he had ended all his sayings in Lord, trouble not thyself: for "I am not the audience of the people, 'he entered into worthy that thou shouldest enter under my Capernaum.
roof: 2 And a certain centurion's servant, who 7 Wherefore neither thought I myself was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to worthy to come unto thee: but say in a die.
word, and my servant shall be healed!
1 Matt. 8. 5.
8 For 1 also am a man set under au- the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the thority, having under me soldiers, and I poor the Gospel is preached. say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to an- 23 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not other, Come, and he cometh; and to my ser- be offended in me. vant, Do this, and he doeth it.
24 And when the messengers of John 9 When Jesus heard these things, he were departed, he began to speak unto the marvelled at him, and turned him about, people concerning John, What went ye out and said unto the people that followed him, into the wilderness for to see ? A reed shaken I say unto you, I have not found so great with the wind ? faith, no, not in Israel.
25 But what went ye out for to see ? A 10 And they that were sent, returning to man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they the house, found the servant whole that had which are gorgeously apparelled, and live been sick.
delicately, are in kings' courts. 11 | And it came to pass the day after, 26 But what went ye out for to see ? A that he went into a city called Nain; and prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much many of his disciples went with him, and more than a prophet. much people.
27 This is he, of whom it is written, Be12 Now when he came nigh to the gate hold, I send my messenger before thy face, of the city, behold, there was a dead man which shall prepare thy way before thee. carried out, the only son of his mother, and 28 For I say unto you, Åmong those that she was a widow: and much people of the are born of women there is not a greater city was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had prophet than John the Baptist: but he that
greater compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep than he. not.
29 And all the people that heard him, 14 And he came and touched the 'bier : and the Publicans, justified God, being bapand they that bare him stood still. And he tized with the baptism of John. said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. 30 But the Pharisees and Lawyers 're
15 And he that was dead sat up, and be. jected the counsel of God Sagainst themgan to speak. And he delivered him to his selves, being not baptized of him. mother.
31 And the Lord said, "Whereunto 16 And there came a fear on all: and then shall I liken the men of this
generathey glorified God, saying, That a great tion? and to what are they like? prophet is risen up among us; and, That 32 They are like unto children sitting in God hath visited his people.
the marketplace, and calling one to another, 17 And this rumour of him went forth and saying, We have piped unto you, and throughout all Judæa, and throughout all ye have not danced; we have mourned to the region round about.
you, and ye have not wept.
. 18 And the disciples of John shewed him 33 For John the Baptist came neither of all these things.
eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, 19 | And John calling unto him two of He hath a devil. his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art 34 The Son of man is come eating and thou he that should come? or look we for drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous another?
man, and a winebibber, a friend of Publi20 When the men were come unto him, cans and sinners! they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto 35 But wisdom is justified of all her thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? children. or look we for another?
36 And one of the Pharisees desired 21 And in the same hour he cured many him that he would eat with him. And he of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil went into the Pharisee's house, and sat spirits; and unto many that were blind he down to meat. gave sight.
37 And, behold, a woman in the city, 22 Then Jesus answering said unto them, which was a sinner, when she knew that Go your way,
and tell John what things ye Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, have seen and heard; how that the blind brought an alabaster box of ointment, see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, 38 And stood at his feet behind him : Or, coffin.
Matt. 11.%. * Or, frustrated. • Or, within themselve.
. Matt. 11. 16.
7 Mark 143.