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built round a paved court, into which, the entrance from the street is through a gateway or passage room, furnished with benches, and sufficiently large to be used in receiving visits, or transacting business. The stairs which lead to the roof are never placed on the outside of the house in the street, but usually in the gateway or passage-room to the court, sometimes at the entrance within the court. This court is called in Arabic, the middle of the house, and answers to “the midst” in Luke, It is customary to fix cords from the parapet walls (Deut. xxii. 8.) of the flat roofs across this court, and upon them to expand a veil or covering, as a shelter from the heat. In this area probably our Saviour taught. The paralytic was brought upon the roof by making a way through the crowd to the stairs in the gateway, or by the terraces of the adjoining houses. They rolled back the veil, and let the sick man down over the parapet wall of the roof
into the area or court of the house before Jesus.” 64. Matt. ix. 3. The Scribes assumed their name and profession upwards of 800 years before Christ.
Their general employment was in transcribing books, and in reading and expounding the law to the people. Their variety of employments required various qualifications.
Most authors reduce them to two general classes, civil and ecclesiastical. Of the civil scribes there were various de. grees in office, from the common scrivener to the principal secretary of the state. Learned men from any other tribes at large might be admitted into this class. The ecclesiastical scribes were the learned men of the nation, descendants from Levi. They expounded the law and taught it to the people (see Matt. xvii. 10. Mark xii. 35.) and in the New Testament are termed doctors or teachers of the law, and lawyers. They were the preaching clergy among the Jews, and whilst the priests attended the sacrifices, they instructed the people. It appears however that what they taught chiefly related to the traditions of the elders, that it was about external, carnal and
trivial rites; and that they were very litigious. 64. Matt. ix. 6. Take up thy bed and walk.
Their beds consisted of a mattress laid on the floor, and over this a sheet;
in winter a carpet, &c.--Harmer.
priests, who would not administer any remedies on a sabbath
character of John the Baptist is perfectly conformable to the
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 called a Rabbin the candle of the law, and the lamp of light.-Light
foot. 72. Luke vi. 2. Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the
sabbath? The Pharisees deemed the rubbing the ears of the corn a profanation of the sabbath, because they were not al
lowed by their law to prepare victuals on the sabbath day. 73. Mark ii. 86. Did eat the shew bread. See 1 Sam. xxi. 6. Exod. xxix. 32. Levit. viii. 31.
Matt. xii. 5. The priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless. Because they lighted thereon the fire, slew the sacrifices, &c. whereby they would have profaned the sabbath, had not these things been enjoined by God. Accordingly the Jews were wont to say, that there is no sabbath in the temple. See Numb. xxviii. 9....Beausobre and Len
fant. 76. Mark iii. 6. The Herodians. The leading principle of the
Herodians consisted in an endeavour to conform the Jewish religion to the interests of Herod the Great and his successors, and reconcile it to the alien empire of Rome, whose authority the Jews in general were unwilling to acknowledge. This might be the leaven of Herod. Mark viii. 15. See
also Mark xii. 13--18.-Willan. 79. Matt. X. 3. Mark ii. 18. Luke vi. 16. Thaddeus and Ju
das, in the opinion of Pearce, and Lebbeus, of Grotius, are names of similar signification.
Matt. x. 4. Luke vi. 16. Canaanite and Zelotes. Ca. naanite in this place does not denote the origin of Simon from Canaan, but is a Hebrew sirname, which Luke renders
Zelotes, i. e. a man of fervent zeal.-Grotius. 80. Matt. v. 3. Blessed, &c. The primitive Christians caused
their children to commit this sermon to memory.—Harwood. 81. Matt. v. 13. But if the salt have lost its savour. Maun
drell in his journey tells us, that “ In the valley of salt near Gebul, and about four hours journey from Aleppo, there is a small precipice occasioned by the continual taking away of the salt. I broke a piece of that which was exposed to sun, rain, and air, though it had the sparks
and particles of salt, yet it had perfectly lost its savour. The inner part, which was connected to the rock, retained it savour, as I found by proof.” It is likewise probable that in the preparation of fossil alkali, or of common salt, or of rock salt, after exposure to rains, the extraneous matter that remained, as sand, mud, &c. may be here alluded to, as fit only to be trodden under foot.
82. Matt. v. 18. One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass. Jot
is the Hebrew letter Jod, a very small letter, which the Jews frequently use to express a small precept of the law. The tittle was with the Hebrews the slight mark at the angle, or difference in form, distinguishing the different Hebrew letters, as Resh, Daleth, &c.—Lamy and Grotius.
Matt. v. 22. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shali be in danger of hell fire. Christ pursues the analogy between the punishments inflicted by the Jewish courts, and the punishments of a future life, yet not in the common application of three Jewish courts; one of three Judges, the next of twenty-three, and the third the great Sanhedrim, of seventy-two, for the court of three Judges had no power to take away life. But the analogy is thus. Whoever shews causeless anger, shall be in danger of the judgment, or of a punishment similar to the capital one imposed by the lesser court of twenty-three members. Who calls his brother vain or worthless (such is the signification of Raca) shall incur a punishment analogous to that of stoning inflicted by the great court, or council of seventy-two. Who violently rails at his brother, shall be subject to a most grievous punishment comparable to that of the Canaanites and afterwards to the Israelites burning their children alive at Tophet, in the valley of Hinnom, near Jerusalem, in honour to their deity Moloch. 2 Kings, xxiii. 10.
In this valley the Angel of the Lord is said to have destroyed the 185,000 of the host of Sennacherib the king of Assyria. See 2 Kings. xix. 35. The prophecies of Jeremiah in the name of the Lord, against the worship of the idolatrous Jews. See Jer. vii. 31. xix. 6, were likewise here fulfilled by the massacre of a considerable number of them, when Jerusalem was taken by the Babylonish armies. From these and other similar instances of God's vengeance at this place, the Jews were accustomed metaphorically to express the fate of the damned, by the application of Gehenna (or hell fire) in allusion to the valley of Hinnom.
Le Clerc, Lightfoot, and Grotius. 85. Matt. v. 47. And if ye salute your brethren only, &c. The
Jews, it should seem, would not address their usual form of salutation, Peace be with you, to either heathens or publicans,
87. Matt. vi. 7. Use not vain repetitions. The idolatrous wor.
shippers of Baal called on the name of Baal, from morning even until noon, saying, Baal, hear us. 1 Kings xviii. 26. Thus also the devotees of Diana, all' with one voice about
the space of two hours, cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. Acts xix. 34. In imitation of such examples, the Rabbins had laid down these maxims : Every one that multiplies prayer shall be heard. The prayer which is long shall not return empty. Acting therefore on these principles, there was certainly much danger to be apprehended of unmeaning prolixity, and insincere repetitions. Christ condemned both this conduct in others, and warned his disciples against practices so truly pernicious to true religion.
Burder. 88. John vi. 16. When ye fast, &c. The Jews in their fasts
begin the observance of them in the evening after sun-set, and remain without eating till the same hour of the next day, or till the rising of the stars. On the great day of expiation, when more strictly obliged to fast, they continue so for twenty-eight hours. Men are obliged to fast from the age of full thirteen, and women from the age of full eleven years. Children from the age of seven years fast in proportion to their strength. The Pharisees fasted more frequently and with greater rigour and exactness than the generality of Jews.
Calmet. 89. Matt. vi. 30. The grass of the field, &c. The consump
tion of fuel in Arabia and Judea is for their ovens, which they heat with grass, that withers speedily in so hot a cli
Shaw tells us in his travels, that myrtle, rosemary, and other plants are made use of in Barbary to heat their
94. Luke vi. 48. And when the food arose, &c. Though the
returns of the rain in winter are not extremely frequent, yet when it does rain, the water pours down with great violence for three or four days and nights together, enough to drown the whole country.
Such violent rains in so hilly a country as Judea must occasion inundations very dangerous to buildings within their reach, by washing the soil from under them,
and occasioning their fall.-Harmer, &c. 95. § 37.. Matt. viii. Luke vii. It has been doubted by some
whether this account of the centurion's servant, related with some difference by the two Evangelists, refers to the same person. The principal objection is, that Matthew's centurion comes in person, and Luke's centurion sends the elders of the Jews.
Le Clerc supports it, by adducing the following Jewish proverbs : The messenger of any man is as, or equal to, the man himself. The ambassador of a king is as, or equal to, the king. See Matt. xi. 23. xxvii. 19. and observe well Mark x. 35. compared with Matt. xx. 20 In John iv. 1. Jesus is said to baptise, when he baptised by his disciples. See also John xix. 1. He likewise observes that in Gen.
xvi. 13. xviii. 1. Exodus xx. 1,
Exodus xx. 1. God is said to perform what he did, by his angels. Considering the sameness of the scene, the persons, the transactions, we may conclude with Grotius, that this miracle is one and the same ; related in general by Matthew, and with greater accuracy by Luke.
Newcome. 97. Luke vii. 12. And much people, &c. It was a Jewish cus
tom, that all who met a corpse carried to the grave, attend. ed it and joined in the lamentation.- Josephus.
Luke vii. 14. And touched the bier. The people of the East bury their dead without coffins; but they carry them
to the grave on a bier which is shaped like one. -Harmer. 100. Matt. xi. 13. For all the prophets and the law prophesied. Luke xvi. 16. may explain this passage of Matthew.
• The law and the prophets were until John ; since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.' By this expression our Lord marks the beginning of a new age or dispensation, which is usually denominated the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of the Messiah. Thus Sanhedrim 991, “ all the prophets only prophesy to the days of the Messiah, but concerning the days of that age to come, the eye
seeth not."-Willan. Matt. xi. 16. It is like unto children, Sc. It was the custom of children among the Jews, in their sports, to imitate what they saw done by others on great occasions, and particularly the customs in festivities, wherein the musician playing a tune upon his instrument, the company danced to his pipe. So also in funerals, wherein the women by singing the mournful song, the rest followed lamenting and beating their breasts. These things the children acted and personated in the streets in play, and the rest not following their leader gave occasion to this speech ;“We have piped unto yoll, and ye
have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye
have not lamented.”-Burder. 102. Matt. xi. 23. Shall be brought down to hell. This is a
scripture phrase used to denote an utter destruction, a total overthrow. See Isaiah xiv. 13. 15. This prophecy hath been so exactly fulfilled in the destruction of Capernaum, that according to the relation of travellers there are not now
above eight cottages where it stood.-Beausobre and Lenfant. 103. Luke vii. 33. And stood at his feet, vehind hin. This is
not intelligible, without adverting to the posture in which the