"after the death of the latter prophets, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, the holy Spirit departed from Israel, and thenceforwards they used "Bath Kol", the "voice". One time they were sitting in the chamber of the house of Guria in Jericho, and there came to them , "the voice from heaven", (saying;) there is one here, who is fit to have the Shekinah (or divine majesty) abide on him, as Moses our master; but because his generation was not worthy, therefore the wise men set their eyes on Hillell, the elder; and when he died, they said concerning him, this was a holy man, a meek man, a disciple of Ezra. Again, another time they were sitting in a chamber in Jabneh, and there came to them "the voice from heaven", (saying;) there is one here, who is fit to have the Shekinah dwell on him; but because his generation was not worthy, therefore the wise men set their eyes on Samuel the little.''
I have cited this passage at large, partly because, according to them, it fixes the date and use of "the voice"; and partly, because it affords instances of it, wherefore more need not be mentioned; for, it would be endless to repeat the several things spoken by it; such as encouraging Herod to rebel, and seize his master's kingdom (u); forbidding Ben Uzziel to go on with his paraphrase on the Hagiographa, or holy books, when he had finished his Targum on the prophets (w); declaring the words of Hillell and Shammai to be the words of the living God (x); signifying the conception, birth, and death of (y) persons, and the like; all which seem to be mere fiction and imagination, diabolical delusions, or satanical imitations of this voice, that was now heard, in order to lessen the credit of it. But, to proceed; this extraordinary voice from heaven, which was formed in articulate sounds for the sake of John; and, according to the other Evangelists, was directed to Christ, Mark 1:11 expressed the following words, "this is my beloved Son". "This" person, who had been baptized in water, on whom the holy Spirit now rested, is no other than the Son of God in human nature; which he assumed, in order to be obedient to this, and the whole of his Father's will: he is his own proper "son", not by creation, as angels, and men; nor by adoption, as saints; nor by office, as magistrates; but in such a way of filiation as no other is: he is the natural, essential, and only begotten Son of God; his beloved Son, whom the Father loved from everlasting, as his own Son; the image of himself, of the same nature with him, and possessed of the same perfections; whom he loved, and continued to love in time, though clothed with human nature, and the infirmities of it; appearing in the likeness of sinful flesh; being in his state of humiliation, he loved him through it, and all sorrows and sufferings that attended it. Christ always was, and ever will be considered, both in his person as the Son of God, and in his office as mediator, the object of his love and delight; wherefore he adds,
in whom I am well pleased. Jehovah the Father took infinite delight and pleasure in him as his own Son, who lay in his bosom before all worlds; and was well pleased with him in his office relation, and capacity: he was both well pleased in him as his Son, and delighted in him as his servant, Isaiah 42:1 he was pleased with his assumption of human nature; with his whole obedience to the law; and with his bearing the penalty and curse of it, in the room and stead of his people: he was well pleased with and for his righteousness, sacrifice and atonement; whereby his law was fulfilled, and his justice satisfied. God is not only well pleased in, and with his Son, but with all his people, as considered in him; in him he loves them, takes delight in them, is pacified towards them, and graciously accepts of them. It would be almost unpardonable, not to take notice of the testimony here given to the doctrine of the Trinity; since a voice was heard from the "father" in heaven, bearing witness to "the Son" in human nature on earth, on whom "the Spirit" had descended and now abode. The ancients looked upon this as so clear and full a proof of this truth, that they were wont to say; Go to Jordan, and there learn the doctrine of the Trinity. Add to all this, that since this declaration was immediately upon the baptism of Christ, it shows that his Father highly approved of, and was well pleased with his submission to that ordinance; and which should be an encouraging motive to all believers to follow him in it.
(t) T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 11. 1. Sota, fol. 48. 2. Yoma. fol. 9. 2.((u) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 3. 2. (w) Megilla, fol. 3. 1. (x) T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 3. 2. (y) T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 22. 1. T. Hieros. Sabbat. fol. 8. 3.
was led of the Spirit: by "the Spirit" is meant the same spirit of God, which had descended and lighted on him in a bodily shape, with the gifts and graces of which he was anointed, in an extraordinary manner, for public service; of which he was "full", Luke 4:1 not but that he was endowed with the Holy Ghost before which he received without measure from his Father; but now this more eminently and manifestly appeared and by this Spirit was he led; both the Syriac and the Persic versions read, "by the holy Spirit". Being "led" by him, denotes an internal impulse of the Spirit in him, stirring him up, and putting him upon going into the wilderness: and this impulse being very strong and vehement, another Evangelist thus expresses it; "the Spirit driveth him, thrusts him forth into the wilderness", Mark 1:12 though not against his will; to which was added an external impulse, or outward rapture, somewhat like that action of the Spirit on Philip. Acts 8:39. When he is said to be led up, the meaning is, that he was led up from the low parts of the wilderness, where he was, to the higher and mountainous parts thereof, which were desolate and uninhabited. The place where he was led was "into the wilderness", i.e. of Judea, into the more remote parts of it; for he was before in this wilderness, where John was preaching and baptizing; but in that part of it which was inhabited. There was another part which was uninhabited, but by "wild beasts" and here Christ was led, and with these he was, Mark 1:13 all alone, retired from the company of men; could have no assistance from any, and wholly destitute of any supply: so that Satan had a fair opportunity of trying his whole strength upon him; having all advantages on his side he could wish for. The end of his being led there, was
to be tempted of the devil: by "the devil" is meant "Satan" the prince of devils, the enemy of mankind, the old serpent, who has his name here from accusing and calumniating; so the Syriac calls him the accuser, or publisher of accusations. He was the accuser of God to men, and is the accuser of men to God; his principal business is to tempt, and Christ was brought here to be tempted by him, that he might be tried before he entered on his public work; that he might be in all things like unto his brethren; that he might have a heart as man, as well as power, as God, to succour them that are tempted; and that Satan, whose works he came to destroy, might have a specimen of his power, and expect, in a short time, the ruin of his kingdom by him. The time when this was done was "then"; when Jesus had been baptized by John; when the Holy Ghost descended on him, and he was full of it; when he had such a testimony from his Father of his relation to him, affection for him, and delight in him; "then" was he led, "immediately", as Mark says, Mark 1:12. As soon as all this was done, directly upon this, he was had into the wilderness to be tempted by and to combat with Satan; and so it often is, that after sweet communion with God in his ordinances, after large discoveries of his love and interest in him follow sore temptations, trials, and exercises. There is a very great resemblance and conformity between Christ and his people in these things.
he was afterwards an hungered; that is, as Luke says, "when" the "forty" days "were ended", Luke 4:2 which seized upon him, and is related, both to express the reality of his human nature, which though miraculously supported for so long a time without food, and insensible of hunger, yet at length had appetite for food; and also that very advantageous opportunity Satan had to attack him in the manner he did, with his first temptation.
(z) T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 12. 1, 2. Misn. Taanith, c. 1. sect. 5. (a) Hilch. Taanith, c. 5. sect. 5.
if thou be the Son of God; either doubting of his divine sonship, calling it in question, and putting him upon doing so too; wherefore it is no wonder that the children of God should be assaulted with the like temptation: or else arguing from it, "if", or "seeing thou art the Son of God"; for he must know that he was, by the voice which came from heaven, and declared it: and certain it is, that the devils both knew, and were obliged to confess that Jesus was the Son of God, Luke 4:41 by which is meant, not a good, or righteous man, or one dear to God, and in an office; but a divine person, one possessed of almighty power; and therefore, as a proof and demonstration of it, be urges him to
command that these stones be made bread, pointing to some which lay hard by; "say" but the word, and it will be done. He did not doubt but he was able to do it, by a word speaking; but he would have had him to have done it at his motion, which would have been enough for his purpose; who wanted to have him obedient to him: and he might hope the rather to succeed in this temptation, because Christ was now an hungry; and because he had carried his point with our first parents, by tempting them to eat of the forbidden fruit.
he brought him to Jerusalem, Luke 4:9 called so, because of the presence, worship, and service of God, which had been in it, though then in a great measure gone; and according to the common notions of the Jews, who say (b) Jerusalem was more holy than any other cities in the land, and that because of the Shekinah. The inscription on one side of their shekels was , "Jerusalem, the holy city" (c). Satan frequents all sorts of places; men are no where free from his temptations; Christ himself was not in the holy city, no nor in the holy temple; hither also he had him,
and setteth him upon a pinnacle, or "wing of the temple". In this place (d) the Jews set James, the brother of Christ, and from it cast him down headlong: this was the "the summit", or "top" of it; and intends either the roof encompassed with battlements, to keep persons from falling off; or the top of the porch before the temple, which was 120 cubits high; or the top of the royal gallery, built by Herod, which was of such an height, that if a man looked down from it, he soon became dizzy (e). The view Satan had in setting him here appears in the next verse.
(b) Bemidbar Rabba, fol. 183. 4. & Maimon. Hilch. Beth. Habechirah, c. 7. sect. 14. & 6. 16. (c) Waserus de Antiq. Numm. Heb. l. 2. c. 5. (d) Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 2. c. 23. (e) Joseph. Antiq. Jud. l. 15. c. 14.
thou art the Son of God, show thyself to be so; give proof of thy sonship before all the priests which are in and about the temple, and before all the inhabitants of Jerusalem;
cast thyself down that is, from the pinnacle of the temple: for since thou art the Son of God, no hurt will come to thee; thou wilt be in the utmost safety; and this will at once be a full demonstration to all the people, that thou art the Son of God: for hither Satan brought him, hoping to have got an advantage of him publicly; otherwise, had his view only been to have got him to cast himself down from any place of eminence, and so to have destroyed himself, he might have set him upon any other precipice; but he chose to have it done in the sight of the people, and in the holy city, and holy place. Let it be observed, that Satan did not offer to cast him down himself; for this was not in his power, nor within his permission, which reached only to tempt; and besides, would not have answered his end; for that would have been his own sin, and not Christ's: accordingly, we may observe, that when he seeks the lives of men, he does not attempt to destroy them himself, but always puts them upon doing it. To proceed, Satan not only argues from his divine power, as the Son of God, that he would be safe in casting himself down; but observing the advantageous use Christ made of the scriptures, transforms himself into an angel of light, and cites scripture too, to encourage him to this action; assuring him of the protection of angels. The passage cited is Psalm 91:11 which expresses God's tender care and concern for his people, in charging the angels with the guardianship and preservation of them, in all their ways, that they might be secured from sin and danger. It does not appear that Satan was wrong in the application of this passage to Christ; for since it respects all the righteous in general, why not Christ as man? the head, as well as the members? And certain it is, that angels had the charge of him, did watch over him, and were a guard about him; the angels of God ascended, and descended on him; they were employed in preserving him from Herod's malice in his infancy; they ministered to him here in the wilderness, and attended him in his agony in the garden: but what Satan failed in, and that wilfully, and wickedly, was, in omitting that part of it,
to keep thee in all thy ways; which he saw was contrary to his purpose, and would have spoiled his design at once; and also in urging this passage, which only regards godly persons, in the way of their duty, to countenance actions which are out of the way of a man's calling, or which he is not called unto; and which are contrary to religion, and a tempting God. Satan before tempted Christ to distrust the providence of God, and now he tempts him to presume upon it: in like manner he deals with men, when he argues from the doctrines of predestination and providence to the disuse of means, for their good, either for this life, or that which is to come; and if he tempted the Son of God to destroy himself, it is no wonder that the saints should be sometimes harassed with this temptation.
ye shall not tempt the Lord your God, thereby tacitly showing, that he had produced scripture to a very wrong purpose, since that could never contradict itself; and also, that for a person to neglect the ordinary means of safety, and to expect, that as God can, so he will, preserve without the use of such means, is a tempting him. The Hebrew word "tempt", as Manasseh ben (f) Israel observes, is always taken in an ill part, and is to be understood of such who would try the power, goodness, or will of God. And which, as it is not fitting it should be done by any man, so not by himself; and perhaps he hereby intimates too, that he himself was God; and therefore as it was not right in him to tempt God the Father, by taking such a step as Satan solicited him to; nor would it be right in any other; so it was iniquitous in the devil to tempt him who was God over all, blessed for ever.
(f) Conciliat. in Deut. Quaest. 3. p. 223.
sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and glory of them. By "all the kingdoms of the world" are meant, not only the Roman empire, as Dr. Lightfoot thinks, though that was, to he sure, the greatest in the world at that time; but all the kingdoms in the whole world, which subsisted in any form, whether within, or independent of the Roman empire; or whether greater or lesser: and by "the glory of them", is meant, the riches, pomp, power, and grandeur of them. Now the view which Satan gave Christ of all this, was not by a representation of them in a picture, or in a map, or in any geographical tables, as (h) some have thought; since to do this there was no need to take him up into a mountain, and that an exceeding high one; for this might have been done in a valley, as well as in a mountain: and yet it could not be a true and real sight of these things he gave him; for there is no mountain in the world, from whence can be beheld anyone kingdom, much less all the kingdoms of the world; and still less the riches, glory, pomp, and power of them: but this was a fictitious, delusive representation, which Satan was permitted to make; to cover which, and that it might be thought to be real, he took Christ into an high mountain; where he proposed an object externally to his sight, and internally to his imagination, which represented, in appearance, the whole world, and all its glory. Xiphilinus (i) reports of Severus, that he dreamed, he was had by a certain person, to a place where he could look all around him, and from thence he beheld , "all the earth, and also all the sea"; which was all in imagination. Satan thought to have imposed on Christ this way, but failed in his attempt. Luke says, this was done
in a moment of time, in the twinkling of an eye; as these two phrases are joined together, 1 Corinthians 15:52 or "in a point of time". The word used by Luke 4:5 sometimes signifies a mathematical point, which Zeno says (k) is the end of the line, and the least mark; to which the allusion may be here, and designs the smallest part of time that can be conceived of. Antoninus the emperor uses the word, as here, for a point of time; and says (l), that the time of human life, and the whole present time, is but a point. Would you know what a moment, or point of time is, according to the calculation of the Jewish doctors, take the account as follows; though in it they differ: a moment, say they (m), is the fifty six thousandth, elsewhere (n), the fifty eight thousandth, and in another place (o), the fifty three thousandth and eight hundredth and forty eighth, or, according to another account (p), eighty eighth part of an hour. If this could be thought to be a true and exact account of a moment, or point of time, it was a very short space of time indeed, in which the devil showed to Christ the kingdoms of this world, and their glory; but this is not more surprising than his vanity, pride, and impudence, in the following verse.
(g) Vid. Fabricii Bibliograph. Antiq. c. 5. p. 137. (h) Vid. Fabricium, ibid. & Grotium in loc. (i) Apud Fabricium, ib. (k) Vid. Laertium in Vit. Zenou. (l) De seipso, l. 2. c. 17. & l. 6. c. 36. (m) T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 2. 4. (n) T. Bab Beracot. fol. 7. 1.((o) Avoda Zara, fol. 4. 1.((p) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 7. 1.
And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will, I give it--all shall be thine. In which words he sets up himself to be the God of this world, and the sovereign disposer of it: he pretends it was delivered to him by the true God, who had left it to his arbitrary disposal; and that he could invest Christ with the power and government of it, and put him in possession of all its glory, and make good and support his title to it, and interest in it. Never was such monstrous arrogance expressed as this; when this poor, proud, wretched creature, has not the disposal, at his pleasure, of anyone single thing; no not the least in the whole universe. He could not touch, neither Job's person, nor any of his substance, without divine permission; nor enter into an herd of swine without Christ's leave; and yet had the front to make an offer of the whole world, as if he had a despotic power over it; and that upon this horrid and blasphemous condition,
if thou wilt fall down and worship me. This was the highest degree of effrontery and impudence. The devil is not content to be worshipped by men, but seeks for adoration from the Son of God: this opens at once his proud, ambitious, and aspiring views, to be as God himself; for with nothing less can he be satisfied.
for it is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. The place referred to is in Deuteronomy 6:13
thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him: to fear the Lord, and to worship him, is the same thing. Worship includes both an internal and external reverence of God: the word "only" is not in the original text, but is added by our Lord; and that very justly; partly to express the emphasis which is on the word "him"; and in perfect agreement with the context, which requires it; since it follows,
ye shall not go after other Gods. Moreover, not to take notice of the Septuagint version, in which the word "only" is also added, Josephus (q), the Jewish historian, referring to this law, says, because God is one, , "therefore he only is to be worshipped". And Aben Ezra (r), a Jewish writer, explaining the last clause in the verse,
and thou shalt swear by his name, uses the word "only"; and which indeed, of right, belongs to every clause in it. The meaning of our Lord in citing it is; that since the Lord God is the alone object of worship, it was horrid blasphemy in Satan to desire it might be given to him, and which could not be done without the greatest impiety.
(q) Antiq. Jud. l. 3. c. 5. sect. 5. (r) In Deut. vi. 13.
when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season, or until a season. That is, having tempted him with all sorts of temptations, and tried him every way to no purpose; having gone through, and finished the whole scheme and course of temptations he had devised, without success; and having orders from Christ to depart, which he was obliged to obey, leaves him for a while, till another opportunity of tempting him in some other way should offer; or till the time came, when he should be so far able to get the advantage of him, as to bruise his heel, or bring him to the dust of death; see John 14:30 and when he was gone, better company came in his room;
behold, angels came and ministered to him. They came to him in a visible, human form, as they were used to do under the Old Testament dispensation, and that after the temptation was over; after Satan was foiled, and was gone; that it might appear that Christ alone had got the victory over him, without any help or assistance from them. When they were come, they "ministered to him"; that is, they brought him food of their own preparing and dressing, as they formerly did to Elijah, 1 Kings 19:5 to satisfy his hunger, and refresh his animal spirits; which had underwent a very great fatigue during this length of time, in which he fasted, and was tempted by Satan. Thus, as the angels are ministring spirits to the heirs of salvation, both in a temporal and in a spiritual sense, Hebrews 1:14 so they were to Christ. Nothing is more frequent with the Jews than to call the angels "ministring angels": it would be needless and endless to refer to particular places.
he departed into Galilee; not so much on account of safety, or for fear of Herod, but to call his disciples, who lived in that country.
(s) Antiq. l. 18. c. 7.
wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth: though afterwards they were so much displeased with him, that they thrust him out of their city; and intended to have destroyed him, by casting him down headlong from the brow of an hill; and which seems to be the reason of his leaving this city; see Luke 4:16
he came and dwelt in Capernaum a city of Galilee. Luke 4:31
which is upon the sea-coast by the sea of Tiberias, or Genesareth
in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: it bordered on both these tribes; it signifies "the village of consolation" (t); and so it was, whilst the consolation of Israel dwelt there. The Jews speak very evilly of it: no doubt because it was the dwelling place of Christ; and because there might be some in it who believed in him: they represent the inhabitants of it as very great sinners, heretics, and dealers in magic art. Chanina, the brother's son of R. Joshua, they say (u), went to Capernaum, and the heretics did something to him; according to the gloss, they bewitched him: and elsewhere (w) explaining the words in Ecclesiastes 7:26
Who so pleaseth God,....; this, they say, is Chananiah, the brother's son of R. Joshua; and "the sinner"; these are the "children", or inhabitants of Capernaum. Thus they show their spite against the very place in which Christ dwelt.
(t) Vid. Benjamin Tudelens. Itinerar. p. 37. & L'Empereur, not. in ib. & Hieron. in Mar. i. 21. & Origen. Comment. in Matt. p. 317. vol. 1. Ed. Huet. (u) Midrash Koheleth. fol. 63. 1.((w) Ib. fol. 77. 1.
"the king Messiah shall be revealed , "in the land of Galilee."''
And in another place (z) explaining Isaiah 2:19 they paraphrase it thus,
""for fear of the Lord"; this is the indignation of the whole world: and for the "glory of his majesty"; this is the Messiah; when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth, when he shall arise and be revealed , "in the land of Galilee": because that this is the first place to be destroyed in the holy land; therefore he shall be revealed there the first of all places.''
Here Jesus, the true Messiah, made his first appearance publicly; here he called his disciples, and began his ministry.
(x) See my treatise upon the "Prophecies of the Messiah", &c. p. 147, &c. (y) Zohar in Gen. fol. 74. 3.((z) Ib. in Exod. fol. 3. 3. & 88. 3.
And to them which sat in the region and shadow of death: the same persons who sit in darkness, sit also in the region of death; for such are dead in trespasses and sins: where there is no spiritual light, there is no spiritual life, and such are in danger of the second death; but the happiness of these people was, that to them "light is sprung up", like the rising sun, and this without their asking or seeking for: Christ, the sun of righteousness, arose upon them, without any desert, desire, or expectation of theirs, with healing in his wings; and cured them of their darkness and deadness, turned them from darkness to light, and caused them to pass from death to life. "Light" is not only a character under which Christ frequently goes in the New Testament, see John 1:4 but is one of the names by which the Messiah was known under the Old Testament; see Daniel 2:22 and which the Jews give unto him: says R, Aba (a) Serungia, "and the light dwelleth with him"; this is the king Messiah. The note of R. Sol. Jarchi on these words, "send forth thy light", is, the king Messiah; who is compared to light, according to Psalm 132:17 the days of the Messiah are by them said to (b) be "days of light"; and so these Galilaeans found them to be; as all do, to whom the Gospel of Christ comes with power and demonstration of the Spirit. And these days of light first begun in the land of Zabulon which, according to Philo the Jew (c), was
"sumbolon fwtov, "a symbol of light"; since (adds he) its name signifies the nature of night; but, the night removing, and departing, light necessarily arises.''
As did, in a spiritual sense, here, when Christ the light arose.
(a) Bereshith Rabba, fol. 1. 3. & Echa Rabbati, fol. 50. 2.((b) Baal Hatturim in Gen. fol. 2. 2. (c) De Somniis, p. 1113.
casting a net into the sea; either in order to catch fish in it, or to wash it, Luke 5:2 and the reason of their so doing is added; "for they were fishers". Of this mean employment were the very first persons Christ was pleased to call to the work of the ministry; men of no education, who made no figure in life, but were despicable and contemptible: this he did, to make it appear, that they were not qualified for such service of themselves; that all their gifts and qualifications were from him; to show his own power; to confound the wisdom of the wise; and to let men see, that none ought to glory in themselves, but in him. The Jews have a notion of the word of God and prophecy being received and embraced only by such sort of persons: says R. Isaac Arama (f),
"his word came to heal all, but some particular persons only receive it; and who of all men are of a dull under standing, , "fishermen, who do business in the sea": this is what is written; "they that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters, these see the works of the Lord": these seem not indeed fit to receive anything that belongs to the understanding, because of their dulness; and yet these receive the truth of prophecy and vision, because they believe his word.''
I cannot but think, that some respect is had to these fishers, in Ezekiel 47:10 "it shall come to pass that fishers shall stand upon it": that is, upon, or by the river of waters, said in Ezekiel 47:8 to "issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert": which both R. Jarchi and Kimchi understand of the sea of Tiberias; the same with the sea of Galilee, by which Christ walked; and where he found these fishers at work, and called them. See also Jeremiah 16:16
(d) T. Hieros. Moed Katon, fol 82. 4. Avoda Zara, fol 42. 3.((e) T. Hieros. Megilla, fol. 75. 2. & Geracot, fol. 2. 3. (f) Apud Galatin. de Arcan. Cathol. ver. l. 3. c. 5. p. 119. & Crocium de Messia Thes. 213. p. 62, 63.
(g) Hilcot. Talmud. Torah, c. 1. sect. 12. so Dr. Lightfoot cites the phrase, but in Ed. Amsterd. it is , "the judgments of the law".
James, the son of Zebedee, and John his brother. The Jews make mention in their writings (h), of one , "R. James, the son of Zebedee": which Capellus (i) conjectures is the very same person here mentioned: but the James they speak of as a disciple of Jesus, they call , "James the heretic" (k); who, they say, was of the village of Secaniah, and sometimes of the village of Sama. His brother's name was John, who was the Evangelist, as well as Apostle: these were
in a ship with Zebedee their father. Men of this name, and sons of men of this name, were very common among the Jewish Rabbins; but neither this man, nor his sons, were masters or doctors in Israel; for such Christ chose not for his apostles. It seems to be the same name with Zebadiah, 1 Chronicles 27:7 these, with him, were "mending their nets", which were broken, and needed repairing; and perhaps being poor, could not afford to buy new ones: this shows their industry and diligence, and may be a pattern and example to persons, closely to attend the business of their calling, whilst the providence of God continues them in it.
And he called them: from their employment, to follow him, and become his disciples; and no doubt gave them the same promise and encouragement he had given the two former.
(h) T. Hieros. Yebamot, fol. 9. 4. & Maaser Sheni, fol. 55. 2. Trumot. fol. 45. 2. Sheviith. fol. 35. 1. Bereshith Rab. fol. 31. 4. & 36. 2.((i) Spicilegium in loc. (k) T. Bab. Megilla, 23. 1. Avoda Zara, fol 17. 1. & 27. 2. & 28. 1. Cholin. fol. 84. 1. T. Hieros. Sabbat. fol. 14. 4. & Abvoda Zara, fol. 40. 4. Midrash Kohelet, fol. 62. 4. & 77. 1. Juchasin, fol. 41. 1.
teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom. The places where he taught were "their synagogues": he did not creep into private houses, as the Pharisees then, and false apostles afterwards did; but he appeared openly, and declared his doctrine in places of public worship; where the Jews met together for divine service, to pray, read the Scriptures, and give a word of exhortation to the people; for though they had but one temple, which was at Jerusalem, they had many synagogues, or meeting places, all over the land: here Christ not only prayed and read, but "preached"; and the subject matter of his ministry was, "the Gospel of the kingdom": that is, the good news of the kingdom of the Messiah being come, and which now took place; wherefore he exhorted them to repent of, and relinquish their former principles; to receive the doctrines, and submit to the ordinances of the Gospel dispensation: he also preached to them the things concerning the kingdom of heaven; as that except a man be born again, he cannot see it; and unless he has a better righteousness than his own, he cannot enter into it: he was also
healing all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease among the people. It is in the Greek text, "every sickness and every disease"; that is, all sorts of maladies, disorders and distempers, which attend the bodies of men; and is another instance, besides Matthew 3:5 in which the word "all", or "every", is to be taken in a limited and restrained sense, for "some", or "some of all sorts"; which teaches us how to understand those phrases, when used in the doctrine of redemption by Christ.
(l) In vita ejus.
they brought to him, that is, out of Syria, the sick. Syria was in some respects reckoned as the land of Israel, though in others not.
"The (m) Rabbins teach, that in three respects Syria was like to the land of Israel, and in three to the countries with out the land: the dust defiled, as without the land; he that sold his servant to (one in) Syria, was as if he sold him to one without the land; and he that brought a bill of divorce from Syria, as if he brought it from without the land: and in three things it was like to the land of Israel; it was bound to tithes, and to the observance of the seventh year; and he that would go into it, might go into it with purity and he that purchased a field in Syria, was as if he had purchased one in the suburbs of Jerusalem.''
All sick people, that were taken with divers diseases and torments. This expresses in general, the grievous and tormenting diseases with which the persons were afflicted, who were brought to Christ for healing: some particular ones follow;
and those which were possessed with devils; in body as well as in mind; of which there were many instances, permitted by God on purpose, that Christ might have an opportunity of showing his power over those evil spirits.
And those which were lunatic; either melancholy persons, or mad and distracted men; that retired from the conversation of men, into fields or desert places: or such, whose disorders were influenced by the change of the moon; such as those who are troubled with the falling sickness; so the Greeks (n) call such persons the word here used by the Evangelist.
And those that had the palsy. These were each of them such disorders, as were incurable by the art of medicine; or for which rarely, and with great difficulty, any manner of relief could be obtained; and
he healed them; without any means, by a word speaking; which showed him more than a man, and truly and properly God.
(m) T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 8. 1. 2. vid. Maimon. Hileb. Tumath Meth. c. 11. sect. 6. (n) Vid. Fabricii Bibl. Graec. vol. 2. l. 3. c. 26. p. 656-658.