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Verse 19. "They went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling."-This has many difficulties to the English reader. It has rightly been understood that an explanation is to be sought 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 venture 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, to wards 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 r ception 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 paved with marble, or tiles, or left unpaved, according to the rank of the house and the means of its occupier; and in a s 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 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 external 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 neighbouring houses, and by a lower wall, or else a balustrade or rail towards the court, are circumstances which we have already fully me tioned. (Deut. xxii.)
After this preliminary explanation, which is not intended as a description of an Oriental house, but only as a specification 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 ex
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 some 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 objec tions 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 the 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.
1 Christ reproveth the Pharisees' blindness about the observation of the subbath, by Scripture, reason, and miracle: 13 chooseth twelve apostles: 17 healeth the diseased: 20 preacheth to his disciples before the people of blessings and curses: 27 how we must love our enemies: 46 and join the obedience of good works to the hearing of the word: lest in the evil day of temptation we fall like an house built upon the face of the earth, without any foundation.
AND 'it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.
1 Matt, 12. 1.
2 And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?
3 And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him;
4 How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the Priests alone?
5 And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
6 And it came to pass also on another
* Matt. 12.9.
sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught and there was a man whose right hand was withered.
7 And the Scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.
8 But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.
9 Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?
10 And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
11 And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.
12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
13 ¶ And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;
14 Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,
15 Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphæus, and Simon called Zelotes, 16 And Judas 'the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor. 17 And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judæa and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their dis
18 And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed.
19 And the whole multitude sought to touch him for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.
20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, 'Blessed be ye poor: for your's is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now for ye shall laugh.
22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from
3 Matt. 10. 1.
their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
24 'But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
25 Woe unto you that are full! for Je shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one check offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.
30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
31 "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Fa ther also is merciful.
37 "Judge not, and ye shall not be judg ed: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and demned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
4 Jude 1. 5 Matt. 5. 3. 6 Amos 6. 1. 7 Isa. 65. 13. 11 Tob. 4. 15. Matt. 7. 12. 12 Matt. 5. 46.
8 Matt. 5. 44. 13 Matt. 5. 42.
9 Matt. 5. 39. 14 Matt. 7. 1.
10 1 Cor. 6. 7.
39 And he spake a parable unto them, 15 Can the blind lead the blind? shall they
not both fall into the ditch?
40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.
43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
15 Matt. 15. 14. 16 Matt. 10. 24. 17 Or, shall be perfected as his master. 18 Matt. 7. 3. 19 Matt. 7. 16.
20 Matt. 7.21.
Verse 35. "Love 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 lawful 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.)
1 Christ findeth a greater faith in the centurion a Gentile, than in any of the Jews: 10 healeth his servant being absent: 11 raiseth from death the widow's son at Nain: 19 answereth John's mes
sengers with the declaration of his miracles: 24 testifieth to the people what opinion he held of John: 30 inveigheth against the Jews, who with neither the manners of John nor of Jesus could be won: 36 and sheweth by occasion of Mary Magdalene, how he is a friend to sinners, not to maintain them in sins, but to forgive them their sins, upon their faith and repentance.
Now when he had ended all his sayings in he audience of the people, 'he entered into Capernaum.
2 And a certain centurion's servant, who as dear unto him, was sick, and ready to
3 And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his ser vant.
4 And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this:
5 For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.
6 Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my
7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed.
Matt. 8. 5.
8 For 1 also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
9 When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
10 And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had
11 ¶ And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people.
12 Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.
13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep
14 And he came and touched the 'bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.
15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his
16 And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.
17 And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judæa, and throughout all the region round about.
18 And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things.
19¶ And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
20 When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
21 And in the same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight.
22 Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, 2 Or, coffin. 8 Matt. 11.9. • Or, frustrated.
the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the Gospel is preached.
23 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
25 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts.
26 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet.
27 This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
29 And all the people that heard him, and the Publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.
30 But the Pharisees and Lawyers 'rejected the counsel of God 'against themselves, being not baptized of him. 31
And the Lord said, "Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like?
32 They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.
33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil.
34 The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of Publicans and sinners!
35 But wisdom is justified of all her children.
36¶'And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat.
37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38 And stood at his feet behind him Or, within themselves. Matt. 11. 16. 7 Mark 14 3.