Page images
[graphic][merged small]

blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.

42 And I knew that thou hearest me

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][ocr errors]

Verse 1. "Bethany."-Bethany, as we are informed at verse 18, was "nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off." The place is not mentioned, at least under this name, in the Old Testament; but it occurs several times in the Talmudical writings. It is situated to the east of the Mount of Olives, on the road to Jericho. Its situation is pleasant and somewhat romantic, being sheltered by the Mount of Olives on the north, and abounding with trees and long grass. It is now a very poor village, inhabited by Arabs; and the cultivation of the adjacent soil is much neglected. It seems, however, about our Saviour's time, to have enjoyed some kind of trade (perhaps in olives, figs, and dates, which abounded in this neighbourhood), as the Jewish writers mention "the shops of Bethany," which were, as they inform us, destroyed three years before Jerusalem. Bethany is at present chiefly noticed on account of its mention in the

Gospels; and in consequence of which, it contains a full proportion of the sort of objects to which the attention of pilgrims is usually directed: these are the tomb of Lazarus, with the ruins of the house he is supposed to have occupied, and also the houses of his sisters, and of Simon the leper. That which is shown as the house of Lazarus is a ruin, the stones of which are very large, and of a solid and sombre cast of architecture; and which the Rev. V. Monro (Summer's Ramble in Syria,' vol. i. p. 189) conjectures to have formed part of the convent built by Fulco, king of Jerusalem. Near these ruins is the alleged tomb of Lazarus, thus noticed by the same writer:-"The exterior doorway of the tomb of Lazarus is formed artificially of stone-work; but the steep, narrow, and winding staircase which leads belos, is cut in the living rock, as well as the grave itself."

19. "To comfort them."-The customs of mourning and burial which are alluded to in this chapter, have already been somewhat largely explained on former occasions; and may therefore be supposed so present to the reader's mind, as to render more than very slight references unnecessary. The present text is explained by the custom among the Jews for the friends and acquaintance of the deceased to visit his mourning relatives during the seven days of mourning. As such visits were reckoned by the Jews among "acts of mercy," and were deemed very meritorious, the visiters were usually numerous-few omitting this mark of attention who had the slightest acquaintance with the deceased or the family to which he belonged.

31. "She goeth unto the grave to weep there."-This alludes to the custom, more largely explained elsewhere, for the female mourners to resort daily to the grave of the departed during the days of mourning, there to weep and lament. After those days, such lamenting visits continue to be paid, at more distant intervals.

39. "He hath been dead four days.”—As the type indicates, the word "dead" is not in the original. Omitting it, the force of the original will imply that Lazarus had already been four days in the state in which he then lay, that is, in the grave. He had therefore been dead even longer, but not much longer, as the Orientals are, and always have been, in the habit of giving the deceased very speedy interment. If the person dies in the morning, he is commonly buried the same day; or, if the death takes place late in the day, the body is kept till the next day; but seldom or never later than this, unless some extraordinary circumstances of prevention intervene. The reason for this haste is afforded by the fact to which Martha refers, that decomposition takes place very rapidly after death in warm climates: and the practice of speedy interment being established by the exigencies of the climate, in the time of summer, it continues to operate even in the winter, when, from habit, the dead are conveyed to their last earthly home as soon as in summer, although they might, of course, be then kept longer with perfect safety.

44. "He that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes."-From this and other passages, it would appear that the mode of preparing the bodies of the dead for the sepulchre was nearly the same as still exists in Western Asia. No coffins being used, the body itself is more carefully and elaborately wrapped and swathed, than is common or desirable where coffins are used. In this method the body is stretched out, and the arms laid straight by the sides, after which the whole body, from head to foot, is wrapped round tightly, in many folds of linen or cotton cloth. Or, to be more precise, a great length of cloth is taken, and rolled around the body till the whole is enveloped and every part is covered with several folds of the cloth. The ends are then sewed, to keep the whole firm and compact; or else a nariow bandage is wound over the whole, forming, ultimately, the exterior surface. The body, when thus enfolded and swathed, retains the profile of the human form; but, as in the Egyptian mummies, the legs are not folded separately, but together; and the arms also are not distinguished, but confined to the sides in the general envelope. Hence it is clearly impossible for a person thus treated, to move his arms or legs, if restored to existence.


But then it may be, and has been, objected, how could Lazarus, if thus "bound hand and foot with grave-clothes.” come forth at the command of the Saviour? While some commentators reverently claim this as a second miracle, alleging that Lazarus was, at Christ's command, to which even the waves were obedient, supernaturally enabled, or indeed compelled, to come forth-however impracticable this may have been in ordinary circumstances: others, of less reverent spirit, have availed themselves of the apparent anomaly, to call in question the truth of the whole narrative. Yet it is not by any means difficult to understand and explain this circumstance, by a reference to the interior construction of the ancient sepulchres, as explained by us in the note to Gen. xxiii. 19. It is there seen that the bolies of the dead were very commonly deposited-in recesses excavated in the sides of the cavern. These recesses, either expose their length or their breadth to the cavern-that is, there is either a lateral excavation, the whole extent of which appears, or it is deepened inwards, so that only its narrow end is visible. It appears evident to us, that the body of Lazarus lay in a recess of the latter description. Now, in such cases, the body is introduced with the head foremost, so that the feet are towards the cavern: and we may readily understand that when that loud voice, which even death heard, cried," Lazarus, come forth!" the dead man worked himself out of the recess, and sliding down, stood on his feet on the floor of the cavern. That this was the "coming forth" will further appear by considering that this, er something like this, and not the coming forth from the cavern, must, under any circumstances, have been the primary act; while the further act. of walking forth from the sepulchre, the supposing of which has given occasion to so much misconception and cavil, would have been impracticable without a further miracle which the text does not require or warrant. Indeed the context seems expressly to state that Lazarus did not and could not walk while bound hand and foot with the grave clothes; and that before he could do so, it was necessary that he should be delivered from them. For after he had come forth," our Saviour, referring to the grave clothes with which he was bound, said, “Loose hm, and let him go," clearly intimating that before he could "go" it was necessary that he should be "loosed." The sum of the whole, then, is this:- that at the command of Jesus, Lazarus came forth from the recess in which he had beca


laid; and then, when he appeared in the sight of those who stood in the cavern and at its entrance, our Lord directed that the bandages in which he was tightly swathed, should be loosed, to enable him to walk and leave the sepulchre. "His face was bound about with a napkin.”—The faces of the dead are always covered in this manner in the East. It appears that at first the faces of the wealthy only were thus covered; but it being found that an invidious distinction was thus created, it was determined that the faces of the poor should also be covered; and that the covering napkin should, in all cases, whether for rich or poor, be of the same kind and value.

48. "The Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.”—They feared that the people would generally acknowledge Christ as the Messiah, and make him king; in which case they expected that the Romans would move to their destruction. It is observable that the things which they dreaded as the consequences of the people's acceptance of Christ, did actually result from his rejection by themselves.

54. “ Ephraim.”—The situation of this city has been considerably disputed. It is, however, probably the same which the Jewish writers call "Ephraim in the valley," to distinguish it from another place of the same name, called "Ephraim in the mount." This Ephraim was famous for the productiveness of its vicinity in corn; whence, "Will you bring straw to Ephraim ?" appears to have been, among the Jews, a proverb of equivalent meaning to our own of carrying coals to Newcastle. It is, by the Jews, indicated as the same Ephraim which is mentioned in 2 Chron. xiii. 19; and as its name there occurs in connection with that of Bethel, with which also the Jewish writers connect their "Ephraim in the valley," it would seem more than probable that it was in the tribe of Benjamin, and not very remote from Bethel. All the intimations which refer to it appear to describe it as a small and rather obscure town, and therefore the more favourable to that retirement which Jesus now sought. Josephus sometimes mentions it as a large village, and at other times as a small town. Eusebius places it eight miles from Jerusalem, Jerome twenty: they had probably different places in view, and the former seems to be the more correct, with reference to the place which the present text mentions.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

Matt. 21. 8.

which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and de- | These things spake Jesus, and departed, sired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. and did hide himself from them. 22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.

[blocks in formation]

37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:

Matt, 10, 39. $ Psal. 110. 4, .Isa. 53. 1. Rom. 10. 16.

38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, 'Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?

39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,

40 'He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.


Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:

43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

44 Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.

45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.

46 'I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.


47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: "the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.

50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.

7 Matt. 13. 14. Chap. 5. 44. 9 Chap. 3. 19. 10 Chap 3 17.

11 Mark 16. 16.

Verse 2. "There they made him a supper."-Although this was doubtless partly intended as a mark of respect, to one to whom Lazarus and his family were so largely indebted, it is proper to observe that, about six or seven days lefore the Passover, it was customary for the Jews to entertain their friends in a more costly manner than usual. This therefore supplied the occasion, while the benefit received from Jesus afforded the motive, for this entertainment.

3. "Then took Mary a pound of ointment.”—The reader who carefully compares the accounts given by the Evangelists of the anointings of Jesus by women, will probably see reason to conclude that they do not all relate to the same transaction, but that at least two, and probably three, different unctions are recorded; and that the present anointing of the Lord's feet by Mary, is not mentioned elsewhere. It is evident that the accounts in Matt. xxvi., and Mark xiv., relate to the same event. This occurred also at Bethany; but it was four days later than the present anointing, and was in the house of Simon the leper, not in that of Lazarus ; and it was his head which was there anointed, not his feet, as in

« PreviousContinue »