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A Commentary on the New Testament
from the Talmud and Hebraica
A Chorographical Century
Perea. Beyond Jordan.
"The length of Perea was from Macherus to Pella: the breadth from Philadelphia to Jordan."
"The mountainous part of it was mount Macvar, and Gedor," &c. "The plain of it was Heshbon, with all its cities, which are in the plain, Dibon, and Bamoth-Baal, and Beth-Baal-Meon," &c. "The valley of it is Beth-Haran, and Beth-Nimrah, and
The mention of the mountains of Macvar occurs in that hyperbolical tradition of R. Eleazar Ben Diglai, saying, "The goats in the mountains of Macvar sneezed at the smell of the perfume of the incense in the Temple." The word Macherus is derived from Macvar.
The whole country, indeed, which was beyond Jordan, was called Perea: but it was so divided, that the southern part of it was particularly called Perea; the other part was called Batanea, Auranitis, Trachonitis. So it is called by Josephus, because, by the donation of Augustus, "Perea and Galilee came into the possession of
Herod Antipas: and Batanea, and Trachon, and Auranitis, into that of Philip."
Bashan passed into Batanea, according to the Syriac idiom, that changeth Shin into Thau: Batanin, in the Samaritan interpreter; Matanin, in the Targumists, by the alternate use of Mem and Beth, which is not unusual with them.
Golan was the chief city of this country, Joshua 20:8. Whence is Gaulonitis, and that "Upper and Nether Gaulonitis."
In the Jews we read, "Trachon, which is bounded at Bozra." Not Bozrah of Edom, Isaiah 63:1; nor Bezer of the Reubenites, Joshua 20:8; but another, to wit, Bosorra, or Bosor, in the land of Gilead. Concerning which, see Josephus, and the First Book of Maccabees, 5:26.
While we speak of the difference between Bezer and Bozrah, we cannot pass by a simple example of this thing, propounded by the Babylonian Talmudists. "The prince of Rome" [viz. Samael, the angel of death, as the Gloss tells us] "did formerly commit a threefold error; as it is written, 'Who comes from
Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah?' In this matter he errs, because there is no refuge but in Bezer, and he betook himself to Bozrah," &c.
"Batanea is bounded by Trachonitis."
Auranitis.--Josephus sometimes calls it 'Abranitis.'--"Caesar (saith he) gave to Herod [the Great] Trachon, and Batanea, and Abranitis"; and that, that he should restrain and subdue the robbers, who most miserably vexed those countries, &c.
Adam and Zaretan, Joshua 3.
I suspect a double error in some maps, while they place these two towns in Perea; much more, while they place them at so little a distance.
We do not deny, indeed, that the city Adam was in Perea; but Zaretan was not so. Of Adam is mention, Joshua 3:16; where discourse is had of the cutting-off, or cutting in two, the waters of Jordan, that they might afford a passage to Israel; The waters rose up upon a heap afar off in Adam. For the textual reading
"In Adam," the marginal hath "From Adam." You may very fitly apply both readings.
Adam was the centre, where the waters parted: here was the station of the ark of the covenant, now ready to enter Jordan. Hence the Psalmist, The tabernacle which he had fixed in Adam, Psalm 78:60. Therefore, the textual reading "inAdam," holds well; because there was the centre of the cutting in two
of the waters: but the marginal reading "from Adam," does moreover add light, because the gathering those waters together on a heap was far above it.
"R. Jochanan saith, Adam is a city, and Zaretan is a city, and they are distant from one another twelve miles." From Adam to Zaretan, were the waters dried up; from Zaretan and upwards, they stood on a heap. Adam was in Perea, over-against Jericho; Zaretan was in the land of Manasseh on this side Jordan. It is
called Zarthanah, 1 Kings 4:12, and is defined to be near Beth-shean, which was the furthest bounds of the land of Manasseh northward. The brazen vessels of the Temple are said to be cast in the plain of Jordan, in the clay ground between Zaretan (on this side Jordan) and Succoth (beyond it), 1 Kings 7:46. Therefore, the words cited in Joshua, far off from Adam, which is beside Zaretan,
are so to be understood, as not so much to denote the nearness of Adam and Zaretan, as to intimate that the heaping up of the waters was by Zaretan. They are to be rendered in this sense, "And the waters that came down from above stood together; they rose up into one heap, in a very long distance from the city Adam," namely, to that distance, which is by
Adam and Zaretan, on this and the other side, were both something removed from Jordan: but they are named in that story, because there the discourse is of the time, when Jordan contained not itself within its own channel, but had overflown its banks.
There were two Juliases, both in Perea, one built by Herod, called before 'Betharamphtha': of which Josephus; "At Betharamphtha, which before was the city's name, Herod compassed Julias with a wall, calling it by the name of the empress." The other built by Philip, heretofore called Bethsaida, of which the same
author writes thus: "Philip, having raised the town Bethsaida on the lake of Gennesaret to the honour of a city, both in respect of the number of the inhabitants, and other strength, gave it the same name with Julia, the emperor's daughter."
The maps have one Julias only: not amiss, because they substitute the name of Bethsaida for the other:--but they do not well agree about the situation of both. Julias-Betharamphtha was seated at the very influx of Jordan into the lake of Gennesaret. For thus Josephus; "Jordan, having measured a hundred furlongs more from the
lake Samochonitis, after the city Julias, cuts the lake of Gennesar in the middle." Do not these words argue that Jordan, being now ready to enter into the lake, did first glide by Julias? To which those things which are said elsewhere by the same author do agree. "Sylla (saith he) encamped five furlongs from Julias, and stopped up the ways;--namely, that which led to
Cana, and that which led to the castle Gamala. But I, when I understood this, sent two thousand armed men, under Jermias their captain; and they having encamped a furlong from Julias near the river Jordan," &c. Note that, when they were distant from Julias a furlong only, they are but a little way off of Jordan. The maps place it more remote from the influx of Jordan
into the lake of Gennesaret than these words will bear.
Julias-Bethsaida was not seated in Galilee, as it is in the maps, but beyond the sea of Galilee in Perea. This we say upon the credit of Josephus: "Philip (saith he) built Caesarea in Paneas [mark that]: and Julias [which before-time was Bethsaida] in Nether Gaulonitis." But now, there is nobody but knows that
Gaulonitis was in Perea. This certainly is that Julias which Pliny placeth eastward of the lake of Gennesaret (for the other Julias was scarcely near the sea at all); and that Julias of which Josephus speaks, when he saith, "that a certain mountainous country beyond Jordan runs out from Julias to Somorrha."
These things determine the situation of Gamala:--1. It was "in lower Gaulon," in which, as we have seen, Bethsaida was. 2. It was "upon the lake [of Gennesaret]." 3. It was "over-against Tarichee." Compare the maps, whether in their placing of it they agree
with these passages. Here was Judas born, commonly called 'Gaulanites,' and as commonly also, the 'Galilean.' So Peter and Andrew and Philip were Gaulanites; of Bethsaida, John 1:44; and yet they were called 'Galileans.'
While we are speaking of Bethsaida, Chorazin comes into our mind, which is joined with it, in the words of Christ, Matthew 11:21, as partaking with it in his miracles, and being guilty of equal ingratitude. If you seek for the situation of this place, where will you find it? Some maps place it on this side Jordan, and other beyond Jordan:
but on what authority do both depend? It is mere conjecture, unless I am deceived. Let me also conjecture.
The word Chorashin, denotes woody places, both in the Holy Bible and in the Rabbinical writings. Hence we suppose the Chorazin that is now before us is called, namely, because it was seated in some woody place. For such places the land of Nephthali was famous above the other tribes: to which the words of Jacob have
regard, "Nephthali is a hind let loose," Genesis 49; that is, Nephthali shall abound with venison; as Asher (of whom mention is made in the words going before) shall abound in bread, and royal dishes. Those words also of the Talmudists refer to this, "It is lawful for cattle to feed in common, in the woods, yea, for the tribe of Judah [to feed] in the
tribe of Nephthali." Hence 'Harosheth of the Gentiles' hath its name, Judges 4:2, which was in that tribe. Led by these reasons, I suppose our Chorazin to have been in Galilee, rather than in Perea, where most maps place it.
But when this place seems to have been so famous for the frequent presence and miracles of Christ, it is a wonder that it hath nowhere else so much as a mention in the gospel-story, but in the bare remembrance of it in those words of Christ, "Woe to thee, Chorazin," &c.; whereas Bethsaida and
Capernaum, places that he mentioneth with it, are spoken of elsewhere. What if, under this name, Cana be concluded, and some small country adjacent, which, from its situation in a wood, might be named 'Chorazin,' that is, 'the woody country'? Cana is famous for the frequent presence and miracles of Christ. But away with conjecture, when it grows too bold.
Some towns upon the very limits of the land. Out of the Jerusalem Talmud, Demai, fol. 22. 4.
In the place cited, discourse is had about the tithing of some herbs and seeds, namely, of rice, nuts, onions, Egyptian beans, &c.; and inquiry is made, what is to be resolved of tithing them, if they grow in places which seem to be without the land; and these words are presently after brought in:--
"These cities are forbid in the borders, Tsur, Sezeth, and Bezeth, Pi Mazobah, upper and lower Canothah, Beth Badia, Rosh Maja, Amon, and Mazi (R. Mena saith, So it was called anciently, but now Susitha): Ainosh, En Teraa, Ras, Berin, Jion, Jadot, Caphar, Charob, Chaspia, and Caphar Tsemach. These cities are permitted in the
borders, Nebi, Tsur, Tsijar, Gasmi, Zivian, Jagdi, Chatam, Debab, Charbatha, and Cheraccah" (or "Debab, and its wilderness, and its fortification").
You see the name Tsur, here once and again, of which we have spoken before: let us add these words elsewhere: "I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living: and are there not other lands of the living besides Tsur and her companions,--and Caesarea and her companions?"
Of Caphar Tsemach, there is mention also in the place first cited, col. 3, in these words: "Rabbi looseth Bethshan. Rabbi looseth Caesarea. R. looseth Beth-Gubrim. Rabbi looseth Caphra Tsemach" (from the obligation, as it seemeth, of the Demai). "Rabbi permitted to take herbs, in the end of
the seventh year: but all were against him. He said to them, Come, and let us judge of the matter. 'It is written' (concerning Hezekiah) 'And he beat in pieces the brazen serpent.' What! was not any one righteous from Moses unto his times, who did this? But God reserved that crown for him, that he might be crowned with it: and God hath reserved this crown for us, that we may be crowned with
The consistories of more note: out of the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedr. fol. 32. 2.
"The Rabbins deliver, Follow after righteousness, follow after righteousness. Go to (Beth-Din) the famous consistory, to R. Eleazar to Lydda, to Rabban Jochanan Ben Zaccai. A tradition; The sound of mills in Burni. The sons' week, the sons' week. A candle in Beror Chel. A feast is there, a feast is
These things are something obscure, and do require light.
Beror Chel, seems to design a place: but what place? Indeed, the Sanhedrim of R. Jochanan was in Jabneh; but his consistory, his seat of judgment, seems to be distinguished from the Sanhedrim. So Paul was brought up at the feet of Rabban Gamaliel; not in his Sanhedrim, but in his consistory or school. So you may
conjecture, that Rabban Jochanan, besides that he sat president of the chief Sanhedrim, had his peculiar consistory in Jabneh itself, or in some neighbour place.
That which follows, "A tradition, the sound of mills," &c. is cleared by the Glossers: "The sound of mills in Burni was a sign that there was a circumcision there; as if it had been publicly proclaimed, The infant's week expires in this place. And the sound of a mill was a sign that
spices were ground to be applied to the wound of the circumcision. It was a time of persecution, wherein it was forbidden to circumcise: they feared, therefore, by any public notice to make known that there was to be a circumcision; but they appointed this sign."
'A candle in Beror Chel.'--The Gloss writes, "The light of one candle in the day-time, but many candles burning in the night, gave a sign, as if one had given notice by a public proclamation that a feast of circumcision was there," &c.
Another Gloss is thus: "They were wont to light candles at a circumcision. It was also a custom to spread a tablecloth at the door: hence is that, A custom prevailed at Jerusalem, that as long as the tablecloth was spread at the door, travellers went in."
The Aruch writes thus; "In the time of persecution they could not celebrate public matrimony, nor public circumcision; therefore, they did them secretly: wheresoever, therefore, were lighted candles on the lintel of the door, they knew that there was a wedding-feast there; and wheresoever was the sound of mills, there was a
The Jerusalem Talmudists add, "Although the persecution ceased, yet that custom ceased not."
The Babylonian Talmudists go on. "Go to R. Josua to Pekiin." In the Jerusalem Talmudists it is Bekiin, in this story that follows:
"R. Jochanan Ben Bruchah, and R. Eliezer the blind, travelled from Jabneh to Lydda, and received R. Josua in Bekiin."
"Go to Rabban Gamaliel to Jabneh. Go to Rabbi Akiba to Bene Barak. Go to R. Mathia to Roma. Go to R. Chananiah Ben Teradion to Sicni. To R. Jose to Zippor. To R. Judah Ben Betirah to Nisibin. To R. Josua to the captivity (viz. to Pombeditha). To Rabbi to Beth-Shaaraim. To the Wise men in the chamber
The cities of the Levites.
Concerning them, see Numbers, chapter 35, and Joshua chapter 21.
"The suburbs of the cities of the Levites were three thousand cubits on every side; viz. from the walls of the city, and outwards; as it is said, 'From the walls of the city and outwards a thousand cubits: and thou shalt measure from without the city two thousand cubits' (Num 35:4,5). The former thousand were the suburbs, and
the latter two thousand were for fields and vineyards. They appointed the place of burial to every one of those cities to be without these bounds; for within them it was not lawful to bury a dead corpse." Do you ask the reason? It was not so much for the avoiding pollution, which might be contracted from a sepulchre, as by reason of the scribes' curious interpretation of the law,
that saith, The suburban lands of these cities were given to the Levites for their cattle and oxen, "and for all their living" (creatures), Numbers 35:3:--therefore, say they, not for the dead or for burial.
All the cities of the Levites were cities of refuge; but with this distinction from those six which were properly so called; that those six afforded refuge to every one that dwelt in them, whether he betook himself thither for that end or no: but the other Levitical cities were not so. And also, that the unwitting manslayer, flying to those
six cities, dwelt there at free cost, without paying any rent for his house; but in the other Levitical cities he lived not at free cost.
Those forty-eight cities of the Levites were so many universities, where the ministerial tribe, distributed in companies, studied the law, became learned; and thence scattered through the whole nation, dispersed learning and the knowledge of the law in all the synagogues.
Two things are, not without good reason, to be observed here, which, perhaps, are not seriously enough observed by all.
I. The settled ministry of the church of Israel was not prophets, but priests and Levites, Malachi 2:7. For it was not seldom when there were no prophets; and the prophets send the people to the priests for instruction, Haggai 2:11, and Malachi, in the place mentioned already.
II. That tithes were granted to the priests and Levites, not only when they ministered at the altar or in the Temple, but when they studied in the universities and preached in the synagogues.
Behold the method of God's own institution. God chooseth Israel to be a peculiar people to himself: to this chosen people he gives a law and a clergy: on the clergy he enjoins the study of the law: to their studies he suits academical societies: on the universities he bestows lands and tithes: on the synagogues he bestows tithes and
And the schools of the prophets were little universities, and colleges of students. For their governor they had some venerable prophet, inspired with the Holy Spirit, and that partook of divine revelations. The scholars were not inspired indeed with the same prophetical spirit, but received prophecies from the mouth of their master. He
revealed to them those things that were revealed to him, of the will of God and the state of the people, of the times and events of Israel, and above all, of the mysteries of the gospel; of the Messias, of his coming, times, death, resurrection, and those things that were to be done by him.
In these small universities, "the prophets, who prophesied of the grace that should come (as the apostle Peter speaks), inquired diligently of salvation; searching what, or what manner of time that was, which was pointed out by the Spirit of Christ that was in them, when he foretold the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that
should follow." These things, not to be fetched out by the mere and bare study of the law, were here taught; and so the studies of the law and gospel together rendered the minister of the divine word complete.
Some miscellaneous matters respecting the face of the land.
I. Let us begin with that canon concerning reading the Book of Esther in the feast of Purim. "Towns that were begirt with walls from the days of Joshua read it on the fifteenth day" of the month Adar: "Villages and great cities read it the fourteenth day": "Unless that the
villages anticipate it, to the day of the congregation."
You see a threefold distinction of cities and towns:
1. Fortifications, or towns girt with walls from the days of Joshua. But whence shall we know them? They are those which are mentioned in the Book of Joshua; "which, however in after-times they were not begirt with walls, are nevertheless reckoned under the catalogue of them, as to the reading of that
2. Great cities. That was called a great city in which was a synagogue. So it is defined by the Piske Tosaphoth, "That is a great city, in which are ten men at leisure to pray and read the law." See what we say concerning these things on Matthew 4:23, when we speak of synagogues.
3. Villages. That is, such where there was not a synagogue. Yea, saith the Piske Harosh, "a fortified town, wherein are not ten men of leisure" (or such as 'ceased from the things of the world'; and these made up a synagogue), "is reputed as a village,"
That which is added in the text of the Misna, "Unless the villages do anticipate it to the day of the congregation," is thus explained by the Glossers: "When towns, girt with walls, read the Book of Esther on the fifteenth day, and those that were not walled, on the fourteenth (see Esther 9:21): and
yet it is said before" (in the same text of the Misna), "that that book is read the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth days; the wise men granted liberty to the villages to preoccupate the reading, namely, on that day wherein they resorted to the synagogue: that is, either the second day of the week, that went before the fourteenth day of the month, or the fifth day of
the week: which were days of assembly, in which the villages resorted into the cities to judgment. For the second and fifth days of the week, the judiciary consistories sat in the cities by the appointment of Ezra. Now the villagers were not skillful in reading; therefore it was needful that they should have some reader in the city."
II. Let the canons and cautions of the spaces and places next joining to the city or town be observed:
1. "A dovecote was not built within fifty cubits from the city": and that, lest the pigeons might do injury to the gardens that were sown.
2. "They permitted not a tree within five-and-twenty cubits from the city." "And this (as the Gloss speaks) for the grace of the city."
3. "They allowed not a barn-floor within fifty cubits from the city": that, when they fanned their corn, their chaff might not offend the citizens.
4. "They permitted not dead carcases, or burying-places, nor a tanner's shop, to be within fifty cubits from the city" (because of the stink). "Nor did they allow a tanner's workshop at all, but on the east side of the city. R. Akiba saith, On any side, except the west, but at the distance of fifty
III. From the cities let us walk forth into their ploughed grounds and fields.
Here you might see, in some places, certain tokens hung upon some fig-trees, to show of what year the fruit that grew there was. See what we say on Matthew 21:19. In other places, you might see barren trees stigmatized with some mark of infamy. "A tree which shook off its fruits before they were ripe, they mark with red,
and load it with stones."
You might see the ploughing and mowing of their fields, the dressing of their vines, and their vintage, to be done by the rules of the scribes, as well as by the art of the husbandman, or the vine-dresser. For such was the care and diligence of the Fathers of the Traditions, concerning tithing corn and fruits, concerning leaving a corner for
the poor, concerning the avoiding of sowing different seeds, and of not transgressing the law concerning the seventh year; that they might not plough, nor sow, nor reap, but according to the traditional rule. Hence are those infinite disputes in the books Peah, Demai, Kilaim, Sheviith, of the corner of the field to be left, what and how much the portion of it was, and of what things such corners
ought to consist? Of those that divide the field so that a double corner of it is due to the poor: Whether a corner is due from beds of corn that grow among olive trees? Whether from a field whose sowing and reaping is various? What are the trees whose fruits are Demai? Of what things is the tithing of the Demai? How long the same plot of ground may be sown with different seeds, so as not to
offend against the law? Of sowing different seeds:--How many vines make a vineyard? Of their rows, of the beds of the vineyard, of sowing within the press, &c. and innumerable decisions of that nature, which did so keep the countryman within bounds, that he could not plough nor mow his land according to his own will, but according to the rule of tradition.
"The inhabitants of Beth-Namer measured out a corner for the poor with a line, and they gave a corner out of every row. Abba Saul saith, They make mention of them to their praise, and to their dispraise: to their dispraise, because they gave one part out of a hundred; to their praise, because, measuring with a line, they
collected and gave a corner out of every row": that is, meeting with a measuring line, they yielded the hundredth part of the field to the poor, and that out of every row of sheaves.
Subterraneous places. Mines. Caves.
Thus having taken some notice of the superficies of the land, let us a little search into its bowels. You may divide the subterraneous country into three parts: the metal mines, the caves, and the places of burial.
This land was eminently noted for metal mines, so that "its stones," in very many places, "were iron, and out of its hills was digged brass," Deuteronomy 8:9. From these gain accrued to the Jews: but to the Christians, not seldom slavery and misery; being frequently condemned hither by
tyrants. So Eusebius of Edesius, "He was condemned to the metal mines of Palestine." And again, concerning others, "Then passing to the other confessors of Christ, he condemns them all to the brass mines, which were in Pheno of Palestine."
On the north part of the land, in the country of Asher, were mines of metal. Hence is that in Deuteronomy 33:25, "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass." On the south, in the desert of Sin, the utmost bounds of Judea, were mines also: hence--and shall pass to Zin, as our translation reads, Numbers 34:4,--in the
Jerusalem Targumist, is over-against the mountain of iron: and in Jonathan, unto the palm-trees of the mountain of iron: and in the Talmudists, the palm-trees of the mountain of iron are fit to make a small bundle to carry in the hand in the feast of Tabernacles. On the east coast of Perea was also "an iron mountain,"--witness Josephus. And without
doubt there were other such-like mines, scattered here and there in other parts of that land, though of them we have no mention.
You will not at all wonder at these underminings of the earth, seeing they brought so much profit and gain with them, and were so necessary to the life of man. But what shall we say of those dens and caves in rocks and mountains, whence no gain seemed to be digged, but rather danger arose to the neighbouring places oftentimes? For what were
these, but lurking-places for wild beasts and robbers? There is infinite mention of these caves both in the Holy Scriptures and in other writings, especially in Josephus, where subterraneous passages, and dens, are mentioned a thousand times. And many of these were of a vast largeness, scarcely to be credited; those especially in the Talmudists, which are called "The
dens of Zedekiah," not a few miles in distance.
But were those hollows the work of nature, or of the hands and industry of man? By one example, taken out of Josephus, the thing may be determined. Relating the story of a castle built by Hyrcanus in Perea, among other things he speaks thus: "Out of the rock against the mountain, having cut in two the prominent parts of it, he
made dens of many furlongs long." And a little after, "He made the mouths that opened into these dens to be strait, that but one might go in at a time, and no more": "and this he did on purpose for security's sake, and for avoiding danger, in case he should be besieged by his brethren."
These dens, therefore, were cut out of mountains and rocks for the uses of war, that they might serve for refuge and strength. And it is probable the Canaanites, a warlike and gigantic nation, had digged very many of these caves before the entrance of the Israelites into that land; and that the Israelites also increased the number of them.
See concerning these caves, Joshua 10:16; Judges 6:2; 1 Samuel 22:1, and 24:3; 1 Kings 18:13; Isaiah 2:19, &c.
Of the places of Burial.
There were more common and more noble sepulchres. The common were in public burying-places, as it is with us: but they were without the city. "And through that place was no current of waters to be made; through it was to be no public way; cattle were not to feed there, nor was wood to be gathered from
"Nor was it lawful to walk among the sepulchres with phylacteries fastened to their heads, nor with the book of the law hanging at their arm."
Some sepulchres were extraordinary; that is, in reference to the place of their situation. As, 1. A sepulchre found; that is, when a sepulchre is in somebody's field without his knowledge; but at last the sepulchre is discovered. 2. A sepulchre that is publicly noxious; that is, digged near some place of common walk or travel:
from the nearness of which the passengers contract pollution.
The more noble sepulchres were hewn out in some rock, in their own ground, with no little charge and art. You have the form of them described in the place noted in the margin, in these words:
"He that selleth his neighbour a place of burial, and he that takes of his neighbour a place of burial, let him make the inner parts of the cave four cubits, and six cubits; and let him open within it eight sepulchres." They were not wont, say the Glosses, to bury men of the same family here and there,
scatteringly, and by themselves, but altogether in one cave: whence, if any one sells his neighbour a place of burial, he sells him room for two caves, or hollows on both sides, and a floor in the middle. Coffin is the very place where the dead corpse is laid.
The tradition goes on: "Three sepulchres are on this side, and three on that, and two near them. And those sepulchres are four cubits long, seven high, and six broad."
To those that entered into the sepulchral cave, and carried the bier, there was first a floor, where they stood, and set down the bier, in order to their letting it down into the sepulchre: on this and the other side, there was a cave, or a hollowed place, deeper than the floor by four cubits, into which they let down the corpse, divers
coffins being there prepared for divers corpses. "R. Simeon saith, The hollow of the cave consists of six cubits, and eight cubits, and it opens thirteen sepulchres within it, four on this side and four on that, and three before them, and one on the right hand of the door, and another on the left. And the floor within the entrance into the cave consists of a square, according to the
dimensions of the bier, and of them that bear it: and from it, it opens two caves, one on this side, and another on that. R. Simeon saith, Four at the four sides of it. Rabban Simeon Ben Gamaliel saith, The whole is made according to the condition of the ground."
These things are handled by the Gemarists and Glossers very curiously and very largely, whom you may consult. From these things now spoken, you may more plainly understand many matters which are related of the sepulchre of our Saviour. Such as these:
Mark 16:5: "The women, entering into the sepulchre, saw a young man sitting on the right hand": in the very floor, immediately after the entrance into the sepulchre.
Luke 24:3: "Going in they found not his body," &c. Verse 5: "While they bowed down their faces to the earth, Peter ran to the sepulchre, and, when he had stooped down, he saw the linen-clothes"; that is, the women, and Peter after them, standing in the floor, bow down their
faces, and look downward into the place where the sepulchres themselves were (the cave of the graves), which, as we said before, was four cubits deeper than the floor.
John 20:5: "The disciple whom Jesus loved came first to the sepulchre; and when he had stooped down" (standing in the floor, that he might look into the burying-place), "saw the linen clothes lie; yet went he not in. But Peter went in," &c.; that is, from the floor he went
down into the cave itself, where the rows of the graves were (in which, nevertheless, no corpses had been as yet laid, besides the body of Jesus): thither also after Peter, John goes down. And verse 11: "But Mary, weeping, stood at the sepulchre without: and while she wept, she stooped down to the sepulchre, and saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and another at
the feet, where the body of Christ had lain."
"She stood at the sepulchre without"; that is, within the cave, on the floor, but without that deeper cave, where the very graves were, or the places for the bodies: bowing herself, to look down thither, she saw two angels at the head and foot of that coffin wherein the body of Christ had been
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