From the Talmud and Hebraica
by John Lightfoot
Philologos Religious Online Books
A Commentary on the New Testament
from the Talmud and Hebraica
A Chorographical Inquiry
into some places of the land of Israel,
particularly those which we find mentioned
in the Evangelist St. John.
1. A few remarks upon the Samaritan affairs.
1. Of the name of the Cuthites.
That the 'Samaritans' ware called 'Cuthites' by the Jews is unquestionable; "Those that in the Hebrew tongue are called Cuthaeans, in the language of the Greeks are Samaritans."
But why Cuthites rather than Babylonians, Hamathites, Avites, &c., is uncertain: for thence, as well as from Cutha, were colonies transplanted into Samaria, 2 Kings 17:24: nay, they were called Cuthites even at that time, when a great part of the Samaritan nation consisted of Jews.
I am apt to apprehend there was some virulent design even in the very name. The name of Cushites amongst the Jews was most loathsome and infamous; as they were not only a hostile country, but a people accursed. Perhaps in the title of the seventh Psalm there is no little severity of reproach hinted in the name Cush. Something of the like nature may be couched in the word Cuthim. For it may be an easy conjecture, that the Jews, calling the Samaritans (a nation peculiarly abominated by them) Cuthites, might tacitly reproach them with the odious name of Cushites.
2. Josephus mistaken.
Rabbi Ismail saith, "that the Cuthites are proselytes of lions." R. Akiba saith, "that they are true proselytes." The story of the lions, 2 Kings 17:26, is well enough known; which Josephus, faltering very lamely, reports in this manner; He tells us that as every one brought their several gods into Samaria, and worshipped them accordingly, so the great and true God was infinitely displeased with them, and brought a destructive plague amongst them. He makes no mention of lions being sent amongst them, according to what the sacred history relates. Probably the story of that horrible destruction upon Sennacherib's army by a wasting plague, gave the first rise to Josephus' fancy of a plague amongst the Samaritans; though it is very odd that he should have no touch of the lions, being so remarkable a judgment as that was.
3. Samaria planted with colonies two several times.
There are the colonies which Asnapper is said to have brought into Samaria, Ezra 4:10, as well as those by Esarhaddon, verse 2.
The Jews do judge this 'Asnapper' to be the same with 'Sennacherib,' and that he had eight names. The first syllables of the names, indeed, agree pretty well, Sena and Asna; but whether they denote the same persons, I leave undetermined.
However, whether this Asnapper was the same with Sennacherib, or Shalmaneser, or some great minister, or the king's commander-in-chief, in the transplanting of a colony, it seems evident that Samaria was planted with colonies two several times. The first, immediately after the taking of the city, being then furnished with Cuthites, Avites, Sepharvaites, &c., under Asnapper; be he king, or only chief commander in the action. And when multitudes of them had been devoured by lions, then was it afresh planted by the Shushanchites, Tarpelites, &c. in the days of Esar-haddon, with whom a priest went up to instruct them in the worship of the true God. How greatly Epiphanius confounds these things may be seen in his Haeres. viii. cap. 9.
4. Of Dosthai, the pseud-apostle of the Samaritans.
"When the lions had devoured the Samaritans, the Assyrian king, hearing the news, calls to him the elders of Israel, and asks them, Did the wild beasts ever use to tear and mangle any of your people in your own land, when you dwelt there? Therefore, how comes it to pass that they do so now? They answer him, Our own land bears no nation, that is not conversant in the law, or will not be circumcised. Send, therefore, saith he, two, that may go and instruct the people. So they sent R. Dosthai the son of Jannai, and R. Sabia, who taught them the book of the written law."
But is this likely? that Dosthai, the Samaritans' oracle, should be in the times of the Assyrian empire? whence then had he that Greek name of his? and the name of his father Janneus was Greekish too. It is much more probable, what Eulegius hath in Photius; "The Samaritan people, having divided into various factions, disagreed amongst themselves, and brought in foreign opinions. Some were of opinion that Joshua was he of whom Moses spoke, when he tells them, 'A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me.' Others, rejecting this opinion, cried up one Dosthai, or Dositheus, a native Samaritan, and contemporary with Simon Magus."
From Dosthai and Sabia, the Dostheni and Sebuei, two Samaritan sects, originally sprang.
5. The language of Ashdod, Nehemiah 13:24, whether the Samaritan language or no?
"And the children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language." What language was this at this time?
I. The Arabian version tells us it was the Chaldee. But was not the Jewish and the Chaldee tongue at that time all one? It may be questionable whether it were so "at that time or no"; but I shall wave that controversy.
II. As to the question in hand, it may not be amiss to consider that passage, Acts 2:11: "Cretes and Arabians." Who are these Cretes? who would not think, at first sight, that, by the Cretans were meant the inhabitants of the island of Crete? I myself have sometime fallen into this error; but now I should be ready to say they were the Cherethim, a Philistine nation and country. And there is some reason to apprehend that St. Luke, in the place above quoted, understands the same people, because he joins them with the Arabians.
Targum on 2 Chronicles 26:7: "And the word of the Lord helped them, against the Philistines, and against the Arabians dwelling in Gerar."
Observe, Arabians dwelling in Gerar, a city of the Philistines;--and it is well enough known that Arabia joins to the land of the Philistines. And one may suspect the language of Ashdod might be the Arabian, rather than the Samaritan tongue; especially when as the name of Idumea obtained as far as these places: and was not the Arabic the language of the Idumeans?
In the Samaritan version (that I may still contain myself within our Chorographical Inquiry), as to the names of places, there are three things are matter of our notice, and a fourth of our suspicion.
I. There are some places obscure enough by their own names, which, as they are there rendered, are still more perplexed and unknown. Consult the names used there for the rivers of Eden, and the countries which those rivers ran into, and you will see how difficult it is any where else to meet with the least footstep or track of those names, except Cophin only, which seems indeed to agree something with Cophen mentioned by Pliny.
II. Places of themselves pretty well known are there called by names absolutely unknown. Such are Chatsphu, for Assyria, Genesis 2:14: Lilak, for Babel, Genesis 10:9: Salmaah for Euphrates, Genesis 15:18: Naphik for Egypt, Genesis 26:2.
III. Sometimes there are names of a later date used, and such as were most familiarly known in those days. Such are Banias for Dan, Genesis 14:14, that is, Panias, the spring of Jordan: Gennesar for Chinnereth, Numbers 34:11; Deuteronomy 3:17: not to mention Bathnan and Apamia for Bashan and Shepham, which are so near akin with the Syriac pronunciation: and Gebalah, or Gablah, for Seir, according to the Arabic idiom.
Such names as these make me suspect the Samaritan version not to be of that antiquity which some would claim for it, making it almost as ancient as the days of Ezra.
IV. I suspect too, when we meet with places pretty well known of themselves, obscured by names most unknown, that, sometimes, the whole country is not to be understood, but some particular place of that country only.
The suspicion is grounded on the word Naphik for Egypt, and Salmaah for Euphrates. By Naphik, probably, they understood, not the whole land of Egypt, but Pelusium only, which is the very first entry into Egypt from Canaan. The reason of this conjecture is this: the word Anpak (as we have elsewhere observed) was writ over the gates of that city; and how near that word comes to Naphik, is obvious enough to any one.
It is possible, also, that the mention of the Kinites, immediately following, might bring Salmaah to mind; and so they might not call 'Euphrates' itself 'Salmaah,' but speaking of 'Euphrates' as washing some place called 'Salmah.' Ptolemy, in his chapter concerning the situation of Arabia Deserta, mentions Salma, in degr. 184.108.40.206: and it is numbered amongst six-and-twenty other cities, which he saith are 'near Mesopotamia.' If this be true, the Samaritan version hath something by which it may defend itself: for if those cities mentioned by Ptolemy were indeed 'near Mesopotamia' (the river Euphrates only running between), then may the Samaritan version be warranted while it renders "even to the river Euphrates," "even to the river of Salmaah," that is, "to the river Euphrates in that place where it washeth the sides of Salma."
That Sychar is the same place with Sychem, seems beyond doubt; which, indeed, the mount Gerizim pointed to by the Samaritan woman, sufficiently confirms. A wily argument, perhaps, in Epiphanius' esteem, who, in his Samaritan heresy, give us this account:
"There are two mounts near Jericho beyond Jordan, Gerizim and Ebal, which look towards Jericho on the east," &c. So that, we see, he tells us Gerizim and Ebal were near Jericho, not near Sychem.
That clause "over-against Gilgal," Deuteronomy 11:30, hath deceived these authors in that manner, that they have removed the mounts Gerizim and Ebal to Gilgal by Jericho: and it hath, on the other hand, deceived some in that manner, that they have brought Gilgal by Jericho to Sychem, misunderstanding the word Gilgal for that place mentioned in Joshua 5, when this which Moses speaks of is really Galilee; as I have proved elsewhere.
On these two mounts (it is well known) were pronounced the blessings and the curses, Deuteronomy 11:29, and 27:12,13; Joshua 8:33. But mark the impudence of the Samaritans, who, in their text, Deuteronomy 27:4, instead of "Ye shall set up these stones which I command you this day on mount Ebal," they have put "Ye shall set up these stones, &c. on mount Gerizim."
Compare, with this falsification of theirs, that in Sotah, "R. Eliezer Ben Jose saith, I have said to you, O Samaritans, Ye have falsified your law; for ye say, the plain of Moreh, which is Shechem, Deuteronomy 11:30 [they add Shechem of their own]: we ourselves indeed confess that the plain of Moreh is Shechem," &c.
Seeing he blames the Samaritans for falsifying their text in so little a matter, wherein the truth is not injured, namely, in adding Shechem, why did he not object to them that greater fault of suborning Gerizim for mount Ebal. The truth is, this very thing giveth me reason enough to suspect that this bold and wicked interpolation of the word Gerizim for Ebal hath stolen into the Samaritan text since the time that this Rabbin wrote. The thing is not unworthy our considering.
If Sychem and Sychar be one and the same city, why should not the name be the same?
I. This may happen from the common dialect, wherein it is very usual to change the letters. So Reuben in the Syriac version is Reubil, and Rubelus, in Josephus; by what etymology let him tell, and explain it if you can. Speaking of Leah bringing forth Reuben, he thus expresseth himself; "And having brought forth a male child, and obtaining favour from her husband by it, she called his name Rubel, because it happened to her according to the mercy of God; for this his name signifies."
It would be endless to reckon up such variations of letters in proper names; but as to the letter r, which is our business at present, take these few instances:
'Nebuchadnezzar' is elsewhere 'Nebuchadrezzar'; 'Belial' is 'Beliar'; 'Shepham,' by the Greek interpreters, Sephamar, Numbers 34:11: so Sychem, Sychar; and this so much the rather because the letters r and m have obtained I know not what kind of relation and affinity one with another. So Dammesek and Darmesek in the Holy Scriptures; and the 'Samaritans' are the 'Samatians' in Dionysius Afer, &c.
Or, secondly, it might happen that the Jews, by way of scoff and opprobrium, might vulgarly call Sychem Sychar, either that they might stigmatize the Samaritans as 'drunkards,' Isaiah 28:1, "Woe to the drunkards of Ephraim"; or (as the word might be variously writ and pronounced) might give them some or other disgraceful mark. So Aruch in Sochere, i.e. sepulchres. He quotes a place where the words are not as they are by him cited; nor is he consistent with himself in the interpretation. But Munster hath a sepulchre. If it be thus, perhaps Sychem, might be called Sychar, because there the twelve patriarchs were buried; and under that notion the Samaritans might glory in that name.
May we not venture to render the well of Sychar? We meet with both the place and name in Bava Kama; "There was a time when the sheaf" [of the firstfruits] "was brought from Gaggoth Zeriphin, and the two loaves" [those which were to be offered by the high-priest] "from the valley of the well of Sychar." So give me leave to render it. Gloss; "The sheaf was wont to be fetched from places in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem; but now, the fruits having been destroyed by war, they were fain to fetch it afar off."
Take, if you will, the whole story: "It is a tradition among the Rabbins, that when the Asmonean family mutually besieged one another, Aristobulus without, and Hyrcanus within, every day they that were besieged within let down their money by the wall in a little box, which those that were without received, and sent them back their daily sacrifice. It came to pass that there was an old man amongst them skilled in the wisdom of the Greeks, that told them, 'So long as they within perform their worship, you will never be able to subdue them.' Upon this, the next day they let down their money, and the besiegers sent them back a hog; when the hog had got half up the wall, fixing his feet upon it, the land of Israel shook four hundred leagues round about. From that time they said, 'Cursed be he that breedeth swine: cursed be he that teacheth his son the wisdom of the Greeks.' From that time the sheaf of the firstfruits was fetched from Gaggoth Zeriphin, and the two loaves from the valley Ein Sychar."
This story is told, with another annexed, in Menachoth: "When the time came about that the sheaf should be brought, nobody knew from whence to fetch it. They made inquiry, therefore, by a public crier. There came a certain dumb man, and stretched forth one hand towards a roof, and the other hand towards a cottage. Mordecai saith to them, 'Is there any place that is called Gaggoth Zeriphin, or Zeriphin Gaggoth?' They sent and found there was. When they would have offered the two loaves, but knew not where to get them, they made inquiry again by a public crier; the same dumb man comes again, and he puts one hand to his eye, and another hand to the hole of the doorpost where they put in the bolt. Quoth Mordecai to them, 'Is there such a place as Ein Sychar, or Sychar Ein?' They inquired, and found there was."
But what had Mordecai to do with the times of the Asmoneans? One of the Glossators upon this place makes this objection; and the answer is, That whoever were skilled either in signs or languages had this name given them from Mordecai, who, in the days of Ahasuerus, was so skilled.
And now let the reader give us his judgment as to name and place; whether it doth not seem to have some relation with our well of Sychar. It may be disputed on either side. I shall only say these things:
Menachoth, as before; "It is commanded that the sheaf be brought from some neighbouring place, but if it ripen not in any place near Jerusalem, let them fetch it elsewhere." Gloss: "Gaggoth Zeriphin and Ein Sychar were at a great distance from Jerusalem." So is our Sychar distant far enough indeed.
"Zariph, and Zeripha, denotes a little cottage, where the keeper of fields lodged." It is described by Aruch that "it was covered over with osier twigs, the tops of which were bound together, and it was drawn at pleasure from one place to another," &c.
Gloss in Erubhin: "They that dwelt in those cottages were keepers of sheep; they abode in them for a month or two, so long as the pasture lasted, and then they removed to another place." Gaggoth Zeriphin, therefore, signifies the roofs of little cottages: and the place seems to be so called either from the number of such lodges in that place, or from some hills there, that represented and seemed to have the shape of such kind of cottages.
Such cottages may come to mind when we read, Luke 2:8, of the shepherds watching their flocks by night. But this is out of our way.
It is commonly said that the Probatica, or the Sheep-gate (for let us annex the word gate to it, out of Nehemiah 3:1), or, at least, Bethesda, was near the Temple. Consult the commentators, and they almost all agree in this opinion. With their good leave, let it not be amiss to interpose these two or three things:
I. That no part of the outward wall of the city (which this Sheep-gate was) could be so near the Temple, but that some part of the city must needs lie between. Betwixt the north gates and the Temple, Zion was situated; on the west, was part of Zion and Millo; on the south, Jerusalem, as it is distinguished from Zion; on the east, the east street, whose gate is not the Sheep-gate, but the Water-gate.
II. The Sheep-gate, according to Nehemiah's description, should be situated on the south wall of the city, not far from the corner that pointed southeast; so that a considerable part of Jerusalem lay betwixt the Temple and this gate.
We have elsewhere made it plain that Sion was situated on the north part of the city, contrary to the mistake of the tables, which place it on the south. Now, therefore, consider to how great an extent the wall must run before it can come to any part of Zion; to wit, to the stairs that go down from the city of David, verse 15, which were on the west; and thence proceed to the sepulchres of David, verse 16; till it come at length to the Water-gate, and Ophel towards the east, verse 26: and thence to the corner near which is the Sheep-gate, verse 31, 32; and this will plainly evince that the description and progress in Nehemiah is first, of the south wall, from the Sheep-gate to the west corner; then of the west wall; and so to the northern and the eastern; which makes it evident that the Sheep-gate is on the south wall, a little distant from the corner which looks southeast, which could not but be a considerable distance from the Temple, because no small part of Jerusalem, as it was distinguished from Zion, laid between.
Our inquiry into Bethesda (if I be not greatly mistaken) must take its rise from the fountain of Siloam.
I. The proper and ancient name for the fountain of Siloam, was Gihon, 1 Kings 1:33; "Bring ye him [Solomon] down to Gihon." Targum, to 'Siloam': Kimchi, "Gihon is Siloam, and is called by a twofold name." The tables that describe Jerusalem speak of a 'mount Gihon'; by what warrant I cannot tell: if they had said the 'fountain Gihon,' it might have pleased better.
II. How that name 'Gihon' should pass into 'Siloam,' is difficult to say. "The waters" of it are mentioned, Isaiah 8:6, to signify the reign and sovereignty of the house of David. So the Targum and Sanhedrin. "Rabh Joseph saith, If there had been no Targum of this Scripture, we had not known the sense of it, which is this: Forsomuch as this people is weary of the house of David, whose reign hath been gentle as the flowing of the waters of Siloam, which are gentle," &c. Therefore it was not in vain that David sent his son Solomon to be anointed at Gihon or Siloam, for he might look upon those waters as some type or shadow by which the reign of his house should be deciphered.
III. The situation of it was behind the west wall, not far from the corner that pointed towards the southwest. "The wall bent southward above the fountain of Siloam, and then again inclined towards the east."
The waters of this spring, by different streams, derived themselves into two fish-pools, as seems hinted in 2 Chronicles 32:30: "Hezekiah stopped the upper water-course of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David"; where a MS of the Targum, "He stopped up the upper waters of Gihon, and brought them in pipes." But to let this pass, that which I would observe is this: that there was a water-course from Gihon or Siloam, which was called the "upper water-course," which flowed into a pool, called also the "upper pool," Isaiah 36:2; and, as it should seem, the "old pool," Isaiah 22:11; by Josephus "the pool" or "fish-pool of Solomon"; for so he, in the place before cited.
"The wall again inclined eastward, even to Solomon's fish-pond, and going on to the place called Ophel, it came over-against the eastern porch of the Temple." From whence we may gather that Solomon's fish-pool was within, hard by the east wall of the city, and on this side the place they called Ophel: which does so well agree with the situation of Bethesda within the sheep-gate, that it seems to me beyond all doubt or question, that Solomon's pool and the pool of Bethesda were one and the same.
By another stream the waters of Siloam are derived into another pool, which is called the Lower Pool, Isaiah 22:9, and the King's Pool, Nehemiah 2:14; near the west wall of Sion.
We have the mention of it also in Nehemiah 3:15: the pool of Siloam by the king's garden. Where we may observe that it is here written Shelahh different from Shiloahh, Isaiah 8:6; by a difference hardly visible in Bibles not pointed: indeed, sometimes overlooked by myself, and so, as is evident, by others. For Shelahh is rendered in the very same sound with Shiloahh, in the Complutensian, Vulgar, English, and French Bibles. And, in St. John 9:7, where there is mention of the pool Siloam, some commentators refer you to that text in Nehemiah.
The Greek interpreters did, indeed, observe the difference, and thus render the words of Nehemiah, "The pool of skins by the king's wool." Nor doth the Italian overlook it; for that renders it thus: "The Fish-pond of Selac hard by the garden of the king."
It is observable in the Greek version, that whereas they render the word by the king's wool or hair, they may seem to have read a fleece of wool for a garden. And whereas they translate the pool of skins, they follow the signification of the word as it is frequently used amongst the Talmudists.
Now, therefore, here ariseth a question, whether that pool be the pool of Siloam or no: which as yet hath hardly been questioned by any, and, for some time, not by myself. But I am now apt to think that it was so distinguished betwixt the two pools, that the lower pool retaining its name of the 'Pool of Shelahh,' the upper pool obtained that of 'Siloahh.'
I. How otherwise should that distinction of the Greek version arise, but that the interpreters followed the common pronunciation of the word Shelahh, when they render it of skins.
II. Those words of St. John 9:7, "in the pool of Siloam, which is by interpretation, Sent," seem to intimate that there were two pools of a very near sound, whereof one signified Sent, the other not.
III. The Jerusalem Talmudists seem to say that the upper pool was called the 'Pool of Siloam' in these words: "He that is unclean by a dead body doth not enter into the mount of the Temple. It is said that they appear only in the court. Whence do you measure? from the wall, or from the houses? It is Samuel's tradition, from Siloam: now Siloam was in the midst of the city."
The question here propounded is, whether he that is unclean by a dead body may be permitted to enter the Temple: and the stating of it comes to this, that inquiry be made within what measure he is to be admitted; whether within the wall of the Temple, or at that distance where the houses next to the Temple end; especially where the houses of Siloam end.
Now, whereas they say that Siloam is in the midst of the city, it must by no means be understood of the fountain itself, for that was plainly without the city; nor yet of the lower pool Shelahh, for that also was without the city, or scarce within it. There is, therefore, no third, unless that this upper pool be called 'the pool of Siloam,' and that it give denomination to the adjacent part of the city, to wit, to the five porches and the buildings about it: which though they were not in the very centre of the city, yet they might properly enough be said to be in the middle of it, because they were situated a good way within the walls. Luke 13:4, "The tower of Siloam," was amongst these buildings.
It is an even lay, whether the Targumist on this place deal more cunningly or more obscurely. The passage is about the king's gardens: and he, "I planted me all trees of spice, which the goblins and the demons brought me out of India": and then goes on, and the bound of it was from the wall that is in Jerusalem, by the bank of the waters of Siloam. Render by the bank for illustration's sake; for to the bank (as the Latin interpreter renders it), although it might signify the same, yet it may also signify something else, and so become a difficulty not to be resolved. Besides, it is to be observed, that it is upon, or above, not unto.
The meaning of the Targumist seemeth to be this; that the king's gardens were bounded in this manner. They extended from the descent of Zion, until they came over-against Shelahh, or the lower pool; even to the beginning of the wall of the city, which is in Jerusalem: which wall runs near to the bank of the waters of Siloam.
That passage in Nehemiah 3:15 illustrates this; "the gate of the fountain repaired Shallum, and the wall of the pool of Shelahh by the king's gardens." 'The gate of the fountain,' whether that was called so from the pool of Siloam, or otherwise, was at some distance from the king's pool, Nehemiah 2:14: and by the wall of the city, that ran between the gate and the pool, there was a rivulet, drawn from the fountain into that pool.
The words of the Targumist, therefore, are to be so rendered as that the king's gardens may not be said to extend themselves to the bank of the waters of Siloam; but that the wall of Jerusalem ran along by the bank of those waters, and the garden to the first part of that wall. So that he does not call the lower pool by the name of Siloahh; but by 'the waters of Siloahh' he understands the stream that came from the fountain and fell into that pool.
The collector of the Hebrew Cippi, Grave-stones, hath this passage concerning the fountain of Etam: "In the way betwixt Hebron and Jerusalem, is the fountain Etam, from whence the waters are conveyed by pipes into the great pool at Jerusalem." It is so translated by the learned Hottinger, who also himself adds, "I suppose here is meant the Probatica, or the pool by the Sheep-gate."
The Rabbins often and again tell us of an aqueduct from the fountain of Etam to Jerusalem. But it may very well be doubted whether that fountain be in the way to Hebron; or whether those waters ran into the pool by the Sheep-gate. For,
I. If the fountain of Etam be the same with the waters of Nephtoah, mentioned Joshua 15:9; which the Gloss supposeth (where it is treating about the fountain of Etam), then it lieth quite in another quarter from Hebron; for Hebron lies on the south, and Nephtoah on the west.
II. The waters streaming from the fountain Etam were not conveyed into the city, but into the Temple: which might be abundantly made out from the Talmudists, if there were any need for it. And probably Aristeas hath respect to this aqueduct: "There is a confluence of water that never fails [speaking of the Temple]; as if there were a great spring within naturally flowing: and for the space of five furlongs (as appeared everywhere about the Temple), there were certain receptacles made, under the earth, by a wondrous and unspeakable art." And a little after: "They led me out of the city above four furlongs, where one bade me lean down my head at a certain place, and listen to the noise that the flow of waters there made," &c.
In a word, to any one that is conversant in the Talmudic authors, nothing can be more plain than that the aqueduct from the fountain of Etam was into the Temple, and not into the city; and it is plain enough in Holy Writ that the aqueduct into the sheep-pool was from the fountain of Siloam: which also from that spring, from whence it was derived, is called the 'Pool of Siloam'; and from him that first made it, the 'Pool of Solomon'; and from the miraculous medicinal virtue in it, 'the Pool of Bethesda.'
As to the Water-gate, we find it mentioned Nehemiah 3:26, situated on the east wall of the city; called the 'Water-gate' because through that the waters flowed out of the Temple; and perhaps those also out of Bethesda. For, whereas the waters ran incessantly out of Etam into the Temple, and those that were more than needed flowed out of the Temple, they all fell down into the valley that lay between the Temple and Jerusalem, and emptied themselves by that gate which bore the name of the 'Water-gate' upon that account. And it is probable that the pool of Bethesda, which also had its constant supply by the aqueduct from the spring of Siloam, did also continually empty itself along the descent of the hill Acra, through the same gate, and so into the brook Kedron.
From Solomon's Pool proceed we to Solomon's Porch; which we have also recorded, Acts 5:12. Possibly it is 'the King's Gate'; both the title and the magnificence of it make it probable. For, as Josephus tells us, it was "one of the most memorable works under the sun."
That king's porch was situated on the south side of the Temple, having under it on the wall the two gates of Huldah. At which gates I rather admire than believe or understand what I meet with concerning them; "Behold, he stands behind our wall, that is, behind the west wall of the Temple; because the Holy Blessed One hath sworn that it shall never be destroyed. The Priest's gate also, and Huldah's gate, were never to be destroyed till God shall renew them."
What gate that of the priest's should be, I am absolutely ignorant; unless it should be that over which was "the conclave of the counsellors," where was the bench and the consistory of the priests.
But be it this, or be it that, how do these and the rest agree with what Josephus relateth?
"Caesar commanded that the whole city and Temple should be destroyed, saving only those towers which were above the rest; viz. Phasaelus, the Hippic, and Mariamne, and the west wall. The wall, that it might be for the garrison soldiers; the towers, as a testimony how large and how fortified a city the Roman valour had subdued. But as to all the rest of the city and its whole compass, they so defaced and demolished it, that posterity or strangers will hardly believe there was ever any inhabited city there." Which all agrees well enough with what we frequently meet with in the Jewish writers; that Turnus Rufus drew a plough over the city and Temple. He is called in Josephus Terentius Rufus.
Through the 'Gate of Huldah' you enter into the Court of the Gentiles, and that under the King's Gallery; which, from the name itself and gallantness of the structure, might seem worthy of such a founder as Solomon. But this is not the porch or gallery which we seek for, nor had it the name of royal from king Solomon, but from king Herod.
Josephus, in this inquiry of ours, will lead us elsewhere; who thus tells us, "At this time was the Temple finished" [i.e. under Gessius Florus, the procurator of Judea about the eleventh or twelfth year of Nero]; "the people, therefore, seeing the workmen were at leisure" [the work of the Temple being now wholly finished], "being in number more than eighteen thousand, importune the king" [Agrippa] "that he would repair the eastern porch." Here are some things not unworthy our observation; partly, that the Temple itself was not finished till this time; and then, that the eastern porch was neither then finished, nor, indeed, was there any at all; for Agrippa, considering both how great a sum of money, and how long a space of time would be requisite for so great a work, rejected their suit. Herod, as it should seem from Josephus, finished the Temple, and the Pronaon, the porch before it, and the Royal Gallery. But what he finished further, about the courts and cloister-walks, it does not appear. It is manifest, indeed, that there was a great deal left unperfected by him; when the whole was not finished till the very latter end of Nero's reign, and scarcely before that fatal war in which the Temple was burnt and buried in its own ruins: which observation will be of use when we come to John 2:20, "Forty and six years was this Temple in building."
Josephus proceeds, as to the eastern gallery: Now that was the gallery of the outward Temple, overlooking a deep valley, supported by walls of four hundred cubits, made of great square stone, very white: the length of each stone was twenty cubits, and the breadth six. "The work of king Solomon, who first founded the whole Temple." There needs no commentary upon these words; the east gallery was first Solomon's work: which plainly points which and where was Solomon's Porch; namely, upon the outer wall of the Temple, towards the east, as the Royal Gallery was upon the south wall.
There was but one gate to this east wall, and that was called the Gate of Shushan. "Because upon that gate was engraven the figure of Shushan, the metropolis of Persia."
It is no wonder if they cherished the memory of Shushan and the Persian empire, because it was under that empire that the Temple was built; nor had they, indeed, ever received much damage thence. But it is something strange, that that sculpture should remain after so long a time that that kingdom had been abolished; and, after them, first the Greeks, then the Romans, had obtained the universal monarchy.
"Upon this gate the priest looked when he burnt the red heifer." For, slaying the heifer upon the mount of Olives directly before the Temple when he sprinkled the blood, he looked towards the holy of holies. The Gate of Shushan, therefore, was not of height equal with the others, but built something lower, that it might not hinder his prospect.
Upon this gate was the assembly of the Twenty-three held. "There were three assemblies; one upon the Gate of the mountain of the Temple" [that is, upon the Gate Shushan]: "another upon the Gate of the Court" [that is, upon the Gate of Nicanor]: "a third, in the room Gazith."
Going into the court by the Gate Shushan, both on the right hand and on the left, there was a portico, upheld by a double row of pillars, that made a double piazza. And either within or about that portico were the tabernae, or shops, where salt, and oil, and frankincense, with other necessary materials for the altar, were sold; but by what right, upon such sacred ground let the buyer or the seller, or both, look to that.
"The great Sanhedrim removed from the room Gazith, to the shops, and from the shops into Jerusalem." Not that the Sanhedrim could sit in the shops where such things were sold; but the lower part of that was all called by the common name of the Tabernae, or shops.
The Jews, upon their return from Babylon, at first made use of an altar without a Temple, till the Temple was finished under Darius the Second. And then they made use of the Temple without the ark, a priesthood without the Urim and Thummim, and sacrifices without fire from heaven. In some of these things they were necessitated by present circumstances; in other things they were directed by the prophets, that flourished at that time.
Under the Persian empire, they went on quietly with the Temple, little or nothing molested or incommoded by them, unless in that affair under Bagos, mentioned by Josephus.
But under the Greeks happened the calamity of the Temple and nation; and all those dreadful things which are spoken concerning God by Ezekiel the prophet, were fulfilled in the tyranny of this empire. For Gog, in that prophet, was no other than the Grecian empire warring against the people and sanctuary, and true worship of God. It was a long time that the Jewish nation suffered very hard things from that kingdom; the relation of which we have, both in Josephus and the books of the Maccabees. The chief actor in those tragedies was Antiochus Epiphanes, the bloodiest enemy that the people and religion of the Jews ever had: who, besides other horrid things he acted against their law and religion, profaned the Temple and the altar, and made the daily sacrifice to cease for "a thousand and three hundred days," Daniel 8:14, or 'one thousand two hundred and ninety days,' chapter 12:11: a round number for "a time and times, and half a time," chapter 7:25, 11:7; that is, "three years and a half."
Of the insolences of the Greeks against the Temple, we read in Middoth: "In the railed place" [that divided the Chel from the court of the Gentiles] there were thirteen breaches which the kings of Greece made upon it, &c. And that of the impudent woman; "Mary, the daughter of Bilgah, apostatized, and married a certain Greek soldier. She came, and struck upon the top of the altar, crying out, O wolf, wolf! thou that devourest the wealth of Israel; and yet in the time of her extremity canst not help her." The same things are told of Titus.
But the heaviest thing of all was, when Antiochus profaned the Temple and the altar, nor would allow any sacrifices to be offered there but heathenish and idolatrous. Of which persecution consult 1 Maccabees 1 and Josephus, Antiq. lib. xii. cap. 7. Indeed, this waste and profanation of sacred things lasting for three years and a half, so stuck in the stomachs of the Jews, that they retained that very number as famous and remarkable; insomuch that they often make use of it when they would express any thing very sad and afflictive.
"There came one from Athens to Jerusalem, and stayed there three years and a half, to have learnt the language of wisdom, but could not learn it. Vespasian besieged Jerusalem for three years and a half; and with him were the princes of Arabia, Africa, Alexandria, and Palestine, &c. Three years and a half did Hadrian besiege Betar. The judgment of the generation of the deluge was twelve months: the judgment of the Egyptians twelve months: the judgment of Job was twelve months: the judgment of Gog and Magog was twelve months: the judgment of the wicked in hell twelve months. But the judgment of Nebuchadnezzar was three years and a half: and the judgment of Vespasian three years and a half. Nebuchadnezzar stayed in Daphne of Antioch, and sent Nebuzar-adan to destroy Jerusalem. He continued there for three years and a half."
There are many other passages of that kind, wherein they do not so much design to point out a determinate space of time, as to allude to that miserable state of affairs they were in under Antiochus. And perhaps it had been much more for the reputation of the Christian commentators upon the Book of the Revelation, if they had looked upon that number, and the "forty-and-two months," and the "thousand two hundred and sixty days," as spoken allusively, and not applied it to any precise or determinate time.
By the way, whilst we are speaking of the persecution under the Greeks, we cannot but call to mind the story in the Second Book of Maccabees 7, of the mother and her seven sons, that underwent so cruel a martyrdom: because we meet with one very like it, if not the same, only the name changed.
"'We are killed all the day long, we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter,' Psalm 44:22. Rab. Judah saith, This may be understood of the woman and her seven sons. They brought forth the first before Caesar, and they said unto him, Worship idols. He answered and said to them, It is written in our law, I am the Lord thy God. Then they carried him out and slew him. They brought the second before Caesar," &c. Which things are more largely related in Echah Rabbathi, where the very name of the woman is expressed: "Mary, the daughter of Nachton, who was taken captive with her seven sons. Caesar took them and shut them up within seven gates. He brought forth the first and commanded, saying, Worship idols," &c.
The story seems wholly the same, only the names of Antiochus and Caesar changed; of which the reader, having consulted both, may give his own judgment. And because we are now fallen into a comparing of the story in the Maccabees with the Talmudists, let us compare one more in Josephus with one in the same authors.
Josephus tells us, that he foretold it to Vespasian, that he should be emperor. Vespasian commanded that Josephus should be kept with all the diligence imaginable, that he might be conveyed safely to Nero; which when Josephus understood, he requested that he might be permitted to impart something of moment to Vespasian himself alone. Vespasian having commanded all out of the room, except Titus and two other of his friends, Josephus accosts him thus, "Are you sending me to Nero? Thou thyself, O Vespasian, shalt be Caesar and emperor, thou and this thy son," &c.
The Talmudists attribute such a prediction to Rabban Jochanan Ben Zaccai, in the tracts before quoted; viz. "Rabban Jochanan Ben Zaccai was carried out in a coffin, as one that is dead, out of Jerusalem. He went to Vespasian's army and said, Where is your king? They went and told Vespasian, There is a certain Jew desireth admission to you. Let him come in, saith he. When he came in, he said, Live, O king, live, O king." [So in Gittin; but in Midrash, Live my lord the emperor.] "Saith Vespasian, You salute me as if I were king, but I am not so; and the king will hear this, and judge such a one to death. To whom he, Although you are not king yet, you shall be so, for this Temple must not be destroyed but by a king's hand; as it is written, 'Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one,'" Isaiah 10:34.
To which of these two, or whether indeed to both, the glory of this prediction ought to be attributed, I leave it to the reader to judge; returning to the times of the Greeks.
The army and forces of the enemy being defeated under the conduct of Judah the Maccabee, the people begin to apply themselves to the care and the restoration of the Temple, and the holy things. The story of which we meet with 1 Maccabees 4:43, &c. and in Josephus, whose words are worth our transcribing; "He found the Temple desolated, the gates burnt; and the grass, through the mere solitude of the place, springing up there of its own accord: therefore he and his followers wept, being astonished at the sight."
They, therefore, apply themselves to the purging of the Temple, making up the breaches; and, as Middoth in the place above speaks, "Those thirteen breaches, which the Grecians had made, they repaired; and, according to the number of those breaches, they instituted thirteen adorations."
The altar, because it had been profaned by Gentile sacrifices, they pull it wholly down, and lay up the stones in a certain chamber near the court.
"Towards the northeast there was a certain chamber where the sons of the Asmoneans laid up the stones of that altar, which the Grecian kings had profaned": and that (as the Book of the Maccabees hath it) "till there might come a prophet that should direct them what to do with them."
Nor did it seem without reason: for, whereas those stones had once been consecrated, they would by no means put them to any common use; and since they had been profaned, they durst not put them to any holy use.
The rest of the Temple they restored, purged, repaired, as may be seen in the places above quoted; and, on the five-and-twentieth of the month Cisleu, they celebrated the feast of the Dedication, and established it for an anniversary solemnity, to be kept eight days together. Of the rites of that feast I shall say more in its proper place; and, for the sake of it, I have been the larger in these things.
Beth-el, and Jeshanah, and Ephraim, are mentioned together, 2 Chronicles 13:19; and Beth-el and Ephraim in Josephus: "Vespasian subdued two toparchies or lordships, the Gophnitic and Acrabatene after which he took Beth-el and Ephraim, two little cities."
In the Targumist it is written Ephraim with a Vau, and rendered by the Greek interpreters Ephron. But the Masorah tells us it must be read by Jod. Nor do I question but that it is the same with Josephus' Ephraim, and the Ephraim of the Talmudists, of which we have discoursed in our Chorographical Century, chapter 53.
It is probable it was a city in the land of Benjamin, as also was Beth-el, which is mentioned at the same time with it. Now Beth-el was the utmost border of the tribe of Benjamin, as it lay towards the tribe of Ephraim. But where this Ephraim should lie, it is not so plain. Only this our evangelist speaks of it,--that it was "near the wilderness"; that is (as it should seem), near the wilderness of Judea, in the way from Jerusalem to Jericho.
"There goes a story of a brother and a sister: he was in Gush Halab; she in Beth Maron. There happened a fire in his house, that was in Gush Halab; his sister comes from Beth Maron, and embraced and kissed him."
Now Gush Halab was in the tribe of Asher, as appears in Menacoth: where there is a story of a most precious oil bought in Gush Halab, in the tribe of Asher, such as could not be bought in any other place.
And so perhaps that may be understood of Beth Maron, being so near to Gush Halab, which we meet with in Jerusalem Kiddushin; "There goes a story of a certain Maronite" [for so let us render it], "who lodged in Jerusalem. He was a very wealthy man; and, when he would have parted his riches amongst his kindred, they told him it was not lawful for him to do it, unless he would buy some land," &c.
It may not unfitly be rendered a Maronite, though not in the same sense wherein it is now commonly understood; but as signifying 'one coming from the town Maron, or Beth Maron.' Render it Maronensian, and then there is no difficulty.
And to this, perhaps, may refer that passage in Rosh Hashanah: In the beginning of the year, All that come into the world pass before God, as the sons of Maron. Gemara Resh Lachish saith, As the ascents of Beth Maron. Gloss: "Where the way was so narrow, that two could not walk abreast together, for there was a deep vale on each side of the way." There are almost the same things in Erubhin.
Let us take in these also for novelty's sake.
"God commanded concerning Jacob, that his enemies should be about him:
"As Chalamish is to Naveh. Jericho to Noaran. Susitha to Tiberias. Castara to Chephar. Lydda to Ono."
Gloss: "In Chalamish dwelt the enemies of Israel; and in Naveh, a town near it, dwelt Jews; and these were afflicted by them." And elsewhere, "These are the names of places where the sinners of the Gentiles, of Moab and Ammon, &c., did dwell."
By the way, it is to be observed that the word, which in other places is written Chephar, or Chippar, in Schir Rabbathi is written Chephah. Whence in Shemoth Rabba R. Abdimi of Chephah, or Chippah; the same in Echah Rabbathi.
If the distance of the other places might be determined by the distance of Susitha from Tiberias, and Lydda from Ono, it will be the space of three miles, or thereabouts; for so far were they from one another, as I have shewn in another place. But as to the places themselves, where shall we find them? Where are Chalamish and Naveh? Where are Castara and Chippar? &c. Let us not, therefore, give ourselves a needless trouble of searching what there is no hope of finding out; taking notice only thus far, how miserably the face of things was changed when there was cause for this complaint! For before, Jericho had flourished with great numbers of Jews, there being twelve thousand of the courses of the priests, that stood in continual readiness every day: but now it was inhabited wholly by its enemies. So was it with Lydda once, when it was a most famed school of the Rabbins, but now an enemy city. These things are worthy of a chronological inquiry.
We find only this of Chippar, that it was within twelve miles from Tsippor. "B. Tanchum Bar R. Jeremiah was in Chippar. They asked him something about the law; and he taught them. They say to him, Have not the masters said, that it is forbidden to the scholar to teach within twelve miles' distance from his master? and behold, R. Minni, thy master, is in Tsippor. He answered, Let a curse light upon me if I knew he was in Tsippor!"
In the days of Jonathan the Asmonean, "They came together to build the city, and he approached to the wall of the brook, which is on the east; and they repaired that which was called Chaphenatha."
Where and what is this Chaphenatha? I am apt to think it might be some part of the outskirts of the city towards the east; called so much upon the same reason that Bethphage was, which was the outmost part of the city towards the east; for that was so called, viz. "a place of green figs," from the fig-trees that grew near it in the mount of Olives: so here Chaphenatha, some part of that outmost coast towards the east and mount of Olives, so called from the dates growing there.
For Chephanioth is frequently used amongst the Talmudists for the dates of palm-trees, that never come to their full maturity: A sort of ill palm-trees, as the Gloss in Beracoth; "the fruit of the palm that never ripens." So Aruch in Caphnith. By a signification near akin to Hene, and ahene, which denotes the unripe dates of palms; from whence, I suppose, Bethany, in the mount of Olives, is derived. So that some outmost part of the city and wall towards mount Olivet was called Bethphage from the figs that grew there, and another part of it Chaphenatha from the dates.
Moses hath it thus; "From mount Hor, ye shall point out (the border), unto the entrance of Hamath, and the goings forth of the border shall be to Zedad."
But the Targumist thus; "From the mount Umanus you shall point out your border to the entrance of Tiberias, and the goings out of that border, tending from the two sides, to Codcor Bar Zaamah, and to Codcoi Bar Sinegora, and Divachenus and Tarnegola, unto Caesarea, by which thou enterest into Abela of the Cilicians."
Every word almost in this place must be considered; as, indeed, almost every word of it is obscure.
I. Taurus: This, indeed, is not so obscure, but that every one knows mount Taurus, so noted by geographers and historians. Taur both in the Chaldee and Syriac signifies a mountain.
II. Umanus: Neither is this so very obscure, but that all who have turned over the Jewish writings do acknowledge it to be the mountain Amana, and who have turned over other books, Amanus. But in the mean time, I doubt they, as well as myself, cannot tell why the same Targumist should call mount Hor, where Aaron died, by the same name of Taurus Umanus, Numbers 20.
III. To the entrance of Tiberias: It is a strange thing the Targumist should be no better read in chorography, than to mistake the reading of this word in this place. For it is plain he read Chammoth, or the "warm baths of Tiberias," when it is really Hamath, or 'Antioch.' He is a blind geographer that brings down the borders of the land of Israel to Tiberias, unless he means something beyond our capacity to apprehend.
IV. From the two sides: It is plain here also, that he took Zedad, appellatively for a side.
V. To Codcor Bar Zaamah: If he doth not blunder, we do. We only take notice, that Zaamah, and Sinegora, do signify indignation, and advocate, perhaps in the same sense that accuser and advocate are used in the Rabbinical writers: but what it should signify in him, he must shew himself an Oedipus, or somebody else.
VI. Divachenus: I suspect this to be Greek. By which is intimated some back of a mountain, either lifting itself up, or stretching itself out...