Exercitations upon the Evangelist St. Luke
I. It was not an unusual thing in that nation, that some out of a more religious
severity, did clothe themselves but with a single garment; of which thing we have already
spoken in notes upon Mark 14:51, to which probably this passage may have some reference:
"R. Jose saith, 'Let my portion be with those who die of the disease in their
bowels: for, saith Mar, Very many righteous men die of the disease in their
bowels,'"; viz. a disease contracted by the austerities of their life, both as to
food and clothing. And so it is said particularly of the priests.
"The priests walked barefoot upon the pavement, and used water, and were not clad but
with a single garment. And from this custom their natural vigour languished, and their
bowels grew infirm."
For this very reason was there a physician appointed in the Temple, upon whom the
charge lay of remedying this evil: whom we might not unfitly call the bowel-doctor.
Now, it may be inquired whether our Lord from this example prescribed this severity to
his apostles, not allowing them more than a single garment, when this journeying of
theirs, to preach the gospel, was a winter's work: for they returned from this journey a
little before the Passover. Compare the tenth verse of this chapter, and so on, with John
6:4, and so on. But let us a little enlarge upon this subject.
In both the Talmuds there are reckoned up eighteen several garments, wherewith the Jew
is clothed from head to foot. Amongst the rest, two shoes, two buskins, &c.: but those
which are more properly called garments, and which are put upon the body, are reckoned
1. Mactoren: which word is variously rendered by several men. By the Gloss I
suppose a mantle: by Aruch a cloak; by others a hood. In the Gloss
upon Bava Bathra it is made the same with talith.
"Resh Lachish went to Bozrah; and, seeing some Israelites eating of fruits that
had not been tithed, forbade them. Coming from R. Jochanan, he saith to him, Even while
thy 'mactoren' [or cloak] is upon thee, go and recall thy
2. 'Kolbin' of thread. Which the Babylonians call kolbos. The ordinary
Jewish garment was talith, the outward garment, and chaluk, the inward. But
in the place quoted is no mention of talith in so many syllables at all; but
instead of it a Greek word for a Hebrew one, a coat.
Epiphanius, speaking of the scribes, "Moreover, they wore garments distinguished
by the phylacteries, which were certain borders of purple." They used long robes,
or a certain sort of garment which we may call 'dalmatics,' or 'kolobia,' which were wove
in with large borders of purple.
3. A woolen shirt, the inward garment. Whence the Gloss, the 'chaluk' was the
shirt upon his skin. Hence that boast of R. Jose, "that throughout his whole life
the roof of his house had not seen what was within that shirt of his."
II. And now the question returns; viz. whether by those two coats in the place
before us should be meant those two kinds of garments, the talith and the chaluk,
that is, that they should take but one of them: or those two kinds doubled; that is, that
they should take but one of each? Whether our Saviour bound them to take but one of those
garments, or whether he forbade them taking two of each?
I conceive, he might bind them to take but one of those garments...When our Lord
commands them not to put on two coats, the foregoing words may best explain what he
means by it: for when he cuts them short of other parts of garments and necessaries, such
as a scrip, a staff, and sandals, we may reasonably suppose he would cut them short of one
of the ordinary garments, either the talith or the chaluk.
This may seem something severe, that he should send them out in the winter time half
naked; but, 1. This well enough became that providence which he was determined to exert
towards them in a more peculiar manner, as may be gathered from Luke 22:35, and to the
charge of which he would commit them. Of such a kind and nature was his providence in
preserving them, as was shewn towards the Israelites in the wilderness, which suffered not
their garments to wax old, which kept their bodies from decay and diseases, and their feet
unhurt by all their travel. 2. It suited well enough with the mean and low estate of that
kingdom of heaven, and of the Messiah, which the apostles were to preach up and propagate;
so that, from the view of the first publishers, the Jews might learn to frame a right
judgment concerning both the Messiah and his kingdom; viz. they might learn to believe in
the Messiah when they should observe him capable so wondrously to protect his messengers,
though surrounded with such numberless inconveniences of life: and might further be taught
not to expect a pompous kingdom when they see the propagators of it, of so mean a degree
Although they looked for no other prophet (excepting Elias only) before the appearing
of the Messiah, yet doth it seem that they had an opinion that some of the ancient
prophets should rise again, and that the time was now at hand wherein they should so do;
and that because they made such frequent mention of it in their common talk, that
"some one of the old prophets had risen again."
They also feign that Moses was raised up at the same time with Samuel by the witch of
"Samuel thought that day had been the day of judgment, and therefore he raised
Moses along with himself."
"Moses did not die [for the just die not]; but went up into the highest, to
minister before God."
There is no question but they did indeed discourse with him about his death and the
manner of it; viz. his crucifixion: whereas, Moses and Elias themselves did depart without
any pain or anguish. But I should think, however, there is more contained in that word;
and that the expression the time of his receiving up, verse 51, hath some reference
to his departure...
He goes therefore to the feast of Tabernacles; and what he did there, we have it told
us, John 7. After ten weeks, or thereabout, he went up to the feast of Dedication, chapter
13:22; John 10:22; and at length to the last feast of all, his own Passover, chapter
1. After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and
two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.
[Seventy.] Why the Vulgar should have seventy-and-two, they themselves, I
suppose, are able to give no very good reason: much less the interpreter of Titus
Bostrensis, when in the Greek copy before him he saw only seventy, why he should
render it seventy-two.
Aben Ezra upon the story of Eldad and Medad hath this passage: "The wise men say,
That Moses took six out of every tribe, and the whole number amounted to seventy-and-two:
but whereas the Lord had commanded only seventy, the odd two were laid aside." Now if
God laid aside two of those who had been enrolled, and endowed with the Holy Spirit, that
so there might be the just number of seventy only, we can hardly imagine why our Saviour
should add two, to make it seventy-two and not seventy. "It was said to Moses at
Mount Sinai, Go up, thou and Aaron, and Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of
Israel: so will the holy blessed God ordain to himself in the world to come a council
of elders of his own people." Now the number of this consistory, the doctors
determine to be no other than seventy. A council of seventy-two was never heard of
amongst the Jews, but once only at Jabneh.
"R. Simeon Ben Azzai saith, I received it from the mouths of the seventy-two
elders, on the day when they made R. Eliezer Ben Azariah one of the Sanhedrim."
Nor did they then remove Rabban Gamaliel, although he had displeased them.
3. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.
[As lambs among wolves.] It is added in another evangelist, "Be ye wise as
serpents," &c.: with which we may compare that in Midrash Schir; "The
holy blessed God saith concerning Israel those that belong to me are simple as doves,
but amongst the nations of the world, they are subtle as serpents."
4. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.
[Salute no man by the way.] I. We have a passage something like this elsewhere;
"If thou meet any man, salute him not"; that is (as is commonly expounded), do
not hinder thy journey by discoursing with any in the way. But the same reason doth not
hold in this place; the business of these disciples not requiring such mighty expedition.
They were commanded out two by two, to this or the other place or city where Christ
himself was to come in person; nor was it necessary they should run in so great haste,
that they should make no stay in the way. Only having appointed them to such and such
places, their business indeed lay nowhere but in those very places to which they had been
particularly sent, to proclaim the coming of Christ there, and not to be telling it in the
way. The twelve apostles that were sent, their business was to declare the coming of the
'kingdom of heaven'; these the coming of the 'King himself.' No wonder, therefore, if the
apostles were not forbidden to salute any in the way; for their province was,
wherever they came, to tell the world that the kingdom of heaven was come: but these were
only to give notice that the Messiah was coming: and that in those places only to which he
was to come, and not to any whom they should meet cursorily in the way.
II. It was a very usual thing in that nation, upon some accounts, not to salute
any in the way, no, not any person at all. "He that is mourning for the dead, let him
not salute any person for the first seven days of his mourning." If thirteen
fasts had been celebrated by order of the Sanhedrim for the imploring of rain, and yet no
rain had fallen, then they "diminish from their business, and from building, and from
planting, and from espousals and marriage, and from saluting each other as men
under the rebukes of Heaven": that is, they abstained from all these things. "The
religious do not use to salute one another; but if any of the common people do at any
time salute them, they return it in a very low voice with all gravity,
veiling themselves, and sitting in the posture of mourners or excommunicate persons."
Whether that of the apostle, "Salute one another with a holy kiss,"
might not have some reference to this usage, might be a matter for our inquiry, if there
were place for it; but I forbear.
What therefore doth our Saviour intend by this prohibition, Salute no man by the
way? would he imitate this Jewish custom, that he would have them taken for mourners
I. He would have all that belonged to him conformable to himself, that every one from
the quality of the messengers might, in some measure, judge what he was that sent them; as
we have already hinted concerning the twelve apostles, He himself was "a man of
sorrows"; and if his messengers do represent some such thing, either in their looks
or behaviour, the people might the more easily guess what kind of person he was that
II. Christ had a twofold end in designing them to the places to which he in his own
person had determined to come; namely, that thither all persons should assemble themselves
to his doctrine for the healing of their souls: and that those that were diseased might be
gathered thither in order to a cure. Now it was very fit and convenient that the behaviour
of those that were to assemble the people to these ends should be mournful and solemn, to
testify the fellow-feeling they had with the afflicted and miserable.
8. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are
set before you:
[Eat such things as are set before you.] The traditional canons were so very
precise and curious about not eating unless what were clean, what had been duly tithed,
and from which the Trumah had been duly separated, that it might be almost a wonder
the strict traditionists should not be famished if they lived and fed only by canon.
"Let not the religious serve at the table of a laic, unless all things be
rightly prepared and decimated."
From the irksomeness and perplexity of this niceness doth our Saviour acquit and
absolve his followers; partly that he might introduce the gospel liberty; partly also
consulting the necessity of his disciples, who if they had been bound up to that
strictness in meats, what could they do when their converse was to lie chiefly amongst
persons perfectly unknown to them?
18. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
[I beheld Satan, &c.] "Lucifer falling from heaven," Isaiah 14:12,
is the king of Babylon divested of his throne and dominion. So is Satan in this place. The
word I beheld, I would refer to this very time: "When I sent you forth I saw
Satan's fall at hand, that he should be immediately despoiled of his power and
tyranny." For when the Messiah had determined to exhibit himself, and, in order
thereunto, to send out so numerous a multitude of persons that should publish his
appearance, it was absolutely necessary, and it could not otherwise be, but that the power
of Satan should sink, and his government be shaken.
It is probable these seventy disciples were sent out upon the approach of the feast of
Tabernacles, and when there now remained about half a year to the death of Christ. In
which interval of time Christ shewed himself more openly, both by the preaching of these
persons, and also in his own personal exhibition of himself, than before he had done. All
which things determining in his death, whose death was also the death of Satan, might give
him a very just occasion of saying, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven,
thrown out of his throne and kingdom. Compare Revelation 12:8, where 'heaven' is to be
interpreted 'the church.'
25. And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what
shall I do to inherit eternal life?
[Behold, a certain lawyer stood up.]
Some few Notes concerning the Jewish Doctors.
The word lawyer we meet with in Matthew 22:35, where the Syriac hath it a
scribe. So Luke 7:30; as also in this place, and chapter 11:45. Nor without reason,
when he in St. Matthew, one of them which was a lawyer, is said to be, Mark 12:28, one
of the scribes.
However there seems some difficulty from a passage in our evangelist, where woe unto
you scribes, and Then answered one of the lawyers, seems to make some
distinction betwixt them. As to this, we shall make some remarks in its proper place. In
the mean time let it not seem tedious to the reader, if we discourse some things
concerning the doctors of the law, with the various classes and orders of them, that we
may the better judge of that sort of men of which we have so frequent mention in the holy
I. It is not unknown how the name scribe was a general title given to all the
learned part of that nation, as it is opposed to the rude and illiterate person.
"If two persons eat together, and are both scribes, they each of them say
grace singly for themselves: but if one of them be a scribe, and the other an
illiterate person, the scribe saith grace, and it sufficeth for the other that is
Indeed, the first original of the word scribes did more peculiarly signify the numberers.
"The ancients were called numberers, because they numbered all the letters of the
law..." The Gloss gives another reason out of the Jerusalem Talmud; namely,
"because they numbered all the points and contents of the law, as the forty principal
servile works save one," &c.
Should we indeed grant that the first original of the word had such narrow bounds as
this, yet does not this hinder but that it afterward enlarged itself so far as to denote
any person learned in the law, and every doctor of it; nay, that it extended itself even
to the schoolmasters that taught children: if not to the very libellarii,
those whose business it was to write out bills of divorce and forms of contracts, &c.
Of which two there is mention made amongst the ten sorts, whereof if none should happen to
be in a city, it was not fit for any disciple of the wise to abide in it.
II. That the fathers of the Sanhedrim were more emphatically called the scribes
is so well known that it needs no confirmation. That passage in the evangelist
sufficiently shews it; "The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat": that is,
on the legislative bench, or in the Sanhedrim: where also the Sadducees that were of that
council are called scribes: and the scribes are distinguished there from the
Pharisees, not that they were not scribes, but because all the scribes
there were not Pharisees.
III. There was a certain degree of doctors or scribes that were in the
Sanhedrim, but were not members of it: these are commonly called those who gave
judgment in the presence of the wise men, fit for the office of legislators, but not
yet admitted. Such were Simeon Ben Azzai, and Simeon Ben Zumah. Such also was Simeon the
Temanite, of whom we have made mention elsewhere, (out of Sanhedrin, fol. 17. 2) He
judged in the presence of the Sanhderim, sitting upon the ground. He did not sit on
the bench with the fathers, as not being one of their number, but on the seats below,
nearer the ground: him the fathers consulted in difficult matters. A shadow of which we
have in England of the judges, men learned in the laws, who have their seats in our house
Whether he that was particularly called the wise man was of the number of the
fathers, or only of this kind of judges, I shall not at present dispute, but leave the
reader to judge from this story: "Rabban Simeon Ben Gamliel was the president
of the Sanhedrim: R. Meir was chacam, or the wise man; and R. Nathan, the
vice-governor." Now when Rabban Simeon had decreed something that disparaged R.
Meir and R. Nathan, "Saith R. Meir to R. Nathan, I am the chacam [or the
wise man], and thou art the vice-president. Let us remove Rabban Simeon from the
presidency, then thou wilt be the president, and I the vice-president."
There is nothing more common, and yet nothing more difficult than that saying,
"The school of Hillel saith so and so, and the school of Shammai so: but the wise
men say otherwise." It is very obscure who these wise men should be. If we
should say the Sanhedrim, it is plain that one part of it consisted of the Shammaeans, and
another part of the Hillelites. If so, then it should seem that these wise men are
those judges of whom we have spoken: unless you will assign a third part to the Sadducees,
to whom you will hardly attribute the determination of the thing, and much less the
emphatical title of the wise men. But this we leave undecided.
IV. Let us a little inquire out of the Sanhedrim; we shall find variety of scribes and
doctors of the law, according to the variety of the law itself, and the variety of
teaching it. Hence those various treatises amongst the Rabbins; the Micra, Misna,
Midras, Talmud, Agadah, &c.
1. Micra, is the text of the Bible itself: its reading and literal explication.
2. Misna, the doctrine of traditions and their explication.
3. Midras, the mystic and allegorical doctrine and exposition of the Scriptures:
"For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the
synagogues every sabbath day." Now these were the ways and methods of preaching him:
I. As to the written law (for every one knows they had a twofold law, written
and oral, as they call it), they had a twofold way of declaring it, viz.,
explaining and applying it according to the literal sense of it, for edification,
exhortation, and comfort, as the apostle hath it; or else by drawing allegories,
mysteries, and far-fetched notions out of it. As to the former way, the rulers of the
synagogue seem to have respect to it in what they said to Paul and Barnabas: If ye have
any word of exhortation for the people, say on. As to the latter, the instances are
endless in the Jewish writings every where; so far, that they have even melted down the
whole volume of the Scriptures into tradition and allegory.
It is not easily determined whether those preachers were so of a different order, that
one should wholly addict himself to the plain and literal exposition and application of
the Scriptures, the other only to the mystical and more abstruse way of teaching. There is
no question but both these did frequently meet both in one preacher, and that in one and
the same sermon: and indeed I cannot tell but that the word Agadah may sometimes
denote both these ways of expounding and interpreting the law. When a certain person,
being interrogated about certain traditions, could give no answer, the standers by said, Perhaps
he is not skilled in the [traditional] doctrine: but he may be able to expound.
And so they propound to him Daniel 10:21 to explain. To which that also agrees well
enough, "The masters of the Agada or expositions, because they are
'Darshanin' [or profound searchers of the Scriptures], are honoured of all men,
for they draw away the hearts of their auditors." Nor does that sound very
differently as to the thing itself: On the sabbath day they discussed discussions
[i.e. in the Scriptures, searching the Scriptures] "to the masters of
families, who had been employed in their occasions all the week; and while they were
expounding, they taught them the articles about things forbidden and things permitted
To these kind of mystic and allegorical expositions of Scripture (if at least it be
proper to call them expositions) they were so strangely bewitched, that they valued
nothing more than a skill in tickling or rubbing the itching ears of their auditors with
such trifles. Hence that passage, "R. Joshua said to R. Jochanan Ben Bruchah, and to
R. Eleazar the blind, What new thing have you met with today in 'Beth Midras'? They
answered and said, 'We are all thy disciples, and drink wholly at thy waters.' To whom he;
'It is impossible but you should meet with something novel every day in Beth Midras.'"
II. As to the oral law, there was also a twofold way of explaining it, as they had for
the written law:
1. The former way we have intimated to us in these words: "The book of the Law,
when it grows old, they lay up with one of the disciples of the wise men, even although
he teach the traditions." The passage seems very obscure, but it is thus
explained by the Gloss: "Albeit it doth not any way help the disciples of the wise
men in Talmud and Gemara, but in Misnaioth and Beriathoth," that is, he that
would only read the body of the traditional law, and render the literal sense of it,--and
not he that would dispute scholastically, and comment upon it. For,
2. There were doctors that would inquire more deeply into the traditions, would give
some accounts (such as they were), of them, would discuss difficulties, solve doubts,
&c.; a specimen of which is the Talmudic Gemara throughout.
Lastly, amongst the learned, and doctors of that nation, there were the Agadici,
who would expound the written law in a more profound way than ordinary, even to what was
cabalistical. These were more rare, and (as it should seem) not so acceptable amongst the
people. Whether these are concerned in what follows, let the reader judge: "R. Joshua
Ben Levi saith, So and so let it happen to me, if in all my life I ever saw the
book Agada above once; and then I found a hundred seventy-and-five sections of the
law, where it is written, 'The Lord hath said, hath spoken, hath commanded.' They are
according to the number of the years of our father Abraham, as it is said, To receive
gifts for men, &c. A hundred forty-and-seven Psalms, which are in the Book of
Psalms [mark the number] are according to the number of the years of our father Jacob; as
it is written, 'Thou art holy, and inhabitest the praises of Israel.' A hundred
twenty-and-three turns, wherein Israel answereth Hallelujah [to him that repeats the Hallel],
are according to the number of the years of Aaron," &c. And as a coronis,
let me add that passage in Sanhedrim, "If they be masters of the textual reading,
they shall be conversant in the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa. If they be
masters of the Misna, they shall be conversant in Misna Halacoth and Haggadoth.
And if they be masters of the Talmud, they shall be conversant in the traditions of
the Passover, in the Passover: in the traditions of Pentecost, in Pentecost: in the
traditions of the feast of Tabernacles, in the feast of Tabernacles."
These all, whom we have mentioned, were scribes and doctors and expounders of the law;
but which of these may properly and peculiarly challenge to themselves the title of lawyers,
whether all, or any particular class of them? The latter is most probable: but then, what
class will you choose? or will you distinguish betwixt the lawyer and the
teacher of the law? I had rather the reader would frame his own judgment here. And
yet, that I might not dismiss this question wholly untouched, and at the same time not
weary the reader with too long a digression, I have referred what is to be alleged in this
matter to my notes upon chapter 11:45.
26. He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
[How readest thou?] An expression very common in the schools, What readest
thou? when any person brought a text of Scripture for the proof of any thing. The
Rabbins have a tradition, that the disease of the squinancy came into the world upon
the account of tithes. (The Gloss hath it: "For eating of fruits that had not
been tithed.") "R. Eliezer Ben R. Jose saith, 'It was for an evil tongue.' Rabba
saith, and it is the saying also of R. Joshua Ben Levi, What readest thou? The king
shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by himself shall glory: for the mouth
of them that speak lies shall be stopped." And a little after, upon another
subject: "R. Simeon Ben Gezirah saith, What or how readest thou? If
thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the
flock": Canticles 1:8.
We will not be very curious in inquiring whether our Saviour used the very same form of
speech, or any other. In this only he departs from their common use of speech, in that he
calls to another to allege some text of Scripture; whereas it was usual in the schools
that he that spoke that would allege some place himself.
27. And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and
with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as
[And with all thy mind.] In this answer of the man there are these two things
I. That our Saviour brings in this clause, which in so many terms is not in Moses,
where the rest are: where the Greek both of the Roman and Alexandrian edition render with
all thy might. But wherein is mind? I pass by other copies, wherein though
there is some varying, yet there is not this which is now before us.
Our Saviour hath the same clause elsewhere, but not in the same order; with all thy
mind, and with all thy strength: here it is, with all thy strength, and with all
thy mind. What shall we say therefore? shall we suppose it writ to this sense in the
Hebrew in their phylacteries? This we can hardly think. Was it added by the Greek
interpreters, and so the evangelists take it from thence? we see it is not so. What then?
doth might signify both strength and mind? Here, indeed, the hinge of
the question turns. That it denotes strength, no one doubts; yea, and the Rabbins
suppose it denotes Mammon too, with whom the Syriac and Targumist agree: but still,
where doth it signify the mind?
1. Take such a Gloss as is frequently in use amongst the allegorizing doctors: With
what measure he shall mete to thee, do thou praise him exceedingly. Where we see they
play with the sound of words, which is a very common thing with them to do...
2. To this we may add, if we think fit, what they commonly require in all religious
services; viz. the preparation and the intention of the mind...Moses' words,
therefore, are rendered by the evangelists not strictly and according to the letter, as
they are in him, or were in the parchments in the phylacteries; but both according to
their full sense and tenour, as also according to the common and received interpretation
of that nation.
"R. Levi Bar Chajothah went to Caesarea, and heard them reciting their 'Shemaa'
[or their phylacteries] Hellenistically [i.e. in Greek]" &c.
Now, whether the clause we are now handling was inserted there, it would be in vain to
inquire, because not possible to find...
The second thing observable in this man's answer, is, that he adds, "And thy
neighbour as thyself": which indeed was not written in the schedules of their
phylacteries: otherwise I should have thought the man had understood those words of our
Saviour, How readest thou? as if he had said, "How dost thou repeat the
sentences of the phylacteries?" for he reciteth the sentence as it was in their
phylacteries, only adding this clause, "And thy neighbour," &c. Now the
usual expression for the recitation of their phylacteries was They read the 'Shemaa';
which also is so rendered by some when indeed they commonly repeat them without book. He
that read the Book [of Esther] orally: i.e. as the Gemara explains it,
"Without book," or "by heart." It is queried, "Why they repeat
those two sections every day? R. Levi saith, Because the ten commandments [of the
decalogue] are comprehended therein." And he shews further how they are comprehended,
saving only (which is very observable) the second commandment. Afterward indeed they
confess, "It was very fitting they should every day repeat the very decalogue itself;
but they did not repeat it, lest the heretics should say, that only those commandments
were given to Moses on Mount Sinai." However, they did repeat those passages wherein
they supposed the decalogue was summed up.
Whether, therefore, this lawyer of ours understood the words of our Saviour as having
respect to that usage of repeating their phylacteries; or whether he of his own accord,
and according to his own opinion, would be giving the whole sum of the decalogue, he shews
himself rather a textual than a traditional doctor, although the word lawyer,
seems to point out the latter rather.
29. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
[And who is my neighbour?] This doubt and form of questioning he had learned out
of the common school, where it is thus taught in Aruch. He excepts all Gentiles when he
saith, His neighbour.
"An Israelite killing a stranger inhabitant, he doth not die for it by the
Sanhedrim; because it is said, If any one lift up himself against his neighbour.
And it is not necessary to say, He does not die upon the account of a Gentile: for they
are not esteemed by them for their neighbour."
"The Gentiles, amongst whom and us there is no war, and so those that are keepers
of sheep amongst the Israelites, and the like, we are not to contrive their death: but if
they be in any danger of death, we are not bound to deliver them: e.g. If any of them fall
into the sea, you shall not need to take him out: for it is said, Thou shalt not rise up
against the blood of thy neighbour; but such a one is not thy neighbour."
30. And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to
Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him,
and departed, leaving him half dead.
[A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.] This was the most beaten
and frequented road in the whole land of Israel, and that, not only as it led to Perea,
but also upon the account of that great traffic that was between these two cities,
especially because of the courses that were as well in Jericho as Jerusalem. Of
which we have discoursed elsewhere. To which I shall superadd this passage out of
Jerusalem Taanith: "The former prophets instituted four-and-twenty courses,
and for every course there was a stationary class of priests, Levites, and
Israelites in Jerusalem. It is a tradition: Four-and-twenty thousand was the
stationary number out of Jerusalem, and half that station out of Jericho. Jericho
could indeed have produced an entire station; but that it would give the preference to
Jerusalem; and therefore it produced but half."
Here, therefore, you may see in this historical parable why there is such particular
mention made of a priest and Levite travelling that way, because there was very frequent
intercourse of this sort of men between these towns; and that upon the account of the
stations above mentioned.
[He fell among thieves.] It is with great confidence I see, but upon what
foundation I cannot see, that the commentators generally make Adummim the scene of
this robbery above all other places. It is true, the road betwixt Jerusalem and Jericho
was dangerous enough; and for that reason (as is commonly believed) there was placed a
band of soldiers "betwixt Aelia and Jericho," for the safeguard of passengers:
but whereas it is said that the place is called Adummim, i.e. a place of redness,
from the blood that was spilt by robbers there, this seems to have very little force in
it: because the place had that name of Adummim even in Joshua's days, when we can
hardly suppose the times to have been so pestered with robberies as they were when our
Saviour uttered this parable: see Joshua 15:7, where if we consider the situation of 'the
going up to Adummim,' it will appear it was not very distant from Jericho.
[Half dead.] The Rabbins term it next to death; beyond which condition,
on this side death, was only one just expiring.
31. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he
passed by on the other side.
[When he saw him, he passed by on the other side.] And why, I pray, priest and
Levite, do ye thus pass by a man in such a miserable condition? Was he not an Israelite?
It is true, ye had learned out of your own schools not to succour a Gentile, no, nor a
keeper of sheep, though he was an Israelite: now was this wounded man such a one? or did
ye think ye should have contracted some pollution by touching one half dead? The word passed
by on the other side, seems to hint as if they passed by him, keeping their distance
from him: let them tell the reason themselves. For my part, I would impute it wholly to
the mere want of charity.
33. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw
him, he had compassion on him.
[But a certain Samaritan.] The Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans:
that is, so as to be obliged by them for any courtesy done to them. But would this Jew,
half dead, reject the kindness of the Samaritan at this time? This person being of a
nation than which the Jews hated nothing more, is brought in shewing this kindness to the
Jew, on purpose to give the plainer instance, who is our neighbour. It might seem
more proper to have said, that the Samaritan acknowledged the wounded man for his neighbour
in being so kind to him: but our Saviour intimates that he was the wounded man's neighbour;
thereby teaching us that even a stranger, yea, an enemy (against the doctrine of their own
schools), is no other than our neighbour.
34. And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and
set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
[Pouring in oil and wine.] It is a tradition. "They spread a plaster for
the sick on the sabbath day: that is, upon condition they had mingled it with wine and
oil on the evening of the sabbath. But if they have not mixed it on the sabbath, it is
forbidden. A tradition. R. Simeon Ben Eliezer saith, That it is allowed by R. Meir, both
to mingle the oil and the wine, and also to anoint the sick on the sabbath day."
35. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them
to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when
I come again, I will repay thee.
[He took out two pence.] Aruch: "A shekel of the law is selaa, and
is of the value of four pence." So that the half shekel is two pence: a
price that was to be paid yearly by every one as a ransom for his soul or life. Whence,
not unfitly, we see two pence are paid down for the recovery of this man's life
that had been wounded and half dead.
[And gave them to the host.] The Rabbins retain this Greek word, however
the author of Aruch calls it Ismaelitic, or Arabic. A tavern or inn
(saith he), in the Ismaelitish language, is called 'pondak.' It is true, indeed,
the Arabic version useth this word in this place; but it is well known whence it takes its
original. "Two men went into an inn; one a just, the other a wicked man. They
sat down apart. The wicked man saith to the host, 'Let me have one pheasant,
and let me have conditum or hippocras.' The just man said to the host, 'Let
me have a piece of bread and a dish of lentils.' The wicked man laughed the just man to
scorn, 'See how this fool calls for lentils when he may have dainties.' On the contrary,
the just man, 'See how this fool eateth, when his teeth are to be immediately dashed out.'
The just man saith to the host, 'Give me two cups of wine, that I may bless them':
he gave them him, and he blessed them, and rising up gave to the host a piece of money for
the portion that he had eaten, and departed in peace. But there was a falling out betwixt
the wicked man and his host about the reckoning, and the host dashed out his teeth."
38. Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a
certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
[Martha received him, &c.] Our Saviour is now at the feast of Tabernacles:
and visits Bethany, where there had grown a friendship betwixt himself and Lazarus'
family, upon his having cast out so many devils out of Mary his sister. For it is no
foreign thing to suppose she was that Mary that was called Magdalene, because
Bethany itself was called Magdala. As to the name Martha, see notes
upon John 11: and as to the name Magdala, see notes upon John 12.