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A Commentary of the New Testament
from the Talmud and Hebraica
Exercitations upon the Gospel of St. Matthew
Chapters 24, 25
1. And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him
for to show him the buildings of the temple.
[To shew him the buildings of the Temple.] "He that never saw the Temple of
Herod never saw a fine building. What was it built of? Rabba saith, Of white and green
marble. But some say, Of white, green, and spotted marble. He made the laver to sink and
to rise" (that is, the walls were built winding in and out, or indented after the
manner of waves), "being thus fitted to receive the plaster, which he intended to lay
on; but the Rabbins said to him, 'O let it continue, for it is very beautiful to behold:
for it is like the waves of the sea': and Bava Ben Buta made it so," &c. See
there the story of Bava Ben Buta and Herod consulting about the rebuilding of the temple.
2. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you,
There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
[There shall not be left one stone upon another.] The Talmudic Chronicles bear
witness also to this saying, "On the ninth day of the month Ab the city of Jerusalem
was ploughed up"; which Maimonides delivereth more at large: "On that ninth day
of the month Ab, fatal for vengeance, the wicked Turnus Rufus, of the children of Edom,
ploughed up the Temple, and the places about it, that that saying might be fulfilled,
'Sion shall be ploughed as a field.'" This Turnus Rufus, of great fame and infamy
among the Jewish writers, without doubt is the same with Terentius Rufus, of whom Josephus
speaks, Rufus was left general of the army by Titus; with commission, as it is
probable, and as the Jews suppose, to destroy the city and Temple. Concerning which
matter, thus again Josephus in the place before quoted, The emperor commanded them to
dig up the whole city and the Temple. And a little after, "Thus those that
digged it up laid all level, that it should never be inhabited, to be a witness to
such as should come thither."
3. And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately,
saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy
coming, and of the end of the world?
[And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?] What
the apostles intended by these words is more clearly conceived by considering the opinion
of that people concerning the times of the Messias. We will pick out this in a few words
from Babylonian Sanhedrin.
"The tradition of the school of Elias: The righteous, whom the Holy Blessed God
will raise up from the dead, shall not return again to their dust; as it is said,
'Whosoever shall be left in Zion and remain in Jerusalem shall be called holy, every one
being written in the book of life.' As the Holy (God) liveth for ever, so they also shall
live for ever. But if it be objected, What shall the righteous do in those years in which
the Holy God will renew his world, as it is said, 'The Lord only shall be exalted in that
day?' the answer is, That God will give them wings like an eagle, and they shall swim (or
float) upon the face of the waters." Where the Gloss says thus; "The righteous,
whom the Lord shall raise from the dead in the days of the Messiah, when they are restored
to life, shall not again return to their dust, neither in the days of the Messiah, nor in
the following age: but their flesh shall remain upon them till they return and live to
eternity. And in those years, when God shall renew his world (or age), this world
shall be wasted for a thousand years; were, then, shall those righteous men be in
those years, when they shall not be buried in the earth?" To this you may also lay
that very common phrase, the world to come; whereby is signified the days of the
Messiah: of which we spoke a little at the thirty-second verse of the twelfth chapter:
"If he shall obtain (the favour) to see the world to come, that is, the
exaltation of Israel," namely, in the days of Messiah. "The Holy Blessed God
saith to Israel, In this world you are afraid of transgressions; but in the world to come,
when there shall be no evil affection, you shall be concerned only for the good which is
laid up for you; as it is said, 'After this the children of Israel shall return, and seek
the Lord their God, and David their king,'" &c.; which clearly relate to the time
of the Messiah. Again, "Saith the Holy Blessed God to Israel, 'In this world, because
my messengers (sent to spy out the land) were flesh and blood, I decreed that they
should not enter into the land: but in the world to come, I suddenly send to you my
messenger, and he shall prepare the way before my face.'"
See here the doctrine of the Jews concerning the coming of the Messiah:
1. That at that time there shall be a resurrection of the just: The Messias shall
raise up those that sleep in the dust.
2. Then shall follow the desolation of this world: This world shall be wasted a
thousand years. Not that they imagined that a chaos, or confusion of all things,
should last the thousand years; but that this world should end and a new one be introduced
in that thousand years.
3. After which eternity should succeed.
From hence we easily understand the meaning of this question of the disciples:--
1. They know and own the present Messiah; and yet they ask, what shall be the signs of
2. But they do not ask the signs of his coming (as we believe of it) at the last day,
to judge both the quick and the dead: but,
3. When he will come in the evidence and demonstration of the Messiah, raising up the
dead, and ending this world, and introducing a new; as they had been taught in their
schools concerning his coming.
7. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there
shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
[Nation shall rise against nation.] Besides the seditions of the Jews, made
horridly bloody with their mutual slaughter, and other storms of war in the Roman empire
from strangers, the commotions of Otho and Vitellius are particularly memorable, and those
of Vitellius and Vespasian, whereby not only the whole empire was shaken, and the
fortune of the empire changed with the change of the whole world, (they are the words
of Tacitus), but Rome itself being made the scene of battle, and the prey of the soldiers,
and the Capitol itself being reduced to ashes. Such throes the empire suffered, now
bringing forth Vespasian to the throne, the scourge and vengeance of God upon the Jews.
9. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall
be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
[Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted.] To this relate those words of
1 Peter 4:17, "The time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God";
that is, the time foretold by our Saviour is now at hand, in which we are to be delivered
up to persecution, &c. These words denote that persecution which the Jews, now near
their ruin, stirred up almost everywhere against the professors of the gospel. They had
indeed oppressed them hitherto on all sides, as far as they could, with slanders, rapines,
whippings, stripes, &c. which these and such like places testify; 1 Thessalonians
2:14,15; Hebrews 10:33, &c. But there was something that put a rub in their way, that,
as yet, they could not proceed to the utmost cruelty; "And now ye know what
withholdeth"; which, I suppose, is to be understood of Claudius enraged at and
curbing in the Jews. Who being taken out of the way, and Nero, after his first five years,
suffering all things to be turned topsy turvy, the Jews now breathing their last (and
Satan therefore breathing his last effects in them, because their time was short), they
broke out into slaughter beyond measure, and into a most bloody persecution: which I
wonder is not set in the front of the ten persecutions by ecclesiastical writers. This is
called by Peter (who himself also at last suffered in it) a fiery trial; by Christ,
dictating the epistles to the seven churches, tribulation for ten days; and the
hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world of Christians. And this is
"the revelation of that wicked one" St. Paul speaks of, now in lively, that is,
in bloody colours, openly declaring himself Antichrist, the enemy of Christ. In that
persecution James suffered at Jerusalem, Peter in Babylon, and Antipas at Pergamus, and
others, as it is probable, in not a few other places. Hence, Revelation 6:11,12 (where the
state of the Jewish nation is delivered under the type of six seals), they are slain, who
were to be slain for the testimony of the gospel under the fifth seal; and immediately
under the sixth followed the ruin of the nation.
12. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
[The love of many shall wax cold.] These words relate to that horrid apostasy
which prevailed everywhere in the Jewish churches that had received the gospel. See 2
Thessalonians 2:3, &c.; Galatians 3:1; 1 Timothy 1:15, &c.
14. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness
unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
[And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world.] Jerusalem
was not to be destroyed before the gospel was spread over all the world: God so ordering
and designing it that the world, being first a catechumen in the doctrine of Christ, might
have at length an eminent and undeniable testimony of Christ presented to it; when all
men, as many as ever heard the history of Christ, should understand that dreadful wrath
and severe vengeance which was poured out upon that city and nation by which he was
15. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel
the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand):
[The abomination of desolation.] These words relate to that passage of Daniel
(chapter 9:27) which I would render thus; "In the middle of that week," namely,
the last of the seventy, "he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease, even
until the wing or army of abomination shall make desolate," &c.;
or, even by the wing of abominations making desolate....
[Let him that readeth understand.] This is not spoken so much for the obscurity
as for the certainty of the prophecy: as if he should say, "He that reads those words
in Daniel, let him mind well that when the army of the prince which is to come, that army
of abominations, shall compass round Jerusalem with a siege, then most certain destruction
hangs over it; for, saith Daniel, 'the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy
the city, and the sanctuary,' &c., verse 26. 'And the army of abominations shall make
desolate even until the consummation, and that which is determined shall be poured out
upon the desolate.' Flatter not yourselves, therefore, with vain hopes, either of future
victory, or of the retreating of that army, but provide for yourselves; and he that is in
Judea, let him fly to the hills and places of most difficult access, not into the
city." See how Luke clearly speaks out this sense in the twentieth verse of the
20. But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
[That your flight be not in the winter.] R. Tanchum observes a favour of God in
the destruction of the first Temple, that it happened in the summer, not in winter. For
thus he: "God vouch-safed a great favour to Israel; for they ought to have gone out
of the land on the tenth day of the month Tebeth, as he saith, 'Son of man, mark this day;
for on this very day,' &c. What then did the Lord, holy and blessed? 'If they shall
now go out in the winter,' saith he, 'they will all die': therefore he prolonged the time
to them, and carried them away in summer."
22. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but
for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
[Those days shall be shortened.] God lengthened the time for the sake of the
elect, before the destruction of the city; and in the destruction, for their sakes he
shortened it. Compare with these words before us 2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slack
concerning his promise," &c. It was certainly very hard with the elect that were
inhabitants of the city, who underwent all kinds of misery with the besieged, where the
plague and sword raged so violently that there were not living enough to bury the dead;
and the famine was so great, that a mother ate her son (perhaps the wife of Doeg Ben
Joseph, of whom see such a story in Babyl. Joma). And it was also hard enough with those
elect who fled to the mountains, being driven out of house, living in the open air, and
wanting necessaries for food: their merciful God and Father, therefore, took care of them,
shortening the time of their misery, and cutting off the reprobates with a speedier
destruction; lest, if their stroke had been longer continued, the elect should too far
have partaken of their misery.
The Rabbins dream that God shortened the day on which wicked king Ahab died, and that
ten hours; lest he should have been honoured with mourning.
24. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great
signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very
[Shall shew great signs and wonders.] It is a disputable case, whether the
Jewish nation were more mad with superstition in matters of religion, or with superstition
in curious arts.
I. There was not a people upon earth that studied or attributed more to dreams than
1. They often imposed fastings upon themselves to this end, that they might obtain
happy dreams; or to get the interpretation of a dream; or to divert the ill omen of a
dream: which we have observed at the fourteenth verse of the ninth chapter.
2. Hence their nice rules for handling of dreams; such as these, and the like: Let
one observe a good dream two-and-twenty years, after the example of Joseph: "If
you go to bed merry, you shall have good dreams," &c.
3. Hence many took upon them the public profession of interpreting dreams; and this was
reckoned among the nobler arts. A certain old man (Babyl. Beracoth) relates this story;
"There were four-and-twenty interpreters of dreams in Jerusalem: and I, having
dreamed a dream, went to them all: every one gave a different interpretation, and yet they
all came to pass," &c. You have R. Joses Ben Chelpatha, R. Ismael Ben R. Joses,
R. Lazar, and R. Akiba interpreting divers dreams, and many coming to them for
interpretation of their dreams. Nay, you see there the disciples of R. Lazar in his
absence practising this art. See there also many stories about this business, which it
would be too much here to transcribe.
II. There were hardly any people in the whole world that more used, or were more fond
of, amulets, charms, mutterings, exorcisms, and all kinds of enchantments. We might here
produce innumerable examples; a handful shall serve us out of the harvest: "Let not
any one go abroad with his amulet on the sabbath day, unless that amulet be prescribed by
an approved physician" (or, "unless it be an approved amulet"; see the
Gemara). Now these amulets were either little roots hung about the necks of sick persons,
or, what was more common, bits of paper with words written on them whereby they supposed
that diseases were either driven away or cured: which they wore all the week, but were
forbid to wear on the sabbath, unless with a caution: "They do not say a charm over a
wound on the sabbath, that also which is said over a mandrake is forbid" on the
sabbath. "If any one say, Come and say this versicle over my son, or lay the
book" of the law "upon him, to make him sleep; it is forbid": that is, on
the sabbath, but on other days is usual.
"They used to say the psalm of meetings (that is, against unlucky
meetings) at Jerusalem. R. Judah saith, Sometimes after such a meeting, and
sometimes when no such meeting had happened. But what is the Psalm of Meetings? The third
psalm, 'Lord, how are my foes increased!' even all the psalm: and the ninety-first psalm,
'He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High,' to the ninth verse." There
is a discourse of many things, which they used to carry about with them, as remedies
against certain ailments; and of mutterings over wounds: and there you may see, that while
they avoid the enchantments of the Amorites, they have and allow their own. You have, Bab.
Joma, fol, 84.1, the form of an enchantment against a mad dog. And, Avodah Zarah,
fol. 12.2, the form of enchantment against the devil of blindness. You have, Hieros.
Schab. fol 13.4, and Avod. Zarah, fol. 40.4, mutterings and enchantments, even
in the name of Jesus. See also the Babyl. Sanhedr. fol. 101.1, concerning these
kind of mutterings.
III. So skilful were they in conjurings, enchantments, and sorceries, that they wrought
great signs, many villanies, and more wonders. We pass by those things which the
sacred story relates of Simon Magus, Elymas, the sons of Sceva, &c., and Josephus, of
others; we will only produce examples out of the Talmud, a few out of many.
You will wonder, in the entrance, at these two things, in order to the speaking of
their magical exploits; and thence you will conjecture at the very common practice of
these evil arts among that people: 1. That "the senior who is chosen into the council
ought to be skilled in the arts of astrologers, jugglers, diviners, sorcerers, &c.,
that he may be able to judge of those who are guilty of the same." 2. The Masters
tell us, that a certain chamber was built by a magician in the temple itself: "The
chamber of Happarva was built by a certain magician, whose name was Parvah, by
art-magic." "Four-and-twenty of the school Rabbi, intercalating the year at
Lydda, were killed by an evil eye": that is, with sorceries. R. Joshua outdoes a
magician in magic, and drowns him in the sea. In Babyl. Taanith, several miracles are
related that the Rabbins had wrought. Elsewhere, there is a story told of eighty
women-sorceresses at Ascalon, who were hanged in one day by Simeon Ben Shetah: "and
the women of Israel (saith the gloss) had generally fallen to the practice of
sorceries": as we have mentioned before. It is related of abundance of Rabbis, that
they were skilful in working miracles: thus Abba Chelchia, and Chanin, and R.
Chanina Ben Dusa; of which R. Chanina Ben Dusa there is almost an infinite number of
stories concerning the miracles he wrought, which savour enough and too much of magic.
And, that we may not be tedious in producing examples, what can we say of the fasting
Rabbis causing it to rain in effect when they pleased? of which there are abundance of
stories in Taanith. What can we say of the Bath Kol very frequently applauding the Rabbins
out of heaven? of which we have spoken before. What can we say of the death or plagues
foretold by the Rabbins to befall this or that man? which came to pass just according as
they were foretold. I rather suspect some magic art in most of these, than fiction in all.
IV. False Christs broke out, and appeared in public with their witchcrafts, so much the
frequenter and more impudent, as the city and people drew nearer to its ruin; because the
people believed the Messias should be manifested before the destruction of the city; and
each of them pretended to be the Messias by these signs. From the words of Isaiah,
"Before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child," the doctors concluded,
"that the Messias should be manifested before the destruction of the city." Thus
the Chaldee paraphrast upon the place; "She shall be saved before her utmost
extremity, and her king shall be revealed before her pains of childbirth." Mark that
also; "The Son of David will not come, till the wicked empire [of the Romans]
shall have spread itself over all the world nine months; as it is said, 'Therefore will he
give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth.'"
27. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so
shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
[For as the lightning, &c.] To discover clearly the sense of this and the
following clauses, those two things must be observed which we have formerly given notice
1. That the destruction of Jerusalem is very frequently expressed in Scripture as if it
were the destruction of the whole world, Deuteronomy 32:22; "A fire is kindled in
mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell" (the discourse there is about the
wrath of God consuming that people; see verses 20,21), "and shall consume the earth
with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains." Jeremiah 4:23;
"I beheld the earth, and lo, it was without form and void; and the heavens, and they
had no light," &c. The discourse there also is concerning the destruction of that
nation, Isaiah 65:17; "Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former
shall not be remembered," &c. And more passages of this sort among the prophets.
According to this sense, Christ speaks in this place; and Peter speaks in his Second
Epistle, third chapter; and John, in the sixth of the Revelation; and Paul, 2 Corinthians
2. That Christ's taking vengeance of that exceeding wicked nation is called Christ's
"coming in glory," and his "coming in the clouds," Daniel 7. It is
also called, "the day of the Lord." See Psalm 1:4; Malachi 3:1,2, &c.; Joel
2:31; Matthew 16:28; Revelation 1:7, &c. See what we have said on chapter 12:20;
The meaning, therefore, of the words before us is this: "While they shall falsely
say, that Christ is to be seen here or there: 'Behold, he is in the desert,' one shall
say; another, 'Behold, he is in the secret chambers': he himself shall come, like
lightning, with sudden and altogether unexpected vengeance: they shall meet him whom they
could not find; they shall find him whom they sought, but quite another than what they
28. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
[For wheresoever the carcase is, &c.] I wonder any can understand these
words of pious men flying to Christ, when the discourse here is of quite a different
thing: they are thus connected to the foregoing: Christ shall be revealed with a sudden
vengeance; for when God shall cast off the city and people, grown ripe for destruction,
like a carcase thrown out, the Roman soldiers, like eagles, shall straight fly to it with
their eagles (ensigns) to tear and devour it. And to this also agrees the answer of
Christ, Luke 17:37; when, after the same words that are spoke here in this chapter, it was
inquired, "Where, Lord?" he answered, "Wheresoever the body is,"
&c.; silently hinting thus much, that Jerusalem, and that wicked nation which he
described through the whole chapter, would be the carcase, to which the greedy and
devouring eagles would fly to prey upon it.
29. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and
the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of
the heavens shall be shaken:
[The sun shall be darkened, &c.] That is, the Jewish heaven shall perish,
and the sun and moon of its glory and happiness shall be darkened, and brought to nothing.
The sun is the religion of the church; the moon is the government of the
state; and the stars are the judges and doctors of both. Compare Isaiah 13:10, and
Ezekiel 32:7,8, &c.
30. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all
the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of
heaven with power and great glory.
[And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man.] Then shall the Son of man
give a proof of himself, whom they would not before acknowledge: as proof, indeed, not in
any visible figure, but in vengeance and judgment so visible, that all the tribes of the
earth shall be forced to acknowledge him the avenger. The Jews would not know him: now
they shall now him, whether they will or no, Isaiah 26:11. Many times they asked of him a sign:
now a sign shall appear, that he is the true Messias, whom they despised, derided,
and crucified, namely, his signal vengeance and fury, such as never any nation felt from
the first foundations of the world.
31. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall
gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
[And he shall send his angels, &c.] When Jerusalem shall be reduced to
ashes, and that wicked nation cut off and rejected, then shall the Son of man send his
ministers with the trumpet of the gospel, and they shall gather together his elect of the
several nations from the four corners of heaven: so that God shall not want a church...
34. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be
[This generation shall not pass, &c.] Hence it appears plain enough, that
the foregoing verses are not to be understood of the last judgment, but, as we said, of
the destruction of Jerusalem. There were some among the disciples (particularly John), who
lived to see these things come to pass. With Matthew 16:28, compare John 21:22. And there
were some Rabbins alive at the time when Christ spoke these things, that lived till the
city was destroyed, viz. Rabban Simeon, who perished with the city, R. Jochanan Ben
Zaccai, who outlived it, R. Zadoch, R. Ismael, and others.
36. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven,
but my Father only.
[No man knoweth, no, not the angels.] This is taken from Deuteronomy 32:34:
"Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures?"
37. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man
[But as the days of Noe were, &c.] Thus Peter placeth as parallels, the ruin
of the old world, and the ruin of Jerusalem, 1 Peter 3:19-21; and by such a comparison his
words will be best understood. For, see how he skips from the mention of the death of
Christ to the times before the flood, in the eighteenth and nineteenth verses, passing
over all the time between. Did not the Spirit of Christ preach all along in the times
under the law? Why then doth he take an example only from the times before the flood? that
he might fit the matter to his case, and shew that the present state of the Jews was like
theirs in the times of Noah, and that their ruin should be like also. So, also, in his
Second Epistle, chapter 3:6,7.
The age or generation of the flood hath no portion in the world to come:
thus Peter saith, that "they were shut up in prison": and here our Saviour
intimates that "they were buried in security," and so were surprised by the
1. Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their
lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
[Ten virgins.] The nation of the Jews delighted mightily in the number ten,
both in sacred and civil matters: A synagogue consisted not but of ten at the least:
which we have observed before, when we spoke about synagogues. This also was current among
them, An order or ring of men consisted not but of ten at the least. The
text is speaking of a company to comfort mourners: which the Gloss thus describes,
"When the company was returned from burying a dead body, they set themselves in
order about the mourners, and comforted them: but now such an order or ring consisted
of ten at the least." To this commonly received number there seems to be an alluding
in this place: not but that they very frequently exceeded that number of virgins in
weddings of greater note, but rarely came short of it.
[To meet the bridegroom.] To go to a wedding was reckoned among the works of
"The shewing of mercy implies two things: 1. That one should assist an
Israelite with one's wealth, namely, by alms and redeeming of captives. 2. That one should
assist him in one's own person; to wit, by comforting the mourners, by attending the dead
to burial, and by being present at the chambers of bridegrooms." The presence
of virgins also adorned the pomp and festivity of the thing. Marriages are called by the
Rabbins receivings, &c. The introducing of the bride, namely, into the
house of her husband. There were no marriages but of such as had been before betrothed;
and, after the betrothing, the bridegroom might not lie with the bride in his
father-in-law's house before he had brought her to his own. That 'bringing' of her was the
consummation of the marriage. This parable supposeth that the bride was thus fetched to
the house of her husband, and that the virgins were ready against her coming; who yet,
being either fetched a great way, or some accident happening to delay her, did not come
[Took lamps.] The form of lamps is described by Rambam and R. Solomon,
whom see. These things are also mentioned by R. Solomon: "It is the fashion in the
country of the Ismaelites to carry the bride from the house of her father to the house of
the bridegroom before she is put to bed; and to carry before her about ten wooden staves,
having each of them on the top a vessel like a dish, in which there is a piece of cloth
with oil and pitch: these, being lighted, they carry before her for torches."
2. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
[Five wise; Five foolish.] A parable, not unlike this, is produced by Kimchi:
"Rabban Jochanan Ben Zaccai saith (as he hath it), This thing is like a king, who
invited his servants, but did not appoint them any set time. Those of them that were
wise adorned themselves, and sat at the gate of the palace; those that were foolish
were about their own business. The king on a sudden called for his servants: those went in
adorned; these, undressed. The king was pleased with the wise, and angry at the
5. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
[They all slumbered and slept.] "If some sleep" [while they celebrate
the paschal supper], "let them eat; if all, let them not eat. R. Josi saith, Do
they slumber? let them eat. Do they sleep? let them not eat." The Gemarists
inquire, "Whence a man is to be reputed as a slumberer? R. Ishi saith, He
sleeps and doth not sleep, he wakes and is not awake. If you call him, he answers; but
he cannot answer to the purpose." The Gloss, "If you speak to him, he will
answer yes, or no; but if you ask any thing that hath need of thinking; as, for
instance, where such a vessel is laid up? he cannot answer you."
15. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every
man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
[And unto one he gave five talents, &c.] You have a like and almost the same
parable, Luke 19; yet, indeed, not the very same; for, besides that there is mention there
of pounds being given, here of talents,--that parable was spoken by
Christ, going up from Jericho to Jerusalem, before the raising up of Lazarus; this,
as he was sitting on Mount Olivet, three days before the Passover. That, upon this
account, "because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom
of God should immediately appear," Luke 19:11, and that he might shew that it would
not be long before Jerusalem should be called to an account for all the privileges and
benefits conferred upon it by God (see verses the fourteenth and seventeenth); but this,
that he might warn all to be watchful, and provide with their utmost care concerning
giving up their accounts at the last judgment.
27. Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then
at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
[Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, &c.] The
lord did not deliver the talents to his servants with that intent, that they should
receive the increase and profit of them by usury; but that, by merchandise and some honest
way of trade, they should increase them. He only returns this answer to the slothful
servant, as fitted to what he had alleged; "You take me for a covetous, griping, and
sordid man: why then did you not make use of a manner of gain agreeable to these
qualities, namely, interest or usury (since you would not apply yourself to any honest
traffic), that you might have returned me some increase of my money, rather than nothing
at all?" So that our Lord, in these words, doth not so much approve of usury, as
upbraid the folly and sloth of his servant.
Exchangers, answering to the word trapezita very usual among the
Talmudists: "An exchanger (trapezita) sells money; and because a
table is always before him, upon which he buys and sells, therefore he is called mensarius,"
one that stands at a table.
Of the same employment was the shopkeeper of whom is as frequent mention among
them. He exercised the employment of a usurer in buying and changing of fruits, as the
other in money: for in these two especially consisted usury: of which you may see, if you
please, the tract Bava Mezia.
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