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The Sanhedrim assemble to deliberate concerning the Resurrection
JOHN xi. 47, 48. Then gathered the Chief Priests and the Pha- John xi. 47. risees a council, and said, What do we ? for this man doeth many miracles.
If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on John vi. 48. him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation 35.
JOAN xi. 49–53.
· Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that John xi. 50.
And this spake he not of himself: but being John xi. 51. High Priest that year, he prophesied » that Jesus should die for that nation;
z Chap. xviii. 14.
35 There is much difficulty in the reasoning of the Sanhedrim on this occasion. Why should they fear the Romans, even if they had acknowledged our Lord to be the Messiah? They believed that their Messiah was to be a powerful and mighty king, who would overthrow the dominion of the Romans, and restore the kingdom to Israel.
The cause of their apprehension seems to have been the meek and unostentatious pretensions of our Lord, and his severe reproofs of the pride and hypocrisy of the Pharisees and rulers. They demanded a Messiah who should appear with the insignia, as well as the reality of power, and who should not only continue, but even enhance to the utmost, the temporal dominion of the Jews. As our Lord did not possess the external proofs of royalty, they would not believe that He would be able to oppose the Roman power, whose vengeance they would certainly bring upon themselves, if they should acknowledge any other political sovereign ; but as the resurrection of Lazarus was the cause of this assembling by the Sanhedrim, it is evident that the miraculous powers of our Lord must have been known to that body: and the supposition of Lightfoot, therefore, that they knew him, is not irrational ; they probably knew him as a Prophet, but not as the Messiah.
36 Commentators are divided respecting the meaning of these words. In the
John xi. 52.
And not for that nation only, but that also he Jerusalem.
The Sanhedrim resolve to put Christ to Death.
JOHN xi. 53.
John xi, 53.
Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.
former ages of the Jewish Church, the spirit of prophecy rested with the High Priest. As this was the great year in which the object of the Jewish dispensation was obtained, and the spirit of prophecy, according to the prediction of Joel, quoted by St. Peter, was abundantly poured forth ; it is supposed that the High Priest was now inspired to utter certain words, with the full meaning of which he was unacquainted, as was frequently, and, in the opinion of the Jews, uniformly, the case among the ancient prophets. Others interpret the words according to the literal sense in which they were spoken by Caiaphas, and suppose that St. John gave them another signification. Hausenius, in his learned dissertation on this subject (a), endeavours to prove that the words of St. John must likewise be interpreted literally, and that Caiaphas did actually prophesy; and as High Priest foretell the necessity of Christ's death. The question is admirably summed up by Hausenius, in his seventeenth section.
Hoc modo et Saulus, cum suis inter prophetas relatus, majori violentia spiritus actus est. E quibus constat, modum, quo profano Caiaphæ vaticinium inditum est, omnibus fere, qui impiis obtigerunt, tenuiorem, lenioremque fuisse.
He then proceeds in his last section to shew that though this expression of Caiaphas must be considered as a real prophecy, yet the High Priest himself was unworthy of the honourable name of prophet. To this purpose he quotes the accurate conclusions of Origen; and thus sums up his remarks—Quamobrem bene horum, de quibus loquimur, congruens in unam sententiam divinatio descripta a Basilio est, catena, a Dan. Heinsio e MS. edita-Tās dè xai Baladje προφητεύει και Καϊάφας; ότι κάκείνοι τους πειθομένες είχον, ο μεν ως αρχιερεύς, ο δε ως μάντις: γάρ ψυχής καθαρότης, ουδε διαύγεια νυ ενορώντος εις θεόν, και την εκείθεν δύναμιν σπώντος· αλλ' οικονομικός εν αυτοίς ο λόγος, και κατά την αξίαν, αλλά προς τον καιρών. Ιdem de Bileamo judicium est R. Isaaci Abarbenelis ad Jos. xiii. 27. 12pv na 1799 og
מנכותו דבר שוכה אליו לצורך שעה לכבוד שרצל וכדי לברכם.
Grotius (6) quotes several curious opinions of the ancients respecting the communion of their chiefs and superiors with an invisible world. Homer tells us that a dream was only to be depended upon when it occurred to Agamemnon. The Spartans esteemed those dreams only as prophetical which were presented
(a) Printed in the collection of tracts which compose the 13th volume of the
Christ retires to Ephraim, or Ephrata.
JOHN xi. 54. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among John xi. 54. the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.
to the Ephori. Oracular responses were given both to Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar, to Lamech and Balaam. And in the former dispensation it belonged to the kings, or to the chief magistrate, to consult by Urim and Thummin (c).
Dr. Lardner observes on these words, “By prophesying—I understand foretelling the event; which it was, in a peculiar manner, the office of the priest to do, when he was inquired of, or when God was inquired of by him, concerning any important matters under deliberation.” See 1 Sam. xxii. 11–13. xxiii. 9-11. and 2 Sam. v. 22–25. He thus paraphrases the whole passagem
“ Caiaphas, who was the High Priest at that time, when it came to his turn to deliver his opinion, said, You have hitherto talked very weakly and ignorantly ; you may proceed in the case before you without hesitation. The taking away the life of this man will be so far from being ruinous to the whole nation in this country, and in other parts, as some of you fear, that it will be much for the advantage of the people of God, every where. This however he said, not merely of himself, but being then High Priest, he foretold the issue and event of their counsels, and of the death of Jesus: and that it would come to pass that Jesus would die for that nation, and not for that nation only; but that through his death he would gather together in one the children of God, which were scattered abroad (d)."
The advice of Caiaphas is such, indeed, as might have been expected from an unprincipled and worldly politician. He recommends them to save the state, by sacrificing the supposed author of their apprehended danger. One man must die for the people--that is, the life of this Jesus, although he has performed mighty works, is of no value when compared with the possibility of danger. The Evangelist certainly refers to this speech of Caiaphas, as if it had been spoken under a divine impulse, of which he was totally unconscious.
Diodati, in his Annotations, writes—“God guided the tongue of the High Priest : so that thinking to utter a speech according to his own wicked meaning, he pronounced an oracle according to God's meaning; as the High Priest had oftentimes inspirations from God.” Exod. xxviii. 15. Numb. xxvii. 21.
(c) I may here take the opportunity of observing a contradiction in the folio edition of Lightfoot's works. In his gleanings on Exodus, Lightfoot supports the opinion that the High Priest heard a voice, when consulting the Oracle Urim and Thummim; but in his sermons he advances the opinion, that he was suddenly inspired by the spirit of prophecy.-Vide Life of Lightfoot, prefixed to his works, folio edition. (d) Lardner's Works, vol. i. 4to. edit. p. 211.
last Passover, at which Christ attended.
JOHN xi. 55, to the end. John xi. 55. And the Jews' Passover was nigh at hand: and Jerusalem.
many went out of the country up to Jerusalem
before the Passover, to purify themselves.
themselves, as they stood in the temple, What
Now both the Chief Priests and the Pharisees
John xi, 57.
Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany.
John xii, 1,
37 ON THE TIME OF THE ANOINTING OF OUR LORD AT BETHANY. Harmonists have been much divided on the proper place of the anointing our Lord at Bethany. Some have supposed that this unction was performed twice, others but once. Lightfoot and Pilkington have embraced the hypothesis of a twofold unction. Archbishop Newcome supposes that there was one only, which he places two days before the passover. Doddridge and Michaelis have concluded that our Lord was anointed once only, and refer the event to the sixth day before the passover.
After an attentive perusal of the several reasons adduced by each harmonist, I have adopted the opinion of Michaelis and Doddridge. The German harmonist, in his chapter on the Rules to be observed in making a Harmony of the Gospels, has seleeted this event as the example by which to illustrate the position “ that two or more relations may be very similar, and yet not the same; and these must be carefully distinguished from each other."--" The following instance," he observes, “ may serve to shew the manner in which I apply the rules in question. The Evangelists, St. Matthew (chap. xxvi. 6. 13.) and St. Mark (chap. xiv. 3. 9.) have related that Christ was anointed in the week pre; ceding his death, and all the commentators are agreed that both of them mean the same unction. St. John likewise (chap. xiii. 1. 8.) relates that Christ was anointed in the same week; and the unction which he describes, is, in my opinion, the very same with that which St. Matthew and St. Mark have recorded; but, according to others, it was totally different, and happened four days earlier.
a And being in Bethany, in the house of Simon Mark xiv. 3.
Now that two different unctions happened twice in the same week, is more than I am able to believe. The two unctions above mentioned, if we consider as two, what I believe to be one, agree in the following circumstances :
“ 1. Both happened at Bethany.
“ 2. In both cases Jesus was anointed, not by his host, but by a woman. However, as Christ was frequently at Bethany, these circumstances are not so very remarkable.
“ 3. Both unctions took place, as I shall prove in the sequel, not in the house of Lazarus, the friend of Jesus, where we might soonest expect him, but at another house.
* 4. Both happened in the last week before the suffering of Christ.
“ 5. In both cases the ointment was so expensive, that the unction had the appearance of profusion.
“ 6. In both cases we meet with the remarkable circumstance, that the ointment was not purchased for the purpose to which it was applied, but that it had been preserved for some time by the person who used it: for the disciples were offended that the ointment was not sold and given to the poor; and in the account which is given by St. John (chap. xii. 7.) it is expressly said by Jesus,
against the day of my burying hath she kept this.' One might almost conjec-
“ 7. In both cases the unction is censured by the disciples.
“ 9. In both cases the unction is defended by Jesus, and the same answer given to the disciples.
“ 10. The expression, vápoog risi»), which is not only very unusual, and therefore obscure, but occurs in not a single instance either in the Septuagint, or in the New Testament, except on this occasion, is used both by St. Mark and by St. John: the ointment therefore used in both cases was strictly the same.
“ These circumstances are too numerous and too particular, to have happened twice : not to mention the improbability that the disciples, after having been rebuked by Jesus six days before Easter, for having censured the unction, should presume to repeat their censure on a similar occasion, on the second day before Easter. For it contained a manifest disregard to Jesus himself, which they must have very sensibly felt, when he answered them, “The poor always ye have with you, but me ye have not always,' John xii. 8; and of which, therefore, they would hardly have been guilty only four days afterwards.
“ In the two accounts, which are given by St. Matthew and St. John, I perceive not the least variation, except that in some points the one is more copious than the other; but their descriptions are so far from being inconsistent, that they have all the appearance of proceeding from two different eye-witnesses to the
fact. “ 1. According to St. Matthew and St. Mark, a woman anoints Jesus ; ac
(a) Marsh's Michaelis, vol. iii. part i. p. 23.