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32 And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?
33 They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. 34 So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.
1 Christ rideth into Jerusalem upon an ass, 12 driveth the buyers and sellers out of the temple, 17 curseth the fig-tree, 23 putteth to silence the priests and elders, 28 and rebuketh them by the similitude of the two sons, 35 and the husbandmen, who slew such as were sent unto them.
1 AND when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,
2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you,
a Mark xi. 1; Luke xix. 29.
to be rendered, charged them, and wa, not because, but that The parallel place, Mark x. 48, is, “Many charged him that he should hold his peace."
These blind men, having heard of his character and works, believed him to be the Messiah, and therefore address him as "the Son of David," the common title of the Messiah among the Jews; they earnestly implore his mercy; and, though charged by the multitude to hold their peace, as thinking perhaps they were clamouring for alms, they cry out the more. Our Lord at first appears not to regard them, intending to try their faith, and pursues his way; but at length he stood still, and granted their request, thereby encouraging, as in other instances, importunate and persevering prayer. Baxter here remarks, "Bodily calamities are easily felt, and bodily welfare easily desired; but though Christ most values those who prefer spiritual mercies, yet he hath compassion also on men's bodies, as serviceable to their souls, and to his glory."
CHAPTER XXI. Verse 1 And were come to Bethphage.-St. Mark and St.
Luke say," Bethphage and Bethany;" the confines of these districts adjoining each other, Bethphage being between Bethany and Jerusalem, but near the latter, the village being within sight of the walls. Bethany was two miles distant from Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives one. This eminence was so called from the number of olive trees which grew upon it. A few trees of this kind still remain scattered through this district.
Verse 2. The village over against you. -This village is supposed by some to be Nob, distant about two miles.
An ass tied, and a colt with her.—The ancient judges and kings of Israel rode upon asses; horses, as well as chariots of war, being forbidden; so that when Solomon and his successors multiplied horses, they were rebuked for it by the prophets. The leading reasons of this prohibition appear to have been, 1. That they should not be tempted by a cavalry force to invade other nations, either for predatory purposes, or for conquest, but be content with their own land assigned by God; and, 2. That they might trust in God to give them the victory against all invaders by means of their own peasant
and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me.
3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying,
infantry alone; and so the prohibition reminded them always of God's promises, and of their dependence. Solomon and succeeding kings violated this rule, and were often sharply reproved for it by the prophets. They affected horses both for, war, and for state and show, the horse being a nobler animal than the ass or mule; and our Lord's making his royal entry into Jerusalem on an ass is therefore noted by the prophet Zechariah as a mark of his lowliness; for though in ancient times the princes of Israel made use of asses, that custom had long ceased.
The ass and the colt were both brought to our Lord; but he rode only on the latter. The other evangelists add, "On which never man had sat." It had never been used for common purposes, and was appropriated to a sacred one. As the colt only was needed, though the ass followed by natural instinct, St. Mark and St. Luke mention the colt only.
Verse 3. The Lord hath need of them.— Probably nothing more is here intended by "the Lord," than our Master, answering to the Hebrew 17. Christ, who knew that an ass and colt would be found by his disciples in such a place, doubtless knew also that the owner of them was so well acquainted with his character, and was so well affected towards him, that he would grant the loan of his beasts as soon as the disciples should declare for whose use they were intended.
Verse 4. All this was done that it might be fulfilled, &c.-The end of the action was not merely or chiefly to fulfil the prophecy, but the prophecy was uttered with reference to it, and was fulfilled by it, whilst the action itself rested upon other reasons. These appear to have been, 1. To assert his majesty, as in truth the King Messiah, and yet still to show
that his kingdom was not a civil one, by his taking no step to avail himself of the popular excitement to seize the reins of government; for after the events of this triumphal day he retired into the secrecy and solitude of the Mount of Olives. 2. To give an opportunity to the people publicly to declare their belief that he was the Messias, the Son of David, of which they were now generally persuaded, although their views of the true character of the Messiah were confused and erring. 3. To profess more publicly than heretofore, and in the very metropolis of Judea, that he was that "King" of Zion of whom the prophet Zecharias had spoken, as coming "riding upon the foal of an ass ;" and thus to apply to himself a prophecy which both ancient and modern Jewish commentators have referred to their Messiah, as Bochart has shown by several extracts. 4. To allow his followers to acknowledge him, by their acclamations, as the Messiah, in order to restrain the chief priests and Pharisees, by fear of the popular feeling in his favour, from an immediate attempt upon his life, and to gain time for the delivery of those important discourses, consisting of prophecies and rebukes, which for five successive days before his crucifixion he pronounced in the temple, whilst at night he retired to the Mount of Olives.
The prophecy cited is from Zech. ix. 9: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy king cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass," or rather, EVEN upon a colt, the foal of an ass," the last clause being an explanatory parallelism. The first clause mentions the species of beast, the second its age; and this greater particularity in
the prophecy rendered the fulfilment the more striking. The evangelist has quoted rather the substance than the exact words of the prophecy; which, as writing for the Jews, was sufficient to refer them to their own scriptures. Both St. Matthew and the Septuagint seem to have read 11, meek, instead of y, abased or afflicted, which is supported by the Targum, Jarchi, and Kimchi, who all explain it by
1, humble or meek. This prophecy is incapable of being applied to any other than Christ, even in a lower sense. Those who would refer it to Zerubbabel forget that it was written subsequent to his residence in Jerusalem; beside that in no sense could he be called king, who was but the deputy of a foreign power. Nehemiah was also appointed by Artaxerxes to be "governor," the viceroy, but not a king; and certainly, of neither of these, nor of Judas Maccabeus and his successors, could it be said that "he should speak peace to the heathen, and have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth." On these grounds, a few of the Rabbins, who, to avoid the application of this prophecy to Jesus of Nazareth, pretended that it related not to the Messiah, but to one or other of the above persons, are stoutly opposed by others, who generally allow that to Messiah alone it can be consistently applied. Thus, Rabbi Solomon, upon Zech. ix. 9: "This place cannot be interpreted of any other, because it is said of him, ‘And his dominion shall be from sea to sea"" It looks directly to Christ, without the intervention of any other; and it may be asked of the Jews, what king of theirs ever came to Zion in the manner described by the prophet, save Jesus of Nazareth? Sion is put for Jerusalem; and both are personified, according to oriental custom, as a virgin, or "daughter."
This prophecy is quoted both by St. Matthew and St. John in brief, to direct attention to the whole section in which it stands, and which will be found richly charged with the most important views of the character of the Messiah, and the great results of his reign. There he is
represented, amidst all his lowliness, as "a king," "righteous," "having salvation," and so answering to Melchizedec, as "king of righteousness," and "king of peace," Heb. vii. 2. And as the prophecy proceeds, it gives an important and most interesting reason why our Lord rode into his metropolis upon an ass; it was to declare that his kingdom was to be one of PEACE, not of war: And I will cut off the CHARIOT from Ephraim, and the HORSE from Jerusalem; " both which the Jews were forbidden by the law to use, in order to take away the temptation to offensive wars, as above stated. “And the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak PEACE unto the heathen, and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth;" and yet these extensive conquests were to be made without "chariots" of war, without battle "horses," or the "battle bow." So that the spiritual nature of Christ's reign could not be more strongly expressed; and that the prophecy was not so interpreted by the Jews is in proof that their earthlymindedness and ambition wholly blinded them to the meaning of their own scriptures.
Yet it is curious to observe that some of their more modern commentators come so much nearer to the truth. Rabbi Saadias Gaon, on Dan. vii. 13, says, "Is it not written in Zechariah, of Messiah, lowly and riding on an ass? Shall be not rather come with humility, than with equipage and grandeur?" And David Kimchi, "He shall ride upon an ass, not through any want, because the whole world shall be under his dominion, but through his humility, and to acquaint the Jews that there was no farther need of horses and chariots; for the prophet adds, I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem."" Here again, the light of the gospel could not be wholly excluded from these Rab bins, who, in the controversy which had been excited with the Christians, were compelled, by the force of the prophecies brought against them, to admit a humbled as well as an exalted Messiah; only they either feigned two Messiahs, or took
5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of
6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them,
7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon.
8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.
c Mark xi. 2.
reconciled with the other evangelists, who say, "They cast their garments on the colt." It is easy to conceive that they at first put their garments upon each, as not knowing which of the animals he might choose to ride; or whether, if he continued a long time in the procession, both might not be wanted. This reconciles the accounts; for as he used the colt only, St. Mark and St. Luke are less minute than St. Matthew, who was an eye-witness.
b Isaiah lxii. 11; Zech. ix. 9; John xii. 15. refuge in the figment of the Messiah being for a long time hidden before he would manifest himself. These were not, however, the views of the Jewish doctors in the time of our Lord, who looked only for a sudden advent of Messiah in all his glory, to set up his dominion among them. Nor does the prophecy terminate here. "Captives" are to be delivered; another work, would the Jews say, of a conquering Messiah; but they are to be delivered "by the blood of the covenant," not by arms. "As for thee also, by the BLOOD OF THY COVENANT I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water;" and then, as "prisoners of hope," they are exhorted to turn to the "strong hold," the Zion, the city of God, and there to receive "the double," the abundance of all blessings. To show then to the Jews that he was the king Messiah, he made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem; but to show that he was that meek and peaceful king spoken of by Zechariah, he rode upon the foal of an ass, and thus turned their attention to a prophecy which, if they had closely examined it, would have dissipated all their carnal conceptions, as to an earthly kingdom and a warlike Messiah.
Verse 7. And put on them their clothes. -Much unnecessary discussion has taken place among critics, whether our Lord rode by turns both on the ass and the colt, which is most improbable; or how the clothes being laid as a saddle upon both, as stated by St. Matthew, is to be
And they set him thereon.- Και επεκάθισαν eñaνw avlwv: " not," as Euthymius and Theophylact observe, upon the two asses, but upon the garments.'
Verse 8. Spread their garments in the way, &c.—When Jehu was proclaimed king, "they hasted and took every man his garment, and put it under him on the top of the stairs, and blew with trumpets, saying, Jehu is king," 2 Kings ix. 13. The practice of strewing the way with garments, branches, and flowers, to do honour to great men, and especially princes, was common among many ancient nations. Plutarch mentions it as a circumstance of respect shown by the soldiers to Cato the younger, that they laid down their garments for him to tread upon.
Herodian mentions the strewing of garlands and flowers when Commodus was joyfully received by the Romans; and Herodotus relates that the way was strewed with myrtle branches before Xerxes. The garments mentioned in the text were the upper or flowing robes worn by the Jews.
9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.
10 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this?
11 And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
12 ¶ And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
Mark xi. 15; Luke xix. 45; John ii. 13.
Verse 9. Hosanna to the Son of David, &c. It was customary with the Jews, at the feast of tabernacles, to carry about branches of palm and other trees in their hands, and to sing, “Hosanna, save now, I beseech thee," Psalm cxviii. 25. This custom they now adopted in honour of our Lord, as proclaiming him to be the great personage for whom they looked, the Messiah. Hosanna is an abbreviated form of the two words win, sare, and N, now; and, as here used, was equivalent to, God preserve the Son of David." Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, is taken from Psalm cxviii 26. Hosannah in the highest, ev Tois voTois, in the highest places, or heavens, is an address to God in favour of Messiah. Some, however, understand it, in the highest degree. The whole formed a scene of tumultuous joy, expressing the strongly excited feelings of the people, who poured out blessings upon the head of the longexpected Messiah, and offered their most fervent wishes to God for his success, now they imagined he was about to claim the throne of his father David. The multitudes, who on this occasion attended him, had chiefly come up from the coun try, and do not appear to have been composed of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, in any great numbers; for it is added, all the city," the inhabitants of Jerusalem, were moved, saying, Who is this?" as
surprised by this unlooked-for triumphal procession, and not knowing for whose honour it was intended; and accordingly the multitude, those who attended Christ, answered, This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth, of Galilee. Yet many went out from Jerusalem with palm branches in their hands, to join in the acclamations of those who had gone up with him from Jericho and other parts. These were doubtless those who believed on him in consequence of the discourses they had heard from him in Jerusalem on his former visit, and the miracles he had wrought, especially the raising of Lazarus at Bethany, the impression of which upon many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem must have been very great.
Verse 12. Went into the temple.-—Eis TO Lepov, which comprehends the whole building with its courts, as distinguished from the vaos or temple strictly so called, which included the sanctuary and the holy of holies, into which our Lord did not enter. From St. Mark we learn, that when our Lord on this day entered the temple, he merely "looked round upon all things; and even-tide being come, he went out to Bethany with the twelve." It was on the day following that he cast out the traders; which distinction of time St. Matthew, whose object was merely to relate the fact, does not notice; but he says nothing inconsistent with it. It was in the court