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women were thus favoured, as well as men, with divine communications, appears in many instances. Miriam and Aaron said, Hath the Lord indeed only spoken by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us ? Numb. xii. 2. Deborah the wife of Lapidoth is stiled a prophetess, and acted as an inspired judge, Judges iv. 4, 5. Compare judges, chap. ii. 18. and Judith viii. 31. Philip the Evangelist of Cesarea had four daughters, virgins, who prophesied, Acts xxi. 9. Ezekiel xiii. 17. reproves false prophetesses, or diviners, “ who prophesied out of their own hearts."—Willan. See
also Lowth's Isaiah, xl. 9. and his note thereon. 19. Matt. ii. 2. We have seen his star in the East.
cients believed that the appearance of an unusual star portended considerable changes in empires, or the birth of a great prince.
The motion of this luminary was undoubtedly miraculous, varying from the regular revolutions of the heavenly bodies, and directing the wise men by its course to the very
house at Bethlehem, over which it settled.
The Jews, and even Samaritans, had for a long time expected the coming of a prince in Judea, who should rule the world. This was supported by the prophecies of Daniel and others, had been inculcated by some heathen writers, propagated by the Jews during their captivity (Esther iii. 8. viii. 17.) under the Persian monarchy, and corroborated by the destruction of the kingdoms of Syria and Ægypt.
The peculiar appearance of this star, thus coinciding with these their long established opinions and expectations ; whilst they unitedly influenced the wise men in their search, exhibit an interesting evidence to the nativity of the Mes
siah.-Grotius, &c 20. Matt. ii. 6. And thou Bethlehem, &c. (See Micah v. 2-4.)
Matt. ii. 11. They presented unto him gifts. In the East no person of rank is approached without a present. Notice of this custom occurs in different places of the scriptures; (1 Sam. xxv. 18, 27. 1 Kings x. 2, &c.) and in this instance the gift, consisting of he most valuable productions of
their country, constituted a present proper to the occasion. 22. Matt. ii. 23. He shall be called a Nazarene. This does
not refer to any particular passage in the prophets, but to the general idea given of the Messiah in all the prophets ; who speak of him, as one who should be hated, reviled, persecuted, and afflicted; and the Hebrew word, from which Nazareth is derived, signifies this, as well as to be separated or sequestered from other men; the town of Nazareth itself
was both in name and reality a despised place.--Hunt. 26. Matt. iii. 4. Mark i. 6. His raiment of Camel's hair, &c.
There was nothing of excessive rigour, but only of simpli.
city, in John's mode of living. Locusts are very commonly eaten in the East, and allowed to be eaten by the J: wish law, Levit. xi. 22. Honey is rather a delicacy, yet ple tiful in Palestine from wild bees. The clothing of Camel's huir is very common to this day in the same country....
Harmer. Matt. iii. 7. Pharisees and Sad 'ucees. The Pharisees existed as a sect for about 150 years before the coming of our Saviour. Contrary to the Sadducees, they adopted the Scriptures (i. e. the Old Testament generally ; yet in their dependance for explication upon their traditional accounts, they encumbered religion with frivolous ordinances and ceremonies ; and paid more attention to the modes of their own instituting, than to an holy and acceptable conduct be. fore God. Thus originated the self righteousness, with that degree of affected sanctity, and exterial purity, so frequently reproved by our Saviour. They held a belief in the immortality of the soul, the existence of angels, and spirits, Acts xxiji. 8; they likewise admitted a kind of transmigration of the souls of good men, which might pass from one body to another; whilst those of wicked men were con. demned to dwell for ever in prisons of darkness. It was in consequence of these principles that some of the Pharisees said, that Je us Christ was John the Baptist, or Elias, or some of the old prophets, Matt. xvi. 14. that is, that the soul of one of these great men had passed into the body of our Saviour. They believed also the resurrection of the dead, and admitted of all the consequences of it against the Sadrlucees, who rejected it. Matt. xxii. 23.
. . Acts xxiii. 8. They wore large rolls of parchment, upon their foreheads, and wrists, and hems of their garments, called phylacteries, which were thus named because they reminded the Jews to keep the law, or because they were supposed to preserve them from harm. Ex. xiii. 9. Numbers xvi. 38, 39. On these were written certain words of the law; (vid. Exodus xiii. 9, 16. Ljeut. vi. 8. xi. 18.) They wore the fringes and borders, at the corners and hems of their garments, broader than the other Jews, as a badge of distinction and greater observance of the law ; for which ostentation our Saviour
; reprehends them. Matt. xxiii. 5.
The Sa 'ducees, acknowledged as the most ancient sect among the Jews, derived their name from their teacher Sadoc. They rejected all the traditional doctrines, and confined their belief to the five books of Moses; and, as strict adherents to the Mosaic institutions, interpreted these books in the most literal sense. In support of this opinion, it is observed, that our Saviour makes use of no scripture against them, but passages taken out of the Pentateuch. They de
pied the resurrection of the dead, and the existence of angels, and of the soul; yet admitted that of a God, who they say, merely governs the world through his providence, and in support of this government extends not the punishment of sin or reward of virtue beyond the grave. Hence, like some philosophers, they professed to pursue virtue merely for itself, divested of the expectations of reward : and as they acknowledged neither punishments nor recompenses in another world, so they were inexorable in chastising transgressors. They observed the law themselves, and caused it to be observed by others, with the utmost rigour. They were peculiarly abstemious and austere, living apart in small communities, in retired villages or groves. Michaelis intimates that monkery is supposed to have taken its rise from
them. 27. Luke iii. 12. Then came also Publicans. The occupation
of publicans (who farmed and collected the public taxes) was a most invidious employment, noted for extortion and rapacity, and was to the Jews peculiarly odious and detestable, as they had been so long free, and had so indignantly sup
ported the Roman yoke.... Harwood. 28. Luke iii. 16. Baptise you' with fire. Fire is frequently in
Scripture alluded to as the means whereby purification is experienced. See Zech, xiii. 9. Malachi iii. 2. Isaiah vi. 6.
1 Cor. iii. 13 and 15. 33. John i. 23. I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.
This idea is taken from the practice of eastern monarchs, who, whenever they entered upon an expedition, or took a journey, especially through desert and unpractised countries, sent harbingers before them to prepare all things for their
passage. See Luke iii. 5.--Notes of Lowth on Isaiah. 35. John i. 46. Can there any good thing come out of Nazúreth?
See note on page 22. Matt. ii. 23. 36. John ii. 4. Woman, what have I to do with thee ? Cyrus
addresses the queen of the Armenians with a similar appellation, and Sophocles represents the maids speaking in the same terms to their mistresses. This shews that such a style was not inconsistent with the greatest exactness of behaviour. The latter part is expressed after the mode of the Hebrew phraseology, and though it may appear from this passage as an interrogation implying censure, it seems plain, from Mary's order to the servants, that she did not under
stand him as rejecting her implied request.... Turner. 38. John ii. 14. Oxen, and sheep, and doves. These were sold
for sacrifices. The money-changers were people who gave the current money of Judea to foreigners, in exchange for the money of those countries from which they came.- HarPage 40. John iii. 14. And as Moses lifted up, &c. See Numbers
xxi. 8, 9. 46. John iv. 20. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain. The
Samaritans built a temple in opposition to that at Jerusalem on mount Gerizim, ascribing greater antiquity to it than to that of Solomon; alleging, that Joshua erected the altar over which the temple was built on mount Gerizim ; where, as in Deut. xxvii. 4. it is said to have been erected on mount Ebal. Prideaux accuses them from this instance of corrupt
ing the text. 47. John iv. 27. And marvelled that he talked with the woman.
It was unusual with the Jews to converse with women in public, and it might be an increased astonishment to the disciples to perceive that the woman was a Samaritan, whom
the Jews treated with a degree of abhorrence. 51. Luke iv. 16, &c. The Jewish teachers out of reverence
stood up when the scriptures were read, and sat down when they preached or delivered practical instruction to the audience ; thus our Lord sat down and taught the people out of the ship ; so also he sat down before he delivered his
divine sermon on the mount.-Harwood. 53. Matt. iv. 18. Luke v. 1. The Jews gave the name of sea
to any considerable collection of waters, whether sweet or salt. Thus the sea of Galilee was likewise called the lake of Gennesareth, the lake of Galilee, and sea of Tiberias. The lake, according to Josephus, is about four leagues in length, and two in breadth. The river Jordan runs through it, and afterwards discharges itself into the Red sea.--New
come, &c. Capernaum was situated on its north side. 56. Mark i. 23. A man with an unclean spirit. In the New
Testament, where any circumstances are added respecting the dæmoniacs, they are generally such as shew that there was something preternatural in the distemper; for these disordered persons agreed in one story, and paid homage to Christ and his apostles, which is not to be expected from madmen, of whom some would have worshipped, and others would have reviled Christ, according to the various humour
and behaviour observable in such persons.—Jortin. 61. Mat. viii, 3. Touched him, viz. the leper. To shew
whence the power proceeded. Our Lord thus contracted legal uncleanness, as Elisha did when he stretched himself on a dead body. 2 Kings iv. 34. But miraculous works
were exempt from ritual precepts.-Grotius. 63. Mark ii. 4. Luke v. 19. They uncovered the roof, &c.
The most satisfactory interpretation of this passage may be obtained from Shaw, who acquaints us that “ The houses throughout the east are low, having generally a ground floor only, or one upper story, and flat roofed, the roof being covered with a strong coat of plaister of terras. They are
built round a paved court, into which, the entrance from the street is through a gateway or passage room, furnished with benches, and sufficiently large to be used in receiving visits, or transacting business. The stairs which lead to the roof are never placed on the outside of the house in the street, but usually in the gateway or passage-room to the court, sometimes at the entrance within the court. This court is called in Arabic, the middle of the house, and answers to “ the midst” in Luke, It is customary to fix cords from the parapet walls (Deut. xxii. 8.) of the flat roofs across this court, and upon them to expand a veil or covering, as a shel- . ter from the heat. In this area probably our Saviour taught.
. The paralytic was brought upon the roof by making a way through the crowd to the stairs in the gateway, or by the terraces of the adjoining houses, They rolled back the veil, and let the sick man down over the parapet wall of the roof
into the area or court of the house before Jesus.” 64. Matt. ix. 3. The Scribes assumed their name and profession upwards of 800 years before Christ.
Their general employment was in transcribing books, and in reading and expounding the law to the people. Their variety of employments required various qualifications.
Most authors reduce them to two general classes, civil and ecclesiastical. Of the civil scribes there were various de. grees in office, from the common scrivener to the principal secretary of the state. Learned men from any other tribes at large might be admitted into this class. The ecclesiastical scribes were the learned men of the nation, descendants from Levi. They expounded the law and taught it to the people (see Matt. xvii. 10. Mark xii. 35.) and in the New Testament are termed doctors or teachers of the law, and lawyers. They were the preaching clergy among the Jews, and whilst the priests attended the sacrifices, they instructed the people. It appears however that what they taught chiefly related to the traditions of the elders, that it was about external, carnal and
trivial rites; and that they were very litigious. 64. Matt. ix. 6. Take up thy bed and walk.
Their beds consisted of a mattress laid on the floor, and over this a sheet ;
in winter a carpet, &c.-Harmer. 68. John v. 16. The physicians among the Jews were generally
priests, who would not administer any remedies on a sabbath day, except in cases where life was immediately endanger. ed; or to perform the operation of circumcision. See John
vii. 22.-Willan. 70. John v. 35. He was a burning and a shining light. This
character of John the Baptist is perfectly conformable to the mode of expression adopted by the Jews. It was usual with them to call any person celebrated for knowledge, a