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And he went out from thence,.... From Capernaum;
and came into his own country; or "city", as the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions read, the city of Nazareth; so called because it was the place where Christ was conceived, and where he was educated; for which he had a regard, and was willing it should partake of the benefit of his doctrine and miracles:
and his disciples follow him; as they did wherever he went; and which is a true characteristic of a disciple of Jesus.
And when the sabbath day was come,.... For it seems that it was on a weekday, or on one of the common days of the week, that he entered into the city, where he remained without making himself known, till the sabbath day came: and then
he began to teach in the synagogue; that is, at Nazareth; where he expounded the law and the prophets, and preached the Gospel:
and many hearing [him] were astonished. The Vulgate Latin adds, "at his doctrine"; and so it is read in Beza's most ancient copy:
saying, from whence hath this man these things? This skill of explaining Scripture, this doctrine which he teaches, and these miracles he is said to work? This question they the rather put, because they had known him from the beginning: he had lived long among them, and they knew he had not learnt of men, and therefore wondered how he came by such things as these:
and what wisdom is this which is given to him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? which were but the other day employed in servile work, and mechanical operations.
Is not this the carpenter?.... Some copies read, "the carpenter's son", as in Matthew 13:55 and so the Arabic and Ethiopic versions; but all the ancient copies, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Persic versions, read "the carpenter": such may Christ be reasonably thought to be, since his father was; and which business he might follow, partly through the meanness and poverty of his parents; and partly that he might set an example of industry and diligence; and chiefly to bear that part of the first Adam's curse, which was to eat his bread with the sweat of his brow: nor ought this to have been objected to him by the Jews, with whom it was usual for their greatest doctors and Rabbins to be of some trade or secular employment; so R. Jochanan was a shoemaker z R. Isaac was a blacksmith a, R. Juda was a tailor b, Abba Saul and R. Jochanan, were undertakers for funerals c; R. Simeon was a seller of cotton d, R. Nehemiah was a ditcher e, R. Jose bar Chelphetha was a skinner f; and others of them were of other trades, and some exceeding mean: the famous R. Hillell was a hewer of wood, and Carna, a judge in Israel, was a drawer of water g; and so Maimonides says,
"the great wise men of Israel were some of them hewers of wood and drawers of water h.''
"a man is obliged to learn his son an honest and easy trade i:''
there are some businesses they except against k, but this of a carpenter is not one; yea, they say,
"if a man does not teach his son a trade, it is all one as if he taught him thievery l.''
Nor did they think it at all inconsistent with learning; for they have a saying m, that
"beautiful is the learning of the law, along with a trade.''
The Jews ought not to have flouted Christ with this trade of a carpenter, since, according to them, it was necessary that a carpenter, in some cases, should be a regular priest; as in repairing of the temple, especially the holy of holies. So says Maimonides n;
"there was a trap door, or an open place in the floor of the chamber, open to the holy of holies, that workmen might enter thereby into the holy of holies, when there was a necessity of repairing any thing; and since we make mention of workmen, it may be observed here, when there is need of building in the midst of the temple, great care should be taken, שיהיה האומן כהן כשר, "that the workman, or carpenter, be a right priest".''
Yea, they expressly say, that the Messiah is one of the four carpenters in Zechariah 1:20. "And the Lord showed me four carpenters"; they ask o,
""who are the four carpenters?" Says R. Chana bar Bizna, says R. Simeon the saint, Messiah the son of David, Messiah the son of Joseph, and Elijah, and a priest of righteousness.''
This is with some variation elsewhere expressed thus p,
""and the Lord showed me four carpenters"; and these are they, Elijah, and the king Messiah, and Melchizedek and the anointed for war.''
And one of their commentators q on the same text says,
"our Rabbins of blessed memory, explain this verse of the days of the Messiah;''
and then cites the above passage out of the Talmud; and another r refers unto it; Zechariah 1:20- :. The inhabitants of Nazareth go on, in order to reproach Jesus, calling him
the son of Mary; a poor woman of their town, and perhaps now a widow, since no mention is made of Joseph:
the brother of James and Joses, and of Juda and Simon? who were all of them the sons of Alphaeus or Cleophas, who was himself brother, or his wife sister, to Joseph or Mary; so that Christ was the near kinsman of these his sons: and it was usual with the Jews to call such an one a brother, and even indeed a more distant relation. The Vulgate Latin, and Ethiopic versions, instead of Joses, read Joseph:
and are not sisters here with us? And they were offended at him: either at the manner he came by his wisdom, with which he delivered such doctrine he did; and by his power, through which he wrought his mighty works, or miracles; they suspecting he came by them in an unlawful way, through familiarity with the devil, which they sometimes charged him with having: or at the meanness of his trade and employment; they could by no means think of him as the Messiah, who made so contemptible a figure, and was brought up in such a low way of life; and the rather, since one of their kings in common, was not be a mechanic, or at least of any mean occupation: of their canons runs thus s;
"they do not appoint to be a king, or an high priest, one that has been a butcher, or a barber, or a bath keeper, or a tanner; not because they were unfit, but because their business was mean, and the people would always despise them.''
Other trades are elsewhere t mentioned, from among whom a king, or an high priest, were never taken; as founders, combers, borers of handmills, druggists, weavers, notaries, fullers, a letter of blood, or a surgeon, c. particularly such as related to women's business. Now, as it was not usual to choose any one to be a king that wrought at a trade, they could not bear that the king Messiah should be of one and because Jesus was, they were offended at him, and rejected him as the Messiah. Or they were offended at the meanness of his extraction and descent, his father, and mother, and brethren, and sisters, being all persons in low circumstances of life; whereas they expected the Messiah would be born and brought up as a temporal prince, in great grandeur and splendour;
Zechariah 1:20- :,
Zechariah 1:20- :,
Zechariah 1:20- :.
z Pirke Abot, c. 4. sect. 11. T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 104. 2. Cetubot, fol. 34. 1. & 58. 2. Bava Kama, fol. 71. 1. a T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 24. 1. Sanhedrin, fol. 96. 1. Bava Bathra, fol. 170. 1. b T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 164. 2. c T. Bab. Nidda, fol. 24. 2. d T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 28. 2. Megilla, fol. 17. 1. & 18. 2. e Caphtor, fol. 75. 2. f Ganz Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 30. 1. g Maimon. in Pirke Abot, c. 4. sect. 5. h Ib. Hilch. Talmud Tora, c. 1. sect. 9. i Misn. Kiddush. c. 4. sect. 14. T. Bab. Kiddush. fol. 82. 1. & Beracot, fol. 63. 1. k T. Kiddush. ib. l Ib. fol. 30. 2. m Pirke Abot, c. 2. sect. 9. n In Misn. Middot, c. 4. sect. 5. o T. Bab. Succa. p Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 11. 4. q R. David Kimchi in Zech. i. 20. r R. Sol. Jarchi in ib. s Maimon. Hilch. Melachim, c. 1, sect. 6. t T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 82. 1.
But Jesus said unto them,.... The following proverb;
a prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house; the same as in Matthew 13:57;
Matthew 13:57- :. Only the phrase, "among his own kin", is here added: very probably some of those that made these reflections, were some distant relations of Joseph, or Mary; for as Jesus was now in his own country and city, and in his own native place, so among his kindred and relations; who envied his gifts and attainments, and objected to him his rise from that branch of their family, which was the most mean and abject.
And he could there do no mighty work,.... Or miracle; not that Christ had no power in himself to work miracles, though their unbelief and contempt of him were very great; but it was not fit and proper that he should do any there, since such were their prejudices against him: it is an usual way of speaking with the Hebrews, when either it is not "fit" and proper that a thing should be done, or they "will" not do it, to say it cannot be done; see Genesis 19:22; and even it is said of God himself, "So that the Lord could no longer bear, because of your evil doings", Jeremiah 44:22. Not but that he could if he would, but he would not; nor was it fit and proper that he should; the same is the sense here: besides, in Matthew 13:58 it is said, "he did not many mighty works there"; and so the Arabic version here, "and he did not many mighty works there"; he did not think it proper to do any of any great consequence, nor did he. Wherefore the Jew u has no reason to object this to the divinity of Christ, as if there was a want of power in him. Christ is omnipotent, and he has given proof of his almighty power, by the miracles which he has wrought; and though he wrought no mighty work "there", yet he wrought many elsewhere, which sufficiently attest the truth of his proper deity: the emphasis lies upon the word there; though he did not work any considerable miracle in that place, he did in others; which shows, that it was not a defect of power in him, that was the reason of it, but something else; and Matthew gives the reason of it, and says, it was "because of their unbelief": not that their unbelief was an over match for his power; he could have removed that, if he had thought fit, but he did not do it; he, who is the author and finisher of faith, could have took away their unbelief, as the man that brought his dumb child to Christ, concluded he could; and therefore said to him, "Lord, help my unbelief", Mark 9:24. Christ sometimes required of the persons he was about to heal, faith in him, that he could heal them; and so did his apostles, Matthew 9:28. Not that faith contributed any thing to the cure, but it was the way and means in which Christ was pleased to communicate his healing virtue: besides, when persons applied to him for healing, and expressed their faith in him, it gave him an opportunity of working a miracle for that purpose; but now these people did not so much as ask such a favour of him, and so gave him no occasion of doing any mighty work; for which reason it may be said, he could not, no opportunity offering: and moreover, seeing they disbelieved him, and rejected him as the Messiah, they were unworthy of having any wrought among them; and it was but just and right, to do none: nay, it was rather an instance of kindness not to do any among them; since had he, and they had remained impenitent and unbelieving, as he knew they would, these would have been aggravations of their condemnation.
Save that he laid his hands upon a sick folk, and healed them. There were some few sick people that had faith in him, and came to him, beseeching him to heal them; and accordingly he did lay his hands on them, and cured them, which was a way he sometimes used: and these cures he wrought, to show his power, what he could do, and what benefits they might have enjoyed by him, and to leave them inexcusable.
u MS. Lusit. N. 83. apud Kidder, Demonstr. of the Messiah, par. 2. p. 59.
And he marvelled because of their unbelief,.... Which was the reason, as Matthew says, Matthew 13:58, why he did not many mighty works there, because they continued their prejudices against him, and their unbelief in him, notwithstanding what he did do, which was matter of admiration to him; wherefore he took his leave of them, as an ungrateful and unworthy people; and it is never after observed, that he returned there any more. It was a surprise to Christ, as man, that his country men should not believe in him, but reject him as the Messiah, on account of the above things: since they knew his parentage and education, and mean employ among them, even almost to that time; and yet such were his ministry and miracles, and such were his wisdom and power he was possessed of, that they could not account for; they might at least have concluded, seeing it was clear to them he had not them from men, that he had a mission and commission from God, and was qualified by him for such service and work; though they might have carried their reasonings further, and it was marvellous they should not, and have believed him to be more than a man, to have been a divine person, and the true Messiah; the proofs of Christ's deity and Messiahship are so plain and incontestable, that it is amazing that there should be any, who have read them or heard of them, that should be deists, or continue unbelievers. Such unbelief must be owing to a wretched stupidity, and judicial blindness of mind.
And he went round about the villages teaching: he took a circuit throughout all the little towns and villages round about Nazareth, instructing the ignorant country people, in the things concerning the kingdom of God.
And he called unto him the twelve,.... "His twelve disciples", as some copies read; whom he had before called by his grace, and had appointed and ordained them his apostles, but had not yet publicly sent forth; in order to which, he now called them to him, and gave them their commission, qualifications, and instructions:
and began to send them forth by two and two: he first sent forth one couple, and then another; the reason of his sending them by pairs, was partly for the sake of company, and that they might be useful and assisting to one another; and partly to show their agreement in doctrine; and that they might be proper and sufficient witnesses of it, whereby it might be established; and the rather, being thus sent by pairs into different parts, their message would be the sooner dispatched, than if they had all went together:
and gave them power over unclean spirits; that is, to cast them out; as it is expressed in Mt. 10:1, :-; and which is here added in the Syriac and Persic versions. Many things are omitted by this evangelist, which are mentioned by Matthew: he does not give us the names of the twelve apostles; the reason of that indeed may be, because they are related by him in Mark 3:16, and he did not choose to repeat them here: nor does he take any notice of the places where the apostles were to go, and where not; nor of the persons to whom, or not; as not into the way of the Gentiles, nor into any of the cities of the Samaritans, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel: nor does he say any thing of the subject matter of their ministry or what they had in charge to publish; as that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, or the Gospel dispensation: nor does he observe the several things they were to do in confirmation of their doctrine and mission; as healing the sick, cleansing lepers, raising the dead, and casting out devils: he only relates the directions given them with respect to their journey, in the following verses; the reason of all which seems to be, because he refers not to the same time as Matthew does, to their appointment and ordination; but to the time they were sent out, and proceeded on their journey.
And commanded them that they should take nothing for [their] journey,.... To accommodate them in it, except those things after directed to:
save a staff only; a single one, for staves in the plural number are forbidden, :-;
no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse. Travellers used to put their bread, or any other sort of food into their scrips, and their money in their girdles; but the disciples were not allowed to carry either, because provision was to be made for them wherever they came at free cost, it being what their labour was worthy of;
But be shod with sandals,.... Which were different from shoes, and more fit to travel with, and therefore allowed when shoes were forbidden; :-, though some think there was no difference between shoes and sandals, and that Christ, in Matthew 10:10, does not forbid the taking of shoes, but two pair of shoes; as not two coats, nor two staves, but one of a sort only. And
not put on two coats; that is, at a time; an inner and an outward one, or one at one time, and another at another: they were forbid change of raiment; the reasons for it Matthew 10:10- :. From all which it appears, that as a minister of the Gospel ought not to be a worldly minded man, that minds earth and earthly things, and seeks to amass wealth and riches to himself, and preaches for filthy lucre's sake; nor to be a sensual and voluptuous man, serving his own belly, and not the Lord Jesus Christ, feeding himself, and not the flock; so neither should he be filled with worldly cares, overwhelmed in worldly business, and entangled with the affairs of this life: he ought to have his mind free from all solicitude and anxious concern, about a subsistence for himself and his, that so he may with greater and more close application attend to his ministry, to preparations for it, and the performance of it; and give up himself entirely to the word and prayer, and not have his mind distracted with other things: upon which account it is highly necessary, that the people to whom he ministers should take care, that a sufficient provision be made for him; that he may live without any anxious care and thought about such things, and his mind be more intent about the work he is called unto: and which is what our Lord chiefly designs by all this, who has ordained that they that preach the Gospel, should be comfortably provided for, and live of it; and which, as it makes for the peace of their minds that minister, it issues in the advantage of those who are ministered to.
And he said unto them,.... He continued giving orders and directions to them, saying,
in what place soever you enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place: that is, in whatsoever city or town they should come to, the first house they went into, they should continue in, during their stay in that city or town, and not shift from house to house; :-.
And, whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you,.... Who would neither take them into their houses, nor hear what they had to say to them:
when ye depart thence; from the house or the city, or town, in which it is,
shake off the dust under your feet, for a testimony against them; that they had been with them, and attempted to preach the Gospel to them, but they despised and rejected it; wherefore they departed from them as an unworthy people, against whom the dust of their feet would rise as a testimony, in the day of judgment;
Verily, I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. This clause is omitted in some copies, and so it is in the Vulgate Latin version, and may perhaps be transcribed from Mt. 10:15, :-; though it is in most copies, and is read in the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions. It is certain that there will be a day of judgment; it is fixed, God has appointed it, though it is not known by men or angels: this will be universal; all must appear in it before God, the judge of all, Jews and Gentiles; such who have lived in the earlier ages of time, as well as those that will live nearer that day; such who have only had the dim light of nature to guide them, and also who have been favoured with the Gospel revelation: the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha, though they have had the judgments of God upon them in this world, they will not escape the righteous judgment of God hereafter; things are not over with them, there is still a reckoning to be made, an account to pass with them; their full punishment is not yet executed, even though they have been suffering the vengeance of eternal fire; their bodies must be raised, and they must receive for the things which they have done in them, and which they have so dreadfully and unnaturally abused; and yet, as vile sinners as they have been, and as sore a punishment as they are worthy of, their punishment will be milder and more tolerable, than that of the inhabitants of such places, where the Gospel has been preached, and they have despised and rejected it. May the inhabitants of our land, especially of some parts of it, as of London, and others, consider this!
And they went out,.... From that part of the country where they then were, some one way, and some another, two by two, with these instructions, and according to these directions; in order to preach the word, and work miracles, in the several parts where they were sent:
and preached that men should repent; both of the evil practices which they were guilty of, and of the bad principles they had imbibed, and change both their sentiments and their conduct: this, they exhorted them to, as John the Baptist, and Christ, had done before, who set out in their ministry the same way; and these, as they did also, preached the Gospel, and the things appertaining to the kingdom of God, and Gospel dispensation, and called upon men to believe them. For faith and repentance went together in Christ's ministry, Mark 1:15, and so they did in the ministry of John, the Baptist, Acts 19:4, and in the ministry of the apostles, Acts 20:21. When they preached that men should repent, it does not from hence follow, that they have a power to repent of themselves: for such is the condition of men by nature, that they neither see their need of repentance, and their hearts are so hard and obdurate, that they cannot work themselves up to it, or work it in them, and exercise it; this requires the powerful and efficacious grace of God to produce it, and it is a gift of his grace; and if he gives the means, and not the grace of repentance itself, it will never appear: but the apostles preaching that men should repent, shows that they were in such a state as to need it; and how necessary it was for them to have it, seeing without it they must all perish: and such a ministration is proper, to awaken the minds of men to a sense of the need of it, and to direct them to Christ the Saviour, who is exalted to give it, as well as the remission of sins.
And they cast out many devils,.... Which they had power given them to do; and this they did, in confirmation of their mission and doctrine, and for the benefit of miserable creatures, who were possessed by them; and to show their power over the devils, and as a prelude of what they were to be the instruments of, in casting Satan out of the souls of men, both Jews and Gentiles; and especially, in the ejection of him out of the Gentile world:
and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them. This they were doubtless directed to by Christ, as an outward sign of healing; but not as a medicine; otherwise there would have been no miracle in the cure: though it is certain, the Jews used anointing with oil medicinally in many cases, as the means of healing; but they did not always succeed, as the apostles did: on the day of atonement w,
"it was not lawful to "anoint" part of the body, as the whole body; but if a man was sick, or had ulcers on his head, he might anoint according to his usual way, and no notice was taken of it.''
"a man may not anoint with wine, or vinegar, but he may anoint with oil: he that has a pain in his head, or has ulcers upon him, סך שמן, "he may anoint with oil", but he may not anoint with wine and vinegar: wine of the second tithe, which they mix, is forbidden to anoint with; oil of the second tithe, which they mix, is lawful to anoint with.''
And it is elsewhere said y, that
"R. Meir allowed of the mixing of oil and wine, לסוך לחולה, "to anoint the sick" on a sabbath; but when he was sick, and we sought to do so to him, he would not suffer us.''
But that oil was used by the apostles as a medicine for the healing of diseases, cannot well be thought; since oil, though it may be useful in some cases, it is not an universal medicine, which is proper to all; nor were the apostles instructed by Christ in the art of physic, but were possessed by him with extraordinary gifts, to cure the disorders of the body, for the confirmation of the Gospel, which they preached; and it is easy to observe, that healing the sick by anointing with oil, is joined with the extraordinary power of casting out devils; and it was the same power by which they performed the one, as the other; see Luke 9:1. Hence it appears, that this passage gives no countenance to the use of such a practice in our days; since these were apostles only, who used it, who were extraordinary persons, and whose office in the church was an extraordinary one, and is now ceased; and healing in this way, was by an extraordinary power bestowed upon them, which has ceased; and therefore the rite, or ceremony of anointing with oil, for such a purpose, should be of course discontinued; however, it cannot be supported by this instance, whatever countenance it may seem to have from James 5:14, for it must be owned, there is some difference in the passages: the persons that anointed here were apostles, there the elders of the church; the persons anointed there, were good people, the members of the church, but here any sort of persons, and chiefly, if not altogether unbelievers; the healing of them is ascribed to the prayer of faith in James, but here to the extraordinary power of the apostles, by anointing with oil; though it may be, the healing was equally miraculous in the one, as the other: but be this as it will, nothing can be concluded from hence, in favour of the sacrament of extreme unction, used by the Papists; who administer that to persons, just at the point of death, and that for the remission of their sins, and the saving of their souls; whereas oil was used by the apostles to sick persons, and for the recovery of their bodily health. But since these were extraordinary cures which they performed this way, why did they make use of oil at all, seeing the virtue of healing did not come from that, and they could as well have healed sicknesses without it, as with it? To which it may be replied, that they did not always make use of it; sometimes only words were expressed, sometimes only hands were laid on the sick, and sometimes the sick persons were healed by handkerchiefs and aprons taken from them; which show, that the "healing" virtue was not in the means, nor was it tied to any: moreover, this was only used as an outward sign of healing, and might have some spiritual significancy in it; it might show, that they were sent forth by Christ the anointed one, who is anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows; it might be symbolical of the grace of the Spirit, which is often compared to oil, which they themselves were possessed of in a large measure, and which is communicated through the ministration of the Gospel; and it might be significative of the Gospel itself, which brings light and joy, health and comfort along with it, to the souls of men, which they were the happy messengers of.
w T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 77. 2. Maimon. Hikh. Shebitat Ashur, c. 3. sect. 9. x T. Hieros. Maaser Sheni, fol. 53. 2. y Ib. Betacot, fol. 3. 1. & Sabbat, fol. 14. 3.
And king Herod heard [of him],.... "Of Jesus", as the Syriac version supplies it; or "the miracles of Jesus", as the Persic version. This Herod here called a king, as he might be by his courtiers, and the common people, is the same with the Tetrarch in
Matthew 14:1, for he was only Tetrarch of Galilee. This was Herod Antipater, the son of Herod the Great; the fame of Jesus reached his ears, he being governor of those parts, which were mostly visited by Christ:
for his name was spread abroad; by means of his ministry and miracles, and through those of his disciples, whom he had sent two by two into all parts of the country:
and he said that John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him; for Herod had some time before put John to death; and hearing of these wonderful things that were done by Christ, his conscience smote him for the murder of John; and such a thought struck into his mind, that he was risen from the dead, and did these miracles: and the more he thought of it, the more strongly he was persuaded of it; and told it to his courtiers with a great deal of assurance, that it was certainly he; Matthew 14:1- :.
Others said that it is Elias,.... This was the opinion, either of many of the Jews, who expected that Elias the Tishbite would come in person, before the coming of the Messiah; and thought by the appearance and wonderful works of Jesus, that he was now come: or of Herod's courtiers, who said this to divert him from his notion of John the Baptist, which they might perceive was very distressing to him; though the former seems rather to be the sense:
others said, that it is a prophet: or "the prophet", that was to come, whom Moses had spoken of, and the Jews expected; this was the opinion of others of them: or
as one of the prophets. The word η, "or", is left out in some copies; and so it is in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions; and then the sense is, this new prophet lately raised up, is as one of the old prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others; or one of them had risen up.
But when Herod heard thereof,.... Either of Christ, or rather of the different opinions about him,
he said, it is John, whom I have beheaded: the thought stuck close to him, and continued with him; he could not get rid of it, nor persuade himself to the contrary; nor could any of his servants get him off of it, but he affirmed it with the greatest assurance imaginable. These different sentiments of the people concerning Jesus, greatly perplexed the mind of Herod, as appears from Luke 9:7, for it was first given out by others, and not by Herod, that John the Baptist was
risen from the dead; which he hearing of, gave him great uneasiness: he thoroughly considered the matter; he called to mind how he had used him, imprisoned him, and put him to death. At first he could not receive it, that since he was beheaded by him, he should be restored to life; but hearing of the miracles that were done by him, his conscience accused him, his fancy worked, and at length he firmly believed it, that he must be risen: and this sentiment, which he himself gave into at last, distressed him above all the rest, because of his concern in his death, fearing he was come to life to take vengeance on him: it might not sit very easy upon his mind, to bear that Elias had appeared the forerunner of the Messiah, the king of the Jews; who himself might be quickly expected, and who, he might fear, would seize upon, and take away that part of the kingdom which he was possessed of: and even to be told, that one of the prophets was risen from the dead, might be shocking to him; imagining that something of considerable moment was to be done, some revolution to be made; that the people would be stirred up by him, to attempt a change of government: but the first of these made the greatest impression on him, and what he could not get off, but fully gave into, as a thing unquestionable. He owns he beheaded John; he was conscious to himself of the sin, and confesses it; he does not lay it to the charge of Herodias and her daughter, though they requested it; the guilt of it lay upon his conscience, and he dreaded this appearance of John, as he fancied. And if he was a Sadducee before, as he has been thought to be, he now changed his mind, and believed a resurrection from the dead. So men may be convinced of sin, and entertain other and better notions of religion, and yet not be converted persons.
For Herod himself had sent forth,.... Some of his guard, a detachment of soldiers,
and laid hold upon John; who seized upon him, and took him up:
and bound him in prison; in the castle of Machaerus:
for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife, for he had married her; whilst his brother was living, and who had had children by her; :-.
For John had said unto Herod,.... He had been personally with him, and had plainly and freely told him of his sin, and faithfully reproved him for it; alleging what he had done was contrary to the law of God:
it is not lawful, for thee to have thy brother's wife:
Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him,.... Was angry with him, conceived wrath, and laid up hatred against him, and was an adversary to him; which is the sense of the Oriental versions. She bore him an inward grudge, and lay in wait to take the first opportunity of dispatching him:
and would have killed him, but she could not; being hindered by Herod, who as yet would not suffer it; partly through fear of the people, and partly through the respect he had for John.
For Herod feared John,.... Had him in great respect; he had a great veneration for him; which was the reason that Herodias could not as yet accomplish her design against him, and vent her rage upon him. Though some understand this not of his reverence, but of his dread of him: he knew as follows, that he was a man exemplary for justice and holiness, which gained him great esteem among the people; wherefore, though Herod, as well as Herodias, could very willingly have put him to death, yet, as Matthew says, "he feared the multitude", Matthew 14:5: who, in general, had an high opinion of John as a prophet, and a holy good man: he feared therefore to take away his life, lest they should rise and rebel against him; nor would he suffer Herodias to do it, for the same reason.
Knowing that he was a just man, and an holy; by what he had heard of him, by his own conversation with him, and the observation he had made upon his tenets and conduct. He was a "just", or "righteous" man, in a civil, legal, and evangelical sense: he did that which was just, between man and man; he did to others, as he would be done by himself; he was outwardly righteous before men, he lived soberly and righteously; nor was he chargeable with any notorious breach of the law; his conversation was strictly moral: and he was just or righteous before God, through the righteousness of Christ imputed to him; in whom he believed, and to whom he looked as the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world: but it was in the former sense, that he was known by Herod to be a just man; who only could pass such a judgment upon him, by his outward conduct and manner of life: and so as he had true principles of internal holiness wrought in him by the Spirit of God, with which he was filled from his mother's womb; he was externally holy in his walk and conversation, which was visible to others, and was taken notice of by this wicked prince: the former of these characters may regard his justice, uprightness, and integrity among men; the latter, his piety and devotion unto God: and the whole agrees with the account the Jewish historian z gives of him, that he was
"an excellent good man, who stirred up the Jews to the study of virtue, and especially piety and justice.''
These were epithets, which used to be given to men, famous for religion and piety; so we read of Simeon, צדיק, "the just" a, and of R. Simeon, חסידא, "the Holy One" b:
and observed him: or "kept him" in custody, in prison, as the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic render it; and did not put him to death, but preserved him from the designs of Herodias against him. Or he observed and took notice of what he had heard him say in his ministry; he laid it up, and kept it in his mind, and memory; the remembrance of which kept him in awe, and he durst not, and could not for the present, give heed to the solicitations of Herodias, or suffer her to take away his life: and he also observed his exemplary life and conversation, which was so just and upright, that his conscience would not admit him to give him up to her will and pleasure.
And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly: when he heard John explain the law and the prophets, open the writings of the Old Testament, preach the doctrine of repentance towards God, and faith in the Messiah to come; set forth the evil, danger, and punishment of sin, and exhorted to a holy life and conversation; taught the doctrine of baptism for the remission of sin by Christ, and spoke of the glories and happiness of a future state, and of the nature of the Gospel dispensation, just now ushering in; Herod, like one of the stony ground hearers, received the word with joy, was pleased with it, and in some things outwardly reformed: but the word did not take root in his heart, and therefore what external effects it produced, came to nothing; nor was he able to withstand the lusts and corruptions of his heart. The sense seems to be, that while he was hearing John, his natural affections were moved, and he had a kind of pleasure in the things he delivered; just as the Jews for a season rejoiced in his light, John 5:35, his natural conscience dictating to him, that the things which were spoken, were right, and just, and good; and they were delivered in such a solemn and striking manner, as commanded attention and awe; and were things of such a nature and importance, that from a principle of self-love, he could not but wish himself an interest in: and so far they had such an influence upon him, as to engage him to do many things in an external way, which had the appearance of good, at least of moral good: so that it is manifest from hence, that persons may have a natural affection for the ministry of the word, and seem delighted with it for a while; yea, may do a great many good actions, which seem to be such; and yet the word come in word only, and not in power: there may be all this, and yet true grace may not be wrought, and the word not be the engrafted word, which is able to save. In one of Beza's copies, and so in one of Stephens's, and in the Coptic version, instead of "he did many things", it is read, "he hesitated much": he was perplexed and distressed, he did not know what to do with himself; his conscience was uneasy, some things were pleasing to him, and others greatly afflicted him; his mind was distracted, he could not tell what to think, say, or do: however, it had such an effect upon him, that he had some respect for John; a veneration of him; at least, some fear and dread of him, which kept him from taking away his life, or suffering any others to do it.
z Joseph. Antiqu. l. 18. c. 7. a Pirke Abot, c. 1. sect. 9. b T. Bab. Succah, fol. 52. 2.
And when a convenient day was come,.... For Herodias; who had long sought and watched for an opportunity of avenging herself on John, and such a time Herod's birthday proved; though some think, that this phrase is the same with יום טוב, "a good day"; often used by the Jews for a festival, any one of their feast days; there is a tract in their Misna which bears this name; and that such a day was this. But not one of the festivals of the Jews was this, as either their passover, or pentecost, or feast of tabernacles, which Herod had no regard to; but his own birthday, which he kept as a festival, in eating, and drinking, and dancing; and so was a very opportune and seasonable time for Herodias to take the advantage of Herod when in a good humour, amidst his company, and in his cups, to solicit that, which she had often done without success: and so it was now,
that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee: this birthday, was either the day of his natural, or civil birth; the day when he was born into the world, or of his accession to the throne;
:-, when he made a grand entertainment in the evening for his nobles, and the officers of the army, the captains of thousands, and the principal men, those of the first rank and quality in Galilee, of which he was Tetrarch.
And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in,.... To the hall, where Herod and his guests were, after supper was over; or rather, whilst at it: she is called the daughter of Herodias, and not of Herod; she having had her not by him, but by his brother Philip: her name is thought to be Salome; :-,
and danced and pleased Herod, and them that were with him; at supper, his lords, captains, and principal men in his dominions;
The king said unto the damsel, ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee; which shows how exceedingly pleased he was; and the more, in that she gave such general pleasure to his whole company.
And he sware unto her,.... He added an oath to what he had before said, the more to confirm it, and to encourage her in her request, and which he repeated in stronger language:
whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom; :-.
And she went forth and said unto her mother,.... The king having made such a promise to her, and annexed his oath to it, she thought proper before she asked any thing of him, to withdraw from the hall and company, and consider with herself, and consult with her mother, who was not at the entertainment; it being not usual in those eastern countries, for women to sit at table, at any grand festival: to whom she reported the offer the king had made, and desired she would be pleased to direct her, what request to make saying,
what shall I ask? To which her mother made answer, without taking any further time to think of it, being prepared for it, and determined in her mind, whenever she had an opportunity of asking a favour of the king, what it should be:
and she said, the head of John the Baptist. So sweet is revenge, that to have her will on that great and good man, was more to her, than to have half the king's dominions.
And she came in straightway with haste unto the, king,.... Having had her mother's advice, and being hastened by her, she immediately returned to the hall, where the king and his guests were, with much Concern, eagerness, and diligence:
and asked, saying, I will that thou give me by and by in a charger, the head of John the Baptist: her petition proceeding upon a promise with an oath, is presented by way of demand; insisting upon it, that in a very little time, "this hour", as the Syriac version renders it, within an hour's time, or less; and "here", as Matthew has it,
Matthew 14:8, in that very place, and whilst the company was there; that orders should be given to cut off the head of John the Baptist, and that that should be brought, in a large dish, unto her; and this was what she had to ask, and insisted upon the immediate and punctual performance of it; Matthew 14:8- :.
And the king was exceeding sorry,....
yet for his oath's sake, [and] for their sakes which sat with him; as Matthew adds, "at meat", Matthew 14:9; for it seems as if supper was not over, when all this was transacting.
He would not reject her; deny her her request, or send her away without granting it which could not be without grieving her, and treating her with contempt, and defrauding her of the promise; all which ideas are expressed by some versions.
And immediately the king sent an executioner,....
and commanded his head to be brought; ordered him to cut off his head in prison, and bring it away forthwith in a charger to him:
and he went and beheaded him in the prison; according to his orders.
And brought his head in a charger,.... In a large dish, to Herod, who
gave it to the damsel; the daughter of Herodias, as she had requested:
and the damsel gave it to her mother; who had instigated her to it;
And when his disciples heard of it,.... That is, when the disciples of John heard of this barbarous execution of their master,
they came; to the prison in the castle of Machaerus,
and took up his corpse; the trunk of his body; for his head was carried away, to glut the revenge of Herodias;
and laid it in a tomb; :-.
And the apostles gathered themselves together,.... The twelve apostles of Christ, whom he had sent out, two by two, into different parts, having gone through them, and finished the embassy, they were sent about, met together in one place, and came in a body together,
unto Jesus; their Lord and master, who had sent them, and to whom they were accountable, as all the ministers of the Gospel are:
and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught; they gave him an exact and full account of what miracles were wrought by them, what diseases they had cured, and what a number of devils they had cast out; and also what doctrines they had preached, and what success in all they had had: so every Gospel minister must give an account of his ministrations to Christ.
And he said unto them,.... After he had heard their account, was satisfied with it, and approved of what they had said and done:
come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: where they might be free from noise and hurry, and take some rest and refreshment, after their wearisome journey, hard labours, and great fatigue in preaching and working miracles; which shows the great compassion, tenderness, and care of Christ, for his disciples:
for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat; the people were continually going to and fro; as soon as one company was gone, who came with their sick and diseased to be healed, or upon one account or another, another came: so that there was no opportunity of private meditation and prayer, nor of spiritual converse together: nor even so much as to eat a meal's meat for the refreshment of nature.
And they departed into a desert place,.... Which belonged to the city of Bethsaida, Luke 9:10,
by ship, privately; over some part of the sea of Tiberias, this place lying on a more remote side of it.
And the people saw them departing,.... The multitude that came to and fro, saw Christ and his disciples taking ship, and launching off; for though they were as private as could be, and intended to have gone in a very private manner, yet the people observed them:
and many knew him: Jesus; some copies read, "them"; and so do the Syriac and Ethiopic versions; they knew both Christ and his disciples, though they were in the ship, and at some distance:
and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and out went them, and came together unto him; they went on foot, as they might from Capernaum, Nazareth, and the parts adjacent, over the bridge at Chammath of Gadara, to this place, that belonged to Bethsaida; whither they perceived they steered, and made such haste, that they got thither before them; and the people that flocked from several cities met together, and came to Jesus, to hear his doctrine, and see his miracles,
And Jesus, when he came out,.... Of the ship, and was got ashore,
saw much people; who came partly from the places where he came from, and partly from the cities and towns adjacent:
and was moved with compassion towards them; :-, the reason follows,
because they were as sheep, not having a shepherd. Christ observed, that they were hungering and thirsting after the word of righteousness, and had no faithful, spiritual pastors to feed them with knowledge and understanding; for the Scribes and Pharisees were blind guides, and shepherds that could not understand; so that the people were ready to perish for lack of knowledge, not having any spiritual comfort and refreshment under their ministry: hence they followed Christ, wherever he went, with great zeal and fervency, earnestly desiring the bread of life: this moved his compassion, so that though his view in coming to this place was retirement, and that his disciples might have some rest and refreshment, and might solace themselves in private conversation with him, and each other; yet postponing private advantage to public good, instead of reproving them for giving him this fresh trouble, kindly and tenderly received them:
and he began to teach them many things; relating to the kingdom of God, the Gospel dispensation, the doctrines and ordinances of it; things relating to their spiritual and eternal welfare, the comfort, and salvation of their immortal souls: and he dwelt long upon these subjects, because he found they were very ignorant, and needed instruction, and were very desirous of it; as well as healed all such of bodily diseases that stood in need thereof; of which Matthew only takes notice, Matthew 14:14; as Mark only of doctrine; but Luke mentions both doctrine and miracles of healing, Luke 9:11.
And when the day was now far spent,.... Or "much time was gone", in teaching the people, and healing the sick:
his disciples came unto him; nearer to him, as he was preaching, or healing the sick;
and said, this is a desert place, and now the time is far passed;
Send them away,.... Leave off preaching, dismiss the assembly; see Matthew 14:15;
that they may go into the country round about; or "into the fields"; that is, to the odd houses; which were here and there in the fields;
Matthew 14:15- :;
and into the villages; the little country towns that were near at hand:
and buy themselves bread, for they have nothing to eat; they brought no provisions with them, and there were none to be had in that desert place; and it was high time they had some refreshment; for the usual time of dining was past, the first evening was come, the day was on the decline, and was far spent.
He answered and said unto them, give ye them to eat,.... This he said to try their faith, and make way for the following miracle:
and they say unto him, shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? This might be just the sum of money they now had in the bag, as Grotius, and others conjecture; and the sense be, shall we lay out the two hundred pence, which is all we have in hand, to buy bread for this multitude? is it proper we should? is it thy will that so it should be? and if we should do so, as Philip suggests, John 6:7, it would not be enough to give every one a little: wherefore they say this, as amazed that he should propose such a thing unto them: or the reason of mentioning such a sum, as Dr. Lightfoot observes, might be, because that this was a noted and celebrated sum among the Jews, and frequently mentioned by them. A virgin's dowry, upon marriage, was "two hundred pence" c; and so was a widow's; and one that was divorced d, if she insisted on it, and could make good her claim: this was the fine of an adult man, that lay with one under age; and of a male under age, that lay with a female adult e; and of one man that gave another a slap of the face f. This sum answered to six pounds and five shillings of our money.
c Misn. Cetubot, c. 1. sect. 2. & 4. 7. & 5. 1. d Ib. c. 2. sect. 1. & 11. 4. e Ib. c. 1. sect. 3. f Misn. Bava Kama, c. 6. sect. 8.
And he saith unto them, how many loaves have ye?.... This he said, not as ignorant, but as willing to try their faith yet more, and that the after miracle might be more manifest and illustrious:
go and see; meaning, either that they should examine their own store, if they had any; or rather go and see what was to be had upon the spot, among the company, for money;
and when they knew, they say five loaves and two fishes: when they had made inquiry what provisions there were, and the most that could be got at any rate, they tell him, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, particularly, that there was a boy among the multitude that had five barley loaves, and two small fishes; and, at the same time, suggests, that they were nothing for so great a company.
And he commanded them to make all sit down,.... Christ ordered his disciples, without any more ado, to cause the whole multitude, men, women, and children, to sit, or lie down, as they used to do at table when about to take a meal: and as they had no table before them, nor beds, or couches to sit, or lie down upon, he directed them to place them
by companies upon the green grass; that there might be some order among them, as at a meal; and that their number might be the more easily known; and that all of them might more plainly see the miracle that was to be wrought: and the provision be more orderly distributed to them.
And they sat down in ranks,.... Or "beds": in such form as little beds are placed in a garden, or as rows of vines in a vineyard, in which form the scholars of the wise men sat in their schools: it is said g,
"R. Eliezer ben Azariah expounded before the wise men in the vineyard (i.e. the university) of Jabneh: though was there a vineyard there? but these are the disciples of the wise men, who are made, or placed, שורות שורות, "rows, rows", or "in ranks", as a vineyard.''
By hundreds, and by fifties; that is, an hundred in "each" bed, or row, and fifty in "each" bed, or row, as the word ανα, signifies: each distinct bed, or row, had either a hundred, or fifty in it.
g T. Hieros. Beraeot, fol. 7. 4. Vid. Gloss. in T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 42. 2.
And when he had taken the five loaves and two fishes,.... Out of the hands of those that brought them into his own:
he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves:
and gave them to his disciples to set before them; the multitude, in order to eat of them:
and the two fishes divided he among them all; that every one might have a part. The Syriac and Persic versions read, they divided; that is, the apostles.
And they did all eat, and were filled.
And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments,.... Of the broken pieces of bread, after all had eaten, and were satisfied:
and of the fishes; what remained of them:, for though there was but one loaf for a thousand persons and more, and two small fishes to be divided among five thousand and more: yet, through the wonderful power of Christ increasing both, as they were distributing and eating, there was enough of both for them all, and such a quantity of each left as filled twelve baskets.
And they that did eat of the loaves,.... And also of the fishes; for they all ate of both;
were about five thousand men; the word ωσει, "about", is omitted in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, Persic and Ethiopic versions, reading five thousand men certain. The Evangelist Matthew adds, "beside children and women", Matthew 14:21.
And straightway he constrained his disciples,.... The reasons of this is :-,
to get into the ship; in which they came to this place, and which was waiting for them:
and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida; or rather "to go to the other side over against Bethsaida"; for they were now in a desert belonging to that city, wherefore they were ordered to go, and did go to the other side of the sea of Tiberias, or Galilee, even to Capernaum, as appears from John 6:17;
while he sent away the people; John 6:17- :.
And when he had sent them away,.... Either his disciples, or rather the multitude:
he departed into a mountain to pray: after his disciples were gone, and he had dismissed the people, he went from the desert where he had been, up into a mountain; being a retired place, to spend some time in private prayer to God; :-.
And when even was come,.... The second evening, and it was properly night:
the ship was in the midst of the sea; of Galilee, about twenty five or thirty furlongs from the shore; see John 6:19;
and he alone on the land; upon the mountain. This is observed, partly to show what distress the disciples were in, in the midst of the sea, having a hard gale of wind, and their master not with them; and partly to show that there was no way, humanly speaking, of Christ's getting to the ship, in order to go over; and is an illustration of the following miracle, of walking so many furlongs, as he must, upon the water, in a stormy, blustering night, to get to it.
And he saw them toiling in rowing,.... He saw them either with his bodily eyes from the mountain on which he was; or he perceived in his Spirit, he knew, by virtue of his omniscience as God, what distress his disciples were in; being tossed about with the waves of the sea, and were labouring with all their might and main against the wind: and were vexed and tortured, as the word signifies; they were in the utmost pain and uneasiness of mind, as well as fatigue of body, assisting the men in rowing; for the ship they were in was no other than a vessel managed by oars; and hard work it was to keep it from being overset:
for the wind was contrary unto them; it blew from the other side they were making to, full in their face, hard against them; so that it was with great toil and difficulty, that they got any thing forward:
and about the fourth watch of the night; or three o'clock in the morning: so that it is very likely, that as the evening when they took to the vessel was sun setting, or about six o'clock, they had been nine hours at sea, and had got but twenty five or thirty furlongs from shore; :-;
he cometh unto them walking upon the sea: being in this distress, Christ came down from the mountain to the sea side; and then, by his divine power, as the mighty God, that treadeth on the waves of the sea, he walked upon the surface of the waters of it; "as on dry land", as the Persic version adds:
and would have passed by them; that is, he made as though he would; see Luke 24:28. By the course he steered, by the swiftness of his motion, and his seeming negligence of them, it looked as though he intended to have gone by them, and said nothing to them, though this was far from his real design.
But when they saw him walking on the sea,....
they supposed it had been a spirit; a phantom, a spectre, an apparition, a nocturnal demon:
and cried out; as men affrighted at the sight, and fearing they should be hurt by it, or that it portended some evil to them;
For they all saw him, and were troubled,.... Had it been only seen by one, it might have been thought a fancy, and the effect of mere imagination; but as every one saw it, it was out of all doubt that so it was, and which gave them the greater concern:
and immediately he talked with them; as soon as they saw him, "that very moment", as the Syriac renders it; that so by hearing his voice their fears might be allayed:
and saith unto them, be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid;
And he went up unto them in the ship,.... That is, after Peter had desired he might be bid to come to him upon the water, and having got leave, made an essay; but the wind being boisterous, and beginning to sink, he cried out for help; when Christ stretched out his hand, and saved him; and then he, together with Peter, went up into the ship to the rest of the disciples, as is related by Matthew, Matthew 14:28, though omitted by this evangelist:
and the wind ceased; from blowing; it was laid at once, as soon as ever Christ entered the ship:
and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered. The Ethiopic version adds, "at him"; they were astonished, when they found it was Christ, and not a spirit; and they were more amazed at his walking upon the sea; and they marvelled still more abundantly, when they observed that the wind ceased upon his coming into the ship; their amazement was beyond expression, and therefore many words are made use of to signify it by.
For they considered not the miracle of the loaves,.... Which they had seen but the day before; they did not attend to it, nor learn from it, as they might, the wonderful glory of Christ, and the greatness of his power; which was as much an act of omnipotence, as either his walking upon the water, or causing the wind to cease, or more so.
For their heart was hardened; or "blinded"; not by sin, or against Christ, much less in a judicial way: but there was a great deal of dulness and stupidity, and want of attention in them. The glory of Christ, which he manifested, and showed forth in his miracles, was not so clearly and fully discerned, attended to, and acknowledged by them, at it might reasonably be thought it would; for notwithstanding these miracles, which they daily saw, they stood in need of divine illuminations, that the darkness of their minds being removed, they might behold the glory of Christ, as the glory of the only begotten of the Father.
And when they had passed over,.... The lake of Gennesaret, or sea of "Galilee",
they came into the land of Gennesaret; :-; to Capernaum, as appears from John 6:17 for Capernaum was in the land of Gennesaret; to which agrees what Josephus says, that the land of Gennesaret was watered with a very excellent spring, which the inhabitants of that place called Capernaum h:
and drew to the shore: this is omitted in the Syriac and Persic versions: and the Arabic reads, "and they cast anchors".
h De Bello Jud. l. 3. c. 35.
And when they were come out of the ship,.... Christ and his disciples, and were ashore,
straightway they knew him; that is, the men of that place, as in Mt. 14:35, :-; and so the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions read here, "the inhabitants of that country", the country of Gennesaret; they knew him, having seen and heard him before.
And ran through that whole region round about,.... That is, the inhabitants of that part of the country where Christ landed, ran many of them themselves, and others sent messengers into all parts of it, on every side:
and began to carry about in beds those that were sick; or lame, or so disordered that they could not walk, or bear any other way of being carried: these they brought to him,
where they heard he was: in whatsoever part of the country they could learn he was in; for he went about from place to place doing good.
And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country,.... Whether in smaller towns, or larger cities, or the fields, where were houses, here and there one:
they laid the sick in the streets; or "markets", in any public places:
and besought him that they but might touch the border of his garment; if they might not be admitted to touch his person, or he did not choose to lay his hands on them:
and as many as touched him; or "it", the border of his garment, as they desired:
were made whole; of whatsoever sickness, or disease, they were afflicted with; :-.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Mark 6". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent