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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Matthew 14

 

 

Introduction

CHAPTER 14

Matthew 14:3. καὶ ἔθετο ἐν φυλ.] Lachm., after B א* Curss.: καὶ ἐν τῇ φυλ. ἀπέθετο. So also Tisch. 8, though without τῇ, after א*. The simple ἐν τῇ φυλ. is found in D, Or. (once), but it is adopted from Mark 6:17. Lachm.’s reading is all the more to be regarded as the original, that ἀπέθετο also occurs once in Origen, and that, in restoring the verb that had been omitted, in accordance with Mark, the simple ἔθετο, without the preposition (comp. Acts 5:25; Acts 12:4), would most readily have suggested itself.

φιλίπποῦ] after γυναῖκα is omitted in D, Vulg. Codd. of the It. Aug., is deleted by Tisch. 7, and only bracketed by Tisch. 8. Supplement from Mark, the interpolation: ὅτι αὐτὴν ἐγάμησεν, being derived from the same source.

Matthew 14:6. γενεσίων δὲ ἀγομ.] Lachm. and Tisch.: γενεσίοις δὲ γενομένοις, after B D L א, Curss. Correctly. The genitive was by way of explaining the dative, hence the reading γενεσίων δὲ γενομένων, and then came ἀγομ. (Received text) as a gloss on γενομ., which gloss is partially found in the case of the dative reading as well ( γενεσίοις δὲ ἀγομένοις, 1, 22, 59).

Matthew 14:9. ἐλυπήθη] Lachm. and Tisch.: λυπηθείς, omitting the δέ after διά, according to B D, Curss. and Codd. of It. The reading of the Received text is a logical analysis of the participle.

Matthew 14:12. σῶμα] B C D L א, Curss. Copt. Syrcur have πτῶμα. Recommended by Griesb., adopted by Lachm. and Tisch. 8. Taken from Mark 6:29.

Matthew 14:13. With Lachm. and Tisch. 8 we ought to read ἀκούσας δέ, after B D L Z א, Curss. Verss. Or.; καί is a mechanical repetition. With Tisch. read πεζοί for πεζῇ, according to adequate testimony (including א). The reading of the Received text is taken from Mark.

Matthew 14:14. On the strength of important testimony, ἰησοῦς after ἐξελθών (Elz. Scholz) is deleted. Beginning of a church lesson. Similarly, in Matthew 14:22, after ἠνάγκ. Comp. Matthew 14:25, where, in like manner, ἰησοῦς was inserted after αὐτούς.

ἐπʼ αὐτοῖς] Elz.: ἐπʼ αὐτούς, against decisive testimony.

Matthew 14:15. Tisch. has οὖν after ἀπολ., and that only according to C Z א, 1, 238, Copt. Syr. p. (on the margin) Or. (twice); but correctly, seeing that οὖν might readily drop out in consequence of the ON immediately preceding it, as well as from its not being found in Mark 6:36.

Matthew 14:19. τοὺς χόρτους] The readings τοῦ χόρτου (B C* א, Curss. Or., so Lachm. and Tisch. 8) and τὸν χόρτον (D, Curss.) are to be explained from the circumstance that the plural of χόρτος occurs nowhere else in the New Testament.

λαβών] Elz.: καὶ λαβών, against the best and most numerous authorities.

Matthew 14:21. The arrangement: παιδ. κ. γυν. (Lachm.) is, as also in Matthew 15:38, without adequate testimony.

Matthew 14:22. The deleting of εὐθέως (Tisch. 8), which, no doubt, may have been adopted from Mark, is, however, not warranted by testimony so inadequate as that of C* א Syrcur Chrys.

Matthew 14:25. ἀπῆλθε] Lachm. and Tisch. 8 : ἦλθε, after B C** א, Curss. Verss. Or. Eus. Chrys. The preposition overlooked in consequence of the attraction not having been noticed (comp. the simple ἔρχεται in Mark).

ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης] Lachm. and Tisch.: ἐπὶ τὴν θάλασσαν, after B P δ θ א, Curss. Or. The reading of the Received text is taken from the parallel passages.

Matthew 14:26. ἐπὶ τὴν θάλασσαν] Lachm. and Tisch. 8 : ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης, after B C D Te א, Curss. Eus. Chrys. Theophyl. Correctly; the accusative crept in mechanically from Matthew 14:25, through not noticing the difference of meaning in the two cases.

Matthew 14:28. The arrangement ἐλθεῖν πρός σε (Lachm. Tisch.) is supported by decisive testimony.

Matthew 14:29. ἐλθεῖν] Tisch.: καὶ ἦλθεν, after B C* (?) Syrcur Arm. Chrys. By way of being more definite, since, according to Matthew 14:31, Peter was beside Jesus.


Verse 1

Matthew 14:1 f. ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ] See Matthew 13:54-58. The more original narrative in Mark 6:14 ff. (comp. Luke 9:7-9) introduces this circumstance as well as the account of the Baptist’s death, between the sending out and the return of the Twelve, which, considering the excitement that had already been created by the doings of Jesus, would appear to be rather early. Yet Luke represents the imprisonment of John as having taken place much earlier still (Luke 3:19 ff.).

ἡρώδης] Antipas. Comp. note on Matthew 2:22. Not a word about Jesus, the Jewish Rabbi and worker of miracles, had till now reached the ear of this licentious prince in his palace at Tiberias; because, without doubt, like those who lived about his court, he gave himself no particular concern about matters of this sort: he, upon this occasion, heard of Him for the first time in consequence of the excitement becoming every day greater and greater.

τ. ἀκοὴν ἰησοῦ, as in Matthew 4:24.


Verse 2

Matthew 14:2. τοῖς παισὶν αὐτοῦ] to his slaves (comp. note on Matthew 8:6), who, according to Oriental ideas, are no other than his courtiers. Comp. 1 Samuel 16:17; 1 Maccabees 1:6; 1 Maccabees 1:8; 1 Maccabees 3 Esdr. Matthew 2:17; Diod. Sic. xvii. 36.

αὐτός] indicating by its emphasis the terror-stricken conscience: He, the veritable John.

ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν] from the dead, among whom he was dwelling in Hades. The supposition of Wetstein and Bengel, that Herod was a Sadducee (erroneously founded upon Mark 8:15, comp. Matthew 16:6), is no less inconsistent with what he here says about one having risen from the dead, than the other supposition that he believed this to be a case of metempsychosis (Grotius, Gratz, von Cölln); for he assumes that not merely the soul, but that the entire personality of John, has returned. Generally speaking, we do not meet with the doctrine of transmigration among the Jews till some time after; see Delitzsch, Psychol. p. 463 f. [E. T. 545 f.]. Herod’s language is merely the result of terror, which has been awakened by an evil conscience, and which, with the inconsistency characteristic of mental bewilderment, believes something to have happened—though contrary to all expectation—which, in ordinary circumstances, was looked upon as theoretically impossible; while, again, the opinions that were circulating respecting Jesus (Luke 9:7 f.) would suggest, in the case before us, the particular idea to which Herod here gives expression. The Pharisaic belief in the resurrection, which was not unknown to Herod, became, in spite of himself, the psychological starting-point.

διὰ τοῦτο] on this account, because he is no ordinary man, but one risen from the dead.

αἱ δυνάμεις] the powers manifesting themselves in his miracles.


Verse 3

Matthew 14:3. Herodias was the daughter of Aristobulus, son of Herod the Great, and of Berenice. She married Herod Antipas, who had become so enamoured of her that he put away his wife, the daughter of the Arabian king Aretas. Joseph. Antt. xviii. 5. 1, 4. The brother of this Herod, Herod Philip (Mark 6:17), called by Josephus simply Herod, a son of Herod the Great and Mariamne, the high priest’s daughter, and not to be confounded(451) with Philip the tetrarch, who was Cleopatra’s son, had been disinherited by his father, and was living privately at Jerusalem in circumstances of considerable wealth. Joseph. Antt. xvii. 1. 2, 8. 2. The aorists are not to be taken in the sense of the pluperfect, but as purely historical. They relate, however (Chrysostom: διηγούμενος οὕτως φήσιν), a statement that has been already made in a previous passage (Matthew 4:12), namely, that Herod, in order to give a more minute account of the last (and now completed, see on Matthew 14:13) destiny of the Baptist, seized John, bound him, and so on. Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 173 [E. T. 200].

ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ] Comp. Matthew 11:2; for the pregnant use of the ἐν, see Kühner, II. 1, p. 385 f.; Buttmann, p. 283 [E. T. 329]. What Josephus, Antt. xviii. 5. 2, says about Machaerus being the place of imprisonment, is not to be regarded as incorrect (Glöckler and Hug, Gutachten, p. 32 f.); but see Wieseler, p. 244 f., to be compared, however, with Gerlach as above, p. 49 f. On the date of John’s arrest (782 U.C., or 29 Aer. Dion.), see Anger, rat. temp. p. 195; Wieseler, p. 238 ff.; and in Herzog’s Encycl. XXI. p. 548 f., also in his Beitr. p. 3 ff. Otherwise, Keim, I. p. 621 ff. (Aer. Dion. 34–35), with whom Hausrath substantially agrees. For ἀπέθετο (see critical notes), comp. 2 Chronicles 18:26; Polyb. xxiv. 8. 8 ( εἰς φυλακήν).


Verse 4

Matthew 14:4 f. οὐκ ἔξεστι] Because Philip was still living, and had a daughter. Leviticus 18:16; Leviticus 20:21; Joseph. Antt. xviii. 5. 1, 2; Lightfoot on this passage. For ἔχειν γυναῖκα, as expressing matrimonial possession, see note on 1 Corinthians 5:1. It is probable that Herod only made John’s bold rebuke a pretext for putting him in prison; the real cause, according to Josephus, 18:5. 2 f., was fear lest he should be the means of creating an insurrection.

εἶχον] not: aestumabant (a common but ungrammatical rendering), but: they held him as a prophet, i.e. they stood to him as to a prophet. This is in conformity with classical usage, according to which ἔχω τινα, with a predicate, expresses the relation in which a person stands to some other person; for example, φίλους αὐτοὺς ἔχεις (Xen. Symp. iv. 49): thou standest related to them as to friends; Eur. Herc. fur. 1405: παῖδʼ ὅπως ἔχω σʼ ἐμόν, I stand to thee as to a child; Herodian, i. 13. 16; and see likewise the note on Luke 14:18; Philemon 1:17. The appended ὡς means: not otherwise than as. Krüger, § 57. 3. 1 and 2; Kühner, II. 2, p. 995. Similarly also in Matthew 21:26. Otherwise in Mark 11:32.


Verse 6

Matthew 14:6 ff. γενέσια, Birthday celebration. Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 103 f.; Suicer, Thes. I. p. 746; Loesner, Obss. p. 40. Others (Heinsius, Grotius, Is. Vossius, Paulus) interpret: a festival by way of commemorating Herod’s accession, because the latter is often compared to a birth, Psalms 2:7; 1 Samuel 13:1. An unwarranted departure from ordinary usage. Wieseler likewise takes the word as referring to the accession, but improperly appeals, partly to the fact of its being used to denote a celebration in memory of the dead (Herod. iv. 26), comp. Lex. rhet. p. 231, a figurative sense which only tells in favour of our interpretation, and partly to the Rabbinical גנוסיא של מלכם (Avoda Sara i. 3), where, however, the royal birthdays are likewise meant. No instance is to be found in the Greek classics (for the Latin natalis, see Plin. Paneg. 82).

For the dative of time, see Winer, p. 205 [E. T. 276].

θυγάτηρ τῆς ἡρωδ.] and of Philip. She was called Salome, and married her uncle, Philip the tetrarch. See Josephus, Antt. xviii. 5. 4. Her dancing was, doubtless, of a mimetic and wanton character. Hor. Od. iii. 6. 21. Wetstein on this passage. Moreover, this circumstance of the girl dancing is in keeping with the view that fixes the date of this scene as early as the year 29; while it is entirely at variance with Keim’s supposition, that it occurred in the year 34–35, by which time Salome had been long married, and, for aught we know, may already have been left a widow; for which reason Keim considers himself all the more justified in ascribing a legendary character to the narrative, though without interfering in any way with the historical nucleus of the story, which he believes has not been affected by the plastic influence of legend; while Volkmar again declares the whole to be a fabrication.

ἐν τῷ μέσῳ] In the centre of the banqueting hall. The subject of ἤρεσε is still θυγάτ.

ὅθεν] as in Acts 26:19, frequently in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and common in classical writers.

προβιβασθεῖσα] urged, induced, prevailed upon, not: instructed (neither is it to be so rendered in Exodus 35:34). See Plat. Prot. p. 328 B Xen. Mem. i. 5. 1; Polyb. iii. 59. 2, xxiv. 3. 7; Bremi, ad Aeschin. Ctesiph. 28; Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. i. 2. 17.

ὧδε] therefore without any delay.

ἐπὶ πίνακι] upon a plate.


Verse 9

Matthew 14:9. λυπηθείς] he was annoyed, διότι ἔμελλε μέγαν ἀνελεῖν ἄνδρα, καὶ κινῆσαι πρὸς μῖσος ἑαυτοῦ τὸν ὄχλον, Euth. Zigabenus, comp. Matthew 14:5; Mark 7:20. Altogether, he was deeply pained at finding matters take this sudden and tragic turn, which is not inconsistent with Matthew 14:5, but may be accounted for psychologically as arising out of that disturbed state of the conscience which this unlooked-for catastrophe has occasioned; consequently, we must not, with Schneckenburger, suppose (comp. Weiss and Holtzmann) that Matthew has failed to notice Mark’s statement that Herodias was desirous to see John put to death. This circumstance is involved in what Matthew says in Matthew 14:8. Bengel appropriately observes: “Latuerat in rege judicii aliquid.”

διὰ τοὺς ὅρκ.] The μεθʼ ὅρκ. in Matthew 14:6 represents a series of oaths that had been given, one at one time and another at another.

συνανακειμένους] to whom he did not wish to appear as perjured. A case of unlawful adhering to an oath, similar in its character to what was done by Jephthah.


Verse 10-11

Matthew 14:10-11 f. Considering that it would require rather more than two days to return from Machaerus (see note on Matthew 14:3), the fortress on the southern frontier between Peraea and the dominion of Aretas, to Tiberias (where Antipas was residing), Fritzsche thinks that it is out of the question to suppose that the head can have been actually delivered at the feast; comp. Lightfoot. But this circumstance, helping as it does to lend a tragic air to the whole proceeding, is just one which the reader naturally takes for granted, and one which is found to be necessary in order to give unity and completeness to the scene (Strauss, I. p. 397); so that, with Maldonatus, Grotius, Baumgarten-Crusius, Gerlach, Keim, we must suppose the festival to have taken place in Machaerus, and not in Tiberias. Not even Wieseler’s view, that the feast was held in Julias in Peraea, and that the head was brought thither by messengers travelling post-haste, can be said to be in sufficient accord with the tragic scenery of the simple narrative. The account in Mark (Matthew 6:25, ἐξαυτῆς; Matthew 14:27, ἐνεχθῆναι) is unfavourable to such a view, as is also the ὧδε in Matthew 14:8 and Matthew 14:11, which plainly implies that the thing was done there and then.

ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ] therefore in private by the hand of an assassin. “Trucidatur vir sanctus ne judiciorum quidem ordine servato; nam sontes populo omni inspectanti plecti lex Mosis jubet,” Grotius.

καὶ ἐδόθη τ. κ. καὶ ἤνεγκε τ. μ. .] the horrible scene in a few simple words.

Matthew 14:12. The disciples, to be near their master, had remained somewhere in the neighbourhood of the prison, probably in the town of Machaerus itself. For πτῶμα, a corpse, see Phrynichus, ed. Lobeck, p. 375.


Verse 13

Matthew 14:13. Since we find it stated immediately before that κ. ἐλθ. ἀπήγγειλαν τῷ ἰησοῦ, it is clear that the καὶ ἀκούσας, which is not further defined, can only be referred to the ἀπήγγειλαν of the preceding verse (Jerome, Augustine, Euth. Zigabenus, Erasmus, Maldonatus, de Wette, Ewald, Keim); while the reference to Matthew 14:2, so frequent since Chrysostom’s time, is arbitrary, inasmuch as Matthew does not so much as hint at it. There is no anachronism here, occasioned by Mark 6:31 (Weiss in the Stud. u. Krit. 1861, p. 40 f.). Matthew does not show such want of skill in the use he makes of Mark; neither does he go to work in so reckless and confused a way as Wilke and Holtzmann would have us believe. But the narrative runs somewhat as follows: (1) Matthew mentions that, at that time, Herod heard of Jesus, who was then in Nazareth, and said: This is John, and so on; (2) thereupon he gives an account of the death of John, to which reference has thus been made; (3) and lastly, he informs us in Matthew 14:12 f. how Jesus came to hear of this death, and how it led to His retiring into some solitude or other, to shelter Himself for a little from the persecution of Herod, which was probably being directed against Himself as well. From this it would appear that it must have been whilst Herod, who had just beheaded John, was indulging such dangerous thoughts regarding Jesus (Matthew 14:2), that the latter, through hearing from John’s own disciples of the fate of their master, so felt the necessity of being upon His guard against Herod’s hostility, that He took the precaution to retire lest His own death should be precipitated. Comp. Matthew 4:12, Matthew 12:15. It is clear from the shape in which the narrative is thus presented, that the beheading of John is to be understood as having taken place only a short time before the words of Matthew 14:2 had been uttered, so that the terror that was awakened in Herod’s conscience when he heard of Jesus came on the back of his recent crime; but there was no reason why Matthew 14:1-2 should have been regarded as a literary expedient devised merely for the purpose of introducing John once more into the narrative.

ἐκεῖθεν] from the place, where He had been staying when the intelligence reached Him; whether this was still Nazareth (Matthew 13:54) or some other locality in Galilee, is determined by ἐν πλοίῳ, according to which it must have been a place upon the sea-coast.

ἔρημον τόπον] according to Luke 9:10, near to Bethsaida in Gaulonitis, lying within the dominion of Philip the tetrarch.

κατʼ ἰδίαν] “nemine assumto nisi discipulis,” Bengel.

πεζοί (see critical notes): by land, walking round by the head of the lake.

πόλεων] of Galilee.


Verse 14

Matthew 14:14. ἐξελθών] that is to say, from the solitude into which he had retired. In opposition to Matthew 14:13, Maldonatus and Kuinoel, following Mark 6:34, interpret: out of the boat.

ἐσπλαγχ. ἐπʼ αὐτ.] αὐτοῖς refers not merely to the sick (Fritzsche), but, like αὐτῶν below, to the ὄχλος, which, however, became the object of compassion just because of the sick that the people had brought with them. Not so in Mark 6:34.


Verse 15

Matthew 14:15 ff. Comp. Mark 6:35 ff.; Luke 9:12 ff.; John 6:5 ff. ὀψίας] means, in this instance, the first evening, which lasted from the ninth till the twelfth hour of the day. It is the second evening, extending from the twelfth hour onwards, that is meant in Matthew 14:24. Gesenius, Thes. II. p. 1064 f.

ὥρα] the time, i.e. the time of the day; comp. Mark 11:11. Some, like Grotius, understand: meal time; others (Fritzsche, Käuffer): tempus opportunum, sc. disserendi et sanandi. But the “disserendi” is a pure importation; and how far the suitable time for healing might be said to have gone by, it is impossible to conceive. Our explanation, on the other hand, is demanded by the context ( ὀψίας δὲ γενομ.), besides being grammatically certain. See Raphael, Polyb.; Ast, Lex. Plat. III. p. 580.

ἑαυτοῖς] for we, as far as we are concerned, have nothing to give them.

According to John 6:5 ff., it was Jesus who first began to inquire about bread, and that not in consequence of the evening coming on. An unimportant deviation, which shows that even the memory of an apostle may sometimes be at fault. Of greater consequence is the fact that, according to John, Jesus puts the question whenever he sees the multitude,—a circumstance made to tell against John by Strauss especially; comp. also Baur and Hilgenfeld. And there can be no doubt that this little detail is an unconscious reflection of the Johannine conception of Christ, according to which it was but natural to suppose that Jesus had Himself intended to work a miracle, and that from the very first, so that in John the recollection of the order of proceeding, which we find recorded by the Synoptists with historical accuracy, had been thrust into the background by the preponderating influence of the ideal conception. Comp. note on John 6:5 f. John, on the other hand, mentions the more precise and original detail, that it was a παιδάριον who happened to have the bread and fish.

δότε αὐτοῖς ὑμεῖς φαγ.] said in view of what the disciples were immediately to be called upon to do; therefore, from the standpoint of Jesus, an anticipation of that request, which the expectation of something in the way of miracle was just about to evoke on the part of the disciples. Bengel well observes: ὑμεῖς, vos, significanter. “Rudimenta fidei miraculorum apud discipulos.”


Verse 19

Matthew 14:19. ἐπὶ τ. χόρτ.] upon the grass, Matthew 13:2.

Participle following upon participle without conjunctions, and in logical subordination. See Stallbaum, ad Plat. Apol. p. 27 A Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. i. 1. 18; Dissen, ad Dem. de cor. p. 249.

κλάσας] The loaves were in the form of cakes, a thumb’s breadth in thickness, and about the size of a plate. Winer, Realwörterbuch, under the word Backen. Robinson, Pal. III. pp. 40, 293.

In saying grace Jesus did what was done by the father of a family. In John it is expressed by εὐχαρισατήσας, because the meaning of the grace was the giving of thanks (comp. notes on Matthew 26:26 f.; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 1 Corinthians 14:16); Luke again says: εὐλόγησεν αὐτούς, where we have the idea of a consecrating prayer, as in the case of the Lord’s supper.


Verse 20

Matthew 14:20 f. τῶν κλασμ. is independent of τὸ περισς. (the fragments that were over), with which latter also δώδεκα κοφ. πλήρεις, twelve baskets full, is in apposition. In travelling, the Jews carried small baskets with them to hold their provisions and other necessaries. For κόφινος, see Jacobs, ad Anthol. IX. p. 455. It is more general (in Xen. Anab. iii. 8. 6, it is used in the sense of a dung-basket) than σπυρίς (Matthew 15:37; Acts 9:25).

ἦραν] they took up, from the ground on which the people had been eating. The subject of the verb is the apostles (John 6:12); each of the Twelve fills his travelling-basket. But the κλάσματα are the pieces (comp. Matthew 14:19, κλάσας) into which the loaves had been divided, and which had so multiplied in the course of distribution that a great quantity still remained over.

γυναικ. κ. παιδ.] occurring frequently in classical writers, and sometimes with the order of the words inverted; Maetzner, ad Lycurg. p. 75. But observe here the diminutive παιδίων, little children, whom their mothers either carried in their arms or led by the hand.

REMARK.

To explain away the miracle, as Paulus has done (who thinks that the hospitable example of Jesus may have induced the people to place at His disposal the provisions they had brought along with them; comp. Gfrörer, Heiligth. u. Wahrh. p. 171 ff.; Ammon, L. J. II. p. 217 f.), is inconsistent with the accounts of all the evangelists, and especially with that of the eye-witness John. Notwithstanding this, Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 234, thought that, even on exegetical principles, the plural σημεῖα in John 6:26 (but see note on this passage) would justify him in declining to rank the incident among the miracles; whilst Schenkel thinks he sees his way to an explanation by supposing what is scarcely possible, viz. that Jesus fed the multitude with a rich supply of the bread of life from heaven, which caused them to forget their ordinary food, though at the same time He devoutly consecrated for their use the provisions which they had brought with them, or had managed to procure for the present emergency. Weizsäcker likewise leaves the fact, which is supposed to underlie the present narrative, too much in a state of perplexing uncertainty; this element of fact, he thinks, must somehow correspond with the symbolism of the miracle, which is intended to teach us that there is no sphere in which the believer may not become a partaker of the fulness of Jesus’ blessing. Keim, adhering above all to the ideal explanation that the bread which Jesus provided was spiritual bread, and referring by way of parallel to the story of the manna and the case of Elisha, follows the Paulus-Schenkel line of interpretation, in conceding a residuum of historical fact, though he seems to doubt whether that residuum will be considered worth retaining. But to eliminate the element of fact altogether, is no less inconsistent with historical testimony. This, however, has been done by Strauss, who thereupon proceeds to account for the narrative, partly by tracing it to some original parable (Weisse, I. p. 510 ff.), partly by treating it as a myth, and deriving it from the types of the Old Testament (Exodus 16; 1 Kings 17:8-16; 2 Kings 4:42 ff.) and the popular Messianic ideas (John 6:30 f.), partly by supposing it to belong to the lofty sphere of ideal legend (Ewald, see note on John 6:12), and partly by understanding it in a symbolic sense (Hase, de Wette). Such a mode of dealing with this incident is the result of denying the possibility of bringing a creative agency to bear upon dead, rather upon artificially prepared materials,—a possibility which is not rendered more conceivable by having recourse to the somewhat poor expedient of supposing that what was done may have been brought about by an accelerated natural process (Olshausen). But that such agency was actually brought to bear, is a historical fact so well established by the unanimous testimony of the evangelists, that we must be contented to accept it with all its incomprehensibility, and, in this case not less than in that of the changing of water into wine at Cana, abandon the hope of being able to get a clearer conception of the process of the miracle by the help of natural analogies. The symbolical application, that is, to the higher spiritual food, was made by our Lord Himself in John 6:26 ff.; but, in doing so, He takes the miraculous feeding with material bread as His historical basis and warrant. Moreover, the view of Origen, that it was τῷ λόγῳ καὶ τῇ εὐλογίᾳ that Jesus caused the bread to multiply, is greatly favoured by the fact that the circumstance of the thanksgiving is mentioned by the whole four evangelists, and above all by Luke’s expression: εὐλόγησεν αὐτούς.


Verse 22

Matthew 14:22 f. The walking on the sea comes next in order, in Mark 6:45 and John 6:15 as well.(452) Luke omits it altogether.

εὐθέως ἠνάγκασε] not as though He were already looking forward to some unusual event as about to happen (Keim); He rather wanted to get away from the excited multitudes (who, according to John, had gone the length of wishing to make Him a king), and retire into a solitary place for prayer, Matthew 14:23. The disciples would much rather have remained beside Him, therefore He compelled them (Euth. Zigabenus); εὐθ. ἠνάγκ. implies the haste and urgency with which He desires to get them away and to withdraw into retirement,—not an outward compulsion, but the urgere which takes the form of a command (Kypke, I. p. 286 f.; Hermann, ad Eur. Bacch. 462). Comp. Luke 14:23.

ἕως οὗὄχλους] literally: until He should have sent the multitude away; and then He will come after them. The disciples could only suppose that He meant to follow them upon foot. Comp. note on John 6:24-25.

τὸ ὄρος] the mountain that was close by. See on Matthew 5:1. κατʼ ἰδίαν belongs to ἀνέβη; Matthew 14:13; Matthew 17:1.

ὀψίας] second evening, after sunset; Matthew 14:15.


Verse 24

Matthew 14:24 f. ΄έσον] Adjective; with more precision in John 6:19. At first the voyage had proceeded pleasantly ( ἤδη), but they began to encounter a storm in the middle of the lake.

βασανιζόμ.] not dependent on ἦν. being plagued by the waves; vivid picture.

τετάρτῃ φυλακῇ] πρωΐ, i.e. in the early morning, from three till somewhere about six o’clock. Since the time of Pompey, the Jews conformed to the Roman practice of dividing the night into four watches of three hours each; formerly, it consisted of three watches of four hours each. See Wetstein and Krebs, p. 39 f.; Winer, Realwörterbuch, under the word Nachtwachen; and Wieseler, Synopse, p. 406 f.

ἀπῆλθε πρὸς αὐτ.] He came away down from the mountain to go to them. Attraction. Hermann, ad Viger. p. 891 ff.; Bernhardy, p. 463.

According to the reading: περιπ. ἐπὶ τὴν θάλασσαν (see critical notes): walking over the sea; according to the reading of the Received text: π. . τῆς θαλάσσης: walking on the sea. According to both readings alike, we are to understand a miraculous walking on the water, but not a walking along the shore ( ἐπὶ τ. θαλ., on the ground that the shore may be said to be over the sea; comp. Xen. Anab. iv. 3. 28; Polyb. i. 44. 4; 2 Kings 2:7; Daniel 8:2; John 21:1), as Paulus, Stolz, Gfrörer, Schenkel are disposed to think; this view is absolutely demanded by the character of the incident which owes its significance to this miraculous part of it, by the solemn stress that is laid on the περιπατ. ἐπὶ τ. θάλ., by the analogy of the περιεπάτησεν ἐπὶ τὰ ὕδατα in Matthew 14:29, by the ridiculous nature of the fear of what was supposed to be an apparition if Jesus had only walked along the shore, by the ἀπῆλθε πρὸς αὐτούς in Matthew 14:25, as well as by the fact that, if Jesus had been on the shore (Strauss, II. p. 170), then the disciples, who were in the middle of the lake, forty stadia in breadth, with the roar of the waves sounding in their ears, could not possibly hear what He was saying when He addressed them. It remains, then, that we have here a case of miraculous walking on the sea, which least of all admits of being construed into an act of swimming (Bolten); but neither are we to try to explain it by supposing (Olshausen) that, by the exercise of His own will, our Lord’s bodily nature became exempted, for the time being, from the conditions of its earthly existence; nor should we attempt to render it intelligible by the help of foreign analogies (the cork-footed men in Lucian. 14 :hist. ii. 4; the seeress of Prevost; the water-treaders, and such like), but, as being akin to the miracle of the stilling of the tempest (Matthew 4:25 ff.), it should rather be examined in the light of that power over the elements which dwells in Christ as the incarnate Son of God. At the same time, it must be confessed that it is utterly impossible to determine by what means this miraculous walking was accomplished. From a teleological point of view, it will be deemed sufficient that it serves to form a practical demonstration of the Messiahship of Jesus, a consideration (comp. Matthew 14:33) which was no less present to the minds of the evangelists in constructing their narratives. The credibility of those evangelists—among whom is John, whose personal experience lends additional weight to his testimony—must prove fatal, not only to any attempt to resolve our narrative into a mythical sea story (Strauss, who invokes the help of 2 Kings 2:14; 2 Kings 6:6, Job 9:8, and the legends of other nations), or even into a docetic fiction (Hilgenfeld), but also to the half and half view, that some event or other, which occurred on the night in question, developed (Hase) into one of those genuine legendary stories which serve to embody some particular idea (in this instance, the walking on the water, Job 9:8). In the same way Baumgarten-Crusius, on John, I. p. 234, regards a case of walking on the sea, recorded by John, as the original tradition; while Weisse, p. 521 (comp. Schneckenburger, erst. kan. Ev. p. 68), avails himself of the allegorical view; Bruno Bauer, again, here as elsewhere, pushes negative principles to their extreme limit; and Volkmar sees reflected in the narrative Paul’s mission to the Gentiles. Weizsäcker and Keim likewise assume, though with more caution and judgment, the allegorical standpoint, the former being disposed to regard the interposing of Jesus with His help, and the power of faith in conquering danger, as constituting the essence of the whole; Keim again being inclined to see in the story an allusion to the distress and desolation of the church waiting for her Lord, and not knowing but that He may not come to her help till the very last watch in the night (Matthew 24:43; Mark 13:35),—an idea which, as he thinks, is indebted in no small degree to Job 9:8, where God is represented as treading on the waves of the sea. But even this mode of interpretation, though in accordance, it may be, with the letter, cannot but do violence to the whole narrative as a statement of fact. Comp., besides, the note on John 6:16-21.


Verse 26

Matthew 14:26 ff. ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης (see critical notes): upon the sea. There, just at that spot, they saw Him walking as He was coming toward them over the sea (Matthew 14:25). Observe the appropriate change of cases. For genitive, comp. Job 9:8. περιπατῶνἐπὶ θαλάσσης, Lucian, Philops. xiii. ἐφʼ ὕδατος βαδίζοντα, 14 :hist. ii. 4, al.

φάντασμα] They shared (Luke 24:37) the popular belief in apparitions (Plat. Phaed. p. 81 D: ψυχῶν σκιοειδῆ φαντάσματα; Eur. Hec. 54; Lucian, Philops. 29; Wisdom of Solomon 17:15). Comp. the nocturnos Lemures in Horace, Ep. ii. 2. 209.

Matthew 14:27. ἐλάλ. αὐτ.] ἀπὸ τῆς φωνῆς δῆλον ἑαυτὸν ποιεῖ, Chrysostom.

Matthew 14:28-31 are not found in any of the other Gospels, but their contents are entirely in keeping with Peter’s temperament ( πανταχοῦ θερμὸς κ. ἀεὶ τῶν ἄλλων προπηδῶν, Chrysostom).

βλέπων] not: as He perceived, but: as He saw; for, when on the sea, He was in immediate contact with the manifestations of the storm.

καταποντίζεσθαι] “pro modo fidei ferebatur ab aqua” (Bengel); namely, by the influence of Christ’s power, for which influence, however, he became unreceptive through doubt, and accordingly began to sink.


Verse 31

Matthew 14:31 f. εἰς τί ἐδίστ.] διατί πρῶτον μὲν ἐθάῤῥησας, ὕστερον δὲ ἐδειλίασας; Euth. Zigabenus. For εἰς τί, wherefore? comp. Matthew 26:8; Wisdom of Solomon 4:17; Sirach 39:17; Sirach 39:21; Soph. Tr. 403, Oed. C. 528, and Hermann’s note.

ἐμβάντων αὐτῶν] According to John, Jesus did not go up into the boat, but the disciples wanted to take Him on board. A difference that may be noted, though it is of but trifling importance. See note on John 6:21.

ἐκόπασεν] Comp. Herod, vii. 191. LXX. Genesis 8:1. It became calm. Anthol. vii. 630: μακρὴ κατʼ ἐμοῦ δυσπλοΐη κοπάσει, and see Wetstein.


Verse 33

Matthew 14:33. θεοῦ υἱός] the Messiah. See note on Matthew 3:17. The impression recorded in the text was founded, so far as the people were concerned, upon the miraculous walking on the sea itself, and partly upon the connection which existed, and which they recognised as existing, between the calming of the storm and the going on board of Jesus and Peter. οἱ ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ are not the disciples (Hilgenfeld, Schegg, Keim, Scholten), but those who, besides them, were crossing in the boat, the crew and others. Comp. οἱ ἄνθρωποι, Matthew 8:27. By means of an expression of this general nature they are distinguished from the μαθηταί (Matthew 14:26), who had hitherto been in question. Grotius limits the meaning too much when he says: “ipsi nautae.” Mark omits this concluding part of the incident, and merely records the great astonishment on the part of the disciples. As it stands in Matthew, it is to be regarded as connecting a traditional amplification with the episode of Peter, which that evangelist has embodied in his narrative, but yet as containing nothing improbable, in so far as it makes it appear that the outburst of astonishment was so great that it expressed itself in the acknowledgment of our Lord’s Messiahship, especially as it is to be borne in mind that the miraculous feeding of the multitudes (John 6:14-15) had taken place but so short a time before. Moreover, this is, according to Matthew, the first time that Jesus was designated the Son of God by men (Matthew 3:17, Matthew 4:3, Matthew 8:29). According to John (John 1:50), He had already been so styled by Nathanael; in the present instance He received the designation from those who, as yet, were not of the number of His disciples.


Verse 34

Matthew 14:34. Comp. Mark 6:53 ff. γῆ γεννης.] that beautiful district of Lower Galilee, stretching along the border of the lake, and measuring thirty stadia in length by twenty in breadth, Josephus, Antt. iii. 10. 8, the el Guweir of the present day; Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 334; Furer in Schenkel’s Bibellex. II. p. 324.


Verse 36

Matthew 14:36. Summary statement, as in Matthew 4:24.

παρεκάλ.] descriptive imperfect.

κρασπέδου] See note on Matthew 9:20. They wanted merely to touch Him, as in Matthew 9:21.

διεσώθησαν] were completely saved (Xen. Mem. ii. 10. 2; Luke 7:3), so that they quite recovered from their ailments, and that, according to the analogy of the other miracles of healing, just at once. Hilgenfeld is wrong in supposing that this took place “without the medium of faith;” as a matter of course, faith was implied in their very παρακαλεῖν.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Matthew 14:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/matthew-14.html. 1832.

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Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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