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that the very heathens were more worthy of favours of this sort than they; to such a pitch of wickedness had they proceeded. In which respect they resembled their ancestors, whose great sins God reproved, by sending his prophets to work miracles for heathens rather than for them, in a time of general calamity. 25. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land. 26. But unto none of them avas Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. 27. And many lepers were in Israel in the days of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. By putting them thus in mind of Elijah's miracle in behalf of the widow of Sarepta, a heathen inhabitant of a heathen city, in a time of famine, while many widows of Israel were suffered to starve; and of Elishah's miracle on Naaman the Syrian leper, while many lepers in Israel remained uncleansed, he shewed them both the sin and the punishment of their ancestors, and left it to themselves to make the application. The Nazarenes understanding his meaning, were enraged to such a pitch, that forgetting the sanctity of the Sabbath, they gathered round him tumultuously, forced him out of the synagogue, and rushed with him through the streets to the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. 28. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath: 29. And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill (whereon their city was built), that they might cast him headlong.-30. But he passing through the midst of them, went his way: in the midst of the confusion he escaped, probably by making himself invisible.
§ XXV. Jesus settles at Capernaum, then calls his disciples to attend him, and makes a tour with them through Galilee. Matt. iv. 13,-23. Mark i. 16,-21. Luke iv. 31, 32.
THE rude treatment which Jesus met with from his townsmen, made him quit all thoughts of residing at Nazareth. From that time forth, therefore, he resolved to dwell in Capernaum, a town situated northward from Nazareth, on the borders of Zabulon and Naphtali. By settling in Capernaum, our Lord fulfilled Isaiah's prophecy, chap. ix. 1. which elegantly describes the effect of the Messiah's residence in Galilee. Matt. iv. 13. And leaving Nazareth; he came and * drvelt in Caper
* Ver. 13. Dwelt in Capernaum, which is on the sea-coast.] Capernaum is no where mentioned in the Old Testament, either by its own name, or by any other. Probably it was one of those towns which the Jews built after their return from Babylon. Its exact situation has not as yet been determined with certainty by geographers; only from its being on the confines of the two tribes, Reland and others conjecture, that it stood somewhere
naum, which is upon the sea-coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim. 14. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15. The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea beyond Jordan. This latter clause, both in the Hebrew and Greek, is detached from that which goes before it, being a description, not of the land of Nephthalim, but of two distinct countries: first, the country round the sea of Galilee, and, next, the country on the other side Jordan. For adov Dacons, is an Hebraism for any country that lies round a sea or lake; and wige To Iogdave, is the name by which the
on the north-west shore of the lake of Gennezareth. According to Josephus, Bell iii. 18. the length of this lake was a hundred furlongs, or twelve miles and a half, and its breadth forty furlongs, or five miles. Pliny says it was sixteen miles long and six broad. Anciently the lake of Gennezareth was called the Sea of Chinneroth, Numb. xxxiv. 11. but in later times it was named the Sea of Galilee, because that country formed part of its shore, and the Sea of Tiberias, from the city Tiberias lying on the southwest coast thereof. Its bottom is gravel, which gives its waters both a good colour and taste. The river Jordan runs through the middle of it, and stocks it with a great variety of excellent fish.
In the countries round this lake, our Lord spent two or three years of his public life; and though he afterwards enlarged the compass of his journies, yet they always enjoyed a considerable share of his blessed com pany and divine instructions. There were several reasons which might determine Jesus to be so much about the sea of Galilee. 1. The countries which surrounded this sea were large, fertile, and populous, especially the two Galilees. For according to Josephus, Bell. iii. 2. they alone had many towns, and a multitude of villages, the least of which contained above 15,000 souls. On the east side of the lake were Chorazin, Bethsaida, Gadara, and Hippon; on the west, Capernaum, Tiberias, and Tarrichea, with other places of inferior note. Wherefore, as it was agreeable to the end of Christ's coming, that his doctrine should he spread extensively, and his miracles wrought publicly, no country could be a fitter scene for his ministry than this. Besides its numerous inhabitants, there were at all times many strangers resorting to the trading towns on the lake, who after hearing Jesus preach, could carry home with them the glad tidings of salvation, which were the subjects of his sermons. Capernaum, chosen by Christ as the place of his residence, was a town of this kind, and much frequented. 2. The countries round the lake were remote from Jerusalem, the seat of the scribes and Pharisees, a most malignant sort of people, who would not have borne with patience the presence of a teacher held in such estimation as Jesus deservedly was. We know this by what happened in the beginning of his ministry, when he made and baptized many disciples in Judea. They took such offence at it, that he was obliged to leave the country, John iv. 1. compared with chap. iii. 22. Wherefore, as it was necessary that he should spend a considerable time in preaching and working miracles, both for the confirmation of his mission, and for the instruction of his disc ples in the doctrines they were afterwards to preach, these countries were of all others the most proper for him to reside in, or rather they were the only places where he could be with safety for any time. . It was agreeable to the end of our Lord's mission that he should be in a low station of life; because to have affected pomp and grandeur, was inconsistent with the character of a teacher from God. The reader perhaps will yield more readily to the evidence of this assertion, when he
the land of Israel on the other side Jordan commonly went. translation therefore ought to run thus: The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, the sea-coast, the country beyond Jordan,
* Galilee of the Gentiles. 16. The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up. In Scripture, darkness represents ignorance and misery, consequently the shadow of death being
remembers that Plato, drawing the character of one perfect in virtue, says he must be poor, and void of all recommendation but virtue alone, Rp. 1. Besides, had our Lord appeared with the equipage of a great man, or been distinguished by the splendour of high life, it must soon have rendered him obr xious either to Hero, or to the Roman governor. On the other hand, that the duties of his ministry might be executed as extensively as possible, he and his disciples were obliged to make many long journies, the fatigue of which would have been too great for ordinary constitutions to have sustained, had they been all performed on foot. This inconveniency was remedied by the easy passages which the lake afforded. Hence the countries around it were chosen by him as the scene of his ministry, preferably to the other parts of the land of Israel. Farther, as the multitude earnestly wished he would take the title of King, and set up a secular empire, it was necessary that he should have it in his power to retire from them when they became troublesome. Accordingly, we often find him and his disciples making their escapes by the lake; passing easily and speedily in their own boats, from one country to another, as occasion re quired. 4. Capernaum, of all the towns near the lake, was pitched upon by Jesus as the place of his ordinary residence, after his expulsion from Nazareth, because he was sure of meeting with a favourable reception there. He had gained the friendship of the principal family in the city, viz. that of the nobleman whose son he had cured in Cana. And the goodwill which this family with its relations bare to him, was not an ordinary kindness, like that which persons bear to a benefactor. But being struck with the miracle, they firmly believed him to be Messiah, heartily espous ed his cause, and no doubt were ready to assist him on all occasions. Besides, this miracle must have conciliated the love and respect of the inhabitants of Capernaum, to whom it could not but be well known. Nor must we omit the fore-knowledge which Jesus had of his being to gain the favour of two Roman centurions, (§ 28, 39.) and of one ruler of the synagogue, ($35.) all living in this town, whose friendship likewise would protect him from the insults of his enemies. To conclude, Capernaum was the place where the men dwelt who had become his disciples imme diately after his baptism, and whose presence was necessary to him on many occasions, before he called them to leave their families and attend upon him constantly.
Ver. 15. Galilee of the Gentiles.] In the original prophecy, we find the words Galil Hagojim, the proper translation of which is not as the LXX. have rendered them. Galilee of the Gentiles, but the boundary of the Gentiles, those parts of the land of Palestine which bordered on the heathen ecuntries. Farther, the Hebrew word which the LXX. have rendered by zazuevos, signifies properly to qualk. But the metaphors are of one kino, only that used by the LXX. expresses the length also and confirmation of the misery of the nations who lived in or near Galilee, and for that reason was preferred both by the LXX. and by the evangelist. Besides, sitting being the posture of mourners, it gives the reader a more perfect idea of the distress of the heathen nations arising from their ignorance of God and religion.
ing the blackest darkness, must signify the greatest ignorance and misery. On the other hand, light being the pleasantest work of God, represents happiness and joy: it signifies knowledge likewise, especially the knowledge of divine things, because this is to the soul what light is to the body. Hence, the Son of God, who has dispelled the thick darkness of sin and misery, wherein the world was involved, is described by the prophet Malachi under the idea of a sun, the sun of righteousness; and his appearing on earth is called by Isaiah the springing up of light, and the people among whom he lived, are said while sitting in darkness to have seen great light. The Jews indeed interpret this prophecy of the deliverance which their fathers obtained, by the miraculous destruction of Sennacherib and his army. But from the context it is evident, that the prophecy has a much grander meaning; for it promises the universal restoration of the church and people of God, whose darkness of death should be turned into the light of life, and that by a son born to the Israelites, in conformity to the promises made unto Abraham and David, upon whose shoulders the government should be, and who was to be named Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, &c.-17. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of hea ven is at hand. From the time that Jesus settled at Capernaum, he began to preach the necessity of mens reforming their lives. This he urged by the consideration of the approach of Messiah's kingdom. The same doctrine John Baptist had frequently preached. But his ministry was now at an end. Jesus, therefore, thought fit to add weight to his forerunner's exhortations, by inculcating the things which he had made the great theme of his sermons.
Thus the countries round the 1ke, but especially Galilee, became the scene of Christ's public life, and Capernaum the place of his ordinary residence. When he was at home, he always taught in the synagogue on the Sabbath days. During the rest of the week the inhabitants were employed about their affairs, and Jesus did not chuse to take them from their business. Being the place which he considered as his home, he waited for the returns of the Sabbath, when they met together in the synagogue, and then preached the word to them with such energy and power as raised their admiration to astonishment. Luke iv. 31. And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the Sabbath days. 32. And they were astonished at his doctrine, for his word was with power. He did not however confine himself to Capernaum, for he frequently made excursions into the neighbouring country, and on such occasions no doubt preached every day perhaps oftener than once.
Some time after his removal to Capernaum, Jesus intending to
make a larger circuit than ordinary, would have his disciples to accompany him. Accordingly, going out to the lake where their business of fishing led them frequently to be, he saw two of them casting their nets into the sea, and called them away. Matt. iv. 18. And Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea, (for they were fishers.) 19. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (See on Luke v. 10. § 30.) 20. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. Simon and Andrew, formerly inhabitants of Bethsaida, but now of Capernaum, Mark i. 29. had become our Lord's disciples before this at Jordan, John i. 40, 41. and probably when Philip received orders to accompany him into Galilee, had been required to attend. This, therefore, was not the first time that he saw and called them, as those who read the gospels singly are apt to imagine. The calls given to the disciples in the first year of Christ's ministry, were only temporary, extending no farther than to the particular occasions on which they were given. After that, they returned home with their Master, and pursued their occupations as formerly in Capernaum, where they and he resided, till at length twelve of them were chosen to be with him always, Mark iii. 13.; an expression which plainly implies, that till then they had attended him only occasionally. Jesus having thus called Simon and Andrew from their business, saw other two brothers, viz. James and John, whom he ordered likewise to follow him. They obeyed instantly. From their ready compliance, we may believe that they, as well as Simon and Andrew, were acquainted with Jesus, and had believed on him at Jordan. Or we may suppose, that their willingness proceeded from the secret energy of his power upon their minds. Matt. iv. 21. And going on from thence, (Mark, a little further thence) he saw two other brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. 22. And he called them; and they immediately left the ship and their father, (Mark, with the hired servants) and followed him.-Mark i. 21. and they went into Capernaum. The four disciples above-named went with Christ to Capernaum, and soon after that accompanied him through the different quarters of Galilee, whither he went to preach. The evangelists have not told us what time he spent in this tour, neither have they given us a particular account of the transactions of it. They only say in general, that he went about all Galilee, that is, through both the Galilees, teaching in their synagogues every where, and preaching the good news of the approach of the Messiah's kingdom; that he wrought an infinite number of miracles on diseased persons of all sorts; and that the fame of his miracles drew the people after him from Galilee, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan,