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A. M. 4037, lawful for them to pay tribute to Cæsar or not?" never doubting but that, which way &c. or 5442. soever he answered, his business was done: If in the affirmative, the multitude would Vulg. Er. 33. detest him as a betrayer of their ancient liberties; if in the negative, the Herodians &c. or 31. would then accuse him as a rebel against the emperor Tiberius: But he knowing their treacherous design, demanded a sight of the tribute money; and when they acknowledged that the signature † on it was Cæsar's, he sent them away quite confounded with this answer, t3" Render therefore unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and unto God the things that are God's."
sending men of different judgments, they made it impossible for him to content both parties, since, in de termining for the payment of the tribute, he must have given offence to the Pharisees, and, in effect, renounced those liberties and privileges which some of the Jewish doctors insisted upon; and, in pronouncing against it, he was sure to incur the Herodians displeasure, and make himself obnoxious to the jurisdiction of the civil sword. The Herodians therefore may well be presumed to have been persons of a principle different to that of the Pharisees, whose address and cunning upon this occasion seems to have lain chiefly in the management of the messengers. Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels, vol. iv.
The state of the question truly taken seems to be this,-The government of the Jews had fallen into the hands of the Maccabees, and, in succession to one of them, named Alexander. He had two sons, Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, the younger of which made war upon the elder, and assumed to himself the government. Hyrcanus, and his party, being not able to resist him, called in the assistance of the Romans. Pompey, at their request, besieges Jerusalem, and had the gates surrendered to him by a faction within that favoured Hyrcanus; but Aristobulus, and his adherents, fought it out, till at last they were vanquished and overpowered. The Romans put Hyrcanus in possession of the government; but, at the same time, obliged him to hold it by their favour and permission, which laid the foundation of great and lasting dissensions among the Jews; some submitting to the Roman power, as thinking they had a fair title both by conquest and surrender; while others objected, that the surrender was made by a party only, and not the whole body of the people; that it was not conquest, but treachery, which brought Jerusalem to their mercy; and, consequently, that they were usurpers, and Hyrcanus and his followers betrayers of their country. That which contributed not a little to make this controversy still greater, was what Josephus and Eusebius relate concerning Judas the Gaulonite. He, about the time of the taxation, in which (as St Luke says) our Saviour was born, disquieted the minds of many, and represented the decree of Augustus for that purpose, as a mark of infamy and servitude not to be borne. This man is said to have instituted a particular sect, one of whose tenets was,―That no Jew ought to pay tribute, or to acknowledge any sovereign lord, but God only; and that they were his peculiar people, and therefore bound to maintain their liberty, especially against profane and uncircumcised pretenders, such as the
Roman emperors were. So that the paying of tribute to Cæsar was not at this time a question of mere curiosity, but a matter of moment with regard to practice; nor was it a point of bravery only in the esteem of the Pharisees, and others of that party, but a scruple of conscience, and a debate of religion, whether this tribute should be paid or not. Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels, vol. iv.
+ Every one knows that the Roman emperors were wont to disperse their money through all the provinces belonging to their jurisdiction; that this money was stamped with the image or bust of the emperor on one side, and on the reverse, with some figure or other, representing victory, plenty, peace, or the like; and that this tribute, or capitation tax, (which, according to Ulpian, the males from fourteen, and the females from twelve years old, were obliged to pay) was usually collected in this money, and no other, as the only current coin at Rome. Calmet's Commentary.
Some interpreters are of opinion, that our Saviour's words do not determine Cæsar's right to demand tribute: But since the Jews had now submitted to the Roman government, (as they had formerly done to the Assyrian) which national submission (with promise of fidelity) having now obtained about an hundred years, was a just ground for Cæsar's right; since, besides this, Cæsar had indulged them in the exercise of their religion, and the enjoyment of their ci vi rights; had fought their battles, and protected them against the common enemy, the Arabians and Parthians, and the like; since, more especially, it was a received maxim among the Jews, that wherever the money of any person was owned as the current coin of the kingdom, there the inhabitants acknowledged that person to be their lord and governor; and since the Jews accepted and trafficked with Cæsar's money, and held it current in all their payments, our Saviour's answer, "Render therefore unto Cæsar," which is founded upon their own principles, must needs be deemed a positive declaration of Cæsar's right to receive tribute, and such other acknowledgments as belonged to the state and dignity of the post wherein Providence had placed him. It might indeed be ob jected (says Grotius on Matth. xxii. 20.) that the Romans ruled over the Jews, and Cæsar over the lomans, in fact only, and without any right to do so; bat Christ shews that this objection signifies nothing to the matter in hand: For since peace cannot be secured without forces, nor forces had without pay, nor pay without taxes or tribute, it follows that tribute ought to be paid to the person actually governing (30
end, Mark xi.
to the end, and
Upon the defeat given to these two parties, the Sadducees came to him with a que- From Matth. stion, and a difficulty that they thought insurmountable. For as they had no belief of xx. 10. to the a resurrection, they put a case to him of one woman, who, according to the direction of 15. to the end, their law, had been married to seven brothers successively, and thereupon desire to know Luke xix. 45. whose wife she was to be at the general resurrection †? In answer to which, our Lord John xii. 19. to gave them to understand, that though marriage was necessary in this state, in order to the end. raise up a posterity to mortal man, yet that, after the resurrection, men would be immortal and live like angels, devoid of passions, and incapable of decay; and then proved the reality of the resurrection +2 from one of God's appellations, in a book which themselves allowed to be canonical.
The Pharisees, hearing that the Sadducees were silenced, began to rally again; and one of their doctors ||, in hopes to ensnare our Saviour, in case he should prefer one part
long as he continues to govern) in consideration of the common safety and protection which are secured by the present possessor of the government, whoever that possessor be. Whitby's Annotations, and Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels, vol. iv.
The discourse of the Sadducees was founded upon this mistake,-That if there would be a resurrection of bodies, there would necessarily follow a revival of the same relations likewise, and that the state of the world to come would be like the state of this present world, in which, for the propagation and continuance of mankind, men and women marry and are given in marriage; which gross notion of theirs our Saviour endeavours to rectify. Pool's Annotations.
[The notion did not originate among the Sadducees, who admitted of no resurrection of the dead, but among the Pharisees, whose notions of the happiness of the blessed were very gross. They supposed that they were to eat and drink, to marry and to be given in marriage; and they even condescended on the food which they were chiefly to use in their feasts-food, which by us would not be thought a delicacy. Of the future state of the wicked, they were extremely doubtful." De impiorum exitu res erat, ut et hodie est, planè incerta: Alii resurrecturos credebant, aliis contradicentibus. Quod ad piorum felicitatem attinet, credebant multi eam fore diuturnam quidem, at non æternam. Deinde felicitatem illam crassam, terrenam, atque ex bonorum corpori servien. tium affluentiâ conflatam somniarunt. Quemadmodum enim nunc dierum Thalmudistæ epulas sibi fingunt, in quibus Behemothum et Leviathanem et Bariuchne, bovem, piscem, avem sint esitaturi; (de qua fabula vide Buxtorfium cum Judæis bellè ludentem) ita Christi, quoque tempore Judæi vitam quidem post hanc felicem, Sed huic nostræ similem, animo conceperant.Hinc nata erat captiosa ista Sadducæorum interrogatio Christo proposita, de muliere, quæ septem fratres successive maritos habuit, cuinam istorum post resurrectionem denuo reddenda esset. Nimirum Sadducæi, Pharisæorum antagonistæ, a Christo credebant doceri resurrectionem ex iisdem hypothesibus, quibus nitebantur Pharisæi. Ii autem inter alias corporis voluptates, etiam conjugii usum in futura vita mansurum existimarunt."] Bulli Oper. Anno 1703, Harm. Apost. Dissert. Poster. cap. x. § 15.
The words which our Saviour produces in proof
of the resurrection, are those which God uses to Moses, "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob," Exod. iii. 6. and the argument which is implied in them is this,―That since to be the God of any one is a federal expression, which denotes God to be a kind benefactor, who either doth or will do good to such persons as are in his favour and under his protection; since God is not the God of the dead, and can have no regard or consideration for such as are mere nonentities, or so dead as never to return to life again; and since in this life Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, received no such signal kindnesscs from the Almighty, as answer the emphatical expression of his being "their God," it must necessarily follow, that God, in declaring himself to be their God, did solemnly engage himself to make them happy after this life, according to what the author to the Hebrews observes, "wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city," Heb. xi. 16. This way of arguing was of great force against the Sadducees, who denied the immortality of the soul, as well as the resurrection of the body; and at the same time, it fully proves the resurrection of the body: For since the souls of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were not the entire persons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which consisted of bodies as well as souls, it would from hence follow, that God could truly be their God, i. e. their rewarder and bounteous benefactor, no other way than by a resurrection of their bodies, to be reunited to their proper souls. Fool's and Beausobre's Annotations, and Tillotson's Sermons, vol. i.
The person whom we here render doctor, is by St Matthew, chap. xxii. 35, called a lawyer, and by St Luke, chap. xx. 39. a scribe; but in this diversity of words there is no difference of sense: For the scribes were of two sorts, or had at least two offices; the one was " to sit in the chair of Moses," Matth. xxiii. 2. i. e. to read and interpret the law of Moses to the people; the other to expound to them the traditions which they pretended to have received from their forefathers. The name of scribe they seem to have derived from Ezra, (about 500 years before Christ), who is so frequently styled "a scribe of the law of the Lord, who read in the book of the law, and expounded it," Ezra vii. 12. Neh .viii. 1. and xii. 36, &c. And because the traditions which they
A. M. 4037. of the law above another, desired to know his opinion, "which was to be accounted † &c. or 5442. the greatest commandment of all?" Whereupon our Lord reduced the whole law to Vulg. Er. 33, two general precepts of equal obligation to all mankind," the love of God above
&c. or 31.
all things, and the 2 love of our neighbour as ourselves;" in the former of which we obey the first, and in the latter the second table of the law to; and with this answer the doctor was well pleased. When our Saviour had thus resolved all their questions, he, in his turn, at last put this one to them, viz. In what sense the Messiah could be David's Son, when (a) David himself, by Divine inspiration," called him his Lord ?" But to this they could give no answer, because they were ignorant that the Messiah, as God, was really the Lord of David, but as man, and descended from his family, he was his Son: And after these (disputes which were the last he had with them) he went again, in the evening, with his disciples to Bethany.
On the next morning, as our Lord was returning to Jerusalem the third time, the apostles, observing that the fig-tree which he had cursed the day before † was withered away, and dead to the very root, took notice of it to him as a thing very strange and surprising; whereupon he exhorted them to have stedfast faith in God, fervency and perseverance in their prayers, and a † forgiving temper to those that had offend
taught, and obliged the people to observe, were call-
This was no frivolous or impertinent question, but what at this time divided the greatest part of the learned among the Jews: some giving the preference to the observation of the Sabbath; others to the ordinance of circumcision; and others to the precept of sacrifices; never considering the great command recorded in Deut. vi. 5. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" or that other recorded in Leviticus xix. 18. "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," until our Saviour reminded them of them. Whitby's Annotations, and Calmet's Commentary.
That by our neighbour here we are to understand every other person who is capable of kindness from us, or stands in need of our help, is evident from our Saviour's determination in the case of the Jew and the good Samaritan; from the examples we are called upon to imitate in this affection, viz. the love of God and our Blessed Saviour; and from these evangelical precepts which extend this duty to all men: But by loving our neighbour as ourselves, it is not required, either that we should love him from the same inward principles which excite our affections to ourselves, or that we should love him to the same degree and proportion that we love ourselves; but only that we should make the affection which we bear to ourselves the rule we are to follow in expressing our love to him; or (in other words) that we
should love him in all the instances wherein we express our love to ourselves, though not in an equal measure. Whitby's Annotations.
+3 The words in the text are," On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets," Matth. xxii. 40. which are a metaphor taken from the custom mentioned by Tertullian, of hanging up their laws in a public place to be seen of all men; and import, that in them is contained all that the law and the prophets do require, in reference to our duty to God and man. For though there be some precepts of temperance which we owe to ourselves, yet are they such as we may be moved to perform from the true love of God and of our neighbour. For the love of God will preserve us from all impatience, discontent, and evil lustings. It will make us watchful over ourselves to keep a good conscience, as being solicitous for our eternal welfare: And the love of our neigh bour will restrain us from all angry passions, such as envy, malice, and other perturbations which arise against him; so that these two commands may be very justly called an abridgment or compendium of the whole Scripture. Whitby's Annotations, and Calmet's Commentary. (a) Psalm cx. 1.
It is remarked of our Blessed Saviour's miracles, that they were all works of mercy and beneficence; and that if any of them had a contrary tendency, they were always shewn upon brute and inanimate creatures, and that too, not without a charitable intent of conveying some symbolical instruction to the spectators, as this withering of the fig tree was to represent to the Jewish nation their approaching doom. Beausobre's Annotations.
+ The command to forgive those that have offended us, before we pray, not only shews that no resentments of what our brother hath done should stick long upon our spirits, because they indispose us for that duty which we ought continually to be prepared for; but that there is likewise some kind of forgiveness to be exercised, even towards him that does not
ed them, in order to make their prayers accepted, and then they would not fail, in the From Matth.
xx. 10. to the
When our Lord was come into the temple, he began to teach the people as he had 15. to the end,
Before he left the temple, he took notice how the people threw their money into the treasury † ; and among many, who offered very plentifully, observing a poor woman cast in her two mites, (which amount to no more than a farthing) he called his apostles, and assured them, that that poor widow had been more liberal than any of the rest, because their oblations proceeded from their superfluity, but she from her indigence had given all she had.
In the afternoon, as they were returning to Bethany, his apostles took a view of the several buildings of the temple, and were making their remarks of the largeness of its stones*, the richness of its ornaments #2, and the beauty and stateliness of the whole; when our Saviour acquainted them, that how glorious soever it might appear at present, it would not be long before the whole structure should be so entirely ruined, that their should *3"not so much as one stone be left upon another."
ask it, nor shew any tokens of his repentance, viz. that we should not only free our minds from all desires of revenge, and so far forget the injury as not to upbraid him with it; but be inclined likewise to shew him kindness, and ready to do him any good turn: For what the law required of a Jew to do to his enemy's beast, Exod. xxiii. 4, 5. that, without all controversy, the Gospel requires of a Christian to do to his offending brother. Whitby's Annotations.
† It was a common saying among the Jews, when they were minded to commend any one of their doctors for his great dexterity in solving difficult questions, that "such an one was a rooter up of mountains" and, in allusion to this adage, our Saviour tells his disciples, that "if they had faith, they might say to a mountain, be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, and it should be done," Matth. xxi. 21. i. e. that, in confirmation of the Christian faith, they should be able to do the most difficult things. For besides that our Saviour's words are not to be taken in a literal sense, they are likewise to be restrained to the age of miracles, and to the persons to whom they were spoken, viz. the apostles and first propagators of the Christian religion, because experience teaches us, that this is no ordinary and standing gift belonging to the church. Whitby's Annota
+ The first institution of this treasury we find in 2 Kings xii. 9. where it is said, that "Jehoiada the priest took a chest, and bored an hole in the lid of it, and set it beside the altar, on the right side, as one goeth into the house of the Lord, and the priests that kept the door put therein all the money that was brought into the house." This money was, at that time, given for the reparation of the temple, and in
after-ages the money cast into the treasury, even in
*Josephus, who gives us a description of the temple built by Herod, tells us, among other things, that the "whole fabric was made of durable white stone, some of which were five and twenty cubits long, eight in height, and twelve in breadth." Antiq. lib. xv. c. 14.
* These ornaments were the spoils which their kings had taken in war; the rich presents which foreign princes, upon certain occasions, had made; and the costly gifts which the Jews, from all parts of the world, used to send to the temple at Jerusalem. These were called ¿vatiuara, because they were hung against the walls and the pillars of the temple for the people to behold; and when Herod had rebuilt it, he not only replaced all the former ornaments, but added several other, especially the spoils which he took in his war with the Arabians, and a vine of massy gold, of prodigious weight and value, which was his own free gift. Joseph. Antiq. and Calmet's Commentary.
*3 This prophecy of our Blessed Saviour was, in a great measure, accomplished about forty years after, when (as several Jewish authors tell us) Taurus, i. e. Terentius Rufus, whom Titus left chief commander of the army in Judea, did with a plough-share tear up the foundations of the temple, and thereby signally
A. M. 4037,
&c. or 5442. Ann. Dom.
&c. or 31.
The general notion was, that this temple was to last (a) even until the end of the world. And therefore, when our Saviour had seated himself upon mount Olivet, in full view Vulg. Er. 33. and prospect of it, his apostles desired to know when this destruction would happen, and what would be the previous signs of it. The signs of it, he told them, would be and famines, the coming of many impostors, † and false Christs, the rumours of wars, * and pestilences, dreadful earthquakes, *3 prodigies, and amazing sights in the air, the persecution *5 of Christians, and the propagation of the gospel all the world
fulfilled the words of the prophet, "Therefore shall Zion, for your sakes, be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountains of the Lord as the high places of the forest," Micah iii. 12. It can hardly be thought, however, but that, notwithstanding this demolishment, there might probably be left one stone upon another, and therefore something more was wanting towards the literal completion of our Saviour's prophecy, to which the emperor Julian in some measure contributed; For having given the Jews licence to rebuild their temple at Jerusalem, they took away every stone of the old foundation to help to build their new edifice but heaven prevented their design; for flashes of lightning (as our best historians tell us) burst out from the foundation they had dug, and so blasted and terrified them, that they were forced to give over their enterprise, after they had pulled up and removed all the remains of the old temple. Whitby's Annotations, Calmet's Commentary, and Warburton's Julian, Vid. Ammian Marcell. lib. xxiii. Socrat. lib. iii. c. 2.
(a) 2 Chron. vi. 2.
Never were there so many impostors of this kind as in the time a little before the destruction of Jerusalem, (Joseph. Antiq. lib. xx. c. 6.) doubtless because this was the age wherein the Jews, from the prophecy of Daniel, were taught to expect their Messiah. Beausobre's Annotations.
Besides the war which the Jews waged with the Syrians, not long before the destruction of their city, (Joseph. Antiq. lib. i. c. 19.) the contests between Otho and Vitellius, and Vitellius and Vespasian, at Rome, were much about the same time, and the oppression of the governors of Judea, who minded nothing but to enrich themselves, had so irritated the minds of the people, that, for some time before their final calamity, we read of nothing but rebellions and revolts, parties and factions, and bands of robbers harassing and infesting the country. Calmet's Commentary, and Beausobre's Annotations.
* In the fourth year of Claudius (as Eusebius informs us) there happened a great famine, which oppressed all the Roman empire, but more especially Palestine, where many perished (according to Josephus) for lack of food, (Antiq. lib. 20. c. 3.) And the same historian informs us, that when one Niger was slain by the Jews, he imprecated famine and pestilence upon their cities, which God accordingly inflicted. De Bello Jud. lib. iv. c. 23.
*3 In the reigns of Claudius and Nero, there happened many earthquakes in Asia Minor, and the isles of the Archipelago, where the Jews inhabited, (Euseb. Chron. and Tacit. Annal. lib. ii.) and Josephus
acquaints us, that in the night, when the Idumæans encamped before Jerusalem, "there blew a dreadful tempest of wind and rain, accompanied with such terrible flashes of lightning, claps of thunder, and bellowing of earthquakes, as put all the people to their wits end to think what these prodigies might portend." De Bello Jud. lib. 4. c. 7.
* In his preface to the history of the wars of the Jews, Josephus undertakes to record the miseries and calamities which befel that nation, and the signs and prodigies which preceded their ruin. To this purpose he tells us, that, for a whole year together, a comet, in the figure of a sword, hung over the city, and pointed, as it were, directly down upon it; that there were seen in the clouds armies in battle array, and chariots encompassing the country, and investing their cities; that, at the feast of the passover, in the middle of the night, a great light shone upon the temple and altar, as if it had been noon-day; that, at the same feast, the great gate of the temple made ail of massy brass, and which twenty could hardly shut, opened of itself, though fastened with bolts and bars; that, at the feast of Pentecost soon after, when the priests went into the tempie to officiate, they heard at first a kind of confused noise, and then a voice calling out earnestly, in articulate words, "Let us be gone, let us be gone;" and that these prodigies were really so, we have the testimony of Tacitus, a Roman historian of that age, who has thus recounted them,-" Evenerunt prodigia, visæ per cœlum concurrere acies, rutilantia arma, et subito nubium igne collucere templum: Expasse repentè delubri fores: Et audita major humana vox, excedere Deos; simul ingens motus excedentium." Hist. lib. v. and Joseph. de Bello Jud. lib. vii. c. 12.
* This part of our Saviour's prediction was literally fulfilled before the destruction of Jerusalem. As soon as Christianity began to spread, the Jews wrote letters to every part of the world against the professors of it, in order to raise persecutions against them. St Paul, before his conversion, "breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of Christ," Acts ix. 1. "shut up many of them in "Acts xxii. 4.—xxvi. prison, both men and women,' 10. himself, when converted, and Silas were not only imprisoned, but beaten in the synagogue, Acts xvi. 22. as were likewise Peter and John, Acts v. 18. Stephen, the first martyr, was slain by the council, Acts vii. 59. James the Greater, by Herod, Acts xii. 1. and James the Less, by Ananus the high priest: Multitudes of Christians were persecuted to death by Saul. Acts xxii. 4. by the Jews, as Justin Martyr testifies, and by the emperor Nero, as Tacitus relates, Annal. lib. xv. For the professors of our most holy religion,