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MEANING OF THOU ART A SAMARITAN.'

175

CHAP.
VIII

le

Ryer, p. 247 b Pirké de R. Elies, 45 ed. Lemb.

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viii. 50

Jewish belief, appears from the circumstance that in the Korân (which, in such matters, would reproduce popular Jewish tradition), Israel is said to have been seduced into idolatry by Shomron," L'Alcoran while, in Jewish tradition, this is attributed to Sammael. If, there- Sieur du fore, the term applied by the Jews to Jesus was Shomroni—and not Cuthi, 'heretic'-it would literally mean, Child of the Devil.'!

This would also explain why Christ only replied to the charge of P: 596, line having a demon, since the two charges meant substantially the same: 'Thou art a child of the devil and hast a demon.' In wondrous patience and mercy He almost passed it by, dwelling rather, for their teaching, on the fact that, while they dishonoured Him, He honoured His Father. He heard not their charges. His concern was the glory of His Father; the vindication of His own honour would be brought about by the Father-though, alas ! in judgment on those who were casting such dishonour on the Sent of God. Then, as if lingering St. John in deep compassion on the terrible issue, He once more pressed home the great subject of His Discourse, that only if a man keep'—both have regard to, and observe-His Word,' he shall not gaze at death (intently behold it]’unto eternity'—for ever shall he not come within close and terrible gaze of what is really death, of what became such to Adam in the hour of his Fall.

It was, as repeatedly observed, this death as the consequence of the Fall, of which the Jews knew nothing. And so they once more misunderstood it as of physical death, and, since Abraham and the prophets had died, regarded Christ as setting up a claim higher than theirs. The Discourse had contained all that He had wished to bring before them, and their objections were degenerating into wrangling. It was time to break it off by a general application. The question, He added, was not of what He said, but of what God said of Him-that God, Whom they claimed as theirs, and yet knew not, but Whom He knew, and Whose Word He kept. But, as for

' I need scarcely point out how strongly Elijah did not taste the taste of death' evidential this is of the Jewish author- (Ber. R. 21). And, tropically, in such a ship of the Fourth Gospel.

passage as this: “If any one would taste a * The word is that peculiar and remark- taste (here: have a foretaste) of death, let able one, beépew, to gaze earnestly and him keep his shoes on while he goes to intently, to which I have already called sleep (Yom. 78 b). It is also used of sleep, attention (see vol. i. p. 692).

as : ‘All the days of the joy of the house " He spoke of seeing,' they of tasting' of drawing (Feast of Tabernacles] we did death (vv. 51, 52). The word ayo 'taste,' not taste the taste of sleep' (Succ. 53 a). is used in precisely the same manner by It is needless to add other quotations. the Rabbis. Thus, in the Jer. Targum on * On the expression keep (inpeiv) His Deut, xxxii, 1. In Ber. R. 9, we are told, word,' Bengel beautifully observes : doc. that it was originally destined that the trinam Jesu, credendo, promissa, sperando, first man should not taste death. Again, facienda, obediendo.

BOOK
IV

b Ber. R. 44, ed. Warsh.p. 81 b, lines

Abraham-he had exulted' in the thought of the coming day of the Christ, and, seeing its glory, he was glad. Even Jewish tradition could scarcely gainsay this, since there were two parties in the Synagogue,

of which one believed that, when that horror of great darkness fell .Gen. xv. 17 on him, Abraham had, in vision, been shown not only this, but the

coming world—and not only all events in the present age, but also those in Messianic times.bi And

now,

theirs was not misunderstanding, but wilful misinterpretation. He had spoken of Abraham Boite from seeing His day; they took it of His seeing Abraham’s day, and

challenged its possibility. Whether or not they intended thus to elicit an avowal of His claim to eternal duration, and hence to Divinity, it was not time any longer to forbear the full statement, and, with Divine emphasis, He spake the words which could not be mistaken: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I AM.'

It was as if they had only waited for this. Furiously they rushed from the Porch into the Court of the Gentiles--with symbolic significance, even in this—to pick up stones, and to cast them at Him. But, once more, His hour had not yet come, and their fury proved impotent. Hiding Himself for the moment, as might so easily be done, in one of the many chambers, passages, or gateways of the Temple, He presently passed out.

It had been the first plain disclosure and avowal of His Divinity, and it was ' in the midst of His enemies,' and when most contempt was cast upon Him. Presently would that avowal be renewed both in Word and by Deed; for the end of mercy and judgment had not yet come, but was drawing terribly nigh.

1 In the Targum Jerusalem on Gen. xv. also it seems implied that Abraham saw in vision all that would befall his children in the future, and also Gehenna and its

torments. So far as I can gather, only the latter, not the former, seems implied in the Targ. Pseudo-Jonathan.

THE MAN BORN BLIND.

177

CHAPTER IX.

THE HEALING OF THE MAN BORN BLIND.

(St. John ix.)

СНАР.
IX

ix. 14

AFTER the scene in the Temple described in the last chapter, and Christ's consequent withdrawal from His enemies, we can scarcely suppose any other great event to have taken place on that day within or near the precincts of the Sanctuary. And yet, from the close connection of the narratives, we are led to infer that no long interval of time can have elapsed before the healing of the man born blind.' Probably it happened the day after the events just recorded. We know that it was a Sabbath,a and this fresh mark of time, as well as the : St. John multiplicity of things done, and the whole style of the narrative, confirm our belief that it was not on the evening of the day when He had spoken to them first in the Treasury,' and then in the Porch.

On two other points there is strong presumption, though we cannot offer actual proof. Remembering, that the entrance to the Temple or its Courts was then—as that of churches is on the Continent—the chosen spot for those who, as objects of pity, solicited charity ;b remembering, also, how rapidly the healing of the blind • Acts iii. 2 man became known, and how soon both his parents and the healed man himself appeared before the Pharisees—presumably, in the Temple; lastly, how readily the Saviour knew where again to find him, we can scarcely doubt that the miracle took place at the St. John entering to the Temple, or on the Temple-Mount. Secondly, both the Work, and specially the Words of Christ, seem in such close connection with what had preceded, that we can scarcely be mistaken in regarding them as intended to form a continuation of it.

It is not difficult to realise the scene, nor to understand the remarks of all who had part in it. It was the Sabbath—the day

ix 35

Godet supposes that it had taken the Feast of the Dedication. But his place on the evening of the Octave of the argument on the subject, from another Feast. On the other hand, Canon West- rendering of St. John x. 22, has failed cott would relegate both ch. ix, and x. to to convince me. VOL. II.

N

BOOK

IV

b

Jer. Peah viii. 9

after the Octave of the Feast, and Christ with His disciples was passing-presumably when going into the Temple, where this blind beggar was wont to sit, probably soliciting alms, perhaps in some such terms as these, which were common at the time: "Gain merit by me;' or, o tenderhearted, by me gain merit, to thine own benefit.' But on the Sabbath he would, of course, neither ask nor receive alms, though his presence in the wonted place would secure

wider notice, and perhaps lead to many private gifts. Indeed, the * Peah viii. 9 blind were regarded as specially entitled to charity;a and the Jeru

salem Talmud relates some touching instances of the delicacy displayed towards such. As the Master and His disciples passed the blind beggar, Jesus saw' him, with that look which they who followed Him knew to be full of meaning. Yet, so thoroughly Judaised were they by their late contact with the Pharisees, that no thought of possible mercy came to them, only a truly and characteristically Jewish question, addressed to Him expressly, and as “Rabbi:'1 through whose guilt this blindness had befallen him—through his own, or that of his parents.

For, thoroughly Jewish the question was. Many instances could be adduced, in which one or another sin is said to have been punished by some immediate stroke, disease, or even by death; and we constantly find Rabbis, when meeting such unfortunate persons, asking them, how or by what sin this had come to them. But, as this man was “blind from his birth,' the possibility of some actual sin before birth would suggest itself, at least as a speculative question, since the

evil impulse' (Yezer haRa), might even then be called into actiSank340; vity. At the same time, both the Talmud and the later charge of

the Pharisees, ' In sins wast thou born altogether,' imply that in such cases the alternative explanation would be considered, that the blindness might be caused by the sin of his parents. It was a common Jewish view, that the merits or demerits of the parents would appear in the children. In fact, up to thirteen years of age a child was considered, as it were, part of his father, and as suffering for his guilt.d More than that, the thoughts of a mother might affect the moral state of her unborn offspring, and the terrible apostasy of one of the greatest Rabbis had, in popular belief, been caused by the

sinful delight his mother had taken when passing through an idolRutil ti.'13 grove. Lastly, certain special sins in the parents would result in i So in the original.

quite erroneously, supposed that Josephus 2 This opinion has, however, nothing to imputed to the Pharisees. The misunder. do with the migration of souls standing of Jew. War ii. 8. 14, should be doctrine which it has been generally, but corrected by Antiq. xviii. 1. 3.

d Shabb.
32 6; 105 b;
Yalkut on
Ruth, vol, ii.
par. 600, p.
163 c

• WHO DID SIN, THIS MAN, OR HIS PARENTS ?'

179

СНАР.

IX

* Nedar. 20 a

specific diseases in their offspring, and one is mentioned & as causing blindness in the children. But the impression left on our minds is, that the disciples felt not sure as to either of these solutions of the difficulty. It seemed a mystery, inexplicable on the supposition of God's infinite goodness, and to which they sought to apply the common Jewish solution. Many similar mysteries meet us in the administration of God's Providence-questions, which seem unanswerable, but to which we try to give answers, perhaps, not much wiser than the explanations suggested by the disciples.

But why seek to answer them at all, since we possess not all, perhaps very few of, the data requisite for it? There is one aspect, however, of adversity, and of a strange dispensation of evil, on which the light of Christ's Words here shines with the brightness of a new morning. There is a physical, natural reason for them. God has not specially sent them, in the sense of His interference or primary causation, although He has sent them in the sense of His knowledge, will, and reign. They have come in the ordinary course of things, and are traceable to causes which, if we only knew them, would appear to us the sequence of the laws which God has imposed on His creation, and which are necessary for its orderly continuance. And, further, all such evil consequences, from the operation of God's laws, are in the last instance to be traced back to the curse which sin has brought upon man and on earth. With these His Laws, and with their evil sequences to us through the curse of sin, God does not interfere in the ordinary course of His Providence; although he would be daring, who would negative the possibility of what may seem, though it is not, interference, since the natural causes which lead to these evil consequences may so easily, naturally, and rationally be affected. But there is another and a higher aspect of it, since Cbrist has come, and is really the Healer of all disease and evil by being the Remover of its ultimate moral cause. This is indicated in His words, when, putting aside the clumsy alternative suggested by the disciples, He told them that it was so in order that the works of God might be made manifest in him.' They wanted to know the 'why,' He told them the “in order to,' of the man's calamity; they wished to understand its reason as regarded its origin, He told them its reasonableness in regard to the purpose which it, and all similar suffering, should serve, since Christ has come, the Healer of evil

? At the same time those opinions, vidual teacher. The latter are cynically which are based on higher moral views and coarsely set aside by the sages' in of marriage, are only those of an indi- Nedar. 20 b.

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