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BETHSAIDA.

3

CHAPTER XXXI.

THE CAVILS OF THE PHARISEES CONCERNING PURIFICATION, AND THE TEACH

ING OF THE LORD CONCERNING PURITY-THE TRADITIONS CONCERNING
HAND-WASHING' AND 'vows.'

(St. Matt. xv. 1-20; St. Mark vii. 1-23.)

As we follow the narrative, confirmatory evidence of what had preceded springs up at almost every step. It is quite in accordance with the abrupt departure of Jesus from Capernaum, and its motives, that when, so far from finding rest and privacy at Bethsaida (east of the Jordan), a greater multitude than ever had there gathered around Him, which would fain have proclaimed Him King, He resolved on immediate return to the western shore, with the view of seeking a quieter retreat, even though it were in the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.'a According to St. Mark, the Master had directed the St. Matt. disciples to make for the other Bethsaida, or Fisherton,' on the St. Mark western shore of the Lake. Remembering how common the corresponding name is in our own country, and that fishing was the main xii. 21 industry along the shores of the Lake, we need not wonder at the existence of more than one Beth-Saida, or Fisherton." Nor yet does it seem strange, that the site should be lost of what, probably, except for the fishing, was quite an unimportant place. By the testimony both of Josephus and the Rabbis, the shores of Gennesaret were thickly studded with little towns, villages, and hamlets, which have all perished without leaving a trace, while even of the largest the ruins are few and inconsiderable. We would, however, hazard a geographical conjecture. From the fact that St. Mark d names a St. Mark Bethsaida, and St. Johne Capernaum, as the original destination of the boat, we would infer that Bethsaida was the fishing quarter vi. 17.

CHAP.
XXXI

vi. 45
e St. John

vi. 45
e St. John

"I have myself counted twelve differ- but complete.
ent places in England bearing names 2 In Jer. Megill. (p. 70 a, line 15 from
which might be freely rendered by · Beth- bottom) we read of a 777", but the
saida,' not to speak of the many suburbs locality scarcely agrees with our Beth-
and quarters which bear a like designa- Saida.
tion, and, of course, my list is anything

BOOK
III

44; xii. 21
D St. Mark i.
29

2

of, or rather close to, Capernaum, even as we so often find in our own country a • Fisherton' adjacent to larger towns. With this would agree the circumstance, that no traces of an ancient harbour

have been discovered at Tell Hûm, the site of Capernaum. Further, • St. John i. it would explain, how Peter and Andrew, who, according to St. John,"

were of Bethsaida, are described by St. Mark as having their home in Capernaum. It also deserves notice, that, as regards the house of St. Peter, St. Mark, who was so intimately connected with him, names Capernaum, while St. John, who was his fellow-townsman, names Bethsaida, and that the reverse difference obtains between the two Evangelists in regard to the direction of the ship. This also suggests, that in a sense—as regarded the fishermen—the names were interchangeable, or rather, that Bethsaida was the Fisherton' of Capernaum.

A superficial reader might object that, in the circumstances, we would scarcely have expected Christ and His disciples to have returned at once to the immediate neighbourhood of Capernaum, if not to that city itself. But a fuller knowledge of the circumstances will not only, as so often, convert the supposed difficulty into most important confirmatory evidence, but supply some deeply interesting details. The apparently trivial notice, that (at least) the concluding part of the Discourses, immediately on the return to Capernaum, was spoken by Christ'in Synagogue,"¢ 3 enables us not only to localise this address, but to fix the exact succession of events. If this Discourse was spoken 'in Synagogue,' it must have been (as will be shown) on the Jewish Sabbath. Reckoning backwards, we arrive at the conclusion, that Jesus with His disciples left Capernaum for Bethsaida-Julias on a Thursday; that the miraculous feeding of the multitude took place on Thursday evening; the passage of the disciples to the other side, and the walking of Christ on the sea, as well as the failure of Peter's faith, in the night of Thursday to Friday; the passage of the people to Capernaum in search of Jesus, with all that followed, on the Friday; and, lastly, the final Discourses of Christ on the Saturday in Capernaum and in the Synagogue.

Two inferences will appear from this chronological arrangement. First, when our Lord had retraced His steps from the eastern shore in search of rest and retirement, it was so close on the Jewish Sabbath (Friday), that He was almost obliged to return to Capernaum to

o St. John vi. 59

d St. John vi. 22-24)

i Comp. Baedeker (Socin) Paläst. page 270.

2 May this connection of Capernaum and Beth-Saida account for the mention of the latter as one of the places

which had been the scene of so many of His mighty works (St. Matt. xi. 21 ; St. Luke x. 13)?

* There is no article in the original.

FROM GENNESARET TO CAPERNAUM.

5

CHAP.
XXXI

spend the holy day there, before undertaking the further journey to the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.' And on the Sabbath no actual danger, either from Herod Antipas or the Pharisees, need have been apprehended. Thus (as before indicated), the sudden return to Capernaum, so far from constituting a difficulty, serves as confirmation of the previous narrative. Again, we cannot but perceive a peculiar correspondence of dates. Mark here: The miraculous breaking of bread at Bethsaida on a Thursday evening, and the breaking of Bread at the Last Supper on a Thursday evening; the attempt to proclaim Him King, and the betrayal ; Peter's bold assertion, and the failure of his faith, each in the night from Thursday to Friday; and, lastly, Christ's walking on the angry, storm-tossed waves, and commanding them, and bringing the boat that bore His disciples safe to land, and His victory and triumph over Death and him that had the power of Death.

These, surely, are more than coincidences; and in this respect also may this history be regarded as symbolic. As we read it, Christ directed the disciples to steer for Bethsaida, the Fisherton' of Capernaum. But, apart from the latter suggestion, we gather from the expressions used, that the boat which bore the disciples had drifted St. Mark oat of its course-probably owing to the wind—and touched land, not where they had intended, but at Gennesaret, where they moored it. There can be no question, that by this term is meant 'the plain of Gennesaret,' the richness and beauty of which Josephus b and Jewish the Rabbis e describe in such glowing language. To this day it bears 7,8 marks of having been the most favoured spot in this favoured region. Veg. &a; Travelling northwards from Tiberias along the Lake, we follow, for Ber. R. 98 about five or six miles, a narrow ledge of land, shut in by mountains, when we reach the home of the Magdalene, the ancient Magdala (the modern Medjdel). Right over against us, on the other side, is Kersa (Gerasa), the scene of the great miracle. On leaving Magdala the mountains recede, and form an amphitheatric plain, more than a mile wide, and four or five miles long. This is the land of Gennesaret' (el Ghuweir). We pass across the Valley of Doves,' which intersects it about one mile to the north of Magdala, and pursue our journey over the well-watered plain, till, after somewhat more than an hour, we reach its northern boundary, a little beyond Khân Minieh. The latter has, in accordance with tradition, been regarded by some as representing Bethsaida,' but seems both too far from the Lake, and too much south of Capernaum, to answer the requirements.

Baedeker (Socin) has grouped together the reasons against identifying Khân Minich with Capernaum itself.

War iii. 10.

BOOK
III

a St. Matt. xiv. 34-36; St. Mark vi. 53-56

St. John vi. 22-25

over. 59

a St. John vi. 4

No sooner had the well-known boat, which bore Jesus and His disciples, been run up the gravel-beach in the early morning of that Friday, than His Presence must have become known throughout the district, all the more that the boatmen would soon spread the story of the miraculous occurrences of the preceding evening and night. With Eastern rapidity the tidings would pass along, and from all the country around the sick were brought on their pallets, if they might but touch the border of His garment. Nor could such touch, even though the outcome of an imperfect faith, be in vain-for He, Whose garment they sought leave to touch, was the God-Man, the Conqueror of Death, the Source and Spring of all Life. And so it was where He landed, and all the way up to Bethsaida and Capernaum.al

In what followed, we can still trace the succession of events, though there are considerable difficulties as to their precise order. Thus we are expressly told, that those from the other side' came to Capernaum' on the day following 'the miraculous feeding, and that one of the subsequent Discourses, of which the outline is preserved, was delivered in Synagogue.'° As this could only have been done either on a Sabbath or Feast-Day (in this instance, the Passover ), it follows, that in any case a day must have intervened between their arrival at Capernaum and the Discourse in Synagogue. Again, it is almost impossible to believe that it could have been on the Passoverday (15th Nisan). For we cannot imagine, that any large number would have left their homes and festive preparations on the Eve of the Pascha (14th Nisan), not to speak of the circumstance that in Galilee, differently from Judæa, all labour, including, of course, that of a journey across the Lake, was intermitted on the Eve of the Passover. Similarly, it is almost impossible to believe, that so many festive pilgrims would have been assembled till late in the evening preceding the 14th Nisan so far from Jerusalem as Bethsaida-Julias, since it would have been impossible after that to reach the city and Temple in time for the feast. It, therefore, only remains to regard the Synagogue-service at which Christ preached as that of an ordinary Sabbath, and the arrival of the multitude as having taken place on the Friday in the forenoon.

Again, from the place which the narrative occupies in the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark, as well as from certain internal

e Pes, 55 a

1 Mr. Brown McClellan (N. T. vol. i. p. 570), holds, that both the Passover and Pentecost had intervened-I know not on what grounds. At the same time the language in St. Mark vi. 56, might imply

more than one occasion on which the same thing happened.

? This is propounded in Wieseler, Chronolog. Synopse, pp. 276, 290, as a possible view.

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