Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

BOOK

III

a Debar. R. 10

Yoma viii. 6

. Yoma 84 a d Shabb. xiv. 3

e u. S. 4

of the ear,* according to some throat-disease, while, according to others, such a disease as angina,“ involved danger, and superseded the Sabbath-Law. All applications to the outside of the body were forbidden on the Sabbath. As regarded internal remedies, such substances as were used in health, but had also a remedial effect, might be taken, d although here also there was a way of evading the Law. A person suffering from toothache might not gargle his mouth with vinegar, but he might use an ordinary toothbrush and dip it in vinegar. The Gemara here adds, that gargling was lawful, if the substance was afterwards swallowed. It further explains, that affections extending from the lips, or else from the throat, inwards, may

be attended to, being regarded as dangerous. Quite a number of these are enumerated, showing, that either the Rabbis were very lax in applying their canon about mortal diseases, or else that they reckoned in their number not a few which we would not regard as șuch.? External lesions also might be attended to, if they involved danger to life.3 Similarly, medical aid might be called in, if a

person had swallowed a piece of glass; a splinter might be removed somrider from the eye, and even a thorn from the body.

But although the man with the withered hand could not be classed with those dangerously ill, it could not have been difficult to silence the Rabbis on their own admissions. Clearly, their principle implied, that it was lawful on the Sabbath to do that which would save life or prevent death. To have taught otherwise, would virtually have involved murder. But if so, did it not also, in strictly logical sequence, imply this far wider principle, that it must be lawful to do good on the Sabbath ? For, evidently, the omission of such good would have involved the doing of evil. Could this be the proper observance of God's holy day? There was no answer to such an argument; St. Mark expressly records that they dared not attempt a reply. On the other hand, St. Matthew, while alluding to this terribly telling challenge,h records yet another and a personal argument. It seems that Christ publicly appealed to them: If any poor man among them, who had one sheep, were in danger of losing

St. Mark iii. 4

h St. Matt. xii. 12

1 Thus, when a Rabbi is consulted, whether a man might on the Sabbath take a certain drink which had a purgative effect, he answered: 'If for pleasure it is lawful; if for healing forbidden' (Jer. Shabb. 14 c).

2 Thus one of the Rabbis regarded fætor of the breath as possibly dangerous (u.s.

14 d).

3 Displacement of the frontal bone, disease of the nerves leading from the ear to the upper jaw, an eye starting from its socket, severe inflammations, and swelling wounds, are specially mentioned.

CHAP.
XXXV

• IS IT LAWFUL TO HEAL ON THE SABBATH-DAY ? :

61 it through having fallen into a pit, would he not lift it out? To be sure, the Rabbinic Law ordered that food and drink should be lowered to it, or else that some means should be furnished by which it might either be kept up in the pit, or enabled to come out of it. But even Shabb. the Talmud discusses cases in which it was lawful to lift an animal out of a pit on a Sabbath. There could be no doubt, at any rate, Shabb. that even if the Law was, at the time of Christ, as stringent as in the the middle Talmud, a man would have found some device, by which to recover the solitary sheep which constituted his possession. And was not the life of a human being to be more accounted of? Surely, then, on the Sabbath-day it was lawful to do good! Yes—to do good, and to neglect it, would have been to do evil. Nay, according to their own admission, should not a man, on the Sabbath, save life; or should he, by omitting it, kill ?

We can now imagine the scene in that Synagogue. The place is crowded. Christ probably occupies a prominent position as leading the

prayers or teaching: a position whence He can see, and be seen by all. Here, eagerly bending forward, are the dark faces of the Pharisees, expressive of curiosity, malice, cunning. They are looking round at a man whose right hand is withered, perhaps putting him St. Luke forward, drawing attention to him, loudly whispering, 'Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath-day?' The Lord takes up the challenge. He bids the man stand forth-right in the midst of them, where they might all see and hear. By one of those telling appeals, which go straight to the conscience, He puts the analogous case of a poor man who was in danger of losing his only sheep on the Sabbath : would he not rescue it; and was not a man better than a sheep? Nay, did they not themselves enjoin a breach of the Sabbath-Law to save human life? Then, must He not do so; might He not do good rather than evil ?

They were speechless. But a strange mixture of feeling was in the Saviour's heart-strange to us, though it is but what Holy Scripture always tells us of the manner in which God views sin and the sinner, using terms, which, in their combination, seem grandly incompatible: 'And when He had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved at the hardening of their heart. It was but for a moment, and then, with life-giving power, He bade the man stretch forth his hand. Withered it was no longer, when the Word had been spoken, and a new sap, a fresh life had streamed into it, as, following the Saviour's Eye and Word, he slowly stretched it forth.

vi. 6

BOOK

III

a St. Luke vi. 11

And as he stretched it forth, his hand was restored. The Saviour had broken their Sabbath-Law, and yet He had not broken it, for neither by remedy, nor touch, nor outward application had He healed him. He had broken the Sabbath-rest, as God breaks it, when He sends, or sustains, or restores life, or does good : all unseen and unheard, without touch or outward application, by the Word of His Power, by the Presence of His Life.

But who after this will say, that it was Paul who first introduced into the Church either the idea that the Sabbath-Law in its Jewish form was no longer binding, or this, that the narrow forms of Judaism were burst by the new wine of that Kingdom, which is that of the Son of Man ?

They had all seen it, this miracle of almost new creation. As He did it, He had been filled with sadness; as they saw it, they were filled with madness.' a So their hearts were hardened. They could not gainsay, but they went forth and took counsel with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him. Presumably, then, He was within, or quite close by, the dominions of Herod, east of the Jordan. And the Lord withdrew once more, as it seems to us, into Gentile territory, probably that of the Decapolis. For, as He went about healing all, that needed it, in that great multitude that followed His steps, yet enjoining silence on them, this prophecy of Isaiah blazed into fulfilment : “Behold My Servant, Whom I have chosen, My Beloved, in Whom My soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall declare judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive nor cry aloud, neither shall any hear His Voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory. And in His Name shall the Gentiles trust.'

And in His Name shall the Gentiles trust. Far out into the silence of those solitary upland hills of the Gentile world did the call, unheard and unheeded in Israel, travel. He had other sheep which were not of that fold. And down those hills, from the far-off lands, does the sound of the bells, as it comes nearer and nearer, tell that those other sheep, which are not of this fold, are gathering at His call to the Good Shepherd ; and through these centuries, still louder and more manifold becomes this sound of nearing bells, till they shall all be gathered into one : one flock, one fold, one Shepherd.

i The tense indicates, that it was restored as he stretched it out. And this is spiritually significant. According to St. Jerome (Comm. in Matt xii. 13), in the Gospel of the Nazarenes and Ebionites

this man was described as a mason, and that he had besought Jesus to restore him, so that he might not have to beg for food.

THE FEEDING OF THE FOUR THOUSAND.

63

CHAPTER XXXVI.

THE FEEDING OF THE FOUR THOUSAND-TO DALMANUTHA— THE SIGN FROM

HEAVEN '—JOURNEY TO CÆSAREA PHILIPPI-WHAT IS THE LEAVEN OF
THE PHARISEES AND SADDUCEES ?

(St, Matt. xv. 32-xvi. 12; St. Mark viii. 1-21.)

CHAP.
XXXVI

They might well gather to Jesus in their thousands, with their wants of body and soul, these sheep wandering without a shepherd; for His Ministry in that district, as formerly in Galilee, was about to draw to a close. And here it is remarkable, that each time His prolonged stay and Ministry in a district were brought to a close with some supper, so to speak, some festive entertainment on His part. The Galilean Ministry had closed with the feeding of the five thousand, the guests being mostly from Capernaum and the towns around, as far as Bethsaida (Julias), many in the number probably on their way to the Paschal Feast at Jerusalem. But now at the second provision for the four thousand, with which His Decapolis Ministry closed, the guests were not strictly Jews, but semi-Gentile inhabitants of that district and its neighbourhood. Lastly, His Judæan Ministry closed with the Last Supper. At the first Supper,' the Jewish guests would fain have proclaimed Him Messiah-King; at the second, as 'the Son of Man,' He gave food to those Gentile multitudes which, having been with Him those days, and consumed all their victuals during their stay with Him, He could not send away fasting, lest they should faint by the way. And on the last occasion, as the true Priest and Sacrifice, He fed His own with the true Paschal Feast ere He sent them forth alone into the wilderness. Thus these three Suppers' seem connected, each leading up, as it were, to the other.

There can, at any rate, be little doubt that this second feeding of the multitude took place in the Gentile Decapolis, and that those who sat down to the meal were chiefly the inhabitants of that district. If it be lawful, departing from strict history, to study the

Comp. ch. xxix. of this Book. * This appears from the whole context.

Comp. Bp. Ellicott's Histor. Lect. pp.
220, 221, and notes.

BOOK
III

symbolism of this event, as compared with the previous feeding of the five thousand who were Jews, somewhat singular differences will present themselves to the mind. On the former occasion there were five thousand fed with five loaves, when twelve baskets of fragments were left. On the second occasion, four thousand were fed from seven loaves, and seven baskets of fragments collected. It is at least curious, that the number five in the provision for the Jews is that of the Pentateuch, just as the number twelve corresponds to that of the tribes and of the Apostles. On the other hand, in the feeding of the Gentiles we mark the number four, which is the signature of the world, and seven, which is that of the Sanctuary. We would not by any means press it, as if these were, in the telling of the narrative, designed coincidences; but, just because they are undesigned, we value them, feeling that there is more of undesigned symbolism in all God's manifestations—in nature, in history, and in grace—than meets the eye of those who observe the merely phenomenal. Nay, does it not almost seem, as if all things were cast in the mould of heavenly realities, and all earth's shewbread' Bread of His Presence'?

On all general points the narratives of the twofold miraculous feeding run so parallel, that it is not necessary again to consider this event in detail. But the attendant circumstances are so different, that only the most reckless negative criticism could insist, that one and the same event had been presented by the Evangelists as two separate occasions. The broad lines of difference as to the number of persons, the provision, and the quantity of fragments left, cannot be overlooked. Besides, on the former occasion the repast was provided in the evening for those who had gone after Christ, and listened to Him all day, but who, in their eager haste, had come without victuals, when He would not dismiss them faint and hungry, because they had been so busy for the Bread of Life that they had forgotten that of earth. But on this second occasion, of the feeding of the Gentiles, the multitude had been three days with Him, and what sustenance they brought must have failed, when, in His compassion, the Saviour would not send them to their homes fasting, lest they should faint by the way. This could not have befallen those Gentiles, who had come to the Christ for food to their souls. And, it must be kept in view, that Christ dismissed them, not, as before, because they would have made Him their King, but because Him

| For a summary of the great differences between the two miracles, comp.

Bp. Ellicott, u. s. pp. 221, 222. Thestatements of Meyer ad loc. are unsatisfactory.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »