The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire BibleJohn 11:19
And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary…
those that were about Martha and Mary"; in order to have access to
them, they came to them, and to the rest of the family; though the
phrase may design them only, as the Vulgate Latin, and all the
Oriental versions read: these Jews, as appears from the context,
(John 11:18,45,46) , came from Jerusalem, and might be some of the
principal inhabitants; and it may be concluded, that these persons,
Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, were people of note and figure; and
indeed all the accounts of them here, and elsewhere, show the same;
see (Luke 10:38) (John 12:1-3) . The end of their coming to them was
to comfort them concerning their brother;
by reason of his death, as
was usual with the Jews to do, after the dead was buried; for they
did not allow of it before: hence that saying F7 of R. Simeon ben
``do not comfort him (thy friend) in the time his dead lies
The first office of this kind was done when they returned from the
grave; for it is said F8, when they return
``from the grave they make rows round about the mourner,
(wmxnl) , "to comfort him", and they make him to sit, and
they stand, and there never were less than ten in a row.''
It was an ancient custom for the mourners to stand in their place in
a row, and all the people passed by, and every man as he came to the
mourner comforted him, and passed on F9. But besides these
consolations, there were others administered at their own houses,
which were usually done the first week, for it is said F11,
``the mourner the first week does not go out of the door of
his house; the second he goes out, but does not sit, or
continue in his place; the third he continues in his
place, but does not speak; the fourth, lo, he is as every
other man. R. Judah says, there is no need to say, the
first week he does not go out of the door of his house,
for behold, all come to his house, (wmxnl) , "to comfort
And is was on the third day more particularly on which these
consolatory visits were paid F12:
``on the first day he (the mourner) did not wear his
phylacteries; on the second, he put them on; on the third
day, others come to comfort him.''
This rule the Jews here seem to have observed, since Lazarus had
been dead four days; and they were come from Jerusalem hither to
comfort his sisters on account of his death. The whole of this
ceremony is thus related by Maimonides F13,
``how do they comfort mourners? after they have buried the
dead, the mourners gather together, and stand on the side
of the grave; and all that accompany the dead stand round
about them, one row within another: and there is no row
less than ten; and the mourners are not of the number; the
mourners stand on the left hand of the comforters; and all
the comforters go to the mourners, one by one, and say to
them, (Mymvh Nm wmxwnt) , "may ye be comforted from heaven":
after that the mourner goes to his house, and every day of
the seven days of mourning, men come to comfort him;
whether new faces come, or do not, the mourner sits down
at the head, (or in the chief place,) and no comforters
may sit but upon the floor, as it is said, (Job 2:13) , "and
they sat with him on the ground": nor may they say any
thing until the mourner has opened his mouth first, as it
is said, (Job 2:13) , "and none spake a word unto him": and
it is written afterwards, (Job 3:1) , "so opened Job his
mouth"… and Eliphaz answered, (Job 4:1) , and when he
nods with his head, the comforters may not sit with him
any longer, that they may not trouble him more than is
necessary. If a man dies, and there are no mourners to be
comforted, ten worthy men go and sit in his place all the
seven days of mourning; and the rest of the people gather
to them; and if there are not ten fixed every day, ten of
the rest of the people gather together, and sit in his
for this business of comforting mourners was reckoned an act of
great piety and mercy F14; and these Jews here might come, not so
much out of respect to the dead, or to his sisters, as because it
was thought to be a meritorious act.
F7 Pirke Abot, c. 4. sect. 18.
F8 Gloss in Cetubot, fol. 8. 2. & in Beracot, fol. 16. 2.
F9 Gloss in T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 19. 1.
F11 T. Bab. Moed Katon, fol. 23. 1.
F12 Massech. Semachot, c. 6. fol. 14. 3.
F13 Hilch. Ebel, c. 13. sect. 1, 2, 3, 4.
F14 Maimon. in Misn. Peah, c. 1. sect. 1.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on John 11:19". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=joh&chapter=011&verse=019>. 1999.