Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high
That is, he took him off from the pinnacle of the
temple, and carried him through the air, to one of the mountains
which were round about Jerusalem; or to some very high mountain at a
greater distance; but what mountain is not certain; nor can it be
known; nor is it of any moment; it has been said F7 to be Mount
Lebanon: here he
sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and glory of them.
"all the kingdoms of the world" are meant, not only the Roman
empire, as Dr. Lightfoot thinks, though that was, to he sure, the
greatest in the world at that time; but all the kingdoms in the
whole world, which subsisted in any form, whether within, or
independent of the Roman empire; or whether greater or lesser: and
by "the glory of them", is meant, the riches, pomp, power, and
grandeur of them. Now the view which Satan gave Christ of all this,
was not by a representation of them in a picture, or in a map, or in
any geographical tables, as F8 some have thought; since to do this
there was no need to take him up into a mountain, and that an
exceeding high one; for this might have been done in a valley, as
well as in a mountain: and yet it could not be a true and real sight
of these things he gave him; for there is no mountain in the world,
from whence can be beheld anyone kingdom, much less all the
kingdoms of the world; and still less the riches, glory, pomp, and
power of them: but this was a fictitious, delusive representation,
which Satan was permitted to make; to cover which, and that it might
be thought to be real, he took Christ into an high mountain; where he
proposed an object externally to his sight, and internally to his
imagination, which represented, in appearance, the whole world, and
all its glory. Xiphilinus F9 reports of Severus, that he dreamed,
he was had by a certain person, to a place where he could look all
around him, and from thence he beheld (pasan men thn ghn, pasan de)
(thn yalassan) "all the earth, and also all the sea"; which was all in
imagination. Satan thought to have imposed on Christ this way, but failed
in his attempt. Luke says, this was done
in a moment of time,
in the twinkling of an eye; as these two
phrases are joined together, (1 Corinthians 15:52) or "in a point of time".
The word (stigmh) , used by (Luke 4:5) sometimes signifies a mathematical
point, which Zeno says F11 is the end of the line, and the least
mark; to which the allusion may be here, and designs the smallest
part of time that can be conceived of. Antoninus the emperor uses
the word, as here, for a point of time; and says F12, that the time
of human life, and the whole present time, is but (stigmh) a point.
Would you know what a moment, or point of time is, according to the
calculation of the Jewish doctors, take the account as follows;
though in it they differ: a moment, say they F13, is the fifty six
thousandth, elsewhere F14, the fifty eight thousandth, and in
another place F15, the fifty three thousandth and eight hundredth
and forty eighth, or, according to another account F16, eighty eighth
part of an hour. If this could be thought to be a true and exact
account of a moment, or point of time, it was a very short space of
time indeed, in which the devil showed to Christ the kingdoms of
this world, and their glory; but this is not more surprising than
his vanity, pride, and impudence, in the following verse.
F7 Vid. Fabricii Bibliograph. Antiq. c. 5. p. 137.
F8 Vid. Fabricium, ibid. & Grotium in loc.
F9 Apud Fabricium, ib.
F11 Vid. Laertium in Vit. Zenou.
F12 De seipso, l. 2. c. 17. & l. 6. c. 36.
F13 T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 2. 4.
F14 T. Bab Beracot. fol. 7. 1.
F15 Avoda Zara, fol. 4. 1.
F16 T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 7. 1.