And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem…
Persic, and Ethiopic versions read, "when he drew nigh, or was
near"; but not alone, his disciples were with him, and a multitude
of people also; as is evident from the following account. They might
well be said to be near to Jerusalem, since it is added,
and were come to Bethphage;
which the Jews say F14 was within the
walls of the city of Jerusalem, and was in all respects as the city
itself, and was the outermost part of it F15; and that all within
the outward circumference of the city of Jerusalem was called
Bethphage F16: it seems to me to be part of it within the city, and
part of it without, in the suburbs of it, which reached to Bethany,
and that to the Mount of Olives. Various are the derivations and
etymologies of this place: some say it signifies "the house", or
"place of a fountain", from a fountain that was in it; as if it was a
compound of "Beth", an house, and (phgh) , "pege", a fountain: others,
"the house of the mouth of a valley"; as if it was made up of those
three words, (ayg yp tyb) , because the outward boundary of it was at the
foot of the Mount of Olives, at the entrance of the valley of
Jehoshaphat: others say, that the ancient reading was "Bethphage,
the house of slaughter"; and Jerom says F17, it was a village of the
priests, and he renders it, "the house of jaw bones": here indeed
they might bake the showbread, and eat the holy things, as in
Jerusalem F18; but the true reading and signification of it is, (ygap)
(tyb) , "the house of figs"; so called from the fig trees which grew in
the outward limits of it, near Bethany, and the Mount of Olives;
hence we read of F19 (ynyh tyb ygp) , "the figs of Bethany"; which
place is mentioned along with, Bethphage, both by Mark and Luke,
where Christ, and those with him, were now come: the latter says,
they were come nigh to these places, for they were come
to the Mount of Olives;
near to which were the furthermost limits of
Bethany, and Bethphage, from Jerusalem. This mount was so called
from the abundance of olive trees which grew upon it, and was on the
east side of Jerusalem F20; and it was distant from it a
sabbath day's journey, (Acts 1:12) which was two, thousand cubits, or
eight furlongs, and which made one mile:
then sent Jesus two disciples;
who they were is not certain, perhaps
Peter and John, who were afterwards sent by him to prepare the
passover, (Luke 22:8) .
F14 Gloss. in T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 14. 2. & Pesach. fol. 91. 1.
F15 Gloss. in T. Bab. Pesach. fol. 63. 2. & 91. 1.
F16 Gloss. in T. Bab. Sota, fol. 45. 1. & Bava Metzia fol. 90. 1.
F17 In loc. & ad Eustoch, fol. 59. 3. Tom. 1.
F18 Misn. Menachot, c. 11. sect. 2. T. Bab. Menachot fol. 63. 1. & 78.
2. Maimon. Hilch. Pesul. Hamukdash, c. 12. sect. 16. Gloss. in
Pesach. fol. 63. 2.
F19 T. Bab. Pesach. fol. 53. 1. & Erubin, fol. 28. 2.
F20 Zech. xiv 4. Targum in Ezek. xi. 23. & Bartenora in Misn. Mid. dot.
c. 1. sect. 3.