2. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that
sat at the table with him.
[They made him a supper.] If we count the days back from the Passover, and take
notice that Christ suffered the next day after the eating of the Passover, which is our
Friday; it will appear that this supper was on the evening of the sabbath, that is, the
sabbath now going out.
Let us measure the time in this scheme:
Nisan 9. The sabbath.--Six days before the Passover Jesus sups with Lazarus at
the going out of the sabbath, when, according to the custom of that country, their suppers
were more liberal.
10. Sunday.--Five days before the Passover Jesus goes to Jerusalem, sitting on an
ass; and on the evening returns to Bethany, Mark 11:11. On this day the lamb was taken and
kept till the Passover, Exodus 12; on which day this Lamb of God presented himself, which
was the antitype of that rite.
11. Monday.--Four days before the Passover he goes to Jerusalem again; curseth
the unfruitful fig tree, Matthew 21:18; Mark 11:12: in the evening he returns again to
Bethany, Mark 11:19.
12. Tuesday.--Three days before the Passover he goes again to Jerusalem. His
disciples observe how the fig tree was withered, Mark 11:20. In the evening, going back to
Bethany, and sitting on the mount of Olives, he foretelleth the destruction of the Temple
and city, Matthew 24, and discourses those things which are contained in Matthew 25.
This night he sups with 'Simon the leper,' Matthew 26:1, &c.; John 13.
13. Wednesday.--This day he passeth away in Bethany. At the coming in of this
night the whole nation apply themselves to put away all leaven.
14. Thursday.--He sends two of his disciples to get ready the Passover. He
himself enters Jerusalem in the afternoon; in the evening eats the Passover, institutes
the eucharist; is taken, and almost all the night had before the courts of judicature.
15. Friday.--Afternoon, he is crucified.
16. Saturday.--He keeps the sabbath in the grave.
17. The Lord's day.--He riseth again.
3. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the
feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour
of the ointment.
[Then Mary, &c.] In that contest, whether Mary the sister of Lazarus was the
same with Mary Magdalene, this passage will help a little towards the affirmative, that
there was a town called Magdala very near Jerusalem.
"A clerk or scribe at Magdala set his candles in order every evening
of the sabbath, went up to Jerusalem, prayed there, returned and lighted up his candles
when the sabbath was now coming in."
It seems plain by this, that Magdala and Jerusalem were not very far distant from one
another, when all this was done so quickly, and in so short a space of time. Only we may
learn this from the Gloss, that that Magdala was Magdala Zebaim: concerning which
that sad and direful passage is related, that "it was destroyed for its
"There were three cities whose customs were carried to Jerusalem": Gloss:
"In wagons, because of their great weight. The names of these three cities were
Cabul, Sichin, and Magdala. Why was Cabul destroyed? Because of their discords. Why
was Sichin destroyed? Because of the magic arts they used. And why was Magdala
destroyed? Because of their whoredoms." The Hierosol. say it was Magdala
Zabaaia. To this place it was that R. Jonathan once betook himself for some cure to
Now therefore what should hinder but that Mary the sister of Lazarus of Bethany might
be called Magdalene, both for the nearness of the town, where perhaps she was married, and
also for the lascivious manners of the townsfolks, with which spot it is commonly believed
Mary Magdalene had been tainted?
[Anointed the feet of Jesus.] In this passage there were two things very
I. It was indeed a very common thing to anoint the feet with oil; but to do it with
aromatical ointment, this was more rarely done. And it is charged by the Gemarists as a
great crime, that the Jerusalem women of old anointed their shoes with perfumed ointment,
to entice the young men to wantonness.
"Make a tinkling with their feet, Isaiah 3:16. R. Isaac saith, that by this
is intimated that they put myrrh and balsam in their shoes; and when they met the young
men of Israel, they kicked with their feet, and so stirred up in them evil and loose
II. It was accounted an immodest thing for women to dishevel and unloose their hair
publicly: The priest unlooseth the hairs of the women suspected of adultery, when
she was to be tried by the bitter water, which was done for greater disgrace.
"Kamitha had seven sons, who all performed the office of high priest: they ask of
he how she came to this honour? She answered, 'The rafters of my house never saw the hairs
of my head.'"
[And wiped them with her hair.] Did she not wash his feet before she anointed
them? I do not ask whether she did not wash them with her tears, as before, Luke 7:
for as to that, the evangelist is silent; but did she not wash his feet at all? I
ask this, because the custom of the country seems to persuade she should do so.
"The maid brought him a little vessel of warm water, with which he washed
his hands and his feet: then she brought a golden vessel of oil, in which he dipped his
hands and his feet." There was first washing, then anointing.
Either therefore this word she wiped must relate to some previous washing of his
feet: or if it ought to refer to the ointment, it scarcely would suppose wiping off the
ointment now laid on; but rather, that with the hairs of her head she rubbed and chafed
it. Which brings to mind that passage, "If a woman in labour should have need of oil
[on the sabbath day], let her neighbour bring it her in the hollow of her hand; but if
that should not be sufficient, let her bring it in the hairs of her head." The
Gloss is, "Let her dip her own hair in oil, and when she comes to the woman in
travail, let her rub it upon her, and by that action she doth not break the sabbath."
[And the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.] "A good name is
better than precious ointment. Good ointment [by its smell] passeth out of the
bed into the dining room; but a good name, from one end of the world unto the
6. This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had
the bag, and bare what was put therein.
[The bag.] We meet with this word in the Greek interpreters, 2 Chronicles 24;
and it is set there for a chest or corban box, verse 8: let a purse
or bag be made. The Hebrew is, they shall make a chest. So verses 10, 11,
&c. Amongst the Talmudists we meet with gloskema [that is the word the Syriac
useth in this place], and dloskema. For as the Aruch, gloskema is the same
with dloskema, and is a Greek word. It is used commonly for a coffin.
"As Phrynichus writes it, a case of wood to keep relics in; a coffin, a chest, a
box, a purse, or rather a coffer (note that) in which they used to lay up their
money. It is used, John 12, to signify a purse." And why may it not be read
there also for a chest or coffer? for Judas is not said to carry the bag;
but that he had the bag, and bare what was put therein. So that nothing hinders but
that, even in this place, may signify a chest or coffer of money, fixed at
home; the keys of which were in Judas' keeping, and he carried the gifts that were to
be put into it.
7. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
[Against the day of my burying hath she kept this.] Baronius proves from this
place that this Mary was Mary Magdalene, because she is named amongst those that anointed
Christ for his interment; and Christ saith in this place, that she reserved some of this
ointment for this use: which I have had occasion to mention elsewhere. If this exposition
do not take, then add this clause, "Let her alone": for this may be an argument
and sign that she hath not done this vainly, luxuriously, or spent so costly an ointment
upon me upon any delicacy; because she hath reserved it for this time, wherein I am so
near my grave and funeral, and poured it not on me before.
12. On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that
Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
[Much people that were come to the feast.] It is not greatly to our present
purpose to enlarge in counting the multitude that flocked to the Passover. However, let
the reader take this story in his way, and judge of it as he thinks fit:
"King Agrippa, desirous to know how great a multitude was at Jerusalem at the
Passover, commanded the priests, saying, 'Lay me aside one kidney of every lamb.' They
laid him aside six hundred thousand pair of kidneys: double the number to those that went
out of Egypt. Now there was not any paschal lamb but was divided among more than ten
persons. R. Chaija saith, 'Forty, nay fifty persons.' One time they went into the Mountain
of the Temple, and it could not contain them. But there was a certain old man amongst them
whom they trod under their feet. Wherefore they called that Passover the Crowded
Although this be an account (according to the loose Rabbinical way of talking) that
exceeds all belief or modesty, yet might the reader, without a monitor, take notice of
something in it not unworthy observation. It is true, indeed, that the multitude of those
that celebrated the Passover at every feast could hardly be numbered, it was so great; yet
had Jerusalem hardly ever seen such a conflux of people as was at this very feast which we
are now upon, they being gathered thither from all nations of the world, Acts 2: for that
they were at the Passover as well as at Pentecost, there are hardly any, I believe, but
13. Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna:
Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.
[Took branches of palm trees.] We have made our notes upon this part of the
story in Matthew 21: but because here is mention of branches of palm trees, let us
add only in this place, what is discoursed by the Rabbins concerning the 'ivy of the palm
trees,' much used in the Passover. "I have heard from him that they perform their
service by Arkablin. But what is Arkablin? Resh Lachish saith, A twig twined
about." Gloss: "A thick sprig that grows up about the palm tree, folds about
it, and runs upon it." I could not tell better how to render this than by the 'ivy of
the palm tree.' They used, as it should seem, the leaves of that frequently amongst, or
instead of, the bitter herbs which they were to eat with the paschal lamb. So far they had
to do with the palm tree in all other Passovers, viz. to crop the ivy off of them: but
here they use the palm branches themselves, as in the feast of Tabernacles. A matter not
to be passed over without wonder, and cannot but bring to mind Zechariah 14:16, and John
19. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail
nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.
[The world is gone after him.] The Talmudists would say, All the world is
gone after him.
20. And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:
[There were certain Greeks.] That these Greeks were Gentiles, as
the Vulgar renders it, I do not question; and perhaps they were Syro-Grecians; and
those either of Decapolis, or Gadara, or Hippo: the reason of this conjecture is, partly,
that they apply themselves to Philip of Bethsaida, as known to them, because of his
neighbourhood; partly, which is more probable, that those Greeks that bordered upon
Galilee and the places where Christ wrought his miracles, might seem more prone both to
embrace the Jewish religion, and also to see Jesus, than those that lived further off.
However be they other Gentiles, and not Greeks; or be they Greeks
come from more remote countries, what had the one or the other to do with the feast, or
the religion of the Jews? As to this, let the Jewish writers inform us.
I. "If a heathen send a burnt offering out of his own country, and withal send
drink offerings, the drink offerings are offered: but if he send no drink offerings, drink
offerings are offered at the charge of the congregation." Observe that. We have the
same elsewhere. And it is every where added, that this is one of the seven things that
were ordained by the great council; and that the sacrifice of a Gentile is only a whole
burnt offering, The thank offerings of a Gentile are whole burnt offerings. And the
reason is given, The mind of that Gentile is towards heaven. Gloss: "He had
rather that his sacrifice should be wholly consumed by fire to God, than [as his thank
offerings] be eaten by men."
That of Josephus is observable; "Eleazar, the son of Ananias, the high priest, a
bold young man, persuaded those that ministered in holy things, that they should accept
of no sacrifice at the hands of a stranger. This was the foundation of the war with the
Romans." For they refused a sacrifice for Caesar.
The elders, that they might take off Eleazar and his followers from this resolution of
theirs, making a speech to them, among other things, say this, "That their
forefathers had greatly beautified and adorned the Temple, from things devoted by the
Gentiles: always receiving the gifts from foreign nations, not having ever made any
difference in the sacrifices of any whomsoever; for that would be irreligious,"
&c. When they had spoken this and many more things to this purpose, "they
produced several priests skilled in the ancient customs of their forefathers, who shewed that
all their ancestors received offerings from the Gentiles."
II. Nor did the Gentiles only send their gifts and sacrifices, but came
themselves personally sometimes to the Temple, and there worshipped. Hence the outward
court of the Temple was called the Court of the Gentiles, and the Common Court;
to which that in the Book of the Revelation alludes, chapter 11:2, "But the court
which is without the Temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles."
And of those there shall innumerable numbers come and worship. "And the holy city
shall they tread forty and two months." It is not they shall tread it under foot
as enemies and spoilers, but they shall tread it as worshippers. So Isaiah 1:12.
The Syrians, and those that are unclean by the touch of a dead body, entered into
the Mountain of the Temple.
"Rabban Gamaliel, walking in the Court of the Gentiles, saw a heathen
woman, and blessed concerning her."
"They would provoke the Roman arms, espouse a war with them, introduce a new
worship, and persuade an impiety with the hazard of the city, if not stranger, but the
Jews only, may be allowed to sacrifice or worship."
Hence that suspicion about Trophimus being brought by Paul into the Temple, is not to
be supposed to have been with reference to this court, but to the Court of the Women, in
which Paul was purifying himself.
There is a story of a certain Gentile that ate the Passover at Jerusalem; but
when they found him out to be a heathen, they slew him; for the Passover ought not to be
eaten by any one that is uncircumcised. But there was no such danger that an uncircumcised
person could run by coming into the Court of the Gentiles, and worshipping there.
24. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and
die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
[Except a corn of wheat.] How doth this answer of our Saviour's agree with the
matter propounded? Thus: "Is it so indeed? do the Gentiles desire to see me?
The time draws on wherein I must be glorified in the conversion of the Gentiles;
but as a corn of wheat doth not bring forth fruit, except it be first thrown into the
ground and there die; but if it die it will bring forth much fruit; so I must die first
and be thrown into the earth: and then a mighty harvest of the Gentile world will
grow up, and be the product of that death of mine."
Isaiah 26:19: "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they
arise": so our translation, with which also the French agrees, They shall rise
with my body. But it is properly, They shall arise my body: so the Interlineary
version. "The Gentiles being dead in their sins shall, with my dead body, when
it rises again, rise again also from their death: nay, they shall rise again my body, that
is, as part of myself, and my body mystical."
28. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I
have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.
[I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.] This petition of our
Saviour's, "Father, glorify thy name," was of no light consequence, when it had
such an answer from heaven by an audible voice: and what it did indeed mean we must guess
by the context. Christ, upon the Greeks' desire to see him, takes that occasion to
discourse about his death, and to exhort his followers, that from his example they would
not love their life, but by losing it preserve it to life eternal. Now by how much the
deeper he proceeds in the discourse and thoughts of his approaching death, by so much the
more is his mind disturbed, as himself acknowledgeth, verse 27.
But whence comes this disturbance? It was from the apprehended rage and assault of the
devil. Whether our Lord Christ, in his agony and passion, had to grapple with an angry
God, I question: but I am certain he had to do with an angry devil. When he stood, and
stood firmly, in the highest and most eminent point and degree of obedience, as he did in
his sufferings, it doth not seem agreeable that he should then be groaning under the
pressures of divine wrath; but it is most agreeable he should under the rage and fury of
the devil. For,
I. The fight was now to begin between the serpent and the seed of the woman, mentioned
Genesis 3:15, about the glory of God and the salvation of man. In which strife and contest
we need not doubt but the devil would exert all his malice and force to the very
II. God loosed all the reins, and suffered the devil without any kind of restraint upon
him to exercise his power and strength to the utmost of what he either could or would,
because he knew his champion Christ was strong enough, not only to bear his assaults, but
to overcome them.
III. He was to overcome, not by his divine power, for how easy a matter were it for an
omnipotent God to conquer the most potent created being; but his victory must be obtained
by his obedience, his righteousness, his holiness.
IV. Here then was the rise of that trouble and agony of Christ's soul, that he was
presently to grapple with the utmost rage of the devil; the divine power in the mean time
suspending its activity, and leaving him to manage the conflict with those weapons of
obedience and righteousness only.
It was about this, therefore, that that petition of our Saviour and the answer from
heaven was concerned: which may be gathered from what follows, verse 31, "Now shall
the prince of this world be cast out."
"Now is my soul troubled (saith he), and what shall i say? It is not convenient
for me to desire to be saved from this hour; for this very purpose did I come: that
therefore which I would beg of thee, O Father, is, that thou wouldst glorify thy name, thy
promise, thy decree, against the devil, lest he should boast and insult."
The answer from heaven to this prayer is, "I have already glorified my name in
that victory thou formerly obtaindest over his temptations in the wilderness; and I will
glorify my name again in the victory thou shalt have in this combat also."
Luke 4:13; "When the devil had ended all the temptations, he departed from him for
a season." He went away baffled then: but now he returns more insolent, and much more
to be conquered.
And thus now, the third time, by a witness and voice from heaven, was the Messiah
honoured according to his kingly office; as he had been according to his priestly office
when he entered upon his ministry at his baptism, Matthew 3:17; and according to his
prophetic office when he was declared to be he that was to be heard, Matthew 17:5,
compared with Deuteronomy 18:15.
31. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast
[The prince of this world.] The prince of this world: a sort of phrase
much used by the Jewish writers; and what they mean by it we may gather from such passages
as these: "When God was about to make Hezekiah the Messiah, saith the prince of
the world to him, 'O eternal Lord, perform the desire of this just one.'" Where
this Gloss is; "The prince of this world is the angel into whose hands the
whole world is delivered."
Who this should be, the masters tell out: "When the law was delivered, God brought
the angel of death, and said unto him, The whole world is in thy power, excepting
this nation only [the Israelites], which I have chosen for myself. R. Eliezer, the son of
R. Jose the Galilean, saith, 'The angel of death said before the holy blessed God, I am
made in the world in vain. The holy blessed God answered and said, I have created thee
that thou shouldst overlook the nations of the world, excepting this nation over
which thou hast no power.'"
"If the nations of the world should conspire against Israel the holy blessed God
saith to them, Your prince could not stand before Jacob," &c.
Now the name of the angel of death amongst them is Samael. "And the women saw Samael,
the angel of death, and she was afraid," &c. The places are infinite where
this name occurs amongst the Rabbins, and they account him the prince of the devils.
The wicked angel Samael is the prince of all Satans. The angel of death, he
that hath the power of death, that is, the devil, Hebrews 2:14. They call indeed Beelzebul
the prince of the devils, Matthew 12; but that is under a very peculiar notion, as I
have shewn in that place.
They conceive it to be Samael that deceived Eve. So the Targumist before. And so
Pirke R. Eliezer: "The serpent, what things soever he did, and what words
soever he uttered, he did and uttered all from the suggestion of Samael."
Some of them conceive that it is he that wrestled with Jacob. Hence that which we have
quoted already: "The holy blessed God saith to the nations of the world, Your prince
could not stand before him." Your prince, that is, the prince of the nations,
whom the Rabbins talk of as appearing to Jacob in the shape of Archilatro, or a
chief robber. And R. Chaninah Bar Chama saith, he was the prince of Esau, i.e.
the prince of Edom. Now "the prince of Edom was Samael."
They have a fiction that the seventy nations of the world were committed to the
government of so many angels [they will hardly allow the Gentiles any good ones]: which
opinion the Greek version favours in Deuteronomy 32:8; "When the Most High divided
the nations" [into seventy, say they], "when he separated the sons of Adam, he
set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God." Over
these princes they conceive one monarch above them all, and that is Samael, the angel
of death, the arch-devil.
Our Saviour therefore speaks after their common way when he calls the devil the
prince of this world: and the meaning of the phrase is made the more plain, if we set
it in opposition to that Prince 'whose kingdom is not of this world,' that is, the Prince
of the world to come. Consult Hebrews 2:5.
How far that prince of the nations of the world had exercised his tyranny amongst the
Gentiles, leading them captive into sin and perdition, needs no explaining. Our Saviour
therefore observing at this time some of the Greeks, that is, the Gentiles, pressing hard
to see him, he joyfully declares, that the time is coming on apace wherein this prince
must be unseated from his throne and tyranny: "And I, when I shall be lifted up upon
the cross, and by my death shall destroy him who hath the power of death, then will I draw
all nations out of his dominion and power after me."
34. The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for
ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?
[We have heard out of the law.] Out of the law; that is, as the phrase is
opposed to the words of the scribes. So we often meet with This is out of the
law, or Scripture, to which is opposed This is out of the Rabbins.
"That Christ abideth for ever." How then came the Rabbins to determine his
time and years? some to the space of forty years, some to seventy, and others to three
generations? After the days of Messiah, they expected that eternity should follow.
39. Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,
[Therefore they could not believe, &c.] They were not constrained in their
infidelity, because Isaiah had said, "Their heart is waxen gross," &c.; but
because those things were true which that prophet had foretold concerning them: which
prophecy, if I understand them aright, they throw off from themselves, and pervert the
sense of it altogether.
"R. Jochanan saith, Repentance is a great thing; for it rescinds the decree of
judgment determined against man: as it is written, 'The heart of this people is made fat,
their ears heavy, and their eyes are closed, lest they should see with their eyes, and
hear with their ears, and understand with their heart: but they shall be converted and
healed,'" For to that sense do they render these last words, diametrically
contrary to the mind of the prophet.
They have a conceit that Isaiah was cut in two, either by the saw or the axe, by
Manasseh the king, principally for this very vision and prophecy:
"It is a tradition. Simeon Ben Azzai saith, I found a book at Jerusalem......in
which was written how Manasses slew Isaiah. Rabba saith he condemned and put him to death
upon this occasion: he saith to him, Thy master Moses saith, 'No man can see God and
live': but thou sayest, 'I have seen the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.'
Thy master Moses saith, 'Who is like our God in all things that we call upon him for?'
Deuteronomy 4:7: but thou sayest, 'Seek ye the Lord while he may be found,' Isaiah 55:6.
Moses thy master saith, 'The number of thy days I will fulfil,' Exodus 13:26: but thou
sayest, 'I will add unto thy days fifteen years,' Isaiah 38:5. Isaiah answered and said,
'I know he will not hearken to me in any thing I can say to him: if I should say any thing
to the reconciling of the Scriptures, I know he will deal contemptuously in it.' He said
therefore, 'I will shut myself up in this cedar.' They brought the cedar, and sawed
it asunder. And when the saw touched his mouth, he gave up the ghost. This happened
to him because he said, 'I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.'"
Manasseh slew Isaiah, and, as it should seem, the Gemarists do not dislike the fact,
because he had accused Israel for the uncleanness of their lips. No touching upon Israel
by any means!
41. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.
[When he saw his glory.] Isaiah 6:1: "I saw the Lord sitting upon a
throne." Where the Targum, I saw the Lord's glory, &c. So Exodus 24:10:
"They saw the God of Israel." Targum, "They saw the glory of the God
of Israel." And verse 11; "And they saw God." Targum, "And they saw
the glory of God." So the Targumists elsewhere very often: commended therefore by
their followers for so rendering it, Because no man could see God.
It might be therefore thought that our evangelist speaks with the Targumist and the
nation when he saith, that "Isaiah saw his glory"; whereas the prophet himself
saith, "He saw the Lord."
But there is a deeper meaning in it: nor do I doubt but this glory of our
Saviour which Isaiah saw was that kind of glory by which he is described when he
was to come to avenge himself and punish the Jewish nation. As when he is said, "to
come in his kingdom," and "in his glory," and "in the clouds,"
&c. viz. in his vindictive glory. For observe,
1. The prophet saw "the posts of the door shaken and removed," as hastening
to ruin. 2. "The Temple itself filled with smoke": not with the cloud as
formerly, the token of the divine presence, but with smoke, the forerunner and prognostic
of that fire that should burn and consume it. 3. He saw the seraphim, angels of fire,
because of the predetermined burning. 4. He heard the decree about blinding and hardening
the people till the cities be wasted, and the land desolate.