2. And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to
[Who was dear unto him.] So was Tabi to his master Rabban Gamaliel: of whom we
meet with several things up and down, particularly that in Beracoth, fol. 16. 2:
"When his servant Tabi was dead, he received consolations for him. His disciples say
unto him, 'Master, thou hast taught us that they do not use to receive consolations for
their servants.' He answered them saying, 'My servant Tabi was not as other servants, he
was most upright.'"
5. For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.
[He hath built us a synagogue.] I. It was no unusual thing for one single man to
build a synagogue at his own charge: "If any man build a house, and afterward
consecrated it to a synagogue, it is of the nature of a synagogue." Gloss: "Any
one that builds a synagogue and gives it to his fellow citizens," &c.
And the doctors in that treatise dispute much upon this question, Whether it be lawful
to sell a synagogue or to alienate it to any civil use: and amongst the rest, they suppose
some one building a synagogue, but would at last reserve it to his own proper use.
II. They had no scruple as to a Gentile's building it, since the holiness of the place
consisted not so much in the building as in its being set apart and dedicated to holy use;
of which we have some instances in Herod's building the Temple. Such a one had this
centurion approved himself towards the Jewish nation, that concerning his liberality and
devotion in being at the charges of building, they found no reason to move any scruple.
12. Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man
carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city
was with her.
[There was a dead man carried out.] Amongst the Talmudists, a dead corpse
going out, is commonly a phrase which is first understood of carrying the corpse out
of the court-gate.
"At what time do they take their beds lower? From the time that the person
deceased is carried out of the court-gate of his own house."
Secondly, It is taken also for carrying the corpse out of the city: for the
burying-places were not near the city.
"The infant dying before it be thirty days old, is carried out in the bosom:
and is buried by one woman and two men."
"An infant of thirty days old is carried out in a little coffin. R. Judah
saith, Not in a coffin that is carried on men's shoulders, but in their arms."
A child of three years old is carried out in a bed: and so onward from that age.
[Much people was with her.] R. Simeon Ben Eliezer saith, for the dead that is
carried out on his bed there are many mourners: but if he be not carried out on his
bed [but in a coffin], there are not many mourners.
If the deceased person be known to many, then many accompany him.
There were ordinarily at such funerals those that carried the bier, and some to take
their turns, and some also to take their turns again. For as the Gloss hath it, every
one desired that office.
There were also those that stood in order about the mourners to comfort them.
14. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And
he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.
[Touched the bier.] In Syriac, he approached to the bier. The Talmudist
would say, he came to the bed of the dead: which indeed is the same, 2 Samuel 3:31,
David followed after the bed. The Targumist, after the bier.
"Jacob said to his sons, Beware ye, that no uncircumcised person touch my bed,
lest he drive away thence the Divine presence."
37. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus
sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,
[A woman which was a sinner.] I. Women of an ill name amongst the Jews were such
"She who transgresseth the law of Moses, and the Jewish law." The Gloss is,
"The Jewish law, that is, what the daughters of Israel follow, though it be not
"Who is she that transgresseth the law of Moses? She that gives her husband to eat
of what is not yet tithed: she that suffers his embraces while her menstrua are upon her:
she that doth not set apart a loaf of bread for herself: she that voweth and doth not
perform her vow."
"How doth she transgress the Jewish law? If she appears abroad with her head
uncovered: if she spin in the streets: if she talk with every one she meets. Abba Saul
saith, If she curse her children. R. Tarphon saith, If she be loud and clamorous."
The Gloss is, "If she desire coition with her husband within doors, so very loud that
her neighbours may hear her."
Maimonides upon the place: "If when she is spinning in the street, she makes her
arms so naked that men may see them: if she hang either roses or myrtle, or pomegranate,
or any such thing either at her eyes or cheeks: if she play with young men: if she curse
her husband's father in the presence of her husband," &c.
II. However, I presume the word sinner, sounds something worse than all this,
which also is commonly conjectured of this woman; viz. that she was actually an
adulteress, and every way a lewd woman. It is well known what the word sinners
signifies in the Old Testament, and what sinners, in the New.
38. And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with
tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and
anointed them with the ointment.
[And stood at his feet behind him.] She washed his feet as they lay stretched
out behind him: of which posture we treat more largely in our notes upon John 12.
47. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved
much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
[For she loved much.] If we consider these two or three things, we shall quickly
understand the force and design of the word for, &c.
I. That this was not the first time when this woman betook herself to our Saviour; nor
is this the first of her receiving remission of her sins. It is supposed, and that not
without good reason, that this was Mary Magdalene. If so, then had her 'seven devils' been
cast out of her before; and at that time her sins had been forgiven her, our Lord at once
indulging to her the cure both of her body and her mind. She therefore, having been
obliged by so great a mercy, now throws herself in gratitude and devotion at the feet of
Christ. She had obtained remission of her sins before this action: and from thence came
this action, not from this action her forgiveness.
II. Otherwise the similitude which our Saviour propounds about forgiving the debt,
would not be to the purpose at all. The debt is not released because the debtor loves his
creditor, but the debtor loves because his debt is forgiven him. Remission goes before,
and love follows.
III. Christ doth not say, She hath washed my feet with her tears, and wiped them with
the hairs of her head, and anointed me with ointment, therefore her sins are forgiven;
but for this cause I say unto thee, Her sins are forgiven her. He tells Simon this,
that he might satisfy the murmuring Pharisee. "Perhaps, Simon, thou wonderest within
thyself, that since this hath been so lewd a woman, I should so much as suffer her to
touch me: but I must tell thee that it is very evident, even from this obsequiousness of
hers, and the good offices she hath done to me, that her sins are forgiven her: she could
never have given these testimonies and fruits of her gratitude and devotion, if she had
still remained in her guilt, and not been loosed form her sins."