The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire BibleJohn 13:23
Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom…
upon that part of Christ's body, which would have been irreverent in
John, and troublesome to Christ; but leaning at table upon his bed
or couch, on which he lay; and which was next to, and just before
Christ; so that he was very near unto, and seemed to lie in the
bosom of Christ; as such are said to do, who sit next at table to
another. The posture of the Jews at table, was either "sitting" or
"lying", and a difference they make between these two;
``if, say they F4, (Nybvwy wyh) , "they sat" to eat everyone
asked a blessing for himself; but if (wbyoh) , "they lay
down", one asked a blessing for them all.''
This lying down was not on their backs, nor on their right side, but
on their left; for they say F5, that
``lying down on the back, is not called (hbyoh) , "lying down";
and lying on the right side, is not called lying down.''
And the reason given is F6, because they have need of the right
hand to eat with; but as they elsewhere F7 observe,
``they used to eat lying along, leaning on the left side,
their feet to the ground, and every man on a single couch.''
Would you know the order in which they, lay, take the account as
they have given it F8;
``when there were but two couches, the principal person lay
first, and the second to him above him; and when there
were three, the principal person lay in the middle, the
second to him above him, and the third below him; and if
he would talk with him, he raised himself upright, and
sitting upright he talked with him; that is, as the gloss
explains it, if the principal person was desirous to talk
with him that was second to him, he must raise himself up
from his lying down, and sit upright; for all the white he
is leaning, he cannot talk with him, because he that is
second to him, is behind the head of the principal person,
and the face of the principal person is turned to the
other side; and it is better for the second to sit below
him, that he may hear his words, whilst he is leaning.''
The form in which Christ and his disciples sat or lay at table, we
may conceive was this F9; a table was placed in the middle and as
many beds or couches round it, as there were persons; Christ the
principal and most worthy person lay first, with his head toward the
table, his face somewhat turned from it, leaning on his left elbow
upon the couch; in this posture lay Jesus, upon the first couch; in
the same posture lay John, in the next to him, and just before him;
the hinder part of his head being towards, and near the breast and
bosom of Jesus; whence he is said to lean upon it: now to lie next
to the principal person, was a very great honour, as well as a mark
of great affection; and for John to lie next to Jesus, and as it
were to lean on his bosom, showed how much he was respected and
honoured by him; and therefore John modestly conceals his name, and
one of his disciples whom Jesus loved;
Christ, as the Son of God,
and surety of his people, loved his true disciples, as he does all
his elect, alike; not one more than the other; but as man, he had a
particular affection for this disciple, and therefore admitted him
near his person, and was very familiar with him.
F4 Misn. Beracot, c. 6. sect. 6.
F5 T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 108. 1.
F6 Gloss in ib.
F7 Gloss in T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 46. 2. & Bartenora in Misn. Beracot,
c. 6. sect. 6.
F8 T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 46. 2.
F9 Vid. Alstorphium delectis veterum, p. 109, 110.
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.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 13:23". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=joh&chapter=013&verse=023>. 1999.