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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 11 - Verse 21

Verse 21. Chorazin and Bethsaida. These were towns not far from Capernaum, but the precise situation is unknown. Bethsaida means literally, a house of hunting or of game; and it was probably situated on the banks of the sea of Galilee, and supported itself by hunting or fishing. It was the residence of Philip, Andrew and Peter, Joh 1:44. It was enlarged by Philip the tetrarch, and called Julia, after the emperor's daughter.

Tyre and Sidon. These were cities of Phoenicia, formerly very opulent, and distinguished for merchandise. They were situated on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and were on the western part of Judea. They were, therefore, well known to the Jews. Tyre is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament as being the place through which Solomon derived many of the materials for building the temple, 2 Ch 2:11-16. It was also a place against which one of the most important and pointed prophecies of Isaiah was directed. See Barnes "Isa 23:1"

and following. Comp. Eze 26:4-14. Both these cities were very ancient. Sidon was situated within the bounds of the tribe of Asher Jos 19:28; but this tribe could never get possession of it, Jud 1:31. It was famous for its great trade and navigation. Its inhabitants were the first remarkable merchants in the world, and were much celebrated for their luxury. In the time of our Saviour it was probably a city of much splendour and extensive commerce. It is now called Seide, or Saide, and is far less populous and splendid than it was in the time of Christ. It was subdued successively by the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Romans, the latter of whom deprived it of its freedom.

Messrs. Fisk and King, American missionaries, passed through Sidon in the summer of 1823, and estimated the population, as others have estimated it, at eight or ten thousand; but Mr. Goodell, another American missionary, took up his residence there in June, 1824, for the purpose of studying the Armenian language with a bishop of the Armenian church who lives there, and of course had far better opportunities to know the statistics of the place. He tells us there are six Mohammedan mosques, a Jewish synagogue, a Maronite, Latin, and Greek church. The number of inhabitants may be estimated at three thousand, of whom one-half may be Muslims.

Tyre was situated about twenty miles south of Sidon. It was built partly on a small island, about seventy paces from the shore, and partly on the main land. It was a city of great extent and splendour, and extensive commerce. It abounded in luxury and wickedness. It was often besieged. It held out against Shalmanezer five years, and was taken by Nebuchadnezzar after a siege of thirteen years. It was afterwards rebuilt, and was at length taken by Alexander the Great, after a most obstinate siege of five months. There are no signs now of the ancient city. It is the residence only of a few miserable fishermen, and contains, amidst the ruins of its former magnificence, only a few huts. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of Ezekiel: Thou shalt be built no more; though thou be sought for, yet shalt thou never be found again, Eze 26:21. For a description of Tyre as it was formerly, and as it is now, See Barnes "Isa 23:1"

and following.

In sackcloth and ashes. Sackcloth was a coarse cloth, like canvass, used for the dress of the poor, and for the more common articles of domestic economy. It was worn also as a sign of mourning. The Jews also frequently threw ashes on their heads, as expressive of grief, Job 1:20; 2:12; Jer 6:26.

The meaning is, that they would have repented with expressions of deep sorrow. Like Nineveh, they would have seen their guilt and danger, and would have turned from their iniquity. Heathen cities would have received him better than the cities of the Jews, his native land.

{u} "woe unto thee" Joh 12:21

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