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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 20 - Verse 29
: where this account of his restoring to sight two blind men is also recorded. And as they departed from Jericho. This was a large town about eight miles west of the Jordan, and about nineteen miles north-east from Jerusalem. Near to this city the Israelites crossed the Jordan, when they entered into the land of Canaan, Jos 13:16. It was the first city taken by Joshua, who destroyed it to the foundation, and pronounced a curse on him who should rebuild it, Jos 6:20,21,26.
This curse was literally fulfilled in the days of Ahab—nearly five hundred years after, 1 Ki 16:34. It afterwards became the place of the school of the prophets, 2 Ki 2:6. In this place Elisha worked a signal miracle, greatly to the advantage of the inhabitants, by rendering the waters near it, that were before bitter, sweet, and wholesome, 2 Ki 2:21. In point of size it was second only to Jerusalem. It was sometimes called the city of palm-trees, from the fact that there were many palms in the vicinity. A few of them are still remaining. 2 Ch 28:15; Jud 1:16; 3:13.
It is now a small village, wretched in its appearance, and inhabited by a very few persons, and called Riha, or Rah, situated on the ruins of the ancient city, (or, as some think, three or four miles east of it,) which a modern traveller describes as a poor, dirty village of the Arabs. There are perhaps fifty houses, of rough stone, with roofs of bushes and mud; and the population, two hundred or three hundred in number, is entirely Mohammedan. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho lies through what is called the wilderness of Jericho, and is described by modern travellers as the most dangerous and forbidding about Palestine. As lately as 1820, an English traveller, Sir Frederick Henniker, was attacked on this road by the Arabs, with fire-arms, who left him naked and severely wounded. See Barnes "Lu 10:30.
Jesus was going to Jerusalem. He had left Samaria, and crossed the Jordan, Mt 19:1. His regular journey was therefore through Jericho.
As they departed from Jericho. Luke says, "As he was come nigh unto Jericho." The original word used in Luke, translated was come nigh, commonly expresses approach to a place. But it does not of necessity mean that always. It may denote nearness to a place, whether going to it or from it. It would be here rendered correctly, "when they were near to Jericho," or when they were in the vicinity of it, without saying whether they were going to or from it. Matthew and Mark say they were going from it. The passage in Lu 19:1, "And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho," which seems to be mentioned as having taken place after the cure of the blind man, does not necessarily suppose that. That passage might be intended to be connected with the account of Zaccheus, and not to denote the order of time in which these events took place; but simply that, as he was passing through Jericho, Zaccheus sought to see him, and invited him to his house. Historians vary in the circumstances and order of events. The main facts of the narrative are observed. And such variations of circumstances and order, where there is no palpable contradiction, show the honesty of the writers; show that they did not conspire together to deceive, and are in all courts, of justice considered as confirmations of the truth of the testimony.
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