« Prev Chapters 51-60 Next »

A Commentary of the New Testament
from the Talmud and Hebraica

John Lightfoot
(1602-1675)

A Chorographical Century
Chapters 51-60

Chapter 51
Beth-lehem

The Jews are very silent about this city: nor do I remember that I have read any thing in them concerning it, besides those things which are produced out of the Old Testament; this only excepted, that the Jerusalem Gemarists do confess that the Messias was born there before their times.

"Beth-lehem is a certain town in the land of the Jews, thirty-five furlongs distant from Jerusalem": and that towards the south.

The father of the ecclesiastical annals, citing these words of Eusebius, "But now, when in the eighteenth year of the empire of Adrian, the war was more vehemently kindled near the town called Beth-lehem (which was very well fortified with all manner of defence, nor was seated far from the city of Jerusalem)," &c.

The interpreter of Eusebius renders, Beth-thera: not illy, however it be not rendered according to the letter: perhaps crept into the word instead of by the carelessness of the copiers. But by what liberty the other should render it Beth-lehem, let himself see. Eusebius doth certainly treat of the city Betar (it is vulgarly written Bitter), of the destruction of which the Jews relate very many things with lamentation: which certainly is scarcely to be reckoned the same with Beth-lehem.

The same father of the annals adds, that Beth-lehem, from the times of Adrian to the times of Constantine, was profaned by the temple of Adonis: for the asserting of which he cites these words of Paulinus: "Hadrianus, supposing that he should destroy the Christian faith by offering injury to the place, in the place of the passion dedicated the image of Jupiter, and profaned Beth-lehem with the temple of Adonis": as also like words of Jerome: yet, he confesses, the contrary seems to be in Origen against Celsus: and that more true. For Adrian had no quarrel with the Christians, and Christianity,--but with the Jews, that cursedly rebelled against him.

Chapter 52
Betar

Of this city there is a deep silence in the Holy Scriptures, but a most clamorous noise in the Talmudic writings. It is vulgarly written, Betar, and rendered by Christians, Bitter, or Bither: but I find it written in the Jerusalem Talmud pretty often in the same page, to be read, as it seems Beth-Tar; and casting away the first tau, which is very usual in the word, Be-Tar, 'the house of the inquirer.'--"Wherefore (say they) was Beth-Tar laid waste? Because it lighted candles after the destruction of the Temple. And why did it light candles? Because the counsellors at Jerusalem dwelt in the midst of the city. And when they saw any going up to Jerusalem, they said to him, 'We hear of you, that you are ambitious to be made a captain, or a counsellor': but he answered, 'There is no such thing in my mind.'--'We hear of you, that you are about to sell your wealth.' But he answered, 'Nor did this come into my mind.' Then would one of the company say, 'Whatsoever you ask of this man, write it, and I will seal it.' He therefore wrote, and his fellow sealed it: and they sent this feigned instrument to their friends, saying, 'If N. endeavours to come again to the possession of his wealth, suffer him not to do it, for he hath sold it among us.'"

The principal cause of the destruction of Beth-Tera was Ben-Cozba, and his rebellion against the Romans. The Babylonian writers assign another cause.

"For the foot of a chariot, was Bathara laid waste. It was a custom, that when an infant male was born, they planted a cedar; when an infant female, a pine; and, when the children contracted marriage, out of those trees they made the bride-chamber. On a certain day the daughter of the emperor passed by, and the foot of her chariot broke. They cut down such a cedar, and brought it to her. [The Jews] rose up against them, and beat them. It was told the emperor that the Jews rebelled. Being angry, he marched against them, and destroyed the whole horn of Israel," &c.

"Hadrian besieged Bether three years and a half.--And when they took it, they slew the men, the women, and the children, so that their blood flowed into the great sea. You will say, perhaps, that it was near the sea; but it was a mile distant. The tradition is, that R. Eliezer the Great saith, That there were two rivers in the valley of Jadaim, of which one flowed this way,--the other, that. And the Rabbins computed that the third part of them was blood, and two parts water. It was delivered also, that the heathen gathered the vintages, for the space of seven years, without dunging the land, because the vineyards were made fruitful enough by the blood of the Israelites."

The Jerusalem writers do hyperbolize enough concerning the distance of this city from the sea. "For if you say (say they) that it was near the sea, was it not distant forty miles? They say, that three hundred skulls of young children were found upon one stone: and that there were three chests of torn phylacteries, each chest containing nine bushels: but there are others that say, nine chests, each containing three bushels."

Josephus mentions "Betaris, and Cephartobas, two midland towns of Idumea":--where by Idumea he means the southern part of Judea, especially that that was mountainous: as appears by the context. He calls Idumea, properly so called, "Idumea the Great."

Chapter 53
Ephraim

We mean not here the land of Ephraim, but a certain town in the confines of that land: of which you read 2 Chronicles 13:19; and of which the Talmudic writers speak: "What is the best flour," to be offered in the Temple? "Michmas and Mezonechah obtain the first place for fine flour; Ephraim in the valley obtains the next place to them." These words are not read the same way by all.

Those of the Mishnaioth, in the eighth chapter, read, as we have writ it: the Tosaphtah also reads Michmas: but the Talmud...: the Aruch also hath Michmas: but for Mezonechah, it hath Zanoah...the Talmud Ephoraim: the Gloss saith, "Ephoraim is a city, of which it is thus written in the books of the Chronicles, 'And Abijah took Ephraim.'"

The Gemarists read it after the same manner, Ephraim, this story being added; "Jannes and Mambres said to Moses, Do you bring straw into Ephraim?" Which the Aruch reciting, adds these words; "There was a city in the land of Israel, very fruitful in bread-corn, called Ephraim: when Moses therefore came with his miracles,--Jannes and Mambres, who were the chief of Pharaoh's magicians, said unto him, This is our business, and we can do thus with our enchantments; you therefore are like one bringing straw into Ephraim, which is the city of bread-corn, and out of which is provision for many places: therefore, how doth any carry in straw thither?" &c.

Josephus, speaking of Vespasian, hath these words; "After he went into the hill country, he took two Toparchies,--namely, Gophnitica and Acrabatena: and, together with them, Beth-el and Ephraim, two small cities." Into this Ephraim, we suppose it was that Christ retired, in that story, John 11:54.

Let us also add these things from the places alleged above. R. Josi saith, "They brought also of the wheat of Barchaim, and of Caphar Achum; which were near Jerusalem."

"For oil, Tekoa deserves the first praise. Aba Saul saith, Ragab, beyond Jordan, obtains the next to it. R. Eliezer Ben Jacob saith, Gush Chalab, in Galilee, obtains the third place."

Karchiim and Atolin "produce the best wine: Beth Rimmah and Beth Laban, in the hilly country,--and Caphar Sigana, in the valley, next to them."

Let us also add these words elsewhere: "He eateth all manner of victuals, and eateth not flesh: the clusters of figs of Keila are brought in. He drinks all manner of drink, but he drinks not wine: honey and milk are brought in." And elsewhere: "He eateth the clusters of Keila, and drinks honey and milk, and enters into the Temple."

Chapter 54
Tsok: and Beth Chadudo.

When they sent forth the goat Azazel, on the day of expiation,--before that, they set up ten tents, a mile distant one from another: where some betook themselves before that day, that they might be ready to accompany him, who brought forth the goat. Those of the better rank went out of Jerusalem with him, and accompanied him to the first tent. There others received him, and conducted him to the second; others to the third, and so to the tenth. From the tenth to the rock Tsok, whence the goat was cast down, were two miles. They, therefore, who received him there, went not farther than a mile with him, that they might not exceed a sabbath day's journey: but, standing there, they observed what was done by him. "He snapped the scarlet thread into two parts, of which he bound one to the horns of the goat, and the other to the rock: and thrust the goat down; which, hardly coming to the middle of the precipice, was dashed and broke into pieces." The rock Tsok therefore was twelve miles distant from Jerusalem, according to later computation. But there are some, who assign nine-tenths only, and ten miles.--See the Gemarists.

Tsok, among the Talmudists, is any more craggy and lofty rock. Hence is that, "she went up to the top of the rocks and fell." Where the Gloss writes, "Tsokin are high and craggy mountains."

The first entrance into the desert was three miles from Jerusalem, and that place was called 'Beth Chadudo.' The Misna of Babylon writes thus of it; "They say to the high priest, The goat is now come into the wilderness." But whence knew they, that he was now come into the wilderness? They set up high stones; and, standing on them, they shook handkerchiefs; and hence they knew that the goat was now got into the wilderness. R. Judah saith, 'Was not this a great sign to them?' From Jerusalem to Beth Chadudo were three miles. They went forward the space of a mile, and went back the space of a mile, and they tarried the space of a mile: and so they knew that the goat was now come to the wilderness.

The Jerusalem Misna thus: "R. Judah saith, Was not this a great sign to them? From Jerusalem to Beth-horon were three miles. They went forward the space of a mile," &c.

From these things compared, it is no improbable conjecture, that the goat was sent out towards Beth-horon, which both was twelve miles distant from Jerusalem, and had rough and very craggy rocks near it: and that the sense of the Gemarists was this,--In the way to Beth-horon, were three miles to the first verge of the wilderness,--and the name of the place was Beth Chadudo.

Chapter 55
Divers matters.

I. Beth-cerem, Nehemiah 3:14. "The stones, as well of the altar, as of the ascent to the altar, were from the valley of Beth-cerem, which they digged out beneath the barren land. And thence they are wont to bring whole stones, upon which the working iron came not."

The fathers of the traditions, treating concerning the blood of women's terms, reckon up five colours of it; among which that, "which is like the water of the earth, out of the valley of Beth-cerem."--Where the Gloss writes thus, "Beth-cerem is the name of a place: whence a man fetches turf, and puts it into a pot, and the water swims upon it: that is, he puts water to it, until the water swims above the turf."

The Gemarists, examining this clause, hath these words: "R. Meir saith, He fetched the turf out of the valley of Beth-cerem. R. Akibah saith, Out of the valley of Jotapata. R. Jose saith, Out of the valley of Sicni. R. Simeon saith, Also out of the valley of Genesara."

II. Let the author of Aruch render it for me: "The mount of Simeon brought forth three hundred bags of broken bread for the poor every sabbath evening." But instead of 'the mount of Simeon brought forth,'--whence it might be taken for the lot of the land of Simeon,--he renders it, "Rabbi Simeon brought forth," &c.

"But why was it laid waste? Some say, For fornication:--others say, Because they played at bowls." The town Simonias is mentioned by Josephus in his life, "in the confines of Galilee."

III. "Two tribes had nine hundred cities." The Gloss is: "There were nine hundred cities in the tribe of Judah, and in the tribe of Simeon: therefore, nine became the priests' and Levites'." See Joshua 21:16, and weigh the proportion.

IV. "Nittai the Tekoite brought a cake out of Bitur but they received it not. The Alexandrians brought their cakes from Alexandria; but they received them not. The inhabitants of mount Zeboim brought their first-fruits before Pentecost; but they received them not," &c. The Gloss is, "Bitar was without the land." Therefore, this was not that Bitar, whose destruction we have mentioned before.

"Mount Zeboim," wheresoever it was, was certainly within the land: for otherwise the first-fruits were not to be received from thence. Now they refused them, not because they were unlawful in themselves, but because they were brought in an unlawful time: for "they offered not the first-fruits before Pentecost," saith the tradition; where also this same story is repeated.

Mention is made of Migdal Zabaaia (a word of the same etymology), in that notable story: "Three cities were laid waste; Chabul for discord: Shichin for magical arts: and Migdal Zabaaia" (or the town of dyers) "for fornication."

V. Socoh, Joshua 15:35. Thence was Antigonus, some time president of the Sanhedrim. "Antigonus of Soco received the Cabala of Simeon the Just."

VI. "Be Teri and Kubi." The Gemarists, speaking of David's battle with Ishbi-benob, 2 Samuel 21, make mention of these things: "When they were come to Kubi (say they), they said, 'Let us arise up against him':--when they were come to Be Teri, they said, 'Do they kill the lion between the two she-whelps?'" Where the Gloss writes thus: "David pursued them flying, and he approached near to the land of the Philistines: and when he came to Kubi, which was between the land of Israel and the Philistines, they said, &c. Be Teri is also the name of a place."

VII. Gophna.--Concerning the situation of this place it is doubted whether it is to be assigned to Judah or to the land of Samaria. These things certainly seem plainly to lay it to Judea. Josephus saith these words concerning Titus marching with his army to Jerusalem: "He passeth swiftly through the country of Samaria unto Gophna:...where tarrying one day, in the morning he marches forward; and, after some days, pitches his station along the valley of thorns unto a certain town called Gabbath-Saul."

The Jerusalem Talmudists write thus: "Fourscore pair of brethren, priests, married fourscore pair of sisters, priestesses, in Gophna, in one night." You will scarce find so many priests in the country of Samaria.

"The synagogue of the men of Gophna was in Zippor":--whom you will scarcely believe to be Samaritans.

Of the eleven Toparchies, the second after Jerusalem was Toparchia Gophnitica, in Pliny Zophanitica, the Toparchy of Gophna.

The word Gophna is derived from the vineyards.

VIII. "The valley of Rimmon."--"Seven elders came together to intercalate the year in the valley of Rimmon:--namely, R. Meir, R. Juda, R. Jose, R. Simeon, R. Nehemiah, R. Lazar Ben Jacob, and R. Jochanan Sandelar." And a little after; "There was a marble rock there: into which every one fastened a nail; therefore it is called to this day, 'The Rock of Nails.'"

IX. "They do not bring the sheaf [of first-fruits] but from some place near Jerusalem. But if some place near Jerusalem shall not produce those first-fruits, then they fetch it farther off. There was a time when a sheaf was brought out of the gardens of Zeriphin, and the two loaves out of the valley of En-Socar."

X. "They sometime asked R. Joshua, 'What concerning the sons of the envious woman?' (as 1 Samuel 1:6). He answered, 'Ye put my head between two high mountains,--namely, the school of Shammai and of Hillel, that they may dash out my brains: but I testify concerning the family of Beth Anubai, of Beth Zebuim; of the family of Beth-Nekiphi, of Beth-Koshesh, that they were the sons of the envious woman; and yet their posterity stood great priests, and offered at the altar.'"

Chapter 56
Samaria. Sychem.

"The country of Samaria lies in the middle, between Judea and Galilee. For it begins at a town called Ginea, lying in the Great plain, and ends at the Toparchy of the Acrabateni: the nature of it nothing differing from Judea," &c.

[Acrabata was distant from Jerusalem, the space of a day's journey northwards.]

Samaria, under the first Temple, was the name of a city,--under the second, of a country. Its metropolis at that time was Sychem; "A place destined to revenges": and which the Jews, as it seems, reproached under the name of Sychar, John 4:5, from the words of the prophet, "Woe to the drunken Ephraimites," Isaiah 28:1. The mountains of Gerizim and Ebal touched on it.

The city Samaria was at last called Sebaste; and Sychem, Neapolis. R. Benjamin thus writes of them: "Sebaste is Samaria; where still the palace of Ahab king of Israel is known. Now that city was in a mountain, and well fortified; and in it were springs, and well-watered land, and gardens, and paradises, and vineyards, and olive-yards. And two parsae thence (eight miles) is Neapolis, which is also Sychem in mount Ephraim. And it is seated in a valley between the mountains Gerizim and Ebal: and in it are about a hundred Cutheans observing the law of Moses only, and they are called Samaritans: and they have priests of the seed of Aaron." And a little after, "They sacrifice in the Temple in mount Gerizim, on the day of the Passover, and the feast-days, upon the altar, which they built upon mount Gerizim, of those stones which the children of Israel set up when they passed over Jordan," &c. And afterward, "In mount Gerizim are fountains and paradises: but mount Ebal is dry, like the stones and rocks: and between them, in the valley, is the city Sychem."

Josephus speaking of Vespasian; "He turned away to Ammaus, thence through the country of Samaria, and by Neapolis so called, but Mabartha by the inhabitants," &c. Maabartha.

"R. Ismael Ben R. Josi, went to Neapolis. The Cutheans came to him: to whom he said, 'I see that ye do not worship to that mountain, but to the idols which are under it: for it is written'; 'and Jacob hid the idols under the grove, which was near Shechem.'"

You may not improperly divide the times of Samaria under the second Temple into heathenism,--namely, before the building of the Temple at Gerizim,--and after that into Samaritanism, as it was distinguished from Judaism, and as it was an apostasy from it: although both religions indeed departed not a hair's breadth from deceitful superstition.

The author of Juchasin does not speak amiss here: "Then" (under Simeon the Just) "Israel went into parties. Part followed Simeon the Just, and Antigonus his scholar, and their school; as they had learned from Ezra and the prophets: part, Sanballat, and his son-in-law: and they offered sacrifices without the Temple of God, and instituted rites out of their own heart. In that Temple, Manasseh, the son-in-law of Sanballat, the son of Joshua, the son of Jozedek the high priest, performed the priest's office. And at that time Zadok and Baithus, the scholars of Antigonus, did flourish; and hence was the beginning of the schism;--namely, when, in the days of Antigonus, many went back to mount Gerizim."

That Temple flourished about two hundred years, and it perished by the sword and fire of Hyrcanus: but the Samaritan superstition perished not, but lasted for many ages; as odious to the Jews as heathenism, John 4:9. Yet they confess that "the land of the Samaritans was clean, and their fountains clean, and their dwellings clean, and their paths clean." But much dispute is made about their victuals, in the place noted in the margin. "R. Jacob Bar Acha in the name of R. Lazar saith, 'The victuals of the Cutheans are lawful,' which is to be understood of that food with which their wine and vinegar is not mingled. It is a tradition. They sometimes said, Why is the wine of Ugdor forbidden? Because of [its nearness to] Caphar Pagash. Why the wine of Burgatha? Because of Birath Sorika. Why the wine of En Cushith? Because of Caphar Salama. But they said afterward, If it be open, it is every where forbidden; if it be covered, it is lawful." And a story concerning R. Simeon Ben Lazar follows; who came into a certain city of the Samaritans, and a certain Samaritan scribe came to me; from whom when he asked something to drink, and it was set before him, "he doubted about it," &c. And other things to that purpose are read not much after: "No wine was found in all Samaria, on a certain eve of the sabbath, but, in the end of the sabbath, there was abundance; for the Syrians had brought it, and the Samaritans received it of them," &c.

They took not the half-shekel of the Cutheans, nor the pigeons of women after child-birth, &c. "Rabbi said, 'A Samaritan is as a heathen.' R. Simeon Ben Gamaliel saith, A Cuthean is as an Israelite in all things. R. Lazar, The tradition is concerning the heathen, not concerning the Cutheans, &c. But the tradition contradicts R. Lazar," &c.

But that deserves to be observed, "The Cuiheans, when they make their unleavened bread with the Israelites, are to be believed concerning the putting away of leaven: but when they do not make their unleavened bread with the Israelites, are not to be believed concerning the putting away of leaven. R. Josah saith, This is to be understood of them as to their houses; but as to their courts, they may be suspected: for so they interpret, 'Leaven shall not be found in your houses'; not, 'in your courts.'--It is a tradition. Rabban Simeon Ben Gamaliel saith, In whatsoever precept the Cutheans converse, they are more accurate in it than the Israelites. This is to be understood, saith R. Simeon, concerning the time past,--namely, when they were scattered about in their towns; but now, when they have neither precept nor any remainders of a precept, they are suspected, and they are corrupted"...It is something difficult what that means, "They were scattered in their towns," whether it is spoken of the Cutheans residing within their own towns,--or of the Jews residing with them,--or of them residing with the Jews. Whatsoever that is, it is clear certainly, both hence and elsewhere, that the Samaritans sometime did dwell together with the Jews, being here and there sprinkled among them, and the Jews here and there among the Samaritans. Certainly that is worthy of observing which Josephus related of Herod's rebuilding Sebaste, heretofore called Samaria: "In the land of Samaria (saith he) he compassed a city with a very fair wall twenty furlongs, and brought six thousand inhabitants into it": (do you think all these were Samaritans?) "and on these he bestowed a very fertile land; and, in the middle of this work, he set up a very great temple to Caesar, and made a grove about it of three half furlongs, and called the city Sebaste."

"The Samaritans (saith R. Benjamin) have not the letters he or ain, or cheth. He is in the name of Abraham, And they have not honour. Cheth, is in the name of Isaac, And they have not mercy Ain is in the name of Jacob, And they have not gentleness. But for these letters they use aleph: and hence it is known that they are not of the seed of Israel." Compare these things with the Samaritan interpreter of the Pentateuch, and judge.

Chapter 57
Caesarea. Strato's Tower.

The Arabian interpreter thinks the first name of this city was Hazor, Joshua 11:1. The Jews, Ekron, Zephaniah 2:4. "R. Abhu saith," (he was of Caesarea,) "Ekron shall be rooted out"; this is Caesarea, the daughter of Edom, which is situated among things profane. She was a goad, sticking in Israel, in the days of the Grecians. But when the kingdom of the Asmonean family prevailed, it overcame her, &c. R. Josi Bar Chaninah saith, What is that that is written, 'And Ekron shall be as a Jebusite?' (Zech 9:7). These are the theatres and judgment-seats which are in Edom, in which the chief men of Judah hereafter shall publicly teach the law. R. Isaac said, Leshem is Panias, and Ekron is Caesarea, the daughter of Edom."

The Jews are scarce in earnest when they say Caesarea is the same with Ekron: but partly, they play with the sound of the words 'Ekron,' and 'shall be rooted out'; partly, they propound to themselves to reproach her, while they compare that city, for the most part heathen, with Ekron, the city of Beelzebub.

When the Asmoneans had snatched away this city out of the hand of the Grecians, the name of it was changed into "The taking of the tower Shur," as the Gemarists tell us in the place alleged: or as the author of Juchasin, "The taking of the tower Tzur":--or as the Jerusalem Talmudists (unless my conjecture deceives me), "the tower Sid." Whether out of these words you can make out the name of "the tower of Strato," it is your part to study; that certainly was the denomination of this place before it was called Caesarea.

It was distant six hundred furlongs, or thereabout, from Jerusalem (that is, seventy-five miles), as Josephus related in that story of an Essene Jew that prophesied. Who, when he saw Antigonus, the brother of Aristobulus, passing by in the Temple, having been now sent for by his brother (indeed, that he might be slain by treachery), "O strange! (saith he) now it is good for me to die; because that which I foretold proves a lie. For Antigonus lives, who ought this day to die: and Strato's tower is the place appointed for his death: which is distant six hundred furlongs hence: and there remains yet four hours of day. But the very time makes my prediction false." Having said these things, the old man remained perplexed in his thoughts; but by and by news was brought that Antigonus was slain in a certain place underground, "in a certain dark passage," which also was called, "Strato's tower."

Herod built the city to the honour and name of Caesar, and made a very noble haven at vast expenses. "He built all the city with white stone, and adorned it with most splendid houses: in which especially he shewed the natural greatness of his mind. For between Dori and Joppa, in the middle of which this city lay, it happened that all the seacoast was destitute of havens, &c. He made the greater haven of Pireus, &c.: and, at the mouth of it, stood three great statues, &c. There were houses joining to the haven, and they also were of white stone, &c. Over against the haven's mouth was the temple of Caesar, situate upon a rising ground, excellent both for the beauty and greatness of it; and in it a large statue of Caesar, &c. The rest of the works, which he did there, was an amphitheatre, a theatre, and a market, all worthy to be mentioned," &c. See more in Josephus.

Caesarea was inhabited mixedly by Jews, heathens, and Samaritans. Hence some places in it were profane and unclean to the Jews.

"R. Nichomi Bar R. Chaija Bar Abba said, My father passed not under the arch of Caesarea; but R. Immi passed. R. Ezekiah, R. Cohen, and R. Jacob Bar Acha, walked in the palace of Caesarea: when they came to the arch, R. Cohen departed from them; but when they came to a clean place, he again betook himself to them." This story is recited Beracoth, fol. 6. 1; and there it is said that they walked in the palace of Zippor.

"One brought a bill of divorce from the haven of Caesarea. Concerning which when judgment was had before R. Abhu, he said, There is no need to say, It was written, I being present,--and I being present, it was sealed. For the haven of Caesarea is not as Caesarea."

Of the various strifes and uproars between the Caesarean Greeks and Jews, in which the Jews always went by the worst, Josephus hath very much. "Another disturbance (saith he) was raised at Caesarea, of the Jews mingled there, rising up against the Syrians that were in it." The contest was about priority and chiefdom, and it was transacted before Nero, "And the Greeks of Caesarea overcame," &c. Where the reader will observe, that the Syrians and Greeks are convertible terms.

In this city were the first seeds of a direful war, by reason of workshops, built by a certain Greek of Caesarea, near a synagogue of the Jews. Twenty thousand men were slain there afterward on one sabbath-day. You may read of more seditions and bloodshed at that place, before the destruction of the nation, in the author quoted.

Long after the destruction of it, here the schools and doctors of the Jews flourished; so that "the Rabbins of Caesarea" are celebrated every where in the Talmudical books.

I. R. Hoshaia Rubba, or the Great.--"R. Jochanan said, We travelled to R. Hoshaia Rubba to Caesarea, to learn the law."

II. R. Abhu.--"R. Abhu appointed divers sounds of the trumpet at Caesarea."--"R. Abhu sent his son from Caesarea to Tiberias to the university," &c.--"The Cutheans of Caesarea asked R. Abhu, saying, Your fathers were contented with our things, why are not ye also? He answered, Your fathers corrupted not their works, but you have corrupted them."

III. R. Achavah and R. Zeira.--"R. Mena said, I travelled to Caesarea, and I heard R. Achavah and R. Zeira."

IV. R. Zerikan.--"R. Mena said, I heard R. Zerikan at Caesarea."

V. "R. Prigori of Caesarea."

VI. Ulla of Caesarea. And,

VII. R. Ada of Caesarea, and R. Tachalipha, &c.

Mention is made of "the synagogue Mardatha, (or Maradtha,) of Caesarea": we do not inquire of the reason of the name, for it is written elsewhere "The synagogue Madadta";--in both places with this story joined; "R. Abhu sat teaching in the synagogue Maradta of Caesarea. The time came of lifting up hands, and they asked him not of that matter. The time of eating came, and of that they asked him. To whom he replied, Ye ask me concerning the time of eating, but not of the lifting up of hands. Which when they heard, every one withdrew himself, and fled."

Chapter 58
Antipatris. Caphar Salama.

We find this town marked out heretofore by a double name, if we believe some. 1. It is called Caphar Salama by some, of which mention is made by Josephus, and the Book of the Maccabees. 2. Capharzaba by Josephus himself: "But Alexander, fearing his" [Antiochus Dionysius] "coming, digs a deep trench, beginning at Capharzaba, which is now called Antipatris, unto the sea of Joppa, a hundred and fifty furlongs." Note, by the way, from Joppa to Antipatris is a hundred and fifty furlongs, that is, eighteen miles.

We will not contend about the name; of the situation of it, as it stands almost in all maps, we doubt. We will give the reason of our scruple by those things that follow; in the mean time we will give some history of the place.

I. Herod built it in memory of his father Antipater. "For he raised (saith Josephus) a monument to his father, and a city, which he built in the best plain of his kingdom, rich in springs and woods, and called it Antipatris."

II. Hither was Paul brought when he was carried to Caesarea, Acts 23:31; where, unless those words be rendered by no unusual interpretation, "they brought him by night towards Antipatris,"--you must place that city much nearer Jerusalem than almost all the maps do.

III. This measuring once and again occurs among the Gemarists, "From Gebath to Antipatris."--"From Gebath to Antipatris (say they) were sixty myriads of cities, the least of which was Beth-Shemesh." We do not assert the truth of the thing; we only take notice of the phrase.

And again; "Hezekiah the king (say they) fixed his sword to the door of Beth-Midras, and said, Whosoever studieth not the law shall be run through with that sword. They make inquiry from Dan even to Beersheba, and found not any one uninstructed: from Gebath to Antipatris, and found not boy or girl, man or woman, who did not well know the traditions of cleanness and uncleanness." Where the Gloss is; "Gebath and Antipatris were places in the utmost borders."--Think of the scene of the story, and how such an encomium could reach as far as Antipatris, almost in the middle of Samaria, as it is placed in the maps. And what authority had Hezekiah to make inquiry among the Samaritans?

The Talmudists also say, that the meeting of Alexander the Great, and of Simeon the Just, was at Antipatris. "The Cutheans (say they) prayed Alexander the Great, that he would destroy the Temple [of Jerusalem]. Some came, and discovered the thing to Simeon the Just. Therefore what does he? He puts on the high priest's garments, and veils himself with the high priest's veil: and he and the chief men of Israel went forth, holding torches in their hands. Some went this way and others that, all night, till the morning brake forth. When the morning grew light, said (Alexander) to his men, Who are those?--The Jews, said they, who have rebelled against you. When they were come to Antipatris, the sun arose, and they were met by these: when Alexander saw Simeon the Just lighting down out of his chariot he worshipped him," &c.

Do you think that the high priest, clothed in his priestly garments, and the Jews, went through all Samaria almost in such solemn procession? Josephus, relating this story, only the name of Jaddua changed, saith this meeting was "at a certain place called Sapha. But this name, being changed into the Greek language, signifies, A watch-tower. For the buildings of Jerusalem and the Temple might from thence be seen." Of which place he and we treat elsewhere under the name of Scopus, and Tzophim.

Chapter 59
Galilee

"There is Galilee the upper, and Galilee the nether, and the valley. From Caphar Hananiah, and upwards,--whatsoever land produceth not sycamines, is Galilee the upper: but from Caphar Hananiah, and below, whatsoever produceth sycamines, is Galilee the nether. There is also the coast of Tiberias, and the valley."

"Phoenice and Syria compass both Galilees, both the upper and the nether, so called. Ptolemais and Carmel bound the country westward."

That which is said before of the sycamines, recalls to mind the city Sycaminon, of which Pliny speaks: "We must go back (saith he) to the coast, and to Phoenice. There was the town Crocodilon: it is a river. The remembrance of cities. Dorum, Sycaminum, the promontory Carmel," &c.

And Josephus: "He set sail, and, being brought to the city called Sycaminum, there he landed his forces."

Shikmonah the name of a place, among the Talmudists, seemed to design that town...

Since the whole land of Samaria lay between Judea and Galilee, it is no wonder if there were some difference both of manners and dialect between the inhabitants of those countries. Concerning which, see the eighty-sixth and the eighty-seventh chapters.

"There are two hundred and four cities and towns in Galilee":--which is to be understood of those that are more eminent and fortified.

In nether Galilee, those, among others, were fortified by Josephus,--Jotopata, Beersabee, Salamis, Pareccho, Japha, Sigo, Mount Itaburion, Tarichee, Tiberias.

In upper Galilee, the rock Acharabon, Seph, Jamnith, Mero. More will occur to us as we go on.

Chapter 60
Scythopolis. Beth-shean, the beginning of Galilee.

The bonds of Galilee were, "on the south, Samaris and Scythopolis, unto the flood of Jordan."

Scythopolis is the same with Beth-shean, of which is no seldom mention in the Holy Scriptures, Joshua 17:11; Judges 1:27; 1 Samuel 31:10. "Bethsaine (saith Josephus), called by the Greeks Scythopolis." It was distant but a little way from Jordan, seated in the entrance to a great valley: for so the same author writes, "Having passed Jordan, they came to a great plain, where lies before you the city Bethsane," &c.

"Before-time it was called Nysa (Pliny being our author), by Father Bacchus, his nurse being there buried."

It was a part of the land of Israel, when it was first subdued; but scarcely, when it was subdued the second time; as R. Solomon speaks not amiss. Hence it passed into a Greek denomination, and was inhabited by Gentiles. Among whom nevertheless not a few Jews dwelt, who also had sometime their schools there, and their doctors. "The men of Beth-shean asked R. Immi, What if a man take away stones from one synagogue, and build another synagogue with them? He answered, It is not lawful." And mention is made "of something done in Beth-shean by the doctors about the wine of the heathen."

"Resh Lachish saith, If Paradise be in the land of Israel, Beth-shean is the gate of it: if it be in Arabia, Beth-geram is the gate of it: if among the rivers, Damascus." The Gloss is, "The fruits of Beth-shean were the sweetest of all in the land of Israel." "Fine linen garments were made in Beth-shean."

« Prev Chapters 51-60 Next »





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |