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§ 236. Journey to Jericho.—The Healing of Blind Bartimeus. (Matt., xx., 30, seq.; Luke, xviii., 35, seq.; Mark, x., 46, seq.)

CHRIST did not go directly from Ephraim to Jerusalem, but passed first eastwardly towards the Jordan, to the vicinity of Jericho, a small town about six hours634634   According to Josephus, 150 stadia. distant from the metropolis. Here he could meet the caravan coming from Galilee to the feast.635635   Perhaps, also, he took his way through Jericho in order to extend his ministry in Judea. As the raising of Lazarus is not mentioned by the three first Evangelists, so the retirement into Ephraim, nearly connected with the former event, is only to be found in John. Apart from the latter, we should be led to suppose that he passed through Jericho on his direct way from Galilee to Jerusalem. Various reasons may be assigned for this course on the part of Christ: a wish not to fall at once into the hands of the Sanhedrim; or to meet the Galilean multitudes on whom his ministry had produced such powerful effects; or, by means of the festal caravans, to carry out his plan of a solemn Messianic entry into Jerusalem. And as this last might excite false hopes in the disciples, it was the more necessary to impress upon them anew the fact that his kingdom was to be glorified by his sufferings, and not to be established in earthly and visible splendour.636636   The departure from Ephraim connects itself naturally with Luke, xviii., 31; why, otherwise, should it be said there that before they came to Jericho he “took his disciples apart, and said unto them?” &c.

As the Saviour entered Jericho attended by the festal caravans, honouring him as Theocratic king, there sat, not far from the gate of 346the town, a blind beggar named Bartimeus,637637   According to Luke, Christ met the blind man on entering the town; according to Matthew and Mark, on leaving it; and Matthew, besides, speaks of two blind men. It is easy to conceive how these different representations of the same event could arise; the only question is, which has the more internal probability? Mark not only gives the name of the blind man, but his whole account is so graphic and circumstantial, that it must have been derived from the report of an eye-witness. But in Luke the connexion of events is so close that we cannot drop a single link: the entry, the blind man’s joining the procession, its passage through the town, its halt at the house of Zaccheus; all hang together and bear the evident stamp of truth. In this particular, then, we follow Luke. The account used by Mark, perhaps, stated that the blind man joined the procession at the gate and went forth with it; and this might naturally lead to the supposition that the event occurred on the passage out. The statement of Matthew, that two were cured, is more difficult. It may be explained either on the ground that two accounts were blended together, or that two blind men were cured, one at the entrance, the other at the outlet, of the town. (It was a common thing for blind beggars to sit at the gates.) This supposition, and a subsequent blending of the two narratives, would account not only for Matthew’s mentioning two blind men, but also for the discrepancy in Mark and Luke as to the spot of the cure. who heard the noise of the procession, and inquiring its cause, was told that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. He then cried to the Messiah for mercy. The rebukes of many, who did not wish him to disturb the Theocratic king with his clamour, had no effect upon him. Jesus stood, and told him to come near. Then the people, knowing that the Saviour called none whom he did not mean to help, said to the blind man, “Be of good comfort; he calleth thee.” He cast off his garment to run the faster, and hastened towards Jesus. He was healed, and followed the. procession, joining in the general Hosannah!


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