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Mark 16:1. And when the Sabbath was past. The meaning is the same as in Matthew, In the evening, which began to dawn towards the first day of the Sabbaths, and in Luke, on the first day of the Sabbaths. For while we know that the Jews began to reckon their day from the commencement of the preceding night, everybody understands, that when the Sabbath was past, the women resolved among themselves to visit the sepulcher, so as to come there before the dawn of day. The two Evangelists give the name of the first day of the Sabbaths, to that which came first in order between two Sabbaths. Some of the Latin translators 302302 “Aucuns En la translation Latine.” have rendered it one, and many have been led into this blunder through ignorance of the Hebrew language; for though (אחד) sometimes means one, and sometimes first, the Evangelists, as in many other passages, have followed the Hebrew idiom, and used the word μίαν, one. 303303 “Et ont ici mis le mot Grec qui signifie Un;” — “and have put here the Greek word which means One.” But that no one may be led astray by the ambiguity, I have stated their meaning more clearly. As to the purchase of the spices, Luke’s narrative differs, in some respects, from the words of Mark; for Luke says that they returned into the city, and procured spices, and then rested one day, according to the commandment of the law before pursuing their journey. But Mark, in introducing into the same part of the narrative two different events, at—tends less accurately than Luke to the distinction of dates; for he blends with their setting out on the journey what had been previously done. In the substance of the fact they perfectly agree, that the women, after having observed the holy rest, left home during the darkness of the night, that they might reach the sepulcher about the break of day.
We ought also to recollect what I have formerly suggested, that the custom of anointing the dead, though it was common, among many heathen nations, was applied to a lawful use by the Jews alone, to whom it had been handed down by the Fathers, to confirm them in the faith of the resurrection. For without having this object in view, to embalm a dead body, which has no feeling, would be an idle and empty solace, as we know that the Egyptians bestowed great labor and anxiety on this point, without looking for any advantage. But by this sacred symbol, God represented to the Jews the image of life in death, to lead them to expect that out of putrefaction and dust they would one day acquire new vigor. Now as the resurrection of Christ, by its quickening vigor, penetrated every sepulcher, so as to breathe life into the dead, so it abolished those outward ceremonies. For himself, he needed not those aids, but they were owing to the ignorance of the women, who were not yet fully aware that he was free from corruption.