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by this retreat our Lord proposed to shun Herod, who desired to see him, and might be contriving some method of obtaining an interview with him; for Jesus had perfect knowledge, not only of the conversation which passed at the court of Galilee, but of Herod's thoughts also. John vi. 1. After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. Luke tells us, that he went with his disciples into a desert belonging to Bethsaida. ix. 10. And he took them and went privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida *. Jesus chose

this * Luke 10. The city called Bethsaida.] Bethsaida was only a village till Philip the tetrarch of Iturea adorned it with new buildings, drew a wall round it, (Ant. xviii. 3.) and called it Julias, in honour of julia the daughter of {ugustus, Bell. ii, 13. This city therefore being under Philip's jue risdiction, must have stood somewhere to the east of Jordan. Josephus has marked its situation distinctly, (Bell. ii. 18.) where he tells us, that the river Jordan falls into the lake of Gennesar, μετα την πολιν Ιλιαδα, bebind the city Yulias. All the circumstances mentioned in the gospels, which have any relation to Bethsaida, quadrate exactly with this situation of it. Josephus indeed (Bell. ij. 8.) mentions another city called Julia, in Perea, which was rebuilt by Herod, and whose ancient name was Betharamptha, Ant. xvii. }. But he commonly names it Julia of Perea, to distinguish it from the former. Most geographers have placed Bethsaida near Tiberias, on the western shore of the lake, founding their opinion upon John vi. 23. Tbere came other boats from Tiberias, nigh unto the place where tbey did eat bread, as if Tiberias had been near the desert of Bethsaida, and consequently near Bethsaida itself. But the original, rightly pointed, imports only, that boats from Tiberias came into some creek or harbour, nigh unto the place where they did eat bread. The quarter from whence the storm blew, which brought them into that creek, is not inconsistent with this interpretation, because the storm may have been variable; or the boats may have come from Tiberias after the storm was laid ; or Thoiagis ex Ti@igrados may signify boats of, or belonging to Tiberias, not boats from Tiberias. Reland is of opinion that there were two Bethsaidas, one subject to Herod, on the western shore in Galilee ; another in Perea, belonging to Philip. And it must be acknowledged, that Bethsaida is called a town of Galilee, John xii. 21. Whereas the city of this name which Philip rebuilt, was in Gaulanitis, a division of the country different from the former, Bell. iii. 2. But to this it may be answered, that Bethsaida being situated hard by the Jordan, which, according to Josephus, die vided Galilee from Gaulanitis, it might be called a town of either country. Perhaps it belonged sometimes to the one, and sometimes to the other. Farther, although, when Josephus wrote, Galilee did not extend beyond Jordan, the boundary of Herod's dominions, which that historian is describing in the passage quoted, the scriptures give the name of Galilee to the whole region lying north of the sea, (Mar. iv, 13, 14, 15.) and particularly to the tract which Josephus names Gaulanitis ; for (Acts v. 37.) Gamaliel calls him Judas of Galilee, whom Josephus names Judas Gaulanitis. Nay, the latter calls him sometimes Judas of Galilee, for instance, Antiq. xx. 3. As for the argument drawn from Mark vi. 45. where it is said, that after the multitude was fed, Jesus ordered his disciples to sail, 15 TO TELUV Befrauda, to the other side unto Bethsaida, it will not prove that the dinner was given in a desert on the eastern side of the lake, oppo. site to Bethsaida on the west. Luke says expressly, that the desert belonged to Bethsaida, consequently in all probability it made part of its adjacent

territory.

this desert as the place of his retirement, because Bethsaida, with its' territory, was under Philip's jurisdiction, It is true he remained there but a little while, perhaps two or three days only, for Herod's perplexity quickly wore off. And therefore, though about the time that our Lord retired, he might be contriving means to get a sight of him, yet as he soon returned to his former state of mind, he troubled himself no fatther with the matter. Or if he still desired to see Jesus, he may have left the counıry to go to the approaching passover, John vi. 4. (See Luke xxiii. 27.} When Jesus departed, the multitude wene after him by land, and travelled with such eagerness, that they arrived at the place before him, and met him as he came ashore. Mark vi. 33. And the people 'saw them departing, * and many knew him, (auror, it) knew the place whither he was going, the disciples having informed them of it. Accordingly Matthew tells us, xiv. 13. When the people had heard thereof, they followed him. It seems the disciples loved to have the crowd always with them, for which purpose they failed not, as often as Jesus took any journey or voyage, to publish where he was going. The people who attended Jesus when he took ship, being thus informed by the apostles, that he was going to the desert of Bethsaida, published the news in all the towns through which they passed in their way

thither. territory. Wherefore, as the town was siuvaied hard by the Jordan, in sailing ihither from the descit mountain, wluch may be supposed to live stood at the distance of five or six miles on the shore, the disciples might cross some creek or bay of the lake, so that mark's expression is quite proper, 15 TO Figur 7805 Docu10%.

* Ver. 33. And many knetu birz!.] Kat .7/90RV Qutay too.. Here Mark informs i's, that the people knew whither he was going; for the relative KUTON may be referred to Tomoy in the pricedent verse. Hence the translation should run, many kneau it, knew the place. Accordingly it follow's, and ran ili hcm e-foot. here, may signify by land, as Blackwell as shewed, (Sac. Class. V. 2. vide Indicem) for it appears from Matt. xiv. 14: that there were many with our Lord in the desert, who cannot be supposed to have walker thither. iind as for their travelling with such speed as to arrives at the place before Jesus, it may easily be accounted for, if in sailing he met with a contrary wind. Soine think when he received the news of the Baptist's death, he was in Perea, whither he had gone after teaving Nazareth, Mark vi. 6. Wherefore, as this country lay at the bots tom of the lake westward, in going from thence to the desert of Bethsaida, Jesus had to sail the wiolc length of the lake nortli wards. If so, the people on the shore might easily run a-foot to the place before him. They might do the same, even upon the supposi:ion that Jesus now sailed from Capernaum ; because either a contrary wind, or a calın, would retard the motion of his vessel, so as to give the multitude time to arrive at the place before him. The truth is, John (vi. 1.) + presents our Lord as sailing cross the lake on this occasion, a circumstance which agrees better with his loosing from Capernaum on the west than from the south coast. It is therefore probable, that after sending the disciples away, Jesus left the country of Nazareth and returned to Capernaum, where he waited their return from their mission, and that froin Capernaum he sailed with them to the desert or Bethsaida.

thither. By this means; a much greater multitude waz drawn together at his landing, than the one he had left at Capernaum; for vast numbers, upon hearing the news, ran a-foot out of chese cities to the desert of Bethsaida. Só Mark informs us, vi. 33, And ran a-foot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him. John assigns the reason of the eagerness wherewith the people now followed Jesus, vi. 2. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. When Jesus came ashore, he taught the multitude with his usual goodness, and healed their sick. Matt. xiv. 14. And Jesus went forth and saw a great mula titude, (Mark, 'niuch people) and was moved with compassion for ward them, (Mark, because they were as sheep not having a shep. herd), Luke ix. 11. And he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, (Mark, he began to teach them many things) spake concerning the gospel dispensation, and he healed them that had need of healing. In these charitable oifices he spent several days. This may be collected from the disciples desiring Jesus to send the people away, because they had no victuals. See on Matthew, ver. 15. On the last day of the people's attend ance, (John vi. 3. And) Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. . 4. And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh: this circumstance, together with the observation which John makes, ver. 10. that there was much grass in the place, determines the time of this miracle with sufficient precision. See on John, ver. 10. Matt. xiv. 15. And when it was * evening, i. e. three o'clock in the afternoon, (Mark, When the day was now far spent, Luke, When the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him) his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and f the time is now passed; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages (Mark, into the country round about, and into the villages) and buy them).selves victuals, Mark, and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat). The people had now no meat remaining, Wherefore, as it was the custoin in those countries to have two or three days provision with them when they travelled, (see the first note on 82.) we may reasonably presume, that the multitude had been with Jesus several days, before the disciples had any thoughts of dismissing them. Matt. xiv. 16. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart, because they have no victuals, give ye them to eat. At the same time, to prove what notion Philip had of his power, he asked him, where a sufficient quan, tity of meat could be bought for them. John vi. 5. When Jesus then lift up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, i. e. gather round him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6. (And this he said to prove him for he himself knew what he would do.) 7. Philip answered him, * Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. Mark vi, 37. And they say unto him, Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat? Philip and the rest of the apostles were exceedingly surprized to hear their Master insinuate, that they could any how furnish food for such a multitude in a desert, where they had nothing but five loaves and two fishes. It seems they did not think on the proofs which he had formerly given of his power, or did not form a just notion thereof. Mark vi. 38. He saith unto them, How many leaves have ye? go and see. And when they knew, they say, Five, and two Fishes. Mat. xiv. 17. And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves and two fishes. (John, One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brom ther, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes. But what are they among so many ?) 18. He said, Bring them hither to me. The evangelists do not tell us whether the fishes were salted and dried, a kind of food greatly in request among the Jews, and which needed no preparation; or whether they were fresh and already prepared. Either kind was a subject equally proper for the miracle.

unto

*Ver. 15. Evening.] That the first evening, which began at three is here meant, is plain from ver. 23. of this chapter, where another evening is said to have come after the people were fed and dismissed, namely, the second evening, which began at sun-setting. See on Matth. xxviij. I. $ 149.

+ lbid. The time is now passed.] Son denotes the season of doing any

which was now passed, because they had continued with him till their provision was consumed.

When the loaves and the fishes were brought, he commanded his apostles to make the whole multitude sit down by companies, each consisting of two rows, t with their faces opposite, and their

backs backs turned to the backs of the next companies. Mark vi. 39. And he commanded them to make all (Matt. the multitude) sit down by companies (Luke, by fifties in a company) on the green grass. No sooner did the disciples intimate Christ's intention to the multitude, than they sat down as they were ordered. For although what he proposed seemed in the opinion of all next to an impossibility, both the disciples and the multitude cheerfully obeyed; so great an opinion had they of Christ's wisdom and power. He ordered them to be ranged in the manner mentioned above, that they might sit compactly, that their numbers might appear, that the meat might be divided among them with ease, and that none might be neglected in the distribution. 40. And they sat down in ranks by hundreds and by fifties. John vi. 10. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Now there was much grass in the place. This circumstance of the grass shews that the miracle of the loaves happened in the month of February or March, when the grass is at its perfection in Syria. See Jewish Antiq. Disc. vi. and to this agrees likewise what John tells us, ver. 4. That the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. The multitude therefore being placed, Jesus took the meat in his hands, and looking up to heaven, returned thanks to God, the liberal giver of all good, for his infinite beneficence in furnishing food to all flesh, and for the power he had conferred on him of relieving mankind by his miracles, particularly that which he was about to work, and which perhaps he prayed for, to raise the curiosity and attention of the multitude, as we find him doing before the resurrection of Lazarus, John xi. 41. John vi. 11. And Jesus took the loaves, (Luke, the five loaves and the two fishes) and when he had given thanks, (Luke, and looking up to heaven, * he blessed them, and brake, and) he distri.

• Ver. 7. Tavo hundred pennycvorth.] The Roman denarius, or penny, was equal to about sevenpence half-penny of English money. Two hundred of such pence therefore made above five pounds sterling

+ With their faces, &c.) 2 his disposition appears from the words of the text, Mark vi. 39. And he commanded them to make all sit docun by companies (UPTOCI OVUTOCOL) on the green grass. 40. And they sit down in ranks, the criginal has it, in oblong squares, by hundreds and by fifties, Teatre *px01, OLYH EXOTOV VO TIVTAROVTA. Luke represents it thus, ch. ix. 14. And be said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company; xaranaovut: AUT85 xAscias ava TEYTAXOYTA. Avuorioy, the word used by Mark, significs a company of guests at table, but xhiria, the word in Luke, denotes properly as many of them as lie on one bed, according to the anciert eastern manner of eating. By Christ's order therefore the people were to sit down to this ineal in companies, consisting some of fifty persons, some of an hundredi, arcording as the ground would admit. The members of each company I suppose were to be placed in two rows, the one row with their faces towards those of the other, as if a long table had been

between buted

between them. The first company being thus set down, the second was to be placed beside the first in a like form, and the third by the second, till all were set down, the direction of the ranks being up the hill And as the two ranks of every division were formed into one company, by being placed with their faces towards each other, so they were distinguished from the neighbouring companies, hy lying with their backs turned to their backs. And the whole body thus ranged, would resemble a garden plot, divided into secd beds, which is the proper signification of a paco 104, the name given by Mark to the several companies atter they were formed. The difference of number found in the companies, arose probably from the situation of the ground. They were ranged on the declivity of a hill, where it happened, that on the one side ranks of twenty-five persons only could be admitted, and consequently the companies there con. sisted of no more than fifty cach, and the ranks of twenty-five. Luke describes their disposition from that which was most prevalent, the greatest part of the people lying together by fitties in a row. * Luke, He blessed them.) Matthew and Mark say simply that be blessed

01/761) which most commentators refer to the loaves and fishes, because Loke says expressly, evreynes evids, be blessed them. Some however put a

different

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