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Archive for June 26th, 2016

Some Notes on Amos 2:6-10, 13-16

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 26, 2016

The following is excerpted from an old Protestant reference work, The Cambridge Bible Commentary. Text in red are my additions.

The sin of Israel, and its punishment

Amos 2:6–16. At last Amos comes to Israel (up to this point he has been uttering invective against her neighbors). The Israelites might listen with equanimity, or even with satisfaction, whilst their neighbours’ faults were being exposed: but they now find that precisely the same standard is to be applied to themselves. The stereotyped form is not preserved after the first verse; both the indictment and the punishment being developed at much greater length than in the case of any of the previous nations. The indictment (Amo 2:6-8) consists of four counts: 1. maladministration of justice; 2. oppression of the poor; 3. immorality; 4. inordinate self-indulgence, practised in the name of religion—all, in view of the signal favours conferred by Jehovah upon Israel in the past, aggravated by ingratitude (Amo 2:9-12). The judgement, viz. defeat and flight before the foe, follows in Amo 2:13-16.

Amos 2:6

sold the righteous for sliver] The venal Israelitish judges, for a bribe, pronounced the innocent guilty, i.e. ‘sold’ them for a consideration to any one whose advantage it might be to have them condemned: in a civil case, by giving judgement in favour of the party really in the wrong, in a criminal case, by condemning the innocent in place of the guilty. Righteous is used here not in an ethical, but in a forensic sense, of one ‘righteous’ in respect of the particular charge brought against him, exactly as Deut 25:1. Corrupt justice, that most common of Oriental failings, is the sin which Amos censures first; the sin which legislators in vain strove to guard against (Ex 23:6-8; Lev 19:15; Deut 16:18-20), and which prophet after prophet in vain attacked (Isa 1:23; Isa 3:14 f., Isa 5:23, Isa 10:1 f.; Mic 3:9-11; Mic 7:3; Jer 5:28; Jer 22:3; Eze 22:29; Mal 3:5): the great men, the nobles, in whose hands the administration of justice rests, abuse their office for their own ends, are heedless of the rights of the helpless classes (the “needy,” the “poor,” and the “meek”), and sell justice to the highest bidder.
and the poor] R.V. the needy (exactly as Jer 5:28; Jer22:16 al., in the A. V.); a different word from that rendered poor in Am 2:7.

for the sake of a pair of sandals] named as an article of trifling value. The reference in this clause is not, it seems, to the unjust judge, but to the hard-hearted creditor who, if his debtor could not pay the value of some trifling article, was forthwith sold by him into slavery (2 Kings 4:1; Mt 18:25). In the use of the word sell, there is a slight ‘zeugma’: for it is used figuratively in the first clause, and literally in the second.

Amos 2:7

That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor] The expression is a singular one; but, if the text be sound, the meaning is probably (Hitzig, Pusey, Duhm), “who are so avaricious that they are eager even to secure the dust strewn upon their heads by the poor, in token of their distress,”—whether after an unjust condemnation, or any other misfortune. Dust on the head was a sign of grief or misfortune: see e.g. 2 Sam 1:2; 2 Sam 15:32; Lam 2:10. Others (Keil, Gunning) think the meaning is merely, Who are eager to see dust on the head of the poor, i.e. to see them reduced to a state of misery. The former explanation involves a thought which, it must he owned, is somewhat far-fetched; but it is more exact exegetically than the second. Jerome, pronouncing the verb differently (shâphîm, for shô’ăphîm), and not expressing the prep. on, renders; “Who crush (Gen 3:15; Ps 94:5, Targ.) the heads of the poor upon the dust of the earth,”—a forcible metaphor (cf. Isaiah’s ‘grind the faces of the poor,’ Am 3:15), and Micah’s ‘strip the flesh off their bones,’ Am 3:2-3) for oppression. This yields a good sense, and may be the original text. Wellh. also reads crush, omitting ‘upon the dust of the earth’ (cf. Am 8:4, “Who pant after [or crush] die needy”); but if these words are not genuine, it is difficult to understand how they found their way into the text.—The word rendered poor (dal) is lit. thin (of kine, Gen 41:19, of Amnon, 2Sa_13:4); fig. reduced in circumstances, poor, Ex 23:3, and frequently.

turn aside the way of the meek] place hindrances in their way, thwart their purposes, oblige them to turn aside from the path that they would naturally follow, to land them in difficulties. Cf. Job 24:4, “and turn aside the needy from the way” (mentioned among other acts of high-handed oppression). By the meek are meant the humble-minded servants of Jehovah, who by character, and often also by circumstances, were unable to protect themselves against the oppressions or persecutions of a worldly-minded aristocracy, and who, especially in the Psalms, are often alluded to as both deserving and receiving Jehovah’s care. In Isa 32:7 they are the victims of the unscrupulous intriguer; in Isa 29:19 they are described as able by the overthrow of injustice (Isa 29:20-21) to rejoice thankfully in their God; in Isa 11:4 the Messianic king judges their cause with righteousness. They are named, as here, in parallelism with the ‘poor’ (dal) in Isa 11:4, and with the ‘needy’ (ebhyôn) in Isa 29:19; Isa 32:7; Ps 9:19; Job 24:4; see also Isa 61:1; Ps 22:26; Ps 34:2; Ps 37:11; Ps 76:9.

will go in] go (R.V.) i.e. resort: the verb is not the one (bâ) used in Gen 16:4, &c. ‘Will go’ means ‘are in the habit of going’: will having the same force as in Prov 19:6; Prov 19:24; Prov 20:6 &c.); but it is better omitted in translation.

unto the same maid] to a girl: the art. is generic, and, as such, is properly represented in English by the indef. article: the enormity lies not in its being an exaggeration of ordinary immorality (1 Cor 5:1), but in the frequency and publicity with which it was practised: father and son are thus found resorting to the same spots. The allusion is in all probability not to common immorality, but to immorality practised in the precincts of a temple, especially in the service of Ashtoreth, as a means by which the worshippers placed themselves under the patronage and protection of the goddess; a singular and revolting practice, found in many Semitic religions, and frequently alluded to in the Old Testament. The persons attached to a temple who prostituted themselves with the worshippers were called Kĕdçshôth, i.e. sacred or dedicated (to the deity in question): see Gen 38:21-22 and (in N. Israel) Hos 4:14; and comp. the masc. Kědçshîm, 1 Kings 14:24; 1 Kings 15:12; 1 Kings 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7 (under Manasseh, even in the Temple at Jerusalem). Deut 23:17 forbids Israelites (of either sex) to be made such temple-prostitutes. Comp. in Babylon Hdt. 1. 199, Bar 6:43, Strabo xvi. 1, 20, in Byblus, Lucian, De dea Syria, § 4, in Cyprus (in the service of the Cyprian Aphrodite, who corresponded to Ashtoreth), Hdt. I. 199 end, Clem. Alex. Protrep. pp. 12, 13; see also the present writer’s note on Deut 23:17 f.

to profane my holy name] in order to profane &c.: it ought to have been so clear to them that such practices were contrary to Jehovah’s will that Amos represents them as acting in deliberate and intentional contravention of it. To profane Jehovah’s name is an expression used more especially in the “Law of Holiness” (Leviticus 17-26), and by Ezekiel. Jehovah is Israel’s Owner; and as such, His name is ‘called over it’ (see on Amos 9:12): hence the name is said to be ‘profaned,’ when something is done bringing it into discredit, or, in virtue of His connexion with Israel, derogatory to Him: for instance, by the worship of Molech (Lev 18:21; Lev 20:3), perjury (Lev 19:12), the humiliation of Israel in exile (Isa 48:11; Ezek 20:9; Ezek 20:14; Ezek 36:20-23).

Amos 2:8

The self-indulgence, practised by the worldly-minded Israelites in the name of religion, and at the expense of the poor.

upon clothes laid to pledge by every altar] R.V. beside every altar upon clothes taken in pledge. To be understood in connexion with the last clause: the carnally-minded Israelites visit their sanctuaries for the purposes indicated in Amos 2:7; they lay themselves down there, with their partners in sin (Hos 4:14), beside the altars; and to aggravate their offence they repose, not on their own garments, but on garments which they have taken in pledge from men poorer than themselves, and which, in contravention of the Law, Ex 22:26 f., they have neglected to return before nightfall. The large square outer garment, or cloak, called the salmah, thrown round the person by day, was used as a covering at night; and hence the provision that, if a poor man (whose sole covering it probably would be) were obliged to pawn it, it should be restored to him for the night.

every altar] Not only at Beth-el (Amos 3:14), Gilgal, and Dan (Amos 3:4 f., Amos 8:14), but also, no doubt, at local sanctuaries in many other parts of the land: comp. Hos 8:11; Hos 10:1-2; Hos 10:8; Hos 12:11.

drink the wine of the condemned] R.V. drink the wine of such as have been fined: the fines which they have received—if not, as the context suggests, unjustly extorted—from persons brought before them for some offence, are spent by them in the purchase of wine, to be consumed at a sacrificial feast in their temples. The peace-or thank-offering was followed by a sacred meal, in which the worshippers partook of such parts of the sacrificial victim as were not presented upon the altar or did not become the perquisite of the priest; and at such meals wine would naturally be drunk: cf. (in the same connexion) “to eat and drink,” Ex 24:11; Ex 32:6; Num 25:2; Jdg 9:27 (“in the house of their god”); also 1 Sam 1:24; 1 Sam 10:3. For fined cf. Ex 21:22, Deut 22:19 (A. V., R.V. amerce), Prov 17:26 (see R.V. marg.).

god] or gods, the Hebrew being ambiguous (as is sometimes the case with this word). It is not certain whether the practices referred to were carried on in sanctuaries nominally dedicated to Jehovah, but desecrated by the admixture of heathen rites (as the temple at Jerusalem was in Manasseh’s day), or in sanctuaries avowedly consecrated to Baal (2 Kings 10:21 ff; 2 Kings 11:18) or other Canaanitish deities.

Amos 2:9

Yet destroyed I] The pron. is emphatic: ‘Yet I (whom you thus requite) destroyed the Amorites, that mighty and seemingly invincible nation, from before you, and settled you in their land.’ Destroyed before (lit. from before) you: the same expression in Josh 24:8—a passage belonging to the Hexateuchal narrator, commonly designated by the letter E: “And I brought you into the land of the Amorite, who dwelt beyond Jordan, and they fought with you; and I gave them into your hand, and ye possessed their land, and I destroyed them from before you”; cf. also Deut 2:21-22. Amorite is the term used (1) in the passage just quoted, and frequently, of the peoples ruled by Sihon and Og, east of Jordan, conquered by the Israelites; (2) as a general designation of the pre-Israelitish population of the territory W. of Jordan, especially in the Hexateuchal writer ‘E,’ and in Deuteronomy (as Gen 48:22; Deut 1:7; Deut 1:19-20; Josh 24:15; Josh 24:18, and occasionally besides (as Jdg 1:34-35; Jdg 6:10; 2 Sam 21:2): see, more fully, the writer’s Commentary on Deuteronomy, pp. 11–12. It is used here, evidently, in the second sense.

like the height of the cedars &c.] A hyperbolical description of the stature and strength of the Amorites: cf. Num 13:32; Deut 1:28 (“a people greater and taller than we; cities great and fenced up to heaven”). The cedar was, among the Hebrews, the type of loftiness and grandeur (Isa 2:13; Ezek 17:23; Ezek 31:3).

his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath] i.e. completely, or, as we might say, root and branch: not only was the fruit which existed destroyed, but the stock from which fresh fruit might have been put forth afterwards was destroyed likewise. For the figure comp. Hos 9:16, Ezek 17:9; and especially Job 18:16, Isa 37:31, and the Inscription on the tomb of Eshmunazar, king of Sidon (Corp. Inscr. Sem. I. i. p. 19), Isa 50:11-11 (an imprecation uttered against any one who violates the tomb): “may he have no root beneath, or fruit above, or any beauty among the living under the sun.”

Amos 2:10

Also I brought you up, &c.] as before, “And I (emph.)” &c. The providential guidance in the wilderness is instanced as a further motive to obedience, the appeal to it being made the more forcible and direct, by the change from the 1st to the 2nd person. Comp. the same motive, Deut 6:12, Hos 13:4 (R.V. marg.), and elsewhere.

forty years] Deut 2:7; Deut 8:2; Deut 29:5 (in nearly the same phrase) &c.

Amos 2:13

Behold, I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed &c.] The intransitive sense of the Hifil conjugation העיק (properly, to shew pressure, or constraint), though just possible, cannot be said to be probable; and Behold (with the ptcp.) strongly supports the view that the verse introduces the description of the punishment. Better, therefore, with R.V., and many ancient and modern expositors (Targ., Ibn Ezra, Kimchi; Ges., Ew., Keil, &c.): “Behold, I will press (you) in your place, as a cart presseth that is full of sheaves” [in Hebrew beneath a person is said idiomatically for in his place, where he stands: see e.g. Jdg 7:21; Isa 25:10; Job 40:12]: Jehovah will press them where they stand, like a cart laden with sheaves, so that they will be held fast and unable to escape. The verb is, however, an Aramaic rather than a Hebrew one; nor does it occur elsewhere in the O.T. (only two derivatives in Ps 55:4; Ps 66:11): it is properly the Aramaic equivalent of the Hebr. הציק to constrain, distress (Jdg 14:17; Jer 19:9; Isa 29:2; Isa 51:13); and is used for it in the Targum of the three passages last quoted. It is doubtful, therefore, whether the text is correct. A plausible emendation is that of Wellh. (adopted with slight modification from Hitzig), מֵפִיק for מֵעִיק, and תָּפוּק for תָּעִיק: “Behold, I will make it totter beneath you, as a cart tottereth that is full of sheaves”; the ground will totter or give way under their feet,—the symbol of an approaching ruin.

Amos 2:14

(verses 14-16 detail) A disaster, in which neither the swiftest nor the best equipped warrior will be able to escape, brings the kingdom of Israel to its end.

Therefore] simply And (as R.V.).

the flight shall perish from the swift] rather place of flight, refuge; for perish from we should say fail (R.V. marg.). The idiom used occurs elsewhere, viz. Jer 25:35; Job 11:20 (see R.V. marg.); Ps 142:4 (A.V. “refuge failed me”).

the strong shall not strengthen his force] i.e. not collect his powers; he will be unmanned in presence of the foe.

the mighty] or the warrior. The word means specifically one mighty in war: see Isa 3:2; Jer 46:6; Jer 46:12; Isa 42:13; Nah 2:4 (noticing in each case the context): in the plural it is the term used to denote David’s select band of warriors, 2 Sam 16:6; 2 Sam 23:8, &c.

Amos 2:15

stand] i.e. keep his place, or halt in the flight: so Nah 2:8; Jer 46:21.
swift of foot] For this virtue of a warrior cf. 2 Sam 1:23; 2 Sam 2:18 (the same expression as here), 1 Chron 12:8.

deliver himself] As the text stands, himself must be understood from the next clause: but it is better, with a change of vowel-points, to read yimmâlçṭ, which will itself mean ‘deliver himself.’

Amos 2:16

courageous] lit. strong (cognate with strengthen, Amo_2:14) of his heart: cf. Ps 27:14; Ps 31:24 (“Be firm; and let thy (your) heart shew strength,” i.e. let it take courage). Mighty, as Amos 2:14.

naked] having thrown off everything, whether weapon, or armour, or article of dress, which might encumber him in his flight.

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Father Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 8:28-34

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 26, 2016

Mat 8:28 And when he was come on the other side of the water, into the country of the Gerasens, there met him two that were possessed with devils, coming out of the sepulchres, exceeding fierce, so that none could pass by that way.

And when he was come on the other side, &c. This miracle of healing the demoniac is given with greater fulness by S. Luke. The commentary, therefore, upon it will be given in S. Luk_8:27-40.

Mat 8:29 And behold they cried out, saying: What have we to do with thee, Jesus Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? Mat 8:30 And there was, not far from them, a herd of many swine feeding.
Mat 8:31 And the devils besought him, saying: If thou cast us out hence, send us into the herd of swine.
Mat 8:32 And he said to them: Go. But they going out went into the swine, and behold the whole herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea: and they perished in the waters.
Mat 8:33 And they that kept them fled: and coming into the city, told every thing, and concerning them that had been possessed by the devils.
Mat 8:34 And behold the whole city went out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart from their coast.


Art thou come hither to torment us before the time? From these words some have thought that the devils have not yet received the extreme punishment of their offences, and that they will not be condemned to be tormented in hell before the Day of Judgment. S. Hilary has been thought to be of this opinion, by saying (Can. 8), “It cried out, why should He grudge them their position? (in the demoniac) why should He attack them before the time of judgment?” The same opinion is by some ascribed to S. Irenæus, Justin, Lactantius, Eusebius, Nicephorus; but I have found nothing of the kind in their writings. And the words of S. Hilary do not bear that meaning, but only say what S. Matthew relates.

For it is certain from Scripture and the Fathers that the devils, from the beginning of the world were condemned as soon as they sinned, and were tormented in the fire of hell. For by that fire they are tormented, even when they are away from it, having gone forth from hell, and taken up their abode in the air. This is brought about by the omnipotence of God. The fire of hell is a supernatural instrument of the omnipotent God, hence by the will of God, it can operate in the most distant places.

When therefore they said to Christ, Art thou come, &c., they did not speak of the ancient, perpetual, irrevocable torment of hell fire, but they deprecated any new torment being inflicted upon them by Christ. This new torment was their expulsion from the bodies of those whom they were in the habit of possessing, as S. Chrysostom says, and their banishment to the prison-house of hell.


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Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 8:28-34

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 26, 2016

Mat 8:28 And when he was come on the other side of the water, into the country of the Gerasens, there met him two that were possessed with devils, coming out of the sepulchres, exceeding fierce, so that none could pass by that way.
Mat 8:29 And behold they cried out, saying: What have we to do with thee, Jesus Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
Mat 8:30 And there was, not far from them, a herd of many swine feeding.
Mat 8:31 And the devils besought him, saying: If thou cast us out hence, send us into the herd of swine.

And when he was come.] 4. Concerning the dangers of the spiritual life. The gospel describes first the place of the occurrence, v. 28; secondly, the demoniacs and their language, vv. 29–31; thirdly, the miraculous events, v. 32; fourthly, the consequences of the miracle, vv. 33, 34.

a. The place. The gospel states that the miracle took place “on the other side of the water,” in “the country of the Gerasens.” The first of these clauses occasions no further difficulty; but the second has given rise to lengthy discussions. The Vulgate version of the three synoptists [Mk. 5:1; Lk. 8:26] places the miracle in the country of the Gerasens; but the better codd. of the Greek text read “Gadarens” in the first gospel, “Gerasens” in the second [Tisch. Westc. H.], and either “Gerasens” [W. H.] or “Gergesens” [T.] in the third. The reading “Gergesens” appears to date back to a correction of Or. who was induced by geographical considerations to make it. For Gerasa was situated at a great distance from the lake near the river Jabbok; Gadara was a strong metropolis of Perea [Jos. B. J. IV. vii. 3], situated about seven miles from Tiberias, on a mountain near the river Hieromax, in the site of Omkeis; of the Gergesens only the name remained at the time of our Lord [Jos. Ant. I. vi. 2; cf. Gen. 15:21; 10:16; Deut. 7:1; Jos. 24:11], but its ruins, identified with Gersa [Chersa], lie within a few rods of the shore, and an immense mountain rises immediately above them, in which are ancient tombs. Well, then, might Or. be led to his correction of the text, and well may Eus. and Euth. follow him. But how reconcile the original readings? Since Gadara was the principal city in the vicinity of the Perean side of the lake, the district may well have been called “the country of the Gadarens”; the reading “Gerasens” must be explained either in the same manner as the reading “Gadarens,” Gerasa being a city important enough to have a considerable tract of country called after it, or it must be regarded as a corruption, perhaps a variation, of “Gergesens.” Since one district included the other, there is no contradiction in the accounts [cf. Thomson, The Land and the Book, ii. pp. 34–37].

b. The demoniacs. The second and the third gospel speak of only one possessed person, because he was the more wretched of the two [Chrys. Mald.], or because he was the more prominent [Aug. Bed. Theoph. Euth.]. It can hardly be said that the first gospel summarizes two miraculous cures, or that tradition had failed to mention two distinct demoniacs to Mark and Luke. The violence of the demoniacs is more fully described in the second gospel [Mk. 5:2–5], where we see that they dwelt not only in the tombs, but that they could not be bound with fetters and chains, and were cutting themselves with stones, and crying in the mountains; Lk. [8:27] adds that they wore no clothes, and the first evangelist says that they made the road insecure. The second and the third gospel, moreover, state plainly that they lived in the sepulchres; some of these were natural caves, others recesses hewn out of the solid rock, with cells on their sides for the reception of the dead. They thus afforded ample shelter, and their tenants were not molested, for the Jews regarded all such places as unclean. Besides, the resting-place of the dead is the home best adapted for the demons [Salm.] who delight in dead works [Bed.] and are the authors of death [Pet. chrys.]. Thomson, in “The Land and the Book,” gives cases of epileptic fits with phenomena resembling those of the two demoniacs; but it must be remembered that no epileptic fit ever spoke to the physician as the demons spoke to our Lord, and that no nervous attack was ever expelled from man and placed in a herd of swine. As the demoniacs could not be brought to Jesus, he came to them in order to relieve them of their frightful suffering [Pasch. Jans.], thus showing that he had other sheep whom he must bring into his fold [cf. Jn. 10:16]. The language of the demoniacs is not a voluntary acknowledgment of the divinity of our Lord, but the expression of fear, as when runaway slaves come into the presence of their master [Jer.; cf. Chrys. Bed. Pasch. Br. Tost. Salm.]. The demons know that they will be judged on the last day, and punished with more severe torments [2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6]. It is true that they carry now their pain of damnation with them, but having the power to harm men, to roam about the world, they feel their punishment less [cf. Euth. Pasch. Tost. Caj. Salm. Mald. Bar. Reischl, Grimm, Fil. Suar. De ang. lib. viii. c. ii. n. 3, 13, 14; c. xvii.; c. xv. n. 16]. The territories of the Gentiles were especially under the influence of the demons [1 Cor. 10:20; 5:5]. Knowing, therefore, that the time of the last judgment had not yet arrived, they complain in a way that Jesus is about to punish them before their time; for that our Lord had come to crush the sway of Satan is plainly stated in Heb. 2:14. The demon’s eager wish to stay on earth at any price is expressed in the petition to be allowed to enter the swine. Thus they show also their longing to harm and frighten men in some way at least, while they give us a clear proof that they can do absolutely nothing without divine permission [cf. Bed. Br. Thom. Fab. Caj. Salm. Jans.]. According to the second gospel the herd of swine numbered about two thousand. While according to the Vulgate they were not far from Jesus and his companions, the Greek text says that they were far from them, and Mk. 5:11 and Lk. 8:32 merely state that they were there. But distance is a wholly relative term.

Mat 8:32 And he said to them: Go. But they going out went into the swine, and behold the whole herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea: and they perished in the waters.

And he said to them.] c. The miracle. Jesus suffers the evil spirits to go into the swine, not to punish the owners for breaking the law,—it was not forbidden by the law to keep swine [Jans.],—but to show the number of demons he had expelled [Salm. Tost. Caj. Mald. Jans.], the misery from which the possessed had been freed [Euth.], his power to help all those needing assistance [Jer. Rah. Pasch.], and the filthy nature of the unclean spirit [Petr. chrys.]. Most commentators, both ancient and modern, believe that the swine were driven into the water by the possessing demons; they point to the consequent unpopularity of our Lord among the inhabitants of Perea, and the spiritual harm brought on by their own petition, as sufficient reasons for the action of the unclean spirits. On the other hand, it cannot be admitted that Jesus was deceived by the specious pretext alleged by the demons for entering the swine. The inspired text does not represent the destruction of the swine as intended by the demons; on the contrary, the text suggests that the death of the swine was a disappointment to the devils, who had to return to their dreaded abyss. Petr. chrys. Sylv. Ambr. Lam. Reischl, Grimm, Knab. etc. are therefore justified in regarding the destruction of the herd as the result of the possession in so far only as the swine preferred death to the close alliance with the evil spirits. According to this view the evil spirit has not even the power of interfering with the instincts of animals unless God permits it. That the destruction of the herd of swine was not necessarily a punishment has already been stated; even if the proprietors were Jews, no law forbade them to keep swine either for sale or for any other purpose, except eating. The lessons conveyed by the event are weighty enough to explain why our Lord made use of his sovereign right in the case of the Gadarene proprietors.

Mat 8:33 And they that kept them fled: and coming into the city, told every thing, and concerning them that had been possessed by the devils.
Mat 8:34 And behold the whole city went out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart from their coast.

And they that kept them.] d. The consequences of the miracle. Jer. Bed. Rab. Pasch. Dion, believe the Gerasens asked through humility that Jesus might leave them; but where this was the sole motive of similar petitions, as in the case of Peter and the Gentile centurion, the language is quite different from that in the present passage. At the same time, it may be readily granted that the Gerasens were less guilty than the Nazarenes, who ruthlessly expelled our Lord from their town, after he had shown them great kindness [cf. Lk. 4:29; Mt. 13:57; Salm.].

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 8:23-27

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 26, 2016

Mat 8:23 And when he entered into the boat, his disciples followed him.

“His disciples followed Him” into the ship, to cross the lake with Him.

Mat 8:24 And behold a great tempest arose in the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves, but he was asleep.

“A great tempest.” The Greek, word “σεισμος,” generally signifies an earthquake; but in Luke 8:25; Mark 4:37, the word used is λαιλαψ, which denotes a hurricane. All lakes bounded by mountain ranges are subject to such.

“But He was asleep.” This was a natural sleep, brought on by our Lord’s own voluntary act, with the view of showing His human nature, and that He was subjected to its ordinary wants; and also, of showing His own power, of testing the faith of His disciples, and of confirming it, by a display of His Divine power. This boat, as indeed does the whole passage, in a mystical sense, represent God’s holy Church, through every phase of her chequered history.

St. Chrysostom tells us (Hom. 23, in Mattheum), that the sea represents the world; the wind and storm, the attempts of evil spirits, and wicked men, to upset the Church. The sleep of our Lord, while the hurricane was raging, reminds us that, sometimes, He permits persecution, and other trials, to assail His Church, to such a pitch of violence, as to threaten her utter destruction, which, no doubt, humanly speaking, they would long since have compassed, only that the Almighty helmsman, when fervently invoked by His suffering children, awakes from His sleep, allays the storm, restores tranquillity in His own good time; and, after testing the faith and heroism of His followers, scatters her enemies, humbling them to the dust, and showing how little human malice, or human strength, can prevail against the never-failing promises of an Almighty and Infinitely veracious God. Never, perhaps, did a more violent hurricane assail the Church of God, never did the enemies of God, devils, and their wicked instruments, the powers of this world, combine, with more apparent success, to swamp the vessel of God’s Church, than at this moment. But the children of God know on whom they have to lean. They have unbounded confidence in the midst of the storm, which assails them. They have Him on board, whom “the sea and the winds must obey,” who, by a single fiat of His will, can at once destroy their enemies. Relying on His promises, and holy protection, they never cease to cry out, with the firmest confidence of being finally heard, “Lord, save us, we perish.”

Mat 8:25 And they came to him, and awaked him, saying: Lord, save us, we perish.

“We perish.” We are on the very point of perishing, and of being lost.

Mat 8:26 And Jesus saith to them: Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up, he commanded the winds, and the sea, and there came a great calm.

“O ye of little faith?” This He probably said before the miracle, as St. Matthew, who is careful to observe the order of events, records it, although Mark and Luke say, it was after it. This excessive fear, which St. Mark tells us (4:38), made them imagine that our Lord was utterly unconcerned for them, shows how weak their faith was. They had on board the Lord God, whose Divine eye never sleeps. The suddenness of the storm, or, as the Evangelists express it, of the hurricane, which overtook them, utterly bewildered them; so that they hardly knew what they were about. They were not long accustomed, at this time, to the converse of our Lord; and, hence, it was no wonder, that the dreadful danger that they were in, should have caused such fear.

“He commanded.” The Greek word means, to command authoritatively. St. Mark (4:39), gives us the form of command used. “Peace, be still.” While His sleep indicated His humanity, this miracle proved His divinity. God alone can command the elements; according to the words of the Psalmist, “Thou rulest the power of the sea, and appeasest the motion of the waves thereof” (Psa. 88); also, “He said the word, and there arose a storm of wind, and the waves thereof were lifted up,” &c. (Psa. 106:25) The words of this verse are strongly figurative, and expressive of the sovereign power of our Blessed Lord over all creation, animated and inanimate.

“And there came a great calm,” without a vestige of the storm remaining. This shows the reality of the miracle. For, after a great storm, and commotion of the waters, the waves also continue, for some time, in a state of agitation, and the sea never becomes suddenly calm, save in case of a miracle, as here.

Mat 8:27 But the men wondered, saying: What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey him?

“The men wondered.” This may refer both to the disciples and to the men who manned the boat, as well as to those in the other boats which accompanied them across (Mark 4:36). It may also include the multitudes on the shore.

“What manner of man is this?” He must be surely, something even more than we regarded Him. He has worked greater wonders than Moses or any other. The very elements are obedient to His will. It need hardly be observed, that the whole occurrence which took place, while our Redeemer and His disciples were crossing the lake, was clearly typical of the future condition and circumstances of God’s holy Church, and never more so than at the present moment (A.D. 1876).

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