Healing of Blind Men at Jericho

As in company with the crowd of pilgrims He ap- Luke xviii. 35-43. proaches Jericho, two blind men, sitting by the way Matt. Xx. 29-34. side begging, address Him as the Son of David, be- Mark X. 46-52. seeching Him to restore their sight. He heals them, and they follow Him. Entering Jericho, He meets Luke xix. 1-10. Zaccheus, and goes to his house, where He remains during the night. In the morning, when about to depart, He speaks to the people the parable of the Luke xix. 11-28. pounds. He leaves Jericho, and the same day reaches Bethany, near Jerusalem.

The account of the healing of the blind men is differently related by the Synoptists, both as to the place and the number of persons. Matthew and Mark make it to have taken place as Jesus was leaving Jericho ; Luke, as He was entering it. Matthew mentions two blind men; Mark and Luke mention but one. Of these discrepancies there are several solutions:

1st,—That three blind men were healed ; one mentioned by Luke, as He approached the city; two mentioned by Matthew, (Mark speaks only of one,) as He was leaving the city.1 Some, as Osiander, make four to have been healed.

2d.—That the cases of healing were two, and distinct; one being on His entry into the city, the other on His departure.2 According to this solution, Matthew combines the two in one, and deeming the exact time and place unimportant, represents them as both occurring at the departure of the Lord from the city.

1 Kitto, Augustine, Morrison.

2 Lightfoot, Ebrard, Krafft, Tischendorf, Wieseler, Greswell, Bucher, Lex, Neander,

3d.—That two were healed, and both at His entry; but one being better known than the other, he only is mentioned by Mark and Luke.1

4th.—That one of the blind men sought to be healed as the Lord approached the city, but was not; that the next morning, joining himself to another, they waited for Him by the gate, as He was leaving the city, and were both healed together. Luke, in order to preserve the unity of his narrative, relates the healing of the former, as if it had taken place on the afternoon of the entry.2

5 th,—That only one was healed, and he when the Lord left the city. Matthew, according to his custom, uses the plural where the other Evangelists use the singular.3

6th.—That Luke's variance with Matthew and Mark, in regard to place, may be removed by interpreting (xviii. 35) " as He was come nigh to Jericho," tv ro> cyyi£av avrov cts Iept^w, in the general sense of being near to Jericho, but without defining whether He was approaching to it, or departing from it. Its meaning here is determined by Matthew and Mark : He was leaving the city, but still near to it. Luke, like Mark, mentions only the more prominent person healed.4

Other solutions of the discrepancy in regard to place, have been given, as by Newcome,5 that Jesus spent several days at Jericho, that He went out of the city, as mentioned by Matthew and Mark, for a temporary purpose, and that on His return He healed the blind men; by McKnight,6 that there were two Jerichos, old and new; and the blind men, sitting on the road between them, were healed as the Lord was departing from one and entering the other; by Paulus, (iii. 44,) that there was a multitude of pilgrims with Jesus, and that the front ranks of the procession were leaving the city as He was entering it.

1 Doddridge in loco. Newcome, Lichtenstein, Friedlieb.

2 Bengel, Stier, Trench, Ellicott. See a modification of this view in McKnight, and another in Lange on Matt. xx. 30.

3 Oosterzee on Luke; Da Costa.

* Grotius on Matt. xx. 30; Clericus, Diss, ii., Canon vi.; Piikington, cited in Townsend v. 33; Robinson, Jarvis, Owen.

s Har., 275. 6 Har., ii. 93.

Olshausen and Riggenbach decline to attempt to harmonize the accounts, regarding the differences as unimportant. Meyer and De Wette suppose the Evangelists to have followed different traditions, and find the discrepancies invincible. With them Alford agrees in substance : " The only fair account of such differences is, that they existed in sources from which each Evangelist took his narrative." The supposition that two were healed separately, or that there were two distinct miracles combined by Matthew in one, he characterizes as " perfectly monstrous; and would at once destroy the credit of Matthew as a truthful relator." Norton (ii. 302) observes : " The difference in the accounts of the Evangelists is entirely unimportant, except as serving to show that they are independent historians; and it is idle to try to make them agree by the forced suppositions, to which some commentators have resorted." It is most probable that two were healed, though one only is mentioned by Mark and Luke.

None of the Evangelists state at what time of the day Jesus reached Jericho, but it was probably in the afternoon. The distance to Jerusalem, and the nature of the country through which the road passed, may have made it difficult or impossible to go on to Bethany that night, and there was no intervening village where they could encamp. That Jesus did spend the night at Jericho, appears from His words to Zaccheus, (Luke xix. 5,) "To-day I must abide at thy house;" and from the murmurings of the people, (v. 7,) "That He was gone to be a guest, (/caraXro-at,) with a man that is a sinner." l This visit of the Lord to the house of a publican, although a chief among his class, and rich, did not escape strong animadversion.

J For this usage of KaraKvffat, see Luke ix. 12 j so Meyer, Alford, Greswell, Liechtenstein.

It was regarded by the people at large, and perhaps also by some of His own disciples, as an act unworthy of His high claims. In popular estimation, publicans, whose calling so odiously reminded them of Roman domination, were no fit hosts for Him whom they fondly believed to be now on His way to Jerusalem to proclaim Himself the king. The conversation between the Lord and Zaccheus (vs. 8-10) apparently took place in the court of his house, or near the entrance, where the crowd had followed. Olshausen supposes it to have been on the morning of His departure, but there is no good ground for this. It is not certain where the parable of the nobleman (vs. 11-27) was spoken, but it would seem from the connection that He was still standing by the door of Zaccheus' house.1 Some, who suppose that He merely passed a few hours with Zaccheus, and then journeyed on toward Bethany the same day, make all from vs. 8-27 to have been spoken at His departure.3 We need not, however, understand v. 28 as meaning that, immediately after He had uttered the parable, He went up to Jerusalem.

Of Zaccheus little more is known than is here related. He was not, as some have said, a heathen; but, as appears both from his name and from v. 9, of Jewish descent.* He was a chief publican, or head collector of the taxes, having the other publicans of that region under him. Jericho was rich in balsams, and therefore much toll was collected here. According to tradition, Zaccheus became bishop of Caesarea. A tower, standing in the modern village of Riha, is still shown as the " house of Zaccheus."

So Meyer, Lichtenstein. 2 Oosterzee in loco j Stier, iv. 318.

s So Meyer, Alford.