NOW, father, we are here," said a little girl of about twelve years of age, who led an old man by the hand; and as they had proceeded a few steps farther, she exclaimed: "How fortunate we are that the bench before the door is still unoccupied!" Whilst she said this, she hastened towards the bench and drew her father after her. When they had reached it, she pressed the blind man down upon the seat, and added, "Thank God! who has helped us thus far."
"But," said he, "are you sure this is his house?"
"I ought to know it, I think," she replied, "for here I have often pressed through the crowd to hear his charming words."
"But," continued he, "is he probably at home and not upon a journey?"
"We must hope," said she, "that we have heard a true report; but stay here, I will look around and listen."
It was the time of the transition of the middle night-watch into the third; the starry heaven sparkled in the full brilliancy of its jewel-bespangled diadem. The little girl took her position at a slight distance from the house, feebly illuminated by the light of the stars, and fixed her earnest gaze upon it, especially upon a chamber under the roof, in which there was still burning a lamp which gave forth a weak, flickering flame. As a shadowy form became visible at the open window, she uttered a cry, sunk upon her knees, and bowed her head to the ground. In this praying posture she remained so long until the call of her father, "Peninna! Peninna! why do you leave me alone?" aroused her.
In the mean time a crowd was gathering around the house. From different directions the dull sound of steps and voices was heard through the stillness of the night. Here came a man carrying a child upon his back, whose suffering head hung forwards over his shoulder; there came two, bearing a third upon a hammock, and whilst, before ascending the slight elevation, they let down the sick man to the ground, that they might rest a little, you could hear his pitiable moanings, drawn out by the hardness of his bed. From the east side of the sea, where the highway leading from Damascus to the coast of the Mediterranean borders on the Sea of Genesaret, trotted a camel guided by an older and a younger man, which conveyed upon a side-saddle a sick woman bent with suffering and covered with thick wrappers of cloth. Led or carried, came more and more sick, so that the place before the house became a great Lazaretto, in which the groans of the suffering and the half subdued and partly coarse language of their attendants combined to create a dull, confused noise. It was necessary for Peninna to employ every caution and all the moral force she could muster to maintain the position she had first assumed with her father. All tried, not without threats and pushes, to plant themselves as near the door as possible. But as often as there were discernible signs of motion within the house, the crowd looked towards it with anxious expectation, and then the confusion relapsed into motionless silence.
The shadow at the window, which Peninna saw, was not His. As the morning gray of the eastern heavens
began to assume variegated colors, a man was seen approaching from the hillside of the city through its narrow streets. His countenance was as pale as the Sudar * which concealed his brow and chin. The city watchman, when he saw him, stepped reverently to one side and trembled in every limb, when with a gentle salutation, the charming but deeply earnest glance of his marvellous eyes struck him. After he stood for a while as it were bound fast, he followed him at a distance with as light a step as possible. He whom he followed, hastened or rather floated along with a
*The covering of the head. The Lord is usually represented bareheaded, but to go bareheaded was regarded not only as injurious but unbecoming. See Talmud. Real-Lexicon Pachad Jizchak, article Gilii Rosh.
tread unheard. He was dressed simply, rather poorly than otherwise, but the majesty of his step, the loftiness of his bearing, and the manner in which he gathered the folds of the tallith* around him, betrayed the grace and dignity of a king. As he turned the corner, and the view of so many sufferers burst upon his sight, he stepped back for a moment, but directing his eyes upwards, which radiated and absorbed
* Tallith now means the prayer-cloth with which the head is covered during prayer, but in its original meaning it is the upper garment. The shirt (Jtallig) of the teacher, according to Bathra (S7^)> covered the whole body, and was visible under the tallith only a hand's-breadth. This tallith, with the shirt-like covering of the body, constituted the bosom in which John was permitted to recline his head. John xiii. 23.
celestial light, he immediately regained his composure and resumed his steps forward. The crowd, having observed him, instantly withdrew their attention from the house and fixed it upon him, and all arms were extended towards him in an imploring attitude. "Blessed be he who cometh in the name of the Lord!" exclaimed an old man on the edge of the crowd. He had himself experienced the power of the wonderworking physician, and was now untiringly engaged in bearing along the sick. More than fifty voices at once hailed the approaching deliverer with loud and various salutations, accompanied with the most impassioned, imploring gestures. Here one voice exclaimed: rabbenu (O thou our rabbi); there, another, marana (our Lord); or schelicha dischmaja (ambassador of Heaven); or mikwe Israel (hope of Israel) ; and the sick woman on the camel, whom her father and brother had brought from Bethsaida Julias, stretched out her arm from her white wrappings towards him, and her wild, piercing scream, malca mechica (O King Messias), rang like a spirit-cry through the confused sound of voices. The impression upon him was manifestly annoying. A wave of the hand, and the deep red blush that suffused his pale face, rebuked this turmoil and hushed it into solemn silence. The sick who could move without assistance had in the mean time ranged themselves in rows in kneeling posture, but each one desiring to be as near as possible to Him; the passage through which he walked was very narrow. He proceeded slowly, and his whole appearance betokened the most profound interest. Right and left with greedy haste they grasped the ends of his tallith — they kissed it — they bedewed it with tears, and drew it as near as possible to the suffering part of their bodies; but notwithstanding this pressure and crowding, they did not rudely touch his person. He stood amid this excited multitude, clothed with a majesty which commanded veneration, and which, while it did not repel the approach of the suffering, yet did not allow any unbecoming familiarity. When his hands, stretched out on both sides, could not reach a sufferer, he leaned over, laid his hand upon him, and addressed a few words to him in a low tone. The nearer he approached the house, the more boisterous became the excitement, especially among those behind him. The joy of those into whose limbs new life had been infused, and who felt that not only their bodies but their souls had been healed, broke forth into exclamations of gratitude and praise. When one voice cried out in the words of the psalm, " Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone doeth wonders," the whole crowd responded like a congregation assembled in the house of God, "Blessed be the name of his kingdom forever and ever."
The nearer he came, the more feverish became the anxiety of Peninna. Her form rose higher and higher, and she followed every one of his motions with absorbing interest; and when the eyes of the Lord fell upon the child, which like a motionless and beautiful statue ornamented the entrance to the house, it was then as if the tints of the morning rose upon her pale face, and in a voice of silver purity she intoned: "The Lord killeth and maketh alive; he bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up. The Lord maketh poor and maketh rich; he bringeth low and lifteth up." She sang at first with trembling voice, but stronger and bolder when she observed no signs of disapprobation in his features.
"Will he come soon?" asked the old man, whose left hand earnestly grasped the right hand of his daughter.
"We must wait," she replied; "but a look that he cast upon me promises well."
"Blessed be thou, my daughter!" he exclaimed. "Thou hast the name of Peninna and the heart of Hannah. Thy song was to me as the voice of a dove which heralds the approach of spring."
It really seemed as though the blind were to be the last healed.
Turning towards the maiden, he asked: "What is thy desire, Peninna?"
"Lord, that my father may see thee and thy works," was her reply.
Then he laid his hand upon the head of the old man, and inclining towards him, said: "The Lord killeth and maketh alive. Be it unto thee according to the confession of thy child."
All this was but the occurrence of a few moments, and the hands of the father and daughter, stretched out in grateful acknowledgment, no longer reached him who had vanished through the open door of the house.
Peter was behind the door, in part a witness of this early morning activity of his Lord, but the words "O heavenly guest of sinful men," with which he saluted him, were scarcely heard by him who was hastening up to his chamber. Arrived there, he betook himself to a divan against the wall and sunk down as if exhausted from bearing the burden of the sicknesses and sorrows he had removed from the numerous sufferers.
The sun was already rising in his glory; the birds were warbling in the apple- and walnut - trees which surrounded the house which Jesus had entered the evening before. A thrush was singing its morning hymn from the towers of the castle, and at the springs below where the two streets met, the house-maids were talking of the miraculous cures which had been made during the past night in the open place before the house. The whole vicinity was alive this morning earlier than usual. The rejoicings of the healed and of their companions had disturbed many a one in his morning dreams and excited their curiosity. Many of the strangers had desired and received accommodations with their relatives and friends, and the keepers of the Pundiks (taverns) were glad to take in these early but not unwelcome guests. But in the house on the hill there was yet complete silence. The occupants, though a long time awake, moved about gently, for they knew that the Master had watched without all night in solitude, and upon his return had found much and difficult work to perform. But upon the platform of the house there was Peter, at some distance from the balustrade, that he might not be observed by any one from the street already alive with people. It was a beautiful, calm morning. Gently, as a sleeping infant, the sea reposed in the lap of the surrounding hills,* whose summits on the other side were gilded with the rays of the rising sun. The water rose and sunk like the * Lynch, Report.
bosom of one softly breathing, and only occasionally was its surface agitated by a fish leaping out of the water, whilst far above, the ospray floated in the air to watch its prey, and dashing down with lightning velocity to seize it. At some distance from the shore, a flock of wild ducks ploughed their way silently through the glistening water, and here and there boats and fishermen's barks appeared like white points, which only deepened the impression of the wide extended expanse of the sea. Peter could appreciate this stir and motion in the midst of the reigning silence. He, the energetic and experienced fisherman, was thoroughly familiar with all the peculiarities of the lake. But now he recognized in it a symbol of the great sea of men, in which, as the sun of righteousness had risen upon it, he was hereafter to cast his net. Then with a sigh towards heaven, he directed his eyes southward to the vicinity of the Dead Sea, where, within the territory of the Moabites and subsequently of the Gadites, lay the frightful, precipitous, and rock-bound Machaerus,* in which the great and dearly-beloved captive was held prisoner. To him he owed the first dawning of heavenly light and knowledge that burst upon his mind, and then he would fix a protracted gaze upon Bethsaida, his birthplace, from whence, with his brother, he had moved to Capernaum in the house of his mother-in
* The fortress in which John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod.
law. In spirit he saluted his parents and friends there, wishing that they also would believe in the Saviour of Israel, whom he, however unworthy, was honored with the distinguished privilege of entertaining. As he transiently looked over the balustrade, he observed that already a number of persons had gathered in the vicinity of the house, to take advantage of the first opportunity to hear the great Teacher, but also that a scribe was engaged in a violent controversy with them. "Why do you seek," he said, or rather screamed, "instruction and healing from this idiot and not from those to whom you are directed, our rabbis and priests? Be ye warned; he heals the body that he may poison the soul. He is a sched (demon) in human form, and will draw you with him into perdition from which he has come forth." With horror and indignation Peter heard this. It required a great effort not to hurl back the insult in the severest language, and he silently descended into the chamber where his family had already assembled for the morning meal and awaited him.
When he had entered into the familyroom he immediately inquired, "Has he not shown himself yet?" and when they answered nay, he turned to his mother-in-law and said, "Go up, my dear, knock gently at the door, and insist upon his coming down, for after such exertions he will need some bodily refreshment for the day's work before him."
When she went up and found admittance, she said, "Lord, we do not wish to break bread until thou hast spoken the blessing." Then he rose. She allowed him to proceed first and she followed. The family consisted of Peter, his wife, his mother-in-law, his brother Andrew, and of him, the exalted guest. "Now relate something, brethren," said he, while they ate. They hesitated irresolutely. "Have ye heard nothing from Machaerus?" he asked further. "O my Lord, no," was the reply; "the thick walls of that rock-fortress are as impenetrable as the gates of hell." "But I," continued Andrew, "may as well relate what happened yesterday down at the receipt of customs. A
Syrian trading caravan * that came over Jacob's bridge made a halt, and one of the men who lives in Edessa told the publican Matthew that King Abgar had requested them to make particular inquiry concerning the Galilean teacher and worker of miracles." "Yes," said Jesus, "Jerusalem is the place where the Messiah shall be exalted, a banner to the nations, but Syria is the land which first of all will gather around it. But say, what was that angry controversy under my window, early this morning?" Peter related what he had heard of it. "You see from that," said Jesus, "what I may expect. Every step of ours is watched by emissaries of the Sanhedrim and the Pharisees at Jerusa* Ritter, Erdkunde, XX. i, 271.
lem." During this conversation the meal was ended. He rose, and going to the ground floor, opened the door of the house, and thus addressed a considerable number of persons who had already assembled there: "If ye would hear the word of life, listen to what Isaiah says, Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and ye that have no money, come, buy and eat; come and buy wine and milk without money and without price."
The house consisted of a ground floor and a story above it. When a person entered through the narrow doorway, he came into a paved hall. A stairs to the right of the entrance led to the chamber of the exalted guest, and a stairs to the left led to the family-room. Two less conspicuous stairs in the back part of the room conducted to the other chambers, all of which were arranged around the paved hall.
When Jesus had invited those assembled at the door to draw nearer, he retired before the pressing crowd into the hall, and there at the cistern in the middle of it, he took his stand and preached to them, now gathered in a close circle around him, the word of God concerning the predicted but now present salvation. The crowd continually increased until the hall and the space outside were filled. Then came four men bearing a man entirely lame upon a litter, which was fastened to ropes wound round their shoulders. It was evident that they had come a considerable dis
tance and had borne the whole burden of the morning heat. They came too late to secure entrance to Jesus. To press through a closely packed mass of people was utterly impossible. Then they went around the house and happily found behind it a ladder leaning against it, which was just high enough to reach to the railing around it, and thus to enable them to mount the flat roof. After the sick man had given his consent to be lifted up, one of the men first ascended. Then the patient was bound fast to the mattress with the ropes. A second one mounted the ladder to hand to the one already up the two ends of the rope, and then ascended himself. Then the two drew up the sick man, whilst the other two still below supported the burden as far as their own height reached, and gave it the proper direction. When it had been drawn up, they also leaped upon the roof. After they had all safely secured this position, one of them descended the stairs which led from the roof to the back chamber, and from this place he heard the voice of Jesus. In perfect silence the crowd stood around him, while his richly-toned voice filled the whole apartment. Its clear, silver ring fastened the profound attention of every one, for he poured out his whole soul in its tones, whilst his countenance and whole demeanor imparted additional vigor to the power of his words. The man who had descended the stairs listened and looked, and forgot himself in the profound interest which the speaking of Jesus awakened in him. The sick man above impatiently asked, "What is to become of me?" When the three others had beckoned their companion to return, they all agreed that it would be impossible to carry the sick man down the narrow stairway. "There is no other way," said they, "than to tear off the roof and let him down through the aperture; but that would be taking an improper liberty with another man's property, and besides it is a neck-breaking adventure." "Let me down," exclaimed the sick man, "I will be satisfied if I can only be brought to lie at his feet, living or dead, and we will richly compensate the owner of the house for all the damage we do."
In the middle of the floor there was a square piece of beautiful mosaic work, which formed an ornamental figure in the flattest part of the roof. This square not only served to adorn the roof, but also to protect the house. During the rainy winter season it was kept securely closed by means of mortar, and it was now in that condition, although the winter rains were already past and the spring had set in with the season of Easter, especially in this region near the sea. The owner had not yet had time or disposition to open this orifice above, through which his house in summer time was supplied with light and air. When the bearers of the sick man had removed the tiles, it was discovered that they rested upon a plank furnished with a ring, which could be lifted up like a trap-door. The rafters of the roof were just wide enough apart to let down the sick man upon the litter between them. The square aperture was purposely placed just above the cistern in the room below, and it was possible to let the sick man down in such a way that he would lie upon the cover of the cistern and also just before the speaker when he should turn round.
The poor sufferer submitted to the counsel of his friends, for they were exceedingly anxious to afford him every possible aid in procuring relief, and they as well as he were certain that among all men only One could give it. This One was Jesus of Nazareth, in whom, as thousands at that time believed, the God of salvation himself had visited his people. These four men were the friends and neighbors of the patient. They had done all in their power to mitigate his sufferings by their sympathy and aid. He belonged to that comparatively small class of men whose work and pleasure above all other things are to serve God. He would have cheerfully endured his sorrows, if (we know not on what ground) he had not therein discerned a merited judgment of God. As the thought that God had rejected him would have changed the full enjoyment of outward prosperity into insufferable distress, so this same idea made his terrible suffering, which chained him like a living corpse nearly incapable of motion to his bed of torture, a source of still deeper anguish. He had become entirely incapable of cherishing any hope, and he had no thought that Jesus would heal either his spirit or his body. But he knew that he was the Only one who could help him; and although he regarded himself entirely unworthy of help, yet he was determined, even if it cost him his life, to hear the word of God from the lips of God's ambassador. The attempt to let down the sick man would have been impracticable if the men had not observed the remains of a tent upon the roof at the place where the wealthier families usually erected a sort of leaf-like chamber — the so-called Alija. They unwound the ropes of the tent, and according to their calculation they were long enough if united with the bearing-straps of the litter, and were tied to its handles to render it possible to let the sick man safely down. But still they were scarcely long enough, and the men were obliged gradually to bend themselves down very low, and at last even to lie prostrate and to stretch out their arms to their utmost length.
The noise occasioned by this tedious operation upon the roof had already attracted the attention of the crowd in the room below. But the overwhelming and fascinating power of the speaker was so great that there was no disturbance of the meeting. But when the litter appeared over the heads of the congregation, they were struck with amazement which presently gave utterance to the exclamation, "Rabbi, rabbi! a sick man is coming down." "Behold their faith," said Jesus, as he looked upward. "Help them support the sick man, that he fall not." Upon this the men who were standing near Jesus by the cistern extended their arms, took hold of the litter, and, as the ropes were not long enough to let it down to the floor, they untied them, and with their own hands set the litter, with the poor man stretched out upon it, before the feet of Jesus. The excitement which this interruption occasioned in the people was very great, for when Jesus had heretofore healed the sick, it was done silently and privately, and for the most part when very few besides the sick person were present. For he purposely avoided kindling the unholy fire of popular enthusiasm, and thus stirring up the enmity of Pharisaism so long glimmering in secret. It was not his main design to be glorified as a miraculous physician, but rather to be believed in as a redeemer, and he was ready with cheerfulness to endure all the sufferings which his Father had ordained him to undergo, without presumptuously drawing them upon himself. But now an incurably sick man was all of a sudden laid before him in the presence of many witnesses, and thus a task imposed upon him, the performance of which was expected by the densely packed crowd around him with the most earnest solicitude. Will he perform it, and how will he do it? That was the question which betrayed itself upon every countenance present.
"Man, what is your desire?" in rather a severe tone he asked the stranger who had interrupted him in his discourse, and who had not yet by any word or prayer appealed to Christ. The sick man was silent, but his breast rose and fell convulsively; his whole body trembled, and his eyes, which were lifted up to Jesus in a fixed gaze, poured forth streams of tears amid the most violent sobs. He, to whom those who stood immediately around him bore witness that he discerned the inmost thoughts of men, recognized in this man one to whom bodily health was not the greatest of all blessings: his groaning was self-condemnation, his trembling was fear in the presence of the Holy One, and his weeping was prayer for pardon. Hence the Lord was gratified that this time he could grasp the evil by the roots and begin the restoration from within; his heart was moved; his countenance brightened, his voice softened, and with an expression in which the most exalted self - consciousness, sympathetic condescension, and unconditioned assurance harmoniously blended, he said, "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee." These words operated upon the sick man as when the wind disperses the clouds and brings to view the azure of the skies, or as when a shower laden with heavenly energies refreshes the almost withered plants upon the parched earth. The consciousness of grace received overcame him, the peace of God penetrated him, the features of his face seemed transfigured, his eyes looked up gratefully to the Comforter, and mirrored in their tears the joy of his gladdened heart as the sun glistens in the pearly drops of the dew. But whilst those consoling words imparted life to the sick man, they concealed, for him who spoke them, the germ of death.
The liturgy of the law recognized a priestly declaration of ecclesiastical or ceremonial purgation, as, for instance, in the case of a leper, but not a priestly declaration of the pardon of sin. In general, Judaism knows no act of human absolution. Isaiah (chap. vi. 7) is
absolved by a seraph, and Joshua the high-priest (Zech. iii. 4,) by an angel of God, but in both these cases it was a divine commission which the heavenly spirits executed. For the pardon of sin is an exclusive prerogative of God, and when any creature declares another free from guilt, it is not done through his own power, but only through the delegated authority and power of God. It is not surprising then, that the words of Jesus to the paralytic occasioned the most profound astonishment. Their effect upon others of those present was, however, somewhat different Behind the outer rows of people there sat upon benches fastened into the lower wall certain Tannaim (scribes), who, roused to the greatest excitement by his words, moved to and fro uneasily upon their seats, shook their heads, and gestured with their hands. Jesus understood their angry looks and demeanor. The charge which they therein meant to convey against him was nothing less than blasphemy.
It was a momentous turning-point in the life of Jesus, for the verdict of blasphemy which these scribes uttered against him in their hearts was the beginning of the trial which a few years later terminated in his ignominious execution in Jerusalem. Those men in the background of the hall thought they could observe all these proceedings secretly; but how disagreeably were they undeceived when they discovered that they were the objects of observation, and that his all-penetrating eye discerned even the thoughts of their hearts. They were indignant at the presumption of that man who set himself up as a teacher, who had not studied in a Beth ha-Midrasch (house of learning), and could not show a horach (license to teach), and now they were obliged to submit to be put to shame by him before all the people when he directed his eyes upon them, whose piercing glance penetrated their inmost soul and startled them with alarm, and asked them, "Why think ye so evil in your hearts?"
He was well persuaded that he could not make a favorable impression upon those who regarded him as a layman puffed up with the ambition of becoming great — who, contrary to law, set himself up as a public teacher, and excited the populace against their regularlyauthorized instructors. He knew well that they extracted only poison from his words, that they exerted all their power to injure his influence, and that they would not rise above the scandalous names applied to his person and his external work, because they diligently closed their understandings to the comprehension of his internal and divine character. But he did not fear them. He accepted the challenge which they threw down to him, for he suddenly drew them into the field of combat and attacked those openly who had secretly forged arms against him. "For whether is easier to say," he asked, "Thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say, Arise and walk "? As they judged according to what they heard and saw, the former (although they regarded it as blasphemous) must have appeared easier to them than the latter, for the former is a work of invisible effect, in which deception may be possible, but in the latter case, the word, if it does not expose him to ridicule who uses it, must be followed by a fact visible to all as a proof of its efficiency. Without waiting for a reply to his question, he continued, turning to them and then to the paralytic. "But that ye may know that the Son of man on earth hath power to forgive sins, — rise, take up thy bed and walk."
The men upon the bench in furious amazement lowered their heads and looked impatiently upon the ground. A breathless silence pervaded the whole assembly. All eyes were steadfastly fixed upon the sick man, and the four still upon the roof were all eyes and ears for all that happened below. They had looked for some extraordinary display on the part of Jesus, but when quite unexpectedly it took this direction, they were completely stupefied as when a sudden crash of thunder follows the lightning. The poor paralytic certainly heard the sound of the words, but as yet there was want of will to carry them into execution. The process of nature called forth by the miraculous power of the word gradually developed itself, and the look of Jesus fast fixed upon the patient, followed the operation of the word from step to step. The stiffness of his limbs began to relax, the muscles again quivered, feeling and the power of motion returned, and as he became conscious that his insensible and motionless limbs could obey his will, he raised himself, to his own astonishment, still higher and higher, gaining self-confidence all the while, until he finally stood upright, and, extending his hands, sunk upon his knees, and bent down towards his deliverer. But Jesus stepped back and pointed to the bed. He then took up the bed and held it before him so that his view of Jesus might not be intercepted. - He walked backwards, without losing sight of his Saviour through the crowd, which formed a lane leading to the door of the house out of which he passed.
Overwhelmed with alarm and astonishment, the whole crowd maintained the most profound silence during this occurrence. But when the man who was healed had reached the outside of the house, exclamations of enthusiastic wonder, at first in low tones and then louder and still louder broke forth. "We never saw anything like this!" "We have seen incredible things today!" cried one, and others confirmed it by the same or similar exclamations. But a venerable old man, who might have belonged to the more elevated class of Capernaitist society, compressed this confused voice of popular enthusiasm into one grand and comprehensive sentence. Advancing towards the bench which a while ago had been occupied by the scribes, but who had now secretly left the room, he exclaimed with a loud voice, "Blessed be God, who hath given such power to men!" The words were applicable to him who called himself the Son of man, and which expressed praise to God for the power with which He had invested this Son of humanity. The popular understanding was yet sound — yet uncorrupted by false leaders — and faith fully echoed back the impressions once received.
The names of the scribes who on this occasion charged Jesus with blasphemy are not mentioned in the Gospels. But the Midrasch to Eccles. vii. 26, has probably preserved them. The bad woman of whom Ecclesiastes speaks is interpreted by the old synagogue commentary to represent false doctrine (minuth), and taken in this sense, the Midrasch observes in reference to the words, "whoso pleaseth God shall escape from her," that Chananja benIttai and Rabbi Joshua are examples of it, and that the words, "but the sinner shall be taken by her," refer to the men of Capernaum.
"The men of Capernaum ?" — but by far not all. Much was yet wanting before the whole population of that city which Jesus honored as the central point of his Galilean activity would allow itself to be caught in the net of the gospel of the coming kingdom. Only too many were yet too closely wedded to their old habits and too much occupied with the ordinary affairs of life to be inspired with any interest in the works of Jesus or with any desire to hear his doctrines. They took more pleasure in lounging about on the public highway and talking about the news of the day with passing travellers. For hours they would sit and gaze lisdessly on the sea, observing the departing and arriving boats with their crews and lading, or squander their time in the tavern over their measure of wine, discussing the merits of the last year's vintage of Lebanon or Moab, and the policy of the measures of Herod Antipas or of Herod Philip. They were content to let Jesus pass as the miraculous healer of the sick, but regarded themselves happy in not requiring his services. They shook their heads and thought the condition of things was not exactly right. But with those who had that morning crowded around Jesus, the prospect was better. We may assume that though all may not have been impelled by the sincere desire of receiving spiritual benefit, yet that they felt themselves drawn to Jesus by an interest that lay beyond that which was merely earthly.
When they had accompanied the healed man until his exit with looks of profound astonishment, and after having manifested their emotions in these
enthusiastic exclamations, they turned round towards Jesus, but he had vanished from his position at the basin. He took advantage of this moment of confusion, that was occasioned by the miracle, to slip through the multitude, and to hasten up one of the back stairs. When he had ascended, he fell on his knees. The approbation which he had heard expressed for a moment disconcerted him, and the incident with the scribes was the melancholy premonition of a bloody end. He composed his mind by prayer until the crowd had dispersed. It was only when perfect silence was restored below that his own spirit became more calm. Then he rose, and going through the upper passage, he entered the family-room where the countenances of the two women, the mother and daughter, when they saw him, were lit up with joy. They were reading the Psalms of the day. "Read on," said he, "and read louder, that I also may hear!" Some time after, the four men who had carried the paralytic came and brought as a testimony of their gratitude a large and splendid garland. "Take it," said they to Peter's wife, "and adorn the chamber of our master and helper." But she assured them that he refuses all presents, and that she was strictly forbidden to receive any intended for him. Then they plucked the garland to pieces and scattered the flowers on the ground before the house. The children of the city came and surrounded this artificial garden, and as a voice from the house was heard, "Pick them up," they bound nosegays of these anemones and mandrakes, lilies and roses, ran home to their parents, joyfully exclaiming, "See here; flowers from the Jesus House!"