And behold, there was a certain man before him
Who sat just before him, as he was at table; who either came there of himself, in order to receive a cure; or rather, since it was in a private house, and he at table too, was brought and set there on purpose by the Pharisees, to try whether Christ would heal him on the sabbath day, that they might have somewhat against him; which they doubted not but he would do, knowing his compassionate and beneficent disposition to do good to creatures in distress, whenever he had an opportunity:
which had the dropsy:
or "gathered waters", as the Syriac version renders it; was filled with water, which is the nature of that disease, and distinguishes it from what is called the dry dropsy: this disease is a preternatural collection of serum, or water in some part of the body; or a too great proportion thereof in the blood. The "dropsy" acquires different names, from the different parts it afflicts, or the different parts the waters are collected in; that of the "abdomen", or lower belly, called simply and absolutely "dropsy", is particularly denominated "ascites"; that of the whole habit of the body, "anasarca", or "leucophlegmatia"; that of the head, "hydrocephalus"; that of the scrotum, "hydrocele".---There is also a species of this disease, supposed to be caused instead of water, by a collection of wind, called "tympanites"; and by Hippocrates, the "dry dropsy": we also meet with dropsies of the breast, pericardium, uterus, ovaries The causes of dropsies in general, are whatever may obstruct the serous part of the blood, so as to make it stagnate in the vessels; or burst the vessels themselves, so as to let the blood out among the membranes; or weaken and relax the tone of the vessels; or this the blood, and make it watery; or lessen perspiration. These causes are various, viz. sometimes acute diseases, scirrhous tumours of any of the more noble viscera, excessive evacuations, particularly haemorrhages, hard drinking The "ascites", or "water dropsy" of the "abdomen", is the most usual case, and what we particularly call the "dropsy": its symptoms are tumours, first of the feet and legs, and afterwards of the "abdomen." which keep continually growing; and if the belly be struck or shook, there is heard a quashing of water: add to this, three other attendants, viz. a dyspnoea, intense thirst, and sparing urine; with which may be numbered heaviness, listlessness, costiveness, a light fever, and an emaciation of the body F9. Such we must suppose to be the case of this man, and that he was now in such a condition, as to be thought incurable.
F9 Chamber's Cyclopaedia on the word "Dropsy".