And being in Bethany
A place about two miles from Jerusalem, whither he retired after he had took his leave of the temple, and had predicted its destruction; a place he often went to, and from, the last week of his life; having some dear friends, and familiar acquaintance there, as Lazarus, and his two sisters, Martha and Mary, and the person next mentioned:
in the house of Simon the leper;
so called because he had been one, and to distinguish him from Simon the Pharisee, and Simon Peter the apostle, and others; (See Gill on Matthew 26:6);
as he sat at meat there came a woman;
generally thought to be Mary Magdalene, or Mary the sister of Lazarus:
having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard;
or "pure nard", unmixed and genuine; or liquid nard, which was drinkable, and so easy to be poured out; or Pistic nard, called so, either from "Pista", the name of a place from whence it was brought, or from "Pistaca", which, with the Rabbins, signifies "maste"; of which, among other things, this ointment was made. Moreover, ointment of nard was made both of the leaves of nard, and called foliate nard, and of the spikes of it, and called, as here, spikenard. Now ointment made of nard was, as Pliny says F23, the principal among ointments. The Syriac is, by him, said to be the best; this here is said to be
costly, and valuable:
and she brake the box.
The Syriac and Ethiopic versions render it, "she opened it"; and the Persic version, "she opened the head", or "top of the bottle", or "vial":
and poured it on his head;
on the head of Christ, as the same version presses it; (See Gill on Matthew 26:7).
F23 Nat. Hist. l. 12. c. 12.