And thou Capernaum
This city is singled out from all the rest, and spoken to particularly, because of its peculiar advantages:
which art exalted unto heaven;
which has respect to the very great privileges this place enjoyed, it being the city where Christ chose to dwell, and for a time fixed his abode in; where he first began to preach, and where such a train of miracles were done; a particular enumeration, of which has been before given: as also it may refer to the situation of the place, which was very high and lofty, so that it seemed to reach unto heaven; for the account that R. Benjamin Tudelensis F14 gives of it is, that
``Capernaum, which is, by interpretation, "the village of comfort", at first sight looks to be (ylmrk le Mwqm) , "a place higher than Mount Carmel".''And Nonnus on ( John 6:59 ) calls it, (bayukrhpidi cafarnaoum) which the interpreter renders, the land of "Capernaum founded on high". But notwithstanding all this,
shalt be brought down to hell;
meaning, it should be attended with very humbling providences, be reduced to a very low condition, see ( Isaiah 14:15 ) be destroyed and laid waste, as a city, as it was in the times of Vespasian; and the inhabitants of it not only punished with temporal, but everlasting destruction;
for if the mighty works which have been done in thee, had been done
in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
The sense of these words is the same with that of ( Matthew 11:22 ) only this may be observed, that whereas Capernaum was superior in privileges and advantages than the other cities, and yet acted the vile and ungrateful part it did; so that its impenitence and unbelief were the more aggravated; hence a still viler set of men are pitched upon, even the men of Sodom, to make the comparison of them with: for as wicked as the men of that place were, who were so infamous for their unnatural lusts; yet if they had enjoyed such a ministry as Christ's, and had had such miracles wrought among them, for the attestation of the doctrines taught them, in all human probability they would have repented of their flagitious crimes; at least in an external way, in such a manner as to have escaped that dreadful judgment, which laid their city, and several adjacent ones, in ashes; and so would have continued a city until this day. The phrase remained is Jewish, and is used of Sodom by the Rabbins, who say F15, that
``Abraham was "ninety nine" years of age when he was circumcised, and then was the overthrow of Sodom; which was "fifty one" years, after the generation of the division (of the people and languages), and near "fifty two" years; but "Zoar remained" one year, (Mwdo bwvy) (rxa) , "after Sodom remained".''According to the Jews, it stood but fifty two years at most F16: and they have a notion, that Sodom and Gomorrha will be built again in the future state F17, or world to come, the times of the Messiah.
F14 Itinerarium, p. 37.
F15 Juchasin, fol. 8. 1.
F16 T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 11. 2. & Gloss. in ib. Jarchi in Gen. xix. 20.
F17 Shemot Rabba, sect. 15. fol. 101. 3.