And in the fourth watch of the night
This is said, according to the division of the night into four watches, by the Jews; who F15 say, that
``there are four watches in the night, and four watches in the day.''It is true indeed, that it is disputed among them, whether there were four watches, or only three in the night: some say there were four, others say there were but three F16; not but that these made a division of the night into four parts, the three first of which, they thought were properly the watches of the night, and the fourth was the morning. The first watch began at six o'clock in the evening, and lasted till nine; the second began at nine, and ended at twelve, which was midnight; the third began at twelve, and closed at three; the fourth began at three, and ended at six in the morning. But since some F17 Jewish writers are so positive for the division of the night into three watches only, and a watch is with them called F18 the third part of the night; and it is dubious with some, whether the Jewish division is here referred to; and since it is so clear a point, that the Romans F19 divided their night into four watches, and their writers speak not only of the first, second, and third watches, but also of the fourth watch F20; it is thought by some, that the evangelist speaks after the Roman manner: but however, certain it is, that within this period, probably at the beginning of it, after three o'clock in the morning, Christ came to his disciples, when they had been almost all the night at sea, tossed with waves, and in great danger.
Jesus went unto them;
from the mountain where he had been praying, the greatest part of the night, to the sea side, and so upon the waters to them; for it follows,
walking upon the sea;
as on dry land: though it was so stormy and boisterous, that the disciples, though in a ship, were in the utmost danger, yet he upon the waves, was in none at all; by which action he showed himself to be the Lord of the sea, and to be truly and properly God; whose character is, that he "treadeth upon the waves of the sea", ( Job 9:8 ) .
F15 T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 2. 4. Echa Rabbati, fol. 54. 4.
F16 T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 3. 1, 2.
F17 Jaschi & Kimchi in Jud vii. 19. & in Psal. cxix. 147.
F18 Gloss. in T. Bab. Betacot, fol. 2. 1.
F19 Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. 1. 4. c. 20.
F20 Liv. Hist. 1. 36, c. 24.