Wherefore if they shall say unto you
Any of the false prophets, or the deluded followers of false Christs:
behold, he is in the desert, go not forth:
that is, should they affirm, that the Messiah is in such a wilderness, in the wilderness of Judea, or in any other desert place, do not go out of the places where you are to see, or hear, and know the truth of things; lest you should, in any respect, be stumbled, ensnared, and brought into danger. It was usual for these impostors to lead their followers into deserts, pretending to work wonders in such solitary places: so, during the siege, Simon, the son of Giora, collected together many thousands in the mountainous and desert parts of Judea F20; and the above mentioned Jonathan, after the destruction of the city, led great multitudes into the desert:
behold, he is in the secret chambers, believe it not;
or should others say behold, or for certain, the Messiah is in some one of the secret and fortified places of the temple; where, during some time of the siege, were John and Eleazar, the heads of the zealots F21; do not believe them. Some reference may be had to the chamber of secrets, which was in the temple F23;
``for in the sanctuary there were two chambers; one was called (Myavx tkvl) , "the chamber of secrets", and the other the chamber of vessels.''Or else some respect may be had to the notions of the Jews, concerning the Messiah, which they imbibed about these times, and ever since retained, that he was born the day Jerusalem was destroyed, but is hid, for their sins, in some secret place, and will in time be revealed F24. Some say, that he is hid in the sea; others, in the walks of the garden of Eden; and others, that he sits among the lepers at the gates of Rome F25. The Syriac version here reads in the singular number, "in the bedchamber"; in some private apartment, where he remains till a proper time of showing himself offers, for fear of the Romans: but these are all idle notions, and none of them to be believed. The true Messiah is come, and has showed himself to Israel; and even the giving out these things discovers a consciousness, and a conviction that the Messiah is come.
F20 Joseph de Bello. Jud. l. 5. c. 7.
F21 Ib. c. 6. l. 4.
F23 Misn. Shekalim, c. 5. sect. 6.
F24 Aben Ezra in Cant. vii. 5. Targum in Mic. iv. 8.
F25 Vid. Buxtorf. Synag. Jud. c. 50.