And were baptized of him
The place where they were baptized of him was, "in Jordan"; some copies read, "in the river Jordan", as in ( Mark 1:5 ) . As to the name of this river, and the etymology of it, the Jews say F12 it was so called, (Ndm drwyv) "because it descended" from Dan, i.e. Leshem Dan, or Pamias, which they say is a cave at the head of it. It was in John's time and long after a considerable river, a river to swim in; we F13 read that "Resh Lakish (andryb yxo hwh) was swimming in Jordan." And elsewhere F14, that one day "R. Jochanan was swimming in Jordan." Also it was a river for boats and ships to pass in, so that it was a navigable river; hence we read F15 of (Ndryh tbyre) "the boat of Jordan", and of ships in it, and of such and such things being forbidden to be carried over Jordan in a ship F16; particularly,
``a man might not take the water of the sin offering, and the ashes of the sin offering, and carry them over Jordan in a ship.''Pliny F17, Pausanias F18, Solinus F19, and others, speak of it as a very considerable and delightful river; see ( Joshua 3:15 Joshua 3:16 Joshua 3:17 ) . The Christians of Christ's time are called by the Jews, in a way of contempt, apostates, that received the doctrine of baptism, and were (Ndryb Mylwbj) "dipped in Jordan" F20. The manner in which they were baptized by him was by immersion or plunging them in the water: this may be concluded from the signification of the word (baptizw) where used, which in the primary sense of it signifies to dip or plunge; from the place in which they were baptized, "the river Jordan"; and from John's constant manner of baptizing elsewhere, who chose places for this purpose, where and because there was there much water; see ( John 1:28 ) ( 3:23 ) . The character of the persons baptized by him is this, they were such as were
confessing their sins.
They were called to repentance by John's ministry, and had the grace of it bestowed upon them; being thoroughly convinced of sin, and truly sorry for it, they were ready to acknowledge and confess it to God and men; and such an abiding sense they had of it upon their minds, that they continued doing it: they were not only confessing their sins before baptism, which engaged John to administer it to them; since we find afterwards he refused to admit others, because of their want of repentance and fruits meet for it; but also whilst they were going into the water, and when they came up out of it, so full were they of a sense of sin, and so ready to own it. Even in baptism itself there is a tacit confession and acknowledgment of sin, for it represents the sufferings and death of Christ which were for sin, into which persons are baptized, and profess to be dead to sin thereby; and also the resurrection of Christ for justification from sin, which obliges the baptized person to walk in newness of life, see ( Romans 6:3 Romans 6:4 Romans 6:5 ) besides, in this ordinance believers are led to the blood of Christ, both for the cleansing and remission of their sins, which suppose filth and guilt, ( Acts 22:16 ) and ( Acts 2:38 ) . Now this is the character given of the very first persons that were baptized by John, and ought surely to be attended to, by us; and as much care as possible should be taken, that none but such as have a true sense of sin, and are brought to an humble and hearty acknowledgment of it, be admitted to this ordinance.
F12 T. Bab. Becorot. fol. 55. 1. Kimchi in Josh. xix. 47.
F13 T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 9. 2.
F14 T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 84. 1.
F15 T. Hieros. Sabbat. fol. 7. 1. Midrash Kohelet, fol. 64. 2.
F16 T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 116. 2. Chagiga, fol. 23. 1. Sabbat. fol. 60. 2. Maimon. Hilch. Parah Adumah, c. 10. sect. 2. & Bartenora in Misn. Parah, c. 9. sect. 6.
F17 Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 15.
F18 L. 5. p. 29.
F19 Polyhist. c. 48.
F20 Cosri, p. 3. sect. 65. p. 241. Ed. Buxtorf.