And there followed him great multitudes of people
Some on one account, and some on another; some out of good will, others out of ill will; some for the healing of their bodies, others for the good of their souls; some to see his miracles, others to hear his doctrine; and what with one and another, the concourse of people that followed him was greater than that which followed John. The Greek word for "multitude" is adopted into the Talmudic language, and is often used by the doctors; who have a tradition to this purpose, that (awbr Myvvm htwxp aowlkwa Nya) , "there is no multitude less than sixty myriads" F15; but we are not to imagine, that when here, and elsewhere, a multitude is said to follow, or attend on Christ, that he had such a number of people after him as this; only that the number was very large. The places from whence they came are particularly mentioned, as "from Galilee"; where he had called his disciples, had been preaching the Gospel, and healing all manner of diseases; and therefore it is not to be wondered at that he should have a large number of followers from hence. This country was divided into F16 three parts:
``There was upper Galilee, and nether Galilee, and the valley from Capharhananiah and upwards: all that part which did not bring forth sycamine trees was upper Galilee, and from Capharhananiah downwards: all that part which did bring forth sycamine trees was nether Galilee; and the coast of Tiberias was the valley.''Frequent mention is made in the Talmudic F17 writings of upper Galilee, as distinct from the other.
And from Decapolis;
a tract of land so called, from the "ten cities" that were in it; and which, according to Pliny F18 were these following; Damascus, Opoton, Philadelphia, Raphana, Scythopolis, Gadara, Hippondion, Pella, Galasa, and Canatha; see ( Mark 5:20 ) ( 7:31 ) "And from Jerusalem"; the metropolis of the whole land; for his fame had reached that great city, and there were some there, curious and desirous to see him, and hear him; though he was got into those distant and obscure parts.
And from Judea;
from the other parts of it:
and from beyond Jordan;
which was a distinct country of itself, known by the name of Peraea; so called, perhaps, from (peran) , the word here translated, "from beyond". It is to be observed, that here are three countries distinctly mentioned, Galilee, Judea, and "beyond Jordan"; which was the division of the land of Israel; of these three lands the Talmudists often speak.
``It is a tradition of the Rabbins F19, that in three countries they intercalate the year; Judea, and beyond Jordan, and Galilee.''Again F20,
``There are three lands, that are obliged to the removing of fruits; Judea, and beyond Jordan, and Galilee.''Once more F21,
``There are three countries for celebration of marriages, Judea, and "beyond Jordan", and Galilee.''The account which F23 Maimonides gives of these three countries is this;
``The land of Judea, all of it, the mountain, the plain, and the valley, are one country beyond Jordan, all of it, the plain of Lydda, and the mountain of the plain of Lydda, and from Betheron to the sea, are one country: Galilee, all of it, the upper and nether, and the coast of Tiberias, are one country.''The country beyond Jordan was not so much esteemed as what was properly the land of Canaan, or Israel; for the Jews F24 say,
``the land of Israel is holier than all lands; because they bring out of it the sheaf, the first fruits, and the showbread, which they do not bring from other lands: the land of Canaan is holier than beyond Jordan; the land of Canaan is fit to be the habitation of the Shekinah; beyond Jordan is not.''This, they say F25, was not the land flowing with milk and honey.
F15 T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 58. 1.
F16 Misn, Sheviith. c. 9. sect. 2.
F17 T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 80. 1. Cetubot, fol. 67. 2. & Succa, fol. 27. 2. & 28. 1. Zohar in Gen. fol. 129. 3.
F18 Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 18.
F19 T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 11. 2.
F20 Misn. Sheviith. c. 9. sect. 2.
F21 Misn. Cetubot, c. 13. sect. 10.
F23 Hilch. Shemittah, c. 7. sect. 9.
F24 Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 7. fol. 188. 3. Maimon. Beth Habechira, c. 7. sect. 12.
F25 Misn. Biccurim, c. 1. sect. 10.