Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high
That is, he took him off from the pinnacle of the temple, and carried him through the air, to one of the mountains which were round about Jerusalem; or to some very high mountain at a greater distance; but what mountain is not certain; nor can it be known; nor is it of any moment; it has been said F7 to be Mount Lebanon: here he
sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and glory of them.
By "all the kingdoms of the world" are meant, not only the Roman empire, as Dr. Lightfoot thinks, though that was, to he sure, the greatest in the world at that time; but all the kingdoms in the whole world, which subsisted in any form, whether within, or independent of the Roman empire; or whether greater or lesser: and by "the glory of them", is meant, the riches, pomp, power, and grandeur of them. Now the view which Satan gave Christ of all this, was not by a representation of them in a picture, or in a map, or in any geographical tables, as F8 some have thought; since to do this there was no need to take him up into a mountain, and that an exceeding high one; for this might have been done in a valley, as well as in a mountain: and yet it could not be a true and real sight of these things he gave him; for there is no mountain in the world, from whence can be beheld anyone kingdom, much less all the kingdoms of the world; and still less the riches, glory, pomp, and power of them: but this was a fictitious, delusive representation, which Satan was permitted to make; to cover which, and that it might be thought to be real, he took Christ into an high mountain; where he proposed an object externally to his sight, and internally to his imagination, which represented, in appearance, the whole world, and all its glory. Xiphilinus F9 reports of Severus, that he dreamed, he was had by a certain person, to a place where he could look all around him, and from thence he beheld (pasan men thn ghn, pasan de) (thn yalassan) "all the earth, and also all the sea"; which was all in imagination. Satan thought to have imposed on Christ this way, but failed in his attempt. Luke says, this was done
in a moment of time,
in the twinkling of an eye; as these two phrases are joined together, ( 1 Corinthians 15:52 ) or "in a point of time". The word (stigmh) , used by ( Luke 4:5 ) sometimes signifies a mathematical point, which Zeno says F11 is the end of the line, and the least mark; to which the allusion may be here, and designs the smallest part of time that can be conceived of. Antoninus the emperor uses the word, as here, for a point of time; and says F12, that the time of human life, and the whole present time, is but (stigmh) a point. Would you know what a moment, or point of time is, according to the calculation of the Jewish doctors, take the account as follows; though in it they differ: a moment, say they F13, is the fifty six thousandth, elsewhere F14, the fifty eight thousandth, and in another place F15, the fifty three thousandth and eight hundredth and forty eighth, or, according to another account F16, eighty eighth part of an hour. If this could be thought to be a true and exact account of a moment, or point of time, it was a very short space of time indeed, in which the devil showed to Christ the kingdoms of this world, and their glory; but this is not more surprising than his vanity, pride, and impudence, in the following verse.
F7 Vid. Fabricii Bibliograph. Antiq. c. 5. p. 137.
F8 Vid. Fabricium, ibid. & Grotium in loc.
F9 Apud Fabricium, ib.
F11 Vid. Laertium in Vit. Zenou.
F12 De seipso, l. 2. c. 17. & l. 6. c. 36.
F13 T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 2. 4.
F14 T. Bab Beracot. fol. 7. 1.
F15 Avoda Zara, fol. 4. 1.
F16 T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 7. 1.