Anointing at the House of Simon

Jesus dines with a Pharisee named Simon, and while Luke vii. 36-50. at the table is anointed by a woman who is a sinner. In reply to Simon's complaint He relates the parable of the two debtors. He continues His circuit in Galilee Luke viii. 1-3. with the Twelve, and also accompanied by certain women.

This dining with a Pharisee, and anointing, are mentioned only by Luke, (vii. 36-50,) and are not to be confounded with later events of a like kind mentioned by Matthew xxvi. 6-13, Mark xiv. 3-9, John xii. 2-9. The fact that both persons at whose houses these feasts took place bore the name of Simon, is not strange, when we remember how very common this name was. They are sufficiently distinguished by the addition in Luke of " Pharisee," and in the other Evangelists of " leper." Where this Simon lived is uncertain. Some have supposed at Nain, as the city last named,1 others at Capernaum.3 Those who make this Simon the same as Simon the leper, place the feast at Bethany ; Romish tradition, 'which holds the woman to have been Mary Magdalene, gives the place as Magdala, where Jesus was on His return toward Capernaum.3

The identification of this woman, who was a sinner, with Mary Magdalene (Luke viii. 2) rests upon no sufficient grounds. Lardner argues4 that Mary was a woman of quality on the ground that she is twice mentioned before Joanna, (Luke viii. 3 and xxiv. 10,) who was wife of Herod's steward. So the first place is often given her by the Evangelists, (Matt, xxvii. 56 and 61; xxviii. 1; Mark xv. 40 and 47 ; but see John xix. 25.) This was noticed by Grotius, who inferred from it that she was of higher rank than the other women. She seems also to have been at the expense of the spices for the Lord's burial. The mention of her name with those of the other honorable women who attended the Lord in His journeys, and ministered to Him of their substance, is inconsistent with the fact of a previous loose life ; for such an one the Lord would not have permitted to be an attendant, or the other women have consented to it. Lardner adds: "I conceive of her as a woman of fine understanding and known virtue and discretion, with a dignity of behavior becoming her age, her wisdom, and her high station." It is generally admitted that this woman, described as a sinner, was of unchaste life. The text, as given by Tisehendorf and Alford, changes somewThat the meaning: " a woman which was in the city, a sinner." Alford remarks : " We must either render 4 which was a sinner in the city,' i. e., known as such in the place by public repute, carrying on a sinful occupation in the place ; or regard it as parenthetic, ' which was in the city a sinner.'

1 Greswell, Wieseler. 2 Robinson, Meyer.

3 Friedlieb, 216, note, who supposes that the place of John's imprisonment was in the neighborhood ofMagdala.

4 See Lardner's letter to Hanway on Magdalen Houses, vol. x. 237 j also Townsend, part iii., ^note 58.

The latter seems preferable." Lightfoot (in loco) maintains that this woman was Mary Magdalene, who was the same as Mary sister of Lazarus. He therefore identifies Magdala with Bethany, as very near to Jerusalem, and affirms that it was distinguished for the unchastity of the inhabitants. Thus Mary Magdalene twice anointed the Lord, now and at the beginning of His Passion.1 This is without proof.

Whether the journey (Luke viii. 1-3) made in company with " the Twelve and certain women," was a continuation of the circuit from Nain is not certain, though most probable. If, however, the anointing was at Capernaum, this may refer to a new circuit. The remark of Ellicott (184) that " this circuit could not have lasted much above a day or two after the miracle at Nain," is plainly at variance with the Evangelist's language, (viii. 1,) that " He went throughout every city and village preaching," which upon its face implies a circuit of considerable duration.2 This circuit is distinguished from His former ones by the attendance of these women, whose names are mentioned: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susannah, and many others. Nothing is historically known of any of these persons more than is here related. Their attendance on the Lord may perhaps be regarded as marking an onward step in His ministry. Whether from this time they generally accompanied Him in His journeys is not stated, but is not improbable. (See Luke xxiii. 55.)

1 In favor of the identity of Mary Magdalene with this sinner, see Baronius; Sepp, iii. 243; Oosterzee in loco ; contra, Meyer, Winer. For a general discussion of the point, see Herzog's Encyc, vol. ix. 102.

2 It is impossible, without great violence to language, to compress so much of the Lord's work into the brief interval between Purim and the Passover following, as Ellicott is compelled to do by assuming that the feast (John v. 1) is Purim.