In Ephraim the Lord abides with the disciples till John xi. 54-57. the approach of the Passover. A little before the feast, many went up out of the country to Jerusalem, to perform the necessary purifications, and there was much discussion as to the probability of His presence. He leaves Ephraim, and begins His journey toward Jerusalem, passing along the border line of Samaria and Galilee. Upon the way He meets and heals ten Luke xvii. 11-19. lepers. Being asked by the Pharisees when the king- Luke xvii. 20-37. dom of God should come, He replies, and adds the parable of the unjust judge. To certain self-righteous Luke xviii. 1-14. persons He spake the parable of the Pharisee and
publican. He replies to the question of the Pharisees Matt. xix. 3-12.
respecting divorce. Little children are brought to Mark X. 2-12.
Him, whom He blesses. As He is journeying, a young Matt. xix. 13-15.
man follows Him, to know how he may inherit eter- Mark x. 13-16.
nal life. Jesus bids him sell all that he has, and Luke xviii. 15-30.
follow Him, and proceeds to address the disciples Matt. xix. 16-80.
upon the dangers incident to riches. In answer to Mark X. 17-31. Peter, He speaks of the rewards that should be given the Twelve, and to all faithful disciples. He adds the
parable of the laborers in the vineyard. Matt. Xx. 1-16.
Supposing the Lord to have gone to Bethany, beyond Jordan, immediately after the feast of Dedication, or in the latter part of December, and that He remained there several weeks before He heard that Lazarus was sick, we may put His departure to Ephraim in the latter part of February, or early in March. Here He continued till the Passover, which fell this year on the seventh of April. He was thus at Ephraim about six weeks. How was this time spent ? It is said by some,1 that He may have made excursions to the neighboring villages, or even to the Jordan valley. But, as His object in seeking this secluded spot on the edge of the wilderness, was to avoid the observation of His enemies, till the appointed hour had come, how could He go about the country, teaching and preaching ? The place of His retreat must thus have come very speedily to the knowledge of the Pharisees. How little the people at large knew where He was, appears from the fact that those who went up early to the feast, sought Him at Jerusalem. Besides the position of Ephraim, though well fitted for seclusion, was not so for teaching. We conclude, then, as the narrative plainly implies, that He was spending the few days that remained to Him, not amidst crowds, nor renewing in some scattered villages the labors of His early ministry ; but in the society of His disciples, teaching them such truths as they could receive, and preparing them for their labors,
after He should Himself be taken from them. Doubtless, also, this period gave Him many opportunities of solitary communion with His Father.
1 So Robinson, Har. 201.
The fact that He had been present at the last two feasts in Jerusalem, led the people to expect that Jesus would also be present at the Passover. But, on the other hand, as He had withdrawn from public observation, and as the Jews had endeavored to learn the place of His concealment in order to arrest Him, it was doubtful whether He would dare to come and brave their enmity. That many should assemble before the feast, was made necessary by the laws respecting purification.1
Identifying Ephraim with the modern Taiyibeh, the distance to the border line of Galilee and Samaria was not great. If He left the former early in the morning, He may have reached the latter in the afternoon. That He was accompanied by others than the Twelve, appears from the statement (Matt. xx. 17) that "He took them apart in the way;" and from the mention of Salome, (v. 20.) As the time for concealment was now past, and it was His purpose to enter Jerusalem with all publicity, it is probable that He directed His course to the Jordan with a view to meet the pilgrims from Galilee, who took this way to the feast. So soon as He came into the valley of the Jordan, He would meet the larger processions that came from the neighborhood of the Sea of Galilee, by the road down the west bank of the river; and in the neighborhood of Jericho would meet those who crossed the ford from the eastern side. What multitudes attended the feasts, especially this feast, appears from Josephus.2 From actual count, it appears that at a given Passover 256,500 paschal lambs were slain ; and, allowing ten persons to each lamb, which was the smallest allowable number, the participants amounted to 2,565,000 persons.
1 See Numbers ix. 10, and Ainsworth's note; 2 Chron. xxx. 17. a War, 6. 9. 3.
Admitting that this number is. greatly exaggerated, there is no question that immense multitudes were always present; and all the roads leading to Jerusalem, for several days before and after the feasts, were thronged with passengers. As to the name or position of the village where the ten lepers met Him, we know nothing more than that it was on the border of Samaria. It would seem, from the gathering together of so many lepers in one place, that the Lord's journey was widely known. The title by which they address Him, " Jesus, Master," indicates faith in Him as a prophet rather than as Messiah.
When or where the question of the Pharisees (v. 20) respecting the coming of the kingdom of God, was addressed to Him, we have no data to determine. The point of the question concerns the time: When wilt thou, announcing thyself as the Messiah, visibly set up thy kingdom? 'Probably it was asked in mockery; but, if honestly meant, it could not be answered as a matter of mere chronology. His words that follow, to the disciples, (vs. 22-37,) contain many expressions almost identical with those afterward employed by Him in His discourses respecting the destruction of Jerusalem, (Matt. 24,) giving some reason to believe that they are here recorded out of their order.
The parable of the unjust judge stands in obvious connection with the discourse immediately preceding; but that of the publican and Pharisee may have been spoken later.
The question concerning divorce is found both in Matthew and Mark, and is the first event related by them in their account of the last journey from Galilee to Judea. Whether it should be inserted here, or took place earlier, we have no data to determine. Being mentioned, however, by them both just before the incident of the blessing of the
children, which Luke also mentions, this seems the most fitting place. Perhaps this question may refer to the disputes of the Jewish schools, one of which permitted divorces for many causes, even very slight ones ; the other only for adultery.1
All the Synoptists mention the blessing of the children. It is plain that their parents were those who honored the Lord, and valued His blessing. Perhaps it may point to His near departure from this scene of labor.2 The demand of Jesus upon the young ruler to sell all that he had and give to the poor, was something unexpected. Such a demand was totally at variance with the popular conceptions of the Messianic kingdom, in which all Jews confidently believed that every form of temporal blessing would abound. The question of Peter indicates how much his thoughts were engrossed with the rewards and honors of that kingdom, which all now thought to be near at hand.
1 Lightfoot on Matt. v. 31, and xix. 3.
2 See Oosterzee on Luke xviii. 15.