Knowing the resolution the sanhedrim had taken to put him to death, and the schemes they were forming to apprehend him:
walked no more openly among the Jews;
at, or near Jerusalem; he did not teach in their streets, nor work miracles, nor appear in public company:
but went thence,
unto a country near to the wilderness:
whether this was the wilderness of Judea, where John came preaching, and near to which our Lord was before he came to Bethany, or the wilderness of Bethaven, ( Joshua 18:12 ) , is not certain:
into a city called Ephraim;
the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions, call it Ephren, and so some copies; it seems to be the same with the Ephraim of the Misnic and Talmudic doctors; concerning which they say F18,
``Micmas and Mezonicha are the first for fine flour, and the next to them is Ephraim in the valley.''For it seems there were two Ephraims, one in the valley, and another in the mount F19 it was a place very fruitful for wheat; hence that saying of Jannes and Jambres, the magicians of Egypt, to Moses F20;
``do you bring straw to Ephraim?''which was a proverbial expression, the same with ours of carrying coals to Newcastle: they seeing Moses do signs and wonders, supposed he did them by enchantment; and the sense of their proverb is, do you bring enchantments into Egypt, where there are so many already? This Ephraim, the Jews say F21, is the same with that in ( 2 Chronicles 13:19 ) , and as there Bethel is mentioned with it, it seems to have been in the tribe of Benjamin: and it may be observed, that Josephus F23 speaks of an Ephraim, along with Bethel likewise; so that they all seem to mean the same place; and according to the same writer, it was but a little city, and it may be an obscure one, for which reason Christ withdrew to it. Epiphanius F24 makes mention of the wilderness of Bethel and Ephraim, through which he travelled, accompanied by a Jew, as he came up from Jericho to the hill country; and is very likely the same wilderness which is here spoken of; and by some called Quarentana, and placed by the river Chereth, in the tribe of Benjamin, north east of Jerusalem; and the same writer elsewhere calls F25 Ephraim, the city of the wilderness: according to Jerom F26, it was twenty miles from Aelia, or Jerusalem; though according to Eusebius, it was but eight miles, which is thought to be the truest account; and by them both is said to be a very large village, and in which they may not differ from Josephus; for it might be a large village, and yet a little city. Jerom F1 takes notice of a place called Aphra, in the tribe of Benjamin, which he says at that time was called the village Effrem, and was five miles from Bethel eastward; and of another called Aphraim, a city in the tribe of Issachar, which in his time went by the name of the village Affarea, six miles from the legion, northward; the former agrees best with this Ephraim.
And there continued with his disciples;
spending his time in private conversation with them, teaching and instructing them in things concerning the kingdom of God, his time with them being now but short.
F18 Misn. Menachot, c. 8. sect. 1.
F19 Barlenora in ib.
F20 T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 85. 1. Gloss. in ib. Tzcror Hammor, fol. 170. 2. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 86. fol. 75. 4.
F21 Yom. Tob. in Misn. Menachot, c. 8. sect. 1. & Gloss. in T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 83. 2.
F23 De Bello Jud. l. 4. c. 9. sect. 9.
F24 Adv. Haeres. l. 1. Tom. II. Haeres. 30.
F25 Ib. Haeres. 29.
F26 De locis Hebraicis, fol. 91. A.
F1 lb. fol. 88. H. I.