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St. Mark, abounding as he always does in graphic touches, reproducing before our eyes each scene which he describes, tells us of the Lord, how this doing, “ and looking up to heaven, he sighed.” Nor has he failed to preserve for us the very word which Christ spake, in the very language in which he uttered it; he “saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.” The looking up to heaven was a claiming of the divine help, or rather, since the fulness of divine power abode in him permanently, and not by fitful visitation as with others, this was an acknowledgment of his oneness with the Father, and that he did no other things save those which he saw the Father do. (Cf. Matt. xiv. 19; John xi. 41, 42.) Some explain the words “he sighed,” or “he groaned,” which are the words in the Rhemish version, as the deep voice of prayer in which he was at the moment engaged; but it is more probable to suppose that this poor helpless creature now brought before him, this living proof of the wreck which sin had brought about, of the malice of the devil in deforming the fair features of God's original creation, then wrung that groan from his heart. He that always felt, was yet now in his human soul touched with an especially lively sense of the miseries of the race of man.* Compare John xi. 33, “He groaned in the spirit and was troubled,” a trouble which had in like manner its source in the thought of the desolation which sin and death had wrought. As there the mourning hearts which were before him were but a specimen of the mourners of all times and all places, so was this poor man of all the variously afflicted and suffering children of Adam. In the preservation of the actual Aramaic “Ephphatha,” which Christ spoke, as in the “Talitha cumi” of Mark v. 14t we recognize the narrative of an eye and ear witness, from whom the
# It is quite in St. Mark's manner to give the actual Aramaic words which Christ used, adding, however, in each case their interpretation. See iii. 17; v. 41; vii. 11, xiv. 36: xv. 34. Compare x 46; xv. 22.
Evangelist had his account, and in whose soul the words of power, which were followed with such mighty consequences, which opened the ears, and loosed the tongue, and raised the dead, had indelibly impressed themselves.”
The words “He charged them that they should tell no man,” would seem to imply that the friends of this afflicted man had perhaps accompanied Jesus out of the crowd, and having been witnesses of the cure, were now included with him in the same prohibition of divulging what had been done. The reasons which induced the Lord so often to give this charge of silence there has been occasion to enter on elsewhere, and to say something on the amount of guilt involved in the disobedience to this injunction. The exclamation in which the surprise and admiration of the beholders finds utterance, “He hath done all things well,” reminds us of the words of the first creation, (Gen. i. 31,1) upon which we are thus not unsuitably thrown back, for Christ's work is in the truest sense “a new creation.” In the concluding remark of St. Matthew, “They glorified the God of Israel,” is involved, that of those present a great number were heathens, which we might easily expect in this half-hellenized region of Decapolis, and that from their lips was brought the confession, that the God, who had chosen Israel, was indeed above all gods.
* Grotius: Haec autem vox Ephphatha simul cum salivâ et tactu aurium ac linguae ex hoc Christi facto ad Baptismi ritus postea translata sunt, ut significaretur non minus internamentis impedimentatolliper Spiritum Christi, quâministo homine sablata fuerant sensuum impedimenta. Nam et cor dicitur diavoiyeo6at, Acts xvi. 14. Imö et cordi aures tribuuntur. The rite to which Grotius alludes is one that only found place in the Latin Church, as it survives in that of Rome. That the practice of the priest's touching the nostrils and ears of the child or catechumen about to be baptized, with moisture from his mouth, had its origin here, is plainly indicated by the word Epheta, which he used at the same time. Ambrose, addressing the catechumens, speaks thus (De Init., c. 1): Aperite igitur aures, et bonum odorem vitae aeternae inhalatum vobismunere Sacramentorum carpite, quod vobis significavi. mus, cam apertionis celebrantes mysterium diceremus, Epheta, quod est, adaperire; ut venturus unusquisque ad gratiam, quid interrogaretur cognosceret, quid responderet, meminisse deberet. Cf. the work De Sacram., l. 1, c. 1, attributed to St. Ambrose.
ł Here kažđc rāvra remoinke. There travra öga roinae, kaža Miav.
THERE is very little that might be said upon this miracle, which the preceding one of the same nature has not already anticipated. Whether. this was wrought nearly in the same locality, namely, in the desert country belonging to Bethsaida, and not rather on the western, as the former on the eastern, side of the lake, has been sometimes debated. Yet it seems most probable that it was wrought nearly on the same spot. For thither the narrative of St. Mark appears to have brought the Lord. Leaving the coast of Tyre and Sidon after the healing of the daughter of the Syrophenician woman, he is said to have again reached the sea of Galilee, and this through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. (vii. 31.) But all the cities of the Decapolis save one lay beyond Jordan, and on the eastern side of the lake; this notice therefore places him on the same side also. And, again, when immediately after the miracle he took ship and came to the region of Magdala, (Matt. xv. 39) since Magdala was certainly on the western side, and his taking ship was most probably to cross the lake, and not to coast along its shores, there is here a confirmation of the same view.”
* St. Mark, who for Magdala substitutes Dalmanutha, does not help us here, as there are no further traces of this place; yet that it was on the western side of the lake, may be concluded from the fact that Christ's leaving it and crossing the lake, is described as a departing elç rô Trépav, an expression in the New Testament applied almost exclusively to the country east of the lake and of Jordan. In some maps, in that for instance which Lightfoot gives, Magdala is placed at the S.E. of the lake; but this is a mistake, and does not agree with passages which he himself quotes from Jewish writers, (Chorograph., c. 76,) which all go to show that it was close to Tiberias. It is most probably the modern El-Madschdel, lying on the S.W. of the lake, and in the neighborhood of the city just named. So Mr. Greswell, Dissert., v. 2, p. 824; WINER, Real Wörterbuch, s. v. Magdala; Robinson, Biblical Researches, v. 8 p. 278.
With all the points of similarity, there are also some points differ encing this second narrative from the first. Here the people had continued with the Lord three days, but on the former occasion nothing of the kind is noted; the provision too is somewhat larger, seven loaves and a few fishes, instead of five loaves and two fishes; as the number fed is somewhat smaller, four thousand now, instead of five thousand, as it was then; and the remaining fragments in this case fill but seven baskets,” while in the former they had filled twelve. Of course the work, considered as a miraculous putting forth of the power of the Lord, in each case remains exactly the same.
At first it excites some surprise that the apostles, with that other miracle fresh in their memories, should now have been equally at a loss how the multitude should be fed as they were before. Yet this surprise rises out of our ignorance of man's heart, of our own heart, and of the deep root of unbelief which is there. It is evermore thus in times of difficulty and distress. All former deliverances are in danger of being forgotten; the mighty interpositions of God's hand in former passages of men's lives fall out of their memories. Each new difficulty appears insurmountable, as one from which there is no extrication; at each recurring necessity it seems as though the wonders of God's grace are exhausted and have come to an end. God may have divided the Red Sea for Israel, yet no sooner are they on the other side, than be
* It is remarkable that all four Evangelists, in narrating the first miracle, agree in using the term kopivov; to describe the baskets which were filled with the remaining fragments, while the two that relate the second equally agree there in using the term arupíðac. And that this variation was not accidental, but that there was some difference, is clear from our Lord's after words; when alluding to the two miracles, he preserves the distinction, asking his disciples how many ropivov; on the first occasion they gathered up; how many orvpiðar on the last. (Matt. xvi. 9, 10; Mark viii. 19, 20.) What the distinction was, is more difficult to say. The derivation of the words, kóðivoc from kórro (= dyyelov tržekrów, Suidas) and airvpic from arrelpa, does not help us, as each points to the baskets being of woven work. See, however, another derivation of orvpic in Mr. Greswell's Dissert, v.2, p. 358, and the distinction which he seeks to draw from it. Why the people, or at least the apostles should have been provided with the one or the other has been variously accounted for. Some say, to carry their own provisions with them, while they were travelling through a polluted land, such as Samaria. Mr. Greswell rather supposes that they might sleep in them, so long as they were compelled to lodge sub dio; and refers in confirmation, to the words of Juvenal (3,13): Judaeis, quorum cophinus foenumque supellex. It appears from Acts ir. 25, that the orvpic might be of size sufficient to contain a man.
+ Calvin: Quia autem similis quotidie nobis obrepit torpor, eo magis cavendum est ne unquam distrahantur mentes nostrie à reputandis Dei beneficiis, ut praeteriti temporis experientia in futurum idem nos sperare doceat, quod jam semelvel sapius largitus est Deus.
cause there are no waters to drink, they murmur against Moses, and count that they must perish for thirst, (Exod. xvii. 1–7,) crying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” or, to adduce a still nearer parallel, once already the Lord had covered the camp with quails, (Exod. xvi. 13) yet for all this even Moses himself cannot believe that he will provide flesh for all that multitude. (Num. xi. 21, 22.) It is only the man of a full formed faith, a faith such as apostles themselves at this time had not, who argues from the past to the future, and truly derives confidence from God's former dealings of faithfulness and love. (Cf. 1 Sam. xvii. 34–37; 2 Chron. xvi. 7, 8.)
And were it not so, even granting that they did remember how their Master had once spread a table in the wilderness, and were persuaded that he could do it again, yet they might very well have doubted whether he would choose a second time to put forth his creative might; —whether there was in these present multitudes that spiritual hunger, which was worthy of being met and rewarded by this interposition of divine power; whether these too were seeking the kingdom of heaven, and were so worthy to have all other things, those also which pertain to this lower life, to the supply of their present needs, added unto them.*
* It is at least an ingenious allegory which Augustine starts, that these two miracles respectively set forth Christ's communicating of himself to the Jew and to the Gentile; that as the first is a parable of the Jewish people finding in him the satisfaction in their spiritual need, so this second, in which the people came from far, even from the far country of idols, is a parable of the Gentile world. The details of his application may not be of any very great value; but the perplexity of the apostles here concerning the supply of the new needs, notwithstanding all that they had already witnessed, will then exactly answer to the slowness with which they themselves, as the ministers of the new Kingdom, did recognize that Christ was as freely given to, and was as truly the portion of the Gentile as the Jew. This sermon the Benedictine Edd, place in the Appendix (Serm. 81), but the passage about Eutyches might easily be, indeed bears witness of being, an interpolation, and the rest is so entirely in Augustine's manner, that I have not hesitated to quote it as his. Hilary had before him suggested the same: Sicut autem illa turba quam prius pavit, Judaicae credentium convenit turba', ita haec populo gentium comparatur.