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out being seriously challenged, until Robinson, our latest, as in the main our best, authority on all such matters, among the many traditions which he has disturbed, affirms that “there is not the slightest evidence which can identify it with the Bethesda of the New Testament *.” Nor does the tradition which identifies them ascend higher, as he can discover, than the thirteenth century. He sees in that rather the remains of the ancient fosse which protected on the north side the citadel Antonia ; and the true Bethesda he thinks he finds, though on this he speaks not with any certainty, in that which goes now by the name of the Fountain of the Virgin, being the upper fountain of Siloam +.
In the porches round “lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, and withered;" the words which complete this verse, " waiting for the moring of the water,” lie under strong suspicion, as the verse following has undoubtedly no right to a place in the text. That fourth verse the most
* Biblical Researches, v. 1, p. 489, seq.
+ He was himself witness of that remarkable, phenomenon, so often mentioned of old, as by Jerome (In Isai. viii.): Siloe . . . qui non jugibus aquis, sed in certis horis diebusque ebulliat; et per terrarum concava et antra saxi durissimi cum magno sonitu veniat ;—but which had of late fallen quite into discredit,—of the waters rapidly bubbling up, and rising with a gurgling sound in the basin of this fountain, and in a few minutes retreating again. When he was present they rose nearly or quite a foot. (Researches, v. 1, p. 506-508.) Prudentius, whom he does not quote, has anticipated the view that this Siloam is Bethesda, and that in this phenomenon is " the troubling of the water," however the healing virtue may have departed.
Variis Siloa refundit
Expectant scatebras, et sicco margine pendent. Perhaps it is not a slip of memory, but his belief in the identity of Siloam and Bethesda, which makes Irenæus (Con. Har., l. 4, c. 8,) to say of our Lord: Et Siloâ etiam sæpe Sabbatis curavit; et propter hoc assidebant ei multi die Sabbatorum.
important Greek and Latin copies are alike without, and most of the early versions. In other MSS. which retain this verse, the obelus which hints suspicion, or the asterisk which marks rejection, is attached to it *; while those in which it appears unquestioned belong mostly, as Griesbach shews, to a later recension of the text. And this fourth verse spreads the suspicion of its own spuriousness over the last clause of the verse preceding, which, though it has not so great a body of evidence against it, has yet, in a less degree, the same marks of suspicion about it. Doubtless whatever here is addition, whether only the fourth verse, or the last clause also of the third, found very early its way into the text; we have it as early as Tertullian,—the first witness for its presencet. The baptismal angel, a favourite thought with him, was here foreshewed and typified ; as, somewhat later, Ambrose I saw a prophecy of the descent of the Holy Ghost, consecrating the waters of baptism to the mystical washing away of sin; and Chrysostom and others make frequent use of this verse 0.
* In Jerome's phrase, though not used with reference to this verse, Veru jugulante confossum est..
+ De Bapt., c. 5: Angeluin aquis intervenire, si novum videtur, exemplum futurum præcucurrit. Piscinam Bethsaida angelus interveniens commovebat ; observabant qui valetudinem querebantur. Nam si quis prevenerat descendere illuc, queri post lavacrum desinebat. Figura ista medicinæ corporalis spiritalem medicinam canebat, câ forinâ quà semper carnalia in figurâ spiritalium antecedunt. Proficiente itaque hominibus gratiâ Dei plus aquis et angelo accessit : qui vitia corporis remediabant, nunc spiritum medentur : qui temporalem operabantur salutem, nunc æternam reforinant: qui unum semel anno liberabant, nunc quotidie populos conservant. It will be observed that he calls it above, the pool Bethsaida ; this is not by accident, for it recurs (101'. Jud., c. 13), in Augustine, and is still in the Vulgate.
De Spir. Sanct., l. 1, c.7: Quid in hoc typo Angelus nisi discensionem Sancti Spiritus nuntiabat, quæ nostris futura temporibus, aquas sacerdotalibus invocata precibus consecraret? and De Vyst., c. 4: Illis Angelus descendebat, tibi Spiritus Sanctus; illis creatura movebatur, tibi Christus operatur ipse Dominus creatura.
$ Thus he says (In Joh., Hlom. 36): “As there it was not siinply the nature of the waters which healed, for then ther would have always done so, but when was added the energy of the angel; so with us, it is not simply the water which works, but when it has received the grace of the Spirit, then it washes away all sins."
At first probably a marginal note, expressing the popular notion of the Jewish Christians concerning the origin of the healing power which from time to time these waters possessed, by degrees it assumed the shape in which now we have it : for there are marks of growth about it, betraying themselves in a great variety of readings,—some copies omitting one part, and some another of the verse, –all which is generally the sign of a later addition : thus, little by little, it procured admission into the text, probably at Alexandria first, the birth-place of other similar additions. There is nothing in the statement itself which might not have found place in St. John. It rests upon that religious view of nature, which in all nature sees something beyond nature, which does not believe that it has discovered causes, when, in fact, it has only traced the sequence of phenomena, and which in all recognizes a going forth of the immediate power of God, invisible agencies of his, whether personal or otherwise, accomplishing his will *.
* Hammond's explanation of this phenomenon, which seems like a leaf borrowed from Dr. Paulus, is very singular, both in itself, and as coming from him. It very early awoke earnest remonstrances on many sides,—see for instance Witsius, in Wolf's Cura (in loc.) The medicinal virtues of this pool he supposes were derived from the washing in it the carcases and entrails of the beasts slain for sacrifices. In proof that they were here washed, he quotes Brocardus, a monk of the thirteenth century! whose authority would be nothing, and whose words are these: Intrantibus porrò portain Gregis ad sinistram occurrit piscina probatica, in quâ Nathinæi lavabant hostias quas tradebant sacerdotibus in Templo offerendas: that is, as every one must confess, washed their fleeces before delivering them to be offered by the priests. Some in later times have amended this part of the theory, who, knowing that the sacrifices were washed in the temple and not without it, have supposed that the blood and other animal matter was drained off by conduits into this pool. But to proceed,—the pool, he says, possessed these healing powers only at intervals, because only at their great feasts, and eminently at their Passover, was there slain any such great multitude of beasts as could tinge and warm those waters, and for the time make them a sort of animal bath. The öygelos is not an angel, but a messenger or servant sent down by those who were skilled in the matter to stir the waters, that the grosser and thicker particles, in which the chief medicinal virtue resided, but
From among the multitude that are waiting here, Christ singles out one on whom he will shew his power ;-one only, for he came not now to be the healer of men's bodies, save only as he could link on to this healing the truer healing of their souls and spirits. One construction of the fifth verse would make the poor cripple, the present object of his healing love, to have been actually waiting at the edge of that pool for the “thirty and cight years*” which are named ; while according to another construction, the thirtyeight years express the age of the man. Neither is right, but rather that which our version gives. The eight and thirty years are the duration, not of his life, but of his malady,—while yet it is not implied that he had been expecting his healing from that pool for all that time; though, from his own words, we infer that he had there been waiting for
which as heaviest would have sunk to the bottom, might re-infuse themselves in the waters. The fact that only one each time was healed he explains, that probably the pool was purposely of very limited dimensions, for the concentrating of its virtues, thus giving room for no more than one at a time: and thus by evaporation or otherwise its strength was exhausted before place could be made for another. He has here worked out at length a theory which Theophylact makes mention of, although there is no appearance that he himself accepted it, as Hammond affirins. His words are : Eίχον δε οι πολλοί υπόληψιν, ότι και από μόνου του πλύνεσθαι τα εντόσθια TW iepeiwv õúvaniu tiva Aaußúvet detítepav tò vôwp. And after all it seems more than doubtful whether he does not mean that some thought this grace was given to the waters because they were used for washing the altar sacrifices; and not that it was naturally imparted through that washing. Certainly what follows in his exposition seems very nearly to prove this. This explanation has found favour with one, a physician I should imagine, (RiculTER, De Balneo Animali, p. 107, quoted by Winer, Real Wörterbuch, s. v. Bethesda,) whose words are these: Non miror fontem tantâ adhuc virtute animali hostiarum calentem, quippe in proxima loca tempestivè effusun, uit pro pleniori partium miscelà turbatum triplici maximè infirmorum classi, quorum luculenter genus nervosum laborabat, profuisse ; et quia animalis hæc virtus citò cum calore aufugit, et vappam inertem, immo putrem relinquit, jis tantum qui primi ingressi sunt, salutem attulisse.
* These thirty and eight years of the man's punishment answering so exactly to the thirty-eight years of Israel's punishment in the wilderness have not unnaturally led many, old and new, (see HIENGSTENBERG, Christol., v. 2, p. 568,7 to find in this man a type of Israel after the Hesh.
it long. The question, “ Wilt thou be made whole ?” at first might seem superfluous ; for who would not be made whole if he might ? and the very presence of this man at the place of healing witnessed for his desire. But the question has its purpose. This impotent man probably had waited so long, and so long waited in vain, that hope was dead or well-nigh dead within him, and the question is asked to awaken in him anew a yearning after the benefit, which the Saviour, compassionating his hopeless case, was about to impart. His heart may have been withered through his long sufferings and the long neglects of his fellow-men; it was something to persuade him that this stranger pitied him, was interested in his case, would help him if he could. So persuading him to believe in his love, he prepared him to believe also in his might. Our Lord was giving him now the faith, which presently he was about to demand of him.
In the man's answer there is not a direct reply to the question, but an explanation why he yet continued in his infirmity. “Right gladly, Sir,” he would say, “ only I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool.” The virtues of the water disappeared so fast, they were so pre-occupied, whether from the narrowness of the spot, or from some cause which we know not, by the first comer, that he who through his own infirmity and the lack of all friendly help could never be this first, missed always the blessing ; " While I am coming, another stoppeth down before me.” But the long and weary years of baftled expectation are at length ended : “ Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed and walk," and the man believed that power went forth with that word, and making proof, he found that it was even so: “immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed and walked.” It is different with him from that other impotent man. (Acts iii. 2.) Tle, when he was healad, walked ined leaped and praiscal (iod. (ver. 8.) lis infirmity was no chastisement of an especial sin, for he had been "lame from