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"And setting a watch.”] There are three illustrations of this passage.
1. That the guard was not sufficient, and they therefore appointed an additional watch, fearful lest the soldiers should be bribed, and the dead body stolen away.
2. In the presence of the guard. 3. They went together with the guard, and
sealed the grave.
None of these illustrations are to be rejected, but I prefer the first. Other objections have been made to the truth of this narrative, but there is one which does appear to me extraordinary. “The women go early on Sunday morning to the grave, without fearing any interruption from the soldiers, and in fact as if they knew nothing of any soldiers being there. The circumstance of a guard is, therefore, an inconsistent and obvious invention of Matthew." It is probable the women knew nothing of the soldiers; they were only applied for after sunset, when the sabbath had already commenced, and consequently could only have been posted at the sepulchre, after darkness had set in, and when the women had already returned to the city. Four sentries, or the relief of a small guard, placed in a garden outside of the
city, would have created little sensation in Jerusalem, which, at the time of Easter, may have, perhaps, contained a million of inhabitants. It is not to be wondered at, that the women, during the whole of the sabbath, should know nothing about it. In a small town or village, such a circumstance would be remarked, but whoever has lived in a large town, as in London, for instance, will easily understand the force of my observation.
IV. THE WOMEN BUY SPICES TO EMBALM
THE BODY OF CHRIST.
MARK XVI. 1.
LUKE XXIII. 56.
MARK XVI. 1: “ And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.”
“ And when the Sabbath was past.”] As long as the Sabbath lasts Jews dare not sell or buy ; they waited therefore, of necessity for its termination, before they bought the spices, that is, according to the custom of the Jews, until
the stars in heaven were visible on Saturday evening A rich Jew may obtain what he wants on the Sabbath day, but it must be in the shape of a gift, which he bargains and pays for the succeeding day; he must be known, however, to be a rich man, which could have hardly been the case with these women. A translation has been proposed of “a Sabbath intervening between the two days,” in order to obviate a supposed inconsistency with Luke xxiii. 56, but which, as we shall see afterwards, is really of no importance whatever. This latter translation is clearly contrary to the customs of the Jews, who did not dare to buy on the Sabbath day, and it is inconceivable, why the women should have wished to buy on the Sabbath day, when in the evening after sunset, namely, from the first appearance of the stars, from half past six, or three quarters before seven, they had sufficient time to buy what spices they liked."
Salome, as we may perceive by comparing Mark xv. 40, with Matthew xxvii. 56, is the mother of Zebedee's children, that is, the mother of John and of the elder James. We must here guard against an error, which has deceived many readers. The generality of the
readers of Mark, not reflecting who Salome is, conceive her, of course, to be of the number of those who came early in the morning to the grave of Christ, and are surprised at not finding her name in Matthew xxviii. 1. But this silence would be no proof, that she was not with those, who came to the grave, because, as I shall show hereafter, more came to the grave, than Matthew names ; but the omission of her name in another part of the history, makes it tolerably certain, that she was not of the number of those, who went to the grave of Jesus. Salome was the mother of John, and if she had been at the grave, he would, according to his manner, relate something that she either said or did, as an appendix to the other evangelists, but this he does not; he does not even mention her name. It appears to me that she had bought with her money, spices for embalming, but that she did not go to the grave; and when we consider her situation, this is easily conceivable; indeed, it would have been singular, if she had done so. Her son, John, had taken Mary, the mother of Jesus, into his house, (John xix. 27,) and is it probable, that Salome should leave the mother of Jesus alone, on the morning, when it was intended to em
balm the dead body? Her son ran to the grave (John xx. 3,) in consequence of the information he received of the body being missing, but his mother would naturally remain with the mother of Jesus, especially where the grief was so recent, and still more so, if in a state of uncertainty and alarm; neither she therefore, or Mary, the mother of Jesus, were amongst those, who went down to the grave, nor have we any record, that Jesus showed himself to his mother after his resurrection, except she was of the number of those, to whom it was told that they might see him in Galilee. If John does not mention the purchase of the ointment, to which his mother contributed, it is no contradiction; he omits it, as being already known through another evangelist. According to his custom in narration, silence is confirmation, but if any incorrect circumstance is related by Mark, we should find in John a gentle, but very accurate explanation.
comes the objection, which has been urged with such force by the enemies of Christianity,
Why should these women buy spices, when Jesus, according to John, was already wrapped up in myrrh and aloes by Joseph and Nicodemus ?” With respect