(Jerusalem and Ephraim in Judæa.)
^D John XI.47-54.
^d 47 The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council [called a meeting of the Sanhedrin], and said, What do we? [Thus they reproach one another for having done nothing in a present and urgent crisis. As two of their number (Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathæa) were afterwards in communications with Christians, it was easy for the disciples to find out what occurred on this notable occasion.] for this man doeth many signs. [They did not deny the miracles, therefore their conduct was the more inexcusable.] 48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him [they found that despite the threat of excommunication, Jesus was still winning disciples under the very shadow of Jerusalem]: and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation. [The course of Jesus seemed to undermine Judaism, and to leave it a prey to the innovations of Rome. It is uncertain what is meant by the noun |place.| Meyer says it refers to Jerusalem; Luecke to the temple; while Bengel says that place and nation are a proverbial expression, meaning |our all;| but the Greek language furnishes no example of such proverbial use. It is more likely that place refers to their seats in the Sanhedrin, which they would be likely to lose if the influence of Jesus became, as they feared, the dominant power. They feared then that the Romans would, by removing them, take away the last vestige of civil and ecclesiastical authority, and then eventually obliterate the national life.] 49 But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year [that notable, fatal year; he was high priest from a.d.18 to a.d.36], said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50 Nor do ye account that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. [His words are a stinging rebuke, which may be paraphrased thus: |If you had any sense you would not sit there asking, 'What do we?' when there is but one thing to do; viz.: Let Jesus die and save the people.| Expediency, not justice, is his law.] 51 Now this he said not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation; 52 and not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together into one [Gal. iii.28; Col. iii.11] the children of God that are scattered abroad. [The expression |not of himself| is a very common Hebrew idiom for |not of himself only.| God had a meaning in his words different from his own. In earlier, better days the high priest had represented the divine headship of the nation, and through him, by means of the Urim and Thummin, the inspired oracles and decisions had been wont to come. This exalted honor had been lost through unworthiness. But now, according to the will of God, the high priest prophesies in spite of himself, as did Balaam and Saul, performing the office without the honor.] 53 So from that day forth they took counsel that they might put him to death. [Thus, acting on the advice of Caiaphas the Sanhedrin condemned Jesus without a hearing and sought means to carry their condemnation to execution. Quieting their consciences by professing to see such political dangers as made it necessary to kill Jesus for the public welfare, they departed utterly from justice, and took the course which brought upon them the very evils which they were professedly seeking to avoid.] 54 Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews, but departed thence into the country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there he tarried with the disciples. [Ephraim is supposed to be the city called Ophrah at Josh. xviii.23 and Ephraim at II. Chron. xiii.19. Dr. Robinson and others identify it with the village now called et Taiybeh, which is situated on a conical-shaped hill about sixteen miles northeast of Jerusalem and five miles east of Bethel. It is on the borders of a wilderness, and commands an extensive view of the Jordan valley. Here Jesus remained till shortly before his last Passover.]