Luke 10:30
And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
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(30) A certain man went down.—Better, was going down. We enter here upon the first of a series of parables, which differ from those in St. Matthew in having more the character of actual human histories, illustrating a truth, rather than mere similitudes (“parables” in the usual sense of the word) composed for the purpose of illustration. There is obviously no reason why we should not believe them to have been (as in one case the mention of a proper name seems to imply, Lazarus, in Luke 16:20) statements of facts that had actually happened, and which had come under our Lord’s observation as He travelled on His work of preaching the gospel of the Kingdom.

From Jerusalem to Jericho.—The journey was one of about twenty-one miles, for the most part through a rocky and desert country, with caves that were then haunted by bands of robbers, as they have been, more or less, in later times by predatory Arabs. In Jerome’s time it was known as the “red” or the “bloody” way, in consequence of the frequency of such crimes.

Fell among thieves.—Better, robbers, as elsewhere.

10:25-37 If we speak of eternal life, and the way to it, in a careless manner, we take the name of God in vain. No one will ever love God and his neighbour with any measure of pure, spiritual love, who is not made a partaker of converting grace. But the proud heart of man strives hard against these convictions. Christ gave an instance of a poor Jew in distress, relieved by a good Samaritan. This poor man fell among thieves, who left him about to die of his wounds. He was slighted by those who should have been his friends, and was cared for by a stranger, a Samaritan, of the nation which the Jews most despised and detested, and would have no dealings with. It is lamentable to observe how selfishness governs all ranks; how many excuses men will make to avoid trouble or expense in relieving others. But the true Christian has the law of love written in his heart. The Spirit of Christ dwells in him; Christ's image is renewed in his soul. The parable is a beautiful explanation of the law of loving our neighbour as ourselves, without regard to nation, party, or any other distinction. It also sets forth the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward sinful, miserable men. We were like this poor, distressed traveller. Satan, our enemy, has robbed us, and wounded us: such is the mischief sin has done us. The blessed Jesus had compassion on us. The believer considers that Jesus loved him, and gave his life for him, when an enemy and a rebel; and having shown him mercy, he bids him go and do likewise. It is the duty of us all , in our places, and according to our ability, to succour, help, and relieve all that are in distress and necessity.Jesus answering - Jesus answered him in a very different manner from what he expected. By one of the most tender and affecting narratives to be found anywhere, he made the lawyer his own judge in the case, and constrained him to admit what at first he would probably have denied. He compelled him to acknowledge that a Samaritan - of a race most hated of all people by the Jews - had shown the kindness of a neighbor, while a "priest" and a "Levite" had denied it "to their own countrymen."

From Jerusalem to Jericho - Jericho was situated about 15 miles to the northeast of Jerusalem, and about 8 miles west of the river Jordan. See the notes at Matthew 20:29.

Fell among thieves - Fell among "robbers." The word "thieves" means those who merely take "property." These were highwaymen and not merely took the property, but endangered the life. They were "robbers." From Jerusalem to Jericho the country was rocky and mountainous, and in some parts scarcely inhabited. It afforded, therefore, among the rocks and fastnesses, a convenient place for highwaymen. This was also a very frequented road. Jericho was a large place, and there was much traveling to Jerusalem. At this time, also, Judea abounded with robbers. Josephus says that at one time Herod the Great dismissed 40,000 men who had been employed in building the temple, a large part of whom became highwaymen (Josephus "Antiquities," xv. 7). The following remarks of Professor Hackett, who visited Palestine in 1852, will furnish a good illustration of the scene of this parable. It is remarkable that a parable uttered more than eighteen hundred years ago might still be appropriately located in this region.

Professor Hackett ("Illustrations of Scripture," p. 215, 216) says of this region: "It is famous at the present day as the haunt of thieves and robbers. No part of the traveler's journey is so dangerous as the expedition to Jericho and the Dead Sea. The Oriental pilgrims who repair to the Jordan have the protection of an escort of Turkish soldiers; and others who would make the same journey must either go in company with them, or provide for their safety by procuring a special guard. I was so fortunate as to be able to accompany the great caravan at the time of the annual pilgrimage. Yet, in spite of every precaution, hardly a season passes in which some luckless wayfarer is not killed or robbed in going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. The place derives its hostile character from its terrible wildness and desolation. If we might conceive of the ocean as being suddenly congealed and petrified when its waves are tossed mountain high, and dashing in wild confusion against each other, we should then have some idea of the aspect of the desert in which the Saviour has placed so truthfully the parable of the good Samaritan. The ravines, the almost inaccessible cliffs, the caverns, furnish admirable lurking-places for robbers. They can rush forth unexpectedly upon their victims, and escape as soon almost beyond the possibility of pursuit.

"Every circumstance in this parable, therefore, was full of significance to those who heard it. The Saviour delivered it near Bethany, on the border of the frightful desert, Luke 10:25, Luke 10:38. Jericho was a sacerdotal city. The passing of priests and Levites between that place and Jerusalem was an everyday occurrence. The idea of a caravanserai or 'inn' on the way was not invented, probably, for the sake of the allegory, but borrowed from the landscape. There are the ruins now of such a shelter for the benighted or unfortunate on one of the heights which overlook the infested road. Thus it is that the instructions of our Lord derive often the form and much of their pertinence from the accidental connections of time and place."

30. A certain man—a Jew.

from Jerusalem to Jericho—a distance of nineteen miles northeast, a deep and very fertile hollow—"the Temple of Judea" [Trench].

thieves—"robbers." The road, being rocky and desolate, was a notorious haunt of robbers, then and for ages after, and even to this day.

Ver. 30-37. It is certain that the principal scope of our Saviour in this history, or parable, was to convince the lawyer, that every one is our neighbour to whom God offereth us an opportunity of doing good, whether he be of our nation or region or not. Every object of our mercy is our neighbour, whom God requireth us to love as ourselves. This was quite contrary to the common doctrine of the scribes’ and Pharisees’ interpreting the law, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, and excellently served our Saviour’s design, to show this lawyer that he understood not, much less observed, the law of God in that manner, as that he could justify himself from the violation of it. He also by the by showeth him, that the Samaritans, whom the Jews so much abhorred, better understood the law of God, than the ecclesiastical guides of those times, who yet pretended to be teachers of it to others; for some of them by the light of nature discerned themselves obliged to do good to every one that stood in need of their help, or if not by the light of nature, yet by the light of revelation in the law of Moses; but the scribes and Pharisees, by their false interpretation of the Divine law, had taught people to omit a great part of their duty required by the Divine law, and so could not hope to be justified, or to obtain eternal life and salvation, from the observation of it.

And Jesus answering, said,.... The following things; which may either be considered as a narrative of matter of fact, or as a supposed case, and delivered by way of parable; and in either way, though the general design of it is in answer to the lawyer's question, to show who may be called a neighbour; and that a man who is a stranger, and accounted an enemy, yet doing acts of mercy, kindness, and beneficence, to one in distress, ought to be accounted a neighbour: and has a much better title to such a character, than one of the same nation and religion, who takes no notice of a distressed object; yet it may be considered, as representing the sad estate and condition of mankind by the fall, and their recovery by Christ; whereby he shows himself to be their best neighbour, and truest friend:

a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. The distance between these two places, the Jews say (p), was ten "parsas", that is, forty miles; for every "parsa" was four miles, and ten "parsas" are expressly said (q) to be forty miles; which must be understood of the lesser miles, otherwise a parsa itself was but a mile: the Jews had two sorts of miles, the greater was 2000 cubits, the lesser 1000 cubits: the man is said to go down from the one to the other, because Jerusalem stood on high ground, and Jericho in a valley. This "certain man", may represent mankind failing in Adam, from a state of happiness, into misery: human nature was originally in one man, but one man was created at first, and he had all human nature in him, and was the representative of mankind; he was made upright, but sinned, and fell from his uprightness, and all mankind in him: he may be said to go down, from Jerusalem, which signifies peace, and the vision of it; and was a city compact together, beautiful and well situated; where were the worship of God, and his Shekinah, or divine presence; to Jericho, a city accursed by Joshua, and a very wicked place in the days of Christ: since man by sinning against God, departed from his happy and peaceful state, from a state of peace and tranquillity with God, with the holy angels, and even with the beasts of the field; and also from peace and serenity in his own conscience, as well as from communion with God; and from his pure worship and service, to a sensual, earthly, worldly, wicked, and accursed state:

and fell among thieves: in the way to Jericho, was a place called Adomim, which signifies "bloods", because much blood was shed there, by the frequent incursions of thieves and robbers, as Jerom observes (r); and was about four hours journey from Jericho (s): and by the man's falling among thieves, may be expressed mankind coming into the hands of sin and Satan, which are as robbers, that steal, kill, and destroy; since these have robbed man of his honour, defaced the image of God in him, and deprived him of the glory of God, and were murderers of him from the beginning:

which stripped him of his raiment; as thieves and robbers are used to do; signifying the loss of original righteousness, by sin, which was a covering to man, in which he could appear before God; and was very ornamental to him, being pure and perfect in its kind, though only a creature's righteousness, and a created one; and which was natural and loseable, as the event has shown: hence man is become a naked creature, has nothing to cover himself with, but stands exposed to the law, justice, and wrath of God; is destitute of a righteousness, nor can he work out one that will stand him in any stead, or justify him before God:

and wounded him: which is the common usage of such men; and may set forth the morbid and diseased condition that sin has brought man into; being from the crown of the head, to the sole of the foot, full of wounds, bruises, and putrefying sores; and such as are in themselves mortal, and incurable by any, but the great physician of souls, the Lord Jesus Christ; and yet men are naturally insensible of them, and unconcerned about there:

and departed, leaving him half dead; or "near death", as the Arabic version renders it; which may be applied to death natural, spiritual, and eternal: to death natural, which comes by sin, seeing it is but one part, or half of the man that dies this death, namely, his body; and to a spiritual death, or the death of the soul, which is dead in trespasses and sins, whilst the body is alive; and to eternal death, to which men are exposed for sin, and are under the sentence of it, though not executed; and in each of these senses may be said to be "half dead": and which is no ways to the advantage of the doctrine of man's freewill, and the powers and abilities of; as if man was not in a spiritual sense so dead, that he can do nothing in a spiritual manner; but the phrase is used, to show the power of sin, and the malice of Satan, and yet that man is still recoverable by the grace of God.

(p) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 20. 2. & 39. 20. Bartenora in Misn. Tamid, c. 3. sect. 8. (q) T. Bab. Pesachim. fol. 93. 2. & Gloss. in ib. (r) Ad Eustochium, Tom. I. fol. 59. I. K. (s) Masius in Joshua 15.7.

And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
Luke 10:30-31. Ὑπολαμβάνειν, in the sense of “taking up the discourse of another by way of reply,” occurs only here in the New Testament, and hence is probably taken by Luke from the source used by him. It is frequent in the LXX. (עָנָה) and in the classical writers. Comp. Herod. vii. 101: ὁ δὲ ὑπολαβὼν ἔφη; Dem. 594. 21, 600. 20; Polyb. iv. 85. 4, xv. 8. 1.

ἄνθρωπός τις] without any more definite limitation, which, however, is not to be regarded as intentional (Paulus thinks that it is meant to intimate that the Samaritan asked no questions about his nationality, comp. also Schenkel), but leaves it to be understood of itself, by means of the context, that a Jew is meant (not a heathen, as Olshausen takes it), in virtue of the contrast between Jew and Samaritan.

Ἱεριχώ] See on Matthew 20:29. It was separated from Jerusalem by a desert region (Joseph. Bell. iv. 8. 3), which was unsafe because of robbers (Jerome on Jeremiah 3:2). It was not a priestly city.

περιέπεσεν] he met with robbers, fell among them, as περιπίπτειν τινί, incidere in aliquem, is very often used in the classical writers (Herod. vi. 105, viii. 94, vi. 41; Dem. 1264. 26; Xen. Anab. vii. 3. 38; Polyb. iii. 53. 6). There is no question here about chancing upon unfortunate circumstances, for this would have required the dative of an abstract noun (such as συμφορή, τύχη κ.τ.λ.).

οἳ καὶ κ.τ.λ.] This and the subsequent καί correspond to one another; et … et. They took his clothes off him in order to rob him of them, and while doing so they beat him (because he resisted). The two participles therefore stand in the correct sequence of what actually occurred (in opposition to de Wette).

τυγχάνοντα] not equivalent to ὄντα, but: they left him when he was just half dead[137] (this was the condition to which he was reduced). Comp. Plat. Prot. p. 313 E, and elsewhere. See Ast, Lex. Plat. III. p. 420. ὄντα might have been added besides, Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 277.

ἀντιπαρῆλθεν] ex adverso praeteriit (Winer, de verb. compos. III. p. 18), he passed by on the opposite side. This ἀντι gives a clear idea of the cold behaviour of the hard-hearted passer-by. The word occurs elsewhere only in Strat. vii. 2 (Jacobs, Anthol. III. p. 70) and Wis 16:10 (in which place, however, it means ex adverso advenire; see Grimm). Comp. ἀντιπαριέναι, Xen. Anab. iv. 3. 17; Hell. v. 4. 38.

[137] The expression makes us feel the unconcernedness of the robbers about the unfortunate man whom they left to his fate just as he was.

Luke 10:30-37. The story of the good Samaritan, commonly called a parable, but really not such in the strict sense of natural things used as vehicle of spiritual truth; an example rather than a symbol; the first of several “parables” of this sort in Lk.—ἄνθρωπός τις: probably a Jew, but intentionally not so called, simply a human being, so at once striking the keynote of universal ethics.—κατέβαινεν, was descending; it was a descent indeed.—λ. περιέπεσεν, “fell among” robbers, A. and R. VV.; better perhaps “fell in with,” encountered, so Field (Ot. Nor.). The verb is often joined with a noun singular (περιέπεσε χειμῶνι). Raphel cites from Polybius an instance in which robbers “fall in with” the party robbed: τούτους (legatos) λῃσταί τινες περιπεσόντες ἐν τῷ πελάγει διέφθειραν (Reliquiae, lib. xxiv. 11).—ἡμιθανῆ, half dead, semivivo relicto, Vulgate, here only in N. T.; he will soon be whole dead unless some one come to his help: cannot help himself or move from the spot.

30. A certain man] Clearly, as the tenor of the Parable implies, a Jew.

went down from Jerusalem to Jericho] A rocky, dangerous gorge (Jos. B. J. IV. 8, § 3), haunted by marauding Bedawin, and known as ‘the bloody way’ (Adommim, Jerome, De loc. Hebr. and on Jeremiah 3:2). The “went down” is strictly accurate, for the road descends very rapidly from Jerusalem to the Jordan valley. The distance is about 21 miles. For Jericho, see Luke 19:1.

thieves] Rather, “robbers,” “brigands.” Palestine was notorious for these plundering Arabs. Herod the Great had rendered real service to the country in extirpating them from their haunts, but they constantly sprung up again, and even the Romans could not effectually put them down (Jos. Antt. Luke 20:6, § 1; B. J. xi. 12, § 5). On this very road an English baronet—Sir Frederic Henniker—was stripped and murdered by Arab robbers in 1820. “He was probably thinking of the Parable of the Samaritan when the assassin’s stroke laid him low,” Porter’s Palestine, I. 151.

wounded him] Rather, laying blows on him.

half dead] Some MSS. omit the τυγχάνοντα, ‘chancing to be still alive.’ So far as the robbers were concerned, it was a mere accident that any life was left in him.

Luke 10:30. Ὑπολαβὼν) So often the LXX. write in translating ענה, especially in Job, as applied to a full reply.—ἄνθρωπός τις, a certain man) A Jew, called however by the common (general) designation, man, for the sake of expressing the common tie of humanity which connected the Jews even with foreigners.—τυγχάνοντα)[99] Not caring whether the man should live or die.

[99] Leaving him to whatever might happen to be his state, which was that (if one half dead.—ED. and TRANSL.

Verse 30. - And Jesus answering said. For reply the Master told him and the listening by-standers the parable-story we know so well as the "good Samaritan" - the parable, which has been "the consolation of the wanderer and the sufferer, of the outcast and the heretic, in every age and country" (Stanley). The story was one of those parables especially loved by Luke (and Paul), in which instruction is conveyed, not by types, but by example. It was very probably a simple recital of a fact which had happened, and at some period in the Lord's life had come under his own observation. The local scenery, the characters of the story, would all lead to the supposition that the parable was spoken in or near Jerusalem. A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. We are not told who the traveller was, Jew or Gentile; not a word about his rank, descent, or religion; simply that he was a man, a human being. It seems, however, from the whole tone of the story, most probable that the wounded traveller was a Jew. The way he was travelling was the road leading down from Jerusalem to Jericho, a distance of twenty-one miles - not the only way, but the most direct. It was a rugged, rocky pass, well adapted for the purposes of thieves and desperadoes, and was known, owing to the many dark deeds of which it had been the scene, as "The Way of Blood." The Lord's words tell the story. The traveller, likely enough a Jew pedlar, bad fallen among thieves, who had robbed him, and then had left their victim - dying or dead, what cared they? lying in the pass. Luke 10:30Answering (ὑπολαβὼν)

Used by Luke only, and in this sense only here. See on Luke 7:43. It means, strictly, to take up; and hence, of conversation, to take up another's discourse and reply.

Fell among

See on James 1:2.

Thieves (λῃσταῖς)

See on Matthew 26:55; and Luke 23:39-43. These were not petty stealers, but men of violence, as was shown by their treatment of the traveller. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho passed through a wilderness (Joshua 16:1), which was so notorious for robberies and murders that a portion of it was called "the red or bloody way," and was protected by a fort and a Roman garrison.


Not of his clothing only, but of all that he had.

Wounded (πληγὰς ἐπιθέντες)

Lit., having laid on blows. Blows or stripes is the usual sense of the word in the New Testament. See Luke 12:48; Acts 16:23. It has the metaphorical sense of plagues in Revelation 15:1, Revelation 15:6, Revelation 15:8, etc.

Half dead (ἡμιθανῆ τυγχάνοντα)

The full force of the expression cannot be rendered into English. The word τυγχάνοντα throws an element of chance into the ease. Lit., happening to be half dead; or "leaving him half dead, as it chanced;" his condition being a matter of unconcern to these robbers. The word ἡμιθανῆ, half dead, occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The best texts, however, omit τυγχάνοντα.

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