Luke 13:4
Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
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(4) Upon whom the tower in Siloam fell.—Here, again, we have a reference to an incident not recorded elsewhere. It was clearly one that had impressed the minds of men with horror, as a special judgment. At or near to Siloam, the modern Birket-Silwan, is a swimming-pool, or tank (John 9:7), where the valley of Tyropœon opens into that of the Kedron. It was supplied through artificial conduits, and appears to have been one of a series of pools so fed. It is not unlikely, connected as Siloam thus was with the water-system of the city, that the tower in question was part of the works which Pilate had planned, and partly executed, for the construction of an aqueduct, and for which he appropriated part of the Corban or sacred treasure of the Temple, and if so, the popular excitement which this measure caused (see Note on Matthew 27:2) might well lead men to look on its fall as an instance of a divine judgment on what they regarded as an act of sacrilege.

Luke 13:4. Or those eighteen, &c. — The case here referred to seems to have occurred lately, and may seem, in some respects, more to the purpose than the former, as there was no human interposition attending the death of these men; so that their destruction appeared to be more immediately from Providence than that of the Galileans, whom Pilate had massacred: on whom the tower in Siloam fell — From the fountain of Siloam, which was without the walls of Jerusalem, a little stream flowed into the city, (Isaiah 8:6,) which was received in a kind of basin, thought by some to be the same with the pool of Bethesda. Being near the temple, it is no wonder that many frequented it for purification. And the calamity here spoken of, occasioned by the fall of a neighbouring tower, had probably happened at some late feast; and some of Christ’s hearers might then have been at Jerusalem.

13:1-5 Mention was made to Christ of the death of some Galileans. This tragical story is briefly related here, and is not met with in any historians. In Christ's reply he spoke of another event, which, like it, gave an instance of people taken away by sudden death. Towers, that are built for safety, often prove to be men's destruction. He cautioned his hearers not to blame great sufferers, as if they were therefore to be accounted great sinners. As no place or employment can secure from the stroke of death, we should consider the sudden removals of others as warnings to ourselves. On these accounts Christ founded a call to repentance. The same Jesus that bids us repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, bids us repent, for otherwise we shall perish.Or those eighteen - Jesus himself adds another similar case, to warn them - a case which had probably occurred not long before, and which it is likely they judged in the same manner.

Upon whom the tower in Siloam fell - The name Siloah or Siloam is found only three times in the Bible as applied to water - once in Isaiah 8:6, who speaks of it as running water; once as a pool near to the king's garden in Nehemiah 3:15; and once as a pool, in the account of the Saviour's healing the man born blind, in John 9:7-11. Josephus mentions the fountain of Siloam frequently as situated at the mouth of the Valley of Tyropoeon, or the Valley of Cheesemongers, where the fountain long indicated as that fountain is still found. It is on the south side of Mount Moriah, and between that and the Valley of Jehoshaphat. The water at present flows out of a small artificial basin under the cliff, and is received into a large reservoir 53 feet in length by 18 feet in breadth. The small upper basin or fountain excavated in the rock is merely the entrance, or rather the termination of a long and narrow subterranean passage beyond, by which the water comes from the Fountain of the Virgin. For what purpose the "tower" here referred to was erected is not known; nor is it known at what time the event here referred to occurred. It is probable that it was not far from the time when the Saviour made use of the illustration, for the manner in which he refers to it implies that it was fresh in the recollection of those to whom he spoke.

4, 5. tower in Siloam—probably one of the towers of the city wall, near the pool of Siloam. Of its fall nothing is known. See Poole on "Luke 13:1"

Or those eighteen,.... Men; the Persic version reads, "those twelve"; but all copies, and other versions, agree in this number:

upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them; there was a pool near Jerusalem, called the Pool of Siloam, John 9:7 near, or over which, was a tower built, which fell down and killed eighteen men; very likely as they were purifying themselves in the pool, and so was a case very much like the other, and might be a very late one: and this Christ the rather observes, and puts them in mind of, that they might see that not Galileans only, whom they had in great contempt, but even inhabitants of Jerusalem, died violent deaths, and came to untimely ends; and yet, as not in the former case, so neither in this was it to be concluded from hence, that they were sinners of a greater size, or their state worse than that of other men:

think ye that they were sinners; or debtors; for as sins are called debts, Matthew 6:12 so sinners are called debtors:

above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? there might be, and doubtless there were, as great, or greater sinners, in that holy city, and among such that made great pretensions to religion and holiness, as they were.

Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in {b} Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?

(b) That is, in the place, or river: for Siloam was a small river from which the conduits of the city came; see Joh 9:7 Isa 8:6; and therefore it was a tower or a castle, built upon the conduit side, which fell down suddenly and killed some.

Luke 13:4-5. Likewise historically unknown.

ὁ πύργος] the well-known tower. What sort of a one it was is altogether uncertain; perhaps a tower of the town-walls (Joseph. Bell. v. 4. 2), so that the spring of Siloah is here meant (Joseph. l.c. says of the walls of the ancient city, πρὸς νότον ὑπὲρ τὴν Σιλωὰμ ἐπιστρέφον τηγήν). As to the spring (on the south-east side of the ancient city) and the pool of Siloah, see on John 9:7.

ἐν τ. Σιλ.] ἐν of the immediate neighbourhood, at. Comp. Xen. Anab. iv. 8. 32, and thereon, Kühner, Hom. Il. xviii. 521, and elsewhere.

καὶ ἀπέκτ. αὐτούς] a genuine Greek transition from a relative to a demonstrative sentence on account of the different government of the two verbs. Comp. on Luke 10:8.

αὐτοί] (see the critical remarks) they on their part, in opposition to the others, taking them up emphatically, Bornemann, ad Sympos. iv. 63, p. 154; Bernhardy, p. 290. Observe that ὡσαύτως is stronger than ὁμοίως, and hence most appropriately used at Luke 13:5.

Luke 13:4. Jesus refers to another tragic occurrence, suggesting that He was acquainted with both. His ears were open to all current news, and His mind prompt to point the moral. The fact stated, otherwise unknown to us.—ὀφειλέται, word changed, in meaning the same as ἁμαρτωλοὶ, moral debtors paying their debt in that dismal way.

The utterances of Jesus on this occasion do not bear on the general question: how far may lot be viewed as an index of character? which was not then before His mind. He assumed that the sufferers in the two catastrophes were sinners and even great sinners, so acquiescing in the popular view, because He wanted to point a lesson for the whole nation which He regarded as fast ripening for judgment. From the saying in the Teaching on the Hill concerning the Father in Heaven giving sunshine and rain to evil and good alike, it is evident that He had risen not only above popular current opinion, but even above the O.T. view as to the connection between physical and moral good and evil. That saying implies that there is a large sphere of Divine action within which moral distinctions among men are overlooked, that good may come to had men and evil to good men. To our Lord it would not have appeared impossible that some of the best men in Israel might be involved in the two calamities here mentioned.

4. those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell] It is an ingenious, but of course uncertain conjecture of Ewald, that the death of these workmen was connected with the notion of retribution because they were engaged in building part of the aqueduct to the Pool of Siloam, for the construction of which Pilate had seized some of the sacred Corban-money (Mark 7:11; Jos. B. J. 11. 9, § 4);

Siloam] The pool (John 9:7; Isaiah 8:6), near the village of Silwan, at the entrance of the Tyropoeon valley, which runs into the valley of Jehoshaphat between Sion and Moriah.

that they were sinners] Rather, that they themselves were debtors.

Luke 13:4. , or) From the Galileans He passes in His discourse, inasmuch as His departure from Galilee was close at hand, to the people of Jerusalem; comp. Luke 13:33. He passes from slaughter inflicted by men to a casualty, which might seem to have happened by chance.—οἱ δέκα καὶ ὀκτὼ, those eighteen) A profound and mysterious judgment in the case of the deaths of so many joined together.—ὀφειλέται, debtors[129]) Comp. Luke 13:34.—ΚΑΤΟΙΚΟῦΝΤΑς ἘΝ ἸΕΡΟΥΣΑΛῊΜ) So the LXX. In Jerusalem, a city in other respects esteemed “the holy city.”

[129] ‘Sinners’, Matthew 18:24, and above, ch. Luke 11:4—ED. and TRANSL.

Verse 4. - Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? "You remember," goes on the Master, "the catastrophe of the fall of the tower in Siloam; the poor sufferers who were crushed there were not specially wicked men." The Lord used these occasions, we see, for something more than the great national lesson. Men are too ready, now as then, to give way to the unloving error of looking at individual misfortune as the consequence of individual crime. Such human uncharitable judgments the Lord bitterly condemns. Ewald's conjecture in connection with this Siloam accident is ingenious. He supposes that the rigid Jews looked on the catastrophe as a retribution because the workmen who perished were paid by Pilate out of the sacred corban money (see Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 2:09. 4). The works were no doubt in connection with the aqueduct to the Pool of Siloam. Luke 13:4Sinners (ὀφειλέται)

Lit., debtors. Possibly with reference to the figure at the close of the last chapter. Compare Matthew 5:25; Matthew 6:12; Matthew 18:24; Luke 11:4.

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