Luke 19:43
For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,
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(43) The days shall come upon thee. We again come upon a cluster of words peculiar, as far as the New Testament is concerned, to St. Luke, and belonging to the higher forms of historical composition.

Shall cast a trench about thee.—The Greek substantive means primarily a stake, then the “stockade” or “palisade” by which the camp of a besieging army was defended, then the earth-work upon which the stockade was fixed. In the latter case, of course, a trench was implied, but the word meant the embankment rather than the excavation. The better MSS. give for “cast” a verb which more distinctly conveys the idea of an encampment.

19:41-48 Who can behold the holy Jesus, looking forward to the miseries that awaited his murderers, weeping over the city where his precious blood was about to be shed, without seeing that the likeness of God in the believer, consists much in good-will and compassion? Surely those cannot be right who take up any doctrines of truth, so as to be hardened towards their fellow-sinners. But let every one remember, that though Jesus wept over Jerusalem, he executed awful vengeance upon it. Though he delights not in the death of a sinner, yet he will surely bring to pass his awful threatenings on those who neglect his salvation. The Son of God did not weep vain and causeless tears, nor for a light matter, nor for himself. He knows the value of souls, the weight of guilt, and how low it will press and sink mankind. May he then come and cleanse our hearts by his Spirit, from all that defiles. May sinners, on every side, become attentive to the words of truth and salvation.He wept over it - Showing his compassion for the guilty city, and his strong sense of the evils that were about to come upon it. See the notes at Matthew 23:37-39. As he entered the city he passed over the Mount of Olives. From that mountain there was a full and magnificent view of the city. See the notes at Matthew 21:1. The view of the splendid capital - the knowledge of its crimes - the remembrance of the mercies of God toward it - the certainty that it might have been spared if it had received the prophets and himself - the knowledge that it was about to put "him," their long-expected Messiah, to death, and "for" that to be given up to utter desolation - affected his heart, and the triumphant King and Lord of Zion wept! Amid all "his" prosperity, and all the acclamations of the multitude, the heart of the Redeemer of the world was turned from the tokens of rejoicing to the miseries about to come on a guilty people. Yet they "might" have been saved. If thou hadst known, says he, even thou, with all thy guilt, the things that make for thy peace; if thou hadst repented, had been righteous, and had received the Messiah; if thou hadst not stained thy hands with the blood of the prophets, and shouldst not with that of the Son of God, then these terrible calamities would not come upon thee. But it is too late. The national wickedness is too great; the cup is full: mercy is exhausted; and Jerusalem, with all her pride and splendor, the glory of her temple, and the pomp of her service, "must perish!"

For the days shall come ... - This took place under Titus, the Roman general, 70 a.d., about thirty years after this was spoken.

Cast a trench about thee - The word "trench" now means commonly a "pit or ditch." When the Bible was translated, it meant also "earth thrown up to defend a camp" (Johnson's "Dictionary"). This is the meaning of the original here. It is not a pit or large "ditch," but a pile of earth, stones, or wood thrown up to guard a camp, and to defend it from the approach of an enemy. This was done at the siege of Jerusalem. Josephus informs us that Titus, in order that he might compel the city to surrender by "famine," built a wall around the whole circumference of the city. This wall was nearly 5 miles in length, and was furnished with thirteen castles or towers. This work was completed with incredible labor in ten days. The professed design of this wall was "to keep" the city "in on every side." Never was a prophecy more strikingly accomplished.

Shall lay thee even with the ground ... - This was literally done. Titus caused a plow to pass over the place where the temple stood. See the notes at Matthew 24. All this was done, says Christ, because Jerusalem knew not the time of its visitation - that is, did not know, and "would not" know, that the Messiah had come. "His coming" was the time of their merciful visitation. That time had been predicted, and invaluable blessings promised as the result of his advent; but they would not know it. They rejected him, they put him to death, and it was just that they should be destroyed.

43. a trench—a rampart; first of wood, and when this was burnt, a built wall, four miles in circuit, built in three days—so determined were they. This "cut off all hope of escape," and consigned the city to unparalleled horrors. (See Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 6.2; 12.3,4.) All here predicted was with dreadful literally fulfilled.Ver. 43,44. It is a plain prophecy of the final destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies, which came to pass within less than forty years after. The cause of that dreadful judgment is assigned,

because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. God’s visitations are either of wrath or mercy; of wrath, Exodus 32:34 Leviticus 26:16 Jeremiah 15:3; of mercy, Jeremiah 29:10. It is plain that our Saviour useth the term here in the latter, not the former sense; and that by God’s visitation of this people here, is meant his visiting them with his prophets, by John the Baptist, and by himself. Their not knowing of it (here intended) was their not making use of it, not receiving and embracing the gospel. The contempt of the gospel is the great, cause of all those miseries which come upon people in this life, or shall come upon them in that life which is to come.

For the days shall come upon thee,.... Suddenly, and very quickly, as they did within forty years after this:

that thine enemies; the Romans, and such the Jews took them to be, and might easily understand who our Lord meant:

shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side: which was not only verified in the Roman armies closely besieging them; but particularly in this, as Josephus relates (t) that Titus built a wall about the city, of thirty nine furlongs long, and thirteen forts in it which reached ten furlongs, and all done in three days time; by which means they were pent up, starved, and famished, and reduced to inexpressible distress.

(t) De Bello Jud. l. 6. c. 8.

For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,
Luke 19:43. ὅτι, for, because, introducing a prophetic picture of coming ruin, either to explain the εἰ ἔγνως = what you would have escaped had you but known; or to substantiate the assertion of judicial blindness = no hope of your seeing now; your fate sealed; judgment days will surely come (ἥξουσιν ἡμέραι). Then follows an awful picture of these judgment days in a series of clauses connected by a fivefold καὶ, the first being = when. The description recalls Isaiah 29:3 so closely that the use of such definite phrases before the event is quite conceivable, although many critics think the prophecy so certainly ex eventu as to use it for fixing the date of the Gospel.—χάρακα, a palisade (here only in N.T.). Titus did erect a palisaded mound around Jerusalem, and, after it was destroyed by the Jews in a sortie, he built a wall.

43. the days] often used of troublous times, like the Latin tempora.

shall cast a trench about thee] Rather, shall surround thee with a palisade, Isaiah 29:3-4; Isaiah 37:33, LXX. Literally fulfilled forty years afterwards at the siege of Jerusalem, when Titus surrounded the city first with a palisaded mound (vallum and agger), and then with a wall of masonry.

keep thee in on every side] The blockade established was so terribly rigid that myriads of the Jews perished of starvation.

Luke 19:43. Ἡμέραι) days, which shall be many: because thou dost not regard the one day. See Luke 19:42.—καὶ, καὶ, καὶ, and, and, and) Three degrees of the straits to which they would be reduced.—συνέξουσι, keep thee in, press hard upon) Titus built a wall round the city, and thereby precluded the possibility of egress.

Luke 19:43A trench (χάρακα)

Rev., correctly, as Tynd., a bank. Only here in New Testament. The word literally means a pointed stake, used in fortifying the intrenchments of a camp, and thence the palisade itself. In fortifying a camp or besieging a city, a ditch was dug round the entire circuit, and the earth from it thrown up into a wall, upon which sharp stakes were fixed. Every Roman soldier carried three or four of these stakes on the march. Wyc., with pale.

Keep thee in (συνέξουσιν)

See on Luke 4:38.

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