Now when he came near to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The only son of his mother, and she was a widow.—The two facts are obviously stated as enhancing the bitterness of the mother’s sorrow. The one prop of her life, the hope of her widowhood, had been taken from her. The burial, as was the invariable practice in the East, took place outside the city.
A dead man carried out - A funeral procession. Anciently no Jews were buried within the walls of the city, except the kings and distinguished persons, 1 Samuel 28:3; 2 Kings 21:18. The custom of burying within cities, and especially within the walls of churches or in their vicinity, had its origin among Christians very early; yet perhaps few customs are more deleterious to health than burials within large cities, especially within the walls of frequented buildings. The effluvia from dead bodies is excessively unwholesome. Burial-places should be in situations of retirement, far from the tread of the happy and busy world, where all the feelings may be still and calm, and where there can be no injury to health from the mouldering bodies of the dead.
only son, &c.—affecting particulars, told with delightful simplicity.See Poole on "Luke 7:11"
behold: there was a dead man carried out; of the city; for they, used not to bury in cities, but in places without, and at some distance: the burying places of the Jews were not near, their cities (r); and they had different ways of carrying them out to be buried, according to their different ages: a child under a month old was carried out in the bosom of a person; if a full month old, in a little coffin, which they carried in their arms; one of a twelve month old was carried in a little coffin on the shoulder; and one of three years old on a bier or bed, (s) and so upwards; and in this manner was this corpse carried out: who was
the only son of his mother; hence the sorrow and mourning were the greater; see Zechariah 12:10
and she was a widow; and if she had been supported by her son, her loss was very considerable; and having neither husband, nor son, to do for her, her case was very affecting:
and much people of the city was with her; according to the age of persons was the company that attended them to the grave: if it was an infant, not a month old, it was buried by one woman, and two men, but not by one man, and two women; if a month old, by men and women; and whoever was carried out on a bier or bed, many mourned for him; and whoever was known to many, many accompanied him (t); and which was the case this dead man: he seems to have been well known and respected by the company that attended him to his grave; of these some were bearers, and these had their deputies, and these again theirs; for as they carried their dead a great way, they were obliged often to change their bearers; and of the company, some went before the bier, and others went after it (u): besides, what served to increase company at a funeral was, that it was looked upon as an act of kindness and mercy to follow a corpse to the grave (w); to which may be added, and what must always tend to increase the number at such a time, that, according to the Jewish canons (x).
"it was forbidden to do any work at the time a dead man was buried, even one of the common people.''
(r) T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 80. 2. Gloss. (s) T. Moed Katon, fol. 24. 1, 2. & Kiddashin, fol. 80. 2. Massech. Semachot, c. 3. sect. 2, 3. Maimon. Hilch. Ebel, c. 12. sect. 10, 11. (t) Ut in locis supra citatis. (u) Vid Misn. Beracot, c. 3. sect. 1.((w) Maimon. in Misn. Peah, c. 1. sect. 1.((x) Piske Tosaphot Megilla, art. 106. T. Bab. Moed Katon, fol. 27. 2.Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Luke 7:12. καὶ ἰδού, and lo! The καὶ introduces the apodosis, but is really superfluous; very Hebrew (Godet).—ἐξεκομίζετο, was being carried out (here only in N. T.); ἐκφέρειν used in the classics (Acts 5:6). Loesner cites examples of the use of this verb in the same sense, from Philo.—μονογενὴς, χήρα: these words supply the pathos of the situation, depict the woe of the widowed mother, and by implication emphasise the benevolence of the miracle, always a matter of interest for Lk.12. came nigh to the gate] All ordinary Jewish funerals are extramural. Nain is approached by a narrow rocky path, and it must have been at this spot that the two processions met. They were perhaps going to bury the dead youth in one of the rock-hewn sepulchres which are still visible on the hill side.
the only son of his mother] See on Luke 8:42, Luke 9:38.
much people of the city] Compare the public sympathy for the family of Bethany (John 11:19); and on the bitterness of mourning for an only child, see Jeremiah 6:26; Zechariah 12:10; Amos 8:10.Luke 7:12. Ἐξεκομίζετο, was being carried forth) It is right that the dead should be carried forth for burial to places somewhat removed from the abodes of the living.—σὺν αὐτῇ, with her) Funeral rites and services were designed rather for the sake of the mourners than for the sake of the dead bodies.
The tombs were outside of the city.
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