Matthew 9:23
And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23-26) The other Gospels fill up the gap. While our Lord was speaking the words of promise to the woman, messengers came from the house of Jairus, reporting that the child was dead. They whisper to him, using the self-same words as had been used by the friends of the centurion, “Why troublest thou the Teacher any further?” And Jesus turns, and speaks words of comfort to the father’s heart: “Be not afraid, only believe.” They come to the house, and He suffers none to enter but the father and mother, and Peter, James, and John, who now, for the first time, are chosen from among the chosen, for the special blessedness of being with Him in the greater and more solemn moments of His ministry; and as they enter, the preparations for the funeral—always following in the East a few hours after death—are already begun. Minstrels are there, with a crowd of real or hired mourners, raising their wailing cries. And then, in the calmness of conscious power, He bids them withdraw, “for the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.” To Him the death, though real, was yet but as a sleep, for He, as afterwards in the case of Lazarus (John 11:11), had come to awaken her even out of that sleep. And then, with the heartlessness and unbelief natural to hireling mourners, they “laughed Him to scorn.” They were too familiar with many forms of death to be mistaken as to its outward signs. And then He entered, with the five, as before, into the chamber of death, where the body was laid out for the burial, and grasped her hands, and uttered the words, of which St. Mark gives the Aramaic form, Talitha cumi, “Damsel, I say to thee, Arise,” and “immediately she arose, and walked.” St. Luke, again with a touch of medical precision, reports the fact in the form, “her spirit,” or “her breath, returned,” and, with St. Mark, records that our Lord commanded that “something should be given her to eat.” The restored life was dependent, after the supernatural work had been completed, upon natural laws, and there was the risk of renewed exhaustion. As in other cases, He charged the parents that they should not make it known. It was not good for the spiritual or the bodily life of the girl that she should be the object of the visits of an idle curiosity; and yet, in spite of the command, the fame of the act spread abroad through all that country.

Matthew 9:23. When Jesus came into the ruler’s house — It appears from the parallel places in Mark and Luke, that while Jesus spake the last-mentioned words to the woman healed by touching his garment, a messenger came from the ruler’s house to inform him that his daughter, whom he had left at the point of death, was now actually dead, and that therefore he did not need to trouble our Lord any further, her case being now determined and hopeless. This affecting news no doubt moved her father greatly: but Jesus, pitying his grief, bid him not fear, but only believe, and she should be made whole — He did not say she should be raised from the dead, but expressed himself as if she had not been dead, but only sick; for, as he was infinitely above praise, so he never courted it. On the contrary, he generally refused those honours which, as it were, obtruded themselves upon him. Thus, when he came to the ruler’s house, though a great many friends and others accompanied him, he suffered none of them to go in with him except the three disciples whom he treated with the greatest familiarity, namely, Peter, James, and John, with the father and mother of the maiden. And even these he admitted for no other reason but that the miracle might have proper witnesses, who should publish it in due time for the benefit of mankind. With these attendants, having entered the house, he saw the minstrels and the people making a noise — Or, as Mark expresses it, he saw the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. — By minstrels, musicians are meant. The original word means flute-players. Musical instruments were used by the Jews, as well as the heathens, in their lamentations for the dead, to sooth the melancholy of surviving friends by soft and solemn notes. And there were persons who made it their business to perform this, while others sung to their music. Flutes were used especially on the death of children; louder instruments on the death of grown persons. Chardin says, that even now, in the East, the concourse of people where persons lie dead is incredible. Every body runs thither, the poor and the rich: and the former more especially make a strange noise.9:18-26 The death of our relations should drive us to Christ, who is our life. And it is high honour to the greatest rulers to attend on the Lord Jesus; and those who would receive mercy from Christ, must honour him. The variety of methods Christ took in working his miracles, perhaps was because of the different frames and tempers of mind, which those were in who came to him, and which He who searches the heart perfectly knew. A poor woman applied herself to Christ, and received mercy from him by the way. If we do but touch, as it were, the hem of Christ's garment by living faith, our worst evils will be healed; there is no other real cure, nor need we fear his knowing things which are a grief and burden to us, but which we would not tell to any earthly friend. When Christ entered the ruler's house, he said, Give place. Sometimes, when the sorrow of the world prevails, it is difficult for Christ and his comforts to enter. The ruler's daughter was really dead, but not so to Christ. The death of the righteous is in a special manner to be looked on as only a sleep. The words and works of Christ may not at first be understood, yet they are not therefore to be despised. The people were put forth. Scorners who laugh at what they do not understand, are not proper witnesses of the wonderful works of Christ. Dead souls are not raised to spiritual life, unless Christ take them by the hand: it is done in the day of his power. If this single instance of Christ's raising one newly dead so increased his fame, what will be his glory when all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and come forth; those that have done good to the resurrection of life, and those that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation!And widen Jesus came into the ruler's house ... - Jesus permitted only three of his disciples, Peter, James, and John the brother of James, and the father and mother of the damsel, to go in with him where the corpse lay, Mark 5:37-40

It was important that there should be "witnesses" of the miracle, and he chose a sufficient number. "Five" witnesses were enough to establish the fact. The witnesses were impartial. The fact that she was dead was established beyond a doubt. Of this the mourners, the parents, the messengers, the people, were satisfied. If she was presented to the people "alive," the proof of the miracle was complete. The presence of more than the "five" witnesses would have made the scene tumultuous, and have been less satisfactory evidence of the fact of the restoration of the child. Five sober witnesses are always better than the confused voices of a rabble. These were the same disciples that were with him on the Mount of Transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemane, Mark 9:2; Mark 14:33; 2 Peter 1:17-18.

And saw the minstrels and the people making a noise - Minstrels" are persons who play on instruments of music. The people of the East used to bewail the dead by cutting the flesh, tearing the hair, and crying bitterly. See Jeremiah 9:17; Jeremiah 16:6-7; Ezekiel 24:17. The expressions of grief at the death of a friend, in Eastern countries, are extreme. As soon as a person dies, all the females in the family set up a loud and doleful cry. They continue it as long as they can without taking breath, and the shriek of wailing dies away in a low sob. Nor do the relatives satisfy themselves with these expressions of violent grief. They hire persons of both sexes, whose employment it is to mourn for the dead in the like frantic manner. See Amos 5:16; Jeremiah 9:20. They sing the virtues of the deceased, recount his acts, dwell on his beauty, strength, or learning; on the comforts of his family and home, and in doleful strains ask him why he left his family and friends.

To all this they add soft and melancholy music. They employ "minstrels" to aid their grief, and to increase the expressions of their sorrow. This violent grief continues, commonly, eight days. In the case of a king, or other very distinguished personage, it is prolonged through an entire month. This grief does not cease at the house; it is exhibited in the procession to the grave, and the air is split with the wailings of real and of hired mourners. Professor Hackett ("Illustrations of Scripture," pp. 121, 122) says: "During my stay at Jerusalem I frequently heard a singular cry issuing from the houses in the neighborhood of the place where I lodged, or from those on the streets through which I passed. It was to be heard at all hours - in the morning, at noonday, at evening, or in the deep silence of night. For some time I was at a loss to understand the cause of this strange interruption of the stillness which, for the most part, hangs so oppressively over the lonely city. Had it not been so irregular in its occurrence, I might have supposed it to indicate some festive occasion; for the tones of voice (yet hardly tones so much as shrieks) used for the expression of different feelings sound so much alike to the unpracticed ear, that it is not easy always to distinguish the mournful and the joyous from each other.

I ascertained, at length, that this special cry was, no doubt, in most instances, the signal of the death of some person in the house from which it was heard. It is customary, when a member of the family is about to die, for the friends to assemble around him and watch the ebbing away of life, so as to remark the precise moment when he breathes his last, upon which they set up instantly a united outcry, attended with weeping, and often with beating upon the breast, and tearing out the hair of the head. This lamentation they repeat at other times, especially at the funeral, both during the procession to the grave and after the arrival there, as they commit the remains to their last resting-place."

The Jews were forbidden to tear their hair and cut their flesh. See Leviticus 19:28; Deuteronomy 14:1. They showed their grief by howling, by music, by concealing the chin with their garment, by rending the outer garment, by refusing to wash or anoint themselves, or to converse with people, by scattering ashes or dust in the air, or by lying down in them, Job 1:20; Job 2:12; 2 Samuel 1:2-4; 2 Samuel 14:2; 2 Samuel 15:30; Mark 14:63. The expressions of grief, therefore, mentioned on this occasion, though excessive and foolish, were yet strictly in accordance with Eastern customs.

Mt 9:18-26. The Woman with the Issue of Blood Healed.—The Daughter of Jairus Raised to Life. ( = Lu 8:40-56; Mr 5:21-43).

For the exposition, see on [1244]Mr 5:21-43.

Neither Mark nor Luke speak any thing of the minstrels, but only of the people’s wailing. Amongst the Jews we read not in any part of the Old Testament of musical instruments used at funerals, but amongst the pagans it was usual, as we read in their writers. Amongst the Jews, they had some songs sang, as some gather from Jeremiah 9:17 Jeremiah 22:18 34:5 Amos 5:16. It is very like that the Jews having long lived amongst the heathens, had learned this usage from them. Before this Mark addeth, Mark 5:35-40, that there came some from the ruler’s house, which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? But Jesus, as soon as he had heard the word that was spoken, said to the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James. And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. Matthew saith nothing of what happened in the way, neither the messengers’ coming, and telling Jairus that his daughter was dead, nor our Saviour’s comforting of him; but Luke mentions all, Luke 8:49,50. Matthew goes on with an account of what Christ did in the house, seeing the minstrels, and the tumult caused by the mourners there. And when Jesus came into the ruler's house,.... Both Mark and Luke relate, how that before this, whilst they were in the way, and just as Christ had done speaking to the poor woman, that news was brought to the ruler, that his daughter was actually dead, and therefore need not give Jesus any further trouble; when Christ encouraged him not to be cast down at the tidings, but believe, and she should be restored again; and that he suffered none to follow him, but Peter, James, and John: and

saw the minstrels, or "pipers"; how many there were, is not known: it is certain there were more than one; and it was a rule with the (z) Jews that

"the poorest man in Israel (when his wife died) had not less , "than two pipes", and one mourning woman.''

And since this was a daughter of a ruler of the synagogue that was dead, there might be several of them. These instruments were made use of, not to remove the melancholy of surviving friends, or allay the grief of the afflicted family; but, on the contrary, to excite it: for the Jewish writers say (a), these pipes were hollow instruments, with which they made a known sound, , "to stir up lamentation and mourning": and for the same purpose, they had their mourning women, who answered to the pipe; and by their dishevelled hair, and doleful tones, moved upon the affections, and drew tears from others; and very likely are the persons, that Mark says, "wept and wailed greatly". Sometimes trumpets were made use of on these mournful occasions (b); but whether these were used only for persons more advanced in years, and pipes for younger ones, as by the Heathens (c), at least, at some times, is not certain.

And the people making a noise; the people of the house, the relations of the deceased, the neighbours, who came in on this occasion; and others, in a sort of tumult and uproar, hurrying and running about; some speaking in the praise of the dead, others lamenting her death, and others preparing things proper for the funeral; all which shew, that she was really dead: among these also, might be the mourners that made a noise for the dead;

"for since mourning was for the honour of the dead, therefore they obliged the heirs to hire mourning men, and mourning women, to mourn for the same (d).''

(z) Misn. Cetubot. c. 4. sect. 4. Maimon Ishot, c. 14. sect. 23. (a) Maimon & Bartenora in Misn. Sabbat, c. 23. sect. 4. (b) Midrash Kohelet, fol. 77. 4. (c) Vid. Kirchman. de funer. Roman. l. 2. c. 5. (d) Maimon. Hilch. Ebel, c. 12. sect. 1.

{5} And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the {h} minstrels and the people making a noise,

(5) Even death itself gives place to the power of Christ.

(h) It appears that they used minstrels at their mournings.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 9:23. The use of the lugubrious strains of flutes (and horns), such as accompanied the funerals of the Jews (Lightfoot on this passage; Geier, de luctu Hebr. v. § 16; Grundt, die Trauergebräuche d. Hebr. 1868), was known also among Greeks and Romans.

ὄχλον] consisting partly of the women hired to mourn, partly of the friends and relations of the president.

θορυβούμ.] did not require an article, as being a mere qualifying attribute. Therefore θορυβ. is not, with Fritzsche, Ewald, to be referred to ἰδών.Matthew 9:23-26. The narrative returns to the case of Jairus’ daughter.23. St Mark and St Luke mention the message to Jairus on the way, that his daughter was already dead, and name the three disciples whom Jesus permits to enter the house with him.

the minstrels and the people making a noise] The minstrels are mentioned by St Matthew only. Cp. 2 Chronicles 35:25, “all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day.” Lane (Modern Egyptians) says “the women of the family raise the cries of lamentations called ‘welweleh’ or ‘wilwal;’ uttering the most piercing shrieks and calling upon the name of the deceased.”Matthew 9:23. Τοὺς αὐλητὰς, the flute-players) It was the custom to employ flutes at funerals, especially those of the young.—τὸν ὄχλον, the crowd) See Luke 7:12.Verse 23. - And. During the incident of the healing of the woman news had come (parallel passages) to the ruler that his daughter was actually dead, and that it was useless to trouble the Teacher any more. But man's extremity is ever Christ's opportunity. When Jesus came into the ruler's house. Accompanied by only Peter, James, and John (parallel passages), and the parents (Luke). And saw. Apparently from outside the room (cf. ver. 25). The minstrels; flute-players (Revised Version); τοὺς αὐλητάς. For musicians as mourners, cf. 2 Chronicles 35:25. The Mishna ('Kethub.,' 4:4: vide Lightfoot, 'Hor. Hebr.,' in loc.) says, "Even the poorest among the Israelites [his wife being dead] will afford her not less than two pipes, and one woman to make lamentation." And the people - a mere crowd (Revised Version); ὄχλος - making a noise; tumult (Revised Version). There was confusion as well as sound, as Mark indicates still more dearly. Minstrels (αὐλητὰς)

More correctly, as Rev., flute-players, hired or volunteering as mourners.

Making a noise (θορυβούμενον)

Rev., tumult. Representing the loud screaming and wailing by the women. It is the word used in Acts 17:5 : "Set the city in an uproar."

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