Matthew 4:16
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
"THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED."

King James Bible
The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

Darby Bible Translation
the people sitting in darkness has seen a great light, and to those sitting in the country and shadow of death, to them has light sprung up.

World English Bible
the people who sat in darkness saw a great light, to those who sat in the region and shadow of death, to them light has dawned."

Young's Literal Translation
the people that is sitting in darkness saw a great light, and to those sitting in a region and shadow of death -- light arose to them.'

Matthew 4:16 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

The people which sat in darkness - This is an expression denoting great ignorance.

As in darkness or night we can see nothing, and know not where to go, so those who are ignorant of God and their duty are said to be in darkness. The instruction which removes this ignorance is called light. See John 3:19; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 1:5; 1 John 2:8. As ignorance is often connected with crime and vice, so darkness is sometimes used to denote sin, 1 Thessalonians 5:5; Ephesians 5:11; Luke 22:53.

Saw great light - That is, as the passage is employed by Matthew, the light under the Messiah would spring up among them. In that region he grew up, and in that region he preached a great part of his discourses and performed a great part of his miracles.

The region and shadow of death - This is a forcible and beautiful image, designed also to denote ignorance and sin. It is often used in the Bible, and is very expressive. A "shadow" is caused by an object coming between us and the sun. So the Hebrews imaged death as standing between us and the sun, and casting a long, dark, and baleful shadow abroad on the face of the nations, denoting their great ignorance, sin, and woe.. It denotes a dismal, gloomy, and dreadful shade, where death and sin reign, like the chills, damps, and horrors of the dwelling-place of the dead. See Job 10:21; Job 16:16; Job 34:22; Psalm 23:4; Jeremiah 2:6. See also the notes at Isaiah 9:2. These expressions denote that the country of Galilee was especially dark. We know that the people were proverbially ignorant and stupid. They were distinguished for a coarse, outlandish manner of speech Mark 14:70, and are represented as having been also distinguished by a general profligacy of morals and manners. It shows the great compassion of the Saviour, that he went to preach to such poor and despised sinners. Instead of seeking the rich and the learned, he chose to minister to the needy, the ignorant, and the contemned. His office is to enlighten the ignorant; his delight to guide the wandering, and to raise up those that are in the shadow of death. In doing this, Jesus set an example for all his followers. It is their duty to seek out those who are sitting in the shadow of death, and to send the gospel to them. No small part of the world is still lying in wickedness - as wicked and wretched as was the land of Zabulon and Naphthali in the time of Jesus. The Lord Jesus is able to enlighten them also, and every Christian should regard it a privilege, as well as a duty, to imitate his Saviour in this, and to be permitted to send to them the light of life. See Matthew 28:19.

Matthew 4:16 Parallel Commentaries

Library
The Springing of the Great Light
'Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee; 13. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15. The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16. The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

July the Thirteenth Plain Glass
"They were fishers." --MATTHEW iv. 12-22. And so our Lord went first to the fishing-boats and not to the schools. Learning is apt to be proud and aggressive, and hostile to the simplicities of the Spirit. There is nothing like plain glass for letting in the light! And our Lord wanted transparent media, and so He went to the simple fishermen on the beach. "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world." And by choosing labouring men our Master glorified labour. He Himself had worn the workman's
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year

Jesus Sets Out from Judæa for Galilee.
Subdivision A. Reasons for Retiring to Galilee. ^A Matt. IV. 12; ^B Mark I. 14; ^C Luke III. 19, 20; ^D John IV. 1-4. ^c 19 but Herod the tetrarch [son of Herod the Great, and tetrarch, or governor, of Galilee], being reproved by him [that is, by John the Baptist] for Herodias his brother's wife, and for all the evil things which Herod had done [A full account of the sin of Herod and persecution of John will be found at Matt. xiv. 1-12 and Mark vi. 14-29. John had spoken the truth to Herod as fearlessly
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

General Account of Jesus' Teaching.
^A Matt. IV. 17; ^B Mark I. 14, 15; ^C Luke IV. 14, 15. ^a 17 From that time Jesus began to preach [The time here indicated is that of John the Baptist's imprisonment and Jesus' return to Galilee. This time marked a new period in the public ministry of Jesus. Hitherto he had taught, but he now began to preach. When the voice of his messenger, John, was silenced, the King became his own herald. Paul quoted the Greeks as saying that preaching was "foolishness," but following the example here set by
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Cross References
Isaiah 9:1
But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.

Isaiah 9:2
The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.

Isaiah 60:1
"Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

Luke 1:79
TO SHINE UPON THOSE WHO SIT IN DARKNESS AND THE SHADOW OF DEATH, To guide our feet into the way of peace."

Luke 2:32
A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel."

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