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bread, on the shore, was a fish, or that it lay upon the coals. Plutarch, in the place before cited, observed that there were various kinds of things that came under that Greck term, though fish was considered as the best sort. It might mean some other kind of delicious associate with bread: what in particular the Evangelist did not intend to express, nor can we know. On another occasion, the disciples gave our LORD a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honey-comb. The honey-comb was one kind of Otago, was then used, and might now be laid on the shore, for aught we know to the contrary.
For the word mov, in the 9th verse, does not, I think, necessarily imply that the thing, whatever it was, lay upon the coals: it is sufficient if it lay not far from them. But whatever it was, and if we suppose actually lay upon the coals, it seems to me not very natural to understand the word as signifying a fish; for how odd must it appear to them, to have this person ask for fish, when he, at that very time had fish broiling on the coals. It appears to signify some other sort of provision, of a kind to be eaten with bread.
An instance of an unnecessary limiting the meaning of words niay be observed as to this very term: our translators here unnecessarily, and I think improperly, limit the meaning of the term to fish, when it appears to signify any proper adjunct to bread, at least of the deli
a Luke xxiv. 42.
cious kind; and in the translation of John vi. 9, they limit the sense still more, and suppose the word signifies little fishes, when the historian says nothing of the size, nor would it lose the glory of being a miraculous repast, when five barley loaves and two fishes, sufficed to feed five thousand people, and the fragments afterwards filled twelve baskets, though we should suppose they were two karmuds, or two of the bonni species; two kinds of fish which are found in the sea of Tiberias, and which are said to weigh near thirty pounds each. However, they certainly were not so large, as they were brought thither for sale by a little lad, according to the import of the Greek word made use of there, though they might not be what we call small fishes.
When the nets were drawn on shore, he that called to them to know whether they had caught any thing, ordered them to bring some of the fish to him, for his use, which, as he appeared as a stranger, we are to suppose was done in consequence of a purchase made of them; he then immediately applied himself to the preparing them for eating, while they were busied in clearing the net, and when the fish were broiled, and they began to be a little at leisure, he said to them, Come and dine, ver. 12, or take some refreshment after your toil this morning. This is quite in the present Arab taste, the Arabs inviting strangers to eat with them, and even those of figure asking people in very low life. Our LORD JESUS here ex
pressed the same kind of generosity, mingled with humility: he all the while claiming no knowledge of them, nor they of him.
Had he not asked them to eat with him, they soon of course would have prepared for themselves they had plenty of provisions; they were come to the shore, to which we find, by Doubdan, the fishermen of that country are wont to repair, when they are disposed to dress the fish they catch, and they had made a very abundant capture, and wanted not immediately to return to their fishing. But this stranger, by his generosity, made such care unnecessary on their part, having got a fire ready, and prepared bread nothing was wanted, but the broiling the fish.
When it is said, v. 4, The disciples knew not that it was JESUS, it means that they did not know at first sight, upon seeing him standing on the shore; when it is said, v. 12, None of the disciples durst ask, who art thou? knowing it was the LORD, it expresses their not being all perfectly satisfied it was their LORD, at the time of his inviting them to come and eat with him, while yet it was unlawful for a Jew to eat with one of another nation, and there was a mixture of Gentiles among them, particularly in Galilee, yet they were apprehensive it might be JESUs, that none dared to express so much doubt of it as to ask the question: but when he came to take bread, and to give it to
Acts x. 28, ch. xi. 3.
Called Galilee of the Gentiles, Mat. iv. 15.
them, the like circumstance as caused the two disciples at Emmaus to recognise their LORD," it is natural to suppose, produced the same effect in them here; and if there had been the least shadow of a doubt that remained, it must have been removed by the manner of his addressing Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He said unto him, Yea, LORD, thou knowest that I love thee, He said unto him, Feed my lambs, &c. Accordingly, however unapprehensive they were of its being their LORD at first, St. John gives it as a fact of which they were fully assured before our LORD retired.
I will only add, that by the story of Doubdan it appears, that the Eastern fishermen are disposed to put ashore, and eat fish early in the day, as well as towards evening,
Of their sitting on Heaps of Stones at their Feasts.
OUR version of Genesis xxxi. 46, represents Jacob's sitting, with his relations and friends, when he held a solemn feast, on a heap of stones:* one would be inclined to suspect the justness of the translation, as to this circumstance, of the manner in which he treated his friends; Luke xxiv. 35.
And Jacob said unto his brethren, Gather stones: and they took stones and made an heap; and they did eat there UPON the heap.
but it is made less incredible, by the account Niebuhr has given us, in the first volume of his travels, of the manner in which some of the nobles of the court of the Imam seated themselves, when he visited the prince at Sana of Arabia, his capital city.
It is certain the particle ↳ (âl,) translated in this passage upon, sometimes signifies near to, or something of that sort: so it is twice used in this sense, Gen. xvi, And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain in the way to Shur. So Gen. xxiv. 13, Behold, I stand here by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water. The same may be observed in many other places of the book of Genesis.
Consequently the sitting of Jacob and Laban, with their relations and friends, might be understood to have been only near the heap of stones, which was collected together upon this occasion, and designed for a memorial of present reconciliation, and reciprocal engagement to preserve peace and amity in future times: but their actual sitting on this heap of stones may perhaps appear somewhat less improbable, after reading the following passage of Niebuhr's travels, relating to his being admitted to an audience of the Imam of Yemen.
"I had gone from my lodgings indisposed, and by standing so long found myself so faint, that I was obliged to ask permission to quit the room. I found near the door some of the f P. 339.