Mark 13:3-8. As he sat upon the mount of Olives, over against the temple As this mountain stood eastward from the city, it must have been the eastern wall of the temple, fronting that mountain, which the disciples desired their Master to look at, and which, being built from the bottom of the valley to a prodigious height with stones of incredible bulk, firmly compacted together, made a very grand appearance at a distance. (Josephus Antiq., Mark 15:14; Bell., Mark 6:6.) And in Mr. Mede’s opinion, this eastern wall was the only part of Solomon’s structure that remained after the Chaldeans burned the temple. Hence the portico, built on the top of it, obtained the name of Solomon’s porch, or portico, John 10:23. Peter, James, &c., asked him privately When Jesus was come to the mount of Olives, and had taken a seat on some eminence, from whence the temple and a part of the city could be seen, these disciples, while the rest were at a distance on the road, or absent on some occasion or other, drew near to him and inquired privately, when these things should be, and what should be the sign when they should be fulfilled? See notes on Matthew 24:3-8. Many shall come in my name, &c. Christian writers have always, with great reason, represented Josephus’s History of the Jewish War as the best commentary on this chapter; and many have justly remarked it, as a wonderful instance of the care of Providence for the Christian Church, that he, an eye-witness, and in these things of so great credit, should (especially in such an extraordinary manner) be preserved, to transmit to us a collection of important facts, which so exactly illustrate this noble prophecy in almost every circumstance. Compare Bell., Mark 3:8, Revelation 14:0. There shall be famines and troubles Matthew says, famines and pestilences. Concerning these Josephus writes thus: ( Bell., Mark 7:17:) “Being assembled together from all parts to the feast of unleavened bread, presently and on a sudden they were environed with war. And first of all a plague fell among them, by reason of the straitness of the place, and immediately after a famine worse than it.” Besides, in the progress of the siege, the number of the dead, and the stench arising from their unburied carcasses, must have infected the air, and occasioned pestilence. For Josephus tells us, ( Bell., 6. fine,) that there were no fewer than six hundred thousand dead bodies carried out of the city, and suffered to lie unburied. All these are the beginning of sorrows Greek, ωδινων . The expression properly signifies the pains of child-bearing, which at the beginning are but light in comparison of what they become afterward. Therefore our Lord’s meaning was, that the evils which he mentioned were but small in comparison of those which were yet to fall upon the nation.
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