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Verses 1-9

Mark 14:1-9. After two days was the feast of the passover For an explanation of these verses, see the notes on Matthew 26:1-13. Of ointment of spike-nard, very precious “Either the word πιστικη ,” says Dr. Whitby, “answers to the Syriac, pisthaca, and then it may be rendered, nardus spicata, ointment made of the spikes of nard; or, if it be of a Greek original, I think Theophylact well renders it πιστικη η αδολος και μετα πιστεως κατασκευασθεισα , that is, nard unadulterated and prepared with fidelity; the great price it bore tempting many to adulterate it, as Dioscorides and Pliny tell us.” Nard is a plant which was highly valued by the ancients, both as an article of luxury and medicine. The ointment made of it was used at baths and feasts as a favourite perfume. From a passage in Horace, it appears that this ointment was so valuable among the Romans, that as much as could be contained in a small box of precious stone was considered as a sort of equivalent for a large vessel of wine, and a proper quota for a guest to contribute at an entertainment, according to the ancient custom. Hor., lib. 4. ode 12. This author mentions the Assyrian, and Dioscorides the Syrian nard; but, it appears, the best is produced in the East Indies. “The root of this plant is very small and slender. It puts forth a long and small stalk, and has several ears or spikes, even with the ground, which has given it the name of spikenard; the taste is bitter, acrid, and aromatic, and the smell agreeable.” Calmet. She brake the box and poured it on his head As this spikenard was a liquid, and there appears to be no reason for breaking the box in order to get out the liquor, Knatchbull, Hammond, and some others maintain, that συντριψασα , the word here used, ought not to be translated she brake, but only that she shook the box, namely, so as to break the coagulated parts of the rich balsam, and bring it to such a degree of liquidity, that it might be fit to be poured out; and thus Dr. Waterland translates it. Dr. Doddridge and others, however, think the original word does not so naturally express this, and therefore imagine that the woman broke off the top of the vessel in which the balsam was contained. Dr. Campbell renders it, She broke open the box, observing, “I have chosen these words as sufficiently denoting that it required an uncommon effort to bring out the contents, which is all that the word here necessarily implies; and it is a circumstance that ought not to be altogether overlooked, being an additional evidence of the woman’s zeal for doing honour to her Lord. That the term ought not to be rendered shook, is to me evident. I know no example of it in this meaning in any author, sacred or profane. Verbs denoting to shake, frequently occur in Scripture. But the word is never συντριβω , but τινασσω , σειω , σαλευω .” Mr. Harmer understands it of the breaking the cement with which the vessel was closely stopped, a circumstance which, he thinks, appears natural, and an explanation which is justified by the phraseology of Propertius, a writer of the same age. There were some that had indignation At this which the woman had done, being incited thereto by Judas; and said Probably to the woman, Why was this waste of the ointment made Of this rich and costly balsam? And they murmured against her Spake privately among themselves against the woman, for what she had done. But Jesus, knowing every thing they spake or thought, said, Why trouble ye her Without cause? She hath wrought a good work on me Hath given a great proof of her firm faith, and fervent love to me; and therefore, instead of meriting your censure, deserves your commendation. She hath done what she could To testify her affection for me. She is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying Matthew, προς το ενταφιασαι με , corpus meum ad funus componere, to prepare my body for its burial. This vindication of the woman suggests the reason why Jesus permitted so expensive a compliment to be paid to him. Being desirous to impress his disciples with the thought of his death, he embraced every opportunity of inculcating it, whether by word or deed.

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