Ver. 1. Over the torrent, or brook Cedron,† which ran betwixt Jerusalem and Mount Olivet, in the valley of Cedron, or of Hennom, or of Josaphat, not of Cedars, as in many Greek copies. See the history of Christ's Passion. Matt. xxvi. and xxvii. Wi.
[†] V. 1. Cedron, not Cedrorum. In most Greek copies, twn Kedrwn. In some MSS. tou Kedron. So the Protestant translation, the brook Cedron.
CedronCedron. Heb. nachal Kidron, may signify, "the shady torrent," or "vale," as it is styled by Josephus. It does not take its name from cedars. It is dry in summer, and when filled with water, in only three steps across. Doubdan xxvii. --- Cedron, to the east and south of Jerusalem, where Topheth and the sepulchres of the poor, and all unclean things, were placed. Here the pagans burnt their children in honour of Moloch. See 3 K. xv. 13. 2 Par. xxix. 16. and xxx. 14.
Brook of Cedron[Hebrew Náhál Qidhrôn, "Wâdi Qidron"; only once "fields of Qidron"; John 18:1, ho cheimarros ho Kedron; in R.V., Kidron]. The name designates in Holy Writ the ravine on the east of Jerusalem, between the Holy City and the Mount of Olives. The word Cedron is usually connected with the root Qadár, "to be dark", and taken to refer to the colour of the stream or ravine; but its exact origin and precise meaning are really unknown. The Valley of Cedron begins with a slight depression near the Tombs of the Judges, a mile and a quarter north-west of Jerusalem. It runs first south towards the Holy city, and then turns nearly east, passing to the north of the tombs of the Kings. Next, it bends to the right towards the south, deepening as it follows this general direction between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. Opposite St. Stephen's gate, it is fully 100 feet deep and about 400 feet broad; its bed is shaded by venerable olive-trees and crossed by an old bridge. Below the bridge, the valley presents the first traces of a torrent bed. It narrows gradually and sinks more rapidly leaving to the east the church of the tomb of the Blessed Virgin, and next, Gethsemani. A thousand feet from the old bridge, the valley is merely a deep gulley across which another bridge is thrown, and on the banks of which are, to the right, Mohammedan tombs, and to the left, the sepulchres of Josaphat, Absalom, St. James, and the Jewish cemetery. About a thousand feet farther, there is in a cave, on the right bank, the Fountain of the Virgin, and higher up, on the left, the village of Siloe. Somewhat farther down, the Tyropoeon valley falls from the right into the Cedron, which now expands down to the Valley of Hinnom. Here, the Cedron is about 200 yards wide, and has on its left the Mount of Offence. Shortly after the junction of the Valley of Hinom with the Cedron, there is Job's well, to the south of which Sir C. Warren found, in 1868-69, the shaft of a great rock-cut aqueduct. On leaving the Holy City, the Valley of the Cedron runs its winding and gradually precipitous course through the Wilderness of Judea to the north-western shore of the Dead Sea. The Cedron is perfectly dry during the summer and most of the winter. North of Jerusalem, it bears the name of Wâdi al-Jos (Valley of Nuts); between the city and the Mount of Olives, it is known as Wâdi Sitti Mariam (Valley of St. Mary), or again as the Valley of Josaphat (cf. Joel, iii, 2, 12); after leaving Jerusalem, it is called Wâdi en-Nâr (Valley of Fire), and also Wâdi er-Rahib (Valley of the Monks). Its whole length is some 20 miles in a straight line, and its descent nearly 4000 feet. Its bed east of Jerusalem is now about 40 feet higher than in ancient times. The Cedron is first mentioned in Holy Scripture in connection with David's flight from Absalom, during which he crossed it [2 Samuel 15:23]; and next, in connection with the prohibition to Semei against his ever crossing it [1 Kings 2:37]. It was at the torrent Cedron that King Asa burnt the filthy idol of his mother [1 Kings 15:13; 2 Chronicles 15:16]. It was into it that Ezechias and Josias cast all the impurities which had polluted the House of the Lord (cf. 2 Chronicles 29:16; 30:14; 2 Kings 23:4, 6, 12). The torrent Cedron is last mentioned in the O.T. in Jeremiah 31:40, apparently as part of the common cemetery of Jerusalem. In the New Testament it is spoken of only once, in connection with Christ's going forth over it to Gethsemani (John 18:1). In the present day it is the desired resting-place of both Jews and Mussulmans, and the supposed scene of Last Judgment.
Ver. 5. Jesus here asks them, whom they were seeking, not as if he were ignorant of their errand, but to shew them, that of their own power they could do nothing, because, though he, whom they sought, was present, and stood before them, yet, they did not know him. Theophyl.
--- The darkness of the night could not have been the reason why they did not see him, because, as the evangelist observes, they had lanterns and torches with them, and if they could not see him, at least they might have known him by his voice; for how could Judas, their leader, who was one of his own apostles, be unable to know him by his voice. S. Chrys.
Ver. 6. Jesus again shews the Jews his power, and works another miracle before them, to give them another opportunity of being converted; but they would not: they still persevere in their hardness of heart; he therefore now delivers himself up to them, as now they can have no excuse for their incredulity. S. Chrys.
Ver. 13. Some are of opinion that Annas and Caiphas both dwelt in the same house. V.
Ver. 15. Peter followed Jesus, but at a distance, for he was afraid. And so did another disciple. S. Jerom, and S. Chrys. and after him, Theophyl. with some others, believe that this other disciple was S. John himself. Calmet.
Ver. 17. S. John gives here Peter's first denial, which is reunited to the other two by all the preceding evangelists. This is one of the circumstances, which the others may have neglected, to unite three similar facts, and relating to the same object. V.
--- S. Peter, the prince and head of the Church, was permitted to fall, to teach him to treat with more mildness and condescension those, whom he would afterwards have to raise out of the same miserable state of sin. One weak and frail man is placed over another, that seeing him unhappily fallen, he may give him his kind and helping hand, to free him from that unhappy state, in which he knows himself to have been. S. Chrys.
--- Of all which our divine Saviour suffered in the court of Caiphas, nothing so much affected him as the dangerous fall of Peter, the chief of all his apostles, who had received the most signal favours from him. He had boasted that very night, that although all the rest of the disciples should abandon their master, he would never forsake him. Yet, see the weakness and inconstancy of human nature; at the voice of a poor maid, he forthwith denies his master; repeats his denial a second, and a third time, and even swears with an imprecation, that he never knew the man. O what is man, when he confides too much in himself! Let us look to ourselves, and see, that we never fall into the same unfortunate state. But if we have the misfortune to imitate this apostle in his fall, let us likewise imitate him in his speedy repentance: for immediately after his fall, going out, he wept bitterly; a practice which, it is said, he ever after retained, as often as he heard the cock crow. Butler's Lives of the Saints.
Ver. 21. Why askest thou me? Caiphas, in quality of judge, was to examine the crimes laid to the charge of the accused, by the testimony of the witnesses. Wi.
Ver. 24. Annas sent him bound to Caiphas. Christ was but a little while there: for both the box on the ear, given to our Saviour, and S. Peter's denial, were at the house of Caiphas: so that S. John does not here observe the order of time. Wi.
Ver. 28. That they might eat the Pasch. They, who by the Pasch will always understand the paschal-lamb, look upon it certain from these words, that the Scribes and Pharisees at least, had deferred eating the paschal-lamb, till Friday the 15th day, in the evening: but there are passages in the Scripture, which shew, that the word Pasch, or Phase, comprehended not only the paschal sacrifice of the lamb, but also the sacrifices, that were to be eaten with unleavened bread, during the seven days of the paschal solemnity, as Deut. xvi. 2. thou shalt offer up the Phase, or Pasch, to the Lord, of sheep and oxen. And 1 Paralip. xxxv. 8. They gave to the priests to make the Phase, or Pasch, in altogether two thousand six hundred small cattle, and three hundred oxen. The oxen, therefore, were also given, to make up the Pasch, and were comprehended by the word Pasch, or Phase. It might, therefore, be these paschal sacrifices, and not the paschal-lamb, which the priests designed to partake of, and therefore would not enter into the palace of Pilate. See Tillemont against Lamy, on the 2nd passage out of S. John, tom. ii. p. 696. See also the Lexicon of Mr. Heure on the word Pâque. Wi.
Ver. 35. It pleased God, that Christ, who was to die both for the Jews and the Gentiles, should be betrayed by the one, and put to death by the other. B.