Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
The Jews conspire against Christ, Mar 14:1, Mar 14:2. He is anointed in the house of Simon the Leper, Mar 14:3-9. Judas Iscariot sells him to the chief priests for thirty pieces of money, Mar 14:10, Mar 14:11. He orders his disciples to prepare the passover, Mar 14:12-16. Predicts his approaching death, Mar 14:17-21. Institutes the holy eucharist, Mar 14:22-26. Foretells the unfaithfulness of his disciples in general, Mar 14:27, Mar 14:28, and Peter's denial, Mar 14:29-31. His agony in the garden, Mar 14:32-36. The disciples overcome by sleep, Mar 14:37-42. Judas comes with a mob from the chief priests, and betrays him with a kiss; they seize him, Mar 14:43-49. The disciples flee, Mar 14:50. A young man following, and about to be apprehended, makes his escape, Mar 14:51, Mar 14:52. Jesus is brought before the chief priests, and Peter follows at a distance, Mar 14:53, Mar 14:54. He is examined, insulted, and abused, and condemned on false evidence, Mar 14:55-65. Peter thrice denies him, reflects on his wickedness, and repents of his sin, Mar 14:66-72.
Unleavened bread - After they began to eat unleavened bread: see on Mat 26:2 (note).
Alabaster box - Among critics and learned men there are various conjectures concerning the alabaster mentioned by the evangelists: some think it means a glass phial; others, that it signifies a small vessel without a handle, from α negative and λαβη, a handle; and others imagine that it merely signifies a perfume or essence bottle. There are several species of the soft calcareous stone called alabaster, which are enumerated and described in different chemical works.
Spikenard - Or nard. An Indian plant, whose root 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.
Very precious - Or rather, unadulterated: this I think is the proper meaning of πιστικης. Theophylact gives this interpretation of the passage: "Unadulterated hard, and prepared with fidelity." Some think that πιστικη is a contraction of the Latin spicatae, and that it signifies the spicated nard, or what we commonly call the spikenard. But Dr. Lightfoot gives a different interpretation. Πιστικη he supposes to come from the Syriac פיסתקא pistike, which signifies the acorn: he would therefore have it to signify an aromatic confection of nard, maste, or myrobalane. See his Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations; and see Scheuchzer's Physica Sacra.
She brake the box - Rather, she broke the seal. This is the best translation I can give of the place; and I give it for these reasons:
1. That it is not likely that a box exceedingly precious in itself should be broken to get out its contents.
2. That the broken pieces would be very inconvenient if not injurious to the head of our Lord, and to the hands of the woman.
3. That it would not be easy effectually to separate the oil from the broken pieces. And,
4. That it was a custom in the eastern countries to seal the bottles with wax that held the perfumes; so that to come at their contents no more was necessary than to break the seal, which this woman appears to have done; and when the seal was thus broken, she had no more to do than to pour out the liquid ointment, which she could not have done had she broken the bottle.
The bottles which contain the gul i attyr, or attyr of roses, which come from the east, are sealed in this manner. See a number of proofs relative to this point in Harmer's Observations, vol. iv. 469. Pouring sweet-scented oil on the head is common in Bengal. At the close of the festival of the goddess Doorga, the Hindoos worship the unmarried daughters of Brahmins: and, among other ceremonies, pour sweet-scented oil on their heads. Ward's Customs.
It might have been sold - το μυρον, This ointment, is added by ABCDKL, thirty-five others, Ethiopic, Armenian, Gothic, all the Itala except one. Griesbach has received it into the text. The sum mentioned here would amount to nearly 10 sterling.
To anoint my body to the burying - Εις τον ενταφιασμον, against, or in reference to, its embalmment, thus pointing out my death and the embalmment of my body, for the bodies of persons of distinction were wrapped up in aromatics to preserve them from putrefaction. See on Mat 26:12 (note).
For a memorial of her - See on Mat 26:13 (note).
They were glad - The joy that arises from the opportunity of murdering an innocent person must be completely infernal.
Bearing a pitcher of water - How correct is the foreknowledge of Jesus Christ! Even the minutest circumstances are comprehended by it! An honest employment, howsoever mean, is worthy the attention of God; and even a man bearing a pitcher of water is marked in all his steps, and is an object of the merciful regards of the Most High. This man was employed in carrying home the water which was to be used for baking the unleavened bread on the following day; for on that day it was not lawful to carry any: hence they were obliged to fetch it on the preceding evening.
Say ye to the good man of the house - ειπατε τῳ οικοδεσποτῃ - Say ye to the master of the house. The good man and the good woman mean, among us, the master and mistress of the house. A Hindoo woman never calls her husband by his name; but simply, the man of the house.
Where is the guest chamber? - Respectable householders, says Mr. Ward, have a room which they call the strangers' room, (utit' hu-shala), which is especially set apart for the use of guests. This appears to have been the custom in Judea also.
Furnished - Spread with carpets - εστρωμενον - so this word is often used. See Wakefield. But it may also signify the couches on which the guests reclined when eating. It does not appear that the Jews ate the passover now, as their fathers did formerly, standing, with their shoes on, and their staves in their hands.
And another said, Is it I? - This clause is wanting in BCLP, seventeen others, Syriac, Persic, Arabic, Coptic, Ethiopic, Vulgate, and four of the Itala. Griesbach leaves it doubtful: others leave it out.
That dippeth with me in the dish - In the east, persons never eat together from one dish, except when a strong attachment subsists between two or more persons of the same caste; in such a case one invites another to come and sit by him and eat from the same dish. This custom seems to have existed among the Jews; and the sacred historian mentions this notice of our Lord's, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish, to mark more strongly the perfidy of the character of Judas.
Goeth - That is, to die. See on Mat 26:24 (note).
Eat - This is omitted by many MSS. and versions, but I think without reason. It is found in the parallel places, Mat 26:26; Co1 11:24. See the subject of the Lord's Supper largely explained on Mat 26:26 (note), etc.
That Thou - Συ is added by ABEGHKLMS - V, eighty-eight others, Syriac, Arabic, Persic, Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Slavonic, Vulgate, Saxon, Theophylact, and Euthymsus. It adds much to the energy of the passage, every word of which is deeply emphatical. Verily, I say unto thee, that Thou, This Day, in This Very Night, before the cock shall crow Twice, Thou wilt deny Me.
Abba, Father - This Syriac word, which intimates filial affection and respect, and parental tenderness, seems to have been used by our blessed Lord merely considered as man, to show his complete submission to his Father's will, and the tender affection which he was conscious his Father had for him, Abba, Syriac, is here joined to ὁ πατηρ, Greek, both signifying father; so St. Paul, Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6. The reason is, that from the time in which the Jews became conversant with the Greek language, by means of the Septuagint version and their commerce with the Roman and Greek provinces, they often intermingled Greek and Roman words with their own language. There is the fullest evidence of this fact in the earliest writings of the Jews; and they often add a word of the same meaning in Greek to their own term; such as מרי קירי, Mori, κυριε my Lord, Lord; פילי שער, pili, πυλη, shuar, gate, gate: and above, אבא, πατηρ, father, father: see several examples in Schoettgen. The words אבי and אבא appear to have been differently used among the Hebrews; the first Abbi, was a term of civil respect; the second, Abba, a term of filial affection. Hence, Abba, Abbi, as in the Syriac version in this place, may be considered as expressing, My Lord, my Father. And in this sense St. Paul is to be understood in the places referred to above. See Lightfoot.
Saith unto Peter - See on Mat 26:40 (note).
A certain young man - Probably raised from his sleep by the noise which the rabble made who came to apprehend Jesus, having wrapped the sheet or some of the bed-clothing about him, became thereby the more conspicuous: on his appearing, he was seized; but as they had no way of holding him, but only by the cloth which was wrapped round him, he disengaged himself from that, and so escaped out of their hands. This circumstance is not related by any other of the evangelists.
And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked - It has often been intimated, by the inhabitants of India, that a European in strait clothes must be in great danger when his clothes take fire. From their loose clothing they can suddenly disengage themselves. When two Hindoos are engaged in a violent quarrel, and one seizes the clothing of the other, often the latter will leave his clothes in the hands of his opponent, and flee away naked. This seems to have been the case with the person mentioned above. See Ward's Customs.
Peter followed - On Peter's denial, see Mat 26:57, etc.
At the fire - Προς το φως, literally, at the light, i.e. a fire that cast considerable light, in consequence of which, the maid servant was the better able to distinguish him: see Mar 14:67.
Of the Blessed? - Θεου του ευλογητου, Or, of God the blessed one. Θεου, is added here by AK, ten others, Vulgate, and one of the Itala. It might be introduced into the text, put in Italics, if the authority of the MSS. and versions be not deemed sufficient. It appears necessary for the better understanding of the text. The adjective, however, conveys a good sense by itself, and is according to a frequent Hebrew form of speech.
And when he thought thereon, he wept - Or, he fell a weeping. This Mr. Wakefield thinks comes nearest to the original, επιβαλων εκλαιε. Others think it means the wrapping of his head in the skirts of his garment, through shame and anguish. Others think that επιβαλων rather refers to the violence, or hurry, with which he left the place, being impelled thereto by the terrors and remorse of his guilty conscience. Our own translation is as good as any.