18.Now Bethany was near Jerusalem. The Evangelist diligently follows out all that contributes to the certainty of the narrative. He relates how near Jerusalem was to the village of Bethany, that no one may be astonished that, for the purpose of comforting the sisters, many friends came from Jerusalem, whom God intended to be witnesses of the miracle. For, though the desire of performing an office of kindness was their inducement to go, yet they were assembled there, by a secret decree of God, for another purpose, that the resurrection of Lazarus might not remain unknown, or that the witnesses might not be only those who belonged to the family. Now it is a convincing proof of the base ingratitude of the nation, that this striking demonstration of Divine power at a well-known place, amidst a vast crowd of men, and near the gates of the city, and which might almost be said to be erected on a stage, instantly vanishes from the eyes of men. We should rather say that the Jews, by maliciously shutting their eyes, intentionally do not see what is before their eyes. Nor is it a new or uncommon occurrence, that men who, with excessive eagerness, continually gape for miracles, are altogether dull and stupid in the consideration of them.
About fifteen furlongs This distance between the two places was somewhat less than two thousand paces, or, two miles; for the Stadium, orfurlong, contains six hundred feet; that is, one hundred and twenty-five paces. (316)
(316) The Roman Passus , or pace — measured from the spot where either foot was planted to the spot where the same foot was planted after two ordinary steps — was five feet; so that the Mille , or thousand paces, contained five thousand feet, rather less than an English mile; and the Stadium ,or furlong, which contained, as Calvin states, “ hundred and twenty-five paces,” was equal to six hundred and twenty-five feet. — Ed.