And a certain man, lame from his mother's womb,.... He was born so; his lameness came not through any disease or fall, or any external hurt, but from a defect in nature, in one of his limbs, or more; which made the after miracle the more extraordinary: and he was so lame that he
was carried; he could not walk of himself, or go, being led, but they were obliged to carry him:
whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple; it had been a common usage, it may be, for years past, to bring him every day, at prayer time, and lay him at the gate of the temple where the people went in; hence he was well known by the people, and to have been of a long time lame, even ever since he was born; so that there could be no imposture in this case: and it was at the gate of the temple he lay,
which is called beautiful; which some think was the gate Shushan, which was the eastern gate of the mountain of the house, or the outmost wall, and was so called, because Shushan, the metropolis of Persia, was pourtrayed upon itF17Misn. Middot, c. 1. sect. 3. , which made it look very beautiful. The reason commonly given by the Jewish commentatorsF18Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. ib. why this was done, is this; when the Jews returned from captivity, the king of Persia commanded that they should make a figure of the palace of Shushan upon one of the gates of the temple, that they might fear the king, and not rebel against him; and accordingly they drew one upon the eastern gate: but some sayF19Vid. Juchasin, fol. 65. 2. , that the children of the captivity did this (upon their return) that they might remember the wonder of Purim, (their deliverance from Haman,) which was done in Shushan; moreover, it might be so called from the word Shushan, which signifies joy and gladness: but this does not bid so fair to be the gate here meant, since it was lower than all the rest; for as the eastern wall was lower than the rest of the walls, that when the high priest burnt the red heifer on the top of Mount Olivet, he might see the gate of the temple at the time of the sprinkling of the blood; so the gate itself was four cubits lower than the othersF20Misn. Middot, c. 2. sect. 4. Maimon. Hilchot Beth Habechirah, c. 6. sect. 5. , and therefore could not look so grand and beautiful as the rest. Indeed, concerning this eastern gate of the mountain of the house, it is saidF21Gloss. in T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 15. 2. Vid. Maimon. Hilch. Taanith, c. 4. sect. 15. , that
"in the time when the sanctuary stood, when they prayed on the mountain of the house, they went in by the way of the eastern gate.'
And as this was now the hour of prayer, and the people were going to the temple to pray, whose entrance was at the east gate; here it might be thought, in all probability, was laid the lame man: though it seems rather to be the eastern gate of the court of the women, which was made of Corinthian brass, and looked brighter than gold itself; of which JosephusF23De Bello Jud. l. 5. c. 5. sect. 3. thus speaks:
"nine of the gates were covered all over with gold and silver, likewise the side posts and lintels; but there was one, without the temple, of Corinthian brass, which in dignity greatly exceeded the silver and golden ones.'
And since at this gate was the greatest frequency of persons, both men and women entering here; it is most likely, that here lay the lame man a begging: this is thought, by some, to be the higher gate of the house of the Lord; said to be built by Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, 2 Kings 15:35 upon which text, a Jewish commentator of great noteF24Abarbinel in loc. has this remark,
"observe it is said of Jotham, that he built it, because he made a building on it, נכבד וגדול "more glorious and great" than it had been:'
and this is also called the new gate of the house of the Lord, Jeremiah 26:10 and which both the Targum and Kimchi on the place say is the eastern gate.
To ask alms of them that entered into the temple; who going to religious exercises, might be thought to be more disposed to acts of liberality and charity: and besides, these were known to be Jews, of whom only alms were to be asked and taken; for so run their canonsF25Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora, pr. Affirm. 162. ,
"it is forbidden to take alms of Gentiles publicly, except a man cannot live by the alms of Israelites; and if a king, or a prince of the Gentiles, should send money to an Israelite for alms, he must not return it, because of the peace of the kingdom, but must take it of him, and give it to the poor of the Gentiles secretly, that the king may not hear.'