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Ver. 1. And when the sabbath was past , etc..] “In the end of it”, as Matthew says, ( Matthew 28:1); not “when it was the sabbath”, as the Arabic version reads; for it was not lawful to buy spices, and anoint with on the sabbath day; (see Gill on “ Matthew 28:1”). Mary Magdalene, and Mary, [the mother of James,] and Salome ; who was the wife of Zebedee, and the mother of the other James and John: had bought sweet spices ; or “brought”, as the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions read; for though the women might have bought some on the preparation day, the day before the sabbath, the same evening that Christ was buried, ( Luke 23:56), yet, they might buy more for the same purpose, after the sabbath was over: for this there was a particular market at Jerusalem f271 ; for we are a told, that “there were there three markets, one by another; in the first of which were sold, all kinds of precious things, silks, and embroidered work; in the second, various kinds of fruits and herbs; and in the third, all kinds of spices.” That they might come and anoint him ; with those sweet spices, as was the manner of the Jews: hence we read of, µ ytm l ç µ ym ç bh , “the spices of the dead”; which were used to expel an ungrateful savour: this they did, out of affection to Christ, but seemed to have no faith in his resurrection, though he had told them of it, which they had forgot. The Vulgate Latin reads, “that they might anoint Jesus”; the Ethiopic version, “anoint his body”: but the Arabic thus, “anoint the sepulchre”; his body being anointed before, and wound up by Joseph and Nicodemus; and therefore they came to strew the sepulchre with spices and ointments, and give it a sweet perfume.
Though it seems most likely, that they came to anoint his body; for this was one of the things which was customary in Israel to do to dead men, as Maimonides observes, µ ym ç b ynmb wtwa ˆ yk s , “they anoint him with various sorts of spices”.
Ver. 2. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week , etc..] (See Gill on “ Matthew 28:1”). They came to the sepulchre at the rising of the sun ; of the sun of righteousness, as Mr. Mede observes; or rather, of the natural sun: for though it was dark when they set out, and when it dawned towards the first day, yet by that time that they all got to the sepulchre, the sun was rising; the Jews say f274 , that “from the ascending of the morning, or break of day, until the sun rises, is an hour and a half.”
And so much time may very well be allowed the women, from their setting out, to their coming to the sepulchre. Moreover, they say f275 , that “from the hind of the morning, to the time the east is enlightened, a man may walk four miles, and from the time that the east is enlightened, hm j h Unt ç d [ , “until the sun rises”, four miles.”
But women must not be thought to walk so fast: let it be observed, that Christ, who is called the hind of the morning, ( Psalm 22:1) (title, “Aijeleth Shahar”), and the morning star, ( Revelation 22:16), rose at this time.
Ver. 3. And they said among themselves , etc..] Either before they set out, or as they were going along: who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre ? Which they saw was placed there by Joseph, or his orders: this was the only difficulty they had, that they were aware of; for they seem to know nothing of the sealing of the stone, and of the watch that was set to guard the sepulchre: things which were done on the sabbath day, on which they rested: for had they, in all likelihood they would never have attempted to have gone to it; the guard of soldiers would have been a sufficient discouragement: but all their concern was, how, and by whom, the stone should be rolled away, that lay at the door of the sepulchre; and perhaps their concern might be, not only on account of the largeness of the stone, as being too much for them to remove, but because such a stone defiled by touching it, according to the Jewish traditions f276 .
Ver. 4. And when they looked , etc..] Towards the sepulchre, as they came near it: they saw that the stone was rolled away ; they perceived it lay at some distance from the door of the sepulchre, which doubtless was very grateful, and matter of rejoicing to them: for it was very great ; these words are to be read, in connection with the preceding verse; for they are not a reason, why when they looked towards the sepulchre, they saw the stone rolled, because it was a very large one, and so easily to be seen at a distance; but a reason why they were so thoughtful and concerned, who should roll it away for them, it being so big, that they could not think that they were able to do it themselves.
Ver. 5. And entering into the sepulchre , etc..] For the sepulchres of the Jews were made so large, that persons might go into them: the rule for making them is this f277 ; “he that sells ground to his neighbour to make a burying place, or that receives of his neighbour to make a burying place, must make the inside of the cave four cubits by six, and open in it eight graves; three here, and three there, and two over against them: and the graves must be four cubits long, and seven high, and six broad. R.
Simeon says, he must take the inside of the cave six cubits by eight, and open within thirteen graves: four here, and four there, and three over against them; and one on the right hand of the door, and one on the left; and he must make, r xj , “a court”, at the mouth of the cave, six by six, according to the bier, and those that bury; and he must open in the midst of it two caves, one here and another there.
Now it was in the court that the women entered, where the bier was to be put down by the bearers; and where they could look into the sepulchre, and the several caves and graves in it, and what were in them. So Maimonides says f278 , “they dig caves in the earth, and make a grave on, the side of the cave, and bury in; it.”
And there being a door into one of these caves, persons might enter in, and see where the graves were, and the bodies lay. They saw a young man ; an angel; as angels used to appear in the form of men: nor is this any contradiction to John's account, who says there were two angels, one at the head, and another at the feet, ( John 20:12); since Mark does not say there was no more than one; besides, John relates what Mary Magdalene saw, when alone, and Mark what all the women saw: sitting on the right side ; from whence we learn, on what side of the door of the sepulchre Christ was laid, according to the above description of one: clothed long white garment : (see Gill on “ Matthew 28:3”); which was as white as snow: and they were affrighted ; at the sight of him; not expecting such a vision, but to have seen, the body of their Lord.
Ver. 7. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter , etc..] Peter is particularly mentioned, not as distinct from the apostles, or as if he was not one of them, having sinned in the manner he had done; much less because he was the chief of them; but to comfort him in his great sorrow, on account of his fall; and to encourage him to meet Christ with the rest of his disciples, who might be both afraid and ashamed, because he had so basely denied him: this is a kind intimation, in favour of Peter; none of the other evangelists observe it; but this Gospel being published, as is thought by some, under the direction and examination of Peter himself, he was careful to relate every thing, that either aggravated his own crime, or illustrated the grace of God, and love of Christ towards him. The Persic version puts Peter first, rendering it, “say to Cephas and the rest of the disciples”; all copies, and other versions, put him last: that he goeth before you into Galilee, there shall ye see him ; (see Gill on “ Matthew 28:7”); as he said unto you , as in ( Mark 14:28).
Ver. 8. And they went out quickly , etc..] Out of the sepulchre, into which they had been, to see where Christ lay, as invited by the angel, ( Mark 16:6). The word “quickly”, is not read in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions: “which when they heard”; that is, when they heard the angel's and instructions, immediately they went out: and fled from the sepulchre ; as surprised and affrighted: for they trembled and were amazed ; at what they saw and heard, and yet this dread and fear were mixed with joy at the news of Christ's resurrection, as Matthew relates, ( Matthew 28:8). Neither said they any thing to any man ; they met with by the way, till they came to the disciples; to whom they told all, otherwise they would not have acted according to the angel's orders for they were afraid ; not only affrighted with what they had seen and heard, but the were afraid to tell any but the disciples of these things, for fear of the Jews; lest they should be thought to have stolen the body of Christ, and so be taken up on that account, and punished.
Ver. 9. Now when [Jesus] was risen early the first [day] of the week , etc..] Though the word “Jesus” is not in the text, it is rightly supplied; for of the rising of no other, can the words be understood; and so the Persic version supplies “Messiah”, or “Christ”; that Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week, agrees with the accounts of all the evangelists, and is here expressly affirmed; the phrase, “the first day of the week”, is so indeed placed, as that it may be thought to connected with the following words; as it is by some; fancying there would otherwise be a disagreement with ( Matthew 28:1), whereas there is none; though it is true also, that he did appear on that day to Mary Magdalene, it being the same day he rose from the dead. But the true reading and pointing are as here placed; and the phrase belongs to, and points out the day of Christ's rising from the dead; and which ambiguity is removed in the Syriac version, which renders it, “now early on the first day of the week he rose”; and so the Persic version, “the Messiah”, or “Christ, therefore on the morning of the, first day, rose from the dead”: and that he rose early on that day, is clear from the women, who set out at the end of the sabbath, when that was past and over; and got to the sepulchre by the time the day dawned; and one of them, while it was dark, and all of them by break of day, at least by sunrising, and he was then risen: he appeared first to Mary Magdalene ; in the habit of a gardener, for whom she took him at first; and this was at the sepulchre, where she staid after the disciples were gone. That she was the very first person that Christ showed himself to, after his resurrection, may be concluded from hence, and from the account the Evangelist John has given, ( John 20:14), nor is there any reason to think, that before this, he appeared to his mother, of which the evangelists are entirely silent. This was a very great favour, and an high honour that was bestowed upon her; and who had received large favours from him before: out of whom he had cast seven devils , (see Luke 8:2). And if she had been a very wicked person, as she is commonly thought to be, and very likely she had been, since Satan had such a power over her, as to lodge seven devils in her, it is an instance of abounding grace, that Christ should heap up favours on such an one; and she should be the first that he should appear to and converse with after his resurrection.
Ver. 10. And she went and told them that had been with him , etc..] Not “with her”, as the Persic version reads, but “with him”; that is, with Christ: she went, as she was bid by Christ, and told his disciples, what she had heard and seen; even those who had been with him from the beginning, and had heard his doctrines, and seen his miracles, and had had communion with him, and truly believed in him, and were his constant followers, and real disciples; not only Peter, James, and John, who were with him, particularly at the raising of Jairus's daughter, and at his transfiguration on the mount, and when in his sorrows, in the garden; but the rest of the eleven, and not only them, but others that were with them; (see Luke 24:9). As they mourned and wept , being inconsolable for the death of their Lord, and the loss of his presence; and also for their carriage towards him, that one among them should betray him, another deny him, and all forsake him: thus were they like doves of the valley, mourning for their absent Lord, and for their own iniquities; and in this condition were they, when Mary brought them the joyful news of Christ's resurrection from the dead.
Ver. 11. And they, when they had heard that he was alive , etc..] That is, the apostles, and those that were with them; when they heard the report of Mary Magdalene, that Christ was raised from the dead, and was certainly alive; or of all the women, for the Syriac version reads, “when they heard them saying that he was alive”, not only Mary Magdalene, but Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women; for these all related this to the apostles, and the rest; (see Luke 24:9,10). And had been seen of her ; of Mary Magdalene, or “of them”; as the Syriac version reads, and as it is read in one of Beza's copies: they believed not ; the words of Mary, and the other women, for they seemed as idle tales to them, ( Luke 24:11), imagining they were deceived with the sight of a spectre, or apparition; and fearing the news were too good and great to be true; forgetting the words of their Lord, that he should rise again the third day, and which had been so often repeated to them; and all this through stupidity of mind, occasioned by the trouble and consternation they were in.
Ver. 12. After that , etc..] A little time, or some few hours after, on the selfsame day; (see Luke 24:13); he appeared in another form : it seems to have been the form, or habit of a gardener that he appeared in to Mary; since she thought him to be one, and to be the gardener that belonged to the garden, in which the sepulchre was: but now it was in another form, or habit, that he appeared; very likely in the habit of a Scribe, or doctor; since he took upon him to expound the Scriptures to the persons he appeared to; as also took bread, and blessed it, when at supper with them, ( Luke 24:27,30). According to the Jewish canons f279 “if two persons eat together, and one of them is a Scribe, and the other an unlearned man, Æ rbm r p w s , “the Scribe blesses”, and the unlearned man is excused.”
This is not to be understood of any change in the shape of his body, or the features of his face; for as soon as their eyes were opened, which had been before held, they knew him perfectly well: whereas, if there had been such an alteration made in him, that he could not have been known for the same, there would have been no need of holding their eyes, that they should not know him, ( Luke 24:16,31). This appearance was unto two of them ; one of them was Cleophas, or Alphaeus, which is the same, ( Luke 24:18); the other is by some thought to be Simon Peter, from what is said in ( Luke 24:34) though others think it was Nathanael, and others Luke the evangelist, who conceals his own name, when he mentions the other; and some that his name was Ammaon, which perhaps may be through mistake of the place, Emmaus, where they were going, for the name of one of them, and the appearance to them was, as they walked, and went into the country : to a country village called Emmaus, about sixty furlongs, or seven miles and a half from Jerusalem; (see Luke 24:13).
Ver. 13. And they went and told it unto the residue , etc..] Upon their return to Jerusalem, which was on the same night, they went to the eleven apostles, and the other disciples that were with them, and related the whole affair to them; how that Jesus had joined them by the way, and discoursed much with them about himself, and expounded the Scriptures on the road; and when they came to the end of their journey, sat down at meat with them, when he was very plainly discerned, and known by them, and then disappeared; (see Luke 24:33,35); neither believed they them . “These two”, as the Arabic version reads; though they were men, and fellow disciples; and this was a repeated testimony, and a second set of witnesses of Christ's resurrection to them; all which aggravates their unbelief: upon sight of them they said, “the Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon”, ( Luke 24:34); the reason of which Dr. Lightfoot thinks was this, that Peter hearing that Christ was risen, and went before them into Galilee, was eager to see him, and therefore took this journey along with Cleophas, which the rest of the disciples knew; and he returning so soon, they concluded he had seen him: but when he, and Cleophas, told the whole affair, they were as unbelieving as ever.
Ver. 14. Afterward he appeared unto the eleven , etc..] Apostles; for this was now the number of them, Judas being gone from them, and dead; and they were so called, though Thomas was not now with them, because their whole company consisted of this number: this appearance of Christ to them was on the same first day of the week, at evening, ( John 20:19), though it must be very late at night; for it was after the two above disciples were returned from Emmaus, where Christ and they had supped together; (see Luke 24:29,30,33,36); as they sat at meat ; or “sat together”; being assembled together, and the doors shut fast for fear of the Jews, ( John 20:19), and so the Arabic renders it, “while they were gathered together”; and the Persic version, “who being gathered together were sitting”: nor does the word necessarily signify sitting at meat; nor is it very likely that they should be eating so late at night; though it is probable they had been eating, as seems from ( Luke 24:41-43); and upbraided them with their unbelief, and hardness of heart : not but that their hearts were very contrite for their sinful carriage to Christ; and very much humbled they were under the present dispensation: their hearts were much affected, and they were filled with sorrow and trouble for the loss of Christ; but in this point their unbelief increased by their fears, and so much prevailed, that all that were said by one, and another, made no impression on them: and a great aggravation of their incredulity, and a reason of Christ's upbraiding them in this manner were, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen ; as Mary Magdalene, and the other women, and Cleophas, and the other disciple that was with him, who were eyewitnesses that he was risen from the dead; and such as might have been depended on.
Ver. 15. And he said unto them , etc..] Not at the same time, and place, as before; not on the first day of the week, on which he rose from the dead, but forty days after, just upon his ascension to heaven; (see Mark 16:19); nor at Jerusalem, but in Galilee, where be appointed to meet his disciples, and did, when he gave them the following commission; (see Matthew 28:16,18,19). go ye into all the world : not only into Judea, and through all the cities of it, where they had been before confined; nor only into the Roman empire, which is sometimes so called, because great part of the world was under that government; but into every known and habitable part of the whole universe, to all the nations of the world under heaven: and it is to be observed, that this command is not enjoined on every apostle separately, as if each of them was to go into all the world, and travel over every part; but that one was to go one way, and another another way; every one had his line, or that part of the world marked out for him, whither he was to steer his course, and where he was to fulfil and finish his ministry: and besides, this commission not only included the Apostles, but reaches to all the ministers of the Gospel in succeeding ages, to the end of the world; and since this, one part of the world, which was not known, is now discovered; and the order includes that, as well as the then known parts of the world, and the Gospel accordingly has been sent into it. And preach the Gospel to every creature ; not to inanimate and irrational creatures, as stocks and stones, the beasts of the field, etc.. nor to all rational creatures, as angels, good or bad; the former need not the preaching of the Gospel, and the latter are denied the blessing; but men, the offspring of fallen Adam, the objects of God's good will: these are styled “the creatures”, because the chief of God's creation on earth; and are often in the Jewish writings so called; take an instance or two: “R. Chuninn ben Dousa used to say, all in whom, twyrbh , “the creatures” (i.e. men) have delight, God has delight; and in whomsoever “the creatures” (or men) have no, delight, God has no delight.”
One of the seven qualifications of a member of the sanhedrim is, twyrbh tbha , “love of the creatures” f285 , or love of men: so it is said f286 , that “the holy blessed God, sits in the height of the world, and gives a portion of food, hyrb lkl , “to every creature”,” that is, to every man: and particularly the Gentiles, as distinguished from the Jews, are often intended by this phrase: thus “says R. Judah, perhaps, twyrbh , “the creatures”, (i.e. the Gentiles,) knew the love with which the holy blessed God Ioved Israel, and roared like lions to pursue after them.”
It is elsewhere said, “all the prayers, twyrb l ç , “of the creatures” (the Heathens) are only concerning the earth; Lord, let the earth bring forth! Lord, let the earth be fruitful! All the prayers of the Israelites, are only for the house of the Lord; Lord, let the house of the sanctuary be built, etc..”
And in this sense is the phrase used, in ( Romans 8:22,23 Colossians 1:23) ( 2 Peter 3:4). Now to these, Christ would have the Gospel preached, as well as to the Jews; even to all, without any distinction of people, Jews and Gentiles, Barbarians, Scythians, bond and free, male and female, rich and poor, greater or lesser sinners, even to all mankind; than which, nothing was more provoking to the Jews; who would, if they could, have revoked and made null this commission of Christ; (see Thessalonians 2:16). It was the Gospel he would have preached to them, the word of peace and reconciliation, by his atoning sacrifice; the doctrine of free and full pardon by his blood; and of justification by his righteousness; and of complete salvation by him: even every doctrine relating to his person, as God and man; to every office of his, as prophet, priest, and king; to his incarnation, sufferings, and death, his resurrection, ascension, session at the right hand of God, and intercession for his people, and second coming to judgment; with every doctrine relating to the grace of God, of the Father in election, and the covenant of peace, of the Son in redemption, and of the Spirit in regeneration and sanctification: all which he would have published and declared in the most free, plain, and open manner, with all boldness, faithfulness, and constancy. A compendium and summary of which, is given in the next words.
Ver. 16. He that believeth , etc..] Not notionally only, or that gives a bare assent to the truth of the Gospel; but spiritually, who sees Christ, his need of him, and the worth and excellency, suitableness and fulness of him; who comes to him as a poor perishing sinner, and ventures on him, and commits himself to him, and lives upon him; believing alone in him, and expecting life and salvation alone by him: and is baptized ; faith must precede baptism, as these words of Christ, and Scripture examples show; and such as have it, ought to make a profession of it, and be baptized; and in which way it is that faith discovers itself, and works by love to Christ; namely, in observing his commands, and this among the rest: shall be saved , such receive the remission of their sins a justifying righteousness, the privilege of adoption, a right and meetness for heaven now, and shall be saved in Christ, with an everlasting salvation; not that either faith or baptism, are the procuring causes of salvation: not faith, for Christ is the author of salvation; and faith is the grace that looks to him for it, receives the assurance of it now, and that will be the end of it hereafter: faith and eternal life are so connected together, that he that has the one, shall have the other; and it is descriptive of the person that shall enjoy it: and baptism, though it is said to save by the resurrection of Christ, as it is a means of leading faith to Christ's resurrection for justification, yet has no casual influence upon salvation; it is not essential to it; the thief on the cross, went to heaven without it, and Simon Magus to hell with it; but it is the duty of every one that believes, and he that truly believes, ought to be baptized, and prove the truth of his faith, by his obedience to Christ, and such shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be damned ; such are here chiefly designed, who, are favoured with the Gospel revelation; but either deny it, reject and despise it, or neglect it, and are disobedient to it; whose guilt is the greater, and whose punishment and damnation will be the more intolerable; even more so, than that of Sodom and Gomorrha, Tyre and Sidon, or any of the Gentiles that perish without the law, and the knowledge of the Gospel; and also such are meant, who are finally unbelievers, who live and die in a state of impenitence and unbelief; otherwise, one that believes not today, may believe tomorrow, and be saved.
Ver. 17. And these signs shall follow them that believe , etc..] Not all of them, but some; and not always, only for a time; and which were necessary for the confirmation of the Gospel, and the establishment of Christianity in the world; and not only believing hearers, but believing ministers of the word, are chiefly designed; and this is said, for the encouragement both of those that preach the Gospel, and of them that hear, believe and obey. The Persic version, contrary to all others, reads, “ye shall show signs and wonders to them that believe not”; (see 1 Corinthians 14:22). In my name shall they cast out devils ; so the Apostle Paul dispossessed the damsel, that had a spirit of divination; commanding the spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come out of her, and it did; and evil spirits also went out of others, through his means, by the power of Christ, ( Acts 16:18 19:12); and this power continued for a considerable time among the saints: the phrase “in my name”, is in the Arabic version, joined to the word “believe”, in the preceding clause; and is omitted in the Persic version, but is rightly retained by all others in this place; for by the power and authority of Christ, and not their own, and by calling upon, and making use of his name, such miraculous operations were wrought by the apostles: they shall speak with new tongues : or languages, not such as were new made, and had never been heard and known before; but foreign languages, such as they had never learned, or were able to speak, or understood before; and this not only did the apostles on the day of pentecost, but even common believers at other times, ( Acts 2:4,6,11) ( Acts 10:45,46 1 Corinthians 12:10,28,30 14:13,18,26,27).
Ver. 18. They shall take up serpents , etc..] The Arabic version adds, “in their own hands”; and in an ancient manuscript of Beza's it is read, “in the hands”; so the Apostle Paul had a viper, which fastened and hung on his hand, which he shook off, without receiving any harm from it, ( Acts 28:3-6). And if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them ; not that they were hereby warranted to drink poison, to show what power they had; but should they accidentally drink it, or rather should they be forced to it by their enemies in order to destroy them, they should find no hurt by it: and Papias reports of Barsabas, surnamed Justus, who was put up with Matthias for the apostleship, ( Acts 1:23), that he drank a poisonous draught, and by the grace of the Lord, received no hurt: and the Jews themselves report f290 , that “a son of R. Joshua ben Levi, swallowed something hurtful; and one came and whispered to him in the name of Jesus, the son of Pandira (so they call our Lord), and he did well.”
It follows, and they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover ; as the Apostle Paul did on the father of Publius, who was thereby healed of a fever, and a bloody flux, and also others, ( Acts 28:8,9); nay, some were healed by the shadow of Peter, ( Acts 5:15,16), and others, by handkerchiefs and aprons taken from the body of Paul, ( Acts 19:12). The Persic version adds, without any authority, “whatsoever ye ask in my name, shall be given unto you”.
Ver. 19. So then, after the Lord , etc..] The Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions add, “Jesus”; and the Ethiopic version reads, “our Lord, the Lord Jesus”; and both Syriac and Persic read, “our Lord”; which is common in these versions, where the word “Lord” is used: had spoken unto them ; the disciples, the above words, which commissioned them where to go, what to do, and what to say; and what should follow them, for the confirmation of their mission and doctrine: he was received up into heaven ; in a cloud, angels attending him, and devils led captive by him, and with a welcome into his Father's presence: and sat on the right hand of God ; the Ethiopic version adds, “his own Father”, and which is an evidence of his having done his work, and that to full satisfaction; and is an honour never conferred on angels, or any mere creature; and is a peculiar dignity conferred on the human nature of Christ, in union with his divine person; and here he will remain, till his second coming.
Ver. 20. And they went forth , etc..] After this the apostles went forth, from Galilee to Jerusalem; and on the day of pentecost, they appeared publicly, and preached the Gospel in divers languages; and after the death of Stephen, and the persecution raised upon that, they went forth from Jerusalem; (see Isaiah 2:3). And preached every where ; not only in Judea, and in the neighbouring countries, but all over the world, in process of time: the Lord working with them ; making their ministry useful, for the conviction and conversion of large multitudes, and for the forming and settling abundance of Gospel churches, and for the comfort and edification of the saints; all which was done, by the power and grace of Christ, without whom they could do nothing; (see 1 Corinthians 3:9). And confirming the word with signs following ; the Arabic version adds “them”; or “which they did”, as the Syriac and Persic versions render it; not by their own power, but, as the latter of these versions adds, “by the help of our Lord”; (see Hebrews 2:4); to all which, the evangelist puts his Amen ; so let it be, or so it shall be, and so it was.