23And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
23 Verse 23. Thou, Capernaum-exalted unto heaven] A Hebrew
metaphor, expressive of the utmost prosperity, and the enjoyment
of the greatest privileges. This was properly spoken of this
city, because that in it our Lord dwelt, and wrought many of his
Shalt be brought down to hell] Perhaps not meaning, here, the
place of torment, but rather a state of desolation. The original
word is Hades, αδης, from α, not, and ιδειν, to see;
the invisible receptacle or mansion of the dead, answering to
sheol, in Hebrew; and implying often, 1st. the grave; 2dly. the
state of separate souls, or unseen world of spirits, whether of
torment, Lu 16:23,
or, in general, Re 1:18; 6:8; 20:13, 14.
The word hell, used in the common translation, conveys now an
improper meaning of the original word; because hell is only used
to signify the place of the damned. But, as the word hell comes
from the Anglo-Saxon, helan, to cover, or hide, hence the tiling
or slating of a house is called, in some parts of England
(particularly Cornwall) heling, to this day; and the covers of
books (in Lancashire) by the same name: so the literal import of
the original word αδης was formerly well expressed by it.
Here it means a state of the utmost wo, and ruin, and desolation,
to which these impenitent cities should be reduced. This
prediction of our Lord was literally fulfilled; for, in the wars
between the Romans and the Jews, these cities were totally
destroyed, so that no traces are now found of Bethsaida, Chorazin,
or Capernaum. See Bp. PEARCE.