16The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
16 Verse 16. The people which sat in darkness] This is quoted
from Isa 9:2,
where, instead of sitting, the prophet used the word walked. The
evangelist might on purpose change the term, to point out the
increased misery of the state of these persons. Sitting in
darkness expresses a greater degree of intellectual blindness,
than walking in darkness does. In the time of Christ's appearing,
the people were in a much worse state than in the time of the
prophet, which was nearly 700 years before; as, during all this
period, they were growing more ignorant and sinful.
The region and shadow of death] These words are amazingly
descriptive. A region of death-DEATH'S country, where, in a
peculiar manner, Death lived, reigned, and triumphed, subjecting
all the people to his sway.
Shadow of death] σκιαθανατου, used only here and in Lu 1:79,
but often in the Old Covenant, where the Hebrew is tsal
maveth, It is not easy to enter fully into the ideal meaning of
this term. As in the former clause, death is personified, so
here. A shadow is that darkness cast upon a place by a body
raised between it and the light or sun. Death is here represented
as standing between the land above mentioned, and the light of
life, or Sun of righteousness; in consequence of which, all the
inhabitants were, involved in a continual cloud of intellectual
darkness, misery, and sin. The heavenly sun was continually
eclipsed to them, till this glorious time, when Jesus Christ, the
true light, shone forth in the beauty of holiness and truth.
Christ began his ministry in Galilee, and frequented this
uncultivated place more than he did Jerusalem and other parts of
Judea: here his preaching was peculiarly needful; and by this was
the prophecy fulfilled.