on Matthew 5 :1
And seeing the multitudes - Τους οχλους, these multitudes, viz. those mentioned in the preceding verse, which should make the first verse of this chapter.
He went up into a mountain - That he might have the greater advantage of speaking, so as to be heard by that great concourse of people which followed him. It is very probable that nothing more is meant here than a small hill or eminence. Had he been on a high mountain they could not have heard; and, had he been at a great distance, he would not have sat down. See the note on Matthew 5:14.
And when he was set - The usual posture of public teachers among the Jews, and among many other people. Hence sitting was a synonymous term for teaching among the rabbins.
His disciples - The word μαθητης signifies literally a scholar. Those who originally followed Christ, considered him in the light of a Divine teacher; and conscious of their ignorance, and the importance of his teaching, they put themselves under his tuition, that they might be instructed in heavenly things. Having been taught the mysteries of the kingdom of God, they became closely attached to their Divine Master, imitating his life and manners; and recommending his salvation to all the circle of their acquaintance. This is still the characteristic of a genuine disciple of Christ.
on Matthew 5 :1
And seeing the multitudes - The great numbers that came to attend on his ministry. The substance of this discourse is recorded also in Luke 6. It is commonly called the "Sermon on the Mount." It is not improbable that it was repeated, in substance, on different occasions, and to different people. At those times parts of it may have been omitted, and Luke may have recorded it as it was pronounced on one of those occasions. See the notes at Luke 6:17-20.
Went up into a mountain - This mountain, or hill, was somewhere in the vicinity of Capernaum, but where precisely is not mentioned. He ascended the hill, doubtless, because it was more convenient to address the multitude from an eminence than if he were on the same level with them. A hill or mountain is still shown a short distance to the northwest of the ancient site of Capernaum, which tradition reports to have been the place where this sermon was delivered, and which is called on the maps the Mount of Beatitudes. The hill commonly believed to be that on which the sermon was delivered is on the road from Nazareth to Tiberias, not far from the latter place. The hill is known by the name of Kuran Huttin, the Horns of Huttin. Of this hill Professor Hackett (Illustrations of Scripture, pp. 323, 324) says: "Though a noontide heat was beating down upon us with scorching power, I could not resist the temptation to turn aside and examine a place for which such a claim has been set up, though I cannot say that I have any great confidence in it. The hill referred to is rocky, and rises steeply to a moderate height above the plain. It has two summits, with a slight depression between them, and it is from these projecting points, or horns, that it receives the name given to it. From the top the observer has a full view of the Sea of Tiberias. The most pleasing feature of the landscape is that presented by the diversified appearance of the fields. The different plots of ground exhibit various colors, according to the state. of cultivation: some of them are red, where the land has been newly plowed up, the natural appearance of the soil; others yellow or white, where the harvest is beginning to ripen, or is already ripe; and others green, being covered with grass or springing grain. As they are contiguous to each other, or intermixed, these particolored plots present at some distance an appearance of joyful chequered work, which is really beautiful.
"In rhetorical descriptions of the delivery of the Sermon on the Mount, we often hear the people represented as looking up to the speaker from the sides of the hill, or listening to him from the plain. This would not be possible with reference to the present locality; for it is too precipitous and too elevated to allow of such a position. The Saviour could have sat there, however, in the midst of his hearers, for it affords a platform amply large enough for the accommodation of the hundreds who may have been present on that occasion."
And when he was set - This was the common mode of teaching among the Jews, Luke 4:20; Luke 5:3; John 8:2; Acts 13:14; Acts 16:13.
His disciples came unto him - The word "disciples" means "learners," those who are taught. Here it is put for those who attended on the ministry of Jesus, and does not imply that they were all Christians. See John 6:66.
on Matthew 5 :1
5:1 And seeing the multitudes - At some distance, as they were coming to him from every quarter. He went up into the mountain - Which was near: where there was room for them all. His disciples - not only his twelve disciples, but all who desired to learn of him.