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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

LAZARUS. —A common Jewish name, meaning ‘God hath helped’; a colloquial abbreviation of Eleazar (cf. Liezer for Eliezer ).* [Note: Juchasin, 81. 1: ‘In Talmude Hierosolymitano unusquisque R. Eleazar scribitur, absque Aleph, R. Lazar.’]

1. Lazarus the beggar , who, in our Lord’s parable ( Luke 16:19-31), lay, a mass of loathsome sores, at the gateway of the rich man, named traditionally Nineuis (Euth. Zig.) or Phinees (Clem. Recogn. ). The notion that he was a leper (whence lazar-house, lazzaretto ) is impossible, since he must then have kept afar off, and durst not have lain at the rich man’s gateway.

This has been pronounced no authentic parable of Jesus, but an ‘evangelic discourse upon His words—“that which is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God” ’ ( Luke 16:15),† [Note: A. Abbott in Encycl. Bibl. art. ‘Lazarus,’ § 2.] on the following grounds: (1) Its introduction of a proper name . Nowhere else in the Gospels is a parabolic personage named, and the idea prevailed in early times that this is not a parable but a story from real life (cf. Tert. de Anim. § 7; Iren. adv. Hœr. iv. 3. 2).

(2) Its alleged Ebionism . The contrast between the two men on earth is not moral or religious. It is not said that the rich man got his wealth unrighteously, or that he treated Lazarus cruelly. The difference was merely that the one was rich and the other poor, and their dooms are a reversal of their earthly conditions. ‘In this parable,’ says Strauss, ‘the measure of future recompense is not the amount of good done or wickedness perpetrated, but of evil endured and fortune enjoyed.’

(3) Its Jewish imagery . ( a ) ‘The beggar died, and he was carried away by the angels.’ It was a Jewish idea that the souls of the righteous were carried by angels to paradise (cf. Targ. [Note: Targum.] on  Song of Solomon 4:2 ‘Non possunt ingredi Paradisum nisi justi, quorum animae eo feruntur per angelos.’ ( b ) The Jews called the unseen world Sheol; and so closely identical was their conception thereof with that of the Greeks, that Sheol is rendered by the LXX Septuagint Hades.* [Note: Schultz, OT Theol. ii. p. 321 ff.] It was the common abode of all souls, good and bad alike, where they received the due reward of their deeds; and it was an aggravation of the misery of the wicked that they continually beheld the felicity of the righteous, knowing all the while that they were excluded from it. See Lightfoot and Wetstein on  Luke 16:23; cf.  Revelation 14:10. So in the parable ‘the rich man in Hades lifts up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham from afar, and Lazarus in his bosom.’ ( c ) There were three Jewish phrases descriptive of the state of the righteous after death: ‘in the Garden of Eden’ or ‘Paradise’; ‘under the throne of glory’ (cf.  Revelation 6:9;  Revelation 7:9;  Revelation 7:15); ‘in Abraham’s bosom.’ The last appears in the parable ( Luke 16:22-23). The meaning is that Lazarus was a guest at the heavenly feast. Cf.  Luke 14:15 and the saying of R. Jacob: ‘This world is like a vestibule before the world to come: prepare thyself at the vestibule, that thou mayest be admitted into the festal-chamber.’ Lazarus occupied the place of honour, reclining on Abraham’s breast, even as the beloved disciple at the Last Supper reclined on the Master’s ( John 13:23).

These objections, however, are by no means insurmountable. The name Lazarus is perhaps introduced significantly, defining the beggar’s character. He was one who had found his help in God. It was not because he was poor, but because God had helped him, that the beggar was carried away into Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man was doomed not simply because he had been rich, but because he had made a selfish use of his riches. The parable is an illustration and enforcement of the moral which Jesus deduces from the preceding parable of the Shrewd Factor: ‘Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness ( i.e. earthly riches, unsatisfying and unenduring† [Note:  Psalms 23:3מַעִנְּלֵי־צ֛רֶק, τρίβους ὁιχαιοσύνης, in contrast to ‘delusive tracks which lead nowhere’ (Cheyne).] ), that, when it faileth, they may receive you into the eternal tents’ ( Luke 16:9). Had the rich man befriended the beggar, he would have laid up for himself treasure in heaven. He would have bound Lazarus to himself, and would have been welcomed by him on the threshold of the unseen world.

As for the Jewish imagery, it constitutes no argument against the authenticity of the parable. Jesus was accustomed to speak the language of His hearers in order to reach their understandings and hearts. He often spoke of the heavenly feast: cf.  Matthew 8:11-12 ( Luke 13:28-29),  Luke 13:25-27 ( Matthew 7:22-23),  Matthew 22:1-14 ( Luke 14:16-24),  Matthew 25:1-13,  Luke 22:18 =  Matthew 26:29 =  Mark 14:25. And it is noteworthy how, when He employed Jewish imagery, He was wont to invest it with new significance. Thus, the Rabbis taught that the abodes of the righteous and the wicked in Hades were nigh to each other; according to one, there was only a span between them; according to another, the boundary was a wall (Midr. Kohel . 103. 2: ‘Deus statuit hoc juxta illud ( Ecclesiastes 7:14), id est, Gehennam et Paradisum. Quantum distant? Palmo. R. Jochanan dicit: Paries interponitur.’) But what says Jesus? ‘In all this region betwixt us and you a great chasm has been fixed, that they that wish to pass over from this side unto you may not be able, nor those on that side cross over unto us.’ The sentence, He would indicate, is final, the separation eternal. See Gulf.

2. Lazarus of Bethany , brother of Martha and Mary. There was a close and tender intimacy between Jesus and this household (cf.  John 11:3;  John 11:11;  John 11:36). From the Feast of Tabernacles (October) until the Feast of Dedication (December) Jesus sojourned in Jerusalem, making His appeal to her rulers and people. The former proved obdurate, and finally proceeded to violence ( John 10:31;  John 10:39). It was unsafe for Him to remain among them, and He retired to Bethany beyond Jordan ( John 10:40, cf.  John 1:28 Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885). A crowd followed Him thither, and, undisturbed by His adversaries, He exercised a ministry which recalled, while it surpassed, the work of John the Baptist on the same spot three years earlier. All the while He was thinking of Jerusalem. He would fain win her even yet, and He prayed that God would bring about some crisis which might persuade her of His Messiahship or at least leave her without excuse (cf.  John 11:41-42). He saw not the way, but He was waiting for God to open it up; and suddenly a message reached Him from the other Bethany that Lazarus was sick ( John 11:3). He recognized in this turn of events God’s answer to His prayer. It afforded Him just such an opportunity as He had craved. ‘This sickness,’ He said, ‘is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God ( i.e. the Messiah) may be glorified thereby.’ He did not hasten to Bethany and lay His hand upon the sick man, nor did He, abiding where He was, ‘send forth His word and heal him,’ as He had done to the courtier’s son ( John 4:46-54) and the Syrophœnician woman’s daughter ( Matthew 15:21-28 =  Mark 7:24-30). He deliberately remained where He was for two days, and then set out for Judaea. On His arrival at Bethany, Lazarus was dead and buried, and a large company, including many of the rulers from the adjacent capital ( Mark 7:19), had gathered, in accordance with Jewish custom, to testify their esteem for the good Lazarus and condole with his sisters. The situation favoured the Lord’s design. He repaired to the sepulchre, which lay at least 2000 cubits outside the town,* [Note: Lightfoot, ii. p. 424.] and in presence of the assemblage recalled the dead man to life and summoned him forth in his cerements.

It was an indubitable miracle. In the sultry East it was necessary that the dead should be buried immediately (cf.  Acts 5:5-6), and it sometimes happened that a swoon was mistaken for death, and the man awoke. The Jewish fancy was that for three days after death the soul hovered about the sepulchre, fain to re-enter and reanimate its tenement of clay; and the bereaved were wont to visit the sepulchre to see if haply their dead had come to life. After three days decomposition set in, and when they saw its ghastly disfigurement on the face, they abandoned hope.† [Note: Lightfoot on  John 11:39.] Had Jesus arrived within three days after Lazarus’ death, it might have been pronounced no miracle; but He arrived on the fourth day, when decomposition would have already set in ( John 11:39).

If anything could have conquered the unbelief of the rulers, this miracle must have done it; but they hardened their hearts, and all the more that the people were profoundly impressed. The Sanhedrin met under the presidency of Caiaphas the high priest, and resolved to put Jesus to death, at the same time publishing an order that, if any knew where He was, they should give information for His arrest. He did not venture into the city, but retired northward to Ephraim, near the Samaritan frontier. There He remained until the Passover was nigh, and then He went up to keep the Feast and to die. Six days before the Feast began, He reached Bethany, and in defiance of the Sanhedrin’s order received an ovation from the townsfolk. They honoured Him with a banquet in the house of Simon, one of their leading men, who had been a leper, and had perhaps been healed by Jesus (see art. Anointing, i. 2.). Lazarus of course was present. The news that Jesus was at Bethany reached Jerusalem, and next day a great multitude thronged out to meet Him and escorted Him with Messianic honours into the city. It was the raising of Lazarus that had convinced them of the claims of Jesus ( John 12:17-18). The Triumphal Entry is a powerful evidence of the miracle. Without it such an outburst of enthusiasm is unaccountable.

It might be expected that Lazarus of all men should have stood by Jesus during the last dread ordeal; but he never appears after the banquet in Simon’s house. His name is nowhere mentioned in the story of the Lord’s Passion. What is the explanation? Enraged by the impression which the miracle made and the support which it brought to Jesus, the high priests plotted the death of Lazarus ( John 12:10-11); and it is probable that, ere the final crisis, he had been compelled to withdraw from the vicinity of Jerusalem.

It was a stupendous miracle, the greatest which Jesus ever wrought; yet it is not the supreme miracle of the Gospel-story. The Lord’s own Resurrection holds that place, and one who is persuaded of His claims will hardly hesitate to believe in the raising of Lazarus. ‘He raised the man,’ says St. Augustine,* [Note: In Joan. Ev. Tract. xlix. § 1.] ‘who made the man; for He is Himself the Father’s only Son, through whom, as ye know, all things were made. If, therefore, all things were made through Him, what wonder if one rose from the dead through Him, when so many are daily born through Him? It is a greater thing to create men than to raise them.’

Naturalistic criticism, however, has assailed the miracle. Much has been made of the silence of the Synoptists, who must, it is alleged, have recorded it had they known of it, and must have known of it had it occurred. Their silence in this instance, however, is merely part of a larger problem—their silence regarding the Lord’s Judaean ministry generally, and their peculiar reticence regarding the family of Bethany.

It is no exaggeration to affirm that the desperateness of the assaults which have been directed against it constitute a powerful apologetic for the miracle. (1) The earlier rationalists (Paulus, Venturini), in spite of the Evangelist’s specific testimony to the contrary, supposed that Lazarus had not really died but only fallen into a trance. He had been buried alive, and he awoke to consciousness through the combined influences of the coolness of the cave, the pungent odour of the burial spices (cf.  John 19:40), and the stream of warm air which rushed in when the stone was removed. Jesus, looking in, perceived that he was alive, and bade him come forth.

(2) According to Strauss, the story, like the two earlier stories of resuscitation ( Matthew 9:18-19;  Matthew 9:23-26 =  Mark 5:21-24;  Mark 5:35-43 =  Luke 8:40-42;  Luke 8:49-56;  Luke 7:11-17), is a myth, originating in the desire of the primitive Church that the Messiah should not only rival but surpass His great prototypes in the OT. Elijah and Elisha had wrought miracles of resuscitation ( 1 Kings 17:17 ff.,  2 Kings 4:8 ff.), and Jesus must do the like in a more wonderful manner.

(3) Renan regarded the miracle as an imposture. ‘Tired of the cold reception which the Kingdom of God found in the capital, the friends of Jesus, wished for a great miracle which should strike powerfully the incredulity of the Jerusalemites.’ And the sick Lazarus lent himself to their design. Pallid with disease, he let himself be wrapped in grave-clothes and shut up in the sepulchre; and when Jesus, believing that he was dead, came to take a last look at his friend’s remains, Lazarus came forth in his bandages, his head covered with a winding-sheet. Jesus acquiesced in the fraud. ‘Not by any fault of his own, but by that of others, his conscience had lost something of its original purity. Desperate and driven to extremity, he was no longer his own master. His mission over-whelmed him, and he yielded to the torrent.… He was no more able than St. Bernard or St. Francis to moderate the avidity for the marvellous displayed by the multitude, and even by his own disciples.’

(4) Later criticism is still more destructive. Not only was the miracle never wrought, but there was never such a man as Lazarus. The story is ‘non-historical, like the History of the Creation in Genesis, and like the records of the other miracles in the Fourth Gospel; all of which are poetic developments.’* [Note: A. Abbott, art. ‘Lazarus,’ § 4, in Encyc. Biblica.] Keim finds the germ of the story in the Ebionite parable of the Rich Man and the Beggar ( Luke 16:19-31). ‘If,’ says Abraham in the parable, ‘to Moses and the prophets they do not hearken, not even if one rise from the dead will they be persuaded’; and the Johannine narrative is this saying converted into a history: a man rose from the dead, and the Jews did not believe. Lazarus full of corruption corresponds to the beggar full of sores. The story is thus doubly divorced from reality, being an unhistorical development of an unauthentic parable.

Literature.— 1. Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible , art . ‘Lazarus and Dives’; Trench, Bruce, Orelli, and Dods on the Parables  ; Plummer, ‘St. Luke’ ( ICC [Note: CC International Critical Commentary.] ), in loc.  ; Bersier, Gospel in Paris , p. 448 f.

2. Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, art. ‘Lazarus of Bethany’; the standard Lives of Christ  ; Elmslie, Expository Lectures and Sermons , p. 92 ff.; Maclaren, Unchanging Christ , p. 282 ff. On the rationalistic objections to the miracle see the chapter on ‘The Later Miracles’ in Fairbairn’s Studies in the Life of Christ (or in Expositor , 1st Ser. ix. [1879] p. 178 ff.), where the theories of Paulus, Strauss, Baur, and Renan are fully dealt with.

D. Smith.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

LAZARUS or ELEAZAR ("God helps".)

1. Of Bethany; brother of Mary and Martha ( John 11:1). (See Bethany .) The sisters were the better known, from whence they are put prominently forward here, and in  Luke 10:38, etc., are alone named. Lazarus was "of ( Apo , 'belonging to at that time') Bethany, from ( Ek , implying his original settlement) the village of Mary and Martha" (Still It Is Likely The Same Village Is Meant In Both Luke 10 And John 11, Namely, Bethany) . Curiously, Ganneau found close to Bethany a tomb, probably of the first century, containing the names all together of Simon, Martha, and Lazarus. Lazarus' subordinate position at their feast in Christ's honour ( John 12:2) makes it likely he was the youngest. Moreover, the house is called that of Simon the leper ( Matthew 26:6;  Mark 14:3); who was probably therefore their father, but either by death or leprosy no longer with them, though possibly he too, as a leper healed by Jesus, was then one of that happy family.

Their friends from Jerusalem ( John 11:19), according to John's use of "the Jews," were of the ruling elders and Pharisees. The feast; the costly ointment, the family funeral cave (compare  Isaiah 22:16;  2 Kings 23:6;  Jeremiah 26:23), all bespeak good social position. The sisters' warm attachment to Lazarus was strengthened by their common love to Jesus who loved all three ( John 11:5). Lazarus had won the disciples' love too, for Jesus calls him "our friend" ( John 11:11). At the time of Lazarus' sickness and the sisters' call, Jesus was in Peraea beyond Jordan, on His way to Jerusalem, two days' journey from Bethany. He delayed two days to give time for that death which He foresaw, and from which He was about to raise Lazarus. On proposing to go to Judea, His disciples remonstrated on the ground that He would be going into the very danger from which He had just escaped ( John 10:39-40;  John 11:8-10).

He replied that while His appointed day yet lasted He was safe, and that He was going to awaken Lazarus out of sleep. He was "glad" that He had not been on the spot before, that Lazarus' death and rising might awaken the disciples out of the deadness of unbelief. The sisters grieved at His seeming neglect. God sees cause for joy where even His people see only cause for grief. Four days had elapsed after the call when He arrived. Martha went and met Him, while Mary sat in the house, in beautiful harmony with the character of each respectively, described in  Luke 10:40-42. Martha's faith had now become stronger; so she says, "Lord, I know that even now whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee (More Buoyant In Spirit Than Mary, And Cherishing Even Now A Vague Hope Of Her Brother'S Restoration) ... Yea, Lord, I believe that Thou art the Christ the Son of God ... the Resurrection and the Life." Upon Martha telling Mary of Jesus' arrival and "call" for her, either expressed or implied ("Secretly," Through Fear Of Jewish Informers, See  John 11:28 ;  John 11:46 ) , the latter also came "quickly" to Him.

The Jews her friends, not having heard Martha's communication, supposed Mary was gone to the tomb to weep, but found her as of old "at Jesus' feet." Her words were fewer, but her action more impassioned, than those of her sister. So the whole company, Jesus, His disciples, the sisters, and their sympathizers, were met at the grave. At the sight of their weeping, Jesus "groaned in spirit," and troubled Himself, but checked His emotion which would otherwise have choked utterance. cf6 "Where have ye laid him?" Sympathy with their sorrow, which He was instantly to relieve, at last found vent in tears: "Jesus wept" (compare  Luke 19:41;  Hebrews 4:15). "Behold. how He loved him," the Jews, His adversaries, were constrained to exclaim. Their unbelief, "could not this man which opened the eyes of the blind (John 9, they allude not to the raising of Jairus' daughter and the widow of Nain's son, which took place in Galilee, but to the miracle which made such a stir in Jerusalem; they never thought of His raising the dead) have caused that even this man should not have died?" made Him "groan again."

cf6 "Take away the stone." Martha, retaining still remainders of unbelief (She Believed In Lazarus' Future Resurrection, But She Hardly Dared To Believe What She Herself Had Hinted At In  John 11:22 , That Christ Will Raise Him Now) , objected on the ground of the body's presumed decomposition by this time. He tells her to cf6 "believe, so she shall see the glory of God." With a preparatory thanksgiving to the Father for the already felt answer to His prayer, He said, cf6 "Lazarus, come forth," and he came forth bound hand and foot, the graveclothes and napkin about his face. cf6 "Loose him, and let him go"; contrast Jesus' resurrection, the graveclothes and the napkin folded separately, because, unlike Lazarus, He was to die no more ( John 20:6-7). The same miracle which converted some Jews to belief furnished others only with materials for informing the Pharisees against Him. It brought the plots of the rulers and Caiaphas to a crisis ( John 11:45-53).

The very sign which the Pharisees desired in the parable of Lazarus ( Luke 16:27-30) is now granted in the person of one of the same name, but only stimulates them to their crowning sin, to kill Jesus, nay even to kill Lazarus too ( John 12:10). The same sun that develops the fragrant violet strengthens the poison of the deadly nightshade. This is the crucial miracle of the truth of the Gospels. Spinosa said if this were true he would tear his system in pieces and embrace Christianity. As the Lord's Judaean ministry was not the subject of the first three evangelists, but the Galilean, they omit the raising of Lazarus. The Jews' consultation to kill Lazarus, and his own probable shrinking from publicity after such a mysterious experience, perhaps further influenced them in their omission of the miracle. By John's time of writing the brother and sisters were dead, and no reason for reserve any longer existed.

Tradition says that Lazarus' first question on coming back was whether he should die again; on learning he must, he never smiled again. Such an impression was made by this miracle that many Jews flocked to Bethany to see both Jesus and Lazarus. The eye witnesses bore record, and the people who heard of it from them met Him on His way to Jerusalem, and formed part of His retinue in His triumphal entry with the palmbearing multitude ( John 12:12;  John 12:17-18). E. H. Plumptre (Smith's Dictionary) identifies Simon the leper with Simon the Pharisee ( Luke 7:36-40); Martha had the Pharisees' belief in the resurrection ( John 11:24); Mary's gift of the ointment was after the example of the sinful woman in Simon's house; the leprosy came on subsequently.

Also he identifies Lazarus with the rich young ruler (Matthew 19; Mark 10; Luke 18); Jesus' words to him, cf6 "one thing thou lackest," answer to His words to Martha. cf6 "one thing is needful"; "Jesus beholding loved him" (Mark) is said also of Lazarus ( John 11:5); Jesus' love at last wrought out his conversion, possible to God though not to man; a sharp Palestine fever is sent to discipline him; his death and rising through Jesus' power is accompanied by his spiritual resurrection ( John 5:24-25). Judas and the eleven expected, that the feast in  John 12:2 was the farewell feast of Lazarus, renouncing his former life and obeying Christ's command, "sell that thou hast, and give to the poor"; hence, Judas' bitter objection, "why was not this ointment sold for 300 pence and given to the poor?"

On the night of Christ's betrayal Lazarus, whose Bethany home was near and was Christ's lodging on the previous night, in the hasty night alarm rushed eagerly with "the linen cloth (the term applied to graveclothes always, the same which he had on when the Lord raised him from the grave ( John 11:44), Sindon ) cast about his naked body" ( Mark 14:51-52;  Mark 15:46), and was seized by the high priest's servants as a second victim ( John 12:10), whereas they let the other disciples escape.

2. Lazarus in the parable,  Luke 16:19-31. The one unknown on earth has a name with God; the rich man, well known as a great man among men, has no name with God ( Revelation 3:1). The historic Lazarus (John 11-12) belonged to the richer classes. Yet it is not a rich Lazarus, but Lazarus the beggar whom the rich scarcely noticed, that is carried by angels to Abraham's bosom. The historic Lazarus raised from the dead, yet not convincing the Jews, proves the truth stated in the parable of Lazarus that cf6 "if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither would they be persuaded though one rose from the dead." The rich man was not so much a glutton as a self-pleaser. It is not said he did not relieve Lazarus, nay Lazarus lying at his gate implies he did, but with ostentation, "justifying himself before men" ( Luke 16:15), having no true "repentance" ( Luke 16:30).

Servants attended him, "dogs" Lazarus; these showed more pity and sympathy than his fellow men. The rich man's "burial" is mentioned, implying a grand funeral and flattering epitaph, while his soul was in hell. Christ takes care of the dust of Lazarus against the day of His appearing, and receives his soul to Himself "in Abraham's bosom" (Image From A Feast; Compare  John 13:25 ) , whose faith Lazarus followed. Once he had shared "crumbs" with the dogs ( Matthew 15:27), now he shares the heavenly banquet with the first father of the people of God. Not Lazarus' sufferings but his faith brought him there. Not the rich man's wealth but his practical unbelief ( Luke 16:27-31) shut him out "in torments"; he was one of those" covetous" whom Jesus just before reproved, "justifying himself before men," "highly esteemed among men," but one whose practice was "abomination in the sight of God."

He now begs a drop of water taken up by Lazarus with "the tip of the finger," but in vain. Once he scarcely and only for show, not from love which alone God recognizes, allowed Lazarus to gather the "crumbs," the portion of the dogs. Abraham himself ventured all on God's promise of an after inheritance, having here "not so much as to set his foot on" ( Acts 7:5;  Hebrews 11:13); appropriately then he told the rich man, "son (By Privileges On Which The Jews Prided Themselves,  Luke 3:8 ) , remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things ( Matthew 6:19-21) and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted and thou art tormented."

The rich man's desire for his brethren's conversion to belief, by Lazarus being sent from the dead, is a covert expression of the fact that he was an unbeliever, and that unbelievers lay the blame of their unbelief on God as not giving them proof enough; whereas neither the raising of another Lazarus, nor that of Jesus who dieth no more, could win the willful rejecters to belief ( John 12:10-11;  John 16:29;  Acts 26:8). The five brethren coming to the same hell, so far from relieving by their company, (As Many Virtually Think By Walking With The Many On The Broad Way Rather Than With The Few On The Narrow Way) , would only aggravate his anguish by reproaches, because he had countenanced their unbelief. The dialogue is not between Lazarus and the rich man, for they are utterly apart, but Abraham (God'S Mouthpiece In Old Testament As Father Of The Faithful, Who Sit Down With Him,  Matthew 8:11-12 ) and the rich man.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]

LAZARUS. A common Jewish name, a colloquial abbreviation of Eleazar .

1. The brother of Martha and Mary , the friend of Jesus (  John 11:3;   John 11:11;   John 11:36 , where ‘love’ and ‘friend’ represent the same root in Greek). The family lived at Bethany, a village within two miles of Jerusalem just over the brow of Olivet. Lazarus was the subject of the greatest miracle of the Gospel story (  John 11:1-44 ). In the last year of His ministry Jesus sojourned at Jerusalem from the Feast of Tabernacles in October to that of the Dedication in December; and, on being driven out by the violence of the rulers (  John 10:31;   John 10:39 ), He retired to ‘Bethany beyond Jordan’ (  John 10:40; cf.   John 1:28 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ). A crowd followed Him thither, and in the midst of His beneficent activities of teaching and healing tidings reached Him that His friend had fallen sick. He might have responded immediately to the sisters’ appeal either by hastening to their home and laying His hand on the sick man, or by sending forth His word of power and healing him across the intervening distance of some twenty miles (cf.   John 4:46-54 ,   Matthew 15:21-28 =   Mark 7:24-30 ). But He did neither; He remained where He was for two days, until Lazarus was dead. He desired not only to manifest His power to His friends, but to make a signal appeal to impenitent Jerusalem, by working a miracle which would attest His Messiahship beyond all question.

At length He set forth. If the messenger started in the morning, he would reach Jesus the same evening. Jesus stayed two days, and setting out early would arrive on the evening of the fourth day. Thus on His arrival Lazarus had been dead four days ( John 11:39 ). In that sultry climate burial followed immediately on death, and it sometimes happened that a swoon was mistaken for death, and the buried man came to life again. The Jewish belief was that the soul hovered about the sepulchre for three days, fain to re-animate its clay. On the fourth day decomposition set in, and hope was then abandoned. Jesus arrived on the fourth day, and there was no doubt of the reality of Lazarus’ death and of the ensuing miracle. It was not a recovery from a trance, but a veritable resurrection. He went to the rock-hewn sepulchre, and in presence of the sisters and a large company of mourners, including many of the rulers who had come from the adjacent capital to testify their esteem for the good Lazarus and their sympathy with Martha and Mary (  John 11:19 ), summoned the dead man forth and restored him, alive and well, to his home. It was a startling miracle. It made a profound impression on the multitude, but it only exasperated the rulers. They convened a meeting of the Sanhedrin and determined to put Jesus to death (  John 11:47-53 ).

He retired to Ephraim near the frontier of Samaria, and stayed there until the Passover drew near; then He set out for Jerusalem to keep the Feast and to die. Six days before it began ( John 12:1 ), He reached Bethany, and despite the Sanhedrin’s decree He received a great ovation. He was honoured with a banquet in the house of one of the leading men of the village, Simon, who had been a leper and had probably been healed by Jesus (  John 12:2-11 =   Matthew 26:6-13 =   Mark 14:3-9 ). Lazarus was one of the company. The news of His arrival at Bethany reached Jerusalem, and next day the multitude thronged out and escorted Him in triumph into the city. It was the raising of Lazarus that excited their enthusiasm (  John 12:3;   John 12:17-18 ).

After this Lazarus appears no more in the Gospel story. Surely he of all men should have stood by Jesus at His trial and crucifixion; and the explanation of his absence is probably that he had been forced to flee. Observing the popular enthusiasm, the infuriated rulers had determined to put him also to death ( John 12:10-11 ). He would withdraw more for Jesus’ sake than for his own. His presence only increased the Master’s danger.

2. The beggar in our Lord’s parable (  Luke 16:19-31 ). This is the only instance where Jesus gives a name to a parabolic character, and there was an idea in early times that it was not a parable but a story from real life. A name was found also for the rich man Ninevis or Phinees . He is often styled Dives , but this is merely Latin for ‘the Rich Man.’ In fact, however, Lazarus is less a name than a definition. It means ‘God has helped’; and Jesus calls the beggar Lazarus by way of indicating what commended him to God. He was not only poor but also diseased. It is, however, a mistaken notion that he was a leper (hence lazzeretto, lazar-house ), for then he must have kept afar off and durst not have lain at the rich man’s gateway.

The parable is a drama with two scenes: (1) The conditions of the Rich Man and the Beggar here the former with his mansion, his fine clothing, his sumptuous table; and the latter lying at his gateway, full of sores, with none to tend him, hungrily eyeing the feast, and glad of any scraps that were flung to him. (2) Their conditions hereafter a striking reversal: Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom, i.e . the place of honour (cf.   John 13:23 ), at the heavenly feast; the Rich Man in Hades, thirsting for a drop of water.

The parable is clothed with Jewish imagery. ‘Hell’ in  John 13:23 is Hades , the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Sheol , the unseen world, where, according to Jewish theology, all souls, good and bad alike, had their abode and received their due reward. It was an aggravation of the misery of the wicked that they had the felicity of the righteous continually in view (cf.   Revelation 14:10 ). A feast, with Abraham the father of the faithful presiding, was the Jewish ideal of the felicity of the Messianic Kingdom (cf.   Matthew 8:11 ). Jesus, ever anxious to appeal to His hearers, has clothed His parable with this familiar imagery.

The purpose of the parable is not to condemn riches and exalt poverty in the spirit of Ebionitic asceticism. It is an enlargement of the Lord’s admonition in  Luke 16:9 : ‘Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness, that, when it shall fail, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles’ (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ). The merit of Lazarus was not that he was poor, but that he had found his help in God; the offence of the Rich Man was not that he was rich, but that he lived a self-indulgent and luxurious life, regardless of the misery around him. Had he made friends to himself of Lazarus and others like him by means of his mammon of unrighteousness, he would have had a place and a welcome among them when he entered the unseen world.

David Smith.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [4]

Jesus once told a story of a beggar named Lazarus who lay full of sores at the gate of a rich man. When both men died, Lazarus entered into the joy of God’s heavenly kingdom, but the rich man entered into torment in the place of punishment ( Luke 16:19-23).

The rich man called for Lazarus to come and bring relief to his suffering, but he learnt to his disappointment that no person could pass from Lazarus’ world to his ( Luke 16:24-26). He then asked to send Lazarus back from the world of the dead into the world of the living, to warn the rich man’s brothers of the horrors that lay ahead. Again he was disappointed. If people are so self-centred that they ignore the plain message of the Bible, even the miracle of someone rising from the dead will not make them change their ways ( Luke 16:27-31).

Some time later, another man named Lazarus did in fact rise from the dead. This was Lazarus of Bethany, the brother of Mary and Martha ( John 11:1-44). But, as Jesus had pointed out, such an event had little effect on those who had consistently resisted God through rejecting the message of the Bible. They still resisted, even when they witnessed the miracle of someone coming from death back to life ( John 11:46-50; cf.  John 5:38-40; cf.  John 5:45-47). Rather than accept the evidence and humbly submit to God, they tried to destroy the evidence. They planned to kill Lazarus ( John 12:9-11).

Jesus’ raising of Lazarus started that final burst of hostility which, within one week, brought about Jesus’ death ( John 11:53;  John 12:1;  John 12:17-19). (For details of Lazarus’ family see Martha .)

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [5]

1. A friend and disciple of Christ, brother of Martha and Mary, with whom he resided at Bethany near Jerusalem. Our Savior had a high regard for the family, and often visited them; and when Lazarus was dangerously ill, word was sent to Christ, "Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick." The Savior reached Bethany after he had lain four days in his grave, and restored him to life by a word, "Lazarus, come forth." This public and stupendous miracle drew so many to Christ, that his enemies sought to put both him and Lazarus to death,  John 11:1-57   12:1-11 . The narrative displays Christ as a tender and compassionate friend, weeping for and with those he loved, and at the same time as the Prince of life, beginning his triumph over death and the grave. Happy are they who, in view of their own death, or that of friends, can know that they are safe in Him who says, "I am the resurrection and the life;" and, "because I live, ye shall live also."

2. The helpless beggar who lay at the rich man's gate in one of Christ's most solemn and instructive parables. The one, though poor and sorely afflicted, was a child of God. The other described as selfindulgent rather than vicious or criminal was living without God in the enjoyment of every earthly luxury. Their state in this life was greatly in contrast with their real character before God, which was revealed in the amazing changes of their condition at death,  Luke 16:19-31 . See Abraham'S Bosom . Our Savior plainly teaches us, in this parable, that both the friends and the foes of God know and begin to experience their doom immediately after death, and that it is in both cases unchangeable and eternal.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [6]

1. Brother of Martha and Mary, and a resident at Bethany. Jesus loved them all, and He spoke of Lazarus as 'our friend.' Very little is recorded of him except the striking fact that he was raised from the dead by the Lord Jesus, which manifested the glory of God and glorified the Son of God. When his sisters made the Lord a supper at Bethany, Lazarus was one of those who sat with Him. He was a living witness of the power of the Son of God over death, and as such he was in danger of being killed by the Jews, on account of many believing on the Lord because of him.  John 11:1-43;  John 12:1-17 .

2. The poor man in the parable of   Luke 16 . His circumstances are related — his poverty, his sores, and his desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table; but nothing is said as to his moral character. Neither is the rich man spoken of as a wicked man, though it is clear that he was living to himself and not to God; he was neither loving his neighbour as himself, nor was he sacrificing the present for the future. The teaching of the parable appears to be that worldly prosperity, which had been a token in O.T. times of God's blessing, was used to exclude the Blesser from the thoughts and life of the man rich in this world only. The poor man entered into Abraham's bosom, and the rich man into torments. Though a parable, it is a vivid picture of the reality of existence after death, and of the different conditions in that existence.   Luke 16:19-31 .

Smith's Bible Dictionary [7]

Laz'arus. (Whom God Helps). Another form of the Hebrew name, Eleazar .

1. Lazarus of Bethany, the brother of Martha and Mary.  John 11:1. All that we know of him is derived from the Gospel of St. John, and that records little more than the facts of his death and resurrection. The language of  John 11:1 implies that the sisters were the better known. Lazarus is "of Bethany, of the village of Mary and her sister Martha." From this and from the order of the three names in  John 11:5, we may reasonably infer that Lazarus was the youngest of the family. All the circumstances of John 11 and John 12 point to wealth and social position above the average.

The name of a poor man in the well-known parable of  Luke 16:19-31. The name of Lazarus has been perpetuated in an institution of the Christian Church. The leper of the Middle Ages appears as a lazzaro . The use of lazaretto and lazarhouse for the leper hospitals then founded in all parts of western Christendom, no less than that of lazaroni for the mendicants of Italian towns, is an indication of the effect of the parable upon the mind of Europe in the Middle Ages, and thence, upon its later speech.

Holman Bible Dictionary [8]

 Luke 16:19-31

2. Lazarus (a shortened form of Eleazer) of Bethany was a personal friend of Jesus and the brother of Mary and Martha ( John 11:1-3 ). Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead after he had been in the tomb for four days to show the glory of God. Lazarus was at the Passover celebration in Bethany six days later. He became a target for murder by the chief priests because of his celebrity. Some believe Lazarus to be the “disciple whom Jesus loved” based on  John 11:3 and   John 21:20-22 . He is not mentioned in the other Gospels, although  Luke 10:38-42 names the sisters Mary and Martha. See Beloved Disciple .

Mike Mitchell

People's Dictionary of the Bible [9]

Lazarus ( Lăz'A-R Ŭs ), an abbreviation of Eleazar, Whom God Helps. 1. A person of Bethany residing with his two sisters, in whose household Christ was a frequent guest. He was raised from the tomb by Christ in the presence of the family and a number of Jews, after he had been dead four days. So incensed were the Jews at this that they sought to kill not only Christ, but even Lazarus.  John 11:1-57;  John 12:1 to  John 11:2. In the parable by which our Saviour illustrates the retributions of the future world one of the parties is named Lazarus.  Luke 16:19-31.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [10]

  • A beggar named in the parable recorded  Luke 16:19-31 .

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Lazarus'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

  • Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [11]

    It is to be supposed, that the Lazarus of the New Testament, is a corresponding name to the Eleazar of the Old. The name itself is a compound of Hazar, help—and El, God. Lazar-houses and Lazarettos, seem to have taken their name from the Lazarus of the parable. ( Luke 16:20) Lepers, and persons under diseases of a pestilential or epidemic nature, were sent to them.

    Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [12]

    brother to Martha and Mary. He dwelt at Bethany with his sisters, near Jerusalem; and the Lord Jesus did him the honour sometimes of lodging at his house when he visited the city. See the account of his resurrection related at large in  John 11:5 , &c.

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [13]

    laz´a - rus ( Λάζαρος , Lázaros , an abridged form of the Hebrew name Eleazar, with a Greek termination): Means "God has helped." In Septuagint and Josephus are found the forms Ἐλεαζάρ , Eleazár , and Ἐλεάζαρος , Eleázaros . The name was common among the Jews, and is given to two men in the New Testament who have nothing to do with each other.

    1. Lazarus of Bethany:

    The home of the Lazarus mentioned in  John 11:1 was Bethany. He was the brother of Martha and Mary (  John 11:1 ,  John 11:2; see also  Luke 10:38-41 ). All three were especially beloved by Jesus ( John 11:5 ), and at their home He more than once, and probably often, was entertained ( Luke 10:38-41; Jn 11). As intimated by the number of condoling friends from the city, and perhaps from the costly ointment used by Mary, the family was probably well-to-do. In the absence of Jesus, Lazarus was taken sick, died, and was buried, but, after having lain in the grave four days, was brought back to life by the Saviour ( John 11:3 ,  John 11:14 ,  John 11:17 ,  John 11:43 ,  John 11:44 ). As a result many Jews believed on Jesus, but others went and told the Pharisees, and a council was therefore called to hasten the decree of the Master's death ( John 11:45-53 ). Later, six days before the Passover, at a feast in some home in Bethany where Martha served, Lazarus sat at table as one of the guests, when his sister Mary anointed the feet of Jesus ( John 12:1-3 ). Many of the common people came thither, not only to see Jesus, but also the risen Lazarus, believed in Jesus, and were enthusiastic in witnessing for Him during the triumphal entry, and attracted others from the city to meet Him ( John 12:9 ,  John 12:11 ,  John 12:17 ,  John 12:18 ). For that reason the priests plotted to murder Lazarus ( John 12:10 ). This is all that we really know about the man, for whether the Jews accomplished his death we are not informed, but it seems probable that, satiated with the death of Jesus, they left Lazarus unmolested. Nothing is told of his experiences between death and resurrection (compare Tennyson, "In Memoriam," xxxi), of his emotions upon coming out of the tomb, of his subsequent life (compare Browning, "A Letter to Karshish"), and not a word of revelation does he give as to the other world. His resurrection has been a favorite subject for various forms of Christian art, and according to an old tradition of Epiphanius he was 30 years old when he was raised from the dead, and lived 30 years thereafter.

    As might be expected this miracle has been vigorously assailed by all schools of hostile critics. Ingenuity has been exhausted in inventing objections to it. But all told, they really amount only to three.

    (1) The Silence of the Other Gospels.

    There is here, no doubt, some difficulty. But the desire of the early Christians, as many scholars think, to screen the family from danger may have kept the story from becoming current in the oral tradition whence the Synoptics drew their materials, though Matthew was probably an eyewitness. But, in any case, the Synoptics do not pretend to give all the deeds of Jesus, and in the report by them we have few save those which were wrought in Galilee. Each of them has omitted elements of highest interest which others have preserved. Thus, Luke alone gives us the raising of the widow's son at Nain. John, knowing that the others had omitted this, tells us what he had himself witnessed, since all danger to the family had long ago passed away, as it was of especial interest to his story, and he had recorded no other case of resurrection. At any rate, the Gospel writers do not seem to regard a resurrection from the dead by the power of Jesus as so much more stupendous than other miracles, as they seem to modern scholars and to the Jews, and, moreover, the Synoptics do unconsciously attest this miracle by describing a sudden outburst of popular excitement in favor of Jesus which can be accounted for only by some extraordinary event.

    (2) The Stupendous Character of the Miracle.

    But to a philosophical believer in miracles this is no obstacle at all, for to omnipotence there are no such things as big miracles or little ones. Of course, Martha's statement as to the decomposition of the body was only her opinion of the probability in the case, and He, who sees the end from the beginning and who had intended to raise Lazarus, might well in His providence have watched over the body that it should not see corruption. When all is said, "He who has created the organic cell within inorganic matter is not incapable of reestablishing life within the inanimate substance."

    (3) Its Non-Use as an Accusation Against Jesus.

    The objection that  John 11:47-53 is inconsistent with the fact that in accusing Jesus before Pilate no mention is made of this miracle by the enemies of Jesus has little weight. Who would expect them to make such a self-convicting acknowledgment? The dismay of the priests at the miracle and their silence about it are perfectly compatible and natural.

    No one of the attempted explanations which deny the reality of the miracle can offer even a show of probability. That Lazarus was just recovering from a trance when Jesus arrived; that it was an imposture arranged by the family and sanctioned by Jesus in order to overwhelm His enemies; that it was a fiction or parable translated into a fact and made up largely of synoptic materials, an allegorical illustration of the words, "I am the resurrection, and the life," a myth - such explanations require more faith than to believe the fables of the Talmud They well illustrate the credulity of unbelief. The narrative holds together with perfect consistency, is distinguished by vivacity and dramatic movement, the people who take part in it are intensely real and natural, and the picture of the sisters perfectly agrees with the sketch of them in Luke. No morbid curiosity of the reader is satisfied. Invented stories are not like this. Even a Renan declares that it is a necessary link in the story of the final catastrophe.

    The purpose of the miracle seems to have been: (1) to show Himself as Lord of life and death just before He should be Himself condemned to die; (2) to strengthen the faith of His disciples; (3) to convert many Jews; (4) to cause the priests to hasten their movements so as to be ready when His hour had come (Plummer, Hdb , III, 87).

    2. The Beggar:

    In the parable in  Luke 16:19-31 , Lazarus is pictured as in abject poverty in this world, but highly rewarded and honored in the next. It is the only instance of a proper name used in a parable by Jesus. Some think that he was a well-known mendicant in Jerusalem, and have even attempted to define his disease. But this is no doubt simple invention, and, since "in Christ's kingdom of truth names indicate realities," this was probably given because of its significance, suggesting the beggar's faith in God and patient dependence upon Him. It was this faith and not his poverty which at last brought him into Abraham's bosom. Not one word does Lazarus speak in the parable, and this may also be suggestive of patient submission. He does not murmur at his hard lot, nor rail at the rich man, nor after death triumph over him. The parable is related to that of the Rich Fool ( Luke 12:16-21 ). This latter draws the veil over the worldling at death; the other lifts it. It is also a counterpart of that of the Unjust Steward ( Luke 16:1-13 ), which shows how wealth may wisely be used to our advantage, while this parable shows what calamities result from failing to make such wise use of riches. The great lesson is that our condition in Hades depends upon our conduct here, and that this may produce a complete reversal of fortune and of popular judgments. Thus, Lazarus represents the pious indigent who stood at the opposite extreme from the proud, covetous, and luxury-loving Pharisee. The parable made a deep impression on the mind of the church, so that the term "lazar," no longer a proper name, has passed into many languages, as in lazar house, lazaretto, also lazzarone, applied to the mendicants of Italian towns. There was even an order, half-military, half-monastic, called the Knights of Lazarus, whose special duty it was to minister to lepers.

    The rich man is often styled Dives, which is not strictly a proper name, but a Latin adjective meaning "rich," which occurs in this passage in the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) But in English literature, as early as Chaucer, as seen in the "Sompnoure's Tale" and in "Piers Plowman," it appears in popular use as the name of the Rich Man in this parable. In later theological literature it has become almost universally current. The name Nineuis given him by Euthymius never came into general use, though the Sahidic version has the addition, "whose name was Ninue." His sin was not in being rich, for Abraham was among the wealthiest of his day, but in his worldly unbelief in the spiritual and eternal, revealing itself in ostentatious luxury and hard-hearted contempt of the poor. Says Augustine, "Seems he (Jesus) not to have been reading from that book where he found the name of the poor man written, but found not the name of the rich, for that book is the book of life?"

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [14]

    ( Λάζαρος , an abridged form of the Heb. name Eleazar, with a Greek termination, which in the Talmud is written לעזר [see Bynaeus, De Morte Chr. 1:180; comp. Josephus, War, 5:13, 7; Simonis, Onomast. N. p. 96; Fuller, Miscell. 1:10; Suicer, Thesaur. 2:205 ]. It is proper to note this here, because the parable which describes Lazarus in Abraham's bosom has been supposed to contain a latent allusion to the name of Eliezer, whom, before the birth of Ishmael and Isaac, Abraham regarded as his heir [see Geiger, in the J Ü d. Zeitschr. 1868, p. 196 sq.]), the name of two persons in the N.T.

    1. An inhabitant of Bethany, brother of Mary and Martha, honored with the friendship of Jesus, by whom he was raised from the dead after he had been four days in the tomb ( John 11:1-17). A.D. 29. This great miracle is minutely described in John 11 (see Kitto, Daily Bible Illust. ad loc.). The credit which Christ obtained among the people by this illustrious act, of which the life and presence of Lazarus afforded a standing evidence, induced the Sanhedrim, in plotting against Jesus, to contemplate the destruction of Lazarus also ( John 12:10). Whether they accomplished this object or not we are not informed, but the probability seems to be that when they had satiated their malice on Christ they left Lazarus unmolested. According to an old tradition in Epiphanius ( Haer. 66:34, p. 652), he was thirty years old when restored to life, and lived thirty years afterwards. Later legends recount that his bones were discovered A.D. 890 in Cyprus (Suicer, Thesaur. 2:208), which disagrees with another story that Lazarus, accompanied by Martha and Mary, traveled to Provence, in France, and preached the Gospel in Marseilles (Fabricius, Codex Apocr. N. Test. 3:475, and Lux evang. p. 388; Thilo, Apocryph. p. 711; see Launoii Dissert. de Lazari appulsu in Provinciam, in his Opera, 2:1).

    "The raising of Lazarus from the dead was a work of Christ beyond measure great, and of all the miracles he had hitherto wrought undoubtedly the most stupendous. If it can be incontrovertibly shown that Christ performed one such miraculous act as this,' says Tholuck (in his Commentar zum Evang. Johannis), much will thereby be gained to the cause of Christianity. One point so peculiar in its character, if irrefragably established, may serve to develop a belief in the entire evangelical record.' The sceptical Spinoza was fully conscious of this, as is related by Bayle (Dict. s.v. Spinoza). It is not surprising, therefore, that the enemies of Christianity have used their utmost exertions to destroy the credibility of the narrative. The earlier cavils of Woolston and his followers were. however, satisfactorily answered by Lardner and others, and the more recent efforts of the German neologists have been ably and successfully refuted by Oertelius, Langius, and Reinhard, and by H. L. Heubner in a work entitled Miraculorum ab Evangelistis narratorun intempretat. grammatico-historica (Wittenb. 1807), as well as by others of still more recent date, whose answers, with the objections to which they apply, may be seen in Kuinoel." See also Flatt, in Mag. f Ü r Dogmat. Und Moral. 14:91; Schott, Opusc. 1:259; Ewald, Lazarus f Ü r Gebildete Christusverehrer (Berl. 1790); and the older monographs cited by Volbeding, Index Proglrammatunn, p. 49; Hase, Leben Jesu, p. 169. The rationalistic views of Paulus (Kritisch. Kommentar) and Gabler (Journal f. Auserl. Theol. Lit. 3:235) have been successfully refuted by Strauss (Leben Jesu), and the mythological dreams of the latter have been dissipated by a host of later German writers, and the reality of the story triumphantly established (see especially Neander, Das Leben Jesu Christi; Stier alnd Olshausen, ad loc.). The last modification of Strauss's theory (Die Halben und die Ganzen, p. 79 sq., Berl. 1865) has been demolished by Hengstenberg (Zeitschr. f. Protestant. u. Kirche, p. 39 sq., 1868); comp. Spith (Zeitschr. f. wissensch. Theol. p. 339,1868) and Holzmann (ibid. p. 71 sq., 1869). The views of Paulus have just been revived in the lively romance of M. E. R É nan, entitled Vie de Jesus; and the latter's theory of a pious fraud has been completely demolished by Ebrard, Pressense, and Ellicott, in their works on our Lord's life. See also the Studien und Krit. 2:1861; Watson, Lazarus of Bethany (London, 1844). (See Jesus); (See Mary).

    2. A beggar named in the parable of Dives ( Luke 16:20-25) as suffering the most abject poverty in this life, but whose humble piety was rewarded with ultimate bliss in the other world; the only instance of a proper name in a parable, and probably selected in this instance on account of its frequency. He is an imaginary representative of the regard which God exercises towards those of his saints whom the world spurns and passes unnoticed; by others, however, he has been considered a real personage, with which accords the old tradition that even gives the name of the rich man as being Dobruk (see F. Fabri, Evagat. 1:35 sq.). Some interpreters think he was some well-known mendicant of Jerusalem (see Seb. Schmid, Fascic. disputat. p. 878 sq.), and have attempted to define his disease (see Wedel, Exercit. Med. cent. 2, dec. 2, No. 2; Bartolini, Morb. bibl. 100, 21) with the success that might be expected (S. G. Feige, Doe morte Laz. [Hal. 1733]).

    The history of this Lazarus made a deep impression upon the Church, a fact illustrated by the circumstance to which Trench calls attention, "that the term lazar should have passed into so many languages, losing altogether its signification as a proper name" (On Parables, p. 459, note). Early in the history of the Church Lazarus was regarded as the patron saint of the sick, and especially of those suffering from the terrible scourge of leprosy. "Among the orders, half military and half monastic, of the 12th century, was one which bore the title of the Knights of St. Lazarus (A.D. 1119), whose special work it was to minister to the lepers, first of Syria, and afterwards of Europe. The use of lazaretto and lazar-house for the leper hospitals then founded in all parts of Western Christendom, no less than that of lazzarone for the mendicants of Italian towns, are indications of the effect of the parable upon the mind of Europe in the Middle Ages, and thence upon its later speech. In some cases there seems to have been a singular transfer of the attributes of the one Lazarus to the other. Thus in Paris the prison of St. Lazare (the Clos S. Lazare, so famous in 1848) had been originally a hospital for lepers. In the 17th century it was assigned to the Society of Lazarists, who took their name, as has been said, from Lazarus of Bethany, and St. Vincent de Paul died there in 1660. In the immediate neighborhood of the prison, however, are two streets, the Rue d'Enfer and Rue de Paradis, the names of which indicate the earlier associations with the Lazarus of the parable.

    "It may be mentioned incidentally, as there has been no article under the head of Dives that the occurrence of this word, used as a quasi-proper name, in our early English literature, is another proof of the impression which was made on the minds of men, either by the parable itself, or by dramatic representations of it in the mediaeval mysteries. It appears as early as Chaucer ( Lazar and Dives,' Sompnoure's Tale) and Piers Ploughman ( Dives in the deyntees lyvede,' l. 9158), and in later theological literature its use has been all but universal. In no other instance has a descriptive adjective passed in this way into the received name of an individual. The name Nimeusis, which Euthymius gives as that of the rich man (Trench, Parables, 1. c.), seems never to have come into any general use." See Klinkhardt, De homine divite et Lazaro (Lipsise, 1831); Walker, Parable Of Lazarus (Lond. 1850); Meth. Quar. Rev. July and Oct. 1859; Jour. Sac. Lit. April, July, and Oct. 1864. (See Parable).

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [15]

    Laz´arus (an abridged form of the Hebrew name Eleazer), an inhabitant of Bethany, brother of Mary and Martha, who was honored with the friendship of Jesus, by whom he was raised from the dead after he had been four days in the tomb. This great miracle is minutely described in John 11. The credit which Christ obtained among the people by this illustrious act, of which the life and presence of Lazarus afforded a standing evidence, induced the Sanhedrim, in plotting against Jesus, to contemplate the destruction of Lazarus also . Whether they accomplished this object or not, we are not informed: but the probability seems to be that when they had satiated their malice on Christ, they left Lazarus unmolested.