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Teks -- Matthew 23:1-39 (NET)

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Konteks
Seven Woes
23:1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 23:2 “The experts in the law and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. 23:3 Therefore pay attention to what they tell you and do it. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they teach. 23:4 They tie up heavy loads, hard to carry, and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing even to lift a finger to move them. 23:5 They do all their deeds to be seen by people, for they make their phylacteries wide and their tassels long. 23:6 They love the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues 23:7 and elaborate greetings in the marketplaces, and to have people call them ‘Rabbi.’ 23:8 But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher and you are all brothers. 23:9 And call no one your ‘father’ on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 23:10 Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one teacher, the Christ. 23:11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 23:12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. 23:13 “But woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You keep locking people out of the kingdom of heaven! For you neither enter nor permit those trying to enter to go in. 23:14 [[EMPTY]] 23:15 “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You cross land and sea to make one convert, and when you get one, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves! 23:16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple is bound by nothing. But whoever swears by the gold of the temple is bound by the oath.’ 23:17 Blind fools! Which is greater, the gold or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 23:18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing. But if anyone swears by the gift on it he is bound by the oath.’ 23:19 You are blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 23:20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 23:21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and the one who dwells in it. 23:22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and the one who sits on it. 23:23 “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You give a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you neglect what is more important in the law– justice, mercy, and faithfulness! You should have done these things without neglecting the others. 23:24 Blind guides! You strain out a gnat yet swallow a camel! 23:25 “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 23:26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside may become clean too! 23:27 “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of the bones of the dead and of everything unclean. 23:28 In the same way, on the outside you look righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 23:29 “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 23:30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have participated with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 23:31 By saying this you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 23:32 Fill up then the measure of your ancestors! 23:33 You snakes, you offspring of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 23:34 “For this reason I am sending you prophets and wise men and experts in the law, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, 23:35 so that on you will come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 23:36 I tell you the truth, this generation will be held responsible for all these things!
Judgment on Israel
23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it! 23:38 Look, your house is left to you desolate! 23:39 For I tell you, you will not see me from now until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
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Nama Orang, Nama Tempat, Topik/Tema Kamus

Nama Orang dan Nama Tempat:
 · Abel the second son of Adam and Eve; the brother of Cain,an English name representing two different Hebrew names,as representing the Hebrew name 'Hebel' or 'Habel',the second son of Adam,as representing the Hebrew name 'Abel',a town in northern Israel near Dan (OS)
 · Barachiah the father of Zechariah the prophet in B.C. 520
 · Jerusalem the capital city of Israel,a town; the capital of Israel near the southern border of Benjamin
 · Moses a son of Amram; the Levite who led Israel out of Egypt and gave them The Law of Moses,a Levite who led Israel out of Egypt and gave them the law
 · Pharisee a religious group or sect of the Jews
 · Rabbi a title given to teachers and others of an exalted position
 · Zechariah the father of John the baptist,a son of Berekiah, a righteous man who was killed by the Jewish authorities,son and successor of King Jeroboam,father of Abi, the mother of King Hezekiah,a leader of the tribe of Reuben,son of Meshelemiah; a door keeper for the tent of meeting,son of Jeiel and Maacah of Gibeon,a Levite gate keeper and harpist in David's time,a priest and trumpeter in David's time,son of Isshiah (Uzziel Kohath Levi),son of Hosah; a pre-exile Levite gatekeeper,a man of Manasseh in Gilead in Saul and David's time,a prince whom Jehoshaphat sent to teach the law around Judah,son of Benaiah (Asaph Levi),son of King Jehoshaphat,son of Jehoiada the priest; a prophet,a man who influenced King Uzziah for good,a Levite (Asaph) who helped Hezekiah cleanse the temple,a Levite (Kohath) who helped King Josiah restore the temple,a chief officer of the house of God in Josiah's time,son of Berechiah; a priest; writer of the book of Zechariah,leader among the Parosh clansmen who returned from exile,son of Bebai; leader among Bebai clansmen returned from exile,a lay man of the Elam Clan who put away his heathen wife,a man who stood with Ezra when he read the law to the assembly,son of Amariah of Judah,a descendant of Shelah,son of Pashhur; a priest whose descendants returned from exile,son of Jonathan (Asaph Levi),son of Jeberechiah; a witness to Isaiah's prophesy


Topik/Tema Kamus: SCRIBES | Pharisees | JESUS CHRIST, 4E1 | ETHICS OF JESUS | Jesus, The Christ | THESSALONIANS, THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL TO THE | TEMPLE, A2 | APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE, 1 | Reproof | Teachers | Satire | Hypocrisy | Church | Ecclesiasticism | JESUS CHRIST, 4D | Oath | Blindness | Minister | Rabbi | LAW IN THE NEW TESTAMENT | selebihnya
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Robertson: Mat 23:2 - Sit on Moses’ seat Sit on Moses’ seat ( epi tēs Mōuseōs kathedras ekathisan ). The gnomic or timeless aorist tense, ekathisan , not the aorist "for"the perf...

Sit on Moses’ seat ( epi tēs Mōuseōs kathedras ekathisan ).

The gnomic or timeless aorist tense, ekathisan , not the aorist "for"the perfect. The "seat of Moses"is a brief form for the chair of the professor whose function it is to interpret Moses. "The heirs of Moses’ authority by an unbroken tradition can deliver ex cathedra pronouncements on his teaching"(McNeile).

Robertson: Mat 23:3 - For they say and do not For they say and do not ( legousin kai ou poiousin ). "As teachers they have their place, but beware of following their example"(Bruce). So Jesus sai...

For they say and do not ( legousin kai ou poiousin ).

"As teachers they have their place, but beware of following their example"(Bruce). So Jesus said: "Do not ye after their works "(mē poieite ). Do not practice their practices. They are only preachers. Jesus does not here disapprove any of their teachings as he does elsewhere. The point made here is that they are only teachers (or preachers) and do not practice what they teach as God sees it.

Robertson: Mat 23:4 - With their finger With their finger ( tōi daktulōi autōn ). A picturesque proverb. They are taskmasters, not burden-bearers, not sympathetic helpers.

With their finger ( tōi daktulōi autōn ).

A picturesque proverb. They are taskmasters, not burden-bearers, not sympathetic helpers.

Robertson: Mat 23:5 - To be seen of men To be seen of men ( pros to theathēnai tois anthrōpois ). See note on Mat 6:1 where this same idiom occurs. Ostentation regulates the conduct of ...

To be seen of men ( pros to theathēnai tois anthrōpois ).

See note on Mat 6:1 where this same idiom occurs. Ostentation regulates the conduct of the rabbis.

Robertson: Mat 23:5 - Phylacteries Phylacteries ( phulaktēria ). An adjective from phulaktēr , phulassō (to guard). So a fortified place, station for garrison, then a safeguard...

Phylacteries ( phulaktēria ).

An adjective from phulaktēr , phulassō (to guard). So a fortified place, station for garrison, then a safeguard, protecting charm or amulet. The rabbis wore tephillin or prayer-fillets, small leather cases with four strips of parchment on which were written the words of Exo 13:1-10, Exo 13:11-16; Deu 6:4-9; Deu 11:13-21. They took literally the words about "a sign unto thy hand,""a memorial between thine eyes,"and "frontlets.""That for the head was to consist of a box with four compartments, each containing a slip of parchment inscribed with one of the four passages. Each of these strips was to be tied up with a well-washed hair from a calf’ s tail; lest, if tied with wool or thread, any fungoid growth should ever pollute them. The phylactery of the arm was to contain a single slip, with the same four passages written in four columns of seven lines each. The black leather straps by which they were fastened were wound seven times round the arm and three times round the hand. They were reverenced by the rabbis as highly as the scriptures, and, like them, might be rescued from the flames on a sabbath. They profanely imagined that God wore the tephillin "(Vincent). It is small wonder that Jesus ridiculed such minute concern for pretentious externalism and literalism. These tephillin "are still worn at the present day on the forehead and left arm by Jews at the daily Morning Prayer"(McNeile). "The size of the phylacteries indexed the measure of zeal, and the wearing of large ones was apt to take the place of obedience"(Bruce). Hence they made them "broad."The superstitious would wear them as mere charms to ward off evil.

Robertson: Mat 23:5 - Enlarge the borders Enlarge the borders ( megalunousin ta kraspeda ). In Mat 9:20 we see that Jesus, like the Jews generally, wore a tassel or tuft, hem or border, a fri...

Enlarge the borders ( megalunousin ta kraspeda ).

In Mat 9:20 we see that Jesus, like the Jews generally, wore a tassel or tuft, hem or border, a fringe on the outer garment according to Num 15:38. Here again the Jewish rabbi had minute rules about the number of the fringes and the knots (see note on Num 9:20). They made a virtue of the size of the fringes also. "Such things were useful as reminders; they were fatal when they were regarded as charms"(Plummer).

Robertson: Mat 23:6 - The chief place at feasts The chief place at feasts ( tēn prōtoklisian en tois deipnois ). Literally, the first reclining place on the divan at the meal. The Persians, Gre...

The chief place at feasts ( tēn prōtoklisian en tois deipnois ).

Literally, the first reclining place on the divan at the meal. The Persians, Greeks, Romans, Jews differed in their customs, but all cared for the post of honour at formal functions as is true of us today. Hostesses often solve the point by putting the name of each guest at the table. At the last passover meal the apostles had an ugly snarl over this very point of precedence (Luk 22:24; Joh 13:2-11), just two days after this exposure of the Pharisees in the presence of the apostles.

Robertson: Mat 23:6 - The chief seats in the synagogues The chief seats in the synagogues ( tas prōtokathedrias en tais sunagōgais ). "An insatiable hunger for prominence"(Bruce). These chief seats (Zu...

The chief seats in the synagogues ( tas prōtokathedrias en tais sunagōgais ).

"An insatiable hunger for prominence"(Bruce). These chief seats (Zuchermandel) were on the platform looking to the audience and with the back to the chest in which were kept the rolls of scripture. The Essenes had a different arrangement. People today pay high prices for front seats at the theatre, but at church prefer the rear seats out of a curious mock-humility. In the time of Jesus the hypocrites boldly sat up in front. Now, if they come to church at all, they take the rear seats.

Robertson: Mat 23:7 - Salutations Salutations ( aspasmous ). The ordinary courtiers were coveted because in public. They had an itch for notice. There are occasionally today ministers...

Salutations ( aspasmous ).

The ordinary courtiers were coveted because in public. They had an itch for notice. There are occasionally today ministers who resent it if they are not called upon to take part in the services at church. They feel that their ministerial dignity has not been recognized.

Robertson: Mat 23:8 - But be not ye called Rabbi But be not ye called Rabbi ( humeis de mē klēthēte Rabbei ). An apparent aside to the disciples. Note the emphatic position of hūmeis . Some ...

But be not ye called Rabbi ( humeis de mē klēthēte Rabbei ).

An apparent aside to the disciples. Note the emphatic position of hūmeis . Some even regard Mat 23:8-10 as a later addition and not part of this address to the Pharisees, but the apostles were present. Euthymius Zigabenus says: "Do not seek to be called (ingressive aorist subjunctive), if others call you this it will not be your fault."This is not far from the Master’ s meaning. Rabbi means "my great one,""my Master,"apparently a comparatively new title in Christ’ s time.

Robertson: Mat 23:9 - Call no man your father Call no man your father ( patera mē kalesēte hūmōn ). Jesus meant the full sense of this noble word for our heavenly Father. "Abba was not co...

Call no man your father ( patera mē kalesēte hūmōn ).

Jesus meant the full sense of this noble word for our heavenly Father. "Abba was not commonly a mode of address to a living person, but a title of honour for Rabbis and great men of the past"(McNeile). In Gethsemane Jesus said: "Abba, Father"(Mar 14:36). Certainly the ascription of "Father"to pope and priest seems out of harmony with what Jesus here says. He should not be understood to be condemning the title to one’ s real earthly father. Jesus often leaves the exceptions to be supplied.

Robertson: Mat 23:10 - Masters Masters ( kathēgētai ). This word occurs here only in the N.T. It is found in the papyri for teacher (Latin, doctor ). It is the modern Greek w...

Masters ( kathēgētai ).

This word occurs here only in the N.T. It is found in the papyri for teacher (Latin, doctor ). It is the modern Greek word for professor. "While didaskalos represents Rab , kathēgētes stands for the more honourable Rabban , ̇bōn "(McNeile). Dalman ( Words of Jesus , p. 340) suggests that the same Aramaic word may be translated by either didaskalos or kathēgētes .

Robertson: Mat 23:10 - The Christ The Christ ( ho Christos ). The use of these words here by Jesus like "Jesus Christ"in his Prayer (Joh 17:3) is held by some to show that they were a...

The Christ ( ho Christos ).

The use of these words here by Jesus like "Jesus Christ"in his Prayer (Joh 17:3) is held by some to show that they were added by the evangelist to what Jesus actually said, since the Master would not have so described himself. But he commended Peter for calling him "the Christ the Son of the living God"(Mat 16:16.). We must not empty the consciousness of Jesus too much.

Robertson: Mat 23:12 - Exalt himself Exalt himself ( hupsōsei heauton ). Somewhat like Mat 18:4; Mat 20:26. Given by Luke in other contexts (Luk 14:11; Luk 18:14). Characteristic of Ch...

Exalt himself ( hupsōsei heauton ).

Somewhat like Mat 18:4; Mat 20:26. Given by Luke in other contexts (Luk 14:11; Luk 18:14). Characteristic of Christ.

Robertson: Mat 23:13 - Hypocrites Hypocrites ( hupokritai ). This terrible word of Jesus appears first from him in the Sermon on the Mount (Mat 6:2, Mat 6:5,Mat 6:16; Mat 7:5), then i...

Hypocrites ( hupokritai ).

This terrible word of Jesus appears first from him in the Sermon on the Mount (Mat 6:2, Mat 6:5,Mat 6:16; Mat 7:5), then in Mat 15:7 and Mat 22:18. Here it appears "with terrific iteration"(Bruce) save in the third of the seven woes (Mat 23:13, Mat 23:15, Mat 23:23, Mat 23:25, Mat 23:27, Mat 23:29). The verb in the active (hupokrinō ) meant to separate slowly or slightly subject to gradual inquiry. Then the middle was to make answer, to take up a part on the stage, to act a part. It was an easy step to mean to feign, to pretend, to wear a masque, to act the hypocrite, to play a part. This hardest word from the lips of Jesus falls on those who were the religious leaders of the Jews (Scribes and Pharisees), who had justified this thunderbolt of wrath by their conduct toward Jesus and their treatment of things high and holy. The Textus Receptus has eight woes, adding Mat 22:14 which the Revised Version places in the margin (called Mat 22:13 by Westcott and Hort and rejected on the authority of Aleph B D as a manifest gloss from Mar 12:40 and Luk 20:47). The MSS. that insert it put it either before Mat 23:13 or after Mat 23:13. Plummer cites these seven woes as another example of Matthew’ s fondness for the number seven, more fancy than fact for Matthew’ s Gospel is not the Apocalypse of John. These are all illustrations of Pharisaic saying and not doing (Allen).

Robertson: Mat 23:13 - Ye shut the kingdom of heaven Ye shut the kingdom of heaven ( kleiete tēn basileian tōn ouranōn ). In Luk 11:52 the lawyers are accused of keeping the door to the house of k...

Ye shut the kingdom of heaven ( kleiete tēn basileian tōn ouranōn ).

In Luk 11:52 the lawyers are accused of keeping the door to the house of knowledge locked and with flinging away the keys so as to keep themselves and the people in ignorance. These custodians of the kingdom by their teaching obscured the way to life. It is a tragedy to think how preachers and teachers of the kingdom of God may block the door for those who try to enter in (tous eiserchomenous , conative present middle participle).

Robertson: Mat 23:13 - Against Against ( emprosthen ). Literally, before. These door-keepers of the kingdom slam it shut in men’ s faces and they themselves are on the outside...

Against ( emprosthen ).

Literally, before. These door-keepers of the kingdom slam it shut in men’ s faces and they themselves are on the outside where they will remain. They hide the key to keep others from going in.

Robertson: Mat 23:15 - Twofold more a son of hell than yourselves Twofold more a son of hell than yourselves ( huion geennēs diploteron hūmōn ). It is a convert to Pharisaism rather than Judaism that is meant ...

Twofold more a son of hell than yourselves ( huion geennēs diploteron hūmōn ).

It is a convert to Pharisaism rather than Judaism that is meant by "one proselyte"(hena prosēluton ), from proserchomai , newcomers, aliens. There were two kinds of proselytes: of the gate (not actual Jews, but God-fearers and well-wishers of Judaism, like Cornelius), of righteousness who received circumcision and became actual Jews. But a very small per cent of the latter became Pharisees. There was a Hellenistic Jewish literature (Philo, Sibylline Oracles, etc.) designed to attract Gentiles to Judaism. But the Pharisaic missionary zeal (compass, periagēte , go around) was a comparative failure. And success was even worse, Jesus says with pitiless plainness. The "son of Gehenna"means one fitted for and so destined for Gehenna. "The more converted the more perverted"(H.J. Holtzmann). The Pharisees claimed to be in a special sense sons of the kingdom (Mat 8:12). They were more partisan than pious. Diplous (twofold, double) is common in the papyri. The comparative here used, as if from diplos , appears also in Appian. Note the ablative of comparison hūmōn . It was a withering thrust.

Robertson: Mat 23:16 - Ye blind guides Ye blind guides ( hodēgoi tuphloi ). Note omission of "Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites"with this third woe. In Mat 15:14 Jesus had already called...

Ye blind guides ( hodēgoi tuphloi ).

Note omission of "Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites"with this third woe. In Mat 15:14 Jesus had already called the Pharisees "blind guides"(leaders). They split hairs about oaths, as Jesus had explained in Mat 5:33-37, between the temple and the gold of the temple.

Robertson: Mat 23:16 - He is a debtor He is a debtor ( opheilei ). He owes his oath, is bound by his oath. A.V., is guilty , is old English, obsolete sense of guilt as fine or payment.

He is a debtor ( opheilei ).

He owes his oath, is bound by his oath. A.V., is guilty , is old English, obsolete sense of guilt as fine or payment.

Robertson: Mat 23:17 - Ye fools Ye fools ( mōroi ). In Mat 5:22 Jesus had warned against calling a man mōros in a rage, but here he so terms the blind Pharisees for their stup...

Ye fools ( mōroi ).

In Mat 5:22 Jesus had warned against calling a man mōros in a rage, but here he so terms the blind Pharisees for their stupidity, description of the class. "It shows that not the word but the spirit in which it is uttered is what matters"(McNeile).

Robertson: Mat 23:23 - Ye tithe Ye tithe ( apodekatoute ). The tithe had to be paid upon "all the increase of thy seed"(Deu 14:22; Lev 27:30). The English word tithe is tenth. These...

Ye tithe ( apodekatoute ).

The tithe had to be paid upon "all the increase of thy seed"(Deu 14:22; Lev 27:30). The English word tithe is tenth. These small aromatic herbs, mint (to hēduosmon , sweet-smelling), anise or dill (anēthon ), cummin (kuminon , with aromatic seeds), show the Pharisaic scrupulous conscientiousness, all marketable commodities. "The Talmud tells of the ass of a certain Rabbi which had been so well trained as to refuse corn of which the tithes had not been taken"(Vincent).

Robertson: Mat 23:23 - These ye ought These ye ought ( tauta edei ). Jesus does not condemn tithing. What he does condemn is doing it to the neglect of the weightier matters (ta baruter...

These ye ought ( tauta edei ).

Jesus does not condemn tithing. What he does condemn is doing it to the neglect of the weightier matters (ta barutera ). The Pharisees were externalists; cf. Luk 11:39-44.

Robertson: Mat 23:24 - Strain out the gnat Strain out the gnat ( diulizontes ton kōnōpa ). By filtering through (dia ), not the "straining at"in swallowing so crudely suggested by the mis...

Strain out the gnat ( diulizontes ton kōnōpa ).

By filtering through (dia ), not the "straining at"in swallowing so crudely suggested by the misprint in the A.V.

Robertson: Mat 23:24 - Swallow the camel Swallow the camel ( tēn de kamēlon katapinontes ). Gulping or drinking down the camel. An oriental hyperbole like that in Mat 19:24. See also Mat...

Swallow the camel ( tēn de kamēlon katapinontes ).

Gulping or drinking down the camel. An oriental hyperbole like that in Mat 19:24. See also Mat 5:29, Mat 5:30; Mat 17:20; Mat 21:21. Both insects and camels were ceremonially unclean (Lev 11:4, Lev 11:20, Lev 11:23, Lev 11:42). "He that kills a flea on the Sabbath is as guilty as if he killed a camel"(Jer. Shabb. 107).

Robertson: Mat 23:25 - From extortion and excess From extortion and excess ( ex harpagēs kai akrasias ). A much more serious accusation. These punctilious observers of the external ceremonies did ...

From extortion and excess ( ex harpagēs kai akrasias ).

A much more serious accusation. These punctilious observers of the external ceremonies did not hesitate at robbery (harpages ) and graft (akrasias ), lack of control. A modern picture of wickedness in high places both civil and ecclesiastical where the moral elements in life are ruthlessly trodden under foot. Of course, the idea is for both the outside ektos and the inside (entos ) of the cup and the platter (fine side dish). But the inside is the more important. Note the change to singular in Mat 23:26 as if Jesus in a friendlier tone pleads with a Pharisee to mend his ways.

Robertson: Mat 23:27 - Whited sepulchre Whited sepulchre ( taphois kekoniamenois ). The perfect passive participle is from koniaō and that from konia , dust or lime. Whitened with powde...

Whited sepulchre ( taphois kekoniamenois ).

The perfect passive participle is from koniaō and that from konia , dust or lime. Whitened with powdered lime dust, the sepulchres of the poor in the fields or the roadside. Not the rock-hewn tombs of the well-to-do. These were whitewashed a month before the passover that travellers might see them and so avoid being defiled by touching them (Num 19:16). In Act 23:3 Paul called the high priest a whited wall. When Jesus spoke the sepulchres had been freshly whitewashed. We today speak of whitewashing moral evil.

Robertson: Mat 23:29 - The tombs of the prophets The tombs of the prophets ( tous taphous tōn prophētōn ). Cf. Luk 11:48-52. They were bearing witness against themselves (heautois , Mat 23:31)...

The tombs of the prophets ( tous taphous tōn prophētōn ).

Cf. Luk 11:48-52. They were bearing witness against themselves (heautois , Mat 23:31) to "the murder-taint in your blood"(Allen). "These men who professed to be so distressed at the murdering of the Prophets, were themselves compassing the death of Him who was far greater than any Prophet"(Plummer). There are four monuments called Tombs of the Prophets (Zechariah, Absalom, Jehoshaphat, St. James) at the base of the Mount of Olives. Some of these may have been going up at the very time that Jesus spoke. In this seventh and last woe Jesus addresses the Jewish nation and not merely the Pharisees.

Robertson: Mat 23:32 - Fill ye up Fill ye up ( plērōsate ). The keenest irony in this command has been softened in some MSS. to the future indicative (plērōsete ). "Fill up t...

Fill ye up ( plērōsate ).

The keenest irony in this command has been softened in some MSS. to the future indicative (plērōsete ). "Fill up the measure of your fathers; crown their misdeeds by killing the prophet God has sent to you. Do at last what has long been in your hearts. The hour is come"(Bruce).

Robertson: Mat 23:33 - Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers ( opheis gennēmata echidnōn ). These blistering words come as a climax and remind one of the Baptist (Mat 3:1...

Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers ( opheis gennēmata echidnōn ).

These blistering words come as a climax and remind one of the Baptist (Mat 3:17) and of the time when the Pharisees accused Jesus of being in league with Beelzebub (Mat 12:24). They cut to the bone like whip-cords.

Robertson: Mat 23:33 - How shall ye escape How shall ye escape ( pōs phugēte ). Deliberate subjunctive. There is a curse in the Talmud somewhat like this: "Woe to the house of Annas! Woe t...

How shall ye escape ( pōs phugēte ).

Deliberate subjunctive. There is a curse in the Talmud somewhat like this: "Woe to the house of Annas! Woe to their serpent-like hissings."

Robertson: Mat 23:35 - Zachariah son of Barachiah Zachariah son of Barachiah ( Zachariou huiou Barachiou ). Broadus gives well the various alternatives in understanding and explaining the presence of...

Zachariah son of Barachiah ( Zachariou huiou Barachiou ).

Broadus gives well the various alternatives in understanding and explaining the presence of "son of Barachiah"here which is not in Luk 11:51. The usual explanation is that the reference is to Zachariah the son of Jehoiada the priest who was slain in the court of the temple (2Ch 24:20.). How the words, "son of Barachiah,"got into Matthew we do not know. A half-dozen possibilities can be suggested. In the case of Abel a reckoning for the shedding of his blood was foretold (Gen 4:10) and the same thing was true of the slaying of Zachariah (2Ch 24:22).

Robertson: Mat 23:37 - How often would I have gathered How often would I have gathered ( posakis ēthelēsa episunagein ). More exactly, how often did I long to gather to myself (double compound infinit...

How often would I have gathered ( posakis ēthelēsa episunagein ).

More exactly, how often did I long to gather to myself (double compound infinitive). The same verb (episunagei ) is used of the hen with the compound preposition hupokatō . Everyone has seen the hen quickly get together the chicks under her wings in the time of danger. These words naturally suggest previous visits to Jerusalem made plain by John’ s Gospel.

Vincent: Mat 23:2 - seat Moses' seat ( καθέδρας ) Or chair, as Wyc., in allusion to the practice of teachers sitting.

Moses' seat ( καθέδρας )

Or chair, as Wyc., in allusion to the practice of teachers sitting.

Vincent: Mat 23:5 - To be seen To be seen ( πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι ) See Mat 6:1, where the same word occurs. The scribes and Pharisees deport themselves with a v...

To be seen ( πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι )

See Mat 6:1, where the same word occurs. The scribes and Pharisees deport themselves with a view to being contemplated as actors in a theatre; so that men may fix their gaze upon them admiringly.

Vincent: Mat 23:5 - Phylacteries - Borders of their garments Phylacteries - Borders of their garments ( φυλακτήρια - κράσπεδα ) Phylacteries, called by the Rabbis tephillin , prayer-...

Phylacteries - Borders of their garments ( φυλακτήρια - κράσπεδα )

Phylacteries, called by the Rabbis tephillin , prayer-fillets, were worn on the left arm, toward the heart, and on the forehead. They were capsules containing on parchment these four passages of Scripture: Exo 13:1-10; Exo 13:11-16; Deu 6:4-9; Deu 11:13-21. That for the head was to consist of a box with four compartments, each containing a slip of parchment inscribed with one of the four passages. Each of these slips was to be tied up with well-washed hair from a calf's tail; lest, if tied with wool or thread, any fungoid growth should ever pollute them. The phylactery of the arm was to contain a single slip, with the same four passages written in four columns of seven lines each. The black leather straps by which they were fastened were wound seven times round the arm and three times round the hand. They were reverenced by the Rabbis as highly as the scriptures, and, like them, might be rescued from the flames on a Sabbath. They profanely imagined that God wore the tephillin .

The Greek word transcribed phylacteries in our versions is from φυλάσσω , to watch or guard. It means originally a guarded post, a fort; then, generally, a safeguard or preservative, and therefore an amulet. Sir J. Cheke renders guards. They were treated as such by the Rabbis. It is said, for instance, that the courtiers of a certain king, intending to kill a Rabbi, were deterred by seeing that the straps of his phylacteries shone like bands of fire. It was also said that they prevented all hostile demons from injuring any Israelite. See on Mat 9:20, for borders.

Vincent: Mat 23:6 - The uppermost rooms The uppermost rooms ( πρωτοκλισίαν ) Rev., more correctly, the chief place, the foremost couch or uppermost place on the divan.

The uppermost rooms ( πρωτοκλισίαν )

Rev., more correctly, the chief place, the foremost couch or uppermost place on the divan.

Vincent: Mat 23:7 - Rabbi Rabbi My master In addressing Jesus, διδάσκαλος ( teacher ) answers to Rabbi. Compare Joh 1:39; Luk 2:46.

Rabbi

My master In addressing Jesus, διδάσκαλος ( teacher ) answers to Rabbi. Compare Joh 1:39; Luk 2:46.

Vincent: Mat 23:9 - Father Father ( πατέρα ) Aimed at those who combed the title Abba, or Father. Compare the title Papa - Pope.

Father ( πατέρα )

Aimed at those who combed the title Abba, or Father. Compare the title Papa - Pope.

Vincent: Mat 23:10 - Masters Masters ( καθηγηταί ) Lit., leaders.

Masters ( καθηγηταί )

Lit., leaders.

Vincent: Mat 23:13 - Hypocrites Hypocrites ( ὑποκριταί ) From ὑποκρίνω , to separate gradually; so of separating the truth from a mass of falsehood...

Hypocrites ( ὑποκριταί )

From ὑποκρίνω , to separate gradually; so of separating the truth from a mass of falsehood, and thence to subject to inquiry, and, as a result of this, to ex pound or interpret what is elicited. Then, to reply to inquiry, and so to answer on the stage, to speak in dialogue, to act . From this the transition is easy to assuming, feigning, playing a part . The hypocrite is, therefore, etymologically, an actor.

Vincent: Mat 23:13 - Against Against ( ἔμπροσθεν ) Very graphic. The preposition means before, or in the face of. They shut the door in men's faces.

Against ( ἔμπροσθεν )

Very graphic. The preposition means before, or in the face of. They shut the door in men's faces.

Vincent: Mat 23:18 - He is guilty He is guilty ( ὀφείλει ) In the rendering of this word the A. V. seems to have been shaped by the earlier and now obsolete sense of g...

He is guilty ( ὀφείλει )

In the rendering of this word the A. V. seems to have been shaped by the earlier and now obsolete sense of guilt, which was probably a fine or payment . Compare Anglo-Saxon gyld, a recompense, and German geld, money. There is a hint of this sense in Shakspeare, Henry IV. (Second Part), Act iv., Sc. 4:

" England shall double gild his treble guilt, "

where the play upon the words hovers between the sense of bedeck and recompense. Wyc. renders oweth, and Tynd., he is debtor. Rev., he is a debtor.

Vincent: Mat 23:23 - Ye Tithe Ye Tithe ( ἀποδεκατοῦτε ) ἀπί , from, δεκατόω , to take a tenth. Tithe is tenth; also in older English, t...

Ye Tithe ( ἀποδεκατοῦτε )

ἀπί , from, δεκατόω , to take a tenth. Tithe is tenth; also in older English, tethe, as tethe hest, the tenth commandment. A tething was a district containing ten families.

Vincent: Mat 23:23 - Mint Mint ( ἡδύοσμον ) ἡδύς , sweet, ὀσμή , smell. A favorite plant in the East, with which the floors of dwellings and ...

Mint ( ἡδύοσμον )

ἡδύς , sweet, ὀσμή , smell. A favorite plant in the East, with which the floors of dwellings and synagogues were sometimes strewn.

Vincent: Mat 23:23 - Anise - Cummin Anise - Cummin ( ἄνηθον - κήμινον ) Rev. renders anise, dill in margin. Used as condiments. The tithe of these plants woul...

Anise - Cummin ( ἄνηθον - κήμινον )

Rev. renders anise, dill in margin. Used as condiments. The tithe of these plants would be very small; but to exact it would indicate scrupulous conscientiousness. The Talmud tells of the ass of a certain Rabbi which had been so well trained as to refuse corn of which the tithes had not been taken.

Vincent: Mat 23:23 - Faith Faith ( πίστιν ) Rather faithfulness, as in Rom 3:3, Rev. Gal 5:22, Rev.

Faith ( πίστιν )

Rather faithfulness, as in Rom 3:3, Rev. Gal 5:22, Rev.

Vincent: Mat 23:24 - Strain at Strain at ( διυλίξοντες ) διά , thoroughly or through, and ὑλίζω , to filter or strain. Strain at is an old mi...

Strain at ( διυλίξοντες )

διά , thoroughly or through, and ὑλίζω , to filter or strain. Strain at is an old misprint perpetuated. Hence the Rev. correctly, as Tynd., strain out. Insects were ceremonially unclean (Lev 11:20, Lev 11:23, Lev 11:41, Lev 11:42), so that the Jews strained their wine in order not to swallow any unclean animal. Moreover, there were certain insects which bred in wine. Aristotle uses the word gnat (κώνωπα ) of a worm or larva found in the sediment of sour wine. " In a ride from Tangier to Tetuan I observed that a Moorish soldier who accompanied me, when he drank, always unfolded the end of his turban and placed it over the mouth of his bota, drinking through the muslin to strain out the gnats, whose larvae swarm in the water of that country" (cited by Trench, " On the Authorized Version" ).

Vincent: Mat 23:24 - Swallow Swallow ( καταπίνοντες ) The rendering is feeble. It is drink down (κατά ); gulp. Note that the camel was also unclean (L...

Swallow ( καταπίνοντες )

The rendering is feeble. It is drink down (κατά ); gulp. Note that the camel was also unclean (Lev 11:4).

Vincent: Mat 23:25 - Platter Platter ( παροψίδος ) παρά , beside, ὄψον , meat. A side-dish, with the accompanying sense of something dainty; late...

Platter ( παροψίδος )

παρά , beside, ὄψον , meat. A side-dish, with the accompanying sense of something dainty; later, as here, the dish itself as distinguished from its contents.

Vincent: Mat 23:25 - Excess Excess ( ἀκρασίας ) ἀ , not, κράτος , power. Hence conduct which shows a want of power over one's self' incontinence ...

Excess ( ἀκρασίας )

ἀ , not, κράτος , power. Hence conduct which shows a want of power over one's self' incontinence or intemperance.

Vincent: Mat 23:27 - Whited sepulchres Whited sepulchres ( τάφοις κεκονιαμένοις ) Not the rock-tombs, belonging mostly to the rich, but the graves covered with p...

Whited sepulchres ( τάφοις κεκονιαμένοις )

Not the rock-tombs, belonging mostly to the rich, but the graves covered with plastered structures. In general, cemeteries were outside of cities; but any dead body found in the field was to be buried on the spot where it had been discovered. A pilgrim to the Passover, for instance, might easily come upon such a grave in his journey, and contract uncleanness by the contact (Num 19:16). It was therefore ordered that all sepulchres should be whitewashed a month before Passover, in order to make them conspicuous, so that travellers might avoid ceremonial defilement. The fact that this general whitewashing was going on at the time when Jesus administered this rebuke to the Pharisees gave point to the comparison. The word νιαμένοις ( whitened, from κόνις , dust ) carries the idea of whitening with a powder, as powdered lime.

Vincent: Mat 23:29 - Tombs of the prophets Tombs of the prophets By this name are called four monuments at the base of the Mount of Olives, in the valley of Jehoshaphat; called at present ...

Tombs of the prophets

By this name are called four monuments at the base of the Mount of Olives, in the valley of Jehoshaphat; called at present the tombs of Zechariah, Absalom, Jehoshaphat, and St. James. Two of them are monoliths cut out of the solid rock; the others are merely excavations, with ornamental portals. " They appear," says Dr. Thomson, " to be quite extensive, consisting of winding or semicircular galleries, passing under the mountain more than a hundred feet from east to west, and terminating in a rotunda about eighty feet from the entrance. There is no authority for the name which they commonly bear." Possibly they were in sight of our Lord when he spoke, and were pointed to by him. The reference would be all the more telling, if, as has been conjectured, the Pharisees were engaged in constructing the tombs of Zechariah and Absalom at the time that the Lord addressed them, and that the chambered sepulchres of James and Jehoshaphat, lying between those two, were the sepulchres which they were garnishing at their entrances.

Vincent: Mat 23:35 - Temple Temple ( ναοῦ ) Rev., rightly, sanctuary. See on Mat 4:5. Zechariah was slain between the temple proper and the altar of burnt-offering, ...

Temple ( ναοῦ )

Rev., rightly, sanctuary. See on Mat 4:5. Zechariah was slain between the temple proper and the altar of burnt-offering, in the priests' court.

Vincent: Mat 23:37 - Hen Hen ( ὄρνις ) Generic: bird or fowl; but hen is used generically of the mother-bird of all species.

Hen ( ὄρνις )

Generic: bird or fowl; but hen is used generically of the mother-bird of all species.

Wesley: Mat 23:1 - Then Leaving all converse with his adversaries, whom he now left to the hardness of their hearts.

Leaving all converse with his adversaries, whom he now left to the hardness of their hearts.

Wesley: Mat 23:2 - The scribes sit in the chair of Moses That is, read and expound the law of Moses, and are their appointed teachers.

That is, read and expound the law of Moses, and are their appointed teachers.

Wesley: Mat 23:3 - All things therefore Which they read out of the law, and enforce therefrom.

Which they read out of the law, and enforce therefrom.

Wesley: Mat 23:4 - -- Luk 11:46.

Wesley: Mat 23:5 - Their phylacteries The Jews, understanding those words literally, It shall he as a token upon thy hand, and as frontlets between thine eyes, Exo 13:16. And thou shalt bi...

The Jews, understanding those words literally, It shall he as a token upon thy hand, and as frontlets between thine eyes, Exo 13:16. And thou shalt bind these words for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes, Deu 6:8; used to wear little scrolls of paper or parchment, bound on their wrist and foreheads, on which several texts of Scripture were writ. These they supposed, as a kind of charm, would preserve them from danger. And hence they seem to have been called phylacteries, or preservatives.

Wesley: Mat 23:5 - The fringes of their garments Which God had enjoined them to wear, to remind them of doing all the commandments, Num 15:38. These, as well as their phylacteries, the Pharisees affe...

Which God had enjoined them to wear, to remind them of doing all the commandments, Num 15:38. These, as well as their phylacteries, the Pharisees affected to wear broader and larger than other men. Mar 12:38.

Wesley: Mat 23:8-10 - -- The Jewish rabbis were also called father and master, by their several disciples, whom they required, To believe implicitly what they affirmed, withou...

The Jewish rabbis were also called father and master, by their several disciples, whom they required, To believe implicitly what they affirmed, without asking any farther reason; To obey implicitly what they enjoined, without seeking farther authority. Our Lord, therefore, by forbidding us either to give or receive the title of rabbi, master, or father, forbids us either to receive any such reverence, or to pay any such to any but God.

Wesley: Mat 23:11 - -- Mat 20:26.

Wesley: Mat 23:12 - Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled, and he that shall humble himself shall he exalted It is observable that no one sentence of our Lord's is so often repeated as this: it occurs, with scarce any variation, at least ten times in the evan...

It is observable that no one sentence of our Lord's is so often repeated as this: it occurs, with scarce any variation, at least ten times in the evangelists. Luk 14:11; Luk 18:14.

Wesley: Mat 23:13 - Wo to you Our Lord pronounced eight blessings upon the mount: he pronounces eight woes here; not as imprecations, but solemn, compassionate declarations of the ...

Our Lord pronounced eight blessings upon the mount: he pronounces eight woes here; not as imprecations, but solemn, compassionate declarations of the misery, which these stubborn sinners were bringing upon themselves.

Wesley: Mat 23:13 - Ye go not in For ye are not poor in spirit; and ye hinder those that would be so.

For ye are not poor in spirit; and ye hinder those that would be so.

Wesley: Mat 23:14 - -- Mar 12:40; Luk 20:47.

Wesley: Mat 23:16 - Wo to you, ye blind guides Before he had styled them hypocrites, from their personal character: now he gives them another title, respecting their influence upon others. Both the...

Before he had styled them hypocrites, from their personal character: now he gives them another title, respecting their influence upon others. Both these appellations are severely put together in Mat 23:23 and Mat 23:25; and this severity rises to the height in Mat 23:33.

Wesley: Mat 23:16 - The gold of the temple The treasure kept there.

The treasure kept there.

Wesley: Mat 23:16 - He is bound To keep his oath.

To keep his oath.

Wesley: Mat 23:20 - He that sweareth by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon Not only by the gift, but by the holy fire, and the sacrifice; and above all, by that God to whom they belong; inasmuch as every oath by a creature is...

Not only by the gift, but by the holy fire, and the sacrifice; and above all, by that God to whom they belong; inasmuch as every oath by a creature is an implicit appeal to God.

Wesley: Mat 23:23 - Judgment That is, justice: Faith - The word here means fidelity.

That is, justice: Faith - The word here means fidelity.

Wesley: Mat 23:24 - Ye blind guides, who teach others to do as you do yourselves, to strain out a gnat From the liquor they are going to drink! and swallow a camel - It is strange, that glaring false print, strain at a gnat, which quite alters the sense...

From the liquor they are going to drink! and swallow a camel - It is strange, that glaring false print, strain at a gnat, which quite alters the sense, should run through all the editions of our English Bibles.

Wesley: Mat 23:25 - Full of rapine and intemperance The censure is double (taking intemperance in the vulgar sense.) These miserable men procured unjustly what they used intemperately. No wonder tables ...

The censure is double (taking intemperance in the vulgar sense.) These miserable men procured unjustly what they used intemperately. No wonder tables so furnished prove a snare, as many find by sad experience. Thus luxury punishes fraud while it feeds disease with the fruits of injustice. But intemperance in the full sense takes in not only all kinds of outward intemperance, particularly in eating and drinking, but all intemperate or immoderate desires, whether of honour, gain, or sensual pleasure.

Wesley: Mat 23:26 - Ye build the tombs of the prophets And that is all, for ye neither observe their sayings, nor imitate their actions.

And that is all, for ye neither observe their sayings, nor imitate their actions.

Wesley: Mat 23:30 - We would not have been partakers So ye make fair professions, as did your fathers.

So ye make fair professions, as did your fathers.

Wesley: Mat 23:31 - Wherefore ye testify against yourselves By your smooth words as well as devilish actions: that ye are the genuine sons of them who killed the prophets of their own times, while they professe...

By your smooth words as well as devilish actions: that ye are the genuine sons of them who killed the prophets of their own times, while they professed the utmost veneration for those of past ages.

From Mat. 23:3-30 is exposed every thing that commonly passes in the world for religion, whereby the pretenders to it keep both themselves and others from entering into the kingdom of God; from attaining, or even seeking after those tempers, in which alone true Christianity consists. As, Punctuality in attending on public and private prayer, Mat 23:4-14. Zeal to make proselytes to our opinion or communion, though they have less of the spirit of religion than before, Mat 23:15. A superstitious reverence for consecrated places or things, without any for Him to whom they are consecrated, Mat 23:16-22. A scrupulous exactness in little observances, though with the neglect of justice, mercy, and faith, Mat 23:23-24. A nice cautiousness to cleanse the outward behaviour, but without any regard to inward purity, Mat 23:25-26. A specious face of virtue and piety, covering the deepest hypocrisy and villany, Mat 23:27-28 A professed veneration for all good men, except those among whom they live.

Wesley: Mat 23:32 - Fill ye up A word of permission, not of command: as if he had said, I contend with you no longer: I leave you to yourselves: you have conquered: now ye may follo...

A word of permission, not of command: as if he had said, I contend with you no longer: I leave you to yourselves: you have conquered: now ye may follow the devices of your own hearts.

Wesley: Mat 23:32 - The measure of your fathers Wickedness: ye may now be as wicked as they.

Wickedness: ye may now be as wicked as they.

Wesley: Mat 23:33 - Ye serpents Our Lord having now lost all hope of reclaiming these, speaks so as to affright others from the like sins.

Our Lord having now lost all hope of reclaiming these, speaks so as to affright others from the like sins.

Wesley: Mat 23:34 - Wherefore That it may appear you are the true children of those murderers, and have a right to have their iniquities visited on you: Behold, I send - Is not thi...

That it may appear you are the true children of those murderers, and have a right to have their iniquities visited on you: Behold, I send - Is not this speaking as one having authority? Prophets - Men with supernatural credentials: Wise men - Such as have both natural abilities and experience; and scribes - Men of learning: but all will not avail. Luk 11:49.

Wesley: Mat 23:35 - That upon you may come The consequence of which will be, that upon you will come the vengeance of all the righteous blood shed on the earth - Zechariah the son of Barachiah ...

The consequence of which will be, that upon you will come the vengeance of all the righteous blood shed on the earth - Zechariah the son of Barachiah - Termed Jehoiada, 2Ch 24:20, where the story is related: Ye slew - Ye make that murder also of your fathers your own, by imitating it: Between the temple - That is, the inner temple, and the altar - Which stood in the outer court. Our Lord seems to refer to this instance, rather than any other, because he was the last of the prophets on record that were slain by the Jews for reproving their wickedness: and because God's requiring this blood as well as that of Abel, is particularly taken notice of in Scripture.

Wesley: Mat 23:37 - -- Luk 13:34.

Wesley: Mat 23:38 - Behold your house The temple, which is now your house, not God's: Is left unto you - Our Lord spake this as he was going out of it for the last time: Desolate - Forsake...

The temple, which is now your house, not God's: Is left unto you - Our Lord spake this as he was going out of it for the last time: Desolate - Forsaken of God and his Christ, and sentenced to utter destruction.

Wesley: Mat 23:39 - Ye Jews in general; men of Jerusalem in particular: shall not see me from this time - Which includes the short space till his death, till, after a long i...

Jews in general; men of Jerusalem in particular: shall not see me from this time - Which includes the short space till his death, till, after a long interval of desolation and misery, ye say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord - Ye receive me with joyful and thankful hearts. This also shall be accomplished in its season.

JFB: Mat 23:1 - Then spake Jesus to the multitude To the multitudes, "and to his disciples."

To the multitudes, "and to his disciples."

JFB: Mat 23:2 - Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit The Jewish teachers stood to read, but sat to expound the Scriptures, as will be seen by comparing Luk 4:16 with Mat 23:20.

The Jewish teachers stood to read, but sat to expound the Scriptures, as will be seen by comparing Luk 4:16 with Mat 23:20.

JFB: Mat 23:2 - in Moses' seat That is, as interpreters of the law given by Moses.

That is, as interpreters of the law given by Moses.

JFB: Mat 23:3 - All therefore That is, all which, as sitting in that seat and teaching out of that law.

That is, all which, as sitting in that seat and teaching out of that law.

JFB: Mat 23:3 - they bid you observe, that observe and do The word "therefore" is thus, it will be seen, of great importance, as limiting those injunctions which He would have them obey to what they fetched f...

The word "therefore" is thus, it will be seen, of great importance, as limiting those injunctions which He would have them obey to what they fetched from the law itself. In requiring implicit obedience to such injunctions, He would have them to recognize the authority with which they taught over and above the obligations of the law itself--an important principle truly; but He who denounced the traditions of such teachers (Mat 15:3) cannot have meant here to throw His shield over these. It is remarked by WEBSTER and WILKINSON that the warning to beware of the scribes is given by Mark and Luke (Mar 12:38; Luk 20:46) without any qualification: the charge to respect and obey them being reported by Matthew alone, indicating for whom this Gospel was especially written, and the writer's desire to conciliate the Jews.

JFB: Mat 23:4 - For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them "touch them not" (Luk 11:46).

"touch them not" (Luk 11:46).

JFB: Mat 23:4 - with one of their fingers Referring not so much to the irksomeness of the legal rites, though they were irksome enough (Act 15:10), as to the heartless rigor with which they we...

Referring not so much to the irksomeness of the legal rites, though they were irksome enough (Act 15:10), as to the heartless rigor with which they were enforced, and by men of shameless inconsistency.

JFB: Mat 23:5 - But all their works they do for to be seen of men Whatever good they do, or zeal they show, has but one motive--human applause.

Whatever good they do, or zeal they show, has but one motive--human applause.

JFB: Mat 23:5 - they make broad their phylacteries Strips of parchment with Scripture--texts on them, worn on the forehead, arm, and side, in time of prayer.

Strips of parchment with Scripture--texts on them, worn on the forehead, arm, and side, in time of prayer.

JFB: Mat 23:5 - and enlarge the borders of their garments Fringes of their upper garments (Num 15:37-40).

Fringes of their upper garments (Num 15:37-40).

JFB: Mat 23:6 - And love the uppermost rooms at feasts The word "room" is now obsolete in the sense here intended. It should be "the uppermost place," that is, the place of highest honor. and the chief s...

The word "room" is now obsolete in the sense here intended. It should be "the uppermost place," that is, the place of highest honor.

and the chief seats in the synagogues. See on Luk 14:7-8.

JFB: Mat 23:7 - And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi It is the spirit rather than the letter of this that must be pressed; though the violation of the letter, springing from spiritual pride, has done inc...

It is the spirit rather than the letter of this that must be pressed; though the violation of the letter, springing from spiritual pride, has done incalculable evil in the Church of Christ. The reiteration of the word "Rabbi" shows how it tickled the ear and fed the spiritual pride of those ecclesiastics.

JFB: Mat 23:8 - But be not ye called Rabbi; for one is your Master Your Guide, your Teacher.

Your Guide, your Teacher.

JFB: Mat 23:9 - And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven, &c. To construe these injunctions into a condemnation of every title by which Church rulers may be distinguished from the flock which they rule, is virtua...

To construe these injunctions into a condemnation of every title by which Church rulers may be distinguished from the flock which they rule, is virtually to condemn that rule itself; and accordingly the same persons do both--but against the whole strain of the New Testament and sound Christian judgment. But when we have guarded ourselves against these extremes, let us see to it that we retain the full spirit of this warning against that itch for ecclesiastical superiority which has been the bane and the scandal of Christ's ministers in every age. (On the use of the word "Christ" here, see on Mat 1:1).

JFB: Mat 23:11 - But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant This plainly means, "shall show that he is so by becoming your servant"; as in Mat 20:27, compared with Mar 10:44.

This plainly means, "shall show that he is so by becoming your servant"; as in Mat 20:27, compared with Mar 10:44.

JFB: Mat 23:12 - And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased See on Luk 18:14. What follows was addressed more immediately to the scribes and Pharisees.

See on Luk 18:14. What follows was addressed more immediately to the scribes and Pharisees.

JFB: Mat 23:13 - But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men Here they are charged with shutting heaven against men: in Luk 11:52 they are charged with what was worse, taking away the key--"the key of knowledge"...

Here they are charged with shutting heaven against men: in Luk 11:52 they are charged with what was worse, taking away the key--"the key of knowledge"--which means, not the key to open knowledge, but knowledge as the only key to open heaven. A right knowledge of God's revealed word is eternal life, as our Lord says (Joh 17:3; Joh 5:39); but this they took away from the people, substituting for it their wretched traditions.

JFB: Mat 23:14 - Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, &c. Taking advantage of the helpless condition and confiding character of "widows," they contrived to obtain possession of their property, while by their ...

Taking advantage of the helpless condition and confiding character of "widows," they contrived to obtain possession of their property, while by their "long prayers" they made them believe they were raised far above "filthy lucre." So much "the greater damnation" awaits them. What a lifelike description of the Romish clergy, the true successors of those scribes!

JFB: Mat 23:15 - Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte From heathenism. We have evidence of this in JOSEPHUS.

From heathenism. We have evidence of this in JOSEPHUS.

JFB: Mat 23:15 - and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves Condemned, for the hypocrisy he would learn to practice, both by the religion he left and that he embraced.

Condemned, for the hypocrisy he would learn to practice, both by the religion he left and that he embraced.

JFB: Mat 23:16 - Woe unto you, ye blind guides Striking expression this of the ruinous effects of erroneous teaching. Our Lord, here and in some following verses, condemns the subtle distinctions t...

Striking expression this of the ruinous effects of erroneous teaching. Our Lord, here and in some following verses, condemns the subtle distinctions they made as to the sanctity of oaths--distinctions invented only to promote their own avaricious purposes.

JFB: Mat 23:16 - which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing He has incurred no debt.

He has incurred no debt.

JFB: Mat 23:16 - but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple Meaning not the gold that adorned the temple itself, but the Corban, set apart for sacred uses (see on Mat 15:5).

Meaning not the gold that adorned the temple itself, but the Corban, set apart for sacred uses (see on Mat 15:5).

JFB: Mat 23:16 - he is a debtor! That is, it is no longer his own, even though the necessities of the parent might require it. We know who the successors of these men are.

That is, it is no longer his own, even though the necessities of the parent might require it. We know who the successors of these men are.

JFB: Mat 23:16 - but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty It should have been rendered, "he is a debtor," as in Mat 23:16.

It should have been rendered, "he is a debtor," as in Mat 23:16.

JFB: Mat 23:19 - Ye fools, and blind! for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? (See Exo 29:37).

(See Exo 29:37).

JFB: Mat 23:20-22 - Whose therefore shall swear by the altar, &c. See on Mat 5:33-37.

See on Mat 5:33-37.

JFB: Mat 23:23 - Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise Rather, "dill," as in Margin.

Rather, "dill," as in Margin.

JFB: Mat 23:23 - and cummin In Luke (Luk 11:42) it is "and rue, and all manner of herbs." They grounded this practice on Lev 27:30, which they interpreted rigidly. Our Lord purpo...

In Luke (Luk 11:42) it is "and rue, and all manner of herbs." They grounded this practice on Lev 27:30, which they interpreted rigidly. Our Lord purposely names the most trifling products of the earth as examples of what they punctiliously exacted the tenth of.

JFB: Mat 23:23 - and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith In Luke (Luk 11:42) it is "judgment, mercy, and the love of God"--the expression being probably varied by our Lord Himself on the two different occasi...

In Luke (Luk 11:42) it is "judgment, mercy, and the love of God"--the expression being probably varied by our Lord Himself on the two different occasions. In both His reference is to Mic 6:6-8, where the prophet makes all acceptable religion to consist of three elements--"doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God"; which third element presupposes and comprehends both the "faith" of Matthew and the "love" of Luke. See on Mar 12:29; Mar 12:32-33. The same tendency to merge greater duties in less besets even the children of God; but it is the characteristic of hypocrites.

JFB: Mat 23:23 - these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone There is no need for one set of duties to jostle out another; but it is to be carefully noted that of the greater duties our Lord says, "Ye ought to h...

There is no need for one set of duties to jostle out another; but it is to be carefully noted that of the greater duties our Lord says, "Ye ought to have done" them, while of the lesser He merely says, "Ye ought not to leave them undone."

JFB: Mat 23:24 - Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat The proper rendering--as in the older English translations, and perhaps our own as it came from the translators' hands--evidently is, "strain out." It...

The proper rendering--as in the older English translations, and perhaps our own as it came from the translators' hands--evidently is, "strain out." It was the custom, says TRENCH, of the stricter Jews to strain their wine, vinegar, and other potables through linen or gauze, lest unawares they should drink down some little unclean insect therein and thus transgress (Lev 11:20, Lev 11:23, Lev 11:41-42) --just as the Buddhists do now in Ceylon and Hindustan--and to this custom of theirs our Lord here refers.

JFB: Mat 23:24 - and swallow a camel The largest animal the Jews knew, as the "gnat" was the smallest; both were by the law unclean.

The largest animal the Jews knew, as the "gnat" was the smallest; both were by the law unclean.

JFB: Mat 23:25 - within they are full of extortion In Luke (Luk 11:39) the same word is rendered "ravening," that is, "rapacity."

In Luke (Luk 11:39) the same word is rendered "ravening," that is, "rapacity."

JFB: Mat 23:26 - Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also In Luke (Luk 11:40) it is, "Ye fools, did not He that made that which is without make that which is within also?"--"He to whom belongs the outer life,...

In Luke (Luk 11:40) it is, "Ye fools, did not He that made that which is without make that which is within also?"--"He to whom belongs the outer life, and of right demands its subjection to Himself, is the inner man less His?" A remarkable example this of our Lord's power of drawing the most striking illustrations of great truths from the most familiar objects and incidents in life. To these words, recorded by Luke, He adds the following, involving a principle of immense value: "But rather give alms of such things as ye have, and behold, all things are clean unto you" (Luk 11:41). As the greed of these hypocrites was one of the most prominent features of their character (Luk 16:14), our Lord bids them exemplify the opposite character, and then their outside, ruled by this, would be beautiful in the eye of God, and their meals would be eaten with clean hands, though much fouled with the business of this everyday world. (See Ecc 9:7).

JFB: Mat 23:27 - Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like whited sepulchres Or, whitewashed sepulchres. (Compare Act 23:3). The process of whitewashing the sepulchres, as LIGHTFOOT says, was performed on a certain day every ye...

Or, whitewashed sepulchres. (Compare Act 23:3). The process of whitewashing the sepulchres, as LIGHTFOOT says, was performed on a certain day every year, not for ceremonial cleansing, but., as the following words seem rather to imply, to beautify them.

JFB: Mat 23:27 - which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness What a powerful way of conveying the charge, that with all their fair show their hearts were full of corruption! (Compare Psa 5:9; Rom 3:13). But our ...

What a powerful way of conveying the charge, that with all their fair show their hearts were full of corruption! (Compare Psa 5:9; Rom 3:13). But our Lord, stripping off the figure, next holds up their iniquity in naked colors.

JFB: Mat 23:27 - Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets That is "ye be witnesses that ye have inherited, and voluntarily served yourselves heirs to, the truth-hating, prophet-killing, spirit of your fathers...

That is "ye be witnesses that ye have inherited, and voluntarily served yourselves heirs to, the truth-hating, prophet-killing, spirit of your fathers." Out of pretended respect and honor, they repaired and beautified the sepulchres of the prophets, and with whining hypocrisy said, "If we had been in their days, how differently should we have treated these prophets?" While all the time they were witnesses to themselves that they were the children of them that killed the prophets, convicting themselves daily of as exact a resemblance in spirit and character to the very classes over whose deeds they pretended to mourn, as child to parent. In Luk 11:44 our Lord gives another turn to this figure of a grave: "Ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them." As one might unconsciously walk over a grave concealed from view, and thus contract ceremonial defilement, so the plausible exterior of the Pharisees kept people from perceiving the pollution they contracted frown coming in contact with such corrupt characters.

JFB: Mat 23:33 - Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? In thus, at the end of His ministry, recalling the words of the Baptist at the outset of his, our Lord would seem to intimate that the only difference...

In thus, at the end of His ministry, recalling the words of the Baptist at the outset of his, our Lord would seem to intimate that the only difference between their condemnation now and then was, that now they were ripe for their doom, which they were not then.

JFB: Mat 23:34 - Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes The I here is emphatic: "I am sending," that is, "am about to send." In Luk 11:49 the variation is remarkable: "Therefore also, said the wisdom of God...

The I here is emphatic: "I am sending," that is, "am about to send." In Luk 11:49 the variation is remarkable: "Therefore also, said the wisdom of God, I will send them," &c. What precisely is meant by "the wisdom of God" here, is somewhat difficult to determine. To us it appears to be simply an announcement of a purpose of the Divine Wisdom, in the high style of ancient prophecy, to send a last set of messengers whom the people would reject, and rejecting, would fill up the cup of their iniquity. But, whereas in Luke it is "I, the Wisdom of God, will send them," in Matthew it is "I, Jesus, am sending them"; language only befitting the one sender of all the prophets, the Lord God of Israel now in the flesh. They are evidently evangelical messengers, but called by the familiar Jewish names of "prophets, wise men, and scribes," whose counterparts were the inspired and gifted servants of the Lord Jesus; for in Luke (Luk 11:49) it is "prophets and apostles."

JFB: Mat 23:34 - unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar As there is no record of any fresh murder answering to this description, probably the allusion is not to any recent murder, but to 2Ch 24:20-22, as th...

As there is no record of any fresh murder answering to this description, probably the allusion is not to any recent murder, but to 2Ch 24:20-22, as the last recorded and most suitable case for illustration. And as Zacharias' last words were, "The Lord require it," so they are here warned that of that generation it should be required.

JFB: Mat 23:36 - Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation As it was only in the last generation of them that "the iniquity of the Amorites was full" (Gen 15:16), and then the abominations of ages were at once...

As it was only in the last generation of them that "the iniquity of the Amorites was full" (Gen 15:16), and then the abominations of ages were at once completely and awfully avenged, so the iniquity of Israel was allowed to accumulate from age to age till in that generation it came to the full, and the whole collected vengeance of heaven broke at once over its devoted head. In the first French Revolution the same awful principle was exemplified, and Christendom has not done with it yet.

Lamentation over Jerusalem and Farewell to the Temple (Mat 23:37-39).

JFB: Mat 23:37 - O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, &c. How ineffably grand and melting is this apostrophe! It is the very heart of God pouring itself forth through human flesh and speech. It is this incarn...

How ineffably grand and melting is this apostrophe! It is the very heart of God pouring itself forth through human flesh and speech. It is this incarnation of the innermost life and love of Deity, pleading with men, bleeding for them, and ascending only to open His arms to them and win them back by the power of this story of matchless love, that has conquered the world, that will yet "draw all men unto Him," and beautify and ennoble Humanity itself! "Jerusalem" here does not mean the mere city or its inhabitants; nor is it to be viewed merely as the metropolis of the nation, but as the center of their religious life--"the city of their solemnities, whither the tribes went up, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord"; and at this moment it was full of them. It is the whole family of God, then, which is here apostrophized by a name dear to every Jew, recalling to him all that was distinctive and precious in his religion. The intense feeling that sought vent in this utterance comes out first in the redoubling of the opening word--"Jerusalem, Jerusalem!" but, next, in the picture of it which He draws--"that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee!"--not content with spurning God's messages of mercy, that canst not suffer even the messengers to live! When He adds, "How often would I have gathered thee!" He refers surely to something beyond the six or seven times that He visited and taught in Jerusalem while on earth. No doubt it points to "the prophets," whom they "killed," to "them that were sent unto her," whom they "stoned." But whom would He have gathered so often? "Thee," truth-hating, mercy-spurning, prophet-killing Jerusalem--how often would I have gathered thee! Compare with this that affecting clause in the great ministerial commission, "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem!" (Luk 24:47). What encouragement to the heartbroken at their own long-continued and obstinate rebellion! But we have not yet got at the whole heart of this outburst. I would have gathered thee, He says, "even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings." Was ever imagery so homely invested with such grace and such sublimity as this, at our Lord's touch? And yet how exquisite the figure itself--of protection, rest, warmth, and all manner of conscious well-being in those poor, defenseless, dependent little creatures, as they creep under and feel themselves overshadowed by the capacious and kindly wing of the mother bird! If, wandering beyond hearing of her peculiar call, they are overtaken by a storm or attacked by an enemy, what can they do but in the one case droop and die, and in the other submit to be torn in pieces? But if they can reach in time their place of safety, under the mother's wing, in vain will any enemy try to drag them thence. For rising into strength, kindling into fury, and forgetting herself entirely in her young, she will let the last drop of her blood be shed out and perish in defense of her precious charge, rather than yield them to an enemy's talons. How significant all this of what Jesus is and does for men! Under His great Mediatorial wing would He have "gathered" Israel. For the figure, see Deu 32:10-12; Rth 2:12; Psa 17:8; Psa 36:7; Psa 61:4; Psa 63:7; Psa 91:4; Isa 31:5; Mal 4:2. The ancient rabbins had a beautiful expression for proselytes from the heathen--that they had "come under the wings of the Shekinah." For this last word, see on Mat 23:38. But what was the result of all this tender and mighty love? The answer is, "And ye would not." O mysterious word! mysterious the resistance of such patient Love-mysterious the liberty of self-undoing! The awful dignity of the will, as here expressed, might make the ears to tingle.

JFB: Mat 23:38 - Behold, your house The temple, beyond all doubt; but their house now, not the Lord's. See on Mat 22:7.

The temple, beyond all doubt; but their house now, not the Lord's. See on Mat 22:7.

JFB: Mat 23:38 - is left unto you desolate Deserted, that is, of its Divine Inhabitant. But who is that? Hear the next words:

Deserted, that is, of its Divine Inhabitant. But who is that? Hear the next words:

JFB: Mat 23:39 - For I say unto you And these were His last words to the impenitent nation, see on Mar 13:1, opening remarks.

And these were His last words to the impenitent nation, see on Mar 13:1, opening remarks.

JFB: Mat 23:39 - Ye shall not see me henceforth What? Does Jesus mean that He was Himself the Lord of the temple, and that it became "deserted" when HE finally left it? It is even so. Now is thy fat...

What? Does Jesus mean that He was Himself the Lord of the temple, and that it became "deserted" when HE finally left it? It is even so. Now is thy fate sealed, O Jerusalem, for the glory is departed from thee! That glory, once visible in the holy of holies, over the mercy seat, when on the day of atonement the blood of typical expiation was sprinkled on it and in front of it--called by the Jews the Shekinah, or the Dwelling, as being the visible pavilion of Jehovah--that glory, which Isaiah (Isa 6:1-13) saw in vision, the beloved disciple says was the glory of Christ (Joh 12:41). Though it was never visible in the second temple, Haggai foretold that "the glory of that latter house should be greater than of the former" (Hag 2:9) because "the Lord whom they sought was suddenly to come to His temple" (Mal 3:1), not in a mere bright cloud, but enshrined in living humanity! Yet brief as well as "sudden" was the manifestation to be: for the words He was now uttering were to be HIS VERY LAST within its precincts.

JFB: Mat 23:39 - till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord That is, till those "Hosannas to the Son of David" with which the multitude had welcomed Him into the city--instead of "sore displeasing the chief pri...

That is, till those "Hosannas to the Son of David" with which the multitude had welcomed Him into the city--instead of "sore displeasing the chief priests and scribes" (Mat 21:15) --should break forth from the whole nation, as their glad acclaim to their once pierced, but now acknowledged, Messiah. That such a time will come is clear from Zec 12:10; Rom 11:26; 2Co 3:15-16, &c. In what sense they shall then "see Him" may be gathered from Zec 2:10-13; Eze 37:23-28; Eze 39:28-29, &c.

Clarke: Mat 23:2 - The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat - Εκαθισαν . - They sat there formerly by Divine appointment: they sit there now by ...

The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat - Εκαθισαν . - They sat there formerly by Divine appointment: they sit there now by Divine permission. What our Lord says here refers to their expounding the Scriptures, for it was the custom of the Jewish doctors to sit while they expounded the law and prophets, (Mat 5:1; Luk 4:20-22), and to stand up when they read them

By the seat of Moses, we are to understand authority to teach the law. Moses was the great teacher of the Jewish people; and the scribes, etc., are here represented as his successors.

Clarke: Mat 23:3 - All therefore whatsoever All therefore whatsoever - That is, all those things which they read out of the law and prophets, and all things which they teach consistently with ...

All therefore whatsoever - That is, all those things which they read out of the law and prophets, and all things which they teach consistently with them. This must be our Lord’ s meaning: he could not have desired them to do every thing, without restriction, which the Jewish doctors taught; because himself warns his disciples against their false teaching, and testifies that they had made the word of God of none effect by their traditions. See Mat 15:6, etc. Besides, as our Lord speaks here in the past tense - whatsoever they Have commanded, ὁσα ειπωσιν, he may refer to the teaching of a former period, when they taught the way of God in truth, or were much less corrupted than they were now.

Clarke: Mat 23:4 - They bind heavy burdens They bind heavy burdens - They are now so corrupt that they have added to the ceremonies of the law others of their own invention, which are not onl...

They bind heavy burdens - They are now so corrupt that they have added to the ceremonies of the law others of their own invention, which are not only burdensome and oppressive, but have neither reason, expediency, nor revelation, to countenance them. In a word, like all their successors in spirit to the present day, they were severe to others, but very indulgent to themselves.

Clarke: Mat 23:5 - All their works they do for to be seen of men All their works they do for to be seen of men - In pointing out the corruptions of these men, our Lord gives us the distinguishing characteristics o...

All their works they do for to be seen of men - In pointing out the corruptions of these men, our Lord gives us the distinguishing characteristics of all false teachers, whether Jewish or Christian

1.    They live not according to the truths they preach. They say, and do not, Mat 23:3

2.    They are severe to others, point out the narrowest road to heaven, and walk in the broad road themselves. They bind on burdens, etc., Mat 23:4

3.    They affect to appear righteous, and are strict observers of certain rites, etc., while destitute of the power of godliness. They make broad their phylacteries, etc., Mat 23:5

4.    They love worldly entertainments, go to feast wherever they are asked, and seek Church preferments. They love the chief places at feasts, and chief seats in the synagogues, Mat 23:6

5.    They love and seek public respect and high titles, salutations in the market-place, (for they are seldom in their studies), and to be called of men rabbi - eminent teacher, though they have no title to it, either from the excellence or fruit of their teaching. When these marks are found in a man who professes to be a minister of Christ, charity itself will assert he is a thief and a robber - he has climbed over the wall of the sheepfold, or broken it down in order to get in

Clarke: Mat 23:5 - Phylacteries Phylacteries - φυλακτηρια, from φυλασσω, to keep or preserve. These were small slips of parchment or vellum, on which certain por...

Phylacteries - φυλακτηρια, from φυλασσω, to keep or preserve. These were small slips of parchment or vellum, on which certain portions of the law were written. The Jews tied these about their foreheads and arms, for three different purposes

1.    To put them in mind of those precepts which they should constantly observe

2.    To procure them reverence and respect in the sight of the heathen. An

3.    To act as amulets or charms to drive away evil spirits

The first use of these phylacteries is evident from their name

The second use appears from what is said on the subject from the Gemara, Beracoth, chap. 1., quoted by Kypke. "Whence is it proved that phylacteries, ( תפילין, tephilin ), are the strength of Israel? - Ans. From what is written, Deu 28:10. All the, people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name [of יהוה Jehovah ] - and they shall be afraid of thee

The third use of them appears from the Targum, on Son 8:3 : His left hand is under my head, etc. "The congregation of Israel hath said, I am elect above all people, because I bind my phylacteries on my left hand, and on my head, and the scroll is fixed to the right side of my gate, the third part of which looks to my bed-chamber, that Daemons may not be permitted to Injure me.

An original phylactery lies now before me. It is a piece of fine vellum, about eighteen inches long, and an inch and quarter broad. It is divided into four unequal compartments: in the first is written, in a very fair character, with many apices, after the mode of the German Jews, the first ten verses of Exod. 13; in the second compartment is written, from the eleventh to the sixteenth verse of the same chapter, inclusive in the third, from the fourth to the ninth verse, inclusive, of Deut. 6., beginning with, Hear, O Israel, etc.; in the fourth, from the thirteenth to the twenty-first verse, inclusive, of Deut. 11

These passages seem to be chosen in vindication of the use of the phylactery itself, as the reader will see on consulting them: Bind them for a Sign upon thy Hand - and for Frontlets between thy Eyes - write them upon the Posts of thy House, and upon thy Gates; all which commands the Jews took in the most literal sense

Even the phylactery became an important appendage to a Pharisee’ s character, insomuch that some of them wore them very broad, either that they might have the more written on them, or that, the characters being larger, they might be the more visible, and that they might hereby acquire greater esteem among the common people, as being more than ordinarily religious. For the same reason, they wore the fringes of their garments of an unusual length. Moses had commanded (Num 15:38, Num 15:39) the children of Israel to put fringes to the borders of their garments, that, when they looked upon even these distinct threads, they might remember, not only the law in general, but also the very minutiae, or smaller parts of all the precepts, rites, and ceremonies, belonging to it. As these hypocrites were destitute of all the life and power of religion within, they endeavored to supply its place by phylacteries and fringes without. See the note on Exo 13:9.

Clarke: Mat 23:7 - To be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi To be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi - רבי רבי, i.e. My teacher! my teacher! The second rabbi is omitted by several excellent MSS., by most of t...

To be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi - רבי רבי, i.e. My teacher! my teacher! The second rabbi is omitted by several excellent MSS., by most of the ancient versions, and by some of the fathers. Griesbach has left it in the text, with the note of doubtfulness

There are three words used among the Jews as titles of dignity, which they apply to their doctors - Rabh, Rabbi, and Rabban; each of these terms has its particular meaning: rabban implies much more than rabbi, and rabbi much more than rabh

They may be considered as three degrees of comparison: rabh great, rabbi greater, and rabban greatest. These rabbins were looked up to as infallible oracles in religious matters, and usurped not only the place of the law, but of God himself.

Clarke: Mat 23:8 - But be not ye called Rabbi But be not ye called Rabbi - As our Lord probably spoke in Hebrew, the latter word rabbi, in this verse, must have been in the plural; but as the co...

But be not ye called Rabbi - As our Lord probably spoke in Hebrew, the latter word rabbi, in this verse, must have been in the plural; but as the contracted form of the plural sounds almost exactly like the singular, the Greek writer would naturally express them both in the same letters

None of the prophets had ever received this title, nor any of the Jewish doctors before the time of Hillel and Shammai, which was about the time of our Lord; and, as disputes on several subjects had run high between these two schools, the people were of course divided; some acknowledging Hillel as rabbi, - infallible teacher, and others giving this title to Shammai. The Pharisees, who always sought the honor that comes from men, assumed the title, and got their followers to address them by it. See on Mat 19:3 (note)

Clarke: Mat 23:8 - One is your Master One is your Master - Instead of καθηγητης, guide or leader, (the common reading here, and which occurs in Mat 23:10), the famous Vatican M...

One is your Master - Instead of καθηγητης, guide or leader, (the common reading here, and which occurs in Mat 23:10), the famous Vatican MS., upwards of fifty others, and most of the ancient versions, read διδασκαλος, master. The most eminent critics approve of this reading and, independently of the very respectable authority by which it is supported, it is evident that this reading is more consistent with the context than the other, - Be not ye called Masters, for one is your Master

Clarke: Mat 23:8 - Even Christ Even Christ - Griesbach has left this out of the text, because it is wanting in many of the most excellent MSS., versions, and fathers. Mill and Ben...

Even Christ - Griesbach has left this out of the text, because it is wanting in many of the most excellent MSS., versions, and fathers. Mill and Bengel approve of the omission. It might have been brought into this verse from Mat 23:10. Our Lord probably alludes to Isa 54:13, All thy children shall be taught of the Lord

Clarke: Mat 23:8 - Ye are brethren Ye are brethren - No one among you is higher than another, or can possibly have from me any jurisdiction over the rest. Ye are, in this respect, per...

Ye are brethren - No one among you is higher than another, or can possibly have from me any jurisdiction over the rest. Ye are, in this respect, perfectly equal.

Clarke: Mat 23:9 - Call no man your Father Call no man your Father - Our Lord probably alludes to the Ab , or father of the Sanhedrin, who was the next after the nasi , or president. See on M...

Call no man your Father - Our Lord probably alludes to the Ab , or father of the Sanhedrin, who was the next after the nasi , or president. See on Mat 20:21 (note). By which he gives his disciples to understand that he would have no Second, after himself, established in his Church, of which he alone was the head; and that perfect equality must subsist among them.

Clarke: Mat 23:10 - Neither be ye called masters Neither be ye called masters - Καθηγηται, leaders. God is in all these respects jealous of his honor. To him alone it belongs to guide and...

Neither be ye called masters - Καθηγηται, leaders. God is in all these respects jealous of his honor. To him alone it belongs to guide and lead his Church, as well as to govern and defend it. Jesus is the sole teacher of righteousness. It is he alone, (who is the word, light, and eternal truth), that can illuminate every created mind; and who, as Savior and Redeemer, speaks to every heart by his Spirit

Though the title of Rabbi, mentioned above, was comparatively recent in the time of our Lord, yet it was in great vogue, as were the others - father and master, mentioned in this and the following verse: some had all three titles, for thus in Bab. Maccoth, fol. 24. It is feigned,"says Dr. Lightfoot, "that when King Jehosaphat saw a disciple of the wise men, he rose up out of his throne, and embraced him, and said, אבי אבי רבי רבי מרי מרי, Abbi , Abbi ! Rabbi , Rabbi ! Mori , Mori ! - Father, Father! Rabbi, Rabbi! Master, Master!"Here then are the three titles which, in Mat 23:7, Mat 23:8, Mat 23:10, our blessed Lord condemns; and these were titles that the Jewish doctors greatly affected.

Clarke: Mat 23:11 - Your servant Your servant - Διακονος, deacon. See on Mat 20:26 (note).

Your servant - Διακονος, deacon. See on Mat 20:26 (note).

Clarke: Mat 23:12 - Whosoever shall exalt himself, etc. Whosoever shall exalt himself, etc. - The way to arrive at the highest degree of dignity, in the sight of God, is by being willing to become the ser...

Whosoever shall exalt himself, etc. - The way to arrive at the highest degree of dignity, in the sight of God, is by being willing to become the servant of all. Nothing is more hateful in his sight than pride; to bring it into everlasting contempt, God was manifest in the flesh. He who was in the likeness of God took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man, and humbled himself unto death. After this, can God look upon any proud man without abasing him? Spiritual lordship and domination, ecclesiastical luxury, pomp, and pride, must be an abhorrence in the sight of that God who gave the above advices to his followers

Another lesson, which our blessed Lord teaches here, is, that no man is implicitly to receive the sayings, doctrines, and decisions of any man, or number of men, in the things which concern the interests of his immortal soul. Christ, his Spirit, and his word, are the only infallible teachers. Every man who wishes to save his soul must search the Scriptures, by prayer and faith. Reader, take counsel with the pious; hear the discourses of the wise and holy: but let the book of God ultimately fix thy creed.

Clarke: Mat 23:13-14 - Wo unto you, scribes Wo unto you, scribes - I think the fourteenth and thirteenth verses should be transposed. This transposition is authorized by some of the best MSS.,...

Wo unto you, scribes - I think the fourteenth and thirteenth verses should be transposed. This transposition is authorized by some of the best MSS., versions, and fathers. The fourteenth is wanting in the BDL., and in many others of inferior note, as well as in several of the versions. Griesbach has left it out of the text, in his first edition; I hesitated, and left it in, thus transposed. I am happy to find that a more extensive collation of MSS., etc., afforded proof to that eminent critic that it should be restored to its place. In the second edition, he has transposed the two, just as I had done. The fifteenth reads best after the thirteenth.

Clarke: Mat 23:13 - Ye shut up the kingdom Ye shut up the kingdom - As a key by opening a lock gives entrance into a house, etc., so knowledge of the sacred testimonies, manifested in expound...

Ye shut up the kingdom - As a key by opening a lock gives entrance into a house, etc., so knowledge of the sacred testimonies, manifested in expounding them to the people, may be said to open the way into the kingdom of heaven. But where men who are termed teachers are destitute of this knowledge themselves, they may be said to shut this kingdom; because they occupy the place of those who should teach, and thus prevent the people from acquiring heavenly knowledge

In ancient times the rabbins carried a key, which was the symbol or emblem of knowledge. Hence it is written in Semachoth, chap. 8., "When Rab. Samuel the little died, his key and his tablets were hung on his tomb, because he died childless."See Schoettgen

The kingdom of heaven here means the Gospel of Christ; the Pharisees would not receive it themselves, and hindered the common people as far as they could.

Clarke: Mat 23:14 - Ye devour widows’ houses Ye devour widows’ houses - On this subject I am in possession of nothing better than the following note of Dr. Whitby "This sect,"says Josephu...

Ye devour widows’ houses - On this subject I am in possession of nothing better than the following note of Dr. Whitby

"This sect,"says Josephus, (Ant. l. xvii. chap. 3), "pretended to a more exact knowledge of the law, on which account the women were subject to them, as pretending to be dear to God. And when Alexandra obtained the government, (Jewish War, b. I. ch. 4), they insinuated themselves into her favor, as being the exactest sect of the Jews, and the most exact interpreters of the law, and, abusing her simplicity, did as they listed, remove and dispose, bind and loose, and even cut off men. They were in vogue for their long prayers, which they continued sometimes three hours; that perhaps they sold them, as do the Roman priests their masses, or pretended others should be more acceptable to God for them; and so might spoil devout widows by the gifts or salaries they expected from them

Now this being only a hypocritical pretense of piety, must be hateful to God, and so deserve a greater condemnation.

Clarke: Mat 23:14 - Long prayer Long prayer - For proofs of long prayers and vain repetitions among Jews, Mohammedans, and heathens, see the notes on Mat 6:7.

Long prayer - For proofs of long prayers and vain repetitions among Jews, Mohammedans, and heathens, see the notes on Mat 6:7.

Clarke: Mat 23:15 - Compass sea and land Compass sea and land - A proverbial expression, similar to ours, You leave no stone unturned; intimating that they did all in their power to gain co...

Compass sea and land - A proverbial expression, similar to ours, You leave no stone unturned; intimating that they did all in their power to gain converts, not to God, but to their sect. These we may suppose were principally sought for among the Gentiles, for the bulk of the Jewish nation was already on the side of the Pharisees

Clarke: Mat 23:15 - Proselyte Proselyte - Προσηλυτος, a stranger, or foreigner; one who is come from his own people and country, to sojourn with another. See the diffe...

Proselyte - Προσηλυτος, a stranger, or foreigner; one who is come from his own people and country, to sojourn with another. See the different kinds of proselytes explained in the note on Exo 12:43 (note)

Clarke: Mat 23:15 - The child of hell The child of hell - A Hebraism for an excessively wicked person, such as might claim hell for his mother, and the devil for his father

The child of hell - A Hebraism for an excessively wicked person, such as might claim hell for his mother, and the devil for his father

Clarke: Mat 23:15 - Twofold - the child of Twofold - the child of - The Greek word διπλοτερον, which has generally been translated twofold, Kypke has demonstrated to mean more dece...

Twofold - the child of - The Greek word διπλοτερον, which has generally been translated twofold, Kypke has demonstrated to mean more deceitful. Απλοῦς is used by the best Greek writers for simple, sincere, απλότης for simplicity, sincerity; so διπλοῦς, deceitful, dissembling, and διπλόη, hypocrisy, fraudulence, and διπλοτερον, more fraudulent, more deceitful, more hypocritical. See also Suidas in Διπλοη

Dr. Lightfoot, and others, observe, that the proselytes were considered by the Jewish nation as the scabs of the Church, and hindered the coming of the Messiah; and Justin Martyr observes, that "the proselytes did not only disbelieve Christ’ s doctrine, but were abundantly more blasphemous against him than the Jews themselves, endeavoring to torment and cut off the Christians wherever they could; they being in this the instruments of the scribes and Pharisees."

Clarke: Mat 23:16 - Whosoever shall swear by the gold Whosoever shall swear by the gold - The covetous man, says one, still gives preference to the object of his lust; gold has still the first place in ...

Whosoever shall swear by the gold - The covetous man, says one, still gives preference to the object of his lust; gold has still the first place in his heart. A man is to be suspected when he recommends those good works most from which he receives most advantage

Is bound thereby, i.e. to fulfill his oath.

Clarke: Mat 23:20 - Whoso - shall swear by the altar Whoso - shall swear by the altar - As an oath always supposes a person who witnesses it, and will punish perjury; therefore, whether they swore by t...

Whoso - shall swear by the altar - As an oath always supposes a person who witnesses it, and will punish perjury; therefore, whether they swore by the temple or the gold, (Mat 23:16), or by the altar or the gift laid on it, (Mat 23:18), the oath necessarily supposes the God of the temple, of the altar, and of the gifts, who witnessed the whole, and would, even in their exempt cases, punish the perjury.

Clarke: Mat 23:21 - Whoso shall swear by the temple Whoso shall swear by the temple - Perhaps it is to this custom of swearing by the temple, that Martial alludes, lib. xi. epist. 95 Ecce negas, jura...

Whoso shall swear by the temple - Perhaps it is to this custom of swearing by the temple, that Martial alludes, lib. xi. epist. 95

Ecce negas, jurasque mihi per templa Tonantis; Non credo; jura, Verpe, per Anchialum

"Behold, thou deniest, and swearest to me by the temples of Jupiter; I will not credit thee: swear, O Jew, by the temple of Jehovah.

This word probably comes from היכל יה heical Yah , the temple of Jehovah. This seems a better derivation than אם חי אלהים im chai Elohim , as God liveth, though the sound of the latter is nearer to the Latin

Clarke: Mat 23:21 - By him that dwelleth therein By him that dwelleth therein - The common reading is κατοικουντι, dwelleth or Inhabiteth, but κατοικησαντι, dwelt or Did in...

By him that dwelleth therein - The common reading is κατοικουντι, dwelleth or Inhabiteth, but κατοικησαντι, dwelt or Did inhabit, is the reading of CDEFGHKLM, eighty-six others; this reading has been adopted in the editions of Complutum, Colineus, Bengel, and Griesbach. The importance of this reading may be perceived by the following considerations. In the first Jewish temple, God had graciously condescended to manifest himself - he is constantly represented as dwelling between the cherubim, the two figures that stood at each end of the ark of the covenant; between whom, on the mercy seat, the lid of the ark, a splendor of glory was exhibited, which was the symbol and proof of the Divine presence. This the Jews called שכינה Shekinah , the habitation of Jehovah. Now the Jews unanimously acknowledge that five things were wanting in the second temple, which were found in the first, viz.

1.    The ark

2.    The holy spirit of prophecy

3.    The Urim and Thummim

4.    The sacred fire; an

5.    The שכינה Shekinah

As the Lord had long before this time abandoned the Jewish temple, and had now made the human nature of Jesus the Shekinah, (see Joh 1:14, the Logos was made flesh, εσκηνωσεν, and made his tabernacle - made the Shekinah, - among us), our Lord could not, with any propriety, say that the supreme Being did now inhabit the temple; and therefore used a word that hinted to them that God had forsaken their temple, and consequently the whole of that service which was performed in it, and had now opened the new and living way to the holiest by the Messiah. But all this was common swearing; and, whether the subject was true or false, the oath was unlawful. A common swearer is worthy of no credit, when, even in the most solemn manner he takes an oath before a magistrate; he is so accustomed to stake his truth, perhaps even his soul, to things whether true or false, that an oath cannot bind him, and indeed is as little respected by himself as it is by his neighbor. Common swearing, and the shocking frequency and multiplication of oaths in civil cases, have destroyed all respect for an oath; so that men seldom feel themselves bound by it; and thus it is useless in many cases to require it as a confirmation, in order to end strife or ascertain truth. See the note on Mat 5:37.

Clarke: Mat 23:23 - Ye pay tithe of mint, etc. Ye pay tithe of mint, etc. - They were remarkably scrupulous in the performance of all the rites and ceremonies of religion, but totally neglected t...

Ye pay tithe of mint, etc. - They were remarkably scrupulous in the performance of all the rites and ceremonies of religion, but totally neglected the soul, spirit, and practice of godliness

Clarke: Mat 23:23 - Judgment Judgment - Acting according to justice and equity towards all mankind. Mercy - to the distressed and miserable. And faith in God as the fountain of ...

Judgment - Acting according to justice and equity towards all mankind. Mercy - to the distressed and miserable. And faith in God as the fountain of all righteousness, mercy, and truth. The scribes and Pharisees neither began nor ended their works in God, nor had they any respect unto his name in doing them. They did them to be seen of men, and they had their reward - human applause

Clarke: Mat 23:23 - These ought ye to have done, etc. These ought ye to have done, etc. - Our Lord did not object to their paying tithe even of common pot-herbs - this did not affect the spirit of relig...

These ought ye to have done, etc. - Our Lord did not object to their paying tithe even of common pot-herbs - this did not affect the spirit of religion; but while they did this and such like, to the utter neglect of justice, mercy, and faith, they showed that they had no religion, and knew nothing of its nature.

Clarke: Mat 23:24 - Blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. - This clause should be thus translated: Ye strain out the gnat, but ye swallow down the ...

Blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. - This clause should be thus translated: Ye strain out the gnat, but ye swallow down the camel. In the common translation, Ye strain At a gnat, conveys no sense. Indeed, it is likely to have been at first an error of the press, At for Out, which, on examination, I find escaped in the edition of 1611, and has been regularly continued since. There is now before me, "The Newe Testament, (both in Englyshe and in Laten), of Mayster Erasmus translacion, imprynted by Wyllyam Powell, dwellynge in Flete strete: the yere of our Lorde M.CCCCC.XLVII. the fyrste yere of the kynges (Edwd. VI). moste gracious reygne."in which the verse stands thus: "Ye blinde gides, which strayne out a gnat, and swalowe a cammel."It is the same also in Edmund Becke’ s Bible, printed in London 1549, and in several others. - Clensynge a gnatte . - MS. Eng. Bib. So Wickliff. Similar to this is the following Arabic proverb: He eats an elephant and is choked by a gnat.

Clarke: Mat 23:25 - Ye make clean the outside Ye make clean the outside - The Pharisees were exceedingly exact in observing all the washings and purifications prescribed by the law; but paid no ...

Ye make clean the outside - The Pharisees were exceedingly exact in observing all the washings and purifications prescribed by the law; but paid no attention to that inward purity which was typified by them. A man may appear clean without, who is unclean within; but outward purity will not avail in the sight of God, where inward holiness is wanting

Clarke: Mat 23:25 - Extortion and excess Extortion and excess - ‘ Αρπαγης και ακρασιας, rapine and intemperance; but instead of ακρασιας, intemperance, many...

Extortion and excess - Αρπαγης και ακρασιας, rapine and intemperance; but instead of ακρασιας, intemperance, many of the very best MSS., CEFGHKS, and more than a hundred others, the Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, Slavonic, with Chrysostom, Euthym., and Theophylact, have αδικιας injustice, which Griesbach has admitted into the text instead of ακρασιας . The latter Syriac has both. Several MSS. and versions have ακαθαρσιας, uncleanness; others have πλεονεξιας, covetousness; some have πονηριας, wickedness; and two of the ancients have iniquitate , iniquity. Suppose we put them all together, the character of the Pharisee will not be overcharged. They were full of rapine and intemperance, injustice and uncleanness, covetousness, wickedness, and iniquity.

Clarke: Mat 23:27 - For ye are like For ye are like - Παρομοιαζετε, ye exactly resemble - the parallel is complete

For ye are like - Παρομοιαζετε, ye exactly resemble - the parallel is complete

Clarke: Mat 23:27 - Whited sepulchres Whited sepulchres - White-washed tombs. As the law considered those unclean who had touched any thing belonging to the dead, the Jews took care to h...

Whited sepulchres - White-washed tombs. As the law considered those unclean who had touched any thing belonging to the dead, the Jews took care to have their tombs white-washed each year, that, being easily discovered, they might be consequently avoided.

Clarke: Mat 23:28 - Even so ye also - appear righteous unto men Even so ye also - appear righteous unto men - But what will this appearance avail a man, when God sits in judgment upon his soul? Will the fair repu...

Even so ye also - appear righteous unto men - But what will this appearance avail a man, when God sits in judgment upon his soul? Will the fair reputation which he had acquired among men, while his heart was the seat of unrighteousness, screen him from the stroke of that justice which impartially sends all impurity and unholiness into the pit of destruction? No. In the sin that he hath sinned, and in which he hath died, and according to that, shall he be judged and punished; and his profession of holiness only tends to sink him deeper into the lake which burns with unquenchable fire. Reader! see that thy heart be right with God.

Clarke: Mat 23:29 - Ye build the tombs of the prophets Ye build the tombs of the prophets - It appears that, through respect to their memory, they often repaired, and sometimes beautified, the tombs of t...

Ye build the tombs of the prophets - It appears that, through respect to their memory, they often repaired, and sometimes beautified, the tombs of the prophets. M. De la Valle, in his Journey to the Holy Land, says, that when he visited the cave of Machpelah, he saw some Jews honoring a sepulchre, for which they have a great veneration, with lighting at it wax candles and burning perfumes. See Harmer, vol. iii. p. 416. And in ditto, p. 424, we are informed that building tombs over those reputed saints, or beautifying those already built, is a frequent custom among the Mohammedans.

Clarke: Mat 23:30 - We would not have been partakers We would not have been partakers - They imagined themselves much better than their ancestors; but our Lord, who knew what they would do, uncovers th...

We would not have been partakers - They imagined themselves much better than their ancestors; but our Lord, who knew what they would do, uncovers their hearts, and shows them that they are about to be more abundantly vile than all who had ever preceded them.

Clarke: Mat 23:31 - Ye be witnesses Ye be witnesses - Ye acknowledge that ye are the children of those murderers, and ye are about to give full proof that ye are not degenerated There ...

Ye be witnesses - Ye acknowledge that ye are the children of those murderers, and ye are about to give full proof that ye are not degenerated

There are many who think that, had they lived in the time of our Lord, they would not have acted towards him as the Jews did. But we can scarcely believe that they who reject his Gospel, trample under foot his precepts, do despite to the Spirit of his grace, love sin, and hate his followers, would have acted otherwise to him than the murdering Jews, had they lived in the same times.

Clarke: Mat 23:32 - Fill ye up then Fill ye up then - Notwithstanding the profession you make, ye will fill up the measure of your fathers - will continue to walk in their way, accompl...

Fill ye up then - Notwithstanding the profession you make, ye will fill up the measure of your fathers - will continue to walk in their way, accomplish the fullness of every evil purpose by murdering me; and then, when the measure of your iniquity is full, vengeance shall come upon you to the uttermost, as it did on your rebellious ancestors. The 31st verse should be read in a parenthesis, and then the 32d will appear to be, what it is, an inference from the 30th

Ye will fill up, or fill ye up - πληρωσατε· but it is manifest that the imperative is put here for the future, a thing quite consistent with the Hebrew idiom, and frequent in the Scriptures. So Joh 2:19, Destroy this temple, etc., i.e. Ye will destroy or pull down this temple, and I will rebuild it in three days - Ye will crucify me, and I will rise again the third day. Two good MSS. have the word in the future tense: and my old MS. Bible has it in the present - Ge (ye) fulfillen the mesure of youre (your) fadris .

Clarke: Mat 23:33 - Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers - What a terrible stroke! - Ye are serpents, and the offspring of serpents. This refers to Mat 23:31 : they con...

Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers - What a terrible stroke! - Ye are serpents, and the offspring of serpents. This refers to Mat 23:31 : they confessed that they were the children of those who murdered the prophets; and they are now going to murder Christ and his followers, to show that they have not degenerated - an accursed seed, of an accursed breed. My old MS. translates this passage oddly - Gee serpentis, fruytis of burrownyngis of eddris that sleen her modris . There seems to be here an allusion to a common opinion, that the young of the adder or viper which are brought forth alive eat their way through the womb of their mothers. Hence that ancient enigma attributed to Lactantius: -

Non possum nasci, si non occidero matre

Occidi matrem: sed me manet exitus ide

Id mea mors faciet, quod jam mea fecit origo

Cael. Firm. Symposium, N. x

I never can be born, nor see the day

Till through my parent’ s womb I eat my wa

Her I have slain; like her must yield my breath

For that which gave me life, shall cause my deat

Every person must see with what propriety this was applied to the Jews, who were about to murder the very person who gave them their being and all their blessings.

Clarke: Mat 23:34 - Wherefore Wherefore - To show how my prediction, Ye will fill up the measure of your fathers, shall be verified, Behold, I send (I am just going to commission...

Wherefore - To show how my prediction, Ye will fill up the measure of your fathers, shall be verified, Behold, I send (I am just going to commission them) prophets, etc. and some ye will kill, (with legal process), and some ye will crucify, pretend to try and find guilty, and deliver them into the hands of the Romans, who shall, through you, thus put them to death. See on Luk 11:49 (note). By prophets, wise men, and scribes, our Lord intends the evangelists, apostles, deacons, etc., who should be employed in proclaiming his Gospel: men who should equal the ancient prophets, their wise men, and scribes, in all the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit.

Clarke: Mat 23:35 - Upon the earth Upon the earth - Επι της γης, upon this land, meaning probably the land of Judea; for thus the word is often to be understood. The nationa...

Upon the earth - Επι της γης, upon this land, meaning probably the land of Judea; for thus the word is often to be understood. The national punishment of all the innocent blood which had been shed in the land, shall speedily come upon you, from the blood of Abel the just, the first prophet and preacher of righteousness, Heb 11:4; 2Pe 2:5, to the blood of Zachariah, the son of Barachiah. It is likely that our Lord refers to the murder of Zachariah, mentioned 2Ch 24:20, who said to the people, Why transgress ye the commandments of God, so that ye cannot prosper? Because ye have forsaken the Lord, he hath forsaken you. And they conspired against him and stoned him - at the commandment of the king, in the court of the house of the Lord. And when he died, he said, The Lord look upon and require it: 2Ch 24:21, 2Ch 24:22

But it is objected, that this Zachariah was called the son of Jehoiada, and our Lord calls this one the son of Barachiah. Let it be observed

1.    That double names were frequent among the Jews; and sometimes the person was called by one, sometimes by the other. Compare 1Sa 9:1, with 1Ch 8:33, where it appears that the father of Kish had two names, Abiel and Ner. So Matthew is called Levi; compare Mat 9:9, with Mar 2:14. So Peter was also called Simon, and Lebbeus was called Thaddeus. Mat 10:2, Mat 10:3

2.    That Jerome says that, in the Gospel of the Nazarenes, it was Jehoiada, instead of Barachiah

3.    That Jehoiada and Barachiah have the very same meaning, the praise or blessing of Jehovah

4.    That as the Lord required the blood of Zachariah so fully that in a year all the princes of Judah and Jerusalem were destroyed by the Syrians, and Joash, who commanded the murder, slain by his own servants, 2Ch 24:23-25, and their state grew worse and worse, till at last the temple was burned, and the people carried into captivity by Nebuzaradan: - so it should also be with the present race. The Lord would, after the crucifixion of Christ, visit upon them the murder of all those righteous men, that their state should grow worse and worse, till at last the temple should be destroyed, and they finally ruined by the Romans. See this prediction in the next chapter: and see Dr. Whitby concerning Zachariah, the son of Barachiah

Some think that our Lord refers, in the spirit of prophecy, to the murder of Zacharias, son of Baruch, a rich Jew, who was judged, condemned, and massacred in the temple by Idumean zealots, because he was rich, a lover of liberty, and a hater of wickedness. They gave him a mock trial; and, when no evidence could be brought against him of his being guilty of the crime they laid to his charge, viz. a design to betray the city to the Romans, and his judges had pronounced him innocent, two of the stoutest of the zealots fell upon him and slew him in the middle of the temple. See Josephus, War, b. iv. chap. 5. s. 5. See Crevier, vol. vi. p. 172, History of the Roman Emperors. Others imagine that Zachariah, one of the minor prophets, is meant, who might have been massacred by the Jews; for, though the account is not come down to us, our Lord might have it from a well known tradition in those times. But the former opinion is every way the most probable

Clarke: Mat 23:35 - Between the temple and the altar Between the temple and the altar - That is, between the sanctuary and the altar of burnt-offerings.

Between the temple and the altar - That is, between the sanctuary and the altar of burnt-offerings.

Clarke: Mat 23:36 - Shall come upon this generation Shall come upon this generation - Επι την γενεαν ταυτην, upon this race of men, viz. the Jews. This phrase often occurs in this s...

Shall come upon this generation - Επι την γενεαν ταυτην, upon this race of men, viz. the Jews. This phrase often occurs in this sense in the evangelists.

Clarke: Mat 23:37 - O Jerusalem, Jerusalem O Jerusalem, Jerusalem - 1.    It is evident that our blessed Lord seriously and earnestly wished the salvation of the Jews 2. &...

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem -

1.    It is evident that our blessed Lord seriously and earnestly wished the salvation of the Jews

2.    That he did every thing that could be done, consistently with his own perfections, and the liberty of his creatures, to effect this

3.    That his tears over the city, Luk 19:41, sufficiently evince his sincerity

4.    That these persons nevertheless perished. An

5.    That the reason was, they would not be gathered together under his protection: therefore wrath, i.e. punishment, came upon them to the uttermost

From this it is evident that there have been persons whom Christ wished to save, and bled to save, who notwithstanding perished, because they would not come unto him, Joh 5:40. The metaphor which our Lord uses here is a very beautiful one. When the hen sees a beast of prey coming, she makes a noise to assemble her chickens, that she may cover them with her wings from the danger. The Roman eagle is about to fall upon the Jewish state - nothing can prevent this but their conversion to God through Christ-Jesus cries throughout the land, publishing the Gospel of reconciliation - they would not assemble, and the Roman eagle came and destroyed them. The hen’ s affection to her brood is so very strong as to become proverbial. The following beautiful Greek epigram, taken from the Anthologia, affords a very fine illustration of this text

Χειμεριαις νιφαδεσσι παλυνομενα τιθας ορνις

Τεκνοις ευναιας αμφεχεε πτερυγας

Μεσφα μεν ουρανιον κρυος ωλεσεν η γαρ εμεινεν

Αιθερος ουρανιων αντιπαλος νεφεων.

Προκνη και Μεδεια, κατ αΐδος αιδεσθητε

Μητερες, ορνιθων εργα διδασκομεναι

Anthol. lib. i. Titus. 87: edit. Bosch. p. 34

Beneath her fostering wing the Hen defend

Her darling offspring, while the snow descends

Throughout the winter’ s day unmoved defie

The chilling fleeces and inclement skies

Till, vanquish’ d by the cold and piercing blast

True to her charge, she perishes at last

O Fame! to hell this fowl’ s affection bear

Tell it to Progne and Medea there: -

To mothers such as those the tale unfold

And let them blush to hear the story told! -

T. G

This epigram contains a happy illustration, not only of our Lord’ s simile, but also of his own conduct. How long had these thankless and unholy people been the objects of his tenderest cares! For more than 2000 years, they engrossed the most peculiar regards of the most beneficent Providence; and during the three years of our Lord’ s public ministry, his preaching and miracles had but one object and aim, the instruction and salvation of this thoughtless and disobedient people. For their sakes, he who was rich became poor, that they through his poverty might be rich: - for their sakes, he made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross! He died, that They might not perish, but have everlasting life. Thus, to save their life, he freely abandoned his own.

Clarke: Mat 23:38 - Behold, your house Behold, your house - Ο οικος, the temple: - this is certainly what is meant. It was once the Lord’ s temple, God’ s Own house; but ...

Behold, your house - Ο οικος, the temple: - this is certainly what is meant. It was once the Lord’ s temple, God’ s Own house; but now he says, Your temple or house - to intimate that God had abandoned it. See the note on Mat 23:21; see also on Luk 13:35 (note).

Clarke: Mat 23:39 - Ye shall not see me Ye shall not see me - I will remove my Gospel from you, and withdraw my protection

Ye shall not see me - I will remove my Gospel from you, and withdraw my protection

Clarke: Mat 23:39 - Till ye shall say, Blessed Till ye shall say, Blessed - Till after the fullness of the Gentiles is brought in, when the word of life shall again be sent unto you; then will ye...

Till ye shall say, Blessed - Till after the fullness of the Gentiles is brought in, when the word of life shall again be sent unto you; then will ye rejoice, and bless, and praise him that cometh in the name of the Lord, with full and final salvation for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. See Rom 11:26, Rom 11:27

Our Lord plainly foresaw that, in process of time, a spiritual domination would arise in his Church; and, to prevent its evil influence, he leaves the strong warnings against it which are contained in the former part of this chapter. As the religion of Christ is completely spiritual, and the influence by which it is produced and maintained must come from heaven; therefore, there could be no master or head but himself: for as the Church (the assemblage of true believers) is his body, all its intelligence, light, and life, must proceed from him alone. Our forefathers noted this well; and this was one of the grand arguments by which they overturned the papal pretensions to supremacy in this country. In a note on Mat 23:9, in a Bible published by Edmund Becke in 1549, the 2nd of Edward VI., we find the following words: - Call no man your father upon the earth. Here is the Bishoppe of Rome declared a plaine Antichrist, in that he woulde be called the most holye father; and that all Christen men shoulde acknowledge hym for no lesse then their spyritual father, notwithstandinge these playne wordes of Christe . It is true, nothing can be plainer; and yet, in the face of these commands, the pope has claimed the honor; and millions of men have been so stupid as to concede it. May those days of darkness, tyranny, and disgrace, never return

From the 13th to the 39th verse, our Lord pronounces eight woes, or rather pathetic declarations, against the scribes and Pharisees

1.    For their unwillingness to let the common people enjoy the pure word of God, or its right explanation: Ye shut up the kingdom, etc., Mat 23:13

2.    For their rapacity, and pretended sanctity in order to secure their secular ends: Ye devour widows houses, etc., Mat 23:14

3.    For their pretended zeal to spread the kingdom of God by making proselytes, when they had no other end in view than forming instruments for the purposes of their oppression and cruelty: Ye compass sea and land, etc., Mat 23:15

4.    For their bad doctrine and false interpretations of the Scriptures, and their dispensing with the most solemn oaths and vows at pleasure: Ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing, etc., Mat 23:16-22

5.    For their superstition in scrupulously attending to little things, and things not commanded, and omitting matters of great importance, the practice of which God had especially enjoined: Ye pay tithe of mint and cummin, etc., Mat 23:23, Mat 23:24

6.    For their hypocrisy, pretended saintship, and endeavoring to maintain decency in their outward conduct, while they had no other object in view than to deceive the people, and make them acquiesce in their oppressive measures: Ye make clean the outside of the cup, Mat 23:25, Mat 23:26

7.    For the depth of their inward depravity and abomination, having nothing good, fair, or supportable, but the mere outside. - Most hypocrites and wicked men have some good: but these were radically and totally evil: Ye are like unto whited sepulchres - within full - of all uncleanness, Mat 23:27, Mat 23:28

8.    For their pretended concern for the holiness of the people, which proceeded no farther than to keep them free from such pollutions as they might accidentally and innocently contract, by casually stepping on the place where a person had been buried: and for their affected regret that their fathers had killed the prophets, while themselves possessed and cultivated the same murderous inclinations: Ye - garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, If we had been, etc., Mat 23:29, Mat 23:30

It is amazing with what power and authority our blessed Lord reproves this bad people. This was the last discourse they ever heard from him; and it is surprising, considering their wickedness, that they waited even for a mock trial, and did not rise up at once and destroy him. But the time was not yet come in which he was to lay down his life, for no man could take it from him

While he appears in this last discourse with all the authority of a lawgiver and judge, he at the same time shows the tenderness and compassion of a friend and a father: he beholds their awful state - his eye affects his heart, and he weeps over them! Were not the present hardness and final perdition of these ungodly men entirely of themselves? Could Jesus, as the Supreme God, have fixed their reprobation from all eternity by any necessitating decree; and yet weep over the unavoidable consequences of his own sovereign determinations? How absurd as well as shocking is the thought! This is Jewish exclusion: Credat Judaeus Apella-non ego .

Calvin: Mat 23:1 - Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes Mat 23:1.Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes This warning was highly useful, that, amidst contentions and the noise of combats, amidst the trouble and ...

Mat 23:1.Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes This warning was highly useful, that, amidst contentions and the noise of combats, amidst the trouble and confusion of public affairs, amidst the destruction of proper and lawful order, the authority of the word of God might remain entire. The design of Christ was, that the people might not, in consequence of being offended at the vices of the scribes, 88 throw away reverence for the Law. For we know how prone the minds of men are to entertain dislike of the Law; and more especially when the life of their pastors is dissolute, and does not correspond to their words, almost all grow wanton through their example, as if they had received permission to sin with impunity. The same thing happens — and something worse — when contentions arise; for the greater part of men, having thrown off the yoke, give utterance to their wicked desires, and break out into extreme contempt.

At that time the scribes burned with covetousness and swelled with ambition; their extortions were notorious; their cruelty was formidable; and such was their corruption of manners, that one would think they had conspired for the destruction of the Law. Besides, they had perverted by their false opinions the pure and natural meaning of the Law, so that Christ was constrained to enter into a sharp conflict with them; because their amazing rage hurried them on to extinguish the light of truth. So then, because there was danger that many persons, partly on account of such abuses, and partly on account of the din of controversies, would come to despise all religion, Christ seasonably meets them, and declares that it would be unreasonable if, on account of the vices of men, true religion were to perish, or reverence for the Law to be in any degree diminished. As the scribes were obstinate and inveterate enemies, and as they held the Church oppressed through their tyranny, Christ was compelled to expose their wickedness; for if good and simple men had not been withdrawn from bondage to them, the door would have been shut against the Gospel. There was also another reason; for the common people think themselves at liberty to do whatever they see done by their rulers, whose corrupt manners they form into a law.

But that no man might put a different interpretation on what he was about to say, he begins by stating, that whatever sort of men the teachers were it was altogether unreasonable, either that on account of their filth the word of God should receive any stain, or that on account of their wicked examples men should hold themselves at liberty to commit sin. And this wisdom ought to be carefully observed; for many persons, having no other object in view than to bring hatred and detestation on the wicked and ungodly, mix and confound every thing through their inconsiderate zeal. All discipline is despised, and shame is trampled under foot; in short, there remains no respect for what is honorable, and, what is more, many are emboldened by it, and intentionally blazon the sins of priests, that they may have a pretext for sinning with less restraint. But in attacking the scribes, Christ proceeds in such a manner, that he first vindicates the Law of God from contempt. We must attend to this caution also if we desire that our reproofs should be of any service. But, on the other hand, we ought to observe, that no dread of giving offense prevented Christ from exposing ungodly teachers as they deserved; only he preserved such moderation, that the doctrine of God might not come to be despised on account of the wickedness of men.

To inform us that he spoke publicly about their vices, not to raise envy against their persons, but to prevent the contagion from spreading more widely, Mark expressly states that he spoke to them in his doctrine; by which words he means that the hearers were profitably warned to beware of them. Now, though Luke appears to restrict it to the disciples, yet it is probable that the discourse was addressed indiscriminately to the whole multitude; which appears more clearly from Matthew, and, indeed, the subject itself required that Christ should have his eye on all without exception.

Calvin: Mat 23:2 - In the chair of Moses 2.In the chair of Moses Reasons were not wanting for inserting here what Luke relates at a different place. Besides that the doctrine is the same, I ...

2.In the chair of Moses Reasons were not wanting for inserting here what Luke relates at a different place. Besides that the doctrine is the same, I have no doubt that Luke, after having said that the scribes were sharply and severely reproved by our Lord, added also the other reproofs which Matthew delayed till the proper place; for already we have frequently seen that the Evangelists, as occasion required, collected into one place various discourses of Christ. But as the narrative of Matthew is more full, I choose rather to take his words as the subject of exposition.

Our Lord gives a general exhortation to believers to beware of conforming their life to the wicked conduct of the scribes, but, on the contrary, to regulate it by the rule of the Law which they hear from the mouth of the scribes; for it was necessary (as I have lately hinted) that he should reprove many abuses in them, that the whole people might not be infected. Lest, through their crimes, the doctrine of which they were the ministers and heralds should be injured, he enjoins believers to attend to their words, and not to their actions; as if he had said, that there is no reason why the bad examples of pastors should hinder the children of God from holiness of life. That the word scribes, agreeably to the Hebrew idiom, denotes the teachers or expounders of the Law, is well known; and it is certain that Luke calls the same persons lawyers 89

Now our Lord refers peculiarly to the Pharisees, who belonged to the number of the scribes, because at that time this sect held the highest rank in the government of the Church, and in the exposition of Scripture. For we have formerly mentioned that, while the Sadducees and Essenes preferred the literal interpretation of Scripture, the Pharisees followed a different manner of teaching, which had been handed down, as it were, to them by their ancestors, which was, to make subtle inquiries into the mystical meaning of Scripture. This was also the reason why they received their name; for they are called Pherusim, that is, expounders. 90 And though they had debased the whole of Scripture by their false opinions, yet, as they plumed themselves on that popular method of instruction, their authority was highly esteemed in explaining the worship of God and the rule of holy life. The phrase ought, therefore, to be thus interpreted: “The Pharisees and other scribes, or, the scribes, among whom the Pharisees are the most highly esteemed, when they speak to you, are good teachers of a holy life, but by their works they give you very bad instructions; and therefore attend to their lips rather than to their hands.”

It may now be asked, Ought we to submit to all the instructions of teachers without exception? For it is plain enough, that the scribes of that age had wickedly and basely corrupted the Law by false inventions, had burdened wretched souls by unjust laws, and had corrupted the worship of God by many superstitions; but Christ wishes their doctrine to be observed, as if it had been unlawful to oppose their tyranny. The answer is easy. He does not absolutely compare any kind of doctrine with the life, but the design of Christ was, to distinguish the holy Law of God from their profane works. For to sit in the chair of Moses is nothing else than to teach, according to the Law of God, how we ought to live. And though I am not quite certain whence the phrase is derived, yet there is probability in the conjecture of those who refer it to the pulpit which Ezra erected, from which the Law was read aloud, (Neh 8:4.) Certainly, when the Rabbis expounded Scripture, those who were about to speak rose up in succession; but it was perhaps the custom that the Law itself should be proclaimed from a more elevated spot. That man, therefore, sits in the chair of Moses who teaches, not from himself, or at his own suggestion, but according to the authority and word of God. But it denotes, at the same time, a lawful calling; for Christ commands that the scribes should be heard, because they were the public teachers of the, Church.

The Papists reckon it enough, that those who issue laws should possess the title and occupy the station; for in this way they torture the words of Christ to mean, that we are bound to receive obediently whatever the ordinary prelates of the Church enjoin. But this calumny is abundantly refuted by another injunction of Christ, when he bids them beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, (Mat 16:6.)

If Christ pronounces it to be not only lawful, but even proper, to reject whatever of their own the scribes mingle with the pure doctrine of the Law, certainly we are not bound to embrace, without discrimination or the exercise of judgment, whatever they are pleased to enjoin. Besides, if Christ had intended here to bind the consciences of his followers to the commandments of men, there would have been no good ground for what he said in another passage, that it is in vain to worship God by the commandments of men, (Mat 15:9.)

Hence it is evident, that Christ exhorts the people to obey the scribes, only so far as they adhere to the pure and simple exposition of the Law. For the exposition of, Augustine is accurate, and in accordance with Christ’s meaning, that, “the scribes taught the Law of God while they sat in the chair of Moses; and, therefore, that the sheep ought to hear the voice of the Shepherd by them, as by hirelings.” To which words he immediately adds: “God therefore teaches by them; but if they wish to teach any thing of their own, refuse to hear, refuse to do them.” With this sentiment accords what the same writer says in his Fourth Book of Christian Doctrine: “Because good believers do not obediently listen to any sort of man, but to God himself; therefore we may profitably listen even to those whose lives are not profitable.” It was, therefore, not the chair of the scribes, but the chair of Moses, that constrained them to teach what was good, even when they did not do what was good. For what they did in their life was their own; but the chair of another man did not permit them to teach what was their own.

Calvin: Mat 23:4 - For they bind heavy and intolerable burdens 4.For they bind heavy and intolerable burdens He does not charge the scribes with oppressing and tyrannizing over souls by harsh and unjust laws; for...

4.For they bind heavy and intolerable burdens He does not charge the scribes with oppressing and tyrannizing over souls by harsh and unjust laws; for, though they had introduced many superfluous ceremonies — as is evident from other passages — yet Christ does not at present refer to that vice, because his design is, to compare right doctrine with a wicked and dissolute life. That the Law of God should be called a heavy and intolerable burden is not wonderful, and more especially in reference to our weakness. But though the scribes required nothing but what God had enjoined, yet Christ reproves the stern and rigid manner of teaching which was usually followed by those proud hypocrites, who authoritatively demand from others what they owe to God, and are rigorous in enforcing duties, and yet indolently dispense with the performance of what they so strictly enjoin on others, and allow themselves to do whatever they please. In this sense Ezekiel (Eze 34:4) reproaches them for ruling with sternness and rigor. For those who truly fear God, though they sincerely and earnestly endeavor to bring their disciples to obey Him, yet as they are more severe towards themselves than towards others, they are not so rigid in exacting obedience, and, being conscious of their own weakness, kindly forgive the weak. But it is impossible to imagine any thing that can exceed the insolence in commanding, or the cruelty, of stupid despisers of God, because they give themselves no concern about the difficulty of doing those things from which they relieve themselves; and therefore no man will exercise moderation in commanding others, unless he shall first become his own teacher. 91

Calvin: Mat 23:5 - And all their works they do that they may be seen by men // And make their phylacteries broad, and enlarge the fringes of their robes 5.And all their works they do that they may be seen by men He had lately said that the scribes live very differently from what they teach; but now ...

5.And all their works they do that they may be seen by men He had lately said that the scribes live very differently from what they teach; but now he adds that, if they have any thing which is apparently good, it is hypocritical and worthless, because they have no other design than to please men, and to vaunt themselves. And here zeal for piety and a holy life is contrasted with the mask of those works which serve no purpose but for ostentation; for an upright worshipper of God will never give himself up to that empty parade by which hypocrites are puffed up. Thus not only is the ambition of the scribes and Pharisees reproved, but our Lord, after having condemned the transgression and contempt of the Law of God in their whole life, that they might not shield themselves by their pretended holiness, anticipates them by replying, that those things of which they boast are absolute trifles, and of no value whatever, because they spring from mere ostentation. He afterwards produces a single instance, by which that ambition was easily perceived, which was, that by the fringes of their robes they held themselves out to the eyes of men as good observers of the Law.

And make their phylacteries broad, and enlarge the fringes of their robes For why were their fringes made broader, and their phylacteries more magnificent, than what was customary, except for idle display? The Lord had commanded the Jews to wear, both on their forehead and on their raiment, some remarkable passages selected out of the Law, (Deu 6:8.) As forgetfulness of the Law easily creeps upon the flesh, the Lord intended in this manner to keep it constantly in the remembrance of his people; for they were likewise enjoined to inscribe such sentences

on the posts of their houses, (Deu 6:9,)

that, wherever they turned their eyes, some godly warning might immediately meet them. But what did the scribes do? In order to distinguish themselves from the rest of the people, they carried about with them the commandments of God more magnificently inscribed on their garments; and in this boasting there was displayed an offensive ambition.

Let us also learn from this, how ingenious men are in mixing up vain deception, in order to conceal their vices under some pretext and cloak of virtues, by turning to the purposes of their own hypocrisy those exercises of piety which God has enjoined. Nothing was more profitable than to exercise all their senses in the contemplation of the Law, and it was not without good reason that this was enjoined by the Lord. But so far were they from profiting by these simple instructions, that, by making perfect righteousness to consist in the adorning of robes, they despised the Law throughout their whole life. For it was impossible to treat the Law of God with greater contempt, than when they imagined that they kept it by pompous dress, or pronounced masks contrived for enacting a play to be a keeping of the Law.

What Mark and Luke say about the robes relates to the same subject. We know that the inhabitants of Eastern countries commonly used long robes, — a custom which they retain to this day. But it is evident from Zechariah (Zec 13:4) that the prophets were distinguished from the rest of the people by a particular form of a cloak. And, indeed, it was highly reasonable that the teachers should dress in this manner, that there might be a higher degree of gravity and modesty in their dress than in that of the common people; but the scribes had made an improper use of it by turning it into luxury and display. Their example has been followed by the Popish priests, among whom robes are manifestly nothing more than the badges of proud tyranny.

Calvin: Mat 23:6 - And love the first places at entertainments. // And you are all brethren 6.And love the first places at entertainments. He proves, by evident signs, that no zeal for piety exists in the scribes, but that they are wholly ...

6.And love the first places at entertainments. He proves, by evident signs, that no zeal for piety exists in the scribes, but that they are wholly devoted to ambition. For to seek the first places and the first seats belongs only to those who choose rather to exalt themselves among men, than to enjoy the approbation of God. But above all, Christ condemns them for desiring to be called masters; for, though the name Rabbi in itself denotes excellence, yet at that time the prevailing practice among the Jews was, to give this name to the masters and teachers of the Law. But Christ asserts that this honor does not belong to any except himself; from which it follows that it cannot, without doing injury to him, be applied to men. But there is an appearance of excessive harshness, and even of absurdity, in this, since Christ does not now teach us in his own person, but appoints and ordains masters for us. Now it is absurd to take away the title from those on whom he bestows the office, and more especially since, while he was on earth, he appointed apostles to discharge the office of teaching in his name.

If the question be about the title, Paul certainly did not intend to do any injury to Christ by sacrilegious usurpation or boasting, when he declared that. he was

a master and teacher of the Gentiles, (1Ti 2:7.)

But as Christ had no other design than to bring all, from the least to the greatest, to obey him, so as to preserve his own authority unimpaired, we need not give ourselves much trouble about the word. Christ therefore does not attach importance to the title bestowed on those who discharge the office of teaching, but restrains them within proper limits, that they may not rule over the kith of brethren. We must always attend to the distinction, that Christ alone ought to be obeyed, because concerning him alone was the voice of the Father heard aloud from heaven, Hear him, (Mat 17:5;) and that teachers are his ministers in such a manner that he ought to be heard in them, and that they are masters under him, so far as they represent his person. The general meaning is, that his authority must remain entire, and that no mortal man ought to claim the smallest portion of it. Thus he is the only Pastor; but yet he admits many pastors under him, provided that he hold the preeminence over them all, and that by them he alone govern the Church.

And you are all brethren This opposite clause must be observed. For, since we are brethren, he maintains that no man has a right to hold the place of a master over others; and hence it follows, that he does not condemn that authority of masters which does not violate brotherly intercourse among the godly. In short, nothing else is here enjoined than that all should depend on the mouth of Christ alone. Nearly to the same purpose does Paul argue, when he says that we have no right to judge one another, for all are brethren, and

all must stand before the judgment seat of Christ,
(Rom 14:10.)

Calvin: Mat 23:9 - And call no man on earth your Father 9.And call no man on earth your Father He claims for God alone the honor of Father, in nearly the same sense as he lately asserted that he himself ...

9.And call no man on earth your Father He claims for God alone the honor of Father, in nearly the same sense as he lately asserted that he himself is the only Master; for this name was not assumed by men for themselves, but was given to them by God. And therefore it is not only lawful to call men on earth fathers, but it would be wicked to deprive them of that honor. Nor is there any importance in the distinction which some have brought forward, that men, by whom children have been begotten, are fathers according to the flesh, but that God alone is the Father of spirits. I readily acknowledge that in this manner God is sometimes distinguished from men, as in Heb 12:5, but as Paul more than once calls himself a spiritual father, (1Co 4:15,) we must see how this agrees with the words of Christ. The true meaning therefore is, that the honor of a father is falsely ascribed to men, when it obscures the glory of God. Now this is done, whenever a mortal man, viewed apart from God, is accounted a father, since all the degrees of relationship depend on God alone through Christ, and are held together in such a manner that, strictly speaking, God alone is the Father of all.

Calvin: Mat 23:10 - NO PHRASE 10.=== For === one is your Master, even Christ. He repeats a second time the former statement about Christ’s office as Master, in order to infor...

10.=== For === one is your Master, even Christ. He repeats a second time the former statement about Christ’s office as Master, in order to inform us that the lawful order is, that God alone rule over us, and possess the power and authority of a Father, and that Christ subject all to his doctrine, and have them as disciples; as it is elsewhere said, that Christ is the only

head of the whole Church, (Eph 1:22)

because the whole body ought to be subject to him and obey him.

Calvin: Mat 23:11 - He who is greatest among you 11.He who is greatest among you By this conclusion he shows that he did not, after the manner of the sophists, dispute about words, but, on the contr...

11.He who is greatest among you By this conclusion he shows that he did not, after the manner of the sophists, dispute about words, but, on the contrary, looked to the fact, that no man, through forgetfulness of his rank, might claim more than was proper. He therefore declares that the highest honor in the Church is not government, but service. Whoever keeps himself within this limit, whatever may be the title which he bears, takes nothing away either from God or from Christ; as, on the other hand, it serves no good purpose to take the name of a servant for the purpose of cloaking that power which diminishes the authority of Christ as a Master. For of what avail is it that the Pope, when he is about to oppress wretched souls by tyrannical laws, begins with styling himself the servant of servants of God, but to insult God openly, and to practice shameful mockery on men? Now while Christ does not insist on words, he strictly forbids his followers to aspire or desire to rise any higher than to enjoy brotherly intercourse on an equal footing under the heavenly Father, and charges those who occupy places of honor to conduct themselves as the servants of others. He adds that remarkable statement which has been formerly explained, 92 he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Calvin: Mat 23:13 - You shut up the kingdom of heaven Mat 23:13.You shut up the kingdom of heaven Christ pronounces a curse on them, because they pervert their office to the general destruction of the who...

Mat 23:13.You shut up the kingdom of heaven Christ pronounces a curse on them, because they pervert their office to the general destruction of the whole people; for since the government of the Church was in their hands, they ought to have been, as it were, porters for the kingdom of heaven. What purpose is served by religion and holy doctrine but to open heaven to us? For we know that all mankind are banished from God, and excluded from the inheritance of eternal salvation. Now the doctrine of religion may be said to be the door by which we enter into life, and therefore Scripture says metaphorically, that the keys of the kingdom of heaven are given to pastors, as I have explained more fully under Mat 16:19. And we ought to abide by this definition, which appears still more strongly from the words of Luke, in which Christ reproaches the lawyers with having taken away the key of knowledge, which means that, though they were the guardians of the Law of God, they deprived the people of the true understanding of it. As, therefore, in the present day, the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed to the custody of pastors, that they may admit believers into eternal life, and exclude unbelievers from all expectation of it, so the priests and scribes anciently under the Law held the same office.

From the word knowledge we infer how absurdly the Papists forge false keys, as if they possessed some magical power apart from the word of God; for Christ declares that none but those who are ministers of doctrine have the use of keys. If it be objected, that the Pharisees, though they were perverse expounders of the Law still held the keys, I reply: Though, in respect of their office, the keys were entrusted to them, yet they were suppressed by malice and deceit, so that they no longer retained the use of them. And therefore Christ says, that they took away, or stole that key of knowledge, by which they ought to have opened the gate of heaven. In like manner, heaven is shut by Popery against the wretched people, while the very pastors—or, at least, those who hold that office—prevent them by their tyranny from being opened. If we are not excessively indifferent, we will not willingly enter into a league with wicked tyrants, who cruelly shut against us the entrance into life.

Calvin: Mat 23:14 - For you devour widows’ houses // And that under the pretense of a long prayer. He 14.For you devour widows’ houses He now proceeds farther, for he not only accuses them of open crimes which demand hatred and detestation, but even...

14.For you devour widows’ houses He now proceeds farther, for he not only accuses them of open crimes which demand hatred and detestation, but even tears away the disguises of virtues, by which they deceived the common people. If it be objected, that there was no need of reproving those things which could do no harm by their example, we ought to recollect that it was impossible to promote the salvation of those who were held bound by the errors of the scribes, unless they turned away entirely from such persons. This reason, therefore, constrained Christ to expose the vain appearance of virtues, which nourishes superstitions.

And that under the pretense of a long prayer. He says in general that, even when they appear to do what is right, they wickedly abuse the pretense of religion. Long prayers contained some evidence of remarkable piety; for the more holy a man is, the more eminently is he devoted to prayer. But Christ says that the Pharisees and scribes were so impure, that even the chief part of the worship of God was not used by them without committing sin, because constancy in prayer was with them, trap for base gain. For they sold their prayers in exactly the same manner as hirelings dispose of their daily labor. 97 Hence also we infer that our Lord does not exactly reprove long prayers, as if in itself it were an impropriety—particularly since pastors ought to be eminently devoted to prayer —but to condemn this abuse, because a thing laudable in itself was turned to a wicked purpose. For when men aim at gain by means of hired prayers, the more fervent the appearance of what they call devotion becomes, the more is the name of God profaned. And as this false conviction had been long and deeply seated in the minds of the common people, on this account Christ employs harsher threatenings; for the pollution of so sacred a thing was no light offense. That it was chiefly widows that were imposed on need not excite surprise, because silly women are more prone to superstition, and therefore it has always been customary for base men to make gain of. them. Thus Paul brings a charge against the false teachers of his age, that they

lead captive silly women laden with sins, (2Ti 3:6.)

Calvin: Mat 23:15 - NO PHRASE 15.=== For === you compass sea and land. The scribes had also acquired celebrity by their zeal in laboring to bring over to the Jewish religion th...

15.=== For === you compass sea and land. The scribes had also acquired celebrity by their zeal in laboring to bring over to the Jewish religion the strangers and uncircumcised. And so, if they had gained any one by their false appearances, or by any other stratagem, they gloried wonderfully over it as an increase of the Church. On this account also they received great applause from the common people, that by their diligence and ability they brought strangers into the Church of God. Christ declares, on the contrary, that so far is this zeal from deserving applause, that they more and more provoke the vengeance of God, because they bring under heavier condemnation those who devote themselves to their sect. We ought to observe how corrupt their condition at that time was, and what confusion existed in religion; for as it was a holy and excellent work to gain disciples to God, so to allure the Gentiles to the Jewish worship—which was at that time degenerate, and was even full of wicked profanation — was nothing else than to hurry them from Scylla to Charybdis. 98 Besides, by a sacrilegious abuse of the name of God, they drew down upon themselves a heavier condemnation, because their religion allowed them grosser licentiousness of crime. An instance of the same kind may be seen at the present day among the monks; for they are diligent in culling proselytes from every quarter, but those proselytes, from being lascivious and debauched persons, they render altogether devils: for such is the filthiness of those puddles, within which they carry on their reveling, that it would corrupt even the heavenly angels. 99 Yet the monk’s habit is a very suitable mantle for concealing enormities of every description.

Calvin: Mat 23:16 - Woe to you, blind guides, // It is nothing Mat 23:16.Woe to you, blind guides, As ambition is almost always connected with hypocrisy, so the superstitions of the people are usually encouraged b...

Mat 23:16.Woe to you, blind guides, As ambition is almost always connected with hypocrisy, so the superstitions of the people are usually encouraged by the covetousness and rapacity of pastors. The world has, indeed, a natural propensity to errors, and even draws down upon itself, as if on purpose, every kind of deceit and imposture; but improper modes of worship come to gain a footing only when they are confirmed by the rulers 100 themselves. And it generally happens, that those who possess authority not only, by their connivance, fawn upon errors, because they perceive that they are a source of gain to them, but even assist in fanning the flame. Thus we see that the superstitions of Popery were heightened by innumerable expedients, while the priests opened their mouths for the prey; and even now they daily contrive many things by which they delude still more the foolish multitude. And when minds have once fallen under the darkening influence of the enchantments of Satan, nothing is so absurd or monstrous as not to be eagerly swallowed.

It was on this account that the Jews had more reverence for the gold of the temple, and for the sacred offerings, than for the temple and the altar. But the sacredness of the offerings depended on the temple and the altar, and was only something inferior and accessory. It may readily be believed that this dream proceeded from the scribes and priests, because it was a scheme well fitted for collecting prey. And this was not only a foolish but a highly dangerous error, because it led the people into ridiculous fancies. There is nothing to which men are more prone than to fall away from the pure worship of God: and therefore, under the covering of this veil, it was easy for Satan to withdraw from the contemplation of God those who were too strongly inclined to foolish imaginations. This is the reason why Christ so severely chastises that error. And yet the Papists were not ashamed to prostitute the sacred name of God to a mockery still more detestable; for they reckon it of more importance to touch a morsel of a stinking carcass, than to peruse the sacred volume of the Old and New Testaments, or even to raise their hands towards heaven. And in this way arises a carnal worship of God, by which the proper fear of God is gradually obliterated.

It is nothing By this phrase he does not mean that they entirely took away the honor of the temple, but he speaks comparatively. For when they represented in extravagant terms the sacredness of offerings, the common people were led to entertain such veneration for them, that the majesty of the temple and of the altar was undervalued, and they reckoned it a less heinous crime to violate it by perjuries than to swear by the sacred offerings with too little reverence.

Calvin: Mat 23:18 - And whosoever shall swear by the altar 18.And whosoever shall swear by the altar Here our Lord does what ought to be done in correcting errors; for he leads us up to the source, and shows,...

18.And whosoever shall swear by the altar Here our Lord does what ought to be done in correcting errors; for he leads us up to the source, and shows, by the very nature of an oath, that the temple is far more valuable than the gifts which are offered in it. He accordingly assumes this principle, that it is not lawful to swear but by the name of God alone. Hence it follows that, whatever forms men may employ in swearing, they must give to God the honor which is due to him; and hence also it follows in what manner and to what extent we are at liberty to swear by the temple, namely, because it is the residence or sanctuary of God; and by heaven, because there the glory of God shines. God permits himself to be called as a witness and judge, by means of such symbols of his presence, provided that he retain his authority unimpaired; for to ascribe any Divinity to heaven would be detestable idolatry. Now so far as God holds out to us a brighter mirror of his glory in the temple than in offerings, so much the greater reverence and sacredness is due to the name of the temple. We now perceive, therefore, in what sense Christ says that we swear by him who inhabits heaven, when we swear by heaven itself. His design is, to direct all forms of swearing to their lawful end and object.

Calvin: Mat 23:23 - The former you ought to have done Mat 23:23.The former you ought to have done This is intended to anticipate their calumny; for they might have put an unfavorable interpretation on his...

Mat 23:23.The former you ought to have done This is intended to anticipate their calumny; for they might have put an unfavorable interpretation on his discourse, and charged him with setting no value on what the Law of God had enjoined. He therefore acknowledges that whatever God has enjoined ought to be performed, and that no part of it ought to be omitted, but maintains that zeal for the whole Law is no reason why we ought not to insist chiefly on the principal points. Hence he infers that they overturn the natural order who employ themselves in the smallest matters, when they ought rather to have begun with the principal points; for tithes were only a kind of appendage. Christ therefore affirms that he has no intention to lessen the authority even of the smallest commandments, though he recommends and demands due order in keeping the Law. It is therefore our duty to preserve entire the whole Law, which cannot be violated in any part without contempt for its Author; for He who has forbidden us to commit adultery, and to kill, and to steal, has likewise condemned all impure desire. Hence we conclude that all the commandments are so interwoven with each other, that we have no right to detach one of them from the rest. Wherefore it is also written,

Cursed is every one that performeth not all things that are written, (Deu 27:26; Gal 3:10;)

by which words the righteousness of the whole Law, without exception, is enforced. But this reverence, as we have said, does not take away the distinction between the commandments, or the true design of the Law, to which those who truly observe it direct their mind, that they may not merely amuse themselves on the surface.

Calvin: Mat 23:24 - Blind guides // Straining out 24.Blind guides This is s proverbial saying, by which he beautifully describes the affected scrupulousness of hypocrites about trifling matters; for ...

24.Blind guides This is s proverbial saying, by which he beautifully describes the affected scrupulousness of hypocrites about trifling matters; for they utterly shrink from very small faults, as if a single transgression appeared to them more revolting than a hundred deaths, and yet they freely permit themselves and others to commit the most heinous crimes. They act as absurdly as if a man were to strain out a small crumb of bread, and to swallow a whole loaf.

Straining out 101 a gnat, and swallowing a camel. We know that a gnat is a very small animal, and that a camel is a huge beast. Nothing therefore could be more ridiculous than to strain out the wine or the water, so as not to hurt the jaws by swallowing a gnat, and yet carelessly to gulp down a camel. 102 But it is evident that hypocrites amuse themselves with such distinctions; for while they pass by judgment, mercy, and faith, and even tear in pieces the whole Law, they are excessively rigid and severe in matters that are of no great importance; and while in this way they pretend to kiss the feet of God, they proudly spit in his face.

Calvin: Mat 23:25 - For you cleanse the outer part 25.For you cleanse the outer part Our Lord follows out the same statement, and employs a figure for reproaching the scribes with being eagerly bent...

25.For you cleanse the outer part Our Lord follows out the same statement, and employs a figure for reproaching the scribes with being eagerly bent on this single object of making a brilliant appearance before men. For by the outer part of the dish he metaphorically expresses the outward appearance; as if he had said, “You give yourselves no concern about any cleanness but what appears outwardly, which is quite as if one were carefully to wash off the filth of the dish without, but to leave it filthy within.” That the expression is metaphorical is evident from the second clause, in which the uncleanness within is condemned, because within they are full of intemperance and extortion. He therefore reproves their hypocrisy, in not endeavoring to regulate their life, except before the eyes of men, in order to procure for themselves an empty reputation for holiness. Thus he recalls them to the pure and sincere desire of a holy life. Cleanse first, he says, that which is within; for it would be ridiculous to feast your eyes with outward splendor, and yet to drink out of a cup full of dregs, or in other respects filthy. 103

Calvin: Mat 23:27 - You are like whitened sepulchers 27.You are like whitened sepulchers This is a different metaphor, but the meaning is the same; for he compares them to sepulchers, which the men of...

27.You are like whitened sepulchers This is a different metaphor, but the meaning is the same; for he compares them to sepulchers, which the men of the world ambitiously construct with great beauty and splendor. As a painting or engraving on sepulchers draws the eyes of men upon them, while inwardly they contain stinking carcasses; so Christ says that hypocrites deceive by their outward appearance, because they are full of deceit and iniquity. The words of Luke are somewhat different, that they deceive the eyes of men, like sepulchers, which frequently are not perceived by those who walk over them; but it amounts to the same meaning, that, under the garb of pretended holiness, there lurks hidden filth which they cherish in their hearts, like a marble sepulcher; for it wears the aspect of what is beautiful and lovely, but covers a stinking carcass, so as not to be offensive to those who pass by. Hence we infer what I have formerly said, that Christ, with a view to the advantage of the simple and ignorant, tore off the deceitful mask which the scribes held wrapped around them in empty hypocrisy; for this warning was advantageous to simple persons, that they might quickly withdraw from the jaws of wolves. Yet this passage contains a general doctrine, that the children of God ought to desire to be pure rather than to appear so.

Calvin: Mat 23:29 - For you build the sepulchers of the prophets Mat 23:29.For you build the sepulchers of the prophets An unfounded opinion is entertained by some, that the scribes are here reproved for superstit...

Mat 23:29.For you build the sepulchers of the prophets An unfounded opinion is entertained by some, that the scribes are here reproved for superstition, in foolishly honoring the deceased prophets by splendid sepulchers, as the Papists now transfer the honor of God to departed saints, and even are so perverse as to adore their images. They had not yet arrived at such a pitch of blindness and madness, and therefore the design of Christ was different. The scribes endeavored to gain the favor of the ignorant multitude, and indeed of all the Jews, by this additional hypocrisy, that they cherished with reverence the memory of the prophets; for while in this manner they pretended to maintain their doctrine, any one would have supposed that they were faithful imitators of them, and very keen zealots for the worship of God. It was a proposal, therefore, which was likely to prove highly acceptable, to erect monuments for the prophets, because in this way religion might be said to be drawn out of darkness, that it might receive the honor which it deserved. And yet nothing was farther from their design than to restore doctrine, which might appear to have been extinguished by the death of the prophets. But though they were not only averse to the doctrine of the prophets, but most inveterate enemies to it, yet they honored them—when dead—with sepulchers, as if they had made common cause with them.

It is customary, indeed, with hypocrites thus to honor, after their death, good teachers and holy ministers of God, whom they cannot endure while they are alive. Nor does this arise merely from the common fault, which Horace thus describes: “We hate virtue while it is in safety, but when it has been removed from our eyes, we seek it with envy;” 107 but as the ashes of the dead no longer give annoyance by harsh and severe reproofs, they who are driven to madness by the living voices of those men are not unwilling, by adoring them, to make an empty display of religion. It is a hypocrisy which costs little to profess warm regard for those who are now silent. 108 Thus each of the prophets, in his own age, was contemptuously rejected, and wickedly tormented, by the Jews, and, in many instances, cruelly put to death; while posterity, though not a whit better than their fathers, pretended to venerate their memory, instead of embracing their doctrine; for they too were actuated by equal hostility towards their own teachers. 109 As the world—not venturing altogether to despise God, or at least to rise openly against him—contrives this stratagem of adoring the shadow of God instead of God, so a similar game is played in reference to the prophets.

A proof of this—far too striking—may be seen in Popery. Not satisfied with paying just veneration to Apostles and Martyrs, they render to them divine worship, and think that they cannot go too far in the honors which they heap upon them; and yet, by their rage against believers, they show what sort of respect they would have manifested towards Apostles and Martyrs, if they had been still alive to discharge the same office which they anciently held. For why are they inflamed with such rage against us, but because we desire that doctrine to be received, and to be successful, which the Apostles and Martyrs sealed with their blood? While the holy servants of God valued that doctrine more highly than their own life, would their life have been spared by those who so outrageously persecute the doctrine? Let them adorn the images of the saints as they may think fit, by perfumes, candles, flowers, and every sort of gaudy ornament. If Peter were now alive, they would tear him in pieces; they would stone Paul; and if Christ himself were still in the world, they would burn him with a slow fire.

Our Lord, perceiving that the scribes and priests of his age were eager to obtain the applause of the people, on the ground of their being devout worshippers of the prophets, reproves them for deceit and mockery, because they not only reject, but even cruelly persecute, the prophets that are now present, 110 and whom God has sent to them. But it is a display of base hypocrisy, and shameful impudence, to desire to be thought religious on account of worshipping the dead, while they endeavor to murder the living.

Calvin: Mat 23:30 - If we had been in the days of our fathers 30.If we had been in the days of our fathers Not without good reason did Christ introduce this sentiment; for though he does not blame them for the c...

30.If we had been in the days of our fathers Not without good reason did Christ introduce this sentiment; for though he does not blame them for the conduct of their fathers, and does not make it the chief ground of accusation that they are the children of murderers: yet he takes a passing glance of their foolish boasting, in being accustomed to glory in their ancestors, while they were descended from the bloody enemies of God. The appeal may be thus stated: “You look upon the veneration which you pay to the deceased prophets as some sort of expiation for the wickedness of your fathers. Now then I have this to urge, that it is in vain for you to boast of a sacred ancestry, since you are descended from wicked and ungodly parents. Go now, and screen your crimes by the piety of those whose hands, you acknowledge, were stained with innocent blood. But it is an additional and far more heinous crime, that the sacrilegious fury of the fathers, which you condemn by raising sepulchers for the dead, is imitated by you in the murder of the living.”

Calvin: Mat 23:32 - Do you then fill up the measure of your fathers 32.Do you then fill up the measure of your fathers He at length concludes that they are not, in this respect, degenerate from their fathers; as if he...

32.Do you then fill up the measure of your fathers He at length concludes that they are not, in this respect, degenerate from their fathers; as if he had said, “It is not now that your nation begins to treat with cruelty the prophets of God; for this is the ancient discipline, this is the custom handed down from the fathers, and, in short, this way of acting is almost natural to you.” And yet he does not bid them do what they are doing, to put to death holy teachers, but states figuratively that they have a hereditary right to rise against the servants of God, and that they must be permitted to oppose religion, because in this way they fill up what is wanting in the crimes of their fathers, and finish the web which they had begun. By these words he not only pronounces themselves to be desperate, and incapable of being brought to a sound mind, but warns simple people that there is no reason to wonder, if the prophets of God are ill-treated by the children of murderers.

Calvin: Mat 23:33 - Offspring of vipers 33.Offspring of vipers After having demonstrated that the scribes are not only base enemies of sound doctrine, and wicked corrupters of the worship...

33.Offspring of vipers After having demonstrated that the scribes are not only base enemies of sound doctrine, and wicked corrupters of the worship of God, but likewise deadly plagues of the Church, Christ, being about to close his discourse, kindles into more vehement indignation against them; as it is necessary to shake off by violence the flatteries in which hypocrites indulge, and to drag them, as it were, to the judgment seat of God, that they may be filled with alarm. And yet Christ did not keep them alone in his eye, but intended to strike terror into the whole people, that all might guard against a similar destruction. How harsh and intolerable this roughness of language must have been to these reverend instructors may easily be inferred from the long period during which they had held a peaceful dominion, so that no one dared to mutter against them. And there can be no doubt that many were displeased with the great freedom and sharpness which Christ used, and, above all, that he was looked upon as immoderate and outrageous in venturing to apply such reproachful epithets to the order of the scribes; as many fastidious persons of the present day cannot endure any harsh word to be spoken against the Popish clergy. But as Christ had to deal with the worst of hypocrites, who not only were swelled with proud contempt of God, and intoxicated with careless security, but had captivated the multitude by their enchantments, he found it necessary to exclaim against them with vehemence. He calls them serpents both in nature and in habits, and then threatens them with a punishment, which it will be in vain for them to attempt to escape, if they do not speedily repent.

Calvin: Mat 23:34 - Therefore, lo, I send to you. Luke 34.Therefore, lo, I send to you. Luke introduces it in a still more emphatic manner, Wherefore also the Wisdom of God hath said; which some comment...

34.Therefore, lo, I send to you. Luke introduces it in a still more emphatic manner, Wherefore also the Wisdom of God hath said; which some commentators explain thus: “I, who am the eternal Wisdom of God, declare this concerning you.” But I am more inclined to believe that, according to the ordinary custom of Scripture, God is here represented as speaking in the person of his Wisdom; so that the meaning is, “God foretold long ago, by the prophetic Spirit, what would happen with regard to you.” This sentence, I acknowledge, is nowhere to be found literally: but as God denounces the incorrigible obstinacy of that people in many places of Scripture, Christ draws up a kind of summary of them, and by this personification 111 expresses more clearly what was the judgment of God as to the incurable wickedness of that nation. For if those teachers would have no success, it might have appeared strange that Christ should have desired them to weary themselves to no purpose. Men argue thus: “God labors in vain, when he sends his word to the reprobate, who, he knows, will continue obstinate.” And hypocrites, as if it were sufficient of itself to have preachers of the heavenly doctrine continually with them, though they show themselves to be disobedient, entertain the conviction that God is reconciled and favorable to them, provided that the outward word be heard amongst them.

Thus the Jews fiercely boasted that, in comparison of other nations, they had always enjoyed the best prophets and teachers, and, as if they had deserved so great an honor, they considered this to be an undoubted proof of their own excellence. 112 To put down this foolish boasting, Christ not only affirms that they do not excel other nations on the ground of having received from God distinguished prophets and expounders of his Wisdom, but maintains that this ilk requited favor is a greater reproach, and will bring upon them a heavier condemnation, because the purpose of God was different from what they supposed, namely, to render them more inexcusable, and to bring their wicked malice to the highest pitch; as if he had said, “Though prophets have been appointed to you by heaven in close succession, it is idly and foolishly that you claim this as an honor; for God had quite a different object in his secret judgment, which was, to lay open, by an uninterrupted succession of gracious invitations, your wicked obstinacy, and, on your being convicted of it, to involve the children in the same condemnation with the fathers.”

With regard to the words, the discourse as related by Matthew is defective, but its meaning must be supplied from the words of Luke. The mention of scribes and wise men along with prophets tends to magnify the grace of God; by which their ingratitude becomes more apparent, since, though God left nothing undone for their instruction, they made no proficiency. Instead of wise men and scribes, Luke mentions apostles, but the meaning is the same. This passage shows that God does not always bestow salvation on men when he sends his word to them, but that he sometimes intends to have it proclaimed to the reprobate, who, he knows, will continue obstinate, that it may be to them

the savior of death unto death, (2Co 2:16.)

The word of God, indeed, in itself and by its own nature, brings salvation, and invites all men indiscriminately to the hope of eternal life; but as all are not inwardly drawn, and as God does not pierce the ears of ally—in short, as they are not renewed to repentance or bent to obedience, those who reject the word of God render it, by their unbelief, deadly and destructive.

While God foresees that this will be the result, he purposely sends his prophets to them, that he may involve the reprobate in severer condemnation, as is more fully explained by Isaiah, (Isa 6:10.) This, I acknowledge, is very far from being agreeable to the reason of the flesh, as we see that unholy despisers of God seize on it as a plausible excuse for barking, that God, like some cruel tyrant, takes pleasure in inflicting more severe punishment on men whom, without any expectation of advantage, he knowingly and willingly hardens more and more. But by such examples God exercises the modesty of believers. Let us maintain such sobriety as to tremble and adore what exceeds our senses. Those who say, that God’s foreknowledge does not hinder unbelievers from being saved, foolishly make use of an idle defense for excusing God. I admit that the reprobate, in bringing death upon themselves, have no intention of doing what God foresaw would happen, and therefore that the fault of their perishing cannot be ascribed to His foreknowledge; but I assert that it is improper to employ this sophistry in defending the justice of God, because it may be immediately objected that it lies with God to make them repent, for the gift of faith and repentance is in his power.

We shall next be met by this objection, What is the reason why God, by a fixed and deliberate purpose, appoints the light of his word to blind men? When they have been devoted to eternal death, why is he not satisfied with their simple ruin? and why does he wish that they should perish twice or three times? There is nothing left for us but to ascribe glory to the judgments of God, by exclaiming with Paul, that they are a deep and unfathomable abyss, (Rom 11:33.) But it is asked, How does he declare that the prophecies will turn to the destruction of the Jews, while his adoption still continued to be in force towards that nation? I reply, As but a small portion embraced the word by faith for salvation, this passage relates to the greater number or the whole body; as Isaiah, after having predicted the general destruction of the nation, is commanded

to seal the law of God among the disciples, (Isa 8:16.)

Let us know then that, wherever the Scripture denounces eternal death against the Jews, it excepts a remnant, (Isa 1:9; Rom 11:5;) that is, those in whom the Lord preserves some seed on account of his free election

Calvin: Mat 23:35 - That upon you may come // From the blood of Abel // To the blood of Zechariah // Whom you slew between the temple and the altar 35.That upon you may come He not only takes away from them their false boasting, but shows that they had received prophets for a totally different ...

35.That upon you may come He not only takes away from them their false boasting, but shows that they had received prophets for a totally different purpose, that no age might be free from the criminality of wicked rebellion; for the pronoun you embraces generally the whole nation from its very commencement. If it be objected, that it is not consistent with the judgment of God that punishment should be inflicted on the children for the sins of the parents, the answer is easy. Since they are all involved in a wicked conspiracy, we ought not to think it strange if God, in punishing all without reserve, make the punishment due to the fathers to fall upon the children. Justly then is the whole nation — in whatever age individuals may have lived — called to account, and likewise punished, for this unceasing contempt. For as God, by an uninterrupted course of patience, has unceasingly contended with the malice of the whole people, so the whole people is justly held guilty of the inflexible obstinacy which continued to the very last; and as every age had conspired to put to death its own prophets, so it is right that a general sentence should be pronounced upon them, and that all the murders, which have been perpetrated with one consent, should be avenged on all.

From the blood of Abel Though Abel (Gen 4:8) was not slain by the Jews, yet the murder of Abel is imputed to them by Christ, because there is an affinity of wickedness between them and Cain; otherwise there would have been no propriety in saying that righteous blood had been shed by that nation from the beginning of the world. Cain is therefore declared to be the head, and leader, and instigator of the Jewish people, because, ever since they began to slay prophets, they succeeded in the room of him whose imitators they were.

To the blood of Zechariah He does not speak of Zechariah as the latest martyr; for the Jews did not then put an end to the murder of the prophets, but, on the contrary, their insolence and madness increased from that period; and posterity, who followed them, satiated themselves with the blood which their fathers only tasted. Nor is it because his death was better known, though it is recorded in Scripture. But there is another reason, which, though it deserves attention, has escaped the notice of commentators; in consequence of which they have not only fallen into a mistake, but have likewise involved their readers in a troublesome question. We might suppose it to have arisen from forgetfulness on the part of Christ, that, while he mentions one ancient murder, he passes by a prodigious slaughter which afterwards took place under Manasseh. For until the Jews were carried to Babylon, their wicked persecutions of holy men did not cease; and even while they were still under affliction, we know with what cruelty and rage they pursued Jeremiah, (Jer 32:2.) But our Lord on purpose abstains from reproaching them with recent murders, and selects this murder, which was more ancient—which was also the commencement and source of base licentiousness, and afterwards led them to break out into unbounded cruelty—because it was more suitable to his design. For I have lately explained, that his leading object was to show that this nation, as it did not desist from impiety, must be held guilty of all the murders which had been perpetrated during a long period. Not only, therefore, does he denounce the punishment of their present cruelty, but says that they must be called to account for the murder of Zechariah, as if their own hands had been imbrued in his blood.

There is no probability in the opinion of those who refer this passage to that Zechariah who exhorted the people, after their return from the Babylonish captivity, to build the temple, (Zec 8:9,) and whose prophecies are still in existence. For though the title of the book informs us that he was the son of Barachiah, (Zec 1:1,) yet we nowhere read that he was slain; and it is, forced exposition to say, that he was slain during the period that intervened between the building of the altar and of the temple. But as to the other Zechariah, son of Jehoiada, the sacred history relates what agrees perfectly with this passage; that when true religion had fallen into decay, after the death of his father, through the wicked revolt of the king and of the people, the Spirit of God came upon him, to reprove severely the public idolatry, and that on this account he was stoned in the porch of the temple, (2Ch 24:20.) There is no absurdity in supposing that his father Jehoiada received, in token of respect, the surname of Barachiah, because, having throughout his whole life defended the true worship, he might justly be pronounced to be the Blessed of God. But whether Jehoiada had two names, or whether (as Jerome thinks) there is a mistake in the word, there can be no doubt as to the fact, that Christ refers to that impious stoning of Zechariah which is recorded in 2Ch 24:21

Whom you slew between the temple and the altar The crime is rendered still more heinous by the circumstance of the place, since they did not revere the sacredness of the temple. Here the temple is put for the outer court, as in other passages. Near it was the altar of burnt offerings, (1Kg 8:64,) so that the priest offered the sacrifices in presence of the people. It is evident, therefore, that there must have been furious rage, when the sight of the altar and of the temple could not restrain the Jews from profaning that sacred place by a detestable murder.

Calvin: Mat 23:37 - Jerusalem, Jerusalem // Thou who killest the prophets // How often would I have gathered together thy children // As a hen collecteth her brood under her wings // And you would not 37.Jerusalem, Jerusalem By these words, Christ shows more clearly what good reason he had for indignation, that Jerusalem, which God had chosen to ...

37.Jerusalem, Jerusalem By these words, Christ shows more clearly what good reason he had for indignation, that Jerusalem, which God had chosen to be his sacred, and — as we might say — heavenly abode, not only had shown itself to be unworthy of so great an honor, but, as if it had been a den of robbers, (Jer 7:11,) had been long accustomed to suck the blood of the prophets. Christ therefore utters a pathetic exclamation at a sight so monstrous, as that the holy city of God should have arrived at such a pitch of madness, that it had long endeavored to extinguish the saving doctrine of God by shedding the blood of the prophets. This is also implied in the repetition of the name, because impiety so monstrous and incredible deserves no ordinary detestation.

Thou who killest the prophets Christ does not reproach them with merely one or another murder, but says that this custom was so deeply rooted, that the city did not care to slay every one of the prophets that were sent to it. For the participle, (ἀποκτείνουσα τοὺς προφήτας), ( killing the prophets,) is put for an epithet; as if Christ had said, “Thou who oughtest to have been a faithful guardian of the word of God, a teacher of heavenly wisdom, the light of the world, the fountain of sound doctrine, the seat of divine worship, a pattern of faith and obedience, art a murderer of the prophets, so that thou hast acquired a certain habit of sucking their blood.” 113 Hence it is evident, that they who had so basely profaned the sanctuary of God deserved every kind of reproaches. Yet Christ had likewise the intention to obviate the scandal which soon after arose, that believers, when they saw him basely put to death at Jerusalem, might not be confounded by the novelty of such an exhibition. For by these words they were already warned that it was not wonderful if a city, which had been accustomed to strangle or stone the prophets, should cruelly put to death its own Redeemer. This shows us what value we should attach to places. There never certainly was a city in the world on which God bestowed such magnificent titles, or such distinguished honor; and yet we see how deeply it was sunk by its ingratitude.

Let the Pope now compare the abode of his robbery with that holy city; what will he find worthy of equal honor? His hired flatterers boast to us that the faith flourished there in ancient times. But admitting this to be true, if it is evident that it has now, by wicked rebellion, revolted from Christ, and is full of innumerable deeds of sacrilege, what folly is it in them to maintain that the honor of primacy belongs to it? Let us, on the contrary, learn from this memorable example, that when any place has been exalted by uncommon instances of the favor of God, and thus has been removed from the ordinary rank, if it degenerate, it will not only be stripped of its ornaments, but will become so much the more hateful and detestable, because it has basely profaned the glow of God by staining the beauty of his favors.

How often would I have gathered together thy children This is expressive of indignation rather than of compassion. The city itself, indeed, over which he had lately wept, (Luk 19:41,) is still an object of his compassion; but towards the scribes, who were the authors of its destruction, he uses harshness and severity, as they deserved. And yet he does not spare the rest, who were all guilty of approving and partaking of the same crime, but, including all in the same condemnation, he inveighs chiefly against the leaders themselves, who were the cause of all the evils. We must now observe the vehemence of the discourse. If in Jerusalem the grace of God had been merely rejected, there would have been inexcusable ingratitude; but since God attempted to draw the Jews to himself by mild and gentle methods, and gained nothing by such kindness, the criminality of such haughty disdain was far more aggravated. There was likewise added unconquerable obstinacy; for not once and again did God wish to gather them together, but, by constant and uninterrupted advances, he sent to them the prophets, one after another, almost all of whom were rejected by the great body of the people.

As a hen collecteth her brood under her wings We now perceive the reason why Christ, speaking in the person of God, compares himself to a hen. It is to inflict deeper disgrace on this wicked nation, which had treated with disdain invitations so gentle, and proceeding from more than maternal kindness. It is an amazing and unparalleled instance of love, that he did not disdain to stoop to those blandishments, by which he might tame rebels into subjection. A reproof nearly similar is employed by Moses, that God, like

an eagle with outspread wings, (Deu 32:11,)

embraced that people. And though in more than one way God spread out his wings to cherish that people, yet this form of expression is applied by Christ, in a peculiar manner, to one class, namely, that prophets were sent to gather together the wandering and dispersed into the bosom of God. By this he means that, whenever the word of God is exhibited to us, he opens his bosom to us with maternal kindness, and, not satisfied with this, condescends to the humble affection of a hen watching over her chickens. Hence it follows, that our obstinacy is truly monstrous, if we do not permit him to gather us together. And, indeed, if we consider, on the one hand, the dreadful majesty of God, and, on the other, our mean and low condition, we cannot but be ashamed and astonished at such amazing goodness. For what object can God have in view in abasing himself so low on our account? When he compares himself to a mother, he descends very far below his glory; how much more when he takes the form of a hen, and deigns to treat us as his chickens?

Besides, if this charge was justly brought against the ancient people, who lived under the Law, it is far more applicable to us. For though the statement—which I quoted a little ago from Moses—was always true, and though the complaints which we find in Isaiah are just, that

in vain did God spread out his hands every day to embrace a hard-hearted and rebellious people, (Isa 65:2)

that, though he rose up early, (Jer 7:13) he gained nothing by his incessant care of them; yet now, with far greater familiarity and kindness, he invites us to himself by his Son. And, therefore, whenever he exhibits to us the doctrine of the Gospel, dreadful vengeance awaits us, if we do not quietly hide ourselves under his wings, by which he is ready to receive and shelter us. Christ teaches us, at the same time, that all enjoy safety and rest who, by the obedience of faith, are gathered together to God; because under his wings they have an impregnable refuge. 114

We must attend likewise to the other part of this accusation, that God, notwithstanding the obstinate rebellion of his ancient people, was not all at once so much offended by it, as to lay aside a father’s love and a mother’s anxiety, since he did not cease to send prophets after prophets in uninterrupted succession; as in our own day, though he has experienced a marvelous depravity in the world, he still continues to dispense his grace. But these words contain still deeper instruction, namely, that the Jews, as soon as the Lord gathered them together, immediately left him. Hence came dispersions so frequent, that they scarcely remained at rest for a single moment under the wings of God, as we see in the present day a certain wildness in the world, which has indeed existed in all ages; and, therefore, it is necessary that God should recall to himself those who are wandering and going astray. But this is the crowning point of desperate and final depravity, when men obstinately reject the goodness of God, and refuse to come under his wings.

I said formerly that Christ speaks here in the person of God, and my meaning is, that this discourse belongs properly to his eternal Godhead; for he does not now speak of what he began to do since he was manifested in the flesh, (1Ti 3:16,) but of the care which he exercised about the salvation of his people from the beginning. Now we know that the Church was governed by God in such a manner that Christ, as the Eternal Wisdom of God, presided over it. In this sense Paul says, not that God the Father was tempted in the wilderness, but that Christ himself was tempted, 115 (1Co 10:9.)

Again, when the sophists seize on this passage, to prove free will, and to set aside the secret predestination of God, the answer is easy. “God wills to gather all men,” say they; “and therefore all are at liberty to come, and their will does not depend on the election of God.” I reply: The will of God, which is here mentioned, must be judged from the result. For since by his word he calls all men indiscriminately to salvation, and since the end of preaching is, that all should betake themselves to his guardianship and protection, it may justly be said that he wills to gather all to himself. It is not, therefore, the secret purpose of God, but his will, which is manifested by the nature of the word, that is here described; for, undoubtedly, whomsoever he efficaciously wills to gather, he inwardly draws by his Spirit, and does not merely invite by the outward voice of man.

If it be objected, that it is absurd to suppose the existence of two wills in God, I reply, we fully believe that his will is simple and one; but as our minds do not fathom the deep abyss of secret election, in accommodation to the capacity of our weakness, the will of God is exhibited to us in two ways. And I am astonished at the obstinacy of some people, who, when in many passages of Scripture they meet with that figure of speech 116 (ἀνθρωποπάθεια) which attributes to God human feelings, take no offense, but in this case alone refuse to admit it. But as I have elsewhere treated this subject fully, that I may not be unnecessarily tedious, I only state briefly that, whenever the doctrine, which is the standard of union, 117 is brought forward, God wills to gather all, that all who do not come may be inexcusable.

And you would not This may be supposed to refer to the whole nation, as well as to the scribes; but I rather interpret it in reference to the latter, by whom the gathering together, 118 was chiefly prevented. For it was against them that Christ inveighed throughout the whole of the passage; and now, after having addressed Jerusalem in the singular number, it appears not without reason that he immediately used the plural number. There is an emphatic contrast between God’s willing and their not willing; 119 for it expresses the diabolical rage of men, who do not hesitate to contradict God.

Calvin: Mat 23:38 - NO PHRASE 38.=== Lo, === your house is left to you desolate. He threatens the destruction of the temple, and the dissolution of the whole frame of civil gover...

38.=== Lo, === your house is left to you desolate. He threatens the destruction of the temple, and the dissolution of the whole frame of civil government. Though they were disfigured by irreligion, crimes, and every kind of infamy, yet they were so blinded by a foolish confidence in the temple, and its outward service, that they thought that God was bound to them; and this was the shield which they had always at hand: “What? Could God depart from that place which he has chosen to be his only habitation in the world? And since he dwells in the midst of us, we must one day be restored.” In short, they looked upon the temple as their invincible fortress, as if they dwelt in the bosom of God. But Christ maintains that it is in vain for them to boast of the presence of God, whom they had driven away by their crimes, and, by calling it their house, (lo, your house is left to you,) he indirectly intimates to them that it is no longer the house of God. The temple had indeed been built on the condition, that at the coming of Christ it would cease to be the abode and residence of Deity; but it would have remained as a remarkable demonstration of the continued grace of God, if its destruction had not been occasioned by the wickedness of the people. It was therefore a dreadful vengeance of God, that the place which Himself had so magnificently adorned was not only forsaken by Him, and ordered to be razed to the foundation, but consigned to the lowest infamy to the end of the world. Let the Romanists now go, and let them proceed, in opposition to the will of God, to build their Tower of Babylon, while they see that the temple of God, which had been built by his authority and at his command, was laid low on account of the crimes of the people.

Calvin: Mat 23:39 - For I tell you // Until you say 39.For I tell you He confirms what he had said about the approaching vengeance of God, by saying that the only method of avoiding destruction will be...

39.For I tell you He confirms what he had said about the approaching vengeance of God, by saying that the only method of avoiding destruction will be taken from them. For that was the accepted time, the day of salvation, (Isa 49:8; 2Co 6:2,) so long as that very person who had come to be their Redeemer, attested and proclaimed the redemption which he had brought. But at his departure, as at the setting of the sun, the light of life vanished; and therefore this dreadful calamity, which he threatens, must of necessity fall upon them.

Until you say We come now to inquire what period is denoted by this phrase. Some restrict it to the last day of judgment. Others think that it is a prediction, which was soon afterwards fulfilled, when some of the Jews humbly adored Christ. But I do not approve of either of these interpretations. And I am certainly astonished that learned men should have stumbled at so small an obstacle, by taking great pains to inquire how unbelievers can say concerning Christ, Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord; for he does not declare what they will be, but what he himself will do. And even the adverb until extends no farther than to the time which goes before. Joseph did not know his wife until she brought forth Christ, (Mat 1:25.) By these words Scripture does not mean, that after Christ had been born they lived together as husband and wife, but only shows that Mary, before the birth of her son, was a virgin that had not known man.

So then the true meaning of the present passage, in nay opinion, is this: “Hitherto I have lived among you in humility and kindness, and have discharged the office of a teacher; and no having finished the course of my calling, I shall depart, and it will not be possible for you any longer to enjoy my presence, but him whom you now despise as a Redeemer and a minister of salvation, you will find to be your Judge.” In this manner the passage agrees with the words of Zechariah, They shall look on him whom they pierced, (Zec 12:10; Joh 19:37.) But Christ appears also to make an indirect allusion to their vain hypocrisy, because, as if they ardently longed for the promised salvation, they sung daily the words of the psalm,

Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord,
(Psa 118:26;)

while they treated with scorn the Redeemer that was offered to them. In short, he declares that he will not come to them until, trembling at the sight of his dreadful majesty, they shall exclaim—when it is too late—that truly he is the Son of God. And this threatening is addressed to all despisers of the Gospel, more especially to those who falsely profess his name, while they reject his doctrine; for they will one day acknowledge that they cannot escape the hands of him whom they now mock by their hypocritical pretensions. For the same song is now sung by the Papists, who, after all, care nothing about Christ, until, armed with vengeance, he ascends his tribunal. We are also reminded, that so long as Christ exhibits himself to us in the name of the Father as the herald of salvation and Mediator, we ought not only to honor him with our lips, but sincerely to wish that he would make us and the whole world subject to himself.

Defender: Mat 23:9 - no man your father This would not apply to recognizing one's biological father by this name. The point is that no man should be regarded or addressed as an authoritative...

This would not apply to recognizing one's biological father by this name. The point is that no man should be regarded or addressed as an authoritative spiritual master, playing a role equal to that of our heavenly Father or even as an intermediary between us and Him. "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1Ti 2:5). The same would apply to any other title or position (Rabbi, Master, Doctor, Reverend) which might imply spiritual authority or power above that of ordinary believers, all of whom have been made "kings and priests unto God and his Father" (Rev 1:6)."

Defender: Mat 23:13 - woe unto you Jesus pronounces eight "woes" on the scribes (or lawyers) and Pharisees in this chapter (Mat 23:13-16, Mat 23:23, Mat 23:25, Mat 23:27, Mat 23:29). Se...

Jesus pronounces eight "woes" on the scribes (or lawyers) and Pharisees in this chapter (Mat 23:13-16, Mat 23:23, Mat 23:25, Mat 23:27, Mat 23:29). Seven times He calls them "hypocrites" and five times He says they are "blind." He calls each a "child of hell" (Mat 23:15), and says they are like "whited sepulchers ... full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness" (Mat 23:27), also "full of hypocrisy and iniquity" (Mat 23:28). They are, He says, "serpents" and a "generation of vipers" (Mat 23:33). One receives the impression that God hates the sin of hypocrisy in religious leaders more than most other sins. New Testament language used here by the Lord Jesus is as severely condemnatory as anything found in the Old Testament. Religionists such as these have persecuted genuine believers, especially faithful teachers and preachers, all though history."

Defender: Mat 23:35 - Zacharias The identity of this Zacharias is uncertain. He was not the Zechariah who was the author of the book of Zechariah, but possibly may have been the prie...

The identity of this Zacharias is uncertain. He was not the Zechariah who was the author of the book of Zechariah, but possibly may have been the priest Zechariah who was stoned in the temple court by order of King Joash (2Ch 24:20, 2Ch 24:21)."

Defender: Mat 23:38 - desolate This prophecy was fulfilled in grim detail when the Romans destroyed the temple in a.d. 70 and Jerusalem in a.d. 135, sending the Jewish survivors int...

This prophecy was fulfilled in grim detail when the Romans destroyed the temple in a.d. 70 and Jerusalem in a.d. 135, sending the Jewish survivors into worldwide exile for almost two thousand years."

Defender: Mat 23:39 - Blessed is he This affirmation, prophesied in Psa 118:26, had been sung by the Jerusalem crowds when Jesus entered the city just a few days before, but they did not...

This affirmation, prophesied in Psa 118:26, had been sung by the Jerusalem crowds when Jesus entered the city just a few days before, but they did not really understand who He was, and their enthusiasm was quickly rejected and dampened by the priests. The result was the age-long exile and suffering of the Jews. Finally, however, when Christ comes again, in power and great glory, the nation will recognize Him in deep repentance and indeed will say, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.""

TSK: Mat 23:1 - -- Mat 15:10-20; Mar 7:14; Luk 12:1, Luk 12:57, Luk 20:45

TSK: Mat 23:2 - -- Neh 8:4-8; Mal 2:7; Mar 12:38; Luk 20:46

TSK: Mat 23:3 - whatsoever // for whatsoever : Mat 15:2-9; Exo 18:19, Exo 18:20,Exo 18:23; Deu 4:5, Deu 5:27, Deu 17:9-12; 2Ch 30:12; Act 5:29, Rom 13:1 for : Mat 21:30; Psa 50:16-20; ...

TSK: Mat 23:4 - -- Mat 23:23, Mat 11:28-30; Luk 11:46; Act 15:10,Act 15:28; Gal 6:13; Rev 2:24

TSK: Mat 23:5 - all // they make // the borders all : Matt. 6:1-16; 2Ki 10:16; Luk 16:15, Luk 20:47, Luk 21:1; Joh 5:44, Joh 7:18, Joh 12:43; Phi 1:15, Phi 2:3; 2Th 2:4 they make : Deu 6:8; Pro 3:3,...

TSK: Mat 23:6 - -- Mat 20:21; Pro 25:6, Pro 25:7; Mar 12:38, Mar 12:39; Luk 11:43-54, Luk 14:7-11, Luk 20:46, Luk 20:47; Rom 12:10; Jam 2:1-4; 3Jo 1:9

TSK: Mat 23:7 - Rabbi Rabbi : Joh 1:38, Joh 1:49, Joh 3:2, Joh 3:26, Joh 6:25, Joh 20:16

TSK: Mat 23:8 - be // one // all be : Mat 23:10; 2Co 1:24, 2Co 4:5; Jam 3:1; 1Pe 5:3 one : Mat 10:25, Mat 17:5, Mat 26:49; Joh 13:13, Joh 13:14; Rom 14:9, Rom 14:10; 1Co 1:12, 1Co 1:1...

TSK: Mat 23:9 - call // for call : 2Ki 2:12, 2Ki 6:21, 2Ki 13:14; Job 32:21, Job 32:22; Act 22:1; 1Co 4:15; 1Ti 5:1, 1Ti 5:2; Heb 12:9 for : Mat 6:8, Mat 6:9, Mat 6:32; Mal 1:6; ...

TSK: Mat 23:11 - -- Mat 20:26, Mat 20:27; Mar 10:43, Mar 10:44; Luk 22:26, Luk 22:27; Joh 13:14, Joh 13:15; 1Co 9:19; 2Co 4:5; 2Co 11:23; Gal 5:13; Phi 2:5-8

TSK: Mat 23:12 - -- Mat 5:3, Mat 18:4; Job 22:29; Psa 138:6; Pro 15:33, Pro 16:18, Pro 16:19, Pro 29:23; Isa 57:15; Dan 4:37; Luk 1:51, Luk 1:52, Luk 14:11, Luk 18:14; Ja...

TSK: Mat 23:13 - woe // for ye shut woe : Mat 23:14, Mat 23:15, Mat 23:27, Mat 23:29; Isa 9:14, Isa 9:15, Isa 33:14; Zec 11:17; Luk 11:43, Luk 11:44 for ye shut : Mat 21:31, Mat 21:32; L...

TSK: Mat 23:14 - for ye // long // therefore for ye : Josephus says that this sect pretended to a more exact knowledge of the law, on which account the women were subject to them, as pretending t...

for ye : Josephus says that this sect pretended to a more exact knowledge of the law, on which account the women were subject to them, as pretending to be dear to God. Exo 22:22-24; Job 22:9, Job 31:16-20; Mar 12:40; Luk 20:47; 2Ti 3:6; Tit 1:10,Tit 1:11; 2Pe 2:14, 2Pe 2:15

long : That these were long we learn from Bab. Berachoth, where we are told that the very religious prayed nine hours a day.

therefore : Mat 23:33-36, Mat 11:24; Luk 12:48; Jam 3:1; 2Pe 2:3

TSK: Mat 23:15 - for // proselyte // ye make for : Gal 4:17, Gal 6:12 proselyte : Est 8:17; Act 2:10, Act 13:43 ye make : Joh 8:44; Act 13:10, Act 14:2, Act 14:19, Act 17:5, Act 17:6, Act 17:13; ...

TSK: Mat 23:16 - ye blind // Whosoever shall swear by the temple // it is // he is ye blind : Mat 23:17, Mat 23:19, Mat 23:24, Mat 23:26, Mat 15:14; Isa 56:10,Isa 56:11; Joh 9:39-41 Whosoever shall swear by the temple : Mat 5:33, Mat...

ye blind : Mat 23:17, Mat 23:19, Mat 23:24, Mat 23:26, Mat 15:14; Isa 56:10,Isa 56:11; Joh 9:39-41

Whosoever shall swear by the temple : Mat 5:33, Mat 5:34; Jam 5:12

it is : Mat 15:5, Mat 15:6; Mar 7:10-13

he is : Gal 5:3

TSK: Mat 23:17 - Ye fools // or Ye fools : Psa 94:8 or : Mat 23:19; Exo 30:26-29; Num 16:38, Num 16:39

TSK: Mat 23:18 - guilty guilty : or, debtor, Mat 23:15, or bound

guilty : or, debtor, Mat 23:15, or bound

TSK: Mat 23:19 - or or : Exo 29:37, Exo 30:29

TSK: Mat 23:21 - and by and by : 1Ki 8:13, 1Ki 8:27; 2Ch 6:2, 2Ch 7:2; Psa 26:8, Psa 132:13, Psa 132:14; Eph 2:22; Col 2:9

TSK: Mat 23:22 - by the by the : Mat 5:34; Psa 11:4; Isa 66:1; Act 7:49; Rev 4:2, Rev 4:3

TSK: Mat 23:23 - for // anise // cummin // the weightier // these for : Luk 11:42 anise : Gr. ανηθον [Strong’ s G432], dill. Dill is a species of plant of the pentandria digynia class, growing native...

for : Luk 11:42

anise : Gr. ανηθον [Strong’ s G432], dill. Dill is a species of plant of the pentandria digynia class, growing native in Spain and Portugal. The root is fusiform and long; stems, erect-groved, jointed, branched, and about two feet in height; leaves, doubly pinnated, sweet and odorous; flowers, flat, terminal umbels ; corolla, five ovate, concave, yellow petals, with apexes inflected; germen , like that of fennel; seeds, scarcely the length of a carraway seed, but broader and flatter, of a brown colour, aromatic, sweetish odour, and warmish, pungent taste.

cummin : Gr. κυμινομ [Strong’ s G2951] Cummin is a plant of the same class as dillcaps1 . icaps0 t rises eight or ten inches on a slender round procumbent, branching stem; leaves, a dark green, narrow, linear, and pointed; flowers, purple, in numerous four rayed umbels; corolla, five unequal petals, inflected, and notched at the apex; seeds, oblong, striated, of a brown colour, strong, heavy odour, and warm, bitterish taste.

the weightier : Mat 9:13, Mat 12:7, Mat 22:37-40; 1Sa 15:22; Pro 21:3; Jer 22:15, Jer 22:16; Hos 6:6; Mic 6:8; Gal 5:22, Gal 5:23

these : Mat 5:19, Mat 5:20

TSK: Mat 23:24 - -- Mat 7:4, Mat 15:2-6, Mat 19:24, Mat 27:6-8; Luk 6:7-10; Joh 18:28, Joh 18:40

TSK: Mat 23:25 - for // full for : Mat 15:19, Mat 15:20; Mar 7:4-13; Luk 11:39, Luk 11:40 full : Isa 28:7, Isa 28:8

TSK: Mat 23:26 - cleanse cleanse : Mat 12:33; Isa 55:7; Jer 4:14, Jer 13:27; Eze 18:31; Luk 6:45; 2Co 7:1; Heb 10:22; Jam 4:8

TSK: Mat 23:27 - like // sepulchres like : Isa 58:1, Isa 58:2; Luk 11:44; Act 23:3 sepulchres : Num 19:16

like : Isa 58:1, Isa 58:2; Luk 11:44; Act 23:3

sepulchres : Num 19:16

TSK: Mat 23:28 - ye also // but ye also : Mat 23:5; 1Sa 16:7; Psa 51:6; Jer 17:9, Jer 17:10; Luk 16:15; Heb 4:12, Heb 4:13 but : Mat 12:34, Mat 12:35, Mat 15:19, Mat 15:20; Mar 7:21-...

TSK: Mat 23:29 - ye build ye build : Luk 11:47, Luk 11:48; Act 2:29

TSK: Mat 23:30 - the blood the blood : Mat 23:34, Mat 23:35, Mat 21:35, Mat 21:36; 2Ch 36:15; Jer 2:30

TSK: Mat 23:31 - witnesses // that witnesses : Jos 24:22; Job 15:5, Job 15:6; Psa 64:8; Luk 19:22 that : Act 7:51, Act 7:52; 1Th 2:15, 1Th 2:16

TSK: Mat 23:32 - the measure the measure : Gen 15:16; Num 32:14; Zec 5:6-11

the measure : Gen 15:16; Num 32:14; Zec 5:6-11

TSK: Mat 23:33 - serpents // how serpents : Mat 3:7, Mat 12:34, Mat 21:34, Mat 21:35; Gen 3:15; Psa 58:3-5; Isa 57:3, Isa 57:4; Luk 3:7; Joh 8:44; 2Co 11:3; Rev 12:9 how : Mat 23:14; ...

TSK: Mat 23:34 - I send // prophets // and wise // scribes // ye I send : Mat 10:16, Mat 28:19, Mat 28:20; Luk 11:49, Luk 24:47; Joh 20:21; Act 1:8; 1Co 12:3-11; Eph 4:8-12 prophets : Act 11:27, Act 13:1, Act 15:32;...

TSK: Mat 23:35 - upon // the blood of righteous // unto upon : Gen 9:5, Gen 9:6; Num 35:33; Deu 21:7, Deu 21:8; 2Ki 21:16, 2Ki 24:4; Isa 26:21; Jer 2:30,Jer 2:34, Jer 26:15, Jer 26:23; Lam 4:13, Lam 4:14; R...

TSK: Mat 23:36 - -- Mat 24:34; Eze 12:21-28; Mar 13:30,Mar 13:31; Luk 21:32, Luk 21:33

TSK: Mat 23:37 - Jerusalem // thou // how // even // and ye Jerusalem : Jer 4:14, Jer 6:8; Luk 13:34; Rev 11:8 thou : Mat 23:30, Mat 5:12, Mat 21:35, Mat 21:36, Mat 22:6; 2Ch 24:21, 2Ch 24:22; Neh 9:26; Jer 2:3...

TSK: Mat 23:38 - -- Mat 24:2; 2Ch 7:20,2Ch 7:21; Psa 69:24; Isa 64:10-12; Jer 7:9-14; Dan 9:26; Zec 11:1, Zec 11:2, Zec 11:6, Zec 14:1, Zec 14:2; Mar 13:14; Luk 13:35, Lu...

TSK: Mat 23:39 - Ye shall not // Blessed Ye shall not : Hos 3:4; Luk 2:26-30, Luk 10:22, Luk 10:23, Luk 17:22; Joh 8:21, Joh 8:24, Joh 8:56, Joh 14:9, Joh 14:19 Blessed : Mat 21:9; Psa 118:26...

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Poole: Mat 23:1 - See Poole on "Mat 23:3" Mat 23:1-12 Christ exhorteth to observe the doctrine, but not to follow the evil examples, of the scribes and Pharisees; and particularly not to imi...

Mat 23:1-12 Christ exhorteth to observe the doctrine, but not to

follow the evil examples, of the scribes and Pharisees;

and particularly not to imitate their ambition.

Mat 23:13-33 He pronounces divers woes against them for their blindness

and hypocrisy,

Mat 23:34-39 and prophesieth the destruction of Jerusalem.

See Poole on "Mat 23:3" .

Poole: Mat 23:1-3 - The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ s seat // All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do // But do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not Ver. 1-3. Our Lord having now done with the Pharisees, turneth his discourse to the more docible people, who (as we heard before) heard him attentive...

Ver. 1-3. Our Lord having now done with the Pharisees, turneth his discourse to the more docible people, who (as we heard before) heard him attentively and gladly, Mar 12:37 Luk 19:48 . Our Saviour foresaw that some unwary hearers might make two ill uses of what he had spoke against the scribes and Pharisees.

1. Some might report him an enemy to the law, the interpreters of which the Pharisees were.

2. Others might contemn the authority of the law, because he had represented these men, in whose hand the interpretation of it at present was, so truly contemptible.

Whereas, on the other side, many might run into errors of practice, from the example of the scribes and Pharisees, their magistrates and teachers. Against all these mistakes he cautions them in this chapter, showing that he did not undervalue the law of Moses, nor would have his reflections on the Pharisees prejudice any thing which they taught them of it, and according to it; neither would he have his people take the copy of the law from their actions.

The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ s seat: these men were the ordinary readers and interpreters of the law of God. Moses is here put for the law, as Luk 16:31 , If they hear not Moses and the prophets; and so Mat 23:29 , They have Moses and the prophets. Moses’ s seat signifieth the seat appointed for those that gave the sense of the law, or judgment upon it; thus, Moses of old time hath in every city those that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day, Act 15:21 2Co 3:15 . Their way was, while they read the Scriptures they stood up: (paying a particular reverence to the pure word of God), Luk 4:16 ; when they had done reading, they sat down and opened it. Their sitting in the seat of Moses did not signify a succession to Moses, for he had no successor, being the Mediator of the Old Testament; but the delivering and interpreting the doctrine and law of Moses. Dr. Lightfoot thinks it is rather to be understood of the chair of magistracy than the doctrinal chair. The Pharisees being exercised in that, it may be understood of both, for the reading and interpreting the law chiefly belonged to the scribes.

All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do that is, whatsoever is in Moses which they bid you observe and do. The term all is to be understood restrainedly, with respect to the subject matter or persons spoken of, in multitudes of scriptures. Our Saviour’ s cautioning his disciples so often against the leaven of these men, and their traditions, plainly showeth us that must be here the sense of it: Let not the law of God lose his authority with you because of those wicked men. He doth not command them to hear none but them, for then to what purpose did he himself preach, or send out the twelve, if none might hear them? All that can be concluded from this text is that the law of God, or word of God, is not to be despised, whoever reads or delivereth it. He goeth on,

But do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not We are naturally more led by example than by precept. Men had therefore need be cautioned against ill living teachers. Odi philosophum qui non sapit sibi. A man had need very well know the medicine which he taketh from a physician he seeth sick of the same disease, when he himself refuseth and abominates it. He that says and does not, may be heard, but not imitated. There may be a time when men can ordinarily hear no others, which was the present case.

Poole: Mat 23:4 - burdens Our Saviour saith the same of the lawyers, Luk 11:46 . The burdens here mentioned were not their traditions and ritual things, Christ would never...

Our Saviour saith the same of the lawyers, Luk 11:46 . The

burdens here mentioned were not their traditions and ritual things, Christ would never have before commanded his disciples to observe and do them, but the things truly commanded by the law of God, especially the ceremonial law, called a yoke, Act 15:10 , which (say the apostles) neither our fathers nor we were able to bear. They are, saith our Saviour, rigid exactors and pressers of the law of God upon others, but will not themselves use the least endeavours (such as the putting to of a finger) themselves to do them.

1. He blames them that their own lives no way answered their doctrine.

2. It may be, he also blames their too rigid pressing the law in all the minute things of it.

There may be a too rigorous pressing of the law. Good teachers will be faithful in delivering the whole counsel of God, yet teaching no more than themselves will endeavour to practise; and being conscious of human infirmity, they will do it with great tenderness and compassion, joining law and gospel both together.

Poole: Mat 23:5 - All their works they do for to be seen of men // They make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments Our Saviour had, Mat 23:4 blamed the Pharisees for not living up to what they taught, pressing the law of God on others, but not doing nor endeavou...

Our Saviour had, Mat 23:4 blamed the Pharisees for not living up to what they taught, pressing the law of God on others, but not doing nor endeavouring to observe it themselves. Here he blames them for doing what good things they did for ostentation, to be seen of men; and abounding in their ritual performances of more minute concernment, in the mean time neglecting their moral duties.

All their works they do for to be seen of men this is their main end, to be seen of men; for this he had reflected on them, Mat 6:1-34 .

They make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments For the right understanding of this we must have recourse to Num 15:37-40 , And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a riband of blue: and it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: that ye may remember, and do all my commandments. Deu 22:12 , Thou shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture, wherewith thou coverest thyself. In obedience to this law, the Jews did generally wear such garments that had fringes and blue ribands annexed to them. The Jews at this day do it not, because, as they pretend, they have lost the true way of dying the blue colour, required in the law. The end why God commanded them is expressed, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and be restrained from their own inventions and imaginations in God’ s service. They were also a note of distinction of the Jews from other people. Besides these, God commanding that they should bind his laws for a sign upon their hands, and as frontlets between their eyes, Deu 6:6-8 , they made them parchments, in which the precepts of the law were written, which they bound to their foreheads and arms. These were called phylacteries, from fulattw , to keep, things wherein the law was kept. The Pharisees, for a boast how zealous keepers they were of the law of God, (than which they did nothing less), made these phylacteries and ribands broader, and their fringes much longer, than other men’ s: this is that making broad their phylacteries, and enlarging the borders of their garments, which our Lord here reflects upon, done only for ostentation, and that they might be seen of men.

Poole: Mat 23:6-7 - -- Ver. 6,7. We have the same applied to the scribes, Mar 12:38,39 Luk 11:43 . Mark addeth, which love to go in long clothing. Our Saviour in these w...

Ver. 6,7. We have the same applied to the scribes, Mar 12:38,39 Luk 11:43 . Mark addeth, which love to go in long clothing. Our Saviour in these words doth not blame a distinction in habits and places, for he himself hath taught us, that those who are in kings’ palaces wear soft raiment; and, being often called Master and Lord, never reflected on them who called him so, as having done amiss: he only blames the Pharisees’ ambition, and silly affectation of these little things, seeking their own honour and glory, or an undue domination. There is therefore an emphasis to be put upon the word love; they might take salutations, and the upper rooms, if offered them as their due, for keeping civil order, but not affect them.

Poole: Mat 23:8-10 - -- Ver. 8-10. It is most certain that our Saviour doth not here forbid the giving of the titles of masters and fathers to his ministers, for then Paul w...

Ver. 8-10. It is most certain that our Saviour doth not here forbid the giving of the titles of masters and fathers to his ministers, for then Paul would not have given himself the title of father, 1Co 4:15 ; nor called the Galatians his little children, Gal 4:19 : nor called Timothy his son, and himself his father, Phi 2:22 ; nor called himself a doctor of the Gentiles, 1Ti 2:7 2Ti 1:11 . That which he forbids is,

1. An affectation of such titles, and hunting after them.

2. Rem tituli, the exercise of an absolute mastership, or a paternal, absolute power; so as to require any to believe things because they said them, or to do things because they bid them, without seeing the things asserted, or first commanded, in the word of God.

For in that sense God alone is men’ s Father, Christ alone their Master. Pastors and teachers in the church are all but ministers, ministers of Christ to publish his will, and to enjoin his laws; nor must any be owned as masters and fathers, to impose their laws and doctrines. This is twice repeated, because such is the corruption of human nature, that it is very prone, not only to affect these swelling titles, but also to exercise these exorbitant authorities.

Poole: Mat 23:11-12 - -- Ver. 11,12. We have what is in Mat 23:12 twice in Luke, Luk 14:11 Luk 18:14 . These verses expound what went before, and let us know; 1. That it w...

Ver. 11,12. We have what is in Mat 23:12 twice in Luke, Luk 14:11 Luk 18:14 . These verses expound what went before, and let us know;

1. That it was not a title, but the affectation of a title, which he blamed.

2. Not a doctorship, or mastership, but such a doctorship or mastership as made a man too big for the ministry of the church; such honour as lifted up the man’ s heart above his work.

He is an infamous doctor in the church of Christ, who thinks himself too high or too great to be a minister in it. For God will abase, and men shall abase, him who exalteth himself. God resisteth, and men usually contemn and despise the proud, especially ministers who are so. Both God shall exalt, and men shall honour, those that humble themselves, both to men, condescending to those of low degree, and to their work, thinking not the meanest ministry to souls a work beneath them.

Poole: Mat 23:13 - -- Our Saviour now cometh to denounce eight woes against the teachers of those times, the scribes and Pharisees. Luke saith, Luk 11:52 , Woe unto you,...

Our Saviour now cometh to denounce eight woes against the teachers of those times, the scribes and Pharisees. Luke saith, Luk 11:52 , Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye enter not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered. It was written of old, that the priest’ s lips should preserve knowledge: God hath committed the key of knowledge to the ministers and guides of his church, not that they should take it away, but that the people might seek the law at their mouths, because they are the messengers of the Lord of hosts, Mal 2:7 . Now saith our Saviour, you have taken it away: this Matthew calls a shutting up the kingdom of heaven against men; doing what in them lay to keep men from the knowledge of the mind and will of God, neither themselves teaching them the knowledge of God, which yet was their office and duty, nor suffering others to do it who would. You will neither go in yourselves, neither will you suffer them that are entering to go in. Yourselves are too proud or lazy, to preach the gospel, which is the way to the kingdom of heaven, and when others would, you suffer them not; nor yet will you suffer the people, who have a heart to it, to hear it. For this he calls them hypocrites seven times in this chapter, they pretending to be teachers and openers of the door to the kingdom of heaven, when indeed they did shut it; and denounces a woe to them, comprehending that ruin which soon after came upon them and their city by the Roman armies, and that eternal damnation which slept not, and was due to them. There are no worse men in the world than hypocrites, men pretending highly to God, yet neither themselves doing their duty in embracing the gospel, nor suffering others to do it, but doing what in them lie to hinder people from the means by which they might come to the kingdom of heaven.

Poole: Mat 23:14 - -- Mark hath the same, Mar 12:40 and Luk 20:47 . If any should think that long prayers are here condemned, he will be confuted by Luk 6:12 , where he ...

Mark hath the same, Mar 12:40 and Luk 20:47 . If any should think that long prayers are here condemned, he will be confuted by Luk 6:12 , where he will find that our Saviour continued all night in prayer to God. It is the end of their long prayers which alone our Saviour blames, their making them a pretence to devour widows’ houses; which whether they did as interested in the civil power, (in which it is certain the Pharisees amongst the Jews were employed), or by virtue of their ecclesiastical power or influence, persuading silly women to give them their estates, or at least to give them a great part of them, to the service of the tabernacle, that they might pray for their souls, was an abomination to God, not only for the hypocrisy of such prayers, designed for another end than they pretended, but because God had taken upon him the special care and protection of the widows. As our Saviour had before blamed their religious acts for the ostentation in them, seeking only their own honour and applause, so he here blames them for their covetous design in them.

Poole: Mat 23:15 - -- A third woe followeth, expressed in this verse, because they corrupted their proselytes, both as to doctrine and manners, so as they were twice more...

A third woe followeth, expressed in this verse, because they corrupted their proselytes, both as to doctrine and manners, so as they were twice more the children of the devil, and in danger of hell, than before. A proselyte was one who, coming from some pagan nation, relinquished idols, and worshipped one true and living God. Of these writers tell us there were two sorts; one that only professed to believe and worship one God, though he did not embrace the Jewish religion: such a one they suffered to live amongst them, and called him a proselyte of the gate. Others embraced the Jewish religion, and were admitted into their church, by circumcision, and baptism, and sacrifice (as their writers tell us): these they called proselytes of righteousness. Our Saviour saith the scribes and Pharisees compassed sea and land, that is, would take any pains, (it is a proverbial expression), to make one a proselyte; nor was this blameworthy in them, but that which followeth, that they made him twofold more the child of hell than before; corrupting him with their false doctrine, and setting him examples of an ill life. Their business was not to turn men from sin unto God, but merely to convert them to an opinion, if they had once got them into their church, so as they could make their markets of them; never regarding their souls more, nor to press upon them the reformation of their lives, that they might be saved. Thus priests and Jesuits at this day go to China, Japan, to proselyte men to the Roman faith; and use all imaginable arts to seduce persons born and bred under the profession of the protestant religion in protestant countries, and boast much of their converts; but he who looks upon the Scriptures, and considereth the lives of the most of their converts, will easily see they are but twice more the children of hell, being licensed, by their indulgences, pardons, absolutions, nay, by their very casuists, to live most prodigious impious lives, to say nothing of their damnable errors in matters of faith.

Poole: Mat 23:16-22 - by the temple // the gold of the temple // by the altar, swears by it, and by all the things thereon Ver. 16-22. Our Saviour here showeth the false doctrine which the Pharisees, for their own gain, taught the people concerning oaths. God had commande...

Ver. 16-22. Our Saviour here showeth the false doctrine which the Pharisees, for their own gain, taught the people concerning oaths. God had commanded that they should fear and serve the Lord their God, and swear by his name, Deu 6:13 10:20 . He that sweareth by any person, or thing, doth two things:

1. He attributes to the thing, or person, by which he sweareth, a knowledge of the heart and the secret intention.

2. He calleth upon the person, or thing, by which he sweareth, to be his judge, or to take a revenge upon him, in case he doth not believe in his heart what he affirms or denieth with his words to be true or false; otherwise an oath is no security at all.

From whence appeareth, that it is unreasonable for any to swear by any other than God, who alone can have a knowledge of the truth, and security of the heart; and that he who sweareth by any creature committeth idolatry in his heart, and in his heart doth indeed blaspheme, paying a Divine homage to a creature, and attributing to the creature what only agreeth to the Creator. The Pharisees, as it seemeth, had taught the people, that it was lawful to swear by the creature, but all oaths by creatures did not bind to the performance of the thing promised by such oaths: if a man swear

by the temple or by the altar it was nothing, no man was bound by such oaths to perform the thing for which such oaths were given as a security. But if any man swear by

the gold of the temple or by a gift which he brought to the altar, these oaths did bind him. By the gold of the temple is not to be understood the golden vessels used in the temple, nor the golden plates with which the several parts of the temple shined; but the gold which was brought as an offering into the temple, and put into the treasury there; of which, and of the gifts, the priests and officers about the temple had a considerable share, which made them equalize an oath by these to an oath made by the name of God itself.

1. Our Saviour here showed the unreasonable folly of the tradition, and calleth them for it blind guides; for in reason, the temple sanctifying the gold must itself be more especially holy, that is, separate for a holy use. The temple was holy, so was the altar, before the gold was brought into it, but the gold was not holy till it was brought into the holy place, and there offered.

2. He lets them know, that oaths by the creatures once made did oblige, as much as if they had been made by God himself. They were indeed sinfully made, for men ought not to have sworn by creatures; but being made, those who made them were bound to perform them, if the matter of them were not sinful. For he that swears

by the altar, swears by it, and by all the things thereon and he who swears by the temple, swears by it, and by him that dwelleth therein and he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon For none who sware by inanimate things could possibly be imagined to call these things, which he knew had no life, no sense, no knowledge, to be a witness to the truth of his heart, as to what he believed, or what he intended. So as though he that sweareth by the creature be a profane swearer, yet he is bound by his oath, he indeed swearing by the God of those creatures. He hath reason to repent of the profane and unlawful form of his oath, but if the matter be what he may without sin perform, he is bound by his oath to the performance of it.

Poole: Mat 23:23 - these ought ye to have done We have much the same Luk 11:42 , only there it is, Ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God. It ...

We have much the same Luk 11:42 , only there it is, Ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God. It is manifest by our Saviour’ s words in the latter part of the verse,

these ought ye to have done that he doth not blame the Pharisees’ exactness in tithing mint, anise, rue, cummin, and all manner of herbs; but their neglecting the weightier matters of the law, faith and love to God, judgment and mercy. The Levites having no inheritance: God ordained tithes for their maintenance; of which also the poor were to have a share, Lev 27:30 Num 18:24 . The Pharisee boasted, Luk 18:12 , that he paid tithe of all he possessed. Christ here acknowledgeth that the Pharisees were exact in their paying tithes; but he blames them,

1. For their partiality, neglecting the weightier things of the law.

2. For their hypocrisy; they were only exact in these little things, that they might be taken notice of as scrupulous observers of the Divine law; while they omitted those things, which were of much more weight, which he reckoneth up: faith, by which some understand faith in God, but the most, faithfulness, and sincere and honest dealings with men, in opposition to fraud, and cheating, and circumventions.

Judgment, by which he means justice, giving to every one what is their own.

Mercy, by which he means a charitable behaviour, in helping such as are miserable and afflicted.

Love to God, which is the true root, out of which all things should flow, and is indeed comprehensive of all our duty toward God, as well as the root of all our good works towards men.

Poole: Mat 23:24 - -- It is a proverbial expression used amongst them, against such as would pretend a great niceness and scrupulosity about, and zeal for, little things,...

It is a proverbial expression used amongst them, against such as would pretend a great niceness and scrupulosity about, and zeal for, little things, but in matters of much higher concern and moment were not nice and scrupulous at all: and this indeed is both a certain note and an ordinary practice of hypocrites. There is no man that is sincere in his obedience to God, but hath respect to all God’ s commandments, Psa 119:6 . Though some duties be greater, of more moment for the honour and glory of God, than others, which a good man will lay the greatest stress upon, yet he will neglect nothing which the law of God enjoins him. But concerning hypocrites, these two things are always true:

1. They are partial in their pretended obedience.

2. They always lay the greatest stress upon the least things of the law, bodily labour and exercise, and those things which require least of the heart, and least self-denial.

Poole: Mat 23:26 - -- Luke hath this, Luk 11:39,40 , as occasioned by the Pharisees wondering that he washed not before dinner; instead of extortion and excess, he hat...

Luke hath this, Luk 11:39,40 , as occasioned by the Pharisees wondering that he washed not before dinner; instead of extortion and excess, he hath ravening and wickedness, and addeth, Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also? But the same thing might be spoken at two several times. He speaks there to the Pharisee, with whom he dined, Mat 23:37 . Here he speaks to the disciples and the multitude. Our Saviour’ s design here seemeth to me not to be a condemning of their legal or traditional washings of pots and cups, which he elsewhere reflects upon, but, by way of allusion only, to blame them that in their whole conversation they rather studied an external purity, than the inward purity of the heart, whereas if they would first have looked at purity of heart, the other would have followed that. A man may be outwardly pure, and inwardly filthy and impure; but no man can have a pure heart, but he will live a pure and holy life, for the external acts are but the impure acts of the soul: Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, and according to the inclinations and affections of the heart the foot moveth, the hand and all the bodily members act. For our Saviour’ s application of this to their traditional washings, I shall speak to it when I come to Luk 11:39 .

Poole: Mat 23:27-28 - -- Ver. 27,28. The similitude is of the same import with the other, to show that the Pharisees had only a vizard of strictness and holiness, when in the...

Ver. 27,28. The similitude is of the same import with the other, to show that the Pharisees had only a vizard of strictness and holiness, when in the mean time their hearts were full of lusts, hypocrisy, and iniquity. The Jews had two sorts of graves; some for ordinary persons, which appeared not (to which our Saviour likened the Pharisees, Luk 11:44 ); others that were covered with tombs, which were wont to be kept whited, so as they looked very fair outwardly, but had within nothing but rottenness and putrefaction. To these he compares them in this place. They were men that made a great show, but had nothing of any inward purity or cleanness, but were full of iniquity. Thus Paul called Ananias a whited wall; and, Psa 5:9 , the psalmist saith of the throat of the wicked that it is an open sepulchre.

Poole: Mat 23:29-30 - -- Ver. 29,30. Luke hath it, Luk 11:47 , Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear wit...

Ver. 29,30. Luke hath it, Luk 11:47 , Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres. It is plain by our Saviour’ s discourse, that the Pharisees were at great charge oft times to rebuild or adorn the sepulchres of the Lord’ s prophets, who had been slain by the Jews in former ages for testifying the truth of God, and the sepulchres of other righteous men dying for their righteousness. This they did like a company of hypocrites, to persuade the world of what they also said, that had they lived in the times of those prophets and other good men, they would have had no hand in their blood.

Poole: Mat 23:31-33 - -- Ver. 31-33. You (saith our Lord) confess that you are lineally descended from those who killed the prophets: you have not only their blood communicat...

Ver. 31-33. You (saith our Lord) confess that you are lineally descended from those who killed the prophets: you have not only their blood communicated to you, but their spirit; your behaviours and carriages towards me and my disciples have witnessed, and will yet further testify, that you are the children of those who killed the prophets in a moral as well as a natural sense; you inherit the same spirit, and are full of the same malice and rancour. They killed them, and you bury them: seeing there is no reclaiming you, go you on, fill up the measure of your fathers’ sins. There is something more to be added to make the iniquity of this nation full. You are a company of serpents, vipers, that cannot escape the damnation of hell.

Poole: Mat 23:34-36 - -- Ver. 34-36. Luke saith, Luk 11:49-51 , Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shal...

Ver. 34-36. Luke saith, Luk 11:49-51 , Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. Luke saith, Therefore also said the wisdom of God. Matthew saith, Behold, I send. Christ is the wisdom of God; he here tells them he would send them prophets, wise men, scribes. Luke expounds it by prophets and apostles; men authorized by Christ to reveal unto men the will of God, and men that should be extraordinarily inspired to enable them thereunto.

Scribes, that is, persons instructed to the kingdom of God; a new sort of scribes, but much fitter for their work than the present scribes.

And some ye shall kill and crucify, &c.: our Lord in this only foretells what usage both himself and his apostles should meet with from them, which was fulfilled in what the Scripture telleth us of the scourging of Paul, the stoning of Stephen, the killing of James, &c., beside the crucifying of himself.

That upon you, that is, as he expounds it, Mat 23:36 , upon this generation, may come all the righteous blood, that is, the blood of righteous men, shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, &c. Here arise two questions:

1. Who this Zacharias the son of Barachias was.

2. How it could stand with God’ s justice to bring the guilt of the blood of former generations upon that generation.

As to the first, some have guessed the person spoken of to have been one Zacharias the son of Baruch, who was the last slain upon the taking of Jerusalem, as Josephus tells us: but our Saviour here speaks of a thing passed, not to be afterwards done. Others think it was Zacharias the father of John Baptist: but we have no proof that he died a violent death. Others think it was Zechariah, who was one of the small prophets: but there was no temple in his time. It is most probably concluded to be Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, whom the Jews stoned with stones at the commandment of Joash in the court of the house of the Lord, 2Ch 24:21 . The father’ s name indeed doth not agree; but, first, Jehoiada (as many of the Jews had) might have two names: some think it was this same Zechariah who is called the son of Jeberechiah, Isa 8:2 . Our Saviour nameth Abel, who lived before the law, and Zacharias, who lived under the law, both slain for righteousness’ sake; that under them he might comprehend all the martyrs slain in those two periods. Others judge, that these two are named because we read of Abel’ s blood crying, Gen 4:10 , and Zechariah’ s praying (when he died) that the Lord would require his blood. For the other question, it is but righteous with God to punish the sins of parents upon their children; and though such vengeance doth not ordinarily reach further than the third and fourth generation, yet where succeeding generations go on in the same sinful courses, it may reach further, and often does. Isa 65:6,7, I will (saith God) recompense into their bosom your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together. That was the case here. They filled up the measure of their fathers’ sins. Therefore Christ tells them, that vengeance should sleep no longer, but come upon that generation, which happened in the utter destruction of Jerusalem within less than forty years after. Our Lord concludes with a pathetical lamentation over Jerusalem, and a further confirmation of what he had said about their ruin.

Poole: Mat 23:39 - Behold, your house is left unto you desolate // For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord // Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord We have the same Luk 13:34,35 . O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! The doubling of the word showeth the vehemency of our Saviour’ s affection. Thou th...

We have the same Luk 13:34,35 . O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! The doubling of the word showeth the vehemency of our Saviour’ s affection.

Thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee; that hast killed, and abused, and art yet going on to do the like, not taking notice of the vengeance of God upon thee before for this very sin, 2Ch 36:16,17 Ne 9:26,27 . How often would I have gathered thee, giving thee all external means proper to have reformed thee and reconciled thee to God, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings! Which if thou hadst accepted and embraced, the chickens are not safer under the wings of the hen from the danger of a kite than thou wouldst have been from enemies. But thou wouldst not; instead of hearkening to my prophets, thou killedst them, and didst stone those sent unto thee, and so didst voluntarily reject me, and all my offers and tenders of grace, mercy, and protection, through the mere obstinacy of thy perverse will.

Behold, your house is left unto you desolate both the temple, in which you place such a confidence, and your own dwelling houses, shall be destroyed, burnt, and razed down, or at least left without you as inhabitants.

For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: I will appear no more to you as a public preacher, after two or three days, for ever; and you, that the other day so envied the people’ s acclamations to me,

Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord shall be glad yourselves to see one of the days of the Son of man, and shall say the same thing, Blessed is he, & c. For whereas some interpret the term till, & c. of the day of judgment, or the time when the Jews shall be converted, I take them to be strained interpretations.

Till here certainly is to be interpreted, as Psa 110:1 Mat 1:25 ; and this comports with the history, for after this time our Saviour appeared in the temple publicly no more. For the disputes raised from Mat 23:37 , about God’ s secret will, whether he seriously willed the salvation of the Jews, &c., I take the affirmative part to have no foundation in this text, for would I is plainly enough here interpreted by the foregoing word, sending them prophets, and other ministers, to persuade them to repentance and reconciliation with God; as the use of means proper to an end appear to us indications of the will of him that useth them.

Lightfoot: Mat 23:2 - In Moses' seat, etc. Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:   [In Moses' seat, etc.] This is to be understood rather of the legislative ...

Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:   

[In Moses' seat, etc.] This is to be understood rather of the legislative seat (or chair), than of the merely doctrinal; and Christ here asserts the authority of the magistrate, and persuadeth to obey him in lawful things.   

Concerning the chairs of the Sanhedrim there is mention made in Babylonian Succah; "There were at Alexandria seventy-one golden chairs, according to the number of the seventy-one elders of the great council." Concerning the authority of Moses and his vicegerent in the council, there is also mention in Sanhedrim; "The great council consisted of seventy-one elders. But whence was this number derived? From that place where it is said, 'Choose me out seventy men of the elders of Israel: and Moses was president over them.' Behold seventy-one!"   

What is here observed by Galatinus from the signification of the aorist sat is too light and airy: "He saith, They sat and not, They sit; that he might plainly demonstrate, that their power was then ceased." But if we would be so curious to gather any thing from this aorist, we might very well transfer it to this sense rather: "The scribes and Pharisees, the worst of men, have long usurped Moses' seat; nevertheless, we ought to obey them, because, by the dispensation of the divine providence, they bear the chief magistracy."   

Concerning their authority, thus Maimonides: "The great council of Jerusalem was the ground ( the pillar and ground) of the traditional law, and the pillar of doctrine: whence proceeded statutes and judgments for all Israel. And concerning them the law asserts this very thing, saying, 'According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee.' Whosoever, therefore, believes Moses our master and his law, is bound to rely upon them for the things of the law."   

Christ teacheth, that they were not to be esteemed as oracles, but as magistrates.

Lightfoot: Mat 23:4 - Heavy burdens For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their f...

For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers   

[Heavy burdens.]... a heavy prohibition; Let him follow him that imposeth heavy things. There are reckoned up four-and-twenty things of the weighty things of the school of Hillel, and the light things of that of Shammai. "R. Joshua saith, A foolish religious man, a crafty wicked man; a she-pharisee, and the voluntary dashing of the Pharisees, destroy the world." It is disputed by the Gemarists, who is that crafty wicked man; and it is answered by some, "He that prescribes light things to himself, and heavy to others."

Lightfoot: Mat 23:5 - They make broad their phylacteries. // Enlarge the borders of their garments But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments.   [They ...

But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments.   

[They make broad their phylacteries.] These four places of the law, Exo 13:3-10; Exo 13:11-16; Deu 6:5-9; Deu 11:13-21; being writ upon two parchment labels (which they called tephillin), were carried about with them constantly with great devotion, being fastened to their forehead and their left arm. To the forehead, in that place where the pulse of an infant's brain is. This of the forehead was most conspicuous, and made broad; hence came that, "Let nobody pass by the synagogue while prayers are saying there. -- But if he hath phylacteries upon his head, he may pass by, because they show that he is studious of the law." -- "It is not lawful to walk through burying-places with phylacteries on one's head, and the book of the law hanging at one's arm."   

They are called in Greek phylacteries; that is, observatories; because they were to put them in mind of the law; and perhaps they were also called preservatories; because they were supposed to have some virtue in them to drive away devils: "It is necessary that the phylacteries should be repeated at home a-nights, to drive away devils."   

Concerning the curious writing of the phylacteries; see Maimonides on Tephellin. Concerning their strings, marked with certain small letters, see Tosaphoth on Megillah. Concerning the repeating of them, see both the Talmuds in Beracoth. How the Jews did swear touching their phylacteries; see Maimonides in Shevuoth; and how God is brought in swearing by the phylacteries; see Tanchum.   

Our Saviour does not so much condemn the bare wearing of them, as the doing it out of pride and hypocrisy. It is not unlikely that he wore them himself, according to the custom of the country: for the children of the Jews were to be brought up from their infancy in saying the phylacteries; that is, as soon as they were capable of being catechised. The scribes and Pharisees made theirs very broad and visible, that they might obtain a proportional fame and esteem for their devotion with the people; these things being looked upon as arguments of the study of the law, and signs of devotion.   

[Enlarge the borders of their garments.] See Num 15:38; Deu 22:12 -- "He that takes care of the candle of the sabbath, his children shall be the disciples of wise men. He that takes care to stick up labels against the posts shall obtain a glorious house; and he that takes care of making borders to his garment, shall obtain a good coat."

Lightfoot: Mat 23:7 - And to be called Rabbi, Rabbi And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.   [And to be called Rabbi, Rabbi.] I. Concerning the original of ...

And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.   

[And to be called Rabbi, Rabbi.] I. Concerning the original of this title, see Aruch; "The elder times, which were more worthy, had not need of the title either of Rabban; or Rabbi; or Rabh; to adorn either the wise men of Babylon or the wise men of the land of Israel: for, behold, Hillel comes up out of Babylon, and the title of Rabbi is not added to his name: and thus it was with those who were noble among the prophets; for he saith, Haggai the prophet [not Rabbi Haggai]. Ezra did not come up out of Babylon, etc. [not Rabbi Ezra]; whom they did not honour with the titles of Rabbi when they spoke their names. And we have heard that this had its beginning only in the presidents [of the council] from Rabban Gamaliel the old man, and Rabban Simeon his son, who perished in the destruction of the second Temple: and from Rabban Jochanan Ben Zaccai, who were all presidents. And the title also of Rabbi began from those that were promoted [to be elders] from that time, Rabbi Zadok, and R. Eliezer Ben Jacob: and the thing went forth from the disciples of Rabban Jochanan Ben Zaccai, and onwards. Now the order, as all men use it, is this: Rabbi is greater than Rabh; and Rabban is greater than Rabbi; and he is greater who is called by his own (single) name, than he who is called Rabban."   

That this haughty title of Rabbi was not in use before the times of Hillel sufficiently appears from thence, that the doctors before that were called by their plain names, and knew nothing of this title. Antigonus Socheus, Shemaiah and Abtalion, Gebihah Ben Pesisa, Calba Savua, Admon and Hanan, Hillel and Shammai, and many others, whose names we meet with in the Jewish story. Yet you shall find these, that were more ancient, sometimes officiously honoured by the writers of their nation with this title, which they themselves were strangers to. They feign that king Jehoshaphat thus called the learned men: "When he saw (say they) a disciple of the wise men, he rose up out of his throne and embraced him, and kissed him, and called him O Father, Father, Rabbi, Rabbi, Lord, Lord." And Joshua Ben Perachia is called Rabbi Joshua...   

II. It was customary, and they loved it, to be saluted with this honourable title, notwithstanding the dissembled axiom among them, Love the work, but hate the title.   

1. Disciples were thus taught to salute their masters: "R. Eliezer saith, he that prayeth behind the back of his master, and he that salutes his master, -- or returns a salute to his master; -- and he that makes himself a separatist from the school of his master, -- and he that teaches any thing, which he hath not heard from his master, -- he provokes the Divine Majesty to depart from Israel." The Glossers on these words, 'He that salutes, or returns a salute to his master,' thus comment; "he that salutes his master in the same form of words that he salutes other men, and doth not say to him, God save you, Rabbi." It is reported also, that the council excommunicated certain persons four and twenty times, for the honour of master; that is, for not having given due honour to the Rabbins.   

2. The masters saluted one another so. "R. Akibah said to R. Eleazar, Rabbi, Rabbi." -- "R. Eleazar Ben Simeon, of Magdal Gedor, came from the house of his master, sitting upon an ass: he went forward along the bank of the river rejoicing greatly, and being very much pleased with himself, because he had learned so much of the law. There meets him a very deformed man, and said Save you, Rabbi; he did not salute him again, but on the contrary said thus, 'Raca, how deformed is that man! perhaps all your townsmen are as deformed as you.' He answered, 'I know nothing of that, but go you to the workman that made me, and tell him, how deformed is this vessel which thou hast made!' " etc. And a little after, "when that deformed man was come to his own town, his fellow citizens came out to meet him and said, Save you, O Rabbi, Rabbi, master, master. He [R. Eleazar] saith to them, 'To whom do you say Rabbi, Rabbi?' They answer, 'To him that followeth thee.' He replied, 'If this be a Rabbi; let there not be many such in Israel.' "

Lightfoot: Mat 23:14 - Ye devour widows' houses Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive ...

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.   

[Ye devour widows' houses.] The scribes and Pharisees were ingenious enough for their own advantage. Hear one argument among many, forged upon the anvil of their covetousness, a little rudely drawn, but gainful enough: "The Lord saith, 'Make me an ark of shittim wood.' Hence it is decided (say they) in behalf of a disciple of the wise men, that his fellow citizens are bound to perform his servile work for him." -- O money, thou mistress of art and mother of wit! So he that was preferred to be president of the council, was to be maintained and enriched by the council! See the Gloss on Babylonian Taanith.   

They angled with a double hook among the people for respect, and by respect for gain.   

I. As doctors of the law: where they, first and above all things, instilled into their disciples and the common people, that a wise man, or a master, was to be respected above all mortal men whatsoever. Behold the rank and order of benches according to these judges! "A wise man is to take place of a king; a king of a high priest; a high priest of a prophet; a prophet of one anointed for war; one anointed for war of a president of the courses; a president of the courses of the head of a family; the head of a family of a counsellor; a counsellor of a treasurer; a treasurer of a private priest; a private priest of a Levite; a Levite of an Israelite; an Israelite of a bastard; a bastard of a Nethinim; a Nethinim of a proselyte; a proselyte of a freed slave. But when is this to be? Namely, when they are alike as to other things: but, indeed, if a bastard be a disciple, or a wise man, and the high priest be unlearned, the bastard is to take place of him. A wise man is to be preferred before a king: for if a wise man die, he hath not left his equal; but if a king die, any Israelite is fit for a kingdom."   

This last brings to my mind those words of Ignatius the martyr, if indeed they are his, in his tenth epistle: My son, saith he, honour God and the king: but I say, 'Honour God as the cause and Lord of all: the bishop as the chief priest, bearing the image of God; in respect of his rule bearing God's image, in respect of his priestly office, Christ's; and, after him, we ought to honour the king also.'   

II. Under a pretence of mighty devotion, but especially under the goodly show of long prayers, they so drew over the minds of devout persons to them, especially of women, and among them of the richer widows, that by subtle attractives they either drew out or wrested away their goods and estates. Nor did they want nets of counterfeit authority, when from the chair they pronounced, according to their pleasures, of the dowry and estate befalling a widow, and assumed to themselves the power of determining concerning those things. Of which matter, as it is perplexed with infinite difficulties and quirks, you may read, if you have leisure, the treatises Jevamoth, Chetuboth; and Gittin.   

Concerning the length of their prayers, it may suffice to produce the words of the Babylon Gemara in Beracoth; "The religious anciently used to tarry an hour [meditating before they began their prayers]: whence was this? R. Joshua Ben Levi saith, 'It was because the Scripture saith, Blessed are they who sit in thy house.' R. Joshua Ben Levi saith also, 'He that prays ought to tarry an hour after prayers: as it is said, The just shall praise thy name, the upright shall sit before thy face ': it is necessary, therefore, that he should stay [meditating] an hour before prayers, and an hour after; and the religious anciently used to stay an hour before prayers, an hour they prayed, and an hour they stayed after prayers. Since, therefore, they spent nine hours eery day about their prayers, how did they perform the rest of the law? and how did they take care of their worldly affairs? Why herein, in being religious, both the law was performed, and their own business well provided for." And in the same place, "Long prayers make a long life."

Lightfoot: Mat 23:15 - To make one proselyte Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold mor...

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.   

[To make one proselyte.] The Talmudists truly speak very ill of proselytes: "Our Rabbins teach, that proselytes and Sodomites hinder the coming of the Messias. Proselytes are as a scab to Israel." The Gloss; "For this reason, that they were not skilled in the commandments, that they brought in revenge, and moreover, that the Israelites perchance may imitate their works," etc.   

Yet in making of these they used their utmost endeavours for the sake of their own gain, that they might some way or other drain their purses, after they had drawn them in under the show of religion, or make some use or benefit to themselves by them. The same covetousness, therefore, under a veil of hypocrisy, in devouring widows' houses, which our Saviour had condemned in the former clause, he here also condemns in hunting after proselytes; which the scribes and Pharisees were at all kind of pains to bring over to them. Not that they cared for proselytes; whom they accounted as "a scab and plague"; but that the more they could draw over to their religion, the greater draught they should have for gain, and the more purses to fish in. These, therefore, being so proselyted, "they made doubly more the children of hell than themselves." For when they had drawn them into their net, having got their prey, they were no further concerned what became of them, so they got some benefit by them. They might perish in ignorance, superstition, atheism, and all kind of wickedness: this was no matter of concern to the scribes and Pharisees; only let them remain in Judaism, that they might lord it over their consciences and purses.

Lightfoot: Mat 23:16 - Whosoever shall swear by the gold of the Temple, he is a debtor Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temp...

Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple; he is a debtor!   

[Whosoever shall swear by the gold of the Temple, he is a debtor.] These words agree in the same sense with those of the Corban; Mat 15:5. We must not understand the gold of the Temple here, of that gold which shined all about in the walls and ceilings; but the gold here meant is that which was offered up in the Corban. It was a common thing with them, and esteemed as nothing, to swear by the Temple; and by the altar; which we have observed at the 31st verse of the fifth chapter Mat 5:31; and therefore they thought themselves not much obliged by it; but if they swore Corban; they supposed they were bound by an indispensable tie. For example: if any one should swear thus, 'By the Temple, or, By the altar, my money, my cattle, my goods shall not profit you'; it was lawful, nevertheless, for the swearer, if he pleased, to suffer them to be profited by these: but if he should swear thus, ' Corban; my gold is for the Temple, Corban; my cattle are for the altar,' this could noways be dispensed with.

Lightfoot: Mat 23:23 - Ye pay tithe of mint. // Anise. // Cummin Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the la...

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.   

[Ye pay tithe of mint.] I. "This is the general rule about tithes; whatsoever serves for food, whatsoever is kept [that is, which is not of common right], and whatsoever grows out of the earth, shall be tithed."   

II. According to the law, cattle, corn, and fruit were to be tithed: the way and measure of which, as the scribes teach, was this: "Of bread-corn that is thrashed and winnowed, 1. A fifth part is taken out for the priest; this was called the great offering. 2. A tenth part of the remainer belong to the Levite; this was called the first tenth; or tithe. 3. A tenth part again was to be taken out of the remainder, and was to be eaten at Jerusalem, or else redeemed; this was called the second tithe. 4. The Levite gives a tenth part out of his to the priest; this was called the tithe of the tithe." These are handled at large in Peah, Demai, Maaseroth; etc.   

III. The tithing of herbs is from the Rabbins. This tithing was added by the scribes, and yet approved of by our Saviour, when he saith, "Ye ought not to have left these undone." Hear this, O thou who opposest tithes. The tithing of herbs was only of ecclesiastical institution, and yet it hath the authority of our Saviour to confirm it, "Ye ought not to have left these things undone": and that partly on account of the justice of the thing itself, and the agreeableness of it to law and reason, partly that it was commanded by the council sitting in Moses' chair, as it is, Mat 23:2.   

IV. [Mint.]...is reckoned among those things which come under the law of the seventh year. Where Rambam saith, "In the Aruch it is minta." It is called sometimes mintha; where R. Solomon writes, "In the Aruch it is minta in the mother tongue, and it hath a sweet smell; therefore they strew it in synagogues for the sake of its scent."   

[Anise.]...R. Solomon, " anise is a kind of herb, and is tithed, both as to the seed and herb itself." Rambam writes thus: "It is eaten raw after meat, and is not to be boiled; while, therefore, it is not boiled, it comes under the law of tithing." The Gloss "in the Roman language is anethum [anise], and is tithed, whether it be gathered green or ripe."   

[Cummin.]...It is reckoned among things that are to be tithed.

Lightfoot: Mat 23:27 - Ye are like whited sepulchres Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within f...

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.   

[Ye are like whited sepulchres.] Sepulchres are distinguished by the masters of the Jews into a deep sepulchre; which cannot be known to be a sepulchre; graves that appear not [ul Luk_11:44]; and a painted sepulchre; such as were all those that were known, and to be seen. Our Saviour compares the Scribes and Pharisees to both; to those, in the place of Luke last mentioned; to these, in the place before us, each upon a different reason.   

Concerning the whiting of sepulchres; there are these traditions: "In the fifteenth day of the month Adar they mend the ways, and the streets, and the common sewers, and perform those things that concern the public, and they paint (or mark) the sepulchres." The manner is described in Maasar Sheni; They paint the sepulchres with chalk, tempered and infused in water. The Jerusalem Gemarists give the reason of it in abundance of places: "Do they not mark the sepulchres (say they) before the month Adar? Yes, but it is supposed that the colours are wiped off. For what cause do they paint them so? That this matter may be like the case of the leper. The leprous man crieth out, 'Unclean, unclean'; and here, in like manner, uncleanness cries out to you and saith, 'Come not near.' " R. Illa, in the name of R. Samuel Bar Nachman, allegeth that of Ezekiel; "If one passing through the land seeth a man's bone, he shall set up a burial sign by it."   

The Glossers deliver both the reason and the manner of it thus: "From the fifteenth day of the month Adar they began their search; and wheresoever they found a sepulchre whose whiting was washed off with the rain, they renewed it, that the unclean place might be discerned, and the priests who were to eat the Trumah might avoid it." Gloss on Shekalim; and again on Maasar Sheni; "They marked the sepulchres with chalk in the likeness of bones; and mixing it with water, they washed the sepulchre all about with it, that thereby all might know that the place was unclean, and therefore to be avoided." Concerning this matter also, the Gloss speaks; "They made marks like bones on the sepulchres with white chalk," etc. See the place.

Lightfoot: Mat 23:28 - Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men. // But within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.   [Even so ye also outwardly appear ...

Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.   

[Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men.] Such kind of hypocrites are called distained; or coloured. Jannai the king, when he was dying, warned his wife that she should take heed of painted men, pretending to be Pharisees, whose works are as the works of Zimri, and yet they expect the reward of Phineas. The Gloss is "Those painted men are those whose outward show doth not answer to their nature; they are coloured without, but their inward part doth not answer to their outward; and their works are evil, like the works of Zimri; but they require the reward of Phineas, saying to men, That they should honour them as much as Phineas." They had forgotten their own axiom, A disciple of the wise, who is not the same within that he is without, is not a disciple of the wise.   

[But within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.] The masters themselves acknowledged this to their own shame. They inquire, what were those sins under the first Temple for which it was destroyed; and it is answered, "Idolatry, fornication, and bloodshed." They inquire, what were the sins under the second; and answer, "Hate without cause, and secret iniquity"; and add these words, "To those that were under the first Temple their end was revealed, because their iniquity was revealed: but to those that were under the second their end was not revealed, because their iniquity was not revealed." The Gloss, "They that were under the first Temple did not hide their iniquity; therefore their end was revealed to them: as it is said, 'After seventy years I will visit you in Babylon': but their iniquity under the second Temple was not revealed: those under the second Temple were secretly wicked."

Lightfoot: Mat 23:29 - Ye garnish the sepulchres of the righteous Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,  &...

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,   

[Ye garnish the sepulchres of the righteous.] Let them raise some pillar upon his sepulchre. The Glossers are divided about the rendering of the word pillar. Some understand it of a kind of building or pillar; some of the whiting or marking of a sepulchre above spoken of. The place referred to speaks concerning the remains of the didrachms paid for the redemption of the soul: and the question is, if there be any thing of them due, or remaining from the man now dead, what shall be done with it; the answer is, "Let it be laid up till Elias come: but R. Nathan saith, Let them raise some pillar [or building] upon his sepulchre." Which that it was done for the sake of adorning the sepulchres is proved from the words of the Jerusalem Gemara upon the place; They do not adorn the sepulchres of the righteous, for their own sayings are their memorial. Whence those buildings or ornaments that were set on their sepulchres seem to have been sacred to their memory, and thence called as much as souls; because they preserved the life and soul of their memory.   

These things being considered, the sense of the words before us doth more clearly appear. Doth it deserve so severe a curse, to adorn the sepulchres of the prophets and righteous men? Was not this rather an act of piety than a crime? But according to their own doctrine, O ye scribes and Pharisees, their own acts and sayings are a sufficient memorial for them. Why do ye not respect, follow, and imitate these? But neglecting and trampling upon these, you persuade yourselves that you have performed piety enough to them, if you bestow some cost in adorning their sepulchres, whose words indeed you despise.

Lightfoot: Mat 23:33 - The damnation of hell Ye serpents, ye of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?   [The damnation of hell.] The judgment of Gehenna. See the Chald...

Ye serpents, ye of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?   

[The damnation of hell.] The judgment of Gehenna. See the Chaldee paraphrast on Rth 2:12; Baal Turim on Gen 1:1; and Midras Tillin.

Lightfoot: Mat 23:34 - Wise men and scribes Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye...

Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:   

[Wise men and scribes.] Let them observe this, who do not allow the ministers of the word to have a distinct calling. The Jews knew not any that was called a wise man; or a scribe; but who was both learned, and separated from the common people by a distinct order and office.

Lightfoot: Mat 23:35 - Unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, ...

That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.   

[Unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias.] That the discourse here is concerning Zacharias the son of Jehoiada, killed by king Joash, we make appear by these arguments:   

I. Because no other Zacharias is said to have been slain before these words were spoken by Christ. Those things that are spoke of Zacharias, the father of the Baptist, are dreams; and those of Zacharias, one of the twelve prophets, are not much better. The killing of our Zacharias in the Temple is related in express words: and why, neglecting this, should we seek for another, which in truth we shall nowhere find in any author of good credit?   

II. The Jews observe, that the death of this Zacharias, the son of Jehoiada, was made memorable by a signal character [nota] and revenge: of the martyrdom of the other Zacharias they say nothing at all.   

Hear both the Talmuds: "R. Jochanan said, Eighty thousand priests were killed for the blood of Zacharias. R. Judah asked R. Acha, 'Whereabouts they killed Zacharias, whether in the Court of the Women, or in the Court of Israel?' He answered, 'Neither in the Court of Israel nor in the Court of the women, but in the Court of the Priests.' And that was not done to his blood which useth to be done to the blood of a ram or a kid. Concerning these it is written, 'And he shall pour out his blood, and cover it with dust.' But here it is written, 'Her blood is in the midst of her; she set it upon the top of a rock, she poured it not upon the ground.' And why this? 'That it might cause fury to come up to take vengeance. I have set her blood upon a rock, that it should not be covered.' They committed seven wickednesses in that day. They killed a priest, a prophet, and a judge: they shed the blood of an innocent man: they polluted the court: and that day was the sabbath day, and the day of Expiation. When therefore Nebuzar-adan went up thither, he saw the blood bubbling: so he said to them, 'What meaneth this?' 'It is the blood,' say they, 'of calves, lambs, and rams, which we have offered on the altar.' 'Bring then,' said he, 'calves, lambs, and rams, that I may try whether this be their blood.' They brought them and slew them, and that blood still bubbled, but their blood did not bubble. 'Discover the matter to me,' said he, 'or I will tear your flesh with iron rakes.' Then they said to him, 'This was a priest, a prophet, and a judge, who foretold to Israel all these evils which we have suffered from you, and we rose up against him, and slew him.' 'But I,' saith he, 'will appease him.' He brought the Rabbins, and slew them upon that blood; and yet it was not pacified: he brought the children out of the school, and slew them upon it, and yet it was not quiet: he brought the young priests, and slew them upon it, and yet it was not quiet. So that he slew upon it ninety-four thousand, and yet it was not quiet. He drew near to it himself, and said, 'O Zacharias, Zacharias! Thou hast destroyed the best of thy people' [that is, they have been killed for your sake]; 'would you have me destroy all?' Then it was quiet, and did not bubble any more," etc.   

The truth of this story we leave to the relators: that which makes to our present purpose we observe: that it was very improbable, nay, next to impossible, that those that heard the words of Christ (concerning Zacharias slain before the Temple and the altar) could understand it of any other but of this, concerning whom and whose blood they had such famous and signal memory; and of any other Zacharias slain in the Temple there was a profound silence. In Josephus, indeed, we meet with the mention of one Zacharias, the son of Baruch, (which is the same thing with Barachias,) killed in the Temple, not long before the destruction of it: whom some conjecture to be prophetically marked out here by our Saviour: but this is somewhat hard, when Christ expressly speaks of time past, ye slew; and when, by no art nor arguments, it can be proved that this Zacharias ought to be reckoned into the number of prophets and martyrs.   

There are two things here that stick with interpreters, so that they cannot so freely subscribe to our Zacharias: 1. That he lived and died long before the first Temple was destroyed; when the example would have seemed more home and proper to be taken under the second Temple, and that now near expiring. 2. That he was plainly and notoriously the son of Jehoiada; but this is called by Christ "the son of Barachias."   

To which we, after others who have discoursed at large upon this matter, return only thus much:   

I. That Christ plainly intended to bring examples out of the Old Testament; and he brought two, which how much the further off they seemed to be from deriving any guilt to this generation, so much heavier the guilt is if they do derive it. For a Jew would argue, "What hath a Jew to do with the blood of Abel; killed almost two thousand years before Abraham the father of the Jews was born? And what hath this generation to do with the blood of Zacharias; which was expiated by cruel plagues and calamities many ages since?" Nay, saith Christ, this generation hath arrived to that degree of impiety, wickedness, and guilt, that even these remote examples of guilt relate, and are to be applied to it: and while you think that the blood of Abel; and the following martyrs doth nothing concern you, and believe that the blood of Zacharias hath been long ago expiated with a signal punishment; I say unto you, that the blood both of the one and the other, and of all the righteous men killed in the interval of time between them, shall be required of this generation; 1. Because you kill him who is of more value than they all. 2. Because by your wickedness you so much kindle the anger of God, that he is driven to cut off his old church; namely, the people that hath been of a long time in covenant with him. For when Christ saith, That on you may come all the righteous blood; etc.; it is not so much to be understood of their personal guilt as to that blood, as of their guilt for the killing of Christ, in whose death, the guilt of the murder of all those his types and members is in some measure included: and it is to be understood of the horrible destruction of that generation, than which no former ages have ever seen any more woeful or amazing, nor shall any future, before the funeral of the world itself. As if all the guilt of the blood of righteous men, that had been shed from the beginning of the world, had flowed together upon that generation.   

II. To the second, which has more difficulty, namely, that Zacharias is here called the son of Barachias; when he was the son of Jehoiada; we will observe, by the way, these two things out of the writings of the Jews, before we come to determine the thing itself:   

1. That that very Zacharias of whom we speak is by the Chaldee paraphrast called the son of Iddo. For thus saith he on Lam 3:20; "'Is it fit that the daughters of Israel should eat the fruit of their womb?' etc. The rule of justice answered and said, 'Is it also fit that they should slay a priest and prophet in the Temple of the Lord, as ye slew Zacharias and the son of Iddo; the high priest and faithful prophet, in the house of the Sanctuary, on the day of Expiation?' " etc.   

2. In the place of Isaiah, concerning Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah, the Jews have these things: "It is written, 'I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Barachiah,' Isa 8:1. But what is the reason that Uriah is joined with Zechariah? For Uriah was under the first Temple; Zechariah under the second: but the Scripture joineth the prophecy of Zechariah to the prophecy of Uriah. By Urias it is written, 'For your sakes Sion shall be ploughed as a field.' By Zechariah it is written, 'As yet old men and ancient women shall sit in the streets of Jerusalem.' When the prophecy of Uriah is fulfilled, the prophecy of Zechariah shall also be fulfilled." To the same sense also speaks the Chaldee paraphrast upon the place: "'And I took unto me faithful witnesses.' The curses which I foretold I would bring, in the prophecy of Uriah the priest, behold they are come to pass: likewise all the blessings which I foretold I would bring, in the prophecy of Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah, I will bring to pass." See also there RR. Jarchi and Kimchi.   

From both these we observe two things: 1. If Iddo did not signify the same thing with Jehoiada to the Jewish nation, why might not our Saviour have the same liberty to call Barachias the father of Zacharias, as the Chaldee paraphrast had to call him Iddo? 2. It is plain that the Jews looked upon those words of Isaiah as the words of God speaking to Isaiah, not of Isaiah relating a matter of fact historically...   

For if it had been to be construed in the preter tense, it should have been pointed by Kamets, And I caused to witness. Which being well observed, (as I confess it hath not been by me heretofore,) the difficulty under our hand is resolved, as I imagine, very clearly: and I suppose that Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah in Isaiah is the very same with our Zacharias the son of Jehoiada; and that the sense of Isaiah comes to this: in that and the foregoing chapter there is a discourse of the future destruction of Damascus, Samaria, and Judea. For a confirmation of the truth of this prophecy, God makes use of a double testimony: first, he commands the prophet Isaiah to write, over and over again, in a great volume, from the beginning to the end, "To hasten the spoil, he hastened the prey": and this volume should be an undoubted testimony to them, that God would certainly bring on and hasten the forementioned spoiling and destruction. "And moreover (saith God), I will raise up to myself two faithful martyrs," (or witnesses,) who shall testify and seal the same thing with their words and with their blood, namely, Uriah the priest, who shall hereafter be crowned with martyrdom for this very thing, Jer 26:20; Jer 26:23; and Zechariah the son of Barachiah, or Jehoiada, who is lately already crowned: he; the first martyr under the first Temple; this; the last. Hear, thou Jew, who taxest Matthew in this place: your own authors assert, that Uriah the priest is to be understood by that Uriah who was killed by Jehoiakim; and that truly. We also assert, that Zechariah the son of Jehoiadah is to be understood by Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah; and that Matthew and Christ do not at all innovate in this name of Barachias, but did only pronounce the same things concerning the father of the martyr Zacharias, which God himself had pronounced before them by the prophet Isaiah.   

Objection. But since our Saviour took examples from the Old Testament, why did he not rather say, "from the blood of Abel to the blood of Uriah the priest?" that is, from the beginning of the world to the end of the first Temple? I answer,   

1. The killing of Zechariah was more horrible, as he was more high in dignity; and as the place wherein he was killed was more holy.   

2. The consent of the whole people as more universal to his death.   

3. He was a more proper and apparent type of Christ.   

4. The requiring of vengeance is mentioned only concerning Abel and Zechariah: "Behold, the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me." And, "Let the Lord look upon it, and require it."   

5. In this the death of Christ agrees exactly with the death of Zechariah; that, although the city and nation of the Jews did not perish till about forty years after the death of Christ, yet they gave themselves their death's wound in wounding Christ. So it was also in the case of Zechariah: Jerusalem and the people of the Jews stood indeed many years after the death of Zechariah, but from that time began to sink, and draw towards ruin. Consult the story narrowly, and you will plainly find, that all the affairs of the Jews began to decline and grow worse and worse, from that time when "blood touched blood," (the blood of the sacrificer mingled with the blood of the sacrifice), and when "the people became contentious and rebellious against the priest."

Lightfoot: Mat 23:37 - Jerusalem, that killest the prophets O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children ...

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!   

[Jerusalem, that killest the prophets.] R. Solomon on those words, "But now murderers": "They have killed (saith he) Uriah, they have killed Zechariah." Also on these words, "Your sword hath devoured your prophets"; "Ye have slain (saith he) Zechariah and Isaiah." "Simeon Ben Azzai said, 'I have found a book of genealogies at Jerusalem, in which it was written, Manasseh slew Isaiah,' " etc.

PBC: Mat 23:19 - -- Is the gift greater than the altar or is the altar greater than the gift? The reason why our offering is accepted in the sight of God is because our o...

Is the gift greater than the altar or is the altar greater than the gift? The reason why our offering is accepted in the sight of God is because our offering is made upon the altar of the Lord Jesus Christ. Beloved every offering that we make to God must be made upon the altar of Jesus Christ. We don’t come to God with that which we have done with our own hands. We don’t come and offer God something which we have done. Beloved, we come and make our offering upon the altar of the Lord Jesus Christ -because of that we’re accepted in the sight of God. Even your prayers are offered upon that altar and they are accepted in the sight of God. Jesus Christ offered His human nature -that sinless body of His. He offered that gift upon the altar of His Deity. That which gave it such virtue and infinite power is that His human nature was offered upon the altar of His Deity. That gave it infinite value and it satisfied God. He’s the One that had to be satisfied. Also, it satisfied God’s holy law.

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PBC: Mat 23:23 - And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. Have we, in our search for the " weightier" things of God, passed them by? In looking at the cross references to that verse, I observed the Lord placi...

Have we, in our search for the " weightier" things of God, passed them by? In looking at the cross references to that verse, I observed the Lord placing emphasis on " I will have mercy, and not sacrifice" and " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind."

The scribes and pharisees so concentrated on details they were unable to comprehend the main objective. They could not see the forest for the trees. They were so busy with grooming the trees they missed the beauty of the forest. Another way to say it, " Details became like sacrifices. See how much I adhere to exactness, I am a true child of God, I will receive a greater reward."—A means to show degree of involvement with God as opposed to a relationship with God.

A person is to exhibit a personal relationship with God as opposed to their involvement with God. Jesus expressed it, " The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question." Mr 12:29-34.

In the above selected verse {Mt 23:23} Jesus used common every day herbs to illustrate the scribes and Pharisees involvement with God. They were using minor details to demonstrate one’s love for and obedience to God (giving Him what they thought He wanted) instead of giving Him what He required. They were not wrong in what they did—their field of vision was too narrow. And in their attempts to catch him in some violation of the law, they naturally used their limited vision.

A perfect illustration is the woman caught in adultery, Joh 8:4. The scribes and Pharisees attempted to use the law, Le 20:10, against Jesus. They were still looking at the trees, a bigger tree; but no less, still a tree. Jesus, refocusing their narrowness of vision, allowed them to look within themselves. He used judgment and mercy.

They also attempted to use laws regarding the Sabbath against Jesus. They again had to look at themselves. Again, judgment and mercy from Jesus. {Mr 3:1-35; Lu 13:1-35; 14:1-35}

As we seek the " weightier" things of the Lord, have we allowed the " details" to become " cut and dry" ,to become " habits" or assigned to them a fixed weight; thus we do not consider them as we should? Could I say, " Things once considered necessary for dealing with specifics have become tradition. Not wrong in and of themselves, just more distant from judgment and mercy." Rephrased, " When the less weighty matters are being focused upon, the longer the focus, the easier they can assume (from human perspective) more weight." Call it habit, tradition or the-line-that-is-drawn-at-some-point, it is now a weighty matter to us. We have lost our focus (first love), not walked that second mile, not forgiven that seventy times seven: and, since our focus has broadened, we now see more details and soon begin to turn our heads from side to side to observe more details. We continue to lose focus. I’ll use an example: In Mr 12:29-34 used earlier—Jesus said first to love God with our all and second, to love your neighbor as yourself. Our focus is to love God. Jesus broadened the focus to loving our neighbor as our self. Now man wants more details, " And who is my neighbour?" ( looking for a line to draw). In Lu 10:29-37 (the story about a certain Samaritan); verse 37, Jesus allows a look within and the man responds with, " He that had mercy" . Jesus provides judgment, " Go, and do thou likewise" .Man looks to justify himself and doesn’t see mercy for others.

In our search to draw closer to our Lord, do we begin to believe we alone have the truth or at least more than others? Do we understand God’s written word better than others? With permission, I include a comment I received in an email from someone wondering about lack of fellowship amoungst Christians.

" Just from where is the spring of this problem? IMHO there is in each of us (especially ministers) (and I’ve felt it at times even though I am not a minister) that we hold the truth and there is that desire in many of us that we want to be used of God to spread the truth but I think we easily come to the point that (if Satan does not tramp us down one way [perhaps in despair or depression]—he will try another) we think we are the depository for truth and have a special inside line to God and we become so engrossed with that thought that when someone disagrees with us, then they are just not quite up to par don’t have our special, inside connection with the Lord. As a result we quickly find a pairing-off among ourselves and we start investigating to find out who the heretics, etc. are and we have dividing lines set up such that if another does not dot his i’s or cross his t’s the same way we do that we have no fellowship with them—we won’t set our foot in the doorways of their churches."

Do I detect a, " Yea, hath God said..." or a, " But that is not a true version..." or " Their doctrine-(s) is/are not correct..." or, " They don’t have the truth the way we have the truth..." et cetera, et cetera, et cetera? Defending the truth against blatant untruth is Biblical, but defending truth against truth (big versus little and vice versa), is that Biblical? Jesus said, " And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand." Mr 3:25. The seven churches mentioned in Revelation were true churches, at least five had big problems. From my readings, what evidence is left of them today? Could it be they began emphasizing their differences to the point God was mocked? Evidently God dealt with them. Ga 6:1-18 may be relevant with an emphasis on Ga 6:7.

In the Bible, I read of the church at...and the name of a city follows. Members in churches received a common name in Ac 11:26.

" And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch."

From this I believe the God-assigned term " Christians" began to be and still is associated to followers of Christ. Thus, a Christian from Ephesus would be welcomed, as a Christian, at Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea—even with the differences between the churches. In time as man became more involved, differences assumed more weight and eventually churches began receiving names Catholic, Novatianists, Waldenses, Mennonists, Baptist, Methodist, Pentacostal, Presbyterian, etc.. Now we can’t see the forest for the trees. Then the Baptist trees began growing together in a particular area of the forest. Soon these trees noticed differences between themselves within their area and begin separating areas unto themselves. Then the differences become issues. " We are closer to the forest than you."" You are drinking from the wrong part of the stream."" Your nourishment has mud in it." and so on. Seem familiar? Is not God in control of the forest? The stream? The food? Even of the trees? So when asked today, " What faith are you?" Our response is, " Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, etc." The world is slowly changing the meaning of the name God assigned to us and we are conforming to the world rather than comforming to God. The question is becoming, " What denomination are you?" and we comply.

The emphasis today seems to be on the differences between persons claiming the name of Christian. Though not entirely wrong, this apparently narrows the field of vision. This narrowness then begins to consume time best spent on " weightier matters"—judgment, mercy, and faith. Our focus is shifting from a relationship with God to how we relate (or do not relate) with those around us.

So, when an opportunity to look within presents itself; are we clinging to our positional involvement (scribes and Pharisees), or do we answer with relationship " discreetly" (the scribe)?

Jesus went to where the sinners and to where the righteous were—temples (churches), private homes (publican, Pharisees), public places (the streets, the hillsides); and He was attacked where He went, yet He went. He fellowshipped with all people wherever they were. He specifically went where Jews did not (Samaria). And, as He did, He gave light to their darkness, showed mercy to their faults, judged their actions (both physical and mental).

What does God require of man?

Mic 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God. Ps 25:1-22

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Haydock: Mat 23:1 - Then Jesus Then Jesus, &c. Jesus thus spoke to the multitude a few days previous to his passion. It is here observable that our Saviour, after he had tried al...

Then Jesus, &c. Jesus thus spoke to the multitude a few days previous to his passion. It is here observable that our Saviour, after he had tried all possible remedies, after he had taught and confirmed his doctrines by innumerable miracles, after he had secretly by his parables reprehended them for their wickedness, but without effect, not publicly upbraids their vices. But before his reprehension of the Pharisees, he instructs the people, lest they should despise the authority of the priesthood. (Salmeron)

Haydock: Mat 23:2 - The Scribes The Scribes. They, who professed the greatest zeal for the law of Moses, and gloried in being the interpreters of it, sat upon the chair of Moses, s...

The Scribes. They, who professed the greatest zeal for the law of Moses, and gloried in being the interpreters of it, sat upon the chair of Moses, succeeded to his authority of governing the people of God, of instructing them in his law, and of disclosing to them his will. Such, therefore, as did not depart from the letter of the law, were called Scribes. But such as professed something higher, and separated themselves from the crowd, as better than the ordinary class of men, were called Pharisees, which signifies, separated. (Origen) ---

God preserveth the truth of the Christian religion in the apostolic See of Rome, which in the new law answers to the chair of Moses, notwithstanding the disedifying conduct of some few of its bishops. Yes, though a traitor, as vile as Judas himself, were a bishop thereof, it would not be prejudicial to the integrity of the faith of God's Church, or to the ready obedience and perfect submission of sincere good Christians, for whom our Lord has made this provision, when he says: do that which they say, but do not as they do. (St. Augustine, Ep. clxv.)

Haydock: Mat 23:3 - All therefore whatsoever they shall say All therefore whatsoever they shall say. St. Augustine, in his defence of the Apostolic See, thus argues, contra lit. Petil. "Why dost thou call t...

All therefore whatsoever they shall say. St. Augustine, in his defence of the Apostolic See, thus argues, contra lit. Petil. "Why dost thou call the apostolic chair the chair of pestilence? If, for the men that sit therein, I ask: did our Lord Jesus Christ, on account of the Pharisees, reflect upon the chair, wherein they sat? Did he not commend that chair of Moses, and, preserving the honour of the chair, reprove them? For he sayeth: they have sat on the chair of Moses. All therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do. These points if you did well consider, you would not, for the men whom you defame, blaspheme the Apostolic See, wherewith you do not hold communion." (lib. ii. chap. 51) And again, chap. 61 Ibid. "Neither on account of the Pharisees, to whom you maliciously compare us, did our Lord command the chair of Moses to be forsaken; (in which chair he verily figured his own) for he warned the people to do what they say, and not what they do, and that the holiness of the chair be in no case forsaken, nor the unity of the flock divided, on account of the wicked lives of the pastors." ---

Christ does not tell them to observe every thing, without exception, that the Pharisees should say to them; for, (as it was observed in a previous chapter) many superstitions and false ordinances had obtained amongst them, corrupting the Scriptures by their traditions; but only such as were not contrary to the law of Moses. We are taught to obey bad no less than good ministers, in those things that are not expressly contrary to the law of God. Hence appears how unfounded and unreasonable is the excuse so often adduced by persons in justification of their misdeeds, viz. that they saw their pastors do the same. Such must attend to the rule here given by Jesus Christ. What they say, do: but according to their works, do ye not. (Denis the Carthusian) ---

The words, all whatsoever, shew that nothing must be excepted, but what the supreme law orders to be excepted. (Estius)

Haydock: Mat 23:4 - Heavy and insupportable burdens Heavy and insupportable burdens. Some understand in general the ceremonies of the law of Moses; but Christ seems rather here to mean the vain custom...

Heavy and insupportable burdens. Some understand in general the ceremonies of the law of Moses; but Christ seems rather here to mean the vain customs, tradition, and additions, introduced by the Jewish doctors, and by their Scribes and Pharisees. (Witham) ---

They thus greatly increase the burden of others, by multiplying their obligations; whilst they will not offer themselves the least violence in observing them, or alleviating the burden, by taking any share upon their own shoulders.

Haydock: Mat 23:5 - Phylacteries Phylacteries. [1] These were pieces or scrolls of parchment, on which were written the ten commandments, or some sentences of the law, which the Jews...

Phylacteries. [1] These were pieces or scrolls of parchment, on which were written the ten commandments, or some sentences of the law, which the Jews were accustomed to fasten to their foreheads, or their arms, to put them in mind of their duty. Thus they interpreted those words. (Deuteronomy vi. 8.) Thou shalt tie them as a sign on thy hand: and they shall be, and move before thy eyes. Perhaps all the Jews, and even our Saviour himself, wore them; and that he only blames the hypocrisy and vanity of the Scribes and Pharisees, who affected to have them larger than others; and they did the like as to the fringes which the Jews wore on their garments. (Witham) ---

That is, parchments, on which they wrote the ten commandments, and carried on their foreheads before their eyes: which the Pharisees affected to wear broader than other men: so to seem more zealous for the law. (Challoner) ---

The word Phylacterion, which is found both in the Greek and Latin Vulgate, properly signifies a preservation. It was a piece of parchment which the Jews carried round their heads from one ear to the other, and round their arms like bracelets, and upon which were written certain words of the law. Since the origin of the sect of Pharisees, they began to attach to these bands of parchment chimerical virtues, such as preservatives of maladies, and preservations from the insults of devils; hence the name phylacterion. (Bible de Vence)

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Phylacteria. Greek: phulakteria. Conservatoria, or preservatoria. See St. Jerome on this place, p. 188, and St. John Chrysostom, hom. lxxii. in Matt.

Haydock: Mat 23:7 - Rabbi // Greek: Didaskalos Rabbi. A title like that of master or doctor. Judas gave it to our Saviour. (Matthew xxvi. 49.) And the disciples of St. John the Baptist call...

Rabbi. A title like that of master or doctor. Judas gave it to our Saviour. (Matthew xxvi. 49.) And the disciples of St. John the Baptist call him so. (John iii. 26.) ---

Christ blames their pride, and vanity in affecting such titles, rather than the titles themselves. (Witham) ---

Greek: Didaskalos, properly a preceptor, as John iii. 10. Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things? (Bible de Vence)

Haydock: Mat 23:8 - One is your master One is your master, or teacher, who is the Christ, and under him one vicar, the successor of St. Peter, with whom all Catholic teachers are one, beca...

One is your master, or teacher, who is the Christ, and under him one vicar, the successor of St. Peter, with whom all Catholic teachers are one, because they all teach one and the same doctrine in every part of the Christian world; whereas in the multiplicity of modern sects, which are every day dividing and subdividing into fresh sects, no two leaders can be found teaching in all points exactly the same tenets; as each is not only allowed, but expected to follow his own private spirit, and to build his creed upon his own interpretation of Scripture. (Haydock)

Haydock: Mat 23:9-10 - Call none your father ... Neither be ye called masters Call none your father ... Neither be ye called masters, &c. The meaning is, that our Father in heaven is incomparably more to be regarded, than any ...

Call none your father ... Neither be ye called masters, &c. The meaning is, that our Father in heaven is incomparably more to be regarded, than any father upon earth: and no master is to be followed, who would lead us away from Christ. But this does not hinder but that we are by the law of God to have a due respect both for our parents and spiritual fathers, (1 Corinthians iv. 15,) and for our masters and teachers. (Challoner) ---

This name was a title of dignity: the presidents of the assembly of twenty-three judges where so called; the second judge of the sanhedrim, &c. (Bible de Vence) ---

Nothing is here forbidden but the contentious divisions, and self-assumed authority, of such as make themselves leaders and favourers of schisms and sects; as Donatus, Arius, Luther, Calvin, and innumerable other of very modern date. But by no means the title of father, attributed by the faith, piety, and confidence of good people, to their directors; for, St. Paul tells the Corinthians, that he is their only spiritual Father: If you have 10,000 instructors in Christ, yet not many Fathers. (1 Corinthians iv. 15.)

Haydock: Mat 23:13 - You shut the kingdom of heaven You shut the kingdom of heaven. This is here taken for eternal happiness, which can be obtained only by faith in Christ, since he calls himself the...

You shut the kingdom of heaven. This is here taken for eternal happiness, which can be obtained only by faith in Christ, since he calls himself the gate. (St. John chap. x) ---

Now the Pharisees, by refusing to believe in him, and conspiring against him, deterred those, who would otherwise have believed in Christ, from professing his name and following his doctrines, and thus shut the gate of heaven against them. (Nicholas de Lyra.) ---

In all these reprehensions, it is to be noted, for the honour of the priesthood, Jesus Christ never reprehendeth priests by that name. (S. Cyprian, ep. lxv.)

Haydock: Mat 23:14 - You devour the houses of widows You devour the houses of widows. Here our blessed Saviour severely reprehends the hypocrisy and other vices of the Scribes and Pharisees, a little b...

You devour the houses of widows. Here our blessed Saviour severely reprehends the hypocrisy and other vices of the Scribes and Pharisees, a little before his death, to make them enter into themselves, and to hinder them from seducing others. (Witham) ---The Pharisees, by every means in their power, endeavoured to persuade the widows of the poor to make vows or offerings for the temple, by which they themselves became rich, and thus they devoured the houses of widows. (Nicholas de Lyra.) ---

Whoever is a perpetrator of evil, deserves heavy chastisements; but the man who commits wickedness under the cloak of religion, is deserving of still more severe punishment. (Origen) ---

The same is said of fasting, alms, prayers. (Matthew vi.) ---

As above our Lord had inculcated eight beatitudes, so here he denounces eight woes or threats of impending judgment, to the Scribes and Pharisees, for their vile hypocrisy. (Jansenius)

Haydock: Mat 23:15 - -- Because whilst a Gentile he sinned without a perfect knowledge of the evil, and was not then a two-fold child of hell; but after his conversion, seei...

Because whilst a Gentile he sinned without a perfect knowledge of the evil, and was not then a two-fold child of hell; but after his conversion, seeing the vices of his masters, and perceiving that they acted in direct opposition to the doctrines they taught, he returns to the vomit, and renders himself a prevaricator, by adoring the idols he formerly left, and sells his soul doubly to the devil. (St. John Chrysostom) ---

They that teach that it is sufficient to have faith only, do make such Christians as blindly follow them, as these Jews did their proselytes, children of hell far more than before. (St. Augustine, lib. de fide et oper. chap. xxvi.)

Haydock: Mat 23:16 - Wo to you blind guides // Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing Wo to you blind guides. Avarice seems to have been the chief motive of the Pharisees in teaching this doctrine, since they taught that those who swo...

Wo to you blind guides. Avarice seems to have been the chief motive of the Pharisees in teaching this doctrine, since they taught that those who swore by the temple were guilty of no sin, nor under any obligation at all; whereas they who swore by the gold of the temple, were bound to pay a certain sum of money to the priests, by which they themselves were enriched. (Nicholas de Lyra.) ---

Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing, &c. To understand this obscure place, we may take notice, that a good part of what was offered on the altar, and given to the treasury of the temple, fell to the share of the Jewish priests; and therefore it was not their interest to have such promises or oaths dispensed with. This made them teach the people, that if any one had made a promissory oath or vow to give their money or goods to the temple, or to the altar itself, as it is said ver. 18, such oaths or promises were not obligatory, or might easily be dispensed with. But if any one had sworn or vowed to give any thing to the treasury of the temple, or join it to the offerings to be made on the altar, then such oaths and promises which turned to their profit were by all means to be kept. St. Jerome expounds it of oaths in common discourse; as if the taught the people, that when any one swore by the temple, or by the altar, it was not so considerable as to swear by the gold in the temple, or by the offerings there made: for in the latter cases, they were to make satisfaction according to the judgment of the Jewish priests. And to correct their covetous proceedings, Christ tells them that the temple and the altar were greater than the gold and the offerings. (Witham)

Haydock: Mat 23:19 - Sanctifieth Sanctifieth. The altar is sanctified by our Lord's body thereon. Theophylactus, the close follower of St. John Chrysostom, writeth thus upon this t...

Sanctifieth. The altar is sanctified by our Lord's body thereon. Theophylactus, the close follower of St. John Chrysostom, writeth thus upon this text: "In the old law, Christ will not allow the gift to be greater than the altar; but with us the altar is sanctified by the gift: for the bread, by the divine grace is converted into our Lord's body, and therefore the altar is sanctified by it."

Haydock: Mat 23:21 - By him that dwelleth in it By him that dwelleth in it. Here we see that swearing by creatures, as by the gospel and by the saints, is all referred to the honour of God, whose ...

By him that dwelleth in it. Here we see that swearing by creatures, as by the gospel and by the saints, is all referred to the honour of God, whose gospel it is, whose saints they are. (Bristow)

Haydock: Mat 23:23 - You ... who pay tithe You ... who pay tithe, &c. The tithes of these small things are not found in the law. Nor yet doth Christ blame them so much for this, as for negle...

You ... who pay tithe, &c. The tithes of these small things are not found in the law. Nor yet doth Christ blame them so much for this, as for neglecting more weighty matters; and tells them by a proverb, that they strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel. (Witham) ---

The Pharisees pretended the greatest exactitude even in the smallest commands of the law, when the observance of them could impress the people with a favourable idea of their sanctity; whereas they omitted the more essential precepts of the law, when it did not procure them the praise of men. (Nicholas de Lyra.) ---

St. Jerome interprets this passage of receiving tithes; the Vulgate has decimare. (St. Jerome) ---

The Pharisees are blamed by our Lord for their avarice, in scrupulously exacting tithes of the most trifling things, whilst they lived in a constant neglect of their duty, both to God and their neighbour. (Idem. [St. Jerome])

Haydock: Mat 23:25 - Woe to you Woe to you. Jesus Christ here condemns, in forcible language, the principal vices of the Pharisees, viz. their hypocrisy, false devotion, boundless ...

Woe to you. Jesus Christ here condemns, in forcible language, the principal vices of the Pharisees, viz. their hypocrisy, false devotion, boundless ambition, insatiable avarice, false zeal, and ignorance in deciding upon cases of conscience. St. Luke represents our Saviour as saying this to the Pharisees at dinner; (Chap. xi.) so that Christ must either have repeated these things at different times; or, St. Matthew according to custom, must have added them to other words of our Saviour, which, though spoken on another occasion, had some connection with the same subject. In vain do you, Pharisees, boast of your external sanctity. Do not imagine, that fornication, adultery, and other actions, are the only sins to be attended to; and that pride, avarice, anger, and other spiritual sins, are of no moment. He who made the body, made also the soul; and it is of equal consequence that both be kept clean and free from sin. (Nicholas de Lyra.) ---

By the similitude of the cup, and of whited sepulchres, as also that of building the sepulchres of the prophets, he shews that they did all their actions purposely to be seen by men, and that this was their only motive in all they did. (Idem. [Nicholas de Lyra.]) ---

Like Ezekiel's bitter roll, we have here a dreadful list of woes, like as many thunderbolts, levelled against hypocrisy, avarice, ambition, and all bitter zeal. We should be careful not to suffer such rank weeds to grow up in our soil, to the ruin of all good.

Haydock: Mat 23:26 - Thou blind Pharisee Thou blind Pharisee. The vices of the Scribes and Pharisees are not frequently to be found in Christians. The genuine characters of the pharisaical...

Thou blind Pharisee. The vices of the Scribes and Pharisees are not frequently to be found in Christians. The genuine characters of the pharisaical and hypocritical spirit, are: 1. to be punctiliously exact in trifles; 2. to be fond of distinction and esteem; 3. to be content with external piety; 4. to entertain a high opinion of ourselves, and to be impatient of reproof; 5. to be harsh to others, and ready to impose on them what we do not observe ourselves. Sins abundantly sufficient to rob us of every good, and to leave our house quite desolate! not less so that the temple and city of Jerusalem!

Haydock: Mat 23:27 - Whitened sepulchres Whitened sepulchres. The Jews, lest they should be defiled with touching the sepuchres, whitened them on the outside, in order to distinguish them. ...

Whitened sepulchres. The Jews, lest they should be defiled with touching the sepuchres, whitened them on the outside, in order to distinguish them. But this exterior whiteness, covering interior corruption, was a genuine picture of the pharisaical character. But these men, says St. Gregory, can have no excuse before the severe judge at the last day; for, whilst they shew to the view of mankind so beautiful an appearance of virtue, by their very hypocrisy they demonstrate that they are not ignorant how to live well. (Moral. xxvi.) ---

Tell me, you hypocrite, what pleasure there is in wickedness? why do you not wish to be what you wish to appear? What it is beautiful to appear, is beyond a doubt more beautiful to be. Be therefore what you appear, or appear what you really are. (St. John Chrysostom)

Haydock: Mat 23:28 - -- Jesus Christ so often and so boldly condemns the Pharisees, because he reads their hearts and intentions; but we, who can only judge of overt actions,...

Jesus Christ so often and so boldly condemns the Pharisees, because he reads their hearts and intentions; but we, who can only judge of overt actions, who cannot dive into the secrets of the heart, must never presume to call men's exterior good actions hypocrisy; but judge of men according as we see and know. (Bristow)

Haydock: Mat 23:29 - Build the sepulchres Build the sepulchres, &c. This is not blamed, as if it were in itself evil to build or adorn the monuments of the prophets; but the hypocrisy of the...

Build the sepulchres, &c. This is not blamed, as if it were in itself evil to build or adorn the monuments of the prophets; but the hypocrisy of the Pharisees is here taxed; who, whilst they pretended to honour the memory of the prophets, were persecuting even unto death the Lord of the prophets. (Challoner) ---

Jesus Christ foresaw that they would shortly accomplish the wickedness of their fathers in shedding his blood, as their fathers did the blood of the prophets. (St. Hilary) ---

And although they seemed to honour the prophets, and to abhor the murder of the just, it was merely that in their persecution of Jesus Christ he might appear to the people neither a prophet, nor just. (Menochius)

Haydock: Mat 23:32 - -- Jesus Christ does not here persuade the Jews to continue on in their wicked ways, as if praising and sanctioning their conduct; but only predicts his ...

Jesus Christ does not here persuade the Jews to continue on in their wicked ways, as if praising and sanctioning their conduct; but only predicts his own death, which they were about to compass, and which crime would greatly exceed that of their fathers: as he was the greatest, and even the Lord of all the other prophets, whom their fathers had put to death. (Denis the Carthusian)

Haydock: Mat 23:35 - From the blood of Abel // Of Zacharias, the son of Barachias // That upon you may come From the blood of Abel, &c. Not that the Jews, to whom Christ spoke, should be punished for crimes which they themselves did not commit nor be more ...

From the blood of Abel, &c. Not that the Jews, to whom Christ spoke, should be punished for crimes which they themselves did not commit nor be more severely punished than they themselves deserved; but he speaks of the Jewish people which, by putting to death their Messias, should shortly fill up the number of their sins; so that God would destroy their whole nation, as if the blood of Abel, and of the prophets unjustly murdered came upon them at once. See Maldonatus. ---

Of Zacharias, the son of Barachias. [2] Some think this was Zachary, numbered among the lesser prophets, whose father's name was Barachias; but we do not read of his being murdered in this manner. The more common opinion is, that here is meant Zachary, who, preaching to the people, (2 Paralipomenon xxiv. 20,) was stoned to death in the very place where Christ was now speaking. But there he is called the son of Joiada, and not of Barachias. Some conjecture his father might have had both names; and St. Jerome tells us, that in an ancient copy of St. Matthew, called the Gospel of the Nazarenes, he found this Zacharias, of whom our Saviour speaks, called the son of Joiada. (Witham) ---

St. Jerome gives another reason why he might have been called the son of Barachias, and not the son of Joiada, and this is to commend the sanctity of the father; for Barachias is interpreted the blessed of the Lord. Others suppose that he was the 11th of the 12 prophets; but it is not mentioned that he was slain between the temple and the altar. Some surmise that it was the father of the Baptist, collecting from the apocryphal writings that he was killed for preaching the arrival of the Redeemer: but that he was the son of Joiada, otherwise called Barachias, is the common opinion. (St. Jerome) ---

That upon you may come, &c. Not that they should suffer more than their own sins richly deserved; but that the justice of God should now fall upon them with such a final vengeance once for all, as might comprise all the different kinds of judgments and punishments, that had at any time before been inflicted for the shedding of just blood. (Challoner)

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

In Evangelio quo utuntur Nazareni, pro filio Barachiæ, filium Joiadæ reperimus Seriptum.

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Haydock: Mat 23:36 - Amen, I say to you Amen, I say to you. More severe punishments were inflicted on these Jews, on account of their more grievous and heinous transgressions; for nothing ...

Amen, I say to you. More severe punishments were inflicted on these Jews, on account of their more grievous and heinous transgressions; for nothing had been able to recall them from their wickedness. They had the example of their ancestors before their eyes, continually irritating the wrath of God; yet all they had suffered for their crimes, could not incite them to leave their sinful ways; but they proceeded further than their ancestors in impiety, and ought therefore to receive a more severe condemnation. Thus though Lamech had not killed a brother, but had neglected to be more prudent after the exemplary punishment of Cain, he still cried out: Seven-fold punishment is taken of Cain, but of Lemech seventy times seven. (Genesis iv.) (St. John Chrysostom, hom. lxxiii.)

Haydock: Mat 23:37 - And thou wouldst not And thou wouldst not. Three truths may be gathered from these words of our Saviour: 1. They, who perish, perish by their own fault, because they ref...

And thou wouldst not. Three truths may be gathered from these words of our Saviour: 1. They, who perish, perish by their own fault, because they refuse to listen to the voice of God calling them to salvation; 2. that man's will is free, and that it is an error in man to lay all his wickedness to the charge of God, or of blind chance; for God justly attributes the reprobation of man to his own perverse will, which often opposes that of God, and brings destruction on itself; 3. how necessary it is for man to subject his will to that of the Almighty, and ever to say with our Saviour: Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done. (Salmeron)

Haydock: Mat 23:38 - Behold, your house Behold, your house. Their house shall be deprived of the protection of the God of heaven. He it was that had hitherto preserved them, and he also w...

Behold, your house. Their house shall be deprived of the protection of the God of heaven. He it was that had hitherto preserved them, and he also would inflict upon them those very severe judgments they so much dreaded. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. lxxv.)

Haydock: Mat 23:39 - Till you say, blessed is he that cometh Till you say, blessed is he that cometh. Hereafter you shall own me for your Messias, and the world's Redeemer, at least at the day of judgment. (Wi...

Till you say, blessed is he that cometh. Hereafter you shall own me for your Messias, and the world's Redeemer, at least at the day of judgment. (Witham) ---

The time here foretold, when they should say: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, is the day of general judgment. When our Saviour says, henceforth, we must understand it of all that time, which intervened between the time of his speaking and his passion. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. lxxv.) ---

It may also be understood of the Jews, who are to be converted to the faith of Jesus Christ towards the end of the world. (Menochius)

Gill: Mat 23:1 - Then spake Jesus to the multitude // and to his disciples Then spake Jesus to the multitude,.... To the common people that were about him in the temple; the high priests and elders, Scribes, Pharisees, and Sa...

Then spake Jesus to the multitude,.... To the common people that were about him in the temple; the high priests and elders, Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees, having left him, being all nonplussed and silenced by him: and now, lest on the one hand, the people seeing the ignorance and errors of these men detected by Christ, should be tempted to conclude there was nothing in religion, and to neglect the word and worship of God, on account of the concern these men had in it; and on the other hand, because of their great authority and influence, being in Moses's chair, lest the people should be led into bad principles and practices by them, he directs them in what they should observe them, and in what not: that they were not altogether to be rejected, nor in everything to be attended to; and warns them against their ostentation, pride, hypocrisy, covetousness, and cruelty; and, at the same time, removes an objection against himself, proving that he was no enemy to Moses, and the law, rightly explained and practised:

and to his disciples; not only the twelve, but to all that believed in him, and were followers of him.

Gill: Mat 23:2 - Saying, the Scribes and Pharisees // sit in Moses's seat Saying, the Scribes and Pharisees,.... The Persic version adds, the priests: but Christ does not here speak of the sanhedrim, or grand council of the ...

Saying, the Scribes and Pharisees,.... The Persic version adds, the priests: but Christ does not here speak of the sanhedrim, or grand council of the nation, and of their legislative power; but of those that were the teachers of the people, and the interpreters of the law; and of those, who, though they corrupted the word with their glosses and traditions, yet retained some truth, and at least came nearer truth, than the Sadducees; who therefore are omitted, and only Scribes and Pharisees mentioned, who gave the literal and traditional sense of the Scriptures; of whom he says, they

sit in Moses's seat: not that they were his successors in his office as a legislator and mediator; though the Persic version reads it, "sit in the place and chair of Moses"; but they read his law, and explained it to the people: this post and place, as yet, they kept in the office they were, and were to continue; and the people were to regard them so far as they spoke consistent with the law, until it had its full accomplishment in Christ. The allusion is not to the chairs in which the sanhedrim sat in trying and determining causes, but to those in which the doctors sat when they expounded the law; for though they stood up when they read the law, or the prophets, they sat down when they preached out of them: this custom of the synagogue was observed by our Lord; see Luk 4:16.

Gill: Mat 23:3 - All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe // that observe and do // but do not ye after their works // for they say, and do not All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe,.... This must be restrained to things that were agreeable to the chair of Moses, in which they sat, to ...

All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe,.... This must be restrained to things that were agreeable to the chair of Moses, in which they sat, to the law of Moses, which they read and explained, to other parts of Scripture and truth in general; for otherwise many of their glosses and traditions were repugnant to the law, and ought not to be observed, as appears from Mat 5:1. The word "observe", in this clause, is omitted by the Vulgate Latin, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions, and in Munster's Hebrew Gospel; and Beza says, it is wanting in one ancient copy, but is in others; and is retained in the Syriac and Persic versions

that observe and do; hearken to what they say, give diligent heed unto it, take notice of it, and act according to it:

but do not ye after their works; let their doctrine be the rule of your lives, so far as it agrees with the law of Moses; but let not their actions be drawn into an example by you; conform to their instructions, but do not imitate their practices:

for they say, and do not; they talk of good works, but do none; they bid others do them, but do not practise them themselves; they very strictly and severely enjoin them on others, but are very careless themselves to observe them; and of this the Jews are so conscious, that they suggest the same doctrine n.

"The daughter of Ahar (a wicked man) came before Rabbi; she said to him, Rabbi, supply me with the necessaries of life: he replied to her, daughter, who art thou? she answered him, the daughter of Ahar: he said to her, is there any of his seed in the world? for lo! it is written, Job 18:19. "He shall neither have son, nor nephew, among his people, nor any remaining, in his dwellings": she replied to him, זכור לתורתו ואל תזכור מעשיו, "remember his law, or doctrine, but do not remember his works."--Says R. Jochanan, what is that which is written, Mal 2:7. "For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts." If the doctor is like to an angel, or messenger of the Lord of hosts, they should seek the law at his mouth; and if not, they should not seek the law at his mouth. Says Resh Lekish, R. Meir found and explained that Scripture, Pro 22:17. "Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart to my knowledge": to their knowledge it is not said, but to my knowledge. R. Chanina says, hence, Psa 45:10. "Hearken, O daughter! and consider, incline thine ear, forget thine own people, and thy father's house": on which the gloss is, forget their works, and do not learn them: he that knows how to take care not to learn their works, may learn the law from their mouths.''

--And a little after,

"the disciples of the wise men are like to a nut; as a nut, though it is defiled with mire and filth, yet that which is within it is not to be rejected; so a scholar, or a disciple of a wise man, though he act wickedly, his law, or doctrine, is not to be despised.''

Good doctrine is not the worse for being taught by bad men; nor are good works to be slighted and neglected, because they are not done by all that teach them; but it must be owned that examples are very useful and forcible, and practice greatly recommends doctrine; and it is to be wished, that they both always went together.

Gill: Mat 23:4 - For they bind heavy burdens // and grievous to be borne // lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers For they bind heavy burdens,.... Meaning not the rites and ceremonies of the law of Moses, circumcision, and other rituals, which obliged to the keepi...

For they bind heavy burdens,.... Meaning not the rites and ceremonies of the law of Moses, circumcision, and other rituals, which obliged to the keeping of the whole law, which was a yoke men were not able to bear; but the traditions of the elders, which the Scribes and Pharisees were very tenacious of, and very severely enjoined the observance of, and are called their "heavy" things o.

"It is a tradition of R. Ishmael, there are in the words of the law, that, which is bound or forbidden, and that which is loose or free; and there are in them light things, and there are in them heavy things; but the words of the Scribes, כולן חמורין הן, "all of them are heavy".''

And a little after,

"the words of the elders, חמורים, "are heavier" than the words of the prophets.''

Hence frequent mention is made of

"the light things of the school of Shammai, ומחומרי, "and of the heavy things of the school of Hillell" p''

two famous doctors, heads of two universities, in being in Christ's time: these are also called, מכות פרושין, "the blows, or wounds of the Pharisees" q; not as Bartenora explains them, the wounds they gave themselves, to show their humility; or which they received, by beating their heads against the wall, walking with their eyes shut, that they might not look upon women, under a pretence of great chastity; but, as Maimonides says, these are their additions and heavy things, which they add to the law. Now the binding of these heavy things, means the imposing them on men, obliging them to observe them very strictly, under great penalties, should they omit them. The allusion is, to those frequent sayings in use among them, such a thing is "bound", and such a thing is loosed; such a "Rabbi binds", and such an one looses; that is, forbids, or allows of such and such things; See Gill on Mat 16:19.

and grievous to be borne. This clause is left out in the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions; but is in all the Greek copies, and serves to illustrate and aggravate the burdensome rites and institutions of these people: and

lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers: the sense is, not that they were so rigid and hardhearted, that they would not move a finger to remove these burdens from the shoulders of men, or ease them in the least degree, or dispense with their performance of them in the least measure, upon any consideration, though this also was true in many respects; but that they were so slothful and indolent themselves, that though they strictly enjoined the observance of their numerous and unwritten traditions on the people, yet in many cases, where they could without public notice, they neglected them themselves, or at least, made them lighter and easier to them, as in their fastings, &c. In the Misna r, mention is made of "a crafty wicked man", along with a woman Pharisee, and the blows of the Pharisees before spoken of; and in the Gemara s, is explained by R. Hona, of one,

"that makes things "light" for himself, and makes them "heavy" for others.''

Such crafty wicked men were Scribes and Pharisees; though R. Meir pretended that he made things "light" to others and "heavy" to himself t.

Gill: Mat 23:5 - But all their works they do for to be seen of men // they make broad their phylacteries // and enlarge the borders of their garments But all their works they do for to be seen of men,.... All their prayers, alms deeds, and fastings, were all done in a public manner, that men might b...

But all their works they do for to be seen of men,.... All their prayers, alms deeds, and fastings, were all done in a public manner, that men might behold them, and they might have applause and glory from them: they sought neither the glory of God, nor the good of their fellow creatures, nor any spiritual advantage and pleasure to themselves, in their performances; they neither attended to moral duties, nor ceremonious rites, nor the traditions of their fathers, any further than they could be seen by men in them, and keep up their credit and esteem among them. Hence,

they make broad their phylacteries: these were four sections of the law, wrote on parchments, folded up in the skin of a clean beast, and tied to the head and hand. The four sections were these following, viz. the "first", was Exo 13:2 the "second", was Exo 13:11 the "third", was Deu 6:4 the "fourth", was Deu 11:13. Those that were for the head, were written and rolled up separately, and put in four distinct places, in one skin, which was fastened with strings to the crown of the head, towards the face, about the place where the hair ends, and where an infant's brain is tender; and they took care to place them in the middle, that so they might be between the eyes. Those that were for the hand, were written in four columns, on one parchment, which being rolled up, was fastened to the inside of the left arm, where it is fleshy, between the shoulder and the elbow, that so it might be over against the heart u. These, they imagined, were commanded them by God, in Exo 13:16 whereas the sense of these passages only is, that the goodness of God in delivering them out of Egypt, and the words of the law, should be continually before them, in their minds and memories, as if they had tokens on their hands, and frontlets between their eyes; but they understood them literally, and observed them in the above manner. These the Jews call "Tephillin", because they use them in time of prayer, and look upon them as useful, to put them in mind of that duty: they are here called "phylacteries", because they thought they kept them in the fear of God, preserved in them the memory of the law, and them from sin; yea, from evil spirits, and diseases of the body. They imagined there was a great deal of holiness in, and valued themselves much upon the use of them w; and the Pharisees, because they would be thought to be more holy and religious, and more observant of the law than others, wore these things broader than the rest of the people;

and enlarge the borders of their garments. These were the fringes which they put upon the borders of their garments, and on them a ribbon of blue, to put them in mind of the commandments, to obey them, Num 15:38. The observance of this law is of so much consequence with the Jews, that they make all the commandments to depend on it x; and say, that it is equal to them all, and that he that is guilty of the breach of it, is worthy of death y: they ascribe the like virtue to these fringes, as to their phylacteries, and think themselves much the better for the wearing them; and the Pharisees, because they would appear with a greater air of sanctity and devotion than others, made their's larger. We z read of one Ben Tzitzith Hacceseth, a man of this complexion, who was so called, because his Tzitzith, or fringes, were drawn upon, a pillow; and there are some that say, that the pillow was bore between the great men of Rome: it was drawn after him, not upon the ground, but upon a cloth or tapestry, and the train supported by noblemen, as is pretended. This was one of those, that enlarged the Tzitzith, or fringes, beyond the ordinary size; hence Mark calls it, "long clothing."

Gill: Mat 23:6 - And love the uppermost rooms at feasts // and the chief seats in the synagogues And love the uppermost rooms at feasts,.... Or the first and chief places to sit, or lie down on, at ordinary meals, and especially at large entertain...

And love the uppermost rooms at feasts,.... Or the first and chief places to sit, or lie down on, at ordinary meals, and especially at large entertainments, where the great ones sat, as in 1Sa 9:22 where Jarchi on the place observes, that by the manner of their sitting, it was known who was the greatest; and this the Scribes and Pharisees affected. With the Romans, the most honourable place was at the upper end of the table: some think it was more honourable to sit in the middle, but the master of the feast sat at the lower end; and to senior men, and who were venerable with age, or excelled in prudence and authority, the first sitting down, and the more honourable place, were given; and when the table was taken away, they used to rise first a: the middle place was the more honourable with the Numidians b, and so it seems to be with the Romans c, and also with the Jews; and this the Scribes and Pharisees loved, desired, sought for, and were pleased if they had not it. It is said d of Simeon ben Shetach, a noted Pharisee, about, or rather before the time of Christ, that having fled upon a certain account from king Jannai, he sent for him, and when he came,

"he sat himself between the king and the queen: the king said to him, why dost thou mock me? he replied to him, I do not mock thee, thou hast riches and I have learning, as it is written, "Wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence", Ecc 7:12. He said to him, but why dost thou "sit between the king and queen?" He replied, in the book of Ben Sira, it is written, "Exalt her and she shall promote thee, and cause thee to sit among princes." He ordered to give him a cup, that he might ask a blessing; he took the cup and said, blessed be the food that Jannai and his friends eat.''

Thus on account of their wisdom and learning, they thought they had a right to take the upper hand of kings themselves:

and the chief seats in the synagogues; for these were different; the seats of the senior men were turned towards the people, and the backs of them were towards the ark or chest, in which the holy books were put; and these seem to be what the Scribes and Pharisees coveted, that they might be in the full view of the people. And so says Maimonides e, "How do the people sit in the synagogues?"

"The elders sit, i.e. first, and their faces are towards the people, and their backs are to the temple, or holy place; and all the people sit in rows, and the faces of one row are to the backs of the row that is before them; so that the faces of all the people are to the holy place, and to the elders, and to the ark.''

Gill: Mat 23:7 - And greetings in the markets // and to be called of men Rabbi, Rabbi And greetings in the markets,.... They used to stroll about the markets, being public places, where there was a great concourse of people, on purpose ...

And greetings in the markets,.... They used to stroll about the markets, being public places, where there was a great concourse of people, on purpose to be taken notice of before multitudes, with singular marks of respect; as stretching out the hand, uncovering the head, and bowing the knee:

and to be called of men Rabbi, Rabbi; because of their great authority, and largeness of their knowledge: the repetition of the word Rabbi, is not made in the Vulgate Latin, nor in the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions, nor in Munster's Hebrew Gospel, but is in all the Greek copies, and very justly; since it was usual in the salutations of them, to double the word. It is reported f of R. Eleazar ben Simeon, of Migdal Gedur, that having reproached a deformed man he met in the road; when he came to the city where the man lived,

"the citizens came out to meet him, and said to him, peace be upon thee, רבי רבי מורי מורי, "Rabbi, Rabbi, Master, Master"; he (Eleazar) said to them, who do you call "Rabbi, Rabbi?" They replied to him, he who followed thee: he said unto them, if this be a Rabbi, let there not be many such in Israel.''

The Jews pretend, that king Jehoshaphat used to salute the doctors with these titles; though they forget that they were not in use in his time, as will be hereafter observed: they say g,

"whenever he saw a disciple of the wise men, he rose from his throne, and embraced and kissed him, and called him, אבי אבי רבי רבי מרי מרי, "Father, Father, Rabbi, Rabbi, Master, Master".''

Where you have the three different words used by our Lord in this and the following verses, by which these men loved to be called, and he inveighed against; nay, they not only suggest, that kings gave them these honourable titles, and they expected them from them, but even they liked to be called kings themselves. It is said h of R. Hona arid R. Chasda, that as they were sitting together, one passed by them,

"and said to them, "peace be to you kings", עליכו מלכי שלמא, "peace be to you kings": they said to him, from whence does it appear to thee, that the Rabbins are called kings? He replied to them, from what is written, "by me kings reign", &c. They said to him, from whence hast thou it, that we are to double or repeat peace, or salutation to kings? He answered them, that R. Judah said, that Rab said from hence, 1Ch 12:18. "Then the spirit came upon Amasai", &c.''

This title began but to be in use in the time of our Lord, or a very little while before: none of the prophets had it, nor Ezra the Scribe, nor the men of the great synagogue, nor Simeon the Just, the last of them; nor Antigonus, a man of Socho, a disciple of his: and it is observed by the Jews themselves i, that

"the five couple are never called by the name of Rabban, nor by the name of Rabbi, only by their own name.''

By whom are meant, Joseph ben Joezer, and Joseph ben Jochanan; Joshua ben Perachia, said to be the master of Jesus of Nazareth, and Nittai the Arbelite; Judah ben Tabai, and Simeon ben Shetach; Shemaiah and Abtalion; Hillell and Shammai. The sons, or disciples of the two last, first took these titles. Rabban Simeon, the son of Hillell, thought by some to be the same Simeon that had Christ in his arms, is k said to be the first that was called by this name; and it is also observed by them l, that Rabban was a name of greater honour than Rabbi, or Rab, and that Rabbi was more honourable than Rab; and to be called by a man's own name, was more honourable than any of them. The Karaite Jews make much the same complaint, and give much the same account of the pride and vanity of the Rabbinical doctors, as Christ here does; for so one of them says m;

"The Karaites do not use to act according to the custom of the wise men among the Rabbans, to make to themselves gods of silver, and guides of gold, with this view, להקרא רב, "to be called Rab"; and also to gather wealth and food to fulness, &c.''

Gill: Mat 23:8 - But be not ye called Rabbi // for one is your master, even Christ // and all ye are brethren But be not ye called Rabbi,.... Do not be ambitious of any such title, fond of it, or affect it, or be elated with it, should it be given you; nor loo...

But be not ye called Rabbi,.... Do not be ambitious of any such title, fond of it, or affect it, or be elated with it, should it be given you; nor look upon yourselves as men of power and authority over others; as having the dominion over men's faith, a power to make laws for others, impose them in a magisterial way, and bind and loose men's consciences at pleasure, as these men do:

for one is your master, even Christ; meaning himself, the true Messiah, the head of the church, King of saints, and Lord of all; who had all power in heaven and in earth, to make laws, appoint ordinances, and oblige men to receive his doctrines, and obey his commands: the word "Christ", is left out in the Vulgate Latin, the Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions; but is in the Arabic version, and Munster's Hebrew Gospel, and in all the ancient Greek copies Beza consulted, excepting two: no other indeed can be meant; he is the great Rabbi, and doctor, that is to be hearkened to, and the master we are all to obey:

and all ye are brethren; not merely as the descendants of Adam, but as being in a spiritual relation, the children of God, and disciples of Christ, and so have no superiority one over another: this may regard the disciples, both as believers and Christians, partakers of the same grace, and standing in the same relation to God, Christ, and one another, and having an equal right to the same privileges: and as apostles and ministers, one as such, no, not Peter, having no pre-eminence over the other, having the same commission, doctrine, and authority, one as the other.

Gill: Mat 23:9 - And call no man your father upon the earth And call no man your father upon the earth,.... Not but that children may, and should call their natural parents, fathers; and such who have been inst...

And call no man your father upon the earth,.... Not but that children may, and should call their natural parents, fathers; and such who have been instrumental in the conversion of souls, may be rightly called by them their spiritual fathers; as servants and scholars also, may call those that are over them, and instruct them, their masters: our Lord does not mean, by any of these expressions, to set aside all names and titles, of natural and civil distinction among men, but only to reject all such names and titles, as are used to signify an authoritative power over men's consciences, in matters of faith and obedience; in which, God and Christ are only to be attended to. Christ's sense is, that he would have his disciples not fond of any titles of honour at all; and much less assume an authority over men, as if they were to depend on them, as the founders of the Christian religion, the authors of its doctrines and ordinances; and to take that honour to themselves, which did not belong to them; nor even choose to be called by such names, as would lead people to entertain too high an opinion of them, and take off of their dependence on God the Father, and himself, as these titles the Scribes and Pharisees loved to be called by, did: and who were called not only by the name of Rabbi, but Abba, "Father", also: hence we read of Abba Saul, or "Father" Saul n; Abba Jose ben Jochanan, a man of Jerusalem o, Abba Chanan p, Abba Chelphetha, a man of the village of Hananiah q; Abba Gorion r, and others; and this name was לשון כבוד כמו רבי, "a name of honour, even as Rabbi" s, and of great authority: the wise men are said to be אבות הכל, "the fathers of all" t, to whom all gave heed, and upon whom all depended, as so many oracles. There is a whole treatise in their Misna, called Pirke Abot, which contains some of the oracles, and peculiar sayings of these "fathers", the Misnic doctors, and which are preferred to the writings of Moses, and the prophets. In this sense, and upon this score, our Lord inveighs against them, and cautions his disciples against giving or taking all such titles, in such sense. "For one is your Father, which is in heaven"; who is so, both by creation and adoption, and is possessed of all paternal authority; and is to be honoured and obeyed by all; from whom all wisdom and knowledge is derived, and who has the care and government of all in heaven and in earth.

Gill: Mat 23:10 - Neither be ye called masters Neither be ye called masters,.... Or guides and leaders; not but that, the ministers of the word are in a sense such; it is their business to lead and...

Neither be ye called masters,.... Or guides and leaders; not but that, the ministers of the word are in a sense such; it is their business to lead and direct souls to Christ, to guide their feet in the way of peace, and to go before them, as examples to them, in word, in conversation, faith, and purity; but then they are to guide them according to the word of God, and not their own dictates; and teach them to observe the rules, and obey the ordinances of Christ, and not what are of their own inventing and prescribing; and to enforce the authority of their great Lord and Master, and not their own; and direct men to a dependence on Christ, as head of the church, who is the one Lord, as his faith is one, and his baptism one also: "for one is your master, even Christ"; which is said before, in Mat 23:8 but being a matter of so much importance to the honour of Christ, and men being so apt to set up for masters themselves, in opposition to him, or in conjunction with him, or above him, it was necessary to repeat it; for in an authoritative sense he is the one, and only master of the assemblies.

Gill: Mat 23:11 - But he that is greatest among you But he that is greatest among you,.... Either who really is so, having more grace, and greater gifts bestowed upon him, than others; which doubtless w...

But he that is greatest among you,.... Either who really is so, having more grace, and greater gifts bestowed upon him, than others; which doubtless was the case of some of the disciples, or who desired to be the greatest, was ambitious of, and affected a superiority over others, and to be in the highest post and place, as it is certain some of them did. This was what they were often contending about among themselves, who should be greatest: and Christ here seems to have regard to that vain spirit, which appeared among them; and his view is, to check and restrain it: "shall be your servant"; or "let him be your servant". Service is the way to honour; he that would be most esteemed ought to do the most work; and the man that has the most grace, and the greatest gifts, ought to employ them for the use and benefit of others; See Gill on Mat 20:27.

Gill: Mat 23:12 - And whosoever shall exalt himself And whosoever shall exalt himself,.... Above his fellow Christians, or fellow ministers, by entertaining too high an opinion of himself, by boasting o...

And whosoever shall exalt himself,.... Above his fellow Christians, or fellow ministers, by entertaining too high an opinion of himself, by boasting of his gifts, as preferable to others, and as if he had not received them; by assuming, or eagerly coveting titles of honour among men, or by affecting honour that do not belong to him, or, abusing what he has: "shall be abased"; or humbled by God, or men, or both; such shall lose the honour they have, and come greatly short of what they are ambitious of; they shall fall into disgrace with men, and are abominable in the sight of God: "and he that shall humble himself"; by entertaining low thoughts, and a mean opinion of himself, behaving modestly among men; not being elated with his gifts, but acknowledging that they are owing to the grace and goodness of God; and using them in an humble manner, for, the advantage of others; not coveting honour from men, nor lifted up with what is conferred on him: "shall be exalted"; by God, or men, or both; if not in this world, yet in the world to come: and indeed, generally speaking, such modest, humble, persons, are most esteemed among men; and God gives more grace unto them, and will at last give them glory. This is a saying, often used by our Lord on different accounts, both with respect to his disciples, for their instruction, and with regard to the scribes and Pharisees, for their mortification; see Luk 14:11. It seems to be a proverbial expression, and much in use among the Jews: it is said in so many words in the Talmud u, as here;

"whosoever shall humble himself, the holy blessed God shall exalt him; and whosoever shall exalt himself, the holy blessed God shall humble him.''

Gill: Mat 23:13 - But woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites // for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in But woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,.... It seems from hence, that the Scribes and Pharisees had not left him, at least not all of them...

But woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,.... It seems from hence, that the Scribes and Pharisees had not left him, at least not all of them, notwithstanding the confusion they were thrown into; but were still about him, observing what he said to the people, and watching an opportunity to take every advantage against him; whom he addresses in a very awful manner, calling them "hypocrites", as he truly might; for they were such, both to God and men: he had detected them already before the people, in several instances of hypocrisy; and gives sufficient reasons, in the following part of this chapter, to support the character, he gives of them, and his charge against them; denouncing a woe upon them in this world, and that which is to come, no less than eight times; expressing his abhorrence of their wickedness, his commiseration of their case, and their certain destruction: "for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men": not eternal life and happiness, the entrance into which can neither be opened nor shut by men: those whom God determines to bring thither, shall have an entrance abundantly ministered to them, in spite of the opposition of men and devils; though these men did all that in them lay, to hinder persons enjoying everlasting glory. But the Gospel dispensation is here meant, which opened by the ministry of John the Baptist, Christ and his disciples, and which the Scribes and Pharisees did all they could to shut; by discouraging the preaching of the Gospel, and the administration of ordinances, in which this dispensation lay; and prejudicing the minds of men against it, that they might not embrace the doctrines of it, nor submit to its ordinances: they, by their office, ought to have opened and explained the Scriptures, the prophecies of the Old Testament relating to the Messiah, and led the people into a knowledge of the mysteries of his kingdom, and encouraged them to enter into this new state of things; which, according to the true intent of Scripture, was to take place, and now did: but instead of this, they shut up the Scriptures, took away the key of knowledge, and laid it aside; and darkened the Scriptures by their false glosses, and obliged the people to observe the traditions of the elders, and which they call סיג לתורה, "an hedge for the law" w; to which Beza thinks, the allusion is here, and by which men were shut up, and kept from the true knowledge both of law and Gospel:

for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in: they neither believed in the Messiah themselves, nor embraced the doctrines relating to his person and office: have any of the Pharisees believed on him? No; they received him not, they rejected him, and also the counsel of God, against themselves, not being baptized with the baptism of John, the forerunner of Christ; nor would they suffer others, that were inclined to profess their faith in him, and be baptized, to do it; but discouraged them all they could, by their reproachful treatment of the person, miracles, and ministry of Christ, and by their threatenings and menaces, and by their excommunications of such as made a confession of him.

Gill: Mat 23:14 - Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites // for ye devour widows' houses // and for a pretence make long prayers // therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,.... The same character is given as before, and the same woe denounced, and a fresh reason given of it...

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,.... The same character is given as before, and the same woe denounced, and a fresh reason given of it:

for ye devour widows' houses; that is, the goods in the houses of such as were left with fatherless children, and but little to support them; who being left alone, and none to advise them, and being weak, and prone to superstition; these greedy dogs, as Isaiah calls them, who could never have enough, easily imposed upon them, wormed them out of all their substance, stripped them bare of the necessaries of life, prevailed on them to sell their houses and goods, and bestow them on them; or got their little estates into their hands, pretending to take care, and dispose of them for them, to their advantage:

and for a pretence make long prayers: as if they were very holy, good men; or pretended that the substance of these widows, which they got into their hands, was for their long prayers for them; or they made long prayers for them in return for their substance. Maimonides x says, that

"the ancient saints, or good men, used to stay an hour before prayer, and an hour after prayer, ומאריכם בתפלה שעה and "prolonged", or "held an hour in prayer":''

and this being three times a day, nine hours every day, as is observed in the Talmud y, were spent in this manner; and on this account they got the character of very devout and religious men, and hereby covered all their avarice, rapine, and oppression of the poor: but God will not be mocked;

therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation; both on account of their plundering and distressing the poor, the widows, and the fatherless; and also because of their hypocrisy in doing this under the cover of religion and holiness. Hence it appears, that there are degrees of punishment in hell, and that hypocrites, and all such who oppress the poor, under the mask of godliness, supposing gain to be that, will be partakers of the greatest degree of it. In Munster's Hebrew Gospel it is called משפט ארוך, "a long judgment", or "damnation", in allusion to their long prayers: and is the very reverse of what they expect on account of them: they say z.

"three things prolong a man's days and years, בתפלתו המאריך, "he that is long in his prayer"''

is the first mentioned; and he that is long at his prayer, it is an excellency, they say; but instead of a long and happy life, he shall have a long damnation. This verse is left out in some copies, and in others it stands before the former; in which order it is read in the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions.

Gill: Mat 23:15 - Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites // for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte // and when he is made, ye make him two fold more the child of hell than yourselves Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,.... The same character, and woe, are still continued, and a new reason added, confirming the justness ...

Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,.... The same character, and woe, are still continued, and a new reason added, confirming the justness of them, in order to awaken and convince them, or, however, to caution the people against them:

for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; that is, to the Jewish religion, and their particular sect. There were two sorts of proselytes among them; one was called גר תושב, "a proselyte of the gate", one that might dwell in any of their towns, and cities, and who is thus described a;

"Who is a proselyte of the gate? whosoever takes upon him, before three neighbours, that he will not commit idolatry. R. Meir and the wise men say, whosoever takes upon him the seven precepts which the sons of Noah took upon them: others say, these do not come into the general rule of a proselyte of the gate: who is then a proselyte of the gate? this is a proselyte, that eats what dies of itself, but takes upon him to fulfil all the commandments said in the law, except that which forbids the eating of things that die of themselves.''

But the usual account of such an one is, who agrees to the seven precepts commanded the children of Noah b, which were these c; the first forbad idolatry, the second blasphemy, the third murder, the fourth uncleanness, the fifth theft, the sixth required judgment, or punishment on malefactors, the seventh forbad eating the member of any creature alive. The other proselyte was called גר צדק, "a proselyte of righteousness"; and he was one that submitted to circumcision d, and the rest of the ceremonies of the law; and was in all respects as an Israelite himself; and of this sort is the text to be understood. The Ethiopic version reads the words, "baptize one proselyte, and when he is baptized"; referring to a custom among the Jews, who baptized; or dipped their proselytes in water, as well as circumcised them; about which there are great disputes in their writings; some alleging, that the dipping of them was necessary to the making them proselytes; others affirming, that it was not:

"a proselyte that is circumcised, and not dipped, dipped, and not circumcised, the whole follows after, or depends on circumcision, says R. Eliezer.''

R. Joshua says, even dipping delays it; (i.e. the want of it, hinders a man from being a proselyte;) but R. Joshua ben Levi says, it should go according to the tradition of Bar Kaphra; for the tradition of Bar Kaphra is,

"that he that is circumcised, and not dipped, lo! he is right; for there is no proselyte but what is dipped, because of the pollutions that happen to him e.''

And elsewhere f this is debated in the following manner:

"a proselyte that is circumcised, and not dipped, R. Eliezer says, lo! this is a proselyte; for so we find concerning our fathers, that they were circumcised, but not dipped. One that is dipped, and not circumcised, R. Joshua says, lo! this is a proselyte; for so we find concerning our mothers, that they were dipped, but not circumcised. The wise men say, one that is dipped, and not circumcised, or circumcised, and not dipped, is no proselyte, until he is both circumcised and dipped.''

So the dispute ended, and it became a settled point, that one should never be reckoned a proselyte, unless he was both circumcised and dipped. And after this it became customary to receive proselytes by circumcision, dipping, and sacrifice; and the manner was this g:

"a stranger that comes to be made a proselyte at this time, they say unto him, what dost thou see, that thou comest to be made a proselyte? dost thou not know that the Israelites at this time are miserable, banished, drove about, and plundered, and chastisements come upon them? If he says, I know this, but it does not satisfy me, they receive him immediately, and make known some of the light commands, and some of the heavy commands to him; and they acquaint him with the business gleanings, the forgotten sheaf, the corner of the field left standing, and the poor's tithe: they also inform him of the penalties of the commands, and say unto him, know thou, that before thou camest into this way, thou didst eat fat, and was not punished with cutting off; thou didst profane the sabbath, and was not punished with stoning? but now if thou eatest fat, thou wilt be punished with cutting off; and if thou profanest the sabbath, thou wilt be punished with stoning: and as they inform him of the penalties of the precepts, so they acquaint him with the giving of the rewards of them; saying to him, know thou that the world to come is not made but for the righteous; and the Israelites at this time cannot receive neither much good, nor much punishment? but they do not multiply words, nor critically inquire of him; if he receives these things, they immediately circumcise him; and if there remain in him obstructions, hindering circumcision, they circumcise him a second time; and when he is healed they immediately dip him; and two disciples of the wise men stand over him, and acquaint him with some of the light commands, and some of the heavy commands; then he dips, and comes up, and is as an Israelite in all respects: if a woman, the women set her in water up to her neck, and two disciples of the wise men stand by her without, and inform her of some of the light commands, and some of the heavy commands.''

And, as Maimonides h adds, who gives a larger account of this matter,

"she sits in the water, and after that dips herself before them; and they turn away their faces, and go out, so that they do not see her, when she comes out of the water.''

From all which it appears, that this affair was moved after our Lord's time; was not a settled point till a good while after; and is a custom that has obtained since the Jews were drove out of their own land; though they pretend to say it was an ancient practice of their fathers, of which they can give no sufficient proof; wherefore there could be no regard had to it in this text, and consequently the Ethiopic version of it is not a right one; nor can the dipping of proselytes by the Jews be what Christian baptism takes its rise from, or in any respect be modelled according to it, between which, in many things, there is a wide difference. Now the Jews were very diligent and industrious, which is meant by compassing of sea and land: they used all kinds of methods, ways and means, to gain such a point, and sometimes very wicked ones.

"Rabbenu Tam i allowed a daughter of Israel to change her religion, and a stranger to lie with her, that she might confirm it, when he became a proselyte.''

And this they were so exceeding fond of, not out of any regard to the glory of God, or the good of the souls of men; nor did they really love the proselytes: and it is often said by them k, that

"proselytes are hard or uneasy to Israel, as the itch or scab.''

The gloss says, because they were not expert in the commandments, and were the cause of punishment, and the Israelites were apt to imitate their works; but they coveted to make them, because hereby either they strengthened their own party, or filled their purses with their substance, or got applause and credit among the common people; for the making a proselyte was reckoned a very great action, and is ascribed to the patriarchs Abraham and Jacob, and made equal to creation l.

"Says R. Eliezer, in the name of R. Jose ben Zimra, if all that come into the world were gathered together to create even one fly, they would not be able to put breath into it: but you will object what he saith, "the souls they made in Haran", Gen 12:5, but these are the proselytes whom Abraham proselyted; but why does he say "made", and not proselyted? to teach thee, that whoever brings near a stranger, and proselytes him, "is as if he created him". You will say Abraham made proselytes, but not Sarah: the text is, "the souls which they made in Haran": which he made is not written, but which they made: Abraham proselyted the men, and Sarah proselyted the women.''

And a little after,

"Jacob made proselytes, as it is written, Gen 35:2 "Jacob said unto his household",''

And in imitation of these they might be fond of making proselytes, but no further than their own interest was some way or other concerned:

and when he is made, ye make him two fold more the child of hell than yourselves; for to their former errors in heathenism, some of which they might still retain, they added new ones, they received from them, equally as bad, and were but more and more deserving of hell, and even more than their masters; and besides, were trained up by them in the most bitter prejudices against Christ, and his Gospel; and many of them proved more violent persecutors of the followers of Christ, than the original Jews themselves: see Act 15:5 Our Lord here seems to oppose a common notion and saying of their's m, that when

"one was made a proselyte, he became entirely like a new born babe;''

but so far from being like one in innocence and harmlessness, that he became a child of hell, filled with wrath and malice, and fitted for destruction; and so opposes another notion of their's, that hellfire has no power over their disciples, nor even over the transgressors of Israel n: but they will find it, by experience, that neither their descent from Abraham, nor their learning, nor their religion, will save them from the devouring flames, which their sins have made them so deserving of, and so are בני גיהנם, "children of hell" o; a Talmudic phrase; the meaning of which they understood well enough, and which was applicable to them, and more so to their proselytes; and that as owing to them, which was an aggravation of their own guilt and condemnation.

Gill: Mat 23:16 - Woe unto you, you blind guides // which say, whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing // But whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is guilty Woe unto you, you blind guides,.... Meaning the same persons, the Scribes and Pharisees, as before, though not named, who pretended to be "guides of t...

Woe unto you, you blind guides,.... Meaning the same persons, the Scribes and Pharisees, as before, though not named, who pretended to be "guides of the blind", Rom 2:19 but were them selves blind, and so very unfit to be guides of others; they were as they were born, ignorant of divine things, of God in Christ, of the true Messiah, of the true meaning of the Scriptures, of the spirituality of the law, and of the Gospel of Christ; and the way of salvation by him; and their minds were blinded by the God of this world, and with a greedy, and insatiable covetousness after the things of it, of which Christ here gives an instance:

which say, whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; meaning either that it was no sin to use such an oath, or it was not binding upon a man: he might choose whether he would abide by what he swore by the temple he would do; and thus they ignorantly, and wickedly encouraged vain swearing and perjury. It was usual with them to swear by the temple: take an instance or two.

"Says R. Jochanan p, היכלא, "by the temple", it is in our hands; but what shall I do?''

The gloss upon it is;

"it is an oath by the temple of God, that it is in our power to reveal the illegitimacy of the families of the land of Israel.''

"Says R. Zechariah ben Hakatzab q, המעון הזה, "by this habitation" (meaning the temple), her hand was not removed from my hand from the time the Gentiles entered into Jerusalem, to the time they went out.''

Jarchi and Bartenora's note on it is, this is an oath. Again,

"says R. Simeon ben Gamaliel r, המעון הזה, "by this habitation"; I will not rest this night until they (doves) are sold for pence apiece.''

The gloss on it is, "he swore by the sanctuary."

But whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is guilty; or is bound, or is a debtor, to make good his oath; he cannot be excused, but must be obliged to fulfil it; or if he does not, he is guilty of perjury. This is to be understood not of the gold that covered any part of the temple; nor of the golden vessels in it; but of the gold, or money, or gifts which were offered for the service of the temple: and the sense is, that whosoever swore by "Korban", and that this, or that should be as "Korban", he should not go back from it; he was obliged to give it. This showed the covetous disposition of these men, who made nothing of oaths that were swore by the temple; but those that were made by the "Korban", or the gifts of it, were binding, because their interest was in it; it was for their gain.

Gill: Mat 23:17 - Ye fools, and blind // for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold Ye fools, and blind,.... That argue after so ridiculous a manner, that make use of such thin sophistry, that everybody may see through it; who must be...

Ye fools, and blind,.... That argue after so ridiculous a manner, that make use of such thin sophistry, that everybody may see through it; who must be stupid and sottish to the last degree, and their minds foolishly blinded with avarice; as to please and satisfy themselves: with so poor a distinction; that would by no means serve them, but make against them:

for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? The temple, to be sure: for that was the seat of the divine majesty; built for him to dwell in, and in which he took up his residence; and was dedicated to his service, and in it was divine worship performed unto him. The temple was sanctified by the presence of God in it; and the gold sanctified by the temple, being devoted to the service of it: whatever holiness it had, it had it from the temple, and therefore the temple must be greater than that; and consequently it must be most extravagantly ridiculous and foolish in them, to make oaths by the gold of the temple, and gifts dedicated to its service, and on that score sanctified by it, more binding and sacred than such as were by the temple itself.

Gill: Mat 23:18 - And whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing // But whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty And whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing,.... These are again the words or savings of the scribes and Pharisees, and express their sentim...

And whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing,.... These are again the words or savings of the scribes and Pharisees, and express their sentiments and practice: it was usual with them to swear by the altar; and this was reckoned either no sin at all, or such an oath was not accounted binding on a man; he might break, or keep it as he thought fit: of this kind of swearing, we have the following instances. One said to another r,

"swear to me that thou wilt not discover me, and he swore to him; by what did he swear? says R. Jose bar Chanina, במזבח הפנימי, "by the innermost altar".''

Again, it is said of Zedekiah s,

"that he (Nebuchadnezzar) made him to swear; by what did he make him to swear? says R. Jose, by the covenant he made him to swear; Rabbi says במזבח, "by the altar" he made him to swear.''

And elsewhere t it is said of him,

""and he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who made him swear by God", 2Ch 36:13. By what did he make him swear? says R. Jose bar Chanina, "by the horns of the innermost altar" he made him swear.''

But whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty: of perjury, if he does not make good his oath; he is bound to perform it, it is obligatory; whatever he swore should be a gift for the altar, he was indispensably obliged to bring it; for whatever he swore by "Korban", or the gift, could never be put to any other use.

Gill: Mat 23:19 - Ye fools, and blind // for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift // Korban Ye fools, and blind,.... This is very justly repeated, since this is no less an instance of their folly, blindness, and stupidity. In three copies of ...

Ye fools, and blind,.... This is very justly repeated, since this is no less an instance of their folly, blindness, and stupidity. In three copies of Beza's the word "fools" is not; nor is it in the Vulgate Latin, nor in Munster's Hebrew Gospel; but the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions have it:

for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? The gift, or offering, before it was devoted to sacred use, and brought, and laid upon the altar, was common, had no ceremonial sanctity in it, and might be put to any use; but when it was brought, and laid upon the altar, it became holy; for, according to the law, whatever touched the altar, and indeed all, or any of the vessels of the sanctuary, was holy, Exo 29:37. Christ speaks the sense of the law, and their own traditions, and in their own language, and argues from the same to the confutation of them: חמזבח מקדש, "the altar", they say u, "sanctifies" that which is fit for it; that is, that which is proper to be offered up upon it:

"as the altar sanctifies that which is fit for it, so the ascent unto it sanctifies; and as the altar, and the ascent, sanctify what is fit for them, so the vessels sanctify; the vessels for liquids sanctify the liquids, and the dry measures sanctify the dry; the vessels for liquids do not sanctify the dry, nor the dry measures sanctify the liquids; the holy vessels, which are bored, (or broken,) when they do the service they used to do, when whole, sanctify, if not, they do not sanctify; nor does anything sanctify but in the sanctuary.''

Now, since this is a clear case, that the altar sanctifies the gift, and not the gift the altar, our Lord's question is, which is the greater? A man that has the least share of common sense will easily see, that the altar must be the greater: wherefore these scribes and Pharisees must be wretchedly stupid to give out, that an oath made by the altar was not binding, when one that was made by the gift, or

Korban, was binding; seeing the gift, or offering, received its sanctity from the altar: hence, of the two, an oath made by the altar should be more sacred and obligatory than one made by the gift.

Gill: Mat 23:20 - Whosoever therefore shall swear by the altar, // sweareth by it // and by all things thereon Whosoever therefore shall swear by the altar,.... Not that Christ allowed of swearing by the altar, or by the temple, or by heaven, or by any creature...

Whosoever therefore shall swear by the altar,.... Not that Christ allowed of swearing by the altar, or by the temple, or by heaven, or by any creature, animate or inanimate; for such swearing is elsewhere disapproved of by him, and forbid, but if a man did swear by the altar, he ought to know, and consider that he not only

sweareth by it, but by all the gifts, and offerings that are brought, and laid upon it,

and by all things thereon; whatever gifts and sacrifices are offered upon it; which, by being put there, become holy, as the altar itself: so that he that swears by the altar, swears also by the gifts of the altar; and consequently, according to their own traditions, such oaths must be binding.

Gill: Mat 23:21 - And whoso shall swear by the temple And whoso shall swear by the temple,.... As we have before seen they used to do, and as appears from what the poet says w: Ecce negas, jurasque mih...

And whoso shall swear by the temple,.... As we have before seen they used to do, and as appears from what the poet says w:

Ecce negas, jurasque mihi per templa tonantis Non credo: jura, verpe, per Anchialum.

In which he intimates, that if the Jew swore by the temple, he would not believe him; as well he might not, since such an oath was accounted nothing; but bids him swear by Anchialus, that is, by אלוה חי, "Chi Eloah", or חי עליון, "Chi Alon", or "Elion, the living God", or הי העולם, "Chi Haolam, he that lives for ever" x; and suggests, that he should then believe him. Now our Lord, though he did not allow of such swearing, yet justly argues, that he that sweareth by the temple, not only "sweareth by it", which could not be a witness of what was swore; but he must be interpreted to swear by the inhabitant of it, and by him that dwelleth in it; that is, God, for whom it was built, to whom it was dedicated; where he was worshipped, and where he vouchsafed to reside; taking up his dwelling between the cherubim upon the mercy seat, in the most holy place; from whence he communed with men, and gave tokens of his presence; and who only could be the proper witness of the truth, or falsehood, of what was swore; and therefore an oath, by the temple, ought to be looked upon as if made by God himself, and so to be sacred and binding.

Gill: Mat 23:22 - And he that shall swear by heaven // sweareth by the throne of God // and by him that sitteth thereon And he that shall swear by heaven,.... As the Jews were wont to do in common, but did not look upon such an oath as obligatory on them; See Gill on Ma...

And he that shall swear by heaven,.... As the Jews were wont to do in common, but did not look upon such an oath as obligatory on them; See Gill on Mat 5:34, though such an one

sweareth by the throne of God; for heaven is God's throne, where he sits, and, in an eminent manner, displays the glory of his majesty:

and by him that sitteth thereon, by God himself. Thus swearing by anything that has any relation to God, is implicitly swearing by him; and therefore ought to be considered as binding, as if he was expressed in it; since an appeal cannot be made to things inanimate, nor indeed to any creature, but to God, the searcher of hearts.

Gill: Mat 23:23 - Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites // for ye take tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin // and have omitted the weightier matters of the law // judgment, mercy, and faith // these ought ye to have done // and not to leave the other undone Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,.... Christ returns to the former epithets he had very rightly given to these men, and very pertinently...

Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,.... Christ returns to the former epithets he had very rightly given to these men, and very pertinently repeats them here; and which are confirmed by the instances of their conduct and practice here alleged, which abundantly show their hypocrisy and deceit; since they were very strict in observing some outward things, which gave them credit with the people, and especially the priests and Levites, some little trifling ceremonies and traditions of their elders, whilst they neglected internal religion, and those things which were of the greatest moment and importance:

for ye take tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin; which ought not commanded by the law, they were obliged to by the traditions of the elders. Mint is an herb well known, and has its name in the Greek from its sweet smell; on account of which the Jews used to spread it on the floors of their synagogues y. This was one of the herbs that was subject to the law of the seventh year z, and is mentioned with those which were to be tithed a. The Ethiopic version, instead of mint reads "hyssop"; and which also was an herb that was obliged to be tithed b. "Anise" is a seed also well known, and which the Jews call שבת, and of which they often observe, that it is subject to tithing, both seed, herb, flowers, or stalks c: instead of this Munster's Hebrew Gospel has פיגם, "rue"; and which, in the Misna d, is mentioned along with mint, as it is by Luk 11:42 and said to be one of the things the Pharisees gave tithe of; though in their oral law it is reckoned among the things that are free from tithe e: and therefore this must be a sort of work of supererogation to give tithe of that, which they were not obliged to. "Cummin" is a sort of anise; its seed is much like fennel seed, and which pigeons are very fond of: mention is made of it in Isa 28:25 and is reckoned with figs, dates, carobes, or Egyptian figs, and rice, which were obliged to be tithed f, and was what was also bound to the offering of the first fruits to the priest g. Christ mentions these particular herbs and seeds, as a specimen of what they paid tithes of. In Luke, it is added, "and all manner of herbs": for, according to the traditions of the elders, they were in general subject to tithes: and it is a common saying or maxim of the Jews, that the tithing of corn is from the law, but ירק דרבנן מעשר, "the tithing of herbs is from the Rabbins" h: it is a constitution of their's, and not of Moses:

and have omitted the weightier matters of the law. The distinction of the commandments of the law into lighter and heavier, or weightier, to which Christ here refers, is frequent with the Jews. When one comes to be made a proselyte, they acquaint him with some of מצות קלות, "the light commands", and some of מצות חמורות, "the heavy", or "weighty commands" i. So again, they paraphrase the words in Isa 33:18 "where is the scribe?" he that numbers all the letters in the law. "Where is the receiver?" who weighs the "light" things, וחמורין שבתורה, and "heavy", or "weighty things in the law" k. Again l,

"in the words of the law there are some things "light", and some things "heavy", or "weighty":''

but those weighty things they omitted, and regarded those that were light; yea, that had no foundation in the law at all: and no wonder, since, in the place last cited, they say m, that

"the words of the Scribes are all of them "weighty" and that the sayings of the elders are more "weighty" than the words of the prophets.''

The things our Lord refers to, and instances in, are as follow;

judgment, mercy, and faith. "Judgment" may mean the administration of justice in courts of judicature; the putting in execution good judgments, righteous laws and statutes; protecting and relieving the injured and oppressed, and doing that which is right and equitable between man and man: but, on the contrary, these men devoured widows' houses, and oppressed the poor and fatherless. "Mercy" includes all acts of compassion to the distressed, relieving the necessitous, distributing to their wants, and showing all kindness and beneficence to the poor and needy; which the scribes and Pharisees very little practised, being a set of cruel, hard hearted, and covetous persons. "Faith" may not only design faithfulness in a man's keeping his word and promise, and fidelity to a trust reposed in him; but also faith in God, as the God of providence, and as the God of grace and mercy; believing in his word and promises, and worshipping him, which the law requires; and the rather this seems to be intended, because Luke, instead of "faith", puts "the love of God", which faith includes, and works by, and is the end of the commandment, arising from faith unfeigned: so that Christ instances in the weightier matters of both tables of the law, which these men neglected, and the latter, as well as the former; not believing the revelation of the Gospel, nor the Messiah, who was promised, and prophesied of by God, in the writings of the Old Testament:

these ought ye to have done: more especially, and in the first place, as being of the greatest use and importance:

and not to leave the other undone; meaning either the lighter matters, and lesser commands of the law; or even their tithes of herbs: if they thought themselves obliged to them, Christ would not dispute the matter with them; if they thought fit to observe them, they might, so long as they did not interfere with, and take them off from things of greater moment. But alas! these men preferred the rituals of the ceremonial law, and the traditions of the elders, above the duties of the moral law; and reckoned that the latter were nothing, if the former were wanting; for they n Say, that

"the words of the Scribes, are more lovely than the words of the law.''

And also o, that

"he that profanes the holy things, and despises the solemn feasts, and makes void the covenant of Abraham our father (circumcision), and behaves impudently towards the law (ceremonial), although the law and good works are in his hands, he has no part in the world to come.''

The Persic version renders the words thus; "these ought ye to do, and not them"; as if it was our Lord's sense, that they ought to observe the weightier matters of the moral law, and not regard their tithing of herbs, and other traditions of, their fathers.

Gill: Mat 23:24 - Ye blind guides // who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel Ye blind guides,.... As in Mat 23:16. who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel: the Syriac and Persic versions read the words in the plural number,...

Ye blind guides,.... As in Mat 23:16.

who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel: the Syriac and Persic versions read the words in the plural number, gnats and camels. The Jews had a law, which forbid them the eating of any creeping thing,

Lev 11:41 and of this they were strictly observant, and would not be guilty of the breach of it for ever so much,

"One that eats a flea, or a gnat; they say p is מומר, "an apostate";

one that has changed his religion, and is no more to be reckoned as one of them. Hence they very carefully strained their liquors, lest they should transgress the above command, and incur the character of an apostate; and at least, the penalty of being beaten with forty stripes, save one; for,

"whoever eats a whole fly, or a whole gnat, whether alive or dead, was to be beaten on account of a creeping flying thing q.

Among the accusations Haman is said to bring against them to Ahasuerus, and the instances he gives of their laws being different from the king's, this one r; that "if a fly falls into the cup of one of them, זורקו ושותהו, "he strains it, and drinks it"; but if my lord the king should touch the cup of one of them, he would throw it to the ground, and would not drink of it.

Maimonides says s,

"He that strains wine, or vinegar, or strong liquor, and eats "Jabchushin" (a sort of small flies found in wine cellars t, on account of which they strained their wine), or gnats, or worms, which he hath strained off, is to be beaten on account of the creeping things of the water, or on account of the creeping flying things, and the creeping things of the water.

Moreover, it is said u,

"a man might not pour his strong liquors through a strainer, by the light (of a candle or lamp), lest he should separate and leave in the top of the strainer (some creeping thing), and it should fail again into the cup, and he should transgress the law, in Lev 11:41.

To this practice Christ alluded here; and so very strict and careful were they in this matter, that to strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel, became at length a proverb, to signify much solicitude about little things, and none about greater. These men would not, on any consideration, be guilty of such a crime, as not to pay the tithe of mint, anise, and cummin, and such like herbs and seeds; and yet made no conscience of doing justice, and showing mercy to men, or of exercising faith in God, or love to him. Just as many hypocrites, like them, make a great stir, and would appear very conscientious and scrupulous, about some little trifling things, and yet stick not, at other times, to commit the grossest enormities, and most scandalous sins in life,

Gill: Mat 23:25 - Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites // for ye make clean the outside of the cup and platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,.... Our Lord cannot be thought to bear too hard upon these men, nor does he continue this character of...

Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,.... Our Lord cannot be thought to bear too hard upon these men, nor does he continue this character of them, and denunciations of woe against them, without a reason:

for ye make clean the outside of the cup and platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. The allusion is to their traditions about washing their cups and pots, and brazen vessels; see Mar 7:4 which they strictly observed. In their oral law is a whole tract, called "Mikvaot", which gives rules about the places where they washed, the things to be washed, and the manner of washing them; about which they were very nice, pretending to much outward cleanness, but had no regard to inward purity. Christ's sense is, that they took much pains, and were very careful, that the cup they drank out of, and the platter, or dish they ate out of, should be very clean; when at the same time, the food and drink that were within them, were got by oppression and rapine; by devouring widows' houses, by making undue claims upon, and extorting unjust sums from the fatherless, the poor, and the needy; and were abused by them, to luxury and intemperance. In like manner the Jews themselves say of hypocrites w,

"They make show of a pure and clean soul, but under it lies hid a leprosy: they are like to "vessels full of uncleanness"; they are outwardly washed with the water of fraud and craftiness; but whatsoever is within, in the midst or them, is unclean.

The Vulgate Latin version of the text, instead of "excess", reads "uncleanness", and so does Munster's Hebrew Gospel: many copies read "unrighteousness". Excess is thought to be a sin the Pharisees were not guilty of, though they were of extortion, injustice, and uncleanness,

Gill: Mat 23:26 - Thou blind Pharisee // cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also Thou blind Pharisee,.... Well might Christ call such an one a blind Pharisee, who was so scrupulously careful to cleanse his cup and platter; and yet ...

Thou blind Pharisee,.... Well might Christ call such an one a blind Pharisee, who was so scrupulously careful to cleanse his cup and platter; and yet made no conscience of filling them with what was gotten in an unjust way, and so defiled himself and them:

cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also: get food and drink in an honest way, remove all extortion and oppression out of thine hands, and luxury and intemperance from thy table; and so shall the outward cleanness of thy cup and dish, be no reproach unto thee, or testimony against thee, of thine hypocrisy. So the great concern of all men should be, inward purity; that their hearts be purified by faith in the blood of Christ, and sprinkled from an evil conscience by the same; that principles of grace and holiness be formed in them by the Spirit of God; and then their outward lives and conversations being influenced thereby, will be honourable and agreeable to their professions. Otherwise, an external reformation, or an outward show of holiness, and bare pretensions to it, without internal grace, will never be of any avail in the sight of God.

Gill: Mat 23:27 - Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites // for ye are like unto whited sepulchres // which indeed appear beautiful outward // but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,.... It is much these men could bear to hear themselves so often called by this name; and it shows grea...

Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,.... It is much these men could bear to hear themselves so often called by this name; and it shows great courage in our Lord, so freely to reprove them, and expose their wickedness, who were men of so much credit and influence with the people:

for ye are like unto whited sepulchres; or "covered with lime", as the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions, render it. For the Jews used to mark their graves with white lime, that they might be known: that so priests, Nazarites, and travellers, might avoid them, and not be polluted with them. This appears from various passages in their writings:

"The vineyard of the fourth year, they marked with clods of earth, and an uncircumcised one with dust, ושל קברות בסיד, "and graves with chalk", mixed (with water) and poured (on them x.)

Of this marking of the graves, the reason of it, the time and manner of doing it, Maimonides y gives us this account:

"Whoever finds a grave, or a dead carcass, or anything for the dead that defiles, by the tent he is obliged to put a mark upon it, that it may not be a stumbling to others; and on the intermediate days of a feast, they go out from the sanhedrim, to mark the graves.--With what do they mark? בסיד ממחה, "with chalk infused" in water, and poured upon the unclean place: they do not put the mark upon the top of the unclean place, (or exactly in it,) but so that it may stand out here and there, at the sides of it, that what is pure may not be corrupted; and they do not put the mark far from the place of the uncleanness, that they may not waste the land of Israel; and they do not set marks on those that are manifest, for they are known to all; but upon those that are doubtful, as a field in which a grave is lost, and places that are open, and want a covering.

Now because when the rains fell, these marks were washed away, hence on the first of Adar (February) when they used to repair the highways, they also marked the graves with white lime, that they might be seen and known, and avoided; and so on their intermediate feast days z: the reason why they made use of chalk, or lime, and with these marked their graves, was because it looked white like bones a; so that upon first sight, it might be thought and known what it was for, and that a grave was there: hence this phrase, "whited sepulchres":

which indeed appear beautiful outward; especially at a distance, and when new marked:

but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness; worms and rottenness, which arise from the putrefied carcasses, and are very nauseous and defiling,

Gill: Mat 23:28 - Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous,.... By making broad their phylacteries, enlarging the borders of their garments, praying long prayers, com...

Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous,.... By making broad their phylacteries, enlarging the borders of their garments, praying long prayers, compassing sea and land to make one proselyte, paying tithes of all manner of herbs, and cleansing the outside of the cup and platter, and doing all their works, prayers, fastings, and alms deeds, to be seen of men. This is the accommodation of the above simile; by reason of these things they looked like whited sepulchres, outwardly beautiful: so these appeared outwardly righteous, they looked like righteous persons, and were not; they were what Hagar, as the Jews say, charged her mistress with being; for so they interpret these words, "her mistress was despised in her eyes", Gen 16:4 b,

"She said, this Sarah is not secretly, what she is openly; she appears כאילו היא צדקת, "as if she was righteous" and she is not righteous.

The same they say of c Leah. This was a misrepresentation; but the representation Christ gives of these men, is right; they were of that sort of the Pharisees, which they call הצבועין, "the dyed", or "coloured" ones: it is said of Jannai the king, that he should say to those of his family d,

"Do not be afraid of them that are Pharisees, (that are truly so,) nor of them that are not Pharisees; but of them that are, הצבועין, "dyed", for they are like to Pharisees; for their works are as the works of Zimri, (adulterers, as these were,) and they expect the reward as Phinehas.

The gloss upon it is,

"the Pharisees hated him, because he had slain many of their wise men, and was turned Sadducee; and when he was dying, his wife was afraid of them, lest they should take away the kingdom from her sons, and she desired him to seek their favour for her; but he said unto her, do not be afraid of the Pharisees, for they are "righteous", and will not render evil to thee, nor to thy sons; for they have not sinned against them; nor of them that are not Pharisees, for they are their friends; but of "the dyed ones": as if he had said, their appearance is not according to their nature, but they are dyed without,

ואין תוכם כברם, "and their inside is not as their outside": for their works are as the work of Zimri, for they are ungodly; and they expect the reward as Phinehas, saying to men, to honour them as Phinehas.

But this outward show and appearance of righteousness, was only "unto men", not unto God: they did not appear so to him, who is the searcher of hearts, and knows what is in man, and knew all the secret wickedness that was in them; for though they imposed upon, and deceived men, they could not deceive God; nor was their iniquity hid from Christ, who adds, "but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity": and which was evident from their ambition and vain glory, in desiring the uppermost rooms at feasts, the chief places in the synagogue, greetings in the markets, and titles of honour and grandeur; from their avarice and cruel oppression of the widows, and fatherless, under a pretence of long prayers; from their neglecting the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith, and practising extortion and excess: that saying of their's e, may be applied to themselves,

"every disciple of a wise man, שאין תוכו כברו, "whose inside is not as his outside", is no disciple of a wise man.

And it is expressly ascribed by some of their writers to one sort of the Pharisees, of whom they say f,

"they are desirous to appear to men to be holy, but their inside is not as their outside;

which is much the same Christ here says of them. What our Lord charges these men with, is owned by their own doctors; they say g, that "the iniquity of those that were under the first temple, was open and manifest, but the iniquity of those that were under the second temple, was not open.

But as the gloss says,

"the children of the second temple, רשעים היו בסתר, "were secretly wicked".