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is not applicable here. The idea is not, that a person would be criminal, but that he would be bound, that is, to fulfil his oath. The word in the original is the same as the one translated he is a debtor, in the 16th verse.
20-22. Jesus showed the utter futility of the distinction which the Pharisees made between oaths. 5: 34, &c. An oath by the altar, he declared to be of the same force as an oath by an offering on the altar; inasmuch as an oath by the altar contained in it a reference to the use of the altar, and to whatever might be on it. If a person swore by the temple, his oath contained a recognition of Him to whom the temple had been dedicated; and was, therefore, of the same force as an oath in which the name of God was distinctly introduced. Just so an oath by heaven was by no means inferior to an oath in which His name was mentioned who sitteth on the heaven as his throne. In truth, the form of words in which an oath was couched, did not impart the obligation to observe the oath; a simple declaration which a person might make, ought to be just as true, and as binding, as if it was accompanied with an oath. But if he had used an oath with an implied intention of binding himself more strongly, the oath could not be innocently disregarded because the name of God was not expressly mentioned.
23. Tithe; the tenth part. The Hebrews were required to pay a tenth part of all their income for the sup
23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint, and anise, and cumin, 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.
24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
port of the priests and Levites, and as an offering to God. See Lev. 27: 30. Num. 18: 21. Deut. 14: 22. This tithing of their property, the Pharisees carried to so great an extent of exactness, as to pay and enjoin the tithe of the very smallest herbs, as mint, &c. But while they were scrupulously exact in this matter, they neglected the moral injunctions of the law; thus having a mere show, while the reality of piety was neglected.
Judgment; integrity, equity. | Mercy; kindness. || Faith; faithfulness to one's duties, or piety towards God. | These ought ye, &c. This latter class of duties, the moral duties, ought to have been mostly regarded, while, at the same time, the other matters ought not to have been neglected. The Saviour did not censure the Pharisees for their great care in respect to tithing, but for preferring that to the exercise of moral virtues, and for neglecting the moral injunctions, while they professed and showed so strict a regard to these outward ob servances.
24. Strain at a gnat, &c. A proverbial expression, intimating that while they were exceedingly precise about trifles, they were regardless about truly important things while they were scrupulous in avoiding little faults, without scruple they indulged in great ones. The Jews were in the habit of straining their wine, lest some small insect might be in it, either having fallen into it, or having been bred in it, as is often the case in vine
gar. Strain at; that is, strain out. The word at is thought to have been erroneously printed in the first edition of our translation instead of out; and subsequent editions followed the first. The idea is not, Ye find difficulty in swallowing a gnat, while ye can easily swallow a camel; but, Ye carefully strain out of your liquor a little gnat, while ye overlook and swallow down a camel. The language, of course, is hyperbolical, like the language of many common sayings; and on this account, it is more expressive of extreme carefulness in trifles, and of gross negligence in important matters.
25. Full of extortion and excess; filled with what you have gained by extortion or rapine, that is, the fruits of your extortion. The word excess might well be applied to the immoderate desire of the Pharisees for worldly gain, under the influence of which desire they possessed themselves of what they really had no just claim to. Instead, however, of the word translated excess, the best editions of the Greek Testament have a word which means injustice; so that the Saviour declared that their cups and dishes, however clean on the outside, were illed within with what they had rapaciously and unjustly gained from others. Compare the 14th verse. Thus they were scrupulously exact as to ceremonial observances, but were without scruples in respect to injustice and unkindness.
chres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
28 Even so ye, also, outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
30 And say, If we had been
26. Cleanse first; see to it that what is within the dishes be free from guilt, be obtained in an upright manner, so that the outside may be truly clean. Let the contents be truly free from guilt, so that the vessel itself may have no guilt. For so long as the vessel is filled with fruits of rapine and injustice, ceremonial cleanness as to the outside is of no value. However clean the outside may be, if the cup contains what has been procured by rapine, the whole, both cup and food, is an unclean thing.
27. Whited sepulchres. The places for burying the dead among the Hebrews were large tombs. The doors of these, and other external parts, were whitewashed during the last month of every year, so as to make them conspicuous, and to prevent persons from approaching them and thus becoming contaminated; for the touch of a grave rendered a person unclean for seven days. See Num. 19: 16. The sepulchres were thus fair externally, but within they were full of uncleanness; for a dead body, or a bone, was regarded as unclean, and the touching of them rendered a person unclean.
28. Even so ye. Like these sepulchres were the scribes and Pharisees; outwardly, to the view of men, they were righteous; but in heart, and to the view of God, hypocritical and iniquitous.
29-31. Because ye build, &c. The
in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
31 Wherefore, ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
Saviour did not pronounce a woe upon the scribes and Pharisees, because they paid respect to the memory of the ancient prophets and righteous men, some of whom their fathers had put to death; but because, in building the sepulchres, and professing that they would not have committed the crimes of their fathers, they were hypocritical, and because they manifested a disposition similar to that of their fathers. The phrase to be the son of a person, may have, in the Hebrew idiom, a twofold meaning; namely, to be a descendant of such a person, or to be like him in character. These two meanings may also be combined. So these men acknowledged, by their actions and language, that they were descendants of those who killed the prophets; and the Saviour appears to have conveyed the implication, which would have been readily perceived by his hearers, that, in truth, they were their sons in character, as well as by descent; just as he said, in a parallel passage (Luke 11: 48), Ye bear witness that ye allow [assent to] the deeds of your fathers.
32. Fill ye, &c. Go on, then, since you possess the disposition of your fathers, and are bent upon evil, go on and make full their measure of iniquity, so that divine judgments may overtake your nation. They would fill up the measure of iniquity by crucifying the Messiah, and abusing and putting to death his apostles and followers. The language here used is that of grief and of despair respecting their amendment and salvation, and of surrendering them to their own will.
33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
34 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:
33. Serpents. A serpent is an image of a crafty and hurtful man.
Generation of vipers; rather, offspring of vipers. The term viper, when applied to a man, is of the same meaning as the word serpent. See 3:7. The Saviour thus strongly expressed his knowledge of these men's characters, and distinctly set before their own eyes the fact, that they were crafty and injurious men, notwithstanding their fair pretensions. Plaindealing was greatly needed by them. Accustomed to respect and veneration, they were blind to their own faults, at least to the greatness of them; so long accustomed to wear a mask, it had become almost natural to them. And none but a teacher clothed with divine authority, was a suitable person to expose their hypocrisy and wickedness; to Jesus it rightly belonged, and he faithfully exposed their real characters. || The damnation of hell; the punishments of the world of woe.
34. The Saviour proceeded to show the manner in which the nation would fill their measure of guilt, and bring upon themselves the vindictive judg ments of heaven. He himself would send among them religious teachers: but the nation would abuse and persecute them in every variety of manner. Thus imitating their fathers, and having added sin to sin, from generation to generation, the accumulated wrath of God would at length be poured upon them. Wherefore. This word expresses here rather a consequence of the apostles' being sent among the Jews, than the design for which they would be sent. They would be sent, not in order that, by rejecting and put
35 That upon you may come | chias, whom ye slew between all the righteous blood shed the temple and the altar. upon the earth, from the blood 36 Verily I say unto you, of righteous Abel, unto the All these things shall come upon blood of Zacharias, son of Bara- this generation.
ting them to death, the Jews might incur accumulated guilt. They would be sent in order to benefit the people; but one consequence of their being sent would be, that they would be rejected, and the nation would bring on themselves the judgments of heaven. Prophets, wise men, and scribes. These terms were in familiar use among the Jews, to express religious teachers. In this sense the words are here to be understood. Jesus referred to his apostles and others, who would be raised up as his ministers among the Jews. In the parallel passage of Luke 11: 49, we read "prophets and apostles." Some of them, &c.; ye will treat them with all sorts of indignity; with persecution and death. The book of the Acts of the Apostles sufficiently shows with what exactness this prediction of our Saviour's was fulfilled; and doubtless other instances of abuse and murder took place, which have not been handed down to our times. Compare Acts 4:21. 5: 40. 7:59. 8:3. 9:1. 12: 2, 3. 13: 45, 50. 17:5, and many other places.
20-22) is an account of a prophet named Zachariah, whom, for his faithful warnings, the people stoned to death in the court of the temple. This instance, probably, was selected on account of its aggravated nature. It is objected to this explanation, that the Zachariah mentioned in Chronicles was the son of Jehoiada; while the one whom Jesus mentioned, is called son of Barachias. This difficulty may be removed by the fact, that among the Jews, the same person frequently bore more names than one. Jehoiada may also have had the name Barachias. Another explanation of the passage is, that some time before the date at which Jesus was speaking, there was, probably, a very pious man, of the name here mentioned, put to death; the knowledge of which was possessed among the Jews, but which has not come down to our times. Without being able to decide definitely on this topic, it may be suffi cient to know what the design of Jesus was; namely, to bring distinctly before the mind the numerous instances of blood shed for righteousness' sake from the commencement of time to this day.
35. That upon you may come, &c. The word rendered that, often expresses the consequence, rather than the design of an action. Here the meaning is, so that upon you will come, &c. Righteous Abel. See Gen. 4: 8. || Zacharias, son of Barachias. Without mentioning all the explanations which have been furnished of these words, two may be stated. The Saviour wished to bring under one view the murders of righteous men which had taken place in the world. He therefore selected one from the first book in the Old Testament, and one from the last book, as the books were arranged by the Jews. The last book in order, according to the Jews' arrangement, is the second of Chronicles. In that book (24:
36. Upon this generation. In about forty years after Jesus thus spoke, Jerusalem was destroyed and the nation broken up, with immense slaughter and suffering. Guilt had been accumulating from age to age; the genera tion that would put Jesus to death and persecute and slay his apostles, would be the most criminal of any, and would receive the sorest visitation of divine wrath; so that upon this last generation, thus burdened with the crimes of preceding generations, would come the consummation of divine vengeance; as if guilt had been rolling on from age to age, and attained its height in this generation, and corresponding punishment had been
37 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!
38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
39 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. prepared, which, in all its height, would be suffered by this generation.
37. Affected by the prospect of calamity and ruin, Jesus vented his grief in a most pathetic exclamation.
38. Your house; your habitations. Desolation awaits your abodes. Perhaps there was special reference to the desolation of the temple. It was the temple in which they gloried; and in no more forcible way could a general desolation be expressed, than by selecting the temple as particularly to be laid waste.
39. Blessed is he, &c. This was the exclamation of the multitudes when Jesus entered Jerusalem (21 : 9), and it was an acknowledgment of him as the Messiah. The idea, then, of the Saviour, in this verse, was, Ye shall not have my presence among you, till ye acknowledge me as the Messiah. This he knew they never would do, so that his language amounts to this, Your safety depends upon receiving me as the Messiah; this you are resolved not to do; and I shall depart from you. Ye shall be wholly rejected.
AND Jesus went out and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple.
2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.
3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples
4. Learn the necessity and value of true, vital godliness, as an inward principle controlling the character.
5. Dreadful must be the consequences of falling into the hands of God while in our sins. vs. 38, 39.
6. Rejection, or a neglect, of Christ, as a Saviour, must ruin the soul.
1. To show him the buildings of the temple. The temple of Jerusalem was a magnificent structure, having such a variety of apartments and such buildings connected with it, as the religious service of the Jews rendered necessary. By comparing Mark 13: 1, and Luke 21: 5, it will appear that the disciples spoke in admiration of the temple. The stones are particularly mentioned, and Josephus informs us, that the temple was built of stones, which were white and strong, the length of each being twenty-five cubits, the height eight, and the breadth about twelve. A cubit is generally reckoned as equal to a foot and a half.
2. Thrown down. Josephus relates, that, after the city was taken, the Roman commander gave orders to demolish the entire city and temple, reserving three principal towers and the city wall on the west side. The rest of the wall was laid even with the ground, and such a desolation was made that a person would hardly believe the city had ever been inhabited.
3. The mount of Olives. See on