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23 Wo un o you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weighter matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith. these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
'Ye pay tithe.' A tenth part. The law required the Jews to devote a tenth part of all iheir property to the support of the Levites, Numb. xviii. 20—24. Another tenth part they paid for the service of the sanctuary, commonly in cattle or yrain ; but where they lived far from the place of worship, they changed it to money, Deut. xiv. 22–26. Besides these, there was to be every third year, a tenth part given to the poor, to be eaten at their own dwellings, Deut. xiv. 28, 29. So that nearly one third of the property of the Jews was devoted to religious services by law. Mint. A garden herb, in the original so calied from its agreeable flavour. It was used to sprinkle the floors of their houses and synagogues, to produce a pleasant fragrance. 'Anise.' Known commonly among us as dill. It has an aromatic smell, and is used by confectioners and perfumers. 'Cummin.' A plant of the same genus, like fennel, and used for similar purposes. These were all herbs of little value. It was a question whether these should be tithed. The pharisees maintained, in their extraordinary strictness, that they ought. Our Saviour says that they were precise in doing small matters, which the law had not expressly commanded, while they omitted the greater things which it had commanded. "Judgment.' Justice 10 others, as magistrates, neighbours, citizens. Giving to all their just dues. Mercy.' Compassion and kindness to the poor and miserable. ' Faith.' Piety towards God; confidence in him. The word here means to give to God what is his due; as mercy and justice mean to do to men, in all circumstances, what is right. • These ought ye to have done. Attention to even the smallest points of the law of God is proper, but it should not interfere with the higher and more important parts of that law.
24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
· Which strain at a gnat,' &c. This is a proverb. It should have been, to strain out a gnat; and so it is printed in some of the earlier versions. The Greek means, to strain out by a cloth or sieve. A gnat.' _Not the winged insect, as with us; but small animalculie. The Jews were so delicate, that with a fine cloth they attempted to strain them out of wine. It is here used to denote a very small matter, as a camel is to denote a large object. You Jews take very great pains to avoid offence in very small natiers, superstinously observing tha smallest points of the law, while you are at no pains to avoid great sins-hypocrisy deceit, oppression, and lust.
25 Wo unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye make clean the outside of the cup, and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. The
cup and the platter.' The drinking cup, and the dish containing food. The pharisees were diligent in observing all the washings and oblations required by their traditions. Full of extortion and excess. The meaning is, that though they took much pains to appear well, yet they obtained a living by extortion and wickedness. Their cups, neat as they appeared outwardly, were filled, not with the fruits of honest industry, but were extorted from the poor by wicked arts.
26 Thou blind pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Cleanse first,' &c. Let them be filled with the fruits of honest industry, and then the outside and the inside will be really clean. By this allusion to the cup and platter Christ taught them that it was necessary to cleanse the heart first, that the outward conduct might be really pure and holy.
27 Wo 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. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
* Like unto whited sepulchres. For the construction of sepulcnros, see note, Mett. viii. 28. The law considered those persons unclean, who had touched any thing belonging to the dead, Numb. xix. 16. Sepulchres were therefore often whitewashed, that they might be distinctly seen. Thus whited,' they appeared beautitul. But within they contained the bones and corrupting bodies of the dead. So the pharisees. Their outward conduct appeared well. Their hearts were full of hypocrisy, envy, pride, lust, and malice-fitly represented by the corruption of a whited tomb.
29 Wo unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites ! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
• Ye build the tombs of the prophets.' That is, ye build sepulchres or tombs over the prophets that had been slain. This
they did professedly from veneration, and respect for their cha
And garnish,' &c. That is, adorn or ornament. This was done by rebuilding them with more taste, decorating theni and keeping them neat and clean.
30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
* And say,' &c. This they professed to say by rebuilding their tombs. They also, probably, publicly expressed their disapprobation of the conduct of their fathers. All this, in building and ornamenting tombs, was a profession of extraordinary piety. Our Lord showed them that all was mere pretence.
31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
• Ye be witnesses unto yourselves. The en phasis, here, lies in the words. unto yourselves.' In spite of all this pretence to piety -under cloak of all this profession—they knew in their consciences, were witnesses to themselves, that it was mere hypocrisy, and that they really approved the conduct of those who slew the prophets. • Children of them,' &c. Not only descended from them, but possessing their spirit, and in similar circumstances would have done as they did.
32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
This is a prediction of what they were about to do. You act out your true spirit, you will show what you were, and will evince to all that you had the spirit of your fathers. “The measure. The full amount, so as to make it complete. By your slaying me, fill up what is lacking of the iniquity of your fathers till the measure is full; and then shall come upon you all this blood, and you shall be destroyed, ver. 34, 35.
33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell ?
Ye serpents. This name is given them on account of their pretending to be pious, and very much devoted to God, but being secretly evil." With all their pretensions, at the heart they were filled with evil designs, as the serpent was, Gen. iii. 1-5. • Generation of vipers.' See note, Matt. xii. 34. · Damnation of hell.' So great was their wickedness and hypocrisy, that if they persevered in this course, it was impossible to escape the damnation that should come on the guilty. This is the most stern language that Jesus ever used to wicked men. Christ knew that this was true of them. He had an authority which none now have. He knew the hearts of men. We know them nut. He could declare certainly that those whom he addressed
nould be lost. We have no such authority. He addressed per. bons, we address characters.
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 :
Prophets, wise men, and scribes, were the names by which the teachers of religion were known among the Jews, and he, therefore, used the same terms when speaking of the messengers which he would send. 'I send,' has the force of the future, I will send. Some of them ye shall kill. As in the case of Stephen, Acts vii. 59, and James, Acts xii. 1, 2. Crucify.' Punish with death on the cross.
The Jews had not the power of crucifying, but they gave them into the hands of the Romans to do it. • Shall scourge. See note, Matt. x. 17. This was done, 2 Cor. xi. 24, 25. Persecute,' &c. Note, Matt. v. 10. This was fulfilled in the case of nearly all the apostles.
35 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.
36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
• That upon you may come,' &c. That is, the nation is guilty. Your fathers were guilty. You have shown yourselves to be like them. You are about, by slaying the Messiah and his messengers, to fill up the iniquity of the land. These national crimes deserve national judgments: and the proper judgments for all these crimes are about to come upon you in the destruction of your temple and city. All the righteous blood.' That is, all ihe judgments due for shedding that blood. God did not hold them guilty for what their fathers did; but temporal judgments descend on children in consequence of the wickedness of parents; as in the case of drunken and profligate parents. So of the Jews. The appropriate effects of their fathers' crimes were coming on the nativn, and they would suffer. Upon the earth. C'pon the land of Judea. The word is often used with this limitation. See Matt. iv 8. Righteous Abel.' Slain by Cain, his brother Gen. iv. 8. • Zacharias, son of Barachias.' It is not certainly known who this was. Some have thought it was the Zechariah whose death is recorded in 2 Chron. xxiv. 20, 21. He is there called the son of Jehoiada ; but it is known that it was common among the Jews to have two names, as Matthew is called Levi, 'Whom ye slew.' Whem you, Jews, slew. Whom your nation hilled. * Betweer the temple and the altar.' Between the
( Would I
temple, properly so called, the sanctuary, and the altar of burni. offering in the court of the priests. See the description of the temple. Matt. xxi. 12. Upon this generation. The destruction of Jerusalem took place about forty years after this was spoken See the next chapter.
37 0 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 !
0 Jerusalem,' &c. See note, Luke xix. 41, 42. have gathered.' Would have protected and saved. “Thy children.' Thy people.
38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
“ Your house.” The temple. The house of worship of the Jews. The chief ornament of Jerusalem. Desolate.' About to be desolate, or destroyed. To be forsaken as a place of worship, and delivered into the hands of the Romans, and destroyed. See notes on chapter xxiv.
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.
· Ye shall not see me,' &c. The day of your mercy is gone by: I have offered you protection and salvation, and you have rejected it. You will not see me as a merciful Saviour, offering you redemption any more, till you have borne those heavy judgments. They must come upon yo!, and he borne, until you would be glad to hail a deliverer, and say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Blessed be he that comes as the Messiah, to hring deliverance. This has not been yet accomplished, but the days will come when the Jews, long cast out and rejected, will hail Jesus as the Messiah, and receive hini whom their fathers slew, as the merciful Saviour, Rom. xi. 25–32.
CHAPTER XXIV. 1 AND Jesus went out, and departed from the tem ple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple.
Jesus foretells the destruction of the temple, as he takes his final leave of it, and teaches what were the signs of his coming. These predictions are also recorded in Mark xii. Luke xxi. 538.
* And Jesus went out. He was going to thr nount of Olives,