Pristine Grace

Mt 15:1-20, (GILL)
1  Then came to Jesus Scribes and Pharisees,.... After he had wrought so many miracles, particularly that of feeding five thousand men; besides women and children, with five loaves and two fishes: the fame of which had reached Jerusalem, and occasioned much talk there about him: the Scribes and Pharisees, who were his inveterate enemies, hearing thereof, came to him, where he was, in Galilee: to know the truth of these things, to converse with him, and to watch, and observe, what he said and did;

which were of Jerusalem, saying. There were Scribes and Pharisees throughout the land, but those of Jerusalem were the chief; they were men of the greatest learning and abilities, and were more expert in their religion and customs: these were either sent by the sanhedrim at Jerusalem, or came of themselves; taking upon them a greater power, and authority of examining, correcting, directing, and advising.

2  Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?.... Having observed, for some little time, the conduct of Christ and his disciples, they thought proper to take no notice of him as yet, but of them; and of them, not as transgressing any command of God, but of men; not being able to charge them with any breach of the law of God: and could they have done this with any show of truth, yet they might choose rather to accuse them of breaking the rules of the elders; by whom they mean, not the elders of the present sanhedrim, but Hillell and Shammai; the two heads of their famous schools, and other ancient doctors; from whom were delivered by one to another, certain rules and laws of their own devising, which had no foundation in the word of God; and of these the Scribes and Pharisees were more tenacious, than of the Scriptures; and indeed they preferred them before them: most extravagant are their praises and commendations of these unwritten traditions; thus they say [d],

"Know then, that "the words of the Scribes" are more lovely than the words of the law: for, says R. Tarphon, if a man does not read, he only transgresses an affirmative; but if he transgresses the words of the school of Hillell, he is guilty of death, because he hath broke down a hedge, and a serpent shall bite him. It is a tradition of R. Ishmael, the words of the law have in them both prohibition and permission; some of them are light, and some heavy, but "the words of the Scribes" are all of them heavy--Mynqz yrbd Myrwmh, "weightier are the words of the elders", than the words of the prophets.''

And elsewhere [e], this advice is given;

"My son, attend to "the words of the Scribes", more than to the words of the law; for in the words of the law, are affirmatives and negatives; but the words of the Scribes Myrpwo yrbd le rbweh lk, "everyone that transgresses the words of the Scribes", is guilty of death.''

This is what they charge the disciples with here, and could they have had their wills, would have put them to death for it: the particular tradition, they accuse them with the breach of, follows,

for they wash not their hands when they eat bread; common bread, an ordinary meal; for, for eating of holy things, more than bare washing was required, even an immersion of them in water; but the hands were to be washed before eating common food, whether they were known to be defiled or not: "bread" is particularly mentioned, as including all sorts of food, and as distinct from fruit; for, for eating of common fruit, there was no need of washing of hands; he that washed his hands for eating fruit, was reckoned an ostentatious man [f], who were the first authors of this tradition, it is not certain; it is said [g], that

"Hillell and Shammai decreed Mydy twrhj le, "concerning the purification of the hands"; R. Jose ben R. Bon, in the name of R. Levi, says, so was the tradition before, but they forgot it; and these two stood up, and agreed with the minds of the former ones.''

"However, it is a certain point, that the washing of the hands, and the dipping of them, are Myrpwo yrbdm, "from the words of the Scribes" [h].''

The breach of this rule was reckoned equal to the most flagitious crimes [i]: R. Jose says,

"whoever eats bread without washing of hands, is as if he lay with a whore: and, says R. Eleazer, whoever despiseth washing of hands, shall be rooted out of the world.''

And elsewhere it is said by them [k], that

"he that blesseth (food) with defiled hands, is guilty of death.''

And again [l],

"whoever does not wash his hands as is fitting, although he is punished above, he shall be punished below.''

And to fright people into an observance of this tradition, they talk of Shibta, a sort of an evil spirit, that hurts such as eat without washing their hands: they say, he sits upon their hands, and upon their bread, and leaves something behind, which is very dangerous [m]; and it is recorded [n], to the praise of R. Akiba, that he chose rather to die, than to transgress this tradition; for being in prison, and in want of water, what little he had, he washed his hands with it, instead of drinking it. Eleazar ben Chanac was excommunicated for despising the tradition concerning washing of hands; and when he died, the sanhedrim sent and put a great stone upon his coffin, to show, that he that died in his excommunication, the sanhedrim stoned his coffin [o]: but of this, See Gill "Mr 7:3".

[d] T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 3. 2. [e] T. Bab. Erubim, fol. 21. 2. T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 4. 2. [f] Misn. Chagiga, c. 2. sect. 5, 6. Maimon. Praefat. ad Tract. Yadaim, & Hilch. Beracot, c. 6. sect. 3. [g] T. Hieros. Sabbat, fol. 3. 4. [h] Maimon Hilch. Mikvaot, c. 11. sect. 1. [i] T. Bab. Sota, fol. 4. 2. [k] Zohar in Deut. fol. 107. 3. [l] lb. in Gen. fol. 60. 2. [m] Gloss. in. T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 77. 2. Taanith, fol. 20. 2. & Cholin, fol. 107. 2. [n] T. B. Erubim, fol. 2l. 2. [o] T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 19. l.

3  But he answered and said unto them,.... Taking no notice of the tradition about eating bread without washing the hands, whether it was right or wrong; it being at most but an human tradition, of no moment and importance, whether it was broke or kept; he makes a very just recrimination, by putting another question to them,

why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? suggesting, that, if his disciples were guilty, they were not so guilty as they themselves were; that his disciples, at most, were but guilty of the breach of an human precept, whereas they were guilty of the breach of a divine command; and that it was strange, that men who were so scrupulous of breaking, and bore so hard on such as did transgress the traditions of the elders, could allow themselves to transgress the commandments of God; yea, to do this by, and while they were observing their own traditions: and which observation carries a full acquittance of the disciples from blame; for, if by keeping the traditions of the elders, they broke the commands of God, it was a very good reason why they should not observe them.

4  For God commanded, saying,.... That he might not be thought to suggest this without any foundation, he gives them an instance, wherein a command of God was transgressed, by the observance of their tradition: the command he refers to, stands in Ex 20:12 and is this;

Honour thy father and mother. This was a plain command of God, written with his own hand, and delivered by Moses to them; it was of a moral nature, and of eternal obligation: and to be understood, not merely of that high esteem parents are to be had in by their children, and of the respectful language and gesture to be used towards them, and of the cheerful obedience to be yielded to them; but also of honouring them with their substance, feeding, clothing, and supplying them with the necessaries of life, when they stand in need thereof; which is but their reasonable service, for all the care, expense, and trouble they have been at, in bringing them up in the world: nor did the Jews deny this to be the duty of children to their parents, and own it to be the sense of the commandment: they say [p], that this is the weightiest commandment among the weighty ones, even this, the honouring of father and mother; and ask,

"What is this honour? To which is replied, he must give him food, drink, and clothing; buckle his shoes, and lead him in, and bring him out.''

They indeed laid down this as a rule, and it seems a very equitable one [q]; that,

"when a man's father has any money, or substance, he must be supported out of that; but if he has none, he must support him out of his own.''

But then, as will be seen hereafter, they made void this command of God, and their own explications of it, by some other tradition. Moreover, Christ observes, that it is said, Ex 21:17

And he that curseth father or mother, let him die the death; temporal and eternal: and which is a positive command of God, made as a fence for the former; and is to be understood, not only of giving abusive language to parents, but of slighting, as the Hebrew word signifies, and neglecting them, taking no notice of them, when needy and in distress, to supply their wants. Now these commands of God, Christ shows the Jews transgressed by their tradition, as appears from the following verses.

[p] T. Hieros. Kiddushin, fol. 61. 2. [q] Piske Toseph. ad T. Bab. Kiddushin, art. 61.

5  Ver. 5 & 6. But ye say, whosoever shall say to his father or mother,.... That is, it was a tradition of their's, that if a man should say to his father and mother, when poor and in distress, and made application to him for sustenance,

it is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me, and honour not his father, or his mother, he shall be free: or, as Mark expresses it, "it is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me, he shall be free, and ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or mother". For the understanding of this tradition, let it be observed, that the word "Corban" signifies a gift, or offering, which was devoted to sacred use; and was unalienable, and could not be converted to any other use; and that this word was used among the Jews, from hence, as the form of an oath, or vow; and therefore, when anyone said "Corban", it was all one, as if he swore by "Corban"; or as if he had said, let it be as "Corban", as unalienable as "Corban": by which oath, or vow, the use of that which was spoken of, whether it respected a man's self, or others, was restrained and prohibited: the rule was [r] this rwoa awh Nbrqk rmwak Nbrq, "if a man said Corban, it was as if he said as Corban, and it was forbidden": and if he used the words "Conem", "Conach", and "Conas", which they call [s] the surnames of Corban, and were no other than corruptions of it, it was all one as if he had said "Corban" itself. There are many instances of this kind of vows, and the form of them in their oral law [t], or book of traditions;

"If anyone should say, hnhn ynav Mnwq, "Conem (or "Corban") whatsoever I might be profited by the" sons of Noah, it is free of an Israelite, and forbidden of a Gentile; if he should say, "whatsoever I might be profited" by the seed of Abraham, it is forbidden of an Israelite, and is free of a Gentile--if anyone should say, Mylrel hnhn ynav Mnwq, "Conem (or "Corban") whatsoever I might be profited by the uncircumcised", it is free of the uncircumcised of Israel, and forbidden of the circumcised of the Gentiles; if he says "Conem (or "Corban") whatsoever I might be profited by the circumcised", it is forbidden of the circumcised of Israel, and free of the circumcised, of the Gentiles.''

Again [u],

"if anyone says to his friend, Kl hnhn ynav Mnwq, "Conem (or "Corban") whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me", &c.''

which is exactly the same form as here, unless it should be rather rendered, "whatsoever I might be profited by thee": once more [w],

"if a married woman should say to her husband, Kybalw abal tynhn ynav Mnwq "Conem (or Corban) whatsoever I might be profited by my father, or thy father, &c".''

Let these instances suffice: the plain and evident sense of the tradition before us, is this; that when, upon application being made to a man by his parents, for support and sustenance, he makes a vow in such form as this, "Corban, whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me"; that is, whatsoever profit or advantage thou mightest have, or expect to have from me, let it be as "Corban", as a gift devoted to God, that can never be revoked and converted to another use; or, in other words, I vow and protest thou shalt never have any profit from me, not a penny, nor a pennyworth of mine. Now, when a man had made such an impious vow as this, according to this tradition, it was to stand firm and good, and he was not to honour his father or mother, or do anything for them, by way of relief: so that our Lord might justly observe upon it as he does;

thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect, by your tradition: for if such a vow was valid, and a man was obliged to abide by it, according to the tradition of the elders, and not honour his father and mother, as the law of God requires; it is a plain case, that the command of God was made void by this tradition: nay they expressly say [x] that hwum yrbd le twlx Myrdn, "vows fall upon things of a (divine) commandment", as well as upon things in a man's power, and that he is bound by them; so that without sin he cannot do what the law commands; insomuch, that if a man vows a vow, and that it may be ratified, a command must be made void, his vow must stand, and the command be abrogated. So truly and justly does Christ charge them with making the command of God of none effect, by their tradition. It is indeed disputed by the doctors, and at last allowed, that such a vow might be dissolved by a wise man, for the honour of parents [y].

"R. Eliezer says, they open to a man, (i.e. the door of repentance, and dissolve his vow,) for the honour of his father and his mother, but the wise men forbid "it". Says R. Tzadok, if they open to him for the honour of his father and mother, they will open to him for the honour of God, and if so, there will be no vows: however, the wise men agreed with R. Eliezer in the affair between a man and his parents, that they should open to him for the honour of them.''

And this could be done only by a wise man; and very probably this last decree was made on account of this just reproof of Christ's, being ashamed any longer to countenance so vile a practice; and even, according to this determination, the vow stood firm till dissolved by of their doctors: so that notwithstanding, Christ's argument is good, and the instance full to prove that for which he brought it: for the above reason it may be, it is, that this tradition Christ refers to is not now extant; but that there was such an one in Christ's time, is certain; he would never have asserted it else; and had it not been true, the Pharisees would have been able to have retired him, and forward enough to have done it: and that such vows were sometimes made, and which were not to be rescinded, is clear from the following fact [z].

"It happened to one in Bethhoron, hanh wnmyh rdwm wyba hyhv, "whose father was excluded, by a vow, from receiving any profit from him": and he married his son, and said to his friend, a court and a dinner are given to thee by gift; but they are not to be made use of by thee, but with this condition, that my father may come and eat with us at dinner;''

which was a device to have his father at dinner, and yet secure his vow. Upon the whole, the sense of this passage is, not that a man excused himself to his parents, according to this tradition, by saying, that his substance, either in whole, or in part, was "Corban", or devoted to the service of God, and therefore they could expect no profit, or relief, from him; but that he vowed that what he had should be as "Corban", and they should be never the better for it: so that a man so vowing might give nothing to the service of God, but keep his whole substance to himself; which he might make use of for his own benefit, and for the benefit of others, but not for his father and mother; who, after such a vow made, were to receive no benefit by it, unless rescinded by a wise man; and which seems to be an explanation of it, made after the times of Christ.

[r] T. Hieros. Nedarim, fol. 37. 1. Misn. Nedarim, c. 1. sect. 4. Maimon. Hilch. Nedarim, c. 1. sect. 7. [s] Misn. Nedarim, c. 1. sect. 1, 2. Maimon. Hilch. Nedarim, c. 1. sect. 16. [t] Misn. Nedarim, c. 3. sect. 11. [u] lb. c. 8. sect. 7. Vid. c. 11. sect 3, 4. [w] lb. c. 11. sect. 11. [x] Maimon. Hilch. Nedarim, c. 3. sect. 1. 6, 7. 9. [y] Misn. Nedarim, c. 9. sect. 1. [z] lb. c. 5. sect. 6.

6  See note on Mt 15:5
7  Ye hypocrites,.... After our Lord had given so full a proof of their making void the commandments of God by their traditions, he might very justly, as he does, call them hypocrites; who pretended to so much religion and holiness, and yet scrupled not, upon occasion, to set aside a divine command; who affected so much sanctity, as to be displeased with the disciples, for not complying with an order of their elders, when they themselves made no account of a divine precept; and plainly showed they had more regard to men than God, and to the precepts of men, than to the commands of God, and to approve themselves to men more than to God; and that they sought the praise and applause of men, and not the honour which comes from God; and that their religion lay in mere rituals and externals, and those of men's devising, and not in the spiritual worship and service of God. Nor can it be thought that Christ, in calling them hypocrites, bears too hard upon them; when one of their own doctors, who lived not very distant from this age, says [a] of the men of Jerusalem, that

"if the hypocrites of the world were divided into ten parts, nine of them would belong to Jerusalem, and one to the rest of the world.''

Well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, in Isa 29:13 which prophecy, though it was directed to, and suited with many in that generation in which the prophet lived, yet had a further view to the Jews in after times: their own writers [b] acknowledge, that the whole prophecy is spoken of that nation; for by Ariel they understand the altar at Jerusalem, the city in which David dwelt,

[a] R. Nathan in Rabba, sect. 1. [b] Abarbinel, Jarchi, Kimchi, & Aben Ezra.

8  This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth,.... The preface to these words, or the form in which they are introduced by the prophet; "wherefore the Lord said", is left out in this citation, being unnecessary here, though of the greatest importance there; partly to show, that what was about to be said, was not the prophet's own words, but the words of the Lord, of which the Jews in Christ's time made no doubt; and partly to give a reason why that judicial blindness, threatened in the context, should be inflicted on them, which is no part of Christ's design here; but which is only to show, that the description here given exactly agrees with them, and so proves, and confirms the character he gives of them as hypocrites. They approached the ordinances of God, and drew nigh to him, and attended him in outward worship; they prayed unto him publicly, and constantly, in the streets, in the synagogues, and temple, and with much seeming devotion and sanctity:

and honoureth me with their lips: they owned him to be their creator and preserver; they made their boast of him, and of their knowledge of him, as the one only living, and true God, and as the God of Israel; they brought their sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, even the fruit of their lips, unto him, for their many peculiar mercies, privileges, and favours, as a nation, church, and people, and with much seeming sincerity and affection.

But their heart is far from me; they had no true love to God, nor faith in him, nor fear of him; they were not at all concerned for his presence with them, or for communion with him, or for his honour and glory; their hearts were in the world, and after their covetousness; they made religion a tool to their secular purposes, supposing gain to be godliness; sought the applause of men, and contented themselves with bodily exercise; having no regard to internal religion, powerful godliness, or where their hearts were, so be it, their bodies were presented to God in public worship; and what they did it was to be seen and approved of men, not caring what the searcher of hearts knew concerning them, or what he required of them.

9  But in vain do they worship me,.... In the Hebrew text it is, "their fear towards me": which is rightly expressed here by "worship"; for the fear of God often intends the whole worship of God, both external and internal: here it only signifies external worship, which these men only attended to. They prayed in the synagogues, read, and, in their way, expounded the books of Moses, and the prophets, to the people, diligently observed the rituals of the ceremonial law, brought their offerings and sacrifices to the temple, and neglected nothing appertaining to the outward service of it; and yet it was all "in vain", and to no purpose; since the heart was wanting, no grace there, they acted from wrong principles, and with wrong views; their worship was merely outward, formal, and customary; and besides, they added doctrines and traditions of their own inventing and devising. The phrase, "in vain", is not in the text in Isaiah: some have thought that it was not originally in Matthew, but inserted by some other hand, to make the sense more complete. Grotius thinks there was a various reading, which is followed by the Septuagint, and the evangelist; and that instead of yhtw, "and is", it was whtw, the same with whtl, "in vain": but there is no need to suppose either of these: Christ, who made this citation, either added it himself for the clearer illustration of the passage, and as being entirely agreeable to the sense of it, and which it required, for the true understanding of it; or he might have in his view another passage of the same prophet, speaking of the same people, and upon the same subject, Isa 1:11 and from thence take the phrase, and, for explanation sake, join it to the passage here. It follows,

teaching for doctrines the commandments of men; that is, teaching the people to observe the traditions of the elders, the decrees and determinations of the doctors, as if they were doctrines delivered by God himself; or, instead of the doctrines contained in the Bible, which lay neglected by them, they obtruded on them the orders, and injunctions of men. In the text in Isaiah, are only these words, "taught by the precept of men": and which relate to their fear and worship of God; and which is here interpreted of their teachers teaching them it, and that explained of the commandments of men; as if, instead of hdmlm, "taught", it had been read, Mydmlm, "teaching". The Jews have no reason to quarrel with this construction and sense, since their Targum paraphrases it thus; "and their fear before me is, Nyplm Nyrbg tdyqptk, according to the commandment of men that teach": and a noted commentator [c] of their's has this remark on the text, "their fear towards me is" not with a perfect heart, but "by the commandment Mtwa Mydmlmh Myvnah, of the men that teach them".

[c] R. Sol. Jarchi in Isa. xxix. 13.

10  And he called the multitude,.... Having silenced the Scribes and Pharisees, and judging it not worth his while to say any more to men so obstinate and perverse; who were not open to conviction, nor would attend to any argument or reason, though ever so clear and strong, against their darling notions; he leaves them, as both disliking them, and despairing of them, and calls to the common people; who, through their great veneration for these men, upon their coming withdrew, and stood at a distance; nor indeed would they admit them very near unto them, lest they should be polluted by them: Christ, I say, calls to these to come nearer to him, hoping better of them, and knowing that they were more tractable, and teachable; and that there were some among them, that were to be brought off of their former principles and prejudices, to embrace him, and the truths delivered by him:

and said unto them, hear and understand; this he said, partly, by way of reflection upon the learned Scribes and Pharisees, who, with all their learning, could not hear him so as to understand him; and partly to excite the attention of the multitude to what he had to say; as also to show, that barely to hear with the outward hearing of the ear, will be of no service, unless what is heard is understood; and that the way to understand, is to hear.

11  Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth the man,.... No sorts of meats, or drinks, or whatever is proper food for men, or manner of eating and drinking them, when moderately used, defile a man, or render him loathsome and odious in the sight God. This is directly opposite to the notions of the Jews, who say [d], that

"forbidden meats are unclean themselves, vpnhw Pwgh Nyamjmw, "and defile both body and soul".''

The first food of man was herbs; after the flood he had an allowance of the flesh of beasts, without distinction; under the Levitical dispensation, a difference of meats was enjoined to be observed; the laws respecting that distinction are now abolished, and not binding on us under the Gospel dispensation. Some scruples, about some of these things, did arise among the first Christians; but in process of time these difficulties were got over: nor is there any religion in abstinence from any sort of food; men, indeed, on a "physical" account, ought to be careful what they eat and drink, but not on a religious one; moderation in all ought to be used; and whatever is ate or drank, should be received with thankfulness, and done to the glory of God, and then no defilement can arise from hence:

but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. It is sin, and that only, which takes its rise from the heart, lies in thought, and is either expressed by the mouth, or performed by some outward action, which defiles the man, and renders him loathsome, abominable, and odious in the sight of God. The heart is the source of all evil; the pollution of it is very early, and very general, reaching to all the powers and faculties of the soul; which shows the ignorance of some, and folly of others, that talk of, and trust to the goodness of their hearts; and also the necessity of new hearts and right spirits being formed and created; and that the sinful thoughts of the heart, and the lusts thereof, are defiling to men; and that they are sinful in God's account, and abominable in his sight; that they are loathsome to sensible sinners, and are to be repented of, and forsaken by them; and need the pardoning grace of God or otherwise will be brought into judgment. Sinful words, which, through the abundance of wickedness in the heart, come out of the mouth, have the same influence and effect: words are of a defiling nature; with these men pollute both themselves and others: the tongue, though a little member, defiles the whole body; and evil and corrupt communication proceeding out of the mouth, corrupts the best of manners, and renders men loathsome to God, and liable to his awful judgment. And this is the nature of all sinful actions; they are what God can take no pleasure in; they are disagreeable, to a sensible mind; they leave a stain, which can never be removed by any thing the creature can do; nothing short of the blood of Christ can cleanse from it; and inasmuch as they are frequently committed, there is need of continual application to it. These are now the things men should be concerned about, as of a defiling nature; and not about meats and drinks, and the manner of using them, whether with hands washed, or unwashed.

[d] Tzeror Hammor, fol. 142. 1.

12  Then came his disciples, and said unto him,.... That is, after he had dismissed the people, and was come into a private house; see Mr 7:17 his disciples came to him, being alone, full of concern, for what he had said to the Pharisees, and before all the people; and not so well understanding it themselves.

Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended after they heard this saying?, that they set aside the commandments of God, by observing the traditions of the elders; or that they were hypocrites; and that the prophecy of Isaiah, which describes such persons, belonging to them; or that not what goes into, but what comes out of a man, defiles him: whichever it was they have respect unto, or it may be to the whole, they seem to wish Christ had not said it; because the Pharisees were, as they thought, grieved and troubled at it, as being contrary to true religion and piety; and lest they should be so stumbled, as no more to attend, and so all hopes of bringing them over to the faith of Christ be lost; and chiefly, because they perceived they were made exceeding angry, and were highly provoked; so that they might fear that both Christ, and they themselves, would feel the effects of their wrath and rage; and perhaps it was with some such view, that he would take some prudential step that he might not fall into their hands, that they acquaint him with it.

13  But he answered, and said,.... As being unconcerned at their rage, and having nothing to fear from them; and being well satisfied, that what he had said was right, and would produce proper effects, he gave his disciples this for answer:

every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up; which may be understood either of things, or of persons: it may have regard to doctrines and ordinances; and the meaning be, that whatever doctrine is not delivered by God, or whatever ordinance is not instituted by him; whatever is not of heaven, but of man, of man's devising, and of human imposition, as the traditions of the elders, must be opposed and rejected; and sooner or later will be utterly rooted up, and destroyed; as will all the false notions, corrupt worship, and errors, and heresies of men, in God's own time: or it may respect persons. There are some plants, which are planted by Christ's Father, which is in heaven; these are the elect of God, who are trees of righteousness; the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. These are planted by the river of God's love, in the person of Christ, in the likeness of his death and resurrection; they are transplanted out of a state of nature, are ingrafted into Christ, have the graces of the Spirit implanted in their souls, and are themselves planted in the courts of the Lord, in a Gospel church state; and being watered with the dews of grace, appear to be choice plants, plants of renown, pleasant ones, very fruitful, and which shall never perish, or be rooted, and plucked up, but there are others, like these Pharisees, hypocrites, formal professors, and heretics, who pretend to much religion and holiness, make a show of the leaves of profession, but have not the fruit of grace; these get into churches, and are outwardly and ministerially planted there; but being never rooted in Christ, nor partake of his grace, in time they wither, and die away; or persecution arising because of the Word, or truth being dispensed in so clear and glaring a light, that they cannot bear it; they are offended with it, and so are detected, discovered, and rooted up and it is necessary that truth should be freely spoken, as it was here by Christ, that such plants might be rooted out; for these words are said by Christ in justification of his conduct. So the Jews speak of God, as a planter, and of rooting up what he does not like.

"The holy, blessed God (say they [e]), "plants" trees in this world; if they prosper, it is well; if they do not prosper, Nwl rqea, "he roots them up", and plants them even many times.''

And elsewhere it is said [f],

"let the master of the vineyard come, and consume its thorns: the gloss on it is, the holy, blessed God; for the vineyard of the Lord of hosts, is the house of Israel, and he will consume, and take away the thorns of the vineyard.''

[e] Zohar in Gen. fol. 105. 3. [f] T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 83. 2.

14  Let them alone,.... Have nothing to say, or do with them; do not mind their anger and resentment, their reproaches and reflections, nor trouble yourselves at the offence they have taken; if they will go, let them go; they are a worthless generation of men, who are not to be regarded, hearkened to, nor to be pleased; it matters not what they say of me, and of my doctrine:

they be blind leaders of the blind; the people that hearken to them, and are followers of them, are "blind", as to any true sense of themselves, their state, and condition by nature; as to any spiritual, saving knowledge of God; as to any acquaintance with the Messiah, and the method of salvation by him; as to the Spirit of God, and the work of grace, regeneration, and sanctification upon the soul; as to the Scriptures of truth, and doctrines of the Gospel; and the "leaders" of them were as "blind" as they: by whom are meant the Scribes and Pharisees, the learned doctors and rabbins of the Jewish nation; who thought themselves very wise and knowing, yet they were blind also; and none more than they. It was an old tradition [g] among the Jews,

"that there should be "blind teachers" at the time when God should have his tabernacle among them.''

This was predicted, in Isa 42:19 and all such leaders and teachers are blind, who, notwithstanding their natural abilities, and acquired parts, are in a state of unregeneracy; and have nothing more than what they have from nature, or have attained to at school; and as apparently all such are, who lead men from Christ, to mere morality, and to a dependence upon their own righteousness for justification, which was the darling principle of the blind leaders in the text.

And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch; of ignorance and error, immorality and profaneness, distress, if not despair, temporal ruin and destruction; which was notoriously verified in the Jewish people, and their guides: and of eternal damnation, the lake which burns with fire and brimstone; what else can be expected?

[g] Midrash Tillim in Psal. cxlvi apud Grotium in loc.

15  Then answered Peter,.... Mark says, "his disciples asked him concerning the parable"; which might be by the mouth of Peter; who, probably, being the eldest man, and very forward to speak, was generally their spokesman: and who, at this time, might be requested, by the rest, to ask the meaning of the parable, which had given offence to the Pharisees, and was not clearly understood by them; which he accordingly did:

and said unto him, declare unto us this parable; that not what goes into the mouth, but what comes out of it, defiles the man; which, though expressed in very plain words, and easy to be understood, yet did not appear clear to their understandings; and seemed to be contrary, not only to the traditions of the elders, but to the laws of God, respecting the difference of clean and unclean meats; and therefore call it a "parable", and desire an explanation of it.

16  And Jesus said,.... As wondering at, and as being displeased with, and as reproving them for their dulness and ignorance:

are ye also yet without understanding? you, my disciples, as well as the Scribes and Pharisees; you, who have been with me so long, who have heard so many discourses from me, who for so long a time have been instructed by me, both in private, and in public; and yet do not understand what is so plain and easy, that has nothing of difficulty in it, but what might easily be accounted for.

17  Do not ye understand,.... You must understand, you cannot be so ignorant,

that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth, goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? that is, that whatsoever food a man takes in at his mouth, he swallows down, and it is received into his stomach; which, having performed its office, the grosser parts go down into the belly, and passing through the bowels, are evacuated into the vault, or privy, "purging all meats", as Mark says; for that only receives the filth and excrementitious matter; so that what is left in the body is pure, wholesome, and nourishing: nor can any part of what goes into a man defile him, because it only enters into the body, and passes through it; and, as Mark says, "entereth not into the heart", which is the seat of moral impurity; so that no moral pollution can be contracted by eating any sort of food, even though it should not be clean itself, nor be eaten with clean hands.

18  But those things which proceed out of the mouth,.... Meaning not material things, as spittle, vomit, &c. but, as it follows, which

come forth from the heart: are first conceived and formed there, and then come forth from thence, and are expressed by the mouth; as all idle words, foolish talking, filthy jesting, unsavoury communication, and every word that is rotten and corrupt, or which is done in the life and conversation;

and they defile the man: the heart is the corrupt fountain from whence all moral defilement flows; and sinful words and actions are the impure streams, which spring from thence, and increase the moral pollution of human nature.

19  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts,.... Of God, of Christ, of the Spirit, of fellow creatures, and of all sorts of wickedness. The thoughts of sin are evil, are to be hated, forsaken, and for which men are accountable to God. All wicked imaginations, carnal reasonings, lustful desires, and malicious contrivances, are here included; which take their rise from, and are devised, and forged, in the corrupt heart of man.

Murders; inveterate hatred of men's persons, malice prepense, schemes to take away life, all angry and wrathful words, and actual effusion of man's blood.

Adulteries; uncleanness committed between married persons, both in thought, and deed:

fornications; unlawful copulations of persons in a single state:

thefts; taking away from others by force or fraud, what is their right and property:

false witness: swearing falsely, or exhibiting a false testimony to the hurt of his neighbour, either his name, person, or estate:

blasphemies; evil speakings of God or men. To which Mark adds "covetousness"; a greedy and insatiable desire after the things of the world, or the neighbour's goods: "wickedness"; doing hurt and mischief to fellow creatures: "deceit"; in words and actions, in trade and conversation: "lasciviousness"; all manner of uncleanness, and unnatural lusts: "an evil eye"; of envy and covetousness: the vitiosity, or corruption of nature, is, by the Jews [h], called Nye er, "the evil eye": "pride"; in heart and life, in dress and gesture; and "foolishness"; expressed in talk and conduct.

[h] Tzeror Hammor, fol. 141. 3.

20  These are the things which defile a man,.... These are filthy in themselves, and must pollute all in whom they are; they bring a defilement on the whole man, both body and soul, fasten guilt upon him, and expose him to everlasting punishment:

but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man: should a man neglect to wash his bands before eating a common meal, this need give him no uneasiness; he contracts no filth to his soul hereby, nor any guilt to his conscience; nor does he break any law of God; nor is he liable to any penalty for such an omission. This is a trifling matter, and merits no regard; but the things before mentioned are in their nature evil: they are contrary to the law of God; they are abominable in his sight; they render men loathsome and odious to the divine being; and expose them to shame and ruin; and it is only the blood of Christ can cleanse them from the pollution and guilt of them, and secure them from that punishment they deserve.

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