the left arm, others again for the door posts (Plate XL., fig. 2). The Jewish name for these is Tephillin.

When our Lord appeared on the earth he found two standards of moral conduct, and two systems for the regulation of the religious life of the people, acknowledged among the Jews. The law of God specially regarded as contained in the five books of Moses contained one standard, and one system—the traditions of the Elders; the rules of their noted Rabbins formed another. Here and elsewhere the Saviour often contrasts the two. While the Scribes and Pharisees would have shrunk from the open expression of a preference for that system of ceremonies and code of moral conduct which had been engrafted on the law, as above the precepts of Moses, they had virtually come into this position. The highly artificial, arbitrary, and in many cases, superstitious observances imposed on them by man, had almost universally usurped the place of the commandments of God. The inevitable fruit had soon appeared. The heart was eaten out of the religious life of the people, and their religious observances were little else than the covering by which hypocrisy sought to hide the ruling lust and unsubdued sin which filled the soul. The eye of Jesus looked through all this. Thus the terrible words which, as in this passage, fell from his lips, whenever he came openly in contact with these leaders of the people.

The form which this spirit had assumed in regard to paying tithes is specially referred to in verse 23. The weightier matters of the law" are contrasted with aspects of giving of substance for religious purposes, which might have an important meaning, if they were the fruits of a pious man's sense that he owed all he had unto God. But they were worse than mockery of God when put in the place of “judgment, mercy, and faith.” To this, however, their rabbinical rules tended; and a multitude of religious duties, a scrupulous attention to little acts of a religious kind, but which did not touch their consciences at all, were held to compensate for a habitual neglect of the personal piety and spiritual obedience which should have characterized them. There is nothing in the law of Moses which implies that it was a duty to pay tithes of such articles as are here mentioned. But as our Lord would not interfere with anything through which a religious man might show his gratitude to God, he does not condemn, but rather favours, the act -“These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the others undone.”

“ Mint,” Gr. hēdůosmon. See under Luke xi. 42. “Anise," anēthon, is not to be confounded with the “star aniseed" of commerce. Staranise is the seed of a Chinese plant, the Illicium (I. anisatum) which

Fig. 178.


is imported into Europe from China, and is used in medicine as a stimulant. In the south of Europe it is employed as a condiment, and an oil distilled from it is used in the manufacture of the liqueur Anisette de Bordeaux. The anise tithed by the Jews is the herb

"dill” (Anethum graveolens or dill), one of the umbelliferous family of plants (Umbelliferce) which is both cultivated and found growing wild in Palestine, Egypt, &c, Pliny mentions it as “serving as well for seasoning all kinds of food as for making sauces.” It is used in medicine also.

The British plant which is likest the anise of Matthew is the well known species Anethum foeniculum, or common fennel, frequent by the sea-side, associated with

Anise (Anethum graveolens). the sea-lavender, thrift, and sandworts. In olden times it was much cultivated in England, and boiled with fish. It is mentioned by Parkinson (1629) among the “divers physical herbes, fit to be planted in gardens to serve for the especial use of a familie.” Many superstitious notions have gathered round this British anethum. Some of these are referred to by the poet :

" Above the lowly plant it towers,
The Fennel with its yellow flowers;
And in an earlier age than ours
Was gifted with the wondrous powers

Lost vision to restore.
It gave new strength and fearless mood,
And gladiators fierce and rude
Mingled it with their daily food;
And he who battled and subdued,

The wreath of Fennel wore."

Cummin,” Heb. kamān, Gr. kūminon, is also named by our Lord as tithed by the later Jews. “Tithing of corn is of the law,” some were wont to say, “and tithing of garden herbs was of the rabbins.” Cummin has already been noticed under Isaiah xxviii. 25—which see.

“Gnat,” Gr. kõnõps-see under Isa. vii. 18. It has been proposed to render the expression here “strain out.” But the alleged difficulty is not thus got quit of. All intended by the figure is, You exaggerate small and indifferent matters as if great principles were involved, while you habitually neglect those broad precepts about which there cannot be a mistake. In your conduct you are scrupulous in things which lead to no true self-denial, but which in their performance are selfpleasing, while the mighty truths of God are neglected or dishonoured.

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: 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. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. 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! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (ver. 34-39). What comment on these words could match that of Bunyan? He leads Christiana into the Interpreter's house, that she may have unfolded to her under one figure and another that “God has made nothing in vain. Then they seemed all to be glad; but the water stood in their eyes : yet they looked upon one another, and also bowed before the Interpreter.

"He had them then into another room, where was a hen and chickens, and bid them observe a while. So one of the chickens went to the trough to drink, and every time she drank she lifted up her head and her eyes towards heaven. See, said he, what this little chick doeth, and learn of her to acknowledge whence your mercies come, by receiving them with looking up. Yet again, said he, observe and look; so they gave heed, and perceived that the hen did walk in a four-fold method towards her chickens. 1. She had a common call, and that she had all the day long. 2. She had a special call, and that she had but sometimes. 3. She had a brooding note. And 4. She had an outcry.

shall say, Now, said he, compare this here to your king, and these chickens to his obedient ones. For, answerable to her, himself has his methods, which he walketh in towards his people: by his common call he gives nothing; by his special call he always has something to give: he has also a brooding voice for them that are under his wing; and he has an outcry, to give the alarm when he seeth the enemy come. I choose, my darlings, to lead you into the room where such things are, because you are women, and they are easy for you."

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli! Eli! lama sabachthani ? that is to say, My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him " (xxvii. 46–49). Our Lord had already refused the myrrhed wine (ver. 34; see under Mark xv. 23); but the vinegar which was offered him on the sponge seems to have been received. Indeed, John distinctly says :—“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” With reference to the spiced or medicated wine, which is fully examined under Mark xv. 23, the evangelist Matthew mentions a circumstance unnoticed by the other evangelists. He says:—“They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.He was not willing that the least thing should be done by him to hasten his own death. The whole guilt of that deed must rest on man, and, accordingly, when the sour wine, which constituted a daily beverage of the people, was offered to him, it was at once received. It was wine of this kind which was used in the harvest-field of Bethlehem by the reapers of Boaz (Ruth ii. 14), and which constituted part of the rations of the Roman soldiers. See under Prov. x. 26, for references to the nature and kind of vinegar used in Old Testament times.





"HE voice of one crying in the wilderness” (i. 3). Matthew

names the scene of John's first ministry, “the wilderness of Judea” (iii. 1). The locality referred to embraced the whole desert region lying on the immediate west of the

Dead Sea, and reaching to the north the valley of the Jordan. John fulfilled his ministry chiefly in the upper part of this wide wild tract. 6 Verse 13"-see under Jonah iv. 11.

Capernaum ” (ver. 21) lay on the north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Dr. Robinson believes it to be represented by the mound now known by the name Khan-Minyeh. Jesus and his disciples appear to have entered it after they were forced to retire from Nazareth. It was frequently Christ's residence afterwards, and came to be called “his own city” (Matt. ix. 1).

“No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment; else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles” (ii. 21, 22). Christ's mission was not to mend what had served its day and become useless. This would have been like putting unfulled or undressed cloth into an old garment. Such material would expand under the influence of heat, or it would contract under that of moisture, and the rent would be made worse. Or like new wine put into the old leathern goat-skin bottles, which had been distended to the utmost, when the process of fermentation began in the new wine, the increase of bulk would burst the bottles. Christ came to renew the whole system of religious worship. Jewish types and ceremonies could not contain the grand thoughts which he brought out among men. He made all things new.

The kingdom of God in the world and in the heart of man is likened to the growth of the wheat seed (iv. 26–29). The germinating power begins unobserved. No man knows “the new name saving he that receiveth it” (Rev. ii. 17). But grace is given in order to its mani

« VorigeDoorgaan »