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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 23 - Verse 6

Verse 6. The uppermost rooms at feasts. The word rooms, here, by no means expresses the meaning of the original. It would be correctly rendered the uppermost places or couches at feasts. To understand this it is necessary to remark, that the custom among the Jews was not to eat sitting, as we do, but reclining on couches. The table was made by three tables, raised like ours, and placed so as to form a square, with a clear space in the midst, and one end quite open. On the sides; of them were placed cushions, capable of containing three or-more persons, On these the guests reclined, leaning on their left side with their feet extended from the table, and so lying that the head of one naturally reclined on the bosom of another. To recline near to one in this manner denoted intimacy, and was what was meant by lying in the bosom of another, Joh 13:23; Lu 16:22,23. As the feet were extended from the table, and as they reclined instead of sitting, it was easy to approach the feet behind, and even unperceived. Thus in Lu 7:37,38 while Jesus reclined in this manner, a woman that had been a sinner came to his feet behind him, and washed them with her tears, and wiped with the hairs of her head. She stood on the outside of the couches. So our Saviour washed the feet of his disciples as they reclined on a couch in this manner, Joh 13:4-12. Whenever we read in the New Testament of sitting at meals, it always means reclining in this manner, and never sitting as we do. The chief seat, or the uppermost one, was the middle couch at the upper end of the table. This the Pharisees loved, as a post of honour or distinction. The annexed cut will fully illustrate the custom.

Chief seats in the synagogues. The seats usually occupied by the elders of the synagogue, near the pulpit. They love a place of distinction. See Barnes "Mt 4:23".

 

{w} "And love" Mr 12:36; Lu 11:43

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