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15. Clean and Unclean

1Then there come to Jesus from Jerusalem Pharisees and scribes, saying, 2Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. 3And he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4For God said, Honor thy father and thy mother: and, He that speaketh evil of father or mother, let him die the death. 5But ye say, whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, That wherewith thou mightest have been profited by me is given to God; 6he shall not honor his father. And ye have made void the word of God because of your tradition. 7Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying,

8This people honoreth me with their lips;

But their heart is far from me.

9But in vain do they worship me,

Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men.

10And he called to him the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: 11Not that which entereth into the mouth defileth the man; but that which proceedeth out of the mouth, this defileth the man. 12Then came the disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, when they heard this saying? 13But he answered and said, Every plant which my heavenly Father planted not, shall be rooted up. 14Let them alone: they are blind guides. And if the blind guide the blind, both shall fall into a pit. 15And Peter answered and said unto him, Declare unto us the parable. 16And he said, Are ye also even yet without understanding? 17Perceive ye not, that whatsoever goeth into the mouth passeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? 18But the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart; and they defile the man. 19For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, railings: 20these are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not the man.

21And Jesus went out thence, and withdrew into the parts of Tyre and Sidon. 22And behold, a Canaanitish woman came out from those borders, and cried, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a demon. 23But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24But he answered and said, I was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25But she came and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26And he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread and cast it to the dogs. 27But she said, Yea, Lord: for even the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. 28Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it done unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was healed from that hour.

29And Jesus departed thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and he went up into the mountain, and sat there. 30And there came unto him great multitudes, having with them the lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and they cast them down at this feet; and he healed them: 31insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb speaking, the maimed whole, and lame walking, and the blind seeing: and they glorified the God of Israel.

32And Jesus called unto him his disciples, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days and have nothing to eat: and I would not send them away fasting, lest haply they faint on the way. 33And the disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so many loaves in a desert place as to fill so great a multitude? 34And Jesus said unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few small fishes. 35And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground; 36and he took the seven loaves and the fishes; and he gave thanks and brake, and gave to the disciples, and the disciples to the multitudes. 37And they all ate, and were filled: and they took up that which remained over of the broken pieces, seven baskets full. 38And they that did eat were four thousand men, besides women and children. 39And he sent away the multitudes, and entered into the boat, and came into the borders of Magadan.

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Mt 15:1-20. Discourse on Ceremonial Pollution. ( = Mr 7:1, 23).

The time of this section was after that Passover which was nigh at hand when our Lord fed the five thousand (Joh 6:4)—the third Passover, as we take it, since His public ministry began, but which He did not keep at Jerusalem for the reason mentioned in Joh 7:1.

1. Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem—or "from Jerusalem." Mark (Mr 7:1) says they "came from" it: a deputation probably sent from the capital expressly to watch Him. As He had not come to them at the last Passover, which they had reckoned on, they now come to Him. "And," says Mark (Mr 7:2, 3), "when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen hands"—hands not ceremonially cleansed by washing—"they found fault. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft"—literally, "in" or "with the fist"; that is, probably washing the one hand by the use of the other—though some understand it, with our version, in the sense of "diligently," "sedulously"—"eat not, holding the tradition of the elders"; acting religiously according to the custom handed down to them. "And when they come from the market" (Mr 7:4)—"And after market": after any common business, or attending a court of justice, where the Jews, as Webster and Wilkinson remark, after their subjection to the Romans, were especially exposed to intercourse and contact with heathens—"except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups and pots, brazen vessels and tables"—rather, "couches," such as were used at meals, which probably were merely sprinkled for ceremonial purposes. "Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him,"

saying—as follows:

2. Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

3. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?—The charge is retorted with startling power: "The tradition they transgress is but man's, and is itself the occasion of heavy transgression, undermining the authority of God's law."

4. For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother—(De 5:16).

and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death—(Ex 21:17).

5. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift—or simply, "A gift!" In Mark (Mr 7:11), it is, "Corban!" that is, "An oblation!" meaning, any unbloody offering or gift dedicated to sacred uses.

by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;

6. And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free—that is, It is true, father—mother—that by giving to thee this, which I now present, thou mightest be profited by me; but I have gifted it to pious uses, and therefore, at whatever cost to thee, I am not now at liberty to alienate any portion of it. "And," it is added in Mark (Mr 7:12), "ye suffer him no more to do aught for his father or his mother." To dedicate property to God is indeed lawful and laudable, but not at the expense of filial duty.

Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect—cancelled or nullified it "by your tradition."

7. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying—(Isa 29:13).

8. This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, &c.—By putting the commandments of men on a level with the divine requirements, their whole worship was rendered vain—a principle of deep moment in the service of God. "For," it is added in Mr 7:8, "laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups; and many other such like things ye do." The drivelling nature of their multitudinous observances is here pointedly exposed, in contrast with the manly observance of "the commandment of God"; and when our Lord says, "Many other such like things ye do," it is implied that He had but given a specimen of the hideous treatment which the divine law received, and the grasping disposition which, under the mask of piety, was manifested by the ecclesiastics of that day.