|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:12-22 The first public work in which we find Christ engaged, was driving from the temple the traders whom the covetous priests and rulers encouraged to make a market-place of its courts. Those now make God's house a house of merchandise, whose minds are filled with cares about worldly business when attending religious exercises, or who perform Divine offices for love of gain. Christ, having thus cleansed the temple, gave a sign to those who demanded it, to prove his authority for so doing. He foretells his death by the Jews' malice, Destroy ye this temple; I will permit you to destroy it. He foretells his resurrection by his own power; In three days I will raise it up. Christ took again his own life. Men mistake by understanding that according to the letter, which the Scripture speaks by way of figure. When Jesus was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered he has said this. It helps much in understanding the Divine word, to observe the fulfilling of the Scriptures.
Verse 14. - He found in the temple (ἱερόν); the vast enclosure, surrounded by colonnades, where the courts of the Gentiles were situated beyond and outside the courts of "the women" and "the priests." Within the latter was the sanctuary (ναός), or sacred adytum, where the altars of sacrifice and incense faced the veil of the holiest of all. In the court of the temple had been allowed a secular market for sacrificial beasts. An exchange for money was also set up,where Jews were ready to furnish, on usurious terms, the proper coin, the sacred half shekel (value, one shilling and threepence), in which form alone was the temple tax received from the provincial visitors or pilgrims from distant lands. No coin bearing the image of Caesar, or any foreign prince, or any idolatrous symbol then so common, would be allowed in the sacred treasury. So the Lord found those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the exchangers of money sitting; a busy bazaar, deteriorating the idea of the temple with adverse associations. The three sacrificial animals mentioned were those most frequently required. The strangers, doubtless, needed some market where these could be obtained, and where the sufficient guarantee of their freedom from blemish could be secured. It was also indispensable that exchange of coins should have been made feasible for the host of strangers. The profanation effected by transacting these measures in the temple courts was symptomatic of widespread secularism, an outward indication of the corruption of the entire idea of worship, and of the selfishness and pride which had vitiated the solemnity and spirituality of the sacrificial ritual. Geikie has given a very brilliant description of this scene; so also Edersheim, 'Life of Jesus the Messiah.' The money (κέρμα) was probably derived from a word (κείρω) meaning "to cut," and referred to the minute coins which were required for convenient exchange. The κόλλυβος, which gives its name to κολλυβιστής of the following verse, is also the name of a small (κολοβός, equivalent to "mutilated") coin used for purposes of exchange. The smaller the coin the better, as the minute differences of weight of the foreign coins would thus be more easily measured.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And found in the temple,.... Not in the holy place itself, nor in the court of the priests, where the sacrifices were offered, nor in the court of the women, nor in the court of the Israelites, where the people worshipped; but in the court of the Gentiles, or the outward court, even all that space of ground which was between the wall which divided the whole from common ground, and the buildings of the temple, and which was open to the air; for the whole sacred enclosure, or all within the wall, went by the name of the temple. Into this all strangers might come; and the passover now being at hand, here were
those that sold oxen, and sheep, and doves: the oxen, or bullocks, were for the Chagigah, or feast kept on the second day of the passover; See Gill on John 18:28; and the sheep, or lambs, as the Persic version reads, for the passover supper; and the doves were for the offerings of the poorer sort of new mothers: with these they were supplied from the Mount of Olives. It is said (c),
"there were two cedar trees on the Mount of Olives, and under one of them were four shops of them that sold things for purification; and out of one of them they brought forty bushels of young doves every month: and out of them the Israelites had enough for the nests, or the offerings of turtle doves;''
See Gill on Matthew 21:12;
and the changers of money sitting: who changed foreign money into the current coin of the Jews, strangers coming, at this feast, from several parts of the world; and sometimes there was need of changing shekels into half shekels, which, at certain times, were paid for the ransom of Israelites; see the note on the place above mentioned.
(c) Echa Rabbati, fol. 52. 4.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
14-17. in the temple—not the temple itself, as Joh 2:19-21, but the temple-court.
sold oxen, &c.—for the convenience of those who had to offer them in sacrifice.
changers of money—of Roman into Jewish money, in which the temple dues (see on Mt 17:24) had to be paid.
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