|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:1-11 Christ neither found fault with the law, nor excused the prisoner's guilt; nor did he countenance the pretended zeal of the Pharisees. Those are self-condemned who judge others, and yet do the same thing. All who are any way called to blame the faults of others, are especially concerned to look to themselves, and keep themselves pure. In this matter Christ attended to the great work about which he came into the world, that was, to bring sinners to repentance; not to destroy, but to save. He aimed to bring, not only the accused to repentance, by showing her his mercy, but the prosecutors also, by showing them their sins; they thought to insnare him, he sought to convince and convert them. He declined to meddle with the magistrate's office. Many crimes merit far more severe punishment than they meet with; but we should not leave our own work, to take that upon ourselves to which we are not called. When Christ sent her away, it was with this caution, Go, and sin no more. Those who help to save the life of a criminal, should help to save the soul with the same caution. Those are truly happy, whom Christ does not condemn. Christ's favour to us in the forgiveness of past sins should prevail with us, Go then, and sin no more.
Verse 5. - Now Moses in the Law commanded us, that such should be stoned (or, to stone such); but what sayest thou? The Law (Deuteronomy 22:23, etc.) prescribed stoning for both parties when the woman is the betrothed bride of another man, and if she make no sufficient attempt to foil the purpose of her seducer. For ordinary adultery the death penalty is left indefinite (Leviticus 20:10). It is no proof that strangulation was the method of punishment in the days of our Lord because the Talmud and Maimonides thus express it. Meyer concludes that the woman was a betrothed bride. This offence is, broadly speaking. "adultery" of an aggravated kind. The reference to the method of the punishment is not demonstrable proof of this, because it would be easily feasible to transfer the method of the death from the extreme case to the ordinary ease of nuptial infidelity (cf. Exodus 31:14 for the punishment of unspecified death for sabbath violation (repeated Exodus 35:2), interpreted of "stoning" in the special illustrative case, Numbers 15:32-36). This is Moses' Law - "what sayest thou?" This query involves an ascription to Jesus of the right of authoritatively interpreting the Law. thus attributing to him the functions of a new legislator. Some have objected to the bare possibility of such an appeal being made to Jesus by any species of Jewish authority. The whole context shows that the process was malicious, ironical, crafty. The entire audience knew that this law had never been accepted or applied literally; that the Sanhedrin had not enforced it; and that, if they had endeavoured to do so, the Roman power had taken from the nation the jus gladii. The question, therefore, became one of casuistry inflamed by a concrete case, and having as its ally a secret sympathy with the offenders. It was not uncommon for the rabbis to discuss the incidence of obsolete laws. Many of the glosses upon the ancient law, and laborious trifling with specific regulations of the so called oral law, turn upon customs that were absolutely impracticable under the new conditions of the Jewish life. This, however, was no mere quibble of words about possible duties. The query was put with dramatic force and in concrete form. The shame and life of a fellow creature were the materials which this eager and bloodthirsty group were utilizing for their vile purpose.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should, be stoned,.... Not in Leviticus 20:10; for though according to the law there, an adulteress, one that was a married woman, and so an adulterer, that was a married man, were to be put to death; yet the death was not stoning, but strangling; for it is a rule with the Jews (g), that where death is simply mentioned (without restraining it to any particular kind) strangling is intended, and which rule they apply to this law: and accordingly in their Misna, or oral law, one that lies with another man's wife, is reckoned among those that are to be strangled (h): Kimchi indeed says (i), that adulteresses, according to the law, are to be stoned with stones; but then this must be understood of such as are betrothed, but not married; and such a person, Moses has commanded in the law, to be stoned, Deuteronomy 22:23. And with this agree the traditions of the Jews (k);
"a daughter of Israel must be stoned, who is , "betrothed, but not married".''
And such an one we must believe this woman was; she was betrothed to a man, but not married to him, and therefore to be stoned: the Jews (l) have also a saying, that
"if all adulterers were punished with stoning, according to the law, the stones would be consumed; but they would not be consumed;''
adultery was so common with that people:
but what sayest thou? dost thou agree with Moses, or not?
(g) Maimon. Hilchot Issure Bia, c. 1. sect. 6. (h) Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 10. sect. 1.((i) In Ezekiel 16.40. (k) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 51. 2.((l) Apud Castell. Lex. Polyglott, col. 2180.
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