|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:41-44 Let us not forget that Jesus still sees the treasury. He knows how much, and from what motives, men give to his cause. He looks at the heart, and what our views are, in giving alms; and whether we do it as unto the Lord, or only to be seen of men. It is so rare to find any who would not blame this widow, that we cannot expect to find many who will do like to her; and yet our Saviour commends her, therefore we are sure that she did well and wisely. The feeble efforts of the poor to honour their Saviour, will be commended in that day, when the splendid actions of unbelievers will be exposed to contempt.
Verse 42. - A poor widow (μία χήρα πτωχὴ); literally, one poor widow; one specially singled out for notice. St. Luke says, εῖδε δὲ καί τινα χήραν πενιχρὰν: literally, a widow who supported herself by her own little labor. And she cast in two mites (λεπτὰ), which make a farthing. The farthing was the fourth part of an as, and ten of these made a denarius. The Greek word (λεπτὰ) means literally "thin pieces."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And there came a certain poor widow,.... Among the many that came to offer their gifts freely, there came one that was particularly taken notice of by Christ; and she was a "widow", had no husband to provide for her, and was a "poor" one; had no substance left her by her husband to support her with; very likely she was an inhabitant of Jerusalem:
and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing; a "quadrant", which was the fourth part of the Roman assis, or farthing; which seems to be much the same with the of the Greeks, which is said (g) to be,
"the fourth part of an obolus (the least Athenian coin), that is, two brass pieces.''
These mites seem to be the same with the "prutas", the Jews often speak of; who say (h), that a "pruta" is the eighth part of an Italian farthing; though some make it to be the sixth: hence the Syriac version here renders it, "two menin, that is, eighths"; and the Jerusalem Talmud expressly says (i), that, , "two prutas make a quadrant", the very word here used: and that the Jews took the freewill offerings of the poor as well as the rich, though ever so little, is clear from this canon of theirs (k);
"a poor man that gives a "pruta", or mite, into the alms dish, or a "pruta" into the poor's chest, they take it of him; but if he does not give, they do not oblige him to give.''
Nor were they obliged to cast into the treasury; but if they did, they received it, be it less or more: and indeed, the rich might throw in as little as they pleased: as for instance; into the chest for gold, they might throw in as little as the weight of a barley corn of gold; and into the chest for frankincense, as little as the weight of a barley corn of frankincense (l). The Persic version here, different from all others, instead of "two mites", renders it, "two bottoms of thread", or "yarn".
(g) Harpocratian. Lexic. p. 281. (h) Misn. Kiddushin, c. 1. sect. 1. T. Hieros. Kiddushin, fol. 58. 4. T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 12. 1. Bava Metzin, fol. 44. 2. Maimon. Hilch. Shekalim, c. 1. sect. 3.((i) Kiddushi, fol. 58. 4. (k) Maimon. Hilch. Mattanot Anayim, c. 9. sect. 19. (l) Maimon. & Battenora in. Misn. Shekalim, c. 6. sect. 6.
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