Matthew 11:7
Parallel Verses
New International Version
As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind?

New Living Translation
As John's disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. "What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind?

English Standard Version
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?

New American Standard Bible
As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?

King James Bible
And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?

Holman Christian Standard Bible
As these men went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind?

International Standard Version
As they were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John. "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?

NET Bible
While they were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
But when they departed, Yeshua began to say to the crowds about Yohannan, “What did you go out to the wilderness to see, a reed shaken by the wind?”

GOD'S WORD® Translation
As they were leaving, Jesus spoke to the crowds about John. "What did you go into the desert to see? Tall grass swaying in the wind?

Jubilee Bible 2000
And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?

King James 2000 Bible
And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went you out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?

American King James Version
And as they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, What went you out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?

American Standard Version
And as these went their way, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to behold? a reed shaken with the wind?

Douay-Rheims Bible
And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind?

Darby Bible Translation
But as they went [away], Jesus began to say to the crowds concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? a reed moved about by the wind?

English Revised Version
And as these went their way, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to behold? a reed shaken with the wind?

Webster's Bible Translation
And as they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? a reed shaken with the wind?

Weymouth New Testament
When the messengers had taken their leave, Jesus proceeded to say to the multitude concerning John, "What did you go out into the Desert to gaze at? A reed waving in the wind?

World English Bible
As these went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?

Young's Literal Translation
And as they are going, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, 'What went ye out to the wilderness to view? -- a reed shaken by the wind?
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

11:7-15 What Christ said concerning John, was not only for his praise, but for the people's profit. Those who attend on the word will be called to give an account of their improvements. Do we think when the sermon is done, the care is over? No, then the greatest of the care begins. John was a self-denying man, dead to all the pomps of the world and the pleasures of sense. It becomes people, in all their appearances, to be consistent with their character and their situation. John was a great and good man, yet not perfect; therefore he came short of glorified saints. The least in heaven knows more, loves more, and does more in praising God, and receives more from him, than the greatest in this world. But by the kingdom of heaven here, is rather to be understood the kingdom of grace, the gospel dispensation in its power and purity. What reason we have to be thankful that our lot is cast in the days of the kingdom of heaven, under such advantages of light and love! Multitudes were wrought upon by the ministry of John, and became his disciples. And those strove for a place in this kingdom, that one would think had no right nor title to it, and so seemed to be intruders. It shows us what fervency and zeal are required of all. Self must be denied; the bent, the frame and temper of the mind must be altered. Those who will have an interest in the great salvation, will have it upon any terms, and not think them hard, nor quit their hold without a blessing. The things of God are of great and common concern. God requires no more from us than the right use of the faculties he has given us. People are ignorant, because they will not learn.

Pulpit Commentary

Verses 7-15. - Jesus recognition of the greatness of John as herald. Vers. 7-11: parallel passage: Luke 7:24-28. Verse 7. - And as they departed; and as these went their way (Revised Version). Fulfilling his command (ver. 4). It' we may combine the language of St. Matthew and St. Luke ("when the messengers of John were departed"), we may say that they had left the circle immediately round our Lord, but were hardly further than the outskirts of the crowd. What went ye out into the wilderness to see? to behold (Revised Version); θεάσασθαι (cf. θέατρον,). It almost suggests that they went out as though to see a spectacle. They were stirred by no deeper motive. Bengel compares John 5:35. A reed shaken with the wind? If the reed referred to by our Lord was the papyrus, which still grows freely in certain parts of the Jordan valley, the description of this plant in 'Rob Roy on the Jordan,' ch. 17, is specially interesting: "There is first a lateral trunk, lying on the water and half-submerged. This is sometimes as thick as a man's body, and from its lower side hang innumerable string-like roots from three to five feet long, and of a deep purple colour .... These pendent roots... retard much of the surface-current where the papyrus grows On the upper surface of the trunks the stems grow alternately in oblique rows;, their thickness at the junction is often four inches, and their height fifteen feet, gracefully tapering until at the top is a little round knob, with long, thin brown, wire-like hairs eighteen inches long, which rise and then, recurving, hang about it in a thyrsus-shaped head." He also says, "The whole jungle of papyrus was floating upon the water, and so the waves raised by the breeze were rocking the green curtain to and fro." This explained "a most curious hissing, grinding, bustling sound, that was heard like waves upon a shingly beach," as "the papyrus stems were rubbing against each other as they nodded out and in." It is, however, much more probable that the reed referred to was "the Arundo donax, a very tall cane, growing twelve feet high, with a magnificent panicle of blossom at the top, and so slender and yielding that it will lie perfectly flat under a gust of wind, and immediately resume its upright position." It grows especially on the western side of the Dead Sea (cf. Tristram, 'Natural History of the Bible,' p. 4,37, edit. 1889). To our Lord's question no answer was needed. John had rejected the overtures of the nationalists (John 1:19-21), and had not feared to rebuke a king (Matthew 14:4).

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

And as they departed,.... That is, the messengers of John, Luke 7:24 when they returned to their master, to give an account to him of what they had heard and seen,

Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John; he took this opportunity before the whole company, who had heard what passed in conversation between him and the disciples of John, to say some things concerning his character and ministry: and which he did, partly to rectify and remove any wrong opinion they might have conceived of him, from this message of his, as if he had retracted his former sentiments concerning Christ, at least was wavering and doubtful about him; and partly, to put them in mind of their former zeal and attachment to John's ministry, when they went out in large bodies to attend upon it; and to revive a good opinion of him; and signifies, that they would do well to ask themselves, what views they had in attending on him, and how they came to grow indifferent to so great a man: and Christ, by giving an account of his character and office, confirms his own Messiahship; and this commendation of John, he chose to enter into, after the departure of his messengers, lest what he said of him should be interpreted as mere flattery:

what went ye out in the wilderness to see? This refers to Matthew 3:5 where we read, that great numbers from Jerusalem, Judea, and the country round about Jordan, went out into the wilderness of Judea, where John came preaching, to hear him, and be baptized by him; and our Lord asks, what was it that led such multitudes of them into the wilderness? What did they expect to see there?

A reed shaken with the wind? This may either refer to John's gesture in preaching, who might wave to and fro as a reed does, when shaken by the wind; and Christ's question is, did ye go out only to see and observe the preacher's gesture, to see him move his body to and fro? Was it not to hear his doctrine, and receive benefit for your souls? And did you not? Wherefore, you ought still to retain a valuable respect for him. Or this may regard their opinion of him; and the sense of the interrogation is, when you first went out to him, did you take him to be an unstable, inconstant man? Like a reed shaken with every wind! If you did, you were mistaken; he was firm and stable in his sentiments and ministry, his preaching was not yea and nay, his doctrine was all of a piece; he stood to it, that he was not the Messiah, but his forerunner; the testimony he bore was always alike, consistent with himself, and he is the same man now he ever was. The Jews use this comparison of a man to a reed, in a sense just the reverse, and make it to signify constancy, and not inconstancy, as well as tenderness, in opposition to roughness, severity, and stubbornness.

"Let a man (say they (w)) be always , "tender as a reed", and let him not be hard and stubborn as a cedar: when the four winds of the world go out, the reed goes and comes with them; and when the winds are still, the reed stands in its place.''

So they observe (x), that it is said, that "the Lord shall smite Israel, as a reed shaken in the water", 1 Kings 14:15 which they interpret by way of blessing.

"As a reed (say they) stands in a place of water, its body waves about, and its roots are many; and though all the winds in the world come and blow upon it, they cannot move it out of its place, but it goes and comes with them; and when the winds are still, the reed stands in its place.''

(w) Derech Eretz, fol. 18. 1.((x) T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 20. 1.



Matthew 11:7 Additional Commentaries
Context
Jesus Testifies about John
7As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8"But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings' palaces!…
Cross References
Matthew 3:1
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea

Matthew 11:8
If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces.

Matthew 12:20
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.

Luke 7:24
After John's messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind?
Treasury of Scripture

And as they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, What went you out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?

Jesus.

Luke 7:24-30 And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak …

What.

Matthew 3:1-3,5 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea…

Matthew 21:25 The baptism of John, from where was it? from heaven, or of men? And …

Mark 1:3-5 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of …

Luke 3:3-7 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism …

Luke 8:18 Take heed therefore how you hear: for whoever has, to him shall be …

John 1:38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and said to them, What …

John 5:35 He was a burning and a shining light: and you were willing for a …

A reed.

Genesis 49:4 Unstable as water, you shall not excel; because you went up to your …

2 Corinthians 1:17,18 When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things …

Ephesians 4:14 That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried …

James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is …

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