Matthew 23:4
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

New Living Translation
They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.

English Standard Version
They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.

Berean Study Bible
They tie up heavy, burdensome loads and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

Berean Literal Bible
And they tie up burdens heavy and hard to bear and lay them on the shoulders of men; but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.

New American Standard Bible
"They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.

King James Bible
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people's shoulders, but they themselves aren't willing to lift a finger to move them.

International Standard Version
They tie up burdens that are heavy and unbearable and lay them on people's shoulders, but they refuse to lift a finger to remove them.

NET Bible
They tie up heavy loads, hard to carry, and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing even to lift a finger to move them.

New Heart English Bible
For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not lift a finger to help them.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And they bind heavy burdens and place them on the shoulders of men, but they are not willing to touch them with their fingers.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
They make loads that are hard to carry and lay them on the shoulders of the people. However, they are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

New American Standard 1977
“And they tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.

Jubilee Bible 2000
For they bind burdens that are heavy and grievous to bear and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

King James 2000 Bible
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

American King James Version
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

American Standard Version
Yea, they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger.

Douay-Rheims Bible
For they bind heavy and insupportable burdens, and lay them on men's shoulders; but with a finger of their own they will not move them.

Darby Bible Translation
but bind burdens heavy and hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of men, but will not move them with their finger.

English Revised Version
Yea, they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger.

Webster's Bible Translation
For they bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

Weymouth New Testament
Heavy and cumbrous burdens they bind together and load men's shoulders with them, while as for themselves, not with one finger do they choose to lift them.

World English Bible
For they bind heavy burdens that are grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not lift a finger to help them.

Young's Literal Translation
for they bind together burdens heavy and grievous to be borne, and lay upon the shoulders of men, but with their finger they will not move them.
Study Bible
Woes to Scribes and Pharisees
3So practice and observe everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy, burdensome loads and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. 5All their deeds are done for men to see. They broaden their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.…
Cross References
Isaiah 46:1
Bel has bowed down, Nebo stoops over; Their images are consigned to the beasts and the cattle. The things that you carry are burdensome, A load for the weary beast.

Matthew 23:3
So practice and observe everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.

Luke 11:46
"Woe to you as well, experts in the law!" He replied. "You weigh men down with heavy burdens, but you yourselves will not lift a finger to lighten their load.

Acts 15:10
Now then, why do you test God by placing on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?

1 John 5:3
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome,
Treasury of Scripture

For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

Matthew 23:23 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe …

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…

Luke 11:46 And he said, Woe to you also, you lawyers! for you lade men with …

Acts 15:10,28 Now therefore why tempt you God, to put a yoke on the neck of the …

Galatians 6:13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but …

Revelation 2:24 But to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not …

(4) Heavy burdens.--The thought was involved in our Lord's call to the "heavy laden," in the words that spoke of His own "burden" as "light" (Matthew 11:28; Matthew 11:30). Here it finds distinct expression. That it appealed to the witness which men's hearts were bearing, secretly or openly, we see from St. Peter's confession in Acts 15:10.

They themselves will not move . . .--The rigorous precepts, the high-flown morality were for others, not themselves. Professing to guide, they neither helped nor sympathised with the troubles of those they taught. (Comp. Romans 2:17-23.)

Verse 4. - Bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne; δυσβάστακτα: importabilia (Vulgate). The last epithet, which is very uncommon (Luke 11:46), is omitted by some manuscripts and versions, but it is probably genuine here. The burdens are the minute regulations and prescriptions, the vexatious restrictions, the innumerable traditional observances with which these teachers had garbled and defaced the written Law. We have noticed some of these glosses in the matter of the sabbath and ceremonial purification; and these are only specimens of a system which extended to every relation of life, and to all details of religious practice, binding one rule to another, enforcing useless and absurd minutiae, till the burden became insupportable. Alford considers that not human traditions and observances are signified by the "burdens," but the severity of the Law, the weighty duties inculcated therein, which they enforce on others, but do not observe. It may, however, well be doubted whether Christ would ever have termed the legitimate rites and ceremonies of the Law unbearable burdens, though their rigorous enforcement by men who regarded only the letter, while they had lost the spirit, would naturally deserve censure. (If the epithet is not genuine, of course this remark does not apply.) What Christ denounced was not the Law itself, however severe and grievous to human nature, or even immemorial tradition, but the false inferences and deductions therefrom, leading to injunctions insupportable and impracticable. Will not move them with one of their fingers; with their finger. This does not imply (and it would not be true) that the rabbis themselves were all hypocrites, and broke or evaded the Law with impunity. We know that they scrupulously attended to all outward observances. What is meant is that they take no trouble to lighten (κινῆσαι, "to move away"), to make these burdens easier by explanation or relaxation, or to proportion them to the strength of the disciple. They impose them with all their crushing weight and severity upon others, and uncompromisingly demand obedience to these unscriptural regulations, putting "a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear" (Acts 15:10; Galatians 5:1). Contrast with this the Christian's service: "My yoke is easy," says Christ, "and my burden is light" (ch. 11:33). For they bind heavy burdens,.... Meaning not the rites and ceremonies of the law of Moses, circumcision, and other rituals, which obliged to the keeping of the whole law, which was a yoke men were not able to bear; but the traditions of the elders, which the Scribes and Pharisees were very tenacious of, and very severely enjoined the observance of, and are called their "heavy" things (o).

"It is a tradition of R. Ishmael, there are in the words of the law, that, which is bound or forbidden, and that which is loose or free; and there are in them light things, and there are in them heavy things; but the words of the Scribes, , "all of them are heavy".''

And a little after,

"the words of the elders, "are heavier" than the words of the prophets.''

Hence frequent mention is made of

"the light things of the school of Shammai, "and of the heavy things of the school of Hillell" (p)''

two famous doctors, heads of two universities, in being in Christ's time: these are also called, , "the blows, or wounds of the Pharisees" (q); not as Bartenora explains them, the wounds they gave themselves, to show their humility; or which they received, by beating their heads against the wall, walking with their eyes shut, that they might not look upon women, under a pretence of great chastity; but, as Maimonides says, these are their additions and heavy things, which they add to the law. Now the binding of these heavy things, means the imposing them on men, obliging them to observe them very strictly, under great penalties, should they omit them. The allusion is, to those frequent sayings in use among them, such a thing is "bound", and such a thing is loosed; such a "Rabbi binds", and such an one looses; that is, forbids, or allows of such and such things; See Gill on Matthew 16:19.

and grievous to be borne. This clause is left out in the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions; but is in all the Greek copies, and serves to illustrate and aggravate the burdensome rites and institutions of these people: and

lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers: the sense is, not that they were so rigid and hardhearted, that they would not move a finger to remove these burdens from the shoulders of men, or ease them in the least degree, or dispense with their performance of them in the least measure, upon any consideration, though this also was true in many respects; but that they were so slothful and indolent themselves, that though they strictly enjoined the observance of their numerous and unwritten traditions on the people, yet in many cases, where they could without public notice, they neglected them themselves, or at least, made them lighter and easier to them, as in their fastings, &c. In the Misna (r), mention is made of "a crafty wicked man", along with a woman Pharisee, and the blows of the Pharisees before spoken of; and in the Gemara (s), is explained by R. Hona, of one,

"that makes things "light" for himself, and makes them "heavy" for others.''

Such crafty wicked men were Scribes and Pharisees; though R. Meir pretended that he made things "light" to others and "heavy" to himself (t).

(o) T. Hieros. Peracot, fol. 3. 2. (p) T. Hieros. Sota, fol. 19. 2. Yom Tob. fol. 60. 2. & Berncot, fol. 3. 2. (q) Misn. Sota, c. 3. sect. 4. (r) Ubi supra. (Misn. Sota, c. 3. sect. 4.) (s) T. Bab. Sota, fol. 21. 2.((t) T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 3. 1. 4. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them—"touch them not" (Lu 11:46).

with one of their fingers—referring not so much to the irksomeness of the legal rites, though they were irksome enough (Ac 15:10), as to the heartless rigor with which they were enforced, and by men of shameless inconsistency.23:1-12 The scribes and Pharisees explained the law of Moses, and enforced obedience to it. They are charged with hypocrisy in religion. We can only judge according to outward appearance; but God searches the heart. They made phylacteries. These were scrolls of paper or parchment, wherein were written four paragraphs of the law, to be worn on their foreheads and left arms, Ex 13:2-10; 13:11-16; De 6:4-9; 11:13-21. They made these phylacteries broad, that they might be thought more zealous for the law than others. God appointed the Jews to make fringes upon their garments, Nu 15:38, to remind them of their being a peculiar people; but the Pharisees made them larger than common, as if they were thereby more religious than others. Pride was the darling, reigning sin of the Pharisees, the sin that most easily beset them, and which our Lord Jesus takes all occasions to speak against. For him that is taught in the word to give respect to him that teaches, is commendable; but for him that teaches, to demand it, to be puffed up with it, is sinful. How much is all this against the spirit of Christianity! The consistent disciple of Christ is pained by being put into chief places. But who that looks around on the visible church, would think this was the spirit required? It is plain that some measure of this antichristian spirit prevails in every religious society, and in every one of our hearts.
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