Matthew 6:17
Parallel Verses
New International Version
But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,

New Living Translation
But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face.

English Standard Version
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,

New American Standard Bible
"But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face

King James Bible
But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

Holman Christian Standard Bible
But when you fast, put oil on your head, and wash your face,

International Standard Version
But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,

NET Bible
When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
But you whenever you fast, wash your face and anoint your head.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
When you fast, wash your face and comb your hair.

Jubilee Bible 2000
But thou, when thou dost fast, anoint thine head, and wash thy face

King James 2000 Bible
But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face;

American King James Version
But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face;

American Standard Version
But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face;

Douay-Rheims Bible
But thou, when thou fastest anoint thy head, and wash thy face;

Darby Bible Translation
But *thou*, [when] fasting, anoint thy head and wash thy face,

English Revised Version
But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face;

Webster's Bible Translation
But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face;

Weymouth New Testament
But, whenever you fast, pour perfume on your hair and wash your face,

World English Bible
But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face;

Young's Literal Translation
'But thou, fasting, anoint thy head, and wash thy face,
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

6:16-18 Religious fasting is a duty required of the disciples of Christ, but it is not so much a duty itself, as a means to dispose us for other duties. Fasting is the humbling of the soul, Ps 35:13; that is the inside of the duty; let that, therefore, be thy principal care, and as to the outside of it, covet not to let it be seen. God sees in secret, and will reward openly.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 17. - But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face. If both these were, among the Jews, done daily, Christ's command would mean - make no external sign of fasting; dress and appear as usual. But as anointing, at least, cannot be proved to have been a daily habit (though expressly forbidden during the stricter kinds of fasts, see Schurer, II. 2:212), especially with the mixed classes whom our Lord was addressing, and as it was with the ancients rather a symbol of special joy, it is safer to take it in this sense here. Thus our Lord will mean - so far from appearing sad, let your appearance be that of special joy and gladness. "By the symbols of joy and gladness he bade us be joyful and glad when we fast" (Photius, in Suicer, 1:186).

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

But thou, when thou fastest,.... Christ allows of fasting, but what is of a quite different kind from that of the Jews; which lay not in an outward abstinence from food, and other conveniences of life, and refreshments of nature; but in an abstinence from sin, in acknowledgment and confession of it; and in the exercise of faith and hope in God, as a God pardoning iniquity, transgression and sin; wherefore cheerfulness, and a free use of the creatures, without an abuse of them, best became such persons.

Anoint thine head, and wash thy face; directly contrary to the Jewish canons, which forbid these things, with others, on fast days:

"On the day of atonement, (say (i) they,) a man is forbidden eating and drinking, "and washing and anointing", and putting on of shoes, and the use of the bed.''

And the same were forbidden on other fasts: in anointings, the head was anointed first, and this rule and reason are given for it:

"he that would anoint his whole body, , "let him anoint his head first", because it is king over all its members (k).''

Anointing and washing were signs of cheerfulness and joy; see Ruth 3:3.

(i) Misn. Yoma, c. 8. sect. 1. & Taanith, c. 1. sect. 4, 5, 6. T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 77. 2. Taanith, fol. 12. 2. Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora, pr. affirm. 32. (k) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 61. 1.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

17. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face—as the Jews did, except when mourning (Da 10:3); so that the meaning is, "Appear as usual"—appear so as to attract no notice.

Matthew 6:17 Additional Commentaries
Context
Proper Fasting
16"Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 17"But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face 18so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
Cross References
Ruth 3:3
Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don't let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking.

2 Samuel 12:20
Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.
Treasury of Scripture

But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face;

anoint.

Ruth 3:3 Wash yourself therefore, and anoint you, and put your raiment on …

2 Samuel 14:2 And Joab sent to Tekoah, and fetched there a wise woman, and said …

Ecclesiastes 9:8 Let your garments be always white; and let your head lack no ointment.

Daniel 10:2,3 In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks…

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