And when the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that he had not first washed before dinner.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)He marvelled that he had not first washed.—See Notes on Matthew 15:2; Mark 7:3. Here the word “washed” (literally, though of course not in the technical sense, baptized) implies actual immersion, or, at least, a process that took in the whole body. Mark 7:4 shows that this was the Pharisaic standard of ceremonial purity.
Marvelled - Wondered. Was amazed. It was so unusual, and in his view so improper.
Had not first washed - He wondered particularly, as he had been among a mixed multitude, and they esteemed the "touch" of such persons polluting. They never ate, therefore, without such washing. The origin of the custom of washing with so much formality "before" they partook of their meals was that they did not use, as we do, knives and forks, but used their hands only. Hence, as their hands would be often in a dish on the table, it was esteemed proper that they should be washed clean before eating. Nor was their impropriety in the thing itself, but the Pharisees made it a matter of ceremony; they placed no small part of their religion in such ceremonies; and it was right, therefore, that our Lord should take occasion to reprove them for it. Compare Mark 7:4.Matthew 15:2, the Pharisees quarrelled with the disciples upon this account; here this Pharisee is offended at Christ himself. Mark gives us the reason of it, Mark 7:3, For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. Concerning this tradition of theirs, and the ground of it,
See Poole on "Matthew 15:2", See Poole on "Mark 7:3". We would all be infallible, and therefore cannot allow others to differ from us in a rite, which hath no foundation in God’s word, and wonder at those who cannot see with our eyes, nor practise according to our latitudes.
he marvelled; that so great a prophet as he was, and a man of so much religion and holiness, should show no regard to a common custom with them, and which was one of the traditions of their elders, and which they put upon a level with the commands of God. The Vulgate Latin version, and so Beza's most ancient copy, and another exemplar, read, "he began to say, thinking" (or judging) "within himself": he was "moved" at it, as the Persic version renders it; he was filled with astonishment and indignation,
that he had not first washed before dinner; especially since he had been in a crowd of people, Luke 11:29 for the Pharisees not only washed their hands, by immersing them up to the elbow before eating; but when they had been at market, or among any large number of people, or had reason to think they had, or feared they had touched any unclean person or thing, they immersed themselves all over in water: and which is the sense of the word here used; See Gill on Mark 7:2, Mark 7:3 and See Gill on Mark 7:4.And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Luke 11:38-39. Ἐβαπτ. πρὸ τ. ἀρίστ.] See on Mark 7:2. Luke does not say that the Pharisee expressed his surprise; Jesus recognises his thoughts immediately. Comp. Augustine. Schleiermacher, p. 180 f., directly contradicts the narrative when he places these sayings of Jesus after the meal, saying that they were first spoken outside the house. See, on the other hand, Strauss, I. p. 654, who, however, likewise takes objection to their supposed awkwardness (comp. Gfrörer, Heil. Sage, I. p. 243, de Wette, Ritschl, Holtzmann, Eichthal). This judgment applies an inappropriate standard to the special relation in which Jesus stood to the Pharisees, seeing that when confronting them He felt a higher destiny than the maintenance of the respect due to a host moving Him (comp. Luke 7:39 ff.); and hence the perception of the fitness of things which guided the tradition to connecting these sayings with a meal was not in itself erroneous, although, if we follow Matthew 23, we must conclude that this connection was first made at a later date. Apart from this, however, the connection is quite capable of being explained, not, perhaps, from the mention of cups and platters, but from the circumstance that Jesus several times when occasion offered, and possibly about that period when He was a guest in the houses of Pharisees, gave vent to His righteous moral indignation in His anti-Pharisaic sayings. Comp. Luke 14:1 ff.
νῦν] a silent contrast with a better ΠΆΛΑΙ: as it now stands with you, as far as things have gone with you, etc. Comp. Grotius, who brings into comparison: ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη.
τὸ δὲ ἔσωθεν ὑμῶν] ὑμῶν does not belong to ἉΡΠ. Κ. ΠΟΝΗΡ. (Kypke, Kuinoel, Paulus, Bleek, and others, following Beza’s suggestion), so that what is inside, the contents of the cup and platter, τὰ ἐνόντα, Luke 11:41, would be meant, which would agree with Matthew 23:25, but is opposed to the order of the words here. On the contrary, the outside of the cup, etc., is contrasted with the inward nature of the persons. Ye cleanse the former, but the latter is full of robbery and corruption (comp. on Romans 1:29). The concrete expression ἁρπαγή, as the object of endeavour, corresponds to the disposition of ΠΛΕΟΝΕΞΊΑ, which in Mark 7:22, Romans 1:29, is associated with ΠΟΝΗΡΊΑ.
Matthew 23:25 has the saying in a more original form. The conception in Luke, although not in itself inappropriate (Weiss), shows traces of the influence of reflective interpretation, as is also evident from a comparison of Luke 11:40 with Matthew 23:26.
 Jesus had just come out of the crowd, nay, He had just expelled a demon, ver. 14. Hence they expected that He would first cleanse Himself by a bath before the morning meal (comp. on Mark 7:4).Luke 11:38. ἐθαύμασεν: the cause of wonder was that Jesus did not wash (ἐβαπτίσθη) before eating. We have here Lk.’s equivalent for the incident in Matthew 15:1 ff., Mark 7:1 ff., omitted by him. But the secondary character of Lk.’s narrative appears from this, that the ensuing discourse does not, as in Mt. and Mk., keep to the point in hand—neglect of ritual ablutions, but expatiates on Pharisaic vices generally.38. he marvelled that he had not first washed] Literally, “bathed.” No washing was necessary to eat a few dates or figs. At the chief meal of the day, where all dipped their hands into a common dish, it was a matter of cleanliness. But the duty of cleanliness had been turned by the Oral Law into a rigorous set of cumbersome and needless ablutions, each performed with certain elaborate methods and gesticulations (Mark 7:2-3) which had nothing to do with religion or even with the Levitical Law, but only with Pharisaic tradition and the Oral Law. In the Shulchan Aruk, a book of Jewish Ritual, no less than twenty-six prayers are given with which their washings are accompanied. But all this was not only devoid of divine sanction, but had become superstitious, tyrannous, and futile. The Pharisee ‘marvelled’ because he and his party tried to enforce the Oral Law on the people as even more sacred than the Written Law. The subject of ablutions was one which caused several of these disputes with Christ, Matthew 15:19-20. The Rabbi Akhibha would have preferred to die of thirst rather than neglect his ablutions, and the Talmud thought that a demon—called Schibta— sat on unwashen hands. Our Lord astonished the conventionalism of these religious teachers and their followers by shewing that what truly defiles a man is that which cometh from within—from the heart.Luke 11:38. Ἰδὼν, having seen) that He had lain down [sat down].Verse 38. - He marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner. An elaborate system of utter meaningless ablutions, each carried out with particular gestures, had been instituted by the rabbinical schools. All these senseless forms and ceremonies had been developed out of the original simple directions to secure cleanliness in the Levitical Law. It is probable that our Lord, intending to bring about this discussion. pointedly abstained from even the ordinary ablution on this occasion. The language of ver. 37 seems to point to his entering the house and at once sitting down at the table. The Talmud has many references to these practices. R. Akhibha, it proudly relates, died of thirst rather than pass over these preliminary washings. In the same compilation we read that it was currently supposed that a demon sat on hands unwashed.
See on Mark 7:4.
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