Luke 13:15
The Lord then answered him, and said, You hypocrite, does not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?
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(15, 16) Doth not each one of you . . .?—The principle is the same as that in Matthew 12:11 (where see Note), but the case is put in even a stronger form. There the illustration is drawn from what might seem an exceptional act for an exceptional emergency; here from the regular practice of men, where their own interests were concerned. If they pleaded that it was not for their own interests, but those of humanity to the brutes committed to their charge, the answer was obvious that the daughter of Abraham was “better” than the ox or ass.

13:10-17 Our Lord Jesus attended upon public worship on the sabbaths. Even bodily infirmities, unless very grievous, should not keep us from public worship on sabbath days. This woman came to Christ to be taught, and to get good to her soul, and then he relieved her bodily infirmity. This cure represents the work of Christ's grace upon the soul. And when crooked souls are made straight, they will show it by glorifying God. Christ knew that this ruler had a real enmity to him and to his gospel, and that he did but cloak it with a pretended zeal for the sabbath day; he really would not have them be healed any day; but if Jesus speaks the word, and puts forth his healing power, sinners are set free. This deliverance is often wrought on the Lord's day; and whatever labour tends to put men in the way of receiving the blessing, agrees with the design of that day.Thou hypocrite! - You condemn "me" for an action, and yet you perform one exactly similar. You condemn "me" for doing to a woman what you do to a beast. To her I have done good on the Sabbath; you provide for your cattle, and yet blame me for working a miracle to relieve a sufferer on that day.

Stall - A place where cattle are kept to be fed, and sheltered from the weather.

15. the Lord—(See on [1655]Lu 10:1).

hypocrite!—How "the faithful and true Witness" tears off the masks which men wear!

his ox, &c.—(See on [1656]Mt 12:9-13; and Lu 6:9).

Ver. 15,16. Our Saviour here calleth this ruler of the synagogue hypocrite, for his impudence in so severe a reflection on him for doing on the sabbath day a work of that nature which he himself did, and thought himself blameless in the doing of, and his friends ordinarily did, upon whom for so working he did not reflect, thereby teaching us one note of a hypocrite, viz. to reflect upon others for things which we do ourselves. This ruler of the synagogue aud his party indeed did not heal on the sabbath day. But what kind of work was healing? Was it not a work of mercy? What servile labour was there in it? It is only said Christ called this poor creature, and she came, not she was brought to him. What did Christ do? He only laid his hands upon her, and pronounced her loosed from her infirmity. Now the Jews would ordinarily upon the sabbath day loose a beast from the stall to go and drink at a pit, or lead it thither; was not this a greater labour? How came this to be lawful, and not that act of mercy which Christ did show to this poor creature? Their act was capable of no other excuse, than that it was an act of mercy, and a good man will show mercy to his beast: it could be no act of piety, nor of necessity; for a beast may live one day without water, or at least might have had water set by it the night before. Nay, our Lord’s work of mercy was much more noble. Theirs was to a beast; his to one of mankind, to a woman, and she a Jewish woman, a daughter of Abraham, a father upon whom they much valued themselves, and their whole nation, Matthew 3:9 John 8:39. Their beast might not be sick; she was under an infirmity, and that no ordinary infirmity, she was in the hands of the enemy of mankind, bound by Satan; nor was her affliction of a few days’ continuance, she had been so bound eighteen years. The Lord then answered him and said,.... Though he did not direct his speech to him, he knew that he struck at him, and suggested that he was a violator of the sabbath, as well as the people: and therefore in defence of himself, and of what he had done, and to expose the hypocrisy of this man, made answer as follows,

thou hypocrite; the Vulgate Latin, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions read in the plural, "hypocrites"; as do the Complutensian edition, and four ancient copies of Beza's, and the Alexandrian copy; but the Syriac and Persic versions read in the singular, "hypocrite"; as this man was, who covered his malice and envy at Christ, with a show of zeal for the sabbath day; and yet did that upon it, which must be allowed by themselves, and others, to be a much greater violation of the sabbath, than this cure could ever be thought to be:

doth not each one of you, on the sabbath day, loose his ox, or his ass, from the stall, or rack, where he is fastened with a rope;

and lead him away to watering? to some place of water, where he may drink, after having filled himself at the rack: and that this was agreeably to their own canons and practice, that beasts may be led out on a sabbath day, is certain; for they deliver various rules concerning leading them out, with what they might, and with what they might not be brought out; and particularly, among others, mention asses and heifers (q); and they speak (r) of leading them to water, not only to drink of it, but to wash their chains in it, which, it seems, received pollution, and needed washing, and might be done on a sabbath day; yea, they allow, that not only a beast may be led out to watering, but a man might fill a vessel of water, and pour it out into a trough for it, provided he did not directly set it before it: the rule is this (s).

"a man may not fill water (a vessel of it), and put it on a sabbath day before his beast, but he may fill it, and pour it out, and it may drink of it.''

And particularly on a feast day, their rule is (t), that

"they do not water nor slay beasts of the desert, but they water and slay domestic ones. Domestic ones are such as lie in the city (i.e. as Maimonides says (u), within the sabbatical border, 2000 cubits from the city), and those of the desert are such as lie in pastures.''

And therefore very justly does our Lord observe to the ruler of the synagogue their own practices towards a beast, in defence of his works of mercy to men.

(q) Misn. Sahbat, c. 5. sect. 1, 2, 3, 4. & 18. 2. T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 51. 2. & Piske Tosephot in ib. art. 226, 227, 228, 233. (r) Bartenora in Misn. Sabbat, c. 5. sect. 1.((s) T. Bab. Erubin, fol. 20. 2.((t) Misn. Betza, c. 5. sect. 7. (u) In ib.

The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?
Luke 13:15. ὑποκριταί: plural less personal than the singular (T.R.), yet severe enough, though directed against the class. The case put was doubtless according to the prevailing custom, and so stated as to make the work done prominent (λύει, looses, that one bit of work: ἀπάγων, leading the animal loosed to the water, that another, vide Bengel).—ποτίζει, gives him drink, at least to the extent of drawing water from the well, if not of carrying it to the animal’s mouth (the former allowed, the latter disallowed in the Talmud, vide Lightfoot and Wünsche).15. Thou hypocrite] Rather (with the best uncials), Hypocrites!

(א, A, B), classing the man with the whole sect to which he belonged, and whose shibboleths he used. They were hypocrites (i.e. they were acting a part) because they were disguising secret enmity under a pretence of sabbatical zeal.

on the sabbath loose his ox] Our Lord varied from time to time the arguments with which He abolished the fanatical formalism of the Pharisees respecting the Sabbath. Sometimes He appealed to His own inherent authority (John 5:17-47); sometimes to Scripture precedents (Luke 6:3-5); or to common sense and eternal principles (Luke 6:9). Here, as in Luke 14:5, He uses an argumentum ad hominem, refuting their traditional rules by the selfish insincerity with which they applied them. They allowed men to unloose and lead to water their cattle on the sabbath, and thus to break their own Sabbatic rules to save themselves the trouble of providing water overnight, or, at the best, to abridge a few hours’ thirst; was then this suffering woman not to be touched, not to be spoken to, to end 18 years of suffering?Luke 13:15. Ὑποκριταὶ, ye hypocrites) The plural is used, including more persons, but addressed to one person; comp. Luke 13:17 [where all His adversaries are included]: as also in Luke 11:46, compared with Luke 11:45. There was some degree of reverence felt on the part of the ruler of the synagogue towards Jesus; and it was not owing to any peculiar prejudice of his own, but owing to the common error of the Jews on the subject, that he was led to oppose the Saviour.[130]—λύει, doth loose) A most apt illustration. Comp. λυθῆναι, to be loosed, applied to the woman in Luke 13:16.—ἀπαγαγὼν, having led away) Words are heaped together in order to show the amount of work [comp. ἐργάζεσθαι, Luke 13:14, in the complaint of the ruler] done on the Sabbath in such a case.

[130] However the Vers. Germ., following the margin of the 2d Ed., prefers the singular number in this passage.—E. B. Ὑποκριταὶ is the reading of ABabc Vulg. Iren. 236. Ὑποκριτὰ of the Rec. Text is only supported by D of the primary authorities.—ED. and TRANSL.Verse 15. - The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? The older authorities here read "hypocrites," and thus join the cavilling synagogue ruler with the whole sect of men who taught an elaborate ritual in place of a high, pure life. The Lord, in a few master-touches, exposes the hollowness of such sabbath-keeping. Every possible indulgence was to be shown in cases where their own interests were involved; no mercy or indulgence was to be thought of, though, where the sick poor only were concerned. He vividly draws a contrast between the animal and the human being. The ox and the ass, though, were personal property; the afflicted daughter of Abraham was but a woman, friendless and poor. Loose (λύει)

Compare thou art loosed, Luke 13:12.


See on Luke 2:7.

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