Luke 18:12
I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) I fast twice in the week.—From the negative side of his self-analysis the Pharisee passes to the positive. The Stoic Emperor is a little less systematic, or rather groups his thanksgiving after a different plan, and, it must be owned, with a higher ethical standard. On the fasts of the Pharisees on the third and fifth days of the week, see Note on Matthew 6:16.

I give tithes of all that I possess.—Better, of all that I acquire, as in Matthew 10:9; Acts 1:18. Tithe was a tax on produce, not on property. The boast of the Pharisee is, that he paid the lesser tithes, as well as the greater—of mint, anise, and cummin (Matthew 23:23), as well as of corn and wine and oil. There is something obviously intended to be significant in the man’s selection of the good deeds on which he plumes himself. He does not think, as Job did in his boasting mood, that he had been “a father to the poor,” and had “made the widow’s heart to sing for joy” (Job 29:13; Job 29:16), nor look back, as Nehemiah looked, upon good deeds done for his country (Nehemiah 13:14; Nehemiah 13:22; Nehemiah 13:31) in the work of reformation. For him fasting and tithes have come to supersede the “weightier matters of the Law” (Matthew 23:23).

18:9-14 This parable was to convince some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others. God sees with what disposition and design we come to him in holy ordinances. What the Pharisee said, shows that he trusted to himself that he was righteous. We may suppose he was free from gross and scandalous sins. All this was very well and commendable. Miserable is the condition of those who come short of the righteousness of this Pharisee, yet he was not accepted; and why not? He went up to the temple to pray, but was full of himself and his own goodness; the favour and grace of God he did not think worth asking. Let us beware of presenting proud devotions to the Lord, and of despising others. The publican's address to God was full of humility, and of repentance for sin, and desire toward God. His prayer was short, but to the purpose; God be merciful to me a sinner. Blessed be God, that we have this short prayer upon record, as an answered prayer; and that we are sure that he who prayed it, went to his house justified; for so shall we be, if we pray it, as he did, through Jesus Christ. He owned himself a sinner by nature, by practice, guilty before God. He had no dependence but upon the mercy of God; upon that alone he relied. And God's glory is to resist the proud, and give grace to the humble. Justification is of God in Christ; therefore the self-condemned, and not the self-righteous, are justified before God.I fast twice ... - This was probably the Jewish custom. The Pharisees are said to have fasted regularly on the second and fifth days of every week in private. This was "in addition" to the public days of fasting required in the law of Moses, and they, therefore, made more a matter of "merit" of it because it was voluntary.

I give tithes - A tithe means the tenth part of a thing. A tenth part of the possessions of the Jews was required for the support of the Levites, Numbers 18:21. In addition to the tithes required strictly by law, the Pharisees had tithed everything which they possessed even the smallest matters - as mint, anise, cummin, etc., Luke 11:42. It was "this," probably, on which he so particularly prided himself. As this could not be proved to be strictly "required" in the law, it had more the "appearance" of great piety, and, therefore, he particularly dwelt on it.

I possess - This may mean either all which I "have," or all which I "gain" or acquire. It is not material which meaning be considered the true one.

The religion of the Pharisee, therefore, consisted in:

1. abstaining from injustice to others; in pretending to live a harmless, innocent, and upright life; and,

2. a regular observance of all the external duties of religion.

His "fault" consisted in relying on this kind of righteousness; in not feeling and acknowledging that he was a sinner; in not seeking a religion that should dwell in the "heart" and regulate the feelings; and in making public and ostentatious professions of his own goodness. Most of all was this abominable in the sight of God, who "looks into the heart," and who sees wickedness there when the external actions may be blameless. We may learn from the case of the Pharisee:

1. That it is not the man who has the most orthodox belief that has, of course, the most piety;

2. That people may be externally moral, and not be righteous in the sight of God;

3. That they may be very exact in the external duties of religion, and even go beyond the strict letter of the law; that they may assume a great appearance of sanctity, and still be strangers to true piety; and,

4. That ostentation in religion, or a "boasting" before God of what we are and of what we have done, is abominable in his sight. This spoils everything, even if the life "should be" tolerably blameless, and if there should be real piety.

11, 12. stood—as the Jews in prayer (Mr 11:25).

God, &c.—To have been kept from gross iniquities was undoubtedly a just cause of thankfulness to God; but instead of the devoutly humble, admiring frame which this should inspire, the Pharisee arrogantly severs himself from the rest of mankind, as quite above them, and, with a contemptuous look at the poor publican, thanks God that he has not to stand afar off like him, to hang down his head like a bulrush and beat his breast like him. But these are only his moral excellencies. His religious merits complete his grounds for congratulation. Not confining himself to the one divinely prescribed annual fast (Le 16:29), he was not behind the most rigid, who fasted on the second and fifth days of every week [Lightfoot], and gave the tenth not only of what the law laid under tithing, but of "all his gains." Thus, besides doing all his duty, he did works of supererogation; while sins to confess and spiritual wants to be supplied he seems to have felt none. What a picture of the Pharisaic character and religion!

Twice in the sabbath, saith the Greek, but that is ordinary, to denominate the days of the week from the sabbath; the meaning is, twice between sabbath and sabbath. Those learned in the Jewish Rabbins tell us, that the Jews were wont to fast twice in a week, that is, the Pharisees and the more devout sort of them; once on the second, another time on the fifth day (which are those days which we call Monday and Thursday). From whence some tell us that Wednesday and Friday come to be with us fasting days or fish days. The Christians in former times, thinking it beneath them to be less in these exercises than the Jews, would have also two fasting days each week; and those not the same with the Jews, that they might not be thought to Judaize. If that custom had any true antiquity, I doubt not but they fasted after another rate than the papists or others now do, who pretend a religion to those days. But neither was the Pharisees practice, nor the practice of Christians, in this thing to be much admired or applauded. For fasting was always used in extraordinary cases; and the bringing extraordinary duties into ordinary practice usually ends in a mere formality. It is a good rule, neither to make ordinary duties extraordinary or rare, nor yet extraordinary duties ordinary: the doing of the first ordinarily issues in the loss of them, and quite leaving them off; the latter, in a formal lifeless performance of them.

I give tithes of all that I possess. The emphasis lieth in the word all. Others paid tithe of apples, and some fruits of the earth (of which alone tithe was due); but the Pharisees would pay tithes of those things, as to which it was generally held that the law did not strictly require them, such as pot herbs, eggs milk, cheese. Our Saviour bare them this testimony, that they paid tithe of mint, anise, and cummin, Matthew 23:23; rue, and all manner of herbs, Luke 11:42. This Pharisee boasteth of his exactness in two things, neither of which were required particularly by the law of God. Nor did he amiss in them, if he had not omitted the weightier things of the law, as our Saviour charges them to have done in both the texts before mentioned. But how came these things to make him a plea for his justification before God? Will he plead his righteousness, because he did things which God did not command him, while in the mean time he omitted those things which God had commanded? Or, what did these things signify; if they were not done out of a root of love? The law is, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart; and how could they be performed out of love, when love was one of the things which our Saviour charges them to have omitted? Of the same nature are other works, such as building of churches, and hospitals, and alms houses: the fruit is good, if the root be good; but if they be done out of ostentation, or opinion of meriting at God’s hands, men’s money (notwithstanding these things) will perish with them, for heaven is not to be purchased by our money.

I fast twice in the week,.... Not "on the sabbath", as the words may be literally rendered, and as they are in the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions; for the sabbath was not a fasting, but a feasting day with the Jews; for they were obliged to eat three meals, or feasts, on a sabbath day, one in the morning, another at evening, and another at the time of the meat offering: even the poorest man in Israel, who was maintained by alms, was obliged to keep these three feasts (f). It was forbidden a man to fast, until the sixth hour, on a sabbath day; that is, till noon (g): wherefore, it is a great mistake in Justin (h) and Suetonius (i), that the sabbath was kept by the Jews as a fast. But the word is rightly rendered, "in the week"; the whole seven days, or week, were by the Jews commonly called the sabbath; hence, , "the first of the sabbath", and the second of the sabbath, and the third of the sabbath (k); that is, the first, second, and third days of the week. Now the two days in the week on which they fasted were Monday and Thursday, the second and fifth days; on which days the law of Moses, and the book of Esther were read, by the order of Ezra (l); and fasts for the congregation were appointed on those days (m); and so a private person, or a single man, as in this instance, took upon him, or chose to fast on the same (n): the reason of this is, by some, said to be, because Moses went up to Mount Sinai on a Thursday, and came down on a Monday (o). But though these men fasted so often, they took care not to hurt themselves; for they allowed themselves to eat in the night till break of day. It is asked (p),

"how long may a man eat and drink, i.e. on a fast day? until the pillar of the morning ascends (day breaks); these are the words of Rabbi (Judah): R. Eliezer ben Simeon says, until cock crowing.''

So that they had not so much reason to boast of these performances: he adds,

I give tithes of all that I possess; not only of what was tithable by the law of Moses, as the produce of his ground; and by the traditions of the elders, as the herbs in his garden, Matthew 23:23 but of every thing he had, which was not required by either of them; upon which he thought himself a very righteous person, and more than a common man: it is asked (q),

"who is a plebeian? (one of the people of the earth, or the common people) whoever does not eat his common food with purity with hands washed; these are the words of R. Meir; but the wise men say, whoever does not tithe his fruit.''

This man would not be thought to be such an one.

(f) Maimon. Hilch. Sabbat, c. 30. sect. 9. (g) T. Hieros. Nedarim, fol. 40. 4. (h) L. 36. c. 2.((i) Octav. Aug. c. 76. (k) Maimon. Hilch. Mechosre Caphara, c. 2. sect, 8. (l) T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 82. 1. Megilla, 31. 1, 2.((m) Maimon. Hilchot Taaniot, c. 1. sect. 5. (n) T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 12. 1.((o) Godwin Moses & Aaron, l. 1. c. 10. Vid. T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 88. 1.((p) T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 12. 1.((q) T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 61. 1.

I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 18:12. δὶς τ. σ., twice in the week: voluntary fasts on Mondays and Thursdays, ultra-legal in his zeal.—ἀποδεκατ- (-εύω, W. and H[141]) = δεκατεύω in Greek writers: tithing a typical instance of Pharisaic strictness.—πάντα, all, great and small, even garden herbs, again ultra-legal.—κτῶμαι, all I get (R.V[142]).

[141] Westcott and Hort.

[142] Revised Version.

12. Ifast twice in the week] This practice had no divine sanction. The Law appointed only a single fast-day in the year, the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29). By the time of Zechariah there seem to have been four yearly fasts (Zechariah 8:19). The bi-weekly fast of the Pharisees was a mere burden imposed by the oral Law. The days chosen were Thursday and Monday, because on those days Moses was believed to have ascended and descended from Sinai, Babha Kama, f. 82, 1. The man boasts of his empty ceremonialism.

I give tithes of all that I possess] Rather, of all that I acquire. As though he were another Jacob! (Genesis 28:22; comp. Tob 1:7-8). Here too he exceeds the Written Law, which only commanded tithes of corn, wine, oil, and cattle (Deuteronomy 14:22-23), and not of mint, anise, and cummin (Matthew 23:23). The fact that he does not say a word about his sins shews how low was his standard. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper,” Proverbs 28:13. He was clothed with phylacteries and fringes, not with humility, 1 Peter 5:5. A Talmudic treatise, the Berachoth (Schwab, p. 336), furnishes us with a close analogy to the prayer of the Pharisee in that of Rabbi Nechounia Ben Hakana, who on leaving his school used to say, ‘I thank thee, O Eternal, my God, for having given me part with those who attend this school instead of running through the shops. I rise early like them, but it is to study the Law, not for futile ends. I take trouble as they do, but I shall be rewarded, and they will not; we run alike, but I for the future life, while they will only arrive at the pit of destruction.’

Luke 18:12. Νηστεύω, I fast) The Pharisee boastingly shows that he is righteous towards God by his present prayers; and in relation to himself, by fasting: and towards other men, by paying tithes, etc.—δὶς, twice) on the second and fifth days of the week (Monday and Thursday).—τοῦ Σαββάτου, the Sabbath, literally) i.e. the week. Synecdoche [a part of the week put for the whole].—πάντα ὅσα, all things whatsoever) He boasts of his possessions.

Verse 12 - I fast twice in the week. There was no such precept in the Law of Moses. There only a single fast-day in the year was enjoined, the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29). By the time of Zechariah the prophet (Zechariah 8:19) the one fast-day had grown into four. But this fasting twice every week was a burthensome observance imposed in the later oral Law. Thursday and Monday were the appointed fasting-days, because tradition related how, on those days, Moses ascended and descended from Sinai. Compare the Talmud (treatise 'Bava Khama,' fol. 82. 1). I give tithes of all that I possess. Here, again, the Mosaic ordinance only enjoined tithes of corn, wine, oil, and cattle. The later rabbinic schools directed that everything should be tithed, down to the mint and anise and cummin. And so this poor deluded Pharisee dreamed he had earned his eternal salvation, forgetting that the tithes he so prided himself on paying were merely tithes of goods of which he was steward for a little time, tithes, too, given back to their real Owner - God. Could this be counted a claim upon God? He boasted, too, that he was no extortioner: did he forget how often he had coveted? He was no adulterer: what of those wicked thoughts which so often found a home in his heart? He rejoiced that he was not like the publican and others of that same class: did he think of the sore temptations to which these and the like were exposed, and from which he was free? He gloried in his miserable tithes and offerings: did he remember how really mean and selfish he was? did he think of his luxury and abundance, and of the want and misery of thousands round him? did his poor pitiful generosity constitute a claim to salvation? All this and more is shrined in the exquisite story of Jesus, who shows men that salvation - if it be given to men at all - must be given entirely as a free gift of God. Luke 18:12Twice in the week

The law required only one fast in the year, that on the great day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29; Numbers 29:7); though public memorial fasts were added, during the Captivity, on the anniversaries of national calamities. The Pharisees fasted every Monday and Thursday during the weeks between the Passover and Pentecost, and again between the Feast of Tabernacles and that of the Dedication of the Temple.

I give tithes (ἀποδεκατῶ)

See on Matthew 23:23.

Possess (κτῶμαι)

Wrong. The Israelite did not pay tithes of his possessions, but only of his gains - his annual increase. See Genesis 28:22; Deuteronomy 14:22. Besides, the verb, in the present tense, does not mean to possess, but to acquire; the meaning possess being confined to the perfect and pluperfect. Rev., get. Compare Matthew 10:9 (Rev.); Acts 22:28; Luke 21:19 (on which see note); 1 Thessalonians 4:4 (Rev.).

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