Luke 19:2
And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.
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(2) There was a man named Zacchæus, . . .—The name appears in the Old Testament in the form Zaccai (Ezra 2:9; Nehemiah 7:14), and meant “pure” or “innocent.” Rabbinic writers mention a Zacchæus as living at Jericho about this time, the father of a famous Rabbi, Jochanan or John.

The chief among the publicans.—The position of Jericho near the fords of the Jordan made it a natural trade-centre for the imports from the Gilead country—myrrh and balsam. Under the government of Herod and Archelaus it had become once more a city of palm-trees (Judges 1:16), and their dates and palm-honey were probably liable to an octroi duty. The “farming” system adopted in the Roman revenue probably gave Zacchæus the status of a middle-man or sub-contractor between the great capitalists of the equestrian order at Rome, the real publicani, and the “publicans” commonly so called, who were the actual collectors. As such he had as abundant opportunities for enriching himself as a Turkish pacha, and, as we may infer from his own words, had probably not altogether escaped the temptations of his calling.

19:1-10 Those who sincerely desire a sight of Christ, like Zaccheus, will break through opposition, and take pains to see him. Christ invited himself to Zaccheus' house. Wherever Christ comes he opens the heart, and inclines it to receive him. He that has a mind to know Christ, shall be known of him. Those whom Christ calls, must humble themselves, and come down. We may well receive him joyfully, who brings all good with him. Zaccheus gave proofs publicly that he was become a true convert. He does not look to be justified by his works, as the Pharisee; but by his good works he will, through the grace of God, show the sincerity of his faith and repentance. Zaccheus is declared to be a happy man, now he is turned from sin to God. Now that he is saved from his sins, from the guilt of them, from the power of them, all the benefits of salvation are his. Christ is come to his house, and where Christ comes he brings salvation with him. He came into this lost world to seek and to save it. His design was to save, when there was no salvation in any other. He seeks those that sought him not, and asked not for him.A man named Zacchaeus - The name Zacchaeus is Hebrew, and shows that this man was a "Jew." The Hebrew name properly means "pure," and is the same as Zacchai in Ezra 2:9; Nehemiah 7:14. The publicans, therefore, were not all foreigners.

Chief among the publicans - Who presided over other tax-gatherers, or who "received" their collections and transmitted them to the Roman government.

He was rich - Though this class of people was despised and often infamous, yet it seems that they were sometimes wealthy. They sustained, however, the general character of "sinners," because they were particularly odious in the eyes of the Jews. See Luke 19:7. The evangelist has thought it worthy of record that he was rich, perhaps, because it was so unlikely that a "rich man" should follow so poor and despised a personage as Jesus of Nazareth, and because it was so unusual a thing during his personal ministry. Not many rich were called, but God chiefly chose the poor of this world Compare 1 Corinthians 1:26-29.

2-4. chief among the publicans—farming a considerable district, with others under him.

rich—Ill-gotten riches some of it certainly was. (See on [1695]Lu 19:8.)

We have had frequent occasions to hint, that the publicans were the gatherers of the public revenue for the Romans. Amongst them there was an order of superior and inferior officers: Zacchaeus was the chief of them that were in that commission.

And he was rich; which is not to be wondered at, considering his employment; and is particularly mentioned doubtless to magnify the grace of God towards him, of which we shall by and by hear more; as well as to let us know, that though it be a hard thing for a rich man to be saved, yet with God it is possible, as we heard before, as, that though publicans were most of them rapacious and exceedingly given to extortion, and the love of money commonly increaseth with the increase of men’s estate, yet Christ can change the heart of such a man, and work it into a contempt of riches, and into a freedom to part with them at the command of Christ, or where they hinder the embraces of him.

And behold there was a man named Zacchaeus,.... Or "Zaccai", a name in use among the Jews; see Ezra 2:9. We often read of , "Rabbi Zaccai", or "Zacchaeus" (a), and very frequently of R. Jochanan ben Zaccai, a famous doctor that lived in the times of Christ, and even till after the destruction of Jerusalem. The Jews also make mention of one R. Zaccai, a prince of the seed of David the king, in later times (b). So that this man, as appears by his name, was a Jew, though some have thought him to have been a Gentile (c), perhaps because of his employment: but it does not follow from thence; for there were Jews that were publicans, as Levi, or Matthew, afterwards one of Christ's disciples; and also in Jewish writings, mention is made, as of , "a stranger", or "a Gentile publican" (d), so likewise of , "an Israelite publican" (e); and such an one was Zacchaeus, as follows:

which was chief among the publicans; the head of them in that place, to whom the rest brought the tax, tribute, or toll; he was the receiver general of the tax: at the toll booths, at bridges, for people's going over the water, there was , "the greater publican", and , "the lesser publican" (f), who was deputy to the other. What sort of tax Zacchaeus was concerned in collecting, is not certain; however, he was a principal man in this employ, and had got great riches by it.

And he was rich; was a person of figure among the publicans, and of substance, which he had gained in his post. And though the instances of rich men being called by grace are few, yet there have been some; and the rather this circumstance is mentioned, because it had been observed in the preceding chapter, how difficult, but not impossible, as this instance proves, it was for rich men to enter into the kingdom of God.

(a) T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 27. 2. & Yebamot, fol. 77. 2. Nazir, fol. 38. 1. & Nidda, fol. 41. 2. & Juchasin, fol. 90. 2.((b) R. Benjamin Itinerar. p. 61, 94. (c) Tertull. contr. Marcion. l. 4. c. 37. (d) T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 113. 1.((e) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Bava Kama, c. 10. sect. 1.((f) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 78. 2.

And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the {a} chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

(a) The overseer and head of the publicans who were there together: for the publicans were divided into companies, as we may gather from many places in the orations of Cicero.

2. behold] The style of this chapter shews that St Luke is using a document of Aramaic origin.

a man named Zaccheus] Zakkai means ‘pure.’ Ezra 2:9; Nehemiah 7:14; Jos. Vit. 46. There is a Zakkai in the Talmud, father of the famous Rabbi Jochanan, and he also lived at Jericho.

the chief among the publicans] Rather, a chief tax-gatherer. He may even have risen as some Jews did, from the subordinate rank of the portitores to that of publicanus (Jos. B. J. ii. 14, § 9). Priests (see on Luke 10:31) and publicans—the latter employed to regulate the balsam- duties, and the exports and imports between the domains of the Romans and of Antipas—were the chief classes at Jericho (Jos. Antt. xiv. 4, § 1, xv. 4, § 2; Justin Hist. vi. 3).

Luke 19:2. Ἀρχιτελώνης, a chief among the publicans) A person very high in position among people of his own class; and one whose example, in being converted, it is probable that many followed.—πλούσιος, rich) Through this rich man’s example the evil[204] is remedied, which another rich man had caused by his example: ch. Luke 18:23.

[204] The confusion of ideas, whereby many might think riches presented an insuperable barrier to entrance into heaven: see ch. Luke 18:26-27. Therefore Beng. uses the expression turbârat in the following clause: “Quod exemplum suo turbârat dives alius.”—E. and T.

Luke 19:2Named (ὀνόματι καλούμενος)

Lit., called by name. Compare Luke 1:61.


Saccai, "the just."

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