Luke 6:1
And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.
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(1) On the second sabbath after the first.—Literally, the second-first Sabbath. There is nothing like the phrase in any other author, and its meaning is therefore to a great extent conjectural. Its employment by St. Luke may be noted as indicating his wish to be accurate as an historian. He sought to gather, as far as he could, definite dates; and hearing, in the course of his inquiries, of this, as fixing the time of what followed, inserted it in his record.

It may be noted that the facts of the case fix limits on either side. The corn was ripe enough to be rubbed in the hands, and yield its grain. It had not yet been gathered. It could not therefore be much earlier than the Passover, when the barley harvest began, and not much later than the Pentecost, when the wheat was ripe. If it preceded, as it appears to have done (see Luke 9:12), the feeding of the Five Thousand, it must have been before the Passover (John 6:4). The conjectures, such as they are, are as follows:—

(1.) The first Sabbath of the second month of the year, taking Nisan (in which the Passover occurred) as the first month.

(2.) The first Sabbath after the second day of the Passover, that day being itself kept as a supplementary feast.

(3.) The first Sabbath in the second year of the sabbatic cycle of seven years.

(4.) As the Jewish year had two beginnings, one (the civil) reckoning from the month Tisri (including part of September and October); the other (the ecclesiastical) from Nisan, it has been supposed that the first Sabbath in Tisri was called first-first, the first in Nisan second-first.

(5.) The Sabbath in the Pentecostal week, the second chief or first Sabbath, as that in the Passover week was the first.

(6.) The day after the new moon, when, through some accident, its appearance had not been reported to the Sanhedrin in time for the sacrifice connected with it. In such a case the second day was kept as the monthly feast, i.e., received the honours of the first, and so might come to be known technically as the second-first. If it coincided, as often it must have done, with the actual Sabbath, such a day might naturally be called a second-first Sabbath.

In the total dearth of information it is impossible to speak decisively in favour of any one of these views. The last has the merit of at least suggesting the way in which St. Luke may have become acquainted with so peculiar a term. We know from Jewish writers in the Mishna that the new-moon feast was determined by the personal observation of watchmen appointed by the Sanhedrin, and not by astronomical calculation, and it was when they failed to observe or report it in time that the rule stated above came into play. We know from Colossians 2:16, that the observance of that feast had risen into a new prominence in the ritual of a sect which there is every reason to identify with that of the Essenes. (See Note on Colossians 2:16.) Among those whom St. Luke seems to have known at Antioch we find the name of Manaen, or Menahem, the foster-brother of Herod the Tetrarch (Acts 13:1), presumably, as many commentators have suggested, the son or grandson of Menahem, an Essene prophet, who had predicted the future sovereignty of Herod the Great. (See Introduction.) In this way, accordingly, if such a technical nomenclature were in use, as it was likely to be among the Essenes, St. Luke was likely to hear it. We may add further, that Manaen, from his position, was likely to have been brought into contact with the Baptist; that he could scarcely fail to have been impressed with a life which was so entirely moulded, outwardly at least, on the Essene type; and must have passed through the teaching of John to that of Christ. We find this incident following in immediate sequence upon one in which the disciples of John were prominent (Luke 5:33). May we not think therefore, with some reason, of Manaen having been among them, and of his having supplied St. Luke with the technical term that fixed the very day of the journey through the corn-fields? Combining this view with the fact that if this were a new-moon Sabbath it must have been the beginning of the moon of Nisan, possibly coinciding with an actual Sabbath, we have the interesting fact that the lesson for the first Sabbath in that month, in the modern Jewish calendar, is from 1 Samuel 21, and so contained the history of the shewbread to which our Lord refers. This coincidence, corresponding with what we find in the synagogue discourses of Luke 4:17, and of Acts 13:15 (where see Note), is another confirmation of the view now maintained.

It remains to add that one group of MSS. of high authority omit the perplexing word, and that some critics hold it to have grown out of an original “on the first Sabbath,” as contrasted with the “other Sabbath” of Luke 6:6; and suppose that an ignorant scribe corrected this in the margin to “second,” and that one still more ignorant combined the two readings. These arbitrary conjectures are, however, eminently unscholarly; and the very difficulty presented by the word must, on all usual laws of textual criticism, be admitted as an argument for its genuineness.

He went through the corn-fields.—See for the narrative that follows Notes on Matthew 12:1-8, Mark 2:23-28.

Plucked the ears of corn, and did eat.—Better, were plucking, and were eating.

Luke 6:1-5. On the second sabbath after the first — The original expression here, εν Σαββατω δευτεροπρωτω, says Dr. Whitby, “should have been rendered, In the first sabbath after the second day, namely, of unleavened bread; for, after the first day of the passover, (which was a sabbath, Exodus 12:16,) ye shall count unto you (said God) seven sabbaths complete, Leviticus 23:15, reckoning that day for the first of the week, which was therefore called, δευτεροπρωτον, the first sabbath from this second day of unleavened bread; (the 16th of the month;) the second was called δευτεροδευτερον, the second sabbath from that day; and the third, δευτεροτριτον, the third sabbath from that second day; and so on, till they came to the seventh sabbath from that day; that is, to the forty-ninth day, which was the day of pentecost. The mention of the seven sabbaths, to be numbered with relation to this second day, answers all that Grotius objects against this exposition. Epiphanius expressly says, Our Lord’s disciples did what is here recorded, τω σαββατω, τω μετα την ημεραν των αζυμων, on the sabbath following the [second] day of unleavened bread. And if pentecost was called the feast of harvest, Exodus 23:16, (as Bochart, Mr. Mede, Dr. Lightfoot, and the Jews say,) because then their barley and wheat harvest was gathered in, this feast could not be pentecost, as Grotius conjectures, because then the corn must have been gathered in, and therefore could not have been plucked by Christ’s disciples in the field.” There are other expositions of the phrase, but this seems by far the most probable. He went through the corn-fields, &c. This paragraph is largely explained in the notes on Matthew 12:1-8; and Mark 2:23-28.

6:1-5 Christ justifies his disciples in a work of necessity for themselves on the sabbath day, and that was plucking the ears of corn when they were hungry. But we must take heed that we mistake not this liberty for leave to commit sin. Christ will have us to know and remember that it is his day, therefore to be spent in his service, and to his honour.Second sabbath after the first - See the notes at Matthew 12:1. This phrase has given great perplexity to commentators. A "literal" translation would be, "on the Sabbath called "second first,"" or second first Sabbath. The word occurs nowhere else. It is therefore exceedingly difficult of interpretation. The most natural and easy explanation is that proposed by Scaliger. The "second day" of the Passover was a great festival, on which the wave-sheaf was offered, Leviticus 23:11. From "that day" they reckoned "seven weeks," or seven "Sabbaths," to the day of Pentecost. The "first" Sabbath after that "second day" was called the "second first," or the first from the second day of the feast. The "second" Sabbath was called the "second second," or the second Sabbath from the second day of the feast; the third the "third second," etc. This day, therefore, on which the Saviour went through the fields, was the first Sabbath that occurred after the second day of the feast.

Rubbing them in their hands - The word "corn" here means wheat or barley, and not maize, as in America. They rubbed it in their hands to separate the grain from the chaff. This was common and allowable. Dr. Thomson ("The Land and the Book," vol. ii. p. 510, 511) says: "I have often seen my muleteers, as we passed along the wheat fields, pluck off ears, rub them in their hands, and eat the grains, unroasted, just as the apostles are said to have done. This also is allowable. The Pharisees did not object to the thing itself, only to the time when it was done. They said it was not lawful to do this on the Sabbath-day. It was work forbidden by those who, through their traditions, had made man for the Sabbath, not the Sabbath for man." So Professor Hackett ("Illustrations of Scripture," p. 176, 177) says: "The incident of plucking the ears of wheat, rubbing out the kernels in their hands, and eating them Luke 6:1, is one which the traveler sees often at present who is in Palestine at the time of the gathering of the harvest. Dr. Robinson relates the following case: 'Our Arabs were an hungered, and, going into the fields, they plucked the ears of grain and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. On being questioned, they said this was an old custom, and no one would speak against it; they were supposed to be hungry, and it was allowed as a charity.' The Pharisees complained of the disciples for violating the Sabbath, and not any rights of property."


Lu 6:1-5. Plucking Corn-ears on the Sabbath.

(See on [1578]Mt 12:1-8 and Mr 2:23-28.)

1. second sabbath after the first—an obscure expression, occurring here only, generally understood to mean, the first sabbath after the second day of unleavened bread. The reasons cannot be stated here, nor is the opinion itself quite free from difficulty.Luke 6:1-5 Christ alleges Scripture in defence of his disciples

plucking the ears of corn on the sabbath day.

Luke 6:6-11 He appeals to reason, and healeth the withered hand

on the sabbath.

Luke 6:12-16 He spendeth the night in prayer, and chooseth the

twelve apostles.

Luke 6:17-19 He healeth divers diseased,

Luke 6:20-26 pronounces blessings and woes,

Luke 6:27-45 teacheth to return good for evil, and other lessons of

moral duty,

Luke 6:46-49 and admonishes to be his disciples in practice, and

not in profession only.

Ver. 1-5. See Poole on "Matthew 12:1", and following verses to Matthew 12:8, and See Poole on "Mark 2:23", and following verses to Mark 2:28. There are several guesses what day is here meant, by

the second sabbath after the first. The Jews had several sabbaths; besides the seventh day sabbath, which was weekly, all their festival days were called sabbaths. On the fourteenth day of the first month, at evening, began the passover; on the fifteenth day began their feast of unleavened bread, which held seven days, every one of which was called a sabbath; but the first day and the seventh day were to be days of holy convocation, in which no work was to be done that was servile, Leviticus 23:7. Then they had their feast of first fruits. Fifty days after that they had their feast of pentecost. Some understand by the second sabbath after the first, the seventh day of the feast of unleavened bread. Others, their second great festival. It is very hard to resolve, and not material for us to know. For the history itself: See Poole on "Matthew 12:1", and following verses to Matthew 12:8.

And it came to pass on the second sabbath day after the first,.... Or "second first sabbath", concerning which interpreters are greatly divided. Some think, that it was either the seventh day of the feast of unleavened bread, or the eighth day of the feast of tabernacles. Others, that it was the sabbath which fell that year on the day of Pentecost; and that as there were three grand festivals among the Jews, the feasts of passover, Pentecost, and tabernacles; so when the sabbath day fell on the feast of the passover, it was called the first prime sabbath, when on the feast of Pentecost, it was called the second prime sabbath, and when on the feast of tabernacles, the third prime sabbath. Others have been of opinion, that as the Jews had two beginnings of their year, the one on civil accounts in Tisri, the other on ecclesiastical accounts in Nisan; so the first sabbath in Tisri was called the first first sabbath, and that in Nisan, which was this, the second first sabbath: but what seems most likely is, that this sabbath was, as it may be rendered, "the first sabbath after the second"; that is, the first sabbath after the second day of the passover, when the sheaf of the firstfruits was offered, and harvest might be begun; which suits well with ears of corn being ripe at this time, which the disciples rubbed. So the Jews reckoned the seven weeks from thence to Pentecost by sabbaths; the first after the second day they called the second first, or the first after the second day; the second they called the second second; and the third was named the second third; and so on, the second fourth, the second fifth, the second sixth, and second seventh, which brought on Pentecost, when the harvest was ended. So in the Jewish liturgies, there are collects for the first sabbath after the passover, and for the second sabbath after the passover, and so on to the sabbath before Pentecost. The eastern versions, Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic, not knowing what should be meant by it, have only rendered it, "on the sabbath day", as in Mat_. 12:1. See Gill on Matthew 12:1.

That he went through the corn fields; that is, Jesus, as the Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions:

and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands: after they had plucked them they rubbed them in their hands to get clean off the husk or beard, that were on them, and then ate the grains. And as plucking of the ears of corn was forbidden on a sabbath day; see Gill on Matthew 12:2, so was rubbing them; though if they were rubbed before, the chaff might be blown off from them in the hand, and eat on the sabbath day: the rule is this (l);

"he that rubs ears of corn on the evening of the sabbath, (i.e. on the sixth day,) may blow them from hand to hand on the morrow, and eat''

But the disciples both plucked them, and rubbed them, and blew away the chaff from them on the sabbath day, and therefore were complained of by the Pharisees.

(l) T. Bab. Betza, fol. 12. 2. & 13. 2. Vid. Maimon. Hilch. Sabbat, c. 21. sect. 14. 17.

And {1} it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples {a} plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.

(1) Christ shows against the superstitious, who dwell on every trifling matter, that the law of the very sabbath was not given to be kept without exception: much less that the salvation of man should consist in the outward keeping of it.

(a) Epiphanius notes well in his treatise, where he refutes Ebion, that the time when the disciples plucked the ears of the corn was in the feast of unleavened bread. Now, in those feasts which were kept over a period of many days, as the feast of tabernacles and passover, their first day and the last were very solemn; see Le 23:1-44. Luke then fitly calls the last day the second sabbath, though Theophylact understands it to be any of the sabbaths that followed the first.

Luke 6:1-5. See on Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28, whom Luke, with some omission, however, follows (see especially Luke 6:5). Between the foregoing and the present narrative Matthew interposes a series of other incidents.

ἐν σαββ. δευτεροπρώτῳ] all explanations are destitute of proof, because δευτερόπρωτος never occurs elsewhere. According to the analogy of δευτερογάμος, δευτεροβόλος, δευτεροτόκος, etc., it might be: a Sabbath which for the second time is the first. Comp. δευτεροδεκάτη, the second tenth, in Jerome, ad Ezekiel 45. According to the analogy of δευτερέσχατος, penultimus, Heliodorus in Soran. Chirurg. vet. p. 94, it might—since from ἔσχατος the reckoning must be backwards, while from πρῶτος it must be forwards, in order to get a δεύτερος—be the second first, i.e. the second of two firsts. All accurate grammatical information is wanting. As, however, if any definite Sabbaths at all had borne the name of σάββατον δευτερόπωτον (and this must be assumed, as Luke took for granted that the expression was a familiar one), this name would doubtless occur elsewhere (in the Old Testament, in the LXX., in Philo, Josephus, in the Talmud, etc.); but this is not the case, as the whole Greek literature has not even one instance of the peculiar word in itself to show;[95] as among the Synoptics it was precisely Luke that could least of all impute to his reader a knowledge of the name; and as, finally, very ancient and important authorities have not got ΔΕΥΤΕΡΟΠΡΏΤῼ at all in the passage before us (see the critical remarks), just as even so early an authority as Syrp. remarks in the margin: “non est in omni exemplari,”

I regard ΔΕΥΤΕΡΟΠΡΏΤῼ as not being genuine, although, moreover, the suspicion suggests itself that it was omitted “ignoratione rei” (Bengel, Appar. Crit.), and because the parallel places have nothing similar to it. In consideration of ἐν ἑτέρῳ σαββ., Luke 6:6, probably the note ΠΡΏΤῼ was written at the side, but a comparison with Luke 4:31 occasioned the corrective note ΔΕΥΤΈΡῼ to be added, which found its way into the text, partly without (so still Arro. and Arer.), partly with ΠΡΏΤῼ (thus ΔΕΥΤΈΡῼ ΠΡΏΤῼ, so still R Γ, min.), so that in the next place, seeing that the two words in juxtaposition were meaningless, the one word ΔΕΥΤΕΡΟΠΡΏΤῼ was coined. Wilke also and Hofmann, according to Lichtenstein; and Lichtenstein himself, as well as Bleek and Holtzmann (comp. Schulz on Griesbach), reject the word; Hilgenfeld regards it as not being altogether certain.[96] Of the several attempts at explanation, I note historically only the following: (1) Chrysostom, Hom. 40 in Matth.: ὅταν διπλῆ ἡ ἀργία ᾖ καὶ τοῦ σαββάτου τοῦ κυρίου καὶ ἑτέρας ἑορτῆς διαδεχομένης, so that thus is understood a feast-day immediately following the Sabbath. Comp. Epiphanius, Haer. 30, 31. So also Beza, Paulus, and Olshausen. (2) Theophylact understands a Sabbath, the day before which (παρασκευή) had been a feast-day.[97] (3) Isidore of Pelusium, Ep. iii. 110 (comp. Euthymius Zigabenus, Calvin, Surenhusius, Wolf), thinks that the πρώτη τῶν ἀζύμων is meant, and was called ΔΕΥΤΕΡΟΠΡΏΤΗ: ἘΠΕΙΔῊ ΔΕΎΤΕΡΟΝ ΜῈΝ ἮΝ ΤΟῦ ΠΆΣΧΑ, ΠΡῶΤΟΝ ΔῈ ΤῶΝ ἈΖΎΜΩΝ· ἙΣΠΈΡΑς ΓᾺΡ ΘΎΟΝΤΕς ΤῸ ΠΆΣΧΑ Τῇ ἙΞῆς ΤῊΝ ΤῶΝ ἈΖΎΜΩΝ ἘΠΑΝΗΓΎΡΙΖΟΝ ἙΟΡΤῊΝ, ἫΝ ΚΑῚ ΔΕΥΤΕΡΌΠΡΩΤΟΝ ἘΚΆΛΟΥΝ,—that every festival was called a Sabbath. Comp. Saalschütz: “the second day of the first feast (Passover).” (4) Most prevalent has become the view of Scaliger (Emend. tempor. VI. p. 557) and Petavius, that it is the first Sabbath after the second day of the Passover.[98] Comp. already Epiphanius, Haer. xxx. 31. From the second Easter day (on which the first ripe ears of corn were offered on the altar, Leviticus 23:10 ff.; Lightfoot, p. 340) were numbered seven Sabbaths down to Pentecost, Leviticus 23:15. Comp. also Winer, Realwörterb. II. p. 348 ff.; Ewald, Jahrb. I. p. 72, and Gesch. Chr. p. 304. (5) According to the same reckoning, distinguishing the three first Sabbaths of the season between Easter and Pentecost from the rest, Redslob in the Intell. Bl. der allgem. Lit. Zeit., Dec. 1847, p. 570 f., says that it was the second Sabbath after the second Easter day, δευτερόπρωτος being equivalent to ΔΕΎΤΕΤΟς ΤῶΝ ΠΡΏΤΩΝ, therefore about fourteen days after Easter. Comp. Ewald, Jahrb. XI. p. 254: that it was the second of the two first Sabbaths of the Passover month. (6) Von Til and Wetstein: that it was the first Sabbath of the second month (Igar). So also Storr and others. (7) Credner, Beitr. I. p. 357, concludes that according to the κήρυγμα τοῦ Πέτρου (in Clem. Strom. vi. 5, p. 760, Pott) the Sabbath at the full moon was called πρῶτον (a mistaken explanation of the words, see Wieseler, p. 232 f.), and hence that a Sabbath at the new moon was to be understood. (8) Hitzig, Ostern und Pfingst. p. 19 ff. (agreeing with Theophylact as to the idea conveyed by the word), conceives that it was the fifteenth Nisan, which, according to Leviticus 23:11, had been called a Sabbath, and was named δευτερόπρ., because (but see, on the other hand, Wieseler, p. 353 ff.) the fourteenth Nisan always fell on a Saturday. (9) Wieseler, l.c. p. 231 ff.,[99] thinks that it was the second-first Sabbath of the year in a cycle of seven years, i.e. the first Sabbath of the second year in a week of years. Already L. Capellus, Rhenferd, and Lampe (ad Joh. II. p. 5) understood it to be the first month in the year (Nisan), but explained the name from the fact that the year had two first Sabbaths, namely, in Tisri, when the civil year began, and in Nisan, when the ecclesiastical year began. (10) Ebrard, p. 414 f., following Krafft (Chron. und Harm. d. vier Evang. p. 18 f.), regards it as the weekly Sabbath that occurs between the first and last Easter days (feast-Sabbaths). For yet other interpretations (Grotius and Valckenaer: that the Sabbath before Easter was called the first great one πρωτὸπρωτον, the Sabbath before Pentecost the second great one δευτερόπρωτον, the Sabbath before the feast of Tabernacles ΤΡΙΤΌΠΡΩΤΟΝ[100]), see in Calovius, Bibl. Ill., and Lübkert, l.c.

τοὺς στάχυας] the ears of corn that offered themselves on the way.

ἬΣΘΙΟΝ ΨΏΧΟΝΤΕς Κ.Τ.Λ.] they ate (the contents), rubbing them out. The two things happened at the same time, so that they continually conveyed to their mouths the grains set free by this rubbing.

Luke 6:3. οὐδὲ τοῦτο] have you never so much as read this? etc.

ὁπότε] quandoquidem, since, Plato, Legg. x. p. 895 B; Euthyd. p. 297 D; Xen. Anab. iii. 2. 2; not elsewhere in the New Testament. Comp. Hermann, ad Soph. O. C. 1696.

Luke 6:4. ἔξεστι] with an accusative and infinitive, occurring only here in the New Testament, frequently in the classical writers, Plat. Polit. p. 290 D; Xen. Mem. i. 1. 9, iii. 12. 8, and elsewhere; also after a preceding dative (Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. p. 57, ed. 2).

Luke 6:5. ἔλεγεν αὐτ.] as Mark, but without the auxiliary thought found in Mark which introduces the conclusion.

[95] In Eustathius in Vita Eutych. n. 95, the Sunday after Easter is called δευτεροπρώτη κυριακή; but this epithet manifestly originated from the passage before us.

[96] Tischendorf had deleted it in his edition of 1849, but in ed. 7 (1859) [also in ed. 8 (1869)] had restored and defended it; now [1867] (in the Synops. ed. 2) he has, with Lachmann, bracketed it.

[97] Comp. Luther’s obscure gloss: “the second day after the high Sabbath.” Schegg explains the expression even as a Christian designation, namely, of the Saturday after Good Friday. In opposition to Serno (Tag des letzt. Passahmahls, 1859, p. 48 ff.), who, according to his mistaken supposition of the doubling of the first and last feast-days, brings out the sixteenth Nissan, see Wieseler in Reuter’s Repert. 1860, p. 138.

[98] The explanation of Scaliger is followed by Casaubon, Drusius, Lightfoot, Schoettgen, Kuinoel, Neander, de Wette, and many more; and is defended, especially against Paulus, by Lübkert in the Stud. u. Krit. 1835, p. 671 ff. Opposed to Scaliger are Wieseler, Synopse, p. 230; Saalschütz, Mos. R. p. 394 f.; and aptly Grotius in loc. Lange, L. J. II. 2, p. 813, tries to improve the explanation of Scaliger by assuming that preceding the cycle between Easter and Pentecost there is a shorter cycle from 1 Nisan to Easter; that the first Sabbath of this first cycle is therefore the first-first, while the first Sabbath of that second cycle (from Easter to Pentecost) is the second-first.

[99] Tischendorf, Synopse, ed. 2, now opposes the explanation of Wieseler, with which in ed. 1 he agreed.

[100] V. Gumpach also (üb. d. altjüd. Kalend., Brüssel 1848) understands a Sabbath of the second rank. Very peculiarly Weizsäcker, p. 59, says: “that Luke 4:16; Luke 4:31 recounts two Sabbath narratives, and now Luke 6:1; Luke 6:6 recounts other two,” and that the Sabbath in the passage before us is therefore the first of this second series of narratives, consequently the second-first. But what reader would hare been able to discover this reference, especially as between Luke 4:31 and Luke 6:1 so many other narratives intervened? Weizsäcker, moreover, pertinently observes, in opposition to every hypothesis of an explanation in accordance with the calculation of the divine services, that our Gospel stands much too remote from things of this kind.


In D, which does not read Luke 6:5 till after Luke 6:10, the following passage occurs after Luke 6:4 : τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ θεασάμενός τινα ἐργαζόμενον τῷ σαββάτῳ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἄνθρωπε, εἰ μὲν οἶδας τί ποιεῖς, μακάριος εἶ· εἰ δὲ μὴ οἶδας, ἐπικατάρατος καὶ παραβάτης εἶ τοῦ νόμου. In substance it certainly bears the stamp of genius, and is sufficiently liberal-minded to admit of its being original, even although it is not genuine. I regard it as an interpolated fragment of a true tradition.

Luke 6:1-5. The ears of corn (Matthew 12:1-8, Mark 2:23-28).—ἐν σαββάτῳ: Mk. makes no attempt to locate this incident in his history beyond indicating that it happened on Sabbath. Mt. uses a phrase which naturally suggests temporal sequence, but to which in view of what goes before one can attach no definite meaning. Lk. on the other hand would seem to be aiming at very great precision if the adjective qualifying σαββάτῳδευτεροπρώτῳ, were genuine. But it is omitted in the important group [58] [59] [60], and in other good documents, and this fact, combined with the extreme unlikelihood of Lk.’s using a word to which it is now, and must always have been, impossible to attach any definite sense, makes it highly probable that this word is simply a marginal gloss, which found its way, like many others, into the text. How the gloss arose, and what it meant for its author or authors, it is really not worth while trying to conjecture, though such attempts have been made. Vide Tischendorf, N. T., ed. viii., for the critical history of the word.—ἤσθιον, ate, indicating the purpose of the plucking, with Mt. Mk. omits this, vide notes there.—ψώχοντες τ. χ., rubbing with their hands; peculiar to Lk., indicating his idea of the fault (or that of the tradition he followed); rubbing was threshing on a small scale, an offence against one of the many minor rules for Sabbath observance. This word occurs here only in N. T., and is not classical.

[58] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[59] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[60] Codex Regius--eighth century, represents an ancient text, and is often in agreement with א and B.

Luke 6:1-5. The Disciples pluck the ears of corn on the Sabbath. (Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28.)

. on the second sabbath after the first] Better, on the second-first sabbath. St Luke gives this unique note of time without a word to explain it, and scholars have not—and probably never will—come to an agreement as to its exact meaning. The only analogy to the word is the deuterodekate or second tenth in Jerome on Ezekiel 45. Of the ten or more suggested explanations, omitting those which are wholly arbitrary and impossible, we may mention the following,

a. The first Sabbath of the second month (Wetstein).

b. The first Sabbath after the second day of the Passover (Scaliger, Ewald, De Wette, Neander, Keim, &c.).

c. The first Sabbath of the second year in the Sabbatic cycle of seven years. (Wieseler).

d. The first Sabbath of the Ecclesiastical year. The Jewish year had two beginnings, the civil year began in Tisri (mid-September); the ecclesiastical year in Nisan (mid-March).

The first-first Sabbath may therefore have been a name given to the first Sabbath of the civil year in autumn; and second-first to the first Sabbath of the ecclesiastical year in spring (Cappell, Godet).

d. The Pentecostal Sabbath—the Paschal Sabbath being regarded as the protoproton or first-first (Corn. a Lapide).

These and similar explanations must be left as unsupported conjectures in the absence of any decisive trace of such Sabbatical nomenclature among the Jews. But we may remark that

(1) The reading itself cannot be regarded as absolutely certain, since it is omitted in א, B, L, and in several important versions, including the Syriac and Coptic. Hence of modern editors Tregelles and Meyer omit it; Lachmann and Alford put it in brackets. [Its insertion may then be conceivably accounted for by marginal annotations. Thus if a copyist put ‘first’ in the margin with the reference to the “other” Sabbath of Luke 5:6 it would have been corrected by some succeeding copyist into ‘second’ with reference to Luke 4:31; and the two may have been combined in hopeless perplexity. If it be said that this is unlikely, it seems at least equally unlikely that it should either wilfully or accidentally have been omitted if it formed part of the original text. And why should St Luke writing for Gentiles use without explanation a word to them perfectly meaningless and so highly technical that in all the folio volumes of Jewish literature there is not a single trace of it?]

(2) The exact discovery of what the word means is only important as a matter of archaeology. Happily there can be no question as to the time of year at which the incident took place. The narrative seems to imply that the ears which the disciples plucked and rubbed were ears of wheat not of barley. Now the first ripe sheaf of barley was offered at the Passover (in spring) and the first ripe wheat sheaf at Pentecost (fifty days later). Wheat would ripen earlier in the rich deep hollow of Gennesareth. In any case therefore the time of year was spring or early summer, and the Sabbath (whether the reading be correct or not) was probably some Sabbath in the month Nisan.

he went through the corn fields] Comp. Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28. St Mark uses the curious expression that ‘He went along through the corn fields’ apparently in a path between two fields—“and His disciples began to make a way by plucking the corn ears.” All that we can infer from this is that Jesus was walking apart from His Apostles, and that He did not Himself pluck the corn.

plucked the ears of corn] This shews their hunger and poverty, especially if the corn was barley. They were permitted by the Law to do this—“When thou comest into the standing-corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand,” Deuteronomy 23:25. St Matthew in his “began to pluck” shews how eagerly and instantly the Pharisees clutched at the chance of finding fault.

Luke 6:1. Ἐν Σαββάτῳ δευτεροπρώτῳ, on the second Sabbath after the first) See the Ordo Temporum, p. 255, etc. [Ed. ii., p. 222, etc.] The Sabbath called πρῶτον was that one which combined the Sabbath and New Moon on one and the same day: the δευτερόπρωτον Sabbath was the day before the New Moon, and that too, in the present instance, the Sabbath on the last day of the month Ve-adar, in the 29th year of the common era.[58] On every ΔΕΥΤΕΡΌΠΡΩΤΟΝ Sabbath there was read, as the Haphtara or public lesson, 1 Samuel 20:18-42, concerning David. Appositely therefore, in Luke 6:3, our Lord quotes the case of what David did, from 1 Samuel 21:6.—Not. Crit. That year was with the Jews an intercalary one, and therefore the beginning of the month Nisan was late. Therefore already at that time they were having the ears ripe, namely, those of the barley crop.—V. g.

[58] Most scholars now explain δευτερόπρωτον “the first of the seven numbered Sabbaths after the morrow of the Sabbath in the Passover feast.” By the way, the reckoning from the morrow of the Sabbath in the Passover feast is a remarkable anticipation of the Resurection Lord’s-day Sabbath, under the law. This δευτερόπρωτον Σάββατον here marks the second main division of the Gospel History, and the opening of the second year in our Lord’s ministry.—ED. and TRANSL.

Verses 1-11. - The Lord's teaching on the question of the observance of the sabbath. Verse 1. - And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first. The expression accompanying this note of time of St. Luke, "the second sabbath after the first," more literally, "the second-first sabbath," has always been a difficulty with expositors of this Gospel. The word is absolutely unique, and is found in no other Greek author. Recent investigations in the text of the New Testament have proved that this word is not found in the majority of the more ancient authorities. Of the modern critical editors, Alford and Lachmann enclose the disputed word in brackets; Tregelles and Meyer omit it altogether; but the Revisers of the English Version relegate it to the margin in its literal form, "second-first;" Tischendorf alone admits it in his text. The question is of interest to the antiquarian, but scarcely of any to the theologian. It was, perhaps, introduced at an early date into many of the manuscripts of St. Luke, owing to some copyist writing n the margin of his parchment in this place "first" to distinguish this sabbath and its scene from the other sabbath alluded to four verses further on; "second" was not unlikely to have been written in correction of "first" by some other copyist using the manuscript, thinking it better thus to distinguish this from the sabbath alluded to in Luke 4:31; and thus the two corrections may have got confused in many of the primitive copies. It can scarcely be imagined, if it really formed part of the original work of St. Luke, that so remarkable a word could ever have dropped out of the text of the most ancient and trustworthy authorities. Supposing it to have been a part of the original writing, scholars have suggested many explanations. Of these the simplest and most satisfactory are:

(1) The first sabbath of each of the seven years which made a sabbatic cycle was called first, second, third, etc., sabbath. Thus the "second-first" sabbath would signify the first sabbath of the second year of the seven-years' cycle. This is Wieseler's theory.

(2) The civil year of the Jews began in autumn about mid-September to mid-October (month Tisri), and the ecclesiastical year in spring, about mid-March to mid-April (month Nisan). Thus there were every year two first sabbaths - one at the commencement of the civil year, which would be called 'first-first;' the other at the beginning of the ecclesiastical year, which would be called 'second-first. The period here alluded to by St. Luke would perfectly agree with either of these explanations. The latter theory was suggested by Louis Cappel, and is quoted with approval by Godet. And his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. St. Matthew adds here that they "were an hungred." This they might well have been in following the Master in his teaching in different places, even though some of their homes were nigh at hand. We have no need to introduce the question of their poverty - which, in the case of several of them at least, we know did not exist - here leading them to this method of satisfying their hunger. They had probably been out for some hours with Jesus without breaking their fast, and, finding themselves in a field of ripe corn, took this easy, present means of gratifying a natural want. The Law expressly permitted them to do this: "When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand" (Deuteronomy 23:25). Luke 6:1The second after the first (δευτεροπρώτῳ)

Only here in New Testament. Many high authorities omit it, and its exact meaning cannot be determined. Rev. omits.

Went through (διαπορεύεσθαι)

Rev., was going. Compare παραπορεύεσθαι, went along beside - Mark 2:23.


See on Matthew 12:1.

Plucked (ἔτιλλον)

Imperfect; were plucking, as they walked. In classical Greek the word is used mostly of pulling out hair or feathers. See on Mark 2:23.

Did eat (ἤσθιον)

Imperfect, were eating.

Rubbing (ψώχοντες)

The verb means to rub small.

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