Luke 6:3
And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him;
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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.

See Poole on "Luke 6:1"

And Jesus answering them, said,.... For they brought the charge against the disciples to him, being desirous to know what he would say, and that they might have something to accuse him of; and who, at once, took up the cause of his disciples, and vindicated them, by observing what David did, when he, and his men were an hungry; how that he went into the tabernacle, and took the showbread, and ate of it, and gave it to his men, who also ate of it; which, according to the law, was only allowed to priests; and by taking notice of another instance, which this evangelist does not relate; namely, how on the sabbath days the priests, by doing various servile works, profaned the sabbath day, and yet were not charged with any blame; See Gill on Matthew 12:3. See Gill on Matthew 12:4. See Gill on Matthew 12:5. And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him;
Luke 6:3. οὐδὲ, for Mk.’s οὐδέποτε and Mt.’s οὐκ = not even; have ye so little understood the spirit of the O. T.? (De Wette). The word might be analysed into οὐ, δὲ, when it will mean: but have ye not then read this? So Hofmann, Nösgen, Hahn.—ὁπότε, here only in N. T., if even here, for many good MSS. have ὅτε (W.H[61]).

[61] Westcott and Hort.

3. Have ye not read so much as this] Rather, Did ye not even read this? He answers them in one of their own formulae, but with a touch of irony at their ignorance, which we trace also in the “Did ye never read?” of St Mark;—never though ye are Scribes and devote all your time to the Scriptures? Perhaps the reproving question may have derived an additional sting from the fact that the very passage which our Lord quoted (1 Samuel 21:1-6) had been read on that Sabbath as the Haphtarah of the day. The service for the day must have been over, because no meal was eaten till then. This fact does not however help us to determine which was the second-first Sabbath, because the present Jewish lectionary is of later date.

and they which were with him] That the day on which this occurred was a Sabbath results from the fact that it was only on the Sabbath that the new shewbread was placed on the table, Leviticus 24:8-9.

3. The Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath] Rather, ‘Lord even of the Sabbath,’ though you regard the Sabbath as the most important command of the whole Law. In St Mark we have further, “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”

This was one of no less than six great occasions on which the fury of the Pharisees had been excited by the open manner in which our Lord set aside as frivolous and unauthoritative the burdens which the Oral Law had attached to the Sabbath. The other instances are the healing of the cripple at Bethesda (John 5:1-16); the healing of the withered hand (Luke 6:1-11); of the blind man at Siloam (John 9:1-41); of the paralytic woman (Luke 13:14-17); and of the man with the dropsy (Luke 14:1-6). In laying His axe at the root of a proud and ignorant Sabbatarianism, He was laying His axe at the root of all that “miserable micrology” which they had been accustomed to take for religious life. They had turned the Sabbath from a holy delight into a revolting bondage. The Apocryphal Gospels are following a true tradition in the prominence which they give to Sabbath healing, as a charge against Him on His trial before the Sanhedrin.

In the famous Cambridge Manuscript (D), the Codex Bezae, there is here added the following passage: “On the same day, seeing one working on the Sabbath, He said to him, O man, if indeed thou knowest what thou doest, thou art blessed: but if thou knowest not, thou art accursed, and a transgressor of the Law.” This very remarkable addition cannot be accepted as genuine on the authority of a single MS., and can only be regarded as one of the agrapha dogmata, or ‘unrecorded

Luke 6:3. Οὐδε τοῦτο ἀνέγνωτε, Have ye not even read this) How often truly some passage of Scripture exactly suited to the existing state of things (the particular contingency), is presented before the eyes of men when they are thinking of nothing of the kind!—V. g.—ὃ ἐποίησε Δανὶδ, what David did) The text of this very Sabbath exhibited the straits to which David was reduced, and the eating of the shewbread follows immediately after this text. Thence it is that He has used the formula, which exactly squares with this, οὐδὲ τοῦτο ἀνέγνωτε. On the same Sabbath the Saviour appealed to the Priests, who in the temple “profane the Sabbath” (by slaying sacrifices), and yet are ‘blameless,’ Matthew 12:5 : viz. at that very time of year Leviticus used to be read in the regular course, and in it there is frequent mention of offering sacrifices, even on the Sabbath: ch. Luke 6:12, Luke 8:33, Luke 16:29, Luke 23:38.—Harm., p. 307, 308.

Verses 3, 4. - And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him; how he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone? Their own loved David, said the new Teacher to his jealous accusers, scrupled not, when he "was an hungred," to set at nought the twofold ordinance of sacrilege and of sabbath-breaking. (The reference is to 1 Samuel 21:5. David's visit to the sanctuary at Nob took place evidently on the sabbath, as the fresh supply of shewbread had been apparently just laid out; he must, too, have violated another rule by his journey on that day. See Stier, 'Words of the Lord Jesus,' on Matthew 12:3, 4.) The lesson which Jesus intended to draw from the example of the great hero-king and the high priest was that no ceremonial law was to override. the general principle of providing for the necessities of the body. St. Matthew adds here a very forcible saying of the Lord's spoken on this occasion, which goes to the root of the whole matter, "But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless." These laws, as God originally gave them, were never intended to be a burden, rather they were meant to be a blessing for man. After ver. 5, Codex I) - a very ancient authority, written in the fifth century, now in the University Library at Cambridge, but one which contains many passages not found in any other trustworthy manuscript or version - adds the following strange narrative: "The same day, Jesus seeing a man who was working on the sabbath, saith to him, O man, if thou knowest what thou art doing, blessed art thou; but if thou knowest not, thou art accursed, and a transgressor of the Law." As no other ancient authority of weight contains this remarkable addition to the recital of our Lord's teaching respecting the observance of the sabbath, it must be pronounced an interpolation. It belongs most likely to the very early days of the Christian story, and was probably founded on some tradition current in the primitive Church. The framework of the anecdote in its present form, too, shows a state of things simply impossible at this time. Any Jew who, in the days of Jesus Christ's earthly ministry, openly, like the man of the story, broke the sabbath in the daring way related, would have been liable to be arrested and condemned to death by stoning. Luke 6:3Have ye not read (οὐδὲ ἀνέγνωτε)?

The A. V. misses the force of οὐδὲ: "have ye not so much as read?" Rev., "have ye not read even this?"

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