Mark 12:41
And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
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(41) And Jesus sat over against the treasury.—The narrative that follows is found in St. Luke also, but not in St. Matthew. The word used is not the “Corban” of Matthew 27:6, and is, perhaps, more definitely local. The treasure-chamber of the Temple would receive the alms which were dropped into the trumpet-shaped vessels that stood near the entrance for the purpose of receiving them, but they probably contained also the cups and other implements of gold and silver that were used in the Temple ritual.

Cast money into.—The word indicates primarily copper or bronze coin, but probably, like the French argent, had acquired a wider range of meaning.

Mark 12:41-44. Jesus sat over against the treasury — “Jesus was now in the treasury, or that part of the women’s court where the chests were placed for receiving the offerings of those who came to worship. These chests, being thirteen in number, had each of them an inscription, signifying for what use the offerings put into them were destined; and were fixed to the pillars of the portico which surrounded the court. From these voluntary contributions were bought wood for the altar, salt, and other necessaries, not provided for any other way. It was in this court of the women, according to the Talmudists, that the libation of water from Siloam was made annually at the feast of tabernacles, as a solemn public thanksgiving and prayer for the former and latter rain; to which rite, it is generally supposed, our Lord alluded, John 7:38.” — Macknight. And beheld how the people cast money into the treasury — Luke says, he looked up, and saw the rich men casting in their gifts, &c. — That is, he noticed it with attentive observation; many of these, as Mark here informs us, casting in much, for, it seems, there was still this remainder of national liberality among them, though true religion was sunk to so very low an ebb. And there came a certain poor widow — Whose character and circumstances were not unknown to Christ; and she threw in two mites — Two small pieces of brass coin then in use; which make a farthing Καδραντης, a Roman coin, in value no more than three-fourths of our farthing. Wherefore the offering given by this poor widow was very small in itself, though in another respect it was a great gift, being all that she had, ever all her living. We can hardly suppose, that at each of the chests there were officers placed to receive and count the money which the people offered, and to name the sum aloud before they put it in. It is more reasonable to fancy that each person put his offering privately into the chest, by a slit in its top. Wherefore, by mentioning the particular sum which this poor widow put in, as well as by declaring that it was all her living, our Lord showed that nothing was hid from his knowledge. And he called unto him his disciples — That he might inform them of this woman’s generous action, and that they might hear his remarks upon it: and saith, Verily, this poor widow hath cast more in than all they, &c. — Thus he spoke to show, that it is the disposition of the mind, in deeds of charity, and in oblations made to the worship of God, which God regards, and not the magnificence of the gift. For all they did cast in of their abundance — Their offerings, though great in respect of hers, bore but a small proportion to their estates. But she of her want did cast in all that she had — Her offering was the whole of her income for that day, or, perhaps, the whole of the money in her possession at that time. Here then we see what judgment is passed on the most specious outward actions by the Judge of all! And how acceptable to him is the smallest, which springs from self- denying love! Both the poor and the rich may learn an important lesson from this passage of the gospel. The poor, who seem to have the means of doing charitable offices denied them in a great measure, are encouraged by it to do what they can; because, although it may be little, God, who looks into the heart, values it not according to what it is in itself, but according to the disposition with which it is given. On the other hand, it shows the rich, that it is not enough that they exceed the poor in the quantity of their charity. A little given where a little is left behind, often appears in the eye of God a much nobler offering, and discovers a far greater strength of good dispositions, than sums vastly larger bestowed out of a plentiful abundance. See Macknight.

12:41-44 Let us not forget that Jesus still sees the treasury. He knows how much, and from what motives, men give to his cause. He looks at the heart, and what our views are, in giving alms; and whether we do it as unto the Lord, or only to be seen of men. It is so rare to find any who would not blame this widow, that we cannot expect to find many who will do like to her; and yet our Saviour commends her, therefore we are sure that she did well and wisely. The feeble efforts of the poor to honour their Saviour, will be commended in that day, when the splendid actions of unbelievers will be exposed to contempt.Sat over against - Opposite to, in full sight of.

The treasury - This was in the court of the women. See the notes at Matthew 21:12. In that court there were fixed a number of places or coffers, made with a large open mouth in the shape of a trumpet, for the purpose of receiving the offerings of the people; and the money thus contributed was devoted to the service of the temple - to incense, sacrifices, etc.

Mr 12:41-44. The Widow's Two Mites. ( = Lu 21:1-4).

See on [1489]Lu 21:1-4.

Ver. 41-44. This is the only piece of history in this chapter which we did not before meet with in Matthew. Luke hath this, Luke 21:1-4. For the understanding of this history, both as to the letter and profitable instruction arising from it, we must know, that in the temple (where our Saviour now was) there was a treasury, or rather treasuries. And famous Dr. Lightfoot said, there were treasure chambers, called Lesacoth, and thirteen treasure chests, called Shopheroth, all called by the general name of Corban or Corbonah. Two of these chests were for the half shekel, which every Israelite was to pay according to the law, Exodus 30:12,13. There were eleven more, the inscription upon which showed what money should be put there.

1. For the price of the two turtle doves, or two young pigeons.

2. For the burnt offering of birds.

3. For the money offered to buy wood for the altar.

4. For those who gave money to buy frankincense.

5. For those who offered gold for the mercy seat.

6. For the residue of the money for the sin offering.

7. For the residue of the money for a trespass offering.

8. For the residue of an offering of birds.

9. For the surplus of a Nazarite’s offering.

10. For the residue of a leper’s trespass offering.

11. For whosoever would offer an offering of the herd.

The Israelites, tied to their several offerings, were not tied to

provide them themselves, but they might bring sums of money, with which the priests provided them, and if there were a surpulsage, it was put into one or other of these chests. These chests were placed in that part of the temple which was called the court of the women, not because none but women might come there, but because women might go no further, as the court of the Gentiles (into which Jews came) was so called because the Gentiles might go no further. Our Lord so sat, as he observed men come and put their offerings into one of these chests. He saw many Jews that were rich casting in much money of silver, or gold, or brass, though brass money was most in use. Amongst others a poor widow came;

she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. As to the value of what she threw in, let us hear the learned Dr. Lightfoot in his Temple Service, chapter 19.

“The weight of the piece of silver mentioned in the law, was three hundred and twenty barley corns. The wise men added to it, and made it four hundred and eighty-four middle barley corns. This made four Denarii; each Denarius made six Meahs, which in Moses’s time was called a Gerah. The Meah made two Pondions; the Pondion made two Issarines or Assariusses. The Assarius, or Issarine, was the weight of four barley corns, the weight of a mite was half a barley corn.”

According to this rate, the widows’s two mites made in silver the weight of a middle barley corn. This our Saviour calls all that she had, and all her living. The Greek is all her life, that is, all that she had to sustain her life. Arias Montanus thinks that that which is meant is, all that she had to uphold her life for one day. For it is said, that this quantity was usually reckoned the livelihood, or a sufficiency, for a poor man for a day. Christ said, she had cast in more than any of the rest; not more strictly, but Proverbs rata, comparing what they were able to do with what she was able to do. The two great instructions which this history affords us are:

1. That the poorer sort of people are not excused from good works, 2 Corinthians 8:2,3.

2. That God in his acceptation of our good works looks at the heart, the will, and affections, not at the quantum of what we do: If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not, 2 Corinthians 8:12. It is the obedience and love which God accepteth, not the quantum of the gift.

And Jesus sat over against the treasury,.... the Arabic version reads, "at the door of the treasury"; the place where the chests stood, into which money was put for various uses: there were thirteen chests in the temple (d); six of them were, for voluntary oblations, or freewill offerings; for what remained of the sin offering, and of the trespass offering, and of the turtles; for those that had fluxes, and for new mothers; and of the sacrifices of the Nazarite, and of the trespass offering for the leper; and the last was for a freewill offering in general; and into one of these chests, or all them, was the money cast, afterwards spoken of. The Ethiopic version renders it, "over against the alms chest"; but this contribution in the temple, was not for the maintenance of the poor, but for the supply of sacrifices, and other things, as mentioned. Jesus having done preaching, and the Scribes and Pharisees having left him, and the multitude being dismissed, he sat down, being weary, and rested himself in this place:

and beheld; with pleasure.

how the people, of all sorts, rich and poor,

cast money into the treasury; into one or other of the above chests: the word rendered "money", signifies "brass", which the Jews call, for they had shekels of brass, as well as silver; and brazen pence, as well as silver pence (e); and also "prutas", or mites of brass (f); and such, the poor woman cast in:

and many that were rich cast in much: they gave very liberally and largely, as they were possessed with much worldly substance; for though religion was at a low ebb with them, yet they took care to support the external and ritual part of it.

(d) Misn. Shekalhim, c. 6. sect. 5. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. & Moses Kotsensis, Mitzvot Tora, pr. affirm. 44. & Maimon. Hilch. Shekalim, c. 2. sect. 2, 3.((e) Misn. Maaser Sheni, c. 2. sect. 8, 9. & Ediot, c. 1. sect. 9, 10. (f) Vid. Hottinger de Nummis Heb. p. 118.

{7} And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people {i} cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.

(7) The doing of our duties which God allows is not considered worthy according to the outward value, but instead according to the inward affections of the heart.

(i) Money of any type of metal which the Romans used, who in the beginning stamped or made coins of brass, and after used it for currency.

Mark 12:41-44. Comp. Luke 21:1-4. It is surprising that this highly characteristic and original episode, which according to Eichthal, indeed, is an interpolation and repeated by Luke, has not been adopted in Matthew. But after the great rebuking discourse and its solemn close, the little isolated picture seems not to have found a place.

τοῦ γαζοφυλακίου] comp. Josephus, Antt. xix. 6. 1, where Agrippa hangs a golden chain ὑπὲρ τὸ γαζοφυλάκιον. According to the Rabbins it consisted of thirteen trumpet-shaped brazen chests (שׁוֹפָרוֹת), and was in the fore-court of the women. It was destined for the reception of pious contributions for the temple, as well as of the temple-tribute. See, generally, Lightfoot, Hor. p. 539 f.; Reland, Antt. i. 8. 14. The treasure-chambers (γαζοφυλάκια) in Josephus, Bell. v. 5. 2 and vi. 5. 2, have no bearing here. Comp. Ebrard, p. 495. The word itself (comp. John 8:20) is found also in the Greek writers (Strabo, ii. p. 319), and frequently in the LXX. and the Apocrypha.

χαλκόν not money in general (Grotius, Fritzsche, and others), but copper money, which most of the people gave. See Beza.

ἒβαλλον] imperfect, as at Mark 12:17-18. The reading ἒβαλον (Fritzsche) is too weakly attested, and is not necessary.

Mark 12:42 f. μία] in contrast with the πολλοί πλούσιοι: one single poor widow. A λεπτόν, so called from its smallness (Xen. Cyr. i. 4. 11 : τὸ λεπτότατον τοῦ χαλκοῦ νομίσματος), was 1/8th of an as in copper. See on Matthew 5:26. It is the same definition in the Talmud, that two פרוטות make a קדריונטם; see Lightfoot, p. 638 f.

On the fact that it is not “a quadrans” but λεπτὰ δύο, that is mentioned, Bengel has aptly remarked: “quorum unum vidua retinere potuerat.” The Rabbinical ordinance: “Non ponat homo λεπτόν in cistam eleemosynarum” (Bava bathra f. 10. 2), has no bearing here (in opposition to Schoettgen), for here we have not to do with alms.

προσκαλεσάμ.] “de re magna,” Bengel.

πλεῖον πάντων] is said according to the scale of means; all the rest still kept back much for themselves, the widow nothing (see what follows),—a sacrifice which Jesus estimates in its moral greatness; τὴν ἑαυτῆς προαίρεσιν ἐπεδείξατο εὐπορωτέραν τῆς δυνάμεως, Theophylact.

The present participle βαλλόντων (see the critical remarks) is not inappropriate (Fritzsche), but designates those who were throwing, whose βάλλειν was present, when the widow ἔβαλε.

Mark 12:44. ἐκ τῆς ὑστερήσ. αὐτῆς] (not αὑτῆς) is the antithesis of ἐκ τοῦ περισσ. αὐτ. in Mark 12:43. Comp. 2 Corinthians 8:14; Php 4:12. Out of her want, out of her destitution, she has cast in all that (in cash) she possessed, her whole (present) means of subsistence. Observe the earnest twofold designation. On βίος, victus, that whereby one lives, comp. Luke 8:43; Luke 15:12; Luke 15:30; Hesiod, Op. 230; Xen. Mem. iii. 11. 6; Soph. Phil. 919, 1266; Dem. 869, 25; Plat. Gorg. p. 486 D; and Stallbaum in loc.

Mark 12:41-44. The widow’s offering (Luke 21:1-4). This charming story comes in with dramatic effect, after the repulsive picture of the greedy praying scribe. The reference to the widows victimised by the hypocrites may have suggested it to the evangelist’s mind. It bears the unmistakable stamp of an authentic reminiscence, and one can imagine what comfort it would bring to the poor, who constituted the bulk of the early Gentile Church (Schanz).

41–44. The Widow’s Mite

41. And Jesus sat] In perfect calm and quiet of spirit after all the fierce opposition of this “day of Questions.”

the treasury] This treasury, according to the Rabbis, consisted of thirteen brazen chests, called “trumpets”, because the mouths through which the money was cast into the chest were wide at the top and narrow below. They stood in the outer “Court of the Women.” “Nine chests were for the appointed temple-tribute, and for the sacrifice-tribute, that is, money-gifts instead of the sacrifices; four chests for freewill-offerings, for wood, incense, temple-decoration, and burnt-offerings.” Lightfoot, Hor. Heb.

beheld] The imperfect tense in the original implies that He continued watching and observing the scene. “Christus in hodierno quoque cultu spectat omnes.” Bengel.

how the people] “Before the Passover, freewill offerings in addition to the temple-tax were generally presented.” Lange.

Mark 12:41. Ἐθεώρει, beheld) Christ, in our worship at even the present day, beholds all.—πολλοὶ, πλούσιοι, many rich men) The state was then flourishing.

Verse 41. - He sat down over against the treasury (γαζοφυλάκιον, from γάζα, a Persian word meaning "treasure," and φυλάττειν, to guard). This was the receptacle into which the offerings of the people were east, for the uses of the temple and for the benefit of the priests and of the poor. Hence that part of the temple in which these gifts were kept was called the treasury. He beheld (ἐθεώρει) - literally, he was beholding; he was observing - how the multitude πῶς ὁ ὄχλος - that is, in what manner, with what motives (for he was the heart-searcher) the crowd of givers - cast money (βάλλει χαλκόν); literally, is casting· St. Luke uses the term (τὰ δῶρα) "their gifts." Many that were rich cast in much (πολλά), that is, "many pieces." There were several apertures in the treasury, which from their shape were called trumpets. Some of these had special inscriptions, marking the destination of the offerings. Mark 12:41The treasury

In the Court of the Women, which covered a space of two hundred feet square. All round it ran a colonnade, and within it, against the wall, were the thirteen chests or "trumpets" for charitable contributions. These chests were narrow at the mouth and wide at the bottom, shaped like trumpets, whence their name. Their specific objects were carefully marked on them. Nine were for the receipt of what was legally due by worshippers, the other four for strictly voluntary gifts. See Edersheim, "The Temple."

Beheld (ἐθεώρει)

Observed thoughtfully.


Note the graphic present tense: are casting.

Money (χαλκὸν)

Lit., copper, which most of the people gave.

Cast in (ἔβαλλον)

Imperfect tense: were casting in as he looked.

Much (πολλά)

Lit., many things; possibly many pieces of current copper coin.

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