Mark 12:42
And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(42) And there came a certain poor widow.—The position of the narrative gives to the description all the vividness of contrast. Among the “many” who cast in much must have been some at least of the Pharisees who devoured widows’ houses. Here was a widow whose house had been devoured, and who yet showed by her act that she kept the two great commandments, which the scribes themselves declared to be above all burnt offerings and sacrifices.

Two mites, which make a farthing.—The “farthing” is one of the Latin words which characterise this Gospel, and represents the quadrans, or fourth-part of a Roman as. The primary meaning of the word rendered “mite” is “thin” or “tiny.”

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.Two mites - The word translated "mite" denotes a small coin made of brass - the smallest in use among the Jews. The precise value cannot now be easily estimated. It was much less than any coin we have, as the "farthing" was less than an English farthing. It was in value about three mills and a half, or one-third of a cent. Mr 12:41-44. The Widow's Two Mites. ( = Lu 21:1-4).

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

See Poole on "Mark 12:41"

And there came a certain poor widow,.... Among the many that came to offer their gifts freely, there came one that was particularly taken notice of by Christ; and she was a "widow", had no husband to provide for her, and was a "poor" one; had no substance left her by her husband to support her with; very likely she was an inhabitant of Jerusalem:

and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing; a "quadrant", which was the fourth part of the Roman assis, or farthing; which seems to be much the same with the of the Greeks, which is said (g) to be,

"the fourth part of an obolus (the least Athenian coin), that is, two brass pieces.''

These mites seem to be the same with the "prutas", the Jews often speak of; who say (h), that a "pruta" is the eighth part of an Italian farthing; though some make it to be the sixth: hence the Syriac version here renders it, "two menin, that is, eighths"; and the Jerusalem Talmud expressly says (i), that, , "two prutas make a quadrant", the very word here used: and that the Jews took the freewill offerings of the poor as well as the rich, though ever so little, is clear from this canon of theirs (k);

"a poor man that gives a "pruta", or mite, into the alms dish, or a "pruta" into the poor's chest, they take it of him; but if he does not give, they do not oblige him to give.''

Nor were they obliged to cast into the treasury; but if they did, they received it, be it less or more: and indeed, the rich might throw in as little as they pleased: as for instance; into the chest for gold, they might throw in as little as the weight of a barley corn of gold; and into the chest for frankincense, as little as the weight of a barley corn of frankincense (l). The Persic version here, different from all others, instead of "two mites", renders it, "two bottoms of thread", or "yarn".

(g) Harpocratian. Lexic. p. 281. (h) Misn. Kiddushin, c. 1. sect. 1. T. Hieros. Kiddushin, fol. 58. 4. T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 12. 1. Bava Metzin, fol. 44. 2. Maimon. Hilch. Shekalim, c. 1. sect. 3.((i) Kiddushi, fol. 58. 4. (k) Maimon. Hilch. Mattanot Anayim, c. 9. sect. 19. (l) Maimon. & Battenora in. Misn. Shekalim, c. 6. sect. 6.

And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Mark 12:42. μία χ. π., one poverty-stricken widow. With what intense interest Jesus would watch her movements, after His eye fell on her! How much will she give?—λεπτὰ δύο, “two mites”; minute, of course, but two: she might have kept one of them (Bengel).—λεπτόν, so called from its smallness; smallest of brass coins—significant of deep poverty; two given, of a willing mind.

42. a certain poor widow] One of the helpless class which He had just described as devoured by the extortion of the Scribes and Pharisees. In three words St Mark presents to us a picture of her desolation: she was alone, she was a widow, and she was poor.

two mites] “Sche sente tweye mynutis, pat is, a ferping, “Wyclif. Mite is a contraction of minute, from Lat. minutum, though Fr. mite. Thus Becon says, “let us with the poor widow of the gospel at the least give two minutes, and God will surely approve and accept our good will.” The Lepton, here mentioned, was the very smallest copper coin. Two made one Roman quadrans, which was ¼th of an as. The as in Cicero’s time = nearly a halfpenny, and the quadrans = one-eighth of a penny. This poor widow gave two, though, as Bengel remarks, she might have kept back one. She gave her “all.” “If we have regard to the origin of the expression, it argues more of presumption than humility to call any gift, as many do, however liberal, unless it were our all, a ‘mite,’ while the frequent use of the term to excuse some shabby offering which costs the donor nothing, is a remarkable example of the serene unconsciousness with which persons will sometimes pass the most bitter sarcasms upon themselves.” Davies, Bible English, p. 251.

Mark 12:42. Ἐλθοῦσα, having come) Jesus had His eye chiefly on her.—δύο, two) one of which the widow might have retained. [This had been enacted by no commandment: but the intention in her mind, by which she was moved was good.—V. g.]

Verse 42. - A poor widow (μία χήρα πτωχὴ); literally, one poor widow; one specially singled out for notice. St. Luke says, εῖδε δὲ καί τινα χήραν πενιχρὰν: literally, a widow who supported herself by her own little labor. And she cast in two mites (λεπτὰ), which make a farthing. The farthing was the fourth part of an as, and ten of these made a denarius. The Greek word (λεπτὰ) means literally "thin pieces." Mark 12:42A certain (μία)

Not a good translation. Lit., one as distinguished from the many rich. Better, simply the indefinite article, as Rev.

Poor (πτωχὴ)

See on Matthew 5:3.

Mites (λεπτὰ)

From λεπτός, peeled, husked; and thence thin or fine. Therefore of a very small or thin coin.

Farthing (κοδράντης)

A Latin word, quadrans, or a quarter of a Roman as; quadrans meaning a fourth, as farthing is fourthing.

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