Matthew 10:29
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(29) Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?—The coin mentioned here is not the same as the “farthing” of Mark 12:42. The word there is kodrantēs, the quadrans, or fourth part, of the Roman as; here it is assarion, the diminutive of the as, and equal to the tenth part of the denarius. The fact that the denarius was the average day’s wages of a soldier or a labourer, gives a fair approximation to its value. The homeliness of the illustration was adapted to the past experience of the apostles. It appears in a yet more homely form, in the “five sparrows sold for two farthings” of Luke 12:6, the cheapness that thus tempted the purchaser witnessing to the small account men took of the birds so bargained for.

Without your Father.—The primary thought is obviously that the providence of God extends to the very meanest of His creatures. The thoughts with which we in these later days are more familiar may lead us to think of that Providence as more commonly working under the form of fixed and general laws; but, however this may be, the truth remains unaltered, for law itself is but the expression of the will of God, and faith may accept the law as working out a divine purpose of good for the universe and for every free agent who consciously accepts it.

Matthew 10:29-31. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing — As if he had said, The particular providence of God is another reason for your not fearing man. For this extends to the very smallest things, even to sparrows and the hairs of your heads, which are all numbered. In other words, the meanest of God’s creatures are under the protection of his providence, insomuch that nothing befalls them without its direction; and therefore your enemies cannot touch even your bodies without your heavenly Father’s permission. A most consolatory doctrine this, indeed, and a strong reason why we should exercise a continual dependance on God, and in all circumstances and situations cast our care on him who thus careth for us. Fear ye not therefore — Lest ye should be overlooked or neglected, ye, my rational and immortal creatures, especially ye my children, adopted and regenerated, and above all, ye ministers of my word, honoured with so important an employment as that of preaching my gospel: ye are of more value than many sparrows — Yea, than the whole species of them: and therefore you may assure yourselves that providence will watch over you.10:16-42 Our Lord warned his disciples to prepare for persecution. They were to avoid all things which gave advantage to their enemies, all meddling with worldly or political concerns, all appearance of evil or selfishness, and all underhand measures. Christ foretold troubles, not only that the troubles might not be a surprise, but that they might confirm their faith. He tells them what they should suffer, and from whom. Thus Christ has dealt fairly and faithfully with us, in telling us the worst we can meet with in his service; and he would have us deal so with ourselves, in sitting down and counting the cost. Persecutors are worse than beasts, in that they prey upon those of their own kind. The strongest bonds of love and duty, have often been broken through from enmity against Christ. Sufferings from friends and relations are very grievous; nothing cuts more. It appears plainly, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution; and we must expect to enter into the kingdom of God through many tribulations. With these predictions of trouble, are counsels and comforts for a time of trial. The disciples of Christ are hated and persecuted as serpents, and their ruin is sought, and they need the serpent's wisdom. Be ye harmless as doves. Not only, do nobody any hurt, but bear nobody any ill-will. Prudent care there must be, but not an anxious, perplexing thought; let this care be cast upon God. The disciples of Christ must think more how to do well, than how to speak well. In case of great peril, the disciples of Christ may go out of the way of danger, though they must not go out of the way of duty. No sinful, unlawful means may be used to escape; for then it is not a door of God's opening. The fear of man brings a snare, a perplexing snare, that disturbs our peace; an entangling snare, by which we are drawn into sin; and, therefore, it must be striven and prayed against. Tribulation, distress, and persecution cannot take away God's love to them, or theirs to him. Fear Him, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. They must deliver their message publicly, for all are deeply concerned in the doctrine of the gospel. The whole counsel of God must be made known, Ac 20:27. Christ shows them why they should be of good cheer. Their sufferings witnessed against those who oppose his gospel. When God calls us to speak for him, we may depend on him to teach us what to say. A believing prospect of the end of our troubles, will be of great use to support us under them. They may be borne to the end, because the sufferers shall be borne up under them. The strength shall be according to the day. And it is great encouragement to those who are doing Christ's work, that it is a work which shall certainly be done. See how the care of Providence extends to all creatures, even to the sparrows. This should silence all the fears of God's people; Ye are of more value than many sparrows. And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. This denotes the account God takes and keeps of his people. It is our duty, not only to believe in Christ, but to profess that faith, in suffering for him, when we are called to it, as well as in serving him. That denial of Christ only is here meant which is persisted in, and that confession only can have the blessed recompence here promised, which is the real and constant language of faith and love. Religion is worth every thing; all who believe the truth of it, will come up to the price, and make every thing else yield to it. Christ will lead us through sufferings, to glory with him. Those are best prepared for the life to come, that sit most loose to this present life. Though the kindness done to Christ's disciples be ever so small, yet if there be occasion for it, and ability to do no more, it shall be accepted. Christ does not say that they deserve a reward; for we cannot merit any thing from the hand of God; but they shall receive a reward from the free gift of God. Let us boldly confess Christ, and show love to him in all things.Are not two sparrows ... - He encourages them not to fear by two striking considerations: first, that God takes care of sparrows, the smallest and least valuable of birds; and, secondly, by the fact that God numbers even the hairs of the head. The argument is, that if He takes care of birds of the least value, if He regards so small a thing as the hair of the head, and numbers it, He will certainly protect and provide for you. You need not, therefore, fear what man can do to you.

Sparrows - The sparrows are well-known birds in Syria. They are small; they are found in great numbers; they are tame, intrusive, and nestle everywhere. "They are extremely pertinacious in asserting their right of possession, and have not the least reverence for any place or thing. David alludes to these characteristics of the sparrow in Psalm 84:1-12, when he complains that they had appropriated even the altars of God for their nests. Concerning himself, he says, I watch, and am as a sparrow upon the housetop, Psalm 102:7. When one of them has lost its mate - a matter of everyday occurrence - he will sit on the housetop alone, and lament by the hour his sad bereavement. These birds are snared and caught in great numbers, but, as they are small, and not much relished for food, five sparrows may still be sold for two farthings; and when we see their countless numbers, and the eagerness with which they are destroyed as a worthless nuisance, we can better appreciate the assurance that our heavenly Father, who takes care of them, so that not one can fall to the ground without his notice, will surely take care of us, who are of more value than many sparrows." - "The Land and the Book" (Thomson), vol. i. pp. 52, 53.

Farthing - See the notes at Matthew 5:26.

Without your Father - That is, God, your Father, guides and directs its fall. It falls only with His permission, and where He chooses.

29. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?—In Luke (Lu 12:6) it is "five sparrows for two farthings"; so that, if the purchaser took two farthings' worth, he got one in addition—of such small value were they.

and one of them shall not fall on the ground—exhausted or killed

without your Father—"Not one of them is forgotten before God," as it is in Luke (Lu 12:6).

See Poole on "Matthew 10:31". Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?.... A farthing, with the Jews, was a very small coin; according to them it contained four grains of silver (b); was the ninety sixth part of a "sela", or shilling (c); and sometimes they make it to be of the same value with an Italian farthing: for they say (d), it is of the value of eight "prutahs": and a "prutah" is the eighth part of an Italian farthing: it is used proverbially to signify a very little thing in the Misna (e);

"if of a command, which is light "as a farthing", which Bartenora explains a "very little thing", the law says, "that it may be well with thee", much more of the weighty commands in the law.''

Hence, in Munster's Hebrew Gospel, it is rendered by , "a little piece of money"; and this was the common price of two sparrows. Our Lord appeals to his disciples, for the truth of it, as a thing well known: according to the question in Luke, five sparrows were sold for two farthings, which makes them somewhat cheaper still. This shows they were of little account.

And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father: some copies add, "which is in heaven"; meaning, that one of them should not be shot, or be killed, without the knowledge, will, and pleasure of God. The design of Christ is to assert the doctrine of providence, as reaching to all creatures and things, even the most minute and worthless: he instances not in men, nor in the beasts of the field, but in the fowls of the air, and in those of the inferior sort, and more useless, in sparrows, yea in little sparrows; as the word may be rendered; whose price was so low, that two are obliged to be put together to fetch the least sum of money current: and yet the providence of God is concerned with each of these; so that not one of them is taken in a snare, or killed with a stone, or shot flying, or sitting, but by the will of God: from whence it may be strongly concluded, that nothing comes by chance; that there is no such thing as contingency with respect to God, though there is to men, with respect to second causes; that all things are firmly ordained by the purpose of God, and are wisely ordered by his providence: and our Lord's further view is, from this consideration, to animate his disciples to a free, open, and constant preaching of his Gospel, not regarding their lives for his sake; for since their heavenly Father, in his providence, takes care of the meanest, even of the most irrational creatures, so that the life of one of them is not taken away without his will, much more will he take care of them; nor could their valuable lives be lost without his will and pleasure. Much such a way of arguing is used by the Jews, who (f) say, , "a bird without God does not perish, much less a man"; or, as it is elsewhere (g) expressed,

"a bird "without God" is not hunted, or taken, how much less does the soul of a man go out of him?''

And again (h),

"a bird "without God" does not fly away, much less the soul of a man.''

Two birds, or sparrows, as the word may be rendered, in Leviticus 14:4 were used in cleansing the leper; one was killed, and the other let loose into the open field: and though it might be a contingent thing with men which was killed, and which preserved, yet not with God; and some think the allusion is here to that case.

(b) Maimon. in Misn. Peah, c. 8. sect. 1.((c) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Maaser Sheni, c. 4. sect. 3.((d) Ib. in Misn. Eracin, c. 8. sect. 1.((e) Cholin, c. 12. sect. 5. (f) T. Hieros. Sheviith, fol. 38. 4. (g) Bereshit Rabba, fol. 69. 3.((h) Midrash Kohelet, fol. 81. 2. & Midrash Esther, fol. 89. 3.

Are not two sparrows sold for a {o} farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

(o) The fourth part of an ounce or seven grams.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 10:29 στρουθία, im. for στρουθός, small birds in general, sparrows in particular.—ἀσσαρίου, a brass coin, Latin as, 1/10 of a δραχμή = about 3/4d. The smallness of the price makes it probable that sparrows are meant (Fritzsche). We are apt to wonder that sparrows had a price at all.—ἓνοὐ looks like a. Hebraism, but found also in Greek writers, “cannot be called either a Graecism or a Hebraism; in every case the writer aims at greater emphasis than would be conveyed by οὐδείς, which properly means the same thing, but had become weakened by usage” (Winer, § 26).—ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν. Chrys. paraphrases: εἰς παγίδα (Hom. 34), whence Bengel conjectured that the primitive reading was not γῆν but πάγην, the first syllable of a little used word falling out. But Wetstein and Fritzsche have pointed out that ἐπὶ does not suit that reading. The idea is that not a single sparrow dies from any cause on wing or perch, and falls dead to the earth—ἄνευ τ. πατρὸς ὑ. Origen (c. Celsum, i. 9) remarks: “nothing useful among men comes into existence without God” (ἀθεεί). Christ expresses a more absolute faith in Providence: “the meanest creature passes not out of existence unobserved of your Father”.29. one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father] Two deductions may be drawn—(1) That human life is more precious in God’s sight than the life of the lower animals (Matthew 10:31); (2) That kindness to animals is part of God’s law.

The word translated sparrow means any kind of small bird.Matthew 10:29. Δύο στρουθία ἀσσαρίου, two sparrows for a farthing)[494] In Luke 12:6, we read, five sparrows for two farthings. A reason why men are not to be feared.—ἕν, one) sc. one in preference to another.[495]—Οὐ ΠΕΣΕῖΤΑΙ, shall not fall) To fall on the ground is to die. The use of the future tense implies a condition: if it falls, it does not fall without your Father’s permission.—ἄνευ τοῦ θελήματος τοῦ Πατρὸς ὑμῶν, without the will of your Father) This is the reading of Irenæu[496], Tertullian, Novatian, Cypria[497], Hilary, Augustine, Cassiodorius; also of the Italic, Coptic, Arabic, Gothic, and Persic versions. It is therefore an ancient reading, and one too widely received to be accounted for on the hypothesis of its being a paraphrase, especially since the sense would be complete without the contested words ΤΟῦ ΘΕΛΉΜΑΤΟς” (the will of), as the LXX. in Isaiah 36:10[498] write ἌΝΕΥ ΚΥΡΊΟΥ, without the Lord, and the Hebrews say, מבלעדי שמיא, without heaven. The later Greeks omitted these words, τοῦ θελήματος, from the recurrence of the article τοῦ. The numbered hairs of the faithful, mentioned in the parallel passage of Luke 12:7, correspond to this “will.”[499]—ὑμῶν, your) not their Father.

[494] The ἀσσάριον, called λεπτὸν in Mark 12:42, and rendered mite in that place and elsewhere by the E. V., was about 31/336 of a farthing.—(I. B)

[495] Bengel means, that this is a proof of God’s individual providence even in matters relating to the brute creation.—(I. B.)

[496] renæus (of Lyons, in Gaul: born about 130 A.D., and died about the end of the second century). The Editio Renati Massueti, Parisinæ, a. 1710.

[497] yprian (in the beginning and middle of the third century: a Latin father). Ed. Steph. Baluzii, Paris. 1726.

[498] In the Hebrew also, “without Jehovah.”—(I. B.)

[499] BD Orig. (omitting ὑμῶν) Vulg. and Rec. Text, have ἄνευ τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν. But sine voluntate” is added by abc Hil. 657, 831 Iren. Cypr. 82, 121 (omitting ‘vestri’ before ‘patris’).—ED.Verse 29. - Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? The form of the saying in Luke 12:6 is practically equivalent ("Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings?"); for sparrows are so common and cheap that if a man buys two farthings' worth he gets one thrown in. "At the present day the markets of Jerusalem and Jaffa are attended by many 'f owlets,' who offer for sale long strings of little birds of various species, chiefly sparrows, wagtails, and larks. These are also frequently sold ready plucked, trussed in rows of about a dozen on slender wooden skewers, and are cooked and eaten like kabobs" (Tristram, in Smith's 'Dict. of Bible,' 3:1366, where is added an into-resting account of the various methods of catching them). A farthing (ἀσσαρίου). This might either be one of the coins of the Herods (ver. 9, note), or, as it seems, a "second brass" Antiochene as (cf. Madden, 'Coins of the Jews,' p. 301, etc.). And one of them shall not fall - and not one of them shall fall (Revised Version, more idiomatically) - on the ground. Dead. In the parallel passage in Luke, more generally, "Not one of them is forgotten in the sight of God," even in life. Origen and Chrysostom read, "fall into the snare" (cf. Ames 3:5). Without (ἄνευ). Ξωρίς would deny merely physical connexion (cf. John 15:5), and the sentence would then imply that God causes their death; ἄνευ is only negative, and the sentence implies that their death is not outside of his knowledge and care. In Amos 3:5 the thought is that for every event there is a cause; here that every event is taken notice of by God. Sennacherib's boast (Isaiah 36:10) contained a truth other than he intended. Your Father. For this and nothing less is God's relation to you. There is a Talmudic tale told in various forms, of which the earliest seems to be that R. Simon ben Jochai, after hiding thirteen years in a cave, saw from the entrance of it a fowler snaring birds, but that these could not be taken if the Divine voice (Bath Qol) said, "Released" (dimus,' dimissus). "A bird," said the rabbi, "perishes not without God, much less a man," and he returned to the city (Talm. Jeremiah, 'Shebiith,' 9:1). Sparrows (στρουθία)

The word is a diminutive, little sparrows, and carries with it a touch of tenderness. At the present day, in the markets of Jerusalem and Jaffa, long strings of little birds, sparrows and larks, are offered for sale, trussed on long wooden skewers. Edersheim thinks that Jesus may have had reference to the two sparrows which, according to the Rabbins, were used in the ceremonial of purification from leprosy (Leviticus 14:49-54).

Shall not fall

A Rabbinic legend relates how a certain Rabbi had been for thirteen years hiding from his persecutors in a cave, where he was miraculously fed; when he observed that when the bird-catcher laid his snare, the bird escaped or was caught, according as a voice from heaven proclaimed "Mercy" or "Destruction." Arguing that if even a sparrow cannot be caught without heaven's bidding, how much more safe was the life of a son of man, he came forth.

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