Matthew 12:10
And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10) There was a man which had his hand withered.—Two facts are implied: (1.) That the Pharisees expected our Lord to heal the man thus afflicted. They knew that commonly the mere sight of suffering of this kind called out His sympathy, and that the sympathy passed into act. (2.) That they had resolved, ii He did so heal, to make it the ground of a definite accusation before the local tribunal, the “judgment” of Matthew 5:21. The casuistry of the Rabbis allowed the healing art to be practised on the Sabbath in cases of life and death, but the “withered hand,” a permanent infirmity, obviously did not come under that category.

Matthew 12:10. There was a man which had his hand withered — The nerves and sinews of it being shrunk up, so that it was entirely useless. And they — Namely, the scribes and Pharisees, who had either mixed with the crowd that followed Jesus, or were in the synagogue before he came; asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? — They made this inquiry merely that they might find matter whereon to ground an accusation against him. For they fully expected he would say that it was lawful, in opposition to the doctrine of their learned men, who accounted performing cures on the sabbath a violation of the holy rest of that day. Accordingly Mark says, They watched him whether he would heal, &c. — So gross was their hypocrisy, that they resolved to raise an outcry against him, if on the sabbath he should give a lame man the use of his hand, while they themselves were profaning it by an action which would have polluted any day; were seeking an opportunity to murder one who had never done them any harm, but had been and was incessantly doing them good!

12:9-13 Christ shows that works of mercy are lawful and proper to be done on the Lord's day. There are more ways of doing well upon sabbath days, than by the duties of worship: attending the sick, relieving the poor, helping those who need speedy relief, teaching the young to care for their souls; these are doing good: and these must be done from love and charity, with humility and self-denial, and shall be accepted, Ge 4:7. This, like other cures which Christ wrought, had a spiritual meaning. By nature our hands are withered, and we are unable of ourselves to do any thing that is good. Christ only, by the power of his grace, cures us; he heals the withered hand by putting life into the dead soul, works in us both to will and to do: for, with the command, there is a promise of grace given by the word.The very hairs of your head are all numbered - That is, each one has exercised the care and attention of God.

He has fixed the number; and, though of small importance, yet he does not think it beneath him to determine how few or how many they shall be. He will therefore take care of you.

Mt 12:9-21. The Healing of a Withered Hand on the Sabbath Day and Retirement of Jesus to Avoid Danger. ( = Mr 3:1-12; Lu 6:6-11).

Healing of a Withered Hand (Mt 12:9-14).

9. And when he was departed thence—but "on another sabbath" (Lu 6:6).

he went into their synagogue—"and taught." He had now, no doubt, arrived in Galilee; but this, it would appear, did not occur at Capernaum, for after it was over, He "withdrew Himelf," it is said "to the sea" (Mr 3:7), whereas Capernaum was at the sea.

And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered—disabled by paralysis (as in 1Ki 13:4). It was his right hand, as Luke (Lu 6:6) graphically notes.

And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him—Mark and Luke (Mr 3:2; Lu 6:7) say they "watched Him whether He would heal on the sabbath day." They were now come to the length of dogging His steps, to collect materials for a charge of impiety against Him. It is probable that it was to their thoughts rather than their words that Jesus addressed Himself in what follows.

Mark, repeating the same history, saith, Mark 3:1,2, There was a man which had a withered hand, and they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day, that they might accuse him. So saith Luke 6:6,7, only he addeth that it was his right hand, which made his affliction greater. They asked him not that they might rightly inform themselves, but that they might accuse him to their magistrates, that had power in those cases, for the violation of the sabbath was, amongst the Jews, a capital crime.

And behold, there was a man which had his hand withered,.... Or dry; the juices were dried up, the nerves and sinews contracted, so that it was of no manner of use to him: Luke says, it was his right hand, which was so much the worse; and means not only his hand, but the whole arm. Such a case is mentioned in the Talmud (a), "it happened to one, "wewrz hvbyv, that his arm was dry, or withered. Jerom says (b), in the Gospel which the Nazarenes and Hebionites used, this man is said to be a plasterer, and so might possibly come by his misfortune through his business; and being a man that got his bread by his hand labour, the case was the more affecting. This account is introduced with a "behold!" it being remarkable that such a case should offer so opportunely, of showing his divine power in healing such a disorder; and of his authority, as the Son of man, over the sabbath; and of putting to silence his enemies, the Pharisees: and who, upon seeing such an object, put the following question to him;

and they asked him, saying, is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? and which was put, not for information sake, as willing to be instructed in this point; for their determinations were, that healing was not lawful on such a day; nor were any means to be made use of for that purpose: if a man received a cure accidentally, it was very well; but no methods were to be taken with intention: as for instance (c);

"if a man had an ailment in his throat, he might not gargle it with oil, but he might swallow a large quantity of oil, "and "if he was healed, he was healed" (i.e. it was very well, it was no breach of the sabbath); they may not chew mastic, nor rub the teeth with spice, on the sabbath day, , "when it is intended "for healing"; but if it is intended for the savour of his mouth, it is free.''

There are several things they allowed might be done on the sabbath; but then they did not reckon them to come under the notion of healing.

"Three (d) things R. Ishmael bar Jose said he had heard from R. Matthia ben Charash; they might let blood for the stranguary on the sabbath day; one that was bit by a mad dog, they might give him hog's liver to eat; and he that had an ailment in his mouth, they might put spice to it on the sabbath day: but the wise men say of these, that there is not in them , anything of medicine.''

Indeed, in case of extreme danger of life they did admit of the use of medicine, by the prescription of a physician (e).

"Danger of life drives away the sabbath; wherefore, if there is any danger in a sick person, it is lawful to kindle a fire for him, &c. and they may kill, and bake, and boil: and though there may be no apparent danger, only a doubt of danger; as when one physician says there is a necessity, and another physician says there is none, they may profane the sabbath for him.''

Hence it is very clear with what view the Pharisees asked Christ this question; and that it was, as the evangelist says, that they might accuse him: either of cruelty and weakness, should he answer in the negative, that either he was not able to heal the poor man before him, or wanted compassion; or should he answer in the affirmative, as they expected, and act upon it, then they might have wherewith to charge him before the sanhedrim as a violator of the sabbath, and of their canons concerning it.

(a) T. Hieros. Yoma, fol. 40. 1.((b) In loc. (c) Maimon. Hilchot Sabbat, c. 21. sect. 24. (d) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 84. 1. Vid. Misn. Yoma, e. 8. sect. 7. (e) Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora pr. neg. 65. Maimon. in Misn. Sabbat, c. 18. sect. 3.

And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 12:10. The nature of the affection of the withered hand, in which there was a defective circulation (1 Kings 13:4; Zechariah 11:17; John 5:3), cannot be further defined. It is certain, however, that what was wrong was not merely a deficiency in the power of moving the hand, in which case the cure would be sufficiently explained by our Lord’s acting upon the will and the muscular force (Keim).

The traditions forbade healing on the Sabbath, except in cases where life was in danger. Wetstein and Schoettgen on this passage.

εἰ] in the New Testament (Winer, p. 474 [E. T. 639]; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 214 [E. T. 249]) is so applied, in opposition to classical usage (see Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 202 f.; Klotz, ad Devar. pp. 508, 511), that it directly introduces the words containing the question. Comp. Matthew 19:3; Luke 13:22; Luke 22:49; Acts 1:6; occurring also in the LXX., not in the Apocrypha. However, in the order of ideas in the mind of the questioner is to be found the logical connection, which has occasioned and which will explain the indirectly interrogative use of εἰ (I would like to know, or some such expression), just as we Germans are also in the habit of asking at once: ob das erlaubt ist? The character of the questions introduced by εἰ is that of uncertainty and hesitation (Hartung, 1. 1; Kühner, II. 2, p. 1032), which in this instance is quite in keeping with the tempting which the questioners had in view. Fritzsche’s purely indirect interpretation (“interrogarunt eum hoc modo, an liceret,” etc.) is precluded by λέγοντες, and the passages where the question is preceded by some form of address such as κύριε in Acts 1:6; Luke 22:49.

ἵνα κατηγορ. αὐτοῦ] before the local court (κρίσις, Matthew 5:21) in the town, and that on the charge of teaching to violate the law of the Sabbath.

Matthew 12:10. καὶ ἰδοὺ, here, as in Matthew 8:2, Matthew 9:2, introducing in a lively manner the story.—ξηράν, a dry hand, possibly a familiar expression in Hebrew pathology (De Wette); useless, therefore a serious enough affliction for a working man (a mason, according to Hebrew Gospel, Jerome ad loc.), especially if it was the right hand, as Luke states. But the cure was not urgent for a day, could stand over; therefore a good test case as between rival conceptions of Sabbath law.—ἐπηρώτησαν. The Pharisees asked a question suggested by the case, as if eager to provoke Jesus and put Him to the proof. Mark says they observed Him, waiting for Him to take the initiative. The former alternative suits the hypothesis of immediate temporal sequence.—εἰ ἔξεστιν, etc. After λέγοντες we expect, according to classic usage, a direct question without εἰ. The εἰ is in its place in Mark (Mark 12:2), and the influence of his text may be suspected (Weiss) as explaining the incorrectness in Matthew. But εἰ in direct questions is not unusual in N. T. (Matthew 19:3; Luke 13:23; Luke 22:49), vide Winer, § 57, 2, and Meyer ad loc. In Mark’s account Christ, not the Pharisees, puts the question.

10. his hand withered] i. e. paralysed or affected by atrophy. St Luke has “his right hand.”

Matthew 12:10. Ἄνθρωπος ἦν, κ.τ.λ., there was a man, etc.) He had either come thither of his own accord, that he might be healed, or else he had been brought by others with an insidious design.—ἵνα κατηγορήσωσιν αὐτοῦ, that they might accuse Him) As if He had broken the Sabbath, which was then greatly respected even by courts of law. See Matthew 12:14.

Verse 10 - And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered; and behold a man having a withered hand (Revised Version, with Westcott and Hort). For the quotation by Jerome from "the Gospel which the Nazarenes and Ebionites use" (comp. also Introduction, p. 16.), in which this man tells our Lord, "Coementarius (a mason) eram, manibus vietum quaeritans," see especially Resch, 'Agrapha,' p. 379. And they asked him, saying. In the narrative of healing the man with the dropsy, found in Luke 14:1-6 (vide supra), a similar question is asked by our Lord. Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? The Tahnudic answer is that it is unlawful except in cases of actual danger to life (cf. Schurer, IL 2:104). but whether this distinction was really drawn as early as the time of our Lord {s not known in the present backward state of all critical investigations of Jewish literature. That they might accuse him; i.e. before the local court, Matthew 5:21 (Meyer). Observe that, recognizing his readiness to help others, they desire (according to Matthew) to get a clear statement from him whether he would follow the traditional law (as we may assume it was) or net, intending to base their accusation on his reply. Verbally, however, Christ avoids the dilemma, as in the more famous case of the tribute to Caesar (Matthew 22:21). Matthew 12:10Is it lawful ? (εἰ ἔξεστιν)

The εἰ can hardly be rendered into English. It gives an indeterminate, hesitating character to the question: I would like to know if, etc.

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