Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)They be blind leaders of the blind.—It would appear from Romans 2:19 that the phrase was one in common use to describe the ideal of the Rabbi’s calling. Now they heard it in a new form, which told them that their state was the very reverse of that ideal. And that which was worst in it was that their blindness was self-chosen (Matthew 13:15), and that they were yet all unconscious of it, and boasted that they saw (John 9:41).
If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.—The proverb was probably a familiar one (it is given in St. Luke 6:39 as part of the Sermon on the Plain), but, as now spoken, it had the character of a prophecy. We have but to read the Jewish historian’s account of the years that preceded the destruction of Jerusalem to see what the “ditch” was towards which teachers and people were alike blindly hastening. Bitter sectarianism, and wild dreams, and baseless hopes, and maddened zeal, and rejection of the truth which alone had power to save them, this was the issue which both were preparing for themselves, and from which there was no escape.Matthew 15:14. Let them alone — Do not trouble or concern yourselves about their censures: neither court their favour nor dread their displeasure, nor much care though they be offended. Seek not to please a generation of men that please not God, 1 Thessalonians 2:15; and will be pleased with nothing less than absolute dominion over your consciences. They be blind leaders of the blind — Teachers, who foolishly think to lead their disciples to heaven by the observation of precepts wherein there is not the smallest degree of true piety, and will not be convinced of the contrary, being grossly ignorant of divine things, and strangers to the spiritual nature of God’s law; and yet so proud, that they think they see better than any others, and therefore undertake to be leaders of others. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch — The guides and the guided, the blind leaders and the blind followers, shall perish together. Both will be involved in the general desolation coming upon the Jews, and both will fall into the ditch of eternal destruction. We find, Revelation 22:15, that hell is the portion of those that make a lie, and of those that love it when made. The sin and rain of the deceivers will be no security to those that are deceived by them. “Though the leaders of the people cause them to err, yet they that are led of them are destroyed,” Isaiah 9:16; because they shut their eyes against the light which would have rectified their mistake. Hence “it follows,” says Dr. Whitby, “that sometimes the multitude neither ought, nor can, without their utmost peril, follow the guidance of their ecclesiastical superiors;” or, as he expresses himself afterward, believe, or comply with their rules, “because it is their duty never to follow them into the ditch.” “Learn here,” says Burkit, “1st, that ignorant, erroneous, and unfaithful ministers are the heaviest judgment that can befall a people; 2d, that the following of such teachers and blind guides will be no excuse to people another day, much less free them from the danger of eternal destruction.”
Be not anxious about it. This result is to be expected. They are greatly attached to their traditions, and you are not to wonder that they are indignant. They lead, also, the blind. They have a vast influence over the multitude, and it is to be expected that they will be enraged at any doctrines that go to lessen their authority or influence. By commanding them "to let them alone," Christ does not mean that they were to be suffered to remain in error without any attempt to refute or correct them, for this he was doing then; but he meant to charge his disciples not to mind them or to regard their opposition - it was to be expected.
If the blind lead the blind ... - This was a plain proposition. A blind man, attempting to conduct blind men, would fall into every ditch that was in the way. So with religious teachers. If these Pharisees, themselves ignorant and blind, should be suffered to lead the ignorant multitude, both would be destroyed. This was another reason for confuting their errors, or for rooting up the plants which God had not planted. He wished, by doing it, to save the deluded multitude.
God often suffers one man to lead many to ruin. A rich and profligate man, an infidel, a man of learning, a politician, or a teacher, is allowed to sweep multitudes to ruin. This is not unjust, for those who are led are not compelled to follow such people. They are free in choosing such leaders, and they are answerable for being led to ruin.Every plant may be understood of doctrines, practices, or persons. These scribes and Pharisees are a wretched generation, that are got into the sheepfold not at the door; my Father never sent them, they are crept in at the windows, they are plants got into my garden, which my Father never planted there, and they must be rooted up.
Let them alone, they are incorrigible, and blinded by their own interest against any conviction or instruction: as, Hosea 4:17, Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone: so these men are joined to their superstitious traditions; I will not concern myself with them. They are pretended leaders of the blind, Romans 2:19, but themselves are blind. I pity the poor people, for while the blind lead the blind they both fall into a ditch. An ignorant and unfaithful ministry is the greatest plague God can send amongst a people.
they be blind leaders of the blind; the people that hearken to them, and are followers of them, are "blind", as to any true sense of themselves, their state, and condition by nature; as to any spiritual, saving knowledge of God; as to any acquaintance with the Messiah, and the method of salvation by him; as to the Spirit of God, and the work of grace, regeneration, and sanctification upon the soul; as to the Scriptures of truth, and doctrines of the Gospel; and the "leaders" of them were as "blind" as they: by whom are meant the Scribes and Pharisees, the learned doctors and rabbins of the Jewish nation; who thought themselves very wise and knowing, yet they were blind also; and none more than they. It was an old tradition (g) among the Jews,
"that there should be "blind teachers" at the time when God should have his tabernacle among them.''
This was predicted, in Isaiah 42:19 and all such leaders and teachers are blind, who, notwithstanding their natural abilities, and acquired parts, are in a state of unregeneracy; and have nothing more than what they have from nature, or have attained to at school; and as apparently all such are, who lead men from Christ, to mere morality, and to a dependence upon their own righteousness for justification, which was the darling principle of the blind leaders in the text.
And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch; of ignorance and error, immorality and profaneness, distress, if not despair, temporal ruin and destruction; which was notoriously verified in the Jewish people, and their guides: and of eternal damnation, the lake which burns with fire and brimstone; what else can be expected?Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 15:14. Ἄφετε αὐτούς] Let them alone, dismiss them from your thoughts! Comp. Soph. Phil. 1043 (1054): ἄφετε γὰρ αὐτὸν, μηδὲ προσψαύσητʼ ἔτι. “Indignos esse pronuntiat, quorum haberi debeat ratio,” Calvin.
In the application of the general saying: τυφλὸς δὲ τυφλὸν, etc., the falling into a ditch (cistern, or any other hole in the earth, as in Matthew 12:17) is to be understood as a figurative expression for being cast into Gehenna. These blind teachers, whose minds are closed against the entrance of divine truth (comp. Matthew 23:16; Romans 2:19), are with their blind followers hopelessly lost!
Observe what emphasis there is in the fourfold repetition of τυφλοί, etc. The very acme of Pharisaic blindness was their maintaining that they were not blind, John 9:40.Matthew 15:14. ἄφετε: the case hopeless, no reform possible; on the road to ruin.—τυφλοί εἰσιν ὁδηγοί: the reading in  is very laconic = blind men are the leaders, the suggestion being: we know what happens in that case. The point is the inevitableness of ruin. What follows expresses what has been already hinted.—τυφλὸς δὲ τ. ἐ. ὁδ.: if blind blind lead; ὁδηγῇ, subjunctive, with ἐὰν as usual in a present general supposition.—ἀμφότεροι, both: Rabbis or scribes and their disciples. Christ despaired of the teachers, but He tried to rescue the people; hence Matthew 15:10-11.
 Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.14. blind leaders of the blind] The proverb which follows is quoted in a different connection, Luke 6:39; cp. also ch. Matthew 23:16.
fall into the ditch] Palestine abounded in dangers of this kind, from unguarded wells, quarries, and pitfalls; it abounded also in persons afflicted with blindness. See note ch. Matthew 9:27.Matthew 15:14. Ἄφετε αὐτούς, let them alone) Do not regard them.—ὁδηγοὶ, guides) see Isaiah 9:16.
 There is a verbal reference to ἄφετε αἰτούς in the original, “nolite eos morari,” which cannot be preserved in the translation—q. d., Let them go; do not detain them, or trouble yourselves about them.—(I. B.)
 Ἀμφότεροι, both) In the case of senseless men, it is better that the one should withdraw from the other.—V. g.Verse 14. - Let them alone. Do not trouble yourselves about them; let them be offended, if they will. Blind leaders of the blind. Both teachers and taught are alike ignorant of the truth. The people had no spiritual light, and, applying to their appointed pastors, they learned nothing profitable from them; for these were as much in the dark as themselves. It was evident, then, that the rabbis ought not to be followed unreservedly. If the blind. A proverbial saying. Comp. Horat., 'Epp.,' I, 17:3 -
"... ut si
Caecus iter monstrare velit." And the Greek adage, Μήτε τυφλὸν ὁδηγόν, μήτε ἐκνόητον σύμβουλον. Nosgen calls attention to the order of the words, Τυφλὸς δὲ τυφλὸν ἐὰν ὁδηγῇ, "Blind blind if he lead," which, while it substantiates the advice, "Let them alone," forcibly expresses the fatal result of this guidance. The ditch (βόθυνον); a pitfall (comp. Isaiah 24:17, 18, Septuagint, where it is used as the translation of the Hebrew pachath, a pit in which wild animals are taken). The "ditch" in one sense is unbelief in Christ, to which rabbinical teaching undoubtedly led. In another sense it adumbrates the ruin in which these false principles would involve the Jewish polity and people. It is obvious that the rejection of the Messiah drew down the punishment which has made the Hebrew nation an astonishment to all the world.
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