Matthew 22:16
And they sent out to him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God in truth, neither care you for any man: for you regard not the person of men.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) With the Herodians.—The party thus described are known to us only through the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark; and their precise relation to the other sects or schools among the Jews are consequently matters of conjecture. The form of the name (like Mariani, Pompeiani, and, we may add, Christiani) is Latin, and may be noted as an example of the influence of that language in the public life of Palestine. The Herodians were known, first to the Romans and then to the people, as adherents of the house of the Herods. In what sense they were adherents, and why they now joined with the Pharisees, is less clear; and two distinct theories have been maintained: (1) That, as it was the general policy of all the princes of the Herodian family to court the favour of Rome, their partisans were those who held that it was lawful to “give tribute to Cæsar.” On this supposition the narrative brings before us the coalition of two parties usually opposed to each other, but united against a common foe. (2) That they were partisans of the Herods, in the sense of looking to them to restore the independence of the nation, and were therefore of one mind with the Pharisees on the tribute question, though they differed from them on most other points. A fact recorded by Jewish writers probably gives us the origin of the party. In the early days of Herod the Great, when Hillel, the great scribe, was at the height of his fame, he had as his colleague, Menahem, possibly the Essene of that name of whom Josephus tells us that he prophesied Herod’s future greatness (Ant. xv. 10, § 5). The latter was tempted by the king’s growing power, and, with eighty followers, entered into his service, forsook the ranks of the Pharisees, and appeared in forgeous apparel, glittering with gold (Jost, Gesch. judenthums, i. 259; see Note on Matthew 11:8). In Mark 3:6 we find them at Capernaum conspiring with the Pharisees who had come from Jerusalem, and are thus led to see in their present action a renewal of the previous alliance. A comparison of Matthew 16:6 and Mark 8:15 suggests a general affinity with the policy and tenets of the Sadducees. From St. Luke (Luke 23:7) we learn the fact that the Tetrarch himself (and therefore probably his followers) was at this time at Jerusalem, so that the renewed combination was natural enough. On the whole, the drift of the facts seems towards the conclusion that they were advocates of national submission to the emperor rather than assertors of independence.

Master, we know that thou art true.—Insidious as the praise was, intended, as it were, to goad Him who was thus addressed into showing, by some rash utterance, that He deserved it, it may be noted as an admission from the lips of adversaries of the supreme truthfulness and fearlessness of our Lord’s teaching. The record of our Lord’s Jerusalem ministry in St. John’s Gospel (e.g., John 3, 5, 7, 8, 9) presents us with many of the occasions to which the Pharisees tacitly referred.

22:15-22 The Pharisees sent their disciples with the Herodians, a party among the Jews, who were for full subjection to the Roman emperor. Though opposed to each other, they joined against Christ. What they said of Christ was right; whether they knew it or not, blessed be God we know it. Jesus Christ was a faithful Teacher, and a bold reprover. Christ saw their wickedness. Whatever mask the hypocrite puts on, our Lord Jesus sees through it. Christ did not interpose as a judge in matters of this nature, for his kingdom is not of this world, but he enjoins peaceable subjection to the powers that be. His adversaries were reproved, and his disciples were taught that the Christian religion is no enemy to civil government. Christ is, and will be, the wonder, not only of his friends, but of his enemies. They admire his wisdom, but will not be guided by it; his power, but will not submit to it.The Herodians - It is not certainly known who these were.

It is probable that they took their name from Herod the Great. Perhaps they were first a political party, and were then distinguished for holding some of the special opinions of Herod. Dr. Prideaux thinks that those opinions referred to two things. The first respected subjection to a foreign power. The law of Moses was, that a "stranger should not be set over the Jews as a king," Deuteronomy 17:15. Herod, who had received the kingdom of Judea by appointment of the Romans, maintained that the law of Moses referred only to a voluntary choice of a king, and did not refer to a necessary submission where they had been overpowered by force. His followers supposed, therefore, that it was lawful in such cases to pay tribute to a foreign prince. This opinion was, however, extensively unpopular among the Jews, and particularly the Pharisees, who looked upon it as a violation of their law, and regarded all the acts growing out of it as oppressive. Hence, the difficulty of the question proposed by them. Whatever way he decided, they supposed he would be involved in difficulty. If he should say it was not lawful, the Herodians were ready to accuse him as being an enemy of Caesar; if he said it was lawful, the Pharisees were ready to accuse him to the people of holding an opinion extremely unpopular among them, and as being an enemy of their rights. The other opinion of Herod, which they seem to have followed, was, that when a people were subjugated by a foreign force, it was right to adopt the rites and customs of their religion. This was what was meant by the "leaven of Herod," Mark 8:15. The Herodians and Sadducees seem on most questions to have been united. Compare Matthew 16:6; Mark 8:15.

We know that thou art true - A hypocritical compliment, not believed by them, but artfully said, as compliments often are, to conceal their true design. "Neither carest thou for any man." That is, thou art an independent teacher, delivering your sentiments without regard to the fear or favor of man. This was true, and probably they believed this. Whatever else they might believe about him, they had no reason to doubt that he delivered his sentiments openly and freely.

For thou regardest not the person of men - Thou art not partial. Thou wilt decide according to truth, and not from any bias toward either party. To regard the person, or to respect the person, is in the Bible uniformly used to denote partiality, or being influenced in a decision, not by truth, but by previous attachment to a "person," or to one of the parties by friendship, or bias, or prejudice, Leviticus 19:15; Jde 1:16; Deuteronomy 16:19; 2 Samuel 14:14; Acts 10:34; James 2:1, James 2:3,James 2:9; 1 Peter 1:17.

Mt 22:15-40. Entangling Questions about Tribute, the Resurrection, and the Great Commandment, with the Replies. ( = Mr 12:13-34; Lu 20:20-40).

For the exposition, see on [1343]Mr 12:13-34.

See Poole on "Matthew 22:17". And they sent out unto him their disciples,.... Who were trained up in the same way of thinking with themselves, had imbibed the same tenets, and were strenuous defenders of them; and no doubt they selected the most crafty and artful among them; and who were the best versed in their principles and sophistic method of arguing: these they the rather sent, imagining they would not be known, as they themselves were: and from their age and air of simplicity, might be taken for innocent persons, who in great sincerity, came to be instructed by him,

with the Herodians: learned men are very much divided in their sentiments about these men; some think they were Gentiles under the government of Herod; but it is not likely that the Pharisees would join themselves with such, whose company they carefully shunned; others, that they were Gentile proselytes, as Herod was; but that on either of these accounts, they should be called by his name, there seems to be no reason: others say, they were Greeks, whom Herod brought out of a desert into his own country, and formed a sect, which from him were called Herodians: this way went Drusius, in which he was followed by several learned men, until the mistake was detected; who took it from a passage in the Hebrew Lexicon, called "Baal Aruch", mistaking the word for "Greeks", which signifies "doves": the Jewish writer referring to a passage in the Misna (m), which speaks of , "Herodian doves"; that is, tame ones, such as were brought up in houses: for that these are meant, is clear from the Misnic and Talmudic writers, and their commentators (n); and were so called, because that Herod was the first that tamed wild doves, and brought up tame ones in his own palace; and so Josephus (o) says, that he had many towers stored with tame doves, which was a new thing in Judea. Others, that they were Sadducees, which carries some appearance of truth in it; since what is styled the leaven of the Sadducees, in Matthew 16:6 is called the leaven of Herod, in Mark 8:15 And very probable it is, that Herod was a Sadducee, and that his courtiers, at least many of them, were of the same sect; but yet it is certain, that the Sadducees are spoken of, as distinct from these Herodians, in Matthew 22:23 of this chapter. Others, that they were a set of men, that formed a new scheme of religion, consisting partly of Judaism, and partly of Gentilism, approved and espoused by Herod, and therefore called by his name; and others, that they were such as held, that Herod was the Messiah; but it is certain, that Herod did not think so himself, nor the people of the Jews in common; and whatever flatterers he might have in his life time, it can hardly be thought, that this notion should survive his death, who was odious to the Jewish nation: others think, that they were such, who were not for paying tribute to Caesar, but to Herod, and were encouraged and defended by him and his courtiers, as much as they could; since he and his family looked upon themselves to be injured by the Romans, and secretly grudged that tribute should be paid unto them: others, on the contrary, say, that these were such, who pleaded that tribute ought to be paid to Caesar, by whose means Herod enjoyed his government, and was supported in it; and were just the reverse of the Pharisees, with whom they are here joined, in their attempts on Christ. The Syriac version renders the word by , "those of the house", or "family of Herod", his courtiers and domestics: in Munster s Hebrew Gospel, they are called , "the servants of Herod"; and certain it is, that Herod was at Jerusalem at this time, Luke 23:7 We read (p) of Menahem, who was one while an associate of Hillell, who with eighty more clad in gold, went "into the service of the king", that is, Herod, and hence might be called Herodians. Wherefore these seem rather to be the persons designed, whom the Pharisees chose to send with their disciples, though they were of Herod's party, and were on the other side of the question from them; being for giving tribute to Caesar, by whom their master held his government; that should Christ be ensnared by them, as they hoped he would, into any seditious or treasonable expressions against Caesar, these might either accuse him to Herod, or immediately seize him, and have him before the Roman governor. Luke observes, that these men, the disciples of the Pharisees and the Herodians, were sent forth as "spies, which should feign themselves just men"; men of religion and holiness, and who were upright and sincere in their question, and who had strong inclinations to become his disciples: the Jews themselves own, that they sent such persons to Jesus, whom they mention by name, in such a disguised manner to deceive him: their words are these (q);

"They (the Sanhedrim) sent unto him Ananiah and Ahaziah, honourable men of the lesser sanhedrim, and when they came before him they bowed down to him--and he thought that they believed in him, and he received them very courteously.''

Saying, master: as if they were his disciples, or at least were very willing to be so: however, they allow him to be a doctor or teacher, and a very considerable one:

we know that thou art true; a true and faithful minister, that teachest truth, and speakest uprightly; one of great integrity, and to be depended upon:

and teachest the way of God in truth; rightly opens the word of God, gives the true and genuine sense the law of God, faithfully instructs men in the worship of God; and with great sincerity, directs men to the way of coming to God, and enjoying eternal happiness with him; having no sinister ends, or worldly interest in view:

neither carest thou for any man; be he ever so great and honourable, in ever so high a station, be he Caesar himself; signifying, that he was a man of such openness and integrity, that he always freely spoke the real sentiments of his mind, whether men were pleased or displeased; being in no fear of man, nor in the least to be intimidated by frowns and menaces, or any danger from men: for thou regardest not the person of men; as he had not the persons of the high priests and elders, the grand sanhedrim of the nation, who had lately been examining him in the temple: and seeing therefore he made no difference among men, whether learned or unlearned, rich or poor, high or low; whether they were in exalted stations and high offices, or not he feared no man's face, and accepted no man's person, but gave his sense of things, without fear or flattery; they hoped he would give a direct answer to the following question, though Caesar himself was concerned in it.

(m) Cholin, c. 12. sect 1.((n) T. Bab. Cholin, fol. 139. 1. & Betza, fol. 24. 1. & 25. 1. Misn. Sabbat. c. 24. 8. & Cholin, c. 12. sect. 1. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. (o) De Bello Jude 1. 6. c. 13. (p) Juchasin, fol. 19. 1.((q) Toldos Jesu, p. 8.

And they sent out unto him their disciples with the {g} Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God {h} in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the {i} person of men.

(g) Those who with Herod made a new religion, composed of both heathen and Jewish religion.

(h) Truly and sincerely.

(i) You are not moved with any appearance and outward show.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 22:16. The Herodians are not Herod’s courtiers (Fritzsche, following Luther), but the political party among the Jews that sought to uphold the dynasty of the Herods, popular royalists, in opposition to the principle of a pure theocracy, though willing also to take part with the powerful Pharisees against the unpopular Roman sway, should circumstances render such a movement expedient. For other interpretations, some of them rather singular, see Wolf and Köcher in loc. The passage in Joseph. Antt. xiv. 15. 10, refers to different circumstances from the present. Comp. Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 97 ff.; Keim, III. p. 130 ff. To regard (as is done by Origen, Maldonatus, de Wette, Winer, Neander, Volkmar) those here referred to as supporters of the Roman sway generally (and not merely of the Herodian dynasty in particular), is certainly not in accordance with the name they bear. We may further observe that no little cunning was shown by the orthodox hierarchy in selecting some of the younger members of their order (who as such would be less liable to be suspected) to co-operate with a party no less hostile than themselves to the Messianic pretender, with a view to betray Jesus into an answer savouring of opposition to the payment of the tribute. This was the drift of the flattering preface to their question, and upon His answer they hoped to found an accusation before the Roman authorities. Comp. Luke 20:20. But though the plot miscarried, owing to the answer being in the affirmative, the Pharisees had at least succeeded in now getting the Herodians to assume a hostile attitude toward Jesus, while at the same time they would be able to turn the reply to good account in the way of rendering Him unpopular with the masses.

λέγοντες] that is, through their representatives. Comp. Matthew 11:2, Matthew 27:19.

διδάσκαλε, οἴδαμεν, κ.τ.λ.] Comp. with this cunning, though in itself so true an instance of captatio benevolentiae, the sincere one in John 3:2.

ἀληθὴς εἶ] true, avoiding every sort of ψεῦδος in your dealings, either simulando or dissimulando. In what follows, and which is still connected with ὅτι, this is made more precise, being put both positively and negatively.

τὴν ὁδὸν τοῦ θεοῦ] the way prescribed by God, i.e. the behaviour of men to each other which God requires. Comp. τὴν δικαιοσύνην τ. θεοῦ, Matthew 6:33; τὰ ἔργα τ. θεοῦ, John 6:28; and so Psalm 27:11; Wis 5:7; Bar 3:13.

ἐν ἀληθείᾳ] truthfully, as beseems the character of this way; see on John 17:19.

οὐ μέλει σοι περὶ οὐδενός] Thou carest for no man, in Thy teaching Thou actest without regard to the persons of men.

οὐ γὰρ βλέπεις, κ.τ.λ.] giving the reason for the statement contained in οἴδαμεν, κ.τ.λ.: for Thou lookest not to mere external appearances in men; to Thee it is always a matter of indifference in regard to a man’s person whether he be powerful, rich, learned, etc., or the reverse; therefore we are convinced, ὅτι ἀληθὴς εἶ καὶ τὴν ὁδὸν, κ.τ.λ. Πρόσωπον ἀνθρ. denotes the outward manifestation in which men present themselves (comp. on Matthew 16:3). Comp. θαυμάζειν πρόσωπον, Judges 1:16. The emphasis, however, is on βλέπεις. We have not here a “natural paraphrase” of the Hebrew idiom λαμβάνειν πρόσωπον (Luke 20:21), which expresses another, though similar idea (in answer to de Wette; see on Galatians 2:6). In classical Greek, β. εἰς πρ. τινος is used in the sense of being barefaced. See Bremi ad Aeschin. p. 370.Matthew 22:16. ἀποστέλλουσιν, as in Mark 12:13; there intelligible, here one wonders why the sent of Mk. should be senders of others instead of acting themselves. The explanation may be that the leading plotters felt themselves to be discredited with Jesus by their notorious attitude, and, therefore, used others more likely to succeed. More than fault-finding is now intended—even to draw Jesus into a compromising utterance.—τοὺς μαθητὰς ἀ., disciples, apparently meant to be emphasised; i.e., scholars, not masters; young men, presumably not incapable of appreciating Jesus, in whose case a friendly feeling towards Him was not incredible, as in the case of older members of the party.—μετὰ τ. Ἡρῳδιανῶν, with Herodians, named here only in Mat., associated with Sadducees in Mark 8:15; why so called is a matter of conjecture, and the guesses are many: soldiers of Herod (Jerome); courtiers of Herod (Fritzsche, following Syr. ver.); Jews belonging to the northern tetrarchies governed by members of the Herod family (Lutteroth); favourers of the Roman dominion (Orig., De W., etc.); sympathisers with the desire for a national kingdom so far gratified or stimulated by the rule of the Herod family. The last the most probable, and adopted by many: Wetstein, Meyer, Weiss, Keil, Schanz, etc. The best clue to the spirit of the party is their association with the Pharisees here. It presumably means sympathy with the Pharisees in the matter at issue; i.e., nationalism versus willing submission to a foreign yoke; only not religious or theocratic, as in case of Pharisees, but secular, as suited men of Sadducaic proclivities. The object aimed at implies such sympathy. To succeed the snare must be hidden. Had the two parties been on opposite sides Jesus would have been put on His guard. The name of this party probably originated in a kind of hero worship for Herod the Great. Vide on Matthew 16:1.—λέγοντας, etc., the snare set with much astuteness, and well baited with flattery, the bait coming first.—διδάσκαλε, teacher, an appropriate address from scholars in search of knowledge, or desiring the solution of a knotty question.—οἴδαμεν, we know, everybody knows. Even Pharisees understood so far the character of Jesus, as here appears; for their disciples say what they have been instructed to say. Therefore their infamous theory of a league with Beelzebub (Matthew 12:24) was a sin against light; i.e., against the Holy Ghost. Pharisaic scholars might even feel a sentimental, half-sincere admiration for the character described, nature not yet dead in them as in their teachers. The points in the character specified are—(1) sincerity—ἀληθὴς; (2) fidelity, as a religious teacher—καὶ τ. ὁ τ. θ. ἐν ἀληθείᾳ διδάσκεις; (3) fearlessness—οὐ μέλει, etc.; (4) no respecter of persons—οὐ βλέπεις, etc. = will speak the truth to all and about all impartially. The compliment, besides being treacherous, was insulting, implying that Jesus was a reckless simpleton who would give Himself away, and a vain man who could be flattered. But, in reality, they sinned in ignorance. Such men could not understand the character of Jesus thoroughly: e.g., His humility, His wisdom, and His superiority to partisan points of view.16. their disciples with the Herodians] An unnatural coalition, for the Pharisees represented the patriotic resistance to all foreign power; whereas the Herodians, as their name implies, supported the Herodian dynasty, and, as the context shews, acquiesced in the Roman rule. The Herodians are not named except in the first two Gospels; nor does Josephus include them in his account of Jewish sects. They were probably numerically insignificant, and may indeed have consisted merely of a few renegade Jews, who belonged to Herod’s court. See ch. Matthew 11:8.

we know that thou art true] Nothing could exceed the insidious hypocrisy of this attack on Jesus. His enemies approach Him as a teacher whom they trust.

regardest not the person of men] i. e. Thou art not moved by external appearance; neither wealth, power, nor prestige will influence thy decision.Matthew 22:16. Μαθητὰς, disciples) With whom they thought that our Lord would deal less cautiously, and whose overthrow they thought would be attended with less disgrace to themselves.—Ἡρωδιανῶν, of the Herodians) who were especially attached to the party of Herod, and consequently to that of Cæsar, which the Pharisees viewed with aversion; see Josephus Antiq. xvii. 3; and see Mark 3:6; Mark 12:13. There might be, moreover, a variety of opinion amongst the Herodians themselves concerning holy things, Herod, etc.—ἀληθὴςἐν ἀληθείᾳ, true—in truth) Truth should be known and spoken. Truth is the agreement of things with the faculties of knowing, willing, speaking, and acting.—τὴν ὁδὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ, the way of God) A part of which way is the doctrine concerning what ought to be given to God. There is a striking antithesis here between Θεου, of God—and ἀνθρώπων, of men.—οὐ γὰρ βλέπεις εἰς πρόσωπον, for Thou regardest not the person) They wished Jesus to deny that tribute ought to be given to Cæsar.[960] Truth truly estimates both things and persons; but he who regards persons easily betrays truth.

[960] Which tribute, either a short while before (comp. ch. Matthew 17:24) or at that very time, namely in the month Nisam, was being paid according to custom.—Harm., p. 465.Verse 16. - Their disciples. Men of their own party, or students in the rabbinical schools, like Paul, "brought up at the feet of Gamaliel" and such like teachers. They sent these unknown and apparently simpleminded persons, that they themselves, who were open and bitter enemies of Christ, might not appear in the matter. With the Herodians. The two bodies hated one another, but made now an unholy alliance for the purpose of attacking Jesus. Hatred, like poverty, makes men acquainted with strange companions. The Herodians were a political sect which supported the dynasty of Herod, and were more or less favourable to the dominion of Rome, as that which preserved their authority in the country. In religious opinions they were mostly Sadducees. The Pharisees, on the other hand, in their nominal zeal for God, were violently opposed to the claims of Rome, and ready to rebel at the first favourable opportunity. They regarded the Herodians as little better than the heathen whom they favoured, but sunk their differences in the face of a general peril. Between these antagonistic elements an impious league had been formed earlier in Christ's ministry (see Mark 3:6). Master; Διδάσκαλε: Teacher, equivalent to "Rabbi;" owning him for the nonce as one possessed of teaching authority, though they willed not to be his disciples. True; truthful. Thoroughly misapprehending the character of Jesus, they began by flattery. Nicodemus had spoken in sincerity when he said (John 3:2), "Rabbi, we know that thou art a Teacher come from God;" but these make the admission in hypocrisy; it was a captatio benevolentiae, prompted by the spirit of evil. The way of God. The precepts and rules which men must follow if they would please God. The phrase is common in the Old Testament (Genesis 18:19; Deuteronomy 10:12; Psalm 18:21, etc.). Neither carest thou. What men think or say of thee is no concern to thee. They cannot influence thy actions or disturb thy serenity. The person of men. Thou art thoroughly impartial; no considerations of rank, station, power, bias thy judgment, words, or actions. This is said with the view of encouraging him to answer without fear of offending the Roman authorities.
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