And, Whoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is guilty.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Matthew 21:12. It was made of brass, about 30 feet in length and breadth, and 15 feet in height, 2 Chronicles 4:1. On this altar were offered all the beasts and bloody oblations of the temple.
which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing—He has incurred no debt.
but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple—meaning not the gold that adorned the temple itself, but the Corban, set apart for sacred uses (see on Mt 15:5).
he is a debtor!—that is, it is no longer his own, even though the necessities of the parent might require it. We know who the successors of these men are.
but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty—It should have been rendered, "he is a debtor," as in Mt 23:16.See Poole on "Matthew 23:22".
"swear to me that thou wilt not discover me, and he swore to him; by what did he swear? says R. Jose bar Chanina, , "by the innermost altar".''
Again, it is said of Zedekiah (s),
"that he (Nebuchadnezzar) made him to swear; by what did he make him to swear? says R. Jose, by the covenant he made him to swear; Rabbi says "by the altar" he made him to swear.''
And elsewhere (t) it is said of him,
""and he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who made him swear by God", 2 Chronicles 36:13. By what did he make him swear? says R. Jose bar Chanina, "by the horns of the innermost altar" he made him swear.''
But whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty: of perjury, if he does not make good his oath; he is bound to perform it, it is obligatory; whatever he swore should be a gift for the altar, he was indispensably obliged to bring it; for whatever he swore by "Korban", or the gift, could never be put to any other use.And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 23:18. Ἐν τῷ δώρῳ, by the gift) The error originated in the mistaken views entertained by the offerers with regard to their own righteousness. They esteemed their own gifts more highly than the Divine institution.—ἐπάνω αὐτοῦ, upon it) sc. the altar.Verse 18. - By the altar. The great altar of burnt offerings, according to the Mosaic ritual, was consecrated and dedicated with most remarkable solemnities, as the centre of sacrificial worship (see Exodus 29:36, etc.; Exodus 30:28,29; Numbers 7:10, etc.). The gift that is upon it. The victim, which, as being offered by themselves, was counted more worthy than the altar of God which sanctified the gift. This is, indeed, an instance of sight blinded by self-righteousness. He is guilty; ὀφείλει: he is a debtor, as ver. 16. Others see here the principle that the validity of oaths was differentiated by the nearness to the Person of God of the things by which they were taken. This, too, opened up large opportunities of evasion.
In the rendering of this word the A. V. seems to have been shaped by the earlier and now obsolete sense of guilt, which was probably a fine or payment. Compare Anglo-Saxon gyld, a recompense, and German geld, money. There is a hint of this sense in Shakspeare, Henry IV. (Second Part), Act iv., Sc. 4:
"England shall double gild his treble guilt,"
where the play upon the words hovers between the sense of bedeck and recompense. Wyc. renders oweth, and Tynd., he is debtor. Rev., he is a debtor.
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