Matthew 23:38
Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
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(38) Your house.—The word “desolate” is omitted in some of the best MSS. The words “your house” may refer either generally to the whole polity of Israel, or more specifically to the “house” in which they gloried, the Temple, which was the joy of their hearts. It had been the house of God, but He, as represented by His Son, was now leaving it for ever. It was their house now, not His. We must remember that the words were spoken as our Lord was “departing from the Temple” (Matthew 24:1), never to reappear there.

Matthew 23:38-39. Behold, your house — The temple, which is now your house, not God’s; is left unto you desolate — Forsaken of God and his Christ, and sentenced to utter destruction. Our Lord spake this as he was going out of it for the last time. For I say unto you — Ye Jews in general, ye men of Jerusalem in particular; shall not see me henceforth Απαρτι, hereafter, as the words signify, Matthew 26:64; till — After a long interval of desolation and misery, Ye shall say, Blessed, &c. — Till ye receive me with joyful and thankful hearts; that is, till your nation is converted: for the state of the nation, and not of a few individuals, is here spoken of, as it is also in the parables of the vineyard and marriage-supper. Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, was the cry of the believing multitude when Jesus made his public entry into Jerusalem a few days before. Hence, in predicting their future conversion, he very properly alluded to that exclamation by which so many had expressed their faith in him as the Messiah. This was the last discourse Jesus pronounced in public, and with it his ministry ended. From that moment he abandoned the Jewish nation, gave them over to walk in their own counsels, and devoted them to destruction. Nor were they ever after to be the objects of his care, till the period of their conversion to Christianity should come, which he now foretold, and which also shall be accomplished in its season.

23:34-39 Our Lord declares the miseries the inhabitants of Jerusalem were about to bring upon themselves, but he does not notice the sufferings he was to undergo. A hen gathering her chickens under her wings, is an apt emblem of the Saviour's tender love to those who trust in him, and his faithful care of them. He calls sinners to take refuge under his tender protection, keeps them safe, and nourishes them to eternal life. The present dispersion and unbelief of the Jews, and their future conversion to Christ, were here foretold. Jerusalem and her children had a large share of guilt, and their punishment has been signal. But ere long, deserved vengeance will fall on every church which is Christian in name only. In the mean time the Saviour stands ready to receive all who come to him. There is nothing between sinners and eternal happiness, but their proud and unbelieving unwillingness.Your house - The temple. The house of worship of the Jews. The chief ornament of Jerusalem.

Desolate - About to be desolate or destroyed. To be forsaken as a place of worship, and delivered into the hands of the Romans, and destroyed. See the notes at Matthew 24.

38. Behold, your house—the temple, beyond all doubt; but their house now, not the Lord's. See on [1353]Mt 22:7.

is left unto you desolate—deserted, that is, of its Divine Inhabitant. But who is that? Hear the next words:

See Poole on "Matthew 23:39".

Behold your house is left unto you desolate. Signifying that the city in which they dwelt, where they had their ceiled houses, and stately palaces, would, in a little time, within the space of forty years, be destroyed, and become a desert; and the temple, formerly the house of God, but now only their's, and in which they trusted, would be abandoned by God, he would grant his presence no more in it; and the Messiah, the proprietor of it, and who was now in it, would then take his leave of it, and never more return to it; and that also should share the same fate as the city, and at the same time. Our Lord seems to have in view those passages in Jeremiah 12:7 and which the Jewish (o) writers understood of the temple. The author of the apocryphal the second book of Esdras has much such an expression as this:

"Thus saith the Almighty Lord, Your house is desolate, I will cast you out as the wind doth stubble.'' (2 Esdras 1:33).

(o) Targum & Kimchi in Jeremiah 12.7.

Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
Matthew 23:38 f. Ἀφίεται ὑμῖν ὁ οἶκος ὑμ.] your house is abandoned to your own disposal; the time for divine help and protection for your city is now gone by! For the meaning, comp. Joseph. Antt. xx. 8. 5. The present implies the tragic and decisive ultimatum. The ἔρημος, which is to be retained on critical grounds (see critical notes), intimates what is to be the final result of this abandonment, viz. the destruction of Jerusalem (ἐρήμωσις, Matthew 24:45; Luke 21:20); on the proleptic use of the adjective, comp. on Matthew 12:13, and Kühner, II. 1, p. 236. According to the context, ὁ οἶκος ὑμῶν can only mean Ἱερουσαλήμ, Matthew 23:37 (Bleek), in which their children dwell; not the city and the country at large (de Wette and earlier expositors, in accordance with Psalm 69:25), nor the whole body of the Jewish people (Keim), nor the temple (Jerome, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Calvin, Olearius, Wolf, Michaelis, Kuinoel, Neander, Baumeister in Klaiber’s Stud. II. p. 67 f.; Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 92; Ewald).

Matthew 23:39 proceeds to account for this ἀφίεται ὑμῖν, κ.τ.λ. Were your city any longer to be shielded by the divine protection, I would still linger among you; but I now leave you, and it is certain that henceforth (His presence among them, as He knows, being about to cease with His death, comp. Matthew 26:64) you will not see me again until my second coming (not: in the destruction of Jerusalem, Wetstein), when I shall appear in the glory of the Messiah, and when, at my approach, you will have saluted (εἴπητε, dixeritis) me, whom you have been rejecting, with the Messianic confession εὐλογημένος, κ.τ.λ. (Matthew 21:9). This is not to be understood of the conversion of Israel (Romans 11; Revelation 11) in its development down to the second coming (Bengel, Köstlin, Hofmann, Lange, Schegg, Auberlen, Ewald); for Jesus is addressing Jerusalem, and threatening it with the withdrawal of God’s superintending care, and that until the second appearing of Messiah (ὁ ἐρχόμενος), and hence He cannot have had in view an intervening μετάνοια and regeneration of the city. No; the abandonment of the city on the part of God, which Jesus here announces, is ultimately to lead to her destruction; and then, at His second appearing, which will follow immediately upon the ruin of the city (Matthew 24:29), His obstinate enemies will be constrained to join in the loyal greeting with which the Messiah will be welcomed (Matthew 21:9), for the manifestation of His glory will sweep away all doubt and opposition, and force them at last to acknowledge and confess Him to be their Deliverer. A truly tragic feature at the close of this moving address in which Jesus bids farewell to Jerusalem, not with a hope, but with the certainty of ultimate, though sorrowful, victory. Euthymius Zigabenus very justly observes in connection with ἕως ἂν εἴπητε, κ.τ.λ.: καὶ πότε τοῦτο εἴπωσιν; ἑκόντες μὲν οὐδέποτε· ἄκοντες δὲ κατὰ τὸν καιρὸν τῆς δευτέρας αὐτοῦ παρουσίας, ὅταν ἥξει μετὰ δυνάμεως καὶ δόξης πολλῆς, ὅταν οὐδὲν αὐτοῖς ὄφελος τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως. Comp. Theophylact, Calvin, Gerhard, Calovius. Wieseler, p. 322, despairing of making sense of the passage, has gone the length of maintaining that some ancient reader of Matthew has inserted it from Luke. This view might seem, no doubt, to be favoured by the use, in the present instance, of Ἱερουσαλήμ, Matthew 23:37, the form in which the word regularly appears in Luke, and for which, on every other occasion, Matthew has Ἱεροσόλυμα; but it might very easily happen that, in connection with an utterance by Jesus of so remarkable and special a nature, the form given to the name of the city in the fatal words addressed to her would become so stereotyped in the Greek version of the evangelic tradition, that here, in particular, the Greek translator of Matthew would make a point of not altering the form “Ἱερουσαλήμ,” which had come to acquire so fixed a character as part of the utterance before us.


It is fair to assume that Christ’s exclamation over Jerusalem presupposes that the capital had repeatedly been the scene of His ministrations, which coincides with the visits on festival occasions recorded by John. Comp. Acts 10:39, and see Holtzmann, p. 440 f.; Weizsäcker, p. 310. Those who deny this (among them being Hilgenfeld, Keim) must assume, with Eusebius in the Theophan. (Nova bibl. patr. iv. 127), that by the children of Jerusalem are meant the Jews in general, inasmuch as the capital formed the centre of the nation; comp. Galatians 4:25. Baur himself (p. 127) cannot help seeing the far-fetched character of this latter supposition, and consequently has recourse to the unwarrantable view that we have before us the words of a prophet speaking in the name of God,—words which were first put into the mouth of Jesus in their present form, so that, when they were uttered, ποσάκις would be intended to refer to the whole series of prophets and messengers, who had come in God’s name; just as Origen had already referred them to Moses and the prophets as well, in whom Christ was supposed to have been substantially present; comp. Strauss in Hilgenfeld’s Zeitschr. 1863, p. 90.

Matthew 23:38. ἰδοὺ, etc., solemn, sorrowful abandonment of the city to its fate.—ἀφίεται ὑμῖν, spoken to the inhabitants of Israel.—ὁ οἶκος ὑ., your house, i.e., the city, not the temple; the people are conceived of as one family.—ἔρημος, wanting in [129] [130], and omitted by W.H[131], is not necessary to the sense. The sentence is, indeed, more impressive without it: “Behold your house is abandoned to your care: those who would have saved you giving up further effort”. What will happen left to be imagined; just what ἔρημος expresses—desolation.

[129] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[130] Codex Regius--eighth century, represents an ancient text, and is often in agreement with א and B.

[131] Westcott and Hort.

38. your house] i. e. Jerusalem, rather than the Temple.

desolate] Omitted in the Vatican Codex, but too strongly supported to be removed from the text.

Matthew 23:38. Ἰδοὺ, ἀφίεται, Behold [your house] is left) The present tense twice expressed.[1020] He uttered these words as He was going out of the Temple. See ch. Matthew 24:1, and cf. John 12:36.—Ὁ ΟἾΚΟς ὙΜῶΝ, your house) which is otherwise called the house of the Lord. Thus, in Exodus 32:7, God says to Moses, thy people.[1021]—ἔρημος, desolate, or desert) sc. as being left by the Messiah.[1022] Even after His ascension, Christ employed the Temple in a remarkable manner with His disciples. But with regard to Judaism, the Temple now ceased to be what it had been, and for this reason was at length destroyed; see Matthew 23:36. The word ἜΡΗΜΟς is often employed with a particular reference.[1023] Thus the Forum is said to be ἜΡΗΜΟΝ, when no judicial proceedings are being carried on in it.

[1020] This refers to ἀποστέλλω in Matthew 23:34.—(I. B.)

[1021] Though on other occasions God said of them, “My people.”—ED.

[1022] For when the Messiah is absent, there is nothing that is not desolate and deserted.—V. g.

[1023] i.e. To denote the absence of that which constituted the characteristic or excellence of the object under consideration.—(I. B.)

Verse 38. - Your house. The temple or Jerusalem, no longer God's habitation. This betokens not only Christ's solemn departure from the sacred precincts; but the withdrawal of God's Spirit from the Jewish Church and nation. Unto you. Henceforward ye shall have it all to yourselves; my Father and I forsake it; we give it up altogether to you. Desolate. The word is omitted by some few uncials, but retained by א, C, D, etc., most cursives, the Vulgate, etc. The protecting wing is withdrawn, the Divine presence removed, and the house is indeed deserted (ἔρημος); (comp. Psalm 59:25; Jeremiah 12:7). Matthew 23:38
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