Matthew 26:9
For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
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(9) This ointment might have been sold for much.—St. Mark and St. John agree in giving the Traitor’s computation. It might have been sold for three hundred denarii, a labourer’s wages for nearly a whole year (Matthew 20:2), enough to feed a multitude of more than 7,500 men (John 6:7). St. John adds the damning fact that the pretended zeal for the poor was the cloak for the irritation of disappointed greed. “He was a thief, and bare the bag.” He was, i.e., the treasurer or bursar of the travelling company, received the offerings of the wealthier disciples, and disbursed them either on their necessary expenditure or in alms to the poor (see Notes on John 12:6; John 13:29). This was the “one talent” given to him “according to his ability,” and in dealing with it he proved fraudulent and faithless.

26:6-13 The pouring ointment upon the head of Christ was a token of the highest respect. Where there is true love in the heart to Jesus Christ, nothing will be thought too good to bestow upon him. The more Christ's servants and their services are cavilled at, the more he manifests his acceptance. This act of faith and love was so remarkable, that it would be reported, as a memorial of Mary's faith and love, to all future ages, and in all places where the gospel should be preached. This prophecy is fulfilled.Sold for much - Mark and John say for three hundred pence - that is, for about 9 British pounds.

This, to them, was a large sum. Mark says they complained against her. There was also an "implied" murmuring against the Saviour for suffering it to be done. The grumbling was, however, without cause. It was the "property" of Mary. She had a right to dispose of it as she pleased, answerable not to them, but to God. "They" had no right over it, and no cause of complaint if it had been wasted. So Christians now are at liberty to dispose of their property as they please, either in distributing the Bible, in supporting the gospel, in sending it to pagan nations, or in aiding the poor. The people of the world, like Judas, regard it as "wasted." Like Judas, they are indignant. They say it might be disposed of in a better way. Yet, like Judas, they are interfering in that which concerns them not. Like other people, Christians have a right to dispose of their property as they please, answerable only to God. And though an avaricious world esteems it to be "wasted," yet, if their Lord commands it, it will be found to be the "only way" in which it was right for them to dispose of that property, and will be found not to have been in vain.


Mt 26:1-16. Christ's Final Announcement of his Death, as Now within Two Days, and the Simultaneous Conspiracy of the Jewish Authorities to Compass It—The Anointing at Bethany—Judas Agrees with the Chief Priests to Betray His Lord. ( = Mr 14:1-11; Lu 22:1-6; Joh 12:1-11).

For the exposition, see on [1361]Mr 14:1-11.

See Poole on "Matthew 26:13".

For this ointment might have been sold for much,.... Mark says, "for more than three hundred pence", Mark 14:5, now if this is to be understood of Roman pence, each penny being seven pence half penny of our money, three hundred pence come to nine pounds, seven shillings, and six pence; but if it is to be understood of the penny of the sanctuary, which was one shilling and three pence, they come to just as much more: it might well be called very precious and costly ointment; and this was the reason of the disciples indignation, that so much cost and expense should be thrown away, as they thought, in such a manner, which might have been applied, in their opinion, to a better purpose. For had it been sold for its worth, so much might have been had for it,

and given to the poor; which was a very plausible objection to the action; and which they seem to have taken from Judas, who had made the same, on a like occasion, about four days before this, and he might instigate the disciples now: which shows what mischief an hypocrite may do in a church, and what influence he may have over good men to draw them into his measures, under the specious pretences of carefulness, frugality, and doing good to the poor. It seems our Lord inured his disciples to this good work of relieving the poor: they kept one common purse, and one of them, who was Judas, was appointed the bearer of it; whatever they collected, or was made a present to them, they put into this purse; out of which they were provided with the necessaries of life; and the rest expended on the poor.

For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
Matthew 26:9. Πολλοῦ] put more precisely in Mark 14:5; John 12:5. On the expensiveness of spikenard, a pound of which is alleged to have cost even upwards of 400 denarii, see Plin. N. H. xii. 26, xiii. 4.

καὶ δοθῆναι] the subject (the equivalent in money, had it been sold) may be inferred from the context (πραθῆναι πολλοῦ). See Kühner, II. 1, p. 30 f.

Matthew 26:9. δοθῆναι, etc., to be given (the proceeds, subject easily understood) to the poor. How much better a use than to waste it in the expression of a sentiment!

Matthew 26:9. Ἠδύνατο, might) The disciples exhibit in this instance great ignorance of comparative theology.—τοῖς πτωχοῖς, to the poor) Which is, generally speaking, a right employment of our means;[1114] see ch. Matthew 19:21, and Luke 19:8.

[1114] And that such was the practice of the disciples is evident from this very passage.—V. g.

Verse 9. - Might have been sold for much. According to St. John, Judas had accurately estimated the value of the ointment at 300 denarii, equal to about £9 of our money. When we remember that one denarius represented the daily wages of a labouring man (Matthew 20:2), we see that the cost was very large. Given to the poor. And this "much" given to the poor. But piety is not shown only in giving alms; the honour of God has a superior claim. And Mary was rich, and quite able to afford this offering without neglecting her almsgiving. "How often does charity serve as a cloak for covetousness! We must not neglect what we owe to Jesus Christ under pretence of what we owe his members. Men count as wasted what is expended in the outer worship of God, when they love neither God nor his worship. Jesus Christ authorizes it by accepting it at the very instant in which he was establishing religion by a worship the most spiritual and inward" (Quesnel). Matthew 26:9
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