And if your right hand offend you, cut it off, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)If thy right hand offend thee.—The repetition of the same form of warning has, in part, the emphasis of iteration, but it points also to a distinct danger. Not the senses only, through which we receive impressions, but the gifts and energies which issue in action, may become temptations to evil; and in that case, if the choice must be made, it were better to forfeit them. The true remedy is, of course, found in so directing the will that eye and hand may each do its work in obedience to the law of righteousness.
offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee; for it is profitable, &c.—See on Mt 5:29. The repetition, in identical terms, of such stern truths and awful lessons seems characteristic of our Lord's manner of teaching. Compare Mr 9:43-48.Colossians 3:5, the deeds of the body, Romans 8:13, their inward lusts, which being mortified there will be no need of mutilating ourselves; for the members of the body are but commanded and animated to their motions from the inward lusts of the heart: but if there could happen such a case, as that a man must voluntarily part with the most useful member of his body, or sin against God to the damnation of his soul, he ought rather to choose the former than the latter. How much more then ought Christians to mortify their inward lusts and unlawful desires, which can be of no profit nor advantage to them; but will certainly make them to offend God, and so run them upon the danger of hell fire!
"says R. Eliezer (a) what is the meaning of that Scripture, "your hands are full of blood", Isaiah 1:15? It is replied, , "these are they, that commit adultery with the hand". It is a tradition of the house of R. Ishmael, that the sense of that command, "thou shalt not commit adultery", is, there shall be none that commits adultery in thee, whether "with the hand", or "with the foot".''
Like orders are given as before,
cut it off, and cast it from thee; as a man would choose to do, or have it done for him, when such a part of the body is mortified, and endangers all the rest. The Jews enjoined cutting off of the hand, on several accounts; if in a morning, before a man had washed his hands, he put his hand to his eye, nose, mouth, ear, &c. it was to be "cut off" (b); particularly, the handling of the "membrum virile", was punishable with cutting off of the hand.
"Says R. (c) Tarphon, if the hand is moved to the privy parts, , "let his hand be cut off to his navel".''
That is, that it may reach no further; for below that part of the body the hand might not be put (d); lest unclean thoughts, and desires, should be excited. In the above (e) place it is added,
"what if a thorn should be in his belly, must he not take it away? It is replied, no: it is further asked, must not his belly be ripped up then? It is answered, it is better that his belly be ripped up, , "than that he should go down to the pit of corruption."''
A way of speaking, much like what our Lord here uses; and to the above orders and canons, he may be very well thought to allude: but he is not to be understood literally, as enjoining the cutting off of the right hand, as they did; but of men's refraining from all such impure practices, either with themselves, or women, which are of a defiling nature; and endanger the salvation of them, body and soul; the same reason is given as before.
(a) T. Bab. Nidda, fol. 13. 2. Vid. Maimon. Issure Bia, c. 21. sect. 18. (b) T. Bab. Sabbat. fol. 108. 2. Massechet Callah, fol. 17. 1.((c) T. Bab. Nidda, fol. 13. 2.((d) Maimon. lssure Bia, c. 21. sect. 23. (e) T. Bab. Nidda, fol. 13. 2.And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 5:30. Χὲιρ, hand) The matter proceeds from sight to act.Verse 30. - Should be cast into hell; Revised Version, go into hell (εἰς γέενναν ἀπέλθῃ), both word and order laying stress, not on the action of the Judge, but on thy departure, either from things of time and sense, or from his presence (Matthew 25:46).
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