And Jesus said to him, See you tell no man; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)See thou tell no man.—St. Mark adds, with his usual vividness, “straitly charged,” or vehemently urged him, and “forthwith sent him away.” The reasons of the command are not given, but are not far to seek. (1.) The offering of the gift was an act of obedience to the Law (Leviticus 14:10; Leviticus 14:21-22), and was therefore the right thing for the man to do. In this way also our Lord showed that He had not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfil. (2.) It was the appointed test of the reality and completeness of the cleansing work. (3.) It was better for the man’s own spiritual life to cherish his gratitude than to waste it in many words.
So much lies on the surface. But as the treatment of leprosy in the Mosaic code was clearly symbolical rather than sanitary, and dealt with the disease as the special type of sin in its most malignant form, so in the healing of the leper we may fairly see the symbol of our Lord’s power to purify and save from sin, and in His touching the leper, the close fellowship into which He entered with our unclean nature, that through His touch it might be made clean. The miracle, like most other miracles, was also a parable in act.Matthew 8:4. Jesus saith, See thou tell no man — Although our Lord was now followed by a great multitude of people, yet it seems not many of them were witnesses of this miracle, Jesus, probably, taking the person aside from the people before he wrought it, otherwise, as Doddridge observes, it does not appear that there could have been room for this charge of secrecy; the meaning of which undoubtedly was, Tell no man that thou wast healed by me; that is, as some suppose, till thou hast offered thy gift to the priest; and he, by receiving it, hath owned thee to be clean from thy leprosy; lest they, hearing that thou wast cleansed by me, should, out of envy to me, refuse to acknowledge thy being cleansed. It must be observed, however, that he commanded many others absolutely to tell none of the miracles he had wrought upon them. And this he seems to have done, chiefly for one or more of these reasons: 1st, to prevent the multitudes from thronging him, in the manner related Mark 1:45; Mark 2 d, to fulfil the prophecy, (Isaiah 42:1, &c.,) that he would not be vain or ostentatious: this reason St. Matthew assigns, Matthew 12:17, &c.; 3d, to avoid being taken by force and made a king, John 6:15; John , , 4 th, that he might not enrage the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees, who were the most bitter against him, any more than was unavoidable, Matthew 16:20-21. But show thyself to the priest — That is, to any one of the priests to whom the rest have committed the office of examining cases of leprosy. Here it is well observed by Dr. Lightfoot, that, though the priesthood was much degenerated from its primitive institution, and many human inventions were added to God’s law, touching the priest’s examination of the lepers who pretended to be cleansed; yet Christ sends this leper to submit to all these human inventions, as knowing that, though they indeed corrupted, yet they did not destroy the divine institution, and annihilate the office. For a testimony to them — That is, offer thy gift for a testimony that thou art cleansed from thy leprosy. Dr. Campbell, by the them here mentioned, understands, the people, and therefore translates the clause, Make the oblation prescribed by Moses for notifying [the cure] to the people. The them here, says he, “could not be the priests, for it was only one priest, (namely, the priest then intrusted with that business,) to whom he [the man cleansed] was commanded to go. Besides, the oblation could not serve as an evidence to the priest. On the contrary, it was necessary that he should have ocular evidence, by an accurate inspection in private, before the man was admitted into the temple, and allowed to make the oblation; but his obtaining this permission, and the solemn ceremony consequent upon it, was the public testimony of the priest, the only legal judge, to the people, that the man’s uncleanness was removed. This was a matter of the utmost consequence to the man, and of some consequence to them. Till such testimony was given, he lived in a most uncomfortable seclusion from society. No man durst, under pain of being also secluded, admit him into his house, eat with him, or so much as touch him. The antecedent, therefore, to the pronoun them, though not expressed, is easily supplied by the sense. To me it is equally clear: that the only thing meant to be attested by the oblation was, the cure. The suppositions of some commentators on this subject are quite extravagant. Nothing can be more evident, than that the person now cleansed was not permitted to give any testimony to the priest, or to any other, concerning the manner of his cure, or the person by whom it had been performed. ‘Ορα μηδενι ειπης, See thou tell nobody. The prohibition is expressed by the Evangelist Mark in still stronger terms. Prohibitions of this kind were often transgressed by those who received them; but that is not a good reason for representing our Lord as giving contradicting orders.”Leviticus 14:2; not to delay by talking about it, but, as the first thing, to obey the laws of God, and make proper acknowledgments to him by an offering. The place where this cure was performed was in Galilee, a distance of 40 or 50 miles from Jerusalem; and it was his duty to make haste to the residence of the priest, and obtain his sanction to the reality of the cure. Perhaps, also, Christ was apprehensive that the report would go "before" the man if he delayed, and the priest, through opposition to Jesus, might pronounce it an imposition.
And offer the gift that Moses commanded - That Moses directed to be offered by a leper when he was cured. That gift consisted of "two birds alive and clean, cedar-wood, scarlet, and hyssop," Leviticus 14:4.
For a testimony unto them - Not to the priest, but to the people. Show thyself to the priest, and get his testimony to the reality of the cure, as a proof to the people that the healing is genuine. It was necessary that he should have that testimony before he could be received to the congregation or allowed to mingle with the people. Having this, he would be, of course, restored to the privileges of social and religious life, and the proof of the miracle, to the people, would be put beyond a doubt.
saith unto him, See thou tell no man—A hard condition this would seem to a grateful heart, whose natural language, in such a case, is "Come, hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what He hath done for my soul" (Ps 66:16). We shall presently see the reason for it.
but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded—(Le 14:1-57).
for a testimony unto them—a palpable witness that the Great Healer had indeed come, and that "God had visited His people." What the sequel was, our Evangelist Matthew does not say; but Mark thus gives it (Mr 1:45): "But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to Him from every quarter." Thus—by an over-zealous, though most natural and not very culpable, infringement of the injunction to keep the matter quiet—was our Lord, to some extent, thwarted in His movements. As His whole course was sublimely noiseless (Mt 12:19), so we find Him repeatedly taking steps to prevent matters prematurely coming to a crisis with Him. (But see on Mr 5:19, 20). "And He withdrew Himself," adds Luke (Lu 5:16), "into the wilderness, and prayed"; retreating from the popular excitement into the secret place of the Most High, and thus coming forth as dew upon the mown grass, and as showers that water the earth (Ps 72:6). And this is the secret both of strength and of sweetness in the servants and followers of Christ in every age.Leviticus 13:1-59, should have pronounced him clean, lest their envy upon hearing of it should have caused them to have obscured the miracle, by delaying to pronounce him clean; but it is observable that this was not the only time when Christ commanded those upon whom he had wrought miracles to say nothing of it: see Matthew 9:30 12:16 17:9. It is therefore more probable, that this precept was not to be understood with that limitation, but that Christ did it, either that he might not be thought to seek his own glory, or rather, because Christ judged it not yet time by his miracles to be publicly made known: but he sends him to the priest, both to teach him obedience to the law, and that the truth of the miracle might by a public record be confirmed. He also commands him to
offer the gift appointed by the law, Leviticus 14:1-57, thereby both acknowledging his cure to be from God, and testifying his thankfulness.
That Moses commanded; to show that he came not to oppose Moses.
For a testimony unto them; that hereafter it may be a testimony unto them, that I am more than the Son of man, John 5:36.
but go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. The man was now in one of the cities of Galilee; from hence Christ orders him to make the best of his way, directly to Jerusalem; and present himself to one of the priests, by him to be examined, whether he was free of his leprosy; and then offer what was ordered by the law of Moses in such cases: for as yet the ceremonial law was not abolished: and therefore, as Christ was subject to it himself, so he enjoins others the observance of it. There was a two fold offering, according to the law of Moses, on account of the cleansing of the leper; Leviticus 14:1 the one was on the first day of his cleansing, when he first showed himself to the priest, and consisted of two birds, alive and clean, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop; the other, and which was properly the offering on the eighth day, was, if the man was able, two he lambs and one ewe lamb, with a meat offering; but if poor, one lamb, with a meat offering, and two turtle doves, or two young pigeons. The Jewish canons, concerning this matter, are as follow (f):
"when a leper is healed of his leprosy, after they have cleansed him with cedarwood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and the two birds, and have shaved all his flesh, and bathed him; after all this he enters into Jerusalem, and numbers seven days; and on the seventh day he shaves a second time, as he shaved at first, and bathes--and on the morrow, or eighth day, he bathes a second time, and after that they offer his offerings--he bathes on the eighth day in the court of the women, in the chamber of the lepers, which is there--if it is delayed, and he shaves not on the seventh day, but he shaves on the eighth, or some days after, on the day that he shaves, he bathes, and his sun sets; and on the morrow he brings his offerings, after he hath bathed a second time, as we have declared: how do they do unto him? The leper stands without the court of Israel, over against the eastern gate, in the gate of Nicanor and his face to the west: and there stand all they that want atonement; and there they give the bitter waters to the suspected women: and the priest takes the leper's trespass offering, while it is alive, and waves it with the log of oil, towards the east, according to the way of all wave offerings; and if he waves this by itself, and this by itself, it is right: after that he brings the leper's trespass offering to the door, and he brings it in both his hands into the court, and layeth them upon it; they slay it immediately, and two priests receive its blood: the one receives it in a vessel, and sprinkles it upon the top of the altar; and the other, in his right hand, and pours it into his left hand, and sprinkles with his finger the right hand; and if he repeats it, and receives it in his left hand first, it is unlawful. The priest that receives some of the blood in a vessel, carries it, and sprinkles it upon the altar first; and after that comes the priest, who receives the blood in the palm of his hand, to the leper, the priest being within, and the leper without; and the leper puts in his head, and the priest puts of the blood that is in the palm of his hand, upon the tip of his right ear; after that he puts in his right hand, and he puts of it on the thumb of his hand; and after that he putteth in his right foot, and he puts of it upon the toe of his foot, and if he puts of it upon the left, it is not right; and after that he offers his sin offering, and his burnt offering: and after that he hath put the blood upon his thumb and toe, the priest takes of the log of oil, and pours it into the left hand of his fellow priest; and if he pours it into his own hand, it will do: and he dips the finger of his right hand into the oil, which is in his hand, and sprinkles it seven times towards the most holy place: at every sprinkling there is a dipping of the finger in the oil; and if he sprinkles, and does not intend it, over against the holy place, it is right; and after that, he comes to the leper, and puts of the oil upon the place of the blood of the trespass offering, on the tip of the ear, and on the thumb of his hand, and toe of his foot; and that which is left of the oil, that is in his hand, he puts it on the head of him that is to be cleansed; and if he puts it not, atonement is not made; and the rest of the log is divided among the priests; and what remains of the log is not eaten, but in the Court, by the males of the priests, as the rest of the holy things; and it is forbidden to eat of the log of oil, until he has sprinkled it seven times, and has put of it upon the thumb and toe; and if he eats, he is to be beaten, as he that eats holy things before sprinkling.''
Now these were the things which, as the other evangelists say, this leper was ordered to offer for his cleansing, "for a testimony unto them"; meaning either to the priests; for the Syriac and Persic versions read the former clause, "show thyself to the priests", in Luke 17:14 that they being satisfied of the healing and cleansing of this man, and accordingly pronouncing him clean, and accepting his offerings, this might be either a convincing testimony to them, that Jesus was the Son of God, and true Messiah, and that he did not deny or oppose the law given by Moses; or might be a standing testimony against them, should they continue in unbelief; or else to the Jews, who saw the miracle, and heard the orders Christ gave to the man after he had healed him; or to the lepers that they were cleansed; or this law of Moses was for a testimony or statute to be always observed by them in such cases.And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 8:4. The injunction, not to mention the matter to any one, cannot be regarded as an evidence of Matthew’s dependence on Mark (Holtzman; comp. Matthew 12:15 with Mark 1:43; Mark 3:7 ff.), because the connection in Mark is supposed to be somewhat more appropriate, but is only to be taken as expressing a desire on the part of Jesus to prevent any commotion among the people with their fanatical Messianic hopes, at least as far as, by discouraging publicity, it was in His own power to do so (Chrysostom)—to prevent what, according to Mark 1:45 (Luke 5:15), actually took place through a disregard of this injunction. Comp. Matthew 9:30, Matthew 12:16; Mark 3:12; Mark 5:43; Mark 7:36; Mark 8:26; Mark 8:30; Matthew 16:20; Matthew 17:9. The miracle was no doubt performed (Matthew 8:1) before the people (in answer to Schenkel), and in the open air; but, in the first place, only those standing near would be in a position to hear or see the course of the miracle with sufficient minuteness; and, secondly, in giving this injunction, Jesus was also keeping in view the fact of the leper’s being about to visit Jerusalem, and to sojourn there. Consequently we must reject the view of Maldonatus, Grotius, Bengel, Wetstein, Kuinoel, Paulus, Glöckler, to the effect that He wished to provide against any refusal on the part of the priests to pronounce the man clean. Equally inadmissible is that of Fritzsche, Baumgarten-Crusius, and Keim, that at present, above all, He insisted on the more important duty,—that, namely, of the man’s subjecting himself to the inspection of the priests, which is not in accordance with the occasional ὅρα (comp. Matthew 9:31); nor can we accept Olshausen’s view, that the motive for the injunction is to be sought in the man himself. Baur holds that the injunction is not to be regarded as historical, but only as the product of tradition, arising out of the application to Jesus of Isaiah 42:1 ff. But the truth is, that prohibition is not once mentioned in Isaiah 42, which contains only a general description of the Messiah’s humility. Moreover, it would not be apparent why the passage from Isaiah is not quoted here, when the injunction in question occurs for the first time, but afterwards in Matthew 12:17.
σεαντόν] thyself. Instead of making a talk about the matter, go and present yourself in person before the proper authorities.
τῷ ἱερεῖ] Leviticus 14:2.
τὸ δῶρον] the offering prescribed in Leviticus 14:10; Leviticus 14:21. See Ewald, Alterth. p. 210 f.; Keil, Archäol. § 59.
εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς] as an evidence to them, i.e. to the people, that thou hast been healed. This reference of αὐτοῖς follows contextually from ὅρα, μηδενὶ εἴπῃς, and that of μαρτύριον (evidence that thou art cleansed) from a consideration of the object of the legal prescription in question; see Leviticus 14:57. It is importing a foreign element, to suppose that the testimony was further meant to show that “I am not abrogating the law” (Chrysostom, Theophylact; see what follows); comp. also Fritzsche, who looks upon the words as containing a remark by Matthew himself: “Haec autem dixit, ut turbae testaretur, se magni facere Mosis instituta.” As decisive against the latter view, we have the fact that both Mark and Luke record the words εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς, and that, too, in such a way as to make it evident that they formed part of what was spoken by Jesus (Luke 5:14). Chrysostom and Fathers understand αὐτοῖς as referring to the priests, in which case the testimony is regarded as intended to show either (what is in itself correct) Jesus’ respect for the law (Euth. Zigabenus, Bengel, Keim),—to which the person cleansed was expected to bear witness before the priests (Chrysostom: εἰς ἔλεγχον, εἰς ἀπόδειξιν, εἰς κατηγορίαν, ἐὰν ἀγνωμονῶσιν,—or the reality of the cure, “si sc. vellent in posterum negare, me tibi sanitatem restituisse” (Kuinoel, Erasmus, Maldonatus, Grotius), and at the same time the Messiahship of Jesus (Calovius). According to Olshausen, it is a testimony borne by the priests themselves that is meant; inasmuch as, by pronouncing the man clean, they become witnesses to the genuineness of the miracle, and at the same time condemn their own unbelief (a confusion of two things that are no less erroneous than foreign to the purpose). If αὐτοῖς referred to the priests, then of course μαρτύριον could only be understood as meaning an evidence or proof that the cleansing had taken place (Grotius). However, the offering was not meant to furnish such evidence to the priests, but to the people, who were now at liberty to resume their intercourse with the person who had been healed.
Attempts of various kinds have been made to divest the miracles of Jesus of their special character, and to reduce them to the order of natural events (Paulus), partly by accounting for them on physiological or psychological grounds, and partly by explaining them on certain exegetical, allegorical, or mythical principles of interpretation. Some, again, have sought to remove them entirely from the sphere of actual fact, and to ascribe their origin to legends elaborated out of Old Testament types and prophecies (Strauss); to the influence of religious feeling in the church (B. Bauer); to narratives of an allegorical character (Volkmar); to the desire to embody certain ideas and tendencies of thought in historical incidents (Baur); as well as to mistakes of every sort in the understanding of similitudes and parables (Weisse). To admit the supernatural origin of Christianity is not inconsistent with the idea of its historical continuity (Baur); but the denial of miracles involves both an avowed and a covert impugning of the evangelic narrative,—which, as such, is in its substance conditioned by miracles (Holtzmann, p. 510),—and consequently does away almost entirely with its historical character. As a further result, Christianity itself is endangered, in so far as it is matter of history and not the product of the independent development of the human mind, and inasmuch as its entrance into the world through the incarnation of the Son of God is analogous to the miracle of creation (Philippi, Glaubensl. I. p. 25 ff., ed. 2). The miracles of Jesus, which should always be viewed in connection with His whole redeeming work (Köstlin, 1860, p. 14 ff.), are outward manifestations of the power of God’s Spirit, dwelling in Him in virtue of His Sonship, and corresponding to His peculiar relation to the world (Hirzel), as well as to His no less peculiar relation to the living God; their design was to authenticate His Messianic mission, and in this lay their telic necessity,—a necessity, however, that is always to be regarded as only relative (Schott, de consilio, quo Jesus mirac. ediderit, Opusc. I. p. 111 ff.). And this according to John 2:11. In exercising His supernatural power of healing, the usual though not always (Matthew 8:5 ff.; John 4:47 ff.; Matthew 9:23 ff.; Luke 22:51) indispensable condition on which He imparted the blessing was faith in that power on the part of the person to be healed; nothing, however, but positive unbelief prevented this power from taking effect (Matthew 13:58; Mark 6:5 f.; comp. Julius Müller, II. p. 17); but Christ’s heart-searching look (John 2:25) enabled Him to detect those cases where the attempt would be fruitless. Moreover, the miracles of Jesus are not to be regarded as things that contradict or violate the laws of nature, but rather as comprehended within the great system of natural law, the harmonious connection of which in all its parts it is not for us to fathom. In this respect the phenomena of magnetism furnish an analogy, though a poor and imperfect one; and the more that is known of the laws of nature, the idea of any annulling or suspension of these laws only appears the more absurd. See Köstlin, 1860, p. 59 ff., 1864, p. 259 ff.; Rothe, p. 34 ff. The miracles, therefore, are “reflections in nature” of God’s revelation of Himself (Beyschlag), “something strictly in accordance with law” (Nitzsch), which, in the sphere of nature, appears as the necessary and natural correlative of the highest miracle in the spiritual world—viz. the accomplishment of the work of redemption by the incarnate Son of God. As this work has its necessary conditions in the higher order of the moral world established and ruled by the holy God in accordance with His love, so the miracles have theirs in the laws of a higher order of nature corresponding to the loving purposes of the Creator, inasmuch as this latter order, in virtue of the connection between nature and spirit, is upheld by that Being whose spiritual power determines all its movements. Comp. Liebner, Christologie, I. p. 351: “The miracles of Christ are occasional manifestations of the complete introduction, through the God-man, of that relation between nature and spirit which is to be perfected in the end of the world”—means by which the λόγος reveals Himself in His human impersonation and work, so that they are always of a moral nature, and have always a moral aim in view, unfolding, in their essential connection with His preaching, the miracle of the incarnation on which His whole work was based (Martensen, Dogm. § 155 [E. T. p. 301]). Observe, moreover, how the power to work miracles was a gift and σημεῖον of the apostles (Romans 15:19; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:4), and a χάρισμα of the apostolic church (1 Corinthians 12:9 f.), a fact which warrants us in assuming, indeed in inferring a minori ad majus, the reality of the miracles of Jesus Himself—in general, we mean, and without prejudice to the criticism of the narratives in detail. At the same time, in the application of such criticism, the hypothesis of legendary embellishments should be treated with great caution by a modest exegesis, and all the more that, in the fourth Gospel, we have a series of miracles bearing the attestation of one who was an eye-witness, and which, in their various features, correspond to many of those recorded by the Synoptists.
 See Schleiermacher, L. J. p. 206 ff.; Julius Müller, de miraculor. J. Ch. natura et necessitate, I. II. 1839, 1841; Köstlin, de miraculor. quae Chr. et primi ej. discip. fecerunt, natura et ratione, 1860; Rothe in d. Stud. u. Krit. 1858, p. 21 ff., and zur Dogmat. p. 104 ff.; Beyschlag, ub. d. Bedeut. d. Wunders im Christenth. 1862; Dorner, Jesu süindlose Vollkommenh. 1862, p. 51 ff.; Hirzel, üb. d. Wunder, 1863; Güder, üb d. Wunder, 1868; Steinmeyer, Apolog. Beitr. I. 1866; Baxmann in d. Jahrb. f. D. Th. 1863, p. 749 ff.; Köstlin, ibid. 1864, p. 205 ff.; Bender, d. Wunderbeg. d. N. T. 1871. On the synoptic accounts of the miracles, see Holtzmann, p. 497; and on the various kinds of miracles, Keim, II. 125 ff.; on the miracles of healing, see Weizsäcker, p. 360 ff.Matthew 8:4. ὅρα, see to it! Look you!—imperative in mood and tone (vide Mark’s graphic account). Christ feared the man would be content with being well without being officially pronounced clean—physically healed, though not socially restored. Hence μηδενὶ εἴπῃς, ἀλλʼ ὕπαγε, etc.: speak of it to nobody, but go at once and show thyself (δεῖξον), τῷ ἱερεῖ, to the priest who has charge of such matters. What was the purpose of this order? Many good commentators, including Grot., Beng. and Wetstein, say it was to prevent the priests hearing of the cure before the man came (lingering on the road to tell his tale), and, in spite, declaring that he was not clean. The truth is, Jesus desired the benefit to be complete, socially, which depended on the priest, as well as physically. If the man did not go at once, he would not go at all.—τὸ δῶρον: vide Leviticus 14:10; Leviticus 14:21; all things to be done according to the law; no laxity encouraged, though the official religion was little worthy of respect (cf. Matthew 5:19).—εἰς μαρτύριον, as a certificate to the public (αὐτοῖς) from the constituted authority that the leper was clean. The direction shows Christ’s confidence in the reality of the cure. The whole story is a picture of character. The touch reveals sympathy; the accompanying word, “I will, be clean,” prompt, cordial, laconic, immense energy and vitality; the final order, reverence for existing institutions, fearlessness, humane solicitude for the sufferer’s future well-being in every sense (vide on Mk.).4. the gift that Moses commanded] “two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet and hyssop.” And on the eighth day “two he lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish, and three tenth deals of fine flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, and one log of oil.” Leviticus 14:4; Leviticus 14:10.
for a testimony unto them] Either (1) to the priests, or (2) to the people who were following Jesus; in either case to shew that Jesus came to fulfil the law. Christ enjoins the cleansed leper to tell no one, thus instructing us that He would not have people converted by His miracles. Christ addresses Himself to men’s hearts not to their eyes or ears. He will not fling Himself from the height of the temple to persuade men.Matthew 8:4. Μηδενὶ, to no one) sc. before you have gone to the priest, lest the priests, if they had heard of it before, should deny that the leprosy had been really cleansed; sc. to no one of those who had not witnessed the miracle.—σεαυτὸν, thyself) not by means of another.—εἰς μαρτύριον, for a testimony) See John 5:36. Thus the LXX. use the word μαρτύριον in Ruth 4:7. The priests did not follow our Lord: He sends the leper to them from Galilee to Jerusalem: He was much in Galilee at that time.—αὐτοῖς, to them) that a testimony might he exhibited to them of the Messiah’s presence, and of His not derogating from the law, and that they too might thus be enabled to give testimony to these facts.
 Sc. καὶ τοῦτο—ἦν μαρτύριον ἐν Ἰσραήλ.—E. V. And this was a testimony in Israel.—(I. B.)Verse 4. - And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; i.e. of those who were not present (Bengel). The command may have been given
(1) to save the man from temptation to self-importance; or
(2) to prevent any rumour of the miracle coming to the ears of the recognized authorities, and thus prejudicing them in their verdict upon his case; or, and more probably,
(3) for the Lord's sake, for this seems to be the reason for the command in all the other occasions when it is given (Matthew 9:30; Matthew 12:16; Matthew 17:9; Mark 5:43; Mark 7:36; Mark 8:26; cf. Mark 1:34; Mark 3:12). The Lord did not desire to be thronged with multitudes who came only to see his miracles; he would work in quiet (cf. the quotation from Isaiah in Matthew 12:18-21). But go thy way, show thyself to the priest. The latter clause belongs verbally to Leviticus 13:49, but the thought is that of Leviticus 14:2, sqq. Without the official verdict, the man could not be restored to communal privileges (so also Luke 17:14). And offer the gift that Moses commanded. Including
(1) "two living clean birds, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop" (Leviticus 14:4);
(2) "two he-lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish, and three tenth parts of an epbah of fine flour for a meal offering, mingled with oil, and one log of oil" (Leviticus 14:10), unless he he poor, in which case lesser sacrifices may be substituted (vers. 21, 22; cf. Keil, 'Arch.,' § 59; and for details of the traditional ceremonial, Edersheim, 'Temple,' pp. 315-318). For a testimony unto them (εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς). Although a fair sense might be extracted by connecting this clause with. the words, "Moses commanded," it would, especially in the parallel passages, be a very awkward addition to them. Rather it must represent the man's "offering" in its ultimate purpose, and this not necessarily in the man's own mind. So more clearly the "Western" reading in the parallel passage in Luke, ἵνα εἰς μαρτύριον η΅ ὑμῖν τοῦτο. Whether "them" refers to the priests or to the nation generally is not of grave importance, for the priests themselves, in act and feeling, represented the nation (cf. Matthew 7:29, note). Of more interest is the question - What is that which is here testified of?
(1) Prima facie the man's own state. The performance of the rites would be legal evidence that he was clean.
(2) Yet this interpretation is hardly borne out by the usage of the phrase. Αἰς μαρτύριον in the LXX. (never closely with the dative as here) seems to always refer to that which is both permanent and important (cf. Genesis 21:30; Genesis 31:44; Deuteronomy 31:26; Joshua 24:27; Hosea 2:12). And in the New Testament with the dative it elsewhere refers either to work for the Lord (Matthew 10:18; Matthew 24:14; Mark 6:11) or to a solemn judgment (James 5:3). So probably here. The man's offering is to be a permanent testimony to the nation of our Lord's relation to the Law. His miracles confirmed his profession (Matthew 5:17).
(3) Some, however, accepting the above view in the main, translate, "for a testimony against them" (as Mark 6:11; cf. Luke 9:5, and as perhaps James 5:3, but vide Plumptre there); but it is unlikely that so harsh a thought towards the nation would be expressed by our Lord at this early stage of his ministry. In Mark 6:11 there is a definite reason for its use.
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