Adam Clarke Commentary
Christ rides triumphantly into Jerusalem, Mark 11:1-11. The barren fig tree cursed, Mark 11:12-14. He cleanses the temple, Mark 11:15-17. The scribes and chief priests are enraged, Mark 11:18. Reflections on the withered fig tree, Mark 11:19-23. Directions concerning prayer and forgiveness, Mark 11:24-26. The chief priests, etc., question him by what authority he did his works, Mark 11:27, Mark 11:28. He answers, and confounds them, Mark 11:29-33.
He sendeth - two of his disciples - This was done but a few days before the passover. See our Lord's entry into Jerusalem illustrated, on Matthew 21:1-17 (note).
Whereon never man sat - No animal was allowed to be employed in sacred uses, even among the heathen, that had previously been used for any domestic or agricultural purpose; and those which had never been yoked were considered as sacred. See several proofs of this in the note on Numbers 19:2; (note), and add this from Ovid: -
Bos tibi, Phoebus ait, solis occurret in arvis,
Nullum passa jugum curvique immunis aratri
Met. lib. iii. v. 10
The Delphic oracles this answer give: -
Behold among the fields a lonely cow,
Unworn with yokes, unbroken to the plough.
And straightway he will send him hither - From the text, I think it is exceedingly plain, that our Lord did not beg, but borrow, the colt; therefore the latter clause of this verse should be understood as the promise of returning him. Is not the proper translation the following? And if any one say to you, Why do ye this? Say, the Lord hath need of him, and will speedily send him back hither - και ευθεως αυτον αποστελλει ὡδε . Some eminent critics take the same view of the passage.
And they let them go - Having a full assurance that the beast should be safely and speedily restored.
In the name of the Lord - Omitted by BCDLU, some others, and several versions. Griesbach leaves it out.
Hosanna in the highest! - See on Matthew 21:9; (note).
When he had looked round about upon all things - He examined every thing - to see if the matters pertaining to the Divine worship were properly conducted; to see that nothing was wanting - nothing superfluous.
And now the eventide was come - The time in which he usually left Jerusalem, to go to Bethany.
For the time of figs was not yet - Rather, For it was not the season of gathering figs yet. This I am fully persuaded is the true sense of this passage, ου γαρ ην καιρος συκων . For a proof that καιρος here signifies the time of gathering the figs, see the Lxx. in Psalm 1:3. He bringeth forth his fruit, εν καιρω αυτου, in his season; i.e. in the time in which fruit should be ripe, and fit for gathering. See also Mark 12:2; : - And at the season, τῳ καιρῳ, the time of gathering the fruits of the vineyard. Matthew 21:34; : - When the time of the fruit drew near; ὁ καιρος των καρπων, the time in which the fruits were to be gathered, for it was then that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servants to receive the fruits; i.e. so much of them as the holder of the vineyard was to pay to the owner by way of rent; for in those times rent was paid in kind.
To the above may be added, Job 5:26; : - Thou shalt come to thy grave in Full Age, like as a shock of corn cometh in his season; κατα καιρον, in the time in which it should be reaped.
When our Lord saw this fig tree by the way-side, apparently flourishing, he went to it to gather some of the figs: being on the way-side, it was not private, but public property; and any traveler had an equal right to its fruit. As it was not as yet the time for gathering in the fruits, and yet about the time when they were ready to be gathered, our Lord with propriety expected to find some. But as this happened about five days before that passover on which Christ suffered, and the passover that year fell on the beginning of April, it has been asked, "How could our Lord expect to find ripe figs in the end of March?" Answer, Because figs were ripe in Judea as early as the passover. Besides, the fig tree puts forth its fruit first, and afterwards its leaves. Indeed, this tree, in the climate which is proper for it, has fruit on it all the year round, as I have often seen. All the difficulty in the text may be easily removed by considering that the climate of Judea is widely different from that of Great Britain. The summer begins there in March, and the harvest at the passover, as all travelers into those countries testify; therefore, as our Lord met with this tree five days before the passover, it is evident, - 1st. That it was the time of ripe figs: and, 2ndly. That it was not the time of gathering them, because this did not begin till the passover, and the transaction here mentioned took place five days before.
For farther satisfaction on this point, let us suppose: -
A fruitless soul, that has had much cultivation bestowed on it, may expect to be dealt with as God did with this unrighteous nation. See on Matthew 21:19; (note), etc.
And they come - Several MSS. and versions have παλιν, again. This was the next day after our Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem; for on the evening of that day he went to Bethany, and lodged there, Mark 11:11, and Matthew 21:17, and returned the next morning to Jerusalem.
Should carry any vessel - Among the Jews the word כלי keli, vessel, had a vast latitude of meaning; it signified arms, Jeremiah 21:4; Ezekiel 9:1; clothes, Deuteronomy 22:5, and instruments of music, Psalm 71:22. It is likely that the evangelist uses the Greek word σκευος in the same sense, and by it points out any of the things which were bought and sold in the temple.
Have faith in God - Εχετε πιϚιν θεου is a mere Hebraism: have the faith of God, i.e. have strong faith, or the strongest faith, for thus the Hebrews expressed the superlative degree; so the mountains of God mean exceeding great mountains - the hail of God, exceeding great hail, etc.
When ye stand praying - This expression may mean no more than, When ye are disposed, or have a mind, to pray, i.e. whenever ye perform that duty. And it is thus used and explained in the Koran, Surat. v. ver. 7. See on Matthew 21:20-22; (note). But the Pharisees loved to pray standing, that they might be seen of men.
At the end of this verse, the 7th and 8th verses of Matthew 7. Ask and ye shall receive, etc., are added by M, and sixteen other MSS. The 26th verse is wanting in BLS, seven others, some editions, the Coptic, one Itala, and Theophylact.
They feared the people - Or rather, We fear, etc. Instead of εφοβουντο, they feared; the Codex Bezae, seven others, later Syriac, Arabic, Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Vulgate, and all the Itala, read φοβουμεν, or φοβουμεθα . The common reading appearing to me quite improper.
We fear the people. Εαν, if, before ειπωμεν, we shall say, is omitted by ABCEFGHLS, and more than fifty others. Bengel leaves it out of the text, and puts a note of interrogation after Εξ ανθρωπων ; and then the whole passage reads thus: But shall we say, Of men? They feared the people, etc. This change renders the adoption of φοβουμεν, we fear, unnecessary. Several critics prefer this mode of distinguishing the text. However the critics may be puzzled with the text, the scribes, chief priests, and elders were worse puzzled with our Lord's question. They must convict themselves or tell a most palpable falsehood. - They told the lie, and so escaped for the present.
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