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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 15

Bengel's Gnomon of the New TestamentBengel's Gnomon

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Verse 1

Matthew 15:1 . [675] Οἱ ἀπὸ Ἱεροσολύμων , which were of Jerusalem ) Who appeared to excel in authority and zeal, having come such a long way. [676]

[675] Τότε , then ) By this particle, the narration of the events which had happened before and after the Passover is connected together: from which we may infer that Jesus, at that time, had not gone up to Jerusalem. Harm. , p. 340. It was at a time most unseasonable that the hypocrites made an oblique attack on Him, starting a question, high sounding, no doubt, but after all ending in mere minutiæ. V. g.

[676] After the feast of the Passover had been celebrated at Jerusalem. Harm. , p. 340.

Verse 2

Matthew 15:2 . Τῶν πρεσβυτέρων , of the ancients ) The word πρεσβύτερος sometimes denotes a dignity or office; sometimes it is opposed to youth; sometimes, as in this place, to later generations. ἄρτον , bread ) The Jews eat other kinds of food without washing their hands more readily than bread. See Wall’s [677] Critical Notes, p. 47.

[677] WILLIAM WALL, D. D., sometime Vicar of Shoreham, a learned divine of the English Church; born 1645 or 1646; died 1727 8. The work here alluded to is entitled

“Brief Critical Notes, especially on the various readings of the New Testament Books; with a Preface concerning the Texts cited from the Old Testament, as also concerning the use of the Septuagint Translation. 8vo. London, 1730.” (I. B.)

Verse 3

Matthew 15:3 . Διατί , why ) He replies by a question similar in form to that which they had proposed in Matthew 15:2 . [678] καὶ ὑμεῖς , ye also ) Whether My disciples transgress or not, you are the greatest transgressors. διὰ , κ . τ . λ ., on account of , etc.) Traditions, even where you could least expect it, detract from the commandments of God. [679] ὑμῶν , your ) They had said, of the ancients ; Jesus is no respecter of persons.

[678] The truth is never at a loss for questions, which it may put in opposition to the questions of hypocrites. V. g.

[679] And what an amount of injury, from time to time, has been the result of the accumulation of such traditions, however much particular ones may be not without their show of plausibility, can hardly be stated. V. g.

Verse 4

Matthew 15:4 . Ὁ γὰρ Θεὸς , for God ) In contrast with ὑμεῖς δὲ , but you , in Matthew 15:5 . τίμα , honour ) Honour signifies benefits which are due (see Gnomon on 1Ti 5:3 ), the denial of which is the greatest insult . Thus, in the S. V. of Proverbs 3:9 , τίμα τὸν Κύριον ( honour the Lord ) occurs with reference to sacrifices. An instance of metonymy of the antecedent for the consequent. In Exodus 20:12 , S. V., it stands thus: τίμα τὸν πατέρα σου καὶ τὴν μητέρα σου : honour thy father and thy mother . The second σου ( thy ) is not expressed in the present passage. ὁ κακολογῶν , he that curseth ) In Exodus 21:16 : ὁ κακολογῶν πατέρα αὐτοῦ ἢ μητέρα αὐτοῦ θανάτῳ τελευτάτω : [680] he that curseth his father or his mother, let him die [681] the death . Life is assailed by curses, and children receive their life through their parents. θανάτῳ , death ) Observe this, O youth!

[680] The Vatican MS. reads τελευτήσει θανάτῳ . (I. B.)

[681] Lit. “Let him die by death.” (I. B.)

Verse 5

Matthew 15:5 . Ὑμεῖς δὲ , but you ) What God commands are the offices of love; human traditions lead into all other things. [682] δῶρον , a gift) i.e. it is a gift. Whatsoever , etc., is Corban . The formula was קרבן שאני נהנה לך , Let all that by which I might be serviceable to thee in any way whatsoever, be to me Corban; i.e. Let it be as much forbidden to me to benefit thee in anything, as it is unlawful for me to touch the Corban. See L. Capellus [683] on the Corban. Or else, to avoid the appearance of avarice, they actually offered to the Corban what was due to their parents; as many persons give to the poor or to orphans those things which they grudge to others, which they extort from them, or deny them. ὁ ἐὰν , κ . τ . λ ., whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me ὠφεληθῆς , thou mightest be profited ) The priests used to say, יהנה לך , It be useful to thee, [684] when the people offered anything. καὶ , and ) This particle denotes the commencement of the apodosis. [685] Οὐ ΜῊ ΤΙΜΉΣῌ , shall not honour ) The decree of the Pharisees was, such an one shall be free from all obligation towards father and mother . Our Lord, however, expresses this in words which bring out more clearly the unrighteousness of the Pharisees in opposition to the commandment of God.

[682] In the original, “in alia omnia eunt,” i.e. into all things which are of a different, nay, a contrary character.

[683] LUDOVICUS CAPELLUS was born at Sedan in 1586. He became a theologian and philologist of Saumur, was a first-rate Hebrew scholar, and deeply versed in Rabbinical learning. His writings are very numerous. He died in 1658. (I. B.)

[684] Sc. “It ( i.e. the offering) be profitable to thee.” A form of benediction. (I. B.)

[685] By a Hebraism, which however is also found in Greek, ex. gr. Demosthenes de Cor., “Whosoever (when any one soever) shall say, etc. then ( καὶ ) he shall not (need not) honour,” etc. ED.

Compare a similar construction occurring Revelation 2:24 . E. B.

Verse 6

Matthew 15:6 . Καὶ , and thus ) διὰ , on account of ) The heart which is occupied with traditions, has no room for the commandments of God.

Verse 7

Matthew 15:7 . Προεφήτευσε , prophesied) i.e. foretold.

Verse 8

Matthew 15:8 . Ὁ λαὸς οὗτος , κ . τ . λ ., This people , etc.) In the S. V. of Isaiah 29:13 , it stands thus, ἐγγίζει Μοι ὁ λαὸς οὗτος ἐν τῷ στόματι αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τοῖς χείλεσιν αὐτῶν τιμῶσί Με , ἡ δὲ καρδία διδάσκοντες ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων καὶ διδασκαλίας , This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and they honour Me with their lips: but their heart teaching precepts and doctrines of men . οὗτος , this ) The pronoun here implies contempt; see 1 Corinthians 14:21 . Με , Me ) sc. God, speaking by the mouth of Isaiah. καρδία , heart ) by the approach of which [686] (cujus accessu) God is truly and fully worshipped. [687]

[686] i.e. by the drawing nigh of which, as well as with the lips. ED.

[687] Most stress is indeed made to rest on the heart. See Matthew 15:19 . V. g.

Verse 9

Matthew 15:9 . Μάτην , in vain ) How much vanity has there been in the greatest part of religions throughout so many ages and climates! σέβονται , they worship ) They paid little regard to the commandments of God, and that little they defiled by observing the commandments of men. διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας , teaching doctrines ) laboriously, constantly, in great numbers, cf. Mark 7:13 . ἐντάλματα , precepts ) In apposition with διδασκαλίας , doctrines : these ἐντάλματα , precepts , were unworthy to be called ἐντολαὶ , commandments . Precepts are adorned and seasoned by doctrines. ἀνθρώπων , of men ) although they be ancients ( Mat 15:2 ); who have no authority in religion.

Verse 10

Matthew 15:10 . Προσκαλεσάμενος , having called to Him ) All were not always attentive. The Pharisees were not worthy that this should be said to them; see Matthew 15:14 . τὸν ὄχλον , the multitude ) Lest they should be deceived by the speech of the Pharisees.

Verse 11

Matthew 15:11 . Οὐ , κ . τ . λ ., not , etc.) Unless such were the case, the faithful could not, without the greatest disgust, inhabit a world subject to vanity. τὸ ἐκπορευόμενον , that which cometh out ) Original sin is evidently here implied. τοῦτο , this ) used demonstratively.

Verse 12

Matthew 15:12 . οἶδας , knowest thou [688] ) They perceived the omniscience of Jesus. ἘΣΚΑΝΔΑΛΊΣΘΗΣΑΝ , were offended [689] ) Having taken, or rather laid in wait, for offence.

[688] Rather Thou knowést ; for the comment, which follows, shows that Beng. did not read these words with an interrogation. ED.

[689] And regard Thee with aversion in consequence. V. g

He does so, however, both in his Greek New Testament and German Version. (I. B.)

Verse 13

Matthew 15:13 . Φυτεία , plant ) Doctrine, or rather man. The φυτὸν is so by nature, the φυτεία by care. Πατὴρ , κ . τ . λ ., Father , etc.) See John 15:1-2 . ἐκριζωθήσεται , shall he rooted up ) And this shall be the result of their being offended with Christ. Such a plant, however fair in appearance, is without Christ ( extra Christum).

Verse 14

Matthew 15:14 . Ἄφετε αὐτούς , let them alone ) Do not regard [690] them. ὁδηγοὶ , guides ) see Isaiah 9:16 . [691]

[690] There is a verbal reference to ἄφετε αἰτούς in the original, “nolite eos morari ,” which cannot be preserved in the translation q. d., Let them go; do not detain them, or trouble yourselves about them. (I. B.)

[691] Ἀμφότεροι , both ) In the case of senseless men, it is better that the one should withdraw from the other. V. g.

Verse 15

Matthew 15:15 . Ἀποκριθεὶς , answering ) The candour of sacred historians in recording the errors of holy men is remarkable in all the books of the Bible. παραβολὴν ταύτην , this parable ) Our Lord’s language becomes parabolic in Matthew 15:13 , but was plain and literal in Matthew 15:10-11 . Peter therefore, as a disciple, speaks incorrectly. Our Lord, however, does not expressly find fault with this. So that they held fast the matter, [He excuses the manner.]

Verse 16

Matthew 15:16 . Ὑμεῖς , you ) corresponding with ἡμῖν , to us , in Matthew 15:15 . You , not only the Pharisees and the multitude. ἀσύνετοί , without understanding ) corresponding with συνίετε , understand , in Matthew 15:10 .

Verse 17

Matthew 15:17 . Οὔπω , not yet ) Although you have been instructed in Matthew 15:11 , and elsewhere, in the whole system of divine morality, from which you might have inferred this matter also. νοεῖτε ) perceive . εἰς , into ) Into is repeated thrice without any mention of the heart, which is the true seat of real purity or impurity.

Verse 19

Matthew 15:19 . Διαλογισμοὶ πονηροὶ , evil thoughts ) such as the Pharisees entertained. The article is added in Mark 7:21 . φόνοι , μοιχεῖαι , κ . τ . λ ., murders, adulteries , etc.) Sin against the sixth and following commandments. The plural number increases the force. βλασφημίαι , curses ) sc. against our neighbour, combined with false witness . In such enumerations, the absence of the copulative conjunction has often the force of etc., as if he who speaks wished to add more, or to leave more to the imagination. Cf. Mark 7:22 . [692]

[692] The filth of the draught is not so great as is that of a human heart not yet cleansed. Who is there that thoroughly weighs this consideration? who strives earnestly after true purity? But, as concerns the man who leaves this life destitute of such purity, whither is he rushing? Into the gulf of fire and brimstone. Alas! what a mass of filth that shall be, which is made up of so many impure beings! Be not offended, Reader. Offensiveness of language is profitable to be used in this case. See that thou dost conceive a loathing of the thing itself, and be moved to flee from impurity of heart. V. g.

Verse 20

Matthew 15:20 . Οὐ κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον , do not defile the man ) In the very appellation of man , is contained (latet) an argument: for the spiritual nature, which is the superior part in man, is not reached by outward filth.

Verse 21

Matthew 15:21 . Τὰ μέρη , parts) i.e. not towards the whole region.

Verse 22

Matthew 15:22 . [693] Ἐξελθοῦσα , κ . τ . λ ., having come forth , etc.) For Jesus did not enter the borders of the Canaanites. ἐκραύγασεν , cried out ) from a distance, from behind; cf. Matthew 15:23 ; Matthew 15:25 . [694] με , me ) The affectionate mother had made her daughter’s misery her own; see Matthew 15:25 ; Matthew 15:28 . Υἱὲ Δαυὶδ , Son of David ) Therefore the woman had heard of the Promise either long ago or lately.

[693] Χανανάια ) of the posterity of Canaan. V. g.

[694] That is, Matthew 15:23 , “She crieth after us,” shows she was in the rear, behind Him; Matthew 15:25 , “Then came she,” etc., shows she had previously been at a distance. ED.

Verse 23

Matthew 15:23 . Δὲ , but ) It was fitting that this declaration, and as it were protestation of the unworthiness of the heathen, should precede the declaration of individual worthiness for which it prepared the way: nor did our Lord grant help so much to the prayers of the Canaanitess alone, as to those of the Canaanitess and the disciples together. οὐκ ἀπεκρὶθη λόγον , answered not a word ) Thus the LXX. in Isa 36:21 ; 1 Chronicles 21:12 . ἀπόλυσον , dismiss ) An instance of metonymy of the consequent for the antecedent: i.e. Help as you are wont, cf. Matthew 15:24 ; for our Lord was not wont to dismiss those who called upon Him for aid without according it. κράζει , cries out ) We may suppose that the disciples feared the judgment of men, and made their petition to our Lord, both for their own sake, lest her crying out should produce annoyance, and for the sake of the woman herself.

Verse 24

Matthew 15:24 . Ἀπεστάλην , I am sent ) Our Lord referred everything to His Mission . πρόβατα , sheep ) Israel is the Lord’s flock (see Psalms 95:0 ), Jesus the Shepherd. οἴκου Ἰσραήλ , the house of Israel ) This appeared to restrict His grace.

Verses 24-26

Matthew 15:24 ; Matthew 15:26 . Εἰ μὴ τοῖς κυναρίοις , except to little dogs ) Our Lord’s language, in Matthew 15:24 , contains no repulse, as explained in Matthew 15:26 , [695] but rather suggests hope to constant faith. The twenty-fourth verse is to be understood, not with reference to the whole mediatorial office, but only our Lord’s preaching and miracles.

[695] Bengel’s words are, “Sermo in thesi expressus, in hypothesi nullam habet repulsam: sed potius spem facit fidei constanti. Thesis autem accipienda est, non de officio toto mediatorio, sed de prædicatione et miraculis.” I have endeavoured to render this so as to be intelligible to the general reader. (I. B.)

Verse 25

Matthew 15:25 . Ἐλθοῦσα , coming ) sc. in front of the Saviour from behind Him; [696] although He appeared to have given a repulse even to His disciples.

[696] Thereby stopping up the way before Him [as if she would not let Him go farther without blessing her]. V. g.

Verse 26

Matthew 15:26 . Τῶν τέκνων , the children’s ) Our Lord spoke severely to the Jews themselves, but honourably of them [to those without]; see John 4:22 . Thus we, concerning the Evangelic Church. κυναρίοις , to little dogs [697] ) who are not worthy to receive it. But yet ΚΥΝΆΡΙΟΝ , the word employed by our Lord, is a diminutive, and Jesus thereby gives a handle to the woman to take hold of Him. Midrasch Tillim. [698] says, “The nations of the world are like dogs.”

[697] Diminutives are used as terms of endearment. Therefore κυναρίοις probably here means the household dogs pet dogs . ED.

[698] i.e. “Allegorical Commentary on the Psalms,” a Rabbinical work of high repute among the Jews. (I. B.)

Even the third effort was seeming likely to be abortive. Yet she did not give over. V. g.

Verse 27

Matthew 15:27 . Ναὶ , yea ) The woman seizes upon the appellation κυνάρια , for she says immediately, καὶ γὰρ , which must be rendered, for even (etenim). The particle ναὶ partly assents, partly as it were places on our Lord’s tongue the assent to her prayers, i.e. prays. The word is thus used in Philemon 1:20 , and Jdt 9:12 . [699] ἘΣΘῚΕΙ , eat ) since the children often waste their bread. ἀπὸ τῶν ψιχίων , of the crumbs ) She does not say the morsels , nor the bread . τῶν πιπτόντων , which fall ) in opposition to λαβεῖν καὶ βαλεῖν , to take and cast , in the last verse. She asks for it as a favour, essential to herself, injurious to no one. ἀπὸ , from ). She does not ask to be admitted to the table, but implies that she was not far distant from it. Her nation was contiguous to Israel. τῶν κυρίων αὐτῶν , of their masters ) This indicates the prerogative of the children , and vet a certain tie of connection (necessitudinem) with them on the part of the little dogs . The language of the Canaanitess corresponds with the curse addressed to Canaan, Genesis 9:26 : “ A servant of servants shall he be,” etc.

[699] Such modes of pleading she could not have learned from books by anticipation. The Spirit of faith supplies the best forms of prayer. V. g.

Verse 28

Matthew 15:28 . Ὦ γύναι , O woman ) Now at length our Lord addresses her. [700] ΜΕΓΆΛΗ , great ) Modesty does not interfere with greatness of faith; see ch. Matthew 8:8-9 . ὡς , as ) After the hard struggle, so much the more is given. θέλεις , thou wishest ) There is faith even in wishing. ἀπὸ , κ . τ . λ ., from that very hour ) The soundness which followed was lasting.

[700] Assigning to her no ordinary phrase, with which there was no danger of the woman being inflated on account of her extraordinary humility of mind. V. g.

Verse 29

Matthew 15:29 . Ἐκάθητο , sat ) He did not take the initiative and command the multitudes to approach, but He awaited them.

Verse 30

Matthew 15:30 . Ἑτέρους , others ) sc. who were sick. ἔῤῥιψαν , cast ) since they pressed upon each other. [701]

[701] Matthew 15:31 . τὸν Θεὸν Ἰσραὴλ , the God of Israel ) See Matthew 15:24 . V. g.

Verse 32

Matthew 15:32 . Σπλαγχνίζομαι , I have compassion ) Whilst the people forget hunger in admiration, Jesus pities them, and is not affected by their praise of His miracles. Glory and mercy elsewhere seldom meet. προσμένουσί Μοι , they remain with Me [702] ) It was the interest of the people to remain with Jesus; and yet He embraces that as a reason for conferring a fresh benefit upon them. The people were ready to remain longer. τί , what ) for ὁ , that which , see the LXX. in Genesis 38:25 . νήστεις , fasting ) Our Lord never dismissed any one without relieving their necessities.

[702] Fresh patients being ever and anon laid down in the midst, one after the other. V. g.

Verse 33

Matthew 15:33 . Πόθεν , whence ) Cf. Numbers 11:21 ; 2 Kings 4:43 . ἡμῖν , to us ) The disciples already understood that they would have to take some part in the matter.

Verse 34

Matthew 15:34 . Ὀλίγα ἰχθύδια , a few little fishes ) They speak disparagingly of their provision, for in Mat 15:36 the diminutive form is no longer employed.

Verse 36

Matthew 15:36 . Εὐχαριστήσας , having given thanks ) It is right to give thanks even before food (see Act 27:35 ), and there it is the same as εὐλογία , or benediction , for it is an acknowledgment of the Divine blessing for the past and the future. Jesus referred everything to the Father, and here gave thanks for the loaves, and for the approaching satisfying of the people; cf. John 11:41 . εὐχαριστεῖν is a verb found fault with by Phrynichus, [703] but used also by Diodorus Siculus. [704]

[703] PHRYNICUS, a rhetorician and sophist of Bythinia, who flourished in the second century of the Christian æra. (I. B.)

[704] DIODORUS SICULUS, an ancient Greek historian. Born at Agyrium in the first century after Christ. (I. B.)

Verse 39

Matthew 15:39 . [705] Ἀνέβη εἰς τὸ πλοῖν , He again went on board the vessel ) [706] sc . that mentioned a little before in ch. Matthew 14:33 . The word ἀνέβη occurs with the same force in Mark 6:51 .

[705] Matthew 15:38 . Τετρακισχίλιοι , four thousand ) They were in truth mighty miracles, whereby five thousand (ch Mat 14:21 ) and four thousand men were fully satisfied with food; and it was then that the abundance of Jesus’ miracles had reached its highest point. How widely His glory ought to have been spread abroad by so many thousands of witnesses! Harm. , p. 344.

[706] E. V. “took ship.” Bengel would give another force to the preposition ἀνὰ , and renders ἀνέβη , iterum conscendit . (I. B.)

Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Matthew 15". Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jab/matthew-15.html. 1897.
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