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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Matthew 15





Matthew 15:1. οἱ] is deleted by Lachm. and Tisch. 8, after B D א, Curss. Or. But how readily might the article have been overlooked, seeing that, in this passage, it might well appear superfluous, as rather in the way, in fact! Had it been adopted from Mark 7:1 (whence, according to well-nigh the same testimony, is derived the arrangement φαρ. κ. γραμμ., followed by Tisch. 8), it would have been put before γραμμ.

Matthew 15:4. ἐνετείλατο λέγων] Fritzsche, Lachm.: εἶπεν, which Griesb. likewise approved, after B D Te, 1, 124, and several Verss. and Fathers. Taken from Mark 7:10.

Matthew 15:5. καὶ οὐ μὴ τιμήσῃ] Lachm. and Tisch. 8 : οὐ μὴ τιμήσει, after B C D Te א (which has τιμηση), Curss. Verss. and Fathers. The omission of καί is by way of simplifying the construction. But the future has so much testimony in its favour, besides that of B C D, etc., that (with Tisch.) it must be preferred. In what follows Lachm. has deleted τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ (after B D א Syrcur). Omitted in consequence of homoeoteleuton.

Matthew 15:6. τὴν ἐντολήν] Lachm.: τὸν λόγον, after B D א** Verss. and Fathers; Tisch.: τὸν νόμον, after C Te א* Curss. Ptol. The last is correct; τ. ἐντολ. is from Matthew 15:3, τ. λόγ. from Mark 7:13.

λαὸς οὗτος] Elz. Scholz: ἐγγίζει μοι λαὸς οὗτος τῷ στόματι αὐτῶν καί, against B D L Te א, 33, 124, and many Verss. and Fathers. From the LXX.

Matthew 15:14. ὁδηγοί εἰσι τυφλοὶ τυφλῶν] Numerous variations; Lachm.: τυφλοί εἰσιν ὁδηλοὶ τυφλῶν. So L Z א**, Curss. and many Verss. and Fathers, and supported also by B D, 209, Syrcur, which latter have merely τυφλοί εἰσιν ὁδηγοί,(453) where τυφλῶν has been displaced by the τυφλός immediately following. Nevertheless, we must prefer to retain the reading of the Received text, which has still strong testimony in its favour, besides being defended by Tisch. The reading of Lachm. is an unsuccessful attempt to amend the style.

Matthew 15:15. ταύτην] deleted by Lachm. and Tisch. 8, after B Z א, 1, Copt. Or., but it may have been omitted all the more readily from the fact that Mark 7:17 has no demonstrative, and because the parable does not immediately precede.

Matthew 15:16. ἰησοῦς] with Lachm. and Tisch., and on the strength of important testimony, is to be deleted as being a common supplement.

Matthew 15:17. οὔπω] Fritzsche, Lach. and Tisch.: οὐ, after B D Z, 33, 238, Syr. Syrcur Aeth. Arm. It. Vulg. Altered in conformity with Mark 7:19.

Matthew 15:22. ἐκραύγασεν αὐτῷ] Lachm.: ἔκραζεν (on the margin: ἔκραξεν), after B D א** 1; Tisch. 8 : ἔκραξεν, after Z א* 13, 124, Or. Chrys. But of the two words κράζειν is far more generally used in the New Testament ( κραυγάζειν occurs again in Matthew only in Matthew 12:19), and was further suggested here by Matthew 15:23. αὐτῷ, although having rather stronger testimony against it, is likewise to be maintained; for, with the reading ἐκραύγ., it proved to be somewhat in the way, and hence it was either omitted, or interpreted by means of ὀπίσω αὐτοῦ (D, Cant.), or placed after λέγουσα (Vulg. and Codd. of It.).

Matthew 15:25. προσεκύνησεν] Elz.: προσεκύνει, which Fritzsche, Lachm. Scholz, Tisch. likewise read, after Griesb. had approved of the aorist, and Matthaei had adopted it. The greatest amount of testimony generally is in favour of the aorist; the greatest amount of the oldest testimony (including Curss. B D א*, though not C), in favour of the imperfect; the latter is to be preferred, partly just because it is better authenticated, and partly because the transcribers were more used to the aorist of προσκυν.

Matthew 15:26. οὐκ ἔστι καλόν] Fritzsche, Lachm. and Tisch.: οὐκ ἔξεστι, only after D and a few Verss. and Fathers, also Orig. Correctly; the reading of the Received text is from Mark 7:27.

Matthew 15:30. Instead of τοῦ ἰησοῦ we should read αὐτοῦ, with Lachm. and Tisch., according to important testimony.

Matthew 15:31. For λαλοῦντας, B, Aeth. and a few Curss. have ἀκούοντας. Defended by Buttmann in the Stud. u. Krit. 1860, p. 348. It is taken from Matthew 11:5.

For ἐδόξασαν, Tisch. 8 reads ἐδόξαζον, only after L א, Curss.

Matthew 15:32. ἡ΄έραι] Elz.: ἡ΄έρας, against decisive testimony. Correction.

Matthew 15:35 f. ἐκέλευσε λαβών] Lachm. and Tisch. 8 : παραγγείλας τῷ ὄχλῳ ἀναπ. . τ. γ. ἔλαβεν (and καί before εὐχαρ. below), after B D א, Curss. Or. An attempt to amend the style with the help of expressions taken from Mark.

For ἔδωκε, Tisch. 8 has ἐδίδου, after B D, Curss. Chrys. Taken from Mark 8:6.

Matthew 15:39. ἀνέβη] Elz. Schulz, Scholz, Lachm. Tisch. 8 : ἐνέβη, only after B א, Curss. Correction, because ἐ΄β. εἰς τ. πλ. happens to be the common form of expression; Matthew 8:23, Matthew 9:1, Matthew 14:32. D has ἐνβαίνει.

Verse 1

Matthew 15:1. The three sections of ch. 15, having as their respective subjects the washing of hands (Matthew 15:1-20), the woman of Canaan (Matthew 15:21-31), and the feeding of the four thousand (Matthew 15:32-39), occur elsewhere only in Mark (Matthew 7:8), whom Matthew partly abridges and partly supplements.

τότε] when He was staying in the country of Gennesareth.

οἱ ἀπὸ ἱερος. γρ. (see critical notes): the scribes who belonged to Jerusalem, and had come from that city (Mark 7:1). Well-known attraction of the preposition with the article. See Kühner, II. 1, p. 473 ff., and ad Xen. Mem. iii. 6. 11. Comp. Acts 21:27; Colossians 4:16, al.

Verse 2

Matthew 15:2. παράδοσις] ἄγραφος διδασκαλία, Hesychius. The Jews, founding upon Deuteronomy 4:14; Deuteronomy 17:10, for the most part attached greater importance to this tradition than to the written law. Hence, Berachoth f. 3. 2 : הכיבים דברי סופרים מדברי תורה. Comp. Schoettgen. They laid special stress upon the traditional precept, founded on Leviticus 15:11, which required that the hands should be washed before every meal ( ὅταν ἄρτον ἐσθίωσιν, a rendering of the Hebrew אָכַל לֶחֶם). See Lightfoot, Schoettgen, and Wetstein. Jesus and His disciples ignored this παράδοσις as such.

τῶν πρεσβυτ.] which had been handed down from the men of olden time (their forefathers). It is not the scribes that are meant (Fritzsche), nor the elders of the nation (Bleek, Schegg), but comp. Hebrews 11:2. It is the wise men of ancient times that are in view. Observe, moreover, the studied precision and peremptory tone of the question, which has something of an official air about it. The growing hostility begins to show itself in an open and decided manner.

Verse 3

Matthew 15:3. καί] also, implies a comparison between the ὑμεῖς and οἱ μαθηταί σου; that is to say, the παραβαίνειν is acknowledged to be true of both parties, the only difference being in the matters in which the transgression is exemplified. Klotz, ad Devar. p. 636.

διὰ τ. παράδ. ὑμ.] which you observe. Notice how the one question is met with another in the same style, thereby rendering the reductio ad absurdum only the more telling. Luther appropriately remarks that “He places one wedge against the other, and therewith drives the first back.”

Verse 4

Matthew 15:4. Exodus 20:12; Exodus 21:17.

τίμα] involves the idea of a practical manifestation of reverence in the form of kind deeds, Matthew 15:5.

θανάτῳ τελευτ.] מוֹת יוּמָת, the meaning of which (he shall certainly die, he executed) has not been exactly hit by the LXX. in the phrase θανάτῳ τελ., though it is in conformity, with Greek idiom: He shall end (Matthew 2:19) by death (execution, Plat. Rep. p. 492 D, and very frequently in classical writers). See Lobeck, Paral. p. 523; Köster, Erläut. p. 53.

Verse 5

Matthew 15:5 f. δῶρον] sc. ἐστι, קָרְבָּן, a gift, κατʼ ἐξοχήν, namely, to God, i.e. to the temple. See Lightfoot and, in general, Ewald, Alterth. p. 81 ff. Vulgate, Erasmus, Castalio, Maldonatus connect δῶρον with ὠφεληθῇς: a temple-offering, which will be given by me, will bring a blessing to thee. The conjunctive, however, is clearly independent of ἐάν. Chrysostom observes correctly: δῶρόν ἐστι τοῦτο τῷ θεῷ, θέλεις ἐξ ἐμοῦ ὠφεληθῆναι καὶ οὐ δύνασαι λαβεῖν.

There is an aposiopesis after ὠφεληθῇς, whereupon Jesus proceeds in His discourse with καὶ οὐ μὴ τιμής. But your teaching is: “Whoever will have said to his father: It is given to the temple, whatever thou wouldest have got from me by way of helping thee” (the Jews, of course, understood the apodosis to be this: he is not bound by that commandment, but the obligation is transferred to his Corban). And (in consequence of this vow) he will certainly not be honouring. Comp. Käuffer, de ζωῆς αἰων. notione, p. 32 f., and Beza, de Wette, Keim. Some, however, postpone the aposiopesis till the close, and understand καὶ οὐ μὴ τιμής. as forming part of what is supposed to be spoken by the Pharisees in their teaching: But whosoever says … and does not honour … (he is not liable to punishment). So Fritzsche. But this is not in keeping with usage as regards οὐ μή; nor is it in itself a probable thing that the Pharisees should have said quite so plainly that the honouring of parents might be dispensed with. Others, again, reject the aposiopesis, and regard καὶ οὐ μὴ τιμ. etc. as an apodosis, taking the words, like the expositors just referred to, as forming part of what is understood to be spoken by the Pharisees: “whoever says … he is not called upon, in such cases, to honour his parents as well.” Such, after Grotius, is the interpretation of Bengel, Olshausen, Bleek; comp. Winer, p. 558 [E. T. 750, note]. According to this view, καί would be that of the apodosis (Klotz, ad Devar. p. 636) in a relative construction (Baeumlein, Partik. p. 146). But οὐ μὴ τιμ. does not mean: he need not honour, but: he assuredly will not honour; or, as Ewald and Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 391, explain it, he shall not honour,—which direct prohibition from the lips of such wily hypocrites as those Pharisees, is far less conceivable than the prudent aposiopesis above referred to.

For ὠφελεῖσθαί τι ἔκ τινος, comp. Thuc. vi. 12. 2 : ὠφεληθῇ τι ἐκ τῆς ἀρχῆς, Lys. xxi. 18, xxvii. 2; Aesch. Prom. 222; Soph. Aj. 533. More frequently with ὑπό, παρά, ἀπό. The opposite of it is: ζημιοῦσθαί τι ἔκ τινος, Dem. lii. 11. For the passive with accusative of the thing, see Kühner, II. 1, p. 279 f.

καὶ ἠκυρώσατε] and you have thereby deprived of its authority. ἠκυρ. is placed first for sake of emphasis, and is stronger than παραβαίνετε in Matthew 15:3. That such vows, leading to a repudiation of the fifth commandment, were actually made and held as binding, is evident from Tr. Nedarim v. 6, ix. 1. Joseph, c. Ap. i. 22.

Matthew 15:6 is a confirmation, and not a mere echo, of what is said in Matthew 15:3.

Verse 7

Matthew 15:7 ff. καλῶς] admirably, appropriately characterizing.

προεφήτ.] has predicted, which de Wette unwarrantably denies to be the meaning of the word in the present instance, understanding προφ. in the sense of the inspired utterance generally. Jesus regards Isaiah 29:13 (not strictly in accordance with the LXX.) as a typical prediction, which has found its fulfilment in the conduct of the scribes and Pharisees.

μάτην δέ] δέ denotes a continuation of the matter in hand; and μάτην indicates, according to the usual explanation, that their σέβεσθαι is attended with no beneficial result (2 Maccabees 7:18, and classical writers), produces no moral effect upon their heart and life, because they teach as doctrines the commandments of men. But seeing that the μάτην σέβεσθαι consists of mere lip-service in which the heart plays no part, thus according with the idea involved in ὑποκριταί,—and inasmuch as διδάσκοντες, etc., is evidence that such is the nature of the service, the interpretation: sine causa, found so early as in the Vulgate, is better suited to the context. Their σέβεσθαι of God is meaningless (temere, comp. Soph. Aj. 634, and Lobeck’s note, Ast, Lex. Plat. II. p. 285), because they do not teach divine, but human doctrine, the consequence of which is that the σέβεσθαι has no motive principle in the heart, where, on the contrary, human interest takes the place of the fear of God. Comp. the μάταιος θρησκεία of James 1:26. For the opposite of such worship, consult John 4:24. See Apol. Conf. A., pp. 206, 256.

There is no Hebrew word corresponding to μάτην in the above quotation from Isaiah; probably the text made use of by the LXX. contained a different reading.

ἐντάλμ. ἀνθρ.] promulgating as doctrines, precepts of a merely human origin; comp. Colossians 2:22.

Verse 10

Matthew 15:10. ἐκείνους μὲν ἐπιστομίσας καὶ καταισχύνας ἀφῆκεν, ὡς ἀνιάτους, τρέπει δὲ τὸν λόγον πρὸς τὸν ὄχλον, ὡς ἀξιολογογώτερον, Euth. Zigabenus. During the discussion the ὄχλος had been standing in the background; He invites them to come near.

Verse 11

Matthew 15:11. κοινοῖ] makes common, profanes ( חִלֵּל), comp. 4 Maccabees 7:6, nowhere found in classical writers; in the New Testament, in Acts 10:15; Acts 11:9; Acts 21:28; Hebrews 9:13; Revelation 21:27. What Jesus has in view at present is not legal, but moral defilement, and which is not produced (1 Timothy 4:4) by what goes into the mouth (food and drink, as well as the partaking of these with unwashed hands), but by that which comes out of it (improper language). So far as can be gathered from the context, he is not saying anything against the Mosaic regulations relating to meats, though one cannot help regarding what he does say as so applicable to these, as to bring into view the prospect of their abrogation as far as they are merely ceremonial (comp. Keim, and Weizsäcker, p. 463), and, as a consequence of this latter, the triumph of the idea which they embody, i.e. their fulfillment (Matthew 5:17). Observe, further, that it is meat and drink only in themselves considered, that he describes as matters of indifference, saying nothing at present as to the special circumstances in which partaking of the one or the other might be regarded as sinful (excess, offences, 1 Corinthians 8, and so on). See Matthew 15:17.

Verse 12

Matthew 15:12. προσελθ.] Matthew does not say where? According to Mark 7:17, this took place in the house.

τὸν λόγον] Fritzsche and many more take this as referring to Matthew 15:3-9. It is to understand it, with Euth. Zigabenus, as pointing to the saying in Matthew 15:11 (Paulus, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Bleek). For this, addressed as it was to the multitude, must have been peculiarly displeasing to the Pharisees; and ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον would, on any other supposition than the above, be deprived of its significance as stating the ground of offence.

Verse 13

Matthew 15:13. The correct interpretation is the ordinary one (being also that of Ewald and Keim), according to which φυτεία is taken as a figurative way of expressing the teaching. The fact of Jesus having attacked their teaching, in Matthew 15:11, had given offence to the Pharisees. Consequently He now explains why it is that He does not spare such teaching: every doctrine, He says, that is not of God, that is merely human in its origin, will pass away and perish, as the result, that is, of the Messianic reformation which is in the course of developing itself. Nothing is said about the Pharisees personally (whom Chrysostom supposes to be included in what is said about the teaching) till Matthew 15:14. This in answer to Fritzsche, Olshausen, de Wette, Hilgenfeld, Bleek, who find in the words a prediction of the extirpation of the Pharisees (“characters of this stamp will soon have played out their game,” de Wette). What is expressed figuratively by means of πᾶσα φυτεία, ἣν οὐκ ἐφύτευσεν πατήρ μου, is the same thing that, in Matthew 15:9, is designated literally as διδασκαλίας ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων.

On φυτεία, planting (Plat. Theag. p. 121 C Xen. Oec. vii. 20, xix. 1), i.e. in this instance: something planted, comp. Ignatius, ad Philad. III. ad Trall. xi, where, however, it is not used with regard to false teaching, but with reference to false teachers. In classic Greek the form is φύτευμα, or φυτόν.

Verse 14

Matthew 15:14. ἄφετε αὐτούς] Let them alone, dismiss them from your thoughts! Comp. Soph. Phil. 1043 (1054): ἄφετε γὰρ αὐτὸν, μηδὲ προσψαύσητʼ ἔτι. “Indignos esse pronuntiat, quorum haberi debeat ratio,” Calvin.

In the application of the general saying: τυφλὸς δὲ τυφλὸν, etc., the falling into a ditch (cistern, or any other hole in the earth, as in Matthew 12:17) is to be understood as a figurative expression for being cast into Gehenna. These blind teachers, whose minds are closed against the entrance of divine truth (comp. Matthew 23:16; Romans 2:19), are with their blind followers hopelessly lost!

Observe what emphasis there is in the fourfold repetition of τυφλοί, etc. The very acme of Pharisaic blindness was their maintaining that they were not blind, John 9:40.

Verse 15

Matthew 15:15. πέτρος] differs, though not materially, from Mark 7:17.

παραβολή] in this instance מָשָׁל, a saying embodied in some figurative representation, an apophthegm. Etym. M.: αἰνιγματώδης λόγος, πολλοὶ λέγουσι ζήτημα, ἐμφαῖνον μέν τι, οὐκ αὐτόθεν δὲ πάντως δῆλον ἀπὸ τῶν ῥημάτων, ἀλλʼ ἔχον ἐντὸς διάνοιαν κεκρυμμένην. Comp. note on Matthew 13:3; φράσον, as in Matthew 13:36.

ταύτην] It was the saying of Matthew 15:11 that was present to Peter’s mind as having giving occasion to the words that had just fallen from Jesus. It is just that same λόγος which, according to Matthew 15:12, had given offence to the Pharisees. But the explanation of it which is now furnished by Jesus is of such a nature as to be by no means self-evident.

Verse 16

Matthew 15:16. ἀκμήν] in the sense of adhuc (frequently met with in Polybius), belongs to the Greek of a later age. Phrynichus, p. 123, and Lobeck’s note.

καὶ ὑμεῖς] even you, although you are my regular disciples.

Verse 17

Matthew 15:17 ff. οὔπω νοεῖτε, κ. τ. λ.] Do you not yet understand that, and so on, notwithstanding all that I have already done to develope your minds?

Food and drink are simply things that pass into the stomach to be digested there, and have nothing in common with man’s spiritual nature, with his reason, his will, and his affections and desires ( καρδία, the centre of the whole inner life, see note on Matthew 22:37). Notice the contrast between εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν (abdominal cavity, see note on John 7:38) and ἐκ τῆς καρδίας.

Matthew 15:19. Proof of what is said in Matthew 15:18 : for the heart is the place where immoral thoughts, murders, adulteries, and so on, therefore where inward and outward sins, are first conceived, and from which they pass into actual transgressions. Accordingly, it is that which comes out of the heart, and expresses itself by means of the mouth (Matthew 15:18), which defiles the man as a moral being. The opposite case, in which the heart sends forth what is good, presupposes conversion.

The plurals denote different instances of murder, adultery, and so on (Kühner, II. 1, p. 15 f.; Maetzner, ad Lycurg. p. 144 f.), and render the language more forcible (Bremi, ad Aeschin. p. 326).

βλασφημ.] i.e. against one’s neighbour, on account of the connection with ψευδομ. Comp. note on Ephesians 4:31.

Verse 21

Matthew 15:21. ἐκεῖθεν] See Matthew 14:34.

ἀνεχώρησεν] He withdrew, to avoid being entrapped and molested by the Pharisees. Comp. Matthew 12:15, Matthew 14:13.

εἰς τὰ μέρη] not: towards the districts, versus (Syr. Grotius, Bengel, Fritzsche, Olshausen), for the only meaning of εἰς that naturally and readily suggests itself is: into the districts (Matthew 2:22), of Tyre and Sidon. This, however, is not to be understood as implying that Jesus had crossed the borders of Palestine and entered Gentile territory, which is precluded by the words of Matthew 15:22 : ἀπὸ τ. ὁρίων ἐκ. ἐξελθοῦσα, but as meaning, that he went: into the (Galilean) districts which border upon the precincts of Tyre and Sidon. Comp. note on Mark 7:24, according to which evangelist Jesus does not pass through Sidon till afterwards, when proceeding farther on His way (Mark 7:31). This in answer to Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, de Wette, Arnoldi, Bleek, Schenkel, whose expedient of supposing that Jesus betook Himself to this Gentile valley, not for the purpose of teaching, but to make Himself acquainted with the feelings of the people who lived there (Schenkel), may be pronounced to be as arbitrary as the supposition that He only wanted (Calvin) to give praeludia quaedam of the conversion of the Gentiles.

Verse 22

Matthew 15:22. χαναναῖα] Several tribes of the Canaanites, כְּנַעֲנִי, who were the original inhabitants of Palestine, went and settled in the north, and founded what was subsequently known as the Phoenician nation, Winer, Realwörterbuch. Lightfoot on this passage.

ἐξελθοῦσα] She crossed the frontier into the contiguous territory of the Jews, where Jesus happened to be. According to Paulus, the woman came out of her house; according to de Wette, Bleek: from some place nearer the centre of the country. Both views are in opposition to the terms of our passage, which plainly state where she came out from.

υἱὲ δαυ.] She so addresses Jesus, because, from living in the neighbourhood of the Jews, she was familiar with their Messianic expectations, and with the Messiah’s title, as well as with the Messianic reputation of Jesus. Looking to what is said in Matthew 15:26, she cannot be supposed to have been a proselyte of the gate. The Gentiles also believed in demoniacal possession.

ἐλέησόν με] “Suam fecerat pia mater miseriam filiae,” Bengel.

Verse 23

Matthew 15:23. At first a silent indication, and then an express intimation of His disinclination to favour her.

ἀπόλυσον αὐτήν] send her away, that is, with her request granted. Bengel says well: “Sic solebat Jesus dimittere.”

Thus they begged Jesus; very frequently in the New Testament (in Matthew, only on this occasion; in Mark, only in Matthew 7:26; in Luke and John, very often; in Paul, only in Philippians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:1), and contrary to classical usage, though according to the LXX. (= שָׁאַל, see Schleusner, Thes. II. p. 529). ἐρωτάω is used in the sense of to beg, to request. It is not so with regard to ἐπερωτάω. See note on Matthew 16:1.

ὅτι κράζει, κ. τ. λ.] so importunate is she.

Verse 24

Matthew 15:24. Those words are addressed to the disciples (comp. note on Matthew 10:6); the answer to the woman comes afterwards in Matthew 15:26.

It is usually supposed that what Jesus had in view was merely to put her confidence in Him to the test (Ebrard, Baur, Schenkel, Weiss); whilst Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Luther, Glöckler, assert that His aim was to furnish her with an opportunity for displaying her faith. But the moral sense protests against this apparent cruelty of playing the part of a dissembler with the very intention of tormenting; it rather prefers to recognise in our Lord’s demeanour a sincere disposition to repel, which, however, is subsequently conquered by the woman’s unshaken trust (Chrysostom: καλὴν ἀναισχυντίαν). Ewald appropriately observes how, on this occasion, Jesus shows His greatness in a twofold way: first, in prudently and resolutely confining Himself to the sphere of His own country; and then in no less thoughtfully overstepping this limit whenever a higher reason rendered it proper to do so, and as if to foreshadow what was going to take place a little farther on in the future.

It was not intended that Christ should come to the Gentiles in the days of His flesh, but that He should do so at a subsequent period (Matthew 28:19), in the person of the Spirit acting through the medium of apostolic preaching (John 10:16; Ephesians 2:17). But the difficulty of reconciling this with Matthew 8:5, Matthew 11:12, on which Hilgenfeld lays some stress, as being in favour of our present narrative, is somewhat lessened by the fact that, according to Luke 7:2 ff., the centurion was living in the heart of the people, and might be said to be already pretty much identified with Judaism; whereas we have a complete stranger in the case of the woman, before whom Jesus sees Himself called upon, in consequence of their request, Matthew 15:23, strictly to point out to His disciples that His mission, so far as its fundamental object was concerned, was to be confined exclusively to Israel. Volkmar, indeed, makes out that the words were never spoken at all; that their teaching is of a questionable nature; and that the whole thing is an imitation of the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17); while Scholten, p. 213, regards it merely as a symbolical representation of the relation of the Gentile world to the kingdom of God, and which had come to be treated as a fact.

Verse 26

Matthew 15:26. It is not allowable (see critical notes) to take (sumere, circumstantial way of putting it, not: to take away) the bread belonging to the children and cast it to the dogs,—a general proposition for the purpose of expressing the thought: I must not allow the Gentiles to participate in my blessings, belonging as they do only to the people of Israel (the children of God, Romans 9:4). Jesus speaks “ex communi gentis loquela potius quam ex sensu suo” (Lightfoot); for it was the practice among the Jews to designate heathens (and subsequently, Christians also) as dogs; see Lightfoot and Wetstein, likewise Eisenmenger, entdeckt. Judenth. I. p. 713 ff. For the diminutive, see note on Matthew 15:27. In this passage it is intended to mitigate the harshness of the expression.

Verse 27

Matthew 15:27. ναί, as in Matthew 11:9; Matthew 11:26, confirms the whole statement of Jesus in Matthew 15:26 (not merely the appellation of dogs, Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Erasmus, Maldonatus); and καὶ γάρ means, as everywhere in the New Testament, and even to a far greater extent among classical writers (who use it but rarely in the sense of namque,

καί consequently is connective), for even; see especially, Kühner, II. 2, p. 855. It gives a reason for the ναί; but it is quite according to rule to regard τὰ κυνάρια as the expression to which καί is meant to give prominence. Consequently the passage would run thus: Yes, Lord, Thou art right in what Thou sayest, for even the dogs eat of the crumbs, and so on; or, to express it negatively (with οὐδὲ γάρ): for even the dogs are not sent away empty, and so on. That is to say, this καί, so far as can be seen from the context, cannot be intended to serve any other purpose than to suggest a comparison between the κυνάρια and the τέκνα, so that the passage may be paraphrased as follows: Thou art right, Lord; for not merely the children are filled with bread at the family-meal, but—so richly is the table spread—even the dogs receive their share, inasmuch as they eat of the fragments, and so on. It would therefore be but the more unseemly to take the children’s bread and cast it to the dogs, so as possibly to leave the former unfed. But in thus justifying her ναὶ, κύριε, the woman seeks to suggest the inference to our Lord that He might yet venture to give her that which is hinted at in those ψιχία with which the κυνάρια have to be contented. Of course by this she means a share of His abundant mercy, after the wants of Israel have been fully supplied. Following Grotius and Kuinoel, de Wette explains incorrectly: For it is even usual for the dogs to get nothing but the fragments. In that case we should have expected to find: καὶ γὰρ ἀπὸ τῶν ψιχίων ἐσθίει, κ. τ. λ. Fritzsche (comp. Bleek, Schegg) is likewise wrong when he explains thus: Yes, Lord, it is allowable to give the bread to the dogs, for, and so on. As against this view we have not merely ναί, which can only be taken as a confirming, a justifying of what Jesus had said, not simply the ignoring of καὶ γάρ, which it would involve, but also the “repugnandi audacia,” which is not to be excused in consideration of the κύριε, and the meaning itself, which would certainly not bear out the idea of a contradiction on the part of the woman. But if there is one thing more than another that must not be associated with the tender language of this woman, it is the appearance of anything like contradiction. Finally, all interpretations are wrong which would necessitate our having ἀλλά instead of καὶ γάρ (Chrysostom, Luther, Vatablus, Glöckler, Baumgarten-Crusius).

The reason why we find Jesus, Matthew 15:26, and consequently the woman also, Matthew 15:27, making use of the diminutive κυνάρια (a classical term, Plat. Euthyd. p. 298 D Xen. Cyr. viii. 4. 20, although discarded by Phrynichus, p. 180), is because His idea is that of a family-meal, in connection with which it was not unnatural to think of the little house-dogs that ran about under the table (comp. τραπεζῆες κύνες, Hom. Il. xxiii. 173). The plural τῶν κυρίων may be ascribed to the fact that, in what she says, the woman is understood to be stating what is matter of general experience.

Verse 28

Matthew 15:28. ἀπὸ τῆς ὥρας ἐκ.] See note on Matthew 9:22.

The miracle is one of healing from a distance, as in Matthew 8:13, John 4:46 ff., and is to be regarded neither as an allegory of Jesus’ own composing (Weisse, I. p. 527), which came subsequently to be looked upon as the record of a miracle, nor as being a mere case of the miraculous prediction of the future (Ammon. L. J. II. p. 277).

Verse 29

Matthew 15:29 ff. παρὰ τὴν θάλ. τ. γαλ.] according to Mark 7:31, the eastern shore.

τὸ ὄρος] the mountain just at hand. See notes on Matthew 5:1, Matthew 14:22.

κυλλούς] deformed, lame, without specifying further; but the word is used not merely with reference to the hands or arms (comp. as evidence to the contrary, the well-known nickname of Vulcan: κυλλοποδίων, Hom. Il. xviii. 371, xxi. 331), but also to the feet.

ἔῤῥιψαν] The flinging down is to be taken, not as indicating the careless confidence (Fritzsche, de Wette, Bleek), but rather the haste of the people, in consequence of so many sick being brought to Jesus. Comp. Er. Schmid, Bengel. The reference to the helplessness of the sick (Baumgarten-Crusius) would be suited only to the case of the χωλοί and κυλλοί.

παρὰ τ. πόδας] for as προσκυνοῦντες it behoved them to prostrate themselves before Him.

Matthew 15:31. τὸν θεὸν ἰσρ.] who shows His care for His people by communicating to them, through Jesus, such extraordinary blessings. ἰσρ. is added in the consciousness of the advantages they possessed over the neighbouring Gentiles.

Verse 32

Matthew 15:32. In this second instance of feeding the multitude, and which is likewise recorded in Mark 8:1 ff. (and that in a more authentic form), Jesus takes the initiative, as in John 6:5; not so in Matthew 14:15.

ἡμέραι τρεῖς] because they have remained with me, it is now three days, and, and so on. For this elliptical way of inserting the time in the nominative, see Winer, p. 523 [E. T. 704]; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 122 [E. T. 139]; Fritzsche, ad Marc. p. 310 f.

καὶ οὐκ ἔχουσι. κ. τ. λ.] for in the course of the three days they had consumed the provisions they had brought along with them.

Verse 33

Matthew 15:33 ff. See note on Matthew 14:15 ff.

ἡμῖν] “Jam intelligebant discipuli, suas fore in ea re partes aliquas,” Bengel.

ὥστε] not a telic particle (de Wette), but what is meant is: such a quantity of bread as will be sufficient for their wants, and so on. The use of ὥστε after τοσοῦτος in a way corresponding to this is of very frequent occurrence (Plat. Gorg. p. 458 C). See Sturz, Lex. Xen. IV. p. 320; Kühner, II. 2, p. 1003. Notice the emphatic correlation of τοσοῦτοι and τοσοῦτον.

The perplexity of the disciples, and the fact of their making no reference to what was formerly done under similar circumstances, combined with the great resemblance between the two incidents, have led modern critics to assume that Matthew and Mark simply give what is only a duplicate narrative of one and the same occurrence (Schleiermacher, Scholz, Kern, Credner, Strauss, Neander, de Wette, Hase, Ewald, Baur, Köstlin, Hilgenfeld, Holtzmann, Weiss, Weizsäcker, Volkmar, Keim, Scholten); while Wilke and Bruno Bauer maintain, though quite unwarrantably, that in Mark the account of the second instance of miraculous feeding is an interpolation; and Weiss, on the other hand, is of opinion that this evangelist has constructed his duplicate out of materials drawn from two distinct sources (1865, p. 346 f.). As a consequence of this duplicate-hypothesis, it has been found necessary to question the authenticity of Matthew 16:9 f., Mark 8:19. The whole difficulty in connection with this matter arises chiefly out of the question of the disciples, and the fact of their seeming to have no recollection of what took place before,—a difficulty which is not to be got rid of by reminding us of their feeble capacities (Olshausen), but which justifies us in assuming that there were actually two instances of miraculous feeding of a substantially similar character, but that (Bleek) in the early traditions the accounts came to assume pretty much the same shape, all the more that the incidents themselves so closely resembled each other.

Matthew 15:34. ἰχθύδια] Observe the use of the diminutive on the part of the disciples themselves (“extenuant apparatum,” Bengel); the use of ἰχθύας, on the other hand, in the narrative, Matthew 15:36.

Matthew 15:35. κελεύειν τινι] occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, though frequently in Homer and later writers (Plat. Rep. p. 396 A). See Bornemann in the Sächs. Stud. 1843, p. 51.

Matthew 15:37. Seven baskets full is in apposition with τὸ περισς. τ. κλασμ.,

σπυρίς is the term regularly employed to denote a basket for carrying provisions when on a journey, sporta. Comp. Arr. Ep. iv. 10. 21; Athen. viii. p. 365 A Valckenaer, Schol. I. p. 455. The seven baskets corresponded to the seven loaves, Matthew 15:34; the twelve baskets, Matthew 14:20, to the twelve apostles.

χωρὶς γυναικ. κ. παιδ.] See note on Matthew 14:21.

Verse 39

Matthew 15:39. The village of Magdala (Joshua 19:38?) is not to be regarded as situated on the east (Lightfoot, Wetstein, Cellarius), but on the west side of the lake, where now stands the Mohammedan village of Mejdel. See Gesenius on Burckhardt, II. p. 559; Buckingham, I. p. 404; Robinson, Pal. III. p. 530. This situation likewise corresponds with Mark 7:21. Comp. note on Matthew 15:29. It is well, however, to take note of the reading ΄αγαδάν (B D א Syrcur Syr. in this instance; similarly Lachmann, Tischendorf; comp. Erasmus and Grotius), or ΄αγεδάν (Vulgate, It., Jerome, Augustine), which unknown name might readily enough have been supplanted by one rendered more familiar on account of its connection with Mary Magdalene. In C M, Curss. the final syllable is still retained ( ΄αγδαλάν). According to Ewald, Magadan, or Magedan, refers to the well-known town of Megiddo. But this latter was too far inland (Robinson, III. p. 413 f.; Furer in Schenkel’s Bibellex.), for it would seem, from what is stated in the text ( ἀνέβη εἰς τὸ πλ. καὶ ᾖλθεν), that the place meant must have been somewhere on the shore, and one admitting of being approached by a boat. Mark 8:10 calls it Dalmanutha.


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Matthew 15:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

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Sunday, January 19th, 2020
Second Sunday after Epiphany
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