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Barnes' Notes on the New Testament

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Verses 1-23. See this passage explained in the Barnes Notes on Matthew 15:1-20. See Barnes "Matthew 15:1" and Matthew 15:2-20.

Verse 1. Came from Jerusalem. Probably to observe his conduct, and to find matter of accusation against him.

{l} "Then came together" Matthew 15:1

Verse 2. Defiled hands. The hands were considered defiled, or polluted, unless they were washed previous to every meal.

{2} "defiled" or, "common"

Verse 3. Except they wash their hands oft. The word oft means frequently, often. The word translated oft has been rendered various ways. Some have said that it means "up to the wrist;" unless they wash their hands up to the wrist. Others have said, "up to the elbow." There is evidence that the Pharisees had some such foolish rule as this about washing, and it is likely that they practised it faithfully, But the word probably means, diligently, accurately, carefully. Unless they wash their hands carefully, or according to rule, etc.

The tradition. What had been handed down, not what was delivered by writing in the law of Moses, but what had been communicated from father to son, as being proper and binding. The elders. The ancients, not the old men then living, but those who had lived formerly.

{1} "hands oft" or, "diligently" "Gr. with the fist" Theophylact,
"up to the elbow"

{m} "tradition" Galatians 1:14; Colossians 2:8,22,23

Verse 4. Market. This word means either the place where provisions were sold, or the place where men were convened for any purpose. In this place it probably means the former.

Except they wash. In the original, "Except they baptize." In this place it does not mean to immerse the whole body, but the hands only. There is no evidence that the Jews washed their whole bodies every time they came from market. It is probable they washed as a mere ceremony; and often, doubtless, with the use of a very small quantity of water.

The washing of cups. In the Greek, the baptism of cups.

Cups. Drinking vessels. Those used at their meals.

Pots. Measures of liquids. Vessels made of wood, used to hold wine, vinegar, etc.

Brasen vessels. Vessels made of brass, used in cooking or otherwise. These, if much polluted, were commonly passed through the fire; if slightly polluted, they were washed. Earthen vessels, if defiled, were usually broken.

Tables. This word means, in the original, beds or couches. It refers not to the tables on which they ate, but to the couches on which they reclined at their meals. See Barnes "Matthew 23:6". These were supposed to be defiled when any unclean or polluted person had reclined on them; and they deemed it necessary to purify them with water. The word baptism is here used--in the original, the baptism of tables; but as it cannot be supposed that couches were entirely immersed in water, the word baptism, here, must denote some other application of water, by sprinkling or otherwise, and shows that the term is used in the sense of washing in any way. If the word here is used, as is clear, to denote anything except entire immersion, it may be elsewhere; and baptism is lawfully performed without immersing the whole body in water.

{n} "except they wash" Job 9:30,31
{2} "and pots" "Sexatarius is about a pint and a half"
{3} "of tables" or, "tables"

Verse 5. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 6. No Barnes text on this verse.

{o} "Esaias" Isaiah 29:13

Verse 7. For doctrines. For commands of God binding on the conscience. Imposing your traditions as equal in authority to the commands of God.

Verse 8. Laying aside. Rejecting, or making it give place to traditions; considering the traditions as superior in authority to the Divine law. This was the uniform doctrine of the Pharisees. See Matthew 15:1-9.

The tradition of men. What has been handed down by men, or what rests solely on their authority.

{p} "For laying aside" Isaiah 1:12

Verse 9. Full well. These words are capable of different interpretations. Some read them as a question: "Do ye do well in rejecting?" etc. Others suppose they mean skilfully, cunningly. "You show great cunning, or art, in laying aside God's commands, and substituting in their place those of men." Others suppose them to be ironical. "How nobly you act! From conscientious attachment to your traditions, you have made void the law of God;" meaning to intimate by it, that they had acted wickedly and basely.

{1} "reject" or, "frustrate"

Verse 10. No Barnes text on this verse.

{q} "Honour thy father" Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16

Verse 11. No Barnes text on this verse.

{r} "Whoso curses" Exodus 21:17; Leviticus 20:9; Proverbs 20:20

Verse 12. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 13. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 14. No Barnes text on this verse.

{t} "and understand" Proverbs 8:5; Isaiah 6:9; Acts 8:30

Verse 15. No Barnes text on this verse.

Verse 16. No Barnes text on this verse.

{u} "If any man" Matthew 11:15

Verse 17. The parable. The obscure and difficult remarks which he had made in Mark 7:15. The word parable, here, means obscure and difficult saying. They could not understand it. They had probably imbibed many of the popular notions of the Pharisees, and they could not understand why a man was not defiled by external things. It was, moreover, a doctrine of the law, that men were ceremonially polluted by contact with dead bodies, etc., and they could not understand how it could be otherwise.

{v} "And when" Matthew 15:15

Verse 18. Cannot defile him. Cannot render his soul polluted; cannot make him a sinner, so as to need this purifying as a religious observance.

Verse 19. Entereth not into his heart. Does not reach or affect the mind, the soul, and consequently cannot pollute it. Even if it should affect the body, yet it cannot the soul, and consequently cannot need to be cleansed by a religious ordinance. The notions of the Pharisees, therefore, are not founded in reason, but are mere superstition.

The draught. The sink, the vault.

Purging all meats, The word purging, here, means to purify, to cleanse. What is thrown out of the body is the innutrious part of the food taken into the stomach, and leaving only that which is proper for the support of life; and it cannot, therefore, defile the soul.

All meats. All food; all that is taken into the body to support life. The meaning is, that the economy or process by which life is supported, purifies or renders nutritious all kinds of food. The unwholesome parts are separated, and the wholesome only are taken into the system. This agrees with all that has since been discovered of the process of digestion, and of the support of life. The food taken into the stomach is, by the gastric juice, converted into a thick pulp, called chyme. The nutritious part of this is conveyed into small vessels and changed into a milky substance called chyle. This is changed into blood, and the blood conveys nutriment and support to all parts of the system. The useless parts of the food are thrown off.

{w} "but into" 1 Corinthians 6:13

Verse 20. That which cometh out of the man. His words; the expression of his thoughts and feelings; his conduct, as the expression of in- ward malice, anger, covetousness, lust, etc.

Defileth the man. Is really polluted, or offensive in the sight of God. They render the soul corrupt and abominable in the sight of God. See Matthew 15:18-20.

Verse 21. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

{x} "For from within" Genesis 6:5; Psalms 14:1,3; 53:1,3; Jeremiah 17:9

Verse 22. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

{1} "covetousness, wickedness" "wickednesses"

Verse 23. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

Verses 24-30. See this miracle explained in Matthew 15:21-28.

Verse 24. Would have no man know it. To avoid the designs of the Pharisees, he wished to be retired.

{y} "And from thence" Matthew 15:21
{z} "but he could not be hid" Mark 2:1

Verse 25. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

Verse 26. A Greek. The Jews called all persons Greeks who were not of their nation. Compare Romans 1:14. The whole world was considered as divided into Jews and Greeks. Though she might not have been strictly a Greek, yet she came under this general appellation.

{1} "Greek" or, "Gentile"

Verse 27. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

{a} "for it is not" Matthew 7:6; 10:5,6

Verse 28. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

{b} "yet the dogs" Romans 15:8,9; Ephesians 2:12-14

Verse 29. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

{c} "For this saying" Isaiah 66:2

Verse 30. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

{d} "the devil gone out" 1 John 3:8

Verse 31. Departing from the coasts. The country, or regions of Tyre.

Came unto the sea of Galilee. The sea of Tiberias.

Decapolis. See Matthew 4:25. He did not go immediately into Capernaum, or any city where he was known, but into the retired regions around the sea of Galilee. This was done to avoid the designs of the Pharisees who sought his life.

{e} "And again" Matthew 15:29

Verse 32. They bring. That is, his friends brought, or the people brought.

One that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech. Not entirely dumb, but who spoke indistinctly or with difficulty. His deafness might not have been of long standing; and his speech, therefore, not entirely ruined.

To put his hand upon him. That is, to cure him. Blessings were commonly imparted by laying on the hands.

Verse 33. And he took him aside from the multitude. Why this was done we have no means of information. It might have been to conceal from the multitude everything respecting the manner of cure, in order that none might attempt to cure in a similar way.

And put his fingers into his ears, etc. Why this was done it has been found exceedingly difficult to explain. Our Lord had power at once to open his ears and loose his tongue, but for some cause he chose to accompany it with a sign. It was intended, probably, simply as a sign that the power of healing came from Jesus; to satisfy the man by the touch that he had this power, and that it could come from no other quarter. Our Saviour often used signs in this way to denote his power to heal. See Mark 8:23; John 9:6.

{f} "and he spit" Mark 8:23; John 9:6

Verse 34. Looking up to heaven. To lift up the eyes to heaven is an act imploring aid from God, and denotes an attitude of prayer, Psalms 121:1,2; Mark 6:41; John 11:41.

He sighed. Pitying the sufferings of the man who stood before him,

Ephphatha. This word is Syriac, the language which our Lord used in addressing the man, and means, "Be opened."

{g} "And looking up to heaven" Mark 6:41; John 11:41; 17:1
{h} "he sighed" John 11:33,38

Verse 35. The string of his tongue was loosed. The difficulty in his speaking was removed.

{i} "straightway" Isaiah 35:5,6

Verse 36. Tell no man. Do not noise it abroad. He was not ambitious of being known; and he knew that if much was said of his cures, it would excite the jealousy of the Pharisees, and endanger his life.

Verse 37. Beyond measure. Exceedingly; very much. In the Greek, "Very abundantly."

He hath done all things well. All things in a remarkable manner; or, he has perfectly effected the cure of the deaf and the dumb.

{k} "saying" Psalms 139:14; Acts 14:11
{l} "maketh both the deaf" Exodus 4:10,11

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Mark 7". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". <>.  


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