The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire BibleMatthew 9:14
Then came to him the disciples of John…
Of John the
Baptist, to whom they had addicted themselves, and by whom they
abode: though their master was in prison, and the Messiah was known
to be come, yet still they were attached to John, and particularly
imitated him in the austerities of his life. These, either hearing
of the great entertainment made at Matthew's house for Christ, and
his disciples, at which they were offended; or else being moved, and
set on by the Pharisees, with whom they were agreed in the business
of fasting, came to Christ where he was, and put this question to
saying, why do we, and the Pharisees, fast oft, but thy disciples
Not that they wanted to know the reason why they and the
Pharisees fasted; that they could account for themselves, but why
Christ's disciples did not: and this is said not so much by way of
inquiry, as reproof; and their sense is; that Christ's disciples
ought to fast, as well as they and the Pharisees, and not eat, and
drink, and feast in the manner they did. The fastings here referred
to are not the public fasts enjoined by the law of Moses, or in any
writings of the Old Testament; but private fasts, which were
enjoined by John to his disciples, and by the Pharisees to their's;
or which were, according to the traditions of the elders, or of
their own appointing, and which were very "often" indeed: for
besides their fasting twice a week, on Monday and Thursday,
(Luke 18:12) they had a multitude of fasts upon divers occasions,
particularly for rain F3. If the 17th of Marchesvan, or October,
came, and there was no rain, private persons kept three days of
fasting, viz. Monday, Thursday, and Monday again: and if the month
of Cisleu, or November, came, and there was no rain, then the
sanhedrim appointed three fast days, which were on the same days as
before, for the congregation; and if still there was no rain came,
they added three more; and if yet there were none, they enjoined
seven more, in all thirteen, which R. Acha and R. Barachiah kept
themselves F4. Fasts were kept also on account of many other evils,
as pestilence, famine, war, sieges, inundations, or any other
calamity; sometimes for trifling things, as for dreams F5, that
they might have good ones, or know how to interpret them, or avoid
any ill omen by them; and it is almost incredible what frequent
fastings some of the Rabbins exercised themselves with, on very
insignificant occasions. They F6 say,
``R. Jose (Nymwu yynmt Mu) , "fasted fourscore fasts" to see R.
Chiyah Rubba; at last he saw, and his hands trembled, and
his eyes grew dim: --R. Simeon Ben Lakish (Nymwu Nwwam)
(tlt Mu) , "fasted three hundred fastings" to see R. Chiyah
Rubba, and did not see him.''
Elsewhere it is said, that R. Ase fasted "thirty days" to see the same
person, and saw him not F7. Again F8,
``R. Jonathan fasted every eve of the new year, R. Abin
fasted every eve of the feast of tabernacles, R. Zeura
fasted "three hundred fasts", and there are that say "nine
This may serve to illustrate and prove the frequency of the Jewish
fastings. Luke represents this question as put by the Pharisees,
which is here put by the disciples of John: it was doubtless put by
both agreeing in this matter; and which shows that John's disciples
were instigated to it by the Pharisees, who sought to sow discord
between them, and to bring Christ and his disciples into contempt
F3 Misn. Taanith, c. 1. sect. 4. 5, 6. & c. 3. sect. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.
F4 T. Hieros. Taanlot, fol. 65. 2. & 66. 4.
F5 T. Bab. Sabbat. fol. 10. 1. Maimon Taaniot, c. 1. sect. 12-14.
F6 T. Hieros. Cilaim, fol. 32. 2. & Cetubot, fol. 35. 1.
F7 Midrash Kohelet, fol. 79. 1.
F8 lb. Nedarim, fol. 40. 4. & Taanioth, fol. 66. 1.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Matthew 9:14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=mt&chapter=009&verse=014>. 1999.