The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire BibleMatthew 23:27
Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites…
much these men could bear to hear themselves so often called by this
name; and it shows great courage in our Lord, so freely to reprove
them, and expose their wickedness, who were men of so much credit
and influence with the people:
for ye are like unto whited sepulchres;
or "covered with lime", as
the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions, render it. For the Jews
used to mark their graves with white lime, that they might be known:
that so priests, Nazarites, and travellers, might avoid them, and
not be polluted with them. This appears from various passages in
``The vineyard of the fourth year, they marked with clods of
earth, and an uncircumcised one with dust, (dyob twrbq lvw) ,
"and graves with chalk", mixed (with water) and poured (on
Of this marking of the graves, the reason of it, the time and manner
of doing it, Maimonides F25 gives us this account:
``Whoever finds a grave, or a dead carcass, or anything for
the dead that defiles, by the tent he is obliged to put a
mark upon it, that it may not be a stumbling to others;
and on the intermediate days of a feast, they go out from
the sanhedrim, to mark the graves.--With what do they
mark? (hxmm dyob) , "with chalk infused" in water, and poured
upon the unclean place: they do not put the mark upon the
top of the unclean place, (or exactly in it,) but so that
it may stand out here and there, at the sides of it, that
what is pure may not be corrupted; and they do not put the
mark far from the place of the uncleanness, that they may
not waste the land of Israel; and they do not set marks on
those that are manifest, for they are known to all; but
upon those that are doubtful, as a field in which a grave
is lost, and places that are open, and want a covering.''
Now because when the rains fell, these marks were washed away, hence
on the first of Adar (February) when they used to repair the
highways, they also marked the graves with white lime, that they
might be seen and known, and avoided; and so on their intermediate
feast days F26: the reason why they made use of chalk, or lime, and
with these marked their graves, was because it looked white like
bones F1; so that upon first sight, it might be thought and known
what it was for, and that a grave was there: hence this phrase,
which indeed appear beautiful outward;
especially at a distance, and
when new marked:
but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness;
and rottenness, which arise from the putrefied carcasses, and are very
nauseous and defiling.
F24 Misn. Maaser Sheni, c. 5. sect. 1.
F25 Hilch. Tumath Meth, c. 8. sect. 9.
F26 Misn. Shekalim, c. 1. sect. 1. & Moed Katon, c. 1. sect. 2. Maimon.
& Bartenora in lb.
F1 Jarchi in Misu. Moed Katan, c. 1. sect. 2. & Bartenora in Misn.
Maaser Sheni, c. 5. sect. 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.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Matthew 23:27". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=mt&chapter=023&verse=027>. 1999.