1. And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through
the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them
in their hands.
[On the second sabbath after the first.] I have spoken to this already in notes
upon Matthew 12: let me add a few things in this place.
It is a controversy amongst the Jewish doctors and the Baithuseans, about the
exposition of those words that concern the offering of the sheaf of the first-fruits; On
the morrow of the sabbath, Leviticus 23:10,11.
Gloss: "The Baithuseans desired that the first day of the Passover should be on
the sabbath, that the offering of the sheaf might fall on the first day of the week: and
that the feast of Pentecost might also fall on the first day of the week. For they
interpreted those words, The priest shall wave the sheaf on the morrow of the sabbath,
as if the sense of them were, On the morrow of the sabbath of the creation."
Against this the Rabbins dispute with one consent, and indeed truly enough, affirming,
that by the morrow after the sabbath must be understood the morrow after a
sabbatical day, or after the first day of the feast. So the Targumist, Siphra,
Solomon, Menahem, &c. So also the Greek version. We may see their arguments in Siphra,
and Pesikta, and Menacoth, fol. 65. 1. The principal argument is that of
Rabban Jochanan disputing with a Baithusean in the place last quoted: "One scripture
(saith he) saith, You shall number fifty days" (that is, from the day wherein you
offer your sheaf unto Pentecost), Leviticus 23:16. "Another scripture saith, Ye shall
count seven sabbaths, Leviticus 23:14; Deuteronomy 16:9. This, if the first day of the
feast happen on the sabbath: that, if the first day of the feast happen in the middle of
His meaning is this: If the first day of the seven-day's feast of the Passover happen
on the sabbath, then the sheaf being offered the next day after, the feast of Pentecost
will fall on the next day after the seventh sabbath. But if that first day happen in the
middle of the week, then, from the offering of the sheaf the next day, we must not count
seven sabbaths but fifty days.
For instance, suppose we the lamb eaten on the third day of the Jewish week, which with
us is Tuesday, Wednesday was the first day of the feast; and on Thursday the sheaf was
offered; then on Thursday again, accounting fifty days, is the feast of Pentecost. Here
seven sabbaths come between, and four days after the last sabbath, before the Pentecost.
Where numbering by sabbaths shortens the space of time; but numbering by fifty days fixes
the matter beyond scruple. And at once it concludes these two things: I. That the offering
of the sheaf was not restrained to the next day after the sabbath, but to the day after
the sabbatical day, viz. the first day of the feast. II. That the day of Pentecost was not
restrained to the first day of the week, as the Baithuseans would have it, but might fall
on any day of the week.
What should be the Baithuseans' reason why they so earnestly contended to reduce the
day of Pentecost always to the morrow after the sabbath, or the first day of the week, is
not easy to comprehend. Perhaps he that disputes the matter with Rabban Jochanan gives
some hint of it, when he tells us, "Our master Moses loved Israel, and knowing that
the feast of Pentecost should be but for one day, did therefore appoint it on the
morrow after the sabbath, that Israel might rejoice two days together."
Whatever the reason was, it is certain they misunderstood that phrase as to the
offering the sheaf the morrow after the sabbath, when it was to be understood of
the morrow after a sabbatical day. And so the Greek version, and he shall offer
the sheaf before the Lord to be accepted for you, on the morrow after the first day of the
Let us take an instance of this in the last Passover our Saviour kept.
The paschal lamb was eaten on the fifth day of the week, our Thursday; the first day of
the feast was the sixth day of the week, our Friday, the day on which our Lord was
crucified. The day declining towards night (about the time that our Lord was buried), they
went out that were deputed by the Sanhedrim to reap the sheaf: and on the morrow, that was
their sabbath, whiles our Saviour slept in the grave, they offered that sheaf. That day
therefore was the second day, and from thence they counted the weeks to Pentecost. And the
sabbaths that came between took their name from that second day. The first sabbath
after that was the first sabbath after the second day; and the next sabbath after
that was the second sabbath after the second day; and so of the rest.
"The first day of the Passover is called the sabbath; and they counted after that seven
sabbaths that had relation to that." Note that, that had relation or alliance.
12. And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and
continued all night in prayer to God.
[In prayer to God: or In the prayer of God.] Compare this kind of phrase
with what is said, Beracoth, fol. 7. 1: "R. Jochanan in the name of R. Jose
saith, How doth it appear that the holy blessed God doth pray? From thence, that it
is said, I will bring them to my holy mountain and make them joyful in the house of
'my' prayer. It is not said of their prayer, but of 'my' prayer. Whence it
follows that the holy blessed God doth pray. But how doth he pray? saith Rabh Zutra Bar
Tobijah; Rabh saith, Let it be my good pleasure that my mercy overcome my wrath."
"The holy blessed God made him a tabernacle and prayed in it: as it is
said, His tabernacle is in Salem, and his dwellingplace in Zion. Now what doth he say when
he prayeth? Let it be my good pleasure that I may see my dwellingplace built."
I cannot but laugh at their triflings, and yet withal observe the opinion that nation
had, and compare it with this phrase, the prayer of God. They will have it that God
prays, not by way of supplication, but authority: "So let it be." Thus our
blessed Lord sometimes, Father, I will, John 17:24. Whether the phrase in this
place should be thus interpreted, I do not determine.
38. Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken
together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that
ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
[Good measure, pressed down, &c.] I. Concerning measures heaped up and
stricken off, see Menacoth, fol. 87: "R. Meir saith, It is said, a
tenth, a tenth to every lamb. Whence is hinted, that there were decimaries [or tithing
measures] in the Temple: one heaped up, the other stricken off. The heaped up
was that by which they measured all their bread-corn for holy uses. That which was
stricken off was that whereby they measured the cakes or the high priest's
loaves." "All the measures in the Temple were heaped up, besides that of
the high priests." Now the Gloss, giving the reason why this was not heaped up
as well as the other, tells us, "It was because he was to divide the flour into two
tenths; if therefore the measure was heaped up, some of the fine flour would spill
upon the ground as he moved it this way and that way in dividing it."
"Rabh Papa asked, the filling of the priest's hand whereof we have mention,
was it by the measure stricken off or heaped up? R. Aba saith to Rabh Ishai, The
filling of the priest's hand, of which we have mention, was neither by the measures
stricken off nor heaped up, but by measures floating over."
II. Every one may observe that our evangelist in his repetition of this sermon upon the
mount doth omit many things that are set down in St. Matthew; those especially that have
relation to the dictates and glosses of the scribes and Pharisees about manslaughter,
oaths, divorces, &c.; or their customs in their prayers, fasts, and alms, &c.
Writing for the service of the Gentiles, he passeth over what respecteth the Jews.