Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

6

had not had enough to eat, or to drop it, to the inconvenience of your neighbour. If a piece were taken out of a dish, it must of course not be put back; still less must you offer from your cup or plate to your neighbour. From the almost religious value attaching to bread, we scarcely wonder that these rules were laid down: not to steady a cup or plate upon bread, nor to throw away bread, and that after dinner the bread was to be carefully swept together. Otherwise, it was thought, demons would sit upon it. The Way of the World' for Sages,a lays down these as the marks of a Rabbi: that he does not eat standing; that he does not lick his fingers; that he sits down only beside his equals-in fact, many regarded it as wrong to eat with the unlearned; that he begins cutting the bread where it is best baked, nor ever breaks off a bit with his hand; and that, when drinking, he turns away his face from the company. Another saying was, that the sage was known by four things: at his cups, in money mat↳ Erub. 65 b ters, when angry, and in his jokes. After dinner, the formalities concerning handwashing and prayer, already described, were gone through, and then frequently aromatic spices burnt, over which a special benediction was pronounced. We have only to add, that on Sabbaths it was deemed a religious duty to have three meals, and to procure the best that money could obtain, even though one were to save and fast for it all the week. Lastly, it was regarded as a special obligation and honour to entertain sages.

We have no difficulty now in understanding what passed at the table of the Pharisee. When the water for purification was presented to Him, Jesus would either refuse it; or if, as seems more likely at a morning-meal, each guest repaired by himself for the prescribed purification, He would omit to do so, and sit down to meat without this formality. No one, who knows the stress which Pharisaism laid. on this rite would argue that Jesus might have conformed to the practice. Indeed, the controversy was long and bitter between the Schools of Shammai and Hillel, on such a point as whether the hands were to be washed before the cup was filled with wine, or after that, and where the towel was to be deposited. With such things the most serious ritual inferences were connected on both sides. A religion which spent its energy on such trivialities must have lowered the moral tone. All the more that Jesus insisted so earnestly, as the substance of His teaching, on that corruption of our nature which Judaism ignored, and on that spiritual purification

BOOK
IV

• Derech Erez Suta v. and vii.

Ber. 51 b to 52 b

For a full account of the laws concerning the washing of hands, and the

views entertained of the rite, see Book III. ch. xxxi.

CHRIST'S DISCOURSE AT THE PHARISEE'S TABLE.

211

XII

which was needful for the reception of His doctrine, would He publicly CHAP. and openly set aside ordinances of man which diverted thoughts of purity into questions of the most childish character. On the other hand, we can also understand what bitter thoughts must have filled the mind of the Pharisee, whose guest Jesus was, when he observed His neglect of the cherished rite. It was an insult to himself, a defiance of Jewish Law, a revolt against the most cherished traditions of the Synagogue. Remembering that a Pharisee ought not to sit down to a meal with such, he might feel that he should not have asked Jesus to his table. All this, as well as the terrible contrast between the punctiliousness of Pharisaism in outward purifications, and the inward defilement which it never sought to remove, must have lain open before Him Who read the inmost secrets of the heart, and kindled His holy wrath. Probably taking occasion (as previously suggested) from something that had passed before, He spoke with the point and emphasis which a last appeal to Pharisaism demanded.

a

xi. 39

c

What our Lord said on that occasion will be considered in detail in another place.1 Suffice it here to mark, that He first exposed the mere externalism of the Pharisaic law of purification, to the utter ignoring of the higher need of inward purity, which lay at the foundation of all. If the primary origin of the ordinance was to prevent St. Luke the eating of sacred offerings in defilement,2 were these outward offerings not a symbol of the inward sacrifice, and was there not an inward defilement as well as the outward? b To consecrate what we ver. 40 had to God in His poor, instead of selfishly enjoying it, would not, indeed, be a purification of them (for such was not needed), but it would, in the truest sense, be to eat God's offerings in cleanness. ver. 41 We mark here a progress and a development, as compared with the former occasion when Jesus had publicly spoken on the same sub-st. Matt. ject. Formerly, He had treated the ordinance of the Elders as a matter not binding; now, He showed how this externalism militated against thoughts of the internal and spiritual. Formerly, He had shown how traditionalism came into conflict with the written Law of God; now, how it superseded the first principles which underlay that Law. Formerly, He had laid down the principle that defilement came not from without inwards, but from within outwards; e now, He unfolded this highest principle that higher consecration imparted purity.

XV. 1-9

• St. Matt. XV. 10, 11

In connection with St. Matt. xxiii.

* On the origin and meaning of the ordinance, see Book III. ch. xxxi.

BOOK

IV

• St. Luke xi. 42

b ver. 43

* St. Luke xii. 1

The same principle, indeed, would apply to other things, such as to the Rabbinic law of tithing. At the same time it may have been, as already suggested, that something which had previously taken place, or was the subject of conversation at table, had given occasion for the further remarks of Christ. Thus, the Pharisee may have wished to convey his rebuke of Christ by referring to the subject of tithing. And such covert mode of rebuking was very common among the Jews. It was regarded as utterly defiling to eat of that which had not been tithed. Indeed, the three distinctions of a Pharisee were: not to make use nor to partake of anything that had not been tithed; to observe the laws of purification; and, as a consequence of these two, to abstain from familiar intercourse with all non-Pharisees. This separation formed the ground of their claim to distinction. It will be noticed that it is exactly to these three things our Lord adverts: so that these sayings of His are not, as might seem, unconnected, but in the strictest internal relationship. Our Lord shows how Pharisaism, as regarded the outer, was connected with the opposite tendency as regarded the inner man : outward purification with ignorance of the need of that inward purity, which consisted in God-consecration, and with the neglect of it; strictness of outward tithing with ignorance and neglect of the principle which underlay it, viz., the acknowledgment of God's right over mind and heart (judgment and the love of God); while, lastly, the Pharisaic pretence of separation, and consequent claim to distinction, issued only in pride and self-assertion. Thus, tried by its own tests, Pharisaism 2 terribly failed. It was hypocrisy, although that word was not mentioned till afterwards; c3 and that both negatively and positively: the concealment of what it was, and the pretension to what it was not. And the Pharisaism which pretended to the highest purity, was, really, the greatest impurity-the defilement of graves, only covered up, not to be seen of men!

(

It was at this point that one of the Scribes' at table broke in. Remembering in what contempt some of the learned held the ignorant bigotry of the Pharisees, we can understand that he might have listened with secret enjoyment to denunciations of their folly.' As the common saying had it, the silly pietist,' a woman Pharisee,' and the (self-inflicted) blows of Pharisaism,' were among the plagues

6

On the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes,' see Book III. ch. ii. In fact, the fraternity of the Pharisees were bound by these two Vows, that of tithing, and that in regard to purifications.

2 St. Luke xi. 44. The words 'Scribes

and Pharisees, hypocrites,' are an interpolation.

See previous Note.

4 As to the estimate of the Pharisees, comp. also 'Sketches of Jewish Social Life,' p. 237.

THE WOE ON THE PHARISEES AND SCRIBES.

xi. 45

of life. And we cannot help feeling, that there is sometimes a touch of quiet humour in the accounts which the Rabbis give of the encounters between the Pharisees and their opponents. But, as the sot. iii. 4 Scribe rightly remarked, by attacking, not merely their practice, but their principles, the whole system of traditionalism, which they represented, was condemned. And so the Lord assuredly meant it. The St. Luke 'Scribes' were the exponents of the traditional law: those who bound and loosed in Israel. They did bind on heavy burdens, but they never loosed one; all these grievous burdens of traditionalism they laid on the poor people, but not the slightest effort did they make to remove any of them. Tradition, yes! the very profession of it bore witness ver. 46 against them. Tradition, the ordinances that had come down-they would not reform nor put aside anything, but claim and proclaim all that had come down from the fathers as a sacred inheritance to which they clung. So be it! let them be judged by their own words. The fathers had murdered the prophets, and they built their sepulchres; that, also, was a tradition-that of guilt which would be avenged. Tradition, learning, exclusiveness-alas! it was only taking away from the poor the key of knowledge; and while they themselves entered not by the door' into the Kingdom, they hindered those who would have gone in. And truly so did they prove that theirs was the inheritance, the tradition,' of guilt in hindering and banishing the Divine teaching of old, and murdering its Divine messengers.

"

There was terrible truth and solemnity in what Jesus spake, and in the Woe which He denounced on them. The history of the next few months would bear witness how truly they had taken upon them this tradition of guilt; and all the after-history of Israel shows how fully this Woe' has come upon them. But, after such denunciations, the entertainment in the Pharisee's house must have been broken up. The Christ was too terribly in earnest-too mournfully so over those whom they hindered from entering the Kingdom, to bear with the awful guilt of their trivialities. With what feelings they parted from Him, appears from the sequel.

'And when He was come out from thence, the Scribes and the Pharisees began to press upon Him vehemently, and to provoke Him to speak of many things; laying wait for Him, to catch something out of His Mouth.'2

See previous Note.

This is both the correct reading and rendering of St. Luke xi. 53, 54, as given in the Revised Version.

213

CHAP.
XII

BOOK
IV

a St. Luke xii. 1-12

CHAPTER XIII.

TO THE DISCIPLES-TWO EVENTS AND THEIR MORAL.

(St. Luke xii. 1—xiii. 17.)

THE record of Christ's last warning to the Pharisees, and of the feelings of murderous hate which it called forth, is followed by a summary of Christ's teaching to His disciples. The tone is still that of warning, but entirely different from that to the Pharisees. It is a warning of sin that threatened, not of judgment that awaited; it was for prevention, not in denunciation. That such warnings were most seasonable, requires scarcely proof. They were prompted by circumstances around. The same teaching, because prompted by the same causes, had been mostly delivered, also, on other occasions. Yet there are notable, though seemingly slight, divergences, accounted for by the difference of the writers or of the circumstances, and which mark the independence of the narratives.

1. The first of these Discourses naturally connects itself with what had passed at the Pharisee's table, an account of which must soon have spread. Although the Lord is reported as having addressed the same language chiefly to the Twelve when sending them

b St. Matt. x. on their first Mission,b1 we shall presently mark several characteristic variations. The address-or so much of it as is reported, probably only its summary-is introduced by the following notice of the circumstances: In the mean time, when the many thousands of the people were gathered together, so that they trode upon each other, He began to say to His disciples: "First [above all, bnna], beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."' There is no need to point out the connection between this warning and the denunciation of Pharisaism and traditionalism at the Pharisee's table. Although the word 'hypocrisy' had not been spoken there, it was the

2

1 With St. Luke xii. 2-9, comp. St. Matt. x. 26-33; with St. Luke xii. 10, comp. St. Matt. xii. 31, 32; and with St. Luke xii. 11, 12, comp. St. Matt. x.

18-20.

2 I prefer this rendering to that which connects the word 'first' as a mark of time with the previous words.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »