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occasion for conflict could not be long wanting. Indeed, all that Jesus taught must have seemed to these Pharisees strangely un-Jewish in cast and direction, even if not in form and words. But chiefly would this be the case in regard to that on which, of all else, the Pharisees laid most stress, the observance of the Sabbath. On no other subject is Rabbinic teaching more painfully minute and more manifestly incongruous to its professed object. For, if we rightly apprehend what underlay the complicated and intolerably burdensome laws and rules of Pharisaic Sabbath-observance, it was to secure, negatively, absolute rest from all labour, and, positively, to make the Sabbath

a delight. The Mishnah includes Sabbath-desecration among those • Sanh. vii. i most heinous crimes for which a man was to be stoned. This, then,

was their first care, to make a breach of the Sabbath-rest impossible. How far this was carried, we shall presently see.

we shall presently see. The next object was, in a similarly external manner, to make the Sabbath a delight. A special Sabbath dress, the best that could be procured; the choicest

food, even though a man had to work for it all the week, or public Peah viii. charity were to supply it b—such were some of the means by which

the day was to be honoured and men were to find pleasure therein. The strangest stories are told, how, by the purchase of the most expensive dishes, the pious poor had gained unspeakable merit, and obtained, even on earth, Heaven's manifest reward. And yet, by the side of these and similar strange and sad misdirections of piety, we come also upon that which is touching, beautiful, and even spiritual.

On the Sabbath there must be no mourning, for to the Sabbath in Prov. x. applies this saying: The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and

He addeth no sorrow with it. Quite alone was the Sabbath among the measures of time. Every other day had been paired with its fellow : not so the Sabbath. And so any festival, even the Day of Atonement, might be transferred to another day: not so the observance of the Sabbath. Nay, when the Sabbath complained before God, that of all days it alone stood solitary, God had wedded it to Israel; and this holy union God had bidden His people “remember,'d when it stood before the Mount. Even the tortures of Gehenna were intermitted on that holy, happy day.

The terribly exaggerated views on the Sabbath entertained by the Rabbis, and the endless burdensome rules with which they encumbered everything connected with its sanctity, are fully set forth in another place. The Jewish Law, as there summarised, sufficiently explains the controversies in which the Pharisaic party

1 See Appendix XVII. : The Ordinances and Law of the Sahbath.

d Ex. XX. 8

Ber. R.11 on
Gen, ii. 3






St. John v.

now engaged with Jesus. Of these the first was when, going through the cornfields on the Sabbath, His disciples began to pluck and eat the ears of corn. Not, indeed, that this was the first Sabbath-controversy forced upon Christ. But it was the first time comp. that Jesus allowed, and afterwards Himself did, in presence of the 9,16 Pharisees, what was contrary to Jewish notions, and that, in express and unmistakable terms, He vindicated His position in regard to the Sabbath. This also indicates that we have now reached a further stage in the history of our Lord's teaching.

This, however, is not the only reason for placing this event so late in the personal history of Christ. St. Matthew inserts it at a different period from the other two Synoptists; and, although St. Mark and St. Luke introduce it amidst the same surroundings, the connection, in which it is told in all the three Gospels, shows that it is placed out of the historical order, and in order to group together what would exhibit Christ's relation to the Pharisees and their teaching. Accordingly, this first Sabbath-controversy is immediately followed by that connected with the healing of the man with the withered hand. From St. Matthew and St. Mark it might, indeed, appear as if this had occurred on the same day as the plucking of the ears of corn, but St. Luke corrects any possible misunderstanding, by telling us that it happened on another Sabbath'-perhaps that following the walk through the cornfields.

Dismissing the idea of inferring the precise time of these two events from their place in the Evangelic record, we have not much difficulty in finding the needful historical data for our present inquiry. The first and most obvious is, that the harvest was still standingwhether that of barley or of wheat. The former began immediately after the Passover, the latter after the Feast of Pentecost; the presentation of the wave-omer of barley marking the beginning of the one, that of the two wave-loaves that of the other. Here another historical notice comes to our aid. St. Luke describes the Sabbath of this occurrence as the second-first’-an expression so peculiar that it cannot be regarded as an interpolation, but as designedly chosen by the Evangelist to indicate something well understood in Palestine at the time. Bearing in mind the limited number of Sabbaths between the commencement of the barley- and the end of the wheat-harvest, our inquiry is here much narrowed. In Rabbinic writings the term 'second-first’ is not applied to any Sabbath.

Comp.“ The Temple and its Services,' 2 The great majority of critics are pp. 222, 226, 230, 231.

agreed as to its authenticity.



But we know that the fifty days between the Feast of Passover and that of Pentecost were reckoned from the presentation of the waveomer on the Second Paschal Day, as the first, second, third day, &c. after the Omer.' Thus the second-first' Sabbath might be either the first Sabbath after the second day,' which was that of the presentation of the Omer, or else the second Sabbath after this the first day of reckoning, or “Sephirah,' as it was called (pyn nood). To us the first of these dates seems most in accord with the manner in which St. Luke would describe to Gentile readers the Sabbath which was the first after the second,' or, Sephirath-day.

Assuming, then, that it was probably the first-possibly, the second-Sabbath after the reckoning,' or second Paschal Day, on which the disciples plucked the ears of corn, we have still to ascertain whether it was in the first or second Passover. of Christ's Ministry. The reasons against placing it between the first Passover and Pentecost are of the strongest character. Not to speak of the circumstance that such advanced teaching on the part of Christ, and such advanced knowledge on the part of His disciples, indicate a later period, our Lord did not call His twelve Apostles till long

after the Feast of Pentecost, viz. after His return from the so-called * St. John v. “Unknown Feast,'* which, as shown in another place, must have

been either that of "Wood-Gathering,' in the end of the summer, or else New Year's Day, in the beginning of autumn. Thus, as by “the disciples’ we must in this connection understand, in the first place, “the Apostles,' the event could not have occurred between the first Passover and Pentecost of the Lord's Ministry.

The same result is reached by another process of reasoning. St. John ii. After the first Passover our Lord, with such of His disciples as had

then gathered to Him, tarried for some time-no doubt for several weeks—in Judæa. The wheat was ripe for harvesting, when He


St. John iii. 2;

v. 1-3

1 The view which I have adopted is that of Scaliger and Lightfoot; the alternative one mentioned, that of Delitzsch. In regard to the many other explanations proposed, I would lay down this canon: No explanation can be satisfactory which rests not on some ascertained fact in Jewish life, and where the fact is é supposed' for the sake of the explanation. Thus, there is not the slightest support in fact for the idea, that the first Sabbath of the second month was so called (Wetstein, Speaker's Commentary), or the first Sabbath in the second year of a septen. nial cycle, or the Sabbath of the Nisan

(the sacred) year, in contradistinction to the Tishri or secular year, which began in autumn. Of these and similar interpretations it is enough to say, that the underlying fact is supposed 'for the sake of a 'supposed' explanation ; in other words, they embody a hypothesis based on a hypothesis.

? There were only three Paschal feasts during the public ministry of Christ. Any other computation rests

on the idea that the Unknown Feast was the Passover, or even the Feast of Esther.

Comp. Appendix XV.




A St. John iv. 35

passed through Samaria. And, on His return to Galilee, His disciples seem to have gone back to their homes and occupations, since it was some time afterwards that even His most intimate disciplesPeter, Andrew, James, and John-were called a second time. Chro-st. Matt. nologically, therefore, there is no room for this event between the iv. 18–29 first Passover and Pentecost.' Lastly, we have here to bear in mind, that, on His first appearance in Galilee, the Pharisees had not yet taken up this position of determined hostility to Him. On the other hand, all agrees with the circumstance, that the active hostility of the Pharisees and Christ's separation from the ordinances of the Synagogue commenced with His visit to Jerusalem in the early autumn of that year. If, therefore, we have to place the plucking • St. John v. of the ears of corn after the Feast recorded in St. John V., as can scarcely be doubted, it must have taken place, not between the first, but between the Second Passover and Pentecost of Christ's public Ministry.

Another point deserves notice. The different setting' (chronologically speaking) in which the three Gospels present the event about to be related, illustrates that the object of the Evangelists was to present the events in the History of the Christ in their succession, not of time, but of bearing upon final results. This, because they do not attempt a Biography of Jesus, which, from their point of view, would have been almost blasphemy, but a History of the Kingdom which He brought; and because they write it, so to speak, not by adjectives (expressive of qualities), nor adverbially, but by substantives. Lastly, it will be noted that the three Evangelists relate the event about to be considered as so many others), not, indeed, with variations, but with differences of detail, showing the independence of their narratives, which, as we shall see, really supplement each other.

We are now in a position to examine the narrative itself. It was on the Sabbath after the Second Paschal Day that Christ and His disciples passed —probably by a field-path-through cornfields, when

Few would be disposed to place St. who attribute the plucking of the ears to Matt, xii. before St. Matt. iv.

hunger. Canon Cook (Speaker's Com? Adverbs answer to the questions, mentary, New Testament i. p. 216) has, to How, When, Why, Where.

my mind, conclusively shown the untena* Meyer insists that the oddy roleiv, or bleness of Meyer's contention. He commore correctly, ódotoLEIV (St. Mark ii. 23) pares the expression of St. Mark to the should be translated literally, that the Latin' iter facere. I would suggest the disciples began to make a way by pluck- French chemin faisant.' Godet points ing the ears of corn. Accordingly, he out the absurdity of plucking up ears in maintains, that there is an essential differ- order to make a way through the corn. ence between the account of St. Mark * In St. Mark also the better reading and those of the two other Evangelists, is διαπορεύεσθαι.

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parte 17**? eys, each of them forbidden, amount to several acts of tiistan' of labour applied only to infringement of the Nath-rest-not of that of feast-days. Now in this case there

at least two such acts involved: that of plucking the ears of which might be ranged under sifting in a sieve, threshing, sifting 1977), ranged under the sin of reaping, and that of rubbing them,

fanning. The following Talmudic passage bears on this: 'In case a woman rolls wheat to remove the husks, it is considered as sifting; if she rubs the heads of wheat, it is sifting out fruit; if she bruises the ears, it is grinding; if she regarded as threshing; if she cleans off the side-adherences, it is

in her hand, it is winnowing.'8 One instance will suffice to show the externalism of all these ordinances. If a man from bottom wished to move a sheaf on his field, which of course implied labour,

he had only to lay upon it a spoon that was in his common use, when,

which it lay! And yet it was forbidden to stop with a little wax from bottom the hole in a cask by which the fluid was running out,' or to wipe

Holding views like these, the Pharisees, who witnessed the conduct of the disciples, would naturally harshly condemn, what they must have regarded as gross desecration of the Sabbath. Yet it was clearly not a breach of the Biblical, but of the Rabbinic Law. Not only to show them their error, but to lay down principles which would for ever apply to this difficult question, was the object of Christ's reply. Unlike the others of the Ten Commandments, the Sabbath Law has in it two elements: the moral and the ceremonial ; the eternal, and that which is subject to time and place; the inward and spiritual

, and the outward (the one as the mode of realising the
other). In their distinction and separation lies the difficulty of the

. In its spiritual and eternal element, the Sabbath Law
embodied the two thoughts of rest for worship, and worship which
1 Thus (Shabb. 74 b, lines 12, 11 from

the top, and then pluck off the fluff below, bottom), if a person were to pull out a

it would involve three labours and three feather from the wing of a bird, cut off


in order to remove the spoon, he might also remove the sheaf on


Shabb. 142 6, line 6

1 Shabb. 149 €

a wound!

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