Imagini ale paginilor




vi. 59
e St. Matt.
xv. 1 &c.

xv. 12-14

e St. John vi. 60-66

evidence, it seems difficult to doubt, that the reproof of the Pharisees and Scribes on the subject of the unwashed hands,'a was not administered immediately after the miraculous feeding and the St. Matt. night of miracles. We cannot, however, feel equally sure, which of Mark vii. 1 the two preceded the other : the Discourse in Capernaum, or the best. John Reproof of the Pharisees. Several reasons have determined us to regard the Reproof as having preceded the Discourse. Without entering on a detailed discussion, the simple reading of the two sections will lead to the instinctive conclusion, that such a Discourse could not have been followed by such cavil and such Reproof, while it seems in the right order of things, that the Reproof which led to the offence' of the Pharisees, and apparently the withdrawal of some in the outer circle of discipleship,d should have been followed a St. Vatt. by the positive teaching of the Discourse, which in turn resulted in the going back of many who had been in the inner circle of disciples.

In these circumstances, we venture to suggest the following as the succession of events. Early on the Friday morning the boat which bore Jesus and His disciples grated on the sandy beach of the plain of Gennesaret. As the tidings spread of His arrival and of the miracles which had so lately been witnessed, the people from the neighbouring villages and towns flocked around Him, and brought their sick for the healing touch. So the greater part of the forenoon passed. Meantime, while they moved, as the concourse of the people by the way would allow, the first tidings of all this must have reached the neighbouring Capernaum. This brought immediately on the scene those Pharisees and Scribes who had come from Jerusalem' on purpose to watch, and, if possible, to compass the destruction of Jesus. As we conceive it, they met the Lord and His disciples on their way to Capernaum. Possibly they overtook them, as they rested by the way, and the disciples, or some of them, were partaking of some food-perhaps, of some of the consecrated Bread of the previous evening. The Reproof of Christ would be administered there; then the Lord would, not only for their teaching, but for the purposes immediately to be indicated, turn to the multitude ; next St. Matt. would follow the remark of the disciples and the reply of the Lord, St. Mark vii. spoken, probably, when they were again on the way ;8 and, lastly, the final explanation of Christ, after they had entered the house at Capernaum. In all probability

In all probability a part of what is recorded in St. n St. Matt. John vi. 24, &c. occurred also about the same time; the rest on the St. Mark Sabbath which followed.

xv. 10;

14, 15
& St. Matt.
xv. 12-14

vii. 17-23



Although the cavil of the Jerusalem Scribes may have been occasioned by seeing some of the disciples eating without first having washed their hands, we cannot banish the impression that it reflected on the miraculously provided meal of the previous evening, when thousands had sat down to food without the previous observance of the Rabbinic ordinance. Neither in that case, nor in the present, had the Master interposed. He was, therefore, guilty of participation in their offence. So this was all which these Pharisees and Scribes could see in the miracle of Christ's feeding the multitudethat it had not been done according to Law! Most strange as it may seem, yet in the past history of the Church, and, perhaps, sometimes also in the present, this has been the only thing which some men have seen in the miraculous working of the Christ! Perhaps we should not wonder that the miracle itself made no deeper impression, since even the disciples ' understood not’ (by reasoning)

about the loaves'-however they may have accounted for it in a manner which might seem to them reasonable. But, in another aspect, the objection of the Scribes was not a mere cavil. In truth, it represented one of the great charges which the Pharisees brought against Jesus, and which determined them to seek His destruction.

It has already been shown, that they accounted for the miracles of Christ as wrought by the power of Satan, whose special representative-almost incarnation—they declared Jesus to be. This would not only turn the evidential force of those signs into an argument against Christ, but vindicate the resistance of the Pharisees to His claims. The second charge against Jesus was, that He was not of God;' that He was a sinner.'* If this could be established, it would, of course, prove that He was not the Messiah, but a deceiver who misled the people, and whom it was the duty of the Sanhedrin to unmask and arrest. The way in which they attempted to establish this, perhaps persuaded themselves that it was so, was by proving that He sanctioned in others, and Himself committed, breaches of the traditional law; which, according to their fundamental principles, involved heavier guilt than sins against the revealed Law of Moses. The third and last charge against Jesus, which finally decided the action of the Council, could only be fully made at the close of His career. It might be formulated so as to meet the views of either the Pharisees or Sadducees. To the former it might be presented as a blasphemous claim to equality with God—the Very Son of the Living God. To the Sadducees it would appear as a movement on the part of a most dangerous enthusiast- if honest and

a St. John ix. 16, 24




self-deceived, all the more dangerous; one of those pseudo-Messiahs CHAP. who led away the ignorant, superstitious, and excitable people; and which, if unchecked, would result in persecutions and terrible vengeance by the Romans, and in loss of the last remnants of their national independence. To each of these three charges, of which we are now watching the opening or development, there was (from the then standpoint) only one answer : Faith in His Person. And in our time, also, this is the final answer to all difficulties and objections. To this faith Jesus was now leading His disciples, till, fully realised in the great confession of Peter, it became, and has ever since proved, the Rock on which that Church is built, against which the very gates of Hades cannot prevail.

It was in support of the second of these charges, that the Scribes now blamed the Master for allowing His disciples to eat without having previously washed, or, as St. Mark-indicating, as we shall see, in the word the origin of the custom-expresses it with graphic accuracy: with common hands.'' Once more we have to mark, how minutely conversant the Gospel-narratives are with Jewish Law and practice. This will best appear from a brief account of this tradition of the elders,'? the more needful that important differences prevail even among learned Jewish authorities, due probably to the circumstance that the brief Mishnic Tractate devoted to the subject 3 has no Gemara attached to it, and also largely treats of other matters. At the outset we have this confirmation of the Gospel language, that this practice is expressly admitted to have been, not a Law of Moses, but “a tradition of the elders.'4 Still, perhaps on this very account, it was so strictly enjoined, that to neglect it was like being guilty of gross carnal defilement. Its omission would lead to temporal destruction, or, at least, to "Sot. 4

[ocr errors]

· The word quite corresponds to the Jewish term. Notwithstanding the objection of the learned Bishop Haneberg (Relig. Alterth. p. 475, note 288) I believe it corresponds to the Rabbinic bar, profanus, in the sense of common,''not ballowed.'

• The fullest account of it within reach of ordinary readers is in the Notes to Pocock's Porta Mosis (pp. 350–402) though it is confused, not quite accurate, and based chiefly on later Jewish authorities. Spencer (de Leg. Hebr. pp. 11751179) only adds references to similar Gentile rites. Goodrin, even under the revision of Hottinger (pp. 182–188), is in this instance inferior to Pocock. Buxtorf

(Synag. pp. 179–184) gives chiefly illustrative Jewish legends; Otho (Lex. Rabb. pp. 335, 336) extracts from his predecessors, to little advantage. The Rabbinic notes of Lightfoot, Wünsche, Schöttgen, and Wetstein give no clear account; and the Biblical Dictionaries are either silent, or (as IIerzog's) very meagre. Dr. Geikie reproduces the inaccuracies of Sepp, to which he adds others.

Yadayim, in four chapters, which, however, touches on other subjects also, notably on the canonicity of certain parts of the 0. T.

4 We refer here generally to Chull. 105 a, b, 106 a.



a Shabb, 327 b Sot. 4 b

Ber. 19 a

d Chull. 106
(1 ; Bemidb.
R. 20, ed.
'Varsh. p.
81 b

poverty. Bread eaten with unwashen hands was as if it had been
filth. Indeed, a Rabbi who had held this command in contempt
was actually buried in excommunication. Thus, from their point

of view, the charge of the Scribes against the disciples, so far from Eluj. v. 6; being exaggerated, is most moderately worded by the Evangelists.

In fact, although at one time it had only been one of the marks of
a Pharisee, yet at a later period to wash before eating was regarded
as affording the ready means of recognising a Jew.d i

It is somewhat more difficult to account for the origin of the
ordinance. So far as indicated, it seems to have been first enjoined
in order to ensure that sacred offerings should not be eaten in de-

filement. When once it became an ordinance of the elders, this * Chull. 106 a was, of course, regarded as sufficient ground for obedience. Pre

sently, Scriptural support was sought for it. Some based it on the * Chull. 106 a original ordinance of purification in Lev. xv. 11; while others saw in * Lev. xi. 44 the words 8 • Sanctify yourselves,' the command to wash before meat;

in the command, ‘Be ye holy,' that of washing after meat; while the

final clause, 'for I am the Lord your God, was regarded as enjoinh Ber. 53b, ing 'the grace at meat.’h For, soon it was not merely a washing

before, but also after meals. The former alone was, however, re-
garded as a commandment' (Mizvah), the other only as a duty'
(Chovah), which some, indeed, explained on sanitary grounds, as

there might be left about the hands what might prove injurious to Erub, 170; the eyes. Accordingly, soldiers might, in the urgency of cam

paigning, neglect the washing before, but they ought to be careful
about that after meat. By-and-by, the more rigorous actually washed
between the courses, although this was declared to be purely volun-
tary. This washing before meals is regarded by some as referred
to in Talmudic writings by the expression the first waters' (Mayim
rishonim), while what is called “the second' (sheniyim), or the
other," later,' or after-waters' (Mayim acharonim), is supposed to
represent the washing after meals.

But there is another and more important aspect of the expression,
which leads us to describe the rite itself. The distinctive designa-
tion for it is Netilath Yadayim, literally, the lifting of the hands;
while for the washing before meat the term Meshi or Mesha m
is also used, which literally means 'to rub.' Both these terms



Chull, 105 b

[ocr errors]

* C hull, 105 a, b


· Many illustrative stories are given of its importance, on the one hand, and of the danger of neglecting it on the other. With these legends it is not necessary to cumber our pages.

2 The danger from 'Salt of Sodom' is specially mentioned. soboos, sometimes, though rarely,

, , to ordinary washing.

which refers ,רחיצת but not ,טהרת ידים



e Chull.
107 a ; Baba



11 point to the manner of the rite. The first question here was, whether

second tithe,' prepared first-fruits (Therumah), or even common food (Chullin), or else, "holy,' i.e. sacrificial food, was to be partaken. In the latter case a complete immersion of the hands (" baptism,' Tebilath Yadayim), and not merely a Netilath, or uplifting,' was prescribed. The latter was really an affusion. As the purifications Chag. ii, s. were so frequent, and care had to be taken that the water had not been used for other purposes, or something fallen into it that might discolour or defile it, large vessels or jars were generally kept for the purpose. These might be of any material, although stone is specially mentioned. It was the practice to draw water out of these with what was called a natla, or antila, very often of glass, which båvrdiov must hold (at least) a quarter of a logo-a measure equal to one and a half "egg-shells.' For, no less quantity than this might B.68 , and be used for affusion. The water was poured on both hands, which must be free of anything covering them, such as gravel, mortar, &c. The hands were lifted up, so as to make the water run to the wrist, in order to ensure that the whole hand was washed, and that the water polluted by the hand did not again run down the fingers. Similarly, each hand was rubbed with the other (the fist), provided the hand that rubbed had been affused; otherwise, the rubbing might be done against the head, or even against a wall. But there was one point on which special stress was laid. In the 'first affusion,' which was all that originally was required when the hands were not Levitically defiled,' the water had to run down to the wrist (???), or pen ny, lapperek, or ad happerek). If the water remained short of the wrist (chuz lapperek), the hands were not clean. Accordingly, Comp. the words of St. Mark e can only mean that the Pharisees eat not Chull. 106 except they wash their hands to the wrist.'3

Allusion has already been made to what are called the first' and 'the second,' or 'other' waters.' But, in their original meaning, these terms referred to something else than washing before and after meals. The hands were deemed capable of contracting Levitical defilement, which, in certain cases, might even render the whole

a and
e St. Mark
vii, 3

This and what follows illustrates St. John ii. 6.

? The language of the Mishnah shows that the word pno, which bears as vague and wide meaning as muyur', which seems a literal translation of it, can only apply to the wrist.

* The rendering 'wash diligently,' gives no meaning; that with the fist'

is not in accordance with Jewish Law; while that up to the elbow' is not only contrary to Jewish Law, but apparently based on a wrong rendering of the word pne. This is fully shown by Wetstein (N. T. i. p. 585), but his own explanation, that πυγμή refers to the measure or weight of the water for washing, is inadmissible.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »