The Eight Woes-Part Two

Matthew 23:23-36


From Exegetical Commentary on Matthew, 2006, AMG Publishers

Jesus continued in His pronouncement of a series of eight "woe(s)" (oua [3759], interjections of grief or indignation over an impending judgment) on the scribes and Pharisees.

[23-24] The fifth woe condemned the external practice of Law without the internal qualities of justice, mercy, and grace: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You tithe mint, anise, and cumin and have omitted the weightier matters (from bars [926], weight; literally "weightier things") of the Law: judgment, mercy, and faith. These you ought to have done and not to leave the others undone. You blind guides strain out (from diulzō [1368] from di (1223], thorough; and hulzō [n.f.], to strain, filter) a gnat and swallow a camel. (a.t.)

While acknowledging that the scribes and Pharisees "ought to have" tithed these inexpensive spices as part of their general tithe, Jesus argued the futility of such external obedience at the expense of judgment, mercy, and faith. In the Old Testament, the tithe was imposed on animals from herds and flocks (Lev. 27:32, 33) as well as grain, vegetables, and fruits (Lev. 27:30). Mint, anise, and cumin are not mentioned in the Torah, so this was an instance of how the Pharisaic tradition extended beyond the original Mosaic Law.  

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