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The Great Commentary Of Cornelius À Lapide Volumes 1 To 8

1 The Pharisees find fault at the disciples for eating with unwashen hands. 8 They break the commandment of God by the traditions of men. 14 Meat defileth not the man. 24 He healeth the Syrophenician woman’s daughter of an unclean spirit, 31 and one that was deaf, and stammered in his speech.

Ver. 2. To eat with common, that is, with unwashen hands. Hands unwashed were called common, because unclean and profane things were common to both Jews and Gentiles, to clean and unclean persons alike.

Observe, the Apostles were not so boorish as not to wash their hands before dining or supping, which even husbandmen and artisans do before meals; but they abstained from the ceremonial, or rather the superstitious washing of the Pharisees, which they scrupulously observed from the tradition of their ancestors.

Ver. 3. Often washing: Syr. betilarth, i.e., diligently or carefully; Gr. πυγμῇ, zealously; Heb. caph el caph, i.e., hand to hand, namely, by constant rubbing, as they do who wish to cleanse defiled hands.

Ver. 4. From the market. Because in the market are all kinds, both of persons and things, clean and unclean, by coming in contact with which they feared they had incurred pollution, and so they thought they could not cleanse themselves from such contamination except by washing, not their hands only, but their whole body. Whence it follows:

Unless they be baptized, i.e., unless they immerse and wash their whole body, as the Jews do frequently, even at the present time. For to be baptized is more than to wash the hands. Because, therefore, by conversing with and touching Gentiles in the market they were compelled to handle some things that were unclean, they washed themselves all over when they came home.

Of pots: Gr. ξεστῶν, i.e., of wine-drinking vessels. The Syriac has œenophororun, vessels in which wine is carried. Vatablus understands wooden vessels, which were turned and polished, or ornamented with carving.

And beds: on which they reclined at table.

Ver. 15. Make a man common (Vulg.), i.e., defile him, as some MSS. read.

Ver. 19. Because it entereth not into his heart, i.e., into his soul, and cannot therefore defile it. But goeth into the belly, where the purer portion of the food, being separated, proceeds to the liver and heart; but that which is impure and feculent into the draught, by its going forth, purging, i.e., leaving pure all meats. For in that it, the impure, goeth away, it cleanses and purifies the remainder of the food.

Ver. 26. A Gentile: Gr. ἑλλήνις, i.e., a Grecian woman, for where the Greeks bore sway, all Gentiles were called Greeks. Hence the expression in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, “The Jew first, and also the Greek,” i.e., the Gentile.

A Syrophenician, i.e., belonging to that part of Phœnicia which looks towards Syria.

Ver. 32. And dumb: Gr. μογιλάλον, i.e., speaking with difficulty or an impediment, stammering. For when he was healed by Christ he spake right, i.e., freely, as it is in the 35th verse. He was not, therefore, entirely dumb, as they are who are born deaf. These are called in Greek ἄλαλοι.

Ver. 33. And spitting, He touched his tongue. Christ wrought harmoniously, as though by His healing saliva He would moisten and loosen the dumb mouth, which was bound through drought.

Now He spat not upon the mouth of the mute, but upon His own finger, and by means of His finger applied the saliva to the mouth of the mute, as may be gathered from the Greek. This was required by propriety and decorum. Moreover, when Christ opened the ears and unloosed the tongue of the body, He opened also the ears and tongue of the soul, that they might listen to His inspiration, and believe that He was the Messiah, and that they might ask and obtain of Him pardon of their sins,

Tropologically: Every one ought to seek the same thing, and say with the Psalmist, “O Lord, open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise” (Ps. 51:17). We ought to do the same as regards our ears, that we may be able to sing aloud with Isaiah (1:4), “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” Now this is done when He Himself with His own Finger, that is, the Holy Ghost (for He is “the Finger of God,” Exod. 8:19), and the spittle of Heavenly Wisdom, which is He Himself proceeding forth from the mouth of the Most High, touches the tongue of the soul.

Ver. 34. And looking up to heaven (because from thence come words to the dumb, hearing to the deaf, healing for all infirmities, says Bede), He groaned; both because He sympathised with the misery of the deaf and dumb man, as because in groaning He prayed and obtained healing for him from God.

Ephpheta, which is, Be thou opened, i.e., which so signifies. “Where,” says Bede, “the two natures of the one and the same Mediator between God and man are plainly set forth. For, looking up to heaven as man, He groaned, being about to pray to God; presently by a single word, as having the power of Divine Majesty, He healed.” For we all have eyes, but the blind have theirs shut and closed, which in the Syriac idiom are elegantly said to be opened when their shutters are unclosed, as Angelus Caninius says (in Nom. Heb. c. 10). Moreover, the Heb. patach signifies to open. From whence is the imperative passive, or Niphal, hippateach, by crasis hippatach, for which the Syrians use Ephpheta, be open.

Ver. 36. He charged them that they should tell no man. This was not properly a command, involving a fault if disobeyed, but merely a token of urbanity and modesty, that, indeed, He might signify He would not make a parade of His miracles, or by their means obtain the vain glory of men. Wherefore they did not commit sin who nevertheless divulged them. Wherefore it follows, the more He charged them, so much the more a great deal did they publish it. “We are taught by this,” says Theophylact, “that when we confer benefits we should not seek for applause therefrom; but when we have received benefits we should praise our benefactors, even though they are unwilling to be praised.” And S. Augustine says, “By His prohibition the Lord wished to teach us how very fervently they ought to preach to whom He has given a command to preach, when they who were commanded to be silent could not hold their peace.”

Ver. 37. He hath done all things well: Gr. καλῶς, i.e., beautifully, becomingly, harmoniously. Christ did nothing which the Pharisees or such like fault-finders could justly blame. Again, the Heb. for well is heteb, i.e., beneficently, because He gave hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb. Indeed, Christ’s whole life was one continuous beneficence.








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