[The chief priests and the scribes with the elders.] So it is in Mark 11:27: but in Matthew 21:23, it is the chief priests and elders of the people. Now the question is, who these elders should be, as they are distinguished from the chief priests and the scribes. The Sanhedrim consisted chiefly of priests, Levites, and Israelites, although the original precept was for the priests and Levites only. "The command is, that the priests and Levites should be of the great council; as it is said, Thou shalt go unto the priests and Levites: but if such be not to be found, although they were all Israelites, behold, it is allowed."
None will imagine that there ever was a Sanhedrim wherein there were Israelites only, and no priests or Levites; nor, on the other hand, that there ever was a Sanhedrim wherein there were only priests and Levites, and no Israelites. The scribes, therefore, seem in this place to denote either the Levites, or else, together with the Levites, those inferior ranks of priests who were not the chief priests: and then the elders, may be the Israelites, or those elders of the laity that were not of the Levitical tribe. Such a one was Gamaliel the present president of the Sanhedrim, and Simeon his son, of the tribe of Judah.
37. Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
[He calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, &c.] "Why doth Moses say (Exo 32:13), Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? R. Abin saith, The Lord said unto Moses, 'I look for ten men from thee, as I looked for that number in Sodom: find me out ten righteous persons among the people, and I will not destroy thy people.' Then said Moses, 'Behold, here am I, and Aaron, and Eleazar, and Ithamar, and Phineas, and Caleb, and Joshua.' 'But' saith God, 'these are but seven; where are the other three?' When Moses knew not what to do, he saith, 'O eternal God, do those live that are dead?' 'Yes,' saith God. Then saith Moses, 'If those that are dead do live, remember Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.'"
42. And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
[The Lord said unto my Lord, &c.] Whereas St. Matthew tells us, That "no man was able to answer him a word" to that argument, whereby he asserted the divinity of the Messias, it is plain that those evasions were not yet thought of, by which the Jews have since endeavoured to shift off this place. For the Talmudists apply the psalm to Abraham; the Targumist (as it seems) to David; others (as Justin Martyr tells us) to Hezekiah; which yet I do not remember I have observed in the Jewish authors. His words are in his Dialogue with Tryphon: I am not ignorant, that you venture to explain this psalm (when he had recited the whole psalm) as if it were to be understood of king Hezekiah.
The Jewish authors have it thus: "Sem the Great said unto Eliezer [Abraham's servant], 'When the kings of the east and of the west came against you, what did you?' He answered and said, 'The Holy Blessed God took Abraham, and made him to sit on his right hand.'" And again: "The Holy Blessed God had purposed to have derived the priesthood from Shem; according as it is said, Thou art the priest of the most high God: but because he blessed Abraham before he blessed God, God derived the priesthood from Abraham. For so it is said, And he blessed him and said, Blessed be Abraham of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth, and blessed be the most high God. Abraham saith unto him, Who useth to bless the servant before his Lord? Upon this God gave the priesthood to Abraham, according as it is said, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand. And afterward it is written, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever for the speaking of Melchizedek." Midras Tillin and others also, in the explication of this psalm, refer it to Abraham. Worshipful commentators indeed!
46. Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts;
[Which desire to walk in long robes.] In garments to the feet; in long robes: which their own Rabbins sufficiently testify. "R. Jochanan asked R. Banaah, What kind of garment is the inner garment of the disciple of the wise men? It is such a one, that the flesh may not be seen underneath him." The Gloss is, It is to reach to the very sole of the foot, that it may not be discerned when he goes barefoot. "What is the 'talith,' that the disciple of the wise wears? That the inner garment may not be seen below it to a handbreadth."
What is that, Luke 15:22, the first robe? [the best robe, AV]. Is it the former robe, that is, that which the prodigal had worn formerly? or the first, i.e. the chief and best robe? It may be queried, whether it may not be particularly understood the talith as what was in more esteem than the chaluk, and that which is the first garment in view to the beholders. "I saw amongst the spoils a Babylonish garment, Joshua 7. Rabh saith, A long garment called melotes." The Gloss is, "a 'talith' of purest wool."