[Neither have two coats apiece.] Either my computation of times very much deceives me, or the winter was now coming on when the apostles were sent forth; and yet Christ forbids that they should be clothed with a double garment. It was not much that they should be forbid to take money or provision for their journey, because they were to have their food administered to them as the reward of their preaching the gospel: but to strive with the cold and winter without sufficient clothing seems something hard.
I. It was not an unusual thing in that nation, that some out of a more religious severity, did clothe themselves but with a single garment; of which thing we have already spoken in notes upon Mark 14:51, to which probably this passage may have some reference: "R. Jose saith, 'Let my portion be with those who die of the disease in their bowels: for, saith Mar, Very many righteous men die of the disease in their bowels,'"; viz. a disease contracted by the austerities of their life, both as to food and clothing. And so it is said particularly of the priests.
"The priests walked barefoot upon the pavement, and used water, and were not clad but with a single garment. And from this custom their natural vigour languished, and their bowels grew infirm."
For this very reason was there a physician appointed in the Temple, upon whom the charge lay of remedying this evil: whom we might not unfitly call the bowel-doctor.
Now, it may be inquired whether our Lord from this example prescribed this severity to his apostles, not allowing them more than a single garment, when this journeying of theirs, to preach the gospel, was a winter's work: for they returned from this journey a little before the Passover. Compare the tenth verse of this chapter, and so on, with John 6:4, and so on. But let us a little enlarge upon this subject.
In both the Talmuds there are reckoned up eighteen several garments, wherewith the Jew is clothed from head to foot. Amongst the rest, two shoes, two buskins, &c.: but those which are more properly called garments, and which are put upon the body, are reckoned these:
1. Mactoren: which word is variously rendered by several men. By the Gloss I suppose a mantle: by Aruch a cloak; by others a hood. In the Gloss upon Bava Bathra it is made the same with talith.
"Resh Lachish went to Bozrah; and, seeing some Israelites eating of fruits that had not been tithed, forbade them. Coming from R. Jochanan, he saith to him, Even while thy 'mactoren' [or cloak] is upon thee, go and recall thy prohibition.'"
2. 'Kolbin' of thread. Which the Babylonians call kolbos. The ordinary Jewish garment was talith, the outward garment, and chaluk, the inward. But in the place quoted is no mention of talith in so many syllables at all; but instead of it a Greek word for a Hebrew one, a coat.
Epiphanius, speaking of the scribes, "Moreover, they wore garments distinguished by the phylacteries, which were certain borders of purple." They used long robes, or a certain sort of garment which we may call 'dalmatics,' or 'kolobia,' which were wove in with large borders of purple.
That he means the talith, the thing itself declares; for those borders of purple were no other than the zuzith, certain skirts hung and sewed on to the talith.
3. A woolen shirt, the inward garment. Whence the Gloss, the 'chaluk' was the shirt upon his skin. Hence that boast of R. Jose, "that throughout his whole life the roof of his house had not seen what was within that shirt of his."
II. And now the question returns; viz. whether by those two coats in the place before us should be meant those two kinds of garments, the talith and the chaluk, that is, that they should take but one of them: or those two kinds doubled; that is, that they should take but one of each? Whether our Saviour bound them to take but one of those garments, or whether he forbade them taking two of each?
I conceive, he might bind them to take but one of those garments...When our Lord commands them not to put on two coats, the foregoing words may best explain what he means by it: for when he cuts them short of other parts of garments and necessaries, such as a scrip, a staff, and sandals, we may reasonably suppose he would cut them short of one of the ordinary garments, either the talith or the chaluk.
This may seem something severe, that he should send them out in the winter time half naked; but, 1. This well enough became that providence which he was determined to exert towards them in a more peculiar manner, as may be gathered from Luke 22:35, and to the charge of which he would commit them. Of such a kind and nature was his providence in preserving them, as was shewn towards the Israelites in the wilderness, which suffered not their garments to wax old, which kept their bodies from decay and diseases, and their feet unhurt by all their travel. 2. It suited well enough with the mean and low estate of that kingdom of heaven, and of the Messiah, which the apostles were to preach up and propagate; so that, from the view of the first publishers, the Jews might learn to frame a right judgment concerning both the Messiah and his kingdom; viz. they might learn to believe in the Messiah when they should observe him capable so wondrously to protect his messengers, though surrounded with such numberless inconveniences of life: and might further be taught not to expect a pompous kingdom when they see the propagators of it, of so mean a degree and quality.
The words of the Baptist, He that hath two coats, let him impart, &c., may be also understood in this sense, that he that hath both the talith and the chaluk may give to him that is naked and hath neither, either the one or the other.
8. And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again.
[That one of the old prophets was risen again.] So is the expression again, verse 19; in which sense that prophet must be taken, John 1:21,25, that is one of the old prophets that is risen again.
Although they looked for no other prophet (excepting Elias only) before the appearing of the Messiah, yet doth it seem that they had an opinion that some of the ancient prophets should rise again, and that the time was now at hand wherein they should so do; and that because they made such frequent mention of it in their common talk, that "some one of the old prophets had risen again."
30. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:
[Moses and Elias.] The Jews have a fiction that Moses shall come with Elias when Elias himself comes. "The holy blessed God said to Moses, 'As thou hast given thy life for Israel in this world, so in the ages to come, when I shall bring Elias the prophet amongst them, you two shall come together'"...
They also feign that Moses was raised up at the same time with Samuel by the witch of Endor:
"Samuel thought that day had been the day of judgment, and therefore he raised Moses along with himself."
"Moses did not die [for the just die not]; but went up into the highest, to minister before God."
31. Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
[They spake of his decease.] The French and Italian translation do render this word decease too loosely. And I wish the English have not done it too narrowly; They spake of his decease. It were better, They spake of his departure. For the ascent of Christ into heaven was his exodus, as well as his death: nay, I may say more, if, at least, in the word exodus there be any allusion to the Israelites' going out of Egypt. For that was in victory and triumph, as also the ascent of Christ into heaven was.
There is no question but they did indeed discourse with him about his death and the manner of it; viz. his crucifixion: whereas, Moses and Elias themselves did depart without any pain or anguish. But I should think, however, there is more contained in that word; and that the expression the time of his receiving up, verse 51, hath some reference to his departure...
51. And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
[When the time was come that he should be received up] It is a difficulty amongst some, why there should be any mention of his receiving up, when there is no mention of his death. But let it be only granted that under that expression his decease is included the ascension of Christ, and then the difficulty is solved. The evangelist seems from thence to calculate. Moses and Elias had spoken of his departure out of this world, that is, of his final departure, when he took leave of it at his ascension into heaven: and from thenceforward, till the time should come wherein he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face towards Jerusalem, resolving with himself to be present at all the feasts that should precede his receiving up.
He goes therefore to the feast of Tabernacles; and what he did there, we have it told us, John 7. After ten weeks, or thereabout, he went up to the feast of Dedication, chapter 13:22; John 10:22; and at length to the last feast of all, his own Passover, chapter 17:11.
52. And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
[Into a village of the Samaritans.] It may be a question, whether the Jews, in their journeying to and from Jerusalem, would ordinarily deign to lodge in any of the Samaritan towns. But if necessity should at any time compel them to betake themselves into any of their inns, we must know that nothing but their mere hatred to the nation could forbid them: for "their land was clean, their waters were clean, their dwellings were clean, and their roads were clean." So that there could be no offence or danger of uncleanness in their dwelling; and so long as the Samaritans, in most things, came the nearest the Jewish religion of all others, there was less danger of being defiled either in their meats or beds or tables, &c.
55. But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
[Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.] What Elias once did to those of Samaria, the sons of Zebedee had an ambition to imitate in this place; dreaming (as it should seem) that there were those thunders and lightnings in their very name Boanerges, that should break out at pleasure for the death and destruction of those that provoked them. But could you not see, O ye sons of Zebedee, how careful and tender your Master was, from the very bottom of his soul, about the lives and well-being of mankind; how he healed the sick, cured those that were possessed with devils, and raised the dead? and will you be breathing slaughter and fire, and no less destruction to the town than what had happened to Sodom? Alas! you do not know, or have not considered, what kind of spirit and temper becomes the apostles of the Messiah.
60. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
[Let the dead bury their dead.] The Jews accounted of the Gentiles as no other than dead. The people of the earth, [that is, the Gentiles] do not live. And as the Gentiles, so even amongst themselves, these four sorts are so esteemed: "These four are accounted as dead, the blind, the leprous, the poor, and the childless."