Matthew 22 Bible Commentary

John Lightfoot’s Bible Commentary

(Read all of Matthew 22)
9. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.

[Go ye into the highways, &c.] That is, 'Bring in hither the travellers.' "What is the order of sitting down to meat? The travellers come in and sit down upon benches or chairs, till all are come that were invited." The Gloss; "It was a custom among rich men to invite poor travellers to feasts."

16. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.

[With the Herodians.] Many things are conjectured concerning the Herodians. I make a judgment of them from that history which is produced by the author Juchasin, speaking of Hillel and Shammai. "Heretofore (saith he) Hillel and Menahem were (heads of the council); but Menahem withdrew into the family of Herod, together with eighty men bravely clad." These, and such as these, I suppose were called Herodians, who partly got into the court, and partly were of the faction both of the father and son. With how great opposition of the generality of the Jewish people Herod ascended and kept the throne, we have observed before. There were some that obstinately resisted him; others that as much defended him: to these was deservedly given the title of Herodians; as endeavouring with all their might to settle the kingdom in his family: and they, it seems, were of the Sadducean faith and doctrine; and it is likely had leavened Herod, who was now tetrarch, with the same principles. For (as we noted before) 'the leaven of the Sadducees' in Matthew, is in Mark 'the leaven of Herod.' And it was craftily contrived on both sides that they might be a mutual establishment to one another, they to his kingdom, and he to their doctrine. When I read of Manaem or Menahem, the foster-brother of Herod the tetrarch, it readily brings to my mind the name and story before mentioned of Menahem, who carried over with him so many eminent persons to the court of Herod.

20. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

[Whose is this image and superscription?] They endeavour by a pernicious subtilty to find out whether Christ were of the same opinion with Judas of Galilee. Which opinion those lewd disturbers of all things, whom Josephus brands everywhere under the name of zealots, had taken up; stiffly denying obedience and tribute to a Roman prince; because they persuaded themselves and their followers that it was a sin to submit to a heathen government. What great calamities the outrageous fury of this conceit brought upon the people, both Josephus and the ruins of Jerusalem at this day testify. They chose Caesar before Christ; and yet because they would neither have Caesar nor Christ, they remain sad monuments to all ages of the divine vengeance and their own madness. To this fury those frequent warnings of the apostles do relate, "That every one should submit himself to the higher powers." And the characters of these madmen, "they contemn dominations," and "they exalt themselves against every thing that is called God."

Christ answers the treachery of the question propounded, out of the very determinations of the schools, where this was taught, "Wheresoever the money of any king is current, there the inhabitants acknowledge that king for their lord." Hence is that of the Jerusalem Sanhedrim: "Abigail said to David, 'What evil have I done, or my sons, or my cattle?' He answered, 'Your husband vilifies my kingdom.' 'Are you then,' said she, 'a king?' To which he, 'Did not Samuel anoint me for a king?' She replied, 'The money of our lord Saul as yet is current'": that is, 'Is not Saul to be accounted king, while his money is still received commonly by all?'

23. The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,

[The Sadducees, who say that there is no resurrection.] "The Sadducees cavil, and say, The cloud faileth and passeth away; so he that goeth down to the grave doth not return." Just after the same rate of arguing as they use that deny infant baptism; because, forsooth, in the law there is no express mention of the resurrection. Above, we suspected that the Sadducees were Herodians, that is to say, courtiers: but these here mentioned were of a more inferior sort.

32. I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

[God is not the God of the dead.] Read, if you please, the beginning of the chapter Chelek, where you will observe with what arguments and inferences the Talmudists maintain the resurrection of the dead out of the law; namely, by a manner of arguing not unlike this of our Saviour's. We will produce only this one; "R. Eliezer Ben R. Josi said, In this matter I accused the scribes of the Samaritans of falsehood, while they say, That the resurrection of the dead cannot be proved out of the law. I told them, You corrupt your law, and it is nothing which you carry about in your hands; for you say, That the resurrection of the dead is not in the law, when it saith, 'That soul shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity is upon him.' 'Shall be utterly cut off'; namely, in this world. 'His iniquity is upon him': when? Is it not in the world to come?" I have quoted this, rather than the others which are to be found in the same place; because they seem here to tax the Samaritan text of corruption; when, indeed, both the text and the version, as may easily be observed, agree very well with the Hebrew. When, therefore, the Rabbin saith, that they have corrupted their law, he doth not so much deny the purity of the text, as reprove the vanity of the interpretation: as if he had said, "You interpret your law falsely, when you do not infer the resurrection from those words which speak it so plainly."

With the present argument of our Saviour compare, first, those things which are said by R. Tanchum: "R. Simeon Ben Jochai saith, God, holy and blessed, doth not join his name to holy men while they live, but only after their death; as it is said, 'To the saints that are in the earth.' When are they saints? When they are laid in the earth; for while they live, God doth not join his name to them; because he is not sure but that some evil affection may lead them astray: but when they are dead, then he joins his name to them. But we find that God joined his name to Isaac while he was living: 'I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac.' The Rabbins answer, He looked on his dust as if it were gathered upon the altar. R. Berachiah said, Since he became blind, he was in a manner dead." See also R. Menahem on the Law.

Compare also those words of the Jerusalem Gemara: "The righteous, even in death, are said to live; and the wicked, even in life, are said to be dead. But how is it proved that the wicked, even in life, are said to be dead? From that place where it is said, I have no delight in the death of the dead. Is he already dead, that is already here called dead? And whence is it proved that the righteous, even in death, are said to live? From that passage, 'And he said to him, This is the land, concerning which I sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob'...He saith to him, Go and tell the fathers, whatsoever I promised to you, I have performed to your children."

The opinion of the Babylonians is the same; "The living know that they shall die. They are righteous who, in their death, are said to live: as it is said, 'And Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, the son of a living man,' [The son of a valiant man. A.V. 2 Samuel 23:20] " &c. And a little after; "The dead know nothing: They are the wicked who, even in their life, are called dead, as it is said, And thou, dead wicked prince of Israel." The word which is commonly rendered profane in this place, they render it also in a sense very usual, namely, for one wounded or dead.

There are, further, divers stories alleged, by which they prove that the dead so far live, that they understand many things which are done here; and that some have spoke after death, &c.