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Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent, [1886], at

Matthew Chapter 15

Matthew 15:1

mat 15:1

Transgress (παραβαίνουσιν)

Lit., to step on one side.

Matthew 15:2

mat 15:2

Wash not their hands

Washing before meals was alone regarded as a commandment; washing after meals only as a duty. By and by the more rigorous actually washed between the courses, although this was declared to be purely voluntary. The distinctive designation for washing after meals was the lifting of the hands; while for washing before meat a term was used which meant, literally, to rub. If "holy," i.e., sacrificial food was to be partaken of, a complete immersion of the hands, and not a mere "uplifting" was prescribed. As the purifications were so frequent, and care had to be taken that the water had not been used for other purposes, or something fallen into it that might discolor or defile it, large vessels or jars were generally kept for the purpose (see Joh 2:6). It was the practice to draw water out of these with a kind of ladle or bucket - very often of glass - which must hold at least one and a half egg-shells (compare draw out now, Joh 2:8). The water was poured on both hands, which must be free of anything covering them, such as gravel, mortar, etc. The hands were lifted up so as to make the water run to the wrist, in order to insure that the whole hand was washed, and that the water polluted by the hand did not again run down the fingers. Similarly, each hand was rubbed with the other (the fist), provided the hand that rubbed had been affused; otherwise, the rubbing might be done against the head, or even against a wall. But there was one point on which special stress was laid. In the "first affusion," which was all that originally was required when the hands were not levitically "defiled," the water had to run down to the wrist. If the water remained short of the wrist, the hands were not clean. See Mar 7:3 (Edersheim, "Life and Times of Jesus").

Matthew 15:3

mat 15:3

Also (καὶ)

The significance of this little word must not be overlooked. Christ admits that the disciples had transgressed a human injunction, but adds, "Ye also transgress, and in a much greater way." "Whether the disciples transgress or not, you are the greatest transgressors" (Bengel). The one question is met with the other in the same style. Luther says, "He places one wedge against the other, and therewith drives the first back."

Matthew 15:4

mat 15:4

Die the death (θανάτῳ τελευτάτω)

The Hebrew idiom is, he shall certainly be executed. The Greek is, lit., let him come to his end by death.

Matthew 15:5

mat 15:5

It is a gift (δῶρον)

Rev., given to God. The picture is that of a churlish son evading the duty of assisting his needy parents by uttering the formula, Corban, it is a gift to God. "Whatever that may be by which you might be helped by me, is not mine to give. It is vowed to God." The man, however, was not bound in that case to give his gift to the temple-treasury, while he was bound not to help his parent; because the phrase did not necessarily dedicate the gift to the temple. By a quibble it was regarded as something like Corban, as if it were laid on the altar and put entirely out of reach. It was expressly stated that such a vow was binding, even if what was vowed involved a breach of the law.

Matthew 15:6

mat 15:6

Have made of none effect (ἠκυρώσατε)

Rev., made void; ἀ, not, κῦρος, authority. Ye have deprived it of its authority.

Matthew 15:7

mat 15:7

Well (καλῶς)


Matthew 15:8

mat 15:8

Is far (ἀπέχει)

Lit., holds off from me.

Matthew 15:19

mat 15:19

Out of the heart

Compare Plato. "For all good and evil, whether in the body or in human nature, originates, as he declared, in the soul, and overflows from thence, as from the head into the eyes; and therefore, if the head and body are to be well, you must begin by curing the soul. That is the first thing" ("Charmides," 157).

Thoughts (διαλογισμοὶ)

Lit., reasonings (compare Mar 9:33, Rev.), or disputings (Phi 2:14), like the captious questioning of the Pharisees about washing hands.

Matthew 15:21

mat 15:21

Coasts (μέρη)

Lit., and better, as Rev., parts.

Matthew 15:22

mat 15:22

Out of the same coasts (ἀπὸ τῶν δρίων ἐκείνων)

Lit., as Rev., from those borders; i.e., she crossed from Phoenicia into Galilee.

Cried (ἐκραύγασεν)

With a loud, importunate cry: from behind. Compare after, Mat 15:23.


Making her daughter's misery her own.

Grievously vexed with a devil (κακῶς δαιμονίζεται)

Lit., is badly demonized. Sir J. Cheke, very evil devilled.

Matthew 15:23

mat 15:23

Send her away

With her request granted; for, as Bengel exquisitely remarks, "Thus Christ was accustomed to send away."

Matthew 15:26

mat 15:26

Children's (τῶν τέκνων)

Bengel observes that while Christ spoke severely to the Jews, he spoke honorably of them to those without. Compare Joh 4:22.

Dogs (κυναρίοις)

Diminutive: little dogs. In Mat 15:27, Wyc. renders the little whelps, and Tynd., in both verses, whelPsalms The picture is of a family meal, with the pet house-dogs running round the table.

Their masters

The children are the masters of the little dogs. Compare Mar 7:28, "the children's crumbs."

Matthew 15:30

mat 15:30

Cast them down (ἔῤῥιψαν)

Very graphic. Lit., flung them down; not carelessly, but in haste, because so many were coming on the same errand.

Matthew 15:32

mat 15:32

I will not (οὐ θέλω)

The A. V. might easily be mistaken for the simple future of the verb send. But two verbs are used: the verb I will expressing Jesus' feeling or disposition. The Greek order is, and to send them away fasting I am not willing. Therefore Rev. is better: I would not.

Faint (ἐκλυθῶσιν)

Lit., be unstrung or relaxed.

Matthew 15:34

mat 15:34

Little fishes (ἰχθύδια)

Diminutive. The disciples make their provision seem as small as possible. In Mat 15:36 the diminutive is not used.

Matthew 15:35

mat 15:35

On the ground (ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν)

Compare Mar 8:6. On the occasion of feeding the five thousand, the multitude sat down on the grass (ἐπὶ τοὺς χότρους), Mat 14:19. It was then the month of flowers. Compare Mar 6:39, the green grass, and Joh 6:10, much grass. On the present occasion, several weeks later, the grass would be burnt up, so that they would sit on the ground.

Gave thanks

According to the Jewish ordinance, the head of the house was to speak the blessing only if he himself shared in the meal; yet if they who sat down to it were not merely guests, but his children or his household, then he might speak it, even if he himself did not partake.

Matthew 15:37

mat 15:37

Baskets (σπυρίδας)

See on Mat 14:20.

Next: Matthew Chapter 16