Matthew Poole Commentary - Matthew 23:5 - 23:5

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Matthew Poole Commentary - Matthew 23:5 - 23:5

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Our Saviour had, Mat_23:4 blamed the Pharisees for not living up to what they taught, pressing the law of God on others, but not doing nor endeavouring to observe it themselves. Here he blames them for doing what good things they did for ostentation, to be seen of men; and abounding in their ritual performances of more minute concernment, in the mean time neglecting their moral duties.

All their works they do for to be seen of men; this is their main end, to be seen of men; for this he had reflected on them, Mat_6:1-34.

They make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments. For the right understanding of this we must have recourse to Num_15:37-40, And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a riband of blue: and it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: that ye may remember, and do all my commandments. Deu_22:12, Thou shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture, wherewith thou coverest thyself. In obedience to this law, the Jews did generally wear such garments that had fringes and blue ribands annexed to them. The Jews at this day do it not, because, as they pretend, they have lost the true way of dying the blue colour, required in the law. The end why God commanded them is expressed, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and be restrained from their own inventions and imaginations in God’s service. They were also a note of distinction of the Jews from other people. Besides these, God commanding that they should bind his laws for a sign upon their hands, and as frontlets between their eyes, Deu_6:6-8, they made them parchments, in which the precepts of the law were written, which they bound to their foreheads and arms. These were called phylacteries, from fulattw, to keep, things wherein the law was kept. The Pharisees, for a boast how zealous keepers they were of the law of God, (than which they did nothing less), made these phylacteries and ribands broader, and their fringes much longer, than other men’s: this is that making broad their phylacteries, and enlarging the borders of their garments, which our Lord here reflects upon, done only for ostentation, and that they might be seen of men.