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17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar, or not?
18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites ?
19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.
20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription ?
21 They say unto him, Cæsar's. Then saith he unto them, * Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's; and unto God the things that are God's.
d In value sevenpence halfpenny. Matt. xx. 2.
e Or, inscription.
f Rom. xii. 7.
Verse 17. Is it lawful to pay tribute ? &c. But how soon were “the wise taken in -The word anvoos,
is the Latin census, in their own craftiness!” Jesus perceired Greek letters, and is used both for an their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye enumeration of the people, and, as here me, ye hypocrites St. Luke says, “peralso, for the capitation-tax levied upon ceiving their craftiness.” them in those Roman provinces which Verse 19. Shew me the tribute money did not, as Italy, enjoy the privilege of The coin in which the tax was paid; for exemption. This was entirely different the Romans required the payment in from the temple tribute before mentioned, which was a didrachm or half And they brought unto him a penny. shekel from every Jew throughout the That is, a denarius, value about 74d. world. The question being, whether it “ The denarius,” says Adolphus Occo, was lawful to pay the poll-tax to Cæsar, "paid by the Jews as tribute money, had which was a mark of the subjection of round the head of Cæsar this inscription, Judea, as a province, to the Roman power, Καισαρ Aυγουστ. Ιουδαιας εαλωκιας. Cæsar necessarily implied whether it was not a Augustus; Judea being subdued.” “But religious duty to unite and throw off this it might,” says Hammond,“ have been a subjection by violence. If therefore our denarius of Tiberius." Whatever it was, Lord had determined that it was not law- it had both a head of Cæsar, called his ful to pay the tribute, he would have been image, and an epigraph or superscription, charged with sanctioning rebellion ; but which was the name of the emperor. if he had declared the contrary, this Verse 21. Render therefore unto Cesar, might have been employed to lessen his c.—Those who think that our Lord in present influence with the multitude, by reality determined the artful question representing him as an abettor of the which was put to him on the side of the Roman tyranny, and as having uttered a lawfulness of paying tribute to Cæsar, do decision utterly incompatible with his not disentangle him from the dilemma own pretensions. “For how,” they might which was prepared for him; and hence have said to the multitudes that followed we see in commentators many just things him, “can he be the Messiah, as you said of the consummate wisdom of this believe, who, instead of delivering you answer without any clear indication of from a foreign yoke, enjoins even the that in which its wisdom consists. Thus lawfulness, and not merely the expediency, the generality of interpreters have more for a time, of submitting to this exercise ably exhibited the snare laid for Christ of a foreign and idolatrous domination ?” by the question proposed, than made it manifest how his reply evaded it. But off an allegiance to which it has submitted, that our Lord did not determine the ques- and a definition of the theocracy in the tion either way, is plain from the effect modified form in which it then existed, produced upon
the inquirers. St. and which was so soon to expire ; with Matthew says, “ They marvelled and many other considerations of a political left him ;” St. Luke, “They could not and minute kind which Christianity does take hold of his words before the not interfere with, contenting itself with people; and they marvelled at his an- declaring that government is of God, and swer, and held their peace.” Now cer- prescribing the general duties of rulers and tainly, if he had decided that it was subjects, without determining modes of lawful to pay tribute to the Romans in civil polity, or settling points which the the sense in which its lawfulness was nature of mutual compacts, and the known understood in the question, this was one principles of justice, are sufficient of of the decisions they wished to obtain themselves to determine without a revelafrom him; and being in favour of the un- tion. He leaves the whole question of popular Roman power, they might have the right or lawfulness of sovereignty "taken hold of his words before the between the Jews and the Romans, unpeople.” But the question, “Is it lawful touched ; but he lays it down, that a to pay tribute to Cæsar, or not?” was settled government, de facto, whatever equivalent to, “Is this submission to a fo- may be the ground on which its claims reign and idolatrous power forbidden by rest, whether clear or questionable, is the law of God, or is it not ?" and it was entitled to receive tribute, as affording put with manifest reference to the duty protection and fulfilling the general purof insurrection, or an attempt to throw poses of government for the public weloff that yoke, which the opinion of its fare, by the application of the talents and being unlawful for the people of God, as time of its officers, and the expense of vathey still thought themselves, in several rious agencies. He neither says how much instances led to, and which all were con- tribute, nor how little ; whether the sovestantly meditating, the Herodians not ex- reignty under which the tribute was exactcepted, whose support of the Roman ed was legitimate or usurped; whether it claims was the result of an unwilling and might or might not be modified; or in constrained policy, only they wished the some circumstances changed by public supreme power to be lodged in the family resistance; but simply, that a government of Herod, to whom the Jews generally in the regular exercise of an acknowledged
The point therefore they dominion, should be maintained by the wished to be solved was, whether they tribute of the people. Now the exhibiwere bound in conscience, by the law of tion of the Roman money, in which the God, to acknowledge a foreign yoke as of tribute was paid, proved the fact of the divine appointment, by paying tribute, or Roman dominion; its circulation as a to throw it off, not by the refusal of in- part of the current coin of Judea, proved dividuals to pay tribute, (for that they did that the Roman government was in the and were compelled to do,) but by the regular exercise of its authority, defendjoint effort of the nation, as incompatible ing property and life; therefore, that it with their relation to God as his peculiar had its claims, and something belonged people. This was the case which our to Cæsar, as of right, considered as their Lord did not determine; the case of supreme governor, maintaining a magisright and wrong, as it lay between the tracy under him for the public welfare, Romans and the Jewish nation, which quite independent of the original title, or would have brought in endless questions the question of the present legitimacy of as to the origin of the Roman power, the the sovereignty itself; and in this our Lord manner in which it had been used, the agreed with their own writers, who say, degree of injustice which must be sus- “Wherever the money of any king is curtained before a nation can legally throw rent, the inhabitants acknowledge that
22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their
way. 23 The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, 24 Saying, Master, ' Moses said, If a man die, having no
g Mark xii. 18; Luke xx. 27.
h Acts xxiii. 8.
i Deut. xxv. 5.
king for their lord.” In this, then, lay tribute; your religion, properly and solely, the wisdom of our Lord's reply, which belongs to God.” Here the civil ruler furnished his followers, in future times, has no right to command, you have no with a
most important principle to power to submit. Whatever God claims guide them in their civil conduct. He you must render; and if Cæsar intrude leaves the particular questions of go- here, you must suffer rather than sin. At vernment to be regulated by human all hazards, we are to "render unto God prudence, on the same principle that he the things which are God's,”—love, worrefused to be the arbitrator in a question ship, obedience, according to an honest respecting an inheritance; but enjoins interpretation of his will as contained in that wherever a regular government ex- the scriptures, inspired by him, which inists, it shall receive tribute, and that none terpretation is a matter of pure conare to take its benefits without giving science between us and God alone. back its dues. And the PRUDENCE was as Verse 22. The Sadducees, which say there conspicuous as the wisdom ; for, as he is no resurrection.—The object of the left the question of the lawfulness of their Pharisees and Herodians was to entangle subjection as a nation to the Romans him in a political difficulty; that of the undecided, and grounded his exhortation Sadducees, in a theological one, and by to pay tribute to Cæsar, not upon that, putting an objection to the doctrine of
their own principle, that a resurrection, which they thought be “ wherever the money of a king is cur- could not answer, to lower his reputa. rent, the inhabitants acknowledge him for tion for wisdom before the multitude. their lord;” as, in other words, they per- To deny the resurrection of the body, was ceived that he placed the obligation of but one of the tenets of the Sadducees : paying tribute, upon that ordinary state they denied the existence of “angels and of things in which a sovereign power be- spirits,” holding, says Josephus, that the stows the benefits of civil government, soul, ovvapuvišeu, vanishes with the body, and a people accepts them, “they mar- and confining all rewards and punishvelled and held their peace;” the answer ments to the present life. It followed had taken an unexpected turn, and “they therefore, from their denial of the immorcould not take hold of his words before tality of the soul and its existence after the people.” This obligation to pay tri- death, that they should deny the resurbute is, however, put by our Lord under rection of the body. To this doctrine two restrictions : Cæsar is to claim no- they added philosophical objections, and thing but what “is Cæsar's,” that only persuaded themselves that it was imposwhich of right belongs to him; and he sible. Hence the appeal of St. Paul, is neither to claim, nor are we to render, Acts xxvi. 8, “Why should it be thought what is God's,” what of right belongs a thing incredible with you, that God to him, as declared in his own word. This should raise the dead?” Here, howlatter is a grand principle engrafted on ever, they bring not a philosophic, but a the former, and had, no doubt, as well popular, objection. as the other, a prospective reference. Verse 24. Moses said, If a man die, &c. “Cæsar,” as Le Clerc well expresses it, —By an ancient custom of the Hebrews, “is your prince, and may demand his which was afterwards sanctioned by the
children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.
25 Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, lest his wife unto his brother :
26 Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. 27 And last of all the woman died also.
28 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven ? for they all had her.
29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
Mosaic law, if a man died childless, leaving a widow, the brother of the deceased, or the nearest male relation, was bound to marry the widow; to give to the firstborn son the name of the deceased ; to insert his name in the genealogical register; and to deliver the estate of the de. ceased into his possession.
His brother shall marry his wife.Επιγαμβρευω signifes to marry a wife by the law of affinity. See Gen. xxxviii. 8, and Deut. xxv. 5.
Verse 28. Whose wife shall she be? &c. -It appears that though the Pharisees held the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead, their gross corruption of all spiritual things, which so influenced their interpretation of the prophecies respecting the Messiah, and converted “the kingdom of heaven” into a worldly monarchy, had produced a like darkening effect upon their conceptions of a future state. They allowed of marriage in heaven; and, generally, Josephus compares their ideas of a future life to those of the Greek poets; and if Maimonides and other subsequent Rabbins speak in more spiritual terms, and with more worthy conceptions of the world to come, this is another instance in which they derived superior knowledge from the gospel without acknowledging it. Still this was a subject debated among the modern Rabbins, some of them still clinging to the gross opinions of the Pharisees of our Lord's day. In disputing with the Pharisees, the Sadducees had probably
started this and similar difficulties as to the resurrection, with some success; and this rendered them the more confident.
Verse 29. Not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. They knew not the true doctrine of the inspired writings on this subject, which was not to be confounded with the gross and erring conceptions of men. If infidels and semiinfidels would fairly inquire into the true sense of scripture, and not fix upon the weak opinions which many have corruptly or hastily deduced from it, they would be deprived of half their arguments. As they were ignorant of the scriptures, so also of the power of God, taking limited and partial views of that infinite attribute; otherwise they would have seen that he who gives life must have power to restore life; that he who built the body of man out of the dust of the earth can re-build it after it has crumbled into dust again; that, in point of fact, God is always changing lifeless inorganic matter into the living bodies of vegetables, animals, and men ; and that, as to the difficulties which have in all ages been urged against the resurrection of the same body, from the scattering of its parts, and their supposed conversion into others, it is even manifest to reason that a being of almighty power is able to prevent every combination and change in the world of matter which could frustrate his design, and involve a contradiction to it, and that this supposes only the same constant, though wonder
30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.
31 But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,
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
j Exod. iii. 6.
ful superintendence and government, As the angels of God.—That is, not only which the maintenance of the regular in immortality and purity, but in freedom order of all things daily, and indeed every from all bodily appetites. moment, demands, and which, we are Verse 32. I am the God of Abraham, 8c. sure, from the effect, is always exerted. -As the Sadducees received no other of
Verse 30. In the resurrection they neither the sacred books than those of the Penmarry, &c.—The resurrection from the tateuch, our Lord draws his proof from dead is expressed by avaotaois, a figurative one of them. The words quoted were term which signifies a rising up, and is spoken to Moses, Exod. iii. 6, conseopposed to atwois, a falling down. In the quently long after the death of Abraham, resurrection here means, in the state to Isaac, and Jacob; and the stress of the which men are introduced by the resur- argument lies in this, that Jehovah, who rection. As our Lord here so formally had been the God of these patriarchs lays down the doctrine that there is no during life, after their death still calls marriage in heaven, it is plain that the himself their God: “I am the God of opposite opinion had been generally en- Abraham,” &c. Now to be “their God," tertained by the advocates of the resur- expressed a covenant relation. He was rection; and, indeed, if not, it would have not only the chosen object of their worbeen a mere impertinence for the Saddu- ship and trust, but stood engaged by his cees to have urged an objection which covenant with them to be their patron, clearly had no relation to the doctrine as protector, and the source of all blessings held by their opponents.
Our Lord, to them in the present and in a future therefore, not merely to silence them, life; for, in dependence upon this covebut to instruct his followers, draws the nant, they were content “ to dwell in veil more fully from before that new and tents” whilst on earth, because “they eternal state of being which shall succeed looked for a city which had foundations, the general resurrection, discloses its whose builder and maker is God.” It exclusive SPIRITUAL character, and shuts followed, therefore, from the obvious out for ever those gross conceptions with truth that “God is not the God of the which imagination has clothed its pagan, dead, but of the living,” or that he could Pharisaic, and Mahometan paradises. It
stand in no covenant relation to the does not, however, follow from this ex- dead, that these patriarchs were still alive alted view of a future life, that we shall as to their souls; which utterly subverted not recognise each other ; nor that those the material doctrine of the Sadducees, tender intellectual affections which bind that they perished with the body. But pious friends and relations to each other how did it prove the doctrine of the resoron earth, shall not there exist. The con- rection of the body? From a supposed diffitrary is indicated in many passages; only culty in connecting the argument with this we are to recollect that every affection doctrine, Dr. Samuel Clarke, Campbell, will be purged, not only from sin, but and others depart from the plain meaning from infirmity.
of the word resurrection, and consider our