2 2 saying,＂The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
4 They tie up heavy burdens 3 (hard to carry) and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.
5 4 All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
6 5 They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
8 6 As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.' You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
15 10＂Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves.
16 11＂Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.'
23 ＂Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes 12 of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. (But) these you should have done, without neglecting the others.
24 13 Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!
25 14＂Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.
27 15＂Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men's bones and every kind of filth.
28 Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.
34 18 Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and pursue from town to town,
35 so that there may come upon you all the righteous blood shed upon earth, from the righteous blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.
37 19＂Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were unwilling!
1 [1-39] The final section of the narrative part of the fifth book of the gospel is a denunciation by Jesus of the scribes and the Pharisees (see the note on Matthew 3:7). It depends in part on Mark and Q (cf Mark 12:38-39; Luke 11:37-52; 13:34-35), but in the main it is peculiar to Matthew. (For the reasons against considering this extensive body of sayings- material either as one of the structural discourses of this gospel or as part of the one that follows in Matthew 24-25, see the note on Matthew 19:1-23:39.) While the tradition of a deep opposition between Jesus and the Pharisees is well founded, this speech reflects an opposition that goes beyond that of Jesus' ministry and must be seen as expressing the bitter conflict between Pharisaic Judaism and the
2 [2-3] Have taken their seat . . . Moses: it is uncertain whether this is simply a metaphor for Mosaic teaching authority or refers to an actual chair on which the teacher sat. It has been proved that there was a seat so designated in synagogues of a later period than that of this gospel. Do and observe . . . they tell you: since the Matthean Jesus abrogates Mosaic law (Matthew 5:31-42), warns his disciples against the teaching of the Pharisees (Matthew 14:1-12), and, in this speech, denounces the Pharisees as blind guides in respect to their teaching on oaths (Matthew 16-22), this commandment to observe all things whatsoever they (the scribes and Pharisees) tell you cannot be taken as the evangelist's understanding of the proper standard of conduct for his church. The saying may reflect a period when the Matthean community was largely Jewish Christian and was still seeking to avoid a complete break with the synagogue. Matthew has incorporated this traditional material into the speech in accordance with his view of the course of salvation history, in which he portrays the time of Jesus' ministry as marked by the fidelity to the law, although with significant pointers to the new situation that would exist after his death and resurrection (see the note on Matthew 5:17-20). The crowds and the disciples (Matthew 23:1) are exhorted not to follow the example of the Jewish leaders, whose deeds do not conform to their teaching (Matthew 23:3).
4  To the charge of preaching but not practicing (Matthew 23:3), Jesus adds that of acting in order to earn praise. The disciples have already been warned against this same fault (see the note on Matthew 6:1-18). Phylacteries: the Mosaic law required that during prayer small boxes containing parchments on which verses of scripture were written be worn on the left forearm and the forehead (see Exodus 13:9, 16; Deut 6:8; 11:18). Tassels: see the note on Matthew 9:20. The widening of phylacteries and the lengthening of tassels were for the purpose of making these evidences of piety more noticeable.
6 [8-12] These verses, warning against the use of various titles, are addressed to the disciples alone. While only the title＂Rabbi' has been said to be used in addressing the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:7), the implication is that Father and＂Master' also were. The prohibition of these titles to the disciples suggests that their use was present in Matthew's church. The Matthean Jesus forbids not only the titles but the spirit of superiority and pride that is shown by their acceptance. Whoever exalts . . . will be exalted: cf Luke 14:11.
7 [13-36] This series of seven＂woes,＂ directed against the scribes and Pharisees and addressed to them, is the heart of the speech. The phrase woe to occurs often in the prophetic and apocalyptic literature, expressing horror of a sin and punishment for those who commit it. Hypocrites: see the note on Matthew 6:2. The hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees consists in the difference between their speech and action Matthew 23:3 and in demonstrations of piety that have no other purpose than to enhance their reputation as religious persons (Matthew 23:5).
8  You lock the kingdom of heaven: cf Matthew 16:19 where Jesus tells Peter that he will give him the keys to the kingdom of heaven. The purpose of the authority expressed by that metaphor is to give entrance into the kingdom (the kingdom is closed only to those who reject the authority); here the charge is made that the authority of the scribes and Pharisees is exercised in such a way as to be an obstacle to entrance. Cf Luke 11:52 where the accusation against the＂scholars of the law＂ (Matthew's scribes) is that they＂have taken away the key of knowledge.＂
9  Some manuscripts add a verse here or after Matthew 23:12＂Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. Because of this, you will receive a very severe condemnation.＂ Cf Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47. This＂woe＂ is almost identical with Mark 12:40 and seems to be an interpolation derived from that text.
10  In the first century A.D. until the First Jewish Revolt against
11 [16-22] An attack on the casuistry that declared some oaths binding (one is obligated) and others not (it means nothing) and held the binding oath to be the one made by something of lesser value (the gold; the gift on the altar). Such teaching, which inverts the order of values, reveals the teachers to be blind guides; cf Matthew 15:14. Since the Matthean Jesus forbids all oaths to his disciples (Matthew 5:33-37), this woe does not set up a standard for Christian moral conduct, but ridicules the Pharisees on their own terms.
12  The Mosaic law ordered tithing of the produce of the land (Lev 27:30; Deut 14:22-23), and the scribal tradition is said here to have extended this law to even the smallest herbs. The practice is criticized not in itself but because it shows the Pharisees' preoccupation with matters of less importance while they neglect the weightier things of the law.
13  Cf Lev 11:41-45 that forbids the eating of any＂swarming creature.＂ The Pharisees' scrupulosity about minor matters and neglect of greater ones (Matthew 23:23) is further brought out by this contrast between straining liquids that might contain a tiny＂swarming creature＂ and yet swallowing the camel. The latter was one of the unclean animals forbidden by the law (Lev 11:4), but it is hardly possible that the scribes and Pharisees are being denounced as guilty of so gross a violation of the food laws. To swallow the camel is only a hyperbolic way of speaking of their neglect of what is important.
14 [25-26] The ritual washing of utensils for dining (cf Mark 7:4) is turned into a metaphor illustrating a concern for appearances while inner purity is ignored. The scribes and Pharisees are compared to cups carefully washed on the outside but filthy within. Self-indulgence: the Greek word here translated means lack of self-control, whether in drinking or in sexual conduct.
15 [27-28] The sixth woe, like the preceding one, deals with concern for externals and neglect of what is inside. Since contact with dead bodies, even when one was unaware of it, caused ritual impurity (Numbers 19:11-22), tombs were whitewashed so that no one would contract such impurity inadvertently.
16 [29-36] The final woe is the most serious indictment of all. It portrays the scribes and Pharisees as standing in the same line as their ancestors who murdered the prophets and the righteous.
17 [29-32] In spite of honoring the slain dead by building their tombs and adorning their memorials, and claiming that they would not have joined in their ancestors' crimes if they had lived in their days, the scribes and Pharisees are true children of their ancestors and are defiantly ordered by Jesus to fill up what those ancestors measured out. This order reflects the Jewish notion that there was an allotted measure of suffering that had to be completed before God's final judgment would take place.
18 [34-36] There are important differences between the Matthean and the Lucan form of this Q material; cf Luke 11:49-51. In Luke the one who sends the emissaries is the＂wisdom of God.＂ If, as many scholars think, that is the original wording of Q, Matthew, by making Jesus the sender, has presented him as the personified divine wisdom. In Luke, wisdom's emissaries are the Old Testament＂prophets＂ and the Christian＂apostles.＂ Matthew's prophets and wise men and scribes are probably Christian disciples alone; cf Matthew 10:41 and see the note on Matthew 13:52. You will kill: see Matthew 24:9. Scourge in your synagogues . . . town to town: see Matthew 10:17, 23 and the note on Matthew 10:17. All the righteous blood shed upon the earth: the slaying of the disciples is in continuity with all the shedding of righteous blood beginning with that of Abel. The persecution of Jesus' disciples by this generation involves the persecutors in the guilt of their murderous ancestors. The blood of Zechariah: see the note on Luke 11:51. By identifying him as the son of Barachiah Matthew understands him to be Zechariah the Old Testament minor prophet; see Zechariah 1:1.
19 [37-39] Cf Luke 13:34-35. The denunciation of Pharisaic Judaism ends with this lament over