The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 12:14-21

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 18, 2013

Mat 12:14  And the Pharisees going out made a consultation against him, how they might destroy him.

And the Pharisees going out. Consultation of the Pharisees. The third gospel [6:11] mentions the anger of the Pharisees [cf. 2 Tim. 3:9], and Mark [3:6] adds that they made common cause with the Herodians [cf. Josephus Antiq. XIV. xv. 10], though these parties were most opposed to one another. The end of the consultation was, how they might destroy Jesus [cf. Mt. 22:15; 27:1, 7; 28:12], so that their enmity has now reached its climax. Though these particular Pharisees did not represent the whole party, they showed the party tendency; the few friendly relations that Jesus had with any Pharisees may be regarded as the exceptions proving the general rule of Pharisaic opposition to our Lord [Schanz]. In the present case, they must have endeavored to formulate a charge of breaking the sabbath against Jesus, so as to inflict the penalty determined in Ex. 31:14.

Mat 12:15  But Jesus knowing it, retired from thence: and many followed him, and he healed them all.
Mat 12:16  And he charged them that they should not make him known.

But Jesus knowing it. Jesus in retirement. Here we see first how our Lord acts in his retirement; secondly, we see a prophecy fulfilled in him. [1] Behavior of Jesus. The evangelist describes our Lord’s condition very briefly: α. he knows the disposition and plans of the Pharisees; β. he retires from the synagogue where the preceding events have taken place, we know not whither, for though Mk. 3:7 says that he went “to the sea,” the circumstances in. the second gospel are so different from those in the first, that the events cannot probably be harmonized; γ. he was followed by many attracted by his meekness and charity; he healed all that needed his help; finally, he charged them—the Greek verb implies severity; cf. Mt. 16:22; Lk. 9:21; 19:39—not to make him known [cf. Mt. 8:4; Jn. 6:15], so as not to stimulate their expectations of a glorious Messias [Euthymius] and, at the same time, not to increase the envy of the Pharisees [Cajetan, Faber Stapulensis, Knabenbauer].

Mat 12:17  That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaias the prophet, saying:
Mat 12:18  Behold my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom my soul hath been well pleased. I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.
Mat 12:19  He shall not contend, nor cry out, neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.
Mat 12:20  The bruised reed he shall not break: and smoking flax he shall not extinguish: till he send forth judgment unto victory.
Mat 12:21  And in his name the Gentiles shall hope.

That it might be fulfilled. Fulfilment of the prophecy. The prophecy is taken from Is. 42:1–4, which may be thus rendered literally from the Hebrew: “Behold thy servant, I will uphold him; my elect, my soul deiighteth in him; I have put my spirit upon him, he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor raise [his voice]; nor shall he make his voice be heard abroad. The bruised reed he shall not break, and smoking flax he shall not quench, and unto truth he shall bring forth judgment. He shall not be sad, he shall not be troublesome, till he set judgment in the earth, and the islands shall anxiously await his law.” Böhl is of opinion that the evangelist quotes the Syriac Vulgate; Gesenius, Credner, and Köstlin believe that he follows the Chaldee version in the text of the prophecy; but Jerome appears to be right in maintaining that the evangelist follows the Hebrew text [ep. ad Algas. qu. 2], though in the last verse he cites the lxx. version. In the prophecy the evangelist first states the relation of Jesus to God; secondly, his relation to the Gentiles; thirdly, his personal character; fourthly, the relation of the Gentiles to Jesus. [α] Christ’s relation to God. He is the servant of God concerning whom Isaias speaks most eloquently in the latter part of his prophecies [Is. 40–66; cf. Acts 3:13, 26; 4:27, 30]; he is moreover the chosen one of God, his beloved, in whom God has been well pleased; finally, he is imbued, or anointed, with the Spirit of God [Is. 11:2; 41:1; Mt. 3:16; Acts 4:27].

Relation of Jesus to the Gentiles. This the evangelist expresses in stating that “he shall show judgment to the Gentiles.” The “Gentiles” need not be the multitudes in the company of Jesus [cf. Schanz], but they are simply “the heathen.” “Judgment” renders the Hebrew מִשְׁפָּט, or the divine rule of right and justice, the law and teaching of God [Euthymius, Theophylact, Thomas Aquinas, Faber Stapulensis, Dionysius, Jansenius, Maldonado]; although in the New Testament the Greek word κρίσις usually signifies “forensic trial” with its sentence and subsequent separation [cf. Weiss, Schanz], it has here evidently the meaning of the Hebrew original [Knabenbauer]. Still, since the divine rule of right and justice contains the principles underlying the divine sentence pronounced in the judgment, and since the separation that will be ratified in the judgment has begun with the appearance of Christ, the word may be said to contain both foregoing ideas [Euthymius, Schegg, Schanz, Fillion].

Character of Jesus. In this part of the prophecy we have the passage that fits exactly into the preceding context, since it is here that the evangelist shows how unfounded and unprovoked were the hostilities of the enemies of Jesus. Still the preceding part of the prophecy and the following is not a mere introduction and rhetorical conclusion to this passage [cf. Schegg], but refers to the whole section [chapters 11, 12], since it represents the hostility against Christ as predicted by the prophet; the rejected Messias is the hope of the Gentiles. “He shall not contend” is neither in the Greek nor in the Hebrew text, unless we explain the Hebrew verb צָעַק as containing both the idea of “contending” and of “crying.” “The bruised reed” and the “smoking flax” represent the Gentiles and the Jews [Hilary, Dionysius], or the Jews and the Gentiles [Bede], or the Jews persecuting Jesus though they might have been destroyed as easily as a bruised reed is broken and as smoking flax is extinguished [Augustine, De civ. dei, xx. 30, n. 4; Cajetan, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius, St Bruno, Jansenius], or they represent those burdened with sin and weak in the faith [cf. Jerome, Faber Stapulensis, Barradas, Salmeron, Sylveira]. Maldonado, sees here the figure of one walking so lightly that his foot would not break a bruised reed, feeble though it be. At any rate, the quiet, humble, and meek behavior of Jesus contrasts vividly with the noisy, proud, and harsh manners of the Pharisees.

Relation of the Gentiles to Jesus. Christ’s humility and meekness will continue till he brings the divine rule of right and justice [Judgment] to its victory all over the earth [Knabenbauer]; this will not happen till the day of the last judgment [Chrysostom, Schanz, St Bruno], when his justice will take its course. The evangelist quotes here the sense of the prophecy rather than its words, for he substitutes the clause “unto victory” for the original “unto truth.” Maldonado, however, thinks that St. Matthew writing in Aramaic used here a word זקות, meaning both “victory” and “truth”; the Greek translator of the gospel rendered this word in its first meaning. In point of fact, the foregoing Aramaic word never means “truth.” Though the evangelist changes two words in the last part of the prophecy, substituting “Gentiles” for “islands” and “name” for “law,” he preserves its substantial meaning. For if “the islands anxiously await his law” [Heb.], they also “hope in his name” [Mt.].

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