But he answered and said unto them,
Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
Read Chapter 15
George Leo Haydock
Why do you also. The Jews understanding the saying of the prophets, "wash yourselves and be clean "in a carnal manner, they made a precept of not eating without first washing their hands. (Ven. Bede)
The traditions here alluded to, and which they call the oral law, were respected equally with the written law, by all the Jews, except the sect of Caraites; they were collected in seventy-two books, and composed the cabbala, and were kept by Gamaliel and other heads of the sanhedrim, till the destruction of Jerusalem. About 120 years after this, Rabbi Judas composed a book of them, called Mishna, or second law; afterwards two supplements and explanations were given, viz. the Talmud of Jerusalem, and the Talmud of Babylon. By these the Jews are still governed in ecclesiastical matters. ...
But mark, I pray you, how even by the question itself they are convicted; in not saying, Why do they transgress the law of Moses, but, the tradition of the elders. Whence it is evident that the priests were inventing many novelties, although Moses, with much terror and with much threatening, had enjoined neither to add nor take away. For you shall not add, says he, unto the word which I command you this day, and you shall not take away from it. Deuteronomy 4:2
But not the less were they innovating; as in this instance, that one ought not to eat with unwashen hands, that we must wash cups and brazen vessels, that we must wash also ourselves. Thus, when men were henceforth, as time advanced, to be freed from their observances, at that very time they bound them with the same in more and more instances, fearing lest any one should take away their power, and wishing to strike more dread, as though they were themselves also lawgivers. The thing in fact proceeded so far in enormity, that w...