Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Read Chapter 23
Cornelius a Lapide
Woe unto you, ( Matthew 23:23) &c. Tithes were sanctioned by God in the law. Whence R. Achiva says in Pirke Avoth, "Tithes are the bulwark of riches," because they defend and preserve them. "Tradition is the bulwark of the law. A vow is the bulwark of abstinence; silence, of wisdom."
Mint, a herb of sweet smell, which is often put into broth. Anise, says Pliny, is of efficacy against flatulency and pains in the stomach.
And ye have left, &c. . . . judgment, i.e, justice and equity, passing unjust sentences, so as to favour your own friends and those who offer you gifts. Mercy, because ye rigidly and cruelly exact tithes of widows and the poor. And faith, i.e, fidelity in words and compacts. Or faith in God, and Christ who has been sent by Him. Therefore, ye are unbelievers, in that ye lack faith, hope, and charity, which are the things that God above all requires, according to the words in Micah vi8 , "I will show thee, 0 Prayer of Manasseh , what is good; and what doth the Lord requ...
You . who pay tithe The tithes of these small things are not found in the law. Nor yet doth Christ blame them so much for this, as for neglecting more weighty matters; and tells them by a proverb, that they strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel. (Witham)
The Pharisees pretended the greatest exactitude even in the smallest commands of the law, when the observance of them could impress the people with a favourable idea of their sanctity; whereas they omitted the more essential precepts of the law, when it did not procure them the praise of men. (Nicholas of Lyra.)
St. Jerome interprets this passage of receiving tithes; the Vulgate has decimare. (St. Jerome)
The Pharisees are blamed by our Lord for their avarice, in scrupulously exacting tithes of the most trifling things, whilst they lived in a constant neglect of their duty, both to God and their neighbour. (Idem. )
Here then He naturally says it, where it is tithe and almsgiving, for what does it hurt to give alms? But not to keep the law; for neither does it say thus. Therefore here indeed He says, These ought ye to have done; but where He is speaking about clean and unclean, He no longer adds this, but makes a distinction, and shows that the inward purity is necessarily followed by the outward, but the converse is no longer so.
For where there is a plea of love to man, He passes it over lightly, for this very reason, and because it was not yet time expressly and plainly to revoke the things of the law. But where it is an observance of bodily purification, He overthrows it more plainly.