He answered and said unto them, give ye them to eat
This he said to try their faith, and make way for the following miracle:
and they say unto him, shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth
of bread, and give them to eat?
This might be just the sum of money they now had in the bag, as Grotius, and others conjecture; and the sense be, shall we lay out the two hundred pence, which is all we have in hand, to buy bread for this multitude? is it proper we should? is it thy will that so it should be? and if we should do so, as Philip suggests, ( John 6:7 ) , it would not be enough to give every one a little: wherefore they say this, as amazed that he should propose such a thing unto them: or the reason of mentioning such a sum, as Dr. Lightfoot observes, might be, because that this was a noted and celebrated sum among the Jews, and frequently mentioned by them. A virgin's dowry, upon marriage, was "two hundred pence" F3; and so was a widow's; and one that was divorced F4, if she insisted on it, and could make good her claim: this was the fine of an adult man, that lay with one under age; and of a male under age, that lay with a female adult F5; and of one man that gave another a slap of the face F6. This sum answered to six pounds and five shillings of our money.
F3 Misn. Cetubot, c. 1. sect. 2. & 4. 7. & 5. 1.
F4 Ib. c. 2. sect. 1. & 11. 4.
F5 Ib. c. 1. sect. 3.
F6 Misn. Bava Kama, c. 6. sect. 8.