Then the Pharisees and Scribes asked him
Not the disciples, but Christ himself; for their chief view was to find fault, and quarrel with him:
why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders,
but eat with unwashen hands?
or "with common", that is, defiled "hands", as in ( Mark 7:2 ) . So the words are read in Beza's most ancient copy, and in one of Stephens's copies, and in the Vulgate Latin version. The word "common" is used for that which is unclean or unholy, ( Acts 10:14 Acts 10:28 ) ( Romans 14:14 ) ( Hebrews 10:29 ) , and so signifies unwashen hands, as we read, and render it: besides, "common hands" may have some respect to the hands of the common people, the vulgar and illiterate, who showed no regard to this tradition, but ate their common food without washing their hands. Instead of "the tradition of the elders", the Ethiopic version reads, "the constitution of the Scribes and Pharisees"; and which are sometimes by the Jews called, (Myrpwo yrbd) , "the words", or "sayings of the Scribes" F15, and are preferred by them to the written law; and the same are commonly called (twkylh) , "ways", in which a man is to walk, and according to which he is to steer his course of life; and to which reference is here had in the word, "walk", used by the Pharisees; who suggest, that these decisions, constitutions, and traditions of the elders, were the rule, according to which men ought to order their manner of life and conversation; blaming the disciples, that they did not conform to them, and particularly in the case of eating bread, which they did without washing their hands, which was strictly enjoined among these canons; and they wanted to know the sense of Christ upon it. Though they might have known from the Scriptures, particularly from ( Ezekiel 20:18 Ezekiel 20:19 ) that it was their duty, as well as the disciples of Christ, to walk, not in the, statutes of their fathers, nor observe their judgments, the laws and ordinances instituted by them; but to walk in the statutes of the Lord, and to keep his judgments, and do them: not the traditions of men, but the word of God, should be the rule of walk and conversation; and as many as walk according to this rule, peace will be upon them; but those that walk according to the commandments of men, justly deserve the character given of such by the prophet Isaiah, whose words our Lord produces in the following verses.
F15 T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 3. 2.