For laying aside the commandment of God
Meaning not any particular commandment, but all the commandments of God, the whole written law; to which they preferred the oral law, or the traditions of the elders, and the decisions of their doctors. So the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions read, "the commandments of God".
Ye hold the tradition of men:
very significantly are the elders, whom the, Jews revered, and whose traditions and constitutions they extolled above the Scriptures, called "men", in distinction from "God", whose commands they neglected; which exposes and aggravates their sin, that they should leave the one, which had the stamp of divine authority on them, and hold the other, which were only the devices of men's brains;
as the washing of pots and cups.
The Arabic version adds, "and vessels", from ( Mark 7:4 ) , and the Ethiopic version, between "chalices" and "cups", places "monies"; as if they also contracted uncleanness in some cases, and needed washing: and indeed, there is a tradition to this purpose F16,
``(lopnv rnyd) , "a penny which is rejected" (that is, as the commentators say F17, which a kingdom or province has made void, or which wants weight), if any one prepares it to hang about the neck of a child, it is "unclean"; and so a "sela" (which was the value of four pence) and it is prepared to weigh with it, is "unclean".''And many other such like things you do;
so many, that it is almost endless to reckon up. The treatise "Celim", or "of vessels", in the Misna, is full of rules, concerning the cleanness and uncleanness, of almost all things in use with men; and so of what do, and what do not stand in need of washing. And these things they did, not according to the commandment of God, nor did they pretend to it; but according to the words of the Scribes, and traditions of the elders, which reached to all sorts of vessels: their rule is this F18;
``vessels made of wood, and of skin, and of bone, and of glass, if they are plain, they are clean; but if they are hollow, (or made to hold things,) they are liable to pollution.''Which Maimonides F19 explains thus;
``vessels of wood, and of skin, and of bone, if hollow, receive defilement from the words of the law; but if they are plain, as tables, a seat, a skin on which they eat, they do not receive defilement, but, (Myrpwo yrbdm) , "from the words of the Scribes".''And this washing of vessels, not only concerned such as were for private use, but the vessels of the sanctuary: so it is said F20;
``after a feast, at the close of a good day, or festival, "they dip all the vessels in the sanctuary"; because the "common people" have "touched" them at the feast, in the time of keeping it: wherefore they say, touch not the table (the showbread table), when they show it to them that come up to the feast, that it may not be defiled by touching it; and if after the feast, it is found (polluted), it must be dipped and all the vessels are obliged to immersion, excepting the golden altar, and the altar of brass.''So that our Lord might well say, "and many such like things ye do".
F16 Misn. Celim, c. 12. sect. 7.
F17 Jarchi & Battenora in ib.
F18 Misn. Celim, c. 2. sect. 1.
F19 Hilch. Celim, c. 1. sect. 10.
F20 Maimon. Hilch. Mishcab Umoshab, c. 11. sect. 11.