And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off
I have observed on ( Matthew 5:30 ) that by the Jewish canons, cutting off of the hand was ordered in some cases there mentioned; which, though literally enjoined, must not be understood, as though the Jewish sanhedrim had a power of inflicting such a punishment, on persons found guilty of the things instanced in; or that it was required they should do this to themselves; but such rules were delivered in such language, to show the heinousness of the crimes committed, to express an abhorrence of them F7, and to deter persons from them; and to show, as the gloss F8 on one place observes, that it is better that the hand be cut off; or it should be more eligible to the person himself, to have it cut off, than to be guilty of such evil: and in like manner, Christ there and here, directs to what is most proper and fit to be done; even to part with what is ever so near and dear, rather than be drawn into evil by it: and his sense in this place is, that the dearest friends and acquaintance, or be they what they will, though ever so near and dear, like a right hand, the instrument of action, that obstruct the spiritual welfare of men, are to be renounced and parted with, and treated as real enemies, and of the most pernicious consequence; (See Gill on Matthew 5:29), (See Gill on Matthew 5:30).
It is better for thee to enter into life maimed:
not that there will be any such thing, as upon the resurrection, going into heaven without a limb; for the words are to be understood, not literally, but figuratively; and the sense is, it is better to part with every thing here, that is detrimental to a man's doing, or enjoying, what is spiritually good, and enter into eternal life,
than having two hands, to go into hell;
than by enjoying such persons and things, agreeable to the flesh, to the ruin of the soul, and be cast into hell;
into the fire that never shall be quenched.
This is a periphrasis of hell, and is an allusion to the valley of Hinnom, from whence hell has its name, here and elsewhere; where a constant fire was kept, for the burning of polluted things: one of the Jewish writers says F9, that it
``was a place in the land near to Jerusalem, and was a place contemptible: where they cast things defiled, and carcasses; and there was there, (dymt va) , "a continual fire", to burn polluted things and bones; and therefore the condemnation of the wicked, in a parabolical way, is called "Gehinnom".''And says another of them F11,
``Gehinnom is a place known, near to Jerusalem, and a valley, (tybkn vah Nyav) , "whose fire is never quenched"; and in which they burn bones of defilement, and carcasses, and other polluted things.''This whole clause is left out in the Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions; and the phrase, "that never shall be quenched", is not in the Arabic version.
F7 Maimonides in Misn. Nidda, c. 2. sect. 1.
F8 T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 108. 2.
F9 Kimchi in Psal. xxvii. 13.
F11 R. Isaac Saugari, Sepher Cosri, fol. 57. 2.