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Matthew 10:29

Matthew 10:29

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?
&c.] A farthing, with the Jews, was a very small coin; according to them it contained four grains of silver F2; was the ninety sixth part of a "sela", or shilling F3; and sometimes they make it to be of the same value with an Italian farthing: for they say F4, it is of the value of eight "prutahs": and a "prutah" is the eighth part of an Italian farthing: it is used proverbially to signify a very little thing in the Misna {e};

``if of a command, which is light (royak) "as a farthing", which Bartenora explains a "very little thing", the law says, "that it may be well with thee", much more of the weighty commands in the law.''

Hence, in Munster's Hebrew Gospel, it is rendered by (Nwjq ebj) , "a little piece of money"; and this was the common price of two sparrows. Our Lord appeals to his disciples, for the truth of it, as a thing well known: according to the question in Luke, five sparrows were sold for two farthings, which makes them somewhat cheaper still. This shows they were of little account.

And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father:
some copies add, "which is in heaven"; meaning, that one of them should not be shot, or be killed, without the knowledge, will, and pleasure of God. The design of Christ is to assert the doctrine of providence, as reaching to all creatures and things, even the most minute and worthless: he instances not in men, nor in the beasts of the field, but in the fowls of the air, and in those of the inferior sort, and more useless, in sparrows, yea in little sparrows; as the word may be rendered; whose price was so low, that two are obliged to be put together to fetch the least sum of money current: and yet the providence of God is concerned with each of these; so that not one of them is taken in a snare, or killed with a stone, or shot flying, or sitting, but by the will of God: from whence it may be strongly concluded, that nothing comes by chance; that there is no such thing as contingency with respect to God, though there is to men, with respect to second causes; that all things are firmly ordained by the purpose of God, and are wisely ordered by his providence: and our Lord's further view is, from this consideration, to animate his disciples to a free, open, and constant preaching of his Gospel, not regarding their lives for his sake; for since their heavenly Father, in his providence, takes care of the meanest, even of the most irrational creatures, so that the life of one of them is not taken away without his will, much more will he take care of them; nor could their valuable lives be lost without his will and pleasure. Much such a way of arguing is used by the Jews, who F6 say, (avn rb Nkv lk adby al aymv ydelbm rwpu) , "a bird without God does not perish, much less a man"; or, as it is elsewhere F7 expressed,

``a bird "without God" is not hunted, or taken, how much less does the soul of a man go out of him?''

And again F8,

``a bird "without God" does not fly away, much less the soul of a man.''

Two birds, or sparrows, as the word may be rendered, in ( Leviticus 14:4 ) were used in cleansing the leper; one was killed, and the other let loose into the open field: and though it might be a contingent thing with men which was killed, and which preserved, yet not with God; and some think the allusion is here to that case.


FOOTNOTES:

F2 Maimon. in Misn. Peah, c. 8. sect. 1.
F3 Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Maaser Sheni, c. 4. sect. 3.
F4 Ib. in Misn. Eracin, c. 8. sect. 1.
F5 Cholin, c. 12. sect. 5.
F6 T. Hieros. Sheviith, fol. 38. 4.
F7 Bereshit Rabba, fol. 69. 3.
F8 Midrash Kohelet, fol. 81. 2. & Midrash Esther, fol. 89. 3.
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