Matthew 23:7

Matthew 23:7

And greetings in the markets
They used to stroll about the markets, being public places, where there was a great concourse of people, on purpose to be taken notice of before multitudes, with singular marks of respect; as stretching out the hand, uncovering the head, and bowing the knee:

and to be called of men Rabbi, Rabbi;
because of their great authority, and largeness of their knowledge: the repetition of the word Rabbi, is not made in the Vulgate Latin, nor in the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions, nor in Munster's Hebrew Gospel, but is in all the Greek copies, and very justly; since it was usual in the salutations of them, to double the word. It is reported F6 of R. Eleazar ben Simeon, of Migdal Gedur, that having reproached a deformed man he met in the road; when he came to the city where the man lived,

``the citizens came out to meet him, and said to him, peace be upon thee, (yrwm yrwm ybr ybr) , "Rabbi, Rabbi, Master, Master"; he (Eleazar) said to them, who do you call "Rabbi, Rabbi?" They replied to him, he who followed thee: he said unto them, if this be a Rabbi, let there not be many such in Israel.''

The Jews pretend, that king Jehoshaphat used to salute the doctors with these titles; though they forget that they were not in use in his time, as will be hereafter observed: they say F7,

``whenever he saw a disciple of the wise men, he rose from his throne, and embraced and kissed him, and called him, (yrm yrm ybr ybr yba yba) , "Father, Father, Rabbi, Rabbi, Master, Master".''

Where you have the three different words used by our Lord in this and the following verses, by which these men loved to be called, and he inveighed against; nay, they not only suggest, that kings gave them these honourable titles, and they expected them from them, but even they liked to be called kings themselves. It is said F8 of R. Hona arid R. Chasda, that as they were sitting together, one passed by them,

``and said to them, "peace be to you kings", (yklm wkyle) (amlv) , "peace be to you kings": they said to him, from whence does it appear to thee, that the Rabbins are called kings? He replied to them, from what is written, "by me kings reign" They said to him, from whence hast thou it, that we are to double or repeat peace, or salutation to kings? He answered them, that R. Judah said, that Rab said from hence, ( 1 Chronicles 12:18 ) . "Then the spirit came upon Amasai"''

This title began but to be in use in the time of our Lord, or a very little while before: none of the prophets had it, nor Ezra the Scribe, nor the men of the great synagogue, nor Simeon the Just, the last of them; nor Antigonus, a man of Socho, a disciple of his: and it is observed by the Jews themselves F9, that

``the five couple are never called by the name of Rabban, nor by the name of Rabbi, only by their own name.''

By whom are meant, Joseph ben Joezer, and Joseph ben Jochanan; Joshua ben Perachia, said to be the master of Jesus of Nazareth, and Nittai the Arbelite; Judah ben Tabai, and Simeon ben Shetach; Shemaiah and Abtalion; Hillell and Shammai. The sons, or disciples of the two last, first took these titles. Rabban Simeon, the son of Hillell, thought by some to be the same Simeon that had Christ in his arms, is F11 said to be the first that was called by this name; and it is also observed by them F12, that Rabban was a name of greater honour than Rabbi, or Rab, and that Rabbi was more honourable than Rab; and to be called by a man's own name, was more honourable than any of them. The Karaite Jews make much the same complaint, and give much the same account of the pride and vanity of the Rabbinical doctors, as Christ here does; for so one of them says {m};

``The Karaites do not use to act according to the custom of the wise men among the Rabbans, to make to themselves gods of silver, and guides of gold, with this view, (br arqhl) , "to be called Rab"; and also to gather wealth and food to fulness''


FOOTNOTES:

F6 T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 20. 2.
F7 T. Bab. Maccot, fol. 24. 1. & Cetubot, fol. 103. 2.
F8 T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 62. 1.
F9 Ganz. Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 21. 1.
F11 Ganz. Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 25. 1.
F12 lb.
F13 Eliahu Adderet, c. 6. apud Trigland. de. Sect. Kar. c. 10. p. 164.
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