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Matthew 9:9

Matthew 9:9

And as Jesus passed forth from thence
That is, from Capernaum to the sea side; where, as Mark says, the multitude resorted, and he taught them;

he saw a man named Matthew;
the writer of this Gospel. The other evangelists call him Levi, who was the son of Alphaeus: he went by two names; Mark and Luke call him by the name, which perhaps was the more honourable, or the least known, on purpose to conceal the former life of the apostle, which might expose him to the contempt of some; but he himself chooses to mention the name by which he was most known, as an apostle, and that the grace of God might appear the more illustrious in his calling and conversion. The Jews say {h}, that one of Christ's disciples was called (yatm) , Matthew, which, as Levi, is an Hebrew name; for though he was a publican, yet a Jew; for it was common with the Jews either to be employed by the Roman officers in collecting the toll or tribute, or to farm it of them.

Sitting at the receipt of custom,
or "at the custom house", or "toll booth"; which both the Syriac version, and Munster's Hebrew Gospel, call (okm) , or (aokwm tyb) , the "publican's house". In the F9 Talmud mention is made of it, in the following parable, upon citing ( Isaiah 61:8 )

``it is like, (say the doctors,) to a king of flesh and blood, who passing by (okmh tyb) , "the toll booth", or "publican's house", says to his servants, give "toll to the publicans": they reply to him, is not all the toll thine? he says to them, all that pass by the ways will learn of me, and will not avoid the toll; so says the holy blessed God''

The publicans had houses, or booths built for them, at the foot of bridges, at the mouth of rivers, and by the sea shore, where they took toll of passengers that went to and fro: hence we read F11 of bridges being made to take toll at, and of publicans being at the water side F12, and of (okwm yrvyq) F13, "the tickets", or "seals of the publicans"; which, when a man had paid toll on one side of a river, were given him by the publican, to show to him that sat on the other side, that it might appear he had paid: in which were written two great letters, bigger than those in common use F14. Thus Matthew was sitting in a toll booth, near the seashore, to receive the toll of passengers that came, or went in ships or boats.

And he saith unto him, follow me;
notwithstanding the infamous employment he was in, as accounted by the Jews: this was no bar in the way of his call to be a disciple of Christ; and shows, that there was no merit and motive in him, which was the reason of this high honour bestowed upon him; but was entirely owing to the free, sovereign, and distinguishing grace of Christ, and which was powerful and efficacious: for without telling him what work he must do, or how he must live, and without his consulting with flesh and blood, at once, immediately

he arose, and followed him:
such a power went along with the call, that he directly left his employment, how profitable soever it might be to him, and became a disciple of Christ.


FOOTNOTES:

F8 T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 43. 1.
F9 T. Bab. Succa, fol. 30. 1.
F11 T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 33. 2.
F12 Jarchi in Jud. v. 10.
F13 Misn. Sabbat, c. 8. sect. 2. T. Hieros. Sabbat, fol. 11. 2. T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 78. 2. & Bechorot, fol. 30. 2. & Avoda Zara, fol. 39. 1.
F14 Jarchi, Maimonides, & Bartenora in Misn. Sabbat, c. 8. sect. 2. & Gloss. in T. Bab. Bechorot, fol. 30. 2.
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