Matthew 6:17

17 When you fast, brush your hair and wash your face.

Matthew 6:17 Meaning and Commentary

Matthew 6:17

But thou, when thou fastest
Christ allows of fasting, but what is of a quite different kind from that of the Jews; which lay not in an outward abstinence from food, and other conveniences of life, and refreshments of nature; but in an abstinence from sin, in acknowledgment and confession of it; and in the exercise of faith and hope in God, as a God pardoning iniquity, transgression and sin; wherefore cheerfulness, and a free use of the creatures, without an abuse of them, best became such persons.

Anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
directly contrary to the Jewish canons, which forbid these things, with others, on fast days:

``On the day of atonement, (say F9 they,) a man is forbidden eating and drinking, (hkyobwhuyxrbw) "and washing and anointing", and putting on of shoes, and the use of the bed.''

And the same were forbidden on other fasts: in anointings, the head was anointed first, and this rule and reason are given for it:

``he that would anoint his whole body, (hlyxt wvar Ko) , "let him anoint his head first", because it is king over all its members F11.''

Anointing and washing were signs of cheerfulness and joy; see ( Ruth 3:3 ) ( 2 Samuel 12:20 ) .


FOOTNOTES:

F9 Misn. Yoma, c. 8. sect. 1. & Taanith, c. 1. sect. 4, 5, 6. T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 77. 2. Taanith, fol. 12. 2. Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora, pr. affirm. 32.
F11 T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 61. 1.

Matthew 6:17 In-Context

15 But if you don't forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your sins.
16 “And when you fast, don't put on a sad face like the hypocrites. They distort their faces so people will know they are fasting. I assure you that they have their reward.
17 When you fast, brush your hair and wash your face.
18 Then you won't look like you are fasting to people, but only to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
19 “Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them.