But he willing to justify himself
Upon the foot of his own righteousness, and to make himself appear to be righteous to others; for this the Jews thought themselves able to do, both to justify themselves before God by their own works, and make it out to men, that they were truly righteous persons; and it is a maxim with them, that
``every one (wmue ta qydumh) that justifies himself, below (on earth), they justify him above (or in heaven) F11.''No wonder then that this man was desirous of justifying himself; and in order to which
he said, and who is my neighbour?
he takes no notice of God, and love to him, as coming into the account of his justification, only of his neighbour; thinking when this question was answered, he should be very able to make it out, that he was not wanting neither in doing justice between himself and his neighbour, nor in showing kindness and beneficence to him; for by his neighbour he meant only an Israelite; one of the same nation and religion with him. So the Jews commonly interpret the word neighbour, either of one that is related to them in nature, (wbwrq) , that is, near akin to them in blood F12; or that professes the same religion as they do, and whom they call a neighbour in the law; and so they explain the passage now cited, "and thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself", (hrwtb Ker awhv) ; "that is, who is thy neighbour in the law" F13: for they will not allow a Gentile, no, not even a proselyte of the gate to be a neighbour: for thus they say F14,
``an Israelite that slays a proselyte of the gate, or the stranger that dwells with him, is not slain for him by the sanhedrim; for it is said, ( Exodus 21:14 ) but if a man comes presumptuously upon his neighbour to slay him and there is no need to say he is not slain for a Gentile.''And again F15,
``when a man sees one of them (the Gentiles) fall into the sea, he need not take him up; as it is said, ( Leviticus 19:16 ) "neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour", (Ker hz Nyaw) "but this is not thy neighbour."''This notion Christ opposes and disproves in the following parable, which is an answer to the lawyer's question.
F11 T. Bab. Tasnith, fol. 8. 1.
F12 Kimchi in Psal. xv. 3.
F13 Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora, pr. affirm. 9.
F14 Maimon. Hilch. Rotzeach, c. 2. sect. 11.
F15 Ib. c. 4. sect. 11.