Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites
Our Lord cannot be thought to bear too hard upon these men, nor does he continue this character of them, and denunciations of woe against them, without a reason:
for ye make clean the outside of the cup and platter, but within they
are full of extortion and excess.
The allusion is to their traditions about washing their cups and pots, and brazen vessels; see ( Mark 7:4 ) which they strictly observed. In their oral law is a whole tract, called "Mikvaot", which gives rules about the places where they washed, the things to be washed, and the manner of washing them; about which they were very nice, pretending to much outward cleanness, but had no regard to inward purity. Christ's sense is, that they took much pains, and were very careful, that the cup they drank out of, and the platter, or dish they ate out of, should be very clean; when at the same time, the food and drink that were within them, were got by oppression and rapine; by devouring widows' houses, by making undue claims upon, and extorting unjust sums from the fatherless, the poor, and the needy; and were abused by them, to luxury and intemperance. In like manner the Jews themselves say of hypocrites F23;
``They make show of a pure and clean soul, but under it lies hid a leprosy: they are like to "vessels full of uncleanness"; they are outwardly washed with the water of fraud and craftiness; but whatsoever is within, in the midst or them, is unclean.''The Vulgate Latin version of the text, instead of "excess", reads "uncleanness", and so does Munster's Hebrew Gospel: many copies read "unrighteousness". Excess is thought to be a sin the Pharisees were not guilty of, though they were of extortion, injustice, and uncleanness.
F23 R. Sol Gabirol in Cether Malcuth apud L. Capell in loc.