Matthew 21:5

5 1"Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your king is coming to you, 2humble, and mounted on a donkey, and[a] on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'"

Matthew 21:5 Meaning and Commentary

Matthew 21:5

Tell ye the daughter of Zion
These words seem to be taken out of ( Isaiah 62:11 ) where it is said, "say ye to the daughter of Zion, behold thy salvation cometh", or "thy Saviour cometh"; meaning, without doubt, the Messiah: by the daughter of Zion is meant, not the city of Jerusalem, but the inhabitants thereof, the Jewish synagogue; or as the Targum renders it, (Nwyud atvynk) , "the congregation of Zion", the people of the Jews; particularly the elect of God among them, those that embraced the true Messiah, and believed in him:

behold, thy king cometh unto thee:
this, and what follow, are cited from ( Zechariah 9:9 ) and to be understood of the king Messiah, who, in a little time after this prophecy was given out, was to come to Zion, and redeem Jacob from all his iniquities, and was now come. One of the Jewish commentators says F24, that interpreters are divided about the sense of this prophecy; but observes, that there are some that say this is the Messiah: and another F25 of them affirms, that it is impossible to explain it of any other than the king Messiah; and that it can be understood of no other, I have elsewhere F26 shown. "Meek"; in the prophecy of Zechariah it is, (yne) , "poor", as the Messiah Jesus was, in a temporal sense; but the word, both by the Septuagint, and our evangelist, is rendered

as it is by the Targum, Jarchi, and Kimchi, who all explain it by (Ntwne) , "lowly, humble, or meek": and a character it is, that well agrees with Jesus, who, in the whole of his deportment, both in life and in death, was a pattern of meekness and lowliness of mind: and

sitting upon an ass, and a colt, the foal of an ass.
This is applied to the Messiah by the Jews, both ancient F1 and modern F22, who consider this as an instance and evidence of his humility: they suppose, this ass to be a very uncommon one, having an hundred spots on it; and say, that it was the foal of that which was created on the eve of the sabbath F23; and is the same that Abraham and Moses rode upon: and they own, as before observed, that Jesus of Nazareth rode on one to Jerusalem, as is here related. Their ancient governors, patriarchs, princes, and judges, used to ride on asses, before the introduction and multiplication of horses in Solomon's time, forbidden by the law of God: wherefore, though this might seem mean and despicable at this present time, yet was suitable enough to Christ's character as a king, and as the son of David, and king of Israel; strictly observing the law given to the kings of Israel, and riding in such manner as they formerly did.


F24 Aben Ezra in Zech. ix. 9.
F25 Jarchi in ib.
F26 Prophecies of the Messiah literally fulfilled in Jesus, c. 9. p. 151
F1 T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 98. 1. & 99. 1. Bereshit Rabba, fol. 66. 2. & 85. 3. Midrash Kohelet, fol. 63. 2. Zohar in Gen. fol. 127. 3. & in Num. fol. 83. 4. & in Deut. fol. 117. 1. & 118. 3. Raya Mehimna in Zohar. in Lev. fol. 38. 3. & in Num. fol. 97. 2.
F22 Jarchi in Isa. xxvi 6. Baal Hatturim in Exod. fol. 88. 2. Abarbimel, Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 15. 4.
F23 Pirke Eliezer, c. 31. Caphtor, fol. 81. 2.

Matthew 21:5 In-Context

3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord needs them,' and he will send them at once."
4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,
5 "Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'"
6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them.
7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them.

Cross References 2

  • 1. Cited from Zechariah 9:9; [Isaiah 62:11]
  • 2. Matthew 11:29

Footnotes 1

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.