Matthew 21:12

Jesus at the Temple

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.

Read Matthew 21:12 Using Other Translations

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.
Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves.

What does Matthew 21:12 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Matthew 21:12

And Jesus went into the temple of God
At Jerusalem, which was built by his order, and dedicated to his worship, and where the Shechaniah, or the divine presence was. Christ went not to the tower of David, the strong hold of Zion, the palace of his father David; for he entered not as a temporal king; but he went to the house of his heavenly Father, as the lord and proprietor of it, to preach in it, and purge it; whereby the glory of the latter house became greater than that of the former; and so several prophecies had their accomplishment, particularly ( Haggai 2:7 Haggai 2:9 ) ( Malachi 3:1 ) though this was not the first time by many, of Christ's being in the temple; yet this his entrance was the most public and magnificent of any: after, he had alighted from the colt, and sent back that and the ass to their proper owners, as is very probable, he went by the eastern gate, called the king's gate, ( 1 Chronicles 9:18 ) into the temple;

and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple:
not in the holy of holies, nor in the holy place, nor in the court of the priests, nor in the court of the Israelites, but in the court of the Gentiles, and in the mountain of the house, in which were shops, where various things were sold, relating to sacrifices. What these persons bought and sold, whom Christ cast out, is not said, but may be collected from ( John 2:14 ) where besides "doves", of which hereafter, mention is made, of "sheep" and "oxen"; which were brought to be sold, on account of the passover, for it was then near their time of passover as now; for besides the lambs and kids, which were here also sold and bought for the passover supper, sheep and oxen were here also killed and sold for the Chagiga, or feast F16, which was the day following: here likewise the drink offerings were bought and sold, of which take the following account.

``There were fifteen presidents (vdqmb) , "in the sanctuary": Jochanan ben Phinehas was over the tickets, and Ahijah over the drink offerings--He that inquired for drink offerings, went to Jochanan, who was appointed over the tickets: he gave him the money, and took a ticket; he then went to Ahijah, that was appointed over the drink offerings, and gave him the ticket, and received from him the drink offerings; and in the evening they came together, and Ahijah produced the tickets, and took for them the money F17.''

This was one way of buying and selling in the temple;

and overthrew the tables of the money changers;
of which sort were they, who sat in the temple at certain times, to receive the half shekel, and change the money of such, who wanted one, by which they gained something, to themselves. It was a custom in our Lord's time, for every Israelite, once a year, to pay half a shekel towards the temple charge and service, which was founded upon the orders given by God to Moses in the wilderness; that upon his numbering the people, to take of everyone that was twenty years of age and upwards, rich or poor, half a shekel, ( Exodus 30:13-15 ) though this does not seem to be designed as a perpetual rule. However, it now obtained, and was annually paid:

``On the first day of Adar (which answers to our February) they proclaimed concerning the shekels F18.''

That is, they gave public notice, in all the cities in Israel, that the time of paying the half shekel was near at hand, that they might get their money ready, for everyone was obliged to pay it: the Jews

F19 say,

``it is an affirmative command of the law, that every man in Israel should pay the half shekel every year; even though a poor man that is maintained by alms, he is obliged to it, and must beg it of others, or sell his coat upon his back and pay it, as it is said, ( Exodus 30:15 ) . The rich shall not give more--All are bound to give it, priests, Levites, and Israelites, and strangers, and servants, that are made free; but not women, nor servants, nor children.''

Notice being thus given F20,

``on the fifteenth day (of the same month), (twnxlwv) , "tables" were placed in the province, or city (which Bartenora F21 interprets of Jerusalem; but Maimonides F23 says, the word used is the name of all the cities in the land of Israel, excepting Jerusalem), and on the twenty fifth they sit, (vdqmb) , "in the sanctuary".''

The same is related by Maimonides F24, after this manner:

``On the first of Adar they proclaim concerning the shekels, that every man may prepare his half shekel, and be ready to give it on the fifteenth; (Mynxlwvh) , "the exchangers" sit in every province or city, and mildly ask it; everyone that gives them it, they take it of them; and he that does not give, they do not compel him to give: on the twenty fifth, they sit in the sanctuary to collect it; and henceforward they urge him that does not give, until he gives; and everyone that does not give, they oblige him to give pledge, and they, take his pledge, whether he will or not, and even his coat.''

This gives us a plain account of these money changers; of their tables, and of their sitting at them in the temple, and on what account. Now these exchangers had a profit in every shekel they changed F25.

``When a man went to an exchanger, and changed a shekel for two half shekels, he gave him an addition to the shekel; and the addition is called (Nwblq) , "Kolbon"; wherefore, when two men gave a shekel for them both, they were both obliged to pay the "Kolbon".''

Would you know what this "Kolbon", whence these exchangers are called, (kollubistai) , "Collybistae", in this text, or the gain which these men had, take this question and answer in their own words F26.

``How much is the "Kolbon?" A silver "meah", according to. R. Meir; but the wise men say, half an one.''

Or as it is elsewhere expressed F1,

``what is the value of the "Kolbon?" At that time they gave two pence for the half shekel, the "Kolbon" was half a "meah", which is the twelfth part of a penny; and since, "Kolbon" less than that is not given.''

Now a "meah" was the half of a sixth part of the half shekel, and the twenty fourth part of a shekel, and weighed sixteen barley corns: half a "meah" was the forty eighth part of a shekel, and weighed eight barley F2 corns; a "meah" was, of our money, the value of somewhat more than a penny, and half an one more than a halfpenny. This was their gain, which in so large a number that paid, must amount to a great deal of money. There seems to be nothing lie against these men being the very persons, whose tables Christ overturned, unless it should be objected, that this was not the time of their sitting; for it was now within a few days of the passover, which was in the month Nisan; whereas it was in the month Adar, that the half shekel was paid: but it should be observed, according to the above account, that they did not begin to sit in the temple to receive this money, until the twenty fifth of Adar; and it was now but the tenth of Nisan, when Christ entered the temple and found them there: so that there was but fifteen days: between the one and the other; and considering the large numbers that were obliged to pay, and the backwardness and poverty of many, they may reasonably be thought to be still sitting on that account: and what Maimonides before relates deserves notice, and will strengthen this supposition; that on the twenty fifth: of Adar, they sat in the temple to collect this money; and that henceforward they urged and compelled persons to pay it. Moreover, these men had other business, in a way of exchange, than this to do; and especially at such a time as the passover, when persons came from different parts to attend it; and who, might want to have their foreign money changed for current coin; or bills of return, to be changed for money: add to all this the following account, which will show the large and perpetual business of these men F3.

``In the sanctuary there were before them, (dymt) , "continually", or "daily", thirteen chests (and there were as many tables F4); every chest was in the form of a trumpet: the first was for the shekels of the present year, the second for the shekels of the year past; the third for everyone that had a "Korban", or vow upon him to offer two turtledoves, or two young pigeons; the one a burnt offering, the other a sin offering: their price was, cast into this chest: the fourth for everyone that had the burnt offering of a fowl only on him, the price of that was cast into this chest. The fifth was for him, who freely gave money to buy wood, to be laid in order on the altar; the sixth, for him that freely gave money for the incense; the seventh, for him that freely gave gold for the mercy seat; the eighth, for the remainder of the sin offering; as when he separated the money for his sin offering, and took the sin offering, and there remained of the money, the rest he cast into this chest; the ninth, for the remainder of the trespass offering; the tenth, for the remainder of the doves for men and women in fluxes, and women after childbirth; the eleventh, for the remainder of the offerings of the Nazarite; the twelfth, for the remainder of the trespass offering of the leper: the thirteenth, for him that freely gave money for the burnt offering of a beast.''

And the seats of them that sold doves,
which were the offerings of the poor sort after child bearing, and on account of running issues: which cases were very frequent, and sometimes raised the price of doves very high, of which what follows is an instance F5.

``It happened at a certain time, that doves were sold in Jerusalem for a golden penny each; said Rabban ben Simeon Gamaliel, by this habitation (or temple which he swore by) I will not lodge (or lie down) this night, until they are sold for a silver penny each: he went into the council house and taught, that if a woman had five certain births, or five certain issues, she should bring one offering, and eat of the sacrifices, nor should there remain any debt upon her; and doves were sold that day for two fourths.''

That is, for a silver penny; now a golden penny was the value of twenty five silver pence F6; so that the price, by this means, was sunk very much: but not only doves were sold in the markets in Jerusalem, but in the temple itself F7.

``There was a president over the doves, which was he with whom they agreed, who sold doves for the offerings, so and so by the shekel; and everyone that was obliged to bring a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons, brought the price of them, (vdqml) , "to the sanctuary"; and the president gave the doves to the masters of the offerings, and made up the account with the treasurers.''

Now at a feast time as this was, there was a greater demand for doves than usual; for women who had lain in, and such as had fluxes, whether men or women, who lived in distant parts, reserved their offerings till they came up to the feast F8; and which in consequence must occasion a greater call for these creatures, and furnishes out a reason, why there should be so many sitting at this time in the temple to sell doves. Some have thought, that those persons are here meant, which are often mentioned by the Jewish doctors F9, as an infamous sort of men, who are not admitted as witnesses in any case; and are reckoned among thieves, robbers, usurers, and players at dice; who (Mynwy yxyrpm) , "teach doves to fly", either to decoy other doves from their dove houses, or to out fly others for money, or to fight one against another; and these sat in the temple to sell this sort of doves, which was still more heinous; but the other sense is more agreeable.

F16 Vid. R. Sol. Jarchi, in Deut. xvi. 2.
F17 Misn. Shekalim, c. 5. sect. 4. Maimon. Cele Hamikdash, c. 7. sect, 10, 11, 12.
F18 Misn. Shekalim, c. 1. sect. 1.
F19 Maimon. Hilch. Shekalim, c. 1. sect. 1. 7.
F20 Misn. Shekalim, c. 1. sect. 3.
F21 In ib.
F23 In ib.
F24 Hilch. Shekalim, c, 1. sect. 9.
F25 Ib c. 3. sect. 1.
F26 Misn. Shekalim, c. 1. sect. 7.
F1 Maimon. Hilch. Shekalim, c. 3. sect. 7.
F2 Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Shekalim, c. 1, sect. 7. & Cholin, c. 1. sect. 7.
F3 Maimon. Hilch. Shckalim, c. 2. sect. 2.
F4 Misn. Shekalim, c. 6. sect 1.
F5 Misn. Cerithot, c. 1. sect. 7.
F6 Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.
F7 Maimon. Hilch. Cele Hamikdash, c. 7. sect. 9.
F8 Gloss. in T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 11. 1.
F9 T. Bab. Erubin, fol. 82. 1. T. Sanhedrin, fol. 25. 2. & Gloss. in ib. Misn. Sanhedrin. c. 3. sect. 3. Maimon Bartenora, & Ez. Chayim in lb. & Edayot, c. 2. 7. & Bartenora in ib. Maimon. Hilch. Gazela veabada, c. 6. sect. 7. Toen unitan, c. 2. sect. 2. & Eduth, c. 10. sect. 4.

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