Matthew 6:17

17 "But you, when you fast, 1anoint your head 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 ) .


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 do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
16 "Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
17 "But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face
18 so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.

Cross References 1

  • 1. Ruth 3:3; 2 Samuel 12:20
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