Matthew 23:5-7. All their works they do to be seen of men They have the praise of men in view in all their actions. Hence they are constant and abundant in those duties of religion which come under the observation of men; but with respect to those that are of a more spiritual nature, and lie between God and their own souls, or should be performed in the retirements of their closets, they desire to be excused. As the mere form of godliness will procure them a name to live, which is all they aim at; they therefore trouble not themselves about the power of it, which is essential to being alive indeed. They make broad their phylacteries The Jews understanding those words literally, It shall be as a token upon thy hand, and as frontlets between thine eyes, (Exodus 13:16;) And thou shalt bind these words for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes, (Deuteronomy 6:8,) used to wear little scrolls of paper or parchment bound on their wrists and foreheads, on which several texts of Scripture were written. These they supposed, as a kind of charm, would preserve them from danger. And hence they seemed to have been called phylacteries, or preservatives. See the notes on these passages. And enlarge the borders (or fringes) of their garments Which God had enjoined them to wear, to remind them of doing all the commandments, Numbers 15:38. These, as well as their phylacteries, the Pharisees affected to wear broader and larger than other men. And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, &c. In which guests of the first quality were used to sit; and the chief seats in the synagogues “There showing their pride, where they ought to have taught others humility.” Theophylact. And greetings, or salutations, in the markets And other places of common concourse. And to be called of men, Rabbi, rabbi A title of honour, which they were fond of having repeated at every sentence. “The word rabbi properly signifies great, and was prefixed to the names of those doctors who had rendered themselves remarkable by the extent of their learning, or who were the authors of new schemes in divinity; heads of sects, whose fame had gained them many followers. This title the Jewish doctors were particularly fond of, because it was a high compliment paid to their understanding, gave them vast authority with their disciples, and made them look big in the eyes of the world. It was the very next thing to infallible.”
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