“Are not five sparrows
Sold for two pennies?
Yet not one of them
In God’s sight.”
οὐχὶ πέντε στρουθία πωλοῦνται ἀσσαρίων δύο; καὶ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν οὐκ ἔστιν ἐπιλελησμένον ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ.
Luke indicated that Jesus asked them about the value of 5 sparrows. Jesus said these sparrows were sold for two pennies or assarions (οὐχὶ πέντε στρουθία πωλοῦνται ἀσσαρίων δύο). This Roman Empire Greek “assarion” coin (ἀσσαρίων) was worth about 2 cents. So, this total would have been about 4 cents. Yet none of them are forgotten or neglected (καὶ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν οὐκ ἔστιν ἐπιλελησμένον) in God’s sight (ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ). This verse is similar to Matthew, chapter 10:29, indicating a Q source. Jesus, via Matthew, compared human life to 2 sparrows, not 5 sparrows as here. He asked whether these 2 sparrows (οὐχὶ δύο στρουθία) that sold for a penny or a Greek “assarion” (ἀσσαρίου πωλεῖται), were more valuable than humans. Not one of these sparrows would fall to the ground without the heavenly Father (καὶ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν οὐ πεσεῖται ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν ἄνευ τοῦ Πατρὸς ὑμῶν). Thus, if God was worried about these somewhat valueless sparrows, how much more would he be concerned about humans. Do you worry about sparrows?
To human tradition!’
Then he said to them.
‘You have a fine way
ἀφέντες τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ κρατεῖτε τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν ἀνθρώπων.
καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς Καλῶς ἀθετεῖτε τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἵνα τὴν παράδοσιν ὑμῶν τηρήσητε.
There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 15:3. Mark indicated that Jesus said that they had abandoned or neglected the commandments of God (ἀφέντες τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ). Instead, they followed or kept their own human traditions or instructions (κρατεῖτε τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν ἀνθρώπων). This is a question that many Evangelical Christians ask about mainline Christian Churches, especially Catholics and Orthodox, that have strong Christian traditions. However, sometimes, new traditions are hard to break also. This seems to set a dichotomy against God’s commandments and human religious traditions. Some ancient manuscripts added the section that was in chapter 7:4 here. There are many other traditions that they hold or observe (καὶ ἄλλα πολλά ἐστιν ἃ παρέλαβον κρατεῖν) about washing cups (βαπτισμοὺς ποτηρίων), pots (καὶ ξεστῶν), and bronze plates (καὶ χαλκίων). Then Jesus said to them (καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς) that they had a fine honorable way of rejecting the commandments of God (Καλῶς ἀθετεῖτε τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ), in order to keep their own traditions (ἵνα τὴν παράδοσιν ὑμῶν τηρήσητε). This last saying was not in Matthew. This is a very strong rejection of Jewish traditional religious practices.
“Woe to you!
Woe to you!
You have neglected
The weightier matters
Of the law,
These you ought
To have practiced,
Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι ἀποδεκατοῦτε τὸ ἡδύοσμον καὶ τὸ ἄνηθον καὶ τὸ κύμινον, καὶ ἀφήκατε τὰ βαρύτερα τοῦ νόμου, τὴν κρίσιν καὶ τὸ ἔλεος καὶ τὴν πίστιν· ταῦτα δὲ ἔδει ποιῆσαι κἀκεῖνα μὴ ἀφεῖναι.
Like Luke, chapter 11,42, Jesus continued to curse the Pharisees and the Scribes, much like earlier in verses 13, 14, and 15. The first part of this diatribe is exactly the same as those earlier verses of Matthew. Woe to you (Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν)! Scribes (γραμματεῖς)! Woe to you! Pharisees (καὶ Φαρισαῖοι)! Hypocrites (ὑποκριταί)! There is no doubt that here Jesus was cursing the Scribes and the Pharisees. This time it was their insistence on tithing. He blamed them for their concern about the tithing of the various aromatic spices of mint, dill, and cumin plants (ὅτι ἀποδεκατοῦτε τὸ ἡδύοσμον καὶ τὸ ἄνηθον καὶ τὸ κύμινον), instead of more serious matters of the law (καὶ ἀφήκατε τὰ βαρύτερα τοῦ νόμου). Thus, they neglected, the serious practice of justice (τὴν κρίσιν), mercy (καὶ τὸ ἔλεος), and faith (καὶ τὴν πίστιν). They should have spent more time on these issues (ταῦτα δὲ ἔδει ποιῆσαι κἀκεῖνα) without neglecting the other things (μὴ ἀφεῖναι). This seemed like a critique of misplaced priorities with their legalistic sense of tithing being more important than justice, mercy, faith, and the Mosaic law.
“Consider the generations of old.
See the generations of old.
Has anyone who trusted in the Lord been disappointed?
Has anyone persevered in the fear of the Lord been forsaken?
Has anyone who called upon him been neglected?
The Lord is compassionate.
The Lord is merciful.
He forgives sins.
He saves in time of distress.”
See what happened to your ancestors, the generations of old. Has anyone who trusted in the Lord been disappointed? Has anyone been forsaken who preserved in the fear of the Lord? Has anyone been neglected who called upon the Lord? After all, the Lord is compassionate, merciful, and forgiving. He will save you in the time of distress.
“The rod and reproof give wisdom.
But a mother is disgraced by a neglected child.
When the wicked are in authority,
But the righteous will look upon their downfall.
Discipline your children.
They will give you rest.
They will give delight to your heart.”
The children who get beat with the rod and rebuked will get wisdom. A mother will be in disgrace because of a neglected child. When the wicked are in charge, transgressions increase. However, the righteous wait for their downfall. If you discipline your children, they will give rest and delight to your heart. Discipline those kids!
“To the choirmaster leader, a psalm of David.
Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul?
How long must I have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?”
This is another short Psalm 13 with no other mention than a choir leader and David. David has a personal lament. He wanted to know how long Yahweh would forget him. How long would Yahweh hide his face from him? How long would he have sorrow in his heart and soul all day long? How long would his enemies exalt over him? Clearly David was concerned that he was being neglected by Yahweh.