What the Pharisees wear (Mt 23:5-23:5)

“The Pharisees

And Scribes

Do all their deeds

To be seen by other men.

They make

Their phylacteries broad.

Their fringes

Are long.”

 

πάντα δὲ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν ποιοῦσιν πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις· πλατύνουσιν γὰρ τὰ φυλακτήρια αὐτῶν καὶ μεγαλύνουσιν τὰ κράσπεδα,

 

This is unique to Matthew.  Jesus said that these Pharisees and Scribes did all their deeds to be seen by other men (πάντα δὲ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν ποιοῦσιν πρὸς τὸ θεαθῆναι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις).  They broadened their phylacteries (πλατύνουσιν γὰρ τὰ φυλακτήρια αὐτῶν) and enlarged their long fringes or tassels (καὶ μεγαλύνουσιν τὰ κράσπεδα) on their clothes.  Thus, they had distinctive garments that they wore.  These phylacteries were leather boxes that contained scriptural passages.  They would wear them on their forearms or head as indicated in Exodus, chapter 13:9-16.  and Deuteronomy, chapter 6:4-9, that was closely tied to the “Shema.”  They were to write these biblical sayings of the law on their hands and forehead.  On the other hand, the fringes or tassels on the bottom of their clothing was based on Numbers, chapter 15:37-41.  They made the tassels on the four corners of their garments, with a blue chord on the fringe of each corner.  This was to remember all the commandments of Yahweh, a nice little reminder about their obligations.  Ever today, some Jewish groups wear these tassels called the tzitzit.  The same command about tassels can be found in Deuteronomy, chapter 22:12.  Apparently, the Pharisees may have been the only ones wearing these larger tassels and large prayer boxes.

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Tassels (Deut 22:12-22:12)

“You shall make tassels on the four corners of your cloak with which you cover yourself.”

See Numbers, chapter 15, for more details about these tassels on your clothes. These tassels are a reminder about Yahweh’s laws or blessings to help them keep and do all of Yahweh’s commandments. This reminder of your obligations can be seen today among some Jewish groups who call it a tzitzit.

 

The tassels on the corners of garments (Num 15:37-15:41)

“Yahweh said to Moses.  ‘Speak to the Israelites.  Tell them to make fringes on the corners of their garments throughout their generations.  Put a blue chord on the fringe of each corner.  You have the fringe so that when you see it, you will remember all the commandments of Yahweh and do them.  You are not to follow the lust of your own heart and your own eyes.  So you shall remember and do all my commandments.  You shall be holy to your God.  I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God.  I am Yahweh your God.”

Once again Yahweh spoke to Moses to tell them to make fringes or tassels on the corners of their garments and put a blue chord on the fringe of each corner.  These blue chords help them to remember and do all of Yahweh’s commandments.  Thus they are holy to God.  This is a nice little reminder about your obligations that can be seen today among some Jewish groups who call it the tzitzit.