Matthew 26:65
(65) Then the high priest rent his clothes.--The act was almost as much a formal sign of condemnation as the putting on of the black cap by an English judge. The judges in a Jewish trial for blasphemy were bound to rend their clothes in twain when the blasphemous words were uttered, and the clothes so torn were never afterwards to be mended. In Acts 14:14 the same act appears, on the part of Paul and Barnabas, as the expression of an impulsive horror, as it had done of old when Eliakim rent his clothes on hearing the blasphemies of Rabshaken (2Kings 18:37). A comparison of the Greek word here and in Mark 14:63 shows that it included the tunic or under-garment as well as the cloak.

Verse 65. - The high priest rent his clothes (τὰ ἱμάτια). His outer garments, not his pontifical vestment, which he would not wear on this occasion. St. Mark notes that he rent his under clothes, his tunic; so probably he tore both outer and inner garments. This was done in assumed horror at Christ's blasphemy (cf. 2 Kings 18:37; 2 Kings 19:1), rabbinical injunctions requiring such an action, and prescribing the nature, extent, and direction of the scissure. "This he did," says Chrysostom, "to add force to the accusation, and to increase the weight of his words by the act." His assessors, though fully agreeing with him, appear not to have followed his example in this particular, taking the high priest's action as typical and sufficiently expressive of the general sentiment. The Fathers see in it a symbol of the rending and destruction of the Jewish priesthood (cf. 1 Samuel 15:27, 28; 1 Kings 11:30, 31). He hath spoken blasphemy. In claiming to be the Son of God, not in a theocratic sense, but by nature. making himself one with Jehovah. This was what Caiaphas had been desiring. No more discussion was needed; Christ was self-convicted. What further need have we of witnesses? He was doubtless relieved to find that the Prisoner had saved him from the trouble of seeking, suborning, and examining any more witnesses. Ye have heard; ye heard just now. All the assembly could now testify to the truth of the allegation.

26:57-68 Jesus was hurried into Jerusalem. It looks ill, and bodes worse, when those who are willing to be Christ's disciples, are not willing to be known to be so. Here began Peter's denying him: for to follow Christ afar off, is to begin to go back from him. It is more our concern to prepare for the end, whatever it may be, than curiously to ask what the end will be. The event is God's, but the duty is ours. Now the Scriptures were fulfilled, which said, False witnesses are risen up against me. Christ was accused, that we might not be condemned; and if at any time we suffer thus, let us remember we cannot expect to fare better than our Master. When Christ was made sin for us, he was silent, and left it to his blood to speak. Hitherto Jesus had seldom professed expressly to be the Christ, the Son of God; the tenor of his doctrine spoke it, and his miracles proved it; but now he would not omit to make an open confession of it. It would have looked like declining his sufferings. He thus confessed, as an example and encouragement to his followers, to confess him before men, whatever hazard they ran. Disdain, cruel mocking, and abhorrence, are the sure portion of the disciple as they were of the Master, from such as would buffet and deride the Lord of glory. These things were exactly foretold in the fiftieth chapter of Isaiah. Let us confess Christ's name, and bear the reproach, and he will confess us before his Father's throne.Then the high priest rent his clothes,.... Both his outer and inner garments. This he did, to show his zeal for the honour and glory of God, his grief and concern at the profanation of his holy name by a false oath, and his abhorrence of, and indignation at the blasphemy he supposed Christ to be guilty of, in asserting himself to be the Son of God. Some have thought, that Caiaphas in this action, transgressed the law, in Leviticus 21:10, where it is said, that "the high priest--shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes": and it is one of the Jews' negative precepts (i), that "an high priest is prohibited, "ever" to rend his garments:

and that therefore being transported with passion at the greatness of the supposed crime, could not forbear expressing his detestation of it in this manner, though it was forbidden him: but it does not appear to have been unlawful: as for the law in Leviticus, it only regards the rending of garments at funerals, or in mourning for the dead, as the context shows; and so Jonathan ben Uzziel paraphrases the text, "nor rent his clothes": "in the time of mourning"; and so the Jewish (k) interpreters, in general, expound it; and besides, this prohibition, according to them, only regards the manner of rending: their rule is this (l),

"an high priest rends below, and a common person above:

the sense of which, according to their commentators, is (m),

"that if anyone dies for whom an high priest is obliged to rend his garments, he must rend below, at the extreme part of his garment, near his feet; and as for what is written, nor rend his clothes; the meaning is, he shall not rend as other men do, above, over against the breast, near the shoulder, as the rest of the people.

Moreover, a priest might not go into the sanctuary, nor perform any part of service with his clothes rent; the canon runs thus (n),

"the judgment, or the law of them that rend their garment, and of those that uncover the head, is one and the same, as it is said, Leviticus 10:6, lo! if he is in service, and rends his garments, he is guilty of death by the hands of heaven, though his service is right, and not profaned.

And indeed no man, whether a priest or an Israelite, might go into the temple with his clothes rent; and a priest might not rend his sacerdotal garments, on any account; yet such were not these that Caiaphas now had on; but in case of hearing blasphemy, everyone, be he what he would, was obliged to rend his garments (o):

"Whosoever hears the cursing of the name (of God) is obliged to rend, even at the cursing of the surnames he is obliged to rend; and he that hears it from an Israelite, both he that hears, and he that hears from the mouth of him that hears, he is obliged to rend; but he that hears from the mouth of a Gentile, is not obliged to rend; and Eliakim and Shebna would not have rent, but because Rabshakeh was an apostate.

So when witnesses expressed the blasphemy of such they testified against, the judges were obliged to rise up and rend their garments; concerning which, take the following rule (p):

"a blasphemer is not guilty, unless he expresses the name (of God); says R. Joshua ben Korcha, all the day the witnesses are examined by the surnames; but when the cause is finished, they do not put to death because of the surnames, but they bring every man out, and ask the chief among them, and say to him, say expressly what thou hast heard, and he says it: then the judges stand upon their feet, "and rend their garments", and do not sow them up again; and then the second and the third say, I have heard the same as he.

From all which it appears, that Caiaphas did what was the custom of the nation to do in such a case. The observation, that some learned men have made, that the high priest's rending his garments, was, though without his intention, an emblem and presage, of the rending of the priesthood from him, and his brethren, and the entire change of it; as the abolition of the whole ceremonial law, was signified by the rending of the vail of the temple in twain; and as the removing of the kingdom from Saul, was represented by Samuel's rending his mantle; and the revolt of the ten tribes to Jeroboam, by Abijah's rending his garment into twelve pieces, and giving ten to him; would have had a much better foundation to be built on, were these clothes that Caiaphas rent, his priestly ones: but such they were not; for both the high priest, and the other priests, only wore their sacerdotal garments in the temple; nor was it lawful for them to go out in them elsewhere; for so the Jews say (q),

"it is forbidden to go out into the province; city, or country, in the garments of the priesthood; but in the sanctuary, whether in the time of service, or not in the time of service, it was lawful.

In the temple, there were chests on purpose for the garments of the priests (r); from whence they took them, and where they laid them up when they had performed their service: of these there were ninety six in number; for as there were twenty four courses, there were four chests for every course; in which the garments were put by themselves, the breeches by themselves, the girdles by themselves, the bonnets by themselves, and the coats by themselves; sealed up with an inscription on them, showing what was in them: and when the men that belonged to such a course, came to perform their service in turn, they opened these chests, and clothed themselves: and when they went out of their service, they put them up in them again, and sealed them; and as for


Matthew 26:64
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