2Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
2 Verse 2. Therefore when thou doest thine alms] In the first
verse the exhortation is general: Take YE heed. In this verse the
address is pointed-and THOU-man-woman-who readest-hearest.
Do not sound a trumpet] It is very likely that this was
literally practised among the Pharisees, who seemed to live on the
public esteem, and were excessively self-righteous and vain.
Having something to distribute by way of alms, it is very probable
they caused this to be published by blowing a trumpet or horn,
under pretence of collecting the poor; though with no other design
than to gratify their own ambition. There is a custom in the east
not much unlike this. "The derveeshes carry horns with them,
which they frequently blow, when any thing is given to them, in
honor of the donor. It is not impossible that some of the poor
Jews who begged alms might be furnished like the Persian
derveeshes, who are a sort of religious beggars, and that these
hypocrites might be disposed to confine their alms-giving to those
that they knew would pay them this honour." HARMER'S Observat.
vol. i. p. 474.
It must be granted, that in the Jewish writings there is no such
practice referred to as that which I have supposed above, viz.
blowing a trumpet to gather the poor, or the poor blowing a horn
when relieved. Hence some learned men have thought that the word
shopher, a trumpet, refers to the hole in the public alms
chest, into which the money was dropped which was allotted for
the service of the poor. Such holes, because they were wide at
one end and grew gradually narrow towards the other, were actually
termed shopheroth, trumpets, by the rabbins; of this
Schoettgen furnishes several examples. An ostentatious man, who
wished to attract the notice of those around him, would throw in
his money with some force into these trumpet-resembling holes, and
thus he might be said σαλπιζειν, to sound the trumpet.
The Jerusalem Gemara, tract Shekalim, describes these
shopheroth thus-These trumpet holes were crooked, narrow above and
wide below, in order to prevent fraud. As our Lord only uses the
words, μησαλπισης, it may be tantamount to our term jingle. Do
not make a public ostentatious jingle of that money which you give
to public charities. Pride and hypocrisy are the things here
reprehended. The Pharisees, no doubt, felt the weight of the
reproof. Still the words may be taken in their literal meaning,
as we know that the Moslimans, who nearly resemble the ancient
Pharisees in the ostentation, bigotry, and cruelty of their
character, are accustomed, in their festival of Muhurram, to erect
stages in the public streets, and, by the sound of a trumpet, call
the poor together to receive alms of rice, and other kinds of
food. See WARD.
Works of charity and mercy should be done as much in private as
is consistent with the advancement of the glory of God, and the
effectual relief of the poor.
In the synagogues and in the streets] That such chests or
boxes, for receiving the alms of well-disposed people, were placed
in the synagogues, we may readily believe; but what were the
streets? Schoettgen supposes that courts or avenues in the temple
and in the synagogues may be intended-places where the people were
accustomed to walk, for air, amusement, &c., for it is not to be
supposed that such chests were fixed in the public streets.
They have their reward.] That is, the honour and esteem of men
which they sought. God is under no obligation to them-they did
nothing with an eye to his glory, and from HIM they can expect no
recompense. They had their recompense in this life; and could
expect none in the world to come.