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Matthew 9:9-13

Context
The Call of Matthew; Eating with Sinners

9:9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax booth. 1  “Follow me,” he said to him. And he got up and followed him. 9:10 As 2  Jesus 3  was having a meal 4  in Matthew’s 5  house, many tax collectors 6  and sinners came and ate with Jesus and his disciples. 9:11 When the Pharisees 7  saw this they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 8  9:12 When 9  Jesus heard this he said, “Those who are healthy don’t need a physician, but those who are sick do. 10  9:13 Go and learn what this saying means: ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice.’ 11  For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

1 tn While “tax office” is sometimes given as a translation for τελώνιον (telwnion, so L&N 57.183), this could give the modern reader a false impression of an indoor office with all its associated furnishings.

sn The tax booth was a booth located on the edge of a city or town to collect taxes for trade. There was a tax booth in Capernaum, which was on the trade route from Damascus to Galilee and the Mediterranean. The “taxes” were collected on produce and goods brought into the area for sale, and were a sort of “sales tax” paid by the seller but obviously passed on to the purchaser in the form of increased prices (L&N 57.183). It was here that Jesus met Matthew (also named Levi [see Mark 2:14, Luke 5:27]) who was ultimately employed by the Romans, though perhaps more directly responsible to Herod Antipas. It was his job to collect taxes for Rome and he was thus despised by Jews who undoubtedly regarded him as a traitor.

2 tn Grk “And it happened that while.” The introductory phrase καὶ ἐγένετο (kai egeneto, “it happened that”) is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.

3 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

4 tn Grk “was reclining at table.”

sn As Jesus was having a meal. 1st century middle eastern meals were not eaten while sitting at a table, but while reclining on one’s side on the floor with the head closest to the low table and the feet farthest away.

5 tn Grk “in the house.” The Greek article is used here in a context that implies possession, and the referent of the implied possessive pronoun (Matthew) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

6 sn See the note on tax collectors in 5:46.

7 sn See the note on Pharisees in 3:7.

8 sn The issue here is inappropriate associations. Jews were very careful about personal associations and contact as a matter of ritual cleanliness. Their question borders on an accusation that Jesus is ritually unclean.

9 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

10 sn Jesus’ point is that he associates with those who are sick because they have the need and will respond to the offer of help. A person who is healthy (or who thinks mistakenly that he is) will not seek treatment.

11 sn A quotation from Hos 6:6 (see also Matt 12:7).



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