12. And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out
all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of
the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
13. And said unto them, "It is written, My house shall be called
the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves."
Pseudo-Chrys.: "And Jesus entered into the temple of God." This was
the part of a good Son to [p. 712] haste to His Father's house, and do
Him honour; so you then becoming an imitator of Christ as soon as you enter
into any city, first run to the Church. Further, it was the part of a good
physician, that having entered to heal the sick city, he should first apply
himself to the source of the sickness; for as every thing good cometh out
of the temple, so also doth every evil. For when the priesthood is sound,
the whole Church flourishes, but if it is corrupt, faith is impaired; and
as when you see a tree whose leaves are pale-coloured you know that it
is diseased at its root, so when you see an undisciplined people conclude
without hesitation that their priesthood is unsound.
Jerome: "And he cast out all them that sold and bought." It should be
known that in obedience to the Law, in the Temple of the Lord venerated
throughout the whole world, and resorted to by Jews out of every quarter,
innumerable victims were sacrificed, especially on festival days, bulls,
rams, goats; the poor offering young pigeons and turtle-doves, that they
might not omit all sacrifice. But it would happen that those who came from
a distance would have no victim.
The Priests therefore contrived a plan for making a gain out of the
people, selling to such as had no victim the animals which they had need
of for sacrifice, and themselves receiving them back again as soon as sold.
But this fraudulent practice was often defeated by the poverty of the visitors,
who lacking means had neither victims, nor whence to purchase them. They
therefore appointed bankers who might lend to them under a bond. But because
the Law forbade usury, and money lent without interest was profitless,
besides sometimes a loss of the principal, they bethought themselves of
another scheme; instead of bankers they appointed 'collybistae,' a word
for which the Latin has no equivalent.
[ed. note: " St. Jerome here gives a different sense of the word, from
what is commonly received among ancient writers. Hesychius, as far as I
know, is the only one who agrees with him, and he interprets "collyba",
sweetmeats. At the same time Hesychius himself makes its proper sense to
be "a kind of coin, with an ox stamped on the brass." Pollux and Suidas
and others agree with this interpretation, so far as to make the word stand
for a small coin. Hence Collybists were those who gave change in small
coin. Origen too, to whom St. Jerome is indebted for a great part of his
exposition, understands by Collybists those who change good coin for bad,
to the injury of those who employ them." Vallars, in loc.]
Sweetmeats and other trifling presents they called 'collyba,' such,
for example, as parched pulse, raisins, and apples of divers sorts. As
then they could not take [p. 713] usury, they accepted the value in kind,
taking things that are bought with money, as if this was not what Ezekiel
preached of, saying, "Ye shall not receive usury nor increase." [Ezek 18:17]
This kind of traffic, or cheating rather, the Lord seeing in His Father's
house, and moved thereat with spiritual zeal, cast out of the Temple this
great multitude of men.
Origen: For in that they ought neither to sell nor to buy, but to give
their time to prayer, being assembled in a house of prayer, whence it follows,
"And he saith unto them, It is written, My shall be called a house of prayer."
Aug., Regula ad Serv. Dei., 3: Let no one therefore do ought in the
oratory, but that for which it was made and whence it got its name. It
follows, "But ye have made it a den of thieves."
Jerome: For he is indeed a thief, and turns the temple of God into a
den of thieves, who makes a gain of his religion. Among all the miracles
wrought by our Lord, this seems to me the most wonderful, that one man,
and He at that time mean to such a degree that He was afterwards crucified,
and while the Scribes and Pharisees were exasperated against Him seeing
their gains thus cut off, was able by the blows of one scourge to cast
out so great a multitude. Surely a flame and starry ray darted from his
eyes, and the majesty of the Godhead was radiant in his countenance.
Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 68: It is manifest that the Lord did this thing
not once but twice; the first time is told by John, this second occasion
by the other three.
Chrys., Hom., lxvii: Which aggravates the fault of the Jews, who after
He had done the same thing twice, yet persisted in their hardness.
Origen: Mystically; The Temple of God is the Church of Christ, wherein
are many, who live not, as they ought, spiritually, but after the flesh;
and that house of prayer which is built of living stones they make by their
actions to be a den of thieves. But if we must express more closely the
three kinds of men cast out of the Temple, we may say thus. Whosoever among
a Christian people spend their time in nothing else but buying and selling,
continuing but little in prayers or in other right actions, these are the
buyers and sellers in the Temple of God. Deacons who do not lay out well
the funds of their Churches, but grow rich out of the poor man's portion,
these are the money-changers whose tables Christ overturns.
But that the deacons preside over the tables of Church money, we learn
from the Acts of the Apostles. [marg. note: Acts 6:2] Bishops who commit
[p. 714] Churches to those they ought not, are they that sell the doves,
that is, the grace of the Holy Spirit, whose seats Christ overturns.
Jerome: But, according to the plain sense, the doves were not in seats,
but in cages; unless indeed the sellers of the doves were sitting in seats;
but that were absurd, for the seat denotes the dignity of the teacher,
which is brought down to nothing when it is mixed with covetousness.
Mark also, that through the avarice of the Priests, the altars of God
are called tables of money-changers. What we have spoken of Churches let
each man understand of himself, for the Apostle says, "Ye are the temple
of God." [2 Cor 6:16] Let there not be therefore in the abode of your breast
the spirit of bargaining, nor the desire of gifts, lest Jesus, entering
in anger and sternness, should purify His temple not without scourging,
that from a den of thieves He should make it a house of prayers.
Origen: Or, in His second coming He shall cast forth and overturn those
whom He shall find unworthy in God's temple.
Pseudo-Chrys.: For this reason also He overturns the tables of the money-changers,
to signify that in the temple of God ought to be no coin save spiritual,
such as bears the image of God, not an earthly image. He overturns the
seats of those that sold doves, saying by that deed, What make in My temple
so many doves for sale, since that one Dove descended of free gift upon
the temple of My Body? What the multitude had proclaimed by their shouts,
the Lord shews in deeds.