Matthew 21

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Matthew 21
POxy v0064 n4404 a 01 hires.jpg
Gospel of Matthew 21:34-37 on the recto side of Papyrus 104, from c. AD. 250.
Book Gospel of Matthew
Bible part New Testament
Order in the Bible part 1
Category Gospel

Matthew 21 is the twenty-first chapter in the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament section of the Christian Bible. Jesus arrives in Jerusalem and starts his final ministry before the Passion. The narrative can be divided into the following subsections:

Matthew 21:19-24 on Uncial 087, 6th century.


Verse 11

And the multitude said,
This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.[1]

Verse 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,[2]
  • "Money changers": of which sort were they, who sat in the temple at certain times, to receive the "half shekel", and change the money of such, who wanted one, by which they gained something, to themselves. It was a custom for every Israelite, once a year, to pay half a shekel towards the temple charge and service, which was founded upon the orders given by God to Moses in the wilderness; that upon his numbering the people, to take of everyone that was twenty years of age and upwards, rich or poor, half a shekel, Exodus 30:13, though this does not seem to be designed as a perpetual rule. However, it now obtained, and was annually paid: "On the first day of Adar (which answers to our February) they proclaimed concerning the shekels.[3] That is, they gave public notice, in all the cities in Israel, that the time of paying the half shekel was near at hand, that they might get their money ready, for everyone was obliged to pay it, as stated,[4] "it is an affirmative command of the law, that every man in Israel should pay the half shekel every year; even though a poor man that is maintained by alms, he is obliged to it, and must beg it of others, or sell his coat upon his back and pay it, as it is said, Exodus 30:15. The rich shall not give more, etc.--All are bound to give it, priests, Levites, and Israelites, and strangers, and servants, that are made free; but not women, nor servants, nor children." Notice being thus given,[5] "on the fifteenth day (of the same month), "tables" were placed in the province, or city (which Bartenora[5] interprets of Jerusalem; but Maimonides[4] says, the word used is the name of all the cities in the land of Israel, excepting Jerusalem), and on the twenty fifth they sit, "in the sanctuary"." The same is related by Maimonides,[6] after this manner: "On the first of Adar they proclaim concerning the shekels, that every man may prepare his half shekel, and be ready to give it on the fifteenth; "the exchangers" sit in every province or city, and mildly ask it; everyone that gives them it, they take it of them; and he that does not give, they do not compel him to give: on the twenty fifth, they sit in the sanctuary to collect it; and henceforward they urge him that does not give, until he gives; and everyone that does not give, they oblige him to give pledge, and they, take his pledge, whether he will or not, and even his coat." This gives us a plain account of these money changers; of their tables, and of their sitting at them in the temple, and on what account. Now these exchangers had a profit in every shekel they changed.[7] "When a man went to an exchanger, and changed a shekel for two half shekels, he gave him an addition to the shekel; and the addition is called "Kolbon"; wherefore, when two men gave a shekel for them both, they were both obliged to pay the "Kolbon". This "Kolbon", whence these exchangers are called, "Collybistae", in this text, or the gain which these men had, is clarified in their own words.[8] "How much is the "Kolbon?" A silver "meah", according to. R. Meir; but the wise men say, half an one." Or as it is elsewhere expressed,[9] "what is the value of the "Kolbon?" At that time they gave two pence for the half shekel, the "Kolbon" was half a "meah", which is the twelfth part of a penny; and since, "Kolbon" less than that is not given." Now a "meah" was the half of a sixth part of the half shekel, and the twenty fourth part of a shekel, and weighed sixteen barley corns: half a "meah" was the forty eighth part of a shekel, and weighed eight barley[10] corns; a "meah" was, of our money, the value of somewhat more than a penny, and half an one more than a halfpenny. This was their gain, which in so large a number that paid, must amount to a great deal of money. There seems to be nothing lie against these men being the very persons, whose tables Christ overturned, unless it should be objected, that this was not the time of their sitting; for it was now within a few days of the Passover, which was in the month Nisan; whereas it was in the month Adar, that the half shekel was paid: but it should be observed, according to the above account, that they did not begin to sit in the temple to receive this money, until the twenty fifth of Adar; and it was now but the tenth of Nisan, when Christ entered the temple and found them there: so that there was but fifteen days: between the one and the other; and considering the large numbers that were obliged to pay, and the backwardness and poverty of many, they may reasonably be thought to be still sitting on that account: and what Maimonides before relates deserves notice, and will strengthen this supposition; that on the twenty fifth: of Adar, they sat in the temple to collect this money; and that henceforward they urged and compelled persons to pay it. Moreover, these men had other business, in a way of exchange, than this to do; and especially at such a time as the passover, when persons came from different parts to attend it; and who, might want to have their foreign money changed for current coin; or bills of return, to be changed for money: add to all this the following account, which will show the large and perpetual business of these men.[11] "In the sanctuary there were before them, "continually", or "daily", thirteen chests (and there were as many tables[12]); every chest was in the form of a trumpet: the first was for the shekels of the present year, the second for the shekels of the year past; the third for everyone that had a "Korban", or vow upon him to offer two turtledoves, or two young pigeons; the one a burnt offering, the other a sin offering: their price was, cast into this chest: the fourth for everyone that had the burnt offering of a fowl only on him, the price of that was cast into this chest. The fifth was for him, who freely gave money to buy wood, to be laid in order on the altar; the sixth, for him that freely gave money for the incense; the seventh, for him that freely gave gold for the mercy seat; the eighth, for the remainder of the sin offering; as when he separated the money for his sin offering, and took the sin offering, and there remained of the money, the rest he cast into this chest; the ninth, for the remainder of the trespass offering; the tenth, for the remainder of the doves for men and women in fluxes, and women after childbirth; the eleventh, for the remainder of the offerings of the Nazarite; the twelfth, for the remainder of the trespass offering of the leper: the thirteenth, for him that freely gave money for the burnt offering of a beast."[13]

Verse 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.[14]

Citing from Isaiah 56:7; Jeremiah 7:11
Cross reference: Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46

See also


  1. ^ Matthew 21:11
  2. ^ Matthew 21:12
  3. ^ Misn. Shekalim, c. 1. sect. 1.
  4. ^ a b Maimonides. Hilch. Shekalim, c. 1. sect. 1. 7.
  5. ^ a b Misn. Shekalim, c. 1. sect. 3.
  6. ^ Maimonides. Hilch. Shekalim, c. 1. sect. 9.
  7. ^ Maimonides. Hilch. Shekalim, c. 3. sect. 1.
  8. ^ Misn. Shekalim, c. 1. sect. 7.
  9. ^ Maimonides. Hilch. Shekalim, c. 3. sect. 7.
  10. ^ Maimonides & Bartenora in Misn. Shekalim, c. 1, sect. 7. & Cholin, c. 1. sect. 7.
  11. ^ Maimonides. Hilch. Shekalim, c. 2. sect. 2.
  12. ^ Misn. Shekalim, c. 6. sect 1.
  13. ^ John Gill. John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible. Exposition of the Old and New Testament. Published in 1746-1763. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  14. ^ Matthew 21:13

Preceded by
Matthew 20
Chapters of the New Testament
Gospel of Matthew
Succeeded by
Matthew 22
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