“Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.”
King James Version (KJV)
15:2 The elders - The chief doctors or, teachers among the Jews.
Mt 15:2 Why do thy disciples transgress? Not the law of Moses, but the tradition of the elders, which had as much authority with the Pharisees as the written law. The tradition of the elders. Purported to be precepts never written in the Scriptures, but handed down from the times of Moses and the elders by oral means. These precepts were spoken of the "law upon the lip", and have been embodied in the Talmud. They were additions to the written word. See Ga 1:14. For they wash not their hands. The orthodox Jews insisted on washing the hands before eating, not to remove the filth, but less they might have touched something ceremonially unclean. This commandment was purely traditional, but so rigidly did they insist upon observing it that the Rabbi Akiba, imprisoned by the Romans and with scarcely water to sustain life, preferred to use all provided for his ceremonial ablutions, and to die of thirst.