Matthew 21:9 MEANING

Matthew 21:9
(9) Hosanna.--We gather, by comparing the four Gospels, the full nature of the mingled cries that burst from the multitude. (1.) As here, "Hosanna." The word was a Hebrew imperative, "Save us, we beseech thee," and had come into liturgical use from Psalms 118. That Psalm belonged specially to the Feast of Tabernacles (see Perowne on Psalms 118), and as such, was naturally associated with the palm-branches; the verses from it now chanted by the people are said to have been those with which the inhabitants of Jerusalem were wont to welcome the pilgrims who came up to keep the feast. The addition of "Hosanna to the Son of David" made it a direct recognition of the claims of Jesus to be the Christ; that of "Hosanna in the highest" (comp. Luke 2:14) claimed heaven as in accord with earth in this recognition. (2.) "Blessed be" ("the King" in St. Luke) "He that cometh in the name of the Lord." These words, too, received a special personal application. The welcome was now given, not to the crowd of pilgrims, but to the King. (3.) As in St. Luke, one of the cries was an echo of the angels' hymn at the Nativity, "Peace on earth, and glory in the highest" (Luke 2:14). (4.) As in St. Mark, "Blessed be the kingdom of our father David." We have to think of these shouts as filling the air as He rides slowly on in silence. He will not check them at the bidding of the Pharisees (Luke 19:39), but His own spirit is filled with quite other thoughts than theirs. And those who watched Him saw the tears streaming down His cheeks as He looked on the walls and towers of the city, and heard, what the crowds manifestly did not hear, His lamentation over its coming fall (Luke 19:41).

Verse 9. - The multitudes that went before, and that followed. These expressions point to two separate bodies, which combined in escorting Jesus at a certain portion of the route. We learn from St. John (John 12:18) that much people, greatly excited by the news of the raising of Lazarus, when they heard that he was in the neighbourhood, hurried forth from Jerusalem to meet and do him honour. These, when they met the other procession with Jesus riding in the midst, turned back again and preceded him into the city. St. Luke identifies the spot as "at the descent of the Mount of Olives." "As they approached the shoulder of the hill," says Dr. Geikie ('The Life of Christ,' 2:397), "where the road bends downwards to the north, the sparse vegetation of the eastern slope changed, as in a moment, to the rich green of garden and trees, and Jerusalem in its glory rose before them. It is hard for us to imagine now the splendour of the view. The city of God, seated on her hills, shone at the moment in the morning sun. Straight before stretched the vast white walls and buildings of the temple, its courts glittering with gold, rising one above the other; the steep sides of the hill of David crowned with lofty walls; the mighty castles towering above them; the sumptuous palace of Herod in its green parks; and the picturesque outlines of the streets." Hosanna to the Son of David! "Hosanna!" is compounded of two words meaning "save" and "now," or, "I pray," and is written in full Hoshia-na, translated by the Septuagint, Σῶσον δή. The expressions uttered by the people are mostly derived from Psalm 118, which formed part of the great Hallel (Psalm 113-118.) sung at the Feast of Tabernacles. "Hosanna!" was originally a formula of prayer and supplication, but later became a term of joy and congratulation. So here the cry signifies "Blessings on [or, 'Jehovah bless'] the Son of David!" i.e. the Messiah, acknowledging Jesus to be he, the promised Prince of David's line. Thus we say, "God save the king!" This, which Ewald calls the first Christian hymn, gave to Palm Sunday, in some parts of the Church, the name of the "day of Hosannas," and was incorporated into the liturgical service both in East and West. Blessed... of the Lord: (Psalm 118:26). The formula is taken in two ways, the words, "ill the Name of the Lord," being connected either with "blessed" or with "cometh." In the former case the cry signifies, "The blessing of Jehovah rest on him who cometh!" i.e., Messiah (Matthew 11:3; Revelation 1:8); in the latter, the meaning is, "Blessing on him who cometh with Divine mission, sent with the authority of Jehovah!" The second interpretation seems to be correct. In the highest (comp. Luke 2:14). The people cry to God to ratify in heaven the blessing which they invoke on earth. This homage and the title of Messiah Jesus now accepts as his due, openly asserting his claims, and by his acquiescence encouraging the excitement. St. Matthew omits the touching scene of Christ's lamentations over Jerusalem, as he passed the spot where Roman legions would, a generation hence, encamp against the doomed city.

21:1-11 This coming of Christ was described by the prophet Zechariah, Zec 9:9. When Christ would appear in his glory, it is in his meekness, not in his majesty, in mercy to work salvation. As meekness and outward poverty were fully seen in Zion's King, and marked his triumphal entrance to Jerusalem, how wrong covetousness, ambition, and the pride of life must be in Zion's citizens! They brought the ass, but Jesus did not use it without the owner's consent. The trappings were such as came to hand. We must not think the clothes on our backs too dear to part with for the service of Christ. The chief priests and the elders afterwards joined with the multitude that abused him upon the cross; but none of them joined the multitude that did him honour. Those that take Christ for their King, must lay their all under his feet. Hosanna signifies, Save now, we beseech thee! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord! But of how little value is the applause of the people! The changing multitude join the cry of the day, whether it be Hosanna, or Crucify him. Multitudes often seem to approve the gospel, but few become consistent disciples. When Jesus was come into Jerusalem all the city was moved; some perhaps were moved with joy, who waited for the Consolation of Israel; others, of the Pharisees, were moved with envy. So various are the motions in the minds of men upon the approach of Christ's kingdom.And the multitudes that went before,.... That is, that went before Christ; accordingly the Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions, and Munster's Hebrew Gospel, read, "that went before him": these seem to be the much people that met him from Jerusalem,

and that followed him; which were perhaps those that came from Jericho, and other parts;

cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: by calling Jesus the Son of David, they owned and proclaimed him to be the Messiah; this being the usual title by which the Messiah was known among the Jews; see the note on Matthew 1:1 and by crying and saying Hosanna to him, which was done with loud acclamations, and the united shouts of both companies, before and behind; they ascribe all praise, honour, glory, and blessing to him, and wish him all prosperity, happiness, and safety. The word is an Hebrew word, and is compounded of and which signifies, "save I beseech"; and which words stand in Psalm 118:25 to which the multitude had reference, as appears from what follows; and are formed into one word, "Hosana", or "Hosanna", in which form it frequently appears in the Jewish writings; and because of the often use of it at the feast of tabernacles, that feast was called "Hosanna", and the seventh day of it was called "the great Hosanna" (d). Moreover, the "Lulabs", or the bundles made of branches of palm trees, and boughs of willow and myrtle, which they carried in their hands at the feast of tabernacles, often go by this name: it is said (e),

"the Egyptian myrtle is right or fit "for the Hosanna".''

That is, to be put into the "Lulab", or bundle of boughs and branches, which was carried about, and shaken at the above feast. Again (f),

"it is a tradition of R. Meir, that it was the practice of the honourable men of Jerusalem, to bind their "Lulabs" with golden threads says Rabbah, these are they , "that bind the Hosanna": the gloss on it is, "that bind the Lulabs", of the house of the head of the captivity; for in binding the Hosanna of the house of the head of the captivity, they leave in it an hand's breadth and says the same Rabbah, a man may not hold an Hosanna in a linen cloth.''

Once more (g),

"says R. Zera, a man may not prepare "an Hosanna" for a child, on a good day.''

Sometimes the Hosanna seems to be distinguished from the "Lulab", and then by the "Lulab" is meant, only the branches of palm tree; and by the Hosanna, the boughs of willow and myrtle; as when (h),

"Rabbah says, a man may not fix the "Lulab", "in the Hosanna".''

And a little after says the same,

"a man may not bind the "Lulab" with the "Hosanna".''

Now these bundles might be so called, because they were lifted up and shaken, when the above words out of Psalm 118:25 were recited: for thus it is said (i),

"when do they shake, that is, their "Lulabs", or "Hosannas?" At those words, "O give thanks unto the Lord", Psalm 118:1 the beginning and end; and at those words, "Save now I beseech thee", Psalm 118:25. The house of Hillell, and the house of Shammai say also at those words, "O Lord I beseech thee, send now prosperity": says R. Akiba, I have observed Rabban Gamaliel and Rabbi Joshua, that all the people shook their Lulabs, but they did not shake, only at those words, Save now I beseech thee, O Lord.''


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