Matthew 5:41 MEANING

Matthew 5:41
(41) Whosoever shall compel thee.--The Greek word implies the special compulsion of forced service as courier or messenger under Government, and was imported from the Persian postal system, organised on the plan of employing men thus impressed to convey Government dispatches from stage to stage (Herod. viii. 98). The use of the illustration here would seem to imply the adoption of the same system by the Roman Government under the empire. Roman soldiers and their horses were billeted on Jewish householders. Others were impressed for service of longer or shorter duration.

A mile.--The influence of Rome is shown by the use of the Latin word (slightly altered) for the mille passuum, the thousand paces which made up a Roman mile--about 142 yards short of an English statute mile. It is interesting to note a like illustration of the temper that yields to compulsion of this kind, rather than struggle or resist, in the teaching of the Stoic Epictetus--"Should there be a forced service, and a soldier should lay hold on thee, let him work his will; do not resist or murmur" (Diss. iv., i. 79).

Verse 41. - Matthew only. Shall compel thee to go; Revised Version margin, "Gr. impress" (ἀγγαρεύσει). From the Persian. Hatch ('Essays,' p. 37) shows that while the classical usage strictly refers to the Persian system or' mounted couriers (described in Herod., 8:98; Xen., 'Cyr.,' 8:6. 17), the post-classical usage refers to the later development of a system, not of postal service, but of the forced transport of military baggage. It thus indicates, not merely forced attendance, but forced carrying. Hence it is used in Matthew 27:32 and Mark 15:21 of Simon the Cyrenian, "who was pressed by the Roman soldiers who were escorting our Lord not merely to accompany them but also to carry a load." Thus here also the thought is doubtless that of being compelled to carry baggage. There may also be a reference, as Hatch suggests, to the oppressive conduct of the Roman soldiers (cf. Luke 3:14). (For the spirit of our Lord's saying, vide also 'Aboth,' 3:18 (Taylor), where the probable translation is, "Rabbi Ishmael said, Be pliant of disposition and yielding to impressment.") A mile; Revised Version, one mile; but see Matthew 8:19, note. A Roman mile of a thousand paces.

5:38-42 The plain instruction is, Suffer any injury that can be borne, for the sake of peace, committing your concerns to the Lord's keeping. And the sum of all is, that Christians must avoid disputing and striving. If any say, Flesh and blood cannot pass by such an affront, let them remember, that flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God; and those who act upon right principles will have most peace and comfort.And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile,.... The word rendered "compel", is generally said to be of Persic original; the "Angari", among the Persians, were the king's messengers, or those who rode post, and were maintained at the king's expenses; and had power to take horses, and other carriages, and even men, into their service, by force, when they had occasion for them: hence the word is used to force, or compel persons to do this or the other thing; the word is often to be met with in the Jewish writings, and is in them expounded to be (k), the taking of anything for the service of the king. David de Pomis renders it by "a yoke" (l); meaning, any servile work, which such, who were pressed into the king's service, were obliged unto. And (m) is used to compel persons to go along with others, to do any service; in which sense it is here used: and Christ advises, rather than to contend and quarrel with such a person, that obliges to go with him a mile, to

go with him twain: his meaning is, not to dispute such a matter, though it may be somewhat laborious and disagreeable, but comply, for the sake of peace. The Jews (n), in their blasphemous book of the birth of Christ, own that he gave advice in such words as these, when they introduce Peter thus speaking of him.

"He, that is, Jesus, hath warned and commanded you to do no more evil to a Jew; but if a Jew should say to a Nazarene, go with me one mile, he shall go with him two miles; and if a Jew shall smite him on the left cheek, he shall turn to him also the right.''

Can a Jew find fault with this advice?

(k) Vid. Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Bava Metzia, c. 6. sect. 3.((l) Tzemach David, fol. 8. 4. (m) Vid. Buxtorf. Lex. Rabb. p. 131, 132. (n) Toldos Jesu, p 22.

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