Matthew 8:20
And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
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(20) The foxes have holes.—Our Lord’s answer seems to indicate that it was hardly more than the show. The scribe had not counted the cost, and, like the young ruler that had great possessions, needed to be taught. To follow the Son of Man was not to be the adherent of a new sect or party, or the servant of a king marching onward to an earthly throne, but to share in poverty, privation, homelessness.

Nests.—The word is sufficient for popular use, but, strictly speaking, the “nest” belongs only to the brooding season of a bird’s life, and the Greek word has the wider meaning of “shelter.”

The Son of man.—The passage is remarkable as the first in this Gospel in which the name occurs which was afterwards so prominent in our Lord’s teaching, and this is accordingly the right place for tracing the history and significance of that title.

As found in the Old Testament, the term is the literal translation of the Hebrew ben-adam, the latter word expressing the generic weakness and frailty of man’s nature, as the Hebrew ish expresses its greatness and its strength. It stands therefore as representing man idealised under that one aspect of his being. “What is man that Thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that Thou visitest him?” (Psalm 8:4); “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man in whom is no help” (Psalm 146:3), are instances of its use in this meaning. In some passages our version expresses the same thought by rendering the “sons of Adam” and the “sons of Ish “as” low and high” (Psalm 49:2), or the former word alone as “men of low degree” (Psalm 62:9). The title received a new prominence about the time of the Captivity from its use in Ezekiel’s prophecies. There it appears frequently (not fewer than eighty-seven times in all) as the title with which the prophet is addressed by the voice of Jehovah. We can scarcely doubt that it was used there in all the fulness of its earlier meaning, and was designed to teach the prophet that, amid all the greatness of his work, he was still subject to all the weakness and temptations of man’s nature, and ought therefore to have compassion on their infirmities. Yet a fresh aspect of the name was presented in the mysterious vision of Daniel 7:13, in which “One like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and was brought to the Ancient of Days, . . . and there was given unto Him dominion and glory and a kingdom.” The word used is not, it is true, benadam, but bar-enosh, but there is no traceable distinction of meaning between the two. Here, then, the thought manifestly was this, that One who shared man’s weakness, should also be a sharer of God’s glory, and be the Head of the divine kingdom. The prominence which the Maccabean struggles gave to the predictions of Daniel drew attention to the name as it had thus been used. The “Son of Man” became one of the titles of the expected Christ. The Targum or Paraphrase of the Psalms (probably earlier than our Lord’s ministry) explains even such a passage as Psalm 80:17 (“the son of man whom thou madest so strong for thine own self”) as referring to the Christ. So when the crowd at Jerusalem are questioning in their hearts whether Jesus was the Christ, they are not startled at this application of the name, and their question, “Who is this Son of Man?” is the utterance of their wonder that things so unlike what they expected of the Christ should be predicted of One who claimed the title (John 12:34). It was accordingly, with these ideas attached to it—involving at once fellowship with the lowest of the heirs of our humanity, and yet also participation in the eternal glory of the Highest—that our Lord claimed the title, and used it with such marvellous frequency. We might almost say that it serves as the chief connecting-link between the teaching of the first three Gospels and the fourth. It appears thirty-two times in St. Matthew, fourteen in St. Mark, twenty-six in St. Luke, and twelve times in St. John. It is remarkable that it never passed into the current language of the Apostolic Church, nor into the theological or liturgical phraseology of Christendom. It is not used in any one of the Epistles. Outside the Gospels it is found only in the exclamation of Stephen (Acts 7:56), with a manifest reference to Daniel 7:13, and possibly in the visions of the Apocalypse (Revelation 1:13; Revelation 14:14). The minds of believers loved to dwell on the glory of the risen Christ, and apparently looked on this as belonging rather to the time of His humiliation. Its absence from the other books of the New Testament, and its presence in the Gospels is, at all events, an indication that the latter were not the after-growth of a later age.

8:18-22 One of the scribes was too hasty in promising; he proffers himself to be a close follower of Christ. He seems to be very resolute. Many resolutions for religion are produced by sudden conviction, and taken up without due consideration; these come to nothing. When this scribe offered to follow Christ, one would think he should have been encouraged; one scribe might do more credit and service than twelve fishermen; but Christ saw his heart, and answered to its thoughts, and therein teaches all how to come to Christ. His resolve seems to have been from a worldly, covetous principle; but Christ had not a place to lay his head on, and if he follows him, he must not expect to fare better than he fared. We have reason to think this scribe went away. Another was too slow. Delay in doing is as bad on the one hand, as hastiness in resolving is on the other. He asked leave to attend his father to his grave, and then he would be at Christ's service. This seemed reasonable, yet it was not right. He had not true zeal for the work. Burying the dead, especially a dead father, is a good work, but it is not thy work at this time. If Christ requires our service, affection even for the nearest and dearest relatives, and for things otherwise our duty, must give way. An unwilling mind never wants an excuse. Jesus said to him, Follow me; and, no doubt, power went with this word to him as to others; he did follow Christ, and cleaved to him. The scribe said, I will follow thee; to this man Christ said, Follow me; comparing them together, it shows that we are brought to Christ by the force of his call to us, Ro 9:16.And a certain scribe came ... - It is not improbable that this man had seen the miracles of Jesus, and had formed an expectation that by following him he would obtain some considerable worldly advantage. Christ, in reply to his professed purpose to follow him, proclaimed his own poverty, and dashed the hopes of the avaricious scribe. The very foxes and birds, says he, have places of repose and shelter, but the Son of man has no home and no pillow. He is a stranger in his own world - a wanderer and an outcast from the homes of people. Compare John 1:11.

Son of man - This means, evidently, Jesus himself. No title is more frequently given to the Saviour than this, and yet there is much difficulty in explaining it. The word "son" is used in a great variety of significations. See the notes at Matthew 1:1. The name "Son of man" is given to Jesus only three times in the New Testament Acts 7:56; Revelation 1:13; Revelation 14:14, except by himself. When he speaks of himself, this is the most common appellation by which he is known. The phrase "Son of God," given to Christ, denotes a unique connection with God, John 10:36. The name "Son of man" probably denotes a corresponding unique connection with man. Perhaps the Saviour used it to signify the interest he felt in man; his special love and friendship for him; and his willingness to devote himself to the best interests of the race. It is sometimes, however, used as synonymous with "Messiah," Matthew 16:28; John 1:34; Acts 8:37; John 12:34.

20. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head—Few as there were of the scribes who attached themselves to Jesus, it would appear, from his calling Him Teacher, that this one was a "disciple" in that looser sense of the word in which it is applied to the crowds who flocked after Him, with more or less conviction that His claims were well founded. But from the answer which he received we are led to infer that there was more of transient emotion—of temporary impulse—than of intelligent principle in the speech. The preaching of Christ had riveted and charmed him; his heart had swelled; his enthusiasm had been kindled; and in this state of mind he will go anywhere with Him, and feels impelled to tell Him so. "Wilt thou?" replies the Lord Jesus. "Knowest thou whom thou art pledging thyself to follow, and whither haply He may lead thee? No warm home, no downy pillow has He for thee: He has them not for Himself. The foxes are not without their holes, nor do the birds of the air lack their nests; but the Son of man has to depend on the hospitality of others, and borrow the pillow whereon He lays His head." How affecting is this reply! And yet He rejects not this man's offer, nor refuses him the liberty to follow Him. Only He will have him know what he is doing, and "count the cost." He will have him weigh well the real nature and the strength of his attachment, whether it be such as will abide in the day of trial. If so, he will be right welcome, for Christ puts none away. But it seems too plain that in this case that had not been done. And so we have called this the Rash or Precipitate Disciple.

II. The Procrastinating or Entangled Disciple (Mt 8:21, 22).

As this is more fully given in Luke (Lu 9:59), we must take both together. "And He said unto another of His disciples, Follow Me. But he said,"

Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead—or, as more definitely in Luke, "Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God" (Lu 9:60). This disciple did not, like the former, volunteer his services, but is called by the Lord Jesus, not only to follow, but to preach Him. And he is quite willing; only he is not ready just yet. "Lord, I will; but"—"There is a difficulty in the way just now; but that once removed, I am Thine." What now is this difficulty? Was his father actually dead—lying a corpse—having only to be buried? Impossible. As it was the practice, as noticed on Lu 7:12, to bury on the day of death, it is not very likely that this disciple would have been here at all if his father had just breathed his last; nor would the Lord, if He was there, have hindered him discharging the last duties of a son to a father. No doubt it was the common case of a son having a frail or aged father, not likely to live long, whose head he thinks it his duty to see under the ground ere he goes abroad. "This aged father of mine will soon be removed; and if I might but delay till I see him decently interred, I should then be free to preach the kingdom of God wherever duty might call me." This view of the case will explain the curt reply, "Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God." Like all the other paradoxical sayings of our Lord, the key to it is the different senses—a higher and a lower—in which the same word "dead" is used: There are two kingdoms of God in existence upon earth; the kingdom of nature, and the kingdom of grace: To the one kingdom all the children of this world, even the most ungodly, are fully alive; to the other, only the children of light: The reigning irreligion consists not in indifference to the common humanities of social life, but to things spiritual and eternal: Fear not, therefore, that your father will in your absence be neglected, and that when he breathes his last there will not be relatives and friends ready enough to do to him the last offices of kindness. Your wish to discharge these yourself is natural, and to be allowed to do it a privilege not lightly to be foregone. But the kingdom of God lies now all neglected and needy: Its more exalted character few discern; to its paramount claims few are alive: and to "preach" it fewer still are qualified and called: But thou art: The Lord therefore hath need of thee: Leave, then, those claims of nature, high though they be, to those who are dead to the still higher claims of the kingdom of grace, which God is now erecting upon earth—Let the dead bury their dead; but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And so have we here the genuine, but Procrastinating or Entangled Disciple.

The next case is recorded only by Luke:

III. The Irresolute or Wavering Disciple (Lu 9:61, 62).

Lu 9:61:

And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell which are at home at my house.

Lu 9:62:

And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. But for the very different replies given, we should hardly have discerned the difference between this and the second case: the one man called, indeed, and the other volunteering, as did the first; but both seemingly alike willing, and only having a difficulty in their way just at that moment. But, by help of what is said respectively to each, we perceive the great difference between the two cases. From the warning given against "looking back," it is evident that this man's discipleship was not yet thorough, his separation from the world not entire. It is not a case of going back, but of looking back; and as there is here a manifest reference to the case of "Lot's wife" (Ge 19:26; and see on [1236]Lu 17:32), we see that it is not actual return to the world that we have here to deal with, but a reluctance to break with it. The figure of putting one's hand to the plough and looking back is an exceedingly vivid one, and to an agricultural people most impressive. As ploughing requires an eye intent on the furrow to be made, and is marred the instant one turns about, so will they come short of salvation who prosecute the work of God with a distracted attention, a divided heart. The reference may be chiefly to ministers; but the application at least is general. As the image seems plainly to have been suggested by the case of Elijah and Elisha, a difficulty may be raised, requiring a moment's attention. When Elijah cast his mantle about Elisha, which the youth quite understood to mean appointing him his successor, he was ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen, the last pair held by himself. Leaving his oxen, he ran after the prophet, and said, "Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and [then] I will follow thee." Was this said in the same spirit with the same speech uttered by our disciple? Let us see. "And Elijah said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee." Commentators take this to mean that Elijah had really done nothing to hinder him from going on with all his ordinary duties. But to us it seems clear that Elijah's intention was to try what manner of spirit the youth was of:—"Kiss thy father and mother? And why not? By all means, go home and stay with them; for what have I done to thee? I did but throw a mantle about thee; but what of that?" If this was his meaning, Elisha thoroughly apprehended and nobly met it. "He returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen (the wood of his ploughing implements), and gave unto the people, and they did eat: then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him" (1Ki 19:19-21). We know not if even his father and mother had time to be called to this hasty feast. But this much is plain, that, though in affluent circumstances, he gave up his lower calling, with all its prospects, for the higher and at that time perilous, office to which he was called. What now is the bearing of these two cases? Did Elisha do wrong in bidding them farewell with whom he was associated in his early calling? Or, if not, would this disciple have done wrong if he had done the same thing, and in the same spirit, with Elisha? Clearly not. Elisha's doing it proved that he could with safety do it; and our Lord's warning is not against bidding them farewell which were at home at his house, but against the probable fatal consequences of that step; lest the embraces of earthly relationship should prove too strong for him, and he should never return to follow Christ. Accordingly, we have called this the Irresolute or Wavering Disciple.

Ver. 19,20. We have the same story in Luke 9:57,58; only Luke saith it was as they went in the way; and saith, a certain man thus said unto him. Matthew more particularly describeth the man from his office, or ordinary employment. Both agree in what he said to our Saviour,

Master, ( so they usually called their teachers, to whose conduct they gave up themselves),

I will follow thee, that is, I am resolved or I am ready to follow thee,

whithersoever thou goest. Thus men often take up sudden resolutions to walk with God, and to be his servants, upon sinister accounts, and before they have well considered what they are like to meet withal who own themselves the disciples of Christ. Our Saviour, knowing his heart, and that this resolution was either bottomed in his curiosity to see his miracles, or in a hope of some livelihood from him, fits him with an answer, letting him know what difficulties those that followed him must look to meet with.

The foxes have holes, &c. Alas! thou dost not know what it is to follow me; my external condition is worse than that of the birds of the air, they have fixed nests, or the beasts of the earth, the worst of them have holes, but I have no fixed habitation on earth. He both here and in many other texts calls himself

the Son of man, ( a name never, that we read of, given to him but by himself), to declare the truth of his human nature, and that he had a natural compassion for men; that he was a child born, a son given to us, Isaiah 9:6; the person prophesied of as the Messias. Daniel 7:13; the person mentioned who was to have all things put under his feet, Psalm 8:6 1 Corinthians 15:27 Hebrews 2:8.

And Jesus saith unto him,.... Knowing his heart, and the carnal and worldly views with which he acted;

the foxes have holes in the earth, where they hide themselves from danger, take their rest, and secure their whelps;

and the birds of the air have nests, where they sit, lay, and hatch their eggs, and bring up their young;

but the son of man has not where to lay his head, when he is weary, and wants rest and sleep, as he did at this time. So that though he was Lord of all, as being the mighty God; yet as "the son of man", a phrase, expressive both of the truth and meanness of his human nature, the most despicable of creatures in the earth and air, were richer than he. This he said, to convince the Scribe of his mistake; who expected much worldly grandeur and wealth, by becoming his disciple. When Christ styles himself "the son of man", it is no contradiction to his being God; nor any objection to trust and confidence in him, as the Jew (z) suggests; for he is truly and properly God, as well as really man, having two natures, human and divine, united in his person; so that he is, as was prophesied of him, Emmanuel, God with us, in our nature, God manifested in the flesh: and since he is so, it cannot be unlawful to trust in him; which it would be indeed, was he a mere man. The Jews ought not to object to this name and title of the "Messiah, the son of man": since he is so called, as their own writers and commentators acknowledge, in (a) Psalm 80:17 and (b) Daniel 7:13. And whereas it is further urged against these words of Christ, that if he was God, why does he complain of want of place? Is not the whole world his, according to Psalm 24:1? It may be replied, that it is very true, that the whole world is his, nor could he be in want of anything, as God; but yet, as man, for our sakes he became "poor", that we "might be rich": nor should this be any difficulty with a Jew, when they themselves say, as some have thought, if he (the Messiah) should come, , "there's no place in which he can sit down" (c). Unless it be understood of Nebuchadnezzar, as the gloss explains it; let the learned inspect the place, and judge: the coming of the Messiah is immediately spoken of.

(z) R. Isaac Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 12. p. 403. (a) Targum & Aben Ezra in loc, Abarbinel Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 81. 2.((b) R. Jeshua in Aben Ezra in loc. & Saadiah Gaon & Jarchi in loc. Zohar in Gen. fol. 85. 4. (c) T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 96. 2.

And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have {e} nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

(e) Literally, shades made with boughs.

Matthew 8:20. Κατασκηνώσεις] Places of abode, where, as in their quarters, so to speak (Polybius, xi. 26. 5), they used to dwell. Comp. Matthew 13:32; Wis 9:8; Tob 1:4; 2Ma 14:35. Not nests specially.

ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρ.[431] Jesus, who thus designates Himself by this title (in Acts 7:56 Stephen does so likewise), means nothing else by it than “the Messiah,” according to its significant prophetic characteristic, which, assuming it to be known to those whom He addressed, the Lord claims for Himself. But this self-chosen title, the expression of His full Messianic consciousness, is not founded (Delitzsch, Kahnis, Dogm. I. p. 446), not even in the first place, at least (Keim), upon Psalm 8:5, seeing that evidence of a Messianic interpretation of this psalm is nowhere to be found in the New Testament (not even in Matthew 21:16). Still less again must we start with the well-known usage in Ezekiel 2:1; Ezekiel 3:1 (Weizsäcker), which has nothing to do with the Messianic idea. Much rather is it to be traced, and, as specially appears from Matthew 24:30, Matthew 26:64, to be solely traced, to the impressive account of that prophetic vision, Daniel 7:13, so familiar to the Jews (John 12:34), and vividly reflected in the pre-Christian Book of Enoch,—a vision in which the Messiah appears in the clouds, כְּבַר אֱנָשׁ, Ὡς ΥἹῸς ἈΝΘΡΏΠΟΥ, surrounded by the angels that stand beside the throne of the divine Judge, i.e. in a form which, notwithstanding His superhuman heavenly nature, is not different from that of an ordinary man.[432] Comp. Revelation 1:13; Revelation 14:14; Hengstenberg, Christol. III. 1, p. 10 f.; Schulze, alttest. Theol. II. p. 330 f.; Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 146 ff.; Schulze, p. 26 ff.; Weissenbach, p. 14 ff. The whole depended, then, on whether those who were present when Jesus named Himself the Son of man would understand this predicate in Daniel’s sense or not. In himself, however, this Song of Solomon of man, whose form had been delineated in Daniel’s vision, was Jesus Himself, as the historical reality, in so far as in His person He who there appeared in heavenly form had come down to earth. As often, therefore, as Jesus, in speaking of Himself, uses the words, “the Son of man,” He means nothing else than “the Son of man in that prophecy of Daniel,” i.e. the Messiah.[433] But, behind the consciousness which led Him to appropriate to Himself this designation from Daniel, there was, at the same time, the correlative element of His divine Sonship, the necessary (in answer to Schleiermacher) conviction, more decidedly brought out in John, of His divine pre-existence (as Logos), the δόξα of which He had left behind, in order, as the heavenly personage in Daniel’s vision, Ὡς ΥἹῸς ἈΝΘΡΏΠΟΥ, to appear in a form of existence not originally belonging to Him. And so far those are right, who, following the Fathers, have recognised (Grotius contradicted by Calovius) the Pauline ΚΈΝΩΣΙς in this self-designation, based as it is upon the consciousness of His pre-existent divinity. Comp. Chrysostom on John 3:13, where he says: Jesus has so named Himself ἈΠῸ Τῆς ἘΛΆΤΤΟΝΟς ΟὐΣΊΑς; and Augustine, de consens. ev. ii. 1, who observes: in this we are taught “quid misericorditer dignatus sit esse pro nobis.” It is to import ideas historically inconsistent with Daniel 7, when, in spite of the definite nature of the expression in Daniel 7:13, it has been so understood as if Christ meant thereby to describe Himself as the man in the highest sense of the word, as the second Adam, as the ideal of humanity (Herder, Böhme, Neander, Ebrard, Olshausen, Kahnis, Gess, Lange, Weisse, Beyschlag, Wittichen), or as the man toward whom, as its aim, the whole history of humanity since Adam has been tending (Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 81; Thomasius, Chr. Per. u. Werk, II. p. 15), or as the true man renewed after the image of God (Schenkel), as He who is filled with the whole fulness of God (Colani), and such like. Fritzsche supposes Jesus to have meant, filius ille parentum humanorum, qui nunc loquitur, homo ille, quem bene nostis, i.e. ego, and that, on the strength of Daniel 7:13, the Christians were the first to ascribe to the words the signification of Messiah. This would only be conceivable if ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου had happened to be a current self-designation in general, in which case it would not be necessary to presuppose a special historical reason why Jesus should so frequently have used the title in reference to Himself. Consequently Baur is likewise in error in thinking that the expression denotes the man as such who stands aloof from nothing human, and esteems nothing human foreign to himself. In like manner Holtzmann’s view, viz. that Jesus intends to describe His central place in the circle of the υἱοὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, is at variance with the original meaning of the phrase as used in Daniel, and rests upon inferences from expressions which Jesus, while designated as above, has used in reference to Himself, which predicates, however, cannot determine the meaning of the subject. This, at the same time, in answer to Weizsäcker, p. 428 ff., who thinks that by that expression Jesus had endeavoured to bring His followers to a higher spiritual conception of the Messiah, for whom it was possible to appear without royal splendour. In ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρ. He describes Himself as the great Messiah, and that in the form of a human life, but not specially as the lowly, self-humbling servant of humanity (Keim), or he who is intimately bound up with humanity (Gess, I. p. 186). According to the corresponding passages elsewhere, ideas of this sort are found first to emerge in predicates, and, as a rule, in the course of the context; which, however, is not the case here, where the main point is the contrast, as seen in the fact that He who is that son of man of the prophet’s vision has not where to lay His weary head. Finally, Holsten asserts what is contrary to the whole Christology of the New Testament, as well as irreconcilable with Romans 1:3 f., when he says that as Messiah of the αἰὼν οὗτος, Jesus is Daniel’s ΥἹῸς ΤΟῦ ἈΝΘΡΏΠΟΥ, and that as Messiah of the future αἰών He passes over into the form of existence belonging to the ΥἹῸς ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ, which latter He is in this present era of time, as being the Son of man, destined to become the Son of God. In the analysis of the phrase, τοῦ ἀνθρώπου is to be understood neither of Adam (Gregory Nazienzen, Erasmus) nor of the Virgin Mary (Euth. Zigabenus), but, according to Dan. l.c., to be taken generically; so that, as far as the essential meaning goes, it is in no way different from the anarthrous ἀνθρώπου in Daniel.

ΠΟῦ ΤῊΝ ΚΕΦ. ΚΛΊΝῌ] i.e. a resting-place, a sleeping-place which He can call His own. Of course an evidence of poverty (in contrast to the earthly aims of the scribe, which the eye of Jesus had fully penetrated), but of that which is connected with an unsettled life, which is not necessarily to be identified with want (John 13:29; John 12:5; John 19:23).

[431] For the idea of the Son of man, see Scholten, de appell. τοῦ υἱοῦ τ. ἀνθρωπ. 1809; Böhme, Geheimniss d. Menschensohnes, 1839; Gass, de utroque J. Chr. nomine, 1840; Nebe, üb. d. Begr. des Namens ὁ υἱὸς τ. ἀνθρ. 1860; Baur in Hilgenfeld’s Zeitschr. 1860, p. 274 ff.; Hilgenfeld in his Zeitschr. 1863, p. 330 ff.; Holtzmann in the same Zeitschr. 1865, p. 213 ff.; Schulze, vom Menschensohn u. v. Logos, 1867; Weissenbach, Jesu in regno coel. dignitas, 1868; Gess, Christi Person u. Werk, I. 1870, pp. 185 ff., 208 ff.; Keim, Gesch. Jesu, II. p. 65 ff.; Beyschlag, Christol. d. N. T. p. 9 ff.; Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 304 f., ed. 3; Wittichen, Idee des Menschen, 1868; Holsten, z. Ev. d. Paul. u. Petr. 1868, p. 179 ff.; Colani, J. Chr. et les croyances messian. p. 112 ff., ed. 2; Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 53 ff., ed. 2; Volkmar, d. Evangelien, 1870, p. 197 ff.

[432] Hitzig, Schenkel, Keim understand by “the son of man” in Daniel, not the Messiah, but the people of Israel. This, however, is unquestionably wrong. See, on the other hand, Ewald, Jahrb. III. p. 231 f. On the son of man in the Book of Enoch, see Dillmann, d. B. Henoch, p. xx. ff.; Ewald, Gesch. Chr. p. 147; Weizsäcker, p. 428; Weissenbach, p. 16 ff.; Wittichen, Idee des Menschen, p. 66 ff. On insufficient grounds, Hilgenfeld is disposed to delete ch. 37–71 of the Book of Enoch as a Christian interpolation.

[433] Mark 8:27 ff., where the settled faith of the disciples is contrasted with the views of the people, is plainly a very decisive passage (in answer to Weisse, Evangelienfrage, p. 212 f.) in favour of the Messianic nature of the expression; for in ver. 31 of that chapter ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου is evidently identical with ὁ Χριστός, ver. 30. On John 12:34, see the notes on that passage. Comp. also on Matthew 16:13, which passage, according to Hofmann, Weiss. u. Erf. II. p. 19, Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 79, and Kahnis, is also supposed to contradict our explanation of the υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. Only let it be carefully observed that the expression, “the son of man,” is not directly synonymous with “the Messiah,” but acquired this definite meaning for others only when first they came to refer it, in Daniel’s sense, to Jesus, so that it did not immediately involve the idea of “the Messiah,” but came to do so through the application, on the part of believers, of Daniel’s prophetic vision. But we must avoid ascribing to this self-designation any purpose of concealment (Ritschl in d. theolog. Jahrb. 1851, p. 514; Weisse, Wittichen, Holtzmann, Colani, Hilgenfeld), all the more that Jesus so styles Himself in the hearing of His disciples (already in John 1:51). Comp. with Mark 2:8. And He so names Himself in the consciousness that in Him the above prediction has been fulfilled. For those, indeed, who did not share this belief, this designation of Himself continued, as well it might, to be mysterious and unintelligible, as Matthew 16:13. But to suppose that Jesus has chosen it “to avoid the consequences of a haphazard Messianic title” (Holtzmann), would be to impute a calculating reserve which would scarcely be consistent with His character.

Matthew 8:20, λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ι. Jesus distrusted the class, and the man, who might be better than the average, still he was a scribe. Christ’s feeling was not an unreasoning or invincible prejudice, but a strong suspicion and aversion justified by insight and experience. Therefore He purposely paints the prospect in sombre colours to prevent a connection which could come to no good.—αἱ ἀλώπεκες, etc.: a notable saying; one of the outstanding logia of Jesus, in style and spirit characteristic; not querulous, as if lamenting His lot, but highly coloured to repel an undesirable follower. Foxes have holes, and birds resting places, roosts (not nests, which are used only for breeding), butὁ δὲ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου: a remarkable designation occurring here for the first time. It means much for the Speaker, who has chosen it deliberately, in connection with private reflections, at whose nature we can only guess by study of the many occasions on which the name is used. Here it seems to mean the man simpliciter (son of man = man in Hebrew or Syriac), the unprivileged Man: not only no exception to the rule of ordinary human experience in the way of being better off, but rather an exception in the way of being worse off; for the rule is, that all living creatures, even beasts, and still more men, have their abodes, however humble. If it be Messianic, it is in a hidden enigmatical way. The whole speech is studiously enigmatical, and calculated to chill the scribe’s enthusiasm. Was Jesus speaking in parables here, and hinting at something beyond the literal privations of His life as a wanderer with no fixed home? The scribe had his spiritual home in Rabbinical traditions, and would not be at ease in the company of One who had broken with them. Jesus had no place where He could lay His head in the religion of His time (vide my With Open Face, chap. 9).

20. the Son of man] The origin of this expression as a Messianic title is found in Daniel 7:13 : “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with (in) the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him before him.” Hence to the Jews it would be a familiar designation of the Messiah—the King whose “everlasting dominion” is described in the next verse (Daniel 7:14). (See Dr Pusey, On Daniel, Lecture ii.)

The Hebraism may be considered in the light of similar expressions, “sons of light,” “son of perdition,” “son of peace,” &c., in all of which the genitive denotes a quality inherent in the subject. Sons of light=the spiritually enlightened, sons of wisdom=the wise. By the Son of man then is meant He who is essentially man, who took man’s nature upon Him, who is man’s representative before God, shewing the possibilities of purified human nature, and so making atonement practicable.

The title “Son of man,” so frequently used by our Lord of Himself, is not applied to Him except by Stephen (Acts 7:56), “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” It occurs also in the Vision of St John with a direct reference to the words of Daniel (Revelation 1:13; Revelation 14:14).

Matthew 8:20. Καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς, κ.τ.λ., and Jesus saith unto him, etc.) Our Lord does not repulse this man, but he proposes a condition by which to correct the view with which he made the offer respecting comfort or wealth, or even the power of working miracles.—ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἁνθρώπου, the Son of man) See Gnomon on ch. Matthew 16:13.—οὐκ ἔχει, κ.τ.λ., hath not, etc.) O admirable poverty and endurance, combined with perpetual pilgrimage.[378]

[378] Neither had He a house of His own, nor a fixed dwelling anywhere, Mark 1:45. The Scribe regarded it as an easier matter than it really was, to follow Him whithersoever He was going.—Harm., p. 269.

Verse 20. - And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes. The Asiatic fox (Vulpes corsac) is decidedly smaller than our European species, but has the same habits. And the birds of the air (Revised Version, heaven) have nests. So the Old Latin and the common text of the Vulgate (nidos), but birds do not generally live in nests, nor is "nests" so natural a meaning for κατασκηνώσεις as" shelters" (cf. Trench, loc. cit.). The renderings in the true text of the Vulgate (tabernacula), and in Old Latin k, and Cyprian (devorsoria) are interesting. Revised Version margin has, "Gk. lodging places" (cf. Matthew 13:32 and parallel pas sages). But the Son of man. The original phrase, "one like unto a son of man," was used in Daniel 7:13, apparently as a symbol of the Jewish nation, to which was to be given supreme power. There is no evidence that it was understood of Messiah before our Lord employed it, but rather the re verse (cf. Bishop Westcott, on John 1:51, and especially Professor Stanton, 'Jewish and Christian Messiah,' pp. 109, 239, sqq.; yet see Professor Sunday, in Expositor, January, 1891; cf. further, Matthew 9:6, note). Our Lord uses it here for the sake of the contrast it suggested to the lower creation. Man, the head of creation (as none would acknowledge more fully than this student of the Law), has in the person of the ideal Man not even the luxuries which correspond to those enjoyed by beasts and birds. Such was the love and self-abasement of the Restorer of creation (Romans 8:21). Hath not where to lay his head. He has no home to call his own. Matthew 8:20Holes (φωλεοὺς)

Wyc. has ditches, with burrows in explanation.

Nests (κατασκηνώσεις)

Only here and in the parallel, Luke 9:58. Nests is too limited. The word, derived from σκηνή, a tent, has the more general meaning of shelter or habitation. In classical Greek it is used of an encampment. The nest is not to the bird what the hole is to the fox, a permanent dwelling-place, since the bird frequents the nest only during incubation. The Rev. retains nests, but puts lodging-places in the margin.

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