Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin…
The expression may be more precisely rendered, "strain out a gnat," and then there may be a reference intended to the custom that prevailed, among the more strict and accurate Jews, of straining their wine and other drinks, lest they should inadvertently swallow a gnat, or some other unclean insect: supposing that thereby they would transgress (Leviticus 11:20, 23, 41, 42). A traveller in North Africa, where Eastern customs are very jealously retained, reports noticing that a Moorish soldier who accompanied him, when he drank, always unfolded the end of his turban, and placed it over the mouth of his bota, drinking through the muslin to strain out the gnats, whose larvae swarm in the water of that country.
Parallel VersesKJV: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
WEB: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faith. But you ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone.