on Matthew 10 :29
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? - Ασσαριου. A Roman As was one-tenth of a Denarius, which was about sevenpence-halfpenny, and one-tenth of sevenpence-halfpenny makes just three farthings.
The word ασσαριον, which we translate farthing, is found among the rabbins in the word עיסר aisar, which, according to Maimonides, is equal to four grains of silver, but is used among them to express a thing of the lowest, or almost no value. Our Lord seems to have borrowed the expression, One of them shall not fall on the ground, etc., from his own countrymen. In Bereshith Rabba, sec. 79, fol. 77, it is said: In the time in which the Jews were compelled to apostatize, Rab. Simeon, Ben. Jochai, and Eliezer his son hid themselves in a cave, and lived upon dry husks. After thirteen years they came out; and, sitting at the mouth of the cave, they observed a fowler stretching his nets to catch birds; and as often as the Bath Kol said דימוס dimos, escape! the bird escaped; but when it said ספקולא spicula, a dart, the bird was taken. Then the rabbin said, Even a bird is not taken without Heaven, i.e. without the will of God, how much less the life of man! The doctrine intended to be inculcated is this: The providence of God extends to the minutest things; every thing is continually under the government and care of God, and nothing occurs without his will or permission; if then he regards sparrows, how much more man, and how much more still the soul that trusts in him!
Fall on the ground - Instead of επι την γην, Origen, Clement, Chrysostom, Juvencus, and six MSS. of Mathai, read εις την παγιδα, into a snare. Bengel conjectures that it might have been written at first, επι την παγην; that the first syllable πα being lost out of the word, γην, the earth, instead of παγην, snare, became the common reading.
Without your Father - Without the will of your Father: της βουλης, the will or counsel, is added here by Origen, Coptic, all the Arabic, latter Persic, Gothic, all the Itala except two; Tert., Iren., Cypr., Novatian, and other Latin fathers. If the evidence be considered as insufficient to entitle it to admission into the text, let it stand there as a supplementary italic word, necessary to make the meaning of the place evident.
All things are ordered by the counsel of God. This is a great consolation to those who are tried and afflicted. The belief of an all-wise, all-directing Providence, is a powerful support under the most grievous accidents of life. Nothing escapes his merciful regards, not even the smallest things of which he may be said to be only the creator and preserver; how much less those of whom he is the Father, Savior, and endless felicity! See on Luke 12:7 (note).
on Matthew 10 :29
Are not two sparrows ... - He encourages them not to fear by two striking considerations: first, that God takes care of sparrows, the smallest and least valuable of birds; and, secondly, by the fact that God numbers even the hairs of the head. The argument is, that if He takes care of birds of the least value, if He regards so small a thing as the hair of the head, and numbers it, He will certainly protect and provide for you. You need not, therefore, fear what man can do to you.
Sparrows - The sparrows are well-known birds in Syria. They are small; they are found in great numbers; they are tame, intrusive, and nestle everywhere. "They are extremely pertinacious in asserting their right of possession, and have not the least reverence for any place or thing. David alludes to these characteristics of the sparrow in Psalm 84:1-12, when he complains that they had appropriated even the altars of God for their nests. Concerning himself, he says, I watch, and am as a sparrow upon the housetop, Psalm 102:7. When one of them has lost its mate - a matter of everyday occurrence - he will sit on the housetop alone, and lament by the hour his sad bereavement. These birds are snared and caught in great numbers, but, as they are small, and not much relished for food, five sparrows may still be sold for two farthings; and when we see their countless numbers, and the eagerness with which they are destroyed as a worthless nuisance, we can better appreciate the assurance that our heavenly Father, who takes care of them, so that not one can fall to the ground without his notice, will surely take care of us, who are of more value than many sparrows." - "The Land and the Book" (Thomson), vol. i. pp. 52, 53.
Farthing - See the notes at Matthew 5:26.
Without your Father - That is, God, your Father, guides and directs its fall. It falls only with His permission, and where He chooses.
on Matthew 10 :29
10:29-30 The particular providence of God is another reason for your not fearing man. For this extends to the very smallest things. And if he has such care over the most inconsiderable creatures, how much more will he take care of you, (provided you confess him before men, before powerful enemies of the truth,) and that not only in this life, but in the other also? Luke 12:7.