on Matthew 9 :36
Moved with compassion - Εσπλαγχνισθη, from σπλαγχνον, a bowel. The Jews esteemed the bowels to be the seat of sympathy and the tender passions, and so applied the organ to the sense.
Επλαγχνιζομαι signifies, says Mintert, "to be moved with pity from the very inmost bowels. It is an emphatic word, signifying a vehement affection of commiseration, by which the bowels and especially the heart is moved." Both this verb and the noun seem to be derived from σπαω, to draw; the whole intestinal canal, in the peristaltic motion of the bowels, being drawn, affected, and agitated with the sight of a distressed or miserable object. Pity increases this motion of the bowels, and produces considerable pain: hence σπλαγχνιζομαι, to have the bowels moved, signifies to feel pity or compassion at seeing the miseries of others.
They fainted - Instead of εκλελυμενοι, fainted, all the best MSS., versions, and fathers, read εσκυλμενοι, grieved and melancholy. Kypke says σκυλλειν properly signifies, to pluck off the hair, as persons do in extreme sorrow or distress. The margin says, They were tired and lay down.
And were scattered abroad - Ερριμμενοι, thrown down, or, all along. They were utterly neglected as to the interests of their souls, and rejected by the proud and disdained Pharisees. This people (οχλος, this mob) that knoweth not the law, is accursed, John 7:49. Thus those execrable men spoke of the souls that God had made, and of whom they should have been the instructors.
Those teachers, in name, have left their successors behind them; but, as in the days of Christ, so now, God has in his mercy rescued the flock out of the hands of those who only fed upon their flesh, and clothed themselves with their wool. The days in which a man was obliged to give his property to what was called The Church, for the salvation of his soul, Christ being left out of the question, are, thank God, nearly over and gone. Jesus is the true Shepherd; without him there is nothing but fainting, fatigue, vexation, and dispersion. O that we may be led out and in by him, and find pasture!
on Matthew 9 :36
But when he saw the multitudes - That followed him from place to place. When he saw their anxiety to be instructed and saved.
He was moved with compassion on them - He pitied them.
Because they fainted - The word used here refers to the weariness and fatigue which results from labor and being burdened. He saw the people burdened with the rites of religion and the doctrines of the Pharisees; sinking down under their ignorance and the weight of their traditions; neglected by those who ought to have been enlightened teachers; and scattered and driven out without care and attention. With great beauty he compares them to sheep wandering without a shepherd. Judea was a land of flocks and herds. The faithful shepherd, by day and night, was with his flock. He defended it, made it to lie down in green pastures, and led it beside the still waters, Psalm 23:2. Without his care the sheep would stray away. They were in danger of wild beasts. They panted in the summer sun, and they did not know where the cooling shade and stream was. So, said the Saviour, is it with this people. No wonder that the compassionate Redeemer was moved with pity.
on Matthew 9 :36