John 12:7
Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying has she kept this.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) Against the day of my burying hath she kept this.—The majority of the better MSS. read, “that she keep this against the day of My burying.” Comp. Matthew 26:12 and Mark 14:8. The thought here differs from that in the earlier Gospels, and the common reading has therefore been adapted to harmonise with it. Taking the better text, the meaning here is, “Let her alone, that she may keep this for the day of My embalmment.” She had taken a pound of ointment (John 12:3) and had anointed His feet. This reminds Him of the embalmment of the dead, which had been but lately in that very place, and in the person of one sitting with them, present to their minds. Her act is significant of the future which is approaching. Let them not stay that deed of love. Before the week ends His body will be carried to the sepulchre. The preparations for the grave have already been begun.

12:1-11 Christ had formerly blamed Martha for being troubled with much serving. But she did not leave off serving, as some, who when found fault with for going too far in one way, peevishly run too far another way; she still served, but within hearing of Christ's gracious words. Mary gave a token of love to Christ, who had given real tokens of his love to her and her family. God's Anointed should be our Anointed. Has God poured on him the oil of gladness above his fellows, let us pour on him the ointment of our best affections. In Judas a foul sin is gilded over with a plausible pretence. We must not think that those do no acceptable service, who do it not in our way. The reigning love of money is heart-theft. The grace of Christ puts kind comments on pious words and actions, makes the best of what is amiss, and the most of what is good. Opportunities are to be improved; and those first and most vigorously, which are likely to be the shortest. To consult to hinder the further effect of the miracle, by putting Lazarus to death, is such wickedness, malice, and folly, as cannot be explained, except by the desperate enmity of the human heart against God. They resolved that the man should die whom the Lord had raised to life. The success of the gospel often makes wicked men so angry, that they speak and act as if they hoped to obtain a victory over the Almighty himself.Had the bag - The word translated "bag" is compounded of two words, meaning "tongue," and "to keep or preserve." It was used to denote the bag in which musicians used to keep the tongues or reeds of their pipes when traveling. Hence, it came to mean any bag or purse in which travelers put their money or their most precious articles. The disciples appear to have had such a bag or purse in common, in which they put whatever money they had, and which was designed especially for the poor, Luke 8:3; John 13:29; Acts 2:44. The keeping of this, it seems, was intrusted to Judas; and it is remarkable that the only one among them who appears to have been naturally avaricious should have received this appointment. It shows us that every man is tried according to his native propensity. This is the object of trial - to bring out man's native character; and every man will find opportunity to do evil according to his native disposition, if he is inclined, to it.

And bare ... - The word translated "bare" means literally "to carry as a burden." Then it means "to carry away," as in John 20:15; "If thou hast borne him hence." Hence, it means to carry away as a thief does, and this is evidently its meaning here. It has this sense often in classic writers. Judas was a thief and stole what was put into the bag. The money he desired to be entrusted to him, that he might secretly enrich himself. It is clear, however, that the disciples did not at this time know that this was his character, or they would have remonstrated against him. They learned it afterward. We may learn here:

1. that it is not a new thing for members of the church to be covetous. Judas was so before them.

2. that such members will be those who complain of the great waste in spreading the gospel.

3. that this deadly, mean, and grovelling passion will work all evil in a church. It brought down the curse of God on the children of Israel in the case of Achan Joshua 7, and it betrayed our Lord to death. It has often since brought blighting on the church; and many a time it has betrayed the cause of Christ, and drowned men in destruction and perdition, 1 Timothy 6:9.

7. said Jesus, Let her alone, against the day of my burying hath she done this—not that she thought of His burial, much less reserved any of her nard to anoint her dead Lord. But as the time was so near at hand when that office would have to be performed, and she was not to have that privilege even alter the spices were brought for the purpose (Mr 16:1), He lovingly regards it as done now. See Poole on "Jon 12:3" Then said Jesus, let her alone,.... Do not disturb her in what she does, or hinder her, or blame her for it:

against the day of my burial hath she kept this; this ointment, which she now poured on Christ; it was usual to embalm the dead with ointments and spices: Christ suggests, that the time of his death and burial were nigh, and that this woman had kept this ointment till now, for such a purpose; and whereas she would not be able to make use of it at the time of his interment, she had embalmed his body with it now, beforehand; though without any knowledge of his death, or any such intention and design in her, but the Holy Ghost so directing her: for this is not to be understood of her keeping any part of it till that time, which it does not appear she did.

{2} Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.

(2) This extraordinary anointing, which was a sign, is allowed by God so that he may witness that he will not be worshipped with outward pomp or costly service, but with alms.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 12:7-8. According to the Recepta, Jesus says: “She has fulfilled a higher purpose with the spikenard ointment (αὐτό); in order to embalm me with it to-day (as though I were already dead), has she (not given it out for the poor, but) reserved it.” Comp. on Matthew 26:12. According to the correct reading, however (see the critical notes): “Let her alone, that she may preserve it (this ointment, of which she has just used a portion for the anointing of my feet, not give it away for the poor, but) for the day of my embalmment” (for behoof of that). Nonnus aptly remarks: ὄφρα φυλάξῃ σώματος ἡμετέρου κειμήλιον, εἰσόκεν ἔλθῃ ἡμετέρων κτερέων ἐπιτύμβιος ὥρη. Comp. also Baeumlein. According to this view, the ἡμέρα τοῦ ἐνταφ. is the actual, impending day of embalmment, in opposition to which, according to the Recepta, the present day of the anointing of the feet would be represented proleptically as that of the anointing of the corpse. The thought of the Recepta is that of the Synoptics; the Johannean carries with it the supposition of originality, and, comparing the thoughtful significance of the two, the Johannean is more in harmony with the circumstance that Mary anointed the feet merely, and by no means resembles a faulty correction (Hengstenberg, Godet). The circumstance that, afterwards, the corpse of Jesus was not actually anointed (Mark 16:1), can, in view of an utterance so rich and deep in feeling, afford no ground for deserting the simple meaning of the words.

τηρεῖν is to be explained, agreeably to the context (comp. John 2:10), as an antithesis to ἐπράθη, John 12:5, but not by the quite arbitrary assumption that the ointment had remained over from the burial of Lazarus (Kuinoel and several others); but to understand τηρήσῃ of the past; that she may have preserved it (B. Crusius, Ebrard) is grammatically wrong.[106] According to Ewald, ΤΗΡΕῖΝ is to be understood, as elsewhere, of festal usages (John 9:16): “Let her so observe this on the day of my burial,” so that Jesus would have that day already regarded as equivalent to the day of His burial, when such a loving custom was suitable. But as regards τηρεῖν, see what precedes; instead of the indefinite ΑὐΤΌ, it, however, τοῦτο was at least to have been expected.

John 12:8. Reason of the statement introduced with ἽΝΑ, Κ.Τ.Λ.

ΜΕΘʼ ἙΑΥΤῶΝ
] in your own neighbourhood, so that you have sufficiently immediate opportunity to give alms to such. For the rest, see on Matthew 26:11.

[106] The modification of this rendering in Luthardt: “Let her rest as regards the fact that she has kept the ointment for me with the design (even though unconscious) of preserving it for the representation, beforehand, of the day of my embalmment,” is a grammatical impossibility. Similarly, however, Bengel.7. hath she kept] The large majority of authorities, including the best, read that she may keep, and the whole will run: Let her alone that she may preserve it for the day of My burial. The simplest interpretation of this is ‘Let her preserve what remains of it; not, however, to be sold for the poor, but to be used for My burial, which is near at hand.’ The text has probably been altered to bring it more into harmony with the Synoptists, with whom the present anointing appears as anointing for the burial by anticipation. The word for ‘burial’ or ‘entombment’ occurs only here and Mark 14:8.John 12:7. Εἶπεν, said) Jesus does not openly reprove the mind of Judas: He rather marks [stigmatises] the thing itself.—ἡμέραν) This very day[not “against the day of My burying,” as if it were future]: at that time was the day;[312] Matthew 26:12, notes. His death, and the burial itself, was in six days after (comp. John 12:1) about to follow this present ἘΝΤΑΦΙΑΣΜΌΝ, preparation for the sepulchre. See Ord. Temp. p. 263, etc. [Ed. ii. 228].—ἵνατηρήσῃ)[313] Understand, this has been done. Let her alone: this has been done, that she might keep it, etc. So ἵνα, ch. John 9:3, etc. [ΟὔΤΕ ΟὟΤΟς ἭΜΑΡΤΕΝ, ἈΛΛʼ ἽΝΑ ΦΑΝΕΡΩΘῇ ΤᾺ ἜΡΓΑ ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ]. The ΔΙΑΤΊ, why, which had been started as an objection by Judas, is aptly repelled [by this ἵνα τηρήσῃ εἰς ἡμέραν τ. ἐνταφιασμοῦ]), and at the same time Judas is warned; for his treachery waxed stronger and stronger until it eventuated in the Saviour’s death.—ΤΗΡΉΣῌ, that she might keep it) So there was no ‘waste.’ She had been previously prepared to contribute it to the poor, if it should be needed; but she was guided by the Divine counsel, that she should keep it for the object for which it was needed, although she herself was unconscious of it.

[312] Of the ἐνταφιασμός, not the committal to the sepulchre, but the preparation of the body for it.—E. and T.

[313] This reading, which had been placed by the margin of the Ed. Maj. as it were in equilibrium [the arguments being regarded as equally balanced on both sides], has obtained the preference in Ed. 2 and Vers. Germ.—E. B. [BDQLXabc Vulg. have ἵνα τηρήσῃ: A and Rec. Text, τετήρηκεν.—E. and T.]Verse 7. - The two readings of the text must here be compared with one another and with the synoptic narrative. The T.R. reads, Let her alone: unto the day of the preparation for my burial she has carefully guarded this precious perfume. This is, in one sense, that very day, and she has found out the solemn fact in a way in which the disciples had as yet failed to do. With this agrees the language of the synoptists," Why trouble ye the woman? she hath wrought a good work on me;... she hath done that which was possible to her (ο{ ἐσχεν ἐποίησεν)" of Mark 14:8. In fact, Mark expressly conveys this thought - "she has anticipated the anointing of my body for the burial." If we have the direct testimony of Mark (i.e. Peter), Christ must have expressed himself thus. Matthew also in different words records the same pathetic and subtle thought: "For in that she poured [cast] this ointment upon my body, she did it to prepare me for burial" (John 26:12) Hengstenberg, Godet, and Stier abide by the reading of the T.R.; but the principal manuscripts, in most powerful combination, have led Lachmann, Alford, Tischendorf, and Westcott and Hort to read here, Ἵνα εἰς τὴν ἡμέραν τοῦ ἐνταφιασμοῦ τηρήση αὐτό, "In order that she may keep or guard this for the day of my burial." Westcott says that the synoptists imply rather, by the word κατέχεεν, that She had not already consumed the whole of the ointment. Meyer, with this text, translates, "Let her alone, that she may preserve it (this ointment, of which she has just poured some over my feet) for the day of my embalmment." This certainly seems inconsistent with the complaint of the disciples or of Judas, at the apparently superfluous expenditure, and would compel us to restrict the abed to the unused portion. The advocates of the T.R. reading say that it represents the original text, which has been altered by criticism arising from misunderstanding of the idea of the day of burial having ideally arrived; but why did they not alter on the same principle the language of the synoptists? The advocates of Lachmann's text say that it has been altered by copyists, to bring it into accord with the text of the synoptists. Lange justifies the Revised Version, "Suffer her to keep it against the day of my burying," and puts it thus: "Permit her to keep it [i.e. to have kept the ointment which she might have used at the burial of Lazarus] for the day of my burial," now ideally present in the outbreak of Judas's devilish malignity. So virtually Luthardt and Baumgarten-Crusius. Godet argues that this is forced and ungrammatical. But there is this advantage in it, that it brings the language into much closer relation with the synoptists. Westcott prefers the idea of Meyer. The older view is to me far mere satisfactory. Edersheim (2:35) adds to this, "Mary may have had that alabaster box from early days, before she had learned to serve Christ. When she understood that decease of which he constantly spake, she may have put it aside, "kept it," "against the day of his burying." And now the decisive hour is come. Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this (ἄφες αὐτήν εἰς τὴν ἡμέραν τοῦ ἐνταφιασμοῦ)

This passage presents great difficulty. According to the reading just given, the meaning is that Mary had kept the ointment, perhaps out of the store provided for Lazarus' burial, against the day of Christ's preparation for the tomb. The word ἐνταφιασμοῦ is wrongly rendered burial. It means the preparation for burial, the laying out, or embalmment. It is explained by John 19:40, as the binding in linen cloths with spices, "as the manner of the Jews is ἐνταφιάζειν to prepare for burial," not to bury. It is the Latin pollingere, to wash and prepare a corpse for the funeral pile. Hence the name of the servant to whom this duty was committed was pollinctor. He was a slave of the libitinarius, or furnishing undertaker. Mary, then, has kept the ointment in order to embalm Jesus with it on this day, as though He were already dead. This is the sense of the Synoptists. Matthew (Matthew 26:12) says, she did it with reference to my preparation for burial. Mark, she anticipated to anoint.

The reading of the Received Text is, however, disputed. The best textual critics agree that the perfect, τετήρηκεν, she hath kept, was substituted for the original reading τηρήσῃ, the aorist, she may keep, or may have kept, by some one who was trying to bring the text into harmony with Mark 14:8; not understanding how she could keep for His burial that which she poured out now. Some, however, urge the exact contrary, namely, that the perfect is the original reading, and that the aorist is a correction by critics who were occupied with the notion that no man is embalmed before his death, or who failed to see how the ointment could have been kept already, as it might naturally be supposed to have been just purchased. (So Godet and Field.)

According to the corrected reading, ἵνα, in order that, is inserted after ἄφες αὐτὴν, let her alone, or suffer her; τετήρηκεν, hath kept, is changed to τηρήσῃ, may keep, and the whole is rendered, suffer her to keep it against the day of my burying. So Rev.

But it is difficult to see why Christ should desire to have kept for His embalmment what had already been poured out upon Him. Some, as Meyer, assume that only a part of the ointment was poured out, and refer αὐτό, it, to the part remaining. "Let her alone, that she may not give away to the poor this ointment, of which she has just used a portion for the anointing of my feet, but preserve it for the day of my embalmming." Canon Westcott inclines to this view of the use of only a part. But the inference from the synoptic narratives can be only that the whole contents of the flask were used, and the mention of the pound by John, and the charge of waste are to the same effect. There is nothing whatever to warrant a contrary supposition.

Others explain, suffer her to have kept it, or suffer that she may have kept it. So Westcott, who says: "The idiom by which a speaker throws himself into the past, and regards what is done as still a purpose, is common to all languages."

Others, again, retain the meaning let her alone, and render ἵνα, in order that, with an ellipsis, thus: "Let her alone: (she hath not sold her treasure) in order that she might keep it," etc.

The old rendering, as A.V., is the simplest, and gives a perfectly intelligible and consistent sense. If, however, this must be rejected, it seems, on the whole, best to adopt the marginal reading of the Rev., with the elliptical ἵνα: let her alone: it was that she might keep it. This preserves the prohibitory force of ἄφες αὐτήν, which is implied in Matthew 26:10, and is unquestionable in Mark 14:6. Compare Matthew 15:14; Matthew 19:14; Matthew 27:49.

Note that the promise of the future repute of this act (Matthew 26:13; Mark 14:9) is omitted by the only Evangelist who records Mary's name in connection with it.

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