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Matthew 15:1-20 Clean, Unclean & Religious Hypocrisy

Knowledge of being able to distinguish between clean and unclean animals was revealed to mankind before the days of Noah. The Commandments of YeHoVaH given to Moses to give to the Hebrew Israelites, and those that join themselves to YeHoVaH’s people, expanded clean and unclean things beyond animals to people and to the land. Specific Instructions to follow were given to keep His people from becoming defiled and defiling others.

The religious leaders expanded even further YeHoVaH’s Laws pertaining to clean and unclean. They created their own laws on the subjects that they taught which ultimately made the Torah/Law of no effect. By adding to the Torah/Law, the religious leaders were able to subjugate YeHoVaH’s people into bondage to their religious systems.

In this teaching, Yeshua and His disciples have a confrontation with some Pharisees and teachers of the law who tried to subject Yeshua and His disciples to their religious laws. Join us in this encounter as Yeshua exposes the religious leaders’ commandments on clean and unclean and declares that their commandments lead to vain worship and religious hypocrisy.

Mt 15:1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, 

Mt 15:2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. 

The disciples were eating bread. Bread is not unclean; therefore, the issue here is not what they were eating, the issue is that they were transgressing the tradition of the elders.

Transgress – 3845 παραβαίνω parabaino {par-ab-ah'-ee-no} 

Meaning:  1) to go by the side of 2) to go past or pass over without touching a thing 3) to overstep, neglect, violate, transgress 4) so to go past as to turn aside from 4a) to depart, leave, be turned from 5) one who abandons his trust 

Usage:  AV - transgression 3, fall by transgression 1; 4

Tradition – 3862 παράδοσις paradosis {par-ad'-os-is} 

Meaning:  1) giving up, giving over 1a) the act of giving up 1b) the surrender of cities 2) a giving over which is done by word of mouth or in writing, i.e. tradition by instruction, narrative, precept, etc. 2a) objectively, that which is delivered, the substance of a teaching

2b) of the body of precepts, esp. ritual, which in the opinion of the later Jews were orally delivered by Moses and orally transmitted in unbroken succession to subsequent generations, which precepts, both illustrating and expanding the written law, as they did were to be obeyed with equal reverence 

Usage:  AV - tradition 12, ordinance 1; 13

The transgression of the traditions of the elders was to the Pharisees the same as transgressing the Law of YeHoVaH.

  • The traditions were oral commandments created in Babylon and handed down from generation to generation by the elders. It was a formally written codex around 200 AD and today is called the Talmud. 

  • Judaism, the religion of the Jews, is taught from the Talmud which is an expansion of the Torah; thus, making the Torah void. 

  • The Talmud pits the Pharisees’ commandments against YeHoVaH’s Commandments.

  • The Talmud creates man-made worship that is against True Worship as Isaiah addresses and Yeshua refers to in verse 9.

  • Yeshua corrects the Pharisees for elevating their traditions to be equal to YeHoVaH’s Law and by doing so made their traditions more important than YeHoVaH’s Law.

Mt 15:3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? 

Yeshua addresses a particular transgression.

Mt 15:4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. 

The Pharisees rewrote and changed the Law which in essence made YeHoVaH’s Law void.

Mt 15:5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; 

Gift – 1435 δῶρον doron {do'-ron} 

Meaning:  1) a gift, present 1a) gifts offered in expression of honour 1a1) of sacrifices and other gifts offered to God 1a2) of money cast into the treasury for the purposes of the temple and for the support of the poor 2) the offering of a gift or of gifts

Usage:  AV - gift 18, offering 1; 19

Mark called the gift Corban. 

Mk 7:11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever  thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 

2878 κορβᾶν korban {kor-ban'} and κορβανάς korbanas {kor-ban-as'} 

Meaning:  1) a gift offered (or to be offered) to God 2) the sacred treasury 

Usage:  AV - treasury 1, corban 1; 2

Mt 15:6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

In Mark, Yeshua addressed other traditions the Pharisees taught as commandments.

Mk 7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 

Mk 7:9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 

Mk 7:10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 

Mk 7:11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. 

Mk 7:12 And ye suffer him no more to do aught for his father or his mother; 

Mk 7:13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

Basically, the Pharisees taught that if the people used the money, they were to support their parents with, and give that money to the treasury as a gift, the people were freed from the Commandment to honor their parents. They could neglect their parents’ needs. 

As a former Pharisee, Paul taught this after his conversion:

1Ti 5:7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless. 

1Ti 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.


Mt 15:7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 

Hypocrites – 5273 ὑποκριτής hupokrites {hoop-ok-ree-tace'} 

Meaning:  1) one who answers, an interpreter 2) an actor, stage player 3) a dissembler, pretender, hypocrite 

Usage:  AV - hypocrite 20; 20

Mt 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 

Mt 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 

Isaiah prophesied:

Isa 29:13 The Lord says: 

“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. NIV

ISA 29:13 Then the Lord said, 

“Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, NASV

Isa 29:13 And the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw nigh unto me, and with their mouth and with their lips to honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men which hath been taught them; ASV

Isa 29:13 And the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips but remove their hearts and minds far from Me, and their fear and reverence for Me are a commandment of men that is learned by repetition [without any thought as to the meaning], AMP

Yeshua called the multitude and explained what He meant to the people as His disciples listened.


Mt 15:10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: 


Understand – 4920 συνίημι suniemi {soon-ee'-ay-mee} 

Meaning:  1) to set or bring together 1a) in a hostile sense, of combatants 2) to put (as it were) the perception with the thing perceived 2a) to set or join together in the mind 

Usage:  AV - understand 24, consider 1, be wise 1; 26

Mt 15:11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. 

Defileth – 2840 κοινόω koinoo {koy-no'-o} 

Meaning:  1) to make common 1a) to make (Levitically) unclean, render unhallowed, defile, profane 1b) to declare or count unclean 

Origin:  from 2839; TDNT - 3:809,447; v

Usage:  AV - defile 11, call common 2, pollute 1, unclean 1; 15

Mt 15:12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?  

Mt 15:13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. 

Remember the parable of the tares.

Mt 15:14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, 

The Pharisees were blind and the people who followed them were blind. The people who follow Messianic Judaism are doing the same thing.

Mt 15:15 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. 

Mt 15:16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? 

801 ἀσύνετος asunetos {as-oon'-ay-tos} 

Meaning:  1) unintelligent, without understanding, stupid 

Usage:  AV - without understanding 3, foolish 2; 5

Yeshua questions the intelligence of His disciples. He explained it and they still didn’t get it. He explains again.

Mt 15:17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? 

What you eat becomes waste and you discharge it from your body.

Mt 15:18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 

The words you speak can defile you because they expose what is in your heart.

Yeshua said, in reference to the Pharisees, …

Mt 12:34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.


Mt 15:19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 

Mt 15:20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

Does eating pork make you unclean?

For how long?

Does eating shellfish make you unclean?

For how long?

That which does not have fins and scales is unclean to us but does not render us unclean unless we touch it after it dies on its own.

We are not to touch their carcasses (dead bodies), that would make us unclean even if it is a clean animal that died on its own.

Lev 11:39 And if any beast, of which ye may eat, die; he that toucheth the carcase thereof shall be unclean until the even. 

Lev 11:40 And he that eateth of the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: he also that beareth the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even.

Carcase - 5038 N@belah {neb-ay-law'} 

Meaning:  1) carcass, corpse

of humans, idols, animals

Usage:  AV - carcase 36, dead body 5, dieth of itself 4, dead of itself 1, died 1, body 1

You can touch a live unclean animal and remain clean, but not a dead one that dies own its own. 

Touching a live unclean animal does not render you unclean.

Eating the flesh of an unclean animal does not make you unclean.

If we follow the Commandments, we would not eat anything unclean because we are to detest it as an abomination. 

If we don’t detest it, as the abomination YeHoVaH calls it, then people will eat the abomination.

Those who eat the things YeHoVaH calls an abomination, will be consumed with those who worship idols, eat swine and the mouse.

Isa 66:17 They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD.

Last Updated on September 7, 2021 by Arthur Bailey Ministries

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