They do all their works to be seen of men; for they make wide their phylacteries (small cases enclosing certain Scripture passages, worn during prayer on the left arm and forehead) and make long their fringes [worn by all male Israelites, according to the command].
“The only reason they do what they do is for other people to see them. They make the little Scripture boxes they wear bigger and bigger. And they make the tassels on their prayer clothes long enough for people to notice them.
“They do good things so that other people will see them. They enlarge ·the little boxes holding Scriptures that they wear [L their phylacteries; C leather cases worn on the left arm and forehead to literally fulfill Deut. 6:8; 11:18], and they ·make their special prayer clothes very long [L lengthen their tassels; C Jewish males were to wear tassels on the four corners of their garment; Num. 15:38; Deut. 22:12].
They do everything so that people will see them. Look at the straps with scripture verses on them which they wear on their foreheads and arms, and notice how large they are! Notice also how long are the tassels on their cloaks!
“The reason they do good things is so other people will see them. They make the boxes of Scriptures that they wear bigger and bigger. And they make their special prayer clothes very long so that people will notice them.
Then Jesus addressed the crowds and his disciples. “The scribes and the Pharisees speak with the authority of Moses,” he told them, “so you must do what they tell you and follow their instructions. But you must not imitate their lives! For they preach but do not practise. They pile up back-breaking burdens and lay them on other men’s shoulders—yet they themselves will not raise a finger to move them. Their whole lives are planned with an eye to effect. They increase the size of their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their robes; they love seats of honour at dinner parties and front places in the synagogues. They love to be greeted with respect in public places and to have men call them ‘rabbi!’ Don’t you ever be called ‘rabbi’—you have only one teacher, and all of you are brothers. And don’t call any human being ‘father’—for you have one Father and he is in Heaven. And you must not let people call you ‘leaders’—you have only one leader, Christ! The only ‘superior’ among you is the one who serves the others. For every man who promotes himself will be humbled, and every man who learns to be humble will find promotion.
“Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.’
“Everything they do is done for others to see. On their foreheads and arms they wear little boxes that hold Scripture verses. They make the boxes very wide. And they make the tassels on their coats very long.
Everything they do is done for show and to be noticed by others. They want to be seen as holy, so they wear oversized prayer boxes on their arms and foreheads with Scriptures inside, and wear extra-long tassels on their outer garments.
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