Bethphage: The name of this village on the Mount of Olives comes from Hebrew, probably meaning “House of the Early Figs.” Tradition locates it between Jerusalem and Bethany on the SE slope of the Mount of Olives, near the peak, about 1 km (less than 1 mi) from Jerusalem.
a donkey tied and a colt with her: Only Matthew’s account mentions both the donkey and its colt. (Mr 11:2-7; Lu 19:30-35; Joh 12:14, 15) Evidently, since Jesus rode only on the colt, Mark, Luke, and John mention only one animal.
the daughter of Zion: Or “daughter Zion,” as some Bible translations say. In the Bible, cities are often personified as women or figuratively referred to using feminine terms. In this expression, “daughter” may refer to the city itself or to the people of the city. The name Zion was closely connected with the city of Jerusalem.
mild-tempered: Or “humble.”
sat on them: That is, on the outer garments.
Save, we pray: Lit., “Hosanna.” That Greek term comes from a Hebrew expression that means “save, we pray” or “save, please.” Here the term is used as a plea to God for salvation or victory; it could be rendered “please, grant salvation to.” In time, it became an expression of both prayer and praise. The Hebrew expression is found at Ps 118:25, which was part of the Hallel Psalms sung regularly during Passover season. Therefore, these words readily came to mind on this occasion. One way God answered this prayer to save the Son of David was by resurrecting him from the dead. At Mt 21:42, Jesus himself quotes Ps 118:22, 23 and applies it to the Messiah.
was in an uproar: Or “was shaken (stirred up).” The agitation felt by the residents of the city is indicated by a Greek verb that in its literal sense is used to describe the effects of an earthquake or a storm. (Mt 27:51; Re 6:13) The related Greek noun sei·smosʹ is translated “storm” or “earthquake.”
temple: Probably referring to the part of the temple area known as the Court of the Gentiles.
money changers: Many different types of coins were in use, but apparently only a certain type of coin could be used to pay the annual temple tax or to buy sacrificial animals. Therefore, Jews traveling to Jerusalem would have to exchange their currency for money that would be accepted at the temple. Jesus evidently felt that the fees charged by the money changers were exorbitant and that their actions amounted to extortion.
cave of robbers: Or “den of thieves.” Jesus here alludes to Jer 7:11. He likely called the merchants and money changers “robbers” because they made unjust profit from selling animals for sacrifice and charged exorbitant fees for exchanging currencies. Jesus was also indignant that Jehovah’s house of prayer, or place of worship, had been wrongly turned into a center for commercial activity.
temple: Probably referring to the Court of the Gentiles, since the blind and lame were barred from access to certain inner parts of the temple. Matthew’s account may indicate that Jesus’ zeal on this occasion was not limited to cleansing the temple but also involved curing the blind and lame who approached him there.
Save, we pray, the Son of David: See study note on Mt 21:9.
Bethany: A village on the ESE slope of the Mount of Olives at a distance of about 3 km (2 mi) from Jerusalem. (Joh 11:18, ftn.) The home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, located in this village, appears to have been Jesus’ base in Judea. (Joh 11:1) Today the site is marked by a small village with an Arabic name meaning “The Place of Lazarus.”
he found nothing on it except leaves: Although it was unusual for a fig tree to bear fruit at that time of year, the tree had leaves
Truly: Greek, a·menʹ, a transliteration of the Hebrew ʼa·menʹ, meaning “so be it,” or “surely.” Jesus frequently uses this expression to preface a statement, a promise, or a prophecy, thereby emphasizing its absolute truthfulness and reliability. Jesus’ use of “truly,” or amen, in this way is said to be unique in sacred literature. When repeated in succession (a·menʹ a·menʹ), as is the case throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus’ expression is translated “most truly.”
elders: See study note on Mt 16:21.
this one said, ‘I will not’: In this parable (Mt 21:28-31), some Greek manuscripts present the two sons and their answers and actions in a different order. (See the rendering in previous editions of the New World Translation.) The overall idea is the same, but the manuscript support for the current reading is stronger.
tax collectors: See study note on Mt 5:46.
illustration: Or “parable.”
tower: Used as a vantage point to guard vineyards against thieves and animals.
leased: A common practice in first-century Israel. In this case, the owner did much preliminary work, making his expectation of a return all the more reasonable.
a terrible destruction: Or “an evil destruction.” Using a play on words, the Greek text repeats different forms of the same root word to intensify the judgment message: “Because they are evil, he will bring an evil destruction on them.”
in the Scriptures: Often used to refer to the inspired Hebrew writings as a whole.
the chief cornerstone: Or “the most important stone.” The Hebrew expression at Ps 118:22 and the Greek expression used here literally mean “the head of the corner.” Although it has been understood in different ways, it apparently refers to the stone that was installed atop the junction of two walls to hold them firmly together. Jesus quoted and applied this prophecy to himself as “the chief cornerstone.” Just as the topmost stone of a building is conspicuous, so Jesus Christ is the crowning stone of the Christian congregation of anointed ones, which is likened to a spiritual temple.
In Israel, grapes were gathered during August and September, depending on the type of grapes and the climate of the region. They were usually placed in limestone vats or troughs cut into rock. Men normally crushed the grapes barefoot, singing songs as they trod the winepress.
1. Freshly picked grapes
3. Drainage channel
4. Lower collecting basin
5. Earthenware wine jars