Mark 11:17 AV
And he taught¹, saying² unto them,
Is it not written³,
My house⁴ shall be called⁵ of all nations
the house of prayer⁶?
but ye have made⁷ it a den⁸ of thieves.
¹) To hold a discourse with others in order to instruct them.
²) To point out with words.
³) Used of those things which stand written in the sacred books (of the OT).
⁴) Meaning the house of God, the temple.
⁵) To be called i.e. to bear a name or title (among men).
⁶) A place set apart or suited for the offering of prayer; prayer addressed to God.
⁷) Caused it to be.
⁸) A cave.
⁹) Of robbers, of plunderers.
And He taught and said to them, Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations? But you have turned it into a den of robbers. [AMP] And he was teaching them and saying to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers." [ESV] And then he taught them, quoting this text: My house was designated a house of prayer for the nations; You've turned it into a hangout for thieves. [MSB] And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. [KJV] And as he taught them, he said, "Is it not written: "'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.'" [NIV] He taught them, "The Scriptures declare, 'My Temple will be called a place of prayer for all nations,' but you have turned it into a den of thieves." [NLT] Then He taught, saying to them, "Is it not written, "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it a "den of thieves."' [NKJV]
And he taught, saying unto them, is it not written
The following is written in Isaiah 56:7.
My house shall be called of all nations, the house of prayer
For not only the Jews went up to the temple to pray, see (Luke 18:10) , but the Gentiles, who became of the Jewish religion came too, and for them a court was built for that purpose.
And so the whole temple was called an house of prayer: and the meaning is, not only that it should be called so by the Gentiles, but that it should be so to the Jews as well, and that they together should make use of it as such.
Jarchi’s note on the clause in Isaiah 56:7 is, “not for Israel only, but also for the proselytes.”
But ye have made it a den of thieves
In our Lord’s esteem the buyers and sellers of sheep, oxen, and doves, and the money changers, and the priests that encouraged them, were no more than ordinary thieves, who had a profit out of those who came to the temple to give to God.
Now these had their seats, shops, and tables, within the house of the Lord; in that part of it, which was assigned to the Gentiles, the nations of the world, who became proselytes, and came up to Jerusalem to worship there at certain times.
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Despite the uproar that Jesus’ actions in the temple square must have caused, the Romans and the Levite temple guard (under the command of the Sanhedrin) do not intervene.
Is it the dismay at what happened?
Is it realizing that Jesus was, in fact, completely right?
Is it the fear of the people that keeps them from it?
Or is it God’s hand that gives Jesus free rein to wipe the temple square clean?
In any case, Jesus is given the opportunity to undisturbed add a teaching to His action, explaining why He is so vehemently opposed to the current temple business.
After all, according to the Scriptures (Isaiah 56:7), the temple (‘the house of God’) is intended as a place of prayer for all nations. The emphasis here is on ‘a place of prayer’.
The words for all nations (included in the quote) may be an allusion to “the court of the Gentiles” where Jesus was at that time.
That part of the temple (now full of merchandise and merchants) is also, according to the Scriptures, reserved for prayer.
Jesus therefore characterizes the present situation with a sharp comparison: the house of prayer has become a den of thieves (cf. Jeremiah 7:11), a description that may not only refer to the crafty traders who drop unsuspecting visitors at too high exchange rates, and priests etc. who also enriched themselves with it, but also on the Jewish leaders who gathered in the temple the Sanhedrin in one of the buildings of the temple devised their evil plans to get rid of Jesus (cf. Mark 11:18).
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