Jesus used illustrations His hearers understood from their daily activities. In announcing woes on the religious leaders of His time, he spoke of spices that were used in cooking.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices– mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law– justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. (Matthew 23:23 NIV)
Instead of dill, the KJV and NKJV versions have used the term anise.
The Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible has a brief explanation about anise.
The term anise mentioned in Matthew 23:23 is derived from the Greek word It refers either to the dill or to the true anise. Both plants are similar and of the same plant family. Both grow about 91 cm. (3 ft.) high with clusters of yellow flowers. The seeds, leaves, and stem are used for medicine and cooking, and were a part of the ancient temple tithe. (Jesus denounced the Jews of His day for carefully obeying small laws, such as the spice tithe, and forgetting the more important ones.) Anise was cultivated in ancient Egypt and other Mediterranean countries, and still grows there today. (Packer and Tenney, Eds. Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible, p. 249.)
Many of the stores in the Old City of Jerusalem and other cities in Israel and the West Bank sell spices. The photo of anise (dill) below was made at Jericho.
Imagine counting out one of every 10 seed but overlooking justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Jesus told the experts in the law and the religious leaders,
You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
I think there is a lesson here for many of us today.
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