1 Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying,
2 “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”
3 He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?
4 For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’
5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”—
6 then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.
7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
8 ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
9 And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”
tradition of the elders (v.2) — The Jews of our Lord’s time believed that, in addition to the written law of Moses, there was an oral law given to Moses on Sinai and passed down from him by word of mouth till it reached the Great Synagogue or Council of Elders which succeeded Ezra after the return from the exile. This council lasted until 291 B.C. and seems to have been the source of the many accretions to the law of God which have been found in Judaism. — KJV Commentary, page 1204.
wash (v.2) — They were concerned with the ritual, not with cleanliness.
Mark refers to the traditional custom of the Pharisees, which had become general among the people, not to eat without diligently washing their hands. Indeed these ablutions had grown to be exceedingly numerous and very binding. Before and after every meal and whenever they came from the marketplace or town square, they had to wash or take a bath according to certain ceremonial restrictions. All cups, pots, and brazen vessels as well as tables and perhaps dining couches must be thoroughly cleansed. The Pharisees carried their ablutions to such an extent, as to completely overshadow with their ritual the fundamental moral principles of the Scriptures.
The Pharisees claimed that these oral traditions had been handed down in part from Moses, consisted partly of decisions made by the judges from time to time and partly of explanations and opinions of eminent teachers. The body of these traditions continued to accumulate until after the time of Christ, when they were codified in the Mishna and its commentaries. Traditional rites and restrictions stood higher in the esteem of the Jews than their Scriptures. Where Scripture and tradition seemed opposed, the latter was treated as the higher authority. — Pentecost, page 240
honor (v.4) — provide for
Honor your father and your mother (v.4) — Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16
He who curses … (v.4) — Exodus 21:17
Isaiah (v.7) — Isaiah 29:13
Christ replied in Matthew 15:8-9 to the question of the leaders by referring them to the Scriptures. He quoted Isaiah 29:13 where the prophet revealed that God would not accept the worship of the nation because they were concerned with external observations and did not worship Him with the heart …
Christ now proceeded to show how the Pharisees had very cleverly used their traditions to find ways of circumventing the stringent requirements of the law. He quoted the law of Moses, which required a son to support an indigent parent. This put a financial responsibility on the son. The Pharisees by their tradition had found a way to circumvent the law and absolve themselves of this responsibility. They ceremonially dedicated all that they had to God by pronouncing the word Corban over and over (Mark 7:11) …
It must not be thought that the pronunciation of the votive word “Corban,” although meaning “a gift,” or “given to God,” necessarily dedicated a thing to the Temple. The meaning might simply be, and generally was, that it was to be regarded like Corban — that is, in regard to the person or persons named, the thing termed was to be considered as if it were Corban, laid on the altar, and put entirely out of their reach. Pentecost, pages 242-243.