"Strain At A Gnat And Swallow A Camel"

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Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 170

Context: During the final stage of His ministry, Jesus preaches in Jerusalem. Speaking to a large group of people, He condemns many of the practices of the Pharisees, the most dedicated Jewish religious leaders. Though the Pharisees represent the authority of the Mosaic law, which Christ commends, they are guilty of hypocrisy, appearing very religious outwardly, but actually being of a less consecrated spirit than many lay Jews. The Master, noting that the Pharisees carefully tithe every trifle, but ignore the more important moral laws, humorously likens them to blind leaders who carefully strain out a gnat, which is unclean in the Jewish law, but ignore a camel, which is also unclean and much larger:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

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