767. Formal Salutations

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This was not designed to forbid them from exercising the usual courtesies of life, in giving a mere salaam to those they might meet, as is evident from the very next verse, and also from Matthew 10:12-1312And when ye come into an house, salute it. 13And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. (Matthew 10:12‑13). They were, doubtless, allowed to give the usual salutation of “Peace!” See note on John 20:1919Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. (John 20:19). But the text is designed to remind them of the importance of their mission, and of the necessity of diligence in its execution. Hence, they were riot to observe the tedious and oft-repeated salutations with which the Orientals love to greet each other. These ceremonies of salutation are numerous and slowly performed. When two friends meet each inquires of the other, again and again, concerning his health and the health of his family; and repeats over and over again the best wishes for his prosperity and peace, thanking God that he is permitted once more to behold his face. These formalities are accompanied by numerous bowings and posturing¨ of the body, and are sometimes repeated as often as ten times, consuming much time and making great delay. Those whom our Lord sent forth were forbidden to do this.
A similar injunction was given by Elisha when he sent his servant Gehazi to the Shunamite’s house: “If thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again” (2 Kings 4:2929Then he said to Gehazi, Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again: and lay my staff upon the face of the child. (2 Kings 4:29)).