Matthew 6:17

But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

But thou, when thou fastest,.... Christ allows of fasting, but what is of a quite different kind from that of the Jews; which lay not in an outward abstinence from food, and other conveniences of life, and refreshments of nature; but in an abstinence from sin, in acknowledgment and confession of it; and in the exercise of faith and hope in God, as a God pardoning iniquity, transgression and sin; wherefore cheerfulness, and a free use of the creatures, without an abuse of them, best became such persons.

anoint thine head, and wash thy face; directly contrary to the Jewish canons, which forbid these things, with others, on fast days:

"On the day of atonement, (say {i} they,) a man is forbidden eating and drinking, hkyobwhuyxrbw "and washing and anointing", and putting on of shoes, and the use of the bed.''

And the same were forbidden on other fasts: in anointings, the head was anointed first, and this rule and reason are given for it:

"he that would anoint his whole body, hlyxt wvar Ko, "let him anoint his head first", because it is king over all its members {k}.''

Anointing and washing were signs of cheerfulness and joy; see Ruth 3:3.

{i} Misn. Yoma, c. 8. sect. 1. & Taanith, c. 1. sect. 4, 5, 6. T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 77. 2. Taanith, fol. 12. 2. Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora, pr. affirm. 32.
{k} T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 61. 1.