John Gills Exposition of the Bible Commentary

Verse 2 (Matthew 17:2)

And was transfigured before them ,.... Peter, James, and John, before whom he was metamorphosed, or changed into another form; for not the substance of his body was changed, nor even the shape of it altered, only it received a more glorious form; that whereas before he appeared in the form of a servant, and looked mean and despicable, now he appeared in the form and majesty of God; or there was a divine glory; which from his deity showed itself in a visible manner through his flesh:

and his face did shine as the sun it had still the same appearance of an human face, but had such a dazzling glory upon it, as equalled the sun shining in its full strength:

and his raiment was white as the light : he did not put off his clothes, nor were the nature and substance, and fashion of them changed; but such rays of glory darted through his flesh, and through his clothes, as made them as bright and shining, as the light of the sun at noon day. Mark says, they became "exceeding white as snow, so as no fuller on earth can white them". The Vulgate Latin reads, "as snow", here; and so do the Ethiopic version, and Munster's Hebrew Gospel. Snow has a peculiar whiteness in it, and is therefore made use of, to express the glittering brightness of Christ's raiment; and the fuller is mentioned, who by the Jews F1 Maimon. in Misn. Bava Kama, c. 10. sect. 10, is called כובס , and means one that whitens wool, or raiment, and such an one is here designed: not that any fuller makes garments of another colour white; for though this may be done, it is not the work of fullers, but dyers: but fullers, whatever colour garments are of, if sullied and spotted, can restore them to their native colour; and if white, can bring them to their former whiteness: now Christ's garments were as white, yea, whiter, than any such men could possibly make garments, that were white at first: what colour Christ's garments were of before, is not certain; now they appeared white, to the greatest degree of whiteness. Dr. Hammond F2 In Mark ix. 3. has a conjecture, that in the phrase "on earth", reference is had to the earth fullers make use of in cleaning, and which is called "fullers' earth"; and that the words are to be rendered, "as no fuller, by or with earth can white them"; but if this will not bear, the sense is, that there is no fuller, nor ever was, or ever will be upon earth, that can make raiment so white as Christ's was.

- John Gills Exposition of the Bible Commentary