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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Mark 7

 

 

Verse 1

1. συνάγονται. Hitherto it has been a not unfriendly company that has gathered together where the great Teacher and Healer was to be found (Mark 1:33, Mark 2:2, Mark 3:10; Mark 3:32, Mark 4:1, Mark 5:21, Mark 6:31; Mark 6:55). Hostile elements have sometimes intruded (Mark 2:6; Mark 2:16; Mark 2:18, Mark 3:6; Mark 3:22), but they have been exceptional. Here the gathering consists of hostile critics.

οἱ Φαρισαῖοι. See on Mark 2:16; they were last mentioned as plotting His death (Mark 3:6).

ἐλθόντες ἀπὸ Ἰεροσολύμων. See on Mark 10:32. This may mean that a new party of Scribes (Mark 3:22) had arrived. Non ad verbum audiendum, non ad quaerendam medelam, sed ad movendas solum quaestionum pugnas, ad Dominum concurrunt (Bede). Put a full stop at the end of the verse (A.V.); ἰδόντες is not to be coupled with ἐλθόντες.


Verses 1-13

1–13. QUESTIONS OF CEREMONIAL CLEANSING

Matthew 15:1-20


Verse 2

2. καὶ ἰδόντες. The beginning of a new sentence, which is broken by a long parenthesis (Mark 7:3-4) and left unfinished.

ὅτι κοιναῖς χερσίν. See crit. note. We have ὄτι instead of infin. Mark 11:32, Mark 12:34. Κοινός was a technical term for what was “common” to the Gentiles but ceremonially unclean to the Jews; κοινὸν καὶ ἀκάθαρτον (Acts 10:14; Acts 10:28; Acts 11:8; cf. Romans 14:14; 1 Maccabees 1:47; 1 Maccabees 1:62). Cf. εἰ δέ τις αἰτίαν ἔσχε κοινοφαγίας ἤ τινος ἄλλου τοιούτου ἁμαρτήματος (Joseph. Ant. IX. viii. 7; cf. XIII. i. 1). In N.T. κοινός is opposed to καθαρός and ἅγιος (Hebrews 10:29). Syr-Sin. has “when they had not washed their hands.”

τοῦτʼ ἔστιν ἀνίπτοις. Added for Gentile readers.

ἐσθίουσιν τοὺς ἄρτους. “Eat their bread”; cf. Mark 4:26; Mark 4:36, Mark 6:32. In this phrase the art. and the plur. are unusual both in N.T. (Mark 3:20; Matthew 15:2; Luke 14:1-2) and in LXX. (Genesis 37:25; Exodus 2:20; 2 Samuel 9:7). See crit. note.


Verse 3

3. οἱ γὰρ Φαρισαῖοι. Another explanation inserted for Gentile readers. Mt. has nothing corresponding to Mark 7:3-4.

πάντες οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι. “All strict Jews,” those who wished to be δίκαιοι according to the regulations of the Scribes (Luke 1:6; Luke 2:25; Luke 18:9). The regulations of the Law (Leviticus 11-15; Numbers 5:1-4; Numbers 5:19) had been enormously increased by the Scribes, with the result that the right sense of proportion had been lost. People confounded what was ceremonially trivial with what was ceremonially important, and also what was purely ceremonial with what was moral, the former being often preferred to the latter. The longest of the six books of the Mishna (Tohârôth) treats of purification, and thirty chapters are given to the cleansing of vessels. Schürer, II. ii. pp. 106 f. D.C.G. art. “Purification.”

πυγμῇ. The word remains a puzzle in this connexion. “Up to the elbow” and “up to the fist” are impossible translations. “With the fist” is the best rendering; and this may be explained either literally, of rubbing a closed hand in the palm of the other hand, or metaphorically, of vigorous washing, = “diligently” (A.V. marg.).

νίψωνται. The verb is used of washing part of the body (Matthew 6:17; Matthew 15:2; 1 Timothy 5:10; Genesis 18:4; etc.), λούομαι being used of bathing the whole body (Acts 9:37; Hebrews 10:22; etc.), and πλύνω of washing clothes, nets, etc. (Revelation 7:14; Revelation 22:14; Luke 5:2). In Leviticus 15:11 we have all three verbs thus distinguished. See on John 13:10.

τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν πρεσβυτέρων. Traditions handed down for generations and sanctioned by great teachers were regarded by the Pharisees and their followers as of equal obligation with Scripture. The traditions were seldom wrong in themselves, but they were treated as of such importance that moral duties were neglected. This inevitably follows when right conduct is regarded as keeping certain rules. The acc. is used because the whole of the tradition (Mark 3:21, Mark 6:17), and not a part (Mark 1:31, Mark 5:41), is held. Only in this and the parallel passage (Matthew 15:2-6) is παράδοσις used in the Gospels. In 2 Thessalonians 2:15, κρατεῖτε τὰζ παραδόσεις is said of holding Christian traditions; cf. 1 Corinthians 11:2.


Verse 4

4. ἀπʼ ἀγορᾶς. On coming from market, where they might come in contact with persons or things that were ceremonially unclean. We have ἀπὸ δείπνου (Hdt. i. 126, ii. 78, Mark 7:18) similarly used; ἀπὸ νεκροῦ (Sirach 31[34]:25).

ἐὰν μὴ ῥαντίσωνται. See crit. note. Sprinkling did not seem to be in harmony with πυγμῇ νίψνωται, and hence the change to βαπτίσωνται. If βαπτ. be adopted, it would mean bathing the hands rather than the whole person. Either verb might be used of holding the hands over a basin and having water poured over them. Cf. Justin, Try. 46. Tatian seems to have understood the sentence as meaning that the Jews do not eat what they bring from market without purifying it, which is not the meaning.

παρέλαβον. The right verb to use of those who received παραδόσεις.

ξεστῶν. The jugs in which the water for drinking or purifying was kept. A μετρητής (John 2:6) held about 50 ξέσται. Here, however, the word is not used of a definite measure, sextarius, but of a household vessel without reference to size. Vulg. has urceus, a jug with one handle. The addition, καὶ κλινῶν (see crit. note), would not mean “and tables,” but “and couches,” for reclining at table, or possibly “and beds,” for sleeping on at night. Syr-Sin. omits καὶ χαλκίων.


Verse 5

5. Διὰ τί; As in Mark 2:16, the question is a form of hostile criticism. “Eat their bread,” as in Mark 7:2.


Verse 6

6. Καλῶς ἐπροφήτευσεν. “With beautiful appropriateness Isaiah prophesied.” Cf. Mark 12:28; Mark 12:32; Luke 20:39; and esp. Acts 28:25. Everywhere in N.T., including Judges 1:14, and almost everywhere in LXX., ἐπροφ. is to be preferred to προεφ. There is no simple verb φητεύω. But in other verbs late writers sometimes put the augment before the preposition. Blass, § 15, 17.

ὑποκριτῶν. This word, so freq. in Mt., occurs here only in Mk, and here it is omitted in Syr-Sin. In Job 34:30; Job 36:13 it means the godless man and = παράνομος (Job 17:8, Job 20:5). It is not found in Jn.

ὡς γέγραπται. See on Mark 1:2. Mt. agrees with Mk in this quotation from Isaiah 29:13, and both abbreviate the LXX., omitting ἐγγίζει and ἐν τῷ στόματι αὐτοῦ.


Verse 7

7. μάτην. Freq. in LXX., but not found in N.T., except in this quotation. St Paul has εἰς κενόν. see on 2 Corinthians 6:1.

διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας ἐντ. ἀνθ. Here again Mk and Mt. differ from LXX., which has διδάσκοντες ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων καὶ διδασκαλίας. One is inclined to translate “teaching for teachings,” reserving “doctrine” for διδαχή. But this would be no improvement, for διδαχή is teaching as a whole, while διδασκαλία (freq. in Past. Epp.) is a particular part of teaching, a doctrine. But the distinction is not always sharply made.

ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων. In apposition with διδασκαλίας, teaching doctrines (which are) commands of men. This was the source of the evil; their doctrines were of their own devising. They burdened the conscience with external details which had no spiritual value. We must distinguish in translation between ἔνταλμα, “command,” or “precept,” and ἐντολή, “commandment.” Vulg. praeceptum and mandatum. Ἔνταλμα is used of the Divine commands Job 23:11-12; the word is not found in profane writers. Lightfoot thinks that St Paul had this discourse in his mind when he wrote Colossians 2:21-23.


Verse 8

8. τὴν ἐντολήν. Commonly used of a single commandment (Mark 10:5; Mark 10:19, Mark 12:28), but here of the Divine Law as a whole; see on 1 Timothy 6:14. The verse looks like another version of Mark 7:9. There is no such repetition in Mt., and his wording is closer to Mark 7:9. Syr-Sin. omits the verse.


Verse 9

9. καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς. The insertion of this introductory formula confirms the impression that Mark 7:8 and Mark 7:9 come from two different sources. Syr-Sin. omits the words.

Καλῶς. See on John 4:17 and 2 Corinthians 11:4. The irony is stronger here. This was the beautiful result of their putting a fence about the Law; their fence had shut off the Law so completely that the sight of it was lost.

ἀθετεῖτε. See on Mark 6:26; as applied to such words as ἐντολή, νόμος, διαθήκη, it means not merely violating, but treating as null and void (Hebrews 10:28; Galatians 3:15). The oral tradition had supplanted the written Law—everywhere by engrossing men’s attention, and in some cases by contravening its spirit. D.C.G. art. “Tradition.”


Verse 10

10. ΄ωϋσῆς γὰρ εἶπεν. Mt. makes the connexion more clear and the contrast more pointed by writing ὁ γὰρ θεὸς εἶπεν. The Pentateuch was quoted as “Moses” (Mark 1:44, Mark 10:3, Mark 12:19). But the Law was given διὰ (not ὑπὸ) ΄ωυσέως (see on John 1:17). Moses was not the giver of it any more than of the manna (John 6:32). See on Mark 12:26.

Ὁ κακολογῶν. He that speaketh evil of (R.V.) rather than “he that curseth” (A.V.); in Mark 9:39, and Acts 19:9, A.V. has “speak evil of,” and in the Corban case there is no cursing, but the parents are dishonoured. These quotations from Exodus 20:12; Exodus 21:17 illustrate the fact that citations which are found in more than one Synoptist, “with few exceptions, adhere closely to the LXX., the differences being only textual or in the way of omission” (Swete, Introd. to O.T. in Greek, p. 393).


Verse 11

11. ὑμεῖς δὲ λέγετε. “But ye say.” As in Mark 7:2-5 and Mark 4:26; Mark 4:31, we have a confused constr. Mk forgets that he began with ὑμεῖς δὲ λέγετε and leaves the ἐὰν εἴπῃ sentence unfinished. Omit λέγετε and the constr. will stand; with λέγετε, Mark 7:12 should run οὐκέτι οὐδὲν ποιήσει. Cf. Mark 3:22.

Κορβᾶν, ὅ ἐστιν Δῶρον. As in Mark 5:41, Mark 7:34, Mark 14:36, we have Aramaic with a translation. Κορβάν is not found in LXX., but Josephus (Ant. IV. iv. 4) gives it with this translation. It means a dedicated or vowed gift, a gift not to be revoked by the giver (Ibid. c. Apion. i. 22). The Scribes taught that a vow, however unrighteous, mast stand. Even if the man who made it desired to remedy the wrong, and even if the wrong was to his own parents, he could not be allowed to remedy it. Such ruling cuts right across the Fifth Commandment. See Wright, Synopsis, p. 69; Driver on Deuteronomy 23:24. The sentence means, “Whatsoever support thou mightest have from me is Korban, irrevocably given elsewhere.” Luther, putting a comma after me in Vulg.—Corban quodcunque ex me, tibi profuerit—took it to mean, “If I dedicate it, it is far more valuable to thee.”


Verse 12

12. οὐκέτι ἀφίετε. Ye no longer suffer; “so far from telling him that his duty to his parents is paramount, you do not allow him to perform it.” See crit. note.

οὐδὲν ποιῆσαι τῷ πατρί. Cf. Mark 5:19-20, Mark 10:36; the expression is found in Attic. Blass, § 34. 4. Syr-Sin. has “honour.” For the double negative see on Mark 1:44.


Verse 13

13. ἀκυροῦντες. Not merely treating as null and void (ἀθετεῖτε, Mark 7:9), but making void (R.V.). Both verbs occur Galatians 3:15-17. Excepting 4 Macc., ἀκυρόω is very rare in Bibl. Grk. In papyri it is used of annulling contracts. Passages in the Talmud definitely put tradition and comment above Scripture. “The words of the Scribes are lovely above the words of the Law; for the words of the Law are weighty and light, but the words of the Scribes are all weighty.”

τῇ παραδόσει ᾗ παρεδώκατε. The connexion between noun and verb cannot be reproduced in English. The aor. seems to be out of place; παραδίδοτε would be better; or (if aor.) παρελάβετε. The relative is dative by attraction.

παρόμοια τοιαῦτα πολλά. Superfluous fulness; many such similar things. Cf. Mark 6:25. Παρόμοιος, freq. in class. Grk, occurs nowhere else in N.T. or LXX.


Verse 14

14. προσκαλεσάμενος πάλιν. We need not limit the πάλιν to the crowd at Gennesaret. He often invited people to come to Him, and here He does so again. Having answered the cavils of the Scribes, He now resumes the more profitable work of freeing the multitude from the unspiritual traditions of Pharisaism. οὐκ ἔτι τοῖς Φαρισαίοις διαλέγεται, ὡς ἀθεραπεύτοις (Theoph.). Mk (about 27 times) even more than Mt. (about 17) is fond of πάλιν. Lk. (Luke 3) seems to avoid it, often omitting it where Mk has it. For ἔλεγεν Mt. again has εἶπεν. Cf. Mark 7:27.


Verses 14-23

14–23. THE SOURCE OF REAL DEFILEMENT

Matthew 15:10-20


Verse 15

15. οὐδὲν ἔστιν ἔξωθεν κ.τ.λ. This illuminating principle is given by Mk in the most comprehensive terms; There is nothing external to a man which by entering into him can defile him. Mt. narrows it by limiting it to meat and drink. Externals cannot pollute a man, because they do not touch the man’s self, but only his body. Epictetus enlarges on this difference; e.g. Dis. i. 19. Plato points out that what enters into the mouth is perishable, but what comes out of it, viz. speech, may be imperishable (Tim. 75 D). Cf. Deuteronomy 23:23. Like other parabolic utterances of Christ, this Saying was not understood even by the Twelve at the time, nor indeed even after Pentecost (Acts 10:14). But when this Gospel was written the practical result of this principle was recognized;—Levitical prohibitions of certain foods as unclean had been abolished (Mark 7:19 b). The art., τοῦ or τὸν ἄνθρ., is generic, as in Mark 2:27, Mark 4:21. For the aor. infin. see on Mark 1:41. Syr-Sin. omits ἔξωθεν as superfluous.

ἀλλά. “On the contrary, the things which defile the man, are the thoughts, words, and deeds which come out of him.” As both τὰ ἐκπορευόμενα and τὰ κοινοῦντα have the art., either may be the subject. The repetition of τὸν ἄνθρ. instead of using a pronoun is characteristic; cf. Mark 4:37.


Verse 16

16. See crit. note.


Verse 17

17. εἰς οἶκον. When He came indoors. The particular house is of no moment; “indoors” means away from the multitude. It appears repeatedly when private instruction is given (Mark 9:28; Mark 9:33, Mark 10:10). It is possible that in all these cases we have personal recollection of a detail. To the multitude He often spoke in parables, and now the disciples once more ask for an interpretation of τὸν σκοτεινὸν λόγον (Mark 4:2; Mark 4:10-11). See crit. note.


Verse 18

18. Οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς. As before (Mark 4:13), He expresses surprise at their want of discernment. The position of οὕτως is against its being taken with ἀσύνετοι, “so wanting in discernment,” tam insipientes. Better, “Is it so,” siccine? Vulg. has Sic et vos imprudentes estis? Either “Even you” (Mark 1:27; Matthew 5:46) or “you also” (Matthew 20:4; Matthew 20:7; John 6:68, where the context is decisive) may be right; see on Mark 2:28. “Even you, whom I have instructed,” or “you also, as well as the multitude.” We have similar surprise again in Mark 8:17, οὔπω νοεῖτε οὐδὲ συνίετε; Syr-Sin. has “Are ye yet so stubborn? Do ye not yet understand anything? that not everything which entereth into a man defileth him?”

οὐ δύναται κοινῶσαι. Cannot pollute him in any religious sense; he is not morally the worse. The Scribes taught otherwise. This repetition from Mark 7:15 is omitted in Mt.


Verse 19

19. οὐκ εἰσπορεύεται κ.τ.λ. This important explanation is also omitted in Mt. Aristophanes has ἄφοδος (Eccl. 1059), ἀπόπατος (Ach. 81) and κοπρών (Thesm. 485) for ἀφεδρών (ἕδρα), which occurs nowhere else in Bibl. Grk. Vulg. has in secessum, Beza in latrinam. [1539] reads ὀχετός here, but ἀφεδρών in Mt.

καθαρίζων πάντα τὰ βρώματα. See crit. note. The happy restoration of the true reading makes excellent and important sense of a passage which was reduced almost to nonsense by the false reading. No intelligible meaning can be given to καθαρίζον, “purging all meats” (A.V.). “This He said, making all meats clean” (R.V.) is the comment of the Evangelist, who saw that Christ’s words abolished the distinction between clean and unclean food, even when made by the Law. We have similar remarks Mark 3:30, Mark 5:8. Origen and Chrysostom have this reading and meaning, while Gregory Thaumaturgus calls our Lord ὁ σωτὴρ ὁ πάντα καθαρίζων τὰ βρώματα. Miller’s Scrivener, II. pp. 336 f. So also Field.


Verse 20

20. ἔλεγεν δέ. The Lord’s words are resumed after the interjected remark of the Evangelist.


Verse 21

21. ἔσωθεν γάρ. Nothing that comes from without brings moral pollution, but a great deal that comes from within may do so, proceeding not ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας, but ἐκ τῆς καρδίας. Deuteronomy 23:23 has a germ of this; τὰ ἐκπορευόμενα διὰ τῶν χειλέων φυλάξῃ. Cf. Matthew 12:35 = Luke 6:45, and Matthew 23:25 = Luke 11:39; and see on ὁ ἔξω and ὁ ἔσω ἄνθρωπος, 2 Corinthians 4:16. Syr-Sin., like Mt., omits the superfluous ἔσωθεν. Cf. Mark 1:32; Mark 1:42, Mark 2:23, Mark 6:25, where Syr-Sin. omits what is superfluous.

οἱ διαλογισμοὶ οἱ κακοί. The thoughts that are evil is the genus of which twelve species are enumerated, six in the plur. and six in the sing. In N.T. διαλογισμός is almost always bad thought and generally plur., but in LXX. it is sometimes used of the thoughts of God (Psalms 40:5; Psalms 92:5). Of the twelve evil things in Mk, Mt. omits seven, and he adds ψευδομαρτυρίαι. In Galatians 5:19-21 we have sixteen or seventeen sins, of which only two or three are in Mk; in Wisdom of Solomon 14:25-26, fifteen or sixteen, of which five are in Mk; in Didache Mark 7:9, twenty-two, of which six are in Mk. These catalogues strikingly illustrate the multiplicity of evil. There is no classification of the vices, such as we should have in a treatise on ethics. Both Mk and Mt. begin, where all sin begins, in the region of thought. Then Mt. follows the order of the Commandments, sixth to ninth.


Verse 22

22. πλεονεξίαι. Efforts to get more than one’s due, forms of selfishness; see on 2 Corinthians 9:5 and cf. Luke 12:15; Colossians 3:5. In Romans 1:29 we have πλεον. coupled with πονηρία.

δόλος. Conspicuous in Christ’s enemies (Mark 3:6; Mark 3:22, Mark 14:1); the true Israelite has none of it (John 1:48).

ἀσέλγεια. Unblushing licentiousness defying public opinion, such as was seen at the court of Antipas (Mark 6:22 f.). Like ὕβρις, it cares nothing for the feelings of others. Vulg. has impudicitia here.

ὀφθαλμὸς πονηρός. A belief in the “evil eye,” which brings ill to the person or thing on which it rests, seems to be almost universal in savage and half-civilized nations. But belief in a person whose look blighted without his willing it, the Italian jettatore, is not found in Scripture. There the ἀνὴρ βάσκανος (Proverbs 23:6; Proverbs 28:22) is envious, jealous, and grudging, and his “evil eye” is φθόνος and πλεονεξία combined; ὀφθαλμὸς πονηρὸς φθονερὸς ἐπʼ ἄρτῳ, “an evil eye is envious over bread” (Sirach 14:8; Sirach 14:10; cf. Sirach 31:12-14; Tobit 4:7; Deuteronomy 15:9; Deuteronomy 28:54; Deuteronomy 28:56). see on 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, and on the whole subject F. T. Elworthy, Evil Eye [1895]; Lightfoot on Galatians 3:1.

βλασφημία. Not “blasphemy” (A.V.), but railing (R.V.), or “backbiting,” καταλαλία. see on 2 Corinthians 12:20. In 1 Peter 2:1 we have φθόνους καὶ πάσας καταλαλίας, which is much the same as ὀφθ., πον. and βλασφημία.

ὑπερηφανία. Here only in N.T., but freq. in LXX. See esp. Sirach 10:7; Sirach 10:12; Sirach 10:18. It is the sin of the “superior” person, who loves to make himself conspicuous and “sets all others at nought” (Luke 18:9). The ὑπερήφανοι are condemned Luke 1:51; Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2; 1 Peter 5:5; James 4:6, the last two being quotations from Proverbs 3:32. In the Psalms of Solomon, ὑπερηφανία is often used of the insolent pride of the heathen as opponents of Jehovah.

ἀφροσύνη. The fool in Scripture (ἄφρων, μωρός, ἀνόητος, ἄσοφος) is one who does not know the moral value of things; he thinks that sin is a joke, and mocks at those who treat it seriously. Hence the severity with which he is condemned. In the Shepherd of Hermas there is much about ἀφροσύνη, Man. v. ii. 4, Sim. vi. Mark 7:2-3, ix. xv. 3, xii. 2, 3. It renders other vices incurable.


Verse 24

24. Ἐκεῖθεν δέ. See crit. note. Here the unusual δέ marks the transition to different scenes and different work. Out of 88 sections in Mk, only 6 have δέ at the outset, while 80 begin with καί.

ἀναστὰς ἀπῆλθεν. Cf. Mark 10:1. Mt. has ἀνεχώρησεν. Christ is retiring once more from the hostility which His teaching provoked (Mark 3:7) and from the pressure of inconsiderate followers (Mark 6:31). His hour is not far off, but it is not yet come, and He must have opportunity for giving further instruction to the Twelve. Ἀναστάς refers to the change of place rather than the change of posture, viz. sitting to teach; ἐκεῖθεν means “from Capernaum,” not “from a seat.” Sitting has not been mentioned.

εἰς τὰ ὅρια Τύρου. Cf. Mark 5:17; Matthew 2:16. Tyre had been independent since B.C. 126, and Pompey had confirmed the independence, but Augustus had curtailed it B.C. 20. The borders of Tyre [and Sidon] are called Φοινίκη in LXX. and Acts, but nowhere in the Gospels. Some of the inhabitants had been attracted to the Lake to see Jesus (Mark 3:8), and, like the Gerasenes, they were probably pagan (Joseph, c. Apion. i. 13). Christ now visits their country, which was 40 or 50 miles from Capernaum, to escape publicity. Christ had forbidden the disciples to go to the Gentiles; they were to devote themselves to the house of Israel (Matthew 10:5). He here takes them to the Gentiles, yet not to teach the Gentiles, but to find quiet for being taught by Him themselves. It is only by setting aside the plain statements of Mk that it can be maintained that Christ came to this place for one purpose only,—“an extraordinary example of persevering faith.” Cf. Mark 9:30.

οὐδένα ἤθελεν γνῶναι. “He wished to know no one” is not a probable rendering; would have no one know it is doubtless right. He did so, not because He feared being denounced by the Scribes for mixing with heathen (Theoph.), but because He wished to avoid interruption.

οὐκ ἠδυνάσθη λαθεῖν. Mt. characteristically omits the statement that Christ was unable to do what He wished. He could not be hid, because some who had seen Him in Galilee recognized Him. The double augment is Epic and Ionic. Blass, § 24. The aor. infin. is normal; see on Mark 1:40.


Verses 24-30

24–30. THE SYROPHOENICIAN WOMAN

Matthew 15:21-28


Verse 25

25. ἀλλʼ εὐθὺς ἀκούσασα. See crit. note. “On the contrary, a woman who had heard about Him came at once.” For the superfluous αὐτῆς see on Mark 1:7; the pleonasm is specially common after relatives (Revelation 3:8; Revelation 7:2; Revelation 13:8). It is found in modern Greek.


Verse 26

26. Ἑλληνίς, Συροφοινίκισσα τῷ γένει. A Greek-speaking woman, a Phoenician of Syria by race. In this context, Ἑλληνίς can hardly mean anything else (Acts 17:12). She spoke Greek, but she was not a Greek. The conversation, like that with Pilate, would be in Greek. Syr-Sin. has “a widow, from the borders of Tyre of Phoenicia.” These Phoenicians came from the Canaanites, and Mt. calls her Χαναναία. The Clem. Hom. (ii. 19, iii. 73, iv. 6) calls her Justa, and her daughter Bernice. Syr-Sin. omits Ἑλληνίς and τῷ γένει.

ἠρώτα αὐτὸν ἵνα. See on Mark 3:9. The change from aor. (προσέπεσεν) to imperf. is accurate. Mt. gives her words, in which she addresses Him as “Son of David,” an address which Mk does not record until the healing of Bartimaeus, near the time of the Passion (Mark 10:47-48). In Mt. the woman makes three appeals, of which Mk omits one and also the appeal of the disciples that He would grant her request and send her away.


Verse 27

27. ἔλεγεν. Mt. again substitutes εἶπεν, as in Mark 7:14.

Ἄφες πρῶτον χορτασθῆναι τὰ τέκνα. See on Mark 6:42 and cf. Mark 10:14. In Mark 15:36 we have the subj. after ἄφετε. “The children” are the Jews, but πρῶτον implies that the others will have their turn (John 10:16; John 12:32; John 17:20; Acts 1:8; Acts 13:47). This important πρῶτον is omitted in Mt. It mitigates the harsh refusal.

ἐστιν καλόν. The expression is freq. in Mk. Cf. Mark 9:5; Mark 9:42-43; Mark 9:45; Mark 9:47; Mark 14:21. Christ’s reply illustrates the principle that, where faith is strong, He seems to hold aloof, to bring the faith to perfection; whereas weak faith is encouraged (Mark 5:36, Mark 9:23).

τοῖς κυναρίοις. The diminutive is another mitigation. The Gentiles are not called “dogs” but “doggies,” not outside scavengers (Psalms 59:7; Psalms 59:15), but household companions (τὰ κυνίδια τῆς οἰκίας, Orig.). In late Greek, diminutives sometimes lose their force, e.g. ὠτάριον (Mark 14:47), ὠτίον (Matthew 26:51); but the dimin. has point here. Contrast κύνες (Matthew 7:6; Philippians 3:2; Revelation 22:15). Vulg. spoils this by having canibus in Christ’s Saying and catelli in her reply.


Verse 28

28. ἡ δὲ ἀπεκρίθη καὶ λέγει. The ἀπεκρίθη is not mere amplification; it was an answer and a witty answer. She seizes on Christ’s repelling words and turns them into an argument in her favour: δραξαμένη τῶν τοῦ Χριστοῦ ῥημάτων, ἀπʼ αὐτῶν πλέκει συνηγορίαν ἑαυτῆς (Euthym.). The historic pres. is recognized so completely as historic that it can be combined with an aor. See on Mark 8:29 sub fin.

Ναί, κύριε· καὶ τὰ κυνάρια. Yea, Lord, and the doggies; not “yet the dogs” (A.V.), nor “even the dogs” (R.V.). She fully assents to the Lord’s utterance and carries it on to her own conclusion; “Quite so, Lord; and in that case I may have a crumb.” Mt. has καὶ γάρ, giving an additional reason for her request. Ναί = ἀμήν, but without the religious tone of the Hebrew word (2 Corinthians 1:20; Revelation 1:7; Revelation 22:20). Syr-Sin. has “the crumbs which are over from the children’s table.” The words may mean the crumbs thrown by the children to their pets. In N.T., ἐσθ. ἐκ (John 6:26; John 6:50-51; 1 Corinthians 9:7; 1 Corinthians 11:28; etc.) is more common than ἐσθ. ἀπό (Genesis 2:16; Genesis 3:1-2; Genesis 3:5).


Verse 29

29. Διὰ τοῦτον τὸν λόγον. The Lord commends the ready reply, and admits that in the argument she has won: διὰ τὸν λόγον, ᾥτινι πρὸς συνηγορίαν ἐχρήσω συνετῶς ἄγαν (Euthym.). Like the centurion (Matthew 8:5-13), she believes that Christ can heal at a distance, and, like him, she wins Christ’s admiring approval (Matthew 15:28). This is the only case in Mk in which Christ heals at a distance.


Verse 30

30. ἀπελθοῦσα. His assurance is enough, as in the case of the royal official; see on John 4:50; John 4:52.

βεβλημένον ἐπὶ τὴν κλίνην. Like the demoniac boy (Mark 9:26), she was suffering from exhaustion after the final convulsion. The perf. part. is accurate.

This crumb, won from our Lord by the heathen woman’s “shamelessness” (Luke 11:8), pertinacity (Luke 18:2-5), and faith (Luke 7:9), remains isolated. He at once returns to the principle of feeding the children first.


Verse 31

31. ἐκ τῶν ὁρίων Τύρου ἦλθεν διὰ Σιδῶνος εἰς τ. θαλ. This means a very long circuit; about 20 or 30 miles northward to Sidon, then eastward and southward, till He reached the [1540] shore of the Lake. He would cross the Leontes twice, first between Tyre and Sidon, and again between Libanus and Anti-Libanus, but there is no hint as to where the second crossing took place. The object of the long circuit was to gain the retirement necessary for the training of the Twelve. He had twice failed in securing this (Mark 6:31-34, Mark 7:24).

διὰ Σιδῶνος. See crit. note. The other reading avoids the statement that He entered a city that was wholly heathen.

Δεκαπόλεως. He is once more in or near the country of the Gerasenes, where the healed demoniac has been acting as a pioneer (Mark 5:20).


Verses 31-37

31–37. RETURN TO DECAPOLIS HEALING OF A DEAF STAMMERER

Cf. Matthew 15:29-31


Verse 32

32. κωφὸν καὶ μογιλάλον. Deaf people, being unable to hear the sounds which they make, often speak very imperfectly, and sometimes cease to attempt to speak at all. Mt. is here very different; instead of a single healing he gives us an indefinite number of various kinds. ΄ογιλάλος occurs here only in N.T., and Isaiah 35:6 only in LXX. In Exodus 4:11, LXX. has δύσκωφος, the Heb. in both places being the same. Many MSS. have μογγιλάλον, as if from μογγός, “with harsh voice,” a rare word; μόγις λαλῶν is the true derivation.

παρακαλοῦσιν. The man could not speak for himself and his friends act for him, as in the case of the paralytic (Mark 2:3-5). See on Mark 8:22.

ἐπιθῇ αὐτῷ τ. χεῖρα. Cf. Mark 5:23, Mark 6:5. Christ does more than this, apparently in order to secure faith on the man’s part.


Verse 33

33. ἀπολαβόμενος. It was necessary to free the man from all distraction; this taking him apart and the using of appropriate means increased his confidence in Christ’s goodwill and power. Spittle was believed to be remedial; see on John 9:6. Syr-Sin. has “He led him from the multitude, and put His finger, and spat in his ears, and touched his tongue.” Cf. Mark 8:23; not Mark 5:37.


Verse 34

34. ἀναβλέψας. Praying for help; John 11:41.

ἐστέναξεν. Contrast the strong compound (ἀναστενάξας) used of the unbelief of the Pharisees (Mark 8:12). Signs of Christ’s perfect humanity are again evident; see on Mark 3:5 and John 11:38.

Ἐφφαθά. Aramaic with a translation; see on Mark 5:41. Deaf people understand what is spoken by watching the lips of the speaker, and a word like Ephphatha could easily be read from the lips. “Both the word and the use of saliva passed at an early time into the Baptismal rite as practised at Milan and Rome” (Swete).

διανοίχθητι. Lucian (Contemplantes 21) uses this compound of opening the ears; ὡς μηδʼ ἂν τρυπάνῳ ἔτι διανοιχθῆναι αὐτοῖς τὰ ὦτα. Vulg. has adaperire, which Curtius (IX. vii. 24) uses of the ears; adaperire aures ad criminationem.


Verse 35

35. ἠνοίγησαν. Cf. Matthew 20:33; Acts 12:10; Revelation 11:19; Revelation 15:5.

ἀκοαί. See on Mark 1:28.

ὁ δεσμὸς τῆς γλώσσης. We need not think of an actual ligament; he was released from the impediment in speech caused by his deafness. Deissmann (Light, pp. 306 f.) gives instances of spells to bind the tongue. But here there is no hint that the man was obsessed. The release took place once for all (aor.); his speaking articulately continued (imperf.).


Verse 36

36. διεστείλατο. See on Mark 5:19; Mark 5:43. He gave the charge once; and then, the more He repeated it (διεστέλλετο), the more they continued to disregard it (ἐκήρυσσον). The comparative is sometimes strengthened by μᾶλλον (2 Corinthians 7:13; Philippians 1:23), sometimes by ἔτι (Hebrews 7:15), and περισσεύω may have both (Philippians 1:9). But here μᾶλλον might mean potius, “instead of being silent they published it more exceedingly.” These commands to be silent were usually disregarded, but that does not prove that they ought not to have been given. The Decalogue is not abrogated because of man’s disobedience. Wrede (Messiasgeheimnis, p. 133) sees a contradiction between this and Mark 7:33. But Mark 7:33 does not say that Christ took the man away from everybody. No doubt some of the crowd followed, and they were people who previously had seen little or nothing of His work as a Healer. They would naturally be very demonstrative.


Verse 37

37. ὑπερπερισσῶς. Here only in Bibl. Grk, and perhaps nowhere else. see on 2 Corinthians 7:4.

ἐξεπλήσσοντο. See on Mark 1:22. This is simple history; Mk is not suggesting in an allegory the conversion of the Gentiles. He has not told us that the crowd was composed of Gentiles.

ποιεῖ. Mt. seems to have understood this as implying a number of miracles, and they appear to be required by this verse and to explain the great multitude in Mark 8:1.

ἀλάλους λαλεῖν. The combination of words is doubtless deliberate; the speechless to speak. Cf. Mark 9:24; Isaiah 35:5. Syr-Sin. has “He maketh the deaf-mutes to hear and to speak.”

 


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Mark 7:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/mark-7.html. 1896.

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