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Bible Commentaries
Mark 7

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

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Verses 1-37

Eating with Unwashed Hands. the Syrophoenician Woman. Healing of a Deaf Man

1-23. Eating with unwashed hands (Matthew 15:1). See on Mt.

3, 4. A note added by St. Mark for the benefit of his Gentile readers, who would not be familiar with Jewish customs. St. Matthew’s Jewish readers needed no such explanation.

3. Wash their hands oft] lit. ’wash their hands with the fist.’ The Jewish custom was to wash the hands up to the wrist, and that is probably the meaning here, although it is hard to extract it from the present (perhaps corrupt) Gk. text. Wetstein thinks that ’a fist’ is the minimum quantity of water (¼ of a hin, or pint), which was allowed for washing the hands. ’A quarter of a hin of water is the quantity appointed for one man’s hands.’ The AV, amending the text, reads, ’Except they wash their hands oft.’ RV gives ’diligently,’ a possible conjecture.

4. Except they wash] lit. ’baptise themselves.’ The Jews carefully distinguished ’washing’ the hands, i.e. pouring water over them, from ’baptising’ or dipping them. In Mark 7:3 pouring water over them is meant; but here, after a visit to the market-place, in which all kinds of defilement would be met with, dipping them is regarded as necessary. Dipping the hands was performed before meals, washing at meal-times. Washing of cups, etc.] The details are too intricate to be given here. In some cases the articles were washed, in others only sprinkled. The ’cup’ is the Lat. sextarius = 1 pint. And of tables] rather, ’of beds,’ or, couches for reclining at dinner.

11. Corban] see on Matthew 15:5.

19. Purging all meats] RVThis he said, making all meats clean’: see on Matthew 15:1-20.

24-30. The Syrophœnician woman (Matthew 15:21). See on Mt.

31-37. The deaf man with an impediment in his speech (peculiar to Mk). This miracle is selected by Mk for its unusual character. Usually our Lord healed instantaneously, here by stages: usually by a word, here by material means. The reason for the difference of treatment must be sought in the spiritual state of the sufferer. The miracle was done privately that the man, in the absence of the multitude, might be able to concentrate his attention. Jesus made use of the language of signs, because the man was deaf. He put his fingers in His ears, indicating that He would pierce through the obstruction. He touched His tongue, indicating that He would remove the impediment in his speech. Having thus produced faith in the man, He worked the miracle, Edersheim thinks that our Lord used this elaborate process because the man was a Gentile, and, therefore, was with more difficulty brought to believe and to understand.

31. Tyre] see on Matthew 15:21.

33. Spit] RV ’spat’: see John 9:6. ’He spat on his tongue, using a means of healing accepted in popular opinion of Jew and Gentile. The use of saliva for cures is universally recognised by the rabbis’ (Edersheim).

34. Sighed] moved by the afflictions of humanity. Ephphatha] Here, as often, St. Mark, following St. Peter, preserves the actual Aramaic expression of our Lord: cp. Mark 5:41.

The ceremony of ’opening the ears,’ i.e. touching them with saliva and saying ʾEphphatha, Be opened,’ was introduced into the Baptismal service probably in the 4th cent.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Mark 7". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/mark-7.html. 1909.
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