1.Scribes, which came from Jerusalem — It does not certainly appear, as Olshausen remarks, whether the scribes from Jerusalem really belong to Jerusalem, or are scribes of the north, just returned from the passover, full of the temper caught at Jerusalem, and ready to raise a dispute.
§ 66. — DEBATE WITH THE PHARISEES AND SCRIBES IN REGARD TO TRADITIONS, Mark 7:1-23.
(See notes on Matthew 15:1-20.)
2.Unwashen hands — This was not the matter of cleanliness, but of superstitious purity. The Jews of Palestine at the present day wash, indeed, after the meal, because they have handled meat with their fingers, but they wash not, either for cleanliness or superstition, before the meal. According to the Eastern custom, they sometimes think it polite, as Dr. Thomson remarks, to present to the mouth of their guests a piece of food in fingers too dirty to be agreeable to a European taste.
3.Wash their hands oft — Mark writes for Gentiles, and therefore explains Jewish customs at some length. The word here rendered oft has received very various interpretations. It properly signifies with the fists or clenched hand, and it describes the ceremonial mode of washing one hand with the other.
4.Except they wash — That is, except they baptize. A different word from the previous word rendered wash. So also in this verse the baptism of cups and pots, brazen vessels and tables. Tables — The Greek word thus translated should be rendered couches; meaning the couches upon which they used to recline at meals. We cannot suppose these couches were wholly immersed in or under water, a process which would be very likely, if often performed, to be destructive to them. We cannot but believe that these, like the “divers washings” mentioned by Saint Paul in Hebrews 9:10, were sprinklings or affusion.
6.Esaias prophesied — Matthew (Matthew 15:6-8) gives these words in a different and more appropriate order. The quotation from the prophet naturally follows as a confirmation of the description which our Lord himself gives to the Pharisees to their face. It may be added that Mark shows himself not the mere copyist of Matthew, from the fact that he does not here, as sometimes, simply add some heightening expressions; but he adds words spoken by Jesus, and with all the divine style of the Great Teacher, which are given by no other evangelist.
17.Disciples asked — Through Peter.
22.An evil eye — An envious eye.
§ 67. — HEALING OF THE SYROPHENICIAN WOMAN’S DAUGHTER, Mark 7:24-30.
(See notes on Matthew 15:21-28.)
§ 68. — HEALING DEAFNESS AND IMPEDIMENT, Mark 7:31-37.
32.One that was deaf — That had become so since his birth and learning to speak. An impediment in his speech — A defect of utterance, as some think, which had grown upon him from not hearing his own voice, as is often the case. It was more probably a tongue tie in addition to his deafness, as appears by the description of the cure in Mark 7:35.
33.Took him aside — In performing his miracles our Lord used various modes of manifesting his putting forth his divine efficiency, representing to our external senses that secret act of power which the sense cannot see. Of course some external sign was needed to show to others that the result really proceeded from his will, and that the causation really went out from his person, to accomplish the thing. Sometimes he spoke a word directing the thing to take place. Sometimes he put forth his hand. He anointed a blind man’s eye with moistened clay, and sent him to Siloam. These variations of methods, all possessing no virtue in themselves, served to show the absoluteness of the dependence upon his simple will.
From a great variety of miracles Mark seems to select this one on account of the number of significant signs used. Our Lord took him apart from the rest to signalize him out as the object of miracle; he put his fingers into his ears to mark the tympanum that was to be quickened; he spit and touched his tongue to show that its stiffened muscles must be lubricated into limberness; he looked up to heaven to indicate that the source of power was God; he spoke the word to mark that the effect was instant in time upon the command. Mark details the whole with great minuteness, and the word Ephphatha is no doubt the very Syro-Chaldaic word used by our Lord. See on Mark 5:41.
34.Looking up to heaven — He thereby declares that it is by no earthly or demoniac power that he performs this work, but by his oneness with the Father in heaven. Sighed — Either a deep aspiration to God, or a sigh for the woes which it is his mission to compassionate. Ephphatha — Here, as in the case of the words “Talitha cumi,” which pierced the dead ear of the maiden, Mark preserves the very word in the very language uttered. These words, which were impregnated with a power to pierce the unhearing, he thinks, are memorable words. The tradition of the Church had preserved them to him, and he deems them worthy to be preserved in the true written tradition of the Church of all ages. Memorable words they are, reminding us of those dread tones which shall pierce the ears of a slumbering race and wake it to a final resurrection.
35.The string of his tongue was loosed — This cannot be well understood in a metaphorical sense, and therefore clearly shows that it was a case of a fettering membrane upon the tongue.
36.Tell no man — The palace of Herod at Cesarea Philippi was not distant, and mercy and miracle must in this guilty world work in secret.
37.He hath done all things well — There is not, as some commentators seem to think, any intended allusion here to the sanction passed by the Creator upon his own works as being very good. Genesis 1:31. But the present words are none the less a significant echo. For the works of the new creation, like those of the old, are indeed very good, and all things done well. Both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak — As is shown in the case of the single person now saved.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Mark 7". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany