Mark Chapters 6 and 7

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Mark Chapters 6 and 7 - Christogenea on Talkshoe 10-28-2011

Before reading the first paragraph of Mark Chapter 6, it would be fitting to discuss what was customary to do on the Sabbath. It is obvious from many places in Scripture, that people gathered on the Sabbath to learn the Scripture. But it was apparently not that way from the beginning, where the command in Deuteronomy chapter 31 was to read the law to all the people once every seven years, in the year of release, on the Feast of Tabernacles.

Deuteronomy 31:10-13: 10 And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, 11 When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: 13 And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.

Of course, we do not know how well this was maintained throughout the period of the Judges and the early kingdom years. After the death of Solomon, however, it can be ascertained that little reading of the law was done in the divided kingdoms. The northern kingdom of Israel officially turned to idolatry, which is recorded in 1 Kings chapter 12. However it remains evident that in spite of that, certain pious people were indeed still accustomed to gathering to hear the Word of God on certain days. This is evident from places such as 2 Kings 4:22-23, where the ministry of Elisha is being described, and where we see the following dialogue between a woman and her husband: “22 And she called unto her husband, and said, Send me, I pray thee, one of the young men, and one of the asses, that I may run to the man of God, and come again. 23 And he said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? it is neither new moon, nor sabbath. And she said, It shall be well.” So we see that the man would have expected his wife to do such a thing on the date of a new moon or sabbath, but not on any other day. We may respond similarly today if a spouse said “I am going to the church” on a day other than Sunday.

That Judah also forsook the law and the covenant is evident in the chronicles, with the discovery of the book of the law described as having occurred in the days of Josiah. In 2 Kings chapter 22 it is evident that in the eighteenth year of Josiah the temple, which had fallen into a state of neglect, was repaired, and the book of the law found. Josiah himself is said to have declared that the people had totally neglected the law and all of the obligations related to the covenants. As it is described in 2 Kings chapter 23, Josiah then read the law to all of the people, and proceeded to put all of the pagan temples and priests and all of the “sodomites”, as they are described, out of business and out of the kingdom. Ancient Judah was no different than modern America, and Canaanite pagan debauchery no different than Jewish modernist perversity. Yet thankfully, there are still some Americans who prefer the Word of God. Even after the reforms of Josiah, from the Biblical record it is clear that the nation again neglected hearing the law, and again sank into depravity.

In the time of the governorship of Nehemiah (502-490 B.C.), after the return of the 42,000 or so people to Jerusalem, we see again that the law was read before all of the people, who must not have been accustomed to hearing it, since at Nehemiah 8:9 it says “For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.” The end of Nehemiah chapter 8 describes the reading of the law at the Feast of Tabernacles, as had been commanded in Deuteronomy nearly a thousand years beforetime. In Nehemiah 9:3 we see that the reading from the law lasted for a quarter part of the day, or at least three hours as the day was reckoned at that time.

Yet with all of this, it cannot really be told when or for how long there was an established custom among the people to read from the Scripture each Sabbath, or to meet in order to do so. While we saw here that it was evident that something along those lines happened as early as the days of Elisha, we are not certain it was maintained among many of our people since then. But in the New Testament it is fully evident that such a practice was indeed maintained among the people. It is evident in the Gospel accounts that people at the Sabbath assemblies expected to hear from the Scriptures. Later, James at Acts 15:21 is attributed as having said “For Moses from generations of old has those who are proclaiming him in each city in the assembly halls, being read each and every Sabbath.” Perhaps James was alluding to that practice which we saw was evident in the days of Elisha. The men of Beroia, as it is described in Acts chapter 17, were also evidently accustomed to this, as their reading of the Scripture is described. Paul again mentions the customary reading from the law in 2 Corinthians chapter 3. Everywhere Paul brought the gospel, as it is evident in the accounts in Acts and in his epistles, it is evident that there were customary readings of Scripture in the assemblies on the Sabbath, where both Judaeans and Greeks were gathered.

This history is included here, because it is often inquired, what Christians should do on the Sabbath. It is obvious from places such as 1 Corinthians chapters 11 through 14, what Christians should do on the Sabbath: gather to read from the law and to edify one another in the faith. While some things have changed since the apostolic age – such as the Spirit-given ability to speak in tongues – those few instructions which we were left should nevertheless serve as our model, and should be sufficient for each assembly to develop its own custom, since neither should Christians seek to rule over the faith of others.

VI 1 And He went out from there and comes into His fatherland, and His students follow Him. 2 And upon the coming of a Sabbath He began to teach in the assembly hall, and many listening were astonished, saying “From where in this Man are these things?” and “What wisdom has been given to this Man, and such powers as these coming by His hand! 3 Is this not the craftsman, the son of Maria and brother of Iakobos and Ioses and Iouda and Simon? And are His brethren not here with us?” And they were offended by Him. 4 And Yahshua said to them that “A prophet is not without honor except in his own fatherland and among his kinsmen and in his house!”

In Mark chapter 3 we read: “20 And He comes into a house, and the crowd comes along again, consequently for them not to be able even to eat bread. 21 And hearing it those of His relations came out to seize Him, for they said that He is insane. 22 And the scribes coming down from Jerusalem said that 'He has Beelzebub!' and that 'By the ruler of demons He casts out demons!'” So we see that the kinsmen of Christ “said that He is insane” even in spite of the miraculous things that He did, which were being reported. We see that same attitude all around us today, when we make professions contrary to the popular opinion, or doubt the veracity of those beliefs or attitudes which the media has contrived, and which are now popularly accepted.

5 And He was not able to do there even one feat of power, except that He placed the hands upon and healed a few of the sick.

The people were obviously programmed into the patterns of behavior accepted by society at that time. If the people refuse to open their eyes as to what is really going on, and they resist God, how could God help the people? There is a lesson for us in all of this today. If Christ performing miracles could not get His own people to open their eyes to the truth, how much more difficult should it be for us today? And those around us who know us will never accept hearing that we know a better way than the ways of the world.

In verse 3 above, we see the brothers of Christ are mentioned, and among them are Jakob – or James, and Judah – called Jude in most Bibles to distinguish him from the famous traitor. These are the authors of those epistles which we know as James and Jude in the New Testaments which we have today. Paul confirms James' apostleship at Galatians 1:19, where he states that the James whom he knew in Jerusalem (i.e. Acts chapters 15 and 21) was “James the Lord's brother”, as the King James Version has it. In the epistle of Jude, the apostle opens by calling himself “servant of Yahshua Christ and brother of Iakobos”. These two men were considered apostles, but Jude was not among the original twelve apostles named in Mark chapter 3, or Matthew chapter 10. The list of eleven apostles at Acts 1:13 includes James and Jude, the brethren of Christ.

The lists of apostles at Mark 3 and Matthew 10 agree: Simon Peter; James the son of Zebedee; John the brother of James; Andrew; Philip; Bartholomew; Matthew; Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus; Lebbaeus Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananean; and Judas Iscariot.

In Luke 6 there is a James mentioned with John who must be that same brother and son of Zebedee mentioned in Matthew and Mark. Yet in Luke's list Lebbaeus – who is only mentioned twice, once each in the original lists of Matthew and Mark - is not mentioned and seems to have dropped out of sight. To fill out the twelve "Judas the brother of James" is mentioned in his place. Yet in Luke's account in Acts we see mentioned “Petros and Iohannes, and Iakobos and Andreas [Andrew was Peter's brother, James and John were the sons of Zebedee], Philippos and Thomas, Bartholomaios and Maththaios, Iakobos son of Alphaios, and Simon the zealot [the Cananean] and Iouda the brother of Iakobos. ”

In Luke's list, Jude the brother of James must be Jude the brother of James the son of Alphaeus. Therefore one may be led to believe that Mary the mother of Christ not only had more children after she gave birth to Christ, but that she had them with a man named Alphaeus, who was apparently not the same as that Joseph whom she was married to when Christ was born. This is controversial, and intriguing, yet it certainly seems to be true. Nevertheless, at the beginning of His ministry, at least a majority – if not all – of the kinsmen of Christ thought that He was mad, and did not believe Him at all.

6 And He marveled on account of their disbelief. And He went about the surrounding villages teaching. 7 And He summons the twelve and began to send them off in pairs and gave to them authority over unclean spirits, 8 and commanded them that they “should take nothing on the road except a staff only: not bread, not a bag, not copper coin for the belt, 9 but having bound sandals, and you should not wear two cloaks.” 10 And He said to them: “Wherever you should enter into a house, you stay there until you should depart from there. 11 And whatever place should not receive you nor hear you, going out from there you shake off the dust from under your feet for a testimony to them.” 12 And going out they proclaimed in order that they should repent, 13 and they cast out many demons, and anointed with olive oil and healed many sick.

We read about this same mission in Matthew chapter 10 and in Luke chapter 9. Yet only here do we read explicitly that Christ sent the apostles off “in pairs”, which is certainly why when they are listed in Matthew's account they are also listed in pairs.

One lesson in the gospel, is that there is a time and a place for everything, and that the Word of God must be fulfilled in its season. At Luke chapter 22, verses 35-38, Christ recounts this mission which He had sent the apostles on earlier, where it reads: “35 And He said to them: 'When I sent you without purse and wallet and sandals, did you have want of anything?' And they said 'Nothing.' 36 Then He said to them: 'But now he having a purse must take it, and likewise a wallet, and he not having a sword must sell his garment and buy one....'” Christ knew at the first that the apostles would not face any adversity which necessitated violence upon their immediate mission, for as He said in Luke of this same event that “Behold! I have given to you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions [Edomites and Canaanites], and upon all the power of the enemy, and no one shall by any means do you injustice.” Yet with His passing, the day was coming that they would indeed have to defend themselves on account of the faith.

The King James Version has an interpolation at the end of verse 11 which reads: “ Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.” This statement appears in the Codex Alexandrinus and in several Syriac, Coptic and Latin manuscripts which followed the Greek, but it does not appear in any of the other major Greek codices, including the Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Bezae and Ephraemi Syri. The Majority Text upon which the King James Version was founded is shown again and again to follow the Alexandrian tradition throughout the Scripture. While this passage surely does appear in Matthew 10:15 in that version of this account, it does not belong here.

14 And Herodas the king heard, for His name became known, and he said that “Iohannes the Baptist has arisen from the dead and for this reason powers operate in him!” 15 But others said that “It is Elijah!” And others said that “He is a prophet like one of the prophets!” 16 Then hearing it Herodas said “Iohannes whom I beheaded, he has arisen!”

[At least partially out of necessity, I shall repeat some things here that I said in my presentation of Matthew chapter 14. This account is also related in Luke chapter 9. ] This is the first time we have seen the name Herod in Mark, but this is not the same Herod as that Herod who was king of Judaea at the time of the birth of Christ. There are ten different men named Herod, all of the same family of Edomites, identified in the index to Whiston's Complete Works of Josephus. That first Herod, whom the jews like to call “the great”, is more properly known as the usurping murderer of the Hasamoneans and the son of the Edomite Antipater. He died just a short time after the birth of Christ, about 1 or 2 BC. He was succeeded by his son, Herod Archelaus, who was so cruel that after only a few years the Romans took the kingdom from him and exiled him to Vienna in Gaul [a city in what is now the southeast of modern France]. From that point on Judaea was split into four pieces, and rulers called tetrarchs were set over them, a tetrarch being a ruler of a fourth. This Herod here is Herod Antipas, another son of the first Herod, and he and his brother Philip each received a tetrarchy in their father's old kingdom from Rome.

Herod Antipas was tetrarch over Galilee and Peraea (which was just east of the Jordan). Philip was tetrarch of Gaulanitis, Trachonitis and Panaea, which were all north of Peraea and east of the Sea of Galilee. Some time after Philip's death, another Herod, named Agrippa, was by the emperor Caligula made a king of this tetrarchy, since Philip had left no sons. Herod Agrippa was a grandson of the first Herod by Aristobulus, a son whom Herod had put to death. It is Herod the tetrarch, however, Philip's brother, the Herod who had his brother's wife, who is the Herod so prominent in the Gospels during the ministry of Christ. When John the Baptist upbraided Herod for taking Philip's wife as his own, Philip was still alive – for which see Josephus, Antiquities, 18.5.4. This Herod the tetrarch was later banished to Spain by Caligula (who was emperor from 37-41 AD), and his tetrarchy was added to the kingdom of Herod Agrippa (Josephus, Wars, 2.9.6). It is Herod Agrippa whose death is described later, in Acts chapter 12.

The family of Herod is quite confusing, since many of them were adulterers, and they married their own nieces and first cousins as well as their brother's wives, and they typically used only a handful of names across their generations. There are basically four men named Herod mentioned in the New Testament. These are Herod the usurper at the birth of Christ, Herod the tetrarch during the ministry of Christ, Herod Agrippa I in Acts chapter 12, and Herod Agrippa II at the end of Acts, who is called only Agrippa in the account given there. That last Herod had an incestuous relationship with the woman Bernice who is mentioned along with him in that account in Acts, who was his sister and not – in the civil sense – his wife.

Here we see that not only is it attributed that Herod the tetrarch was quite superstitious, but that he believed in the possibility of resurrection and therefore also in a continuance of the spirit after death. Therefore it is not likely that he followed the Sadducees, who were the high priests at the time (Acts chapter 5). The Sadducees rejected everything spiritual, while the Pharisees accepted the spiritual as fact. This difference in their beliefs often set the Sadducees and Pharisees at odds, causing contention between them, as we see at the beginning of Acts chapter 23.

17 For Herodas himself having sent seized Iohannes and bound him in prison on account of Herodias the wife of Philippos his brother, because he had married her. 18 For Iohannes had said to Herodas that “It is not lawful for you to have the wife of your brother!” 19 And Herodias held it against him and desired to kill him, and she was not able. (20 For Herodas feared Iohannes, knowing that he is a just and holy man. And he watched out for him, and hearing him he was often in doubt, yet gladly he heard him.)

Isn't t amazing that then, even as we see today, the Edomite Jew hates all of those who would actually uphold the laws of God, even while their rabbis give them lip service.

Leviticus 18:16 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it is thy brother's nakedness.

Leviticus 20:21 And if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother's nakedness; they shall be childless.

21 And an opportune day coming, when Herodas held a dinner for his birthday with his noblemen and the commanders and the first men of Galilaia, 22 and his daughter by Herodias having entered in and dancing pleased Herodas and those reclining together, the king said to the girl: “Ask me whatever you may desire, and I shall give it to you!” 23 And he swore to her: “Whatever you may ask me, I shall give to you, so much as half of my kingdom!” 24 And having gone out she said to her mother: “What should I ask?” And she said: “For the head of Iohannes the Baptist.” 25 And immediately entering in to the king with zeal she asked, saying “I desire that at once you should give to me the head of Iohannes the Baptist upon a plate!” 26 And the king becoming quite grieved on account of the oaths and those reclining together did not want to refuse her. 27 And immediately the king having sent a body-guard commanded his head to be brought. And having departed he beheaded him in the prison. 28 And he brought his head upon a plate and gave it to the girl, and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 And his students having heard came and took his body and buried it in a tomb.

As can be seen in Matthew chapter 14, the girl's mother is named Herodias. Herodias was not only the former wife of Philip, this Herod's brother, but she was also their half- niece, the daughter of that Aristobulus who was the son that the first Herod put to death, and she was the full sister of Herod Agrippa I who came to rule over Herod the tetrarch's dominion, so she was the aunt of Herod Agrippa II.

Herod the tetrarch and Philip were both sired by the first Herod with Mariamne, the daughter of Hyrcanus, the last High Priest of the Hasamonean dynasty, whom Herod killed. It is amazing, that the man whom the jews love to call “Herod the Great” gained his kingdom by bribery and treachery, and had killed both several of his own sons, wives, his father-in-law, and many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other people. If the people whom we know as jews were indeed Israel, they would hate the Herods, rather than adulating them. Herod even married his own niece (contrary to Hebrew law), as many of his children and grandchildren later did. Herod Agrippa was the son of this first Herod by his niece, the daughter of his sister Salome, and she was named Bernice. We have seen that Herod Agrippa also had two children – Herod Agrippa II and Bernice, who were themselves later involved in incest. The name Bernice is recorded among women six times in the family of Herod – adding to the confusion. This Herodiana who was married to both Philip and then Herod the Tetrarch, was also a daughter of Aristobulus, the son of the first Herod, and so she was both wife and niece to each of them.

Here is what the historian Flavius Josephus wrote of the death of John, after Herod had gone to war against Aretas the king of Arabia and suffered defeat:

2. (116) Now, some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist; (117) for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [ with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. (118) Now, when [many] others came in crowds about him, for they were greatly moved [or pleased] by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion (for they seemed ready to do anything he should advise), thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it should be too late. (119) Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod's suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God's displeasure against him.

The Romans, as Josephus goes on to describe, then sent Vitellius with two legions against Aretus king of Arabia. Now it should be evident, that Josephus' account, written perhaps 60 years after these things actually happened, is revisionist in the reason he gave for Herod's having killed John. It may well have been that this was the excuse later used by Herod, who was clearly embarrassed at the circumstances under which he put John to death, and we need not look on either version as suspect or even totally dishonest. What we actually see is the difference between eyewitness account and political history, much like we see all the time today, where accounts of events are spun in order to suit those in power. The Gospel is the eyewitness account, and Josephus represents the political history.

[If some day we read a true eyewitness account of reasons for the recent destruction of Libya, we may read something which describes the jewish bankers lust for power and money and Libyan resources as reason why they funded the overthrow of the Libyan government. But if we read the political history of the victors, we nay see that the Libya's ruler was an evil tyrant and that a so-called “regime change” ]was necessary for humanitarian reasons. Such is how history is written.

30 And the ambassadors gather to Yahshua and they reported to Him all things whatever they had done and as much as they taught. 31 And He says to them “You yourselves come alone into a desert place and rest a little.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have an opportunity to eat. 32 And they went off in a vessel to a desert place by themselves. 33 And many saw them going and recognized them and running together on foot from every city to that place then they came ahead of them. 34 And having come out He saw a great crowd and was deeply moved by them, because they were “as sheep not having a shepherd”, and He began to teach them many things.

This last pericope does not appear in Matthew's account. The various Gospel perspectives do not actually conflict with one another. Rather, for having them we should be grateful, since they help us piece together a more complete picture of what had transpired at that fateful time in our history, than we would have if we had only one or two accounts. There is certainly a good reason why we were provided with four.

35 And it already having been a late hour, His students coming forth to Him said that “It is a desert place and already the hour is late. 36 Release them, in order that departing to the surrounding farms and villages they may buy for themselves something to eat!” 37 And replying He said to them: “You give them to eat!” And they say to Him: “Departing could we buy two hundred denarii of wheat loaves and give to them to eat?” [If they had the money, they would not have a place to buy the bread.] 38 And He says to them “How many loaves do you have? Go look!” And learning they say “Five, and two fish.” 39 And He commanded them all to be reclined in parties upon the grass. [39 καὶ ἐπέταξεν αὐτοῖς ἀνακλῖναι πάντας συμπόσια συμπόσια ἐπὶ τῶ χλωρῶ χόρτῳ.] 40 And they reclined in groups, some a hundred and some fifty. [40 καὶ ἀνέπεσαν πρασιαὶ πρασιαὶ κατὰ ἑκατὸν καὶ κατὰ πεντήκοντα.] 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, looking up to the heaven He blessed and broke the loaves and gave them to His students in order that they would serve them, and He divided the two fish for all. 42 And they all ate and were satiated, 43 and there were twelve baskets full of fragments, and from the fish. 44 And those eating the loaves were five thousand men.

Mark's use of the phrases “συμπόσια συμπόσια” and “πρασιαὶ πρασιαὶ” where the translation given above says “in parties” and “in groups” is called by some scholars “distributive doubling”. It is a use of Greek which some consider to be poetic, and others vulgar. It is also thought to be a Hebraism. The language here being quite flowery (where the word for grass is actually a phrase, green grass), I believe the passage is written in a poetical Hebrew picture-drawing formula which does not carry over well through Greek and into English, and therefore in the Christogenea New Testament I translated the passage in a simple narrative manner. Matthew, at 14:21, says of this event “Now those men eating were about five thousand, besides women and children!”

As I said presenting my commentary on this very event in the Gospel of Matthew, these examples are here so that we know, that if indeed God wants us to eat, then we shall eat and we shall have plenty. While there is no precise Old Testament prophecy of this miracle, aside from the feeding of Israel with manna in the desert, the manna in the desert did not fail our fathers for forty years. But there is one Old Testament precedent for this very same miracle, an example at 2 Kings 4: 42: “And there came a man from Baalshalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat. 43 And his servitor said, What, should I set this before an hundred men? He said again, Give the people, that they may eat: for thus saith the LORD, They shall eat, and shall leave thereof. 44 So he set it before them, and they did eat, and left thereof, according to the word of the LORD.” While it is not as extreme an example as a few loaves and fish for five thousand, we see that a large group of people were somehow filled, and there were leftovers, from a relatively small amount of food, and there were certainly women and children with the hundred men also, as there were with the five thousand. In another place, the woman of Zarephath who comforted Elijah ate for many days from a small amount of meal and oil, while there was a great famine in the land because it did not rain for quite some time. It says at 1 Kings 17:16: that “the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.” When Elijah met the woman, the barrel contained but a handful of meal. Christ tells us in Luke chapter 12: “22 … Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. 23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.” We should believe Him – our God shall provide for us in the hardest of times. But that does not mean that food will drop from heaven. It rather only means that at the least, He will provide us with the means to obtain what is sufficient for our sustenance.

45 And immediately He compelled His students to board into the vessel and to go ahead to the other side to Bethsaïda, until He releases the crowd. 46 And having disposed with them He went off into the mountain to pray. 47 And it becoming late the vessel was in the midst of the sea, and He alone upon the land. 48 And seeing them being tried while sailing – for there was a wind opposing them – around the fourth watch of the night He comes to them walking upon the sea, and He wished to pass them by. 49 But they seeing Him walking upon the sea supposed that it is an apparition, and they cried out. 50 For they all saw Him and were troubled. And immediately He spoke with them, and says to them: “Have courage, it is I! Do not fear!” 51 And He went up to them into the vessel and the wind abated, and they were exceedingly astonished within themselves, 52 for they did not understand after the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

There is no prophecy of Christ walking on water that I have found, but there are some poetic references in prophecy to Yahweh doing this same thing. Psalm 77:19: “Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.”; Job 9:8: “Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.”; and Isaiah 43:16: “Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters”. So by walking on the water, I believe that Christ again shows us that indeed He is Yahweh. He also shows us, I believe, that we will overcome the physical world, if indeed we follow Him, as He told us, at Matthew 17:20: “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”

53 And crossing over towards the land they came to Gennesaret, and they anchored nearby. 54 And upon their coming out from the vessel, immediately recognizing Him, 55 they ran about that entire region and began to bring around upon cots those having maladies wherever they heard that He is. 56 And wherever He entered into a village or into a city or into the farms, in the marketplaces they set down those who are sick and they exhorted Him in order that if they could even touch the border of His garment, and as many as touched Him were saved.

This passage is also found in this order in Matthew chapter 14. The word Gennesaret is apparently the Hellenized form of Kinneroth, an Old Testament town of Naphtali, and the same as the Old Testament name for the Sea of Galilee, which was the Sea of Chinneroth (Joshua 12:3). The town was on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, which was called Lake Tiberias by the Romans.

We see in Mark chapter 5 (as well as Matthew 9 and Luke 8) the woman who had the issue of blood for twelve years, who also believed that she would be healed if only she touched the border of His garment, and she was. Of course, it was most likely not the touching of the garment that healed the woman, but rather the faith which she had that she attributed to the touching of the garment.

VII 1 And the Pharisees and some of the scribes having come from Jerusalem gather together to Him. 2 And seeing some of His students, that with profane hands – that is, unwashed – they eat bread (3 for the Pharisees and all the Judaeans if they do not wash the hands to the elbow [There is a Greek word here, πυγμή, which in the Dative Case means “to the elbow”, the word meaning a fist as well as being a unit of measure of the distance from the knuckles to the elbow. The King James Version translators seem to have confused this word with another, πυκνός, which can mean often. Some manuscripts do have πυκνός, but according to the Novum Testamentum Graece the Majority Text has πυγμή] they do not eat, holding to the tradition of the elders [which had far less concern for profane people, which Esau was], 4 and from the marketplace if they do not rinse they do not eat, and there are many other things which they undertook to hold to, washings of cups and pitchers and pots) [most of this seems to come from a fanatical keeping of the food laws] 5 and the Pharisees and the scribes questioned Him: “For what reason do Your students not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but with profane hands they eat bread?” 6 But He said to them: “Well did Isaiah prophecy concerning your hypocrisy, as it is written that ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their hearts keep far from Me! 7 And vainly do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men!’ 8 Leaving the commandment of Yahweh you hold to the tradition of men!”

Isaiah 29:13: “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.”

The pharisees publicly appeared to keep the law to a fanatical degree. Yet in substance they disdained the law, and dishonored it in many ways. The later rabbinical writings, which began to develop not long after this time, are a good reflection of the beliefs and practices of the pharisees. The debates over the law found in the Mishnah of the Talmud are a collection of sick and twisted Jewish interpretations designed to circumvent the law rather than uphold it.

9 And He said to them: “Well do you reject the commandment of Yahweh, that you may keep your tradition! 10 For Moses said: ‘Honor your father and your mother’, and ‘He speaking evil of father or mother must die in sentence of death’! 11 But you say: ‘If a man should say to father or mother; whatever you have benefited from me is korban (which is a gift)’, you no longer allow him to do anything for the father or mother, rendering void the Word of Yahweh by your tradition which you have transmitted, and many such similar things which you do!”

A man should have an obligation to care for his parents in their old age, as his parents raised him up and cared for him when he was young. Exodus 20:12: “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” Exodus 21:15: “And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.” Exodus 21:17: “And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.” Neglecting aged parents, you do all of these things.

14 And summoning the crowd again He said to them: “All must hear Me and understand! 15 There is nothing outside of the man entering into him which is able to defile him, but the things coming out from a man are the things defiling him!”

A lot of really silly people, and perhaps a lot of outright deceivers, have over the years turned this statement into an insistence that Christ would advocate the consumption of poisons as an act of faith, or the eating of swine, or many other things which are obviously not fit to eat. But in context, here He is only talking about food. In the explanation of the parable which follows, which is not found in Matthew, we see that He is clearly talking about only foods. The Pharisees were taking the law to extremes, so insistent that a man must not consume a speck of dirt or a mite or a gnat that they sought to regulate their entire lives with such strict commandments. Christ is simply telling them that a little dirt really does not matter, and that such is not why the law was given in the first place. Likewise, it is recorded in Matthew chapter 23 that He called them “Blind guides, straining out the gnat, but swallowing the camel”.

Mark 7:16 is most likely an interpolation, found in the Codices Alexandrinus, Washingtonensis and Bezae, and therefore in the King James Version. It is not found in the older Codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.

17 And when He had entered into a house away from the crowd, His students asked Him the parable. 18 And He says to them: “Thusly also are you without understanding? Do you not perceive that everything from outside entering into the man is not able to defile him 19 because it does not enter into his heart but into the belly, and it goes out into the latrine, cleansing all foods?” 20 Then He said that “That which is coming out from the man, that would defile the man. 21 For from inside of the hearts of men are evil reasonings coming out, acts of fornication, thefts, murders, 22 acts of adultery, greediness, wickedness, treachery, licentiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, arrogance, foolishness; 23 all these wicked thing come out from inside and defile the man!”

The food laws are for the benefit of man, and not man for the benefit of the law. It is not a sin to eat a speck of dust or a mite or a little dirt on our hands. Rather, it is the things which we do that can more readily harm us, and not those incidental things which the Pharisees, and today's governments, regulate endlessly.

24 And arising from there He departed for the borders of Turos and Sidon. And entering into a house He desired to know no one, yet was not able to escape notice, 25 but immediately a woman hearing about Him, of whom her daughter had an unclean spirit, having come fell to His feet, 26 and the woman was a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by race, and she asked Him that He would cast out the demon from her daughter. 27 And He said to her: “Let the children be fed first, for it is not good to take the bread of the children and cast it to the little dogs!” 28 But she responded and says to Him “Yes, Master, yet the little dogs under the table eat from the crumbs of the children!” 29 And He said to her “On account of this word, go! The demon has departed from your daughter!” 30 And having gone off to her house she found the child cast upon a couch and the demon departed.

Here again I shall repeat ,many of the things which I discussed concerning this event when I did the commentary for the gospel of Matthew.

Before beginning to explain this account, it must be understood that this woman was indeed a Canaanite, and nothing else. Here Mark calls the woman a “Syro-Phoenician”. That is not a Greek ethnic description, but only a geographical description, one that the Greeks and Romans would understand. Mark also calls her a “Greek”, and neither is that an ethnic description, but only a cultural one! The Greeks did not call themselves Greeks, but rather they called themselves after either their tribes or their districts. So there were Ionians and Dorians, or Athenians and Corinthians. The term “Greek” properly represented a language and a manner of living. However Matthew, a Hebrew, identifies the woman as a Canaanite, which is a word virtually unknown to the Greeks, and which was not an ethnic or a geographical description in use at the time. The word Canaanite does not appear in Greek writing at all up to this point, except for the Septuagint. The Greeks knew of Syrians, Idumaeans, Arabians, etc., but not as Canaanites. Therefore Matthew must be identifying her from a racial perspective, and the Greeks were not aware of the Canaanite race as a distinct entity, excepting what is found in the Septuagint, in the passages referring to those events of antiquity. However the Hebrews were indeed aware of the Canaanites, and could make a more accurate distinction, being much more intimate with them. The woman is clearly a Canaanite. Mark's description of her means nothing from a practical Biblical perspective, but only identifies the woman from a vulgar Greek or Roman perspective.

Here, in the account of Christ and the Canaanite woman, we have a model of the suppliant recognizing and beseeching a powerful man. The concept of the suppliant was very important in the ancient world, and we in modern times have lost it in the mechanizations of bureaucracy. A suppliant, or supplicant, is today in English merely one who makes a humble, earnest, and expectantly sincere plea for something from another. But in the ancient world the idea had a religious connotation attached to it. Those who refused suppliants were seen as cruel, and invited the wrath of the gods – or of God – upon themselves. Suppliants often acted in desperation, and took olive branches as a sign of their humbled state, sometimes even wearing garments of mourning, throwing themselves at the feet of a ruler, a general, or even an altar, often grasping the garment of the one they sought favor from, and they begged earnestly for the mercy that they wished to receive.

The Greek tragic poets very often portrayed suppliants in their plays. Euripides wrote a play, Suppliant Women. Aeschylus likewise, Suppliant Maidens. Both of those stories are accounts of the Danaans who had come from Egypt to Argos, in ancient Greece. The opening line of Aeschylus' version, from the Loeb Classical Library, reads thus, a chorus of Danaan women doing the talking: “May Zeus, who guardeth suppliants, of his grace look upon our company that took ship and put to sea from the outmost land of fine sand at the outlets of the Nile.” The suppliant was often a subject of Greek poetry, and of history, whether the suppliant be at the feet of a general or king, an ancient hero, or the altar of a pagan idol.

From Plato, Laws, Book 5, on suppliants: In his relations to strangers, a man should consider that a contract is a most holy thing, and that all concerns and wrongs of strangers are more directly dependent on the protection of God, than wrongs done to citizens; for the stranger, having no kindred and friends, is more to be pitied by Gods and men. Wherefore, also, he who is most able to avenge him is most zealous in his cause; and he who is most able is the genius and the god of the stranger, who follow in the train of Zeus, the god of strangers. And for this reason, he who has a spark of caution in him, will do his best to pass through life without sinning against the stranger. And of offences committed, whether against strangers or fellow-countrymen, that against suppliants is the greatest. For the God who witnessed to the agreement made with the suppliant, becomes in a special manner the guardian of the sufferer; and he will certainly not suffer unavenged.

From Livy, the ancient Roman historian, here we shall see some references shedding light on the ancient concept of the suppliant:

From Livy, The History of Rome, Book 2 Chapter 14, describing a war between Rome and the Etruscans: “By these means the Etrurians, after having almost gained the victory, were surrounded and cut to pieces: a very small part of them, their general being lost, and no place of safety nearer, made the best of their way to Rome, without arms, and in their circumstances and appearance merely like suppliants; there they were kindly received, and provided with lodgings: when their wounds were cured, some of them returned home, and gave an account of the hospitality and kindness which they had experienced. A great number remained at Rome, induced by the regard which they had contracted for their hosts and for the city: they had ground allotted to them for building houses, which was afterwards called the Tuscan street.”

From Livy, The History of Rome, Book 2 Chapter 14, of an event which took place during the Punic Wars: Hippocrates and Epycides knowing them by their standards, and the fashion of their armour, advanced to them, holding out olive branches and other emblems of suppliants, and besought them to receive them into their ranks, to protect them there, and not to betray them into the hands of the Syracusans, by whom they themselves would soon be delivered up to the Romans, to be murdered. The Cretans immediately, with one voice, bade them keep up their courage, for they should share every fortune with them.

From Livy, The History of Rome, Book 45 Chapter 6, on the defeat of Perseus the king of Macedon, in a final military defeat at the hands of the Romans, at which he took refuge in a temple on Samothrace: “Then, after uttering many execrations against fortune, and the gods to whom the temple belonged, for not affording aid to a suppliant, he [Perseus] surrendered himself, and his son, to [Cneius] Octavius.”

From Homer's Odyssey, Book 9, Odysseus is addressing Alcinous, king of the Phaeacians, on the legendary island of Scheria: "We were frightened out of our senses by his loud voice and monstrous form, but I managed to say, 'We are Achaeans on our way home from Troy, but by the will of Jove, and stress of weather, we have been driven far out of our course. We are the people of Agamemnon, son of Atreus, who has won infinite renown throughout the whole world, by sacking so great a city and killing so many people. We therefore humbly pray you to show us some hospitality, and otherwise make us such presents as visitors may reasonably expect. May your excellency fear the wrath of heaven, for we are your suppliants, and Jove takes all respectable travellers under his protection, for he is the avenger of all suppliants and foreigners in distress.'

The eastern traditions concerning suppliants surely grew out of the ancient Hebrew commandment found at Exodus 22:21: “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Once we understand the importance which was placed on such supplication in the ancient world, we can begin to understand the exchange between Yahshua and the Canaanite woman. Here I will repeat the passage from Mark:

24 And arising from there He departed for the borders of Turos and Sidon. And entering into a house He desired to know no one, yet was not able to escape notice, 25 but immediately a woman hearing about Him, of whom her daughter had an unclean spirit, having come fell to His feet, 26 and the woman was a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by race, and she asked Him that He would cast out the demon from her daughter. 27 And He said to her: “Let the children be fed first, for it is not good to take the bread of the children and cast it to the little dogs!” 28 But she responded and says to Him “Yes, Master, yet the little dogs under the table eat from the crumbs of the children!” 29 And He said to her “On account of this word, go! The demon has departed from your daughter!” 30 And having gone off to her house she found the child cast upon a couch and the demon departed.

We see in Matthew 15:22, which Mark did not record, that the woman exclaimed “Pity me, Master, Son of David! ” Yahshua did not desire to help the Canaanite woman, even though by calling Him the “son of David” she recognized His legitimate claim as King, the heir to the throne of David. He told also her that His coming was for Israel exclusively, and for nobody else, as we see that He told her at Matthew 15:24 that “I have not been sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel!”. Of course since Yahweh does not change, that is still true today. The woman was clearly unworthy of His attention. The apostles wanted to get rid of her, which is clear from Matthew 15:23, and they were never chastised for having that attitude, therefore it could not have been wrong. But the woman continued, and made obeisance to Him, meaning that she fell to His feet in her begging for His mercy.

The woman, once having fully – and evidently sincerely - agreed with all of Christ's statements, by all measures of mercy and clemency, it not actually costing Yahshua anything to grant her wish, He was given little choice but to do so. He always complied with the cultural norms of the time, and it cost Him nothing, such as when Peter retrieved the coin from the mouth of the fish to pay the strangers' tax. The woman, while an enemy, was a supplicant who recognized both His kingship and His purpose, and had agreed with Him fully, while prostrating herself at His feet. Since it was He who also declared that the Wheat and the Tares must live together until the time of the end, He had little choice in the perspective of His Own affirmed righteousness, than to grant her wish as she desired. However His granting her wish, which was the healing of her daughter, does not mean that she is granted salvation in the context of eternal life. She is still a dog, and her daughter is still a dog. When the time of the end comes, they or their descendants are still going to be gathered and burned in the fire, since they are still tares. Granting her wish, she was not somehow transformed into a sheep.

31 And again coming out from the borders of Turos He came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilaia midway between the borders of Dekapolis. 32 And they bring to Him a deaf and dumb man and exhorted Him that He would lay the hand upon him. 33 And taking him away from the crowd by himself, He put His finger into his ears and spitting touched his tongue, 34 and looking up to the heaven He groaned and says to him: “Ephphatha!” (which is “Be opened!”), 35 and his ear opened, and the binding of his tongue loosed and he spoke correctly. 36 And He ordered them that they should tell it to no one, but as much as He commanded them, still more abundantly they proclaimed it. 37 And they were over-abundantly astonished, saying “He has done all good things! And He makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak!”

Yahshua knew that the authorities would be upset that He did such things, and perhaps this serves as an example for us today. We also know that those in places of authority in this world hate the truth, and that they endeavor to destroy it, and yet we ourselves – like the man who was healed here - still cannot keep quiet about it.

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