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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Mark: Chapter 7)

7:2 {With defiled, that is unwashen hands} (\koinais chersin,
tout' estin aniptois\)
. Associative instrumental case. Originally
\koinos\ meant what was common to everybody like the _Koinē_
Greek. But in later Greek it came also to mean as here what is
vulgar or profane. So Peter in Ac 10:14 "common and unclean."
The next step was the ceremonially unclean. The emissaries of the
Pharisees and the scribes from Jerusalem had seen "some of the
disciples" eat without washing their hands, how many we are not
told. Swete suggests that in going through the plain the
disciples were seen eating some of the bread preserved in the
twelve baskets the afternoon before across the lake. There was no
particular opportunity to wash the hands, a very proper thing to
do before eating for sanitary reasons. But the objection raised
is on ceremonial, not sanitary, grounds.

7:3 {Diligently} (\pugmēi\). Instrumental case, {with the fist},
up to the elbow, rubbing one hand and arm with the other hand
clenched. Aleph had \pukna\ probably because of the difficulty
about \pugmēi\ (kin to Latin _pugnus_). Schultess considers it a
dry wash or rubbing of the hands without water as a ritualistic
concession. The middle voice \nipsōntai\ means their own hands.
This verb is often used for parts of the body while \louō\ is
used of the whole body (Joh 13:10). On the tradition of the
elders see on ¯Mt 15:2.

7:4 {From the marketplace} (\ap' agoras\). Ceremonial defilement
was inevitable in the mixing with men in public. This \agora\
from \ageirō\ to collect or gather, was a public forum in every
town where the people gathered like the courthouse square in
American towns. The disciples were already ceremonially defiled.
{Wash themselves} (\baptisōntai\). First aorist middle
subjunctive of \baptizō\, dip or immerse. Westcott and Hort put
\rantisōntai\ in the text translated "sprinkle themselves" in the
margin of the Revised Version, because Aleph, B, and some of the
best cursives have it. Gould terms \rantisōntai\ "a manifest
emendation," to get rid of the difficulty of dipping or bathing
the whole body. Meyer says: "The statement proceeds by way of
climax: before eating they wash the hands always. When they come
from market they take a bath before eating." This is not the
place to enter into any controversy about the meaning of
\baptizō\, to dip, \rantizō\, to sprinkle, and \eccheō\, to pour,
all used in the New Testament. The words have their distinctive
meanings here as elsewhere. Some scribes felt a difficulty about
the use of \baptisōntai\ here. The Western and Syrian classes of
manuscripts add "and couches" (\kai klinōn\) at the end of the
sentence. Swete considers the immersions of beds (\baptismous
"an incongruous combination." But Gould says: "Edersheim
shows that the Jewish ordinance required immersions,
\baptismous\, of these vessels." We must let the Jewish
scrupulosity stand for itself, though "and couches" is not
supported by Aleph, B L D Bohairic, probably not genuine.

7:6 {Well} (\kalōs\). Appositely here, but ironical sarcasm in
verse 9. Note here "you hypocrites" (\humōn tōn hupokritōn\).

7:8 {Ye leave the commandment of God} (\aphentes tēn entolēn tou
. Note the sharp contrast between the command of God and
the traditions of men. Jesus here drives a keen wedge into the
Pharisaic contention. They had covered up the Word of God with
their oral teaching. Jesus here shows that they care more for the
oral teaching of the scribes and elders than for the written law
of God. The Talmud gives abundant and specific confirmation of
the truthfulness of this indictment.

7:9 {Full well do ye reject the commandment of God that ye may
keep your traditions}
(\kalōs atheteite tēn entolēn tou theou
hina tēn paradosin humōn tērēsēte\)
. One can almost see the
scribes withering under this terrible arraignment. It was biting
sarcasm that cut to the bone. The evident irony should prevent
literal interpretation as commendation of the Pharisaic pervasion
of God's word. See my _The Pharisees and Jesus_ for illustrations
of the way that they placed this oral tradition above the written
law. See on ¯Mt 15:7.

7:11 {Corban} (\korban ho estin dōron\). See on ¯Mt 15:5. Mark
preserves the Hebrew word for a gift or offering to God (Ex
21:17; Le 20:9)
, indeclinable here, meaning {gift} (\dōron\),
but declinable \korbanas\ in Mt 27:6, meaning sacred treasury.
The rabbis ({but ye say}, \humeis de legete\) actually allowed
the mere saying of this word by an unfaithful son to prevent the
use of needed money for the support of father or mother. It was a
home thrust to these pettifogging sticklers for ceremonial
punctilios. They not only justified such a son's trickery, but
held that he was prohibited from using it for father or mother,
but he might use it for himself.

7:13 {Making void the word of God by your tradition} (\akurountes
ton logon tou theou tēi paradosei humōn\)
. See on ¯Mt 15:6 for
the word \akurountes\, invalidating, a stronger word than
\athetein\, to set aside, in verse 9. See both used in Ga
3:15,17. Setting aside does invalidate.

7:14 {And he called to him the multitude again} (\kai
proskalesamenos palin ton ochlon\)
. Aorist middle participle,
calling to himself. The rabbis had attacked the disciples about
not washing their hands before eating. Jesus now turned the
tables on them completely and laid bare their hollow pretentious
hypocrisy to the people. {Hear me all of you and understand}
(\akousate mou pantes kai suniete\). A most pointed appeal to the
people to see into and see through the chicanery of these
ecclesiastics. See on ¯Mt 15:11 for discussion.

7:17 {When he was entered into the house from the multitude}
(\hote eisēlthen eis oikon apo tou ochlou\). This detail in Mark
alone, probably in Peter's house in Capernaum. To the crowd Jesus
spoke the parable of corban, but the disciples want it
interpreted (cf. 4:10ff.,33ff.). Mt 15:15 represents Peter as
the spokesman as was usually the case.

7:18 {Are ye so without understanding also?} (\Houtōs kai humeis
asunetoi este;\)
. See on ¯Mt 15:16. You also as well as the
multitude. It was a discouraging moment for the great Teacher if
his own chosen pupils (disciples) were still under the spell of
the Pharisaic theological outlook. It was a riddle to them. "They
had been trained in Judaism, in which the distinction between
clean and unclean is ingrained, and could not understand a
statement abrogating this" (Gould). They had noticed that the
Pharisees stumbled at the parable of Jesus (Mt 15:12). They
were stumbling themselves and did not know how to answer the
Pharisees. Jesus charges the disciples with intellectual dulness
and spiritual stupidity.

7:19 {Making all meats clean} (\katharizōn panta ta brōmata\).
This anacoluthon can be understood by repeating {he says}
(\legei\) from verse 18. The masculine participle agrees with
Jesus, the speaker. The words do not come from Jesus, but are
added by Mark. Peter reports this item to Mark, probably with a
vivid recollection of his own experience on the housetop in Joppa
when in the vision Peter declined three times the Lord's
invitation to kill and eat unclean animals (Ac 10:14-16). It
was a riddle to Peter as late as that day. "Christ asserts that
_Levitical_ uncleanness, such as eating with unwashed hands, is
of small importance compared with _moral_ uncleanness" (Vincent).
The two chief words in both incidents, here and in Acts, are
{defile} (\koinoō\) and {cleanse} (\katharizō\). "What God
cleansed do not thou treat as defiled" (Ac 10:15). It was a
revolutionary declaration by Jesus and Peter was slow to
understand it even after the coming of the Holy Spirit at
Pentecost. Jesus was amply justified in his astonished question:
{Perceive ye not?} (\ou noeite;\). They were making little use of
their intelligence in trying to comprehend the efforts of Jesus
to give them a new and true spiritual insight.

7:21 {Evil thoughts} (\hoi dialogismoi hoi kakoi\). These come
out of the heart (\ek tēs kardias\), the inner man, and lead to
the dreadful list here given like the crimes of a modern police
court: {fornications} (\porneiai\, usually of the unmarried),
{adulteries} (\moichaiai\, of the married), {thefts} (\klopai\,
, {covetings} (\pleonexiai\, craze for more and more),
{murders} (\phonoi\, growing out of the others often),
{wickednesses} (\ponēriai\, from \ponos\, toil, then drudge, bad
like our _knave_, serving boy like German _Knabe_, and then
, {deceit} (\dolos\, lure or snare with bait),
{lasciviousness} (\aselgeia\, unrestrained sex instinct), {evil
(\ophthalmos ponēros\) or eye that works evil and that
haunts one with its gloating stare, {railing} (\blasphēmia\,
blasphemy, hurtful speech)
, {pride} (\huperēphania\, holding
oneself above others, stuck up)
, {foolishness} (\aphrosunē\, lack
of sense)
, a fitting close to it all.

7:24 {Into the borders of Tyre and Sidon} (\eis ta horia Turou
kai Sidōnos\)
. The departure from Capernaum was a withdrawal from
Galilee, the second of the four withdrawals from Galilee. The
first had been to the region of Bethsaida Julias in the territory
of Herod Philip. This is into distinctly heathen land. It was not
merely the edge of Phoenicia, but into the parts of Tyre and
Sidon (Mt 15:21). There was too much excitement among the
people, too much bitterness among the Pharisees, too much
suspicion on the part of Herod Antipas, too much dulness on the
part of the disciples for Jesus to remain in Galilee. {And he
could not be hid}
(\kai ouk ēdunasthē lathein\). Jesus wanted to
be alone in the house after all the strain in Galilee. He craved
a little privacy and rest. This was his purpose in going into
Phoenicia. Note the adversative sense of \kai\ here= "but."

7:25 {Whose little daughter} (\hēs to thugatrion autēs\).
Diminutive with tender touch. Note "whose" and "her" like
vernacular today. {Having heard of him} (\akousasa peri autou\).
Even in this heathen territory the fame of Jesus was known. When
the Sermon on the Mount was preached people were there from "the
sea coast of Tyre and Sidon" (Lu 6:17).

7:26 {A Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by race} (\Hellēnis,
Surophoinikissa tōi genei\)
. "A Greek in religion, a Syrian in
tongue, a Phoenician in race" (Bruce), from Euthymius Zigabenus.
She was not a Phoenician of Carthage. {She besought} (\ērōta\).
Imperfect tense. She kept at it. This verb, as in late Greek, is
here used for a request, not a mere question. Abundant examples
in the papyri in this sense.

7:27 {Let the children first be filled} (\aphes prōton
chortasthēnai ta paidia\)
. The Jews had the first claim. See the
command of Jesus in the third tour of Galilee to avoid the
Gentiles and the Samaritans (Mt 10:5). Paul was the Apostle to
the Gentiles, but he gave the Jew the first opportunity (Ro
. See on ¯Mt 15:24f.

7:28 {Even the dogs under the table} (\kai ta kunaria hupokatō
tēs trapezēs\)
. A delightful picture. Even the little dogs
(\kunaria\) under the table {eat of the children's crumbs}
(\esthiousin apo tōn psichiōn tōn paidiōn\). Little dogs, little
scraps of bread (\psichion\, diminutive of \psichos\, _morsel_),
little children (\paidia\, diminutive of \pais\). Probably the
little children purposely dropped a few little crumbs for the
little dogs. These household dogs, pets of and loved by the
children. _Braid Scots_ has it: "Yet the wee dowgs aneath the
table eat o' the moole o' the bairns." "A unique combination of
faith and wit" (Gould). Instead of resenting Christ's words about
giving the children's bread to the dogs (Gentiles) in verse 27,
she instantly turned it to the advantage of her plea for her
little daughter.

7:29 {For this saying} (\dia touton ton logon\). She had faith,
great faith as Mt 15:28 shows, but it was her quick and bright
repartee that pleased Jesus. He had missed his rest, but it was
worth it to answer a call like this.

7:30 {And the demon gone out} (\kai to daimonion exelēluthos\).
This was her crumb from the children's table. The perfect active
participle expresses the state of completion. The demon was gone
for good and all.

7:31 {Through the midst of the borders of Decapolis} (\ana meson
tōn horiōn Dekapoleōs\)
. Jesus left Phoenicia, but did not go
back into Galilee. He rather went east and came down east of the
Sea of Galilee into the region of the Greek cities of Decapolis.
He thus kept out of the territory of Herod Antipas. He had been
in this region when he healed the Gadarene demoniac and was asked
to leave.

7:32 {And they bring unto him} (\kai pherousin autōi\). Another
of Mark's dramatic presents. This incident only in Mark.

7:33 {Took him aside} (\apolabomenos auton\). The secrecy here
observed was partly to avoid excitement and partly to get the
attention of the deaf and dumb demoniac. He could not hear what
Jesus said. So Jesus put his fingers into his ears, spat, and
touched his tongue. There was, of course, no virtue in the
spittle and it is not clear why Jesus used it. Saliva was by some
regarded as remedial and was used by exorcists in their
incantations. Whether this was a concession to the man's
denseness one does not know. But it all showed the poor man that
Jesus healed him in his own way.

7:34 {Ephphatha} (\dianoichthēti\, be opened). Another one of
Mark's Aramaic words preserved and transliterated and then
translated into Greek. "Be thou unbarred" (_Braid Scots_). Jesus
sighed (\estenaxen\) as he looked up into heaven and spoke the
word \ephphatha\. Somehow he felt a nervous strain in this
complex case (deaf, dumb, demoniac) that we may not quite

7:35 {He spake plain} (\elalei orthōs\). He began to speak
correctly. Inchoative imperfect tense.

7:36 {So much the more a great deal they published it} (\autoi
māllon perissoteron ekērusson\)
. Imperfect tense, continued
action. Double comparative as occurs elsewhere for emphasis as in
Php 1:23 "much more better" (\pollōi māllon kreisson\). See
Robertson's _Grammar_, pp. 663f. Human nature is a peculiar
thing. The command not to tell provoked these people to tell just
as the leper had done (Mr 1:44f.). The more Jesus commanded
(\hoson autois diestelleto\) them not to tell the more they told.
It was a continuous performance. Prohibitions always affect some
people that way, especially superficial and light-headed folks.
But we have to have prohibitions or anarchy.

7:37 {He hath done all things well} (\Kalōs panta pepoiēken\).
The present perfect active shows the settled convictions of these
people about Jesus. Their great amazement (\huperperissōs
, imperfect passive and compound adverb, thus found
expression in a vociferous championship of Jesus in this pagan

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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Mark: Chapter 7)