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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Matthew: Chapter 14)

14:1 {Herod the tetrarch} (\Hērōidēs tetraarchēs\). Herod Antipas
ruler of Galilee and Perea, one-fourth of the dominion of Herod
the Great. {The report concerning Jesus} (\tēn akouēn Iēsou\).
See on ¯4:24. Cognate accusative, heard the hearing (rumour),
objective genitive. It is rather surprising that he had not heard
of Jesus before.

14:2 {His servants} (\tois paisin autou\). Literally "boys," but
here the courtiers, not the menials of the palace. {Work in him}
(\energousin\). Cf. our "energize." "The powers of the invisible
world, vast and vague in the king's imagination" (Bruce). John
wrought no miracles, but one _redivivus_ might be under the
control of the unseen powers. So Herod argued. A guilty
conscience quickened his fears. Possibly he could see again the
head of John on a charger. "The King has the Baptist on the
brain" (Bruce). Cf. Josephus (_War_, I. xxx. 7) for the story
that the ghosts of Alexander and Aristobulus haunted the palace
of Herod the Great. There were many conjectures about Jesus as a
result of this tour of Galilee and Herod Antipas feared this one.

14:3 {For the sake of Herodias} (\dia Hērōidiada\). The death of
John had taken place some time before. The Greek aorists here
(\edēsen, apetheto\) are not used for past perfects. The Greek
aorist simply narrates the event without drawing distinctions in
past time. This Herodias was the unlawful wife of Herod Antipas.
She was herself a descendant of Herod the Great and had married
Herod Philip of Rome, not Philip the Tetrarch. She had divorced
him in order to marry Herod Antipas after he had divorced his
wife, the daughter of Aretas King of Arabia. It was a nasty mess
equal to any of our modern divorces. Her first husband was still
alive and marriage with a sister-in-law was forbidden to Jews
(Le 18:16). Because of her Herod Antipas had put John in the
prison at Machaerus. The bare fact has been mentioned in Mt
4:12 without the name of the place. See 11:2 also for the
discouragement of John \en tōi desmōtēriōi\ (place of bondage),
here \en tēi phulakēi\ (the guard-house). Josephus (_Ant_. xviii.
tells us that Machaerus is the name of the prison. On a high
hill an impregnable fortress had been built. Tristram (_Land of
says that there are now remains of "two dungeons, one of
them deep and its sides scarcely broken in" with "small holes
still visible in the masonry where staples of wood and iron had
once been fixed. One of these must surely have been the
prison-house of John the Baptist." "On this high ridge Herod the
Great built an extensive and beautiful palace" (Broadus). "The
windows commanded a wide and grand prospect, including the Dead
Sea, the course of the Jordan, and Jerusalem" (Edersheim, _Life
and Times of Jesus_)

14:4 {For John said unto him} (\elegen gar Iōanēs autōi\).
Possibly the Pharisees may have put Herod up to inveigling John
to Machaerus on one of his visits there to express an opinion
concerning his marriage to Herodias (Broadus) and the imperfect
tense (\elegen\) probably means that John said it repeatedly. It
was a blunt and brave thing that John said. It cost him his head,
but it is better to have a head like John's and lose it than to
have an ordinary head and keep it. Herod Antipas was a politician
and curbed his resentment toward John by his fear of the people
who still held (\eichon\, imperfect tense) him as a prophet.

14:6 {When Herod's birthday came} (\genesiois genomenois tou
. Locative of time (cf. Mr 6:21) without the genitive
absolute. The earlier Greeks used the word \genesia\ for funeral
commemorations (birthdays of the dead), \genethlia\ being the
word for birthday celebrations of living persons. But that
distinction has disappeared in the papyri. The word \genesia\ in
the papyri (_Fayum Towns_, 114-20, 115-8, 119-30) is always a
birthday feast as here in Matthew and Mark. Philo used both words
of birthday feasts. Persius, a Roman satirist (_Sat_. V.
, describes a banquet on Herod's Day. {Danced in the
(\ōrchēsato en tōi mesōi\). This was Salome, daughter of
Herodias by her first marriage. The root of the verb means some
kind of rapid motion. "Leaped in the middle," Wycliff puts it. It
was a shameful exhibition of lewd dancing prearranged by Herodias
to compass her purpose for John's death. Salome had stooped to
the level of an \almeh\, or common dancer.

14:7 {Promised with an oath} (\meta horkou hōmologēsen\).
Literally, "confessed with an oath." For this verb in the sense
of promise, see Ac 7:17. Note middle voice of \aitēsētai\ (ask
for herself)
. Cf. Es 5:3; 7:2.

14:8 {Put forward} (\probibastheisa\). See Ac 19:33 for a
similar verb (\probalontōn\), "pushing forward." Here (Acts) the
Textus Receptus uses \probibazō\. "It should require a good deal
of 'educating' to bring a young girl to make such a grim request"
(Bruce). {Here} (\hōde\). On the spot. Here and now. {In a
(\epi pinaki\). Dish, plate, platter. Why the obsolete

14:9 {Grieved} (\lupētheis\). Not to hurt, for in verse 5 we
read that he wanted (\thelōn\) to put him to death
(\apokteinai\). Herod, however, shrank from so dastardly a deed
as this public display of brutality and bloodthirstiness. Men who
do wrong always have some flimsy excuses for their sins. A man
here orders a judicial murder of the most revolting type "for the
sake of his oath" (\dia tous horkous\). "More like profane
swearing than deliberate utterance once for all of a solemn oath"
(Bruce). He was probably maudlin with wine and befuddled by the
presence of the guests.

14:10 {Beheaded John} (\apekephalisen Iōanēn\). That is, he had
John beheaded, a causative active tense of a late verb
\apokephalizō\. Took his head off.

14:11 {She brought it to her mother} (\ēnegken tēi mētri autēs\).
A gruesome picture as Herodias with fiendish delight witnesses
the triumph of her implacable hatred of John for daring to
reprove her for her marriage with Herod Antipas. A woman scorned
is a veritable demon, a literal she-devil when she wills to be.
Kipling's "female of the species" again. Legends actually picture
Salome as in love with John, sensual lust, of which there is no

14:12 {And they went and told Jesus} (\kai elthontes apēggeilan
tōi Iēsou\)
. As was meet after they had given his body decent
burial. It was a shock to the Master who alone knew how great
John really was. The fate of John was a prophecy of what was
before Jesus. According to Mt 14:13 the news of the fate of
John led to the withdrawal of Jesus to the desert privately, an
additional motive besides the need for rest after the strain of
the recent tour.

14:13 {In a boat} (\en ploiōi\) "on foot" (\pezēi\, some MSS.
. Contrast between the lake and the land route.

14:14 {Their sick} (\tous arrōstous autōn\). "Without strength"
(\rhōnnumi\ and \a\ privative). \Esplagchnisthē\ is a deponent
passive. The verb gives the oriental idea of the bowels
(\splagchna\) as the seat of compassion.

14:15 {When even was come} (\opsias genomenēs\). Genitive
absolute. Not sunset about 6 P.M. as in 8:16 and as in 14:23,
but the first of the two "evenings" beginning at 3 P.M. {The
place is desert}
(\erēmos estin ho topos\). Not a desolate
region, simply lonely, comparatively uninhabited with no large
towns near. There were "villages" (\kōmas\) where the people
could buy food, but they would need time to go to them. Probably
this is the idea of the disciples when they add: {The time is
already past}
(\hē hōra ēdē parēlthen\). They must hurry.

14:16 {Give ye them to eat} (\dote autois h–meis phagein\). The
emphasis is on \h–meis\ in contrast (note position) with their
"send away" (\apoluson\). It is the urgent aorist of instant
action (\dote\). It was an astounding command. The disciples were
to learn that "no situation appears to Him desperate, no crisis
unmanageable" (Bruce).

14:17 {And they say unto him} (\hoi de legousin autōi\). The
disciples, like us today, are quick with reasons for their
inability to perform the task imposed by Jesus.

14:18 {And he said} (\ho de eipen\). Here is the contrast between
the helpless doubt of the disciples and the confident courage of
Jesus. He used "_the_ five loaves and two fishes" which they had
mentioned as a reason for doing nothing. "Bring them hither unto
me." They had overlooked the power of Jesus in this emergency.

14:19 {To sit down on the grass} (\anaklithēnai epi tou
. "Recline," of course, the word means, first aorist
passive infinitive. A beautiful picture in the afternoon sun on
the grass on the mountain side that sloped westward. The orderly
arrangement (Mark) made it easy to count them and to feed them.
Jesus stood where all could see him "break" (\klasas\) the thin
Jewish cakes of bread and give to the disciples and they to the
multitudes. This is a nature miracle that some men find it hard
to believe, but it is recorded by all four Gospels and the only
one told by all four. It was impossible for the crowds to
misunderstand and to be deceived. If Jesus is in reality Lord of
the universe as John tells us (Joh 1:1-18) and Paul holds (Col
, why should we balk at this miracle? He who created the
universe surely has power to go on creating what he wills to do.

14:20 {Were filled} (\echortasthēsan\). Effective aorist passive
indicative of \chortazō\. See Mt 5:6. From the substantive
\chortos\ grass. Cattle were filled with grass and people usually
with other food. They all were satisfied. {Broken pieces} (\tōn
. Not the scraps upon the ground, but the pieces
broken by Jesus and still in the "twelve baskets" (\dōdeka
and not eaten. Each of the twelve had a basketful
left over (\to perisseuon\). One hopes that the boy (Joh 6:9)
who had the five loaves and two fishes to start with got one of
the basketsful, if not all of them. Each of the Gospels uses the
same word here for baskets (\kophinos\), a wicker-basket, called
"coffins" by Wycliff. Juvenal (_Sat_. iii. 14) says that the
grove of Numa near the Capenian gate of Rome was "let out to Jews
whose furniture is a basket (_cophinus_) and some hay" (for a
. In the feeding of the Four Thousand (Matthew and Mark) the
word \sphuris\ is used which was a sort of hamper or large
provisions basket.

14:21 {Beside women and children} (\chōris gunaikōn kai
. Perhaps on this occasion there were not so many as
usual because of the rush of the crowd around the head of the
lake. Matthew adds this item and does not mean that the women and
children were not fed, but simply that "the eaters" (\hoi
included five thousand men (\andres\) besides the
women and children.

14:22 {Constrained} (\ēnagkasen\). Literally, "compelled" or
"forced." See this word also in Lu 14:23. The explanation for
this strong word in Mr 6:45 and Mt 14:22 is given in Joh
6:15. It is the excited purpose of the crowd to take Jesus by
force and to make him national king. This would be political
revolution and would defeat all the plans of Jesus about his
kingdom. Things have reached a climax. The disciples were
evidently swept off their feet by the mob psychology for they
still shared the Pharisaic hope of a political kingdom. With the
disciples out of the way Jesus could handle the crowd more
easily, {till he should send the multitudes away} (\heōs hou
apolusēi tous ochlous\)
. The use of the aorist subjunctive with
\heōs\ or \heōs hou\ is a neat and common Greek idiom where the
purpose is not yet realized. So in 18:30; 26:36. "While"
sometimes renders it well. The subjunctive is retained after a
past tense instead of the change to the optative of the ancient
Attic. The optative is very rare anyhow, but Luke uses it with
\prin ē\ in Ac 25:16.

14:23 {Into the mountain} (\eis to oros\). After the dismissal of
the crowd Jesus went up alone into the mountain on the eastern
side of the lake to pray as he often did go to the mountains to
pray. If ever he needed the Father's sympathy, it was now. The
masses were wild with enthusiasm and the disciples wholly
misunderstood him. The Father alone could offer help now.

14:24 {Distressed} (\basanizomenon\). Like a man with demons
(8:29). One can see, as Jesus did (Mr 6:48), the boat bobbing
up and down in the choppy sea.

14:25 {Walking upon the sea} (\peripatōn epi tēn thalassan\).
Another nature miracle. Some scholars actually explain it all
away by urging that Jesus was only walking along the beach and
not on the water, an impossible theory unless Matthew's account
is legendary. Matthew uses the accusative (extension) with \epi\
in verse 25 and the genitive (specifying case) in 26.

14:26 {They were troubled} (\etarachthēsan\). Much stronger than
that. They were literally "terrified" as they saw Jesus walking
on the sea. {An apparition} (\phantasma\), or "ghost," or
"spectre" from \phantazō\ and that from \phainō\. They cried out
"from fear" (\apo tou phobou\) as any one would have done. "A
little touch of sailor superstition" (Bruce).

14:28 {Upon the waters} (\epi ta hudata\). The impulsiveness of
Peter appears as usual. Matthew alone gives this Peter episode.

14:30 {Seeing the wind} (\blepōn ton anemon\). Cf. Ex 20:18 and
Re 1:12 "to see the voice" (\tēn phōnēn\). "It is one thing to
see a storm from the deck of a stout ship, another to see it in
the midst of the waves" (Bruce). Peter was actually beginning to
sink (\katapontizesthai\) to plunge down into the sea, "although
a fisherman and a good swimmer" (Bengel). It was a dramatic
moment that wrung from Peter the cry: "Lord, save me" (\Kurie,
sōson me\)
, and do it quickly the aorist means. He could walk on
the water till he saw the wind whirl the water round him.

14:31 {Didst thou doubt?} (\edistasas?\). Only here and 28:17
in the N.T. From \distazō\ and that from \dis\ (twice). Pulled
two ways. Peter's trust in the power of Christ gave way to his
dread of the wind and waves. Jesus had to take hold of Peter
(\epelabeto\, middle voice) and pull him up while still walking
on the water.

14:32 {Ceased} (\ekopasen\). From \kopos\, toil. The wind grew
weary or tired, exhausted itself in the presence of its Master
(cf. Mr 4:39). Not a mere coincidence that the wind ceased now.

14:33 {Worshipped him} (\prosekunēsan autōi\). And Jesus accepted
it. They were growing in appreciation of the person and power of
Christ from the attitude in 8:27. They will soon be ready for
the confession of 16:16. Already they can say: "Truly God's Son
thou art." The absence of the article here allows it to mean a
Son of God as in 27:54 (the centurion). But they probably mean
"the Son of God" as Jesus was claiming to them to be.

14:34 {Gennesaret} (\Gennēsaret\). A rich plain four miles long
and two broad. The first visit of Jesus apparently with the usual
excitement at the cures. People were eager to touch the hem of
Christ's mantle like the woman in 9:20. Jesus honoured their
superstitious faith and "as many as touched were made whole"
(\hosoi hēpsanto diesōthesan\), completely (\di-\) healed.

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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Matthew: Chapter 14)