Eating grain on the Sabbath (Lk 6:1-6:1)

“One Sabbath,

While Jesus

Was going through

The grain fields,

His disciples plucked

Some heads of grain.

They rubbed them

In their hands.

Then they ate them.”

 

Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν σαββάτῳ διαπορεύεσθαι αὐτὸν διὰ σπορίμων, καὶ ἔτιλλον οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἤσθιον τοὺς στάχυας ψώχοντες ταῖς χερσίν.

 

Luke followed the order of Mark, chapter 2:23, while Matthew, chapter 12:1, has this incident of plucking grain on the Sabbath later in his work.  Luke said that on one Sabbath day (Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν σαββάτῳ), while Jesus was going through some grain fields (διαπορεύεσθαι αὐτὸν διὰ σπορίμων), his disciples plucked some heads of grain (καὶ ἔτιλλον οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ).  This is the only use of the word “σπορίμων” in all of the biblical literature.  All three synoptics used this word that meant a sown field or a grain field, so that they may have copied it from Mark.  This is also the only time that the word “ἔτιλλον, plucking” appears in its various forms by the three synoptics.  Once again, Mark may have the source for this word.  The disciples rubbed these grains in their hands (ψώχοντες ταῖς χερσίν) and ate the heads of these grains (καὶ ἤσθιον τοὺς στάχυας).  In Matthew and Luke, the disciples ended up eating the grain, but Mark did not explicitly mention that.  Matthew was the only one to say that the disciples were hungry, but that may be presumed in the other 2 accounts.  This leisurely Sabbath walk through the grain fields set up the problem of plucking grain on the Sabbath.

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The famine at the time of Elijah (Lk 4:25-4:26)

“In truth!

I say to you!

There were many widows

In Israel

At the time of Elijah.

The heavens

Were shut closed for

Three years and six months.

There came

A great famine

Over all the land.

Yet Elijah was sent

To none of them,

Except to a widow

At Zarephath,

In Sidon.”

 

ἐπ’ ἀληθείας δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, πολλαὶ χῆραι ἦσαν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις Ἡλείου ἐν τῷ Ἰσραήλ, ὅτε ἐκλείσθη ὁ οὐρανὸς ἐπὶ ἔτη τρία καὶ μῆνας ἕξ, ὡς ἐγένετο λιμὸς μέγας ἐπὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν

καὶ πρὸς οὐδεμίαν αὐτῶν ἐπέμφθη Ἡλείας εἰ μὴ εἰς Σάρεπτα τῆς Σιδωνίας πρὸς γυναῖκα χήραν.

 

There are no similar stories in Mark and Matthew.  Luke uniquely had Jesus tell this story about Elijah as found in 1 Kings, chapter 17:1-16.  John the Baptist had been compared to Elijah, a major almost romantic 9th century BCE prophet, whose name appears more than 100 times in the biblical literature.  Elijah also appeared with Moses in the transfiguration of Jesus mentioned later in this work.  Elijah’s influence on the evangelical authors was very important, just like here.  There were a series of stories about Elijah when King Ahab (874-853 BCE) was king of Israel.  Elijah, commanded by Yahweh, went to a northern town near Sidon, probably a Phoenician town.  He provided a widow and her family with a never-ending jar and jug that provided meal and oil for her and her household until the drought came to an end.  Luke pointed out with a solemn pronouncement (ἐπ’ ἀληθείας δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν) that there were many widows (πολλαὶ χῆραι ἦσαν) at the time of Elijah (ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις Ἡλείου), in Israel (ἐν τῷ Ἰσραήλ).  The heavens were closed or shut down (ὅτε ἐκλείσθη ὁ οὐρανὸς) for 3 ½ years (ἐπὶ ἔτη τρία καὶ μῆνας ἕξ).  Thus, there was a great drought across the whole land (ὡς ἐγένετο λιμὸς μέγας ἐπὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν).  However, Yahweh sent Elijah to none of the Israelite widows (καὶ πρὸς οὐδεμίαν αὐτῶν ἐπέμφθη Ἡλείας).  Instead Elijah was sent to a widow at Zarephath, in Sidon (εἰ μὴ εἰς Σάρεπτα τῆς Σιδωνίας πρὸς γυναῖκα χήραν).

The prophet Anna (Lk 2:36-2:36)

“There was a prophet,

Anna,

The daughter of Phanuel,

Of the tribe of Asher.

She was of a great age.

She had lived

With her husband

Seven years

After her marriage.”

 

Καὶ ἦν Ἄννα προφῆτις, θυγάτηρ Φανουήλ, ἐκ φυλῆς Ἀσήρ· αὕτη προβεβηκυῖα ἐν ἡμέραις πολλαῖς, ζήσασα μετὰ ἀνδρὸς ἔτη ἑπτὰ ἀπὸ τῆς παρθενίας αὐτῆς,

 

Next Luke introduced a female prophet, Anna.  There were some female prophets in the biblical literature like Miriam in Exodus, chapter 15:20, the sister of Aaron and Moses, who was called a prophet like her brother Aaron, the first instance of women worshiping God.  Deborah, in Judges, chapter 4:4, was a married woman prophet from the northern tribe of Ephraim who led troops into battle.  Finally, Huddah in 2 Kings, chapter 22:14-20, was one of the few mentioned female prophets.  The elders in Jerusalem consulted her about what to do with a holy book.  Her response led to the religious revival under King Josiah (640-609 BCE).  Like the other Israelite male and female prophets, Anna interpreted God’s will for his people.  Luke said that there was a prophet Anna (Καὶ ἦν Ἄννα προφῆτις), the daughter of Phanuel (θυγάτηρ Φανουήλ), of the northern tribe of Asher (ἐκ φυλῆς Ἀσήρ).  Her father’s name Phanuel was considered to be the fourth of the great archangels with Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel, according to the 3rd century BCE work, the Book of Enoch, but there is no implication here that she was angelic.  Thus, she was not a local Judean, but a northern Galilean Jewish person from Asher.  She was greatly advanced in years (τη προβεβηκυῖα ἐν ἡμέραις πολλαῖς), since she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage (ζήσασα μετὰ ἀνδρὸς ἔτη ἑπτὰ ἀπὸ τῆς παρθενίας αὐτῆς).  She had become a widow.

The woman with a blood flow (Mk 5:25-5:26)

“There was a woman

Who had been suffering

From flowing blood

For twelve years.

She had endured much

Under many physicians.

She had spent all

That she had.

She was no better,

But rather grew worse.”

 

Καὶ γυνὴ οὖσα ἐν ῥύσει αἵματος δώδεκα ἔτη,

καὶ πολλὰ παθοῦσα ὑπὸ πολλῶν ἰατρῶν καὶ δαπανήσασα τὰ παρ’ αὐτῆς πάντα, καὶ μηδὲν ὠφεληθεῖσα ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον εἰς τὸ χεῖρον ἐλθοῦσα,

 

This episode about the woman with hemorrhages interrupted the story about the synagogue leader and his dying daughter.  However, it can be found in Matthew, chapter 9:20, and Luke, chapter 8:43, also, so that Mark might be the source.  Interesting enough, the word that Matthew used for hemorrhages (αἱμορροοῦσα) was only found there, but nowhere else in the biblical literature.  Mark, like Luke, who probably followed him, said that she had suffered from flowing blood (Καὶ γυνὴ οὖσα ἐν ῥύσει αἵματος), rather than hemorrhages.  All agree that she had been suffering for 12 years with this bleeding (δώδεκα ἔτη).  Mark and Luke had a more elaborate story, about her background.  Mark said that she had endured or greatly suffered much under many physicians (καὶ πολλὰ παθοῦσα ὑπὸ πολλῶν ἰατρῶν).  Thus, she had spent all her money (καὶ δαπανήσασα τὰ παρ’ αὐτῆς πάντα).  Instead of helping her getting better (καὶ μηδὲν ὠφεληθεῖσα), she had actually become worse off (ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον εἰς τὸ χεῖρον ἐλθοῦσα).  She was in a desperate situation.

The use of parables (Mk 4:2-4:2)

“Jesus began

To teach them

Many things

In parables.

This is what

He said to them

In his teaching,”

 

καὶ ἐδίδασκεν αὐτοὺς ἐν παραβολαῖς πολλά, καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ

 

A similar statement can be found in Matthew, chapter 13:3, and Luke 8:4.  This is the beginning of the parable section in Mark.  Jesus taught them many things in parables (καὶ ἐδίδασκεν αὐτοὺς ἐν παραβολαῖς πολλά).  This is how Jesus delivered most of his teachings (καὶ ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ).  Parables were one of the many literary forms in the biblical literature.  These parables of Jesus can be found in all the synoptic gospels, since they represent about 1/3 of Jesus’ teachings.  These simple and memorable stories conveyed important messages, central to the teachings of Jesus.  Many of Jesus’s parables refer to simple everyday events.  The word “parable” can also refer to a riddle, as it was used in the Old Testament.  The use of parables was a natural teaching method that fit into the tradition of the time of Jesus.  Matthew has 23 parables of which 11 are unique.  There are 2 unique parables in Mark and 18 unique parables in LukeMatthew and Luke share 4 parables, while Matthew, Mark and Luke share 6 parables.  Many of these parables have been subjects of art and literature, especially during the Middle Ages.

Eating on the Sabbath (Mt 12:1-12:1)

“At that time,

Jesus went through

The grain fields,

On the sabbath.

His disciples

Were hungry.

They began to pluck

Heads of grain

To eat them.”

 

Ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ ἐπορεύθη ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοῖς σάββασιν διὰ τῶν σπορίμων· οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἐπείνασαν καὶ ἤρξαντο τίλλειν στάχυας καὶ ἐσθίειν.

 

Matthew has Jesus with his disciples on the Sabbath day walking in a grain field.  This is similar to Mark, chapter 2:23, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  It is also the same as Luke, chapter 6:1.  Once again there is a transition statement of Matthew, “At that time” (Ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ καιρῷ).  Jesus was traveling through the grain fields on the Sabbath (ἐπορεύθη ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοῖς σάββασιν διὰ τῶν σπορίμων).  This is the only use of the word “σπορίμων” in all the biblical literature.  All three synoptics use this word that meant a sown field or a grain field.  His disciples were hungry (οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἐπείνασαν).  They began to pluck the heads of the grain in the field (καὶ ἤρξαντο τίλλειν στάχυας).  Once again, this is a unique word “τίλλειν.” “plucking” that only appears in the New Testament literature in this story of the three synoptics.  They then ate these grain heads (καὶ ἐσθίειν).  This sets up the problem of plucking grain on the Sabbath.

The sleeping girl (Mt 9:23-9:24)

“When Jesus came

To the leader’s house,

He saw the flute players.

The crowd

Was making a commotion.

He said.

‘Go away!

The girl is not dead.

But she is sleeping.’

They laughed at him.”

 

καὶ ἐλθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν τοῦ ἄρχοντος καὶ ἰδὼν τοὺς αὐλητὰς καὶ τὸν ὄχλον θορυβούμενον

ἔλεγεν· Ἀναχωρεῖτε· οὐ γὰρ ἀπέθανεν τὸ κοράσιον ἀλλὰ καθεύδει. καὶ κατεγέλων αὐτοῦ.

 

This episode of the sleeping girl is similar to what can be found in Mark, chapter 5:38-39, and Luke, chapter 8:51-52.  Jesus then arrived at this leader’s house (καὶ ἐλθὼν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν τοῦ ἄρχοντος).  Jesus saw the mourning flute players (καὶ ἰδὼν τοὺς αὐλητὰς).  Once again, this is the only time that this word for flute players (αὐλητὰς) is found in the biblical literature.  The crowd was agitated, making a big commotion (καὶ τὸν ὄχλον θορυβούμενον).  He told them to go away (ἔλεγεν·Ἀναχωρεῖτε) since the girl was not dead (οὐ γὰρ ἀπέθανεν τὸ κοράσιον), but only sleeping (ἀλλὰ καθεύδει).  However, they laughed at him or ridiculed him (καὶ κατεγέλων αὐτοῦ).  This will not be the only time that people ridicule Jesus and his disciples.