Feed the pigs (Lk 15:15-15:15)

“Thus,

He went

And hired himself out

To one of the citizens

Of that country.

He sent him

To his fields

To feed the pigs.”

 

καὶ πορευθεὶς ἐκολλήθη ἑνὶ τῶν πολιτῶν τῆς χώρας ἐκείνης, καὶ ἔπεμψεν αὐτὸν εἰς τοὺς ἀγροὺς αὐτοῦ βόσκειν χοίρους·

 

This long parable story about the prodigal son can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that this young prodigal son went and hired himself out (καὶ πορευθεὶς ἐκολλήθη) to one of the citizens of that country (ἑνὶ τῶν πολιτῶν τῆς χώρας ἐκείνης), where he was living.  This land owner sent him to his fields (καὶ ἔπεμψεν αὐτὸν εἰς τοὺς ἀγροὺς αὐτοῦ) to feed the pigs (βόσκειν χοίρους).  Obvious, this was a non-Jewish country where pigs were raised for food, not a Jewish country where there would be no pork eaten.  What could be more humiliating for a Jewish person than taking care of unclean swine or pigs?  Have you ever had a job that you felt was degrading to you?

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Remember the multiplication of the loaves (Mk 8:19-8:19)

“‘When I broke

The five loaves

For the five thousand,

How many baskets

Full of broken pieces

Did you collect’”

They said to him.

‘Twelve.’”

 

ὅτε τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους ἔκλασα εἰς τοὺς πεντακισχιλίους, πόσους κοφίνους κλασμάτων πλήρεις ἤρατε; λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Δώδεκα.

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 16:9, as Jesus clearly reminded them of the two times that he had multiplied the loaves of bread.  Was that not good enough for them?  Did they not remember that first he broke the 5 loaves of bread for the 5,000 people (ὅτε τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους ἔκλασα εἰς τοὺς πεντακισχιλίους)?  Then he asked them how many fragments of the broken pieces had they gathered in the hand baskets (πόσους κοφίνους κλασμάτων πλήρεις ἤρατε).  They responded to him that there were 12 baskets left over (λέγουσιν αὐτῷ Δώδεκα), after everyone had eaten.  All this had taken place recently as recorded in chapter 6:30-44.

They were about four thousand people (Mk 8:9-8:9)

“There were

About four thousand people.

Jesus sent them away.”

 

ἦσαν δὲ ὡς τετρακισχίλιοι. καὶ ἀπέλυσεν αὐτούς.

 

Matthew, chapter 15:38, has a similar statement about how many ate at this multiplication of the bread loaves.  Those who had eaten were 4,000 people (ἦσαν δὲ ὡς τετρακισχίλιοι).  Then Jesus sent them away (καὶ ἀπέλυσεν αὐτούς).  The earlier count in Mark, chapter 6:30-44 was 5,000 people, but here there was only 4,000 people.  Obviously, there was no exact count taken.  Certainly, it was a miraculous feeding of a very large crowd like earlier.  However, there was no mention of anything to drink.  Both Matthew and Mark have this second multiplication of the loaves for the 4,000 people, indicating two separate multiplications of bread, since this does not seem to be the same event described twice.

All food is clean (Mk 7:19-7:19)

“Food enters,

Not the heart

But the stomach.

Then it goes out

Into the sewer.’

Thus,

Jesus declared

All foods clean.”

 

ὅτι οὐκ εἰσπορεύεται αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν καρδίαν ἀλλ’ εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν, καὶ εἰς τὸν ἀφεδρῶνα ἐκπορεύεται, καθαρίζων πάντα τὰ βρώματα;

 

Mark was extremely descriptive here just as Matthew, chapter 15:17, explained this problem about unclean food.  Mark indicated that Jesus seemed a little upset that they still did not understand what he was telling them about defilement.  Jesus said that any food did not enter the heart (ὅτι οὐκ εἰσπορεύεται αὐτοῦ εἰς τὴν καρδίαν), but the stomach or belly (ἀλλ’ εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν).  From the stomach, it flowed out in a bowel movement that ended up in a sewer, latrine, or dung heap (καὶ εἰς τὸν ἀφεδρῶνα ἐκπορεύεται).  There was a famous saying that it is harder to sell corn after it has been eaten by a pig than before it was eaten.  Whatever went into your mouth would end up in a defecation anyway.  Thus, Jesus declared that all kinds of foods were cleansed or made clean (καθαρίζων πάντα τὰ βρώματα).  This would have been a major rejection of Jewish Torah law and the use of kosher food, since there was a major distinction between clean and unclean foods.  This saying of Mark about no more unclean foods was not in Matthew who was writing to a Jewish Christian audience, but it is here for this gentile Christian audience.  Luke omitted the whole question.

They collected the leftovers (Mk 6:43-6:44)

“They took up

Twelve baskets

Full of broken pieces

Of bread

And of the fish.

Those who had eaten

The loaves

Numbered five thousand men.”

 

καὶ ἦραν κλάσματα δώδεκα κοφίνων πληρώματα καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν ἰχθύων.

καὶ ἦσαν οἱ φαγόντες τοὺς ἄρτους πεντακισχίλιοι ἄνδρες.

 

This is the only miracle that is recorded in all four gospels, Matthew, chapter 14:20-21, Luke, chapter 9:17, and John, chapter 6:13, plus here, but there are slight differences.  All agree that there were 12 baskets of food left over, symbolic of the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles.  They also agree that it was about 5,000 men.  Obviously, there was no exact count taken.  Only Matthew added the remark about women and the children.  Mark said that they took up 12 full hand baskets of the broken pieces of bread (καὶ ἦραν κλάσματα δώδεκα κοφίνων πληρώματα), and the pieces of fish (καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν ἰχθύων).  Those who ate the loaves (καὶ ἦσαν οἱ φαγόντες τοὺς ἄρτους) were about 5,000 men (πεντακισχίλιοι ἄνδρες).  Without a doubt, this was a very large crowd to feed.

Jesus explains the role of the mouth (Mt 15:16-15:17)

“Then Jesus said.

‘Are you also still

Without understanding?

Do you not see

That whatever goes

Into the mouth

Enters the stomach?

Then it goes out

Into the sewer.’”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν Ἀκμὴν καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀσύνετοί ἐστε;

ὐ νοεῖτε ὅτι πᾶν τὸ εἰσπορευόμενον εἰς τὸ στόμα εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν χωρεῖ καὶ εἰς ἀφεδρῶνα ἐκβάλλεται;

 

There is something similar to this in Mark, chapter 7:18-19.  Jesus seemed a little upset that they still did not understand what he was telling them about defilement (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν Ἀκμὴν καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀσύνετοί ἐστε).  He pointed out that they had to understand (ὐ νοεῖτε) that everything entering into the mouth (ὅτι πᾶν τὸ εἰσπορευόμενον εἰς τὸ στόμα) went into the stomach (εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν χωρεῖ).  From the stomach, it came out in a bowel movement that ended up in a sewer, latrine, or dung heap (καὶ εἰς ἀφεδρῶνα ἐκβάλλεται).  There was a famous saying that it is harder to sell corn after it has been eaten by a pig than before it was eaten.  Whatever went into your mouth would end up as defecation.

War will come to Israel (Hos 10:13-10:15)

“You have plowed wickedness.

You have reaped injustice,

You have eaten

The fruit of lies.

Because you have trusted

In your power,

You have trusted

In the multitude

Of your warriors.

Therefore,

The tumult of war

Shall arise

Against your people.

All your fortresses

Shall be destroyed.

As Shalman destroyed

Beth-arbel

On the day of battle.

Mothers were dashed

In pieces,

With their children.

Thus,

It shall be done to you!

O Bethel!

O house of Israel!

Because of your great wickedness.

At dawn,

The king of Israel

Shall be utterly cut off.”

Israel had plowed in wickedness, so that now they were going to reap injustice. They had eaten the fruit of their lies. They had trusted in their own power and their many warriors. Thus, the fury of war was going to come upon them and their people. All their fortresses would be destroyed, like Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel. Although it is difficult to find the exact battle, there is conjecture that this was the 8th century Moabite Shalman who invaded Beth-arbel or Irbid, that was west of the Sea of Galilee. In that battle, mothers with children were destroyed. Thus, the same was going to happen to Israel and Bethel because of their wickedness.  The king of Israel would be wiped out also.