Jesus blesses the loaves of bread (Mk 8:6-8:6)

“Then Jesus ordered

The crowd

To sit down

On the ground.

He took

The seven loaves.

After giving thanks,

He broke them.

He gave them

To his disciples

To distribute.

They distributed them

To the crowd.”

 

καὶ παραγγέλλει τῷ ὄχλῳ ἀναπεσεῖν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς· καὶ λαβὼν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ ἵνα παρατιθῶσιν, καὶ παρέθηκαν τῷ ὄχλῳ

 

Matthew, chapter 15:36, has a similar statement about the thanksgiving, blessing, and the distribution of the 7 loaves of bread and fish.  Mark said that Jesus ordered or directed the crowd to sit down or recline on the ground (καὶ παραγγέλλει τῷ ὄχλῳ ἀναπεσεῖν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς), instead of earlier on the grass.  This was going to be like a large picnic.  Jesus took the seven loaves (καὶ λαβὼν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους).  There is no mention of the fish here.  He gave thanks or eucharized them (εὐχαριστήσας) and then broke them apart (ἔκλασεν).  He gave them to his disciples to distribute (καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ ἵνα παρατιθῶσιν).  Then the disciples gave or set them up before the crowd (καὶ παρέθηκαν τῷ ὄχλῳ).  This feeding of a large group of people harkens back to the Exodus story, chapter 16:1-36, about the manna and the quails in the wilderness, but on a smaller scale.  Yet the word “thanksgiving” was used here instead of a “blessing” as at the earlier feeding of the 5,000 people in chapter 6:30-44.  This has almost a foretaste of the Eucharistic Last Supper of Jesus, when he gave thanks, blessed and broke the bread.  Otherwise, this process is very similar to the first multiplication of the loaves of bread.  However, Jesus did not look up to heaven here.  Jesus gave the food to his disciples, who in turn gave the food to the people in the crowd.

Jesus blessed and broke the bread (Mk 6:41-6:41)

“Taking

The five loaves

And the two fish,

Jesus looked up to heaven.

He blessed

And broke

The loaves.

He gave them

To his disciples

To set

Before the people.

He divided

The two fish

Among them all.”

 

καὶ λαβὼν τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εὐλόγησεν καὶ κατέκλασεν τοὺς ἄρτους καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς ἵνα παρατιθῶσιν αὐτοῖς, καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας ἐμέρισεν πᾶσιν.

 

This is the only blessing miracle that is recorded in all four gospels, Matthew, chapter 14:19, Luke, chapter 9:16, and John, chapter 6:12, plus here.  The blessing of the bread and the fish is exactly the same in the synoptic gospels, but merely summarized in John.  This feeding of a large group of people harkens back to the Exodus story, chapter 16:1-36, about the manna and the quails in the wilderness.  Yet the blessing itself has almost a foretaste of the Eucharistic Last Supper of Jesus, when he blessed and broke the bread.  Mark said that Jesus took (καὶ λαβὼν) the 5 loaves (τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους) and the 2 fish (καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας).  He looked up to heaven (ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν).  He blessed them (εὐλόγησεν).  Then he broke up the loaves of bread into pieces (καὶ κατέκλασεν τοὺς ἄρτους).  He gave the loaves of bread to his disciples (καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς).  They, in turn, set the broken pieces of bread or served them to the crowd (ἵνα παρατιθῶσιν αὐτοῖς).  Jesus also divided or shared the 2 fish among them all (καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας ἐμέρισεν πᾶσιν).  This almost sounds like a large later distribution of Holy Communion.

The blessing of the five loaves of bread (Mt 14:18-14:19)

“Jesus said.

‘Bring them here to me.’

Then he ordered

The crowds

To sit down

On the grass.

He took

The five loaves

And the two fish.

He looked up to heaven.

He blessed them.

He broke the loaves.

He gave them

To the disciples.

Then the disciples

Gave them

To the crowds.”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν· Φέρετέ μοι ὧδε αὐτούς.

καὶ κελεύσας τοὺς ὄχλους ἀνακλιθῆναι ἐπὶ τοῦ χόρτου, λαβὼν τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας, ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εὐλόγησεν, καὶ κλάσας ἔδωκεν τοῖς μαθηταῖς τοὺς ἄρτους, οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ τοῖς ὄχλοις.

 

This is the only blessing miracle that is recorded in all four gospels, Mark, chapter 6:39-41, Luke, chapter 9:14-16, and John, chapter 6:10-11, plus here.  The blessing of the bread and the fish is exactly the same in the synoptic gospels, but merely summarized in John.  This feeding of a large group of people harkens back to the Exodus story, chapter 16:1-36, about the manna and the quails in the wilderness.  Yet the blessing itself has almost a foretaste of the Eucharistic Last Supper of Jesus, when he blessed and broke the bread.  Jesus said to his disciples (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν) to bring him the food (Φέρετέ μοι ὧδε αὐτούς), the 5 loaves of bread and the 2 fish.  Then he ordered or directed the crowd to sit down on the grass (καὶ κελεύσας τοὺς ὄχλους ἀνακλιθῆναι ἐπὶ τοῦ χόρτου,).  He took the 5 loaves and the 2 fish (λαβὼν τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας).  He looked up to heaven (ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν).  He blessed them (εὐλόγησεν).  Then he broke (καὶ κλάσας) the loaves of bread and the fishes into pieces.  He gave the loaves of bread to his disciples (ἔδωκεν τοῖς μαθηταῖς τοὺς ἄρτους).  They, in turn, gave them to the crowd (οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ τοῖς ὄχλοις).  This almost sounds like a large later distribution of Holy Communion.

The plague on the righteous (Wis 18:20-18:25)

“The experience of death

Touched also the righteous.

A plague came upon the multitude

In the desert.

But the wrath did not long continue.

A blameless man was quick

To act as their champion.

He brought forward the shield of his ministry.

He brought forth prayer.

He brought forward propitiation by incense.

He withstood the anger.

He put an end to the disaster.

He showed that he was your servant.

He conquered the wrath

Not by strength of body,

Not by force of arms,

But by his word

He subdued the avenger.

He appealed to the oaths given to our ancestors.

He appealed to the covenants given to our ancestors.

When the dead had already fallen on one another in heaps,

He intervened.

He held back the wrath.

He cut off its way to the living.

On his long robe

The whole world was depicted.

The glories of the ancestors

Were engraved on the four rows of stones.

Your majesty was on the diadem upon his head.

The destroyer yielded to these.

The destroyer feared these.

Merely to test the wrath was enough.”

This section takes part of the Exodus story in chapters 32 and the Numbers presentation in chapter 17 and combines them into one episode. In other words, the righteous (δικαίων) were not free from the wrath of God. A plague came upon them in the desert (ἐν ἐρήμῳ) that nearly killed 15,000 of them because the Israelites had rebelled against Moses and Aaron. However, Moses instructed Aaron to make reparation by prayer (προσευχὴν) and incense. The blameless man was Aaron, and not Moses, but there is no indication of his explicit name here since in the Exodus story Aaron had rebelled also. This blameless man subdued the avenger by his prayerful sacrificial actions. He remembered the oaths and covenants that his ancestors had made. The use of the robe is definitely the Levitical robe of Aaron from Exodus, chapter 28. His lovely robe had 4 rows of stones. He also had a diadem on his head (διαδήματος κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ). Obviously, this is from the time of the settled Israelites, but it was enough to scare off this destroyer. The Israelites learned from this episode.

Dreams of death (Wis 18:17-18:19)

“Then at once

Apparitions in dreadful dreams

Greatly troubled them.

Unexpected fears assailed them.

One here

Another there,

They were hurled down half dead.

They were made known why they were dying.

The dreams that disturbed them

Forewarned them of this.

Thus they might not perish

Without knowing Why they suffered.”

Apparently, this section is not really tied to the Exodus story, but does concern the problem of death. It is not clear what this refers to since most of the first-born killed were infants and not capable of knowing why they were perishing. However, it could have been the first-born grown children of some families whose first-born would have been older and thus capable of understanding what was happening. Anyway, dreadful or fearful (φόβοι) dreams or apparitions (φαντασίαι) definitely troubled these people before they were hurled half dead. They knew why they were dying because they had been warned. They knew why they were suffering.

The reaction to the death of the first born (Wis 18:10-18:13)

“The discordant cry of their enemies

Echoed back.

Their piteous lament for their children

Was spread abroad.

The slave was punished

With the same penalty as the master.

The commoner suffered

The same loss as the king.

They suffered all together,

By the one form of death.

They had corpses too many to count.

The living were not sufficient

Even to bury them.

In one instant,

Their most valued children

Had been destroyed.

Even though they had disbelieved everything

Because of their magic arts,

Yet when their first-borns were destroyed,

They acknowledged your people

To be God’s child.”

After this deadly event, the Egyptians were upset. Here there seems to be sense of the horrific action here that took place that was not present in the original Exodus story. The cries of these parents echoed throughout the land. Their lament went throughout the world. Every first born child in Egypt had been killed. It did not matter whether they were slave or master, king or common person. They all suffered the same with their dead children. There were too many corpses to count and not enough people to bury the dead. These precious children had been killed. On the positive side, these disbelievers (ἀπιστοῦντες), who just had their children killed, acknowledged that the Israelites were God’s children or sons (Θεοῦ υἱὸν λαὸν εἶναι).

The power of natural forces (Wis 17:18-17:21)

“There came a whistling wind.

There was a melodious sound of birds

In wide-spreading branches.

There was the rhythm of the violently rushing water.

There was the harsh crash of rocks hurled down.

There was the unseen running of leaping animals.

There was the sound of the most savage roaring beasts.

There was an echo thrown back from a hollow of the mountains.

These things paralyzed them with terror.

The whole world was illumined with brilliant light.

However,

They went about its work unhindered.

While over those men alone,

Heavy night was spread.

An image of the darkness was destined to receive them.

But still heavier than darkness

Were they to themselves.”

Here we have the natural forces that hit the Egyptians, expanding on the Exodus story. There was a whistling wind, but yet the melodious sounds of birds. There was the rushing water, the crashing rocks, the leaping animals, and the roaring beasts. All these things paralyzed them with terror. The rest of the world (ὁ κόσμος) was fine in brilliant light (φωτὶ), but those Egyptians were in darkness (σκότους). They brought the darkness on themselves.