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 watchful eye of Yahweh (Jer 31:28-31:28)

“‘Just as I have watched

Over them

To pluck up,

To break down,

To overthrow,

To destroy,

To bring evil,

So I will watch

Over them

To build

And to plant.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh in this oracle says that he watches over the Israelites. Just as he plucked them up, broke them down, overthrew them, destroyed them, and brought evil to them, so too he would watch over them as he builds them up and plants them again. There is a glimpse of hope here.

Some proverbs (Sir 40:12-40:17)

“All bribery

Will be blotted out.

All injustice

Will be blotted out.

But good faith

Will last forever.

The wealth of the unjust

Will dry up like a river.

The wealth of the unjust

Will crash like a loud clap

Of thunder in a storm.

A generous person

Has cause to rejoice.

Lawbreakers

Will utterly fail.

The children of the ungodly

Put out few branches.

They are unhealthy roots

On sheer rock.

The reeds by any water

Or river bank

Are plucked up

Before any grass.

Kindness is

Like a garden of blessings.

Almsgiving endures forever.”

Sirach utters some proverbs or sayings about injustice and life. Bribery and injustice will be blotted out, but good faith will last forever. The wealth of the unjust will disappear like a dried up river or thunder in a storm, here today, but gone tomorrow. Generous people should rejoice, while the lawbreakers will fail. The children of the ungodly will have few branches because their unhealthy roots are on solid rocks so they will have no yield. They are like reeds near water that is plucked before the grass. Kindness, on the other hand, grows into a garden of blessings. Then too almsgiving endures forever.