The Pharisee was amazed (Lk 11:38-11:38)

“This Pharisee

Was amazed

To see

That Jesus did not

First wash

Before dinner.”

 

ὁ δὲ Φαρισαῖος ἰδὼν ἐθαύμασεν ὅτι οὐ πρῶτον ἐβαπτίσθη πρὸ τοῦ ἀρίστου.

 

Luke said that this Pharisee was amazed to see (ὁ δὲ Φαρισαῖος ἰδὼν ἐθαύμασεν) that Jesus did not first wash (ὅτι οὐ πρῶτον ἐβαπτίσθη) before dinner (πρὸ τοῦ ἀρίστου).  There is something similar to this in Mark, chapter 7:2-5 and Matthew, chapter 15:2.  However, the complaint there was about the disciples of Jesus, not Jesus himself.  Matthew said that these Pharisees wanted to know why the disciples of Jesus did not wash their hands before they ate bread.  They said that this action was a violation against the tradition of the elders.  Mark said that these Pharisees and Scribes had noticed that the disciples of Jesus were eating bread with defiled hands, because they did not wash their hands.  These Pharisees and Scribes wanted to know why the disciples of Jesus did not live according to the tradition of the elders.  Originally, this practice of washing hands before eating was what the Levites did in the Temple to practice ritual purity as indicated in Exodus, chapter 30:17-21.  Yahweh had told Moses that there should be a bronze basin with a bronze stand for washing.  Thus, Aaron and his sons should wash their hands and feet when they went into the meeting tent or the altar.  The penalty for not washing your hands and feet was death under this perpetual ordinance.  However, the Pharisaic oral tradition, or the tradition of the elders, had extended this practice to individual homes.  Thus, they were violating the tradition of the elders.  Wash your hands!  Do you wash your hands before you eat?

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The Levite passed by (Lk 10:32-10:32)

“Thus,

Likewise

A Levite,

When he came

To the place

Saw him.

He passed by

On the other side.”

 

ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Λευείτης κατὰ τὸν τόπον ἐλθὼν καὶ ἰδὼν ἀντιπαρῆλθεν

 

Luke continued his unique story.  Jesus said that a Levite also (ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Λευείτης) came to this same place (κατὰ τὸν τόπον ἐλθὼν) on the road.  He saw the wounded man (καὶ ἰδὼν).  Then he too crossed over to the other side of the road (ἀντιπαρῆλθεν), so as not to engage with this man.  The same questions can be asked of this Jewish Levite that were asked about the priest.  Was it because of ritual purity?  Was he in a hurry, so that he did not have time to stop?  Did he simply not care?  Was it too much of a bother?  Normally, the Levites do not come in for much criticism in the gospel narratives.  Levites were sons of Levi, and tied to ritualistic practice at the Temple.  For instance, the father of John the Baptist was Zechariah and his mother Elizabeth, both of them were descendants of Aaron.  Zechariah was a priest in the Jerusalem Temple, while Elizabeth was from a Levite family.  These Levites had Temple duties.  Thus, they were religious ritual leaders in the Jewish community.  Both the priest and the Levite represented the upper religious strata of the Jewish community.  Do you think that religious leaders should set an example by their lifestyle?

The priest went by (Lk 10:31-10:31)

“Now by chance,

A priest

Was going down

That road.

When he saw him,

He passed by

On the other side.”

 

κατὰ συγκυρίαν δὲ ἱερεύς τις κατέβαινεν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ἐκείνῃ, καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτὸν ἀντιπαρῆλθεν.

 

Luke uniquely continued this story or parable about who is my neighbor.  Jesus said that by chance (κατὰ συγκυρίαν), a certain Jewish priest (δὲ ἱερεύς τις) was going down (κατέβαινεν) this same road (ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ἐκείνῃ).  He saw the badly wounded man (καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτὸν), but he passed by on the other side of the road (ἀντιπαρῆλθεν).  There is a lot of speculation on why this priest did not help this man.  Was it because of ritual purity?  Was he in a hurry, so that he did not have time to stop?  Did he simply not care?  Was it too much of a bother?  Certainly, a Jewish priest had standing in the Jewish community.  Other than the high priest, he represented the most important level of Jewish society.  What is certain is that this high-ranking religious leader did not engage in any way with the afflicted man on the other side of the road.  He clearly saw him, as he specifically crossed over to the other side, so as not to be bothered by him.  The ritual purity argument has been raised since a priest could not touch a corpse.  However, there was no mention of a dead body.  Do you always have an excuse on why you do not help other wounded people?

The tradition of the elders (Mk 7:3-7:3)

“The Pharisees,

And all the Jews,

Do not eat

Unless they wash

Their hands.

Thus,

They observe

The tradition

Of the elders.”

 

οἱ γὰρ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ πάντες οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι ἐὰν μὴ πυγμῇ νίψωνται τὰς χεῖρας οὐκ ἐσθίουσιν, κρατοῦντες τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν πρεσβυτέρων,

 

There is nothing like this elsewhere, because Mark was explaining this Jewish practice to his gentile Christian readers.  Mark said that the Pharisees (οἱ γὰρ Φαρισαῖοι) and all the Jews (καὶ πάντες οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι) did not eat. unless they had washed their hands (μὴ πυγμῇ νίψωνται τὰς χεῖρας οὐκ ἐσθίουσιν).  Not washing hands was considered to be not upholding or a violation against the Jewish tradition of the elders or priests (κρατοῦντες τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν πρεσβυτέρων).  The importance of this tradition was clearly seen in Matthew, chapter 15:2, in this more Jewish Christian writing.  It is not clear that all Jews followed this tradition, but the Pharisees certainly did.  Originally, this practice of washing hands before eating was what the priestly Levites did in the Temple to practice ritual purity as indicated in Exodus, chapter 30:17-21.  Yahweh had told Moses that there should be a bronze basin with a bronze stand for washing.  Thus, Aaron and his sons should wash their hands and feet when they went into the meeting tent or the altar.  The penalty for not washing your hands and feet was death under this perpetual ordinance.  However, the Pharisaic oral tradition, or the tradition of the elders, had extended this practice to individual and their own homes.

Why do they not wash their hands before eating? (Mt 15:2-15:2)

“They said.

‘Why do your disciples

Break the tradition

Of the elders?

They do not wash

Their hands

Before they eat.’”

 

Διὰ τί οἱ μαθηταί σου παραβαίνουσιν τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν πρεσβυτέρων; οὐ γὰρ νίπτονται τὰς χεῖρας ὅταν ἄρτον ἐσθίωσιν.

 

There is something similar to this in Mark, chapter 7:2-5 and Luke chapter 11:39.  These Pharisees wanted to know why the disciples of Jesus (Διὰ τί οἱ μαθηταί σου) did not wash their hands before they ate bread (οὐ γὰρ νίπτονται τὰς χεῖρας ὅταν ἄρτον ἐσθίωσιν).  They said that this action was a transgression or violation against the tradition of the elders (παραβαίνουσιν τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν πρεσβυτέρων).  Originally, this practice of washing hands before eating was what the Levites did in the Temple to practice ritual purity as indicated in Exodus, chapter 30:17-21.  Yahweh had told Moses that there should be a bronze basin with a bronze stand for washing.  Thus, Aaron and his sons should wash their hands and feet when they went into the meeting tent or the altar.  The penalty for not washing your hands and feet was death under this perpetual ordinance.  However, the Pharisaic oral tradition, or the tradition of the elders, had extended this practice to individual homes.