The great crowd on the plain field (Lk 6:17-6:17)

“Jesus came down

With them.

He stood

On a level place,

With a great crowd

Of his disciples

And a great multitude

Of people

From all Judea,

Jerusalem,

And the coast

Of Tyre

And Sidon.”

 

καὶ καταβὰς μετ’ αὐτῶν ἔστη ἐπὶ τόπου πεδινοῦ, καὶ ὄχλος πολὺς μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ, καὶ πλῆθος πολὺ τοῦ λαοῦ ἀπὸ πάσης τῆς Ἰουδαίας καὶ Ἱερουσαλὴμ καὶ τῆς παραλίου Τύρου καὶ Σιδῶνος,

 

Luke said that Jesus came down from the mountain with his new apostles (καὶ καταβὰς μετ’ αὐτῶν).  He stood on a level place (ἔστη ἐπὶ τόπου πεδινοῦ), with a great crowd of his disciples (καὶ ὄχλος πολὺς μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ).  There was a lot of people (καὶ πλῆθος πολὺ τοῦ λαοῦ) from all Judea (ἀπὸ πάσης τῆς Ἰουδαίας), Jerusalem (καὶ Ἱερουσαλὴμ), and the coast of Tyre and Sidon (καὶ τῆς παραλίου Τύρου καὶ Σιδῶνος).  Clearly, Jesus had become very popular, but there was no mention of anybody from Galilee.  Mark, chapter 3:7-8, said that Jesus left with his disciples to go to the Sea of Galilee, where, a great big crowd from Galilee and Judea that followed him.  People from everywhere were coming to listen to Jesus.  Jesus was no longer a local Galilean hero.  Mark said that people came to him in great numbers from Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan and also from the regions around Tyre and Sidon.  Obviously, Jerusalem would be interested in Jesus.  Idumea was south of Judah and part of the old country of Edom.  The other side of the Jordan would have been the old territories of Manasseh, Gad, and Reuben.  Tyre and Sidon were the coastal towns of the Phoenicians in the old Asher territory.  These would have been mostly Jewish people of Israelite heritage.  Matthew, chapter 4:24-25, said that the fame of Jesus had spread all over Syria, so that huge crowds followed Jesus in Galilee.  Also, the people from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from the east bank of the Jordan River were all following Jesus.

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Decapolis (Mk 7:31-7:31)

“Then Jesus returned

From the region of Tyre.

He went by way

Of Sidon

Towards the Sea of Galilee,

In the region

Of the Decapolis.”

 

Καὶ πάλιν ἐξελθὼν ἐκ τῶν ὁρίων Τύρου ἦλθεν διὰ Σιδῶνος εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας ἀνὰ μέσον τῶν ὁρίων Δεκαπόλεως.

 

Matthew, chapter 15:29, has a more summary explanation of this travel.  Instead of going to Sidon, Jesus went straight back to the Sea of Galilee.  Also, there is no mention of Jesus going up a mountain here.  Mark said that Jesus returned from the region of Tyre (Καὶ πάλιν ἐξελθὼν ἐκ τῶν ὁρίων Τύρου) by way of the coastal city of Sidon (ἦλθεν διὰ Σιδῶνος) that was further north.  Then he went towards the Sea of Galilee (εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν τῆς Γαλιλαίας).  However, he went through the middle of the Decapolis region (ἀνὰ μέσον τῶν ὁρίων Δεκαπόλεως), where he had been earlier in Mark, chapter 5:20.  The Decapolis territory was a group of 10 gentile non-Jewish cities north and east of the Jordan River in present day Jordan and Syria that included the towns of Gerasa, Scythopolis, Hippos, Gadara, Pella, Philadelphia, Capitolias, Canatha, Raphana, and Damascus.  Clearly, Jesus had gone through these gentile, non-Jewish areas.

The woman was a gentile (Mk 7:26-7:26)

“Now the woman

Was a gentile,

Of Syrophoenician origin.

She begged him

To cast

The demon

Out of her daughter.”

 

ἡ δὲ γυνὴ ἦν Ἑλληνίς, Συροφοινίκισσα τῷ γένει· καὶ ἠρώτα αὐτὸν ἵνα τὸ δαιμόνιον ἐκβάλῃ ἐκ τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτῆς.

 

Matthew, chapter 15:22, has something similar.  This woman was a gentile Canaanite woman (ἡ δὲ γυνὴ ἦν Ἑλληνίς), of Syrophoenician origin (Συροφοινίκισσα τῷ γένει), that is in the area of Syria and Phoenicia.  Matthew never mentioned the area she was from.  The Canaanites, who worshiped Baal, were still the enemies of the Jewish people.  This Canaanite woman kept begging Jesus (καὶ ἠρώτα αὐτὸν) to cast out the demon from her daughter (ἵνα τὸ δαιμόνιον ἐκβάλῃ ἐκ τῆς θυγατρὸς αὐτῆς), since her daughter was possessed by an evil spirit.

The new Jesus missionary in Decapolis (Mk 5:20-5:20)

“The former demoniac

Went away.

He began to proclaim

In the Decapolis towns

How much Jesus

Had done for him.

Everyone was amazed.”

 

καὶ ἀπῆλθεν καὶ ἤρξατο κηρύσσειν ἐν τῇ Δεκαπόλει ὅσα ἐποίησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς, καὶ πάντες ἐθαύμαζον.

 

There is something similar in Luke, chapter 8:39, while there is nothing like this in MatthewMark said that the former demoniac went away (καὶ ἀπῆλθεν).  He then began to preach or proclaim (καὶ ἤρξατο κηρύσσειν) in the Decapolis area (ἐν τῇ Δεκαπόλει) how much Jesus had done for him (ὅσα ἐποίησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς).  Thus, everyone there was amazed or marveled at this (καὶ πάντες ἐθαύμαζον).  The Decapolis territory was a group of 10 gentile non-Jewish cities on the east bank of the Jordan River in present day Jordan and Syria that included the towns of Gerasa, Scythopolis, Hippos, Gadara, Pella, Philadelphia, Capitolias, Canatha, Raphana, and Damascus.  Thus, this cured demoniac was the first Christian apostle to the gentiles.

Famous faith healer in Syria (Mt 4:24-4:24)

“So,

Jesus’ fame spread

Throughout all Syria.

They brought to him

All the sick.

This included

Those afflicted

With various diseases,

And with oppressive pains.

It also included

Demoniacs,

Epileptics,

And paralytics.

He cured them.”

 

καὶ ἀπῆλθεν ἡ ἀκοὴ αὐτοῦ εἰς ὅλην τὴν Συρίαν· καὶ προσήνεγκαν αὐτῷ πάντας τοὺς κακῶς ἔχοντας ποικίλαις νόσοις καὶ βασάνοις συνεχομένους, δαιμονιζομένους καὶ σεληνιαζομένους καὶ παραλυτικούς, καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν αὐτούς.

 

Once again, Matthew has some unique information about the fame or the news of Jesus that had spread all over Syria (καὶ ἀπῆλθεν ἡ ἀκοὴ αὐτοῦ εἰς ὅλην τὴν Συρίαν) that was not in the other gospel stories.  This was not impossible since Syria was just north of Galilee and actually Damascus was closer to the Sea of Galilee than Jerusalem.  Besides, there was a large Jewish population in Syria also.  Perhaps this Gospel of Matthew came from Syria.  However, the key element was the healing power of Jesus that also was very strong in the Gospel of Mark.  Here in Matthew, Jesus is the faith healer per excellence.  They brought all kinds of sick people to Jesus (καὶ προσήνεγκαν αὐτῷ πάντας τοὺς κακῶς).  This included people with various diseases and oppressive pains (ἔχοντας ποικίλαις νόσοις καὶ βασάνοις συνεχομένους).  There was also demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics (δαιμονιζομένους καὶ σεληνιαζομένους καὶ παραλυτικούς) who came to him.  He cured them all (καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν αὐτούς.).  There was no difference between spiritual and physical illness, so that healing those possessed of the devil was not out of the question.

Title

“The Gospel according to Mathew”

 

Τὸ κατὰ Ματθαῖον εὐαγγέλιον

 

What is a gospel?  Who is Matthew?  The English term gospel comes from the Old English ‘godspel.’  There was a musical play with the name “Godspell” that opened on Broadway in 1971.  Like the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον, gospel means good news or good tidings.  This term originally meant the Christian message itself.  However, in the second century, it came to be used for the books where this message was set out.  Thus, the gospels became known as written accounts of the career and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.  This Gospel of Matthew is anonymous, since there is no explicit mention of a named author within the text itself.  This title (Τὸ κατὰ Ματθαῖον εὐαγγέλιον), however was added some time in the second century, perhaps with Papias of Hierapolis (100–140 CE), an early bishop and apostolic father.  The apostle Matthew was among the early followers and apostles of Jesus.  He was a first century Galilean, the son of Alpheus.  As a tax collector he would have been literate in Aramaic and Greek.  His fellow Jews would have despised him because he was seen as collaborating with the Roman occupation force.  What we do know for certain is that the author of this gospel was probably a traditional male Jew, familiar with the technical and legal aspects of Hebrew Scripture.  He wrote in a polished Semitic synagogue Greek style.  Most scholars hold that the Gospel of Matthew was a product of the last quarter of the 1st century, a work of the second generation of Christians, probably sometime between 70-110 CE, or more precisely between 80-90 CE.  The defining event for this community was the Roman destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE, during the Jewish–Roman War of 66–73 CE.  The author of this Gospel of Matthew wrote for a community of Greek-speaking Jewish Christians probably located in Syria, just north of Galilee.  Antioch was the largest city in Roman Syria and the third-largest city in the Roman Empire, after Rome and Alexandria.  This is where the term “Christian” was first used.  Thus, it would seem like an appropriate place for Jewish Christians in the second half of the first century.   For practical traditional purposes, I will use the name Matthew as the author of this gospel.

An oracle against Aram (Zech 9:1-9:2)

“An oracle.

The word of Yahweh is

Against the land of Hadrach.

It will rest upon Damascus.

The capital of Aram,

With Hamath

That borders on Damascus,

As do all the tribes of Israel,

Belong to Yahweh.”

This second part of this book of Zechariah is a series of oracles that presume something like the conquest of Alexander the Great in 333 BCE.  Apparently, Yahweh was on the side of the Greeks in their conquest.  Thus, Yahweh was against Aram, present day Syria, as well as the cities of Hadrach, Hamath, and Damascus, the capital of Aram.  All of these places belonged to Yahweh, just as all the tribes of Israel also belonged to Yahweh.