“When the Pharisees saw it,
They said to Jesus.
Your disciples are doing
What is not lawful to do
On the sabbath!’”
οἱ δὲ Φαρισαῖοι ἰδόντες εἶπαν αὐτῷ Ἰδοὺ οἱ μαθηταί σου ποιοῦσιν ὃ οὐκ ἔξεστιν ποιεῖν ἐν σαββάτῳ.
Matthew has the Pharisees react to the disciples of Jesus plucking and eating grain on the Sabbath. This is similar to Mark, chapter 2:24, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. It is also the same as Luke, chapter 6:2. Deuteronomy, chapter 25:24-25 stated that it was okay to pluck the ears with your hand, but you could not put a sickle to your neighbor’s standing grain or carry it away in a container. However, Exodus, chapter 34:21, explicitly said that you could not harvest grain on the Sabbath but did not mention hand picking. Thus, the Pharisees saw what had happened (οἱ δὲ Φαρισαῖοι ἰδόντες). They said to Jesus (εἶπαν αὐτῷ) that his disciples were doing unlawful things on the Sabbath by plucking and eating the grain (Ἰδοὺ οἱ μαθηταί σου ποιοῦσιν ὃ οὐκ ἔξεστιν ποιεῖν ἐν σαββάτῳ).
To the choirmaster leader, a psalm of the Korahites
All you peoples!
All inhabitants of the world!
Both low and high!
Rich and poor together!
My mouth shall speak wisdom.
The meditation of my heart shall be understanding.
I will incline my ear to a proverb.
I will solve my riddle to the music of the harp.”
Psalm 49 continues the string of choral psalms of the Sons of Korah of the last few psalms. This psalmist is like a wise sage. He wanted all the people of the whole world to hear him. This was not confided to Israel, but the more universal wisdom literature. He wanted the ears of the high and the low people as well as the rich and the poor. This is another indication that classism and economic woes have a long history. The mouth of the psalmist would speak with wisdom and understanding. He knew about proverbs and riddles with the background music of the harp.
“In my distress
I called upon Yahweh.
To my God
I cried for help.
From his temple
He heard my voice.
My cry to him reached his ears.”
Almost word for word, just like in 2 Samuel, chapter 22, the answer was, of course, call on Yahweh. David called on Yahweh, his God, for help. Yahweh heard David’s voice since his cry came to the ears of Yahweh.
“If it is well told and to the point, that is what I myself desired. If it is poorly done and mediocre, that was the best I could do. Just as it is harmful to drink wine alone or to drink water alone, but wine mixed with water is sweet and delicious. It enhances one’s enjoyment. So also I hope the style of this story delights the ears of those who read the work. Here will be the end.”
This biblical author is somewhat apologetic for not writing a better book. This was rare and even rarer today. If you like it fine, but otherwise it was the best that I could do, a rare hint of humility. It was the custom to read aloud even when reading alone because so few people had books anyway. Thus the hearing of the story is so important. The illusion to wine and water may be an attempt to speak about the Greek language of his work. Despite the opposition to Hellenization, the book was written not in Hebrew, but in Greek. Nevertheless, a little Hebrew water would add to the taste and enjoyment of all.