Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod (Mk 8:15-8:15)

“Jesus cautioned them.

He said.

‘Watch out!

Beware of the yeast

Of the Pharisees

And the yeast

Of Herod.’”

καὶ διεστέλλετο αὐτοῖς λέγων Ὁρᾶτε, βλέπετε ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ τῆς ζύμης Ἡρῴδου.

 

This saying about the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod can be found in Matthew, chapter 16:6, and Luke, chapter 12:1, but there are slight differences.  Matthew mentioned the Sadducees, while Mark was the only one to mention Herod, the Roman appointed political leader in Galilee.  Mark said that Jesus cautioned or instructed his disciples (καὶ διεστέλλετο αὐτοῖς).  They were to watch out for and be aware (Ὁρᾶτε, βλέπετε) of the yeast of the Pharisees (πὸ τῆς ζύμης τῶν Φαρισαίων) and the yeast of Herod (καὶ τῆς ζύμης Ἡρῴδου).  This was a clear rebuff of both the Pharisees and Herod.  Their growing yeast, leaven, or power was expanding.  Like earlier in this chapter, there was no mention of the Scribes.

Jesus warns about the yeast of the Pharisees (Mt 16:6-16:6)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Watch out!

Beware of the yeast

Of the Pharisees

And Sadducees.’”

 

ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ὁρᾶτε καὶ προσέχετε ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ Σαδδουκαίων.

 

Now this saying about the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees can be found in Mark, chapter 8:15, and Luke, chapter 12:1, but there are slight differences.  Mark and Luke did not mention the Sadducees.  Jesus told his disciples (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) to watch out for and be aware (Ὁρᾶτε καὶ προσέχετε) of the yeast (ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης) of the Pharisees and Sadducees (ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης).  Matthew has this as a clear rebuff of both these groups and their growing yeast, leaven, or power that was expanding.  Like earlier in this chapter, there was no mention of the Scribes.  The Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that followed the Law of Moses, but with a number of oral traditions.  They had they own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  The Sadducees, on the other hand, were generally aristocratic priestly officials, tied to the Temple and ritual purifications.  They were less concerned about oral traditions, so that they might have been political religious rivals to the Pharisees.  However, Jesus warned his disciples against both groups.

Punishment for forgetting Yahweh (Hos 13:6-13:8)

“When I fed them,

They were satisfied.

They were satisfied,

So that

Their heart was proud.

Therefore,

They forgot me.

So,

I will become

Like a lion to them.

Like a leopard,

I will lurk

Beside the way.

I will fall upon them

Like a bear

Robbed of her cubs.

I will tear open

The covering

Of their heart.

I will devour them

Like a lion.

Just like a wild animal

Would mangle them.”

Yahweh, via Hosea, warned the Israelites that he had fed them. Once they were satisfied with food, they had become proud. They forgot all about Yahweh. Thus, he was going to become like a lion or leopard lurking along their paths. He would attack them, like a bear who had been robbed of cubs. He was going to tear open the covering around their hearts. He would devour them like a wild animal would mangle its prey. They had better watch out.

The Ethiopians (Ezek 30:9-30:9)

“On that day,

Messengers,

Shall go out

From me,

In ships,

To terrify

The unsuspecting Ethiopians.

Anguish

Shall come

Upon them

On the day

Of Egypt’s doom.

It is coming!”

Yahweh was going to send out messengers or angels in ships to terrify the unsuspecting Ethiopians, who were south of Egypt. Anguish would come upon these Ethiopians on the same day that Egypt was being enveloped in doom. This was going to happen, so watch out.

The good future plans (Jer 29:11-29:11)

“Yahweh says.

‘Surely I know the plans

I have for you.

These are plans

For your welfare,

Not for your harm.

I want

To give you

A future with hope.”

Once again, Yahweh, via the letter of Jeremiah, said that he would take care of their future, since he had plans for them.   He would not harm them, but rather watch out for their welfare. He wanted to give them a future with hope.

The responsibility of humans (Sir 17:8-17:14)

“The Lord put the fear of him

Into human hearts.

He showed them

The majesty of his works.

They will praise

His holy name.

They will proclaim

The grandeur of his works.

He bestowed knowledge

Upon them.

He allotted to them

The law of life.

He established with them

An eternal covenant.

He revealed to them

His decrees.

Their eyes saw

His glorious majesty.

Their ears heard

The glory of his voice.

He said to them.

‘Beware of all evil.’

He gave commandments

To each of them

Concerning their neighbor.”

Sirach believed that the Lord put the fear of hin into human hearts. He showed humans the majesty of his works. However, they had to praise his holy name and proclaim the grandeur of his works because they had knowledge about it. The Lord gave these humans the law of life by an eternal covenant with them. He revealed his decrees to them. Their human eyes saw his glorious majesty. Their ears heard the glory of his voice. They were able to see and hear God. He told them to watch out for evil. He gave them commandments on how they were to treat their neighbors.

Friendly enemies (Sir 12:8-12:12)

“A friend is not known in prosperity.

An enemy is not hidden in adversity.

One’s enemies are friendly

When one prospers.

But in adversity,

Even one’s friends disappear.

Never trust your enemy.

Like corrosion in copper,

So is his wickedness.

Even if he humbles himself,

Even if he walks bowed down,

Watch yourself!

Take care to be on your guard

Against him.

Be to him

Like one who polishes a mirror.

Make sure that

It does not become completely tarnished.

Do not put him next to you.

He may overthrow you.

He may take your place.

Do not let him sit

At your right hand.

Otherwise he may try

To take your own seat.

At last,

You will realize

The truth of my words.

You will be stung

By what I have said.”

You cannot tell who is a friend or an enemy when you have prosperity or adversity. Do not trust your wicked enemy since he is like corrosive copper. Watch out even when he humbles himself before you. Treat him like a mirror that always needs polishing. Do not put him next to you, because he will overthrow you and take your place. Listen to these words of Sirach. You will realize how true they are when you are stung by your enemies.