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.

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The citation from Isaiah (Mk 4:12-4:12

“Thus,

They may indeed look,

But not perceive.

They may indeed listen,

But not understand.

Thus,

They may not

Turn again

To be forgiven.”

 

ἵνα βλέποντες βλέπωσιν καὶ μὴ ἴδωσιν, καὶ ἀκούοντες ἀκούωσιν καὶ μὴ συνιῶσιν, μή ποτε ἐπιστρέψωσιν καὶ ἀφεθῇ αὐτοῖς.

 

This citation of Isaiah about the people unable to understand the meaning of parables can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels.  Matthew, chapter 13:14-16, had a longer citation from Isaiah with an introduction and a final comment, while Luke, chapter 8:10, had a short summary, like here in Mark.  This prophecy of Isaiah was from chapter 6:9-10, where Isaiah told the people that they were listening without comprehending.  They were looking without understanding.  Their hearts were dull.  Their eyes and ears were closed.  He wanted them not to look with their own eyes, but he wanted them to turn to Yahweh, so that they would be healed.  Mark indicated that they could see, but not perceive (καὶ βλέποντες βλέπωσιν).  They were experiencing and listening (καὶ μὴ ἴδωσιν, καὶ ἀκούοντες), but they could not hear or understand (ἀκούωσιν καὶ μὴ συνιῶσιν).  They would not turn back (καὶ ἐπιστρέψωσιν) and be forgiven (καὶ ἀφεθῇ αὐτοῖς).  The reason that Jesus spoke in parables was that some people would see, but not perceive. They would hear, but not understand what they heard.

Temptations in the wilderness (Mk 1:13-1:13)

“Jesus was

In the wilderness

Forty days.

He was

Tempted by Satan.

He was

With the wild beasts.

The angels

Ministered to him.”

 

καὶ ἦν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τεσσεράκοντα ἡμέρας πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ Σατανᾶ, καὶ ἦν μετὰ τῶν θηρίων, καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι διηκόνουν αὐτῷ.

 

Mark has an abbreviated description of the temptations of Jesus compared to Matthew, chapter 4:2-11, and Luke, chapter 4:2-13.  Jesus was in the wilderness 40 days (καὶ ἦν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τεσσεράκοντα ἡμέρας).  All 3 synoptics agree on the 40 days, since there was a symbolism to this number with the 40 years that the Israelites were in the wilderness during the Exodus.  All agree that Jesus was tempted by Satan or the devil (πειραζόμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ Σατανᾶ).  Satan was the adversary or the accuser after the Persian influence on the Israelites after the exile.  The older devil concept was considered a fallen angel without all the powers of God, but nevertheless very strong.  Sometimes the devil was referred to as the personification of evil.  Why was Jesus tempted?  God, the Father, Yahweh, often tested the righteous ones and the prophets in the Hebrew Bible.  Luke and Matthew are very similar with their detailed account of these 3 temptations.  Mark does not mention Jesus fasting or any of the 3 specific detailed temptations that are in Luke and Matthew.  Jesus was with the wild beasts (καὶ ἦν μετὰ τῶν θηρίων), but this remark was not found in the longer detailed descriptions of Matthew and Luke, only here.  Mark makes it seem like the temptation was physical or like the fear of wild animals.  Then the angels ministered to him (καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι διηκόνουν αὐτῷ).  This is somewhat similar to Matthew, chapter 4:11, but there were no angels ministering to Jesus in Luke, chapter 4:13.  Here, a number of angels came, as in 1 Kings, chapter 19:4-8, where an angel came to help Elijah when he was in the desert, as the shadow of Elijah appeared in many of these gospel stories.  These angels came to wait on and care for Jesus.

The prophecy of Jeremiah (Mt 27:9-27:10)

“Then was fulfilled

What had been spoken

Through the prophet Jeremiah.

‘They took

The thirty pieces of silver,

The price of the one

On whom

A price had been set,

On whom

Some of the people of Israel

Had set a price.

They gave it

For the potter’s field,

As the Lord

Commanded me.”

 

τότε ἐπληρώθη τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἱερεμίου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος Καὶ ἔλαβον τὰ τριάκοντα ἀργύρια, τὴν τιμὴν τοῦ τετιμημένου ὃν ἐτιμήσαντο ἀπὸ υἱῶν Ἰσραήλ

καὶ ἔδωκαν αὐτὰ εἰς τὸν ἀγρὸν τοῦ κεραμέως, καθὰ συνέταξέν μοι Κύριος.

 

This is unique to Matthew, who said that this happened to fulfill (τότε ἐπληρώθη) what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah (τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἱερεμίου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος).  Unfortunately, this is from the prophet Zechariah, chapter 11:12-13, not Jeremiah.  He had said that they took 30 pieces of silver (Καὶ ἔλαβον τὰ τριάκοντα ἀργύρια).  This was the specific set price (τὴν τιμὴν τοῦ τετιμημένου) that the people or sons of Israel had established (ὃν ἐτιμήσαντο ἀπὸ υἱῶν Ἰσραήλ).  They gave it for a potter’s field (καὶ ἔδωκαν αὐτὰ εἰς τὸν ἀγρὸν τοῦ κεραμέως) because the Lord had commanded it (καθὰ συνέταξέν μοι Κύριος).  In the original text from Zechariah, he was told to throw 30 shekels of silver into the Temple treasury.  Like all good prophets, Zechariah did what Yahweh asked him to do.  He threw the 30 silver shekels into the treasury in the house of Yahweh.  There was no mention of a potter’s field.  That might be allusion to Jeremiah who visited a potter’s house in chapter 18:1-6.  However, here that second verse is an addition by Matthew, not in the original Old Testament verse of Zechariah.

Jesus responds (Mt 26:63-26:64)

“But Jesus was silent.

Then the high priest

Said to him.

‘I put you under oath

Before the living God!

Tell us!

If you are the Christ,

The Messiah,

The Son of God?’

Jesus said to him.

‘You have said so.

But I tell you!

From now on

You will see

The Son of Man

Seated at the right hand

Of Power.

He will be coming

On the clouds of heaven.’”

 

ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἐσιώπα. καὶ ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ἐξορκίζω σε κατὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ ζῶντος ἵνα ἡμῖν εἴπῃς εἰ σὺ εἶ ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ.

λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς Σὺ εἶπας· πλὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀπ’ ἄρτι ὄψεσθε τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καθήμενον ἐκ δεξιῶν τῆς δυνάμεως καὶ ἐρχόμενον ἐπὶ τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ.

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 14:61-62.  In Luke, chapter 22:67-69, there is something similar, but there is nothing like this in John, chapter 18.  Matthew said that Jesus was originally silent (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἐσιώπα).  Then the high priest Caiaphas said to Jesus (καὶ ὁ ἀρχιερεὺς εἶπεν αὐτῷ) that he was going to put him under oath according to the living God (Ἐξορκίζω σε κατὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ ζῶντος).  Caiaphas told Jesus to tell everyone there (ἵνα ἡμῖν εἴπῃς) whether he was the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God (εἰ σὺ εἶ ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ).  This was a strongly worded theological statement.  Then Jesus replied to Caiaphas, the high priest (λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς), that he had said so (Σὺ εἶπας).  Then Jesus gave him a warning with a solemn pronouncement (πλὴν λέγω ὑμῖν).  He told him that from now on (ἀπ’ ἄρτι), he would see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power, Yahweh, or God, the Father (ὄψεσθε τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καθήμενον ἐκ δεξιῶν τῆς δυνάμεως), coming on the clouds of heaven (καὶ ἐρχόμενον ἐπὶ τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ).  Jesus gave a strong theological response that the end times were near when the Son of Man would appear on a cloud.

The sheep and the goats (Mt 25:32-25:33

“All the nations

Will be gathered

Before him.

He will separate people,

One from another.

Just as a shepherd

Separates

The sheep

From the goats,

He will place

The sheep

At his right hand.

He will place

The goats

At his left side.”

 

καὶ συναχθήσονται ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, καὶ ἀφορίσει αὐτοὺς ἀπ’ ἀλλήλων, ὥσπερ ὁ ποιμὴν ἀφορίζει τὰ πρόβατα ἀπὸ τῶν ἐρίφων,

καὶ στήσει τὰ μὲν πρόβατα ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ, τὰ δὲ ἐρίφια ἐξ εὐωνύμων.

 

This last judgment section is unique to Matthew.  Jesus said that all the gentile nations would be gathered before him (καὶ συναχθήσονται ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη).  Then he would separate them from each other (καὶ ἀφορίσει αὐτοὺς ἀπ’ ἀλλήλων).  Just like a shepherd separated the sheep from the goats (ὥσπερ ὁ ποιμὴν ἀφορίζει τὰ πρόβατα ἀπὸ τῶν ἐρίφων), he would place the sheep at his right hand (καὶ στήσει τὰ μὲν πρόβατα ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ).  Then he would place the goats at his left hand (τὰ δὲ ἐρίφια ἐξ εὐωνύμων).  The divine judgment of Yahweh was a common biblical theme.  Here it is the Son of Man who judges everyone.  On the right side are the just righteous sheep, while on the left side are the wild or bad goats, a common generic theme.  Good is to the right, just as right-handed people are good.  Left-handed people are looked at with suspicion, as are left leaning policies.