Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem.
Mr 7:1-23. Discourse on Ceremonial Pollution. ( = Mt 15:1-20).
See on Mt 15:1-20.
And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault.
For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.
And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.
Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?
He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:
But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.
And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;
Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand:
There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable.
And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;
Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?
And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid.
Mr 7:24-37. The Syroph�nician Woman and Her Daughter—A Deaf and Dumb Man Healed. ( = Mt 15:21-31).
The Syroph�nician Woman and Her Daughter (Mr 7:24-30).
The first words of this narrative show that the incident followed, in point of time, immediately on what precedes it.
24. And from thence he arose, and went into the borders—or "unto the borders."
of Tyre and Sidon—the two great Ph�nician seaports, but here denoting the territory generally, to the frontiers of which Jesus now came. But did Jesus actually enter this heathen territory? The whole narrative, we think, proceeds upon the supposition that He did. His immediate object seems to have been to avoid the wrath of the Pharisees at the withering exposure He had just made of their traditional religion.
and entered into an house, and would have no man know it—because He had not come there to minister to heathens. But though not "sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mt 15:24), He hindered not the lost sheep of the vast Gentile world from coming to Him, nor put them away when they did come—as this incident was designed to show.
but he could not be hid—Christ's fame had early spread from Galilee to this very region (Mr 3:8; Lu 6:17).
For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet:
25. For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit—or, as in Matthew (Mt 15:22), "was badly demonized."
heard of him—One wonders how; but distress is quick of hearing.
and fell at his feet:
The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.
26. The woman was a Greek—that is, "a Gentile," as in the Margin.
a Syroph�nician by nation—so called as inhabiting the Ph�nician tract of Syria. Juvenal uses the same term, as was remarked by Justin Martyr and Tertullian. Matthew (Mt 15:22) calls her "a woman of Canaan"—a more intelligible description to his Jewish readers (compare Jud 1:30, 32, 33).
and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter—"She cried unto Him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David: my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil" (Mt 15:22). Thus, though no Israelite herself, she salutes Him as Israel's promised Messiah. Here we must go to Mt 15:23-25 for some important links in the dialogue omitted by our Evangelist.
But he answered her not a word—The design of this was first, perhaps, to show that He was not sent to such as she. He had said expressly to the Twelve, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles" (Mt 10:5); and being now among them Himself, He would, for consistency's sake, let it be seen that He had not gone thither for missionary purposes. Therefore He not only kept silence, but had actually left the house, and—as will presently appear—was proceeding on His way back, when this woman accosted Him. But another reason for keeping silence plainly was to try and whet her faith, patience, and perseverance. And it had the desired effect: "She cried after them," which shows that He was already on His way from the place.
And His disciples came and besought Him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us—They thought her troublesome with her importunate cries, just as they did the people who brought young children to be blessed of Him, and they ask their Lord to "send her away," that is, to grant her request and be rid of her; for we gather from His reply that they meant to solicit favor for her, though not for her sake so much as their own.
But He answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel—a speech evidently intended for the disciples themselves, to satisfy them that, though the grace He was about to show to this Gentile believer was beyond His strict commission, He had not gone spontaneously to dispense it. Yet did even this speech open a gleam of hope, could she have discerned it. For thus might she have spoken: "I am not SENT, did He say? Truth, Lord, Thou comest not hither in quest of us, but I come in quest of Thee; and must I go empty away? So did not the woman of Samaria, whom when Thou foundest her on Thy way to Galilee, Thou sentest away to make many rich!" But this our poor Syroph�nician could not attain to. What, then, can she answer to such a speech? Nothing. She has reached her lowest depth, her darkest moment: she will just utter her last cry:
Then came she and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, help me!—This appeal, so artless, wrung from the depths of a believing heart, and reminding us of the publican's "God be merciful to me a sinner," moved the Redeemer at last to break silence—but in what style? Here we return to our own Evangelist.
But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.
27. But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled—"Is there hope for me here?" "Filled FIRST?" "Then my turn, it seems, is coming!—but then, 'The CHILDREN first?' Ah! when, on that rule, shall my turn ever come!" But ere she has time for these ponderings of His word, another word comes to supplement it.
for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs—Is this the death of her hopes? Nay, rather it is life from the dead. Out of the eater shall come forth meat (Jud 14:14). "At evening-time, it shall be light" (Zec 14:7). "Ah! I have it now. Had He kept silence, what could I have done but go unblest? but He hath spoken, and the victory is mine."
And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs.
28. And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord—or, as the same word is rendered in Mt 15:27. "Truth, Lord."
yet the dogs eat of the children's crumbs—"which fall from their master's table" (Mt 15:27). "I thank Thee, O blessed One, for that word! That's my whole case. Not of the children? True. A dog? True also: Yet the dogs under the table are allowed to eat of the children's crumbs—the droppings from their master's full table: Give me that, and I am content: One crumb of power and grace from Thy table shall cast the devil out of my daughter." Oh, what lightning quickness, what reach of instinctive ingenuity, do we behold in this heathen woman!
And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.
29. And he said unto her—"O woman, great is thy faith" (Mt 15:28). As Bengel beautifully remarks, Jesus "marvelled" only at two things—faith and unbelief (see Lu 7:9).
For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter—That moment the deed was done.
And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.
30. And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed—But Matthew (Mt 15:28) is more specific; "And her daughter was made whole from that very hour." The wonderfulness of this case in all its features has been felt in every age of the Church, and the balm it has administered, and will yet administer, to millions will be known only in that day that shall reveal the secrets of all hearts.
Deaf and Dumb Man Healed (Mr 7:31-37).
And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis.
31. And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the Sea of Galilee—or, according to what has very strong claims to be regarded as the true text here, "And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre, He came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee." The manuscripts in favor of this reading, though not the most numerous, are weighty, while the versions agreeing with it are among the most ancient; and all the best critical editors and commentators adopt it. In this case we must understand that our Lord, having once gone out of the Holy Land the length of Tyre, proceeded as far north as Sidon, though without ministering, so far as appears, in those parts, and then bent His steps in a southeasterly direction. There is certainly a difficulty in the supposition of so long a detour without any missionary object: and some may think this sufficient to cast the balance in favor of the received reading. Be this as it may, on returning from these coasts of Tyre, He passed
through the midst of the coasts—frontiers.
of Decapolis—crossing the Jordan, therefore, and approaching the lake on its east side. Here Matthew, who omits the details of the cure of this deaf and dumb man, introduces some particulars, from which we learn that it was only one of a great number. "And Jesus," says that Evangelist (Mt 15:29-31), "departed from thence, and came nigh unto the Sea of Galilee, and went up into a mountain"—the mountain range bounding the lake on the northeast, in Decapolis: "And great multitudes came unto Him, having with them lame, blind, dumb, maimed"—not "mutilated," which is but a secondary sense of the word, but "deformed"—"and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and He healed them: insomuch that the multitude [multitudes] wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see; and they glorified the God of Israel"—who after so long and dreary an absence of visible manifestation, had returned to bless His people as of old (compare Lu 7:16). Beyond this it is not clear from the Evangelist's language that the people saw into the claims of Jesus. Well, of these cases Mark here singles out one, whose cure had something peculiar in it.
And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him.
32. And they bring unto him one that was deaf … and they beseech him to put his hand upon him—In their eagerness they appear to have been somewhat too officious. Though usually doing as here suggested, He will deal with this case in His own way.
And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue;
33. And he took him aside from the multitude—As in another case He "took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town" (Mr 8:23), probably to fix his undistracted attention on Himself, and, by means of certain actions He was about to do, to awaken and direct his attention to the proper source of relief.
and put his fingers into his ears—As his indistinct articulation arose from his deafness, our Lord addresses Himself to this first. To the impotent man He said, "Wilt thou be made whole?" to the blind men, "What will ye that I shall do unto you?" and "Believe ye that I am able to do this?" (Joh 5:6; Mt 20:32; 9:28). But as this patient could hear nothing, our Lord substitutes symbolical actions upon each of the organs affected.
and he spit and touched his tongue—moistening the man's parched tongue with saliva from His own mouth, as if to lubricate the organ or facilitate its free motion; thus indicating the source of the healing virtue to be His own person. (For similar actions, see Mr 8:23; Joh 9:6).
And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.
34. And looking up to heaven—ever acknowledging His Father, even while the healing was seen to flow from Himself (see on Joh 5:19).
he sighed—"over the wreck," says Trench, "which sin had brought about, and the malice of the devil in deforming the fair features of God's original creation." But, we take it, there was a yet more painful impression of that "evil thing and bitter" whence all our ills have sprung, and which, when "Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses" (Mt 8:17), became mysteriously His own.
"In thought of these his brows benign,
Not even in healing, cloudless shine."
and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened—Our Evangelist, as remarked on Mr 5:41, loves to give such wonderful words just as they were spoken.
And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.
35. And straightway his ears were opened—This is mentioned first as the source of the other derangement.
and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain—The cure was thus alike instantaneous and perfect.
And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it;
36. And he charged them that they should tell no man—Into this very region He had sent the man out of whom had been cast the legion of devils, to proclaim "what the Lord had done for him" (Mr 5:19). Now He will have them "tell no man." But in the former case there was no danger of obstructing His ministry by "blazing the matter" (Mr 1:45), as He Himself had left the region; whereas now He was sojourning in it.
but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it—They could not be restrained; nay, the prohibition seemed only to whet their determination to publish His fame.
And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.
37. And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well—reminding us, says Trench, of the words of the first creation (Ge 1:31, Septuagint), upon which we are thus not unsuitably thrown back, for Christ's work is in the truest sense "a new creation,"
he maketh both the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak—"and they glorified the God of Israel" (Mt 15:31). See on Mr 7:31.