Mark 6:40
And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties.
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(40) In ranks.—The primary meaning of the Greek word is “a bed of flowers or herbs,” and it comes in here effectively, with the same distributive reduplication as in the last verse, to paint the whole scene to the mind’s eye.

6:30-44 Let not ministers do any thing or teach any thing, but what they are willing should be told to their Lord. Christ notices the frights of some, and the toils of others of his disciples, and provides rest for those that are tired, and refuge for those that are terrified. The people sought the spiritual food of Christ's word, and then he took care that they should not want bodily food. If Christ and his disciples put up with mean things, surely we may. And this miracle shows that Christ came into the world, not only to restore, but to preserve and nourish spiritual life; in him there is enough for all that come. None are sent empty away from Christ but those who come to him full of themselves. Though Christ had bread enough at command, he teaches us not to waste any of God's bounties, remembering how many are in want. We may, some time, need the fragments that we now throw away.In ranks - Literally, in the form of square beds in a garden. By regularly formed companies.

By hundreds and by fifties - Some companies had a hundred in them, and some groupings had fifty in them. We do not need to suppose that these were "exactly" formed or arranged, but that this was approximately the number. The expression indicates a "multitude." There were so many that they sat down, by "hundreds" and by "fifties," in separate companies, upon the green grass.

40. And they sat down in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties—Doubtless this was to show at a glance the number fed, and to enable all to witness in an orderly manner this glorious miracle. See Poole on "Mark 6:34"

And they sat down in ranks,.... Or "beds": in such form as little beds are placed in a garden, or as rows of vines in a vineyard, in which form the scholars of the wise men sat in their schools: it is said (g),

"R. Eliezer ben Azariah expounded before the wise men in the vineyard (i.e. the university) of Jabneh: though was there a vineyard there? but these are the disciples of the wise men, who are made, or placed, , "rows, rows", or "in ranks", as a vineyard.''

By hundreds, and by fifties; that is, an hundred in "each" bed, or row, and fifty in "each" bed, or row, as the word signifies: each distinct bed, or row, had either a hundred, or fifty in it.

(g) T. Hieros. Beraeot, fol. 7. 4. Vid. Gloss. in T. Bab. Yebamot, fol. 42. 2.

And they sat down in {u} ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties.

(u) The word signifies the beds in a garden, and it is literally, by beds and beds, meaning by this that they sat down in rows one by another, as beds in a garden.

Mark 6:40. πρασιαὶ πρασιαὶ = ἀνὰ πρασίας, in garden flower plots, or squares, picturesque in fact and in description, bespeaking an eye-witness of an impressionable nature like Peter.

40. in ranks] Literally, they reclined in parterres (areolatim). “As they sat in these orderly groups upon the grass, the gay red and blue and yellow colours of the clothing, which the poorest Orientals wear, called up in the imagination of St Peter a multitude of flowerbeds in some well-cultivated garden.” Farrar’s Life of Christ, p. 402. “Our English ‘in ranks’ does not reproduce the picture to the eye, giving rather the notion of continuous lines. Wyclif was better, ‘by parties;’ perhaps in groups would be as near as we could get to it in English.” Trench, Miracles, p. 265. St Mark here, as elsewhere, doubtless reproduces the description of the scene by St Peter.

by hundreds, and by fifties] “Two long rows of 100, a shorter one of 50 persons. The fourth side remained, after the manner of the tables of the ancients, empty and open.” Gerlach.

Mark 6:40. Ἀνέπεσον, they sat down) A proof of faith on the part of the people.

Verse 40. - And they sat down in ranks (ἀνέπεσον πρασιαὶ πρασιαὶ); literally, they reclined. The Greek word πρασια means "a garden plot" or "bed," literally, a bed of leeks. They were disposed symmetrically. Probably the English word "ranks" expresses the meaning as clearly as any could do. This arrangement was probably made, partly that the numbers might be better known, partly that all things might be done in an orderly manner, and that each might have his portion. St. Matthew's account (Matthew 14:21) seems to imply that the "men" were separated from the "women and children." Mark 6:40In ranks (πρασιαὶ πρασιαὶ)

Lit., like beds in a garden. The former adverb, by companies, describes the arrangement; this the color. The red, blue, and yellow clothing of the poorest orientals makes an Eastern crowd full of color; a fact which would appeal to Peter's eye, suggesting the appearance of flower-beds in a garden.

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