Mark 7:31
And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came to the sea of Galilee, through the middle of the coasts of Decapolis.
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(31) Departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.—The better MSS. give “from the coasts of Tyre through Sidon.” The latter city lay about twenty miles to the north. Accepting this reading, it marks the extreme limit of our Lord’s journeyings—we can hardly say of His ministry, for there is no indication that He went there as a preacher of the Kingdom. We may however, perhaps, trace the feeling which prompted the visit in the words, “It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon,” in Luke 10:14, and in the “Other sheep, not of this fold,” in John 10:16.

Decapolis.—Another instance of St. Mark’s use of a Roman nomenclature. St. Matthew says simply, “He departed thence, and came by the Sea of Galilee.” For Decapolis, see Note on Matthew 4:25.

Mark 7:31-36. He came unto the sea of Galilee, &c. — See note on Matthew 15:29-31. They bring unto him one that was deaf and had an impediment, &c. — Greek, Μογιλαλον: “He was not absolutely dumb, but stammered to such a degree, that few understood his speech, Mark 7:35. However, the circumstance of his being able to speak in any manner, shows that his deafness was not natural, but accidental. He had heard formerly, and had learned to speak, but was now deprived of hearing, perhaps, through some fault of his own, which might be the reason that Jesus sighed for grief when he cured him. And they beseech him to put his hand upon him — His friends interceded for him, because he was not able to speak for himself, so as that any one could understand him. His desire of a cure, however, may have prompted him to do his utmost in speaking, whereby all present were made sensible of the greatness of the infirmity under which he laboured. Our Lord’s exuberant goodness easily prompted him to give this person the relief which his friends begged for him. Yet he would not do it publicly, lest the admiration of the spectators should have been raised so high as to produce bad effects; for the whole country was now following him, in expectation that he would soon set up his kingdom. Or, as Gadara, where his miracle upon the demoniacs had been so ill received, was part of this region, (see on Luke 8:26,) he might shun performing the miracle publicly, because it would have no effect upon so stupid a people. Whatever was the reason, he took the man with his relations aside from the crowd; and, because the deaf are supposed to have their ears shut, and the dumb their tongues so tied, or fastened to the under part of their mouth, as not to be able to move it, (see Mark 7:35,) he put his fingers into the man’s ears, and then touched or moistened his tongue with his spittle, to make him understand that he intended to open his ears, and loose his tongue.” — Macknight. This, perhaps, was the only reason for these symbolical actions, or our Lord might have other reasons for doing them, of which we are ignorant. “If any should ask,” says Dr. Doddridge, “why our Lord used these actions, when a word alone would have been sufficient; and such means (if they may be called means) could in themselves do nothing at all to answer the end, I frankly confess I cannot tell, nor am I at all concerned to know. Yet I am ready to imagine it might be intended to intimate, in a very lively manner, that we are not to pretend to enter into the reasons of all his actions; and that where we are sure that any observance whatever is appointed by him, we are humbly to submit to it, though we cannot see why it was preferred to others, which our imagination might suggest. Had Christ’s patients, like Naaman, (2 Kings 5:11-12,) been too nice in their exceptions on these occasions, I fear they would have lost their cure; and the indulgence of a curious or a petulant mind would have been but a poor equivalent for such a loss.” And looking up to heaven — That the deaf man whom he could not instruct by words might consider from whence all benefits proceed; he sighed — Probably the circumstances above mentioned, or some others, to us unknown, made this dumb person a peculiar object of pity. Or by this example of bodily deafness and dumbness, our Lord might be led to reflect on the spiritual deafness and dumbness of men. But whatever was the cause, Christ’s sighing on this occasion evidently displayed the tender love he bore to our kind. For certainly it could be nothing less which moved him to condole our miseries, whether general or particular, in so affectionate a manner. And saith unto him, Ephphatha — This was a word of SOVEREIGN AUTHORITY, not an address to God for power to heal. Such an address was needless, for Christ had a perpetual fund of power residing in himself, to work all miracles whenever he pleased, even to the raising of the dead, John 5:21; John 5:26. And straightway his ears were opened — The word had an immediate effect, and all obstructions to his hearing distinctly, and speaking articulately and plainly, were instantly removed. And, as those bodily impediments vanished before the word of Christ’s power, the impediments of the mind to spiritual acts and duties are removed by the Spirit of Christ. He opens the internal ear, the heart, as he did Lydia’s, to understand and receive the word of God; and opens the mouth in prayer and praise. And he charged them that they should tell no man — When Jesus formerly cured the demoniac in this country, he ordered him to return to his own house, and show, namely, to his relations and friends, how great things God had done for him. But, at this miracle, the deaf and dumb man’s relations seem to have been present. Wherefore, as they had no need to be informed of the miracle, he required it to be concealed, probably for the reasons assigned in the note on Mark 5:43. Neither the man, however, nor his friends, obeyed Jesus in this; but the more he charged them — To conceal it; so much the more they published it — So greatly were they struck with the miracle, and so charmed with the modesty and humility which Christ manifested, especially the man, who, having the use of his speech given him, was very forward to exercise it in praise of so great a benefactor.7:31-37 Here is a cure of one that was deaf and dumb. Those who brought this poor man to Christ, besought him to observe the case, and put forth his power. Our Lord used more outward actions in the doing of this cure than usual. These were only signs of Christ's power to cure the man, to encourage his faith, and theirs that brought him. Though we find great variety in the cases and manner of relief of those who applied to Christ, yet all obtained the relief they sought. Thus it still is in the great concerns of our souls.Departing from the coasts - The country or regions of Tyre.

Came unto the sea of Galilee - The Sea of Tiberias. See the notes at Matthew 4:18.

Decapolis - See the notes at Matthew 4:25. He did not go immediately into Capernaum, or any city where he was known, but into the retired regions around the Sea of Galilee. This was done to avoid the designs of the Pharisees, who sought his life.

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.

Ver. 31-37. This history is recorded by Mark only.

And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. We heard, Mark 7:24, of his going into those coasts; some think that our Saviour did not go out of the Jewish country, though he went to

the coasts of Tire and Sidon, which were pagan countries.

He came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. That Decapolis was a union of ten cities so called, is plain by the name; but what those cities were, and whether they lay on the same side of Jordan that Galilee did, or on the other side of Jordan, is disputed; most think they lay on the Galilean side.

One that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech: some think that he was dumb, but the word signifies one that spake with difficulty, so as it is likely his deafness was not natural; (for all naturally deaf, are also dumb; we learning to speak by hearing); besides that it is said after the cure, that

he spake plain: it was probably an accidental deafness happening to him after that he could speak. Their beseeching Christ to put his hand upon him, proceeded from their observation of him very often to use that rite in his healing sick persons.

And he took him aside from the multitude, not seeking his own glory and ostentation,

and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue. All these things were ex abundanti, not necessary actions, or naturally efficacious for his cure; but our Lord sometimes used no signs or rites, sometimes these, sometimes others, as it pleased him.

And looking up to heaven, he sighed, pitying the condition of human nature, subject to so many miseries, defects, and infirmities, and saith,

Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. By the word of his power he made the world, and by the word of his power he upholds it, and by the same word of his power he restoreth any lapsed or decayed part of it. He speaks, and it is done.

And straightway his ears were opened: nature obeyeth the God of nature. Concerning his charge of them not to publish it, and their disobedience to it, I have had occasion once and again to speak, and must confess I can neither satisfy myself in the reason from my own thoughts, nor from what I read in others. This miracle hath no other effect on the people than astonishment, and confession that what he did was well done; which was the common effect of Christ’s preaching and miracles upon the most. And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon,.... The Vulgate Latin version reads, "and coming out again from the borders of Tyre, he came through Sidon"; and so two of Beza's copies; the Arabic version, which De Dieu made use of reads "to Sidon"; as he must needs come to it, if he came through it; though the version in the Polyglot Bible of Walton's reads, "from Sidon": but the greater number of copies, and the Syriac and Persic versions read as we do, and which is rightest; since it does not appear, that Christ went out of the land of Israel, into any Heathen cities: and besides, Sidon was further from Galilee than Tyre, and so did not lie in his way to it; and therefore it is not likely he should pass through that city, in order to go to it. The Ethiopic version reads, "and coming out again from Tyre, he went through Sidon": both these places were in Phoenicia, and it is probable that the woman before mentioned might belong to one or other of them. According to this version, she may be thought to be of Tyre, and that it was there, where the above discourse passed between Christ and her; though some Dutch pictures, Dr. Lightfoot (b) takes notice of, represent her as praying for her daughter, at the gate of Sidon; and Borchard the monk, as he relates from him, says, that before the gate of Sidon eastward, there is a chapel built in the place, where the. Canaanitish woman prayed to our Saviour for her daughter. But Christ, for the reason before given, could be in neither of these places, being out of the land of Israel; besides, the text is express, that it was to the borders of this country he came, and from thence he went; and to, or from, or through any of these places.

He came unto the sea of Galilee; or Tiberias, the same with the lake of Gennesaret: he came to those parts of Galilee, which lay by it, where he had been, before he went the borders of Tyre and Sidon:

through the midst the coasts of Decapolis; of this place, See Gill on Matthew 4:25. It was a country which consisted of ten cities, from whence it had its name: now not through the middle of these cities, or of this country, as the Ethiopic version reads; but through the midst of the borders of it Christ passed, which lay in his way from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, to the sea of Galilee. The Syriac and Persic versions render the words, "unto the borders of Decapolis, or the ten cities"; and the Arabic version, "unto the middle of the coasts of the ten cities"; See Gill on Matthew 15:29.

(b) Chorograph. Decad. in Mark, ch. vi. sect. 1.

{7} And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of {q} Decapolis.

(7) As the Father created us to this life in the beginning in his only son, so does he also in him alone renew us into everlasting life.

(q) It was a little country, and it was so called because it consisted of ten cities under the jurisdiction of four surrounding governments; Pliny, book 3, chap. 8.

Mark 7:31-37. A narrative peculiar to Mark. Matthew, at Mark 15:30-31—here foregoing details, of which he has already related many—only states in general that Jesus, having after the occurrence with the Canaanitish woman returned to the lake, healed many sick, among whom there were also deaf persons. Mark has preserved a special incident from the evangelic tradition, and did not coin it himself (Hilgenfeld).

πάλιν ἐξελθών] his reference to ἀπῆλθεν εἰς, Mark 7:24.

διὰ Σιδῶνος] (see the critical remarks): He turned Himself therefore from the region of Tyre first in a northern direction, and went through Sidon (we cannot tell what may have been the more immediate inducement to take this route) in order to return thence to the lake. If we should take Σιδῶνος not of the city, but of the region of Sidon (Σιδονία, Hom. Od. xiii. 285; Ewald, Lange also and Lichtenstein), the analogy of Τύρου would be opposed to us, as indeed both names always designate the cities themselves.

ἀνὰ μέσον τῶν ὁρίων τ. Δεκαπόλεως] He came (as he journeyed) through the midst (Matthew 13:25; 1 Corinthians 6:5; Revelation 7:17) of the regions belonging to Decapolis, so that He thus from Sidon arrived at the Sea of Galilee, not on this side, but on the farther side of Jordan (comp. on Matthew 4:25), and there the subsequent cure, and then the feeding the multitude, Mark 8:1, occurred, Mark 8:10.

Mark 7:32. κωφὸν μογιλάλον] is erroneously interpreted: a deaf man with a difficulty of utterance (see Beza, Grotius, Maldonatus, de Wette, Bleek, and many others). Although, according to its composition and according to Aëtius in Beck. Anecd. p. 100, 22, μογιλάλος means speaking with difficulty, it corresponds in the LXX. to the אִלֵּם, dumb. See Isaiah 35:6. Comp. Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, Exodus 4:11. Hence it is to be understood as: a deaf-mute (Vulgate, Luther, Calovius, and many others, including Ewald), which is also confirmed by ἀλάλους, Mark 7:37, and is not refuted by ἐλάλει ὀρθῶς, Mark 7:35. The reading μογγιλάλον, speaking hollowly (B** E F H L X Γ Δ, Matthaei), is accordingly excluded of itself as inappropriate (comp. also Mark 7:35).

Mark 7:33. The question why Jesus took aside the sick man apart from the people, cannot without arbitrariness be otherwise answered than to the effect that He adopted this measure for the sake of an entirely undisturbed rapport between Himself and the sick man, such as must have appeared to Him requisite, in the very case of this sick man, to the efficacy of the spittle and of the touch. Other explanations resorted to are purely fanciful, such as: that Jesus wished to make no parade (Victor Antiochenus, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, and many others); that in this region, which was not purely Jewish, He wished to avoid attracting dangerous attention (Lange); that He did not wish to foster the superstition of the spectators (Reinhard, Opusc. II. p. 140). De Wette conjectures that the circumstance belongs to the element of mystery, with which Mark invests the healings. But it is just in respect of the two cases of the application of spittle (here and at Mark 8:23) that he relates the withdrawing from the crowd; an inclination to the mysterious would have betrayed itself also in the presenting of the many other miracles. According to Baur, Mark wished to direct the attention of his readers to this precise kind of miraculous cure. This would amount to a fiction in a physiological interest. The spittle[108] (like the oil in Mark 6:13) is to be regarded as the vehicle of the miraculous power. Comp. on John 9:6. It is not, however, to be supposed that Jesus wished in any wise to veil the marvellous element of the cures (Lange, L. J. II. 1, p. 282), which would amount to untruthfulness, and would widely differ from the enveloping of the truth in parable.

πτύσας] namely, on the tongue of the patient;[109] this was previous to the touching of the tongue (comp. Mark 1:41, Mark 8:22, Mark 10:13), which was done with the fingers, and not the mode of the touching itself.

Mark 7:34 f. ἐστέναξε] Euthymius Zigabenus well says: ἐπικαμτόμενος τοῖς πάθεσι τοῦ ἀνθρώπου (comp. Grotius and Fritzsche). Certainly (see ἀναβλ. εἰς τ. οὐρανόν) it was a sigh of prayer (de Wette and many others), and yet a sigh: on account of painful sympathy. Comp. Mark 8:12, also Mark 3:5. It is reading between the lines to say, with Lange, that in this half-heathen region duller forms of faith rendered His work difficult for Him; or with Hofmann (Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 352), that He saw in the deaf-mute an image of His people incapable of the hearing of faith and of the utterance of confession (comp. Erasmus, Paraphr.).

ἐφφαθά] ܐܷܠܦܳܬܚܳ, imperative Ethpael.

διανοίχθητι] be opened, namely, in respect of the closed ears and the bound tongue. See what follows.

ΑἹ ἈΚΟΑΊ] the ears, as often in classic use (Eur. Phoen. 1494; Luc. Philop. 1; Herodian, iv. 5. 3; comp. 2Ma 15:39).

ἐλύθη κ.τ.λ.] The tongue, with which one cannot speak, is conceived as bound (comp. the classical ΣΤΌΜΑ ΛΎΕΙΝ, ΓΛΏΣΣΑς ΛΎΕΙΝ, and see Wetstein), therefore the expression does not justify the supposition of any other cause of the dumbness beside the deafness.

ὈΡΘῶς] consequently, no longer venting itself in inarticulate, irregular, stuttering sounds, as deaf-mutes attempt to do, but rightly, quite regularly and normally.

Mark 7:36. αὐτοῖς] to those present, to whom He now returned with the man that was cured.

ΑὐΤΌς] and the subsequent ΑὐΤΟΊ (see the critical remarks) correspond to one another: He on His part … they on their part.

ὅσονμᾶλλον περισσότερον] however much He enjoined (forbade) them, still far more they published it. They exceeded the degree of the prohibition by the yet far greater degree in which they made it known. So transported were they by the miracle, that the prohibition only heightened their zeal, and they prosecuted the ΚΗΡΎΣΣΕΙΝ with still greater energy than if He had not interdicted it to them. As to this prohibition without result generally, comp. on Mark 5:43.

ΜᾶΛΛΟΝ[110]] along with another comparative, strengthens the latter. See on Php 1:23; Hermann, ad Viger. p. 719 f.; Stallbaum, ad Phaed. p. 79 E; Pflugk, ad Hecub. 377.

Mark 7:37. καλῶς πάντα πεποίηκε] Let ΠΕΠΟΊΗΚΕ be distinguished from the subsequent ΠΟΙΕῖ. The former relates to the miraculous cure at that time, which has taken place and is now accomplished (perfect); and καὶ (even) τοὺς κωφοὺς ποιεῖ κ.τ.λ. is the general judgment deduced from this concrete case. In this judgment, however, the generic plurals κωφούς, ἀλάλους are quite in their place, and do not prove (in opposition to Köstlin, p. 347) that a source of which Mark here availed himself contained several cures of deaf and dumb people.

τ. ἀλάλ. λαλ.] the speechless to speak. On ἄλαλος, comp. Plut. Mor. p. 438 B; Psalm 37:14; Psalm 38:13.

[108] According to Baur, there is betrayed in the narrative of the πτύειν, as also at Mark 6:13, “the more material notion of miracle in a later age.” But it cannot at all be shown that the later age had a more material conception of the miracles of Jesus.

[109] As in Mark 8:23 He spits into the eyes of the blind man. It is not therefore to be conceived that Jesus spat on His own fingers and so applied His spittle to the tongue of the sick man (Lange, Bleek, and older commentators), for this Mark would certainly in his graphic manner have said.

[110] Here in the sense of “only all the more.” See Stallb. ad Plat. Rep. iii. p. 397 A; Nägelsbach’s note on the Iliad, cd. 3, p. 227.Mark 7:31-37. Cure of a deaf-mute, peculiar to Mk. Mt. has, instead, a renewal of the healing ministry on an extensive scale, the thing Jesus desired to avoid (Mark 15:29-31).31–37. The Healing of one Deaf and Dumb

31. the coasts] A misleading archaism is this word for “border” or “region.” No allusion is made, in the original word to the sea-board. Thus we are told that Herod “slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof,” though Bethlehem was not near the sea; and again we read of “the coasts” (=borders) of Judæa in Matthew 19:1; comp. Mark 10:1, where there is no sea-coast at all; of the coasts (=borders) of Gadara in Mark 5:17; “the coasts of Decapolis” in this verse; of “the coasts” (=regions) of Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:50). Comp. 1 Samuel 5:6. The word comes from the Latin costa, “a rib,” “side,” through Fr. “coste.” Hence it = “a border” generally, though now applied to the sea-coast only. Wyclif translates it here “bitwix be Endis (or coostis) of Tire, be myddil endis of Decapoleos.”

and Sidon] The preferable reading here, supported by several MSS. and found in several ancient versions, is, And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre, He came through Sidon unto the Sea of Galilee. This visit of the Redeemer of mankind to the city of Baal and Astarte is full of significance.

he came unto the sea of Galilee] The direction of the journey appears to have been (1) northward towards Lebanon, then (2) from the foot of Lebanon through the deep gorge of the Leontes to the sources of the Jordan, and thence (3) along its eastern bank into the regions of Decapolis, which extended as far north as Damascus, and as far south as the river Jabbok.Mark 7:31. Τῶν ὁρίων, the boundaries) That is, through the midst of Decapolis. [The region comprising Decapolis was situated, for the most part, outside of Galilee (Matthew 4:25), beyond Jordan, and some portion of it, if this view be accepted, on the southern side of Galilee, and was accordingly chiefly inhabited by Syrians and heathens. To this region appertain Gadara (Mark 5:20) and Cæarea Philippi. There is frequent mention in the Evangelists, about this time, of the heathen borders; whence it is evident that the Saviour traversed the whole land of Israel.—Harm. p. 313.] [Mark 7:32. κωφὸν, deaf) The narrative of this deaf man, as also of the blind man, concerning whom ch. Mark 8:22 treats, is recorded in Mark alone.—V. g.]Verse 31. - According to the most approved authorities this verse should be read thus: And again he went out from the borders of Tyre, and came through Sidon unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the borders of Decapolis. St. Matthew (Matthew 15:29) simply says that he "departed thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee." But from the more full statement of St. Mark we learn that he made a circuit, going first northwards through Phoenicia, with Galilee on his right, as far as Sidon; and thence probably over the spurs of Libanus to Damascus, mentioned by Pliny as one of the cities of the Decapolis. This would bring him probably through Caesarea Philippi to the eastern coast of the Sea of Galilee. Here, according to St. Matthew, he remained for a time in the mountainous district above the plain; choosing this position apparently for the sake of quiet and retirement, as also that, being conspicuous to all from the mountain, he might there await the multitude coming to him, whether for instruction or for healing.
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