And his disciples say to him, From where should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)His disciples say unto him.—Here, on the assumption that we are dealing with a true record, a difficulty of another kind meets us. How was it, we ask, that the disciples, with the memory of the former miracle still fresh in their recollection, should answer as before with the same child-like perplexity? Why did they not at once assume that the same divine power could be put forth to meet a like want now? The answers to that question may, perhaps, be grouped as follows:—(1.) It is not easy for us to put ourselves in the position of men who witnessed, as they did, these workings of a supernatural might. We think of the Power as inherent, and therefore permanent. To them it might seem intermittent, a gift that came and went. Their daily necessities had been supplied, before and after the great event, in the common way of gift or purchase. The gathering of the fragments (Matthew 14:20; John 6:12) seemed to imply that they were not to rely on the repetition of the wonder. (2.) The fact that three days had passed, and that hunger had been allowed to pass on to the borders of exhaustion, might well have led to think that the power was not to be exerted now. (3.) Our Lord’s implied question—though, as before, He Himself “knew what He would do” (John 6:6)—must have appeared to them to exclude the thought that He was about to make use again of that reserve of power which He had displayed before. They would seem to themselves to be simply following in His footsteps when they answered His question as on the level which He Himself thus appeared to choose.Mark 8:1-10. The circumstances of the miracle are so similar to the one recorded in Matthew 14:14-21, as to need little additional explanation.
Three days, and have nothing to eat - This is not, perhaps, to be taken literally, but only that during that time they had been deprived of their ordinary or regular food.
For the exposition, see on Mr 7:31; Mr 8:10.See Poole on "Matthew 15:39".
whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? The question is big with objections, and is put with some vehemency and astonishment: the people to be led were a multitude, a great multitude, a very great multitude, and these too had had but little, or no food, for a great while; and therefore would require the more to fill and satisfy them; and besides, it was a wilderness where they were, and where no provisions were to be had; and if they could have been got for money, they had not stock enough to purchase such a large number of loaves, as were necessary to feed so great a company with.And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 15:33 ff. See note on Matthew 14:15 ff.
ἡμῖν] “Jam intelligebant discipuli, suas fore in ea re partes aliquas,” Bengel.
ὥστε] not a telic particle (de Wette), but what is meant is: such a quantity of bread as will be sufficient for their wants, and so on. The use of ὥστε after τοσοῦτος in a way corresponding to this is of very frequent occurrence (Plat. Gorg. p. 458 C). See Sturz, Lex. Xen. IV. p. 320; Kühner, II. 2, p. 1003. Notice the emphatic correlation of τοσοῦτοι and τοσοῦτον.
The perplexity of the disciples, and the fact of their making no reference to what was formerly done under similar circumstances, combined with the great resemblance between the two incidents, have led modern critics to assume that Matthew and Mark simply give what is only a duplicate narrative of one and the same occurrence (Schleiermacher, Scholz, Kern, Credner, Strauss, Neander, de Wette, Hase, Ewald, Baur, Köstlin, Hilgenfeld, Holtzmann, Weiss, Weizsäcker, Volkmar, Keim, Scholten); while Wilke and Bruno Bauer maintain, though quite unwarrantably, that in Mark the account of the second instance of miraculous feeding is an interpolation; and Weiss, on the other hand, is of opinion that this evangelist has constructed his duplicate out of materials drawn from two distinct sources (1865, p. 346 f.). As a consequence of this duplicate-hypothesis, it has been found necessary to question the authenticity of Matthew 16:9 f., Mark 8:19. The whole difficulty in connection with this matter arises chiefly out of the question of the disciples, and the fact of their seeming to have no recollection of what took place before,—a difficulty which is not to be got rid of by reminding us of their feeble capacities (Olshausen), but which justifies us in assuming that there were actually two instances of miraculous feeding of a substantially similar character, but that (Bleek) in the early traditions the accounts came to assume pretty much the same shape, all the more that the incidents themselves so closely resembled each other.
Matthew 15:34. ἰχθύδια] Observe the use of the diminutive on the part of the disciples themselves (“extenuant apparatum,” Bengel); the use of ἰχθύας, on the other hand, in the narrative, Matthew 15:36.
Matthew 15:35. κελεύειν τινι] occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, though frequently in Homer and later writers (Plat. Rep. p. 396 A). See Bornemann in the Sächs. Stud. 1843, p. 51.
Matthew 15:37. Seven baskets full is in apposition with τὸ περισς. τ. κλασμ.,
σπυρίς is the term regularly employed to denote a basket for carrying provisions when on a journey, sporta. Comp. Arr. Ep. iv. 10. 21; Athen. viii. p. 365 A; Valckenaer, Schol. I. p. 455. The seven baskets corresponded to the seven loaves, Matthew 15:34; the twelve baskets, Matthew 14:20, to the twelve apostles.
χωρὶς γυναικ. κ. παιδ.] See note on Matthew 14:21.Matthew 15:33. τοσοῦτοι, ὥστε χορτάσαι. ὥστε with infinitive may be used to express a consequence involved in the essence or quality of an object or action, therefore after τοσοῦτος and similar words; vide Kühner, § 584, 2, aa.Matthew 15:33. Πόθεν, whence) Cf. Numbers 11:21; 2 Kings 4:43.—ἡμῖν, to us) The disciples already understood that they would have to take some part in the matter.Verse 33. - Whence should we have so much bread, etc.? Christ had said nothing to his disciples concerning his design of feeding the people, but his remarks pointed to the possibility of such a design, and the apostles at once throw cold water upon the project. They do not indeed, as they did before urge him to send the multitude away, that they may supply their own needs, but they emphasize the impossibility of carrying out the idea of feeding them. Their answer bristles with objections. The place is uninhabited; the multitude is numerous; the quantity of food required is enormous; and how can we, poor and needy as we are, help them? It seems to us incredible that they could return this answer, after having, net very long before, experienced the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. They seemed now to have forgotten the earlier marvel, and to be in utter doubt how the necessary food was to be provided on the present occasion. That Christ would display his miraculous powers appears not to have crossed their minds. Such surprising forgetfulness and slowness of faith have seemed to some critics so unlikely and unusual, that they have regarded the apostles' attitude as confirming their assumption of the identity of the two miracles of feeding. But really such conduct is true to human nature. Calvin, while he condemns in vehement terms the disciples' dulness - "nimis brutum produnt stuporem" - is careful to add that men are always liable to a similar insensibility, prone to forget past deliverance in the face of present difficulty. Immediately after the passage of the Red Sea, the people feared that they would perish of thirst in the wilderness; and when God promised to give them flesh to eat, even Moses doubted the possibility of the supply, and asked whence it could be provided (Exodus 17:1, etc.; Numbers 11:21, etc.). How often did Jesus speak of his sufferings, death, and resurrection! And yet these events came upon believers as a surprise for which they were altogether unprepared. Continually the disciples forgot what they ought to have remembered, drew no proper inferences from what they had seen and experienced, and had to be taught the same lessons repeatedly under different circumstances. Since the first miraculous meal many events had happened; often possibly they had been in want of food, as when on the sabbath day they appeased their hunger with ears of corn plucked by the way, and Christ had worked no miracle for their relief. It did not immediately suggest itself to them to have recourse to their Master in the emergency; they were very far from expecting Divine interposition at every turn. If they thought at all of the former miracle, they may have looked upon it as the outcome of an intermittent power, not always at command, or at any rate not likely to be exercised on the present occasion. They were slow to apprehend Christ's Divine mission and character. The acknowledgment of his Messiahship did net necessarily connote the realization of his Godhead. In the writings of this and the immediately preceding period we see that the great Prophet, Prince, Conqueror, who is to appear, is not God, but one commissioned by God, and at most a God-inspired man or angel. So the apostles were only in unison with the best of their contemporaries when at present they hesitated to believe in, and were incapable of apprehending, the Divine nature of Christ.
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