Mark 7
People's New Testament
Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem.
7:1 Making Void the Law of God


The Scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem. Eating with Washed Hands. Making Void the Law of God by Tradition. What Defileth a Man. In the Borders of Tyre and Sidon. The Syrophoenician Woman. Healing in Decapolis.

Then came together unto him the Pharisees. This sharp controversy, which contains the sharpest rebuke that Christ had thus far paid to the Pharisaical system, is recorded also by Mt 15:1-20, where see notes. Mark, for the benefit of Gentile readers, adds a few words concerning Jewish customs.

Which came from Jerusalem. Probably formally sent by the Sanhedrin to investigate the work and teaching of Jesus.

And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault.
7:2 Eat bread with defiled... hands. Not dirty, but unwashed. The tradition of the elders (Mt 15:2 Mr 7:3,5) required them to always wash before eating lest they might have touched something ceremonially unclean.
For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.
7:3 Except they wash their hands oft, eat not. The duty of washing before meals is not inculcated in the law, but only in the tradition of the scribes. So rigidly did the Jews observe it, that Rabbi Akiba, being imprisoned, and having water scarcely sufficient to sustain life given him, preferred dying of thirst to eating without washing his hands.

Tradition of the elders. See PNT Mt 15:2.

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.
7:4 When they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. In the Greek, not the word nipto, rendered wash elsewhere in the passage, but baptizo, baptize. Abbott renders it plunge and says:

Apparently, in the ritual of the Pharisees, washing by pouring on water sufficed for those who remained at home, but immersion of the hands in water was required of those who had gone abroad.''

Many other things. They not only insisted on washing the hands, because of the tradition, but also, many other things. Geikie says:

The law of Moses required purifications in certain cases (Le 12:1-5), but the rabbis had preserved the spirit of Leviticus in this as in other things, for they taught that food and drink could not be taken with a good conscience when there was the possibility of ceremonial defilement. If every perceivable precaution had not been taken, the person or the vessel used might have contracted impurity, which would thus be conveyed to the food, and through the food to the body, and by it to the soul. Hence it had been long a custom, and latterly a strict law, that before every meal not only the hands, but even the dishes, couches, and tables, should be scrupulously washed.''

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?
7:5 The Pharisees and scribes asked him. On the Savior's discourse that follows, Mr 7:5-23, consult notes on Mt 15:1-20.
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.
7:24 From thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon. Consult the notes on Mt 15:21-28, where the incident of the woman of Canaan is fully given.
For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came 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.
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.
And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs.
And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.
And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.
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.
7:31 Decapolis. A district east of the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan, so called because it contained ten cities. Only Mark gives the account of the following miracle.
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.
7:32 One that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech. Probably had not been born deaf, as he was not dumb.
And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue;
7:33 Put his fingers into his ears. The manner of the Lord in this miracle was peculiar. I understand that he used signs instead of words in order to arouse faith in the deaf man. He touched the organs that had lost their office and then looked to heaven. This would be deeply significant to one who had learned to understand by signs.
And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.
7:34 Ephphatha. A word in Aramaic, the common language of Judea at that time, meaning, Be opened.
And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.
7:35 His ears were opened. At once both his difficulties were removed.
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;
7:36 He charged them that they should tell no man. See PNT Mt 8:4.
And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.
7:37 He hath done all things well. Compare Ge 1:31.

He maketh both the deaf of hear, and the dumb to speak. Christ, ever since, has been engaged, spiritually, in the same work.

The People's New Testament by B.W. Johnson [1891]

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