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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Mark

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7.1–23 : Traditions of the elders vs. the commandment of God

(Mt 15.1–20 ).

1–5 :

As representatives of the Jerusalem religious establishment, the Pharisees and scribes cultivated oral traditions of the elders supplementary to the law of Moses, in this story focused on purity codes for processing and eating food.

3–4 :

The parenthetical explanation claims that “all the Judeans,” not just the Pharisees, observed their handwashing regulations.

6–8 :

In reply, quoting Isa 29.13 (LXX), Jesus claims that the Pharisees in effect replace the basic Mosaic covenantal commandment of God with their merely human tradition.

9–13 :

Jesus focuses the dispute in concrete economic terms on the commandment of God concerning Honor your father and your mother (cf. Ex 20.12; 21.17 ), which includes economic support in their declining years. He claims that the Pharisees make it void with their tradition of Corban, encouraging people to dedicate the produce of their land to the Jerusalem Temple—thus siphoning off produce that otherwise could have been used to support parents. Corban is an Aramaic word meaning “offering.”

14–19a :

Addresses purity codes with a touch of earthy humor regarding eating and resultant bodily functions.

17 :

Parable here has the sense of “riddle.”

19b :

Perhaps a later addition to the text.

20–23 :

Shifts the focus from bodily functions to the inner motivations of “defiling,” socially destructive behavior.

7.24–30 : The Syrophoenician woman

(Mt 15.21–28 ).

24–26 :

In the region of Tyre, not in the city itself, a “Greek” woman intrudes with her plea on behalf of her possessed daughter.

27–28 :

To Jesus' insistence that the manifestation of the kingdom (food) is primarily for Israelites (children), she gives a reply that wins the debate.

29–30 :

The representative figure of the peoples surrounding Israel insists on receiving the benefits of the kingdom, and her insistence produces precisely that.

7.31–37 : Healing the deaf

(Mt 15.2–31 ). Healing the deafmute, which is symbolic of a more general restoration of hearing and speech, confirms that the kingdom of God and the movement of renewal has extended to the peoples round about Israel.

34 :

The word ephphatha is Aramaic; see 5.41n.

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