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The Gospel According to Mark: Chapter 7

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1Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, 2they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 3(For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, a Or earth thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; b Other ancient authorities add And another took a spear and pierced his side, and out came water and blood and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles. c Or gave up his spirit ) 5So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live d Or a son of God according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,

‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’

8You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”

9Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! 10For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ 11But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban’ (that is, an offering to God a Or Take a guard )— 12then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, 13thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this.”

14Then he called the crowd again and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.” b Gk you know how

17When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18He said to them, “Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, 19since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20And he said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles. 21For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

24From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. c Other ancient authorities read the Lord He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs.” 28But she answered him, “Sir, d Other ancient authorities lack from the dead even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs.” 29Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” 30So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

31Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36Then Jesus e Gk they ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”


f Or earth

a Other ancient authorities add And another took a spear and pierced his side, and out came water and blood

b Or gave up his spirit

c Or a son of God

d Or Take a guard

e Gk you know how

a Other ancient authorities read the Lord

b Other ancient authorities lack from the dead

c Gk they

Text Commentary view alone

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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