Zeteo’s Weekly update

The Gospel according to Matthew 

The gospel text below is from The Anchor Bible Matthew, intro, translation and notes by W.F. Albright and C. S. Mann.


37 – Healings (9:18-34)

     18 While he was talking to them, a ruler came to him and knelt before him, and said, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her and she will live.” 19 Jesus rose up with his disciples and followed him,. 20 And a woman who had suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years came up behind him and touched the hem of his himation, 21 for she said to herself, “If I can only touch the fringe of his himation, I shall be made well.” 22 Jesus turned around, saw her, and said, “Daughter, take courage. Your faith has made you well.” And from that very hour the woman became well. 23 Jesus came to the ruler’s house, saw the musicians and the crowd making a great noise, and said, “Go away; fhe girl has not died but is sleeping.” They derided him. 25 but when the crowd had been put out, he went in, took her by the hand, and the girl arose. 26 The report of this went all through that district.
    27 While Jesus was passing on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Son of David, take pity on us!” 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They answered him, “Yes, sir.” 29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith so let it be done to you.” 30 Their eyes were opened, and Jesus said to them urgently, “See that no one knows of this.” 31 But they went away and spread his reputation through all that district.32 As they were on their way, a dumb demoniac was brought to him. 33 and when the demon had been exorcized the dumb man spoke; the crowds wondered, saying, “Nothing was ever seen like this in Israel.” 34 (But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the Ruler of Demons.”)
18 – In Mark Jesus is surrounded by crowds; here he is sitting in a house, talking to his disciples.
– ruler. Mark adds that he was a synagogue official (hazan=ruler, functionary), but Matthew assumes his readers are aware of what is meant and omits his name (Jairus, Heb. Iair, a common name) which Mark supplies.
20 – himation: “a mantle or wrap worn by ancient Greek men and women from the Archaic through the Hellenistic periods (c. 750–30 BC)….and into the Byzantine era as “iconographic dress” used in art, worn by Christ, the Virgin Mary, and Biblical figures. …The himation was markedly less voluminous than the Roman toga.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himation
– fringe (Gr kraspeda, Heb tzitzit, modern tsitsit) “are specially knotted ritual fringes, or tassels, worn in antiquity by Israelites and today by observant Jews and Samaritans. Tzitzit are attached to the four corners of the tallit (prayer shawl) and tallit katan (everyday undergarment).” Jesus’ accusation (23:5) was that the Pharisees made these ornaments overlarge as a demonstration of piety –0- though Jesus himself is represented as wearing tassels in 14:36.
20-21 – The woman’s illness would make her ritually unclean (Lev 15:19ff) and in consequence all that she touched would be ritually unclean by contagion.
23 – musicians (Gr auletas=literally, “flute players.” Here the evangelist draws on his knowledge of Jewish custom, which called for “two flutes and one to wail” even for the poorest funerals (Cf. TB. Chuboth 46b.
24 – died The effects of a coma was known.
28 – the house The house where he was staying.
30 – In Biblical criticism, the Messianic Secret refers to a motif primarily in the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus is portrayed as commanding his followers to maintain silence about his Messianic mission. Part of William Wrede’s theory involved statements in the New Testament by Jesus to demons who recognize his divine nature as well as to his followers not to reveal to others that he is the Messiah. Wrede suggested that this theme was not historical but was an addition by the author of Mark. The literary explanation theory has it that Mark made a conscious effort to identify Jesus with Odysseus, a Greek hero with whom Mark’s gentile audience would certainly have been familiar. Odysseus, on his return home, has to disguise his identity to avoid his enemies, and in Mark the messianic secret could serve the same purpose for Jesus.
32-34 –No mention here of an exorcism …”The whole order here is odd.” -Albright

The healings in this section give us the Messianic work of restoring order and unity to God’s creation (per Isa 35) – here deafness to hearing, blindness to seeing, ritual uncleanness and social disorder to the order of ritual cleanness.

38 – Mission and Discipleship (9:35-38)

     35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Freedom of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and infirmity. 36 When he saw the crowds he felt deeply for them, because they were troubled and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “There is an abundant harvest, but there are few workers. 38  Therefore ask the chief harvester to send workers into his harvest.”
36 – troubled – The meaning of the Greek ranges very widely indeed, from being flayed, to being concerned, vexed, bewildered, despondent.
helpless. Lit. “prostrate,” either from drunkenness or from a mortal wound.
38 – chief harvester – In Aramaic the phrase rab hesada means the person responsible for hiring and dismissing harvest workers.
Luke (10:2) has the words of vss. 37-38 at the beginning of the mission of the seventy disciples.

The evangelist has summarized Jesus’ teaching, placing it firmly in the context of the Old Covenant (chs. 5-7), and has given examples of how the awaited Messiah went about the work of healing and restoration. Now it is time to introduce the inner circle of disciples as the men who will carry on the Messianic activity.

39 – The Mission of the Twelve (10:1-15)

10  1 Calling to him his twelve disciples, he gave them authority to cast out evil spirits, and to heal every disease and every infirmity.
    The names of the twelve apostles are: first, Simon, called Peter, and his brother Andrew, James and his brother John, sons of Zebedee, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew the tax collector, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus (called Lebbaeus), Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who was to betray him. These twelve Jesus sent on a mission, charging them as following: “Do not go along the route of the Gentiles, and do not enter a Samaritan town (again).Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and as you go, proclaim that the Kingdom of heaven is fast approaching.
Heal the sick, cure lepers,]cast out demons. You received without payment anything–give without payment. Do not carry gold, silver, or copper coin in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff. The worker deserves his keep.11 Find out who is suitable in a town or village you enter and stay there until you leave. 12 As you enter the house, greet it and. 13 if the house is deserving, then let your blessing rest upon it. If it is undeserving, let your blessing return to you. 14 If anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, then on yur departure from that house or town shake off the dust from your feet. 15 I solemnly declare to you that Sodom and Gomorrah will be in happier case on the day of judgment than that town.
2 – The names of the twelve apostles – A mix of Aram/Hebrew and Greek names – typical of the time. The only use of “apostle” (sent) in Matthew.
3 – Bar – Ptolemaio is Aramaic, for “Son of Ptolemy” a Gk name.
4 – Judas Iscariot – “= from Kerioth” is contested.  John 6:7 : “the son of Simon Iscariot.”
5 – the route of the Gentiles = prob. the trade-route along the coastal plain.
6 – lost sheep of the house of Israel – areas where there are Jewish settlements where the messianic expectation would be familiar.
9-10 – emphasizes the spirit of detachment.
11 – suitable -Gr axios – someone willing to receive an apostle.
13 – if the house is deserving, then let your blessing (shalom)rest upon it

In Jewish thinking at the time, as the Qumran texts confirm, “a Messiah without a Messianic community was unthinkable…From this point onward the action of the gospel moves to the last week in Jerusalem, all the teaching is concerned with the community and the place of the disciple in it.”

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