Mark 7 – What Defiles a Man & Messianic Conflicts and the Fall of Jerusalem

Wow, that sounds like the United States congress.  And Herod, I wonder if Bush or Obama are related to him?

Chapter five mentioned the town of Gadarenes, and Jesus made thedemons leave a man and enter into a bunch of pigs that ran over the cliff (Mk 5:3-13)

Tomorrow we’re going to look at…

Mark 7
What Defiles a Man

1 Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem.

2 And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault.

3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.

4 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, brazen vessels, and of tables.

“Market” – where Jews would come into contact with Gentiles, or with Jews who didn’t observe the ceremonial law and thus become ceremonially unclean.

5 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?

6 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.

“Esaias prophesied” – Isaiah roundly denounced the religious leaders of his day (Is 29:13), and Jesus  uses a quotation from this prophet to describe the tradition of the elders as “the commandments of men.”

7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

8 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.

“The commandment of God…the tradition of men” – Jesus clearly contrasts the two.  Go’s commandments are found in Scripture and are binding; the traditions of the elders (v. 3) are not Biblical and therefore not authoritative or binding.

9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

10 For Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:

11 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.

“Corban” – the transliteration of a Hebrew word that means “offering.”  By using this word in a religious vow an irresponsible Jews son could formally dedicate to God (i.e., to the temple) his earnings that otherwise would have gone for the support of his parents.

The money, however, didn’t necessarily have to go for religious purposes.  The Corban formula was simply a means of circumventing the clear responsibility of children toward their parents as prescribed in the law.

The teachers of the law held that the Corban oat was binding, even when uttered rashly.  The practice was one of many traditions that adhered to the letter of the law while ignoring its spirit.

12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;

13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

“Making the word of God of none effect” – the teachers of the law appealed to Num 30:1-2 in support of the Corban vow, but Jesus categorically rejects the practice of using one Biblical teaching to nullify another.

The scribal interpretation of Num 30:1-2 satisfied the letter of the passage but missed the meaning of the law as a whole.  God never intended obedience to one command to nullify another.

14 And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand:

15 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.

16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.

17 And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable.

18 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;

19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.

“Defileth” Jesus replaced the normal Jewish understanding of defilement with the truth that defilement coms from an impure heart, not the violation of external rules.  Fellowship with God is not interrupted by unclean hands or food, but by sin.

21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

24 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.

“Tyre” – a Gentile city located in Phoenicia (modern Lebanon), which bordered Galilee to the northwest.  A journey of about 30 miles from Capernaum would have brought Jesus toe the vicinity of Tyre.

25 For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet:

26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.

“Syrophenician” – at that time Phoenicia belonged administrative to Syria.  Mark possibly used the term to distinguish this woman from the Libyan-Phoenicians of North Africa.

27 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.

28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.

“Yes, Lord” – the only time in this Gospel that Jesus is addressed as “Lord.”  It’s astounding to behold the great reserve the Gospel writers used in not referring to Jesus as “Lord.”  At the time Mark was written, Paul and others had already spoken of  Christ (in their “epistles” or “letters”) as “the Lord” Jesus Christ.

But Mark is recalling the history of the developing awareness of this truth, during which time it was still not generally known that Jesus was God.

29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.

30 And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.

31 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.

“Departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, eh came unto the Sea of Galilee” – apparently Jesus went north from Tyre to Sidon (about 25 miles) and then southeast through the territory of Herod Philip to the east side of the Sea of Galilee.

The route was circuitous possibly to avoid entering Galilee, where Herod Antipas was in power and where many people wanted to take Jesus by force and make Him king.  Herod had intimated a hostile interest in Jesus.

32 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.

33 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue;

34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.

35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.

36 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;

37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

Messianic Conflicts
and the Fall of Jerusalem

Messianic Movements and Other Conflicts

One of the most explicit Messianic images of the Old Testament, the vision of four successive empires in Daniel 2 and 7, was understood to signal the advent of the Messianic kingdom after the downfall of Rome.

Herod died in Jericho.
Since the work of Emil Schürer in 1896 most scholars have agreed that Herod died at the end of March or early April in 4 BCE. However, Schürer’s consensus has not gone unchallenged in the 20th century, with several scholars endorsing 1 BCE as the year of Herod’s death.

Evidence for the 4 BCE date is provided by the fact that Herod’s sons, between whom his kingdom was divided, dated their rule from 4 BCE, and Archelaus apparently also exercised royal authority during Herod’s lifetime. Josephus states that Philip the Tetrarch’s death took place after a 37-year reign, in the 20th year of Tiberius (34 CE).

Josephus tells us that Herod died after a lunar eclipse. He gives an account of events between this eclipse and his death, and between his death and Passover. A partial eclipse took place on March 13, 4 BCE, about 29 days before Passover, and this eclipse is usually taken to be the one referred to by Josephus. There were however three other, total, eclipses around this time, and there are proponents of both 5 BCE—with two total eclipses, and 1 BCE.

Bronze coin of Herod the Great, minted at Samaria.
Josephus wrote that Herod’s final illness—sometimes named “Herod’s Evil”—was excruciating.[50] Based on Josephus’s descriptions, one medical expert has diagnosed Herod’s cause of death as chronic kidney disease complicated by Fournier’s gangrene. Similar symptoms attended the death of his grandson Agrippa I in 44 CE.

For this reason a number of Messianic movements arose within this period. According to Josephus, the actions of Messianic teachers and the failure of Judean and Roman leaders to deal effectively with them propelled the nation toward open revolt.

A review of select Messianic incidents reveals the tension, potential violence and general atmosphere in which Jesus proclaimed the “good news of the kingdom” (Matt 4:23):

– Near the time of Herod’s death in 4 B.C., two leading Jewish teachers incited their students to remove the large, golden eagle (the symbol of Rome) that Herod had erected over the great gate of the temple.

Herod arrested the teachers and their students and proceeded to burn them alive, also deposing the reigning high priest for his assumed complicity (Josephus, Antiquities, 17.6.2).

– The census of Quirinius in A.D. prompted an open revolt, led by Judas of Galilee, which was violently suppressed (Antiquities, 18.1.1; Acts 5:37).

– When Pilate became prefect in A.D. 26 he commanded his troops to bring standards bearing the image of Caesar into Jerusalem. A large crowd followed him to Caesarea and sat outside his palace for five days and nights in protest.

When he surrounded them with troops, they fell prostrate, exposed their necks and confessed themselves willing to die rather than to have the (Mosaic) Law transgressed (Antiquities, 18.3.1).

– Pilate later used funds from the temple treasury to build an aqueduct and crushed all public opposition to this action. (Antiquities, 18.3.2).

He also slaughtered a group of Galileans while they were offering sacrifices in Jerusalem (Lk 13:1).

– John the Baptist appeared in Judea around 29 A.D., preaching repentance, the imminent advent of God and public criticism of Herod Antipas. He was arrested and subsequently executed (Mk 6:16-29).

– A few years later Pilate crucified Jesus of Nazareth on the charge that he claimed to be “the king of the Jews” (Matt 27:37; Antiquities 18.3.3)        .

– In 36 A.D. Pilate brutally suppressed a Messianic movement in Samaria, which precipitated his removal from office (Antiquities, 18.4.1-2).

– In 41 A.D. the emperor Caligula sought to have a statue of himself erected in the temple of Jerusalem. Tens of thousands of Jews protested, demanding that they be slain first (Antiquities, 18.8.2-3).

Around 45 A.D. a would-be prophet, Theudas, led a large crowd to the Jordan, promising to part the river at his own command as the sign of a new exodus.  Roman troops slaughtered most of his followers and carried the head of Theudas to Jerusalem (Antiquities, 20.5.1; Acts 5:36).

Many other such incidents are described in ancient sources, providing an important window into the complex and challenging world of the Holy Land during the time of Jesus.

The End of Jerusalem

All of these tensions ultimately led to the Jewish revolt and the destruction of  Jerusalem.  Josephus blamed the incompetence and insensitivity of the later procurators for the disastrous revolt.

Despite initial Jewish success, the rebellion was crushed and the temple destroyed by the Roman general Titus in 70 A.D. After the war Judea was governed by a legate of senatorial rank who was under the direct supervision of the emperor.

A second Jewish revolt in 132-135 A.D. led by the Messianic pretender Bar Kokhba (“son of the star”; cf. Num 24:17), resulted in a great slaughter of Jews and the forcible removal of surviving Jews from the land.

The Romans named the province Palestine and converted the temple into a pagan shrine. Jerusalem itself became a Roman city, named Aelia Capitolina.

…Gergesenes, Gerasenes or Gadarenes?

Matthew 15 – What Defiles a Man & The Villas of Pompeii

A one-year-old girl is admitted in hospital after she was allegedly defiled by a 26-year old man in Nakaseke district.
“Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man” (Matt 15:11).

I find this very interesting; we are talking about fabulous and wealthy city in 600 B.C., over 2,600 years ago.  Pompeii also may be the most important archaeological site in the world, and also one of the largest, in terms of coherent, contiguous ruins.

We are unable to duplicate the Great Egyptian Pyramids, what about Pompeii?  Can we duplicate it?

What was the water like in the Roman Empire?  Tomorrow we’ll look at the…

Matthew 15
What Defiles a Man

1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,

2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.

“The tradition of the elders” – after the Babylonian captivity, the Jewish rabbis began to make meticulous rules and regulations governing the daily life of the people.  These were interpretations and applications of the law of Moses, handed down from generation to generation.

In Jesus’ day this “tradition of the elders’ was in oral form.  It was not until 200 c. A.D. that it was put into writing in the Mishnah (a part of the Talmud, the Jewish Bible.

3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

4 For God commanded, saying, Honor thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;

6 And honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

The Jews of Judaism believe that when Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights writing down the words of God he didn’t write everything down, that God had provided him with additional explanations.

The Mishnah essentially records those debates of the post-Temple sages from 70-2 A.D. (called the Tannaim) and is considered the first major work of “Rabbinical Judaism.”

The Jews never believed in Jesus, but the Islamic faith/Judaism wasn’t evil in the beginning, but it is now. As Jesus said: “He that is not with me is against me… (Matt 12:30).

7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,

8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:

11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?

13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.

14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

15 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.

16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me Matt 15:8).

17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?

18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

“Tyre” – About 25 miles north of Tyre.

22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

“Canaan” – a term found many times in the Old Testament but only here in the New Testament.  In New Testament times there was no country known as Canaan.  Some think this was the Semitic manner of referring to the people of Phoenicia at this time.  Mark says the woman was “a Greek a Syrophenician” (Mk 7:26).

23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.

24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.

26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.

“Children’s” – “The lost sheep of the house of Israel” (v. 24).

“Dogs” – the Greek says “little dogs,” meaning a pet dog in the home, and Jesus’ point was that the gospel was to be given first to Jews.  The woman understood Jesus’ implication and was willing to settle for “crumbs.”  Jesus rewarded her faith (v. 28).

27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.

28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

29 And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.

30 And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them:

31 Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

Triumphal arch on the principal road leading into Roman Tyre. The road was lined by colonnades; an aqueduct ran along the south side. Right, another view of the triumphal arch on the principal road leading into Roman Tyre.

32 Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.

33 And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?

34 And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.

35 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.

36 And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

Harbor and buildings of modern Sour (Tyre) in Lebanon.

37 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.

The feeding of the 5,000 is recorded in all four Gospels, but the feeding of the 4,000 is only in Matthew and Mark.  The 12 baskets mentioned in the feeding of the 5,000 were possibly for the 12 apostles.  Some think Jesus gave the extra food to the little boy.  The seven baskets mentioned here were possibly larger.

38 And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.

39 And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.

“Magdala” – the home of Mary Magdalene.  Mk 8:10 has “Dalmanutha.”

The Villas of Pompeii

Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum, both buried by the 79 A.D. eruption of Mount Vesuvius, were popular resorts for wealthy Romans, who built villas along the Bay of Naples where they could enjoy the vistas and ocean breezes.

The artist’s reconstruction of a Roman villa at the above left is based on archaeological remains like those picture here, showing the peristyle or inner courtyard, of a villa.

Roman villas such as the one diagrammed to the left here had an atrium at the entrance. An opening in the roof of the atrium allowed sunlight to enter on fair days. In foul weather, rain filled a pool beneath the sunlight.

Beyond the atrium lay a courtyard called the peristyle, containing a garden where residents could sit, stroll, or dine.  Living rooms and bedrooms were tastefully furnished and beautifully decorated with frescoes and mosaics.

Visitorsa to Pompeii today can view the remains of such estates, including the Villa of Mysteries, so called for frescoes depicting a mysterious ritual. Among the figures portrayed there is Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, rapture, and fertility, whose devotees included women, called maenads.


The frescoes show women participating in an initiation rite of some kind.  Brides may have undergone the ritual before marriage to seek fertility.

The gracious villas of Pompeii reflect the wealth that prominent Romans accumulated as their empire expanded. Some prospered through trade, which flourished when the Mediterranean Sea became, in effect, a Roman lake.

Others grew by amassing prizes of war, including slaves conquered lands, who toiled for their owners fields, workshops, or mines.

…aqueducts in the Roman Empire.