Saturday, October 29, 2005

Mark Chapter Two

And Yeshu entered again into Capernaum for some days. And when they had heard that he was in the house, many were gathered together, so that it could not contain them, nor yet the space before the gate[1]. And he spoke with them the Word[2]. And they came to him and brought him a paralytic carried between four. And when they could not approach him for the crowd, they ascended to the roof and took the covering from the place were Yeshu was and let down the stretcher on which the paralytic lay. When Yeshu saw their faith, he said to the paralytic himself; “My son, Forgiven to you are your sins.”[3] But some of the Sadducees and the Pharisees were there, who sat and reasoned in their hearts, “Who is this uttering blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but One, God?”[4] But Yeshu knowing in his spirit that they reasoned so within themselves. And he said to them, “Why reason these things in your heart? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Forgiven are your sins” or to say, “Arise, lift up your stretcher and walk”? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”, he said to the paralytic, “To you I say, Arise, take up your stretcher and walk and go to your home.”[5] And he arose at once, and took up his stretcher and went forth before them all so that all wondered and glorified God and said, “Never have we seen such a thing.”

And he went forth again to the sea and the whole multitude came to him and he taught them. And when he had passed, he saw Levi Bar Chalphai sitting at the custom house and said to him, “Come, follow me!” and he arose and went and followed him. And it so happened that when he was seated at his house that many publicans and sinner were seated with Yeshu and with his disciples for there were many who followed him. And the scribes and Pharisees saw that he ate with tax collectors and with sinners said to his disciples, “Why does he eat and drink with publicans and sinners?” But when Jesus heard he said to the, “The healthy have no need of a physician, but they who are very ill. I have not come to call the righteous but the sinners.”[6]

Now the students of Johannan and of the Pharisees fasted. And they came and said to him. “The disciples of Johannan and of the Pharisees fast. Why don’t your disciples fast?” Yeshu said to them, “Can the Sons of the Marriage Chamber fast while the bridegroom is with them? No, but the days shall come when the bridegroom will be taken up from them and then they shall fast in those days. No man inserts a new piece and sews it on an old garment lest it should take away its fullness from the old and make the rent greater. And no man puts new wine in old wine skins, lest the wine rend the wineskins and the wineskins are ruined and the wine spilled; no rather they put new wine into new wineskins.

And so it was [7], that as Jesus on a Sabbath walked in the fields, his disciples walked and pulled off heads of grain.[8]And the Pharisees said to him, “Look, how on the Sabbath, they do that which is not permitted?” Jesus said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was in need and hungered, he and the men who were with him? How he entered the House of God while Abiathar[9] was the high priest and he ate of the bread of the table of the Lord which is not lawful to be eaten except by the priests. He also gave to eat to those who were with him.” And he said unto them, “The Sabbath was created for man and man was not created for the Sabbath.[10] Thus the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
[1] Thara in Aramaic, literally ‘door’.
[2] Miltha-the Word. Another Aramaic word used in such a manner is Memra. Miltha in the Gospel of John is used to refer to Christ as the Word of God.
[3] It is interesting that Jesus heals because of the faith of the paralyzed man’s friends.
[4] These are two of the major sects of first century Israel. Sadducees were loyal to the priestly caste and temple ritual. They were named after Zadoc, an important priest under King David and King Solomon. Pharisee is from the Aramaic word for ‘Separate’. They separated themselves from the masses to devote themselves to their understanding of the Mosaic Law.
[5] This is the first time in this Gospel that Jesus uses the important title Barnasha, which in Aramaic means the Son of Man. It can literally be translated as Man, Person or Human Being but also had Messianic connotations from the Aramaic section of the Book of Daniel.
[6] Joachim Jeremias noted that the call to repentance went out to every man and every woman in the preaching of John the Baptist and of Jesus. In the view of most Jews of the first century those who had committed sexual sins, or the sins of tax collectors, were beyond repentance.
[7] As hungry travelers they were permitted to take the wheat and eat it (Leviticus 19:9, 23:22, Deuteronomy 24:19, Ruth 2:2) but in legalistic Jewish interpretation their doing so on a Sabbath was harvesting and in rubbing the husks away in their hands they were considered by the legalists to be threshing. Interestingly Jesus here does not deny that their deeds violate d the Sabbath. He conceded that to his accusers. Jesus’ defense was that human needs are more important than proper Sabbath observance. Aramaic Barnasha, Son of Man, can mean ‘Man’ and so ‘Man is Lord of the Sabbath’ is a possible interpretation. Many Jews, such as the Maccabees came to a similar theory of Sabbath observance. During the Maccebean revolt some Jews chose to be massacred rather than do the work of warfare on the Sabbath. The Rabbis determined that matters of survival are more important than proper Sabbath observance therefore it was allowed to defend oneself on the Sabbath day (1 Maccabees 2: 32-41). Ending human suffering was more important than observing the Rabbis definition of proper Sabbath observance according to the teachings of Jesus. In the teaching of Christ ending human suffering takes precedence over the Sabbath.
[8] This section is reconstructed in Aramaic by use of the Dead Sea Scrolls by Maurice Casey in “Aramaic Sources of Mark’s Gospel”.
[9] At the time Abimelek was the High Priest. Abiathar was his son and began as high priest in exile when King Saul murdered Abimelek.
[10] In the Law of Moses, the Torah, the Sabbath was given as a joy and as a rest for Man from his labors. The Rabbis added so many rules to define proper Sabbath observance that it had become a terrible burden and something to be dreaded and not enjoyed. The Essenes forbade individuals even from relieving themselves on the Sabbath day. In Ethiopia the Falasha Jews, or Beta Israel, went so far to personify the Sabbath and worship her as a goddess. Jesus here points to the original intent of the Sabbath.


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