Pharisees and Scribes from Jerusalem

Summer, 782. A. D. 29.

Whilst still at Capernaum, some of the scribes and Matt. Xv. 1-20. Pharisees, who had come from Jerusalem, see His dis- Mark vii. 1-23. ciples eating with unwashed hands, and find fault.

This leads to a discussion of Pharisaic traditions, and sharp reproofs of their hypocrisy. Leaving Capernaum, He goes with the Twelve into the coasts of Tyre Matt. Xv. 21-28. and Sidon, avoiding all publicity. But He could not be Mark vii. 24-30. hid; and a woman of that region coming to Him with urgent request, He heals her daughter. From thence He departs to the region of Decapolis, where he heals Matt. Xv. 29-39. many, and one with an impediment in his speech, and Mark vii. 31-37. afterward feeds a multitude of 4,000 persons. Re- Mark viii. 1-10. crossing the sea He returns to Capernaum.

How long, after the feeding of the five thousand, the Lord continued at Capernaum we cannot tell, hut it is plain that He was found there by the Pharisees and scribes which came down from Jerusalem. That this was, as Wieseler maintains,1 upon the 15th Nisan, the day when he supposes the discourse in the synagogue to have been delivered, is highly improbable. It is not likely that they would leave Jerusalem till the Passover was fully over.3 Much earlier in the Lord's ministry, as we have seen, a deputation of scribes had been sent from Jerusalem to watch and oppose Him. The presence of this new deputation may be ascribed to the reports that had been borne to that city by the pilgrims going to the feast, of the feeding of the five thousand, and of the wish of the people to make Him king. So great a miracle, and its effect on the popular mind, could not be overlooked ; and they hasten to counteract, if possible, His growing influence. Arriving at Capernaum, and watchful to seize every possible ground of accusation against Him, they notice that some of His disciples did not wash their hands in the prescribed manner before eating; a sign that they were already in some degree becoming indifferent to Pharisaic traditions. The words of the Lord in reply to the Pharisees are full of severity, and show that He knew that they were, and would continue to be, His enemies.

* 311, note 1. 2 Teschendorf, Greswell.

Now for the first time He addresses them openly as hypocrites, and reproaches them, that they set aside by their traditions the commandments of God. He proceeds to address the people upon the distinction between internal and external defilement; and afterward, when He was. alone with the disciples, He ex-^ plains to them more clearly what He had said.

It has been questioned "whether the Lord went merely to the borders of Tyre and Sidon, or actually crossed them, (Matt. xv. 21; Mark vii. 24.)1 Some light may be cast on this point if we consider His motive in the journey. That it was not to teach publicly seems plain from Mark's words, (vii. 24,) " He would have no man know it." He desired that His arrival should be kept secret. As He had directed the Twelve, when upon their mission, not to " go into the way of the Gentiles" to preach, it is not probable that He would now do so. ISTor is there any mention of teaching or healing, except in the case of the woman and her daughter. His motive in this journey obviously was to find seclusion and rest, which He had sought, but in vain, to find on the east side of the lake; and could not find in Capernaum. He hoped on the remote frontiers of Galilee to escape for a time popular attention, and to be hid from the crowds that followed Him. We see no evidence that any fear of the hostility of Herod or of the Pharisees actuated Him.2 It is for the Twelve that He seeks a temporary retirement, and to them will He address His teachings.

It would not then be inconsistent with His purpose that He should enter the heathen provinces of Tyre and Sidon. Here at least He may obtain a little interval of repose.

1 In favor of the latter, Alford, Alexander, Bleek, De Wette, Greswell; of the former, Stier and Meyer, who refer to Matt. xv. 22, as showing that the Phoenician woman came out of the coasts of Tyre and Sidon to meet Jesus, so that He was not within them.

2 Greswell, (ii. 354,) who thinks His motive in this journey was concealment, makes the final end of this concealment to escape the observation of His pertinacious enemies, the scribes and Pharisees.

But He cannot be hid, and after healing the daughter of the Syrophenician woman in answer to her importunity, He is compelled to leave that region, and directs His steps to Decapolis. The route He followed is uncertain. It is said by Mark, (vii. 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." " As most of the cities of the Decapolis were situated near the valley of the Jordan, south of the Sea of Tiberias, it is not improbable that our Lord, having gone to the east of Phoenicia through Upper Galilee, returned thence, by way of Lower Galilee through the plain of Esdraelon, to Bethshean, (Scythopolis,) the only city of Decapolis which is to the west of Jordan. Here He would cross the river, perhaps at the bridge now called Jisr Majumah, then possibly make a circuit about the district of Pella and Philadelphia to the south, about Gerasa to the east, and Gadara, Dios, and Hippo to the north. Thus He would (come unto the Sea of Galilee through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis.5"l But according to the reading of Tischendorf,2 " departing from the coasts of Tyre He came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee," Sia 2«Wos ; He went therefore northward from Tyre, and, passing through Sidon, probably proceeded along the Phoenician border line to the Jordan, near Dan, (Laish,) and journeying along its eastern bank came to Decapolis. He may thus have visited Caesarea Philippi, and the province of Herod Philip, although no special mention is made of it. " He went first northward (perhaps for the same reason of privacy as before) through Sidon, then crossed the Jordan, and so approached the lake on its east side."3

What part of Decapolis the Lord visited is not mentioned by any of the Evangelists.

i G, Williams in "The Messiah," 268, note.

2 So Meyer and Alford. 3 Alford; see Lichtenstein, 284.

Under this title were included ten cities, eight or nine of which were on the east side of the Jordan, and east or southeast of the Sea of Galilee. It is spoken of by Josephus as a well-known territorial designation, embracing towns and villages. After Syria had been conquered by the Romans, ten cities seem, on some grounds not well known, to have been placed under certain peculiar municipal arrangements, and brought directly under Roman rule. It is probable that their population was chiefly heathen. The names of the ten cities are differently given. To the original ten cities others were probably added, though at no time do they seem to have constituted a distinct province.1

It is impossible to tell where the healing of the deaf man with an impediment in his speech, took place, (Mark vii. 32.) If it was one of the cures mentioned by Matthew, (xv. 29-31,) it was near the sea; but from the fact that Jesus enjoined silence upon the deaf man and his friends, we infer that it was wrought before He came to the shore of the lake. The injunction of silence was not heeded: " The more He charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it." The effect of this was, as related by Matthew, a great gathering to Him of " the lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others," whom He healed. Both Matthew and Mark speak of the wonder and astonishment of the multitude as they saw these healings, as if they now saw them for the first time. It is to be remembered that Jesus had not visited this region at all, except for the few hours when He healed the demoniacs of Gergesa, and afterward when He fed the five thousand ; and the great body of the people now saw Him for the first time. The expression, (Matt. xv. 31,) " they glorified the God of Israel," may indicate that part of the multitude were heathen, and now glorified Jehovah in contrast with their own deities; or it may have reference to the Jews as dwelling among the heathen, who saw in these miracles new proofs of the power of their God, before whom all others were but idols.

* See Winer, i. 263; Smith's Dict, of Bible, i. 419.

Three days this great concourse of people continued with the Lord, beholding His works, and listening to His words. The place where they were assembled was, beyond question, on the east side of the lake, and some suppose at the same place where He had fed the five thousand.1 Matthew (xv. 29) relates that "He came nigh unto the Sea of Galilee, and went up into a mountain and sat down there." The use of the article, To opos, "the mountain," does not determine the spot, as it may be used to denote the high land in distinction from the lake shore. It seems, however, more probable that it was at some point near the south end of the lake, as several cities of the Decapolis were in that vicinity. Ellicott9 suggests that its site may have been " the high ground " in the neighborhood of the ravine nearly opposite to Magdala, which is now called " Wady Semak." Whilst there are several points of resemblance between this miracle and that of the feeding of the five thousand, there are many of difference : as the number of persons fed, the quantity of food, the quantity of fragments gathered up, the time the multitude had been with Jesus, and the events both preceding and following the miracle. It is probable that many of the four thousand were heathen, or those who had come from the east side of the sea, whilst most of the five thousand seem to have followed Him from the western shore.3

After sending away the multitudes, He took ship, perhaps the ship kept specially for His use, and crossed the sea. He came, according to Matthew, (xv. 39,) " into the coasts of Magdala;"4 according to Mark, (viii. 10,) "into the parts of Dalmanutha."

i So Trench, Mir., 285; Greswell, ii. 857.
a 221, note l.v a Trench, Mir., 286.

4 For Magdala in the received text, Teschendorf and Alford substitute Magadan. Magdala is retained by Meyer. Of Magadan, if distinct from Magdala, nothing is known.

Magdala is generally identified with El Mejdel, a miserable village on the south side of the plain of Gennesaret, near the lake.1 Dalmanutha is generally supposed to have been a small town or village in the neighborhood of Magdala, perhaps in its territory, and upon the shore. Porter places it about a mile south of Magdala, by the fountain Ain-el-Barideh. Thomson (ii. 60) speaks of a Dalhamia, or Dalmamia, on the east side of the Jordan, a little below its exit from the Sea of Galilee, which he supposes may be intended. The matter is in itself unimportant.

1 Rob. ii., 397; Porter, ii. 431. See, contra, Norton, notes, 153.