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Mark 3- The withered hand

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Mark 3- The withered hand

Postby Milo » Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:16 pm

1 And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.
2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.
3 And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.
4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.
5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
6 And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.


Mark gives us another healing story. A man with a withered hand is in the synagogue. Jesus says to the man- stand up. Jesus questions the Pharisees. (Jesus rarely says anything that is not a question.) Getting no answer Jesus tells the man to stretch out his hand. Instantly, it is healed. The Pharisees, having the evidence they need, go out to plot against Jesus.

Technically Jesus does nothing to violate the Sabbath. All Jesus does is speak- "stand up and stretch your arm out". It's not like he was chanting spells or working up a sweat. He didn't mix up a potion or fix a poultice. But moving on.....

How does Mark know what the Pharisees were thinking or what Jesus was thinking or feeling? How does Mark know the Pharisees went out and met with the Herodians? Did someone follow them? Who told him what they talked about?

The inspiration for this incident can be found in 1 Kings 13:

1 And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.
2 And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee.
3 And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.
4 And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him.
5 The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD.
6 And the king answered and said unto the man of God, Intreat now the face of the LORD thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of God besought the LORD, and the king's hand was restored him again, and became as it was before.
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Re: Mark 3- The withered hand

Postby E-lad » Thu Nov 17, 2011 10:37 pm

I love this thread. Milo, are you some kind of wizard or something? Great commentary......This far more interesting than that Old Testament stuff.
Life is a comedy for those who think, and a tragedy for those who feel.- Horace Walpole
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Re: Mark 3- The withered hand

Postby Milo » Fri Nov 18, 2011 12:34 am

LOL....thanks Froggie. It's not hard to be more interesting than the Old Testament. Wizard of the internet, maybe. :)
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Re: Mark 3- The withered hand

Postby Chaplain Entrekin » Thu May 02, 2013 9:10 pm

Milo wrote:
1 And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.
2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.
3 And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.
4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.
5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
6 And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.


The scribes believed that healing was a form of work and was not permitted to be done on the Sabbath. Of course, healing performed by some at that time usually did involve some work (e.g. putting on bandages, preparing or bringing medicine or food to someone, etc.). They are looking for something to accuse him of, that is, to bring charges against him for.

Jesus' question is met with silence. The answer should have been obvious. If the Sabbath was created for man and not man for the Sabbath; and if (C.f. post on Mark 2) the Sabbath idea was an opportunity for the people of God to be generous to each other out of God's being generous to them, then they should have answered, "to do good, to save life!!!"

Their silence to the question shows that they have hardened their heart to the intent of the Sabbath and turned it from God's provision into man's rules. This makes Jesus angry. Healing would not violate the Old Testament law, but it would violate their extra-biblical, Pharisaic tradition. That tradition misses the point of the Mosaic law; to love God and one's neighbor (The Great Commandment, Mark 12:29-31).

Jesus speaks a word, which was allowed on the Sabbath. And the one healed merely stretched out his hand, which was also allowed on the Sabbath. So without violating the law, Jesus healed the man, infuriating the Pharisees. They would then go and consult with the Herodians (whom they did not like, but shared a common enemy in Jesus) about how to destroy him.

The author, Mark, served with Peter in ministry and is believed to have written down what Peter remembered Christ said and did. For those who would object that Mark is speculating and there is no way he could know what the Pharisees were thinking, I suppose you could say that to a point. But, Mark is writing this after these events and the subsequent events of Jesus' death and resurrection and getting Peter's eye-witness accounts, I think that he might be the best hope of interpretting what they were thinking based on their actions in Chapter 2 and afterwards.

The inspiration for this incident can be found in 1 Kings 13:

I think it would be more accurate to say this is another time someone's withered hand was healed, not that this was inspiration for Mark 2. The context is different (the silencing of a word of the Lord vs. healing on the Sabbath). In 1 Kings 13, it is King Jereboam, who is trying to dedicate his new unauthorized temple at Bethel, whose hand is withered for rebuking the man of God. In Mark 2, it is an unnamed man who happens to be in the synagogue). In 1 Kings 13, the King whose hand withers seeks out the help of the man of God and begs him to come home with him. In Mark 2, after the withered hand is healed, the Pharisees (the closest ones in my mind in Mark 2 to be equated with King Jereboam) leave furiously to join with others to plot for the healers destruction. I don't think it is intellectually satisfying to claim that one event served as inspiration for the other.

Chap

1 And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense.
2 And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee.
3 And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.
4 And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him.
5 The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD.
6 And the king answered and said unto the man of God, Intreat now the face of the LORD thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of God besought the LORD, and the king's hand was restored him again, and became as it was before.
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Re: Mark 3- The withered hand

Postby BaldySlaphead » Thu May 02, 2013 9:44 pm

Chaplain Entrekin wrote:I don't think it is intellectually satisfying to claim that one event served as inspiration for the other.


I realise you're talking about the specific incident, but I would note that it's a considerable amount more satisfying than Jesus entering Jerusalem astride two donkeys. ;-)
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Re: Mark 3- The withered hand

Postby Chaplain Entrekin » Thu May 02, 2013 10:01 pm

BaldySlaphead wrote:
Chaplain Entrekin wrote:I don't think it is intellectually satisfying to claim that one event served as inspiration for the other.


I realise you're talking about the specific incident, but I would note that it's a considerable amount more satisfying than Jesus entering Jerusalem astride two donkeys. ;-)


BaldySlaphead,

I assume you are referring to Matthew 20:7
"They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them."

"Them" refers to the cloaks (which is the closest antecedent in Greek), not to the two animals. Assuming more than one cloak went on to the colt, there is no lack of intellectual satisfaction.

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Re: Mark 3- The withered hand

Postby BaldySlaphead » Thu May 02, 2013 10:43 pm

You're still left with Matthew's introduction of the second animal for the purposes of attempting to fit the story to Zechariah 9:9, which he quotes in 25:7, leaving no doubt of what it is he's referencing (and which actually only identifies one animal). It is beyond any doubt that Matthew has misunderstood the poetry of Zechariah, understands it to refer to two animals, and thus introduces a second that is absent from the other two, generally accepted to be earlier, texts.

It's also worth noting that the passage in Zechariah in context clearly describes someone that is a military commander and monarch of a physical kingdom.
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Re: Mark 3- The withered hand

Postby Chaplain Entrekin » Thu May 02, 2013 11:10 pm

BaldySlaphead wrote:You're still left with Matthew's introduction of the second animal for the purposes of attempting to fit the story to Zechariah 9:9, which he quotes in 25:7, leaving no doubt of what it is he's referencing (and which actually only identifies one animal). It is beyond any doubt that Matthew has misunderstood the poetry of Zechariah, understands it to refer to two animals, and thus introduces a second that is absent from the other two, generally accepted to be earlier, texts.

It's also worth noting that the passage in Zechariah in context clearly describes someone that is a military commander and monarch of a physical kingdom.


BaldySlaphead,

Sorry, I mistyped. I meant Matthew 21:7 (in case any readers were confused).
You are right that Matthew alone mentions the 2 animals, which still does not run against Zechariah 9:9 which was concerned not with the number of animals, but what KIND of animal, "a colt, the foal of a donkey." It is a tough leap to assume that since Matthew mentions 2 animals, he is inserting one, in a misguided effort to force the text to agree with his misunderstanding of Zech 9. Ockham and I both think it is more likely that since the point of the narrative is the KIND of animal, the number is not as important. I suspect that John and Luke mention the one animal, the colt, because that is important to the entrance. Matthew most likely records more detail, including the mother of the colt. So why is the KIND so important?

Military commanders, when entering a town that they had seiged, would ride into the town on an animal. If they rode in on the standard military mount, a battle horse, it was a sign that he had come into to destroy the now captured town, devouring all who were in it (or at least taking what they had). But if the military commander came in on a donkey, the mount of one who came to bring peace, it symbolized that he was going to spare the town, and all the people could breathe easier, knowing that the conqueror was going to show mercy. This was not lost on the people in Jerusalem, who shouted as he entered, "Hosanna to the son of David (a conquering king), Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest."

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Re: Mark 3- The withered hand

Postby Milo » Fri May 03, 2013 7:37 pm

"They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them."

"Them" refers to the cloaks (which is the closest antecedent in Greek), not to the two animals. Assuming more than one cloak went on to the colt, there is no lack of intellectual satisfaction.


I don't know Greek, but this sounds like hand waving. In your explanation, the verse is saying "he sat on the cloaks" instead of "he sat on the donkey". Why cloaks on both donkeys unless you intend to ride both of them? The author of Matthew got the story from Mark, checked it against scripture, and made corrections. The sentence implies he sat on both donkeys. They bring both animals, they saddle up both animals. and he sits on them.
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Re: Mark 3- The withered hand

Postby Chaplain Entrekin » Fri May 03, 2013 10:41 pm

I understand that most people do not know Greek. That's why I shared what I did. The original is in koine Greek. (Though some believe it was originally written in Hebrew and then translated into koine Greek, but that is debatable). When read in Greek, it is clear that the "them" is referring to the cloaks, not the animals. I can see the possible confusion in English. (although even in English, logic should tell us that Matthew can't mean that Jesus simultaneously rode two donkeys of differing sizes at the same time).

Why cloaks on both animals? Well I confess that I just don't know why. (Maybe 12 men's cloaks on a donkey plus a rider would be too heavy. Maybe they thought cloaked animals looked more festive for the triumphal entry. who knows?) But if I went back and told you some details about true stories that happened in my past (as Matthew is doing), I am sure there would be many details where you would stop me and ask, "Why in the world did you do that?" and I would have to say, "I don't know. No good reason, that's just what happened." I suspect that would be the case for many of us telling detailed stories from our past. That folks feel the need to infer that since a side detail doesn't make sense to them (cloaks on both animals?) in Matthew's story means he must be lying seems a little unfair.

Now, Mark wrote first, and Matthew after him. But that does not mean that Matthew just copied and editted Mark's. Mark received his information from his partner in ministry, Peter, who was there. Peter, now understanding the significance of the KIND of animal Jesus rode in on, may have just related the story of Jesus riding in on a colt. Matthew, the former tax collector called Levi, who was there as a disciple of Jesus, having read what Mark wrote, may have added the information about the mother donkey, not because he was trying to shoe-horn the story into a misunderstanding of Zechariah 9, but because that was what really happened. It does not take away from the historicity of the account, anymore than 2 witnesses to a crime having minor discrepancies in their testimonies demonstrates that one or both are fabricated. In fact, minor discrepancies are one of the ways we can have confidence that witnesses are not corroborating to fool us. A too polished story shows collusion. The fact that Matthew relates that there were 2 donkeys, but only 1, the important one, was ridden, IMO adds credence to the story.

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