Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 10 February 2012; Revised 12 April 2016
Scripture: Unless otherwise indicated Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB Updated Edition (1995). Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Messianic Jewish versions are CJB, DHE, GNC, HNV, MW, OJB, & TLV.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important Jewish sources include the following:
● DSS: Citations marked as "DSS" are from the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last two centuries B.C. and the first century A.D. Online. Click here for DSS abbreviations.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C.
● Josephus: Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." Parsing information for Greek words is taken from Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament. Explanation of grammatical abbreviations and a pronunciation guide for New Testament Greek may be found here. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ). I use the title "The Good News of Mark" because Mark describes his book as "good news" (1:1).
Please see the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on Mark and his book.
This chapter relates Yeshua's ministry that brought healing and wholeness to a man and two women.
Date: Autumn A.D. 28
1 They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes.
Parallel Passage: Matthew 8:28-34 and Luke 8:26-37.
Yeshua accomplished his purpose stated in 4:35 of going to the other side. Matthew 8:28 locates this incident in the “Gadarenes’ territory.” Some manuscripts have “Gergesenes’ territory.” There were three towns in the region east of the Sea of Galilee and nearby—Gerasa, Gadara and Gergesa—so that the same “country” might reasonably have been named for all of them (Stern). The text does not identify the “city” (v. 14), but the "country" is part of the Decapolis (v. 20).
Yeshua had demonstrated his power over a demonically caused storm by stilling the winds and the waves. Now he has a divine appointment to liberate a man from the same forces of evil. The two stories are definitely linked. Mark's narrative provides a valuable guide to understanding demon possession, which refers to an unclean spirit cohabiting a person's body and influencing his attitudes and actions. Most of the mentions of demons in the apostolic narratives pertain to possession as here. The only occasion mentioned in Scripture in which Satan indwelt a person was Judas in order to accomplish his betrayal and facilitate the arrest of Yeshua (Luke 22:3; John 13:2, 27).
Too many Christians are inclined to diagnose possession when it's not present. The story of the Gadarene demoniac describes eight distinct symptoms of the phenomenon of demon possession. (from Kurt Koch, Occult Bondage and Deliverance [Kregel Publications, 1970], pp 57-58.)
2 When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him,
First Symptom: The demoniac had an unclean spirit (Grk. akatharton pneuma. See the notes on 1:23 and 1:34 concerning the evil entities.) In other words, he was indwelt by another being. The narrative relates that Yeshua had been spotted by the afflicted man spirit before the boat reached the docking point. Typical of the apostolic narratives the identity of the man is not given and the fact that the location is in an area dominated by Greek cities (v. 20) might suggest the man is a Gentile. However, he could just as easily have been a Jew.
The reference to an unclean spirit (which first occurs in Zech 13:2) does not pertain to physical hygiene (although it wouldn't be excluded), but rather alludes to the Torah standard of clean and unclean. Involvement in paganism or the occult makes one unclean because the source is unclean (Lev 19:31). Since the boat trip began in late afternoon or possibly early evening (see the note on 4:35), Wessel suggests that it was probably dark when Yeshua arrived. However, it's difficult to imagine the rest of this story taking place in total darkness. It was more likely early evening.
3 and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain;
Second Symptom: The possessed man exhibited unusual powers of physical strength. No one could bind him any more.
The afflicted man lived among the tombs, not in a tomb as sometimes translated. In other words, he lived in a cemetery, since the dead were typically buried in above ground tombs. Some commentators, as Wessel, interprets this account as the manic stage of a manic depressive psychosis. While the second, third and fourth characteristics listed here are similar in many respects to the symptoms of certain psychological disorders, they are in no case exactly the same. Five of the eight characteristics are not to be found within any psychiatric classification. Demons are a reality. Scripture does not lie. To deny their existence is a slippery slope in biblical exegesis.
4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones.
Third Symptom: The third characteristic was the paroxysms (the fits of rage). He had wrenched chains apart and broken his fetters in pieces. He then took out his anger and frustration on his own body.
6 Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him;
Seeing Jesus: The English transliteration of the Greek Iēsous, which itself is a transliteration of Yeshua, our Lord's Hebrew name given to him by his parents in accordance with angelic direction. Yeshua is the only name by which he was known to contemporaries. See the note on 1:1 for the background of this precious name. bowed down: Grk. proskuneō, aor., means to bow down, to worship, do obeisance to, prostrate oneself before, do reverence to or welcome respectfully. BAG notes that the Greek word was often used in secular literature to designate the ancient custom of prostrating oneself before a person, such as a king, and kissing his feet, the hem of his garment, the ground, etc. The demoniac did not worship Yeshua as the KJV implies, but simply knelt to pay homage. The man had not been delivered of the demon yet.
7 and shouting with a loud voice, he said, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!"
Fourth Symptom: The fourth sign is one of disintegration, the splitting of the personality. The demoniac runs to Yeshua for help, yet cries out in fear.
Fifth Symptom: The fifth sign is that of resistance, an opposition to the truth of God and His kingdom. He tells Yeshua to leave him alone. One meets this resistance to spiritual help quite often in counseling subjected people.
Sixth Symptom: The sixth symptom is hyperaesthesia, an excessive sensibility. Through the demon's power the Gadarene had clairvoyant powers. He knew immediately who Yeshua really was.
Son of: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben (“son,” “son of”), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity, as the son of his father (Gen 5). (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor (e.g., Gen 32:32), as Yeshua is referred to as the son of David and Abraham (Matt 1:1); (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of (e.g., Ps 89:22; Dan 3:25; cf. 2 Thess 2:3), and this too applies here.
the Most High: Grk. hupsistos, a superlative that means being positioned at the uttermost upward point in status, i.e. God. In the Tanakh the words "Most High" occur often as a synonym of Elohim and YHVH. God: Grk. theos is the God of Israel. In ancient polytheistic culture theos was not one omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator and ruler of the universe, but God revealed His nature to His people. In the LXX theos renders the Hebrew words for God, such as El (including derivative combinations), Elohim and the tetragrammaton YHVH. As with many other Greek words the LXX infused new meaning into theos (DNTT, II, 67-70). See the note on 1:1 for the background of this title.
The mention of the "Most High God" is an allusion to El Elyon first occurring in Genesis 14:18-20 on the lips of Melchizedek. The title with "Son" capitalized reflects Christian interpretation of Yeshua as the second person of the triune Godhead. The title "son of God" occurs only four times in Mark (here, 1:1; 5:7; 15:39). The title in 1:1 is of doubtful provenance and the one in 15:39 (huios theou) spoken by a Roman centurion could be translated as "a son of a god." The other two times the title is spoken by demonic powers. The demons might have intended the title as a synonym for the Holy One of God (1:24), but they echo Satan's use of the title in the wilderness temptation (Matt 4:6).
The acclamation does not mean that the demonic spirits recognized Yeshua as deity. The demons spoke through the voices of those whom they oppressed with that person's understanding. For Jews of that time "son of God" referred to a human descendant of King David who would establish the promised Kingdom. See the comment on 1:1 for the background on this Messianic title.
8 For He had been saying to him, "Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!"
Come out: Grk. exerchomai, to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. Yeshua issues an authoritative command for the demon to leave his victim. unclean: Grk. akathartos, unclean or impure, used generally in a religious sense of isolating one from contact with deity. spirit: Grk. pneuma, breath, wind or spirit as the animating force for bodily movement.
9 And He was asking him, "What is your name?" And he said to Him, "My name is Legion; for we are many."
Seventh Symptom: The seventh sign is seen in the variation of alteration of voice. The voice of a demon spoke out of him representing multiple demons. The word legion refers to the Roman military organization which consisted of 6,000 men. However, the demonic spokesman did not say there were a legion of demons inside the man, but that his name was "Legion."
10 And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country.
The demonic spokesman makes an incredible appeal. Yeshua could have surely banished the demons to the Pit (cf. 1 Pet 3:19; 2 Pet 2:4; Jude 1:6; Rev 9:14). "Legion" knew that he was facing judgment by the Son of God and wanted at least to remain in the Decapolis if he and his friends couldn't remain in this particular man. They would then be able to go find another man to possess or perhaps even return to their victim once Yeshua had departed (cf. Luke 11:24-26).
11 Now there was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain.
The non-Jewish Gerasenes raised pigs. Much has been made of the fact that the flesh of pigs is declared unclean for Jews to eat (Lev 11:7), as if Yeshua was in danger of being contaminated by the pigs or the herdsmen. The Torah does not actually forbid contact with pigs. Even the camel, used for transportation of baggage, was unclean for eating (Lev 11:4).
12 The demons implored Him, saying, "Send us into the swine so that we may enter them." 13 Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea.
Eighth Symptom: The eighth characteristic is occult transference. The demons left the man and entered into the swine.
Some critics of the Bible find fault with Yeshua for supposedly destroying harmless animals together with their owners’ livelihood. The truth of the matter as Mark's narrative plainly states is that it was the demons who destroyed the flock. It may be, as some have suggested, the demons destroyed the pigs in order to prejudice the owners against Yeshua—which is what actually happened.
The mystery, of course is that since demons are agents of Satan, the permission of Yeshua for the exorcised demons to enter the pigs seems inexplicable. Wessel suggests that Yeshua wanted to give tangible evidence to the man and to the people that the demons had actually left him and that their purpose had been to destroy him even as they destroyed the pigs. Stern observes that God has permitted demonic expression with its evil consequences since the Garden of Eden, especially in the story of Job. The enigma is not explained in Scripture.
14 Their herdsmen ran away and reported it in the city and in the country. And the people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon-possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the "legion"; and they became frightened. 16 Those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and all about the swine. 17 And they began to implore Him to leave their region.
In the high drama the story takes a surprising turn. The pigs went one way and the herdsmen went another and soon many people were coming to see for themselves what had happened. Because the villagers knew what the mad man had been like they are now amazed at his transformation. The manifestation of Yeshua's power has a sobering effect on the people and fear of the judgment of God seizes them so that they urge Yeshua to leave.
18 As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was imploring Him that he might accompany Him. 19 And He did not let him, but He said to him, "Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you."
The story contains irony is that this may be the only time that Yeshua discouraged someone from following after him. Yeshua did accept the man as a disciple, but gave him a commission to remain at home as a witness. Instructing the man to report what the Lord had done likely has a double meaning, given the common use of "Lord." (See the note on 2:28.) In the LXX "Lord" (Grk. kurios) rendered several names of God, including the tetragrammaton. Kurios, meaning "master," was also a common title used of Yeshua, not specifically referring to deity, but his authority over his disciples. The new disciple apparently applied the latter meaning and told everyone what Yeshua had done for him, which also accomplished the former meaning.
20 And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.
The eager disciple was not content to share his story just at home but took a tour of the district. The Decapolis, a Greek place name meaning "ten cities" was originally a group of ten free cities organized on the Greek model and founded during the Seleucid period, brought under Hasmonean control by John Hyrcanus, and "liberated" by the Roman general Pompey (Wessel). The cities are identified as Damascus, Philadelphia (modern Amman), Canatha, Scythopolis, Pella, Hippos, Gadara, Dion, Raphana, and Gerasa. All the cities were located (except Scythopolis) on the east of the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River. Later, other cities were added. They were independent of the local tetrarchy, and answerable directly to the governor of Syria. They enjoyed the rights of association and asylum; they struck their own coinage, paid imperial taxes and were liable to military service (ISBE). In a sense this disciple served as a forerunner for Yeshua who came back to the Decapolis for a wider ministry (7:31—8:8).
Date: Winter A.D. 28-9
21 When Jesus had crossed over again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around Him; and so He stayed by the seashore. 22 One of the synagogue officials named Jairus came up, and on seeing Him, fell at His feet 23 and implored Him earnestly, saying, "My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live." 24 And He went off with him; and a large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him.
Synagogue official: Grk. archisunagōgos, ruler, head or president of a synagogue. The word is formed from archē, a position of preeminence or jurisdiction, and sunagōgē, a gathering-place or place of assembly and in the rest of the Greek apostolic writings refers to the place at which Jews gathered for worship and learning. The synagogue ruler made a specific request of a typical manner of healing (cf. James 5:14), and Yeshua did heal many through the medium of physical touch.
25 A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years,
A woman: Grk. gunē is an adult female person, without respect to age or social status except as defined in the context. In the LXX gunē renders the Heb. ishshah ("woman"). In Scripture when a woman belongs to one man with the expectation of sexual intercourse (Gen 2:21-22), the Hebrew or Greek word is translated as "wife." The narrative leaves her marital status unclear. who had had: Grk. eimi, pres. part., to be, to exist. a hemorrhage: The English word translates two Greek words: rusis, flow or unusual discharge, and haima, blood," lit. "flow of blood." "Hemorrhage" is a very misleading translation. The woman was not on the verge of bleeding to death. She had been suffering from the bleeding disorder for twelve years. The ailment was not life-threatening, but did make her "ritually" unclean during the time of the flow. See the instruction in Leviticus 15:19-30.
The discharge most likely refers to an erratic menstrual cycle. While every woman is different, normal periods are typically described as having an interval of 25 to 31 days from period start to period start, with bleeding lasting approximately five days. The average amount of blood loss during a normal period is two to eight tablespoons. Irregular menstruation may be defined as a cycle shorter than 21 days, or longer than 36 days and may be characterized by abnormal bleeding, increased frequency of periods, painful cramping, changes in blood flow and even blood clots. Since there is no mention of pregnancy two normal causes of erratic menstruation are possible in this situation.
First, serious irregular menstruation often signals the onset of menopause, a term used to describe the permanent cessation of the fertile phase of a woman's life. Menopause typically (but not always) occurs in women in midlife, 45 to 55 years of age. In addition, women who have some sort of functional disorder affecting the reproductive system can go into menopause at a younger age than the normal timeframe. Such disorders often create more significant health problems, both physical and emotional, for the affected woman.
Second, another possible cause of the irregular menstruation is a autoimmune disorder called Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP). The term "thrombocytopenic" means the blood has a lower than normal number of platelets, which are necessary for clotting. The term "purpura" refers to purple bruises caused by bleeding from small blood vessels under the skin. People who have ITP also may have bleeding that causes tiny red or purple dots on the skin, which may look like a rash. ITP may cause nosebleeds or other bleeding that's hard to stop. Women who have ITP may have menstrual bleeding that's heavier than normal.
for twelve: Grk. dōdeka, the numeral twelve used as a total count. years: pl. of Grk. etos, a year. The fact that the woman had the bleeding condition for a lengthy period is not surprising. For menopause the transition is not sudden or abrupt and tends to occur over a period of years as a consequence of aging. ITP is generally temporary or short-term, but can be chronic, lasting for many years. ITP can't be passed from one person to another, but in ancient Israel an ITP rash would have resulted in an unclean status. The time period does not mean that the erratic or abnormal menstruation was continuous for the 624 weeks.
JANT comments, "Whether such ritual impurity—an issue not mentioned in the text—would have mattered in a local village where access to the temple compound is not an issue, is not clear" (70). Under the Torah menstruation did not cause the woman to become a social outcast as with leprosy. She didn't have to go around shouting "unclean, unclean." As an observant Jew she would not attend services at the synagogue or Temple while unclean. On this occasion there would have been no way for bystanders to know that the woman had a menstrual problem.
26 and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse--
Mark recounts the unfortunate experience of the woman who had tried many remedies for her condition. Mark seems to lay blame on the physicians, whereas Luke's version simply says that she "could not be healed by anyone" (Luke 8:43). Some commentators suggest that Mark presents a pejorative view of doctors whereas Luke takes a more circumspect view since he was a doctor. However, there is really no conflict between the two accounts. Mark's report stresses the desperate lengths the woman went to for a cure. He does not imply that the doctors caused the condition to worsen, only that it did worsen in spite of various remedies.
The practice of medicine was a respected profession in ancient times. The Rabbis ordained that every town must have at least one physician, who was also to be qualified to practice surgery, or else a physician and a surgeon. Some of the Rabbis themselves engaged in medical pursuits (Edersheim-Sketches 151). That the woman was not helped at all is not surprising given the limited medical knowledge in ancient times. Compared to medicine today remedies prescribed in the Talmud for women with a discharge were patently bizarre (Shabbat 110a-b). Among Jews preventive medicine and public health generally excelled, but prescriptions for disease were no better than taking a vitamin pill for influenza. This woman had an incurable disorder.
27 after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak.
she…touched His cloak: Grk. himation, a covering for the body, generally referring to clothing or apparel, but in this context it means an outer garment. In the LXX himation rendered the Heb. beged, meaning both the outer garment and the clothes as a whole (DNTT, I, 316). In the Tanakh beged meant garment, clothing, raiment, or robe of any kind, from the filthy clothing of the leper to the holy robes of the High Priest, the simplest covering of the poor as well as the costly raiment of the rich and noble (BDB 94). For Yeshua the beged was a simple rectangular cloak or robe, typically made of wool, that was worn daily. It had no connection to prayer at all. The himation was worn over an undergarment, Grk. chitōn (Matt 5:40). In the LXX chitōn renders Heb. kethoneth, "tunic," the principal ordinary garment made of linen and worn next to the skin by both men and women (BDB 509).
In post-biblical times the outer garment came to be known as a tallit, based on a loanword from Aramaic meaning "cover," but this word does not occur in the Tanakh. Beginning in Talmudic times the tallit for centuries was a full-body cloak similar to the Roman pallium and worn only by distinguished men, scholars and rabbis (Baba Bathra 57b, 98a). The tallit took on religious significance and was not just an item of apparel. The smaller ceremonial tallit (prayer shawl) donned in synagogue services and worn over the shoulders did not come into vogue until modern times. Contrary to some modern Christian teachers Yeshua never wore a tallit of any kind.
28 For she thought, "If I just touch His garments, I will get well."
If I just touch His garments: pl. of Grk. himation. See the previous verse. Matthew's version of the story provides the specific detail of the woman touching "the fringe (Grk. kraspedon, edge, hem or ritual tassel) of His cloak" (Matt 9:20). Observant Jewish men in Yeshua’s time wore tassels or fringes (Heb. tzitziyot, pl. of tzitzit) on the four corners of the tallit, in obedience to the Torah:
"Adonai said to Moshe, Speak to the people of Isra'el, instructing them to make, through all their generations, tzitziyot on the corners of their garments, and to put with the tzitzit on each corner a blue thread. It is to be a tzitzit for you to look at and thereby remember all of ADONAI's mitzvot and obey them, so that you won't go around wherever your own heart and eyes lead you to prostitute yourselves; but it will help you remember and obey all my mitzvot and be holy for your God." (Num 15:37-40 CJB)
"You are to make for yourself twisted cords on the four corners of the garment you wrap around yourself." (Deut 22:12 CJB)
The purpose of tzitziyot was to remind God’s people to obey his commandments. These fringes are made in a special way. Each corner fringe had one thread of blue called tekhelet. Tekhelet, which appears 48 times in the Tanakh - translated by the LXX as huakinthinos, which means hyacinth colored (BAG). The Torah does not prescribe the source of the blue color, but according to the Talmud, the blue dye was produced from a creature referred to as a chilazon, other blue dyes being unacceptable (Tosefta). The four primary criteria for the identifying the chilazon are: (1) The color of its body is like the sea. (2) its form is like a fish. (3) it raises to the surface once in 70 years, its "blood" is used for tekhelet, and therefore (4) it is expensive (Menahoth 44a).
However, Josephus indicates that the blue and purple colors came from flowers (Ant. III, 6:1), but then he says that purple came from a sea shell-fish (Ant. III, 7:7). In any event, only the wealthy and royalty commonly used blue threads in their garments. Tekhelet was also used in garments of the High Priest and for items in the Temple. God commanded that every Israelite male have a thread of tekhelet in the tzitzit, signifying his membership in God's "royal priesthood."
In Numbers 15:38 the command of the Lord states; "Make tzitzit at kanphei (upon the corners) of your garments." Kanaph is the Hebrew word for "corner"; it also can mean "wing." Thus, the healing is an acted out parable of the promise in Malachi 4:2, "But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings [Heb. kanaph]." When the woman touched the fringe, the tzitziyot, of Yeshua's cloak, she touched the Son of Righteousness. She took hold of the symbol of the God of Israel and, without realizing it, she claimed the promise of Malachi.
29 Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Immediately the flow: Grk. pēgē, a liquid-laden source that issues in a gushing manner or stream, usually a "spring" or "fountain." This word is a more graphic description of the physical problem and confirms that the discharge of blood was menstrual connected. of her blood was dried up: Grk. xērainō, to cause a dry non-functioning condition. The blood flow stopped. and she felt in her body: she knew without a shadow of a doubt of the physical change.
that she was healed: Grk. iaomai, to effect a physical cure. The perfect tense of the verb emphasizes that her healing occurred instantaneously upon touching Yeshua's tzitziyot. of her affliction: Grk. mastix, a suffering scourge. This word is normally associated with penal scourging, such as Yeshua endured. The use of mastix illustrates the woman's experience of suffering that at times must have seemed like a punishment from God and yet also identifies her with Yeshua, by whose scourging she was healed (Isa 53:5).
30 Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, "Who touched My garments?"
power proceeding from Him: This is a rather striking description of power being resident in the person of Yeshua. Mark is not describing a partitioned existence as if the power came from the God side. Yeshua was God in human flesh, the two aspects perfectly melded into a whole. Because he was (and is) God, Yeshua had unlimited power. Who touched: The question reflects Hebrew block logic, which accepts paradox simply as reality. Taken too literally the question would imply a limitation of Yeshua's knowledge. However, the question was intended to encourage the woman to make a public admission of what Yeshua had done for her.
31 And His disciples said to Him, "You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, `Who touched Me?' "
And His disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs, one who learns through instruction from a teacher. In the apostolic writings mathētēs corresponds to the Heb. talmid and occurs only in the apostolic narratives. See the note on 2:15 for the expectations of a disciple. You see the crowd: The disciples take Yeshua's question in a literalistic sense. From a strictly human perspective, if Yeshua was being pressed by people all around any number of people could have touched him, even the disciples.
32 And He looked around to see the woman who had done this.
And He looked: This verse confirms that Yeshua knew who had touched him and he quickly searched the faces in the crowd to locate the woman.
33 But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth.
But the woman fearing: Grk. phobeō, aor. pass. part., to be in a state of apprehension. The verb covers a range of emotional concern from anxiety to terror. However, the verb is also used of the appropriate reverence and awe due to an earthly ruler or to God. The aorist tense reflects back to the inner debate implied in verse 28. She could have been plagued with a myriad of questions that would fuel doubt and fear of attempting such a bold move. Now she had been "caught" and a new fear arose over not knowing what Yeshua would do.
and trembling: Grk. tremō, pres. act. part., to quiver, quake, or tremble. The physical agitation of her body reflected the trembling of her heart. In the circumstances the woman had good reason to be afraid. She violated two sacrosanct rules: she touched a man not her husband in a public place and she touched him in an unclean condition. Thus, she was afraid to answer Yeshua’s question, “Who touched my clothes?” Normally the impure defiles the pure (see Haggai 2:11–13; also the Talmud, Taharot). But, in this case, the opposite happened: the purity of Yeshua remained uncompromised, while instead the woman’s impurity was instantly removed.
the whole truth: The woman demonstrated humility in obeying Yeshua's summons and by kneeling before him she cast herself on his mercy. From a modern perspective we may be shocked that she would publicly reveal her shame, but in ancient culture people did not avoid speaking of bodily functions.
34 And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction."
Yeshua responds to her with affection and care. The address of daughter is probably a shortened form of "daughter of Abraham," which Yeshua used to refer to a woman whom he had healed of an eighteen year long malady (Luke 13:16). The address follows directly with a mention of her faith, which in both Greek and Hebrew has elements of both trust and faithfulness. In other words, like Abraham, she lived a life of faithfulness to God, in spite of her physical condition. The translation be (Grk. oida, pres. imp. verb, to know) healed (Grk. hugigēs, adj., well-being, well or whole) misses the intent of the message.
Yeshua tells her "know that you are whole." (The KJV preserves this sense with "be whole.") The physical had been taken care of. Now Yeshua urges the woman to trust God for emotional healing, as well. The long night of suffering is over. In fact, if she was a young woman her fertility would have been restored and with it her peace, her shalom. She would be able to enjoy normal relations with a husband and have children. It's noteworthy that Yeshua does not tell her to go make the prescribed offering at the temple as he told the leper whom he had cleansed (1:44).
35 While He was still speaking, they came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, "Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?" 36 But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, "Do not be afraid any longer, only believe."
Before Yeshua finished his conversation with the woman messengers arrived to inform the synagogue ruler that his daughter had died. Do not be afraid: Grk. phobeō, pres. mid. part. See the note on verse 33. The present tense combined with the negative particle means to stop an action in progress. only believe: Grk. pisteuō, pres. act. imp., in general Greek usage, means to have confidence or faith in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone. See the note on 1:15. In the Hebrew concept trust and faithfulness are inseparable. If one trusts, then one is faithful. The present tense imperative indicates not only something commanded, but something that continues once begun. Yeshua attempts to reassure the official. When he commanded, "only believe" he probably implied "like the woman I just healed." The woman probably never realized that she was not just healed for her own sake, but also to inspire a synagogue leader.
37 And He allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the synagogue official; and He saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing. 39 And entering in, He said to them, "Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep." 40 They began laughing at Him. But putting them all out, He took along the child's father and mother and His own companions, and entered the room where the child was.
One salient point is generally ignored by commentators. Everyone assumes, along with those in the house of the ruler, that the girl was dead. From the standpoint of the mourners, entering the room of an unburied dead person risked making Yeshua impure. The Torah prescribed that contact with a corpse made one unclean for seven days. Cleanness was restored by washing with water on the third and seventh days (Num 19:11-12). In order to forestall any claim of impurity, Yeshua stated unequivocally, "she has not died, but is asleep," probably meaning she was in a coma. If the girl was dead, then Yeshua lied. There is no way to finesse the facts. Either the crowd was right or Yeshua was right. Who will you believe?
41 Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, "Talitha kum!" (which translated means, "Little girl, I say to you, get up!").
Taking the child by the hand: The synagogue ruler had initially requested that Yeshua lay hands on his daughter to heal her (verse 23). So now Yeshua proceeds with carrying out the father's wish. He said to her: This statement assumed Yeshua believed the girl could hear him. Indeed, it is well known that people in comas do hear what goes on around them.
Talitha kum: Mark reports Yeshua's actual words and then translates them into Greek without identifying the source language, although presumptively it would be his and Peter's native language of Hebrew. Commentators typically say the phrase is Aramaic and many scholars still contend that Aramaic was the common language of conversation and teaching in first century Israel in spite of the evidence of the Mishnah, the Bar Kokhba letters, and the Dead Sea Scrolls to the contrary. Stern, while identifying the phrase as Aramaic does acknowledge that "Though Aramaic and Greek were the international languages in use in the Middle East in the first century, Hebrew was a common household language among Jews at that time."
On this subject Professor David Flusser, an Orthodox Jewish scholar in Jerusalem, wrote:
“The spoken languages among the Jews of that period were Hebrew, Aramaic, and to an extent Greek. Until recently, it was believed by numerous scholars that the language spoken by Jesus’ disciples was Aramaic. It is possible that Jesus did, from time to time, make use of the Aramaic language. But during that period Hebrew was both the daily language and the language of study.” (Jewish Sources in Early Christianity, Adama Books, 1987; p. 11)
Douglas Hamp in his book Discovering the Language of Jesus offers cogent arguments that talitha kum is Hebrew (59-60).
· Talitha: The root word, taleh, used in the Hebrew of 1 Samuel 7:9, Isaiah 40:11 (here it is telah, a variant of the same word), and Isaiah 65:25 referring to a lamb. While this word was not the most common way of saying lamb in the Bible, by the time of Yeshua the word taleh had become quite common and is attested at least one hundred times in the works of the Mishnah, Tosefta (a supplement to the Mishnah), and Jerusalem Talmud, which, of course, are in Hebrew. The Heb. form tali is also attested as meaning either a (male) lamb or little boy. Talitha, the feminine counterpart, is also found a total of 299 times in the same texts with the same meanings of lamb or girl – exactly what Yeshua said!
· Kum: The translation of "kum" is based on the Nestle Text. The Textus Receptus and the Byzantine Majority Text contain koumi (as rendered in the KJV). Of interest is that Jerome's Vulgate has kumi. The word kumi is a very common Hebrew word and is the standard Hebrew feminine imperative (command) for “rise, get up.” The actual form of the word kumi is used sixteen times while the root, kum, is used numerous times throughout the Tanakh. As indicated for talitha, Jerome in his letter identifies kumi as Hebrew.
Jerome, author of the Latin Vulgate (405 AD), understood that Yeshua spoke Hebrew, as he says: “We read in Mark of the Lord saying Talitha kumi and it is immediately added ‘which is interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.’ … the Hebrew is … ‘Damsel arise’” (Jerome, Letter LVII.7, To Pammachius on the Best Method of Translating).
The phrase talitha kum can be Aramaic (in the sense of being loan words), but there is no reason not to accept it as Hebrew.
42 Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded.
Immediately the girl got up: The girl heard and obeyed. The malady was instantly cured. she was twelve: Mark reports the age of the girl, twelve, which in Jewish culture made her an adult. This is an interesting detail since the woman with the blood disorder had suffered twelve years. The woman's ailment began the same year this girl was born and they were both healed on the same day.
43 And He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this, and He said that something should be given her to eat.
no one should know: Yeshua issues a gag order, which seems pointless in the circumstances. (For the supposed Messianic Secret see the note on 1:34.) Too many people knew of the healing and would naturally tell the story. Yeshua may have felt that people would make more of the incident than warranted, since he had plainly said that the girl hadn't died. Then he gave what seems like unnecessary instruction to feed the girl, but perhaps there was so much celebrating that the girl's needs were being ignored.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Barker: William P. Barker, Everyone In the Bible. Fleming H. Revell Co., 1966.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. London: Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online at BibleHub.com.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols. Colin Brown, ed. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.
Edersheim: Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah(1883). New Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993. Also online.
Edersheim-Sketches: Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), Sketches of Jewish Social Life (1876). New Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1994. Also online.
Edersheim-Temple: Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), The Temple: It's Ministry and Services (1874). New Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1994. Also online.
Fisher: Anthony J. Fisher (d. 2000), Greek New Testament [NA26]. University of York, nd.
Flusser: David Flusser, The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus' Genius. 4th ed. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2007.
GNT: The Greek New Testament, eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, & Allen Wiegren. American Bible Society, 1966. [NA25]
Gruber-Akiva: Daniel Gruber, Rabbi Akiva's Messiah: The Origins of Rabbinic Authority. Elijah Publishing, 1999.
ISBE: International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Ed. James Orr. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1939. Website HTML, 2011. Online.
JANT: Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Jeremias: Joichim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Fortress Press, 1975.
Josephus: Flavius Josephus (Yosef ben Matityahu; c. 75-99 A.D.), Wars of the Jews. trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
Kasdan: Barney Kasdan, Matthew Presents Yeshua, King Messiah: A Messianic Commentary. Lederer Books, 2011.
Lane: William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1974. (NICNT)
Leman: Derek Leman, A New Look at the Old Testament. Mt. Olive Press, 2006.
Metzger: Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. German Bible Society, 1994.
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
NIBD: Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible. Herbert Lockyer, ed. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Vol. 1. Zondervan Pub. House, 1980.
Robertson: Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 6 Vols. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1933. (Parsons CD-ROM Version 2.0, 1997) Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
TWOT: R. Laird Harris, ed., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. 2 vols. Moody Press, 1980.
Wessel: Walter W. Wessel, Mark. Vol. 8, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
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