Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 12 September 2012; Revised 30 October 2017
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found here. Unless otherwise indicated Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB Updated Edition (1995). Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. Click here for Talmud Abbreviations. 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.
Grammar: 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.
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.
Kingdom on Trial
Date: Nisan 13, A.D. 30 (Wednesday)
Parallel Passages: Matthew 26:2-5; Luke 22:1-2
1 Now the Passover and Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth and kill Him,
Now: Grk. de, conj., used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also" (BAG). The second usage is intended here. the Passover: Grk. pascha, the Passover. In the LXX pascha renders Heb. pesakh (derived from a verb pasach meaning to pass or spring over, BDB 820). The term is used in Scripture, both the Tanakh and Besekh, to refer to (1) the Israelite festival, Nisan 14-21, celebrating liberation from Egypt; (2) the young sheep slaughtered on Nisan 14 to begin the celebration; (3) the special communion-meal at sunset Nisan 14 (Lev 23:5), which is the beginning of Nisan 15; and (4) the festival sacrifices (Heb. chagigah) of lambs and bulls on Nisan 15-21 (cf. Num 28:16-25; Deut 16:1-3; 2 Chron 30:24; 35:8-9).
Instructions for observing Passover may be found in the Mishnah Tractate Pesachim and the instructions for festival sacrifices are in Tractate Hagigah. The Passover has been celebrated by Jews since God commanded the observance and gave instructions to Moses (Ex 12:1—13:16). The first Passover was the means of deliverance from a plague of death on the firstborn. Thereafter, Passover would celebrate God's great work of redemption (Ex 23:14-15; Lev 23:4-8; Num 28:16-25; Deut 16:1-8). The Passover deliverance made salvation distinctly national in scope and truly set Israel apart as a special people. Slaves and resident aliens (Gentiles) were allowed to share the meal as long as they were circumcised (Ex 12:48). This simple provision demonstrated that God's plan of salvation for Gentiles has always been based on inclusion in Israel (cf. Eph 2:11-13).
God expressly commanded the Israelites to celebrate the feast of Passover annually in perpetuity, that is, forever (Ex 12:14). Failing to observe Passover would be a sin (Num 9:13). Josephus summarized the schedule and reason for the continued observance:
"In the month of Xanthicus, which is by us called Nisan, and is the beginning of our year, on the fourteenth day of the lunar month, when the sun is in Aries, (for in this month it was that we were delivered from bondage under the Egyptians,) the law ordained that we should every year slay that sacrifice which I before told you we slew when we came out of Egypt, and which was called the Passover" (Ant. III, 10:5).
With the instructions for the first Passover God also gave direction for future observance of Passover (Ex 12:24-27; 13:1-16; 23:15; Num 9:1-14; Lev 23:5-8; Deut 16:1-8). The Israelites would eat the same meal as the first Passover (Num 9:5) and the only work allowed during this period was the preparation of food.
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. See my note on the significance of conjunctions in the Besekh.
Unleavened Bread: pl. of Grk. azumos (adj. of azuma, which occurs in the LXX), specifically means bread made without fermentation and free of leaven. The plural noun emphasizes the multiple days in which unleavened bread was consumed. Many versions insert the word "feast" into this verse, whether before "Passover" or "Unleavened Bread." The word does not occur in the Greek text, although implied. The CEV inexplicably calls it the "Festival of Thin Bread," which sounds like mockery. The word "festival" does occur in the next verse to indicate the unity of these events.
Since sheep were slaughtered and all leaven removed from dwellings on Nisan 14 in preparation for the Passover meal (Ex 12:15; Deut 16:4) and only unleavened bread was served at the Passover meal, Passover began the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Heb. Hag Matzah), which lasted seven days to Nisan 21 (Num 28:17). By the apostolic era the term "Passover" had come to mean the entire eight day festival (Josephus, Ant. II, 15:1; Wars II, 1:3; BAG 639). In fact, Luke emphasizes this very point in the beginning of his parallel narrative, "Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover" (Luke 22:1). This unity can be seen as early as the celebration of Passover in the time of King Josiah when offerings for the eight-day festival included both lambs, goats and bulls (2Chr 35:7-9). The single character of the festival can be seen, too, in the Tractate Hagigah, which has repeated references to the "first festival day of Passover" (Nisan 15), the "remaining days of Passover," and "the seventh day of Passover."
were: Grk. eimi, impf., to be, which may be rendered as "is, was, or will be" depending on the tense and context. Rienecker suggests "was about to be." While the aorist tense tells a simple story the imperfect tense is like a 'moving picture show' (DM 186). Pointing to continuous action in past time the imperfect tense at this point of the narrative anticipates the nearness and drama of the important events on God's annual calendar and the redemptive calendar. two days: pl. of Grk. hēmera, which normally refers to the daylight hours, but also to the timeframe within which something takes place.
away: Grk. meta, prep. with a root meaning of "in the midst of" (DM 107), but when used in a time reference connected to a noun ("two days") in the accusative case, as here, means "after." The preposition actually precedes the time reference and the phrase "after two days" follows the mention of the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread in the Greek text. A few versions begin the verse with "After two days" (ASV, ERV, KJV, HCSB, NKJV). Mark has used the phrase "after three days" in 8:31; 9:31 and 10:34 pertaining to the resurrection. "After two days" puts the reader very close to the fulfillment of Yeshua's prophecy. Luke offers no specific timeframe (Luke 22:1) and merely mentions the feast as "approaching" (Grk. eggizō, impf. tense). Lane makes the inexplicable comment that "after two days" has no necessary chronological link with the preceding sections in Mark (489).
and the chief priests: pl. of Grk. archiereus (from archē, "chief, pre-eminent one" and hiereus, "a priest"), a high or chief priest, i.e., a leader among priests. The plural noun would include retired high priests and active holders of the priestly offices of higher rank in the Temple, altogether some fifteen to twenty persons. The retired high priests were Annas, Ishmael ben Phiabi, Eleazar and Simon ben Kamithos (Lane 531f). From Luke's narrative (Acts 4:1; 5:17) and Josephus (Ant. XX, 9:1) we know that the chief priests were generally Sadducees and together as a group formed the legal and administrative authority in the Temple. Many of the serving chief priests were ex–officio members of the Sanhedrin (Jeremias 179, 197, 230).
The active chief priests held a variety of administrative posts and as a group wielded considerable power in the city. Jeremias made the following list of working chief priests based on rabbinical sources (160):
● The ruling high priest
● The deputy high priest.
● The director of the weekly division of ordinary priests.
● The director of the daily shift.
● Seven temple overseers.
● Three or more temple treasurers.
A corresponding list of ranks is found in the War Scroll (1QM 2:1ff) of the DSS (TDSS 149). The DSS list has the high priest, his deputy, twelve chief priests, and the directors of the priests' weekly courses; twelve chief Levites, and the directors of the weekly Levitical courses.
and the scribes: pl. of Grk. grammateus refers to a specialist in legal matters. In the LXX grammateus renders two Hebrew words, shotêr and more frequently sophêr (DNTT 3:477f). The word shotêr (SH-7860, official; officer, BDB 1009) is initially used of men chosen to be part of the seventy elders (Num 11:16), and then later of other officials (Deut 20:5; 1Chr 23:4). The word sophêr (SH-5608, secretary, scribe, BDB 708) was used for the secretary to a ruler, a prophet or a military officer (2Sam 8:17; Jer 36:4, 18, 32; 37:15), as well as one skilled in Torah laws (Ezra 7:6; Neh 8:1). In the Besekh the term always has its Jewish meaning of one learned in Torah. Scribes were clearly influential. For more information on the scribes see my commentary on Mark 1:22. Jeremias says that the Pharisaic party in the Sanhedrin was composed entirely of scribes (cf. Matt 21:45; Luke 20:19) (236). The mention of the "chief priests" and the "scribes" together indicate a close association, whether in the Temple organization or the Sanhedrin or both.
were seeking how to seize: Grk. krateō, aor. part., have a firm hold of, to hold fast to. him by stealth: Grk. dolos, cunning that relies on deception for effectiveness, craftiness or deceit. and kill Him: Grk. apokteinō, aor. subj., to murder someone or to end someone's life by force. For a long time the religious authorities had been looking for a way to get rid of Yeshua (cf. 3:6; 11:18; 12:12). Now they renewed and intensified their efforts. Mark describes conspiracy to do legal murder, as Stephen later charged the Sanhedrin (Acts 7:52). Regardless of their intent as to not violating the festival, they were still willing to act if the opportunity presented itself. If they could grab him, he could be thrown in a pit and left until they were ready to legally deal with him. According to Matthew 26:3 the conspirators gathered at the house of Caiaphas, the high priest.
John 11:49-50 reports a parallel, but earlier meeting, in which Caiaphas presented a patriotic speech and rationalized Yeshua's execution as a substitutionary death so the nation would not perish. While his argument was so much political flummery to make an act of wickedness sound like righteousness, he unknowingly swerved into an important truth. These independent accounts confirm that Caiaphas was the chief instigator of the plot against Yeshua (Lane 490). Some scholars interpret the report of John 11:57 to mean that a warrant for Yeshua's arrest had been issued and that Yeshua had been officially condemned as apostate (Lane 499).
The apostolic narratives do not support such a supposition, since the only official condemnation occurs at the trial of Yeshua. An official seizure warrant issued by the Sanhedrin could not have been suppressed from public knowledge. Moreover, after the healing of Lazarus and the conspiratorial meeting of Caiaphas and the chief priests, Yeshua continued on with ministry for some days (John 11:54). The teaching and healings recorded in Luke 17-19 occurred after the healing of Lazarus. Yeshua finally arrived back in the area six days before Passover (John 12:1) and the meeting referred to by Mark occurred two days before Passover. So, John's report in 11:57 simply describes the unofficial plot of the chief priests and some Pharisees (ostensibly members of the Sanhedrin) to seize Yeshua when the opportunity presented itself.
2 for they were saying, "Not during the festival, otherwise there might be a riot of the people."
for they were saying: Grk. legō, impf., to make a statement or utterance. The third person plural verb, which serves to introduce the quoted material, implies a general agreement of the conspirators, but could just as easily reflect a moderating voice. Not during the feast: Grk. heortē, a religious festival and in the Besekh always of a joyous gathering of the Jewish people for celebrations of the calendar prescribed in the Torah, generally with a focus on sacrifices and communal eating. (See my web article God's Appointed Times.) The word occurs 25 times in the Besekh and in the Synoptic Narratives only of Passover. In the LXX heortē renders Heb. chag, feast, festival-gathering, pilgrim feast or festival sacrifice of Israel (BDB 290).
The phrase "not during the feast" would seem to imply the entire eight days of the Passover-Unleavened Bread festival, Nisan 14-21, unless they specifically meant Nisan 14 when the lambs for the Seder were being slaughtered. On the face of it the hesitation over executing Yeshua during the festival seems strange. The Torah presents no such hurdles for the trial of a capital offense against God (cf. Ex 21:14; Deut 13:12-15; 17:12-13). Stoning was the prescribed punishment for false prophets (Deut 13:10) and blasphemy (Lev 24:16). Stoning was to be done publicly "outside the camp" (Num 15:35) by all the congregation. As a result of upholding God's Law in this manner the rest of the people of Israel would hear of it and fear the Lord (Deut 13:11; 17:13; 21:21). Early rabbinic exegesis took the Torah commands to mean that such an offender should be punished on one of the pilgrimage feasts (Tos. San. 11:7; cited by Lane 529f).
otherwise: Grk. mēpote, conj. used to express negative purpose, "lest." there might be a riot: Grk. thorubos, noisy disruptive activity, uproar, clamor or tumult. of the people: Grk. laos, a group of humans, often viewed in contrast with the ruling class. The malevolence of the chief priests flies in the face of Yeshua's immense popularity. What needs explaining is why they crucified Yeshua when they did. They could have simply waited until the festival had concluded. Robertson, who accepts that this day is Tuesday and not Wednesday, observes,
"They had first planned to kill him at the feast (John 11:57), but the Triumphal Entry and great Tuesday debate (this very morning) in the temple had made them decide to wait till after the feast was over. It was plain that Jesus had too large and powerful a following." [NOTE: The conspiracy could well have happened Tuesday evening, Wednesday by Jewish reckoning, prompted by the great debates that took place Tuesday morning.]
Wessel notes the great throngs of people would have hindered the religious leaders from carrying out their conspiracy. He underestimates the festival population at fifty thousand, which is close to the estimate of the normal population of Jerusalem (Jeremias 83). Jeremias, after careful analysis of the dimensions of the city and ancient records, concludes the number of pilgrims was about 125,000 (ibid.). Josephus gives a census estimate of 2,700,200 during the reign of Caesar Nero based on the numbers of sheep sacrificed (Wars VI, 9:3). The sheer number of people in the city would make arresting Yeshua anytime before the Passover evening meal impossible. (This one fact negates the theory that Yeshua was crucified on Nisan 14.) Many thousands of those people had benefited from Yeshua's ministry, and to take a popular Rabbi who had taught multitudes, healed countless numbers and fed thousands would certainly result in not only riot, but possibly civil war.
The greatest potential for riot, then, would have been on Nisan 14, so "not during the feast" probably pertains to that day, since they didn't turn down the opportunity to arrest Yeshua when it was handed to them. Another reason that Nisan 14 was intended may be deduced from a first century document called Megillat Ta'anit (Scroll of Fasts), which gives specific guidance on certain calendar observances. The scroll enumerates 35 eventful days on which the Jewish nation either performed glorious deeds or witnessed joyful events. These days were celebrated as feast-days. Public mourning was forbidden on 14 of them, and public fasting on all. Paragraph 2:2 says, "On the 14th thereof (was slaughtered) the Minor Passover, on which it is forbidden to mourn." The crucifixion of Yeshua on Nisan 14 would have caused great mourning among the populace, which would have inevitably lead to riot.
Anointing for Burial
Parallel Passages: Matthew 26:6-13; John 12:1-8
3 While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head.
While He was: Grk. eimi, pres. part., a function verb normally used to connect a subject with a predicate like the English verb "to be." Whereas the English is precise when used in present or past tense, Greek has more flexibility. In Greek the present tense can have a variety of meanings. A present tense verb may indicate action in progress, habitual practice, or action at successive intervals. However, sometimes the present tense is used to indicate an event now occurring, an anticipated future event, or a past event with vividness (DM 184f). The parallel in Matthew 26:6 does not begin with eimi, but uses ginomai (aor. mid. part., "came to be"), which treats the event as past.
in Bethany: Grk. Bēthania, which transliterates Heb. Beit-Anyah ("house of the poor"), a city located on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives about two miles southeast of Jerusalem, well known as the home of Miriam, Martha and Lazarus. at the home of Simon: Grk. Simōn, which attempts to transliterate the Hebrew name Shim'on (shee-mown, "he has heard"). the leper: Grk. lepros (Heb. tzara) refers to one afflicted with the skin disorder called tzara'at. The term does not refer to Hansen's Disease, as commonly assumed. According to medical experts tzara'at might be psoriasis, favus or leucoderma (G.J. Wenham, The Book of Leviticus, 1979; p. 196), which rendered a person unclean (Lev 13:45). Simon was obviously not afflicted with the disease at this point or he couldn't have hosted a dinner. He had probably been healed by Yeshua (cf. 1:40-45). Nevertheless calling him "the man who had tzara'at" (CJB) distinguishes him from Simon Peter. See my Drash on Leviticus 13:6-7.
and reclining at the table: Grk. katakeimai, pres. mid. part., to be in a reclining posture, whether being ill in bed or as a diner. The verb is formed from keimai ("to lie, recline") and the preposition kata ("down"), which in composition may express lining up with something else in terms of manner, direction or position. In the LXX katakeimai renders Heb. shakab (SH-7901), to lie or recline (1Kgs 1:2; Prov 6:9; 23:34), although none of these relate to eating. In the Besekh the verb occurs 12 times with only two uses: lying due to sickness (Mark 1:30; 2:4; Luke 5:25; John 5:3, 6; Acts 9:33; 28:8) and reclining at table for eating (Mark 2:15; Luke 5:29; 7:37; 1Cor 8:10). In the latter circumstance the verb is idiomatic of "dining," but does refer to physical posture. BAG defines the verb in this context as reclining on a couch at table.
there came: Grk. erchomai, aor. tense, to arrive, with implication of a position from which movement takes place. The verb implies that the coming originated from outside the house. a woman: Grk. gunē (corresponding to Heb. ishshah), an adult female person, without respect to age or social status except as defined in the context. There is no mention of a husband or any other identifying information. However, given the parallel passage in John 12, the woman was most likely Miriam, sister of Lazarus. with an alabaster vial: Grk. alabastron, an alabaster vase or container. BAG describes the vial as a vessel with a rather long neck which was broken off when the contents were used.
of very costly: Grk. polutelēs, commanding a high price, very costly. The value likely pertained to the entire container. perfume: Grk. muron, a fragrant ointment. of pure: Grk. pistikos, an adj. expressing quality or possibly derived from the name of a plant. The word emphasizes the genuine or high quality character of the ointment. nard: Grk. nardos, aromatic oil derived from the roots of the herb nardostachys jatamansi (HBD), "spikenard" in the KJV. Solomon praised the fragrance of nard in his soliloquy on romantic love (SS 1:12; 4:13-14). Nard was imported from India (BAG). Once purchased the precious ointment was stored and used only for special occasions (NIBD). and she broke: Grk. suntribō, to alter the condition of something through force, to break. The act of breaking the vial emphasizes the extravagance of the She was not going to save any of it for another occasion.
the vial and poured it over: Grk. katacheō, to pour out or down, i.e., over something. His head: Grk. kephalē, head as an anatomical term. In the ancient Middle East it was considered hospitable to welcome guests by offering them anointing oil or perfume. In the days of minimal bathing and much travel in dusty areas, the practice could be viewed as an obligation rather than a luxury (Kasdan 331). The woman's action greatly exceeded custom. Anointing with oil for bodily care might be of the head (Matt 6:17; Luke 7:46) or feet (John 11:2; 12:3). The only occasion for anointing the head in the Tanakh was ordaining a priest (Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12) or crowning a king (1Sam 10:1; 16:13; 1Kgs 1:39; 2Kgs 9:3; Ps 23:5), and because of this ritual act the recipient was known as the "Anointed One" (Heb. ha-Mashiach).
4 But some were indignantly remarking to one another, "Why has this perfume been wasted?
But some: pl. of Grk. tis, an indefinite pronoun used in narrative to indicate non-specification. Mark indicates that only a small number had a negative reaction. Matthew identifies the "some" as disciples (26:8). John identifies Judas Iscariot, the treasurer of the Twelve, as the instigator (12:4-5). were indignantly remarking: Grk. aganakteō, pres. part., to be upset about something that violates one's sense of propriety, to be vexed or annoyed. Danker and BAG agree that the verb can also mean to be indignant, which all Bible versions apply in this one instance, except the NCV which softens the verb with "became upset." to: Grk. pros, prep., toward, before or facing. one another: pl. of Grk. eautou, a reciprocal pronoun, 'each other' or 'one another.' The point of the prepositional phrase is that the few dissenters were murmuring among themselves like a clique.
Why has this perfume: Grk. muron. See the previous verse. been wasted: Grk. apōleia, destruction, ruin or waste. The question might have been directed at the destruction of the vial, which of course resulted in the full use of the contents, a waste in their view. The word "wasted" is not a verb, and the NASB omits translating the actual verb, ginomai, perf. tense, to become or come into being. The Greek question is lit. "Why has this waste of the ointment occurred?"
5 "For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor." And they were scolding her.
For this perfume: Grk. muron. See verse 3. might: Grk. dunamai, impf. mid., to be capable for doing or achieving. have been sold: Grk. pipraskō, aor. pass. inf., to sell, as in a commercial transaction. for over three hundred denarii: pl. of Grk. dēnarion, a Roman silver coin, about 4.55 grains. A denarius was a menial laborer's average daily wage. The amount suggested would be equivalent of a year's wages. and the money given: Grk. didōmi, aor. pass. inf., to give, here in the sense of a donation. to the poor: pl. of Grk. ptōchos, in a needy condition that is the opposite of having much, usually of someone in a relatively indigent state. This part of the verse could actually be a continuation of the question asked in verse 4.
And they were scolding: Grk. embrimaomai, impf. mid., to utter something agitatedly, to address vehemently, to scold. her: These guests had the audacity to actually confront Miriam, a close friend of Yeshua. The question in verse 4 and 5a is highly judgmental. The critics had no right to judge someone for the use of their own property. As the owner of the vineyard in Matthew 20:15 says, "Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own?" This is the height of rudeness. Wessel notes that this treatment of Miriam is all the more surprising since they had often enjoyed the generous hospitality of Miriam, her sister, Martha, and her brother, Lazarus, while in Bethany.
6 But Jesus said, "Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me.
But: Grk. de is a conjunction that generally indicates either a slight contrast or a transition in presentation of subject matter. In this context de means "But, rather, in contrast, on the contrary," implying that what follows is different from and contrasts sharply with the preceding thought. Jesus: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of Yeshua ("salvation"), 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.
Let her alone: Grk. aphiēmi, aor. imp., to release or let go. The command is lit. "leave her." The aorist tense has the tone of "now." The command is much sharper than the NASB indicates. He's not saying "please stop bothering her and be nice," but "get away from her now, you idiots." Perhaps this was a lesson that Peter drew on when he advised husbands, "live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered" (1Pet 3:7).
why do you bother her: The Greek text says "Why do you cause her troubles?" "Cause" is Grk. parechō, pres., to cause something to be present for the other. "Troubles" is Grk. kopos, experience of distress, trouble or harassment. Again, the translation diminishes the force of the question. Yeshua could see that these judgmental superior-minded males were hurting Mary's feelings. Through thoughtless words these men were on the verge of destroying a precious relationship with this family. The rhetorical question calls for self-examination as "why" questions posed by God in Scripture generally do. Why get so upset over something that is none of their business?
She has done: Grk. ergazomai, aor. mid., to carry out an activity with either a focus on the effort or on the result. Both aspects of the verb may apply here. a good: Grk. kalos, meeting a high standard, fine or good. deed: Grk. ergon, a deed or action. to Me: lit. "in me." Yeshua is not simply saying that Miriam did something good for his body, but that her action impacted him on an emotional level. Mary's extravagance was like that of the widow who gave her all in the temple offering (12:42-44) and the women who financially supported Yeshua out of their own private means (Luke 8:2-3).
7 "For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me.
For you always have the poor: pl. of Grk. ptōchos. See verse 5. with you: Yeshua does not restrict the "poor" to relatives. Being "with" them meant the poor were everywhere in the land. and whenever you wish: Grk. thelō, pres. subj., to have a desire for something. There was plenty of opportunity to care for the poor. you can do good to them: Grk. eu, good with the connotation of being serviceable. Yeshua does not use the word kalos as he described Mary's act, but a word that simply focuses on practicality. Normal charity does not have great theological import as Mary's good work. Yeshua alludes to the Torah saying, "For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land" (Deut 15:11).
The Torah specifically required tithes to be brought for the care of widows and orphans (Deut 14:28-29) and communal meals of the festivals were to be extended to them (Deut 16:14; cf. Luke 14:13, 21). Yeshua himself demonstrated care of the poor by directing the rich young ruler to sell his possessions and give to the poor (10:21). He assumed his disciples would give to the poor and gave instruction on how charity should be conducted (Matt 6:2-4). As far as can be known the apostles all came from the middle class, but Yeshua would have no doubt have qualified as poor since he had no property of his own (Matt 8:20). but you do not always have Me: Yeshua gives yet another ominous warning that he is going to die, which anticipates the rest of his reply given in the next verse.
8 "She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial.
She has done: Grk. poieō, to be active in bringing about a state or condition. The verb often is used in the sense of carrying out an obligation or responsibility or bestowing a benefit. what she could: Grk. echō, to have or possess, referring to something under one's control or at one's disposal. The Greek phrase is lit. "what she had she did" (Marshall). In other words, if Miriam had had more she would have given it. She apparently felt this was a gift she owed Yeshua for what he meant to her. she has anointed: Grk. murizō, aor. inf., to anoint the body with oil, whether for ritual purposes, for healing or for hygiene. See the note on verse 3 for the significance of anointing the head.
My body: Grk. sōma, body, normally of a living body in Grk. literature. While Greek dualism distinguished between the soul and the body, in Hebraic thought the body represents the whole man. Even though the text says that only Yeshua's head received the oil, the head stands for the whole body. beforehand: Grk. prolambanō, to take beforehand. While not translated as such, the word is a verb (lit. "she was beforehand") that occurs immediately after the opening phrase in the Greek text. for the burial: Grk. entaphiasmos, preparation of a corpse for burial or simply burial. Yeshua was as good as dead since he had been destined from the foundation of the world to be a sin offering (1Pet 1:19-20; Rev 13:8). This saying with the previous verse functions as a synthetic parallelism, both repeating and completing the point.
Wessel suggests that while Miriam may not have been aware of the symbolic significance of her anointing, it's possible that she had a greater sensitivity to what was about to happen to Yeshua than the Twelve did. Perhaps, Wessel concludes, that by this means she wanted to do for Yeshua what she knew would ordinarily not be done for one who would die the death of a criminal. This argument lacks credibility since after his execution as a criminal Yeshua received a proper Jewish burial with his body treated with spices and wrapped in linen, and then placed in a new tomb (Matt 27:59-60; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:50-53; John 19:40-42). While it would be easy to credit Miriam with more spiritual sensitivity than the Twelve (after all, she gave and they criticized), there's no evidence that she had heard Yeshua on the few occasions when he prophesied his death and even if she had she would likely have been just as incredulous as the Twelve at the prospect of Yeshua being executed. The words of Yeshua spoken here were directed at the criticizing disciples, not to Miriam.
9 "Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her."
Truly: Grk. amēn, which means "so let it be" or "truly." Amēn transliterates the Heb. 'amen (ah-mayn), which means "it is true, so be it, or may it become true." I say to you: In Hebrew 'amen points to something previously said, but Yeshua often uses the term in conjunction with the present tense of "I am saying" to emphasize that what he is about to say is of supreme importance.
wherever the gospel: Grk. euaggelion originally meant a reward for good news and then simply good news. In the LXX euaggelion renders besorah, which may mean either a reward for good news (2Sam 4:10) or glad tidings (2Sam 18:20, 22).The good news is the same message the angel Gabriel gave to Zechariah (Luke 1:13-17), to Miriam (Luke 1:30-33), to Joseph (Matt 1:20-21) and then to the shepherds (Luke 2:10-11). This is the same message that Zacharias declared to his fellow Jews (Luke 1:68-75) and Simeon to Yeshua's parents (Luke 2:29-32), all of which reflected the Jewish hopes and expectations of a redeemer and deliverer. At the beginning of his ministry Yeshua proclaimed the fulfillment of these announcements as personified in himself. See the note on 1:1.
is preached: Grk. kērussō, aor. pass. subj., to make a public announcement in the manner of a herald. The verb refers to the proclamation of the content of the good news by an authorized representative of Yeshua. in: Grk. eis, lit. "into." The preposition emphasizes movement to areas beyond the point of origin. in the whole: Grk. olos, an adj. denoting a complete unit and necessarily every individual part. world: Grk. kosmos has a variety of uses in the apostolic writings, including (1) the planet upon which mankind lives; (2) mankind; (3) the world and everything in it as that which opposes God and is ruined and depraved of character (BAG). The "world" in this context likely refers to those areas outside Israel. The statement serves as a prophecy of the commission that would be later given to the apostles to go into all the world with the good news.
what this woman has done will be spoken: Grk. laleō, fut. pass., to make a sound or a statement. The verb foretells the story being retold and discussed, no doubt as a result of Yeshua's anticipation of the story being included in the apostolic narratives. of in memory: Grk. mnemosunon, something that promotes awareness under the aspect of recollection, a memorial. of her: Miriam is thus to be remembered for her extravagant generosity.
Additional Note: Each of the apostolic narratives has a story of Yeshua being anointed by a woman with a fragrant oil. Mark, Matthew (26:6-13) and John (11:2; 12:1-8) report the same incident with only minor differences in details. The story in Luke 7:36-50 occurs early in Yeshua's ministry and is very different in setting and theme. Mark inserts this story as an interlude between verse 2 and verse 10, which resumes the conspiracy plot theme. For more analysis that seeks to harmonize the accounts see my article: The Anointing of Yeshua.
Conspiracy for Betrayal
Parallel Passages: Matthew 26:14-16; Luke 22:3-6
10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them.
Then Judas: Grk. Ioudas, a transliteration of Heb. Y'hudah ("Judah") meaning "praise YHVH." The proper name Judas was very common in the time of Yeshua because it was not only the Greek form of one of the twelve patriarchs, but it was also made popular by the Jewish hero Judas Maccabaeus who led the nation in their fight for independence from Syria in 166 BC. The Besekh mentions seven men named Judas. Iscariot: Grk. Iskariōth is probably not a surname but a rendering into Greek of Hebrew ish-K'riot, "a man of K'riot," a town some twenty miles south of Jerusalem (Stern 38).
who was one of the twelve: The disciples to whom Yeshua gave specific authority to represent him are often referred to as the Twelve, occurring ten times in Mark, marking it as a favorite expression of Mark. Judas is specifically identified as one of the Twelve three times in this chapter (also verse 20 and 43). Such repetition reminds the reader that out of the hundreds of disciples that Yeshua had throughout the Land, the Twelve were Yeshua's special emissaries and of that select number one was a traitor. went off to the chief priests: pl. of Grk. archiereus. See the note on verse 1.
in order to betray: Grk. paradidōmi, aor. act. subj., to convey from one position to another, in general "to hand over." In this case the verb is a reference to subjecting Yeshua to arrest and a judicial process with the connotation of disloyalty and treachery. Him to them: Judas' intention was to assist the chief priests in gaining physical custody of Yeshua. Luke 22:4 indicates that Judas also spoke with the officers of the Temple police, a numerous body composed of Levites (Geldenhuys 548). The security force was under the chief command of the deputy high priest (Acts 4:1; 5:24). The Temple police had authority for all arrests, so it was necessary for Judas to negotiate with them.
11 They were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time.
They were glad: Grk. chairō, aor. pass., to be in a state marked by good feeling about an event or circumstance, to be happy, glad, delighted or to rejoice. The passive voice of the verb indicates an attitude of happiness, perhaps even glee. when they heard: Grk. akouō, aor. part., to hear with a focus on willingness to listen and heed the substance of what is said. and promised: Grk. epaggellō, aor. mid., to promise as a firm commitment. Their agreement constituted a binding contract. to give him money: Grk. argurion, the precious metal known as silver, in this case a specific monetary amount. Only Matthew mentions the agreed upon amount as thirty silver coins (Matt 26:15). And he began seeking: Grk. zēteō, impf., to be on the search for something, especially something that one has difficulty locating. how to betray: Grk. paradidōmi, aor. subj. See the previous verse. Him at an opportune time: Grk. eukairōs, adv., well-timed or suitable. The adverb gives the sense of planning for a time that would succeed with the fewest hindrances.
Mark implies that Judas could be blamed for the rulers ignoring their previous intent not to kill Yeshua during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. None of the narratives address the motives of Judas. Negatively, it could have been disenchantment or greed since John labels him as a thief (John 12:6), but positively it could have been designed to force Yeshua to assert himself as the expected Davidic deliverer. Judas may have given credence to the Zealot philosophy that force is necessary to achieve governmental change. The agreed payment was a very small amount and could have been a pro forma act to manipulate the rulers into bribery, which Yeshua could later use as justification to depose them. Then Judas would have come out of the affair as a hero.
Christians generally refer to the Passover Yeshua observed as the "Last Supper," even though this expression occurs nowhere in the apostolic narratives. When the Last Supper narratives of the Synoptic Narratives are compared with John's narrative there appears to be a conflict of chronology. Some scholars believe that John's use of the word "Passover" in John 13:1; 18:28, 39; and 19:14, does not carry the same meaning as in the Synoptic Narratives and that the "last supper" of Yeshua and his disciples occurred on a different evening than the customary date for Passover and therefore was not a normal Passover meal. For a complete discussion of the issues involved in reconciling John's narrative with the Synoptic narratives see my article The Last Supper of Yeshua.
A custom associated with Passover, but not mentioned in Scripture or the Mishnah is the Fast of the Firstborn (Ta'anit Bechorim), which expresses gratitude for the saving of Israel's firstborn sons from the tenth plague. The fast, which dates from Talmudic times, is observed for the day before Pesach, Nisan 14. The Mishnah does say that it was customary for men to refrain from eating on the eve of Passover from Minchah (afternoon prayer) to the meal-time so as to enter with an appetite (Pes. 10:1; 99b), but such is not a fast. There is no indication that Yeshua and his disciples engaged in any kind of fast during the Passion week, although they may well have abstained from eating during the afternoon of Nisan 14.
In Judaism the Passover evening meal is referred to by the Heb. term Seder ("say-dur"), which means order or arrangement and refers to the organization of the evening. The occasion is much more than a meal; it is a religious celebration and worship service that includes food. Think of "Seder" as an order of service that might be found in a Sabbath or Lord's Day worship gathering and printed in a bulletin. While the Torah does not provide a chronological sequence of the evening activities, certain customs had come into being by the first century, and these are featured in the composite record of the apostolic narratives. Within these accounts there is an order followed for the observance.
The apostolic narratives, taken together, indicate at least fourteen distinct customs of Yeshua's Passover observance that conform to first century practice, eleven of which are mentioned in Mark's narrative. The customs will be identified in the commentary below.
Parallel Passages: Matthew 26:17-19; Luke 22:7-13
12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, "Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?"
Passover Custom – Shabath Seor-Chametz
And on the first: Grk. prōtos, adj., having to do with beforeness with two applications: (1) having primary position in a sequence, thus first, earlier or earliest; (2) standing out in significance or importance, first, most prominent or important. In the LXX prōtos renders Heb. rishon ("first), which in many texts conveys the idea of that which is former or before something else (TWOT, II, 826). day: Grk. hēmera. See the note on verse 1. of Unleavened Bread: pl. of Grk. azumos. See the note on verse 1 above. The initial clause may appear to be misleading since according to the Torah (Ex 12:15-20; Num 28:17-23) the first day of unleavened bread is Nisan 15, but the Passover meal which requires unleavened bread, is prepared on Nisan 14. So, why does Mark say that when the first day of unleavened bread arrived the disciples asked Yeshua where to prepare the Passover meal?
First, Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were viewed as inseparable and essentially one festival (Luke 22:1). The unity of the festival is illustrated plainly in the narrative of the Passover celebrated in the time of King Josiah (2Chr 35:1-19). Second, the mandate of the Torah of seven days of unleavened bread meant seven full days, so that all leaven and leavened products had to be removed before the seven days began.
"Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove [Heb. tashbetu, impf. of shabath] leaven [Heb. seor] from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened [Heb. chametz] from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. (Ex 12:15)
Third, later rabbinic scholars debated this very issue and came to an interesting conclusion, based on the interpretation of the Hebrew word ak in Exodus 12:15 and rishon in Exodus 12:18:
"Thus incidentally all agree that leaven is [Scripturally] forbidden from six hours [i.e., noon] and onwards: whence do we know it? — Said Abaye, Two verses are written: Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses [Ex 12:19]; and it is written, even [Heb. ak] the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses [Ex 12:15]: how is this [to be understood]? It must include the fourteenth [as the day] for removal." (Pes. 4b)
"The School of R. Ishmael taught: We find that the fourteenth is called the first, as it is said, on the first, on the fourteenth day of the month [Ex 12:18]. R. Nahman b. Isaac said: ‘The first' [Heb. rishon] means the preceding." (Pes. 5a)
Mark uses the Greek word prōtos to convey the same meaning as Heb. rishon. The use of prōtos (in contrast with heis, a numerical term for "first," 16:1) with its emphasis on "beforeness" effectively stretches the meaning of "first" in the context of the narratives of Yeshua's last Passover. Thus, the rabbinic rule for removal of leaven on Nisan 14 made that day part of the "first day of unleavened bread."
The removal of seor and chametz thus began on the evening of Nisan 13 (erev Nisan 14; Pes. 1:3). Chametz refers to leavened products made from one of five grains: wheat, barley, oats, rye or spelt (Pes. 2:6; 35a). Lamps in hand, a search was made in every cupboard and corner to ensure that no trace was to be found of leaven or chametz. Homes were also cleansed of Babylonian kutah (a preserve consisting of sour milk, bread-crusts and salt), dyer's chemicals, beer, Idumean vinegar, scribe's glue and woman's make-up (Pes. 3:1). A second search for and removal of leaven would on the morning of Nisan 14, which is an early tradition instituted prior to the birth of Yeshua as this quote from a prominent Sage attests:
"R. Judah [1st cent. B.C.] said: We search [for leaven] in the evening of the fourteenth, in the morning of the fourteenth, and at the time of removal." (Pes. 2b)
Passover Custom – Korban Pesach
Mark then defines "first day" even more precisely. when they sacrificed: Grk. thuō, impf., to conduct ritual slaughter. The sacrifice was called Korban Pesach (Paschal offering). Instructions for the Passover sacrifice is found in chapter 5 and 6 of Pesachim. As with other animal sacrifices the offering had to be a sheep without defect. The slaughter took place on Nisan 14 at twilight, lit. "between the two evenings" (Ex. 12: 6; Lev 23:5; Num 9:3, 5), which meant from the time the sun begins to decline to that of its full setting, approximately from the ninth hour (3:00 pm) to the twelfth hour (6:00 pm) (Edersheim 813). The slaughter would be accomplished at the place in the temple designated for the purpose by those who would share the meal. During this time a Levite choir would be singing the Hallel (Psalms 113-118) (Pes. 5:5).
Killing the animal was accomplished by cutting the throat and then the blood was drained into the special bowl, and poured by a priest onto the base of the altar. The priests would throw the parts that were forbidden to eat into the altar fire. The carcass would be attached to a special post for skinning. With the slaughter complete the group would then take the meat to roast in a specially prepared oven.
the Passover lamb: Grk. pascha. See the note on verse 1. The word "lamb" is not in the Greek text, but is assumed by translators based on the instruction of Exodus 12:5 that the sheep be a year old, lit. "of the first year." The specified age alludes to the fact that lambing occurred in the Spring and Autumn, and given the fact that Passover is a Spring festival, the lamb could not have been born earlier than the previous Spring. The noun pascha is singular, reflecting the corporate sense of the totality of sacrifices, even though there were many thousands of lambs slaughtered. His disciples: Grk. mathētēs, one who learns through instruction under a teacher and corresponds to the Heb. talmid. To be a student of a rabbi required commitment, sacrifice and obedience. See the note on 2:15 for the expectations of a disciple.
said to Him, Where: Grk. pou, adv. indicating location. do You want: Grk. thelō, pres., to will or to wish. us to go: Grk. aperchomai, aor. part., to be in movement from a position with or without mention of destination. The apostles didn't know the place for the meal, so they asked Yeshua. and prepare: Grk. etoimazō, aor. subj., to put in a state of readiness, to make ready or to prepare. for You to eat: Grk. esthiō, aor. subj., to consume food. The verb "to eat" occurs five times in this chapter in conjunction with the Passover meal. In the first usage the disciples ask Yeshua not "if" he is going to eat Passover, but where. Unlike some Christian scholars the disciples were in no doubt that they would share the Passover with their rabbi. The 14th of Nisan was spent preparing and waiting with anticipation for the evening meal.
the Passover: Grk. pascha. See the note on verse 1. "Eat the Passover" means the Passover meal consumed in the evening of Nisan 14 (erev Nisan 15), which is how the expression is used the first time it appears in the Torah (Ex 12:4, 11, 43, 48). Preparation for the Passover meal involved many details: the site, the furnishings, the meal preparation, serving the meal and cleaning up after the meal. An important task was the destruction of leaven which could be accomplished in one of three ways: burning, crumbling it up into crumbs and tossing it into the wind, or dumping it into the sea. Very likely the host would have seen to this task.
The Passover meal had three required ingredients – roasted lamb (Heb. seh), unleavened bread (Heb. matzah) and bitter herbs (Heb. maror) (Ex 12:8). These foods were chosen for both practical and theological reasons (Deut 16:3). Various vegetables would be added to the menu for a complete meal. The Passover meal with its three required foods was obligatory on the first night of the festival and voluntary for the remaining days of the festival (M. Pes. 10:1; Pes. 91b; 120a).
And He sent: Grk. apostellō, pres., to cause to move from one position to another, to send away, out or off. The present tense, lit. "he sends," emphasizes the drama of the moment. two of His disciples: Grk. mathētēs. See the note on the previous verse. Yeshua again commissions two disciples to make arrangements as he did in 11:1. Their identities are not disclosed here, but Luke indicates they were Peter and John (Luke 22:8). Judas Iscariot would certainly not have been sent. and said to them, "Go into the city: Yeshua and his disciples were likely on Mt. Olivet where he had spent the night (Mark 11:19; Luke 21:37), and "city" would then be Jerusalem. While the narrative does not define the exact point of entry he could have specified the Gate of the Essenes, considering where the Seder was actually held.
and a man will meet: Grk. apantaō, fut., to come opposite to, to meet face to face. you: In other words, Yeshua's agents will not have to search for the mysterious man. He will already be waiting and looking for Peter and John, who were probably well known. carrying a pitcher: Grk. keramion, a jug. of water: Grk. hudōr, the liquid of water. The reference to a man carrying a jar of water who was to be followed suggests a prearranged signal. The gender is significant because in Israelite culture only women carried water jars and men carried waters-skins (Geldenhuys 556; e.g., Gen 24:11; 1Sam 9:11; John 4:7). However, there is another plausible reason why a man would be carrying a water jar.
The traditional site of Yeshua's last Seder still shown to tourists is found in the southwestern part of Jerusalem that has been identified as inhabited at the time by Essenes. The nucleus of the Essene movement in Jerusalem was made up of self-proclaimed priests, about 50 of whom are believed to have lived in the Essene Quarter between 30 B.C. and A.D. 70. Since the Essene men were celibate and generally kept apart from women, then it would not be unusual to see a man carrying a jar of water in this section of Jerusalem. See these two informative articles on the Essenes in Jerusalem: Bargil Pixner, Jerusalem's Essene Gateway: Where the Community Lived in Jesus' Time; M.D. Magee, The Essene Quarter of Jerusalem in the Time of Herod. See also the historical perspective of Josephus who wrote extensively of the Essenes (Wars II, 8:1-14; Ant. XV, 10:4-5; XVIII, 1:5).
follow him: Grk. akoloutheo, aor. imp., to be in motion in sequence behind someone, to follow. Yeshua commands his two representatives not to hesitate, not to ask questions, but simply follow the man that would approach them.
14 and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher says, "Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?"'
and wherever he enters: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. subj., to go or enter into an area, whether a geographical location or a manufactured structure. Here the verb indicates the house where the Passover would be celebrated. We might wonder why Yeshua should give such cryptic instructions to Peter and John, but Yeshua did not want Judas to know the location in advance. say: Grk. legō, aor. mid. See verse 2 above. to the owner of the house: Grk. oikodespotēs, owner or steward, one who rules or manages a household. While the noun is masculine it is not impossible that the person would be a woman. Paul uses the verb form oikodespoteō (1Tim 5:14) to refer to a wife who manages the household. Normally women did the work of preparing the Passover meal.
Church tradition assigned the location of Yeshua's Passover to the house belonging to the parents of John Mark (Lane 527; Geldenhuys 556), who is known to have been a resident in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12). Geldenhuys suggests the "owner" may have been the father of John Mark. In Acts 12:12 the house is identified as "of Miriam," the mother of John Mark, indicating that Mark's father had died before then. Otherwise, Mark himself already acted as master of the house for his widowed mother. Of historical interest is that when Yeshua's followers who had fled to Pella shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70) were again allowed to inhabit the south-western portion of the city they rebuilt the ruins of this house into a building for holding religious meetings.
The Teacher: Grk. didaskalos, teacher or instructor who regularly engaged in the imparting of knowledge or skills, a vocation of special status among the Israelites. The equivalent in the Tanakh of didaskalos would be moreh ("one who throws out," or "points out," "directs," or "instructs"). Yeshua directs his disciples what to say, as if they were giving a password. Any rabbi would be regarded as a teacher, but to say, "The Teacher" implies a special recognition. It is very likely that these Essenes recognized in Yeshua the qualities of the Teacher of Righteousness spoken of in Qumran writings. It may well be that the priests who later became "obedient to the faith" (Acts 6:7) were of these Essene priests.
says, "Where is My guest room: Grk. kataluma, a reception area or guest room. Jewish hospitality in Jerusalem during the time of the major festivals required that if a person had a room available he would give it to any pilgrim who asked to use it without charge, in order that he might have a place to celebrate the feast. The practice was based on the principle that the residents did not really own the city, but it belonged to all the tribes (Yom. 12a; Meg. 26a).
in which I may eat: Grk. ethiō, aor. subj., to consume food. the Passover: Grk. pascha. See the note on verse 1 and verse 12. The word pascha here refers to the Passover meal with its customary foods. The second mention of the verb "to eat" emphasizes that Yeshua planned to eat the regular Passover meal, not just share a cup of wine and eat a piece of cracker. Yeshua's intention matched the assumption of his disciples. with My disciples: Grk. mathētēs. See the note on verse 12. Yeshua expressed his intention for a private banquet with participants limited to the twelve disciples. Luke's narrative agrees with Mark in the phrasing of what the disciples are to say to the host, but in Matthew's account Yeshua directs his disciples to say, "My time is near; I am to keep the Passover at your house with My disciples." (Matt 26:18). There is no direction that the host is to leave the house empty and very likely another company celebrating Passover would have use of the lower level.
15 "And he himself will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; prepare for us there."
And he himself: The NASB inserts a redundancy not found in the Greek text. will show: Grk. deiknumi, fut., to show in order to be observed by another, to point out or to make known. you a large: Grk. megas, adj., exceeding a standard and therefore impressive. When the focus is size then the meaning is great, large or big. While the term is relative without the mention of dimensions, the size would easily accommodate the number of guests expected. upper room: Grk. anagaion, a room on an upper floor, probably accessed by an external staircase. furnished: Grk. strōnnumi, perf. pass. part., to equip, used of a room for its contents such as carpets or couches for dining. BAG also notes that Josephus (Ant. VIII, 5:2) uses the verb to mean "floored" or "paneled" in his description of the Temple construction (779). The point is that all the items required to enjoy the meal would be in place.
and ready: Grk. etoimos, ready or prepared. In other words, the room is ready to use. The disciples need do nothing to the room. The readiness no doubt included the removal of leaven and leavened products by the host who would have conducted a search by lamp (cf. Ex 12:15; Zeph 1:12). Peter and John very likely conducted a ritual search for leaven to verify the room's readiness, because Yeshua would never have used the room if there was any leaven therein.
prepare: Grk. etoimazō, aor. imp., to put in a state of readiness, to make ready or prepare. In the LXX the Greek word renders the Heb. kun (prepare, get ready), which is widely used with a religious meaning in various ritual contexts, including Passover (2Chr 35:4). The command to "prepare" would apply to the meal, not the items provided by the host. for us there: Grk. ekei, adv., 'in that place,' as opposed to another place. In other words, "the room is selected; your approval is not necessary."
16 The disciples went out and came to the city, and found it just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.
Passover Custom – Kun Pesach
The disciples: Grk. mathētēs. See the note on verse 12. went out: Grk. exerchomai, aor., to move away from a place, to go or come out. The verb indicates departure from Olivet. and came: Grk. erchomai, aor., to come or to arrive, implying the point from which movement began. to the city: Grk. polis, a population center whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly, a city or town. Peter and John arrived at Jerusalem. and found it: Grk. heuriskō, aor., to come upon, that is, to find or to locate. just as He had told: Grk. legō, aor., to make a statement or utterance, whether in oral or written form. them; and they prepared: Grk. etoimazō, aor. (for Heb. kun). See the previous verse. the Passover: Grk. pascha. See the note on verse 1 and verse 12. The text does not say whether Peter and John had help to prepare the meal, but it's reasonable to assume the host lent some assistance in securing the lamb.
The one making the arrangements had to concern himself with five things (Santala 203). Yeshua took care of two of those items. He arranged a place to hold the celebration and he chose a company within the prescribed size range of ten to twenty people (Josephus, Wars VI, 9:3) to partake of the meal. Each paschal offering was to be eaten by one company (Pes. 41b, fn 9), so the most important actions for the Peter and John was to acquire the lamb (Heb. seh), take it to the Temple to be slaughtered, and then take it to the arranged place where it was roasted on a pomegranate spit that passed right through it from mouth to vent with a cross-member below the shoulder. Under no circumstances was the lamb to be eaten raw or boiled with water. The matzah was prepared as a flatbread, using just whole grain flour, water and oil. These food items, along with the bitter herbs or maror could be easily found in public markets.
By the first century the Passover meal had expanded to include menu items not mentioned in the Torah instructions as well as some changes to the conduct of the Seder. For the meal preparation, three customs may be noted. First, the Mishnah identifies different kinds of produce that satisfied the requirement of maror (Pes. 2:7): romaine or other dark lettuce, endive or chicory. (Horseradish, which is commonly used today, wasn't adopted until the 14th or 15th century.) Maror symbolized the bitterness of slavery.
Second, the Passover meal included four cups of wine (Pes. 10:1). Festivals typically began and ended with a cup of wine, but the Sages believed that for the most joyous evening of the year two more should be drunk. The cups were not identified by name as in the modern Seder, but the cups symbolize the four promises of Exodus 6:6-7.
Third, the meal included the use of a dipping sauce, called charoset, a mixture of fruit, nuts and wine or vinegar (Pes. 2:9). The charoset symbolized the mortar used by the Israelites in the building projects (Pes. 2:9; 10:3; 30b). In the story of Ruth she was invited at mealtime to dip her bread in vinegar (Ruth 2:14). This verse
The karpas (parsley), beitzah (hard-boiled egg), and afikomen (dessert piece of matzah), common to present Passover observance, did not figure in Yeshua's Passover, since they were added centuries later. Passover illustrates that from the Hebrew perspective "theology is not only taught, it is also eaten" (Barney Kasdan, God's Appointed Times, 27).
After making all the necessary arrangements for the meal Peter and John returned to Yeshua to no doubt report on the completion of their mission.
The Messianic Passover
Parallel Passages: Matthew 26:20-24; Luke 22:14, 21-23
There is no evidence of a precise order for the preparation and conduct of Passover in the first century. (The Haggadah, lit. "telling," that sets forth the Seder service cannot be dated any earlier than the third century A.D. and not in any written form before the 10th century A.D.) Regulations for the observance of Passover are found in the Mishnah tractate Pesachim, but the Mishnah is only concerned that certain essential customs were preserved to assure that meal was a genuine Passover (e.g. Pes. 10:5). Most of the required customs are featured in the composite record of the apostolic narratives. Nevertheless, within these accounts there is an order followed for the observance. Yeshua not only conformed to expected customs, but added some new elements. For a detailed description of the Passover observed by Yeshua and his disciples see my web article The Messianic Meal.
17 When it was evening He came with the twelve.
Passover Custom – Erev
When it was: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. part., to become or come into being, lit. "having come." In the Greek text the verb follows the word "evening." evening: Grk. opsia, a variant form of opsios, the period between daylight and darkness, evening. By itself "evening" is not a definite clock time, and determination must be made from the context. The Jewish day was typically defined as "morning and evening" (e.g. 1Sam 17:16; Acts 28:23). In other words until the sun passed the meridian all was morning; after that, all was afternoon or evening" (Clarke 108). Hours of the day were measured from sunrise. The morning and evening sacrifices specified in the Torah (Ex 29:39, 41; Num 28:1-4) were conducted about 9 A.M. (the third hour) and about 3 P.M. (the ninth hour) respectively (Edersheim-Temple 108; Josephus, Ant. XIV, 4:3).
The Passover meal could only be eaten after sundown of Nisan 14, or erev Nisan 15 (Ex 12:12; Deut 16:1, 6; M. Pes. 10:1), and absolutely not later than the middle of the night (M. Zeb. 5:7). The group may have attended the afternoon prayer service at the temple and then headed to the chosen house. After the final disappearance of the sun (about 6 P.M.) and the first three stars had become visible, a threefold blast of the silver trumpets could be heard from the Temple-Mount ringing out to Jerusalem and far away, announcing the commencement of Passover (Edersheim 813). In any event the group arrived well before nightfall.
He came: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid., to come or to arrive. The NIV is actually more literal than the NASB with "When evening came, Jesus arrived." Yeshua celebrated Passover as commanded in the evening, whereas other festival meals were normally held earlier in the day. He also duly presided over the evening celebration.
Passover Custom – Zakur
with the twelve: See the note on verse 10 above. In the festively-lit upper room Yeshua and the Twelve gathered. A reader might expect a narrative of Passover to make some mention of the families of the married disciples, because the institution of Passover in Exodus provided lamb and unleavened bread for the entire household. In reality the omission of wives and children and other relatives was not contrary to Scripture or custom. God commanded,
"Now, let the sons of Israel observe the Passover at its appointed time." (Num 9:2)
"Three times in a year all your males [Heb. zakur] shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. 17 "Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you." (Deut 16:16-17)
While the first Passover in Egypt was a family event (Ex 12:3-4), observance thereafter began to change. The later narratives of Passover indicate male participation without mention of households, although they may well have shared in the occasion (Num 9:4-10; Deut 16:16; Josh 5:10; 2Chr 30:21; 35:17). In other words, the feast was obligatory for men, but women were not bound to make such a personal appearance (Edersheim 163, citing TJ Kidd. 61c; Edersheim-Temple 167, citing Pes. 9:4; 91b). A complicating factor in the first century was that Passover lambs could only be sacrificed in the Jerusalem temple (Deut 16:5-6), so only local residents or those who lived in a reasonable distance would likely enjoy Passover in the city as a family festival (cf. Luke 2:41-42). Pilgrims from the Diaspora did not necessarily take their entire family with them to Jerusalem.
Most significant of all, the occasion was special. In a regular Passover a son would ask "Why is this night different from all other nights?" (Pes. 10:4). This question wasn't asked in Yeshua's last Passover, but it was certainly answered by the Son. Yeshua knew this would be his last Passover with his disciples and there was some important teaching he wanted to convey to his future missionaries. He changed the focus from the past to the future. He also changed the focus from deliverance from physical bondage to deliverance from spiritual bondage. Yes, Israel had been removed from Egypt, but Egypt had not been removed from them, as can be seen in the high priestly prayer.
Yeshua took an ordinary Passover and transformed it into a Messianic Passover, infusing new meaning into the ritual elements. Given his mother's presence at the crucifixion his mother and siblings no doubt observed the Passover meal in another part of the city with other relatives.
18 As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, "Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me--one who is eating with Me."
Passover Custom – Shakab
As they were reclining at the table: Grk. anakeimai (Heb. shakab), pres. mid. part., to lie down and in this instance to recline at a table for eating. There is no functional difference between this verb and katakeimai in verse 3 above. The verb here emphasizes the size of the group, all of whom were reclining. Non-festival meals were normally eaten while sitting on the floor or ground (Gen 27:19; 1Sam 20:5; Jer 16:8; Ezek 44:3; Matt 14:19; 15:35; Luke 17:7). Festival meals were treated differently. The first Passover meal was eaten while standing due to the special circumstances (Ex 12:11). Eventually, reclining became obligatory for the Passover as a sign of freedom (Pes. 10:1), which had been the practice since ancient times.
Rabbinic custom specified that reclining was not lying on the back or on the right side, but only on the left side to facilitate eating with the right hand (Pes. 108a). Two exceptions are noted: bitter herbs were not to be eaten while reclining and a man's wife was not required to recline. The apostolic narrative omits mention of the early part of the Seder, because the meal and reclining did not commence until the story of the first Passover had been told. In addition, the Sages debated whether reclining was necessary while drinking the four cups of wine, some saying 'yes,' some saying 'no.' The viewpoint that eventually became tradition was to recline for the last two cups following the meal, because it is precisely then that there is freedom. Reclining was not done for the first two cups, because the story of Exodus declares 'we were slaves.'
Santala says that each one of the group took his place in a circle around a cloth spread on the floor, leaning on their left arms with their legs outward from the circle (205). To recline does not mean being fully prone as one might be on a bed to sleep. The TLV also includes a drawing of the Last Supper depicting the disciples sitting on the floor covered by decorative cloths (66). The TLV translates this verse: "As they were reclining and eating, Yeshua said, "Amen, I tell you, one of you who is eating with Me will betray Me." Besides the TLV only the CJB and HCSB has the lit. translation of "reclining and eating."
Against the view that the floor was the table, Kasdan states that Yeshua and the disciples stretched out on the floor with their heads facing a low table, thus enabling them to reach the food by hand (336). The table was certainly not the high table with chairs shown in Michelangelo's great painting of the Last Supper. The regular word for table (Grk. trapeza) does not appear in the Last Supper narratives of Matthew, Mark and John, but it does occur in Luke's narrative in reference to the hands of the traitor being on the table (Luke 22:21). The word trapeza essentially means a surface on which something can be placed (Danker). In the LXX trapeza renders Heb. shulchan, and while it's usually translated "table," meaning an item of furniture, its root meaning is "a skin or leather mat spread on the ground" (BDB 1020).
In the Besekh trapeza is used of a dining table from which crumbs fall (Matt 15:27), a table for money transactions (Matt 21:12; Mark 11:15; Luke 19:23; John 2:12), and a table for the showbread in the tabernacle (Heb 9:2). So, it's reasonable to assume that a low wooden table was indeed used in the upper room. Edersheim also says the supper arrangement employed a low rectangle wooden table common to the East with the dinner guests on three sides and one end open for the food service. He cites the Talmud's description of the table position and layout:
"In the Talmud (B.B. 57b) the table of the disciples of the sages is described as two parts covered with a cloth, the other third being left bare for the dishes to stand on. There is evidence that this part of the table was outside the circle of those who were ranged around it. … During the Paschal Supper, it was the custom to remove the table at one part of the service; or, if this be deemed a later arrangement, the dishes at least would be taken off and put on again. This would render it necessary that the end of the table should protrude beyond the line of guests who reclined around it. For, as already repeatedly stated, it was the custom to recline at table, lying on the left side and leaning on the left hand, the feet stretching back towards the ground, and each guest occupying a separate divan or pillow." (815)
All the apostolic narratives mention the reclining of Yeshua and his disciples for the meal (Matt 26:20; Luke 22:14; John 13:12, 23, 28). No explanation is offered concerning the relative reclining positions of the disciples in the room, but a few may be deduced. At a dinner of a Sage and his disciples it was customary for the one next in rank to be on the Sage's left and the third in rank on his right (Ber. 46b). The rabbinic custom is suggestive of what may have been done in the upper room. In Mark 10:37 Jacob ("James") and John had asked for the chief positions on either side of Yeshua in the Kingdom. Here in the last Passover, an acted out parable of the Kingdom, it's apparent that John had secured the position on Yeshua's right, which made it possible for him to lean back on Yeshua's bosom (John 13:23).
Edersheim suggests that Judas had gained the chief position on Yeshua's left (816). The disciples had argued on a previous occasion as to who was the greatest (Mark 9:34) and Judas' presumption in taking the coveted position no doubt restarted the dispute (Luke 22:24). Peter may well have been across the table from Yeshua in the "last" position as implied by the foot-washing narrative (John 13:5-6). See Edersheim's graphic illustration of the last supper layout here.
Passover Custom – Shulchan Orekh
and eating: Grk. esthiō, pres. part., to consume food by mouth. The plural verb indicates that every member of the group was eating. Shulchan (table) Orekh (to arrange or set in order), refers to the serving of the meal (Matt 26:20-21; John 13:4). Presumptively, the meal included lamb (Grk. pascha, Matt 26:17; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7, 11, 15). The Mishnah provides some instruction on setting the food before the host.
"Herbs and vegetables are then to be brought; the lettuce is then to be immersed, part thereof eaten, and the remainder left until after the meal arranged for the night is eaten; then unleavened cakes are to be placed before him as well as the lettuce, sauce (charoset), and two kinds of cooked food, although it is not strictly obligatory to use the same; R. Elazar ben Zadok, however, said, that it is obligatory. During the existence of the Holy Temple, the paschal sacrifice was then placed before him." (Pes. 10:3)
In Luke's narrative of Yeshua's Passover the statement of Yeshua's reclining with his disciples is followed by this poignant statement:
And He said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." (Luke 22:15-16)
Luke agrees with Mark and Matthew regarding Yeshua's intention and action to eat the Passover meal, not some other kind of meal.
Passover Custom – Kos Sheni
Only Luke mentions the second (Heb. sheni) cup (Heb. kos) specified in Pesachim 10:4 (Luke 22:17). This cup likely came at some point early in the meal for which Yeshua recited the blessing for the wine: "Blessed are You, O Lord, who creates the fruit of the vine" (M. Ber. 6:1). It was normally at the second cup that a son of the head of the family would ask the traditional question as to why this night was different from other nights. With no child present Yeshua proclaimed:
"Take this and share it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes." (Luke 22:17b-18)
Every previous Passover Yeshua had drunk from the second cup, but this night he would not. Matthew and Mark associate this saying with the third cup, since they don't mention the second cup. The decision of Yeshua not to drink of the second (and third) cup of wine, while contrary to the Mishnah instruction did not violate Torah. Wine symbolized the joy of the Passover celebration, but for Yeshua this night represented betrayal, suffering and death. This night Yeshua took on the vow of the Nazarite, which the disciples would certainly respect. Like the Nazarite's vow there would be a limit to its duration. With this cup Yeshua could probably relate to David's words, "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows" (Ps 23:5). In this case, the cup overflowed with sadness (cf. Jer 25:15).
Passover Custom – Rachtzah
Sometime early in the meal Yeshua performed rachtzah (lit. "ablution") of the feet (only in John 13:3-5). Foot washing was a practice of hospitality from ancient times (e.g. Gen 18:4; 19:2; 24:32; 43:24; Judg 19:21). John says Yeshua arose "from the supper" (i.e., in the midst of supper) to perform the task. Yeshua's action presents an interesting parallel to the first foot washing mentioned in Scripture, where Abraham provided water for his angelic guests, one of whom is called ADONAI (pre-incarnate Yeshua), to wash their feet (Gen 18:4).
The sequence of the foot washing in relation to the meal is not absolutely certain, but probably occurs just before Yeshua's announcement of betrayal (cf. Matt 26:21; Mark 14:21; John 13:21). The foot washing was not a replacement for the traditional hand-washing ritual that precedes the serving of the meal, but a special acted-out parable of servanthood with a midrash on the subject in response to the argument over who was the greatest in the kingdom (Luke 22:24-30; John 13:12-17).
Jesus said, "Truly I say to you: See the note on verse 9 above for the significance of this statement. that one of you will betray: Grk. paradidōmi, fut., to deliver over to, to subject to a custodial procedure for trial. Yeshua had previously predicted his arrest (9:31; 10:33). The prediction suddenly is presented as something imminent, and the arrest will be facilitated by one of his disciples. one who is eating: Grk. esthiō, pres. part., to consume food. with Me: Yeshua drops the bombshell that he would be betrayed and gives the first of three clues to the traitor's identity. The first clue is that he was someone presently at the Passover table with him. To betray a friend after eating a meal with him was, and still is, regarded as the worst kind of treachery in the Middle East (Wessel). Yeshua had in mind Psalm 41:9: "Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me," which he quotes in John 13:18.
19 They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, "Surely not I?"
They began: Grk. archō, aor. mid., to begin something. to be grieved: Grk. lupeō, pres. pass. inf., to experience distress, sorrow or grief. and to say: Grk. legō, pres. inf., to make a statement or utterance, whether orally or in writing. to Him one by one: The disciples were all shocked and each disciple responded. "Surely not I: lit. "not I." The particle mēti ("not") is used in questions containing a strong component of considering any answer other than a negative quite incredulous. Each disciple attempted to secure from Yeshua a confirmation of his innocence. Matthew's version specifically mentions Judas asking the question (Matt 26:25), no doubt hoping to mask his actual intention of betrayal. Mark does not mention Judas' name in the Passover narrative at all.
20 And He said to them, "It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl.
Passover Custom – Charoset
Verse 20 stands as a parallelism to verse 18, repeating and amplifying what is said there. It is one of the twelve: See the note on verse 10. Yeshua proceeds to give the second clue to the identity of the traitor and states plainly that he is one of the twelve disciples that Yeshua had called into service. one who dips: Grk. embaptō, pres. part., to dip. The present tense may suggest a repeated activity during the meal and could be translated as "has been dipping" or it may refer to the precise moment concurrent with the announcement. Several versions insert "bread" at this point (CJB, ESV, HCSB, LEB, NCV, NIV, NRSV, RSV, TEV), no doubt influenced by John 13:26.
with me in the bowl: Grk. trublion, a concave household container, precise form undefined. The bowl no doubt contained the charoset, a dipping sauce made of a mixture of fruit, nuts and wine, symbolizing the mortar used by the Israelites in the building projects (Pes. 2:9; 10:3). Charoset was not a compulsory part of the meal (Pes. 10:3), but a popular addition nonetheless. There were probably multiple bowls of charoset available, but not necessarily one for every disciple. The phrase "dips with me" indicates a common use of the bowl and the "baseness of the betrayal" (Lane 500). The dipping in the same bowl as Yeshua constituted the third clue to the traitor's identity. One scholar suggests that Judas stretching forth his hand into the bowl at the same moment as Yeshua was a gesture declaring rejection of Yeshua's leadership (Lane 503).
Edersheim's description of the table layout (verse 18 above) helps to understand why the treachery of Judas was not immediately known to everyone. Peter, watching the scene closely from the opposite side of the table, beckoned to John, and asked him who the traitor was (John 13:24). John relays the question to Yeshua (John 13:25), who succinctly whispers to John by what sign to recognize the traitor and then hands the morsel to Judas on his left (John 13:26).
Passover Custom – Maror
For maror see the note on verse 16 above. Maror would have been on the table and it's very likely that maror was being dipped into the bowl of charoset, perhaps with the matzah. The Mishnah of Pesachim does not require a ritual blessing for dipping the maror, but the general blessing offered for produce eaten in the meal is prescribed in Berachot 6:1: "Blessed are You, O Lord who creates the fruit of the ground" (mentioned in Pes. 114b). This blessing could have been spoken once at the beginning of the meal for all the vegetables.
The dipping could also have involved the "Hillel sandwich" formed with the lamb and maror stacked between two pieces of matzah to fulfill the instruction of Exodus 12:8 and Numbers 9:11 (Pes. 115a). Hillel the Elder, in the generation before Yeshua, inaugurated the custom of eating the "sandwich" as part of the meal.
21 "For the Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born."
For the Son of Man: Grk. ho huios tou anthrōpou, which translates the Heb. ben adam. See the note on 2:10 for this Messianic title. Christian scholars typically treat "Son of Man" in the context of Yeshua's ministry as representative of his identification with humanity, whereas "Son of God" pertains to his deity. In Hebraic thought these expressions mean just the opposite. For Jews in the first century "son of Man" had the meaning of the eschatological supra-natural figure from heaven seen by the prophet Daniel in a vision (Dan 7:13-14). Yeshua often spoke of himself in the third person as the "Son of Man" and here he again identifies himself as the one of whom Daniel prophesied.
is to go: Grk. hupagō, pres., to proceed from a position with the focus on the departure point, lit. "is going." Here the verb is used as a euphemism for dying. just as it is written: Yeshua gives the standard formula in the Besekh for attesting an assertion of truth and divine inspiration of Scripture, followed by a quote from the Tanakh. Christian theologies have different theories of biblical inspiration but for the apostles it was a simple matter that God spoke and man wrote (e.g. Ex 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Num 33:2; 36:5; Deut 30:10; 2Pet 1:20-21). of Him: There are many Messianic prophecies in the Tanakh but here Yeshua alludes to those that speak of his death (Ps 22:16; Isa 53:7-8; Zech 12:10).
but woe: Grk. ouai is normally used in the apostolic writings as an interjection denoting pain or displeasure, "woe" or "alas." Here ouai refers to a pending calamity. In the LXX ouai renders Hebrew words meaning "to howl," which may express grief (Prov 23:29), despair (1Sam 4:7), lamentation (1Kgs 13:30), dissatisfaction (Isa 1:4), pain (Jer 10:19), a threat (Ezek 16:23) or simply to attract attention (Isa 55:11) (DNTT 3:1051). to that man: Grk. anthrōpos is an allusion to Judas.
by whom the Son of Man is betrayed: Grk. paradidōmi, pres. pass., lit. "is being betrayed." See the note on verse 10 above. The passive voice of the verb alludes to the fact that the betrayal had already been arranged and something Yeshua would receive. It would have been good: Grk. kalos, meeting a high standard, fine or good. In a Hebraic fashion Yeshua is saying that it would have been better for Judas. for that man: The allusion to Judas is repeated. if he had not been born: Grk. gennaō, aor. pass., to cause to come into being, to beget or father. The whole clause would be lit. "better for him if that man was not born." The pronouncement of woe does not lessen Judas' personal responsibility. He still had a choice.
Passover Custom – Motzi Matzah
Parallel Passages: Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 22:17-20; 1 Corinthians 11:20-25
22 While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, "Take it; this is My body."
While they were eating: Grk. esthiō, pres. part., to consume food. The meal was well underway at this point. It's important to remember that this ritual is separate from the one for the cup which occurred after the meal was concluded. Mark again mentions the fact of eating the Passover meal. he took bread: Grk. artos (Heb. lechem), which refers to a baked product produced from cereal grain and also to food or nourishment in general. The bread used in the Seder could be made from wheat, barley, spelt, rye, and oats (Pes. 2:6). Since Passover occurred at the time of the barley harvest, this may been the grain used for the Last Supper.
Some scholars think that the use of artos instead of azumos (unleavened bread) in the words of Yeshua suggests that he and his disciples ate leavened bread in this meal, in spite of the fact that unleavened bread is mentioned in verse 1 and 12. If the meal included leavened bread then it would not have been a true Passover meal (Pes. 9:3; 10:4-5). Actually, the use of artos contains a hidden spiritual truth. In the LXX artos is used of the showbread maintained in the Temple (Ex 25:30; 40:23; 1Sam 21:6; 1Chr 9:32; 23:29; 28:16; 2Chr 2:4; 13:11; 29:18; Neh 10:33) and in the Synoptic Narratives (Matt 12:4; Mark 2:26; Luke 6:4). The showbread was made without leaven (Lev 8:2, 26; 24:5). This usage demonstrates that the definition of artos is not based on its leaven content.
The use of artos in Synoptic narratives follows the specific mention that the event occurred at the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (azumos). It could well be that the use of artos hinted at the showbread. The showbread was intended for consumption by the priests. The one exception occurred when David took this bread to feed his men when he was fleeing from King Saul (Mark 2:25). This understanding gives a deeper meaning of the significance of the bread that Yeshua held up. Yeshua, the Great High Priest and Davidic King, was offering the bread intended only for priests to his disciples who would share in his body. As showbread Yeshua pointed to his people becoming a kingdom of priests (Eph 4:12; 1Pet 2:5-9; Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6).
and after a blessing: Grk. eulogeō, aor. part., to invoke divine favor or to express high praise, to bless, to offer a blessing; in this case the latter meaning. See the note on 6:41. The corresponding Heb. verb is barakh, which lit. means to kneel or to bless (BDB 138). In the Tanakh barakh is an endowment of favor or beneficial power (cf. Gen 1:28), ordinarily transmitted from the greater to the lesser, either from God to man, from man to man or parent to child. However, the verb often occurs in the context of a man blessing God (e.g., Ps 103:1). The formula for blessings set forth in the Mishnah consisted of two parts, first the standard invocation, Barukh attah Adonai, ("Blessed are You, O LORD," quoting Psalm 119:12) (Ber. 1:4), followed by the reason for the invocation, "who [action verb]," in this case "who brings forth [Heb. ha-motzi] bread [Heb. lechem] from the earth [Heb. min ha-aretz]" (Ber. 6:1).
The insertion of the phrase "King of the universe" in Jewish blessings after the opening invocation is a later rabbinic addition to emphasize the kingship of God over His people (Ber. 12a; 40b; 49a). It is noteworthy that "King of the universe" does not occur in the Shemoneh Esreh, the daily prayer. The tradition of emphasizing the kingship of the God of Israel may have developed in reaction to Yeshua's self-identification as King of the Jews (Mark 15:2) and Pilate's public recognition of the fact (Mark 15:9; John 19:19). Yet, this rabbinic development swerved into the truth, because Yeshua is not only King of the Jews, but also King of the universe (John 1:3; Eph 1:10; Col 1:16-17; Rev 5:13).
He broke it: Grk. klaō, aor., to break off pieces from a loaf of bread. At meals other than the Passover the breaking of bread occurred at the beginning of the meal. The mention of the apostles "breaking bread" (Acts 2:46; 20:7) refers to practice of beginning meals with the Hamotzi benediction. There is no pronoun here meaning "it" in the Greek. text. and gave it: Grk. didōmi, aor., to give, here in the sense of handing the bread to another person. There is no pronoun here meaning "it" in the Greek. text. to them: The syntax suggests that Yeshua broke off a piece of bread for each of his disciples. and said, "Take it: Grk. lambanō, aor. imp., to transition something from one person to another; in the active voice "take." There is no pronoun here meaning "it" in the Greek. text.
this is: Hebrew does not have a "to be" verb, so he would have simply said, "this." My body: Grk. sōma, a structured physical unit in contrast to its parts, a physical body. However, since in the Hebrew mind there is no compartmentalization of the person, then Yeshua is saying, "This is me." Delitzsch and the modern BSI-NT translate sōma here with Heb. guphah (SH-1480), dead body or corpse, a word that occurs only twice in the Tanakh in reference to the corpses of King Saul and his sons (1Chr 10:12). The Hebrew translation makes Yeshua statement even more poignant. Stern suggests that Yeshua's saying here referred to the afikoman, which is broken and hidden (80), but there is no evidence of this tradition in the first century. Yeshua gave a simple parabolic statement likening the unleavened bread to his body.
One Christian liturgy for the Lord's Supper has the minister say, "The Lord … commanded His disciples to partake of the bread and wine, emblems of His broken body and shed blood" and then "The body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was broken for you …." (Blogspot; Manual §802). Such choice of wording is very unusual considering that Yeshua's body was not broken (John 19:33, 36; cf. Ex 12:46; Num 9:12; Ps 34:20). In contrast other Christian liturgies have "body of Christ given for you." Yeshua broke the matzah because that was the customary way of sharing the unleavened bread in the Passover. In terms of a visual aid we should consider the matzah was pierced which did represent the manner of his death (John 19:34, 37; cf. Zech 12:10).
Yeshua's action is surprising in one respect. Since he is the Lamb of God, then it would seem more logical to share a piece of roasted lamb to offer the comparison. However, in the future he wanted his disciples to be able to share this memorial meal without the restriction of having to go to Jerusalem to offer a Passover lamb. Such is the context of Paul's instruction on the Lord's Supper.
Each piece of bread received by a disciple represented Yeshua. The spiritual meaning of sharing the bread is significant.
● Leaven symbolizes malice and wickedness, whereas matza is likened to sincerity and truth (1Cor 5:6-8). Unleavened bread symbolizes a sinless Savior.
● Considering the sinless nature of Yeshua and that the unleavened bread symbolizes this state, then "taking" the bread represents a desire that his purity would cleanse our sinfulness.
● Outside this context Yeshua referred to himself as the bread of life (John 6:35, 48), a reference to the divinely provided manna during the wilderness wanderings of Israel. Through his abiding sovereign care disciples are sustained in their walk of faith.
● The invitation to take the bread implies a willingness to identify with his death, as Paul says, "The bread that we break, is it not a sharing [Grk. koinonia] of the body of Messiah?" Yeshua had earlier commanded his disciples to take up their crosses and to die to self-will (Luke 9:23; 14:27; cf. Gal 5:24). Paul testified, "I have been crucified with Messiah" (Gal 2:20 mine).
● Sharing the bread together binds the community of faith, Jew and Gentile, in unity for which Yeshua prayed (John 17:11, 21-22), as Paul says, "Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread" (1Cor 10:17).
Because the bread represents Yeshua, then the "taking" and "eating" represent the obedient response of the trusting disciple.
23 And when He had taken a cup, and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
Passover Custom – Kos Shelishi and Birkat Hamazon
And when He had taken: Grk. lambanō, aor. part., to pass something from one person to another; in the active voice "take." a cup: Grk. potērion (Heb. kos), a drinking cup without further definition. and given thanks: Grk. eucharisteō, aor. part., to give thanks. For this verb here God is explicitly the recipient of the thanksgiving. The verb occurs not at all in the LXX of the Tanakh, but is found six times in the Jewish Apocrypha (DNTT 3:818). The choice of the verb, instead of eulogeō used for the bread, is deliberate since thanksgiving refers to something that has been received (cf. Ps 100:4; Php 4:6; 1Tim 2:1; Rev 7:12).
This cup of wine is the third (Heb. shelishi) of the four required by the Mishnah, which is consumed after the meal (Pes. 10:6; Luke 22:20; 1Cor 11:25) (Stern 144). Lane suggests this cup is the fourth (508), but the fourth cup follows the Hallel (verse 26 below). Yeshua no doubt provided the customary blessing over the wine, "Blessed are You, O Lord, who creates the fruit of the vine" (Ber. 6:1), and the "giving of thanks" refers to the post-meal grace (Birkat Hamazon) required by the Mishnah for the third cup (Pes. 10:6). The grace after meals began with the recitation of Deuteronomy 8:10, "When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you." The quotation would then be followed by the prescribed benediction. The grace after meals was originally composed of three blessings (Ber. 6:6; 48b).
Birkat Hazan (the blessing for providing food), which thanks God for giving food to the world,
Birkat Ha-Aretz (the blessing for the land), which thanks God for bringing Israel forth from the land of Egypt, for making His covenant with Israel, and for giving Israel the Land as an inheritance, and
Birkat Yerushalayim (the blessing for Jerusalem), which prays for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the coming of the Messiah.
To what degree Yeshua offered the traditional thanksgiving cannot be determined, but the first two blessings are most likely what he would have said.
He gave it: Grk. didōmi, aor., to give something to someone, here a single cup. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, a pers. pro. designating the twelve. In other words, he gave to the cup to one disciple with the intention that it would be passed from one to another until all had received it. and they all drank: Grk. pinō, aor., to take in liquid, to drink. from it: Each disciple took a drink from the single cup, probably no more than a sip, since all the men taking a substantial swallow would probably have emptied the cup before it finished its circuit. A reader assuming that each disciple had his own cup may wonder why Yeshua used a single cup for all. Actually, the text does not indicate that each disciple had a cup.
Pesachim has an interesting statement concerning this point: "If he gave his sons and household to drink of them [the four cups], he has discharged [his duty]." (Pes. 108b). A Jewish Talmud scholar comments on this sentence, "Possibly separate cups were not set for each member of the household as is done nowadays" (fn 5). This appears to be a case of our ignorance of first century practices exceeding our knowledge. A practical reason for sharing a common cup would be to prevent intoxication if the wine was drunk "neat." However, sharing the common cup, which represented Yeshua's shed blood, reflected the common need and provision of the atoning sacrifice.
24 And He said to them, "This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.
"This is My blood: Grk. haima, blood, whether of animals or humans. Only that which has blood has life, since life or soul (Heb. nephesh) is in the blood (Gen 9:4; Lev 17:11). This simple assertion explains why Scripture never speaks of plants having life. Yeshua's statement of transference is reasonable when we consider that the cup symbolized the blood of the Lamb, which in the Passover meal pointed backwards to Israel's deliverance from death in Egypt by means of lamb's blood on the doorposts. Yet, the cup Yeshua held up symbolized his atoning sacrifice, an activity associated with the sin offerings in the rest of the festival, as well as Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
of the covenant: Grk. diathēkē is generally used in Greek literature of a formal arrangement or agreement for disposing of something in a manner assuring continuity. Danker indicates two functional meanings of the term in Scripture: (1) covenant with focus on testamentary aspect, i.e., "last will and testament" (Gal 3:15; Heb 9:16-17); and (2) covenant with focus on the Old Testament perspective of God's unilaterally assumed obligation to confer a special blessing. The second meaning is in view here. The KJV has "the new testament" (also in Matt 26:28), which may be misleading since in the Christian vernacular "the new testament" refers to the body of apostolic writings. Also, "new" does not occur in the earliest and majority of manuscripts of Matthew and Mark, and the few MSS with it represent a scribal addition derived from Luke 22:20 (Metzger 95).
In the LXX diathēkē renders the Heb. b'rit, covenant. All of the covenants mentioned in the Tanakh were based on irrevocable decisions and had legal power. The Jewish translators of the LXX might have chosen to use synthēkē, which only means an agreement, to translate b'rit, but instead they chose uniformly to use diathēkē, which by its definition as a "will" requires the death of the author to make it effective. The LXX translation, made long before Yeshua came, may seem strange given that in the case of the divine-human covenants God obviously cannot die. Perhaps they considered that at the heart of the divine-human covenant God was making a sacrifice of himself, by offering grace instead of wrath and destruction. The phrase "my blood of the covenant" echoes Exodus 24:8 LXX: "Behold the blood of the covenant of which the Lord ordained for you" (ABP).
The first time "covenant" occurs in Scripture is in reference to the covenant God made with Noah and his descendants (Gen 6:18; 9:1-17; Jer 33:25). After Noah God made eight covenants with Abraham and his descendants: Abraham (Gen 17:2), Isaac (Gen 26:24), Jacob (Gen 27:27-29), Israel (Ex 19:5), Aaron (Num 19:19-20), David (2Sam 7:11-15; Jer 33:20-22), the New Covenant (Jer 31:31) and the Covenant of Peace (Ezek 34:25; 37:26-28). For a detailed discussion on these covenants see my notes on Romans 9:4, but all the individual covenants that preceded the promise of the New Covenant make up the Old Covenant.
The meal of the New Covenant finds its meaning in the Old Covenant. This fact is vividly portrayed in the account of establishing the covenant with Israel by sprinkling sacrificial blood to make the people clean.
"So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, "Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words." 9 Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10 and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. 11 Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank." (Ex 24:8-11)
Note that in this passage the "blood of the covenant" is juxtaposed with a covenant supper in the presence of God. The blood accomplishes a different task than the blood on the doorposts in Egypt where the blood saved from death. The blood of the covenant cleanses from sin, which is why Yeshua had to die on Nisan 15 when the lamb was sacrificed as a sin offering. Thus, the apostles would later remind us, "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Heb 9:22), and "the blood of His Son Yeshua purifies us from all sin" (1Jn 1:7 TLV).
Thanks to Luke 22:20 we know that when Yeshua said "covenant," he meant the "new covenant," the seventh covenant in the list, but his shed blood also became the ground for an eternal covenant (Heb 13:20). Christian interpreters generally overlook the fact that the New Covenant was made with Judah and Israel; no Gentiles and certainly no Christian Church are mentioned (cf. Jer 31:31-33; 32:37-40; Ezek 11:19-20; 36:24-27; Heb 8:10-13).
The terms of the New Covenant (Heb. B'rit Chadash) were that God would write the Torah on their hearts, that Adonai will be Israel's God, that Israel will be his people, that all would know God without a teacher, that there would be forgiveness of sins and that all the former promises are "Yes" in Him. The New Covenant of which Yeshua spoke at his last Passover is the New Covenant of Jeremiah. The apostles also declared that these promises find their fulfillment in Messiah Yeshua (Heb 12:24; cf. Isa 42:6). Gentiles receive the benefits of this covenant by virtue of being grafted into the Olive Tree (Rom 11) and being granted citizenship in the Commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2). So, the New Covenant does not replace the Old Covenant, but rejuvenates it and empowers disciples to fulfill its expectations (Rom 8:3-4).
which is poured out: Grk. ekcheō, pres. pass. part., to cause to come out in a stream, a portent of the release of blood and water from Yeshua's side as a result of being speared (John 19:34). The present tense emphasizes that from God's sovereign point of view the slaying had already occurred. for: Grk. huper, prep., in behalf of or in the interest of. many: pl. of Grk. polus, an adj. of number, many. Here the adjective functions as a Hebraism for the whole (e.g. Rom 5:15, 19). In other words, the atoning sacrifice would be for the sins of the whole world (2Cor 5:14-15; 1Tim 2:4; 4:10; Titus 2:11). Yeshua's saying and action echoes the psalmist, "I shall lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the LORD" (Ps 116:13).
In Matthew's narrative Yeshua says of the cup, "this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins" (Matt 26:28). This is an important statement as it proves that Yeshua could not have been crucified on Nisan 14 as some scholars suppose. The sacrifice of lambs on Nisan 14 for the Seder was not a sin offering, but a type of peace offering. However, the sacrifices on Nisan 15 did include a sin offering (Lev 23:6-8; Num 28:17-25), a male lamb prepared at the sixth hour (John 19:14) and then sacrificed at the time of the afternoon prayers when Yeshua died on the cross (Kasdan 374). Yeshua prophesied that he would die to save his people from their sins (Matt 1:21; cf. 2Cor 5:21; 1Pet 3:18). When Yochanan the Immerser said, "this is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world," (John 1:29), he did not mean the lamb killed on Nisan 14 for the Seder, but the lamb killed on Nisan 15 as a sin offering. By his death occurring during the Passover festival then his death also represented deliverance from eternal death (Rom 6:23).
Afterword on Christian Interpretation
In spite of the meaning given Yeshua's Passover meal in Scripture the church fathers, beginning with the epistles of Ignatius (AD 30-107), determined the bread and cup to be the "very flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ" (Smyrnæans 7; Philadelphians 4), and the "medicine of immortality" (Ephesians 20). Ignatius demonstrates a new development in theology, since Clement of Rome (A.D. 30-100) offers no hint of sacramentalism in a discussion of the Eucharist in his Epistle to the Corinthians written ten years earlier. In other words, the communion elements literally become the body and blood of Yeshua (later called transubstantiation).
The doctrine of transubstantiation — from the Latin trans (across) and substantia (substance) — was controversial in church history and not made official dogma until the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, reaffirmed at the Council of Trent (1545-1563), and reaffirmed again at the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). The belief in Yeshua being literally or mystically present in the Eucharist elements naturally led to treating the rite as a means of conveying salvation grace. To justify this viewpoint Catholic theologians appealed to a literalistic interpretation of John 6:53, "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves."
The arguments against the Catholic interpretation are straightforward. First, Yeshua addressed the teaching of John 6:53-56 to Jewish synagogue leaders, not to his disciples. Second, John offers no theological instruction on the observance and meaning of the Lord's Supper as Paul does in 1 Corinthians 11. Third, Yeshua does not prescribe any kind of religious ceremony to be conducted by priests. Fourth, John makes no connection to the bread and cup rituals of the Passover Seder. Fifth, in the Lord's Supper narratives Yeshua does not say, "this is my flesh (sarx)," but "this is my body (sōma)." Sixth, wine might be the "blood of grapes" (Deut 32:14), but drinking wine does not thereby constitute drinking human blood. Seventh, to conduct a ceremony that supposedly converts wine into Yeshua's blood, even in a mystical sense, violates God's instruction to Israel prohibiting the practice of sorcery.
Yeshua was not mentally confused about the difference between bread and wine and His own physical body. Literalistic interpretations could lead to some bizarre conclusions, such as the body of Yeshua must have been made of wood (John 10:7, 9) or at the last supper he cut out a piece of His own flesh and drained His blood for the disciples to ingest like cannibals (Matt 26:26-28). The texts on the Yeshua's Passover do not imply that the meal ingredients were infused with any divine attributes or that they were transformed into something else. There was also no promise of participants gaining any intrinsic spiritual benefit by partaking of the meal.
25 "Truly I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."
Truly I say to you: See the note on verse 9 above for this Hebraic expression, which stresses the importance of Yeshua's words that follow. I will never again drink: Grk. pinō, aor. subj., to take in liquid, to drink. The phrase is lit. "no more by no means will I drink." In Hebrew this is an intense statement of negation. of the fruit: Grk. genēma, product or fruit, especially of produce. of the vine: Grk. ampelos, a climbing plant with tendrils, a vine, specifically a grape vine. Stern points out that we can be sure Yeshua used the traditional Jewish blessing over wine because he quotes from it the phrase "fruit of the vine" (80). The same phrase also occurs in Matt 26:29 and Luke 22:18. The vow to not drink wine again is akin to the vow of the Nazarite which none of the disciples would challenge. They just didn't anticipate that the duration of the vow would take so long.
until that: Grk. ekeinos, pers. pro., that person or that thing. day: Grk. hēmera normally refers to the daylight hours, but also to the timeframe within which something takes place. "That day" is used in Scripture of the particular day of the week connected to the religious calendar. Significant for this context is "that day" often occurs in the context of catastrophe or God's judgment, specifically the Day of the Lord (Matt 7:22; 2Th 1:9-10; 2Tim 1:18). By combining Daniel's prophecy of the Son of Man coming on the clouds and Joel's prophecy of the signs announcing the Day of the Lord, then the Second Coming of Yeshua occurs on the Day of the Lord. Often the concepts of God coming (in the Tanakh) and Yeshua coming (in the Besekh) are connected to pouring out judgment in present circumstances (e.g., Ps 96:13; 98:9; Isa 19:1; 26:21; Micah 1:3; Matt 16:28; 24:50; Jas 5:8-9; Rev 2:5, 16; 3:3).
when I drink it new: Grk. kainos means "new," either (1) of recent origin, or (2) different and superior in quality relative to something old. Danker applies the second meaning to this text. in the kingdom God: The expression refers to God's kingship, royal power, or territory over which he rules. The doctrine of the kingdom in the teaching of Yeshua and the apostles relates to the expectation and fulfillment of promises made to Israel. See the note on 1:15. Yeshua's prophecy alludes to a prophecy he made on a former occasion, "I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 8:11). Reclining at table with the patriarchs would imply the Passover feast and the cups of wine that Yeshua will drink with joy on that day.
There is a remarkable tradition preserved in the Tractate Pesachim by a Jewish sage of the 4th cent. A.D., Rav Awira, concerning an eschatological Passover which says, "The Holy One, blessed be He, will make a great banquet for the righteous on the day He manifests His love to the seed of Isaac" (Pes. 119a). Awira goes on to say that after they have eaten and drunk, the cup of grace will be offered to various great men (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and Joshua), but only David will be qualified. He will say, ‘I will say Grace, and it is fitting for me to say Grace,’ he will reply, as it is said, I will lift up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD" [Ps 116:13]. David, of course, stands for the Messiah in prophetic literature (2Sam 7:12-13; Jer 23:5; Ezek 34:23-24; 37:24-25; Hos 3:5).
Departure of Judas
Placement of the departure of Judas from the upper room in the chronology of the evening is complicated by different perspectives of the apostolic accounts. The only mention of when he left is in John 13:27-30. According to John's narrative Yeshua dipped matzah or possibly meat (so Edersheim 824 and Morris 627) into the bowl and handed it to Judas (John 13:26). This action is specific to the moment in order to reveal the traitor. Yeshua no doubt alluded to both the psalm "Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me" (Ps 41:9), and the proverb, "The one who does not feel respect for persons of the just, is not good; such a one for a morsel of bread will deliver over a man" (Prov 28:21 LXX, ABP). Upon handing Judas the dipped morsel, Yeshua instructs him, "What you do, do quickly" (John 13:27). Judas then leaves.
Lane believes the departure occurred before the rituals of the bread and third cup, although he offers no explanation of how he arrived at this interpretation, since Mark mentions Judas not at all in the last supper narrative (503). Matthew (26:21-22) and Mark present the prediction of betrayal and mention of "dipping" before the sharing of the bread and cup without offering further information on the departure. In Luke the saying occurs after the meal and the sharing of the bread and the third cup rituals (Luke 22:19-20). Then follows the statement on betrayal.
"behold, the hand of him betraying me is with me on the table; 22 that indeed, the Son of Man is going according to what has been determined; but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!" (Luke 22:21-22 mine)
The last clause of Luke 22:21 does not contain a verb, so a present tense verb is supplied to agree with the present tense of "betraying." The declaration in Luke, especially with the use of "behold" to fix the eyes of the disciples, gives strong indication that Judas did indeed remain through the communion time (Edersheim 815). Most modern commentators do not comment on the timing of Judas' departure, but William Barclay does concur with the view of Judas sharing the full meal and sacred rituals (IV, 266), as does Liefeld in his commentary on Luke 22:21. As indicated in John's narrative the departure of Judas occurred before the major teaching of Yeshua that evening.
The Passover meal is a time of teaching, especially of children to remind them of God's great miracles of the past and God's future acts of redemption. However, such discussion gave way to Yeshua's lengthy teaching recorded in the book of John. He answers a question that should arise from teaching about deliverance from bondage, "what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness" (2Pet 3:11)?
● John 14. Yeshua comforts his disciples (1-7), expresses his oneness with the Father (8-15) and explains the future role of the Holy Spirit (16-31). In this chapter Yeshua instructs his disciples in prayer and exhorts them to keep his commandments (15, 21).
● John 15. Yeshua teaches in a parabolic fashion likening himself to a vine and the disciples to branches (1-11), exhorts his disciples to love one another (12-17) and warns them to expect persecution (18-27). In this chapter Yeshua calls his disciples to produce the fruit of love and to keep his commandments.
● John 16. Yeshua continues the warning about persecution (1-4), then returns to the future ministry of the Holy Spirit (5-15), his death and resurrection (16-22), and the power of prayer (23-33).
Tephillat Hakohen Hagadol
After the extensive teaching reported in John 14-16 Yeshua engages in a unique action for Passover. Since he has acted as high priest in the bread and cup rituals he now prays what could be called Tephillat (prayer of) Hakohen (the priest) Hagadol ("the high" or "the great") recorded in John 17.
26 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Passover Custom – Hallel
After singing a hymn: Grk. humneō, aor. part., to utter a celebratory song, more specifically to sing psalms, connoting Psalms 113 to 118 sung during the Passover Seder. This collection of psalms was called the Hallel. No mention is made of the fourth cup of wine that traditionally followed the Hallel and closed the festival meal. The Hallel was normally sung antiphonally with one member of the table company chanting the text and the others responding to each half verse with the shout of "Hallelujah" (Lane 509).
Singing the Hallel was prescribed in the Mishnah as an obligatory duty of Passover (Pes. 9:3; 10:5, 6). The Hallel was recited every day of the festival, including during the slaughter of the Passover lambs on Nisan 14 (Pes. 5:5; 71a). In reality praise to God was permissible at any point in the Passover meal. Part of the Hallel was recited at the eating of the lamb (Pes. 9:3) and the rest at the conclusion of the meal (Pes. 10:6). The Mishnah explains the rationale for singing the Hallel.
"In every generation a man is bound to regard himself as though he personally had gone forth from Egypt. … Therefore it is our duty to thank, praise, laud, glorify, exalt, honor, bless, extol, and adore Him who wrought all these miracles for our fathers and ourselves, He brought us forth from bondage into freedom, from sorrow into joy, from mourning into festivity, from darkness into great light, and from servitude into redemption. Therefore let us say before Him, Hallelujah!" [sing the Hallel] (Pes. 10:5)
The Talmud notes that the Book of Psalms was written with ten synonyms of praise, the greatest of which is ‘hallelujah,’ "because it embraces the Divine Name and praise simultaneously" (Pes. 117a). The closing Psalm (118) would have been special to Yeshua because while it portends suffering and death it ends in glorious victory. Yeshua went to Gethsemane and the cross with the assurance that his Father was with him.
they went out: Grk. exerchomai, aor., to move away from a place or position. to the Mount of Olives: Heb. Har HaZeitim, given for the olive groves that once covered its slopes. The topographical name refers to the middle peak of a north-to-south ridge of hills east of Jerusalem. See the note on 11:1 for the geographical background. Of interest is that the Talmud identifies the Mount of Olives as the "Mount of Anointing" (Pes. 14a).
Parallel Passages: Matthew 26:31-35; Luke 22:14, 21-23; John 13:37-38
27 And Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away, because it is written, 'I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP SHALL BE SCATTERED.'
The placement of verses 27-31 imply that the instruction and conversation occurred after the group departed from the upper room. And Jesus said to them: Mark's opening clause serves the functional purpose of quotation marks. You will all fall away: Grk. skandalizō, fut. pass. The imagery of trap-setting or the laying of obstacles in another's way underlies two principal uses of the verb: (1) to cause someone to be guilty of transgression, and (2) to cause reaction over what appears to be publicly offensive. The second definition is most apt here considering the disciples' unfulfilled expectations and Yeshua's efforts to protect his disciples from arrest (John 18:8-9). Wessel observes that falling away in this context does not mean loss of faith, but loss of courage. They were "offended" (KJV) at the prospect of Yeshua's suffering (and theirs by extension) and thus defected in the moment of crisis.
because it is written: Yeshua gives the standard formula in the Besekh for attesting an assertion of truth and divine inspiration of Scripture, followed by a quote from the Tanakh, here from Zechariah 13:7. I will strike down: Grk. patassō, fut., to hit with a sharp blow, with the focus either on the hitting or on deadly force. Both apply here. the shepherd: Grk. poimēn, a sheep-herder. Yeshua is the great shepherd of the sheep of the house of Israel (John 10:11; Heb 13:20; 1Pet 2:25; 5:4). and the sheep: Grk. probaton, an animal in the care of a shepherd, a sheep without reference to age or gender. Israel is often likened to sheep in Scripture (Ps 95:7; 100:3; Isa 53:6; Jer 23:1; Ezek 34:17; Matt 10:6; 15:24; Mark 6:34), as well as Yeshua's followers (Matt 25:33; Luke 10:3; John 10:26-27; 21:16-17; Heb 13:20).
shall be scattered: Grk. diaskorpizō, fut. pass., to scatter or disperse. The scattering of the sheep is a logical consequence of killing the shepherd. In fact, scattering preserves the lives of the sheep. There is a dual aspect to this prophecy. The disciples are viewed as his sheep and upon Yeshua's arrest they will scatter. In Scripture the nation of Israel is likened to sheep and they, too, will one day be scattered after the destruction of Jerusalem. Yeshua's quotation should also be considered in light of the entire context of Zechariah 13.
In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity. … 7 "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, And against the man, My Associate," Declares the LORD of hosts. "Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; And I will turn My hand against the little ones. 8 "It will come about in all the land," Declares the LORD, "That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it. 9 "And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, 'They are My people,' And they will say, 'The LORD is my God.'" (Zech 13:1, 7-9)
The first verse of that chapter promises atonement, and a time of testing will follow for Israel, but a remnant will be preserved. The chapter ends with the promise that those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved (cf. Rom 10:13), and they will be His people.
28 "But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee."
But after I have been raised: Grk. egeirō, aor. pass. inf., to rise from a recumbent or lower position. The infinitive emphasizes not the action of being raised so much as the condition afterwards. Marshall renders the verb as "I am raised." I will go before: Grk. proagō, fut., may mean (1) to bring from one position to another by taking charge, to lead out; or (2) to go or come before, to precede. Luke 24:50 suggests that the former meaning, whereas Matthew 28:16 suggests the latter meaning. Lane interprets the verb in the temporal sense of going somewhere earlier than someone else (as in Mark 6:45), and thus anticipates a resurrection appearance (510).
you to Galilee: Grk. Galilaia from the Heb. Galil, lit. "circle" or "region." Galilee was the northern part of Israel above the hill country of Ephraim and of Judah. In the time of Yeshua Galilee was a Roman province measuring about 40 miles north to south and about 30 miles east to west. Galilee was bounded by the Province of Syria on the west and north, the River Jordan and Sea of Galilee on the east and the Province of Judea on the south. Stern comments that Galil is also the name of a slope of the Mount of Olives (99). So, did Yeshua mean the mountain or the province? See the note on 16:7.
29 But Peter said to Him, "Even though all may fall away, yet I will not."
But Peter: Grk. Petros, a rock, which translates the Aramaic name Kefa given to Simon Bar Jonah by Yeshua (Mark 1:16; John 1:42). For more on the background of Peter's name see the notes on 1:16 and 3:16. said to Him: The opening clause is the Hebraic manner of introducing a quotation. Even though all may fall away: Grk. skandalizō, fut. pass. See the note on verse 27. yet I will not: Peter apparently had not learned the lesson of never saying never. Just as sure as you confidently say you won't do something, the sovereign God will allow you to be tested so that you do that very thing, thereby proving that you are not the sovereign controller over your own life.
30 And Jesus said to him, "Truly I say to you, that this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will three times deny Me."
Truly I say to you: Yeshua introduces his prophecy with an affirmation of absolute truth and certainty. this very night: lit. "today in this night" (Marshall). The redundancy in the Greek text is a typical Hebraic manner of speaking. Yeshua makes it clear that the prophesied action will occur before sunrise. before a cock: Grk. alektōr, a cock or rooster, a male chicken. The term "rooster" originated in the United States. The rooster is polygamous and guards the general area where his hens are nesting. During the daytime, he usually sits on a high perch, usually 3–5 feet off the ground to serve as a lookout for his flock. He will sound a distinctive alarm call if predators are nearby.
crows: Grk. phōneō, aor. inf., may mean either (1) to utter a sound designed to attracted attention, cry out or proclaim with emphasis; (2) call to oneself; summon, call for, or invite; or (3) to identify in personal address. The first meaning applies here. The rooster is often portrayed as crowing at the break of dawn but cocks or roosters can crow any time of the day. Yeshua may have alluded the to third watch of the night called "cock-crowing." See the note on 13:35. twice: Grk. dis, two times or twice. Only Mark presents the prediction with the cock crowing twice. Matthew (26:34) and Luke (22:33) have "before a cock crows." John does not include the prediction at all.
you yourself: Yeshua resorts to Hebraic redundancy to emphasize that Peter alone will commit the prophesied action. will three times: Grk. tris, three times or thrice. deny: Grk. aparneomai, fut. mid., to refuse to recognize or acknowledge, to deny or to reject. Me: Yeshua foretold the unthinkable that he himself would be the target of denial by one of his inner circle. In contrast, the verb "deny" is applied to Peter, whereas the verb "to betray" is only used of Judas Iscariot (Matt 26:34; Luke 22:34; John 13:38). The fulfillment of the prophecy is recorded in verse 72.
In terms of chronology there are some differences in the placement of Yeshua's prediction in the narratives. In Matthew and Mark the saying occurs after departure of the group from the upper room. In Luke the saying appears to be given on the point of the group departure. John gives the saying quite some time before the group departure, because it is followed by three chapters of teaching and the high priestly prayer. It may well be that Yeshua warned Peter more than once in the evening about his anticipated failing. More likely is that John was not overly concerned about chronology and placed the conversation with Peter after the departure of Judas to contrast the two men. Betrayal and denial are not far apart and just as anger can lead to murder, so denial can lead to betrayal.
31 But Peter kept saying insistently, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" And they all were saying the same thing also.
But Peter kept saying insistently: Grk. ekperissōs, beyond normal limits, emphatically. Peter absolutely rejected Yeshua's prediction as plausible. Even if I have to: Grk. dei, pres. subj., impersonal verb from deō ('lack, stand in need of') and thus conveys the idea of something that's necessary, something that must or needs to happen. die with You: Grk. sunapothnēskō, The verb is formed from the preposition sun ("with") and the verb apothnēskō ("to die a physical death"). Peter offers a rhetorical statement perhaps considering that violence might await them. If it came to a fight then he would stand side by side with Yeshua to face their enemies.
I will not deny You: Grk. aparneomai, fut. mid. See the previous verse. The irony is that Peter has just denied. He dared to contradict Yeshua who never told a lie. And they all were saying the same thing also: The response of the rest of the disciples is curious. They might have deduced that the quotation of the sheep being scattered applied to them or they might have reacted to Peter's insinuation that they might deny him. The scenario of denial probably seemed too surreal to be contemplated, and so they asserted emphatically their allegiance.
Intercession in Gethsemane
Parallel Passages: Matthew 26:36-46; Luke 22:40-46
32 They came to a place named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, "Sit here until I have prayed."
They came: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid., to come or arrive, lit." They come." to a place: Grk. chōrion, a relatively small area of land, a place. named Gethsemane: Grk. Gethsēmani (Heb. Gat Sh'manim, "oil press"). Gethsemane was a garden outside the city, across the Kidron on the Mount of Olives. Gethsemane may have been a walled garden (since texts speak of Yeshua "entering" and "going out") and was a place where he went often for prayer, rest, and fellowship with His disciples. Stern notes that in the place today called the Garden of Gethsemane are very old, gnarled olive trees, which may well date from when Yeshua was on earth (82).
and He said to His disciples: Grk. mathētēs. See the note on verse 12. Sit: Grk. kathizō, aor. imp., cause to sit down, probably on the ground. here: Grk. ōde, an adv. meaning "in this place." The posture changes from the Passover meal and Yeshua makes it clear that he will not sit with them. until I have prayed: Grk. proseuchomai, aor. mid. subj., to pray. Yeshua meant "stay here until I have finished praying." In the LXX proseuchomai renders Heb. palal, to intervene or interpose, i.e., judge. The verb has a variety of meanings, including arbitrate, judge, intercede and pray. The context of prayer in the Tanakh is addressing the Sovereign Judge of all people and thus prayer by its nature requires self-examination. The verb "pray" in Scripture refers to petitioning God for his help or answer with respect to a personal need or the needs of others. Of interest is that Yeshua does not instruct the disciples to pray. There were simply to wait while he prayed.
33 And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled.
And He took: Grk. paralambanō, to cause to go along with, to take. with Him Peter: See the note on verse 29 above. and James: Grk. Iakōbos is a Grecized form of Iakōb ("Jacob"), which transliterates the Heb. Ya'akov ("Jacob"), but rendered as "James" in Christian Bibles. There is no "James" in the Bible. For more on the background of the name and its translation see the note on 1:19. and John: Grk. Iōannēs, which transliterates Heb. Yochanan. For more on the background of the name and its translation see the note on 1:19 and 3:17. Eight disciples were left apart and the three key apostles accompanied Yeshua as they had on other occasions for special purposes (1:29; 5:37; 9:2).
and began to be very distressed: Grk. ekthambeō, pres. pass. inf., to cause to be overwhelmed emotionally, to be stunned or distressed. and troubled: Grk. adēmoneō, pres. inf., to be subject to intense inner agitation, be troubled, distressed or anxious. The use of these two verbs may be a simple Hebraic redundancy without any intention of distinguishing separate emotions, but together they provide a complete picture of his emotional condition at the time. The fact that Yeshua knew logically all that must happen did not prevent strong feelings about the anticipated suffering.
34 And He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch."
My soul: Grk. psuchē, a quality without which a body is physically dead or that which is integral to be a person, life, the inner self or soul. In Hebrew thought a person does not "have" a soul, but is a soul-body. The Hebrew words for "soul" and "spirit" do not refer to a non-physical part of a human being, but rather to the whole person. Human beings live as "souls;" they do not have souls (e.g. Acts 2:41; 7:14; 27:37; and 1Pet 3:20). "My soul" then is a substitute for saying "I." is deeply grieved: Grk. periluptos, adj., in a condition of deep inward pain or disappointment, very distress or grieved. The verb also occurs in Matthew's account of Yeshua's agony in the garden (Matt 26:38).
to the point: Grk. eōs, prep., 'as far as' or 'to.' of death: Grk. thanatos, death in the physical sense, but here intended metaphorically. The reality of his impending death weighs heavily on him. remain: Grk. menō, aor. imp., to be in a situation for a length of time, to remain or stay. here and keep watch: Grk. grēgoreō, pres. imp., be fully awake, to be on he alert, be watchful. See the note on 13:34. The Greek word used here simply means to be awake as a sentry who keeps his eyes open while he is on duty.
35 And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by.
And He went: Grk. proerchomai, aor. part., to take an advanced position in the course of going, to go forward or go before. a little beyond: Grk. mikros, adj., relatively limited in extent. Yeshua went just far enough for a sense of privacy, but not out of earshot of the three apostles. and fell: Grk. piptō, impf., to drop from a relatively high position to a lower one. The verb should not be viewed as an uncontrolled collapse that would induce injury, but simply lowering himself. to the ground: Grk. gē essentially means "earth," as well as a portion of the earth and a limited area, such as soil or ground.
and began to pray: Grk. proseuchomai, impf. mid. See the note on verse 32. It's important to remember that in Scripture the word "pray" means to present a petition to God. that if: Grk. ei, a contingency marker used to set the stage for an event or course of action and introduce an "if" clause. it were possible: Grk. dunatos, adj., capable of being realized. the hour: Grk. hōra, a period of time in the day, an hour or an indefinite time, here used metaphorically. might pass Him by: Grk. parerchomai, aor. subj., to come to an end and so no longer be on the scene. Yeshua's use of "if" shows that he knows it is not possible and what's prophesied will happen. The worst part of his life is about to fall on him and he feels the weight of the responsibility.
36 And He was saying, "Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will."
And He was saying: Grk. legō, impf. Mark no doubt had Peter's remembrance as the source of the content of Yeshua's prayer. The imperfect tense gives a vividness to the scene. Abba: Grk. Abba, vocative case, father. Yeshua uses the familiar Hebrew word "aba" and Mark then translates its meaning for Gentile readers, which may have been superfluous. A number of words in the apostolic writings are given in Hebrew and then translated into Greek for the Gentile reader (Mark 5:41; 7:34; 15:34; John 5:2; 19:13, 17, 19; 20:16; 1Cor 16:22; Rev 9:11; 16:16). The Greek word abba occurs only three times in the Besekh (here; Rom 8:15 and Gal 4:6).
In ancient Judaism there is no evidence of aba being used as a personal address to God (Lane 518). So, when Yeshua addressed the Father in heaven as aba, he clearly established a precedent. Kittel says that Yeshua in all probability employed the Hebrew word aba not merely where it is expressly attested but in all cases, and particularly in address to God where the apostles record him using the vocative case of "father" (I:6). Many commentators identify aba as an Aramaic word and cite it to prove that Yeshua and his disciples spoke Aramaic rather than Hebrew. Douglas Hamp rebuts this common belief in his well-researched work, Discovering the Language of Jesus and offers this note on "abba."
"The [Hebrew] root אב, ab [pronounced "av"], is found in such names as Abraham and Abimelech. Ab is a very old Hebrew word meaning, simply, father. … In Jesus' day we find that the word changed a bit from how it was used in the Old Testament, in that the letter aleph was added to make it the vocative form. That is to say, it becomes a form of address rather than just a description of a person. For example, rather than saying father to refer to him, one would use aba when speaking to him just as today we can talk about our dads or say "Dad" instead of his actual name. While it [aba] is found in Aramaic sources, it is also found in many passages of the Mishnah. In fact, it is found thirty-eight times in the Mishnah. Evidently, the word had become commonplace and even if aba had originally come from Aramaic, by the time of Jesus, it was completely assimilated into Hebrew, and Jesus' use of it is in complete harmony with the Hebrew of His day." (Hamp 67f)
Kittel also notes the use of Heb. aba in the Mishnah, citing various passages, and points out its use as a title of various Rabbinic Sages. The Talmud tractate Avot ("Fathers), records the "Sayings of the Fathers." As Hamp says, the English words "pork" and "beef" came originally from French, but just because I use those words does not mean that I am speaking French (55).
Father: Grk patēr, which is used in the LXX to render ab ("av"). In Greek culture patēr was used of biological relation, of the patriarch of a family, as a title of honor for an old man or a philosopher, and of a deity to emphasize his authority and his power to beget. In the Tanakh the word "father" (Heb. ab = LXX Grk. patēr) occurs about 1180 times, but God as Father occurs only a small number of times and only in relation to Israel (DNTT 1:616f). Many Jewish prayers commence with, Avinu ("Our Father"). Nevertheless, Judaism regards it as unacceptable to appear overly familiar with God (Stern 99).
All things are possible for You: Yeshua offers a paradoxical comment since he had just said "if it were possible." In a strictly logical sense all things are possible for the sovereign God, which is inherent in the definition of the Creator God. However, many things are not possible in terms of spiritual expedience. God will not oppose his own moral will, He will not oppose His own Messianic prophecies and He will not force any person to unwillingly believe in Him. remove: Grk. parapherō, aor. imp., to remove from a position, here of making something go away. The imperative mood is not intended as a command, but as an urgent entreaty.
this cup: Grk. potērion, a drinking cup without further definition. In verse 23 "cup" was used metaphorically of his shed blood as an atoning sacrifice and here the cup carries that same meaning. It is a cup of death and God's wrath, referred to in Isaiah as the "cup of reeling" (Isa 51:17, 22). from Me: Yeshua had previously referred to the cup of suffering when he asked Jacob and John if they were able to drink the cup (10:38). yet not: lit. "but not," a strong denial of the previous proposition. what I will: Grk. thelō, pres., to have a desire for something. but what You will: Yeshua is clear that the sovereign will of his Abba Father is the deciding factor in what happens.
37 And He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?
And He came: Grk. erchomai, pres., to arrive or come, lit. "And he comes." and found: Grk. euriskō, pres., to come upon, to come. The idea of coming upon something or someone that has eluded one in some way or has not been in one's purview underlies most uses of the verb. them sleeping: Grk. katheudō, pres. part., to be asleep in the natural repose of the body, lit. "them, the sleeping ones." Apparently all three of the apostles were asleep, although Yeshua only addresses the leader.
and said to Peter, "Simon: Mark's reference to Peter (a Greek name) and Yeshua's address using his Hebrew name "Simon" illustrate a particular detail in the narratives. Yeshua virtually never spoke "Peter" in direct address (only in Luke 22:34), but he did use "Simon" (besides here also Matt 16:17; 17:25; Luke 7:40; 22:31; John 1:42; 21:15, 16, 17). The apostolic narratives refer to Peter, because Yeshua had prophesied, "You are Simon son of John. You shall be called Kefa (which is translated Peter)" (John 1:42 TLV). The use of the name Peter did not become common until after Pentecost when he was transformed into a rock of faith for the community of disciples.
are you asleep: lit. "are you sleeping?" It seems funny to ask a sleeping person if he is asleep. If Peter was truly asleep the question may have been more like Yeshua muttering to himself. Yeshua no doubt addressed himself to Peter first because of the disciple's earlier protestation of fidelity (verse 29 above). Could: Grk. ischuō, aor., to have the capacity for accomplishing, either to cope with a situation or to achieve an objective. you not: Yeshua laments at Simon's failure. keep watch: Grk. grēgoreō, aor. inf. See verse 34 above. for one hour: See the note on "hour" in verse 35. Here the use of "hour," while literal does not necessarily mean 60 minutes. He only means the amount of time that he had spent in prayer.
38 "Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Keep watching: Grk. grēgoreō, pres. imp. See verse 34 above. The present tense of the command means to start and keep on doing. The three apostles were derelict in their sentry duty and this is a no nonsense command. and praying: Grk. proseuchomai, pres. mid. imp. See the note on verse 32. Yeshua uses the same command form and orders them to start praying. It's irrelevant that they don't have situational awareness. Their Master and Lord has issued a command to be obeyed. Who do they think they are that they can ignore such clear instructions? that you may not come: Grk. erchomai, aor. subj., to come or arrive. The subjunctive mood indicates a potential condition, in this case one to be avoided.
into temptation: Grk. peirasmos may mean either (1) a means to determine quality or performance, a test or trial; or (2) exposure to the possibility of wrongdoing, temptation. The latter definition certainly applies here, but all temptation can be a form of testing. The common distinction between the two is that God tests (Deut 8:2; Judg 2:21-22; 3:1) and Satan tempts (Matt 4:3; Mark 1:13; 1Th 3:5; Jas 1:13-14). It may seem contradictory for Yeshua to suggest that watching and praying will prevent temptation when he himself endured temptation in the wilderness. "Coming into temptation" would be idiomatic for yielding to temptation (Wessel). Yeshua stresses the importance of the watching and praying for themselves, not for him.
the spirit: Grk. pneuma, wind, breath or spirit. Even though there is a definite article, in the context of the saying Yeshua is referring to the human spirit, that innate capacity to connect with God. is willing: Grk. prothumos, filled with zeal for rendering service, eager or willing. but the flesh: Grk. sarx has both physical and figurative uses. Here Yeshua intends the term figuratively for human or mortal nature, with its limitations. He does not use sarx to mean "sinful nature." is weak: Grk. asthenēs, lacking the capacity for something, to be weak. Yeshua offers a proverbial saying of the human condition. People can often have well-intentioned desires and even plans to accomplish something, but fail in the execution because of various personal limitations.
39 Again He went away and prayed, saying the same words.
Again: Grk. palin, adv. that focuses on repetitive behavior, again or once more. He went away: Grk. aperchomai, aor. part., to be in movement from a position, to go away. and prayed: Grk. proseuchomai, aor. mid. See the note on verse 32. saying the same words: Grk. logos, a vocalized expression of the mind, as communication ranging broadly in extent of content and variety of form; word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar (SH-1697), which has a similar range of meaning: saying, speech, word, message, report, tidings, discourse, story, command, advice, counsel, promise, thing, or matter, whether of men or God (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087). The noun is actually singular, so it refers to the total content of the prayer as spoken in verses 35-36. Redundancy in prayer is quite acceptable to God.
40 And again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him.
And again: Grk. palin, adv. that focuses on repetitive behavior, again or once more. He came: Grk. erchomai, aor. part., to arrive or come. and found: Grk. euriskō, aor., to come upon and discover. them sleeping: Grk. katheudō, pres. part., to be asleep, lit. "them, the sleeping ones." for their eyes: pl. of Grk. ophthalmos, the eye as a sensory organ. Sleepiness is a function of the brain, not the eyes, so the statement is figurative. were very heavy: Grk. katabarunō, pres. pass. part., to weigh down, here used of eyes closed due to weariness. Sleepiness would have been a natural condition after a long day that began very early and ended the Passover gathering about midnight. and they did not know what to answer Him: The apostles no doubt felt guilty for disappointing their Master. There's nothing they could say to defend themselves since they had disobeyed a clear command.
41 And He came the third time, and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough; the hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.
And He came the third time: Yeshua demonstrates diligence in overseeing his apostles and trying to motivate their behavior. Are you still sleeping: Grk. katheudō, pres., to be asleep. The phrase has an undertone of incredulity and disappointment. and resting: Grk. anapauō, pres. mid., to refresh with rest, to take it easy. It is enough: Grk. apechō, pres., to acknowledge receipt of something in a commercial sense, to have in full. The verb is commonly translated as "it is enough" or just simply "enough," apparently in reference to the statement about sleeping. However, there is no necessary connection between those two elements. The verb probably refers to Yeshua's recognition that he has received the Father's answer to his petition as indicated by the approach of the arresting party. the hour has come: See the note on verse 35. The time for watching and praying is over, because direct contact with the enemy is imminent.
behold: Grk. idou, aor. mid. imp. of eidon, the inflected aorist form of horaō ("to see") and functions as a demonstrative particle used to secure attention. In written narrative idou focuses on exceptional moments. Here the particle heightens the dramatic effect of the announcement by considering the impact on those who look. the Son of Man: The Hebraic title for Daniel's heaven-sent deliverer. See the note on verse 21 above. is being betrayed: Grk. paradidōmi, pres. pass., to hand over to legal custody. into the hands of sinners: Grk. hamartōlos, one who fails to meet religious or legal standards, i.e., an outsider relative to the "in-group." Yeshua expresses irony here. In the Tanakh the term "sinner" (Heb. chatta) referred to someone who willfully violated Torah commandments, and which tended toward habitual practice. In the apostolic writings hamartōlos equates to the Hebrew word, but in Jewish culture the term had a broader usage.
Among the Pharisees, the ultimate "in-group," the category of "sinner" included prostitutes and thieves, persons of low reputation, and Sabbath violators. Indeed, habitual violation of traditions they considered important was enough to label a person as a "sinner." Some Pharisees were outraged because Yeshua associated with people they considered to be "sinners," and allowed one to touch Him (Matt 9:11; Luke 7:39). He even went to the house of a tax-collector they falsely accused of being a "sinner" (Luke 19:7). Eventually they labeled Yeshua a sinner because he healed on the Sabbath (John 9:16). When one begins to call light dark, then the meaning of "sinner" loses its force. For the first time Yeshua identifies his enemies as sinners, and he means the term by the Torah definition, not the legalism of tradition.
Yeshua may also have intended another layer of meaning. To the Jew Gentiles were sinners by nature (Rom 1:18-32; 2:12; Gal 2:15). The presence of Roman soldiers portended Yeshua's eventual trial before the Roman governor, so his arrest and transfer to Pilate's custody also fulfills the saying here.
42 "Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!"
Get up: Grk. egeirō, pres. pass. imp., to arise from a recumbent position. let us be going: Grk. agō, pres. subj., to cause movement by taking the lead. Yeshua always led from the front and he again takes charge. behold: Grk. idou. See the note on the previous verse. the one who betrays: Grk. paradidōmi, pres. pass. part., lit. "the one betraying." Me is at hand: Grk. eggizō, perf., to come or draw near, to approach. The verb indicates the proximity of the predestined appointment, and the perfect tense indicates that what had begun in verse 10 has now come to fruition.
Arrest in the Garden
Parallel Passages: Matthew 26:47-56; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:3-11
Immediately: Grk. euthus, adj., "immediately" or "at once," occurs 40 times in the Gospel. Mark uses a unique expression kai euthus ("and immediately") 25 times, 18 of which introduce verses, including this one. Mark's writing style heightens the drama of the moment. while He was still speaking: Grk. laleō, pres. act. part., to talk about something, alluding to Yeshua's comment in the previous verse. John's narrative records some important elements in the arrest account that occurs before Judas speaks:
"Then Yeshua, knowing all the things coming upon Him, went forward. He said to them, "Who are you looking for?" 5 "Yeshua ha-Natzrati," they answered Him. Yeshua tells them, "I am." Now Judah, the one betraying Him, was also standing with them. 6 So when Yeshua said to them, "I am," they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So again He asked them, "Who are you looking for?" And they said, "Yeshua ha-Natzrati." 8 Yeshua answered, "I told you, I am! If you're looking for Me, let these men go their way. 9 This was so the word would be fulfilled that He spoke, "I did not lose one of those You have given Me." (John 18:4-7 TLV)
First, Yeshua takes the initiative in order to protect his disciples and asks the crowd who they want. Second, unfamiliarity with Yeshua would not have made him immediately recognizable to the Romans, so they answer him using his commonly known name, Yeshua of Nazareth (see the notes on Mark 1:24 and 10:47). Third, Yeshua replies, saying "I am" (Grk. egō eimi). Christian versions translate the response as "I am He," meaning "I'm the one you're looking for," making Judas' kiss irrelevant. Messianic Jewish versions (CJB, HNV, TLV), on the other hand, render the proclamation as "I AM." Santala suggests that what Yeshua said in Hebrew was the self-revelation of God ani-hu, which Rabbis prohibited Jews to speak (220).
Ani is the first person pronoun "I" (BDB 58) and hu is the third person singular fem. pronoun, which may be rendered as "he" or "she" (BDB 214). When spoken by God ani-hu is translated as "I am He" and in the LXX rendered as egō eimi. Ani-hu as an emphatic predicate of God is found only a few times in the Tanakh, primarily in Isaiah (Deut 32:39; Isa 41:4; 43:10, 13; 46:4; 48:12). In each case the assertion of God reminds Israel either that He is the only God or the eternal God. By using this distinctive phrase Yeshua identified himself with the eternal God, the first and the last (Isa 41:4; 48:12; Rev 1:17; 2:8; 22:13).
Fourth, Yeshua must have uttered egō eimi in a forceful manner because the armed men actually "drew back and fell to the ground" at the force of his words. This was a common reaction in the Tanakh when confronted with the word of God (e.g. Jdg 13:20; 1Sam 28:20; Dan 10:9; Matt 17:6; Acts 9:4). Judas: Grk. Ioudas, a transliteration of Heb. Y'hudah ("Judah"). See the note on verse 10 above. one of the twelve: See the note on verse 10 above. Again Mark reminds readers that Judas was part of the specially selected group of disciples. came up: Grk. paraginomai, pres. mid. ind., to make one's way so as to be present. accompanied by: Grk. meta, prep., lit. "with." a crowd: Grk. ochlos refers to an assembled company of people, often contrasted with the ruling classes (Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees).
with swords: pl. of Grk. machaira refers to a dagger or the Roman short sword used by ancient Roman infantry for close hand to hand combat. John 18:3 clarifies that Judas was accompanied by Roman soldiers. The Romans maintained a sizable force in the tower of Antonia, a fortress at the northwest corner of the Temple court. The fortress served as a palace residence for King Herod, barracks for the Roman troops, a safe deposit for the vestments of the high priest, and a central courtyard for public speaking. Herod the Great built the tower in A.D. 6 and named it in honor of Mark Anthony. Although the name “Antonia” is not used in the Bible, Josephus, the Jewish historian, describes the splendor of the tower with spacious apartments, elaborate baths, and beautiful courtyards (Ant. XVIII, 4:3; Wars V, 5:2).
The tower of Antonia served as an official residence for the Roman procurators and had sufficient space to accommodate a Roman cohort (500-600 men). The Roman army provided additional security for the Temple and so the Jewish authorities sought the involvement of the Romans as soon as possible in view of their ultimate goal. With such large numbers of pilgrims in Jerusalem for the festival, the Romans would be unlikely to refuse a request for help from the high priest. They would always have to reckon with the possibility that Yeshua and the eleven would resist arrest and that a host of excited Galileans might join them (Morris 742).
and clubs: pl. of Grk. xulon, a product of a fibrous plant, thus, anything made of wood; a piece of wood, a club, a staff; the trunk of a tree, used to support the cross-bar of a cross in crucifixion. The great majority of versions have "clubs," but "staves" (KJV) may be a better choice since the "weapons" had the shape of a pole. In any case the ones with the swords were Roman soldiers and the ones with staves were Jewish representatives of the Temple leaders. who were from: Grk. para, to be in association with, "from or from the side of," indicating a point of origin or with the authority of.
the chief priests: pl. of Grk. archiereus. See the note on verse 1 above. The plural noun in this verse may only intend a reference to Caiaphas, the high priest, and the deputy high priest, who was ruler of the temple and chief of the temple security force. and the scribes: pl. of Grk. grammateus. See the note on verse 1 above. and the elders: pl. of Grk. presbuteros primarily carries the idea of ruling authority, leadership or acting in an official capacity. See the note on 7:3. Elders could be found at all levels of Israelite culture. Here the term refers to members of the Sanhedrin who came from the most influential and wealthy lay families in Jerusalem (Lane 532).
Additional Note: Arresting Party
Luke's narrative appears to differ from Matthew, Mark and John who agree that the crowd that came to the Garden of Gethsemane consisted of officials sent by the Temple ruling authorities (Matt 26:47; John 18:3). See my commentary on John 18:3. However, Luke includes "chief priests" in the crowd, as conveyed in all Bible versions. "Then Yeshua said to those having come out against him, chief priests, and leaders of the temple (Grk. stratēgous tou hierou) and elders" (Luke 22:52 mine). Given the many categories of leading priests in the Temple hierarchy we should not suppose that these "chief priests" were members of the Sanhedrin.
44 Now he who was betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, "Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him and lead Him away under guard."
Now he who was betraying: Grk. paradidōmi, to hand over into legal custody. Him had given: Grk. didōmi, plperf., to give. The pluperfect tense depicts action in the past that is complete. them a signal: Grk. sussēmon, a sign or signal. Judas was clever in the arrangement of various details of the arrest. Being the 15th day of the month that night was a full moon, so together with torches (John 18:3) there was plenty of light. The signal was necessary to ensure that Yeshua would be correctly identified from his disciples, because one of the disciples might step forward and identify himself as Yeshua as a protective measure.
saying, "Whomever I kiss: Grk. phileō, aor. subj., to kiss, a symbolic gesture of contact with one's lips indicating respect or regard, without indication of manner. Kissing in greeting or departure was a Middle Eastern custom. Scripture generally speaks of kissing in the context of familial affection, such as between father and children (Gen 27:27; 31:55; 48:10), husband and wife (Gen 29:11; SS 1:1), between siblings (Gen 33:4; 45:15) and other family relations (Ruth 1:14). Kissing might also be a seal of forgiveness and restoration (Gen 45:15; Luke 15:20).
The actual point of contact is only mentioned three times: on the lips (Prov 24:26), on the neck (Gen 33:4) and the feet (Luke 7:38). The apostle Paul encouraged sharing a holy kiss (Rom 16:16; 1Cor 16:20; 2Cor 13:12; 1Th 5:26). An important aspect of a "holy kiss" is it reflects sincerity and transparency. As Solomon says, "An honest answer Is like a kiss on the lips. … Don't be a witness against your neighbor without cause. Don't deceive with your lips" (Prov 24:26, 28 HNV). And, of course, Judas betrayed Yeshua with a kiss of deceit and not a holy kiss.
He is the one; seize: Grk. krateō, aor. imp., to gain control of or to have firm control of. Arrest meant taking physical hold of the offender. Him and lead: Grk. apagō, pres. imp., to lead away or lead forth. Him away under guard: Grk. asphalōs, adv., in a manner that is certain, securely. Rienecker has "safely." The kiss of Judas was the only certain way to identify Yeshua.
45 After coming, he immediately went to Him, saying, "Rabbi!" and kissed Him.
After coming: Grk. erchomai, aor. part., to come or arrive. he immediately: Grk. euthus. See the note on verse 43. went: Grk. proserchomai, aor. part., to approach from a point to a person or place. to Him: Judas, bold as brass, came right to Yeshua. The opening clause would be lit. "and coming immediately approaching to him." The quick location and sighting may have owed to familiarity with the area where Yeshua and his disciples had normally met in the garden in the past.
saying, "Rabbi: Grk. rhabbi ("rah-bee"), which transliterates Heb. rabbi, a derivative of rab, ("great one"). Rabbi means lit. "my great one," and, less literally, "my master," "my teacher." See the explanatory note on Mark 9:5. The greeting of Judas could reflect that in his mind he was being loyal, but in reality calling Yeshua 'Rabbi' was a deceitful act since Judas was not submissive to his Master. and kissed Him: Grk. kataphileō, aor., to kiss fervently. Judas kissed Yeshua in such a manner as to leave no doubt in the minds of the priests and soldiers.
46 They laid hands on Him, and seized Him.
They laid hands: Grk. epiballō, aor., to lay hands on in a hostile sense. on Him, and seized Him: Grk. krateō, aor. See verse 44. The soldiers quickly accomplished the pre-arranged plan.
47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear.
But one of those who stood by: Grk. paristēmi, perf. part., to be in a position beside, to stand by. The indefinite reference is to one of the disciples. drew: Grk. spaomai, aor. mid. part. to draw out, to draw. The verb does not necessarily imply a scabbard. his sword: Grk. machaira. See the note on verse 43. and struck: Grk. paiō, aor., to strike or to hit. the slave: Grk. doulos can mean either slave or servant. See the note on 12:2. of the high priest: Grk. archiereus, high priest or chief priest, here a reference to Caiaphas, the High Priest and President of the Sanhedrin. and cut off: Grk. aphaireō, to cause to no longer be there, here in the negative sense of cutting off. his ear: Grk. ōtarion, the outer ear. The other three narratives give slightly different details about the incident.
Matthew: "And suddenly, one of those with Yeshua stretched out his hand and drew his sword, and he struck the kohen gadol's servant and cut off his ear. Then Yeshua said to him, "Put your sword back in its place! For all who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you suppose that I cannot call on my Father, and at once He will place at My side twelve legions of angels? How then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that it must be so?" (Matt 26:51-54 TLV)
Luke: "When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, "Master, shall we strike with the sword?" 50 And one of them struck the servant of the kohen gadol and cut off his right ear. 51 But Yeshua answered and said, "Stop this now!" And He touched the man's ear and healed him." (Luke 22:49-51 TLV)
John: "Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the servant of the kohen gadol, and cut off his right ear. Now the servant's name was Malchus. 11 So Yeshua said to Peter, "Put the sword into the sheath! The cup the Father has given Me - shall I never drink it?" (John 18:10-11 TLV)
John identifies Peter as the one who struck the servant, as well as the name of the servant, probably as a result of acquaintance with the high-priestly household (Geldenhuys 582). Both Luke and John say the right ear was cut off, but Luke is the only one who tells us that Yeshua healed the servant. Matthew reports perhaps the most severe rebuke of Peter in which Yeshua claims the availability of legions of angels if he wanted them. Wounding the servant in this limited fashion may be due to ineptitude in Peter's skill or the effort of the servant to evade the blow. In any event it could have been much worse. The point of contact suggests an overhand strike, evidence of a lack of experience. A Roman soldier would have aimed his sword at an opponent's mid-section, which would provide greater assurance of lethality.
In any event the account of Peter's use of a sword does raise a question about why he had it in the first place. Luke's narrative provides the background. After predicting Peter's denial after the rooster crowing, the narrative continues with this interchange.
"And He said to them, "When I sent you out without money pouch and travel bag and sandals, you didn't lack anything, did you?" They said, "No, nothing." Then he said to them, "But now, whoever has a money pouch must carry it as well as a travel bag. And whoever does not own a sword must sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me: 'And he was counted with the lawless.' For what is written about Me is being fulfilled." But they said, "Master, look here! Two swords!" He said to them, "It is enough." (Luke 22:35-38 TLV)
The instruction in Luke 22:36 to buy a sword is a hard saying because it seems to contradict other teaching on a non-violent response to evil (e.g. Matt 5:39) and Yeshua's own teaching during the Passover about giving his life as an atoning sacrifice. Yeshua's rationale seems to imply that the disciples carrying swords would cause him to be "numbered with transgressors" (Isa 53:12). However, this quotation of Scripture referred to the two thieves with whom Yeshua would be crucified. The disciples were not to be the transgressors. The disciples apparently did not follow the irony of his reasoning and when two swords were presented he said "enough."
Yeshua did not say "It is enough" in the sense of "that will be enough to defend us all." After all, two swords could not possibly defend the group against Roman soldiers and there was no possibility of buying more swords before arrival at the garden. The common translation sounds like Yeshua is giving his approval on possession of the swords, but he was actually saying "enough" as a rebuke (e.g. 2Cor 2:6). Peter had expected a fight (John 13:37) and he was ready. Bruce suggests that Yeshua's intention may have been for the future when the disciples would travel fleeing persecution (241). According to Josephus when Essenes went on a journey they carried arms to protect themselves against bandits (Wars II, 8:4). As events played out in the garden it is obvious that Yeshua had no intention of his disciples defending him with swords.
48 And Jesus said to them, "Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me, as you would against a robber?
And: lit. "And answering." The NASB omits translation of Grk. apokrinō, aor. pass. part., to answer, counter, reply, or rejoin. In the passive voice the verb is normally indicative of a response to a specific question. The verb is followed a verbal phrase, "Yeshua said to them," which Bible versions treat as a redundancy and so leave the opening participial verb untranslated. (Both verbs are translated in the DRA, KJV, NKJV and TEV). The omission obscures a Hebraic manner of speaking. The fact that the verb is a participle makes it modify and emphasize the verbal phrase that follows. His words here stand in contrast to his later silence in the Council chamber.
Jesus said to them: Yeshua's response could be in the rabbinic style of answering a question with a question, with the question from someone in the crowd being left unrecorded, or his response could be purely rhetorical. "Have you come out: Grk. exerchomai, aor., to move away from a place or position. The crowd had come from somewhere, the soldiers from their barracks and the civilians from their homes. with swords: pl. of Grk. machaira, swords. See the note on verse 43. and clubs: pl. of Grk. xulon, clubs. See the note on verse 43. to arrest: Grk. sullambanō, aor. inf., to take possession of by capture, here in the legal sense of seizing or apprehending.
Me, as you would against a robber: Grk. lēstēs may mean either (1) one who engages forceful and illicit seizure of property, a robber or bandit; or (2) one who engages in violent activity against established social order, a revolutionary or insurrectionist. In the writings of Josephus the term commonly denotes a Zealot leader (Lane 523). Given the attitude of his adversaries both meanings could apply. The chief priests no doubt believed Yeshua was trying to obtain something that was not rightfully his and left to his own devices might eventually resort to violence to achieve it.
49 "Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me; but this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures."
Every day: Yeshua alludes to the past few days. I was with you: The prep. "with" (Grk. pros) has the real meaning of "in your face." Yeshua knew how irritating his presence was. in the temple: Grk. hieron, sanctuary, temple (subst. neut. of the adj. hieros, 'sacred, holy'). When used of the temple in Jerusalem hieron applies to the entire temple complex with all its courts in contrast to naos, which refers to the sanctuary proper where priests offered sacrifices. For a description of the construction and characteristics of the temple see my comment on Mark 11:11. teaching: Grk. didaskō, pres. part., to teach or instruct, lit. "the teaching one." Yeshua emphasizes the fact that during his last week he taught daily in the temple (Luke 19:47; 22:53).
and you did not seize: Grk. krateō, to grasp, to gain control of, to seize. Me; but this has taken place to fulfill: Grk. plēroō, aor. pass. subj., to bring to fruition or completion, to fulfill. the Scriptures: Yeshua could be referring to the specific Scripture of being numbered with transgressors (Luke 22:37) or all the Scriptures the predict the sufferings of the Messiah (Matt 26:54).
50 And they all left Him and fled.
And they all: "All" doesn't leave any out; Yeshua's loyal eleven. left: Grk. aphiēmi, aor. part., to let remain behind, to leave. Him and fled: Grk. pheugō, to make a decisive movement away to avoid a hazard, to flee or to escape. On the surface the action of the disciples to run away seems like an act of cowardice. Actually, the disciples carried out Yeshua's instruction that when persecuted they were to flee (Matt 10:23; Mark 13:14). Their continued presence would only have exacerbated the situation. There wasn't anything they could do and they knew it.
51 A young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they seized him.
The account of verses 51 and 52 are found only in Mark and perhaps emphasize the sense of peril the disciples may have felt. A young man: Grk. neaniskos, youth, a young man, which could suggest teen years. was following Him: Grk. sunakoloutheō, impf., to be in company with someone as a follower or to follow in close proximity. The verb could suggest a disciple or that the young man followed Yeshua in a furtive manner on this occasion. Church tradition identified the young man as John Mark, nephew of Peter and author of this narrative (Lane 527). The manner of referring to oneself in the third person without formal identification is typical of biblical authors (cf. John 21:24). wearing: Grk. periballō, to cover around, to be clothed. The verb might suggest hasty or careless dressing.
nothing but a linen sheet: Grk. sindōn, a cloth product, likely a light garment, like a shirt. The word can mean a "linen" cloth, but actual usage in the narratives of that sense is of a burial cloth. The kind of fabric in this instance cannot be certain. One commentator suggests a light summer "square" hastily caught up or a night dress (Rienecker). over his naked body: Grk. gumnos, naked or bare. He was not wearing the usual two garments worn by Jewish men, which implies haste in dressing. and they seized him: Grk. krateō. See verse 49. The young man must have been fairly close to the action for him to be in danger of being captured. Perhaps the impetuosity of youth overcame his good sense, so he didn't immediately run with the rest of the disciples.
52 But he pulled free of the linen sheet and escaped naked.
But he pulled free: Grk. kataleipō, aor. part., to leave behind. of the linen sheet: Grk. sindōn, See the previous verse. and escaped: Grk. pheugō, aor. See the note on verse 50. naked: Grk. gumnos. See the previous verse. The outcome certainly gives reason to remain anonymous. This would be a major embarrassment, because he obviously couldn't allow himself to be seen uncovered. Perhaps he caught up to the other disciples and someone lent him a garment.
Yeshua Before the High Priest
Parallel Passage: Matthew 26:53-65
Having been arrested Yeshua faced the next stage in his journey to redeem his people, that of being rejected by his nation's leaders (8:31). Although often characterized as trials these meetings were little more than inquisitions. The chief priests wanted Yeshua dead and they would only do what was necessary to give the appearance of due process. The following chart contrasts the elements of the three hearings before Jewish leaders.
As can be seen by this chart, the first hearing is only found in the narrative of John. The second hearing is found only in Matthew and Mark. All the Synoptic Narratives mention the third hearing after sunrise, but only Luke gives a transcript of the hearing.
They led Jesus away: Grk. apagō, aor., to lead off, a term occurring in various phases of a judicial process. to: Grk. pros, prep. has the sense of being before someone. the high priest: Grk. archiereus, a high or chief priest. See verse 47 above. The term occurs 122 times in the Besekh, all in the apostolic narratives and in Hebrews, 54 of which refer to the high priest. In the LXX archiereus occurs only two times in the canonical books, but 41 times in the Apocrypha (DNTT 3:35). In Leviticus 4:3 archiereus renders Heb. Hakohen Hamaschiach, "the anointed priest" and inserted in Joshua 24:33 without Heb. equivalent to describe Aaron.
The Hebrew title Hakohen Hagadol, 'the high [or great] priest,' occurs 11 times in the Tanakh (Lev 21:10; Num 35:25, 28; Josh 20:6; 2Kgs 12:10; 22:4, 8; 23:4; 2Chr 34:9; Neh 3:1, 20), but in all of these passages the title is translated in the LXX by Grk. ho hierus ho megas, 'the great priest.' The office of high priest was established by God in His instructions to Moses at Mt. Sinai. The high priest was the chief executive officer over all the priests, and only he could enter the holy of holies on Yom Kippur to offer an atoning sacrifice for the nation. The first high priest was Aaron, brother of Moses, and all priests after him were to descend from his sons (Ex 27:21; 30:30). For a description of the consecration, clothing, duties and special regulations concerning the high priest see the article at ISBE. See also the Encyclopedia Judaica article "High Priest."
The priests were originally organized into 24 divisions or courses. The names of the courses appear in 1 Chronicles 23:6; 24:7–18. According to Josephus only four of the original courses returned from captivity and those four were divided into the prescribed 24 courses. In the first century there were in excess of 20,000 priests (Against Apion, 2:8). Each of the twenty-four divisions served in the temple for one week, Sabbath to Sabbath, twice a year, as well as at the three major pilgrim festivals when all males were to appear in Jerusalem in accordance with the Torah commandment (Deut 16:16) (Jeremias 199).
Josephus provides an enumeration of the high priests from 200 B.C. to A.D. 70 (Ant. XX, 10:1). He also says that twenty-eight high priests held the office from the days of Herod until the day when Titus destroyed Jerusalem, a period of 107 years, making the average term of office four years. However, the count of high priests does not mean that the succession was unbroken. Caiaphas served as high priest for nineteen years, A.D. 18-37 (Jeremias 378). Caiaphas was appointed by the procurator Valerius Gratus to succeed Simon, son of Kamithos. He served in office throughout the administration of Gratus' successor, Pontius Pilate (26–37), and was deposed the same year as Pilate by Vitellius, governor of Syria.
The high priest mentioned here is Joseph surnamed Caiaphas (Josephus, Ant. XVIII, 2:2; 4:3), who served nineteen years (A.D. 18-37). The nearest to this record was Ananias with twelve, and Annas with nine years (Lane 531). The tenure of the high priest is mentioned in Yoma 8b, "money was being paid for the purpose of obtaining the position of high priest and the [high priests] were changed every twelve months." Apparently, the payments had been going on since the time of the Hasmonean kings (fn 12, Yoma 8b). The Talmud also treats this number as an average, not a prescribed term of office (fn 14, Yoma 8b). One Talmud MS reads: ‘They were changed by Heaven,’ i.e., they did not survive the twelve months. Other MSS read: ‘They were removed by the king when a higher price was offered him for the priesthood.’
As indicated in the chart above a preliminary hearing before Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, preceded the one described here by Mark. It's very likely that the hearing before Annas was part of an artful strategy to satisfy the Mishnah requirement that in a capital case evidence for acquittal had to be sought first (San. 4:1). The combined story of Luke and John reveal the unjust treatment by soldiers and the animus of Annas toward Yeshua. After the beating, interrogation and being held for an indefinite period Annas sent Yeshua to Caiaphas. According to Jewish tradition the houses of Caiaphas and his father-in-law faced each other and were connected by a large garden (Santala 219).
and all: pl. of Grk. pas, an adjective that conveys comprehensiveness, 'all' or 'whole.' The reference to the aggregate number need not be taken literalistically, but as a reference to the Council meeting in a plenary session (Lane 531). In other words, pas describes the total of the group and that group included the three categories of persons. the chief priests: pl. of Grk. archiereus. The chief priests were preeminent among the three groups mentioned in this verse. Their leadership dominance is graphically illustrated in 39 passages in which they are listed first with the other groups. Only in three passages are the chief priests second (after the elders, Matt 16:21; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22). In all the narratives of Yeshua's trials the Sadducean chief priests are clearly "driving the train" toward the cross.
and the elders: pl. of Grk. presbuteros. See the note on verse 43 and 7:3. and the scribes: Grk. grammateus. See the note on verse 1 above. gathered together: Grk. sunerchomai, pres. mid., to come together as a collection of persons. These important persons came together in the court (Grk. aulē) of the high priest (Matt 26:3). In this context aulē refers to a dwelling complex, consisting of a courtyard and associated structures. Danker translates aulē here as 'palace.'
54 Peter had followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the officers and warming himself at the fire.
Peter had followed Him: Grk. akoloutheo, aor., to be in motion in sequence behind someone, to follow, no doubt surreptitiously. at a distance: Grk. makrothen, from a distance, from afar. right into the courtyard: Grk. aluē, courtyard, here the open court around which the chambers of the Temple were built. of the high priest: See the note on verse 47. The precise location was apparently adjacent to the office of the high priest. and he was sitting: Grk. sugkathēmai, to sit together or sit in company with. with the officers: Grk. hupēretēs, helper or attendant, a term applied to various official and assigned capacities and generally associated with the Temple. and warming: Grk. thermainō, to warm one's self. himself at the fire: Grk. phōs, light or fire. Peter demonstrated considerable boldness in following Yeshua to the Temple, but his admittance to the courtyard of the high priest was secured by John who had also followed (John 18:15-16).
55 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, and they were not finding any.
Now the chief priests: See the note on verse 1. and the whole: Grk. olos, adj., whole or entire, viewing the group as a complete unit, but not necessarily indicative of every individual member (also in Matt 26:59). Council: Grk. sunedrion, a governing board. In Greek culture the term originally meant the place where the council met, then the body of councilors or their actual meeting (DNTT 1:363). The Greek word came into general usage in 57-55 B.C. in a decree by the Roman governor Gabinius when he divided the Land into 5 sunedria (Ant. XIV, 5:4). Some time later Josephus applied the term to the high council in Jerusalem when it gained authority over the whole country. Herod, when a youth, had to appear before the sunedrion at Jerusalem to answer for his doings in Galilee (Ant. XIV, 9:3-5).
From that usage the Jews took over the word and converted it to the Hebrew sanhedrin (DNTT 1:363). Sunedrion occurs 22 times in the Besekh with the following applications: (1) a local court or assembly (Matt 10:17; Mark 13:9); (2) Jerusalem's highest tribunal, the Sanhedrin (Matt 5:22; Acts 5:21, 27, 34, 41; 6:12, 15; 22:30; 23:1, 6, 15, 20, 28; 24:20); (3) the meeting room of the Sanhedrin (Luke 22:66; Acts 4:15); (4) In John 11:47 the term seems to mean either an impromptu committee or a Temple committee; (5) Most importantly the term is used of the group that interrogated Yeshua (Matt 26:59; Mark 14:55; 15:1; Luke 22:66). Since so much attention is paid in the narratives to the legal proceedings against Yeshua it is important to understand the background of the Jewish court system. Please see my web article Jewish Jurisprudence before reading further.
kept trying to obtain: Grk. zēteo, impf., to be on the search for or to search for ways to satisfy an interest. The imperfect tense emphasizes the continuous nature of the activity. The verb could be simply translated as "sought" (Marshall). The point here is that the chief priests weren't the only ones asking questions, but the scribes and elders also participated. testimony: Grk. marturia, attestation of a fact or truth, provided by the testimony of a witness. The collection of evidence for condemnation required hearing witnesses first. Testimony was given individually and verbally in the presence of the judges and the accused. In this the Council gave the appearance of correctness. However, the ready availability of witnesses for the prosecution suggests that they had been alerted to the imminent arrest of Yeshua and were waiting to be called (Lane 533).
against Jesus: The Greek text has the definite article with the name (tou Iēsou), a subtle reference to his identity as the "one who brings salvation." to put Him to death: Grk. thanatoō, aor. inf., to put to death. and they were not finding any: Grk. euriskō, impf., to find or discover. The phrase is lit. "and they found not." The clear purpose of the group was to kill Yeshua. They had no interest in hearing truth or in doing justice, which would require examining themselves. To this point they had not secured the kind of evidence they hoped to obtain for official condemnation.
There is a question of whether the group that conducted the interrogation of Yeshua was the entire Sanhedrin, or whether it was even the Sanhedrin at all. The Sanhedrin was comprised of the three categories of persons mentioned in verse 53 (Lane 531). On the other hand, Flusser claims that the Temple was supervised by a committee of the same constituency (142). While he does substantiate that the Temple had scribes based on a quotation from Josephus (Ant. XII, 3:3), and the chief priests and scribes are paired at least ten times, suggesting a connection, there is no evidence that the Temple had "elders." In addition, no Temple committee had the authority to adjudicate a capital case and condemn someone to death.
A hearing for a capital case involving the death penalty required a court (Beth din, lit. "house of judgment") of twenty-three judges (San. 1:1; 4:1). This number served also as a minimum quorum for the Sanhedrin to conduct a hearing (Tos. Sanh. VII.1). Yeshua does use sunedrion in relation to this size of a court found in large towns (Matt 10:17; Mark 13:9; cf. Matt 5:21). Since sunedrion occurs in this verse with the definite article the term most likely refers to the nation's highest court. Since the Sanhedrin was meeting with Caiaphas in his personal court in "executive session," there was no requirement for all seventy-one members to be present.
At least two members of the Sanhedrin were secret supporters of Yeshua: Nicodemus, a Pharisee (John 3:1); and Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man with no known sect affiliation (Mark 15:43). In fact, Nicodemus had publicly defended Yeshua to fellow Pharisees (John 7:50-51). Since the "whole council" (the ones present and voting) condemned Yeshua (verse 64) it's difficult for commentators to believe these two men were present. Kasdan confidently says they missed the meeting (353), even though no passage actually makes that statement.
In all likelihood Caiaphas made sure that any moderate members of the Sanhedrin, such as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, were not invited. There were 15 to 20 Sadducean chief priests, all ex officio members of the Sanhedrin, so only a few more from sympathetic scribes and elders would be necessary for his purposes. If Caiaphas succeeded then he could take Yeshua before the complete Sanhedrin and avoid a protracted trial. And, things worked out better than he could have imagined.
56 For many were giving false testimony against Him, but their testimony was not consistent.
For many: pl. of Grk. polus, extensive in scope and as an adj. of number, many. It's difficult to know from the context just how many witnesses appeared before the Council. It also seems amazingly convenient that these witnesses were available before dawn. were giving false testimony: Grk. pseudomartureō, impf., to give a false witness or testimony. To call testimony "false" concerns the very definition of truth. Truth is not a mere matter of perception or opinion, but that which conforms to reality. A fact in science, for example, must conform to three principles: (1) it must observable; (2) it must be repeatable; and (3) it must not contradict facts determined by other scientific disciplines. (Evolution fails on all three principles.)
For the Torah system of jurisprudence the only evidence admissible would be that observed by an eye-witness. Under the Torah false testimony was punishable to the same degree as the offense for which the testimony was given (Lev 6:5; Deut 19:16-19). against Him: concerning Yeshua. but their testimony: Grk. marturia. was not: Grk. ou, a negative particle indicating strong denial. consistent: Grk. isos, equal of amount, size or status. The testimony was contradictory and therefore unreliable. This was not a matter of witnesses having a different perspective on a particular incident, but of totally different tales.
57 And some stood up and began to give false testimony against Him, saying,
And some stood up: Grk. anistēmi, aor. part., to rise up or get up, probably from a sitting position. The mention of standing could mean that the "some" were members of the Council who normally sat in throne-like chairs. and began to give false testimony: pseudomartureō, impf. See the previous verse. against Him, saying: Mark uses the phrase to introduce quoted material.
58 "We heard Him say, 'I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.' "
We heard: Grk. akouō, to hear, whether in the sense of awareness of matters heard with the ears or comprehension. The verb can also mean to receive information aurally from another. Him say: The unnamed witnesses may be claiming to have heard the following statement, but more likely they're repeating someone else's report. 'I: Grk. egō, pro. of the first person. will destroy: Grk. kataluō, fut., to tear down or destroy, whether literally or figuratively. this temple: Grk. naos, a term that refers to the sanctuary proper, or the holy place, in contrast to hieros (verse 49 above), a term that applied to the entire temple complex with its outer courts. made with hands: Grk. cheiropoiētos, hand-crafted or hand-made. This is an idiomatic expression of human construction. and in three days: lit. "through [or after] three days." I will build: Grk. oikodomeō, fut., to erect a structure. another made without hands: Grk. acheiropoiētos, not made by hands, idiomatic of a divine or supernatural
The actual quote of Yeshua is found in John 2:19, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Ironically, Lane misquotes the verse as "if this temple be destroyed, in three days I will raise it up" essentially making Yeshua agree with his accusers (534). Kasdan makes the same mistake saying, "Indeed Yeshua made such a public statement" (354). A comparison of what the witnesses claimed and what Yeshua actually said disqualifies the testimony of the witnesses. In other words, they told a bold-faced lie that in no respect corresponds to what Yeshua actually said.
First, there is no "if" in the Greek text as Lane suggests. Second, Yeshua did not say "I" will destroy. There is no personal pronoun in the verse. Third, Yeshua's use of the word "destroy" (Grk. luō, to demolish or destroy) is second person plural, aorist active (not passive) and is in the imperative mood. In other words he said "You will destroy." Fourth, Yeshua used the verb egeirō, 'to raise up,' referring to his resurrection. He did not use the word for erecting a structure cited by the witnesses. Fifth, Yeshua did use the word naos, but John, commenting on Yeshua's declaration, says, "He was speaking of the temple of His body" (John 2:21). The testimony has all the earmarks of a rumor and is patently hearsay and presumptively inadmissible.
59 And not even in this respect was their testimony consistent.
The inconsistency in the latest testimony was certainly opposite of what Yeshua actually said, but Mark may also be saying that the testimony was inconsistent with the testimony described in verse 56.
60 And the high priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying, "Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?"
And the high priest: Caiaphas took the lead role as inquisitor. stood up and came forward: Grk. mesos, midst, center or middle. and questioned Jesus: Grk. eperōtaō, to put a question to, to ask in the sense of a formal interrogation. Do You not answer: Grk. apokrinō, pres. mid., to answer, reply, counter or rejoin. The question of Caiaphas has a taunting character to it. The NASB translation is misleading, since there is only one question in the Greek text. Caiaphas asks, "Are you not answering no thing that these men are testifying against you?" Yeshua had the right to answer the charges against him and to have witnesses testify on his behalf. Of course, there is no record that the Council encouraged Yeshua to call such witnesses. They were acting as a "kangaroo court" and had no real interest in anyone who would oppose their goal of killing Yeshua.
61 But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, "Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?"
But He kept silent: Grk. siōpaō, impf., to observe silence by refraining for making an utterance. Yeshua stood as a rock against the waves of hatred crashing around him. The truth was self-evident if Caiaphas had ears to hear. and did not answer: Grk. apokrinō, aor. mid. Yeshua may have regarded the high priest's question as irrelevant. In not answering Yeshua fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53:7, "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth."
Again the high priest was questioning Him: It's interesting that no one else questions Yeshua. Caiaphas decided to take a new tact. Enough with fencing over the words of contradictory witnesses. and saying to Him, "Are You the Christ: Grk. Christos, the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. See the note on 1:1. It's important to remember that "Christ" is a term invented by Jews to translate the Hebrew word Mashiach. "Christ" was not a Christian deity that would replace Judaism with a new religion and then force Jews to convert under pain of death. Christ is not the handsome Angle-Saxon preacher and do-gooder portrayed in most movies and modern art, but the son of King David whom Jews rightfully expected to restore Israel's sovereignty and establish God's eternal kingdom.
the Son of the Blessed One: Grk. eulogētos, blessed or praised, a common circumlocution for the sacred name YHVH and probably a contraction of the formula "Blessed be He" (M. Ber. 9:1) and the longer formula "the Holy One, Blessed be He" that occurs regularly in the Talmud. The genitive case of "Blessed" could be taken as a subjective genitive, meaning that the Blessed performs the action, or as an objective genitive, meaning the Blessed receives the action. In Jewish culture the latter form would apply since blessings were offered to God for a host of benefits daily and typically began with "Blessed are You, Adonai." Of course, the subjective genitive would also apply since God is the giver of every good and perfect gift (Jas 1:17).
In Luke's narrative, others on the Sanhedrin chimed in with asking, "Are you the Son of God" (Luke 22:70), although Luke has the question following Yeshua's pronouncement of the next verse here. Luke probably used "God" instead of "the Blessed" as being more familiar with the official to whom his book was addressed. In Jewish thinking of the time "Son of God" was strictly a Messianic term (as in Ps 2:2; 2Sam 7:14), not a term of deity.
62 And Jesus said, "I am; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN."
And Jesus said, "I am: Grk. ego eimi (Heb. ani-hu). See the note on verse 43 above. Yeshua responded immediately in the affirmative to the question as to his identity. He might remain silent in the face of false testimony and false accusations, but he never would disown his heavenly Father. Moreover, he answered with the same words that God spoke to Israel through Isaiah (Isa 41:4), words prohibited by Rabbinic authority for Jews to speak aloud (Santala 220). Luke 22:70 presents the same answer as Mark, but Matthew 26:64 has, however, "You have said it yourself," the equivalent of a "yes" answer. John, who was present in the council chamber, does not report this particular exchange. Yeshua then conflates Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13.
and you shall see: Grk. horaō, fut. mid., to perceive with the eye, to see. The verb can also be taken in the sense of extraordinary mental or inward perception. Yeshua could be saying either "you will see with your own eyes the prophesied event" (cf. Rev 1:7) or "you will understand the meaning of the prophesied event." The Son of Man: the eschatological supra-natural figure from heaven seen by the prophet Daniel in a vision. See the note on verse 21 above. Yeshua uses "Son of Man" as a synonym for "Son of the Blessed One." sitting: Grk. kathēmai, pres. mid. part., to be at rest on the haunches, to sit down or take a seat.
at the right hand: Grk. dexios, right as of a bodily member or a location, here lit. "out of the right," implying the right side. of Power: Grk. dunamis, the quality or state of being capable, power or might. The term is used here as a circumlocution for God. Even though Yeshua stated his identity he still respected the rule to refrain from speaking the tetragrammaton. and coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. part., to come or to arrive. with the clouds of heaven: The expression could have been intended to be taken literally as of Yeshua's predicted Second Coming in the sky. More likely is that "clouds of heaven" is a euphemism for either the angelic armies of heaven or the Shekinah glory. Yeshua had already informed his disciples in the Olivet Discourse of his eventual fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy. The quotation could even be a conflation of two prophecies in the Book of Enoch:
"And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones." (Enoch 1:9)
"And one portion of them shall look on the other, And they shall be terrified, And they shall be downcast of countenance, And pain shall seize them, When they see that Son of Man Sitting on the throne of his glory." (Enoch 62:4)
See the note on 13:26. Now he informs the nation's leaders.
63 Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, "What further need do we have of witnesses?
Tearing: Grk. diarrēgnumi, aor. part., a forceful separation into parts, to tear into, to rip. his clothes: pl. of Grk. kitōn, a garment worn next to the skin. The tunic was a long piece of cloth folded in half with holes for the arms and head and might be made of leather, wool or linen. Ordinarily, a man wore two articles of clothing, the inner tunic and the outer mantle or robe. Tearing one's garment was a normal sign of grief and shock (Stern 82; cf. Num 14:6, Jer 36:24, Job 1:20, Ezra 9:3), but in this case required in a judicial proceeding (San. 7:7; M.Kat. 25b). The Torah prohibits the high priest from tearing his sacred vestments (Lev 21:10), but there is no indication that the high priest was wearing the garments typically worn in the holy place of the Temple. Such a tear in this situation was not to be repaired. What further need: Grk. chreia, state or experience of necessity, need. do we have of witnesses: Caiaphas realized he could dispense with false witnesses when he had the truth from a reliable witness.
64 "You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?" And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.
You have heard: Grk. akouō, to hear. See the note on verse 58. All members of the Council present heard clearly Yeshua's pronouncement. the blasphemy: Grk. blasphēmia, abusive speech, slander, reviling, maligning or defamation. In Leviticus 24:15 blasphemy is defined as "cursing" God, that is, treating His name with contempt or dishonor. The speech is considered blasphemy when it is against transcendent powers. The Mishnah says of blasphemy against God that it was only considered an offence if the divine name of God was uttered at the same time (Sanh. 7:7; Makk. 3:15; Ker. 1:1). Apparently Caiaphas regarded Yeshua saying the prohibited "I am" (Heb. ani-hu), plus identifying himself with Daniel's heavenly Son of Man (Mashiach ben Ananim, "son of the clouds," Sanh. 96b) as satisfying the Mishnah standard.
how does it seem to you: Caiaphas put the matter to the Council because he could not of his own accord make the official condemnation. Decisions by the Council only required a majority vote. And they all: Grk. pas. See the note on verse 53. The numerical count could mean one of two things. First, "all" may be all those present and not necessarily the entire 71 members of the Sanhedrin. Second, even if seventy-one members were present "all" would represent a consensus or supermajority. It would not imply there were no dissenters (cf. Luke 23:51). Once the U.S. Supreme Court makes a decision, thereafter the vote is rarely mentioned again, because it is irrelevant. The majority vote decided the matter, and the decision is treated as if the entire Court agreed to it.
condemned Him: Grk. katakrinō, to declare worthy of punishment, to pronounce a verdict of condemnation. A vote of condemnation had to have a majority of two (San. 4:1), but the decision was unanimous. to be deserving: Grk. enoxos, required to give an account; liable, accountable or deserving. of death: Grk. thanatos, death in the natural physical sense, which they certainly meant. Regardless of the number of Sanhedrin members present the outcome of "condemning Yeshua carried out an action which expressed the desire of many Pharisees and Sadducees" (Stern 100). The punishment for blasphemy was stoning, but it was not a crime punishable by the Romans. Yeshua's enemies had a plan to deal with that matter.
65 Some began to spit at Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him with their fists, and to say to Him, "Prophesy!" And the officers received Him with slaps in the face.
Luke has this incident prior to meeting with the Sanhedrin (Luke 22:64), but it could just as easily have been repeated. Some: The pronoun is non-specific, but refers to members of the Council. The pronoun contrasts sharply with the "all" of the previous verse. began: Grk. archō, aor. mid., to begin. to spit at Him: Grk. emptuō, pres. inf., to spit on or at. The pronunciation of the verb mimics the sound of the action. and to blindfold: Grk. perikaluptō, pres. inf., to cover all around, to blindfold. Him: Grk. prosōpon, the face. The NASB omits translation of this word. The phrase is lit. "and to cover his face" (Marshall).
and to beat Him with their fists: Grk. kolaphizō, to strike with the fist, derived from the word meaning "knuckles." and to say to Him, "Prophesy: Grk. prophēteuō, aor. imp., to disclose concealed information, here as mockery. Luke 22:64 indicates the point of the mockery was to demand that Yeshua guess who had hit him while blindfolded. Lane suggests that the demand alludes to a prophecy of Isaiah 11:2-4 which says the Messiah would judge without the need of sight (540). Santala says that the mocking demands to prophesy reflected a game called kolafix that had been imported from Greece and had become a children's favorite (221). The game involved covering a player's head with a hood and the others making him guess who had touched him.
And the officers: Grk. hupēretēs, helper or attendant. These were individuals who would keep Yeshua in custody. received Him: The verb speaks of the transfer of custody. with slaps: pl. of Grk. rapisma, slap in the face. Yeshua had to endure more physical maltreatment while he was in the custody of the Temple officers.
Peter's Testing and Failure
Parallel Passages: Matthew 26:69-75; Luke 22:56-62; John 18:16-18, 25-27
66 As Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came,
The scene now shifts back to Peter waiting outside. See the note on verse 54 above. As Peter was below: Grk. katō, adv., of a position that is relatively lower in position or perceived as such, down, downward, or below. in the courtyard: Grk. aluē, courtyard, here the open court around which the chambers of the Temple were built. The difference in elevation may only have been due to steps rather than a different floor, since in Luke 22:61 Yeshua makes eye contact with Peter after his third denial. one of the servant-girls: Grk. paidiskē, a female slave, with focus on obligations or work within a family context. of the high priest came: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid., to arrive. The young woman served in the household of the high priest and was up early no doubt to begin daily chores.
67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, "You, too, were with Jesus the Nazarene."
and seeing Peter warming himself: Grk. thermainō, pres. mid. part., to warm one's self. she looked at him: Grk. emblepō, aor. part., to look at. The verb indicates that she looked straight at him (Rienecker). Ordinarily it would not be the business of a slave to talk to strangers, other than perhaps to offer some aspect of hospitality. and said, "You, too, were with Jesus: The girl seems privy to recent events and knowledgeable of key personalities. Yeshua had been in the temple grounds for the last four days, so the girl could have easily taken note of Yeshua and his disciples. the Nazarene: Grk. ho Nazarēnos, "the Nazarene." The genitive case would be lit. "of Nazareth." The naming convention of identifying persons by place of origin distinguished them from other persons with the same name. Yeshua was a common name. See the note on 10:47. The point of identification also veils an attitude of snobbery (cf. John 1:46).
68 But he denied it, saying, "I neither know nor understand what you are talking about." And he went out onto the porch, and a rooster crowed.
But he denied it: Grk. arneomai, aor. mid., to give a negative answer, to deny, or to refuse to acknowledge, to disown. saying, "I neither know nor understand: This was the first of three prophesied denials. Initially Peter's response could be rationalized that he was merely trying to get the girl to leave him alone. She worked for the enemy and no one is obligated to speak the truth to an enemy. And he went out: Grk. exerchomai, to go out from one place to another. onto the porch: Grk. proaulion, the vestibule leading to the courtyard (Rienecker). [and a rooster crowed:] This phrase does not occur in the earliest and best MSS. The phrase was apparently added by copyists to emphasize the literal fulfillment of Yeshua's prophecy in verse 30. Perhaps copyists reasoned that Peter could not have known that a crowing of the cock was the second if he had not heard the first (Metzger 97). Of interest is that none of the other narratives mention a first cock-crowing, even as a textual emendation.
69 And the maid saw him, and began once more to say to the bystanders, "This is one of them!"
Two things are at work in this scene. First, the prophecy of Yeshua is being fulfilled according to the sovereign will of God and second, the slave girl has decided to involve herself in something not her business. She probably assumed that Yeshua wouldn't be on trial if he wasn't guilty of something and Peter was obviously in league with him. Since Peter had shunned her, she proceeds to pester others in the area to enlist their support for her accusation.
70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders were again saying to Peter, "Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too."
But again he denied it: Grk. arneomai, impf. mid. The imperfect tense suggests repeated denials (Rienecker). Peter was either in "denial" psychologically or he simply did not view his behavior to this point in light of Yeshua's prophecy. This was the second of three prophesied denials. Check. Surely you are one of them: This is no doubt an allusion to the disciples of Yeshua. for you are a Galilean: Grk. Galilaios, an inhabitant of Galilee. In one respect this comment is literal in the sense that Peter spoke with an accent that placed him from the north. On the other hand the remark reflects a Judean assumption that no prophet could come from Galilee (John 7:52).
71 But he began to curse and swear, "I do not know this man you are talking about!"
But he began to curse: Grk. anathematizō, pres. inf., to curse. Peter invokes an anathema on himself if his denials are false (Rienecker). and swear: Grk. omnumi, pres. inf., to swear. Peter then made a plain declaration, such as might be given under oath in a court of Law: "I do not know this man you are talking about." This was the third of three prophesied denials. Checkmate.
72 And immediately a cock crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had made the remark to him, "Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times." And he began to weep.
And immediately: Grk. euthus, adv., "immediately" or "at once," a stylistic device of Mark to heighten the drama of the moment. The adverb also indicates an exactness in the fulfillment of prophecy in terms of timing. a cock crowed: See the note on verse 30. a second time: Only Mark has the specific mention of a second crowing, no doubt reflecting Peter's testimony who clearly knew it had happened, regardless of the disputed mention of the first cock-crowing in verse 68. Matthew, Luke and John only mention one cock crowing. Lane says that observation over a period of twelve years in Jerusalem has confirmed that the cock crows at three distinct times, first about a half hour after midnight, a second time about an hour later, and a third time an hour after the second (543).
And Peter remembered: Grk. epiballō, aor. part., lit. "to throw upon," idiomatic of "to put his mind upon" (Rienecker). how Jesus had made the remark: Grk. rhēma, a communication consisting of words, often with the implication of importance or special significance; statement, pronouncement, declaration, word. Between the first crowing mentioned in verse 69 and the second time mentioned here only an hour had passed and Peter suddenly realizes that in so short a time Yeshua's prediction (verse 30 above) was fulfilled. And he began to weep: Grk. klaiō, to express grief or sorrow aloud (not a silent dropping of tears). Danker suggests "sobbed violently." The CJB translates as "And throwing himself down, he burst into tears." An alternative rendering would be "beating his breast" (Stern 72).
It may well be that if Peter had been confronted with a man he would have affirmed his loyalty to Yeshua, perhaps even drawing his sword to fend off the adversary. Yet he was felled by a pestering young woman. There is no question that the sovereign God orchestrated this conversation. Peter's denials forever marked him and with his later restoration and empowerment by the Holy Spirit became a call to deeper devotion. Peter's failure no doubt stands behind his later instruction in his first letter:
"sanctify Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks a reason for the hope that is in you, yet with humility and reverence." (1Pet 3:15 TLV).
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