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Jehovah’s Witnesses

English
New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)

Mark 7:1-37

7  Now the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him.+  And they saw some of his disciples eat their meal with defiled hands, that is, unwashed ones.  (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands up to the elbow, clinging to the tradition of the men of former times,  and when they come from the market, they do not eat unless they wash themselves. There are many other traditions that they have received and cling to, such as baptisms of cups, pitchers, and copper vessels.)+  So these Pharisees and scribes asked him: “Why do your disciples not observe the tradition of the men of former times, but they eat their meal with defiled hands?”+  He said to them: “Isaiah aptly prophesied about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far removed from me.+  It is in vain that they keep worshipping me, for they teach commands of men as doctrines.’+  You let go of the commandment of God and cling to the tradition of men.”+  Further, he said to them: “You skillfully disregard the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.+ 10  For example, Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’+ and, ‘Let the one who speaks abusively of* his father or mother be put to death.’+ 11  But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother: “Whatever I have that could benefit you is corban (that is, a gift dedicated to God),”’ 12  you no longer let him do a single thing for his father or his mother.+ 13  Thus you make the word of God invalid by your tradition that you have handed down.+ And you do many things like this.”+ 14  So calling the crowd to him again, he said to them: “Listen to me, all of you, and understand the meaning.+ 15  Nothing from outside a man that enters into him can defile him; but the things that come out of a man are the things that defile him.”+ 16  —— 17  Now when he had entered a house away from the crowd, his disciples began to question him about the illustration.+ 18  So he said to them: “Are you also without understanding like them? Are you not aware that nothing from outside that enters into a man can defile him, 19  since it enters, not into his heart, but into his stomach, and it passes out into the sewer?”* Thus he declared all foods clean. 20  Further, he said: “That which comes out of a man is what defiles him.+ 21  For from inside, out of the heart of men,+ come injurious reasonings, sexual immorality, thefts, murders, 22  acts of adultery, greed, acts of wickedness, deceit, brazen conduct, an envious eye, blasphemy, haughtiness, and unreasonableness. 23  All these wicked things come from within and defile a man.”+ 24  He rose up from there and went into the region of Tyre and Siʹdon.+ There he entered into a house and did not want anyone to know it, but he could not escape notice. 25  Immediately, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him and came and fell down at his feet.+ 26  The woman was a Greek, a Sy·ro·phoe·niʹcian by nationality;* and she kept asking him to expel the demon from her daughter. 27  But he said to her: “First let the children be satisfied, for it is not right to take the bread of the children and throw it to the little dogs.”+ 28  But she replied to him: “Yes, sir, and yet even the little dogs underneath the table eat of the crumbs of the little children.” 29  At that he said to her: “Because you said this, go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.”+ 30  So she went away to her home and found the young child lying on the bed, and the demon was gone.+ 31  When Jesus returned from the region of Tyre, he went through Siʹdon to the Sea of Galʹi·lee, through the region of De·capʹo·lis.+ 32  Here they brought him a deaf man with a speech impediment,+ and they pleaded with him to lay his hand on him. 33  And he took him aside privately, away from the crowd. Then he put his fingers into the man’s ears, and after spitting, he touched his tongue.+ 34  And looking up into heaven, he sighed deeply and said to him: “Ephʹpha·tha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35  At this his ears were opened,+ and his speech impediment was removed, and he began speaking normally. 36  With that he ordered them not to tell anyone,+ but the more he would order them, the more they would proclaim it.+ 37  Indeed, they were astounded beyond measure,+ and they said: “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the speechless speak.”+

Footnotes

Or “reviles.”
Or “latrine; privy.”
Or “by birth.”

with defiled hands, that is, unwashed ones: Mark’s explanation here and in verses 3 and 4 would benefit readers who were not familiar with the term “defiled hands” or the Jewish practice of handwashing. (See “Introduction to Mark.”) This practice was a ceremonial cleansing to adhere to tradition rather than a concern for hygiene. Later, the Babylonian Talmud (Sotah 4b) puts eating with unwashed hands on par with having relations with a prostitute, and it states that those who lightly esteem handwashing will be “uprooted from the world.”

wash their hands: The Mosaic Law required that the priests wash their hands and their feet before ministering at the altar or entering the tent of meeting. (Ex 30:18-21) However, as shown in the study note on Mr 7:2, the Pharisees and other Jews in Jesus’ day adhered to human tradition when they ceremonially cleansed themselves. Of the four Gospel accounts, only Mark’s account mentions that the ceremonial washing of hands reached up to the elbow.

wash themselves: Many ancient manuscripts use the Greek word ba·ptiʹzo (to dip; to immerse) here, a term that most often describes Christian baptism, but at Lu 11:38, it is used to describe a broad range of repeated ritual washings rooted in Jewish tradition. Other ancient manuscripts here use the Greek term rhan·tiʹzo, meaning “to sprinkle; to cleanse by sprinkling.” (Heb 9:13, 19, 21, 22) Regardless of which manuscript reading is preferred, the general meaning remains the same; devout Jews did not eat unless they in some way cleansed themselves ceremonially. In Jerusalem, there is archaeological evidence that the Jews used ritual baths at this time, which in this context could give support for rendering the verb ba·ptiʹzo, “immerse themselves.”

baptisms: Or “immersions into water.” The Greek word ba·pti·smosʹ is here used regarding cleansing rituals practiced by some religious Jews in Jesus’ time. They baptized, or immersed into water, the cups, pitchers, and copper vessels used at meals.

corban: The Greek word kor·banʹ is a loanword from the Hebrew qor·banʹ, meaning “an offering.” This Hebrew word is often used in Leviticus and Numbers and applies both to offerings containing blood and to those that are bloodless. (Le 1:2, 3; 2:1; Nu 5:15; 6:14, 21) A related word, kor·ba·nasʹ, appears at Mt 27:6, where it is rendered “sacred treasury.”—See study note on Mt 27:6.

a gift dedicated to God: The scribes and Pharisees taught that money, property, or anything that a person dedicated as a gift to God belonged to the temple. According to this tradition, a son could keep the dedicated gift and use it for his own interests, claiming that it was reserved for the temple. Some evidently evaded the responsibility of caring for their parents by dedicating their assets in this way.Mr 7:12.

Some manuscripts here include the words “If anyone has ears to listen, let him listen,” but they do not appear in important early manuscripts. Therefore, these words are evidently not part of the original text of Mark. Similar words, though, can be found at Mr 4:9, 23 as part of the inspired Scriptures. Some scholars are of the opinion that a copyist introduced these words here as a natural comment following verse 14 by drawing from the wording at Mr 4:9, 23.—See App. A3.

Thus he declared all foods clean: The Greek text allows for these words to be a continuation of what Jesus said, but they are generally understood to be Mark’s observation on the implications of what Jesus had just explained. It does not mean that Jesus was declaring that Jews could now eat certain foods that had been considered unclean according to the Mosaic Law. That Law remained in force until Jesus’ death. Mark’s comment must be understood in accord with this historical context. (Le, chap. 11; Ac 10:9-16; Col 2:13, 14) The tradition-bound religious leaders felt that even “clean” foods would make a person unclean unless he first followed elaborate cleansing rituals not required by the Law. Therefore, the meaning of Mark’s comment is evidently that Jesus declared that foods counted as “clean” according to the Mosaic Law would not defile the eater just because he had not ritualistically washed his hands according to man-made traditions. Furthermore, some have understood that Mark was also commenting on the future implications Jesus’ words would have for Christians. By the time Mark wrote his Gospel, Peter had seen the vision in which he was told, in language similar to this passage in Mark, that “God has cleansed” foods that were once considered defiled according to the Mosaic Law. (Ac 10:13-15) In either case, the words appear to be Mark’s inspired summary of the implications of Jesus’ words, not the words of Jesus himself.

sexual immorality: The plural form of the Greek word por·neiʹa is used here and could be rendered “acts (cases) of sexual immorality.”—See study note on Mt 5:32 and Glossary.

acts of adultery: The plural form of the Greek word for “adultery” (moi·kheiʹa) is used here.—See Glossary, “Adultery.”

brazen conduct: Or “shameless conduct.” The Greek word a·selʹgei·a denotes conduct that is a serious violation of God’s laws and that reflects a brazen or boldly contemptuous attitude.—See Glossary.

an envious eye: The Greek word here rendered “envious” literally means “bad; wicked.” The term “eye” is here used figuratively of a person’s intent, disposition, or emotions. The expression “an envious eye” could also be rendered “envy.”—See study notes on Mt 6:23; 20:15.

a Greek: This non-Israelite woman was likely of Greek descent.

Syrophoenician: This expression, a combination of “Syrian” and “Phoenician,” probably originated because Phoenicia was part of the Roman province of Syria.—See study note on Mt 15:22, where the woman is called “Phoenician,” or “Canaanite.”

children . . . little dogs: Since dogs were unclean according to the Mosaic Law, the Scriptures often use the term in a derogatory sense. (Le 11:27; Mt 7:6; Php 3:2; Re 22:15) However, in both Matthew’s account (15:26) and Mark’s account of Jesus’ conversation, the diminutive form of the term meaning “little dog” or “house dog” is used, softening the comparison. Perhaps this indicates that Jesus used an affectionate term for household pets in non-Jewish homes. By likening Israelites to “children” and non-Jews to “little dogs,” Jesus evidently wanted to indicate an order of priority. In a household that had both children and dogs, the children would be fed first.

Decapolis: See Glossary and App. B10.

a deaf man with a speech impediment: Only Mark mentions Jesus’ healing of the deaf man who had a speech impediment.Mr 7:31-37.

took him aside privately: This was not something Jesus usually did when healing the sick. He may have desired to avoid embarrassing the man. Jesus wanted to help him in the kindest way possible.

spitting: Some among both Jews and Gentiles considered spitting a means or sign of healing. So Jesus may have spit simply to convey to the man that he was about to be healed. Whatever the case, Jesus was not using his saliva as a natural healing agent.

sighed deeply: Mark often records Jesus’ feelings, perhaps as related to Mark by Peter, a man of deep emotion. (See “Introduction to Mark.”) This verb may describe a prayerful sigh or groan, reflecting Jesus’ sympathy for the man or even Jesus’ pain over the suffering of all humans. A related verb at Ro 8:22 describes the “groaning” of all creation.

Ephphatha: A Greek transliteration thought by some to derive from a Hebrew root word that is rendered “be unstopped” at Isa 35:5. Jesus’ use of this expression must have made an indelible impression on an eyewitness, possibly Peter, who may have related it verbatim to Mark. Like the expression “Talitha cumi” (Mr 5:41), it is one of the few times that Jesus is quoted verbatim.

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