Mark 7


The Pharisees find fault with the disciples for eating with

unwashen hands, 1-5.

Christ exposes their hypocrisy, and shows that they had made

the word of God of no effect by their traditions, 6-13.

He shows what things defile men, 14-16;

and teaches his disciples in private, that the sin of the heart

alone, leading to vicious practices, defiles the man, 17-23.

The account of the Syrophoenician woman, 24-30.

He heals a man who was dumb, and had an impediment in his

speech, 31-37.


Verse 1. Came from Jerusalem.] Probably for the express

purpose of disputing with Christ, that they might entangle him in

his talk. Malice and envy are never idle-they incessantly hunt

the person they intend to make their prey.

Verse 2. They found fault.] This is wanting in ABEHLV,

nineteen others, and several versions: Mill and Bengel approve the

omission, and Griesbach rejects the word. If the 3d and 4th

verses be read in a parenthesis, the 2d and 5th verses will appear

to be properly connected, without the above clause.

Verse 3. Except they wash their hands] πυγμη, the hand to the

wrist-Unless they wash the hand up to the wrist, eat not. Several

translations are given of this word; that above is from Dr.

Lightfoot, who quotes a tradition from the rabbins, stating that

the hands were to be thus washed. This sort of washing was, and

still continues to be, an act of religion in the eastern

countries. It is particularly commanded in the Koran, Surat

v. ver. 7, "O believers, when ye wish to pray, wash your faces,

and your hands up to the elbows-and your feet up to the ankles."

Which custom it is likely Mohammed borrowed from the Jews. The

Jewish doctrine is this: "If a man neglect the washing, he shall

be eradicated from this world." But instead of πυγμη, the fist or

hand, the Codex Bezae has πυκνη, frequently: and several of the

Itala have words of the same signification. Bathing is an

indispensable prerequisite to the first meal of the day among the

Hindoos; and washing the hands and the feet is equally so

before the evening meal. WARD'S Customs.

Verse 4. And when they come] This clause is added by our

translators, to fill up the sense; but it was probably a part of

the original: for εανελθωσι is the reading of the Codex Bezae,

Vulgate, Armenian, and most of the Itala. The clause in my old

MS. Bible is read thus: And thei turninge agein fro chepinge. The

words seem essentially necessary to a proper understanding of the

text; and, if not admitted on the above authority, they must be

supplied in italics, as in our common translation.

Except they wash] Or dip; for βαπτισωνται may mean either.

But instead of the word in the text, the famous Codex Vaticanus;

(B,) eight others, and Euthymius, have παντισωνται, sprinkle.

However, the Jews sometimes washed their hands previously to their

eating: at other times, they simply dipped or plunged them into

the water.

Of cups] ποτηριων; any kind of earthen vessels.

Pots] Of measures-ξεστων, from the singular ξεστης, a

measure for liquids, formed from the Latin sextarius, equal to a

pint and a half English. See this proved by Wetstein on this

place. My old MS. renders it cruetis.

Of brazen vessels] χαλκιων. These, if polluted, were only to

be washed, or passed through the fire; whereas the earthen vessels

were to be broken.

And of tables.] Beds, couches-καικλινων. This is wanting in

BL, two others, and the Coptic. It is likely it means no more

than the forms, or seats, on which they sat to eat. A bed or a

couch was defiled, if any unclean person sat or leaned on it-a man

with an issue-a leper-a woman with child, &c. As the word

βαπτισμους, baptisms, is applied to all these, and as it is

contended that this word, and the verb whence it is derived,

signify dipping or immersion alone, its use in the above cases

refutes that opinion and shows that it was used, not only to

express dipping or immersion, but also sprinkling and washing.

The cups and pots were washed; the beds and forms perhaps

sprinkled; and the hands dipped up to the wrist.

Verse 5. Why walk not thy disciples] See Clarke on Mt 15:2-9.

Verse 6. Honoureth me] μετιμα-but the Codex Bezae, and

three copies of the Itala, have μεαγαπα, loveth me:-the

AEthiopic has both readings.

Verse 8. Washing of pots and cups, &c.] This whole clause is

wanting in BL, five others, and the Coptic: one MS. omits this and

the whole of the ninth verse. The eighth verse is not found in

the parallel place of Mt 15:7-9.

Verse 9. Full well] καλωσ,-a strong irony. How noble is your

conduct! From conscientious attachment to your own traditions ye

have annihilated the commandments of God!

That ye may keep] But στησητε, that ye may establish, is the

reading of D, three others, Syriac, all the Itala, with

Cyprian, Jerome, and Zeno. Griesbach thinks it should be

received instead of the other. God's law was nothing to these

men, in comparison of their own: hear a case in point. "Rabba

said, How foolish are most men! They observe the precepts of the

Divine law, and neglect the statutes of the rabbins!" Maccoth,

fol. 22.

Verse 10. For Moses said, &c.] See all these verses, from

this to the 23d, explained Mt 15:3-20.

Verse 13. Your tradition] D, later Syriac in the margin,

Saxon, and all the Itala but one, add τημωρα, by your

FOOLISH tradition. [Anglo-Saxon], your foolish law:-Anglo-Saxon.

Verse 14. When he had called all the people] But instead of

παντα, all, παλιν, again, is the reading of BDL, later

Syriac in the margin, Coptic, AEthiopic, Saxon, Vulgate, all the

Itala but one. Mill and Griesbach approve of this reading.

Verse 19. Into the draught] See Clarke on Mt 15:17.

Purging all meats?] For what is separated from the different

aliments taken into the stomach, and thrown out of the body, is

the innutritious parts of all the meats that are eaten; and thus

they are purged, nothing being left behind but what is proper for

the support of the body.

Verse 24. Into the borders of Tyre end Sidon] Or, into the

country between Tyre and Sidon. I have adopted this translation

from KYPKE, who proves that this is the meaning of the word

μεθορια, in the best Greek writers.

Verse 25. A certain woman] See this account of the

Syrophoenician woman explained at large, Mt 15:21-28.

Verse 26. The woman was a Greek] Rosenmuller has well

observed, that all heathens or idolaters were called ελληνες,

Greeks, by the Jews; whether they were Parthians, Medes, Arabs,

Indians, or AEthiopians. Jews and Greeks divided the whole world

at this period.

Verse 30. Laid upon the bed.] The demon having tormented her,

so that her bodily strength was exhausted, and she was now laid

upon the couch to take a little rest. The AEthiopic has a

remarkable reading here, which gives a very different, and, I

think, a better sense. And she found her daughter CLOTHED,

SITTING upon the couch, and the demon gone out.

Verse 32. They bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an

impediment in his speech] Though from the letter of the text, it

does not appear that this man was absolutely deprived of speech;

for μογιλαλος literally signifies, one that cannot speak plainly-a

stammerer; yet it is certain also that the word means a dumb

person; and it is likely that the person in question was dumb,

because he was deaf; and it is generally found that he who is

totally deaf is dumb also. Almost all the versions understand the

word thus: and the concluding words seem to confirm this-He maketh

both the deaf to hear, and the DUMB, κωφους, to speak.

Verse 33. And he spit, and touched his tongue] This place is

exceedingly difficult. There is scarcely an action of our Lord's

life but one can see an evident reason for, except this. Various

interpretations are given of it-none of them satisfies my mind.

The Abbe Giradeau spiritualizes it thus:-1. He took him aside from

the multitude-When Christ saves a sinner, he separates him from

all his old evil companions, and from the spirit and maxims of an

ungodly world. 2. He put his fingers in his ears-to show that

they could be opened only by the finger, i.e. the power, of God,

and that they should be shut to every word and voice, but what

came from him. 3. Spitting out he touched his tongue-to show that

his mental taste and relish should be entirely changed: that he

should detest those things which he before esteemed, and esteem

those which he before hated. 4. Looking up to heaven-to signify

that all help comes from God, and to teach the new convert to keep

continually looking to and depending upon him. 5. He groaned-to

show the wretched state of man by sins and how tenderly concerned

God is for his present and eternal welfare; and to intimate that

men should seek the salvation of God in the spirit of genuine

repentance, with strong crying and tears. 6. He said, Be

opened-Sin is a shutting of the ears against the words of

God; and a tying of the tongue, to render it incapable of giving

God due praise. But when the all-powerful grace of Christ reaches

the heart, the ear is unstopped, and the man hears distinctly-the

tongue is unloosed, and the man speaks correctly.

After all, it is possible that what is attributed here to

Christ belongs to the person who was cured. I will give my sense

of the place in a short paraphrase.

And Jesus took him aside from the multitude: and [the deaf man]

put his fingers into his ears, intimating thereby to Christ that

they were so stopped that he could not hear; and having spat out,

that there might be nothing remaining in his mouth to offend the

sight when Christ should look at his tongue, he touched his

tongue, showing to Christ that it was so bound that he could not

speak: and he looked up to heaven, as if to implore assistance

from above: and he groaned, being distressed because of his

present affliction, and thus implored relief: for, not being able

to speak, he could only groan and look up, expressing by these

signs, as well as he could, his afflicted state, and the desire he

had to be relieved. Then Jesus, having compassion upon him, said,

Be opened: and immediately his ears were opened, so that he could

hear distinctly; and the impediment to his speaking was removed,

so that he spake properly. The original will admit of this

interpretation; and this, I am inclined to believe, is the true

meaning of this otherwise (to me and many others) unaccountable


Verse 34. Ephphatha] Ethphathach, [Syriac] Syriac. It is

likely that it was in this language that our Lord spoke to this

poor man: and because he had pronounced the word Ephphathach with

peculiar and authoritative emphasis, the evangelist thought proper

to retain the original word; though the last letter in it could

not be expressed by any letter in the Greek alphabet.

Verse 35. He spake plain.] ορθως, distinctly, without

stammering. One MS. has, And he spoke, praising God. There is no

doubt of this: but the evangelist, I think, did not write these


Verse 36. Tell no man] See Clarke on Mt 8:4. This miracle

is not mentioned by any other of the evangelists. Another proof that

Mark did not abridge Matthew. For a practical review of the

different important subjects of this chapter, see Mt 15:1-39,

and particularly the observations at the end.

See Clarke on Mt 15:39.

Verse 37. He hath done all things well] This has been, and

ever will be, true of every part of our Lord's conduct. In

creation, providence, and redemption he hath done all things well.

The wisest philosophers are agreed that, considering creation as

a whole, it would be impossible to improve it. Every thing has

been made in number, weight, and measure; there really is nothing

deficient, nothing redundant; and the good of the creature

seems evidently more consulted than the glory of the Creator. The

creature's good is every where apparent; but to find out how the

Creator is glorified by these works requires the eye of the

philosopher. And as he has done all things well in creation, so

has he in providence: here also every thing is in number, weight,

measure, and time. As creation shows his majesty, so

providence shows his bounty. He preserves every thing he has

made; all depend upon him; and by him are all things supported.

But how glorious does he appear in the work of redemption! How

magnificent, ample, and adequate the provision made for the

salvation of a lost world! Here, as in providence, is enough for

all, a sufficiency for each, and an abundance for eternity.

He loves every man, and hates nothing that he has made; nor can

the God of all grace be less beneficent than the Creator and

Preserver of the universe.

Copyright information for Clarke