07.02 The Sabbath Challenge

07.02 The Sabbath Challenge

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 08, 2016  -  Comments Off on 07.02 The Sabbath Challenge

Unit 07

Opposition Against Jesus Grows


Chapter 02

The Sabbath Challenge





07.02.01 Introduction

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 08, 2016  -  Comments Off on 07.02.01 Introduction

07.02.01 Introduction

Prior to discussing this topic, a brief review of the first century Sabbath restrictions[1] is necessary along with a review of two influential schools of theology in Unit 02.[2] The School of Shammai held that it was unlawful to comfort the sick or visit the mourner on the Sabbath, but the School of Hillel permitted it. In the case of a violation, the school of Shammai demanded physical punishment whereas the Pharisees, as strict and legalistic as they were, offered a milder punishment that was often in the form of a monetary fine.[3] Those who confronted Jesus for healing on the Sabbath were most likely to be followers of Shammai, rather than Hillel. To add social conflict to the mix, other religious sects held other beliefs – and most of them were under the “Pharisee” umbrella.


Without question, the pious Jews of the Inter-Testamental Period and at the time of Jesus were concerned that they not offend God and again be evicted from their land.  They knew the reason their forefathers had been sent to Babylon for seventy years was because they failed to honor the Sabbath. Therefore, by the time Jesus came, observing the Sabbath had become a weekly ritual of unprecedented importance.  Unfortunately, in the process of doing so, the elite Pharisee leadership lost sight of their responsibility to care for the congregations.[4]

The leading Pharisees believed they had established a series of righteous acts that, when completed, would establish not only favor with God, but also essentially permit one to earn his salvation.  Below are samples of thirty-nine categories of activities from the Oral Law that limited activities for the Sabbath and for any Friday identified as a Preparation Day.[5] 


Flesh and onions and eggs may not be roasted unless there is time for them to be roasted the same day, nor can bread be put into the oven when darkness is falling, nor may cakes be put upon coals unless there is time for their top surface to form into crust.

Mishnah, Shabbath 1.10


If a double stove had been heated with stubble or straw, cooked food may be set on it (on the Sabbath); but if with peat or wood, cooked food may not be set on it until it has been swept out or covered with ashes.  The School of Shammai says: “Hot water but not cooked food may be set thereon.”   The School of Hillel says; “Both hot water and cooked food.”  The School of Shammai says, “They may be removed (on the Sabbath) but not put back.” And the school of Hillel says: “They may also be put back.”

Mishnah, Shabbath 3.1[6]


An egg may not be put inside a kettle (on the Sabbath) so it shall get cooked, nor may it be cracked within (hot) wrappings; but Rabbi Jose permits this.  Nor may it be buried in (hot) sand or in the dust of the road so that it shall get roasted.

Mishnah, Shabbath 3.3[7]


A vessel may not be put under the lamp (on the Sabbath) to collect the (dripping) oil; but if it was put there before nightfall it is permitted.

Mishnah, Shabbath 3.6[8]


Rabbi Aha in the name of Rabbi Tanhum ben Rabbi Hiaay said, “If Israel repents for one day, forthwith the son of David will come.”  Said Rabbi Levi, “If Israel would keep a single Sabbath in the proper way, forthwith the son of David will come.”

Jerusalem Talmud, Tannit 1.1


If a man removed his finger nails by means of his nails or teeth, and so, too, if [he pulled out] the hair on his head, or his mustache or his beard; and so, too, if a woman dressed her hair or painted her eyelids or reddened [her face], such a one Rabbi Eliezer declares liable to a sin offering.

Mishnah, Shabbath 10.6


According to some Pharisees, Sabbath regulations even prevented mourning the loss of a loved one, due to a legalistic regulation based on Proverbs 10:22 that read, “The blessing of the Lord brings wealth and he adds no trouble to it.” They distorted the proverbs of life in an attempt to be pure and holy before God.[9] Another rule forbade women to look in a mirror on the Sabbath.[10] Jesus was passionately upset over these restrictive bondages.


Video Insert    >

07.02.01.V Insights into the Sabbath Regulations. Dr. Malcolm Lowe discusses some unique insights that pertained to the Sabbath controveries.


Finally, it must be emphasized that not all Pharisaic rabbis held the same views concerning Sabbath regulations. There were those who said that a Sabbath rest was defined as ceasing from work activities so one could reconnect with God, family, and friends, and reflect upon the blessings of God in the past week.[11] This agreed with Jesus who clearly said that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. But that statement tends to open more questions than it answers. Some Messianic believers say that for six days God performed His work in the creation, and the seventh day is set aside for His superior creation (mankind) to focus attention on Him.[12] When examining how the modern church honors the Sabbath, it clearly is in frequent violation in both practice and teaching. When one’s attention is totally focused on Christ Jesus, as it should be on that day, then the issue related to many potential activities becomes a moot point.


[1]. See 02.04.06 “Sabbath Day Observances.”

[2]. See 02.01.14 “Pharisees,” 02.01.18 “School of Hillel,” and  02.01.19 “School of Shammai.”

[3]. Geikie, The Life and Works of Christ. 2:106.

[4].  For more information, see “02.02.18 Oral Law,” “02.02.20 Oral Tradition,” and Sabbath regulations in Jubilees 50:6-13 at 02.04.06.  In fact, during the Maccabean Revolt, since the Jews refused to fight on the Sabbath, the Greeks slaughtered more than a thousand men, women, and children. Thereafter they decided to defend themselves so as not to be removed from the face of the earth (1 Macc. 2:31-38).

[5]. The Day of Preparation was the day prior to special holy days such as Passover; a day when work would end and the people prepared themselves for the special event or a special Sabbath (Mt. 27:62; Mk. 15:42; Lk. 23:54; Jn. 19:14, 31, 42). It was rooted in Lev. 23:5-7; Num. 11:18; Jos. 7:13.

[6]. Parenthesis by Danby, ed. Mishnah.

[7]. Parenthesis by Danby, ed. Mishnah.

[8]. Parenthesis by Danby, ed. Mishnah.

[9]. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 510, 1046.

[10]. Babylonian Talmud, Shabbath 149a; Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 92.

[11]. Parry, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Talmud. 60.

[12]. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 199-202.  



Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 08, 2016  -  Comments Off on 07.02.02 Galilee PLUCKING GRAIN ON THE SABBATH

07.02.02 Mt. 12:1-7; Mk. 2:25-28 (See also Lk. 6:1-5) Galilee




Mt. 1 At that time Jesus passed through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick and eat some heads of grain. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!”

Mk. 25 He said to them, “Have you never read what David and those who were with him did when he was in need and hungry — 26 how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest and ate the sacred bread — which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests — and also gave some to his companions?”

Mt. 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that on Sabbath days the priests in the temple violate the Sabbath and are innocent?  6 But I tell you that something greater than the temple is here! 7 If you had known what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent.

Mk. 27 Then He told them, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. 28 Therefore, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”


Little did the rabbis consider the activity of David and his men when they were in a precarious situation – fleeing for their lives from King Saul (1 Sam. 21). When they became extremely exhausted and hungry, they entered the holy sanctuary and ate bread, “loaves of presentation,” also called “shewbread,” that were reserved for the priests (1 Sam. 21:1-6; Isa. 58:6-7).  A dozen loaves were placed on a Sanctuary table.  At the end of the week they were stale and replaced.  The stale bread was normally consumed by the priests, but this time it was eaten by David and his men.

There are two reasons for the justification of David’s action:


  1. Their escape from Saul led to a life and death situation. The point is that the Sabbath could be broken in times of crisis.[1] They were extremely hungry and thirsty in the desert wilderness. Therefore, according to rabbinic tradition, they could eat to save human life.[2]


  1. He was permitted to eat because he had been anointed to be the new king (1 Sam. 16:13) and this implies he had the authority to enter the tabernacle.[3]


There were several issues concerning this matter relative to the response by Jesus.


  1. There was no law in the Torah that forbade a Levitical priest from eating the shewbread, but the Oral Law forbade it.


  1. If the famous King David could break the Oral Law (which did not exist in his time), then why couldn’t Jesus, who is the Promised One from the line of David? Of course, the leading Jews refused to recognize the authority of Jesus.


  1. Even the Oral Law permitted certain acts of mercy and necessity as indicated in the Mishnah and Matthew 12:7.


  1. The Jews had reversed the purpose of the Sabbath. It was created for the benefit of mankind, not mankind created for the benefit of the Sabbath (Mk. 2:27).


In addition, Jesus had two good reasons to reflect upon the story of the ancient king.


  1. The Hebrew Scriptures clearly state that David “did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite (1 Kg. 15:5).


  1. The people had an expectation that the messiah would be a son of David, meaning, He would be like him.


07.02.02.Q1 Were there “non-Sabbath” Sabbath Days?

Absolutely!  There were certain weeks in the Jewish religious calendar when two Sabbath days were observed. The Sabbath, of course, was the seventh day of the week when all work activities were set aside and the people celebrated their covenant with the Lord of Israel.  However, the term “Sabbath” was also applied to any other holy day that prohibited work activities. Sometimes that was the day before the Sabbath, the sixth day of the week commonly known as “Friday.” Therefore, when John wrote of the “Preparation Day” for the Sabbath,[4]    neither he nor the other gospel writers had reference to the seventh day, but the holy “Sabbath” day of Passover.[5]

It should be noted that in Jewish history, the days of the weeks did not have names, but numbers.  The seventh day received its non-numerical name after much use of the verb that described it.  The name, Sabbath, meaning “to rest” was always been descriptive of the day.  Over time, it became a proper noun.  Therefore, when the primitive church in Acts decided to honor and worship God on the first day of the week, they simply transferred the verb from the seventh day to the first day, and this was not in any violation of biblical exegesis or Scripture. At this time the Sabbath was not simply a day to rest, as it had a much deeper meaning.  The phrase “was made” in the Septuagint was translated “to create” and was, therefore, associated with the creation narrative of Genesis. If this was the cultural understanding of the time, then certainly there might be some written evidence to support this interpretation.  About a century after Christ a certain sage, Simeon ben Menasya, said, “The Sabbath was given to you and not you to the Sabbath.” The point is not that Menasya paraphrased Jesus, but that both presented a common Jewish thought.[6]   The Sabbath was created for man and focused on the benefit for man, so that his entire focus could be on his Creator. This is far deeper than the modern interpretation of “a day of rest,” which may or may not include an hour or two in church, followed by leisure activities.  The modern application is hardly within the biblical framework.

There were two important reasons for keeping the Sabbath.


  1. As mentioned previously, observing the Sabbath was to honor God which, ironically, the religious leaders idolized in every way possible.
  2. This religious restriction, along with circumcision and kosher foods, provided the means to keep their identity distinctive in an immoral world.


These identity markers are found in various rabbinic writings, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and in the works of historians such as Josephus and Philo. The Damascus Document identifies 28 different types of Sabbath prohibitions.[7]  Most leading Pharisees and Sadducees had little or no desire to honor God in true worship; rather, they desired to maintain their financial and social positions that could be accomplished only by promoting a religious group separated from neighboring cultures.  An example is as follows:


  1. By taking the wheat off the stalk they were guilty of reaping (further explanation below).


  1. By rubbing the wheat in their hands in order to separate it from the chaff they were guilty of threshing.


  1. When they blew the chaff from hands they were guilty of winnowing (separating the outer part of the grain kernel from the edible part).


As stated previously, at this time in Jewish history, not all the rabbis agreed on the Sabbath regulations.  Sabbath regulations were hotly debated between the schools of Hillel and Shammai. To say that all Jewish leaders and theologians were critical of Jesus and His disciples is incorrect. Clearly, there were those who agreed with Jesus, who threatened the ultra-legalists to the very core.


So important was the observation of the Holy Day that Josephus said that the beginning of the Sabbath was announced at the temple pinnacle with the blowing of trumpet.[8] Fire signals were also sent from the pinnacle of the temple, that when seen at distant hilltop stations,[9] were repeated until seen in the most distant locations in Galilee.  Therefore, within a short time the entire country received the message from the temple that the Sabbath had begun.


An interesting point of discussion today is whether the church is to meet for corporate worship on Saturday or Sunday.  The Mosaic Law requires believers to work six days a week, rest on the Sabbath and keep it holy.  By tradition, the Jews also met for corporate worship on the Seventh Day, but that was not a command in God’s law.  It has been suggested that, technically, Jews and Christians can gather to worship God any day of the week they choose, just as long as they gather for worship one day and work six days.



His disciples were hungry and began to pick and eat some heads of grain.” As Jesus and His disciples were walking along the road, they naturally became hungry and chewed on some kernels of wheat which were growing in a nearby field.  This was not stealing because the Mosaic Law (Deut. 23:25) permitted travelers and the poor to eat from the fields. However, they could not harvest someone else’s crop. When disciples were accused of plucking heads of grain (Gk. stachus 4719, meaning an ear of grain),[10] Jesus came to their defense and made the statement that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  Ironically, this same concept was in rabbinic literature and is debated in modern scholarship.

Some scholars believe the two quotations below are reflective of second or third century (A.D.) rabbinic beliefs. However, there were four levels of Pharisees[11] and the upper echelon were the ones who confronted Jesus. Other scholars believe that many ordinary righteous rabbis in local synagogues believed that the Sabbath was truly for the benefit of mankind, disagreed with their leadership. Within the world of Pharisees, there were numerous sects who held a wide range of theological viewpoints, as illustrated by the differences between the Schools of Hillel and Shammai. At this time, there were disagreements between various Jewish sects as to what constituted “work” on the Sabbath. There were some who would have said that what the disciples did was not work, while others clearly disagreed.[12]

“The priests in the temple violate the Sabbath.” Jesus referred to the Mosaic Law in Numbers 28:9-10, 18-19, in which the priests had to break the Sabbath laws as part of their priestly duties. Here, the Pharisees were reminded that they too broke the Sabbath laws as they functioned in the temple. The message was obvious; if they broke the Law in service to the children of Abraham and to God, why were they opposing Jesus, who was doing the same?


07.02.02.Q2 Did Mark make a mistake in 2:26 when he made a historic reference to “the days of Abiathar the high priest?”

In this passage, Jesus focused on the actions of David and his men when they were extremely hungry. They entered the tabernacle (the temple had not yet been built) and ate the consecrated bread.  Since there was no uniform calendar, this action was linked to the time when Abiathar was the high priest. But there is the problem: When examining who was high priest a thousand years previous to Jesus, records show that it was Ahimelech, the father of Abiathar  (1 Sam. 21:1-6; 22:20), not Abiathar. Did the gospel writer make a mistake?  To discover a possible answer, this study goes back three thousand years to uncover two possible explanations for this difficulty.


  1. The most popular explanation is that Jesus referred to those events of David that occurred during the lifetime of Abiathar. As a young child he would have been groomed and prepared for the position in the temple. Everyone knew, before the child realized it himself, that he would be the next high priest. Respect for the high office preceded and followed the actual service.  This same degree of respect is given to Annas, who is identified as the high priest during the trial of Jesus, when in fact, he was officially retired and his son-in-law Caiaphas held the position. (The same degree of respect is given to American past presidents, congressmen and others who held high positions of honor. They retain their titles into retirement.) Annas carried the honored title the remainder of his life and, when necessary, functioned in the office. He had received his position by a Roman appointment whereas Abiathar inherited his high calling. Therefore, when Jesus called Abiathar the high priest before he actually was in office, Jesus was speaking in accordance with the custom of the time. When this verse is understood in this cultural context, the assumed biblical error dissipates.


  1. Another explanation is that in the time of Jesus, the ancient high priest Abiathar was better known to the audience of Jesus than was his father. This follows the pattern of the gospel writers who sometimes quoted from two Old Testament prophets, but recorded only the name of the senior prophet (see author’s comments on Mk.1:2 and Mt. 27:9-10).


These two solutions answer this challenge and both could be correct. The truth is we may never know the precise answer.  But that certainly does not diminish the power or the effect of the Word of God or the life of Jesus.  When reaching into history three thousand years, it should not be surprising that a minute detail may on occasion become cloudy.  In fact, it is a ceaseless end of miracles that so much historical information is still available.  No other religion, philosophy, or historical document can make that claim.


“The Sabbath was made for man.”  This statement was quite familiar to the rabbis, who, presumably, were concerned about potential danger to human life.  In such cases they said,


The Sabbath is handed over to you;

Not, you are handed over to the Sabbath.


Mechilt on Exodus 31.13[13]


It is most interesting that the word of Jesus pertaining to the Sabbath (Gk. Sbbaton 4521) being made for man was also the understanding of a Rabbi Simeon ben Menasya.  In his commentary on Ex. 31:14, he said the following:


The Sabbath is delivered to you;

You are not delivered on the Sabbath.[14]


Rabbi Simeon ben Menasya on Exodus 31:14

[1]. Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ. 164-66.

[2]. Babylonian Talmud, Shabbath 132a.

[3]. Gilbrant, “Luke.” 169.

[4]. The Day of Preparation was the day prior to special holy days such as Passover; a day when work would end and the people prepared themselves for the special event or a special Sabbath (Mt. 27:62; Mk. 15:42; Lk. 23:54; Jn. 19:14, 31, 42). It was rooted in Num. 11:18; Jos. 7:13.

[5]. Saldarini, Jesus and the Passover. 56.

[6]. Young, “Jesus” Yavo Digest 1:3, 3.

[7]. Dead Sea Scroll, Damascus Document 6QD 10:15-16.

[8]. Josephus, Wars 4.9.12.

[9]. Scholars believe that the ancient city of Ai, which was probably later known as Ephraim, was one of those cities.  It is believed Ai and other similar cities were originally established as warning cities from which a signal was sent to warn Jerusalem of an approaching enemy.

[10]. Vine, “Corn, Cornfield.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:129 and “Ear,” 2:190. The KJV  at times translates “grain” as “corn” even though corn was not known to the English people until the pilgrims came to New England where the native Americans told them of it.  It was unknown in ancient Israel.

[11]. See 02.01.14.Q1.

[12]. Cited by Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 10, Session 2. See also the video above by Dr. Malcolm Lowe. Insights into the Sabbath Regulations 07.02.01.V.

[13]. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 514.

[14]. Quoted by Kaiser, Davids, Bruce, and Brauch. Hard Sayings of the Bible. 413.

07.02.03 Healing On The Sabbath

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 08, 2016  -  Comments Off on 07.02.03 Healing On The Sabbath

07.02.03 Lk. 6:6-7; Mt. 12:10b-12; Mk. 3:3-6




Lk 6 On another Sabbath He entered the synagogue and was teaching. A man was there whose right hand was paralyzed. 7 The scribes and Pharisees were watching Him closely, to see if He would heal on the Sabbath, so that they could find a charge against Him.

Mt 10b And in order to accuse Him they asked Him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”  11 But He said to them, “What man among you, if he had a sheep that fell into a pit on the Sabbath, wouldn’t take hold of it and lift it out? 12 A man is worth far more than a sheep, so it is lawful to do what is good on the Sabbath.”

Mk 3 He told the man with the paralyzed hand, “Stand before us.” 4 Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do what is good or to do what is evil, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 After looking around at them with anger and sorrow at the hardness of their hearts, He told the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 Immediately the Pharisees went out and started plotting with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.


Jesus was quite empathetic toward the sick and demonically possessed. For Him it was better to bring healing and freedom than to be unmercifully legalistic and permit one to stay in misery.  He demonstrated that the Kingdom of God is superior to the religious Sabbath observances and temple worship.

The irony is that no one appeared to realize that the miracle they witnessed was a near duplication of the miracle that occurred nearly a thousand years earlier to King Jeroboam.[1]  He built a pagan altar in Bethel to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles and declared himself to be the acting priest.  When a “man of God” cried out against the altar, Jeroboam stretched out his right hand to stop him.  However, the king’s hand became shriveled up “so that he could not pull it back” (1 Kg. 13:1-7). At the same time the altar split apart and the ashes poured out. As Josephus said, the king understood that the prophet had divine foreknowledge. Evidently Jeroboam repented because he asked the “man of God” to intercede to God for him that his right hand might be healed. It was.[2]

Another example of a Sabbath “violation” that was conveniently overlooked was the Israelite seven-day march around Jericho.  Obviously one of those seven days had to have been a Sabbath day, and the processional march far exceeded Sabbath day walking restrictions of the first century.



“Whose right hand was paralyzed.”  The ancient physician made a precise observation, and wrote with a Greek participle that indicates that the paralyzed hand was the result of an accident or disease, not congenital.[3]  The result of the miracle reveals the profound social implications it caused. To the ancients the right hand was the hand of blessing and authority and is believed to be the origin of the modern handshake.  This belief was derived from the same attributes assigned to the right hand of God.  Conversely, the left hand was the hand of cursing and personal hygiene.  Because of this, Jews were right-handed and food was eaten from a common bowl with the right hand, whether at home or at social gatherings.  The man with the paralyzed right hand was, therefore, not welcomed at social functions since he had to serve himself with his left hand.  To make matters worse, it was thought that his disability was a curse of God. The idea that an accident or illness could be the natural result of a fallen world never occurred to them. Hence, he was prevented from worshiping God in the temple.  He lived with constant condemnation and was a social outcast.  When Jesus healed him, He also gave him freedom from condemnation, freedom to be with others at social functions, freedom to become self-sufficient and no longer a beggar, and freedom to worship God anywhere he wanted.

At this time Jesus was demonstrating His Messiahship through teachings and healings.  Hence, He healed selected individuals who had no faith in Him as the Healer. The faith element would become significant later.  Those in attendance were forced to consider His Messianic claims in light of their Scriptures.  Hence, there was always a debate among observers wherever He traveled.

One of the interesting legends that might be true (legends are highly limited in this study), is the report that claims the injured man was a stone mason.[4]  The account is as follows:[5]


I was a stone mason,[6]  seeking my living with my hands.  I pray you, Jesus, to give me back my living with my hands.

Gospel of the Hebrews[7]


But little more than that is unknown.  His injury was probably from working on a Herodian construction site, such as the temple.


“The scribes and Pharisees were watching Himso that they could find a charge against Him.” This phrase obviously suggests that the man with the paralyzed or shriveled hand was placed in the audience so the critics could accuse Jesus of violating the Oral Law (response below). The Pharisees were usually synonymous with the teachers of the Law,[8] which is why it is at times difficult to distinguish them from the scribes.[9] All the Pharisees who were members of the Sanhedrin were scribes (cf. Mt. 23:7-8).[10] Nonetheless, they were desperately searching for a charge against Jesus and, in response, notice what Jesus did not do.


  1. He did not ask the man for his name


  1. He did not touch the man


  1. He did not question him


  1. He did not preach at him


  1. He did not ask him to exercise the paralyzed arm after it was healed.


Jesus merely told him to stretch out his arm, and that request did not violate any written or oral command. This was frustrating because they realized that He knew the Scriptures better than they did, even to the verb tenses. Note the following:


  1. Jesus believed every word of the Old Testament.
  2. Jesus believed the Old Testament communities and the accounts of various individuals who lived and functioned as portrayed in Scripture. Examples are:
  3. Noah and the flood (Mt. 24:37-39; Lk. 17:26-27)
  4. Abraham (Jn. 8:56-58)
  5. Isaac and Jacob (Mt. 8:11; Lk. 13:28)
  6. Sodom and Gomorrah (Mt. 10:15; 11:23-24; Lk. 10:12)


“To save life.”  Acts of necessity, mercy, and worship never violated the Sabbath.  Jesus again demonstrated the hypocrisy of the Pharisees by pointing out that the Pharisaic tradition placed a higher value on a sheep in a pit than a man with a shriveled hand.  They would help an injured sheep, but not one of their fellow Jews.  Here Jesus alluded to the rabbinical expression that the Pharisees themselves ignored, but one that was well known and a part of the Oral Law:


Therefore but a single man was created in the world, to teach that if any man has caused a single soul to perish Scripture imputes it to him as though he had caused the whole world to perish; and that if any man saves a life of a single soul Scripture imputes it to him as though he had saved a whole world. 


Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4:5


There was also a rule against placing a dislocated foot or hand in cold water to give comfort to the injured person. But another law within the category of Sabbath restrictions[11] is as if to say, “If you are healed, what can you do about it?”


If a man’s hand or foot is dislocated he may not pour cold water over it, but he may wash it after his usual fashion, and if he be healed, he is healed.

Mishnah, Shabbath 22.6[12]

“Looking around at them with anger.”  Seldom was Jesus became angry. Note carefully, however, that He was angry with their selfish, stubborn attitude and because they were failing to meet the needs of the people. He was angry at “the hardness of their hearts.” The hardening of the heart begins with one’s own desires, until the day comes when the Lord gives one what he wants – a life without God. The Greek word is porosis, a hardness of the heart that cared little for human life.[13]


  1. They defined religion as a legalistic list of rules and regulations.


  1. They had lost all sense of human empathy and compassion for those who were suffering


These cold, cold attitudes even kept the religious leaders from recognizing their own sins, as they had hardened their hearts past the proverbial point of no return.


“How they might destroy Him.” Jesus frequently presented a counter-point argument to the accusations and challenges presented by the religious elite. His counter-point was always stronger, fuller, and a clearer declaration of the truth. These public discussions brought immense humiliation to them, but the common people loved Jesus, because, finally, someone was bold enough to speak out against their corrupt leaders.  However, since the religious leaders repeatedly lost their theological arguments, they planned on numerous occasions to kill Him.

Finally, this miracle took place early in the ministry of Jesus when He performed miracles without the need of faith of those who were sick.  The primary reason is that at this point in time, the miracles were validating His person and message. Jesus did not come to be a Healer of human bodies, but to be a Healer of souls. Miracles, with Jesus, were only a means to a higher end, credentials to enforce the reception of spiritual truth.  Once the general public began to understand Him, He healed only those who had faith in Him as the Healer.


[1]. Jeroboam and Joash (2 Kg. 13:1-2; 2 Chron. 24:20-22) are among fifty biblical names whose existence has been verified by archaeological studies in a published article by Lawrence Mykytiuk titled, “Archaeology Confirms 50 Real People in the Bible.” Biblical Archaeology Review. March/April, 2014 (40:2), pages 42-50, 68.  This archaeological evidence confirms the historical accuracy of the biblical timeline.   For further study, see the website for Associates for Biblical Research, as well as Grisanti, “Recent Archaeological Discoveries that Lend Credence to the Historicity of the Scriptures.” 475-98.


[2]. Josephus, Antiquities 8.8.5.


[3]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:174.


[4]. See Appendix 22 and http://home.comcast.net/~jovial/learn/bible/GospelHebrews.htm. Retrieved August 1, 2013.


[5]. The reader is reminded that quotations from non-biblical sources are not to be understood as being of equal authority with the biblical narratives. See 01.02.04.


[6]. One ancient legend is the story of the man with the withered right hand went on to build a palace for Emperor Nero that had a secret room for Christians. Little wonder then, that Jesus and the Apostle Paul both cautioned believers to be aware of false teachers. Two modern writers who promote a variety of creative stories are: 1) Ron Charles, who has gathered scores of fanciful legends and myths, mostly written between the sixth and sixteenth centuries, that pertain to the life of Christ in his book titled, The Search: A Historian’s Search for Historical Jesus. (Self-Published, 2007), and 2) Nicholas Notovich, whose book,  The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ. Virchand R. Gandhi, Trans. Dover Pub.) is a so-called historical account of when Jesus went to Asia to study between the ages 13 and 29.


[7].  Barclay, “Matthew.” 2:30-31; See also  http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/gospelhebrews.html Retrieved August 1, 2013.


[8]. Mt. 3:7; 15:1; Mk. 2: 16, 24; Lk. 11:38.


[9]. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 59.


[10]. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 236. Being a scribe was a family occupation, handed down from one generation to another. For a list of families of scribes, see I Chronicles 2:55, and for a “company of scribes,” see 1 Maccabees 7:12.


[11]. See 02.04.06 “Sabbath Day Observances.”

[12]. For additional Sabbath regulations, see Jubilees 50:6-13 at 02.04.06. In fact, during the Maccabean Revolt, since the Jews refused to fight on the Sabbath, the Greeks slaughtered more than a thousand men, women, and children. Thereafter they decided to defend themselves so as not to be removed from the face of the earth (1 Macc. 2:31-38).


[13]. Barclay, A New Testament Wordbook. 102.

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