08.06 Of Nature, Demons, And Healings

08.06 Of Nature, Demons, And Healing

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 06, 2016  -  Comments Off on 08.06 Of Nature, Demons, And Healing

Unit 08

Topical Issues


Chapter 06

Of Nature, Demons, And Healing


08.06.00.A. JESUS COMMANDS THE WINDS AND THE WAVES. Artwork by William Hole of the Royal Scottish Academy of Art, 1876. (2)

08.06.00.A. JESUS COMMANDS THE WINDS AND THE WAVES. Artwork by William Hole of the Royal Scottish Academy of Art, 1876. The winds, either from the eastern Arabian Desert, or from the west, can quickly change. When they do, they blow forcefully down through the steep valleys of the Golan Heights on the eastern side or the Valley of the Doves on the west. Regardless, anyone in a fishing boat will feel his life threatened. See Luke 8:22-25.

08.06.01 Introduction

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 06, 2016  -  Comments Off on 08.06.01 Introduction

08.06.01 Introduction

In this segment of His ministry, Jesus ministered to the Greeks. For a Jew to heal a pagan was unimaginable to the religious establishment. Yet everything He did demonstrated that He was the true Anointed One – the One Israel and the world had been waiting for.

08.06.02 The Sea of Galilee JESUS CALMS THE SEA

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08.06.02 Mk. 4:35-41 (See also Mt. 8:23-27; Lk. 8:22-25) The Sea of Galilee




35 On that day, when evening had come, He told them, “Let’s cross over to the other side of the sea.” 36 So they left the crowd and took Him along since He was already in the boat. And other boats were with Him. 37 A fierce wind arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But He was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke Him up and said to Him, “Teacher! Don’t You care that we’re going to die?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still!” The wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 Then He said to them, “Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?

41 And they were terrified and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”


One of the theological topics often discussed is how much control Satan has over elements of the earth. He certainly does have limited power – limited by God’s design. Yet he was given limited permission to send fire or lightning to destroy Job’s flocks (Job 1:12, 16) followed by a huge storm that destroyed the home where Job’s children were enjoying a banquet (Job 1:18-19).  Satan attempted but failed to seduce Jesus with three temptations and appears now to have made an attempt to sink Him and the disciples while they were sailing across the Sea of Galilee to deliver a man from demonic bondage (see next section 08.06.03).



The image that Bible students often envision associates this narrative of Jesus and His disciples in a small fishing boat as illustrated in the picture above (08.06.00.A).  However, there are some distinct problems with that image.

  1. Due to the small size of a standard fishing boat, thirteen people onboard would have been enough to sink it in a calm sea, not to mention a stormy tempest. All three gospel writers said that water swept over the sides of the boat so that it was about to be swamped. A first century era fishing boat, commonly known as the “Jesus boat,”[1] was discovered in 1986 and appears to be such a vessel. However, the boat used by Jesus and the Twelve had to have been a larger vessel than illustrated.
  1. Jesus was in the stern (rear) of the boat, “sleeping on a cushion” (Mk. 4:38). If He was sleeping in an ordinary fishing boat, then obviously the water coming in over the sides would have awakened Him. But the disciples awakened Him, not the splashing waves. So He must have had some type of physical protection that kept Him dry. The common fishing boat did not have such a structure to it.

The description of the stormy tempest and the boat with its occupants leads this writer to conclude that the vessel was considerably larger than an ordinary fishing boat, possibly like the one shown in 08.06.02.A below. It is well known that there were many kinds of boats on the Sea of Galilee. It was a commercial area and the natural resources that permitted a wide range of occupations to flourish. Besides fishing and salting fish, local craftsmen made grinding stones, and numerous agricultural implements. The Greek residents of Gadara, a few miles east of the sea, were the major suppliers for the Roman Tenth Legion.  In addition to raising pigs, they had one of the best growing areas for wheat which was shipped throughout the eastern Roman Empire. Therefore, a variety of vessels was needed for the transport of goods and passengers.  The type of vessel Jesus and His disciples used is unknown, but it probably was one similar to the illustration below that had a protective shield at the stern.



08.06.02.A. A MODEL OF A HERODIAN GRAIN SHIP. This model of a Herodian grain ship was built according to a tomb graffiti design discovered in Masada. Notice that the stern end has a partial covering so someone could sleep and be somewhat protected from the weather. This vessel, thought to be at least twice the length of a typical fishing boat, is believed to have been used in the Sea of Galilee. Photographed by the author at the Dagon Grain Museum, Haifa.


08.06.02.Q1 Did Jesus experience an earthquake and a storm at the same time (Mt. 8:24)?

 The gospel writer said there was “a fierce wind.” Many Bible translators have used the term storm in place of squall as the event was clearly difficult to describe.  Mark and Luke used the Greek word Lailapa (2978), defined as a hurricane[2] with heavy clouds, rains, darkness, and whirlwind.[3]  However, Matthew (8:24) used a distinctly different word, seismos, meaning earthquake,[4] and he used it again in Matthew 24:7 when Jesus spoke of the earthquakes that would occur at the end of the age. That leads to an interesting question: Did Jesus experience an earthquake and a storm at the same time? When considering that all three synoptic gospel writers described the same event, it is obvious that He not only experienced an earthquake, but did so during an intense wind storm.

However, this storm may not have been accompanied with dark clouds and heavy rains. The Sea of Galilee is unique in that sudden and unexpected wind storms blow from the west, but more commonly from the east to west. The sea is about 680 feet below sea level while the extinct volcanic plateau of the Golan Heights on the eastern side is about 2700 feet above sea level. That is a huge vertical difference within a horizontal distance of a half mile or less.  Near the sea where the Heights meet, there are numerous deep mountain ravines that funnel the winds across the lake with incredible intensity.  Strong winds originate from the heights of Hauran,[5] from the eastern plateau of Trachonitis,[6] or from the northern Arabian Desert,[7] or from the south, bringing fine desert dust and sometimes a dust storm. This wind is known as the Samum or Simoom, which blows north from the African deserts, across the Sinai and Negev Deserts and brings an overpowering heat. When the eastern desert winds come through the ravines and across the waters, they cause an instant storm.[8] A unique feature of these storms, known as the “eastern sirocco winds,”[9] is that they can appear without warning or even a cloud in the sky.

On the other hand, winds from the west can be equally challenging, being funneled down through the Valley of the Doves along the north side of Mount Arbel.[10] These western wind storms in the winter can bring rain, but never in the summer dry season.  How interesting it is that immediately after an earthquake and severe storm, Jesus encountered the demoniac on the eastern side of Galilee.   

“Silence! Be still!” Since neither the written Greek nor Hebrew languages had exclamation marks at this time, the emphasis in modern Bibles are the contributions of translators and scholars. Therefore, how Jesus said those words is unknown to us.  One scholar has suggested that He probably was not a shouter, but was a “Storm Whisperer.”

It is noteworthy to see that He used the same words to rebuke the sea as He did to rebuke the fever in Luke 4:39 and the demons in the possessed man of Mark 9:25.  The significance of these words was that the Jews knew that Jehovah also rebuked the sea in Psalm 65:7; 106:9 and Nahum 1:4.  More remarkable, however, are the following passages from the books of Psalm and Proverbs:

9 You rule the raging sea;
when its waves surge, You still them.

Psalm 89:9


23 Others went to sea in ships,
conducting trade on the vast waters.

24 They saw the Lord’s works,
His wonderful works in the deep.

25 He spoke and raised a tempest
that stirred up the waves of the sea.

26 Rising up to the sky, sinking down to the depths,
their courage melting away in anguish,

27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men,
and all their skill was useless.

28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and He brought them out of their distress.

29 He stilled the storm to a murmur,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.

30 They rejoiced when the waves grew quiet.
Then He guided them to the harbor they longed for.

Psalm 107:23-30


4 Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in His hands?
Who has bound up the waters in a cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name,
and what is the name of His Son—
if you know?

 Proverbs 30:4


The answer to … “Who then is this?”  The disciples were quite knowledgeable of their Hebrew Bible. They most certainly had difficulty reconciling these passages with what they had just experienced. Without saying a word about His divinity, Jesus demonstrated that He was the God of the Hebrew prophets who wrote the Scriptures.  He responded to the dangerous situation simply by telling the storm to be still.  Yet to say that this miracle demonstrated His divinity over the natural forces of nature misses the point completely – He was/is God!



08.06.02.B. CROSSWIND WARNING SIGN.  Just as the winds threatened the safety of Jesus and His disciples on the Sea of Galilee, today these winds surprise unsuspecting motorists traveling along the eastern side of the lake, as evidenced by this warning sign. Photograph by the author.


This is the situation of what the prophet Jeremiah had reference to when he said,

11b “A searing wind blows from the barren heights in the wilderness on the way to My dear people. It comes not to winnow or to sift; 12a a wind too strong for this comes at My call.”

Jeremiah 4:11b-12a


However, this demonstration of divine authority did more than reveal Jesus, it was also a demonstration of divine power and authority over Jewish and Greek myths. The ancient Jews considered the bottom of the Sea of Galilee to be the abyss, a place where demons lived.  The Greeks believed that Zeus ruled the sky and Poseidon ruled the sea and earthquakes.[11]  In the minds of both Jews and Greeks, only divine power could control the sea.[12] Jesus demonstrated that He had that power. A similar event, apparently not as severe since Jesus did not need to calm the wind, occurred when He walked across the stormy waters to His disciples in a boat.[13] At the dawn of creation, He spoke the world into existence; now His word controlled it.

The phrase, “Do you still have no faith?” would be better translated as, “you of little faith,” from the Greek word holigopistoi meaning little faiths.[14]   Matthew used it five times and always in reference to the disciples.[15]  The primary question, whether directly or indirectly, was in reference to where they placed their faith.  This event should have opened their eyes to Jesus being the literal fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, which in this case were,

I will be with you
when you pass through the waters,
and when you pass through the rivers,

they will not overwhelm you.

Isaiah 43:2


Greater than the roar of many waters —
the mighty breakers of the sea —
the Lord on high is majestic.

Psalm 93:4


Jesus challenged them to place their faith in His person and word. To those who trusted in their wealth or labor for a safe and secure future, Jesus said that it would be easier for the proverbial camel to go through the eye of a needle.   When He challenged the rich man to give all he had to the poor, which was symbolic of his conversion, the rich man sadly went away, not because he was wealthy but because his security was in his wealth.  St. Augustine had an interesting comment concerning faith:

There are three kinds of credible things.  First, there are those which are always believed and never understood.  An example of such is history…. Second, there are those things which first are understood, so that they can be believed.  Of this class are all human reasonings … The third class is of those things, which are believed first and understood afterwards.  Of such kind as this are the aspects of divine things, which cannot be understood except by those who are pure in heart.

 Augustine, Eighty-Three Diverse Questions[16]


As amazing as this account is, there is an incredible parallel with the story of Jonah. Notice the comparison below:[17]

Matthew 8:23-27                                           Jonah 1:3-16

8:23     and he entered the boat                      1:3       Jonah went down and found a boat


8:24a   and a great storm came upon              1:4       and a great storm came upon

the sea so that the boat was                            the sea so that the boat was

in danger                                                         in danger

8:24b   but he was asleep                                1:5       Jonah was asleep and snoring


8:25     and they went and woke him             1:6       and the master of the boat came to him

Saying, “Lord, save us, we                             and said, “Call upon your God that your

are perishing.                                                   God may save us, that we may not perish.


8:26     and there was a great calm                  1:15     and the sea became still


8:27     and the men marveled                         1:16     and the men feared the Lord exceedingly


This was an experience that might be said in modern English slang, “a double whammie.” The disciples were clearly stunned and marveled when Jesus calmed the sea. But they must have recognized at a later time, the incredible connection of their experience and the events of Jonah. Could it have been a divinely inspired “encouragement” not to flee from their appointed calling?



[1]. See 06.01.07.B.

[2]. Vine, “Storm.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:601.


[3]. Geikie, The Life and Words. 2:629. Green, Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, Mt. 8:24; 24:7; Berry, Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament. Mt. 8:24; 24:7.


[4]. Barclay, “Matthew.” 1:316-17; Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:53.



[5]. Located in modern southwestern Syria and northwestern Jordan. Mentioned in Ezekiel 47:15-18.


[6]. Located adjacent to heights of Hauran and was under the domination of Herod Phillip during the life of Jesus.


[7]. Ancient maps identified the greater part of modern Jordan as being part of the northern tip of the Arabian Desert. For a study of historical maps of this region, see Nebenzahl, Kenneth. Maps of the Holy Land. New York: Abbeville Press. 1986.


[8]. Geikie, The Life and Words. 2:633.


[9]. Levy, The Ruin and Restoration of Israel. 89.


[10]. Mount Arbel is located a short distance northwest of Tiberias.

[11]. Butler, ed. The Iliad of Homer and the Odyssey. 225.


[12]. Job 38:8-11; Ps. 29:3-4,10-11; 65:5-7; 89:8-9; 107:23-32; Isa. 51:9-10.


[13]. Mt. 14:22-23; Mk. 5:1-21; Jn. 6:15-21


[14]. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 47.


[15]. Mt. 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; Lk. 12:28.


[16]. Thomas, The Golden Treasury of Patristic Quotations: From 50 – 750 A.D. 96.


[17]. Adapted from Feiler, “Stilling the Storm in Matthew: A Response to Gunther Bornkamm.” 404-05.



08.06.03 Gerasa in Gadara DEMON-POSSESSED GERASENE

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 06, 2016  -  Comments Off on 08.06.03 Gerasa in Gadara DEMON-POSSESSED GERASENE

08.06.03 Mk. 5:1-20 (See also Mt. 8:28-34; Lk. 8:26-39) Gerasa in Gadara



1 Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 As soon as He got out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came out of the tombs and met Him. 3 He lived in the tombs. No one was able to restrain him anymore — even with chains4 because he often had been bound with shackles and chains, but had snapped off the chains and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him.        5 And always, night and day, he was crying out among the tombs and in the mountains and cutting himself with stones.

6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and knelt down before Him. 7 And he cried out with a loud voice, “What do You have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You before God, don’t torment me!8 For He had told him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”

9 What is your name?” He asked him.

My name is Legion,” he answered Him, “because we are many.” 10 And he kept begging Him not to send them out of the region.

11 Now a large herd of pigs was there, feeding on the hillside. 12 The demons begged Him, “Send us to the pigs, so we may enter them.” 13 And He gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs, and the herd of about 2,000 rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned there. 14 The men who tended them ran off and reported it in the town and the countryside, and people went to see what had happened.15 They came to Jesus and saw the man who had been demon-possessed by the legion, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 The eyewitnesses described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and told about the pigs. 17 Then they began to beg Him to leave their region.

18 As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed kept begging Him to be with Him. 19 But He would not let him; instead, He told him, “Go back home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.” 20 So he went out and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed.


This passage is in need of cultural and historical explanations which are below the explanations of the underlined verses.

“Even with chains.” The encounter Jesus had with the demoniac certainly had a profound influence on the Jewish people, as they reflected upon the story of the ancient super-strong man named Samson.  He was chained to a Philistine pillar until God restored his strength and he moved the pillar causing the pagan temple to collapse. Now Jesus confronted a man who apparently was stronger than Samson – as no chains could hold him, and Jesus freed him of his demonic powers and healed him.



“Cutting himself with stones.” The fact that he was cutting himself suggests that he was afflicted by what some call, “suicidal spirits.” Satan and his demons not only attempt to thwart the plan of God, but also seek to kill and destroy people because they were created in God’s image. Little wonder then, that the suicidal demons entered a herd of pigs who immediately committed suicide.

“I beg You before God, don’t torment me!” The spirit spoke using the man’s body. Jesus would not torture anyone, but the demons know that one day they will be thrown into an everlasting lake of fire (Rev. 20:10). All Scriptures agree that judgment of angels and demonic spirits is yet to come (1 Cor. 6:3); they will be in chains and darkness until their final judgment day (Jude 6).

“What is your name?”  The question is one of authority and not a request for information.  Jesus always took immediate command of a situation and the demons obeyed.

“My name is Legion.”  Precisely how the demon responded is unknown, but he probably identified himself with the name of ligyona, the Aramaic name for soldier.  Or he could have identified himself with a short statement that included all the other spirits.[1] It seems ironic that the response to the question was “Legion” as he did not give the name his parents gave him, but rather, he identified himself with the demons.

Gadara was the home for the the famous Legio X Fretensis, or Legio Dicima Fretenis, better known as the Tenth Roman Legion.[2]  Did the demons have a spiritual connection with the pagan Roman soldiers stationed at Gadara? Every Roman military unit traveled with its pagan priests who prayed and offered sacrifices on behalf of the troops.[3] Clearly there appears to have been a spiritual connection to not only the legion, but also to the area of Gadara.

“And he kept begging Him not to send them out of the region.” Why would the demons beg Jesus not to send them out of the area? According to Jewish tradition, some evil spirits were assigned to various regions.  Hence, some of them have become known as “territorial demons.”[4]

“The man who had been demon-possessed.” Those who are demon-possessed often lose their ability to separate their own consciousness and ideas from those of demonic influence.  The person’s identity is blended into that of a demon and the demon has some control of the individual’s mind and body.[5]  In severe cases, the demon has complete control. Jesus always spoke of demoniacs, not as persons with mental disorders, but as those who had alien spirits. Jesus addresses the evil spirit as distinct from the man (demoniac), when He commanded the spirit to come out of him.

The belief in demons was so common, along with the number of people who claimed to be exorcists, that by the year 340 the church established the Order of Exorcists, to properly control those who claimed to have the power of performing such acts.[6] To this day the Roman Catholic Church, as well as many other denominations, train individuals who perform exorcisms.[7]

Finally, Luke, a professional medical doctor, clarified the distinctions between diseases and demonic possession four times.[8] He did not do so in this passage because there were no sick people present, only those afflicted with demonic spirits.

“Report to them how much the Lord has done for you.”  This instruction is in sharp contrast to the previous command of silence Jesus gave to the Jews whom He healed (i.e. Mk. 1:40-45; 5:43). A difference between the Greeks and Jews was that the Greeks did not have any problem living in a decadent culture and believing in a Messiah who could deliver them; the exorcism did not challenge their religious traditions.

“He has had mercy on you.” Clearly, Jesus acted as the God of Mercy, or as the Jews would have said, Elohe Chaseddi.[9] Anyone could have claimed to have been god, as pharaohs, emperors, and kings have done throughout history, but Jesus refrained from stating it, but demonstrated that He is God.

Now, as to important cultural and historical explanations, the Greek city of Gerasa was an important commercial and military center for the Romans. Archaeological investigations have revealed that it was among the finest Decapolis cities and it was located along a major caravan route. It had public baths, a theater near its splendid baths, two great amphitheaters, several temples, a hippodrome, and mile after mile of colonnaded streets with a triumphal arch – all of which revealed the splendor of Greek philosophy and Roman might. Roman soldiers and cavalry units protected the caravan routes and cities from Bedouin hordes and robber bands.

Gadara was a famous fortified city that some ancients said was as Hellenistic as Athens. It was the capital of a toparchy[10] and minted its own currency. Alexander Jannaeus laid siege against it for ten months, finally destroying it.[11]  But it was rebuilt by General Pompey. It belonged to the Kingdom of Herod the Great, but upon his death the Roman senate made it part of Syria.[12]

On occasion Jesus and His disciples sailed across the Sea of Galilee to the eastern side near Gerasa to the harbor of Gadara.  Before them were the rocky cavern-tombs of the Wadi Semakh. As was so often done until recent times, since the caverns are cool in the oppressive summer heat and warm in the cold winter, they were used as homes or for the back room of homes.  A visitor to this region in the 1890s reported that as many as two hundred Arabs lived in caves and former tombs along this wadi. Smaller caves were used as tombs, but larger subterranean dwelling places could accommodate twenty to thirty people. Many of these earthly caverns, which were originally smaller caves and tombs, were enlarged since the soft limestone was easy to remove.[13]

The fact that a deranged man lived in a cavern was not unusual; but that he chose to live in a cavern that was used as a tomb, was unusual.  Those who attended to the herd of pigs were probably also cavern dwellers, although the description of this demon-possessed individual would indicate he did not appreciate close neighbors.

Previous attempts to bind or control him had failed. Clearly his behavior suggests that his super-human strength was of a demonic source. Suddenly a boatload of visitors arrived at the harbor and the frightful, naked, and homicidal maniac came forth to greet them. A second demoniac also arrived, but apparently stayed some distance away and played no part in the narrative. The first demoniac immediately recognized Jesus and came to Him.[14]

The residents of Gadara were, for the most part, employed in supplying the Tenth Roman Legion, the Legio Dicima Fretenis,[15] with daily supplies of food and other necessities. Since pork was the primary meat staple of the Romans, raising a huge herd of two thousand swine is understandable. Some have said that pigs were raised in the city proper and the herd ran the distance of six miles into the Sea of Galilee. There are several reasons for this not to be the case.  Rather, the pigs were raised near the sea itself.

  1. Pigs do not have sweat glands, so they must always be near water or mud to cool themselves. This is especially true in the Galilee area where the summers are rather hot, and without proper cooling, they die quickly.
  1. While wild pigs, known as boars, are extremely vicious and have a great capacity to run while domesticated pigs have limited physical endurance. Therefore, they could not have run the huge distance from the city to the sea.
  1. Pigs produce pungent odors. Two thousand of them, even in an open space, would produce an unbearable fragrance that even the ancients could not tolerate. They would not be welcomed guests in any community.
  1. Pigs like to eat acorns, the nuts from oak trees. The Golan Heights and nearby plateau was covered with oak trees, whereas, the root systems of these trees tend to break up building foundations, so these trees are not planted close to buildings in cities.

Yet pigs were a primary meat staple throughout history in other non-Jewish cultures as well. They were a quick supply of meat, as the time required from birth to slaughter is only about six or seven months.  Ironically, the Tenth Legion had the image of a wild boar on its military standard. The effigy did not represent their favorite delicacy, but the viciousness, speed, and tenacity that a wild boar exhibited when fighting. This wild unkosher beast was not only the symbol of the Tenth Legion, but when the soldiers constructed buildings, they often placed their Tenth Legion symbol (“LEG-X-F”) somewhere on the building, and sometimes it was with the image of their mascot.[16]

In addition to supplying meat, the city residents also supplied wheat for bread and barley for horses. Local craftsmen built and repaired necessary military supplies that not only served the regiments in the immediate area, but were also shipped to Damascus and other Tenth Roman Legion posts. Supplies were shipped by camel caravans to points north, east, and west. For west-bound supplies, Gergesa had the largest artificial port along the Sea of Galilee – the harbor of Gadara. Supplies were loaded on freight ships that sailed to the western shore from which caravans transferred the cargo to the Mediterranean Sea for overseas destinations.

As to the biblical passage, Jesus encountered an outcast who lived in the tombs. He cast out demons because evil spirits are real; not the result of superstitions. Luke recorded that the seven sons of Sceva used the name of Jesus as if it were a magical formula for exorcism (Acts 19:13-16) and had no desired results.  The Greeks sacrificed pigs to appease the gods, but Jesus not only demonstrated that He is the only atonement for sin, but that He had complete authority and power over every demonic spirit.

Demons are synonymous with unclean spirits,[17] who are connected with Satan,[18] are in total opposition to God and the work of God[19] and as such, promote all forms of idolatry.[20]  They oppose the faith of believers,[21] and attempt to influence and disturb the physical, mental and emotional well-being of people.[22] However, while certain ailments may be connected with demonic powers, the laws of Moses that pertain to sanitation clearly indicate that good health is also a matter of cleanliness – meaning that many diseases are not related to demonic influences, but can be prevented.

 08.06.03.A. HILL OF THE SWINE

08.06.03.A. HILL OF THE SWINE.  This is one of two steep hillsides along the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee where this miracle could have taken place.  The area was inhabited by Greeks, who raised sacrificial pigs for the worship of Zeus in the nearby city of Gadara.  Photograph by the author.


The location of the miracle is debated among scholars, as there are two possible locations.

  1. Some believe the miracle took place along the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee at a place known today as Kursi. Queen Helena, who, in the early fourth century, built a Byzantine chapel nearby, preserved the site. However, the site was abandoned after a devastating earthquake on January 18, 749 (estimated 6.6 Richter scale),[23] and was forgotten until accidentally discovered and identified in 1970.[24]  It is a short distance from a steep hillside, the only one in this part of the lake that fits the description of where the pigs could have rushed down into the water (8:32). However, there is no harbor at this location, and the shoreline is too rocky to land a boat without causing severe damage.
  1. The second possible site of the miracle is the harbor of Gadara. Harbors are generally part of a village or city with considerable commercial activity. However, at this harbor, to date archaeologist have not uncovered any evidence of human occupation and Gadara is about six miles to the southeast (in modern Jordan). Ironically, of the fifteen harbors along the perimeter of the Sea of Galilee, the Gadara harbor is the largest – some 200 meters (600 feet+) long.

Gadara was an important Decapolis city[25] as it was a major supplier of goods and services to the Tenth Roman Legion. Its harbor along the Sea of Galilee was the largest on the lake, and could accommodate the variety of ships, especially the larger grain ships.[26] Coins have been found with the word “Naumachia” featuring mock naval battles in their fishing harbor.[27] Obviously this was not an ordinary village.  It was one of the many “backbones” for the Tenth Legion sub-units of the Roman army, as most of its citizens were employed to produce supplies. Scholars believe that many sections of the town were constructed by Roman soldiers, who built roads and public buildings when not engaged in battle. The Greek poet Meleager was born in Gadara and said the city was known as the Syrian Athens because of its many temples and shrines.  Clearly then, by even Greek confession, the city was steeped in pagan practices.[28] A similar comment was made by Josephus, who said Gadara was a Greek city.[29]



08.06.03.B. GADARA COIN WITH WORD “NAUMACHIA.”  A second century (A.D.) “War Galley” coin found at Gadara with the Latin term naumachia was derived from a Greek word meaning mock naval battle. The city had the largest harbor on the Sea of Galilee that was used at times for mock naval battles which entertained the crowds. For more than 250 years, coins depicted boats that reflected upon the grandeur of the city, possibly even back to the days of Jesus. Photo by Wikipedia Commons.



08.06.03.C. VILLAGE RUINS OF GADARA. The modern village of Umm Quas was known in the days of Jesus as Gadara, home of the pig herders.  Excavations uncovered a third century church which commemorated the miracle of deliverance of the demoniac. Photograph by the author.




08.06.03.D. A MOSAIC FLOOR FEATURING A VARIETY OF ANIMALS, INCLUDING A WILD BOAR. Domesticated pigs were raised for food and Gentile sacrifice but the wild boar was the mascot for the Roman Tenth Legion. This mosaic was uncovered in Jerash, in Modern Jordan, known as Gerasa in Mark 5:1-10. Photo by Jeff Herot.


08.06.03.Q1 Was Gerasa really the home of the pig farmers (Mk. 5:1; see also 08.06.03.Q3)?

As previously stated, critics have said that since Gerasa more than six miles from the miracle site, the biblical account cannot be seriously considered as true because domesticated pigs cannot travel that far. Furthermore, since pigs do not have sweat glands they need a cool environment, preferably a wet or muddy area, to regulate body temperature. Otherwise, in this region they would die quickly in the summer heat. Due to the incredibly unpleasant fragrance swine produce, especially two thousand of them, they were maintained far outside and downwind of villages.  Their need for water in a semi-arid climate meant they were close to the Sea of Galilee or to one of the small streams that flows into it.  It was the Gentile pig owners[30] who lived in Gerasa, not the pigs.  Therefore, the biblical narrative stands.

At this point, it is important to recall the origins of the ten cities of the Decapolis.  Some fourteen centuries earlier when Joshua entered the land, he drove out the seven pagan tribes of the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites (Jos. 3:10).  Isaiah referred to the Canaanites when they sacrificed pigs on mountaintop altars (65:4-8) and their descendants at the time of Jesus continued the practice.

They were not the only ones who considered pigs to be sacrificial animals; the Romans did likewise. In fact, the emblem of one of the Roman legions, the Decima Fretensis, was the wild boar (pig).[31]  Pigs were an important source of food and significant in religious worship. Therefore, it is not surprising that the descendants of the ancient Canaanites, now absorbed into the Greek culture, believed that pigs needed to be sacrificed to their gods. The following is from an inscription written by Epidaurus in the late 4th century A.D., but it reflects the belief of the Inter-Testamental Period. Religions and social values such as these changed little in the course of time.

The cure affected by Apollo and Asclepius.  Ambrosia of Athens was blind in one eye. She came with supplications to the god and as she walked around the temple she smiled at the accounts of some of the cures which she found incredible and impossible, accounts which related how the lame and blind had been cured by a vision which came to them in a dream.  She fell asleep and had a vision.  (In the vision) the god appeared before her, telling her that she would be cured and that she had to dedicate in the sanctuary a pig made of silver as a token of her ignorance.  Having said this he (the god)[32] cut out the bad eye and immersed it in a medicine.  She awoke at dawn, cured.

Inscription of Epidaurus[33]


When Jesus arrived on the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee, He was met with a demon-possessed man who was from one of the nearby Decapolis cities.  When Jesus spoke to him, he responded by indicating he had a “legion” of demons.  A legion was a Roman military unit of about 6,000 soldiers, one hundred horsemen plus cavalrymen, and support troops.[34]  Needless to say, this man was seriously possessed with multiple demons. Jesus single-handedly demonstrated His power over a superior number of demonic forces with His spoken word as they recognized and obeyed Him immediately.  He made no reference to any incantations, a higher authority, or to God.  They knew their own destiny; they would be tortured and rejected forever.[35]  This was no doubt an awesome sight for the disciples to witness!


08.06.03.Q2 What is significant about the demons entering the pigs (Mk. 5:1-20)?

At this point in the biblical narrative, the evil spirits entered the pigs, which was another demonstration of the greatness of Jesus and the failure of the pagan gods.  The pigs, which evidently were most unhappy and miserable with demons in them, ran down the embankment and into the Sea of Galilee where they drowned by suicide.  Ironically, the Greeks believed that the Abyss was at the bottom of the Sea (cf Rev. 9:1; 11:7) where the demons lived.  To the Greeks, Jesus not only demonstrated that His power was superior to their gods, but He also sent the evil spirits back to their “home,” and in the process killed a herd of their sacrificial animals.

Centuries earlier, just as God demonstrated His power against the Egyptian gods through Moses and Aaron, so likewise Jesus demonstrated His power against the Greek gods. Little wonder that they asked Him to leave.  The Egyptians did the same to Moses.  However, God’s grace did not end there.



08.06.03.E. A RELIEF OF SACRIFICIAL ANIMALS, INCLUDING A PIG. A ceremony in Rome known as the suvetaurilia, is the sacrifice of a bull, ram and a pig to the god Mars. While this relief is believed to have originated from the era of Emperor Domitian (reigned A.D. 81-96), the cultic practice was already well established for centuries.

When the man freed of demons asked Jesus if he could journey with Him, the request was denied.  Rather, Jesus told him to return to his home and tell others of what had happened to him.  He did so and evidently prepared the way for Jesus’ visit later as described in Mark 7:31.  The gospel had taken root so well in this community that in the first centuries of the early church, whenever there was a church council or gathering to discuss doctrine, policy, or other church business, there was always a representative from Gerasa.  This is dynamic evidence again that God desires to use every willing person, even one who had been possessed by demons, to spread His good news, regardless of past events.



08.06.03.F. RUINS OF THE ORIGINAL KURSI MEMORIAL. A trail goes up a steep hillside to the ruins of a 4th century memorial that commemorated the miracle of the demoniac about six miles from Gadara. Kursi is believed to be the site of the biblical Gergesa which a growing number of scholars believe was incorrectly identified. Photograph by the author.


08.06.03.G. THE RUINS OF THE 6TH CENTURY BYZANTINE MONASTRY AT KURSI (ANCIENT GERGESA) 08.06.03.G. THE RUINS OF THE 6TH CENTURY BYZANTINE MONASTRY AT KURSI (ANCIENT GERGESA). The author stands in a 6th century church adjacent to the previous memorial (above) that commemorates the miracle of the demoniac. As with the original memorial, it too was destroyed by an earthquake on January 18, 749.[36]  Photograph by Paivi Heinrich.


Finally, as an interesting side note, the Jews considered the pigs to be unclean and unholy, but the Greeks felt just the opposite – fine dining and the ideal sacrificial animals. So when archaeologists work at a village dig site today, the lack of pig bones is an indicator that the village was a Jewish one, while in Roman or Greek villages there is almost always a discovery of pig bones.


08.06.03.Q3 Why are there name variations for the Gadara region (Mk. 5:1-20; Mt. 8:28-34; Lk. 8:26-39)?

Video Insert    >

08.06.03.V1 Interesting Issues of Gadara. Professor Gordon Franz discusses the interesting issues of Gadara, including the clarification of names, the first evangelist to the Gentiles of this region, and the mystery of Gadara’s harbor.

This region southeast of the Sea of Galilee has three communities: Gerasa, Gadara, and Gergesa.[37] There has been much discussion concerning the name “Gadarenes.” Critics have said it does not agree with parallel verses in Mark and Luke that record the town as “the region of Gerasa.” There is no conflict, however, as the latter was the capital of the political district.   Regions were often called by the name of their capital cities or by a major city.  Gadara was the capital city of the toparchy.[38] The region was known by all three names.[39] In a similar manner, Babylon was the name of a region as well as the name of the region’s capital city. Furthermore, the name Gergesa is Hebrew in reference to the clay ground, while the other two names are Greek.[40] So the gospel writer writing to the Jewish people would use the name Gergesa while those writing to a Gentile audience would use the Gentile names.[41]


Video Insert    >

08.06.03.V2 The Mystery of the Harbor of Gadara. Mr. Joel ben Yosef discusses the unique mystery of the harbor of Gadara.  Introduction and cultural background comments by Dr. Bill Heinrich. 

As previously stated, each gospel writer wrote from his perspective. Matthew stated that the event took place in the region of Gadarenes (v. 28), which was one of the ten taxation districts of the Decapolis.  Since Matthew was a former tax collector, it would have been natural for him to refer to a region of the legal tax district.  More specifically, the ancient village known as Gadara is now called Umm Qas.  It is about six miles southeast of the Sea of Galilee in the district of Gerasa.  Since Matthew 8:34 states that the whole town came to plead with Jesus to leave, it can safely be assumed they came from this city.

It was common practice that people and places often had two names. Place names often changed whenever a new foreign power or king ruled the region. For example, in the years following Jesus’ resurrection, Herod Agrippa II renamed Caesarea Philippi to Neronias in honor of Emperor Nero. However, after Nero committed suicide, the name was quickly changed to Paneas, the original name prior to Caesarea Philippi. Other names of this city are Banias, Banyas, Baniyas, Paneas, Panias, Paneias, Paneion, and Panium. Therefore, confusion of the name of Gadara and its regions around it confirm that this biblical passage is authentic to fluid changes of first century life in the Holy Land.[42]


08.06.03.Q4 Were there one (Mk. 5:2) or two demoniacs (Mt. 8:28)? 

One of the challenges scholars have had, has been to reconcile the differences of these passages. Some critics have said these narratives were created in the second or third centuries by church leaders. If what they say is true, then the phantom church writers made huge errors because anyone fabricating an event would not deliberately write a narrative with problems. Why, then, did the gospel writers record the obvious differences?

Matthew refers to two demoniacs as being healed while Mark and Luke said only one was healed. Critics have stated that this reflects Matthew’s exaggeration of the story to make a theological statement. Furthermore, critics have said that the point of the gospels is not to give a chronological account of the life of Christ, but to construct an interpretative portrait of a man with a religious agenda.  They assume that the scribe writing the portrait was never interested in factual historical events, but only in the message of the individual who is portrayed.

In this narrative, when Jesus came close to the demoniacs, they placed themselves on the ground before Him, indicating they recognized who He was and willingly submitted themselves to Him.  Demons will always recognize the authority of Jesus and, the fact, that He is their judge.  The precise reason why Mark and Luke recorded only one individual may never be known. We can only conclude that Matthew reported that there were two, and the fact that the other writers reported only one does not mean that a second individual was not present. Mark and Luke both noted that after the man was healed, he was dressed, in his right mind, and listening to Jesus. Suggestions for the differences between Matthew and the two other accounts are as follows:

  1. Mark recorded that one demoniac met Jesus as He got out of the boat. The entire discourse appears to have been between Jesus and this single demon-possessed man. If a second demoniac stayed in the background, it would be normal for Mark and Luke to refer only to the one Jesus encountered.[43]
  1. One demoniac was more notable to the community than the other
  1. Since only one appears to have been set free of his evil hosts, the second demoniac may have retreated into a tomb, or at least, did not offer himself to be set free. Hence, his account did not become part of the biblical record.

Notice that one of the two demoniacs was very vocal and made some profound statements.  Mark and Luke said that the demon-possessed man recognized Jesus by calling Him “Son of the Most High God,” and when Jesus took control of the conversation by asking him his name, he answered, “Legion.”  The focus of the biblical narrative is not on the number of individuals who were healed, but on how Jesus took command of the most serious situation: the demons obeyed Him.

Matthew was a Pharisee and certainly knew the Mosaic Law. He quoted Deuteronomy 19:15 (Mt. 18:16) to say that all matters are to be settled with two or three witnesses (Deut. 17:6).  Since he was conscious of the function of the law, he made certain that his readers understood that there were two men who were healed and were witnesses of the divine power of Jesus.  Mark and Luke appear not to have an equal concern to reflect this law. Apparently, they felt that because of the divine majesty of Christ, they did not have to underscore the event with a record of a second witness.  It is important to remember that the ancient mind-set was different from western thought and logic.  Some elements of an event that are considered critical today were considered unimportant in the first century. The perspective from which Mark and Luke wrote their accounts is actually rather easy to understand.

This author recalls a class of Russian students he once taught in Israel in which two women were not only very vocal, but were very intelligent and knowledgeable of Scripture.  Upon reflection of the class Bible students, he can only remember these two women because they made a lasting impression on him.  Likewise, clearly one of these two demoniacs made a lasting impression on Mark and Luke.


08.06.03.Q5 If Jesus cursed Capernaum, Chorizim, and Bethsaida, why didn’t He curse Gadara?

When considering that the three villages of Capernaum, Chorizim, and Bethsaida were cursed by Jesus for their rejection of Him, the question arises as to why He didn’t do likewise to the Greek city of Gadara. The Greeks were certainly more adamant about sending Jesus on His way than were the Jews who politely rejected Him.  Scripture is silent on the matter, but apparently He may have done so. The first century historian preserved an interesting account on the subject.

History records that not only did Gadara fall to the Romans, but it was the first Greek city to fall. Josephus recorded that when the First Revolt started (66 A.D.), all its youth were killed and other residents were sold in the slave markets. He wrote:

So Vespasian marched to the city Gadara and took it upon the first onset, because he found it destitute of any considerable number of men grown up and fit for war.  He came then into it and slew all the youth, the Romans having no mercy on any age whatsoever; and this was done out of hatred they bore the nation … He also set fire, not only to the city itself, but to all the villas and small cities that were round about it; some of them were quite destitute of inhabitants and out of some of them he carried the inhabitants as slaves into captivity.

Josephus, Wars 3.7.1 (132-134)[44]


Apparently Jesus did curse the city, and its destruction came quickly – long before it came to Capernaum, Chorizim, and Bethsaida. The Gadara residents were witnesses to the great and mighty miracles and most certainly were aware of His ministry only a short distance across the lake. Jesus granted them many years to repent, but evidently they chose not to and their city was destroyed. The survivors of the Roman massacre who escaped the carnage rebuilt Gadara, but it was destroyed again on January 18, 749 by an earthquake (estimated 6.6 Richter scale).[45]  It was never rebuilt although with the migration of Arabs, a new village was established nearby. Jesus demonstrated His compassion for those who were demonically possessed. But rather than accepting Him, they were fearful.  In fact, they were more fearful of Jesus than of the demoniac before he was healed, not to mention their concern for their lost pigs.

Some scholars, especially those with an interest in biblical prophecy, have noted that the site of the miracles is adjacent to what may someday be called a Valley of Judgment, a/k/a the Valley of Hammon Gog.  Ezekiel prophesied (39:11) that an apocalyptic battle of the armies of Gog and Magog will one day fight Israel and the invaders will be buried in a valley east of the Sea of Galilee.  The Valley of Hammon Gog (Hamon-gog), known today as the Wadi Semakh, best fits the geographical description and it is at the western edge of this wadi that these miracles occurred.  The prophecy is

Now on that day I will give Gog a burial place there in Israel — the Valley of the Travelers east of the Sea. It will block those who travel through, for Gog and all his hordes will be buried there. So it will be called the Valley of Hamon-gog.

Ezekiel 39:11


Jesus returned to His home in Capernaum, saddened, but not in anger. Their rejection was strikingly similar to that of the Pharisees.  But now there was one soul saved and healed who was going through various Decapolis cities proclaiming the radical change Jesus performed in His life. History would reveal the fruitfulness of his work.


08.06.03.Q6 What happened to the healed demoniac (Mk. 5:1-20)?

History has forgotten what happened to him, but evidently he became a significant figure in the Decapolis region.  Only a few months later Jesus returned to the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee and fed thousands by a miracle of bread and fish. That miracle of multiplication resulted with seven large baskets filled with leftovers. Clearly the miracle of exorcism resulted in a radical change of attitude for many of the local Gentiles. A hundred years later a significant church was established in Gadara headed by a bishop.  By the second century the city was home to several churches, and by the fourth century, it was the seat of one of the most important bishops in the early church.  One can never overestimate the power of God to transform a life and make it significant for future generations.[46] Christianity spread quickly and by 325, the church of Gadara sent a bishop to the highly esteemed Council of Nicea.[47] A bishop from the nearby city of Hippos was also present at the first Church Councils of Nicea and Constantinople. It appears that the demoniac became an important and outstanding apostle and evangelist.  This is an example of how quickly Christianity took root in the Greek cities.[48]

[1]. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 60.


[2]. There were four legions stationed in the province of Syria.  While Judaea was considered part of Syria, it had a number of military units but no legions. Webb, “The Roman Examination and Crucifixion of Jesus.” 725; See also Josephus, Antiquities 17.10.2-3, Wars 2.3.1-4; 2.17.7-8; 5.4.3-4; Hendin, Guide to Biblical Coins. 118-19.


[3]. Pagan priests praying and offering sacrifices on behalf of Roman soldiers is portrayed very well in the movie Masada,  starring Peter O’Tool.


[4] Trench, Notes on the Miracles of Our Lord. 133.


[5]. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 419.


[6]. Barclay, “Mark.” 60.


[7]. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exorcist. Retrieved August 10, 2013.


[8]. These same distinctions were made in Lk. 6:18; 7:21; 8:2; 13:32.


[9]. See Appendix 32 and Evans, Praying through the Names of God. 21-22.


[10]. A toparchy was the Roman classification for this district. Sherwin-White, A. N. Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament. 128-30.


[11]. For more details, read Josephus, Antiquities, 13.13.3 through 14.5.4.


[12]. Geikie, The Life and Words. 2:628-29.


[13]. Geikie, The Life and Words. 2:629; Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:53.


[14]. For further study on binding and loosening see 08.04.07.Q1 “What verbal formulas did exorcists use when casting out demons?” the account of the demoniac whom Jesus cleansed in  08.06.03; the phrase “Bound in heaven . . . loosed in heaven,” in 11.02.08; the phrase “Bind on earth … loose on earth” in 10.01.29; and the phrase “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name,” in 12.01.03. An excellent resource for further study was written by Foster and King, Binding and Loosening: Exercising Authority over Dark Powers.


[15]. Hendin, Guide to Biblical Coins. 118-19.


[16]. An illustration of a roof tile found in Jerusalem has the engraved image of a ship and wild boar and Tenth Legion initials. See 06.03.09.C.

[17]. Mk. 5:12, 15; 3:22, 30; Lk. 4:33.


[18]. Lk. 10:17-18; 11:19-20.


[19]. 1 Cor. 10:20-21.


[20]. Rev. 9:20; 16:13-14.


[21]. 1 Tim. 4:1.


[22]. Lk. 13:11, 16; Mk. 5:2-5; 7:25; Mt. 12:45.


[23]http://israel-tourguide.info/2011/01/10/earthquakes-history-archaeology/. Retrieved on August 25, 2014.  See also http://geology.geoscienceworld.org/content/31/8/665.abstract and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/749_Galilee_earthquake Retrieved on August 25, 2014.


[24]. Tzaferis, “A Pilgrimage to the Site of the Swine Miracle.” 47.


[25]. Pliny, Natural History 5.74; Josephus, Antiquities 17.11.4;  Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 1:239-40.


[26]. See 08.06.02.A.


[27]. Franz, “Ancient Harbors of the Sea of Galilee.” 35-36; Hendin, Guide to Biblical Coins. 160-62.


[28]. Farrar, Life of Christ. 42.


[29]. Josephus, Antiquities 17.2.4.


[30]. There is an old opinion that the pigs were raised by apostate or Hellenized Jews.  However, that theory has in recent decades been proven wrong and is now universally agreed upon by scholarship.


[31]. Pixner, With Jesus through Galilee. 43; Hendin, Guide to Biblical Coins. 118-19.


[32]. Parenthesis for clarification are mine.


[33]. Boring, Berger, and Colpe, eds. Hellenistic Commentary to the New Testament. 65; Giannelli, The World of Classical Athens. 211.


[34]. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 60. Historians differ in the size of various military groups.


[35]. Jude 6; Rev. 20:10; cf. 1 Enoch 16:1; Jubilees 10:8-9; Testament of Levi 18:12; 1QS 3:24-25; 4:18-20.


[36]. See http://israel-tourguide.info/2011/01/10/earthquakes-history-archaeology/ Retrieved August 25, 2014. The Jordan valley is one of the most active earthquake zones in the world. There have been hundreds of minor earthquakes and major ones have dammed the Jordan River repeatedly, sometimes for days, in 1160, 1267, 1534, 1834, 1906 and 1927. At such times, buildings are destroyed, thousands of lives are lost, and the river often redirects itself as a new river bed is formed.



[37]. See Map of Decapolis Cities and Region, 03.04.17.Z.


[38]. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament. 128.


[39]. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. 90.


[40]. Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 1:152.


[41]. See 08.06.03.V1.


[42]. Geikie, The Life and Words. 2:628-30.


[43]. Archer, Encyclopedia of Biblical Difficulties. 325.

[44]. See also Josephus, Wars 4.7.3.


[45]http://israel-tourguide.info/2011/01/10/earthquakes-history-archaeology/. Retrieved on August 25, 2014. See also

http://geology.geoscienceworld.org/content/31/8/665.abstract and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/749_Galilee_earthquake Retrieved on August 25, 2014.


[46]. Kraeling, Gerasa: City of the Decapolis. 256, 311-13.


[47]. Cox, “Gadara, Gadarenes.” 2:375-76.


[48]. Pixner, With Jesus through Galilee. 46.



Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 06, 2016  -  Comments Off on 08.06.04 JAIRUS BEGS JESUS TO HEAL

08.06.04 Mk. 5:21-24a  (See also Mt. 9:18-19; Lk. 8:40-42) Capernaum




21 When Jesus had crossed over again by boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around Him while He was by the sea. 22 One of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at His feet 23 and kept begging Him, “My little daughter is at death’s door. Come and lay Your hands on her so she can get well and live.” 24a So Jesus went with him.


When Jesus arrived, He was met by Jairus, the administrator (Heb. chazzan) of the local synagogue.[1] As the synagogue ruler or president he maintained the facility and controlled the religious services[2] and most likely, he was a low-level Pharisee. Previously, it was his responsibility to represent the Roman centurion to Jesus when the centurion’s slave/servant was sick. They were good friends since the centurion was a Gentile of fine character and personally paid for the construction of the synagogue.  Therefore, he was probably well acquainted with the healing ministry of Jesus; and, since he was not under the control of the Jerusalem Sanhedrin, he had considerably more freedoms than did some of his southern counterparts. He probably had seen Jesus cast a demon out of someone who had previously visited the synagogue, and he invited Jesus in spite of potential objections from other rabbis. In light of the grave situation of his little daughter (Gk. thugatrion),[3] he would have come to Jesus in spite of any objections.  Then a woman who also needed healing interrupted the occasion. For an unknown reason, the gospel writers interrupt the account of the Jairus’ daughter with that of the woman who suffered from the proverbial “issue of blood,” and then return to account of the young girl.


In this passage Matthew coordinates the beauty of the ministry of Jesus with the beauty of his writing. It is no mistake that the daughter of Jairus, who is 12 years old, is contrasted by the woman who was ill for 12 years. The daughter obviously could not function in faith, she was nearly dead, but her father could, and so could the woman who was ill. The synagogue leader wanted Jesus to touch his daughter and the woman wants to touch Jesus.  Critics have said that early church fathers created these (false) accounts to illustrate a divine truth. It may not have occurred to them that God orchestrated these events and Matthew placed them together for modern readers to discover.  The authority of Jesus goes beyond illness, even to the door of death (and beyond). His authority over illness and death were clearly demonstrated again.

[1]. Barclay, “Mark.” 30-31; Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 276, 308-09.


[2]. His responsibilities as president of the synagogue are listed at 02.03.11.


[3]. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 47.



Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 06, 2016  -  Comments Off on 08.06.05 WOMAN TOUCHES GARMENT

08.06.05 Mk. 5:24b-34 (See also Mt. 9:20-22; Lk. 8:43-48) Capernaum




24b So Jesus went with him, and a large crowd was following and pressing against Him. 25 A woman suffering from bleeding for 12 years 26 had endured much under many doctors. She had spent everything she had and was not helped at all. On the contrary, she became worse. 27 Having heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His robe. 28 For she said, “If I can just touch His robes, I’ll be made well!”       29 Instantly her flow of blood ceased, and she sensed in her body that she was cured of her affliction.


30 At once Jesus realized in Himself that power had gone out from Him. He turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My robes?”


31 His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing against You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”


32 So He was looking around to see who had done this. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came with fear and trembling, fell down before Him, and told Him the whole truth. 34 “Daughter,” He said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be free from your affliction.”


One Church tradition reports that this woman was a Gentile by the name of Lydia. Another says her name was Veronica (Latin) or Bernice (Greek) and the tradition also states that when Jesus carried His cross to Calvary, she gave Him her veil for Him to wipe His forehead.[1] However, these traditions are clearly false since Jesus referred to her as “daughter.”  This title would have been given only to a Jewish woman, and her identity reveals the social difficulties she endured.  As a Jewish woman, she would never have been in public with such a health problem knowing that she would defile others.[2]  Her bleeding and the rules of feminine modesty rendered her untouchable (Lev. 15:19-30) and a social outcast. She had spent all her resources on doctors, and Mark implies that she even suffered from the remedies prescribed by doctors. Regardless of her illness, she was desperate enough to put aside her religious restrictions, risk punishment from the local rabbis, and pursued her healing. It is difficult to know if she suffered more from the illness or the social stigma that resulted from it. Nonetheless, when she heard of a Healer named Jesus, she believed that if she could get close enough simply to touch His prayer shawl, she would be healed.[3]


“If I can just touch His robes.”  The term robes is not the most accurate translation, but neither is the word hem as found in most Bibles.[4] The original Greek word is kraspeda or kraspedon, which in Hebrew is zizith, meaning tassel of twisted wool.[5] These tassels and their knots were a command of God through Moses for all men to wear (Num. 15:37-41; Deut. 22:12) and reminded them of the 613 commandments God had given them.[6]  The tradition of wearing tassels is still observed among orthodox Jews today, who are quick to cite Num. 15:32-41 for the basis of their belief. Each of the fringes consisted of eight threads, of which one was wound around the others; first seven times with a double knot, then eight times with a double knot, then eleven times with a double knot, and finally thirteen times.[7]  Since Hebrew letters have numeric values, the numbers spell Jehovah One.[8]  It was Jehovah One that the woman touched since Jesus wore them (Mt. 9:20; 14:36).[9] She not only touched Jesus but she also touched Judaism, a most significant point (because salvation and healing comes from the Jews). It was common knowledge, that if Jesus touched her, or if she touched Him, He would become unclean until evening.[10] So when she did the crowd was stunned.  Furthermore, it was not that He who became defiled, but rather that she become pure, cleansed, and healed.[11] Now Jairus was again able to see again the power of the faith of Jesus.


 Video Insert    >

08.06.05.V Understanding the Jewish Fringes. Dr. Bill Heinrich discusses the custom of Jewish men wearing fringes, also known as strings, on their garments. Click here if Internet connection is available.  


Being an orthodox Jew, Jesus wore tassels that hung from His belt as prescribed in the Torah. One distinctive feature of Jesus that is difficult for modern students to accept is that He dressed and acted like an orthodox rabbi.  Because of this, some translations refer to the woman’s touching of the “hem of his garment.”  A man’s prayer shawl was sacred to him, and its tassels were on the sacred symbolic garment worn by every adult male Jew. Tassels were the blue and white wool threads worn at each corner. Each tassel has five knots, representing the five books of the Torah. Christian artists almost never depict Jesus in robes with a phylactery, nor tassels hung from the “four corners” of His belt, nor with strings (tassels) at the corners of His prayer shawl (Heb. tallit).  Amazingly, it is easier for modern students to understand the actions of the woman than it is to realize that Jesus lived and functioned as a Jewish rabbi at the end of the Old Testament Period.



08.06.05.A. A RABBI WITH PHYLACTERY AND PRAYER SHAWL. A rabbi is shown wearing a phylactery on his forehead and left arm and a prayer shawl over his shoulders. Tassels or strings, are on the prayer shawls as well as the “four corners” of a man’s garment. Photograph by the author.


Some messianic scholars have suggested that she touched the corner or border of His prayer shawl (Num. 15:38) which is known as in Hebrew as the kanaph. This word has been translated some seventy-six times as “wings” in the Old Testament. For example, Psalms 91:1-4 states we are to be hidden “under His wings” is a play on words that means to hide under a prayer shawl. This woman of faith was healed by touching the tassels that were on His prayer shawl and, therefore, she was literally a fulfillment of the prophecy in Malachi 4:2 that read “healing in His wings.”[12] This was most difficult for them to comprehend and rationalize without concluding that, in some manner unknown to them, it was Jesus who created the Mosaic Law.  When she reached out to Jesus, she touched the name of God.  By faith she was healed, while other people in a crowded street simply bumped or brushed by Him with no response.  The miracle was repeated later in Matthew 14:36 when many others were healed.[13]


On an interesting side note, did the Apostle Paul really support himself financially by making tents? Three-quarters of the one hundred references to tents are in the first seven books of the Bible.  When Moses wrote the Torah, the Hebrew children lived in tents and over the centuries they gradually moved into permanent dwellings. By the New Testament period, the only people who lived in tents were Arabs and Bedouins. Do modern scholars really believe that the orthodox Jewish Rabbi Paul made tents for Arabs and Bedouins?


Could it possibly be that the apostle made tents for a nomadic people who did not live anywhere close to him?  That is highly doubtful, yet modern translators and preachers insist he was a “tentmaker.”  Paul was a Pharisee of Pharisees and a scholar of scholars.  He studied under the famed Gamaliel, the grandson of Hillel, one of the two most honored rabbis of the Second Temple Period. He made prayer shawls.  When a Jewish man desired to be alone with God, he would place his prayer shawl around his head to create a “little tent.”  In light of that, is it possible that the apostle, who preached the gospel to bring men closer to God and wrote most of the New Testament letters, would weave prayer shawls so Jewish men would get closer to God? You decide.  It should be noted that Jesus did not criticize anyone for wearing tassels, but He only criticized those Pharisees who proudly made their’s long (Mt. 23:1-12). Jesus lived and functioned as a Jewish rabbi at the end of the Old Testament Period.


“Who touched My robes?”  Jesus did not ask the question because He was unaware of her identity, but because her confession would be an expression of her faith.[14] Was it possible for healing power to go forth from Him without the full consent of His will?  If she would have been successful in attaining her healing in secret, would it have been stolen? Jesus wanted to know who she was so He could freely give her the gift she so desperately desired. Only in complete honesty can one enjoy the gifts of the Savior. He then blessed her with the words, “go in peace.”


“Your faith has made you well.”   This is one of several accounts[15] where Scripture indicates that the healing came as a result of the faith (or trust) of the sick person.  There are also accounts where the healing came as a result of the faith of others (Mk. 2:5) and accounts where Jesus could do no miracles because there was no faith.[16] Wherever the gospel writers said Jesus could not perform any miracles, it was not because He had any limitations on His divinity, but because He refused to cast pearls before swine; to heal those who had ulterior motives. Jesus never met a demon He could not exorcise; sickness He could not heal; but He could not convert an unbeliever or skeptic who refused to be convinced of who He was.


Finally, it should be noted that in Hebrew and Aramaic there is no distinction between “body” and “soul.” Therefore, when Jesus healed He always healed the whole person. For that reason, when He healed people of physical diseases, He made comments such as “Your faith has saved you,” or “Go in peace,” (i.e. Mk. 10:52; Lk. 7:50).[17]

[1]. Jordan, Who’s Who in the Bible. 239.


[2]. Mishnah, Shabbath 6.1 – 9.1.


[3]. Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ. 223-24.


[4]. Bivin, New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus, 49-51.

[5]. Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 21; Barclay, “Matthew.” 1:346-47, 2:286-87; Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 63.


[6]. The 613 laws were observed only during the times of the tabernacle or temple. Today, only 271 of those Mosaic commands can be observed. See Parry, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Talmud. 221.


[7]. Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 21-22; The knots had alpha-numeric values which represented the recepts of the Law. See also Geikie, The Life and Works of Christ. 1:189-92.


[8]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:56.


[9]. Smith, Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament: Matthew. 272-73. It is most unfortunate that Christian artists almost never depicted Jesus as wearing fringes on His garments.

[10]. Lev. 15:19-23; Mishnah, Taharot 5.8; Mishnah, Zabin 5.6.


[11]. See video comments by messianic scholar Timothy Hegg in 01.01.02.V.

[12]. Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 21-22.

[13]. Farrar, Life of Christ. 164-65. According to Green, Interlinear Greek-English New Testament; Berry, Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament. Mt. 14:36), others begged to touch the fringe of His Garment.


[14]. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. 432.


[15]. Mk. 10:52; Lk. 7:50; 17:19; 18:42.


[16]. Mt. 13:58; Mk. 6:6 i.e., Nazareth.


[17]. See 02.04.10.


08.06.06 Capernaum JAIRUS’ DAUGHTER RAISED

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 06, 2016  -  Comments Off on 08.06.06 Capernaum JAIRUS’ DAUGHTER RAISED

08.06.06 Mk. 5:35-43 (See also Mt. 9:23-26; Lk. 8:49-56) Capernaum




35  While He was still speaking, people came from the synagogue leader’s house and said, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher anymore?”

36 But when Jesus overheard what was said, He told the synagogue leader, “Don’t be afraid. Only believe.” 37 He did not let anyone accompany Him except Peter, James, and John, James’s brother. 38 They came to the leader’s house, and He saw a commotion —people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.”  

40 They started laughing at Him, but He put them all outside. He took the child’s father, mother, and those who were with Him, and entered the place where the child was.        41 Then He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” ). 42 Immediately the girl got up and began to walk. (She was 12 years old.) At this they were utterly astounded. 43 Then He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this and said that she should be given something to eat.


08.06.06.Q1  Was the daughter of Jairus dead (Mk. 5:35; Lk. 8:49) or asleep (Mk. 5:39; Mt. 9:23; Lk. 9:52)?

The question arises not because there is a conflict in the Synoptics, but because Scripture recorded that it was the opinion of the people that she was dead.  While the word “sleep” is often used as a metaphor for death, this interpretation was clearly eliminated by Jesus Himself.  However, it can be assumed that the young girl was unconscious, in a coma, or near death. Jesus would have understood that she was not dead, but the people had no concept of someone being unconscious or in a coma. The passages read as follows:

            Mk. 5:35         “Your daughter is dead.”

            Mk. 5:39         “The child is not dead, but asleep.”

            Mt. 9:24          “The girl isn’t dead, but sleeping.”

            Lk. 8:52          “She is not dead but asleep.”


It was the Jewish belief that sleep was regarded as a kind of death, in which the soul leaves the body but returns to it on its waking.[1]  In addition, Mark 5:35 reflects the opinion of several men who presumed she was dead. The other references indicate that the girl was either unconscious or in a coma. If she was merely sleeping, no one would have called Jesus to wake her up. Being dead or near death were often deemed to be one and the same, especially since there was no basic medical knowledge, as is taken for granted today, to determine the difference.  And even if the difference between these two states of being were known, there was no medical cure to improve the condition of the dying or near death patient. Whether the girl was clinically dead is hardly the question; rather, she had all appearances of death and was evidently close to it.

Matthew used the Greek word katheudein, (2518) which usually means natural sleep.[2]  However, the girl may have suffered a medical case of catalepsy, which is a condition in which the person’s body becomes stiff, ridged, and stops moving. The person remains rigid in whatever posture he or she was in at the time of suffering catalepsy and the ability to communicate is lost.[3]  It has all the signs of death, and is either a coma or close to being a coma.[4] Throughout history, and even today, in most areas of the Middle East a person was buried on the day of death without embalming. Some excavated tombs have revealed some buried persons may have suffered from catalepsy, then woke up only to find no escape from the tomb. Jesus performed an incredible healing in the young child much to the astonishment of the people and the leader of the local synagogue. Nonetheless, there are three points to consider:

  1. To speak of death as sleep is an image common to all the Laws and cultures. Therefore, the reality of death in this case cannot be denied.
  1. Death is followed by a resurrection just as sleep is followed by an awakening.
  1. Jesus used the exact same Law when describing Lazarus in John 11:11. Possibly, to      Him, both she and Lazarus were merely sleeping, since in Him there is no death.


Jairus was a synagogue ruler in Capernaum, a position that would have been comparable to today’s position of a senior pastor or rabbi.  Most village and country synagogue rabbis honestly and sincerely cared for the spiritual well-being of their people.  Unfortunately, while Jairus believed in Jesus, his fellow villagers were doubtful which is probably why Jesus eventually cursed the village.

 “Peter, James, and John.” While Jesus had twelve disciples, He had an inner-circle of three who were particularly close to Him – Peter, James and his brother John. There is no reason given as to why they were chosen, but the three times when Jesus called them aside are as follows:

  1. With Jesus when the daughter of Jairus was raised to life
  2. At the Transfiguration
  3. During His agony in the garden

The close relationship Jesus had with them, particularly with Peter, made Peter’s denial during the Passion Week all the more dramatic.

“A commotion — people weeping and wailing loudly.”  Grief was openly expressed with uncontrolled outbursts of crying and wailing. The term commotion (Gk. thorubeo, 2350) means to make an uproar, or to throw into confusion.[5]  Professional mourners were often a part of such an event. As stated previously (08.05.06), when there was a funeral, there were also flute players who played songs[6] while professional mourners (Gk. sappedans)[7] sang elegant songs of lament. A poor family had at least one woman mourner and a minimum of two flute players who played songs of lament as family and friends mourned their loss as stated in the Oral Law.

Rabbi Judah says, “Even the poorest man in Israel should not hire fewer than two flutes and one professional wailing woman.”

Mishnah, Ketuboth 4.4


So in this case the president of the local synagogue would probably have had a small band – not because he was wealthy – but because so many would contribute and share his sorrow. This cultural practice was not only among the Jewish people, but in neighboring cultures as well.  For example, in the Roman world, when Emperor Claudius died, the wailing of the flute players and professional mourners were so loud that Seneca said that the emperor, although dead, probably heard them.[8] The eerie sounds of uncontrollable wailing and emotionally charged shrieks by professional mourners will never be forgotten by any Westerner who hears them, including this writer.

“She was 12 years old.”  This was an important year in the life of a Jewish girl and her family.  It was the age of examination prior to becoming a daughter of the commandment at the age of 13 years and one day. She would be responsible for her own spiritual welfare. Then she would also be a candidate for marriage and a new family. The family and village not only mourned the loss of the young life, but also of the loss of a future family.[9]

“At this they were utterly astounded.” The astonishment shook the community; not just because the young girl was instantly restored to life and health, but because everyone know that previously the prophets Elijah and Elisha had both restored dead children back to life (1 Kgs. 17:17-24; 2 Kgs. 4:18-37). Now the people of Capernaum realized that someone of prophetic magnitude was in their presence. Little wonder then, that when Capernaum and two other villages show little interest in the message of Jesus, that Jesus said they would be destroyed.

“No one should know about this.” This is an utterly amazing statement. Picture this: There is a crowd of people packed into the house of the president/ chief elder, the rosh hakkeneseth of the synagogue[10]the most important person in the community. His 12-year old daughter is in bed either dead or dying when Jesus and His disciples arrive. Everyone is weeping and singing mourning songs of lament. The air is tense with sorrow, because if she isn’t dead now, she soon will be.  Then Jesus enters the room with her parents and His three inner most disciples – Peter, James and John, and the following steps occur:

  1. Upon entering the room He quieted everyone and said that girl was sleeping.
  1. He removed the paid professional mourners and others who ridiculed Him.
  1. He then uttered two Aramaic words Talitha koum!” meaning, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” She responds and gets up, completely healed.[11]
  1. The family presented the girl to the waiting audience who cheer and express both excitement and joyful disbelief. The reputation of Jesus traveled far and wide.
  1. Then Jesus exits the room and tells the family, “No one should know about this!” Who was He kidding? How could anyone possibly be quiet about this incredible miracle?  Why did He make this statement?


Jesus had a continuous serious problem: How could He communicate to the Jewish people that He was their Messiah without having them misinterpret Him and conclude that He was a political-messiah?  This dilemma did not exist to the same intensity in Greek communities (i.e. Mk. 5:1-20). The miracle publicly demonstrated that Jesus had power over life and death.  In their minds, only the Messiah could do such great works, so they were forced to ponder if Jesus really was the Messiah. He obviously challenged their preconceived ideas that the Messiah would destroy the Romans.[12] He did not want to tell anyone that He was their Messiah. He wanted them to make that determination for themselves so that whatever their answer would be, they would take ownership of their final decision.


However, the people wanted the tyranny of Roman oppression to end and Israel to be restored to its glory days of King David. They would naturally expect that anyone who had power over life and death would most certainly also be able to bring Israel to international superpower status.  However, that was not the intent of Jesus.  He told them not to tell others of this great feat.  When considering the great joy the people had over the second life of the twelve-year-old girl, and that Jesus could possibly be the one to bring Israel to its promised greatness, one must wonder why Jesus even bothered to tell these people to be quiet.  In a culture where “next-to-nothing” brought excitement, this was ecstatic!  The Living Word who once spoke the world into existence; formed man into the image of God; and breathed life into him, now restored life to the young girl.

There were three distinctly different reactions to this miracle; reactions that were repeated time and time again.  Clearly the interpretation of what was seen and experienced is ultimately defined by the condition of the heart.

  1. The crowds were amazed and wondered what kind of man Jesus could be.
  1. The leading Pharisees were angered with great passion. They obviously could not deny the powers that Jesus had, so they attributed them to demonic forces.
  1. Another group simply could not reconcile their concept of the messiah to the words and actions of Jesus. Nearly everyone was expecting a military messiah, yet this Jesus did meet all of the messianic prophecies of Scripture. Making a decision was clearly difficult.


Finally, the question arises of how Jairus may have then interacted with his peers in other synagogues. Everyone had heard of the Jewish Jesus healing the Gentile centurion’s servant and the son of Herod’s court official. So why did Jairus wait until his daughter was near death to call Him?  Was he worried about possible criticisms from the upper echelon Pharisees? This is a very strong possibility. However, when he realized he was about to lose a daughter, he was desperate enough to go to Jesus for help.

[1]. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ. 1:177.


[2]. Barclay, “Matthew.” 1:345; Vine, “Asleep, Sleep.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:41.


[3]. http://catalepsy.askdefine.com/. Retrieved August 1, 2013.


[4]. http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/catalepsy. Retrieved August 1, 2013.


[5]. Vine, “Ado.”Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:13.


[6]. Mishnah, Ketuboth 4.4; Bock, Jesus According to Scripture. 168.


[7]. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ. 2:629-30.


[8]. Barclay, “Matthew.” 1:344.


[9]. Gilbrant, “Luke.” 265.


[10]. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 188; Farrar, The Life of Christ. 118.


[11]. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. 191.  


[12]. See 12.03.01.Q1 “What ‘Messianic problems’ did the Jewish leaders have with Jesus?” and 12.03.01.A “Chart of Key Points of the Messianic Problems.” See also 02.03.09 “Messianic Expectations”; 05.04.02.Q1 “What were the Jewish expectations of the Messiah?” and Appendix 25: “False Prophets, Rebels, Significant Events, and Rebellions that Impacted the First Century Jewish World.”


08.06.07 Two Blind Men Healed

Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 06, 2016  -  Comments Off on 08.06.07 Two Blind Men Healed

08.06.07 Mt. 9:27-31  Two Blind Men Healed


28 When He entered the house, the blind men approached Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?” 

“Yes, Lord,” they answered Him.   

29 Then He touched their eyes, saying, “Let it be done for you according to your faith!” 30 And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus warned them sternly, “Be sure that no one finds out!” 31 But they went out and spread the news about Him throughout that whole area.

This is the first of many healings of the blind recorded (Mt. 12:22; 20:30; 21:14; Jn. 9) or alluded to (Mt. 11:5) in the gospels. In fact, this miracle has been called a doublet because of the similar account in Matthew 20:29-34, Mark and Luke 18:35-43.  Each one was a literal fulfillment of the prophetic word of Isaiah, who said of the coming Messiah,

            5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.

            Isaiah 35:5

The healing of a demon-possessed person who was mute, or “dumb,” was considered to be a messianic miracle, as was  the healing of an ordinary person who was born blind.[1] Here were two blind men that the rabbis would not or could not heal.[2]   The performance of such an incredible healing also reveals the spiritual blindness of so many religious leaders. Throughout Scripture, sin is often described as moral blindness[3] and the deliverance from sin is described as a removal of this blindness.[4] To say that Jesus is the proverbial “light of the world” has more to do with spiritual blindness than it does with physical blindness.  At times Jesus healed by simply touching the person (Mt. 20:34). On another occasion, he used clay mingled with spittle (Jn. 9:6-7), and on another He used moisture from His mouth (Mk. 8:23). But nowhere did He simply speak healing to the blind. The reason for the variation remains a divine secret.

[1]. For a description of the three messianic miracles, see 06.03.08.Q1, 06.03.08.Q2, 06.01.03, John 4:25 as well as the related video link 06.03.08.V. See also the comparison of Dead Sea Scroll fragments 4Q278 and 4Q521 with Luke 4:16-30 at 06.02.02.


[2]. There were four kinds of people that were considered as good as dead, and it was believed that in all four situations their illness was a divine judgment. They were the blind, the leper, the poor, and the childless.


[3]. Deut. 28:29; Isa. 59:10; Job 12:25; Zeph. 1:17.


[4]. Isa. 16:18; 43:8; Eph. 1:8; Mt. 15:14.






Bill Heinrich  -  Jan 06, 2016  -  Comments Off on 08.06.08 MUTE MAN HEALED

08.06.08 Mt. 9:32-34




32 Just as they were going out, a demon-possessed man who was unable to speak was brought to Him. 33 When the demon had been driven out, the man spoke. And the crowds were amazed, saying, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel!”


34 But the Pharisees said, “He drives out demons by the ruler of the demons!”


It was common opinion that those who were blind and/or mute, suffered in this condition because God cursed them or their parents. Regardless of how good and righteous the handicapped person and his family were, the social curse could not be removed. The idea that an accident or illness could be the natural result of living in a fallen world had never occurred to them.


The tradition had arisen that only the Messiah would be able to bring healing to those born with blindness became known as a “messianic miracle.” [1]  It was based on the prophet Isaiah, who said that the Messiah would bring vision to the eyes of the blind and that the ears of the deaf would be opened (Isa. 35:5-6). This is precisely what Jesus did to demonstrate His Messianic authority.  Once He captured people’s attention, He taught them the Kingdom of God.


“Unable to speak.” The Greek word kophos in all grammar forms refers to a deaf mute, indicating that the man could neither speak nor hear.  These two ailments were commonly linked together.[2]  The fact that Jesus healed this man was absolutely profound because in various Inter-Testamental Jewish writings, the advent of the Messiah meant that evil would be defeated.[3] Now they were witnesses of Jesus performing the acts that were predicted that the Messiah would perform.

[1]. Research on the “Messianic Miracles” is credited to Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, a Messianic scholar and director of Ariel Ministries in San Antonio, TX, formerly of Tustin, CA. For more information on his excellent scholarship, see http://ariel.org/. Retrieved September 26, 2013. See also 06.03.08.V (Video), 06.01.03 and the comparison of Dead Sea Scroll fragments 4Q278 and 4Q521 with Luke 4:16-30 at 06.02.02; See also Fruchtenbaum, Messianic Miracles. 4.


[2]. Carson, “Matthew” 8:234.

[3]. 1 Enoch 55:4; Jubilees 23:29; Testament of Simeon 6:6; Testament of Judah 25:3; Testament of Moses 10:1, and the Testament of Solomon 20:16-17.


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