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Matthew 12:3-4

Context
12:3 He 1  said to them, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry – 12:4 how he entered the house of God and they ate 2  the sacred bread, 3  which was against the law 4  for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests? 5 

1 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

2 tc The Greek verb ἔφαγεν (efagen, “he ate”) is found in a majority of witnesses (Ì70 C D L W Θ Ë1,13 33 Ï latt sy co) in place of ἔφαγον (efagon, “they ate”), the wording found in א B pc. ἔφαγεν is most likely motivated by the parallels in Mark and Luke (both of which have the singular).

3 tn Grk “the bread of presentation.”

sn The sacred bread refers to the “bread of presentation,” “showbread,” or “bread of the Presence,” twelve loaves prepared weekly for the tabernacle and later, the temple. See Exod 25:30; 35:13; 39:36; Lev 24:5-9. Each loaf was made from 3 quarts (3.5 liters; Heb “two tenths of an ephah”) of fine flour. The loaves were placed on a table in the holy place of the tabernacle, on the north side opposite the lampstand (Exod 26:35). It was the duty of the priest each Sabbath to place fresh bread on the table; the loaves from the previous week were then given to Aaron and his descendants, who ate them in the holy place, because they were considered sacred (Lev 24:9). See also Mark 2:23-28, Luke 6:1-5.

4 sn Jesus’ response to the charge that what his disciples were doing was against the law is one of analogy: “If David did it for his troops in a time of need, then so can I with my disciples.” Jesus is clear that on the surface there was a violation here. What is not as clear is whether he is arguing a “greater need” makes this permissible or that this was within the intention of the law all along.

5 sn See 1 Sam 21:1-6.



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