14:3 Now 1 while Jesus 2 was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, reclining at the table, 3 a woman came with an alabaster jar 4 of costly aromatic oil 5 from pure nard. After breaking open the jar, she poured it on his head. 14:4 But some who were present indignantly said to one another, “Why this waste of expensive 6 ointment? 14:5 It 7 could have been sold for more than three hundred silver coins 8 and the money 9 given to the poor!” So 10 they spoke angrily to her.
1 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “now” to indicate the transition to a new topic.
2 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
3 sn 1st century middle eastern meals were not eaten while sitting at a table, but while reclining on one’s side on the floor with the head closest to the low table and the feet farthest away.
4 sn A jar made of alabaster stone was normally used for very precious substances like perfumes. It normally had a long neck which was sealed and had to be broken off so the contents could be used.
5 tn Μύρον (muron) was usually made of myrrh (from which the English word is derived) but here it is used in the sense of ointment or perfumed oil (L&N 6.205). The adjective πιστικῆς (pistikh") is difficult with regard to its exact meaning; some have taken it to derive from πίστις (pistis) and relate to the purity of the oil of nard. More probably it is something like a brand name, “pistic nard,” the exact significance of which has not been discovered.
sn Nard or spikenard is a fragrant oil from the root and spike of the nard plant of northern India. This aromatic oil, if made of something like nard, would have been extremely expensive, costing up to a year’s pay for an average laborer.
6 tn The word “expensive” is not in the Greek text but has been included to suggest a connection to the lengthy phrase “costly aromatic oil from pure nard” occurring earlier in v. 3. The author of Mark shortened this long phrase to just one word in Greek when repeated here, and the phrase “expensive ointment” used in the translation is intended as an abbreviated paraphrase.
7 tn Here γάρ (gar) has not been translated.
8 tn Grk “three hundred denarii.” One denarius was the standard day’s wage, so the value exceeded what a laborer could earn in a year (taking in to account Sabbaths and feast days when no work was done).
9 tn The words “the money” are not in the Greek text, but are implied (as the proceeds from the sale of the perfumed oil).
10 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of previous action(s) in the narrative.