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Matthew 12:1-8

Context
Lord of the Sabbath

12:1 At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on a Sabbath. His 1  disciples were hungry, and they began to pick heads of wheat 2  and eat them. 12:2 But when the Pharisees 3  saw this they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is against the law to do on the Sabbath.” 12:3 He 4  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 5  the sacred bread, 6  which was against the law 7  for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests? 8  12:5 Or have you not read in the law that the priests in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are not guilty? 12:6 I 9  tell you that something greater than the temple is here. 12:7 If 10  you had known what this means: ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice,’ 11  you would not have condemned the innocent. 12:8 For the Son of Man is lord 12  of the Sabbath.”

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

2 tn Or “heads of grain.” While the generic term στάχυς (stacus) can refer to the cluster of seeds at the top of grain such as barley or wheat, in the NT the term is restricted to wheat (L&N 3.40; BDAG 941 s.v. 1).

3 sn See the note on Pharisees in 3:7.

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

5 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).

6 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.

7 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.

8 sn See 1 Sam 21:1-6.

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

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

11 sn A quotation from Hos 6:6 (see also Matt 9:13).

12 tn The term “lord” is in emphatic position in the Greek text.

sn A second point in Jesus’ defense of his disciples’ actions was that his authority as Son of Man also allowed it, since as Son of Man he was lord of the Sabbath.



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