Posted by: chuckbumgardner | November 4, 2015

A Gentile Feeding?

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tabgha_Church_Mosaic_Israel.jpgNow, that’s interesting. In the study notes of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, Craig Blomberg discusses both the feeding of the five thousand in Matt 14:13-21 and the feeding of the four thousand in Matt 15:29-39, and suggests that the latter was a distinctly Gentile-oriented miracle. This is suggested in the narrative itself when the multitude “praised the God of Israel“; God would have not been specified to be Israel’s God if the crowd had been Jewish, Blomberg argues. He also notes that in the feeding of the five thousand, the word for “basket,” (κόφινος, 14:20) is the word for “a typical Jewish lunch pack,” while the word for “basket” in the later incident (σπυρίς, 15:37) is the word for “a larger Gentile hamper.” He is rightly more hesitant in his suggestion that Matthew may see symbolic value in “twelve” baskets in the former incident as engaging “the distinctively Jewish number (as in the twelve tribes of Israel) and in “seven” baskets in the latter incident as engaging “the universal number (as in seven days of creation), appropriate for all nations.” As well, though Blomberg doesn’t mention it here, the feeding of the four thousand comes on the heels of the very Gentile-oriented interaction with the “Canaanite” woman in 15:21-28.

The takeaway from this interesting suggestion for Blomberg is that “the close duplication of the earlier miracle may intentionally demonstrate that Jesus is the bread of life for Gentiles as well as Jews.”

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Responses

  1. Interesting as always!

  2. In “The Canaanite Conquest of Jesus (Mt 15:21-28),” Grant LeMarquand addresses in quite some depth the issue of the fact that the woman Jesus encounters in Matt. 15 is a Canaanite and that ‘Although the Hebrew Bible contains several different lists of nations slated for extermination and subjugation in the conquest, Deut 7:1 is explicit that the number of the nations is “seven.” It seems certain that the number seven is symbolic of completeness in some way, but it is not clear what is “complete” about these condemned nations. Perhaps the mention of seven
    nations suggests that the “whole” of the promised land is to be given to Israel; perhaps the number indicates the fullness of the sins for which the Canaanites are being punished (see Gen 15:16 which looks to the Israelite occupation of Canaan to coincide with the future “completion” of the iniquity of the Amorites); or it could be that the completeness envisioned is the completeness of the Canaanites’ opposition to Israel and Israel’s God. In any event the number seven does seem to represent the completeness of the Canaanites in some unspecified way.”’

    The article/essay is in interesting in it’s own right:
    http://www.tsm.edu/sites/default/files/Faculty%20Writings/LeMarquand%20-%20The%20Canaanite%20Conquest%20of%20Jesus.pdf


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