Disciples Eat Grain on the Sabbath

December 11, 2015

Luke 6 records one of several clashes Jesus had with the Jewish leaders: “Now it happened that He was passing through some grainfields on a Sabbath; and His disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating the grain. But some of the Pharisees said, ‘Why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?'” (vv.1-2).

Lenski observes, “The time of this occurrence is certainly determined by the condition of the grain, which was ripe enough to be rubbed out ‘with the hands,’ dative of means, Robertson, 533. It was April, shortly after the Passover, a year before Jesus’ death” (The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel, p. 321).

What Jesus disciples did was permitted by Scripture: “When you enter your neighbor’s standing grain, then you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not wield a sickle in your neighbor’s standing grain” (Deut. 23:25). However the Pharisees had erroneously determined that this was working, and therefore in violation of the Sabbath.

Ripened Wheat. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Ripened Wheat. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Besides the fact that Mosaic Law actually permitted the disciples’ actions, Jesus showed the inconsistency of his opponents. They found no fault with David, even though when fleeing from Saul he and his men ate showbread from the tabernacle (Lk. 6:3-4). And yet they condemned the disciples, who were guiltless of wrongdoing.

Further: “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath” (v.5), and as such He knew what was right and wrong (re: the Sabbath and all things), and would not permit His disciples to violate the Sabbath. What was totally escaping Jesus’ opponents was the fact that “The Lord of the Sabbath” was in their midst and they did not see it! How sad!

Wheat_Carchemish_0447LMauldin

Fields of Wheat near Euphrates. Carchemish is in background. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

 


Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls

December 2, 2015

“The Dead Sea Scrolls are undoubtedly the most important discovery found in Israel in the field of the Bible and history of Judaism and Christianity.”1 Fragments of about 900 scrolls from the 2nd Temple period (some dating as early as 3rd century BC) were found in the Qumran caves (NW shore of Dead Sea), between 1947 and 1956. Every book of the Old Testament (except Esther) were represented in the finds, including one complete copy of Isaiah.

Some of the Qumran Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered (1946ff.). Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Some of the Qumran Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered (1946ff.). Photo by Leon Mauldin.

I remember when studying archaeology under the late Dr. James Hodges that he said the main value of the Dead Sea Scrolls was in the discipline of apologetics. The scrolls were about 1,000 years older (!) than the previously available manuscripts with which translators had to work. The huge find of fragments provided abundant samples with which to compare our Hebrew manuscripts. The result was:

it may now be more confidently asserted than ever before that the modern Hebrew text faithfully represents the Hebrew text as originally written by the authors of the Old Testament. Dead Sea discoveries have enabled us to answer this question with much greater assurance than was possible before 1948.2

Dr. Hodges pointed out that no new translations had to be made as a result of the discovery of the scrolls; they confirmed the accuracy of transmission of what we already have.

Another contribution:

“As a result of Dead Sea Scroll discoveries, it is no longer possible to date portions or entire Old Testament books as late as some scholars used to do. It is impossible to date any biblical work or any extensive part of one later than the early second century B.C. Fragments of the Pentateuch and the prophets date from the second century B.C. Ecclesiastes, sometimes believed to have been composed in the second or first century B.C., appears in a Cave 4 manuscript dating from 175 to 150 B.C. A second-century B.C. Copy of the Psalms indicates that the collection of Psalms was fixed by Maccabean times. A manuscript of Daniel dating about 120 B.C. brings into question the alleged Maccabean date of its composition. Moreover, the Dead Sea Scrolls do not support the existence of a deutero- or trito-Isaiah, at least during the second century B.C. The complete Isaiah and the long fragment of Isaiah from Cave 1 (second century B.C.) treat the book as a unit.”

View from Qumran looking south. Dead Sea is in upper left of photo. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

View from Qumran looking south. Dead Sea is in upper left of photo. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

 

Click photos for larger view.

1 Yigael Yadin quoted by Hanan Eshel in Qumran: Scrolls∙Caves∙History (p.7)

2 See F. B. Bruce, Second Thoughts on the Dead Sea Scrolls (pp.61-69)

3 Bible and Spade (1978), 7(1), pp.12–14.