Matthew 9:27-34

9.27 Καὶ παράγοντι ἐκεῖθεν τῷ Ἰησοῦ ἠκολούθησαν δύο τυφλοὶ κράζοντες καὶ λέγοντες· ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς, υἱὸς Δαυίδ. 9.28 ἐλθόντι δὲ εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν προσῆλθον αὐτῷ οἱ τυφλοί, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς  ὁ Ἰησοῦς· πιστεύετε ὅτι δύναμαι τοῦτο ποιῆσαι;  λέγουσιν αὐτῷ· ναί κύριε. 9.29 τότε ἥψατο τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν αὐτῶν λέγων· κατὰ τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν γενηθήτω ὑμῖν. 9.30 καὶ ἠνεῴχθησαν αὐτῶν οἱ ὀφθαλμοί. καὶ ἐνεβριμήθη αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων· ὁρᾶτε μηδεὶς γινωσκέτω. 9.31 οἱ δὲ ἐξελθόντες διεφήμισαν αὐτὸν ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ γῇ ἐκείνῇ.

9.32 Αὐτῶν δὲ ἐξερχομένων, ἰδοὺ προσήνεγκαν αὐτῷ κωφὸν δαιμονιζόμενον. 9.33 καὶ ἐκβληθέντος τοῦ δαιμονίου ἐλάλησεν ὁ κωφός. καὶ ἐθαύμασαν οἱ ὄχλοι λέγοντες· οὐδέποτε ἐφάνη οὕτως ἐν τῷ Ἰσραήλ. 9.34 οἱ δὲ Φαρισαῖοι ἔλεγον· ἐν τῷ ἄρχοντι τῶν δαιμονίων εκβάλλει τὰ δαιμόνια.

9.27 And as Jesus moved on from there, two blind men followed him crying out, “Show us mercy, son of David!” 9.28 And when he entered the house, the blind men came up, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They responded, “Yes, lord.” 9.29 Then he touched their eyes saying, “Let it be just as you have believed.” 9.30 And their eyes were opened, and Jesus admonished them, saying, “See to it nobody knows.” 9.31 But going out, they reported what had happened throughout the area.

9.32 As they were going out, a mute and demon-possessed man was brought in to Jesus. 9.33 And as the demon was being cast out, the mute spoke. The crowds marveled, saying, “Never has such a thing been seen in Israel.” 9.34 But the Pharisees said, “It is by the ruler of the demons that he casts out demons.”

Some Vocabulary
For starters, I’ll list here some of the key words. I’ve been away from both Greek and the book of Matthew for a while. Obviously, my memory is not as good as I’d like!

  • παράγοντι – masculine singular dative present active participle of the verb παράγω, which has a range of meanings surrounding to pass by, go away, depart, and even disappear (metaphorically).
  • ἐκεῖθεν – adverb meaning “there” or “(from) that place”.
  • ἠκολούθησαν – third person plural aorist active indicative of the verb ἀκολουθέω, to follow one who goes before, to join up with someone; even to side with someone or join as a follower.
  • τυφλοὶ – masculine plural nominative substantive adjective, “blind”, whether physically or metaphorically, from a verbal root suggesting being clouded by smoke or mist. Thus, “blind [men]”.
  • κράζοντες, masculine plural nominative present active participle of κράζω, which ranges in meaning from croak or cry, envisioning the noise of a raven (think, “kra! kra!”) or other animal, to crying out, pleading or praying, and speaking loudly.
  • ἐλέησον – singular aorist active imperative of ἐλεέω, which suggests helping one in need, showing mercy, or possibly experiencing mercy.
  • ἥψατο – third person singular aorist middle of the verb ἅπτω, meaning to fasten or adhere to. The middle voice has the idea of touching (to fasten one’s own hand on something), and by extension, can be used to speak of sexual intercourse or avoiding handling things that are ritually impure.
  • γενηθήτω – plural aorist passive imperative: γίνομαι, with meanings around becoming, coming into being, being made, arising within history, finishing
  • ἠνεῴχθησαν – third person plural aorist passive of ἀνοίγω, to open.
  • ἐνεβριμήθη third person singular aorist middle: ἐμβριμάομαι, with a sense of “to snort”, leading to the meaning to be angry, to groan, to murmur. Vine’s also describes it as “to fret, to be painfully moved;” then, “to express indignation against;” hence, “to rebuke sternly, to charge strictly,”. I wonder how much of that is just recognized definition, and how much is trying to back-fill meaning to explain Jesus’ strong reaction in this case (among others)
  • ὁρᾶτε – plural present imperative ὁράω, with a rich set of meanings by extension of “to see”: to perceive, to know, to experience or to heed or “see to”
  • μηδεὶς – an adjective combining “not” and the number “one”, with the meaning of nobody, no one, nothing
  • γινωσκέτω – singular present active imperative of γινώσκω, to come to know, become known, know, understand or be acquainted with
  • διεφήμισαν – third person plural aorist active of διαφημίζω, to spread [through], to spread abroad, share openly, all in typically positive light; declaring the fame of.
  • ὅλῃ – the adjective ὅλος meaning all, whole, or completely.
  • προσήνεγκαν – third person plural aorist active of προσφέρω, to bring to or lead to, even to offer to.
  • κωφὸν, κωφός – singular accusative (or nominative, respectively) of κωφός, to be dulled or blunted. It has meaning both in hearing and in speaking.
  • οὐδέποτε – an adverb; a relatively strong way of saying never.
  • ἐφάνη – third person singular second aorist passive of φαίνω, to bring into the light, shine, bring into view, to become evident, or to seem

Comments
παράγοντι, in verse 27, hints that the departing is concessive. It does not have time, depending instead on its relationship to the main verb, thus translating it as “as Jesus continued on his way” is not out of the question. This “as” need not be right as he left the door, but in the departing, moving on, etc. Maybe even “…having moved on from there…” would have worked. I struggled with using “continued on his way”; in the end it was just too dynamic and removed from the actual simple Greek phrase employed. I had used “as Jesus was leaving,” but felt that it suggested too much specificity in the time of encounter, as if the two blind men found Jesus right outside the door of the ruler. No reference to “him” is in the actual Greek, but to show connection between leaving, Jesus, and the following of the blind men, I chose to double Jesus with a pronoun – otherwise we would have something like “…leaving, two blind (men) followed Jesus…” In Greek it is clear that the leaving refers to Jesus not the blind men, being in the singular, and in context, where Jesus has just finished up at the home of the ἄρχων). Flexible Greek word order allows them to push the dative reference to Jesus up front, connecting it more closely with the dative from of the participle, as well. Thus, in Greek there is no need for a secondary reference to Jesus.

“Have mercy on us!” shout the blind men. My interlinear suggests, “Pity us!” Pity and mercy are both fine expressions, I suppose, as long as one point is clear: They are calling for action, not compassion. They aren’t looking for a kind word. they are looking for tangible results. I originally used “Show mercy to us” rather than “Show us mercy,” but the “to” hinted at a dative-like, indirect object use of the pronoun, where in the Greek we find an accusative. In all reality, “us” in English still ends up being an indirect object. One possible English alternative  I can think of is a complete reformulation, “Heal us!” which does use a direct object instead of an indirect object. Note that I chose “show” rather than “have mercy (on)” – though it is much more like the direct object governing verbal phrase I was looking for – because “show” more clearly states the physicality of the request, rather than just possessing a feeling of interest or compassion.

In verse 28, “…entering the house,” still leaves me shrugging my shoulders. What house? Are we back to the home of the ἄρχων? If so, maybe “leaving” was right at the door. NIV chooses to say “indoors,” which seems a little beyond the reach of εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν, but it certainly makes things more palatable.

“Let it be just as you have believed.” is rather dynamic for the text, but the dative and genitive expressions are hard to work with in parallel in English. I’m not happy with turning the prepositional phrase κατὰ τὴν πίστιν into the verbal expression “as you have believed”, and a past/perfect one at that. But I think the words capture Jesus’ thrust. A more direct translation would be something like “According to your faith/belief/confidence be it to you.”

I don’t understand the construction here in ὁρᾶτε μηδεὶς γινωσκέτω. Is a double imperative expected with “to see to”? I get the general idea from other translations I have looked at for aid, but still perplexed. I almost used the phrase, “Make sure no one catches wind of this.” It seemed reasonable in meaning, but a little free with the wording. I do like the interesting play here. Two blind men are told to “see to” their charge, to be perceptive and careful. Not that they are, of course…

I chose to translate ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ γῇ ἐκείνῇ as “throughout the area.” “Into all that land,” sounds a little antiquated. Choosing just the right phrase to translate the preceding “spread abroad” was also a little difficult. English uses many more dynamic expressions to say such things, and “spread abroad” didn’t sit right, especially followed by a “throughout the area” (abroad seems redundant in that context).

Αὐτῶν δὲ ἐξερχομένων, in verse 32, seems to be unclear in its referent. It could be Jesus and his disciples, though they are a bit removed from the action at that point in the narrative flow. It could be the two blind men, and this would suggest that the mute, demon-possessed man is brought into the house just as Jesus is finishing up with the blind men. This choice has one detraction that immediately comes to mind: The crowd’s amazement must be being described after the fact, otherwise it seems inappropriate in context. They can’t all be in the house!

Either way, Jesus is direct and powerful, and there is no doubt about the crowds’ awareness and the Pharisees’ response. This is the first direct attack on Jesus by the Pharisees. Before this they had questioned his disciples’ actions (9:11), but Matthew had described no outright conflict between Jesus and the religious elite.

Summing Up
I think that being blind, deaf and unable to speak are some of the worst conditions faced by man. While not necessarily pain-inducing, and often not life-threatening (nowadays), these conditions deprive one of joy and proper societal connection. One would find it hard to fulfill one’s obligations, like taking care of a family, or even having a family – depending on what produced the condition. One becomes dependent on others. While not being able to speak may not seem all that bad, in a world with a high rate of illiteracy, it would likely mean very limited communication in general. All in all, it is a shadow of life as God intends it.

Jesus shows himself able to answer these conditions, to the amazement of the crowds. Even against demonic agency, he is capable. Yet the Pharisees, who in many ways share deep theological  background with him, find it necessary to accuse him of doing good through evil means. It is a betrayal, short and simple. Jesus is gaining notoriety because of his authoritative teaching and his emphasis on people rather than tradition. For now, attempting to defame him seems the path to take to the Pharisees.

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About George

I'm interested in theology, languages, translation and various sorts of fermentation.
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