Mark 7:1-37 – Pharisees’ Tradition, Crumbs for the Gentiles, and Healing a Man Who Is Deaf and Mute


Mark 7:1-37


Three different stories continue Mark’s focus on table customs and their significance for Jesus’ teachings.


Table customs of the Pharisees (7:1-8) continue the theme of eating. Jesus recalls the words of Isaiah, pointing to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees’ tradition (7:6-7, citing Isaiah 29:13). Keeping one tradition to violate an obligation to parents illustrates the hypocrisy of tradition (7:9-13). Jesus states that the issue is not about clean or unclean foods, but it is what comes out of a person that defiles (7:14-23).

Once again in contrast to the Pharisaic concerns for purity, Jesus goes north to the Gentile region of Tyre and Sidon, where a woman falls at his feet and begs him to cast a demon out of her daughter. Jesus answers by indicating that his ministry is first to his own people. She replies that even the crumbs that fall from the children’s (Jewish) table would be sufficient. Jesus commends her faith and responds by healing her daughter (7:24-30). Jesus continues to travel in Gentile territory to the Decapolis, where he is met by a deaf and mute man. With the word Ephphatha, Jesus opens his ears and releases his tongue. The secrecy of Jesus’ healing is broken by the proclamation of the people who are “astounded beyond measure” (7:31-37)