According to Matthew 8:1-34
look!: The Greek word i·douʹ, here rendered “look!,” is often used to focus attention on what follows, encouraging the reader to visualize the scene or to take note of a detail in a narrative. It is also used to add emphasis or to introduce something new or surprising. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the term occurs most frequently in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke and in the book of Revelation. A corresponding expression is often used in the Hebrew Scriptures.
do obeisance: Or “bow down.” When the Greek verb pro·sky·neʹo is used to refer to the worship of a god or a deity, it is rendered “to worship.” In this context, however, the astrologers were asking for “the one born king of the Jews.” So it is clear that it refers to obeisance or homage to a human king, not a god. A similar usage is found at Mr 15:18, 19, where the term is used of the soldiers who mockingly “bowed down” to Jesus and called him “King of the Jews.”—See study note on Mt 18:26.
look!: See study note on Mt 1:20.
a leper: A person suffering from a serious skin disease. The leprosy referred to in the Bible is not restricted to the disease known by that name today. Anyone diagnosed with leprosy became an outcast from society until he was cured.—Le 13:2, ftn., 45, 46; see Glossary, “Leprosy; Leper.”
did obeisance to him: Or “bowed down to him; honored him.” People mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures also bowed down when meeting prophets, kings, or other representatives of God. (1Sa 25:23, 24; 2Sa 14:4-7; 1Ki 1:16; 2Ki 4:36, 37) This man evidently recognized that he was talking to a representative of God who had power to heal people. It was appropriate to bow down to show respect for Jehovah’s King-Designate.—Mt 9:18; for more information on the Greek word used here, see study note on Mt 2:2.
he touched him: The Mosaic Law required that lepers be quarantined to protect others from contamination. (Le 13:45, 46; Nu 5:1-4) However, Jewish religious leaders imposed additional rules. For example, no one was to come within four cubits, that is, about 1.8 m (6 ft) of a leper, but on windy days, the distance was 100 cubits, that is, about 45 m (150 ft). Such rules led to heartless treatment of lepers. Tradition speaks favorably of a rabbi who hid from lepers and of another who threw stones at them to keep them at a distance. By contrast, Jesus was so deeply moved by the leper’s plight that he did what other Jews would consider unthinkable—he touched the man. He did so even though he could have cured the leper with just a word.—Mt 8:5-13.
I want to: Jesus not only acknowledged the request but expressed a strong desire to respond to it, showing that he was motivated by more than just a sense of duty.
say nothing to anyone: Jesus likely gave this order because he did not want to magnify his own name or do anything to draw attention away from Jehovah God and the Kingdom good news. His approach fulfilled the prophetic words of Isa 42:1, 2, which say that Jehovah’s servant would “not make his voice heard in the street,” that is, in some sensational way. (Mt 12:15-19) Jesus’ humble attitude provides a refreshing contrast to that of the hypocrites whom he condemns for praying “on the corners of the main streets to be seen by men.” (Mt 6:5) Jesus apparently wanted solid evidence, not sensational reports of his miracles, to convince people that he was the Christ.
tell no one: See study note on Mr 1:44.
show yourself to the priest: In accord with the Mosaic Law, a priest had to verify that a leper had been healed. The cured leper had to travel to the temple and bring as an offering, or gift, two live clean birds, cedarwood, scarlet material, and hyssop.—Le 14:2-32.
Capernaum: From a Hebrew name meaning “Village of Nahum” or “Village of Comforting.” (Na 1:1, ftn.) A city of major importance in Jesus’ earthly ministry, it was located at the NW shore of the Sea of Galilee and was called “his own city” at Mt 9:1.
Capernaum: See study note on Mt 4:13.
army officer: Or “centurion,” that is, one in command of about 100 soldiers in the Roman army.
my servant: The Greek term here rendered “servant” literally means “child; youth” and could be used of a slave who was regarded with some degree of affection, possibly a personal servant.
many from east and west: An indication that non-Jews would have a part in the Kingdom.
recline at the table: Or “dine.” In Bible times, couches were often placed around a table at banquets or large meals. Those partaking of the meal reclined on a couch with their head toward the table, often resting their left elbow on a cushion. Food was usually taken with the right hand. To recline at a table with someone indicated close fellowship with that person. Jews at that time would normally never have done so with non-Jews.
gnashing of their teeth: Or “grinding (clenching) their teeth.” The expression can include the idea of anguish, despair, and anger, possibly accompanied by bitter words and violent action.
Simon’s mother-in-law: That is, the mother-in-law of Peter, also called Cephas. (Joh 1:42) This statement agrees with Paul’s words at 1Co 9:5, where Cephas is referred to as a married man. Peter’s mother-in-law evidently lived in his home, one he shared with his brother Andrew.—Mr 1:29-31; see study note on Mt 10:2, where the apostle’s different names are explained.
suffering with a high fever: Matthew and Mark describe Peter’s mother-in-law as “lying down and sick with fever.” (Mt 8:14; Mr 1:30) Only Luke, apparently because he was a physician, draws attention to the seriousness of her condition, classifying it as “a high fever.”—See “Introduction to Luke.”
his mother-in-law: See study note on Lu 4:38.
sick with fever: See study note on Lu 4:38.
after it became evening: That is, after the Sabbath day ended, as the parallel accounts at Mr 1:21-32 and Lu 4:31-40 show.
to fulfill what was spoken by Jehovah through his prophet: This and similar expressions occur many times in Matthew’s Gospel, apparently to emphasize to the Jewish audience Jesus’ role as the promised Messiah.—Mt 2:15, 23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4; 26:56; 27:9.
in order to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: See study note on Mt 1:22.
carried: Or “carried away; removed.” Under inspiration, Matthew here applies Isa 53:4 to the miraculous cures performed by Jesus. The greater fulfillment of Isa 53:4 will occur when Jesus carries away sin completely, just as the goat “for Azazel” carried the sins of Israel into the wilderness on Atonement Day. (Le 16:10, 20-22) By carrying away sin, Jesus would eliminate the root cause of sickness for all who exercise faith in the value of his sacrifice.
the other side: That is, the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Son of man: Or “Son of a human.” This expression occurs about 80 times in the Gospels. Jesus used it to refer to himself, evidently emphasizing that he was truly human, born from a woman, and that he was a fitting human counterpart to Adam, having the power to redeem humankind from sin and death. (Ro 5:12, 14-15) The same expression also identified Jesus as the Messiah, or the Christ.—Da 7:13, 14; see Glossary.
nowhere to lay down his head: That is, no residence that he could call his own.
bury my father: The wording likely does not mean that the man had just lost his father in death and was asking only to make funeral arrangements. Had this been the case, it is unlikely that he would have been there talking to Jesus. In the ancient Middle East, a death in the family would be followed very quickly by a funeral, generally on the same day. So the man’s father may have been ailing or elderly, not dead. And Jesus would not have told the man to abandon a sick and needy parent, so there must have been other family members who could care for such vital needs. (Mr 7:9-13) The man was saying, in effect, ‘I will follow you, but not as long as my father still lives. Wait until my father dies and I have buried him.’ In Jesus’ view, however, the man was missing an opportunity to put the interests of the Kingdom of God first in his life.—Lu 9:60, 62.
bury my father: See study note on Lu 9:59.
Let the dead bury their dead: As shown in the study note on Lu 9:59, the father of the man to whom Jesus is talking was likely ailing or elderly, not dead. Therefore, Jesus is evidently saying: ‘Let those who are spiritually dead bury their dead,’ that is, the man should not wait to make his decision to follow Jesus, since other relatives could apparently care for the father until his death. By following Jesus, the man put himself on the way to eternal life, not among those who were spiritually dead before God. In his reply, Jesus shows that putting the Kingdom of God first in one’s life and declaring it far and wide are essential to remaining spiritually alive.
let the dead bury their dead: See study note on Lu 9:60.
great storm: Such storms are common on the Sea of Galilee. Its surface is about 210 m (700 ft) below sea level, and the air temperature is warmer on the sea than in the surrounding plateaus and mountains. Those conditions result in atmospheric disturbances and strong winds that can quickly whip up waves.
you with little faith: Jesus applied this expression to his disciples, indicating that their belief or trust was not strong. (Mt 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; Lu 12:28) It implies not an absence of faith but, rather, a deficiency of faith.
you with little faith: Jesus did not imply an absence of faith but rather a deficiency of faith.—Mt 14:31; 16:8; Lu 12:28; see study note on Mt 6:30.
region of the Gerasenes: A region on the other (the eastern) shore of the Sea of Galilee. The exact limits of this region are unknown today, and the identification is uncertain. Some link “the region of the Gerasenes” with the area around Kursi, near the steep slopes on the E shore of the sea. Others think that it was the large district radiating from the city of Gerasa (Jarash), which was 55 km (34 mi) SSE of the Sea of Galilee. Mt 8:28 calls it “the region of the Gadarenes.” (See study note on Gerasenes in this verse and study note on Mt 8:28.) Although different names are used, they refer to the same general area of the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, and the regions may have been overlapping. So the accounts are not contradictory.—See also App. A7, Map 3B, “Activity at the Sea of Galilee,” and App. B10.
a man: The Gospel writer Matthew (8:28) mentions two men, but Mark and Luke (8:27) refer to one. Mark and Luke evidently drew attention to just one demon-possessed man because Jesus spoke to him and because his case was more outstanding. Possibly, that man was more violent or had suffered under demon control for a longer time. It could also be that after the two men were healed, only one of them wanted to accompany Jesus.—Mr 5:18-20.
region of the Gadarenes: A region on the other (the eastern) shore of the Sea of Galilee. It may have been the region extending from the sea to Gadara, which was 10 km (6 mi) from the sea. Supporting this idea, coins from Gadara often depict a ship. Mark and Luke call the area “the region of the Gerasenes.” (See study note on Mr 5:1.) The different regions may have been overlapping.—See App. A7, Map 3B, “Activity at the Sea of Galilee,” and App. B10.
two: The accounts of Mark (5:2) and Luke (8:27) mention only one demon-possessed man.—See study note on Mr 5:2.
tombs: Or “memorial tombs.” (See Glossary, “Memorial tomb.”) These tombs were evidently caves or chambers cut into the natural rock and usually located outside the cities. These burial places were avoided by the Jews because of the ceremonial uncleanness connected with them, making them an ideal haunt for crazed or demonized people.
why is that of concern to me and to you?: When Mary told Jesus: “They have no wine” (Joh 2:3), she was no doubt suggesting that he do something about it. This is noteworthy, since Jesus had performed no miracles up to that point. The Semitic idiom used in response, which is literally “what to me and to you?” basically indicates some objection and must be understood according to context. While it sometimes expresses hostility and repulsion (Mt 8:29; Mr 1:24; 5:7; Lu 4:34; 8:28), it appears to be a gentle objection in this instance. (Examples of the milder use of this idiom can be found in the Hebrew Scriptures, such as at 2Sa 16:9, 10 and 1Ki 17:18, ftn.) Jesus’ following words indicate why he was hesitant: My hour has not yet come. Still, Jesus’ response to her suggestion must have indicated that he was not opposed to providing help, as Mary’s reaction in verse 5 shows.
What have we to do with you, . . . ?: Or “What is there in common between us and you?” Literally translated, this rhetorical question reads: “What to us and to you?” This Semitic idiom is found in the Hebrew Scriptures (Jos 22:24; Jg 11:12; 2Sa 16:10; 19:22; 1Ki 17:18; 2Ki 3:13; 2Ch 35:21; Ho 14:8), and a corresponding Greek phrase is used in the Christian Greek Scriptures (Mt 8:29; Mr 1:24; 5:7; Lu 4:34; 8:28; Joh 2:4). The exact meaning may vary, depending on context. In this verse, it expresses hostility and repulsion, and some have suggested a rendering such as: “Do not bother us!” or “Leave us alone!” In other contexts, it is used to express a difference in viewpoint or opinion or to refuse involvement in a suggested action, without indicating disdain, arrogance, or hostility.—See study note on Joh 2:4.
torment us: A related Greek term is used of “the jailers” at Mt 18:34, so in this context, the “torment” would seem to refer to a restraining or a confining to “the abyss” mentioned in the parallel account at Lu 8:31.
swine: Pigs were unclean according to the Law but were raised in this area. Whether “the herders” (Mt 8:33) were Jews violating the Law is not stated. However, there was a market for pork among the many non-Jews living in the Decapolis region, since both Greeks and Romans considered pork a delicacy.
The office of centurion was the highest rank that the common soldier could reach. He drilled the soldiers; inspected their arms, supplies, and food; and regulated their conduct. For the most part, the readiness and efficiency of the Roman army depended on centurions more than on anyone else. They were, generally speaking, the most experienced and valuable men in the Roman army. This made the humility and faith of the centurion who approached Jesus all the more impressive.
Jesus contrasted his own situation of not having a permanent home with foxes that have dens and birds that have nests. The type of foxes shown here (Vulpes vulpes) inhabit not only the Middle East but also Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America and have been introduced into Australia. Unless foxes use a natural crevice or the deserted or usurped burrow of another animal, they commonly dig holes in the ground to form their dens. The bird, a Cetti’s Warbler (Cettia cetti), is one of an estimated 470 varieties that may be found in Israel at some time during the course of a year. Bird’s nests likewise are diverse, located in trees, in hollow tree trunks, and on cliffs, and are made of such materials as twigs, leaves, seaweed, wool, straw, moss, and feathers. The diverse topography of the country, ranging from cool mountain peaks to deep sweltering valleys and from arid deserts to maritime plains all lying together near the southeast corner of the Mediterranean Sea, makes it an attractive habitat for birds that either live here permanently or migrate throughout the region.
It was along the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee that Jesus expelled demons from two men and sent the demons into a herd of swine.