7:1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes [experts in Jewish religious law and tradition] gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem [the center of Jewish life and authority],
7:2 and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed [the issue was not about personal hygiene but rather about ceremonial purity; hand-washing involved washing from hand up to elbow].
7:3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands [a ceremonial cleansing in case they had come in contact with anything considered unclean], thus observing the traditions of the elders [consisted of the meticulous scribal interpretation of the written law defined by rules and regulations that often superseded the Scriptures in importance];
7:4 and when they come from the market place [a place where they might have had contact with Gentiles or an unclean Jew], they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves [this was a way to show that they were not like the Gentiles or common people]; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as [cooking and eating utensils were also washed in case they too might have become defiled] the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) [“cleanliness” equalled “godliness” to these religious leaders]
7:5 The Pharisees and the scribes [many of the religious leaders were always looking for a reason to discredit or to condemn Jesus] asked Him [they bypassed the disciples and spoke directly to Jesus], “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?”
7:6 And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites [from compound Greek word made up of “hupo”, a preposition meaning “under”, and “krino”, a verb meaning “to pronounce judgment” — thus one who judges under the cover of something that conceals true identity and motives], as it is written [cf. Isa. 29:13]:’THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME [by all appearances the religious leaders acted as though they were close to God but their hearts were far from Him].
7:7 ‘BUT IN VAIN [without profit or useless] DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN [these are no substitute for the truths of God].‘
7:8 “Neglecting the commandment of God [must always be held in higher regard than the customs or traditions of men], you hold to the tradition of men [these had become more important to them than the teachings of Scripture].”
7:9 He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside [in essence, rejecting or voiding] the commandment of God [God’s holy laws] in order to keep your tradition [hundreds of petty rules added to God’s holy laws; the large volume of rules made it burdensome to keep them].
7:10 [illustration] “For Moses said, ‘HONOR [to give weight or consideration to] YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’ [Ex. 20:12; Deut. 5:16]; and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL [an act contrary to honoring] OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH’ [Ex. 21:17; Lev. 20:9];
7:11 but [religious leaders had found a loophole for breaking God’s laws while maintaining a pious appearance] you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you [financial support for the care of their parents] is Corban [literally, “offering”] (that is to say, given [exclusively] to God [therefore a pious excuse for not helping needy parents]),’
7:12 you no longer permit him [setting something aside as Corban was an irrevocable vow that put tradition above God’s Word] to do anything for his father or his mother [see 1 Tim. 5:8 regarding helping family members];
7:13 thus invalidating [to nullify or void] the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down [taught it to the next generation]; and you do many things such as that [Corban was just one example of how the religious leaders placed tradition above God’s Word].”
7:14 After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand:
7:15 there is nothing outside the man which can defile [refers back to earlier suggestion in 7:2 that Jesus’ disciples were eating with defiled hands (hands that have not been ceremonially cleansed)] him if it goes into him; but the things [words and actions] which proceed out of the man [cf. Jer. 17:9-10] are what defile the man.
7:16 [“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”]
7:17 When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples [Peter acted as spokesman for the group according to Matt. 15:15] questioned Him about the parable.
7:18 And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever [the types of food that are eaten] goes into the man from outside cannot defile [things ingested have no impact on an individual’s moral condition] him,
7:19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated ?” (Thus He declared all foods clean [this issue addressed again in Acts 10 and 15 where God removed the cultural restrictions regarding food].)
7:20 And He was saying, “That which proceeds out [defilement begins on the inside] of the man, that is what defiles the man.
7:21 “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications [sexual immorality; extramarital sex], thefts, murders, adulteries,
7:22 deeds of coveting [greed] and wickedness, as well as deceit [to mislead by lying], sensuality, envy, slander [to destroy another’s reputation], pride [arrogance] and foolishness.
7:23 “All these evil things [actions and attitudes] proceed from within and defile the man.”
7:24 Jesus got up and went away from there [Sea of Galilee] to [a journey of about thirty miles] the region of Tyre [a port city on the Mediterranean Sea; a city known for its wickedness; located in Gentile territory]. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it [perhaps in order to get some rest]; yet He could not escape notice.
7:25 But after hearing of Him [word spread throughout the region that Jesus was there], a woman [who likely had heard about Jesus’ power to perform miracles and to cast out demons] whose little daughter had an unclean spirit [possessed by a demon] immediately [mother was on an urgent mission to help her daughter] came [she sought Jesus] and fell at His feet [she humbled herself; according to parallel account in Matt. 15:25, she cried, “Lord, help me.”].
7:26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race [a Canaanite woman as per Matt. 15:22; Canaanites were enemies of the Israelites when they were settling the Promised Land]. And she kept asking [begging] Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.
7:27 And He was saying [in the language of a parable] to her, “Let the children [here may refer to Jesus’ disciples since He had traveled to Tyre to spend time teaching them; may also refer to the children of Israel] be satisfied first [before performing miracles for a Gentile], for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs [word “kunarion” refers to a household pet].”
7:28 But she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs [children who love their pets drop them morsels of food from the table; this woman wanted only a single crumb — namely that of a miracle of healing for her daughter].”
7:29 And He said to her, “Because of this answer go [her answer demonstrated her faith, persistence, and humility]; the demon has gone out [Jesus did not have to be physically present to cast the demon out; His power transcends distance] of your daughter.”
7:30 And going back to her home [she returned home alone; she did not ask Jesus to return with her because she was confident that her daughter was healed], she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left [never to return; Jesus’ work was perfect and permanent].
7:31 Again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis [name meaning Ten Cities; a Gentile area; cf. Mk. 5:1-20 re Jesus’ previous visit to this area].
7:32 [this particular miracle only found in Mark’s Gospel] They [likely the man’s friends or family] brought to Him [bringing people to Jesus is always the right thing to do; cf. John 1:41-42] one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty [Gr. word “mogilalon” means “could hardly talk”; this word used here and in Isa. 35:6 (Septuagint)], and they implored Him to lay His hand on him.
7:33 Jesus took him aside from the crowd [cf. Mk. 8:23], by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting [in ancient times, spit recognized as having healing properties], He touched his tongue with the saliva;
7:34 and looking up to heaven [the source of power] with a deep sigh [perhaps a sympathetic sigh], He said to him, “Ephphatha [an Aramaic word; Jesus used one word in contrast to magicians of the day who used wordy incantations and gibberish]!” that is, “Be opened!”
7:35 And [immediately] his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly.
7:36 And He gave them orders not to tell anyone [Jesus did not want to be regarded solely as a miracle worker]; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it [the people could not keep silent].
7:37 They were utterly astonished [a common response to Jesus’ miracles; cf. Mk. 1:22; 2:12; 4:41; 10:26; 11:18], saying, “He has done all things well ; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak. [the people knew Isaiah’s words in Isa. 35:5-6]“