For Bible Study Nerds

For Bible Study Nerds

Matthew 4:23-25; Jesus Heals the Sick (Geographical Background)

posted by Mike Nappa

The Decapolis referenced in Matthew 4:25 was not a single city or country.

Much as we collectively refer to the northeastern states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut as “New England,” people in Jesus’ day used Decapolis as a collective reference to a political league of 10 predominately Greek towns in eastern Palestine. Those communities comprised: Damascus, Raphana, Kanatha, Philadelphia, Gerasa, Pella, Scythopolis, Gadara, Dion, and Hippos.

The town of Hippos lay just across the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum, Christ’s home base. It was likely a place where fishermen like Peter and John sold fish. Additionally, the man suffering from a “Legion” of demons was from Gadara in the Decapolis, and thus was the first to spread the news of Christ into the Gentile world (see Mark 5:1-20).

Because of cultural similarities found in Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son, some commentators also speculate that the “far country” where the son squandered his fortune was based on one or more towns found in the Decapolis.

 

Hebrew map of The Decapolis

Hebrew map of The Decapolis

Works Cited:

[ZP2, 81, 84]

 

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Matthew 4:23-25; Jesus Heals the Sick (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus began his public ministry in Galilee by “teaching in their synagogues” and healing people there (Matthew 4:23).

According to the tradition at the time, a synagogue could form wherever there were 10 adult men, so chances are good that many of these dotted the cities and towns of Galilee. The local synagogue was more than simply a religious place of worship. In that society, it served as a church, a weekday school, and as a local governing council of sorts. Through the synagogue, community elders oversaw their Jewish neighborhoods, exercising authority over both civil and religious affairs—including even the power to scourge (beat and whip) those they considered lawbreakers.

It was the chief elder who ruled each synagogue. As such, he led worship services and chose a man from the community to preach at each meeting. It appears that Jesus was a popular choice for a synagogue speaker in Galilee at this time. That was, no doubt, at least partly due to the fame he was gaining from performing so many miracles in that area.

 

Matthew 4:23-25; Jesus Heals the Sick

Ancient Synagogue at Masada

Works Cited:

[IB7, 277]

 

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About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Matthew 4:18-22; The Calling of the First Disciples (Personality and Character Study)

posted by Mike Nappa

Much has been written about Peter, Andrew, James, and John, but what of Zebedee, the man they left behind to follow Jesus? Here’s what we know:

Zebedee was a successful businessman, running a fishing operation on that sea of Galilee that employed his sons, their partners (Peter and Andrew) as well as other hired hands (see Mark 1:19-20). He also owned at least one large fishing boat, so he was apparently a man of some financial means.

He was married to a woman named Salome, and after the crucifixion he allowed his wife to use their money to buy burial spices for Jesus (Mark 16:1). Through Salome, his sons, or directly, he may have also supported Jesus’ ministry with monetary contributions from time to time. Some think that, like his sons, he may have been a disciple of John the Baptist first, and then became a follower of Jesus (from a distance) as well.

Some historians also speculate that Zebedee had been contracted to supply fish for the high priest’s palace in Jerusalem. That would explain, the thinking goes, why his son John was known and welcomed into the high priest’s courtyard during the trial of Jesus (John 18:15-16).

 Matthew 4:18-22; The Calling of the First Disciples

Works Cited:

[WWB, 444-45]

 

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About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

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Matthew 4:18-22; The Calling of the First Disciples (Historical Background)

posted by Mike Nappa

Jesus told Simon Peter and Andrew that he would make them “fishers of men.”

The image there was grounded in the fisherman’s trade on the Sea of Galilee. Unlike our modern picture of a single man casting line off a flexible pole to catch a single fish, Jesus’ reference was to “net fishing” that was usually conducted in teams. Galilee fishermen in Jesus’ day typically used three types of nets to catch their prey:

A “cast net” was circular, about 25-feet in diameter, weighted this lead sinkers on the edge. It was tossed over side of a boat where it floated to the bottom like an opened parachute, trapping fish inside.

A “seine net” was long and narrow, with weights on one end and floats on the other. It would hang vertically beside the boat, one end at the surface, and the other deep into the water. Fishermen could then capture entire schools of fish by using ropes to pull the net up into a U-shape.

A “trammel net” was largest, stretching nearly 200 yards. Reinforced by three layers of netting, it was typically spread between two boats on the water. Rowing the boats forward trapped fish in the huge net. When it was full, the fishermen would simply pull up the trammel to harvest their catch.

 Matthew 4:18-22; The Calling of the First Disciples

Works Cited:

[JOB, 127]

 

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About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Previous Posts

Matthew 4:23-25; Jesus Heals the Sick (Geographical Background)
The Decapolis referenced in Matthew 4:25 was not a single city or country. Much as we collectively refer to the northeastern states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut as “New England,” people in Jesus’ day used Decapolis as a collective reference

posted 12:00:01pm Jul. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 4:23-25; Jesus Heals the Sick (Cultural Commentary)
Jesus began his public ministry in Galilee by “teaching in their synagogues” and healing people there (Matthew 4:23). According to the tradition at the time, a synagogue could form wherever there were 10 adult men, so chances are good that many of these dotted the cities and towns of Galilee.

posted 12:00:33pm Jul. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 4:18-22; The Calling of the First Disciples (Personality and Character Study)
Much has been written about Peter, Andrew, James, and John, but what of Zebedee, the man they left behind to follow Jesus? Here’s what we know: Zebedee was a successful businessman, running a fishing operation on that sea of Galilee that employed his sons, their partners (Peter and Andrew) as w

posted 12:00:32pm Jul. 16, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 4:18-22; The Calling of the First Disciples (Historical Background)
Jesus told Simon Peter and Andrew that he would make them “fishers of men.” The image there was grounded in the fisherman’s trade on the Sea of Galilee. Unlike our modern picture of a single man casting line off a flexible pole to catch a single fish, Jesus’ reference was to “net fishin

posted 12:00:25pm Jul. 14, 2014 | read full post »

Matthew 4:18-22; The Calling of the First Disciples (Cultural Commentary)
Jesus’ choice of his first disciples was surprising, to say the least. For starters, in that time, religious students chose their mentors, not vice versa. As the famous Rabbi Gamaliel instructed, “Find a teacher and lose your ignorance,” and that was the common practice of the time for thos

posted 12:00:29pm Jul. 11, 2014 | read full post »


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