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Home » Daily Gospel, Daily Readings, New Testament Writers

Greater Than David

Submitted by on Saturday, 3 September 2011No Comment

grain field

Today’s Readings

  • Reading I:  Colossians 1:21-23
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 54
  • Gospel Reading: Luke 6:1-5

Before and After

For an article on Colossians 1:21-23, go here.

A Greater than David

The controversy regarding the disciples’ picking grain on the sabbath has been rewritten by Luke to underline the person of Jesus in respect to the Sabbath. Deuteronomy 23:25 prescribes: "When you go through your neighbor’s grainfield, you may pluck some of the ears with your hand, but do not put a sickle to your neighbor’s grain." So the disciples were actually doing what was permitted by the Law. However, they were doing it on a sabbath — and this was what the Pharisees objected to.

Sabbath regulations prohibit a man from doing melakah, that is, works that can be categorized under the thirty-nine categories of activities related to creation. Among these are numbered harvesting, reaping and threshing — the activities that the disciples were engaged in when they plucked the heads of grain and crushed them in their hands.

Jesus defends his disciples by referring the Pharisees to an episode in 1 Samuel 21:1-6. David has been fleeing from Samuel and reaches the sanctuary at Nob. It was a feast day — that is, a sabbath — since the show bread has just been replaced (Leviticus 24:8). Hungry, David asked for food, but the only thing that the priest can give them was the show bread. In levitical regulations, the show bread can only be eaten by priests (=Aaron and his sons) since it is the "most sacred among the various oblations to the LORD, it is his (=Aaron’s) by perpetual right." (Leviticus 24:9)

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In Mark 6, the argument that "the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath" (v. 27) would seem to underscore the act of generosity by which David and his men were fed from the altar of the Lord. By the fact that the narrative in 1 Samuel seems to favor Ahimelech’s generosity, it was understood as allowed by the Lord. Hence, the saying in Mark 6, 28, "the Lord is Lord even of the Sabbath." In Luke’s version, the expected equivalent of Mark 6:27 is suppressed. The resulting effect is that the act of Ahimelech is no longer placed under consideration but the fact that the show bread was allowed to David and his men. Here, Jesus’ argument is underlined: He is greater than David and therefore what was allowed to David and his men is all the more allowed to Him and his men.

Colossians 1:21-23
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
21And you, whereas you were some time alienated and enemies in mind in evil works:
22Yet now he hath reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unspotted, and blameless before him:
23If so ye continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and immoveable from the hope of the gospel which you have heard, which is preached in all the creation that is under heaven, whereof I Paul am made a minister.
Luke 6:1-5
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
1And it came to pass on the second first sabbath, that as he went through the corn fields, his disciples plucked the ears, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.
2And some of the Pharisees said to them: Why do you that which is not lawful on the sabbath days?
3And Jesus answering them, said: Have you not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was hungry, and they that were with him:
4How he went into the house of God, and took and ate the bread of proposition, and gave to them that were with him, which is not lawful to eat but only for the priests?
5And he said to them: The Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
Colossians 1:21-23
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
21And you, whereas you were some time alienated and enemies in mind in evil works:
22Yet now he hath reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unspotted, and blameless before him:
23If so ye continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and immoveable from the hope of the gospel which you have heard, which is preached in all the creation that is under heaven, whereof I Paul am made a minister.
Deuteronomy 23:25
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
25If thou go into thy friend's corn, thou mayst break the ears, and rub them in thy hand: but not reap them with a sickle.
1 Samuel 21:1-6
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
1And David came to Nobe to Achimelech the priest: and Achimelech was astonished at David's coming. And he said to him: Why art thou alone, and no man with thee?
2And David said to Achimelech the priest: The king hath commanded me a business, and said: Let no man know the thing for which thou art sent by me, and what manner of commands I have given thee: and I have appointed my servants to such and such a place.
3Now therefore if thou have any thing at hand, though it were but five loaves, give me, or whatsoever thou canst find.
4And the priest answered David, saying: I have no common bread at hand, but only holy bread, if the young men be clean, especially from women?
5And David answered the priest, and said to him: Truly, as to what concerneth women, we have refrained ourselves from yesterday and the day before, when we came out, and the vessels of the young men were holy. Now this way is defiled, but it shall also be sanctified this day in the vessels.
6The priest therefore gave him hallowed bread: for there was no bread there, but only the loaves of proposition, which had been taken away from before the face of the Lord, that hot loaves might be set up.
Leviticus 24:8
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
8Every sabbath they shall be changed before the Lord, being received of the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant:
Leviticus 24:9
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
9And they shall be Aaron's and his sons', that they may eat them in the holy place: because it is most holy of the sacrifices of the Lord by a perpetual right.
Mark 6:27
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
27But sending an executioner, he commanded that his head should be brought in a dish.

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