by miriam berg
Chapter XI
Now that he was back in Kephar-Nahum after his unsuccessful attempt to tour the Transjordan, Yeshua began organizing his disciples for another tour of Galilee. This time he sent them out in pairs, and by now he felt that they should be able to handle any mentally disturbed persons they encountered. He also must have imparted to them some idea about how he was able to evoke faith in sick persons, because the narrative says that he expected them to "cure diseases, and heal the sick." Perhaps this was added later; no healings by the disciples are recorded in the gospels. Nor are any other experiences of the disciples told; the narrative says simply, "they went out, and preached that men should repent."

There are two versions of his instructions to them for this tour, one in Mark, and another in Luke. Matthew reports some additional instructions not found in the other two gospels. Luke reports that he sent out seventy disciples, but his version may just be a fuller report of the same tour. As Luke tells it, Yeshua told them:
The harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few; let us pray to the Father, the lord of the harvest, that he send forth laborers to the harvest.
From this image we can conclude that Yeshua was not discouraged, despite the rejections on his earlier tour, or the unfavorable reception he received in Gergesa. We can also see that he did not consider the twelve to be enough, but that he hoped to recruit others on this second tour. He went on:
Take nothing for your journey: no staff, nor bread, nor wallet, nor shoes, no money in your purse; and wear one coat only.
So the disciples on their tour were to be as poor as possible. These directions were to become the source of great controversies among the later professed followers of Yeshua, as to whether they were to be poor, and as to whether everyone was to be poor, or only certain special followers.
And salute no man upon the way.
This direction, which is told only by Luke, probably means that they were not to be distracted by anyone they meet, be they woman or man, priest or Levite, traveler or foreign, since their mission was to visit all the cities in the Galilean region; or else that they were to render to no one a "salute", that is, a recognition of higher status such as bowing or kneeling.
And when you enter into a house, say, Peace be unto this house. And if a son of peace be there, this is your greeting; but if there be none, then your peace shall stay with you.
      And remain in that house while you are in that village, eating and drinking whatever they serve, for he who labors deserves his wages. Go not from house to house.
So they are to greet everyone with peace, whether or not it is returned; and they are to follow whatever customs are observed there, especially with regard to eating. Yeshua repeats this direction again, making it clear that they are not to be concerned with whether their hosts are practicing the Kosher laws, or any of the other Jewish dietary laws:
And into whatsoever city you enter, and you are received therein, eat such things as are set before you; and say unto them, The reign of God is near.
Perhaps this emphasis is the logical consequence of "man does not live by bread alone." Then he tells them that they are not to take it ill if they are not received, but simply to go on their way:
But if you enter into a city, and they do not receive you favorably, go out into the streets, and shake off the dust of your feet, but tell them too that the reign of God is on its way.
Matthew says that Yeshua told them to remember that they would be speaking in his name, and consequently in Yohanan's name:
He that receives you is receiving me, and he that receives me is receiving him that sent me.
      He that receives a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward; and he that receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward.
By "him that sent me," Yeshua must mean Yohanan, as is also indicated by the references to "a prophet" and "a righteous man". Finally, he sends them on their way with a colorful image of how they are to comport themselves:
Notice, I am sending you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; you will therefore need to be as wise as serpents, and as harmless as doves.
He has experienced being rejected on the previous tour; he warns them that they may find a similar reception, but that they must still exercise the virtues of wisdom and harmlessness.

Matthew attributes some sayings to Yeshua which imply that he was primarily trying to reach the Jews, despite earlier expressions of approval for others who were interested in his teachings:
Go not into the ways of the Gentiles, and do not enter into any city of the Samaritans; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
      When they persecute you in this city, go on to the next; for I tell you, you shall not have visited all the cities of Israel, before the son of man join you.
Israel was the northern kingdom, which separated from Judah after the death of Solomon. The "lost sheep" referred to the northern tribes who were transplanted to Assyria by Sargon II; it does not seem relevant to his teaching so far to use this imagery for his mission. Whether the last phrase meant himself, or some spirit of God descending upon them, we cannot tell. He may have been saying merely that he would catch up with them on the tour.

About this time Herod Antipas, who ruled over both the region of Galilee and the region east of the Jordan known as Perea, became concerned about this preacher and these pilgrims who were roaming over the countryside. What were they up to? he must have wondered. He had put Yohanan in prison, and had executed him after prodding by his wife, but now what was happening?

Herod was actually a clever politician, straddling the fences by remaining on good terms with the Romans who supported his kingship which lasted from 4 B.C.E. when his father Herod the Great died until he was banished in 39 A.S.D., and also staying on good terms with the Jewish religious leaders and not offending them. He had built his capital city on the western shore of the sea of Galilee and named it Tiberias after the Roman emperor; it was a large, bustling, prosperous Gentile city. But he must have had some fear of his action in killing Yohanan, because when he was told that Yeshua was a prophet, like unto Elijah, he replied, "No, this is Yohanan, who has risen from the dead."

It must have been also about this time that Yeshua received the dismal news that Yohanan had been executed. Mark tells us that after the disciples returned from their tour, Yeshua said to them:
Come out with me into the desert away from everyone, and let us rest and pray.
So even though Yeshua had seen it coming, the death of Yohanan must have been a terrible blow.

He couldn't get away from the multitudes, however; they all ran after them, Yeshua and his disciples. Mark says they ran "on foot from all the cities, and outwent them." And even in the midst of his grief over Yohanan's death Yeshua was moved with compassion when he saw the great crowds; they seemed to him at that moment to be like sheep without a shepherd. So again he preached to them; and as sundown came, his disciples wanted to send them all away to get food. But Yeshua told them that it was all right, they would share whatever food they had with them. It was springtime in Palestine, and the grass was green after the latter rain (no rain falls in Palestine during the summer); and Yeshua said, "Please tell them all to sit down on the grass."

Then as he began to break the loaves which they had, and to divide the few fishes which they had also, and pass them around among the crowd, so that they all could be refreshed with a bite to eat, others in the crowd began to bring out the food that they had with them, and to share it with those around them also. And suddenly, after it had seemed at first that there was only a little food, and most of them would go hungry, there was an abundance, of bread, and fish, and fruit. And Mark and the others say that they took up twelve baskets of leftovers.

But Yeshua still wanted solitude, to grieve and pray over the death of Yohanan. So he sent the multitude away, and told his disciples to get in their boat and sail along the shore to Beth-Saida, a village on the north shore of the sea of Galilee but on the other side of the river Jordan. Having sent them all off, he went by himself into the hills and the darkness to be alone.

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