THE STORY OF YESHUA
by miriam berg
After a stay of several months in Phoenicia, Yeshua decided
to return to Galilee. The gospels do not tell us precisely
how long he stayed there, but we can deduce that because
the event of the loaves and fishes occurred in the spring, and
the journey to Jerusalem began late in the fall, that he left
Phoenicia in the month of Tishri, about the beginning of fall.
Nor are the gospels very clear on his route when he came
back; he seems to be flitting from one city to another
rapidly. Perhaps he is still worried about getting arrested
by Herod. Mark reports that he actually crossed over the Anti-
Lebanon range north of Galilee and came way around through the
Decapolis back into the tetrarchy of Philip. This would have
been quite a hike.
Then Mark tells the story of the healing of a deaf and dumb
man, without saying where exactly. Such a story might
have been invented, but the details are very specific and
do not lend themselves to doubt. On this occasion Yeshua took
the man aside, and probed in his ears with his fingers, and
rubbed saliva upon the man's tongue. Mark tells us that he
sighed, probably again because even as he tried to cure the
man's disability, he felt diverted from his main mission. Then
he told the man not to tell anyone how he had been cured; but
the man and his friends went off telling everyone they met.
Neither Matthew nor Luke relate this incident.
Now Mark and Matthew repeat the tale of the preaching to
the multitude in the desert and the miraculous sharing of
food that took place when evening came. Did it happen
twice? It might have; the second telling says that there were
seven loaves of bread instead of five, and there were four
thousand persons instead of five thousand, and there were
seven baskets of leftovers instead of twelve. Perhaps the
numbers have some secret significance which is now lost. In
any case, after the event, Yeshua gets into the boat again
with the disciples and sails for another place.
Mark says that it was a place called Dalmanutha, but no
such place existed. Matthew says that it was Magadan,
but there was no place with that name either. Perhaps
it was the village called Magdala, which is situated at the
southern edge of the plain of Gennesaret, also known as the
village of Tarichaea. It may have been here that Yeshua cast
out the demons from Mary Magdalene, but as we have said there
is no report of that incident, unless Mary was the adulteress
who visited the house of Simon, but that event is not reported
as an exorcism, nor is the woman called Mary, nor is the place
Anyway, while he was in this village, the Pharisees came to
him, and challenged him to perform a sign from heaven to
prove himself. He has told them his principle more than
once: God should not be tempted. Now he sighs to himself, Mark
says he sighed deeply in his spirit, and told them:
Why do you keep asking for a sign? Once and for all,
there shall no sign be given to this generation.
Thus the man acclaimed by his later followers as some kind
of superhuman magician refuses absolutely to perform any magic.
This could not have been remembered if it had not been said.
So Yeshua makes it clear in yet another way that his message
is not to focus attention on his own person or abilities, but
to get men to think and be ethical. Then the narrative says
that they all got back in the boat and returned to the other
side, which must have been back to Beth-Saida.
On the way across the sea, it was discovered that they had
brought no bread with them. Mark says they had not more
than one loaf. Yeshua took this opportunity to speak
another parable to them, saying:
Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,
and of the leaven of Herod.
The disciples were nonplussed, thinking that he said this
because they had no bread with them. He then catechizes them,
repeating all the number symbolism of the two bread-sharing
Why do you think that I was talking about bread?
Do you still not understand my message?
Having eyes, don't you see? and having ears,
don't you hear?
And don't you remember how we took up
twelve baskets of leftovers when we broke five loaves
with the five thousand? and how we took up seven baskets
of leftovers when we broke seven loaves with the
This is obscure; it is difficult to interpret the meaning
of all these sevens and twelves and fives. Perhaps this was
repeated among his later followers as a sort of password for
identifying each other amidst persecution. But Matthew tells
us that the disciples finally understood that he was speaking
of the teaching of the Pharisees when he spoke of their leaven.
On another occasion, Yeshua became very specific as to the
teachings of the Pharisees of which they were to beware.
That time he told them further:
Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
The scribes and the Pharisees sit in place
of Moshe, the giver of the Torah; therefore whatsoever
they command you, you should do that, since it is the
commandment of God; but do not do as they do,
for they do not practice what they preach.
All their works they do to be seen by the
crowds: they enlarge the borders of their robes, and
the tassels on their garments; they love the chief places
at feasts and the chief seats in the synagogues;
they love to be recognized and saluted in the marketplace,
and to be addressed as Rabbi.
But you should not be called Rabbi,
for God alone is your teacher. Nor should you call
any man father on the earth; for God is your father,
and all of you are brothers.
And do not let yourself be called Master,
for God is your master, and we are all equal before God.
So learn this: the greatest among you
is the one who serves. For anyone that seeks to be exalted
shall in fact be humbled; but anyone that seeks
to humble himself shall be exalted.
Finally, Mark (but only Mark) tells us that they arrived
Beth-Saida, where he performed another healing
by the use of his hands and saliva. This time it was a
blind man, and again he took him outside the village. After
spitting on his eyes, and rubbing them with his hands, the
man said he could see again. This may be a simple case of
some kind of film developing over the man's cornea, which
Yeshua knew could be removed by the method he used. In any
case, Yeshua then instructed the man to return to his home,
and not to even enter the village; Yeshua did not want him
telling everyone he met on the street. Of course when his
friends saw him the next day, able to see after having been
visually impaired, they would know that Yeshua had cured him.
And he would find out that he had to go to work!