I’ve been trying not to post much since I have entered the Mentally Incoherent state of pregnancy (as evidenced by the fact that I somehow deleted this post after writing 80% of it–this is take two), but the comments from Ashleigh and others about women in the scriptures have tempted me beyond that which I can bear. I am hoping that this will be the first in an occasional series about overlooked women in the scriptures. The title is from Mark 15:41, where we find out, at the crucifixion, that women have been with Jesus all along (“Oh, gee, did I forget to mention that for the last fifteen chapters?”). Do notice the exceptionally well-placed emoticon immediately before this phrase.
OK. Read Mark 8:14-21. It seems obvious that Jesus here expects the disciples to compare the two feeding miracles (Mark 6:33-44 and Mark 8:1-9) and that the numbers involved seem to have some special significance.
At this point, you should go over those feeding miracles with a fine-toothed comb and make a list of their similarities and differences. There’s a lot going on. I’m only going to comment on the one facet that involves gender. I will note that based on word choice, setting, number symbolism, and themes, many scholars conclude that the first miracle is ‘for’ and ‘about’ the Jews and the second is ‘for’ and ‘about’ the Gentiles. If anyone is curious, I can provide more detail on this, but that would require getting up and my first rule of pregnancy is Do Not Move Unless Absolutely Necessary.
Note that in the first miracle, 5000 MEN are fed and in the second, 4000 PEOPLE are fed.
Note that the first (the Jewish) miracle has many similarities with 1 Samuel 21:1-6, where David and Co. are able to eat the consecrated bread. Why? Because they have not been made impure by women for three days.
Now note the different reasons in each story why Jesus has compassion on the people: in the first, it is because they are as sheep without a shephard but in the second, because they have been without food (i.e., fasting) for three days.
Why is the first group (of Jewish men) worthy to eat of the sacred bread that Jesus provides? Why is the second group (of Gentile people) worthy to eat of the sacred bread that Jesus provides?
I don’t think that it is much of a stretch to think that the Gentile people are worthy to partake because their fasting is the replacement method of purification for abstaining from women.
We don’t usually ‘see’ the women in this story. But the message about gender and what it means in the kingdom that Jesus inaugurates is there.
(I’m going to apologize for any incoherence in advance. I really am operating at a mental deficit.)