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The Widow’s Offering

41 Then[a] he[b] sat down opposite the offering box,[c] and watched the crowd putting coins into it. Many rich people were throwing in large amounts. 42 And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins,[d] worth less than a penny. 43 He called his disciples and said to them, “I tell you the truth,[e] this poor widow has put more into the offering box[f] than all the others.[g] 44 For they all gave out of their wealth.[h] But she, out of her poverty, put in what she had to live on, everything she had.”[i]

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  1. Mark 12:41 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.
  2. Mark 12:41 tc Most mss, predominantly of the Western and Byzantine texts (A D W Θ ƒ1,13 33 2542 M lat), have ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς (ho Iēsous, “Jesus”) as the explicit subject here, while א B L Δ Ψ 892 lack the name. A natural scribal tendency is to expand the text, especially to add the Lord’s name as the explicit subject of a verb. Scribes much less frequently omitted the Lord’s name (cf. the readings of W Θ 565 1424 in Mark 12:17). The internal and external evidence support one another here in behalf of the shorter reading.
  3. Mark 12:41 tn On the term γαζοφυλάκιον (gazophulakion), often translated “treasury,” see BDAG 186 s.v., which states, “For Mk 12:41, 43; Lk 21:1 the mng. contribution box or receptacle is attractive. Acc. to Mishnah, Shekalim 6, 5 there were in the temple 13 such receptacles in the form of trumpets. But even in these passages the general sense of ‘treasury’ is prob., for the contributions would go [into] the treasury via the receptacles.” Based upon the extra-biblical evidence (see sn following), however, the translation opts to refer to the actual receptacles and not the treasury The offering box probably refers to the receptacles in the temple forecourt by the Court of Women used to collect freewill offerings. These are mentioned by Josephus, J. W. 5.5.2 (5.200); 6.5.2 (6.282); Ant. 19.6.1 (19.294), and in 1 Macc 14:49 and 2 Macc 3:6, 24, 28, 40 (see also Luke 21:1; John 8:20).
  4. Mark 12:42 sn These two small copper coins were lepta (sing. “lepton”), the smallest and least valuable coins in circulation in Palestine, worth one-half of a quadrans or 1/128 of a denarius, or about six minutes of an average daily wage. This was next to nothing in value.
  5. Mark 12:43 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amēn), I say to you.”
  6. Mark 12:43 tn See the note on the term “offering box” in v. 41.
  7. Mark 12:43 sn Has put more into the offering box than all the others. With God, giving is weighed evaluatively, not counted. The widow was praised because she gave sincerely and at some considerable cost to herself.
  8. Mark 12:44 tn Grk “out of what abounded to them.”
  9. Mark 12:44 sn The contrast between this passage, 12:41-44, and what has come before in 11:27-12:40 is remarkable. The woman is set in stark contrast to the religious leaders. She was a poor widow, they were rich. She was uneducated in the law, they were well educated in the law. She was a woman, they were men. But whereas they evidenced no faith and actually stole money from God and men (cf. 11:17), she evidenced great faith and gave out of her extreme poverty everything she had.