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Mark 7:1-13 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

The Teaching of the Ancestors

Some Pharisees and several teachers of the Law of Moses from Jerusalem came and gathered around Jesus. They noticed that some of his disciples ate without first washing their hands.[a]

The Pharisees and many other Jewish people obey the teachings of their ancestors. They always wash their hands in the proper way[b] before eating. None of them will eat anything they buy in the market until it is washed. They also follow a lot of other teachings, such as washing cups, pitchers, and bowls.[c]

The Pharisees and teachers asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples obey what our ancestors taught us to do? Why do they eat without washing their hands?”

Jesus replied:

You are nothing but show-offs! The prophet Isaiah was right when he wrote that God had said,

“All of you praise me
    with your words,
but you never really
    think about me.
It is useless for you
    to worship me,
when you teach rules
    made up by humans.”

You disobey God’s commands in order to obey what humans have taught. You are good at rejecting God’s commands so that you can follow your own teachings! 10 Didn’t Moses command you to respect your father and mother? Didn’t he tell you to put to death all who curse their parents? 11 But you let people get by without helping their parents when they should. You let them say that what they own has been offered to God.[d] 12 You won’t let those people help their parents. 13 And you ignore God’s commands in order to follow your own teaching. You do a lot of other things that are just as bad.

Footnotes:

  1. 7.2 without first washing their hands: The Jewish people had strict laws about washing their hands before eating, especially if they had been out in public.
  2. 7.3 in the proper way: The Greek text has “with the fist,” but the exact meaning is not clear. It could mean “to the wrist” or “to the elbow.”
  3. 7.4 bowls: Some manuscripts add “and sleeping mats.”
  4. 7.11 has been offered to God: According to Jewish custom, when anything was offered to God, it could not be used for anyone else, not even for a person’s parents.

Mark 7:1-13 New International Version (NIV)

That Which Defiles

The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.[a])

So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”

He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’[b]

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe[c] your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’[d] and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’[e] 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

Footnotes:

  1. Mark 7:4 Some early manuscripts pitchers, kettles and dining couches
  2. Mark 7:7 Isaiah 29:13
  3. Mark 7:9 Some manuscripts set up
  4. Mark 7:10 Exodus 20:12; Deut. 5:16
  5. Mark 7:10 Exodus 21:17; Lev. 20:9
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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