From the Commentary on the Whole Bible (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, 1871) on Mark 8:1-10
Feeding of the Four Thousand (Mr 8:1-9).
1. In those days the multitude being very great, &c.
2. I have compassion on the multitude—an expression of that deep emotion in the Redeemer's heart which always preceded some remarkable interposition for relief. (See Mt 14:14; 20:34; Mr 1:41; Lu 7:13; also Mt 9:36, before the mission of the Twelve; compare Jud 2:18; 10:16).
because they have now been with me—in constant attendance.
three days, and have nothing to eat:
3. And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way—In their eagerness they seem not to have thought of the need of provisions for such a length of time; but the Lord thought of it. In Matthew (Mt 15:32) it is, "I will not send them away fasting"—or rather, "To send them away fasting I am unwilling."
4. From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?—Though the question here is the same as when He fed the five thousand, they evidently now meant no more by it than that they had not the means of feeding the multitude; modestly leaving the Lord to decide what was to be done. And this will the more appear from His not now trying them, as before, by saying, "They need not depart, give ye them to eat"; but simply asking what they had, and then giving His directions.
5. And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven—It was important in this case, as in the former, that the precise number of the loaves should be brought out. Thus also does the distinctness of the two miracles appear.
9. And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away—Had not our Lord distinctly referred, in this very chapter and in two successive sentences, to the feeding of the five thousand and of the four thousand as two distinct miracles, many critics would have insisted that they were but two different representations of one and the same miracle, as they do of the two expulsions of the buyers and sellers from the temple, at the beginning and end of our Lord's ministry. But even in spite of what our Lord says, it is painful to find such men as Neander endeavoring to identify the two miracles. The localities, though both on the eastern side of the lake, were different; the time was different; the preceding and following circumstances were different; the period during which the people continued fasting was different—in the one case not even one entire day, in the other three days; the number fed was different—five thousand in the one case, in the other four thousand; the number of the loaves was different—five in the one case, in the other seven; the number of the fishes in the one case is definitely stated by all the four Evangelists—two; in the other case both give them indefinitely—"a few small fishes"; in the one case the multitude were commanded to sit down "upon the green grass"; in the other "on the ground"; in the one case the number of the baskets taken up filled with the fragments was twelve, in the other seven; but more than all, perhaps, because apparently quite incidental, in the one case the name given to the kind of baskets used is the same in all the four narratives—the cophinus (see on Mr 6:43); in the other case the name given to the kind of baskets used, while it is the same in both the narratives, is quite different—the spuris, a basket large enough to hold a man's body, for Paul was let down in one of these from the wall of Damascus (Ac 9:25). It might be added, that in the one case the people, in a frenzy of enthusiasm, would have taken Him by force to make Him a king; in the other case no such excitement is recorded. In view of these things, who could have believed that these were one and the same miracle, even if the Lord Himself had not expressly distinguished them?
Sign from Heaven Sought (Mr 8:10-13).
10. And straightway he entered into a ship—"into the ship," or "embarked."
with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha—In Matthew (Mt 15:39) it is "the coasts of Magdala." Magdala and Dalmanutha were both on the western shore of the lake, and probably not far apart. From the former the surname "Magdalene" was probably taken, to denote the residence of Mary Magdalene. Dalmanutha may have been a village, but it cannot now be identified with certainty.
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