Matthew 4:13

Matthew 4:13
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Sites of Christianity in the Galillee - Ruins of the ancient Great Synagogue at Capernaum (or Kfar Nahum) on the shore of the Lake of Galilee, Northern Israel.jpg
Ruins of the ancient Great Synagogue at Capernaum (or Kfar Nahum) from 4th century CE.
BookGospel of Matthew
Christian Bible partNew Testament
Land of Zebulon and Naphtali overlaid on the land of Galilee
Land of Zebulon
Land of Zebulon (left) and Naphtali (right) in Israel/Palestine according to its ancient divisions & tribes. Published by George Philip and Sons 1852.
Land of Naphtali
A 1923 map showing Galilee at the time of Jesus. Capernaum is in the upper right while Nazareth is towards the center.

Matthew 4:13 is the thirteenth verse of the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. In the previous verse Jesus returned to Galilee after hearing of the arrest of John the Baptist. In this verse he leaves from Nazareth to Capernaum.

Content[edit]

In the King James Version of the Bible the text reads:

And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt
in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast,
in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:

The World English Bible translates the passage as:

Leaving Nazareth, he came and lived in
Capernaum, which is by the sea, in
the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,

For a collection of other versions see BibleHub Matthew 4:13

Analysis[edit]

It is presumed that Jesus returned to Nazareth since Matthew 2:23 described it as the town where he was raised. Matthew does not specify why Jesus leaves Nazareth, but it might be because of his rejection by the residents of that town as described in Luke 4. The original Greek of this verse has Nazareth spelt as "Nazara." The only other place this spelling occurs in the New Testament is in Luke 4:16. Hill notes that this has led scholars to believe that both Matthew and Luke were copying from another document, likely the hypothetical Q. Hill adds that this has also led some to believe that the entirety of the rejection scene was in Q but that the author of Matthew decided to leave it out.[1]

At the time of Jesus, Capernaum was a sizeable town on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, with a population of perhaps ten thousand.[2] The description of the town's location comes straight from the quote from Isaiah that will be quoted in Matthew 4:15. Capernaum was located in Naphtali, but it was near Zebulun. The town is mentioned nowhere in the Old Testament, but does feature in all four Gospels. Matthew is the only source that has Jesus actually living in the town. The other three have him only preaching and meeting his disciples there. This also seems to conflict with the other gospels and the rest of Matthew, especially Matthew 8:20, which portray Jesus as an itinerant preacher with no permanent home. France feels that the town was less a home and more a base of operations to which Jesus and the disciples would occasionally return.[3] Gundry rejects this view. To him dwelt unambiguously means that Jesus set up house in the town. Gundry feels that the author of Matthew embellished the accounts of Jesus' visits to Capernaum to better fit the quote from Isaiah.[4] Matthew 11:23 has Jesus speaking out against the town.

Matthew does not mention why Jesus chose Capernaum to relocate to. The town was prosperous due to its location on the large lake and also its position on the Via Maris, the Damascus to Egypt trade route. France feels it was probably because the sizeable community offered more opportunities to preach.[5] Albright and Mann support the theory that Jesus was already good friends with the disciples prior to recruiting them, and that Jesus specifically chose to move to Capernaum to be close to them.[6]

Matthew here, and throughout the Gospel, refers to the local body of water as a sea. As it contains fresh water, by modern definitions it is more properly a lake. Luke refers to it as a lake, as does Josephus, but Mark and John join Matthew in calling it a sea. As a result, "Sea of Galilee" is still the standard modern name.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hill, David. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981
  2. ^ France, R.T.. The Gospel of Matthew. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007 pg. 141
  3. ^ France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.
  4. ^ Gundry, Robert H. Matthew a Commentary on his Literary and Theological Art. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982.
  5. ^ France, R.T. The Gospel According to Matthew: an Introduction and Commentary. Leicester: Inter-Varsity, 1985.
  6. ^ Albright, W.F. and C.S. Mann. "Matthew." The Anchor Bible Series. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1971.
  7. ^ France, R.T.. The Gospel of Matthew. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2007 pg. 141


Preceded by
Matthew 4:12
Gospel of Matthew
Chapter 4
Succeeded by
Matthew 4:14