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Mark 2:23

ESV One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain.
NIV One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain.
NASB And it happened that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain.
CSB On the Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to make their way, picking some heads of grain.
NLT One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples began breaking off heads of grain to eat.
KJV And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.

What does Mark 2:23 mean?

Sabbath" or Shabbat is from the Hebrew root word shin-beit-tav meaning "to cease, end, or rest." The Sabbath is an extremely important part of Judaism. It is the fourth of the Ten Commandments and God commonly condemned the Israelites when they refuse to honor the Sabbath (Ezekiel 20:13, 16, 21). The purpose of the Sabbath is to honor the seventh day of creation, on which God rested (Exodus 20:11), trust Him for provision (Exodus 16:22–26), rest (Exodus 20:9–10), exhibit righteousness (Exodus 31:14), and especially to display a distinct separation between Israel and pagan nations (Ezekiel 20:12).

Per customs and laws of the time, the disciples are not stealing by plucking grain heads out of someone else's field. As long as they use their hands and not a sickle, it is allowed under Deuteronomy 23:25. The question at hand is if plucking grain is allowed on the Sabbath or does it fall under the category of "work" as given by Exodus 20:10?

Around the time these events took place, Jewish leaders had created thirty-nine Melachot (working) prohibitions to ensure no good Jew came close to breaking the Law. It's reasonable to assume these Pharisees lived by similar prohibitions. By plucking grain, separating the wheat from the chaff, disposing of the chaff, and eating the grain, the disciples violate at least four of the Melachot: reaping, threshing, winnowing, selecting.

It's important to note that Jesus neither plucks nor eats the grain. His disciples do, but as their Rabbi He accepts responsibility for their actions.
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