What does the word “ephphatha” mean?

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The deaf-mute person

The word “ephphatha” is an Aramaic word recorded only once in the gospel of Mark 7:34. 31. The story was about Jesus healing the deaf-mute person. As Jesus departed from the region of Tyre and Sidon, He came through the midst of the region of Decapolis to the Sea of Galilee (Mark 7:31). Decapolis was the area in which Christ had delivered the demoniacs of Gadara, who later on preached with zeal about the great mercy of Jesus (Mark 5:19, 20). It is possible that this deaf-mute heard about Jesus from them.

Ephphatha

The man was deaf and had an impediment in his speech. So, his family begged Jesus to put His hand on him (Mark 7:32,33). Jesus took the suffering man aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue. “Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened” (v. 33,34). Jesus referred to the man’s ears and to the restoration of his hearing. Mark, here, translates the Aramaic expression “Ephphatha,” for the benefit of his readers. The man was not only deaf, but, dumb also (v. 32), and Christ touched both parts that needed healing.

Although ancient literature has many examples of the use of saliva by doctors and wonder-workers who through it they may transfer healing from their bodies to those of their patients, there is no clear reason why Jesus decided in this incident to heal in this way, so strange for Him. In any case, the whole process here followed is similar to the one of the healing of the blind man of Bethsaida (Mark 8:22–26).

The healing

Jesus looked up to heaven to direct the deaf-mute’s thoughts to God. He wanted to make clear to the man that healing would come only through divine power. And Jesus sighed as He saw a sad picture of the deafness of human hearts to the message He gave, and of the empty, meaningless lives people lived.

Mark recorded, “Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly” (Mark 7:35).  The command of Jesus “ephphatha” “immediately healed the deaf-mute person.

Then, Jesus commanded him that he should tell no one. But the more He commanded the man and his associates, the more widely they proclaimed it. And the people were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak” (Mark 7:36,37)

Jesus had so often asked those for whom supernatural act of healing were done to be silent (Matthew 8:4; 9:30; 12:16;17:9; Mark 5:43; etc). The reason for that command was that the people were unprepared to understand and appreciate the real nature of His message. More than simply to deliver people from sickness, Jesus came to deliver people from the bondage of sin (Luke 4:18).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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