In order to understand Matthew 9:20-22, we must understand the history surrounding the two sects operating
throughout that era; the Pharisees and the Sadducees. A study of the writings of Flavius Josephus, early rabbinical
writings as well as the New Testaments provides an accurate description of these two groups. The term Pharisees is
derived from the Hebrew perusim, which means "separated ones." Later findings suggest that it may have been derived
from Hebrew parosim, meaning "specifier," They were regarded as puritans, in other words they were extremely
passionate concerning the principles within the Mosaic laws, as well as those that they added to the Old Testament
legislation (Huie, 2007). This sect is symbolic of the orthodox core of Judaism and had very strong influence on
the Israelites. The Sadducees are said to have been named after Zadok, a priest during the stint of King David and
King Solomon, other theorists presupposes that the name is a derivative from Zadok who lived in the 2nd century
BCE. In the same vein there are others who believe the name "Sadducee" comes from the Hebrew tsadiq, which means
righteous (Huie, 2007). The Sadducees were famous for their unbelief of supernatural happenings. Matt.22:23 express
their refusal to believe the resurrection of the dead. This sect had no regards for tradition and despised
legalism. In their view the Pentateuch was the only authority, they were often very affluent, aristocrats, member
of the priestly tribes and under Herod's rule were the owners of the temple.
The degrees of differences between these two groups created an imbalance with regards to the political views
throughout that era. These two groups had opposing views/beliefs concerning laws, and regulations (Huie 2002).
Matthew 9:20-22 is about the woman with the issue of blood. This story may be seen as an interruption, as it occurs
while Jesus was on His way to heal Jarius's daughter. Matthew relates a story of a woman who had been bleeding for
over twelve years. According to Jewish Law, this woman is deemed as unclean because of the insistent bleeding (Lev
15:25-27). This woman was scorned by family members and the society and was barred from synagogue and temples
(MacArthur, 2005). A poor woman, Luke mentions that she had spent all that she had, looking for a cure. She was
ostracized, an outcast by all accounts. As a result of her illness, the traditions of that era prevented women from
touching men, it is possible that this is the reason she approached Jesus from behind and touched the hem of His
garment. Her belief in Jesus to cure her was evident in her gesture to touch Him. Jesus did not criticize the woman
because she opted to mix with people and thereby breaking all the conventions of that era. Instead He encouraged
her "Take heart daughter your faith as made you whole, on approaching Jesus the woman thought "if" I touch his
cloak I will be healed." This statement is often refers to as an enthymeme (Robins, 1996).
Enthymeme is described as a syllogism in which one of the premises or the conclusion is not stated explicitly.
In Matthew 9:20-22, the enthymeme 'if' is presented to make the statement logical or qualitative, implicit in this
statement we can assume that Jesus posses special healing power. How did Jesus receive such power? The answer to
this can be two fold, it could have been 'in born" or it could have been acquired. Authors of the first three
synoptic gospels presupposes that Jesus power was from heaven and was given to him at his baptism (Matt 3:16, Mark
1:10, Luke 3:22). (Robbins, 1999). It is possible that this woman's opinion runs concurrent to that of the authors
in Matthew, Mark and Luke. This woman knew that Jesus had power and if she could touch him, His power was
sufficient to heal her. This act to touch Jesus generates two points of view; On one hand it could have been
construed that by touching a man of such power you are either foolish or simple minded and your action could have
resulted in death. Biblical tradition showed where Uzzah touched the ark of God and died (2 Samuel 6.6-7). The
converse is also true. Her actions could be interpreted from a bold perspective as an expression of her
In the Matthean Gospel special emphasis is place on Jesus' healing powers while in the Lukan gospel, the
attention was deflected from Jesus but instead is centered on the woman's faith, (your faith as made you well).
There are different implications based on Jesus' leadership in this story that helped to form the premise of
The needs of followers are important and should take precedence over issues that are less important, such as
some aspects of the law. "This eternal principle is clearly spelled out by Jesus in Matthew 12:3-8, Mark 2:25-28
and Luke 6:3-5. Thank God His Son was not a legalist, or that poor woman would likely have received the back of His
hand, rather than His healing touch." (Maxey, 2000). Matthews account provides the depth of compassion that Jesus
had for the "common people" as well as the infinite power He possessed from God, that He freely used to help
people. As a leader He was always accessible to his followers, this is evident in the large crowd that followed
Him. People irrespective of their position could approach Him. This woman was poor; the Lukan account refers to the
fact that she had spent all her money on doctors, trying to find a cure (Luke 8:40-49). She lost her status to the
point of being referred to as a woman with the issue of blood... In a culture pervaded by the Pharisees and
Sadducees with their different beliefs, Jesus did what he needed to do in order to fulfill the purpose of His
In showing love to even those who were deemed unworthy he fostered Godly principles which were emphasized in the
golden rule... "do unto others as you would have them do unto you..." Jesus modeled the core of Christian
leadership and left a pattern for current leaders to emulate by serving others.
The nature of Christian leadership is based on the fundamental issue that Jesus' leadership represents the
quintessence of leadership, and may be viewed as a blue print of true leadership. To model this kind of leadership,
contemporary leaders must first analyze the distinct leadership principles which are evident in Matthew 9:20-22.
The story of the woman with the issue of blood, showed Jesus modeling leadership. By acknowledging the condition of
the woman, by healing her and by further referring to her as daughter, Jesus transformed the spirit and ethos of
leadership. In an era that was dominated by self-righteous dogmatists, he showed love, rendered service and never
lost sight of His purpose to reach out to those who were ostracized. His values consistently guided His actions
which resulted in a continuous increase of followers. Contemporary leaders should explore the benefits of Jesus'
style of leadership as His style can create more successful transformative organizations using biblical leadership
DeSilva, D. (2004). An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation.
Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Huie, B. T. (2007). Who were the Pharisees and Sadducees Retrieved 21 September 2007,
Kouzes and B. Posner, The Leadership Challenge, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1987
MacArthur, J. (2005). The MacArthur Bible Commentary, Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc Publishers.
Maxey A. (2000). Reflections, Retrieved 22 September 2007, http://www.zianet.com/maxey/reflx287.htm
Robbins, K. V. (1996). Exploring the Texture of Exts. A Guide to Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation,
Harrisburg. PA: Trinity Press International
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