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Intertexture Analysis

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 courage.

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 Christian leadership.

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 mission.

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 principles.


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,

Robbins, K. V. (1996). Exploring the Texture of Exts. A Guide to Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation, Harrisburg. PA: Trinity Press International

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