There were about four thousand people. Then Jesus dismissed them.
Nachmanides knows his sevens
scattered through a natural world
connected by creation days
basic food groups transform to energy
food brings soul to body
we are filled lucky
whether four or four thousand
we are scattered by four winds
to the four corners of home
with calm persistence
we speak within our experience
tempered by a big dose of mercy
with a tattooed Kabbalist number
with no attributed authority
we are on a road again
estranged from unity’s one
tempted by 6-6-5 6-6-6 6-6-7
we are at home in a wilderness
Almost every translation has Jesus sending the people away, dismissing them.
There is an old translation from Wycliffe that reads: “And they that ate, were as four thousand of men; and he let them go [and he left them].”
There is a new translation by Swanson: “They were about four thousand. He left them.”
This little choice comes from the phrase ἀπολύω αὐτός (apolyō, released, set at liberty; autos, himself or he).
In some sense it doesn’t make too much difference whether the action is to return folks to their own recognizance or to claim the liberty to move on. Either way leads to another abrupt transition to a boat on the sea.
We are also faced with a question of transition that translators handle differently. Does 9b conclude the feeding story or does it make a nice fit with his entering a boat that summarily leaves?
In the previous feeding episode, Jesus “made” the Twelve get into the boat and go ahead while he dismissed the crowd and went off alone to pray. Our tendency is to look for consistency by setting up a pattern that we force everything else to fit into. It can be asked whether two outliers are simply wrong or their take helps us slow down to reflect on the difference and how that shows up in our own life; how we make transitions.
One choice is whether or not it is necessary to say “Goodbye” to a current situation before being able to say “Hello” to a next opportunity. Can we move ahead without a resolution of an event?