Mark 12:42

but one poor widow came and put in two small coins, worth very little.

little children and old women
lead on a way

two half-pennies or even four
are foundational

both a way and a foundation
can be over-shadowed

religious leaders and rich men
set their limits

it is important to define real money
as power over

otherwise excess won’t be seen
going in circles

This verse has two words related to money, one speaks of the copper lepton (Greek) and its equivalent kodrantēs (Latin) for those not familiar with the Greek. Waetjen13 notes the Latin indicates this and other Latinisms, “reflect a context of Roman-occupied territory and not the sociocultural milieu of Rome.” This, in turn, assists in understanding the location of the audience Mark was communicating with.

Of more import is the challenge set between rich and poor, privileged and disadvantaged. On one side money equates to speech and on the other the little they have doesn’t add up to being able to slide one word into any decision-making. When one can’t even begin to get their two-cents in, they become a nobody that can be slapped around, even killed, of absolutely no consequence.

This verse works in conjunction with its set-up to have this be a final word before tracking down the destruction of both the Temple and Jesus. Just two verses earlier (12:40) we heard about cheating widows out of their homes—placing them in the position to not have two of the least of coins to rub together.

We are also reminded of an earlier saying (4:25) that speaks of karma for those who don’t have—they will find that little taken away.

The judgment is that those scribes who act to call Corban (7:11) and take advantage of laws regarding widow’s property for their own benefit have demonstrated that they are impoverished in their spirit. And we remember the kicker that holds this together as a theme in Mark—“What benefit is there to gain worldly riches and lose a deeper life in a beloved community?” (8:36).

All of this leads us to remember changed hearts and lives (1:15).

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