In Matthew 14:20; Mark 6:43; Luke 9:17; and John 6:13, we find, after Jesus fed 5000 men plus women and children with the five small loves of bread and two small fish, that Jesus' Apostles gathered enough leftovers to fill twelve baskets full.
How big were these baskets?
In Matthew 15:37; and Mark 8:8, we find, after Jesus fed 4000 with seven loves of bread and a few fish, that Jesus' Apostles gathered enough leftovers to fill seven baskets.
In Matthew 16:9-10; and Mark 8:19-20, Jesus reminds the Apostles of how many baskets they gathered at each feeding.
How big were these baskets? Were they all the same size at both feedings?
The size baskets used at the feeding of the 5000 and the baskets used at the feeding of the 4000 were different in size.
The Greek word used in Matthew 14:20, 16:9; Mark 6:43, 8:19; Luke 9:17; and John 6:13 is KOPHINOS.
The Greek word used in Matthew 15:37, 16:10; and Mark 8:8, 8:20 is SPURIS
1. KOPHINOS, was "a wicker basket," (made of twigs or branches) originally containing a certain measure of capacity. This was a relatively small basket that could be carried on the back to hold provisions, it is believed that they were Ephah size, about 3/5 bushel, (like a knapsack size.)
2. SPURIS, was "something round, twisted, or folded together (anything rolled onto a circle)". So this is a reed basket, plaited, a capacious (spacious) kind of hamper, sometimes large enough to hold a man. It was considerably larger than the KOPHINOS. This is the same size basket that was used to let Paul down from the wall at Damascus according to Luke. (Acts 9:25) This was about the size of a Homer, (a donkey load of about 6 1/4 bushels.)
Now that is one heck of a lot of leftovers from only a few loves of bread and fishes!
Where did they get the baskets?
From "John Gill's Expositor" we have a probable answer.
"And they took up of the fragments that remained, twelve baskets full, according to the number of the disciples, every man had his basket full."
It may be inquired, where they could have so many baskets in the wilderness? It is not likely, that every one of the apostles had a basket with him; it is indeed not improbable, but that they might be furnished with them from some in the company, who might bring provisions with them, either for their own use, or to sell; see John 6:9; but perhaps the reason why they were so easily supplied with such a number of baskets in a desert place, might be a custom which the Jews had of carrying baskets with hay and straw, in commemoration of what they did in Egypt; when they were obliged to carry bricks in baskets, and to go about and pick up straw in baskets to make bricks. Such a custom would account for how such a number of baskets could be found in the wilderness.
In the feeding of the 5000 men, there were over 10,000 people being fed, and the feeding of the 4000 men, there would have been 8000 - 9000 people fed. And all those leftovers! What a miracle. Nothing is too hard for God who did create everything.
Peter is in a "Spuris" basket
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