The Miracle of the Withered Hand


This is both a midrash and a hypertext story. Midrash, according to Harvey Cox in his book Jesus Came to Harvard, is dervived from the Hebrew word darash, which means to inquire. “Midrash is a method invented by the rabbis to fill in the blanks, to span the gap between the general and the specific.… Midrashim (the plural) often take the form of stories. They are what The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion calls ‘imaginative expositions,‘ and can deal with theology, ethics, and popular philosophy.” The intention in this midrash is to give you some new perspectives on what might have happened before and after the miracle. Remember, except for the italicized text, this is a product of imagination.

In a hypertext story, there are many paths through the text. Each path gives you a different perspective. Depending on what path you take, you will learn more or less about the Pharisees, Alpheus (the man with the withered hand), and Timothy (a witness to the miracle).

The Scripture

The story is based on this text, but the action begins before the scene depicted here.


Again, he entered the synagogue,
and a man was there who had a withered hand. The Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. (Matthew 12:9-14, Mark 3: 1-6, Luke 6:6-11)