Luke 13:11-17 And a woman was there who had had a disabling spirit
for eighteen years; she was bent over and could in no way straighten
herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her and said to her: Woman, you
are free from your infirmity. And he laid his hands upon her, and
immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. And the ruler of
the synagogue, being moved with indignation because Jesus had healed on the
Sabbath, answered and said to the crowd: There are six days in which men
ought to work. In them therefore come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath
day. But the Lord answered them and said: You hypocrites! Does not each one
of you on the Sabbath release his ox or his ass from the stall and lead him
away for watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham
whom Satan had bound for eighteen years, to have been freed from this bond
on the Sabbath day? And as he said these things, all his adversaries were
put to shame, and all the crowd rejoiced for all the glorious things that
were done by him.
Comments1 The woman "had" a spirit which was associated with her being bent over (Lk. 13:11). She was not attacked by a "spirit" from outside of her, but she "had" this spirit within her. "Spirit" is commonly to be understood in Biblical usage as an attitude of mind. She had an attitude of mind which disabled her. And this spirit came from an adversary, a satan. And that adversary is explained in the context- the "adversaries" were the Jewish system who had so crippled the woman (Lk. 13:17).
1 I have elsewhere outlined the connection between "Satan" and the Jewish
opposition to Jesus [see The Jewish Satan] for they were the main adversary /
satan to His work and that of the early church. The connection is made
explicit in this passage- the Jews are called Christ's "adversaries" (Lk.
13:17), as if explaining who the 'satan' was who had 'bound' the woman. The
woman's binding by Satan is connected with the fact she was "a daughter of
Abraham", a Jewess. Why make this otherwise throwaway comment, that she was
a Jewess? For we are led by the context to assume that obviously she was
Jewish. The point surely is that the Jewish system had 'bound' this woman. I
suggested in section 4-8:
‘Casting out demons’: A Curing of Psychosomatic Illness? that many of the diseases Jesus cured
had a psychological basis to them; His healing of minds was reflected in the
healing of bodies from conditions which had been brought about
psychologically. Just as He "loosed" the woman from her illness, so He
"loosed" sinners from the burden of their sin [the same word is used in Mt.
18:27 in this connection, and is twice translated "to forgiven" in Lk.
6:37]. It may've been that it was her sense of unforgiven sin which was the
actual psychosomatic cause of her strange physical condition. The woman's
physical condition- being chronically bowed down- may well have been her
body reflecting how her mind felt, bowed down by the heavy burdens the
Jewish leaders placed upon her. And of course Jesus uses that very figure in
describing the weight placed upon Jewish people by the teachers of Judaism
(Mt. 23:4- "They bind heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders; but
they will not move them with their finger"). The context of the miracle is
that the Jews loosed their tied up animals on the Sabbath, and Jesus
reasoned that He likewise could loose His sheep who had been bound or tied
up by Satan. But who tied up the animals whom the Jewish leadership loosed?
They themselves bound / tied them and loosed them. Jesus says that He looses
/ unties those whom Satan has tied up. He thus draws a parallel between the
Jewish leadership and Satan, the adversary to His work. The unloosing was
performed on the Sabbath- the very day whose Mosaic regulations the Jews had
abused to burden people. Significantly, Jn. 5:18 uses the same word
translated "loose" to describe how Jesus was accused of 'breaking' or
'unloosing' the Sabbath. He did not come to destroy the Law of Moses itself
during His lifetime, but to teach Israel that the Jewish additional laws
were to be unloosed. The same Greek word is used in other contexts of how
Jesus through His death unloosed ['took down'] the wall of partition which
excluded Gentiles (Eph. 2:10).
2 Without doubt there is a word play going on in Lk. 13:16: "And ought [dei - must] not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham whom Satan had bound [deo - a form of dei, literally, 'must-ed'] for eighteen years, to have been freed from this bond [deis-mon, another form of dei, this 'must-ing'] on the Sabbath day?". Who was it who had taught the woman 'You must this, that and the other; you must not this or that'? Was it Satan in the sense of a personal, cosmic being? Was it surely not the Jewish system who were 'must-ing' people? They, therefore, were the adversary in this context.