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Matthew 9:24 He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. (cf. Mark 5:39, Luke 8:52)
Skeptics here accuse Jesus of lying, either in saying that the girl was dead or that she was only sleeping. But what is going on here -- wasn't Jairus' daughter actually dead?
Yes, by our definition of the word. "Sleep" was a euphemism for death in the ancient world (Keener, Matthew commentary, 305), and Jesus here now draws what (as the crowd's response shows) was a peculiar distinction.
Why? It is in order to announce that "in Jesus' presence it is sleep rather than a terminus of life, for the girl will come back from it after the miracle" (Witherington, Mark commentary, 190). This is also the significance of Jesus telling the people to "give place" (i.e., "Get out of my way!"). In effect he was announcing that he would be able to fix the situation.