Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 26 April 2014; Revised 25 February 2018
Scripture Text: The Scripture text of John used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Torah (Law), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ). I use the title "The Testimony of John" because that is how John describes his book (John 21:24). See the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on this book.
Methodology: For an explanation of abbreviations, acronyms, terminology, spelling conventions, and other information on organization of the commentary see my Commentary Writing Philosophy.
Primary Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Unless otherwise indicated the following primary sources are used:
• Different Bible versions may be cited for Scripture quotations. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Messianic Jewish versions are CJB, DHE, GNC, HNV, MW, OJB, & TLV.
• The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century BC. The LXX with English translation may be found here.
• Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75-99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
• The meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. Definitions of Hebrew words are from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), given as "BDB." The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
• Dates are from Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings (1992). Online.
The First Sign - Changing Water into Wine, 2:1-11
Interlude in Capernaum, 2:12
Passover in Jerusalem and Temple Restoration, 2:13-25
Spring, A.D. 27
The first part of this chapter relates a story with which many Christians are uncomfortable because of their stand on sobriety. Some Evangelical denominations have adopted standards reflecting this viewpoint because of the warnings of drunkenness in the Scriptures and the very real problem of alcohol abuse and addiction. Furthermore, some Christians believe they have a social responsibility to use any legitimate means to minimize the availability of beverage alcohol to others.
Because of this stand some Christian interpreters have difficulty accepting the idea of Yeshua making fermented wine for people to drink and revise to story to make it more palatable. Disciples of Yeshua are certainly called to self-control and avoidance of intoxication (1Cor 15:34; Gal 5:23; 1Th 5:6, 8; 2Tim 4:5; 1Pet 1:13; 4:7). Yet, while respecting the abstinence position we must also interpret Scripture accurately in its historical Jewish context (2Tim 2:15). We must be careful not to make Yeshua into what we want him to be.
The First Sign - Changing Water into Wine
1 And the third day a marriage celebration took place in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Yeshua was there.
And: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). Beginning verses with a conjunction, as well as the excessive use of conjunctions, is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. In contrast to most Bible versions I translate all the instances of kai (and all the other conjunctions) as a reminder of John's Hebraic writing style.
the third: Grk. tritos, adj., third in a sequence or serial sense. day: Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). Edersheim suggests the third day refers to two days after the last day mentioned in John 1:43, which by his reckoning would be Wednesday. Most likely, though, the third day refers to the day of the week, Tuesday.
a marriage celebration: Grk. gamos can mean marriage (e.g., Heb 13:4), but primarily festivities to celebrate the nuptials of a bride and bridegroom (e.g., Matt 22:2-12; 25:10; Luke 14:8; Rev 19:9). In the LXX gamos occurs only four times and renders Heb. mishteh (SH-4960, a feast, banquet, drink), two of which were marriage celebrations (Gen 29:22; Esth 2:18) (DNTT 2:275). The first marriage feast in Scripture was on the occasion of Jacob claiming his bride Rachel after seven years of work (Gen 29:22). On that occasion the feast apparently began before consummation and that with Leah whom Laban had substituted for Rachel. All the Hebrew versions of the Besekh translate gamos here with Heb. chatunnah (SH-2861, marriage, wedding), which occurs only in SS 3:11. Chatunnah is derived from the verb chatan, which means to marry someone's daughter or become related through marriage (Karni 67).
In first century Israelite culture marriage of a virgin was a major undertaking. The process began with a marriage proposal, then followed by a betrothal period that could last up to a year, during which time there could be the exchange of gifts and the preparation and presentation of a marriage contract (Heb. Ketubah). Marriage was finalized with sexual consummation (Heb. nisuin) and a marriage celebration typically lasted a week, a very old custom (Jdg 14:12; Kethuboth 4a; Mo'ed Katan 7b), although Tobit records a marriage celebration lasting 14 days (Tobit 8:19-20). The bridal days extended over a full month in order to receive gifts.
Many Bible versions translate gamos in this verse as "wedding" and Bible publishers insert a title "The Wedding at Cana," which can easily give the wrong impression. In modern parlance a wedding is a ceremony supervised by a member of the clergy in which bride and bridegroom exchange vows and the minister solemnizes the marriage as a legal entity. Only a few versions translate it correctly with "wedding celebration" (NLT), "wedding feast" (OJB, VOICE), or simply "marriage" (ASV, DRA, HNV, JUB, KJ21, KJV, RSV, WEB).
In Israelite practice the ceremony that preceded consummation, if there was one, might have consisted of sharing a cup of wine and presenting the ketubah. Local custom and the wishes of the parents dictated the elements to any ceremony. Rabbis did not officiate at weddings and there was no exchange of vows. The father of the bride would simply place his daughter’s hand in the hand of the groom and declare she was his to take. The betrothal had already made the marriage legal and could only be broken by divorce. So, the festivities could begin before or after the marriage was consummated. Marriage stories in the Bible and other ancient Jewish literature illustrate that no two weddings were exactly alike, since the process was controlled by the parents - not priests, rabbis or government. See my web article Marriage in Ancient Israel.
The mention of the marriage celebration in conjunction with the third day alludes to a particular marriage custom. According to the Talmud a man's first intercourse could not be on the Sabbath (Kethuboth 5b-7a). So, for the marriage of a virgin the bridegroom would prepare for the marriage feast three days at his house, beginning on the first day in the week (our Sunday), continuing on the second day in the week (Monday), and then the third day in the week (Tuesday). On the fourth day (Wednesday) he would consummate the marriage with her. Another reason for this schedule is that the courts of justice were in session two days in the week, the second day (Monday) and the fifth day (Thursday), so that if the husband had a claim as to the virginity of his bride he could go to the court early on the morning of the fifth day to make his complaint (Kethuboth 1:1; 2a, 3b).
The wedding occurred in the Spring before Passover (verse 13 below). By rabbinic law a wedding was not supposed to be conducted during any of the annual festivals, because "one rejoicing may not be merged in another rejoicing" (Moed Katan 1:7; 8b). Reinhartz sees in this marriage feast a foreshadowing of the messianic banquet, the feast that will celebrate the inauguration of God's rule (161). Yeshua will later promise his disciples the prospect of sharing a table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Matt 8:11; Luke 13:29; 22:29-30) and speak of a wedding feast in connection with his return (Matt 25:1-13; Luke 12:35-36). It's no coincidence that the invitation to this end-time feast is reported by John in Revelation 19:9.
took place: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid., may mean (1) come into being by birth or natural process; (2) to exist through application of will or effort by someone or (3) undergo a state of existence, change or development. The third meaning applies here and the past tense verb could be translated as came to be, took place, happened, or occurred. in Cana: Grk. Kana for Heb. Qana, a place name meaning, "the nest.” The name occurs only 4 times in the Bible, all in the Book of John. Its exact location is uncertain, though it was in Galilee. The Oxford Bible Atlas places the village about 8 miles due north of Nazareth (86). In Cana an unnamed nobleman sought out Yeshua to heal his son in Capernaum (John 4:46) and Cana was also the home of Nathanael, one of the apostles (John 21:2).
of Galilee: Grk. Galilaia from the Heb. Galil, lit. "circle" or "region.” Galilee was the northern part of Israel above the hill country of Ephraim and of Judah and encompassed the areas originally given to the tribes of Naphtali, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dan. At this time Galilee was a Roman province measuring about 40 miles north to south and about 30 miles east to west. Galilee was bounded by the Province of Syria on the west and north, the River Jordan and Sea of Galilee on the east and the Province of Judea on the south. Herod Antipas governed Galilee and Perea. Yeshua grew up in Nazareth of Galilee (Matt 2:23), devoted most of His earthly ministry to Galilee, and was also known as the Galilean (Matt 26:69).
The first chapter of John ended with Yeshua in Bethany east of the Jordan, which is some seventy miles from Cana as the vulture flies. Santala suggests that Yeshua crossed over the Jordan to the western side, traveled north avoiding Sychar, the Samaritan city which he visits in chapter 4. He could have stopped off in Nazareth, but there's no mention of it.
and the mother: Grk. mētēr (=Heb. ima) refers to a biological mother, although occasionally in the Besekh the word is used as a metaphor (Rom 16:13). of Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). The English rendering of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729. By virtue of His incarnation and Jewish mother, Yeshua must still be a Jew. For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
was: Grk. eimi, impf., a function word used in a wide variety of grammatical constructions, primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate. The verb may also denote (1) temporal existence; live; (2) a sojourn; stay, reside; (3) phenomena, events; take place, occur; and (4) time references (BAG). The imperfect tense is used of continuous or repeated action in past time. In other words, "in the beginning when the heavens and the earth were created." there: Grk. ekei, adv., 'in that place,' as opposed to here or another place.
Noteworthy is that John nowhere in his book mentions the name of Yeshua's mother, Miriam. At the time of writing Miriam had been committed to the care of John (John 19:27) and it may be that in treating her as his own mother he felt it inappropriate to use her name. The reason for Miriam's presence has been widely speculated, but the simplest explanation, considering her actions in verse 5, is that she was a friend of the bridegroom's mother and asked to help the celebration preparation and management. So it would be natural for John to say she "was there" in contrast to the reason given for Yeshua's presence in the next verse.
Scholars generally assume that Joseph died sometime before Yeshua's public ministry began due to the complete lack of any mention of Joseph as present in narratives after the visit to Jerusalem when Yeshua was twelve. In addition, two verses support the argument from silence. First, Yeshua passed the care of his mother to John the apostle just before his death (John 19:26-27), so she must have been a widow at that point. Second, in John 6:42 there is a quote from some grumblers, "Is not this Yeshua, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?" Interpretation depends on identifying the antecedent of "father and mother." If the antecedent is Yeshua, then the perfect tense of "know" would imply that Joseph was still alive at that point. However, the personal pronoun "whose" being of the same genitive case as Joseph, would indicate that the grumblers speak of Joseph's parents. So, Joseph was by now deceased.
2 and Yeshua also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage celebration.
and: Grk. kai, conj., See the note on the previous verse. Yeshua: See the note on the previous verse. also: Grk. de, conj., used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also" (BAG). Here the third usage applies. was invited: Grk. kaleō, aor. pass., may mean (1) to express something aloud; say, call; (2) to solicit participation; call, invite; or (3) to identify by name or give a term to; call. The second meaning applies here. Typical of Jewish Greek the verb actually begins the verse. and: Grk. kai, conj. The conjunction could have the meaning of "with."
his disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs, one who learns through instruction from a teacher. The noun occurs only in the apostolic narratives and corresponds to the Heb. talmid. See the note on John 1:35. The talmidim are designed "his" (Grk. autos), implying that Yeshua functioned as a rabbi (John 1:38, 49). The disciples with Yeshua were likely those introduced at the end of chapter one: John, Andrew, Simon, Philip and Nathanael, since Cana was his hometown. The fact that these men are called Yeshua's disciples at this point, very early in his ministry, does not obviate his call to them in Galilee several months later to leave their families and businesses to be fulltime disciples. In the interim John, Andrew and Simon, in particular, probably returned to their fishing business for financial reasons.
Being a disciple of Yeshua required four particular qualities. First, to be a disciple required sacrifice. Traveling the country meant leaving behind family, security and living under austere conditions. This was not a life of luxury. Simon Peter alluded to his sacrifice when he spoke of leaving everything to follow Yeshua (Matt 19:27). The rich young ruler was not willing to pay this price to be a disciple (Matt 19:21-22). Second, to be a disciple required commitment. Devotion to the rabbi came before all other obligations (Luke 9:57-61; 14:26). Once the commitment was made turning back would have been equivalent to rebellion against God (Luke 9:62). The disciple left behind his ordinary life and embraced an extraordinary life with his rabbi.
Third, to be a disciple required humility. A disciple came to the rabbi with an inquiring mind, a desire to know. He did not have answers, but he sought answers about God and spiritual things. He knew the rabbi had the answers (John 6:68). This humility is illustrated by the rabbinic saying "Let your home be a meeting-house for the sages, and cover yourself in the dust of their feet, and drink in their words thirstily" (Avot 1:4; translation by Bivin 12). Miriam, sister of Martha, demonstrated this humility when she sat at the feet of Yeshua (Luke 10:39). Fourth, to be a disciple required obedience (Matt 28:19). The rabbi's will became the disciple’s will. The rabbi directed, the disciple obeyed. The only authority greater in the disciple's life would be God.
to the marriage celebration: Grk. gamos. See the note on the previous verse. We might wonder how Yeshua even knew there was a marriage celebration in Cana. We could declare that Yeshua's presence was a divine appointment which he supernaturally knew in advance he was to keep in order to perform the miraculous sign. Or, it could be that he stopped in Nazareth to visit his family and learned that his mother was in Cana. Upon arriving there the host merely extended the invitation as the custom of hospitality required.
3 And when the wine was depleted, the mother of Yeshua said to him, "They have no wine."
And: Grk. kai, conj. See verse 1 above. when the wine: Grk. oinos, the fermented beverage of wine made from grapes. In the LXX oinos renders Heb. yanah (SH-3196, 138 times), wine, and Heb. tirosh (SH-8492, 38 times, first mention Gen 27:28), fresh or new wine, i.e., newly made. Tirosh is sometimes used of the first fruits of wine given to the priests. The only other Greek word for wine is gleukos (SG-1098), sweet new wine, which occurs only in Acts 2:13 and in the LXX of Job 32:19 for Heb. yanah. Sweet new wine does not mean "non-alcoholic grape juice," but refers to wine newly made that had a higher level of residual sugar than aged wine. The first mention of wine in the Bible is that made by Noah (Gen 9:21), from which he became drunken and his son Canaan took advantage of him.
Wine was an important commodity and a popular beverage in ancient times (cf. Gen 14:18; 1Sam 25:18; Ps 104:15; Prov 3:10; Matt 9:17). The production of wine was a promised blessing of God (Gen 27:28, 37; Deut 7:13; 11:14; 33:28; Joel 2:19, 24) and important for religious festivals (Deut 14:26; 16:13). Wine was given as a first fruits offering to the priests (Deut 18:4; Ezra 6:9; Neh 10:37; 13:12) and poured out as a drink offering with sacrifices (Ex 25:29; 29:40; Lev 23:13, 18; Num 15:5; Deut 18:4; 1Sam 1:24). God also provided a number of instructions to Israel for managing their vineyards (Ex 22:5; 23:11; Lev 19:10; 25:3-4; Deut 22:9; 23:24; 24:21).
Yeshua, too, drank wine (Luke 7:34) and it featured prominently in the Last Supper (Luke 22:17, 20; 1Cor 11:22-27). Paul even advises Timothy to drink wine for health reasons (1Tim 5:23) and modern scientific research has confirmed the health benefits of the moderate use of wine. Throughout Scripture "wine" always refers to the fermented beverage made from grapes regardless of its age or potency, which explains why there are warnings about overindulgence (Prov 20:1; 23:20-21, 29-35; Rom 13:13; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:18; 1Pet 4:3) and instructions not to appoint congregation leaders who are addicted to "much wine" (1Tim 3:3, 8; Titus 1:7; 2:3). Prohibitions of wine-drinking were only directed to priests while offering Temple sacrifices (Lev 10:9; Ezek 44:21) and to Nazirites for their consecration (Num 6:2-3).
was depleted: Grk. hustereō, aor. part., to be in a relatively deficient or disadvantaged state or condition; become depleted, give out. the mother: Grk. mētēr. See verse 1 above. of Yeshua: See verse 1 above. said: Grk. legō, to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form, lit. "says." In the LXX legō renders Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think. The Greek verb "say" functions as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. They have: Grk. echō, to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application: (1) hold in one's hands, wear, preserve, seize; (2) have as one's own or at hand, possess; (3) have with oneself or in one's company; (4) experience a condition or situation; (5) view something in a particular way, consider, look upon, view; and (6) have the possibility, can, be able (BAG). The verb is used in the sense of possessing and owning a property. Note that she did not say "we have."
no: Grk. ou, adv., a particle that strongly negates the verb. wine: Grk. oinos. Miriam informs her son of an disturbing development and expresses sympathy for the host family. To run out of wine at a festival was a serious disruption and social embarrassment (Morris). The Talmud says, "there is no rejoicing save with wine" (Pesachim 109a, quoting Ps 104:15; Moed Katan 9a). The lack of wine does not imply overindulgence. Morris suggests the bridegroom's family may have been poor and made the minimum provision hoping for the best. Another analysis provided by two old Latin MSS is that "it happened that, because of the great crowd of those who had been invited, the wine was finished" (Metzger 173). Jewish weddings in ancient times were community events and a lot of uninvited people could easily show up.
In addition, wine was typically diluted at festivals (Pesachim 108b), which would stretch the wine even further, but in this case it was still not enough. The Mishnah mentions a dilution factor of two parts water to one of wine (Niddah 2:7). Pesachim required that the proportion of dilution must not reduce the taste or appearance of wine. The practice of diluting wine with water apparently began during the Hellenistic era (2Macc 15:39), since previously wine mixed with water was thought to be ruined (Isa 1:22). The Soncino Talmud editor opines that modern wine is not nearly as strong as wine in ancient times and therefore does not require dilution (Pes. 108b, fn 6).
Some commentators (as Morris and Stern) suggest that because of the miraculous nature of the nativity, the angelic announcement that Miriam's son would be called "Son of Elyon" and occupy the throne of David (Luke 1:32), Miriam's belief that future generations would bless her (Luke 1:48), the prophecies of Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25–38) and Yeshua's response in the next verse, that Miriam expected her son to take the opportunity and announce himself as Messiah, and what better way than to perform a miracle. However, this is an argument from silence and there is no implication in the narrative that Miriam expected her son to perform a miracle. He had performed none to date.
The reason for Miriam turning to her son for a solution may have something to do with him being a carpenter (Matt 13:55; Mark 6:3). Shammai (50 B.C. - A.D. 30), the Pharisee and President of the Sanhedrin during most of Yeshua's ministry was known to be a carpenter (Shabbath 31a). At that time carpenters were regarded as particularly learned. If a difficult problem was under discussion by the scribes, they would ask, "Is there a carpenter among us, or the son of a carpenter who can solve the problem for us?" (Flusser 14) So, Miriam's report implied her trust in his resourcefulness.
4 And Yeshua said to her, Woman, what does this have to do with you and me? My time is not yet come.
And: Grk. kai, conj. See verse 1 above. Yeshua: See verse 1 above. said: Grk. legō, lit. "says." See the note on the previous verse. The present tense of the verb used here and in the previous verse of a past event heightens the dramatic nature of the interaction and reflects the perception of the eyewitness. "Well, she was saying and he was saying…" Woman: Grk. gunē, voc. case, is an adult female person, without respect to age, marital or social status except as defined in the context. In the LXX gunē renders the Heb. ishshah ("woman"). In Scripture when a woman belongs to one man with the expectation of sexual intercourse (Gen 2:21-22), the Hebrew or Greek word is translated as "wife."
Addressing Miriam in this manner is not as cold or rude as it sounds in English. Rather, "Woman" in Jewish culture was treated as title of respect, because "Woman" is the name Adam gave the female that God had created from his own body (Gen 2:23). The ERV, NCV, NIRV and NLT capture this sense with "Dear Woman." While the narrative identifies Miriam as Yeshua's mother (verses 1, 3, 5, and 12), Yeshua's formal address implies a shift in their relationship. The vocative case of "Woman" used by Yeshua is found in other passages, and generally introduces a revelation to a woman (Reinhartz):
● Yeshua to the Syrophoenician woman whose daughter he healed (Matt 15:28),
● Yeshua to an unnamed woman he healed on the Sabbath (Luke 13:12),
● Simon to his female inquisitor (Luke 22:57),
● Yeshua to the Samaritan woman (John 4:21),
● Yeshua to the woman caught in adultery (John 8:10),
● Yeshua to his mother at the crucifixion (John 19:26),
● two angels to Miriam of Magdala after the resurrection of Yeshua (John 20:13), and
● Yeshua to Miriam of Magdala after his resurrection (John 20:15).
what does this have to do with you and me: The Grk. text is lit. "what to me and to you" (Marshall). Stern says the Greek phrase reflects a Hebrew idiom found a number of times in the Tanakh (cf. Jdg 11:12; 2Sam 19:22; 1Kgs 17:18; 2Kgs 3:13). The question could have as its focus the relationship between Yeshua and his mother. So, some versions translate the phrase as "what have I to do with you" or words to that effect (ASV, KJ21, KJV, Darby, JUB). The CEV and TEV have a petulant translation "You must not tell me what to do." More likely Yeshua's question is rhetorical in the rabbinic style, "why should that concern us?" to which Miriam might respond "would it not be a mitzvah to help this family?"
My time: Grk. hōra, lit. "my hour," may mean (1) a short space of time, the twelfth part of a day; hour; (2) fig. for a period of time in the day; "the hour was already late;" or (3) a point of time as occasion for action or for an event; time. The third meaning fits best here. is not yet: Grk. oupō, adv. of time, indicating that an activity, circumstance, or condition is in abeyance or suspension; not yet. come: Grk. hēkō, to become. The verb bears the sense of the perfect tense, have come, have arrived, be present (Danker). The expression "my time" occurs only here in the Besekh and is not equivalent to the prophetic expressions "an hour is coming" (John 4:21, 23; 5:25, 28; 16:2, 25, 32), "his hour" (John 7:30; 8:20; 13:1), "the hour" (John 12:23; 17:1) or "this hour" (John 12:27).
Yeshua's added comment probably means that he had been observing the situation and points out that the right moment to do something is not quite yet. Considering the next verse Miriam interpreted Yeshua's question and statement as a willingness to get involved and that's the way we should take it. What Miriam couldn't know was that Yeshua not only intended to solve the problem, but do it in a way that would surprise everyone.
5 His mother said to the servants, Whatever he tells you, do it.
His mother: Grk. mētēr . See verse 1 above. said: Grk. legō, lit. "says." See verse 3 above. to the servants: pl. of Grk. diakonos, generally means a servant or helper in a domestic context and from that used of someone in service to an earthly ruler or to God. Diakonos is a function-oriented term rather than a status-oriented term. Robertson suggests that this word may come from dia (through) and konis (dust), to raise a dust by one’s hurry, and so to serve or minister (note on Matt 20:26). The fact Miriam gives instructions to the servants indicates that her presence was to assist in management of celebration provisions.
Whatever he tells: Grk. legō, pres. subj. you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. The plural form indicates the instruction was given to a group. do: Grk. poieō, aor. imp., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create, perform; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition, such as carrying out an obligation or responsibility; do, act, proceed, perform, prepare, work. The aorist imperative implies instant execution upon receipt of instruction. The instruction implies her confidence that Yeshua was going to act to resolve the problem.
In addition, this simple command speaks volumes about how Miriam perceived herself in relation to her son. She is no co-mediatrix as Catholic doctrine asserts and there is no basis in Scripture for praying to her. When a group of women attempted to venerate Miriam by saying to Yeshua, "Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts at which You nursed," Yeshua responded with "On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it" (Luke 11:27-28). If any Christian wants to honor Miriam then listen to her words. "Whatever he, Yeshua the Messiah, tells you, do it."
6 Now six stone water-pots were set there according to the purification custom of the Judean Jews, each containing two or three measures each.
Now: Grk. de, conj., used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also" (BAG). In this verse the conjunction makes a narrative transition. six: pl. of Grk. hex, adj., the number six. The quantity of six has nothing to do with any custom, but rather the number of people present (Lightfoot 3:253). stone: Grk. lithinos, made of stone, without specification of the exact mineral. The term occurs only three times in the Besekh (also 2Cor 3:3; Rev 9:20). Paul notes that this is the same material of which Moses made the tablets (2Cor 3:3). In the LXX lithinos translates Heb. eben (SH-68, stone), used for a variety of objects, such as natural rocks, including sling stones, and hewn stones for a worship pillar, building foundation, furniture, vessels, idols and writing tablets.
water-pots: pl. of Grk. hudria, a vessel for holding water. were: Grk. eimi, impf., to be. set: Grk. keimai, pres. mid., be set in a position; lie, set. there: Grk. ekei, adv., of that place, as opposed to here or another place; there. according to: Grk. kata, prep., the root meaning is "down," but with the accusative case of the noun following it may be translated as "along, at, or according to" denoting relation (DM 107). the purification custom: Grk. katharismos, the ceremonial practice of cleansing or purification; here most likely in reference to washing the hands.
The specific manner of washing is alluded to in Mark 7:3, which could be translated as "washing with the fist," which involved rinsing up to the wrist. Washing with the fist was an old custom and very practical for minimizing water usage, considering that water was (and is) a valuable commodity in the Land of Israel (Lane 246f). Pouring water on cupped hands indicated ritual washing in preparation for a meal. For purposes of cleanliness it was sufficient to pour some water on part of the hand, which could subsequently be spread all over the hand by rubbing both hands. Instructions regarding general cleansings are found in the tractate Taharoth ceremonial hand washing in the tractate Yadayim.
of the Judean Jews: Grk. Ioudaioi, pl. of Ioudaios, Judean, Jew, Jewish or Jewess (BAG). The noun, occurring 194 times in the Besekh, is used to identify biological descendants of Jacob and adherents of the Judean religion. Ioudaioi is never used as a label for Hellenistic Jews or Samaritan Jews. Generally speaking the Ioudaioi followed the traditions of the Pharisees (Mark 7:3; Acts 10:28). For more discussion on the background of Ioudaios and John's usage of it see my comment on John 1:19. The meaning of Ioudaioi in this verse is neutral, since there is no pejorative connotation as in John 1:19, but it might imply a contrast to the Jews of Cana.
Most Christian versions translate the plural Ioudaioi as a singular adjective, "Jewish," modifying "purification." Messianic Jewish versions are divided over translation. GNC has "Jews," MW has "sectarian Jews," and DHE has "Yehudim." The CJB treats the term as an adjective with "Jewish ceremonial washings," as does the HNV with "Jews' way of purifying," and the TLV with "Jewish ritual of purification." Stern comments that the Ioudaioi in this verse would seem to be the Jews by religion, not the Judeans by geography or origin, if John is explaining the situation for non-Jewish readers. Alternatively, characterizing the washing as "Judean" could be appropriate on the assumption that the wedding brought guests from all over, including Judea, and in deference their customs were observed.
Regarding the alternatives there would seem to be no point of even using the term Ioudaioi here unless those of Cana did not have the same custom. Hand-washing is only mentioned as a practice of the Pharisees (Mark 7:3) who were concentrated in Judea. The rationale for washing has nothing to do with hygiene but was based on the idea that "a man’s home is his Temple," with the dining table his altar, the food his sacrifice and himself the priest. Since the Torah requires priests to be "clean" before offering sacrifices on the sanctuary altar, rabbinic authority determined the same requirement applied before eating a meal in one's home.
each: Grk. ana, prep. used adverbially with a distributive sense, each. containing: Grk. chōreō, pres. part., to be in a condition of having space; hold, contain. two: Grk. duo, adj., the number two. or three: Grk. treis, adj., the number three. measures: Grk. metrētēs, a utensil capable of measuring about 40 liters of liquid, known as the Heb. bath holding about 39 liters. Two or three would equal 18-27 gallons. Since John is writing for a primarily Jewish audience he explains the purpose and capacity of the water-pots for Gentile readers.
7 The One, Yeshua said to them, Fill the water-pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
The One: Grk. ho, demonstrative pronoun and definite article. The article occurs before the name of Yeshua. Bible versions leave ho untranslated, but the Orthodox Jewish Bible begins the verse with "Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach" and omits the name Yeshua. Among Jews "The One" was a circumlocution for God (cf. Ps 3:3; 37:24; Isa 40:26; 45:7; 49:7; Amos 9:5-6; John 1:33; 6:46; 7:18; 12:45; 15:21; Acts 10:42; Rom 5:17; 2Cor 4:6).The use of ho is purposeful, considering the action that follows and the explanation in verse 11. Yeshua: See verse 1 above. said: Grk. legō, lit. "says." See verse 3 above. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, pronoun of the third person; i.e., the servants.
Fill: Grk. gemizō, aor. imp., to load or fill something, whether a ship or a container. the water-pots: pl. of Grk. hudria. See the previous verse. with water: Grk. hudōr, water as the physical element of HO, nothing added or subtracted. Whether the pots already had water in them is not mentioned, but Yeshua wanted the vessels full. And they filled: Grk. gemizō, aor. The servants obeyed Yeshua without question as Miriam had requested. them up to: Grk. heōs, prep., as a terminal marker in reference to a place; as far as, close to, up to. the top: Grk. anō, adv., lit. 'above;' the top or brim. Water would be drawn from a potable source, such as a spring, well or cistern. Water buckets were typically made of animal skin (cf. Num 24:7; Isa 40:15). The mouth of the leather bucket was kept open by two sticks or crosspieces (NIBD 195).
8 And he said to them, Draw now, and carry to the master of the feast. And they carried.
And: Grk. kai, conj. See verse 1 above. he said: Grk. legō, lit. "says." See verse 3 above. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, pronoun of the third person. Draw: Grk. antleō, aor. imp., to take out liquid from a confined area; take out, draw. The verb originated in reference to bailing out bilge water from the hold of a ship. The word occurs only 4 times in the Besekh, all in the book of John (also the next verse, 4:7, 15). now: Grk. nun, adv. of time in the present, 'now' or more emphatically 'right now.' and: Grk. kai, conj. carry: Grk. pherō, pres. imp., to move something from one position to another through physical transport; bring, bear, carry. The present tense indicates to start and keep on doing the action until completion.
to the master of the feast: Grk. architriklinos servant who was responsible for managing a banquet; headwaiter, butler, head steward (BAG). Danker concurs with BAG, but adds "some interpret as toastmaster, master of the feast." Mounce has "director of a feast." Morris suggests that the official was one of the guests charged with the duty of being master of ceremonies and presiding over the gathering. However, these definitions do not sufficiently illuminate the Jewish setting. Delitzsch translates the Greek word with Heb. Rav Ha-Mesbah (Chief or leader of the gathering). Lightfoot suggests that this person would be in the place of a chaplain, to give thanks, and pronounce blessings in such kind of feasts as these were (3:253). There were seven blessings (Heb. Sheva Brachot) recited every day of the seven-day feast, as well as other blessings that might be spoken during a festival, and these spoken over a cup of wine. The Sheva Brachot is found in (Kethuboth 7b-8a):
"Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has created all things to his glory. and the Creator of man, and who has created man in his image. In the image of the likeness of his form, and has prepared unto him out of himself a building forever.
"Blessed art thou, O Lord, Creator of man'. 'May the barren greatly rejoice and exult when her children will be gathered in her midst in joy.
"Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who makes Zion joyful through her children. May Thou make the loved companions greatly to rejoice, even as of old Thou did gladden Thy creature in the Garden of Eden.
"Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who makes bridegroom and bride to rejoice.
"Blessed art Thou, O Lord our King, God of the universe, who has created joy and gladness, bridegroom and bride, rejoicing, song, mirth, and delight, love, and brotherhood, and peace, and friendship. Speedily, O Lord our God, may be heard in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of the singing of bridegrooms from their canopies and of youths from their feasts of song.
"Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who makes the bridegroom to rejoice with the bride.
"Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine."
Lightfoot goes on to say that one of the most important blessings was the "cup of good news, when the virginity of the bride is declared and certified.
"He, therefore, who gave the blessing for the whole company, I presume, might be called the ho architriklinos, the governor of the feast. Hence to him it is that our Saviour directs the wine that was made of water, as he who, after some blessing pronounced over the cup, should first drink of it to the whole company, and after him the guests pledging and partaking of it."
And: Grk. de, conj. See verse 2 above. Here the conjunction serves to continues the narrative. they carried: Grk. pherō, aor. The verse ends with just the verb indicating the fact of the servants' obedience with no mention of the quantity.
9 But when the head steward of the feast tasted the water having become wine, and did not know from where it came to be (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the head steward of the feast called the bridegroom,
But: Grk. de, conj. See verse 2 above. Here the conjunction offers a contrast. when: Grk. hōs, conj. used in a temporal sense; when, after. the head steward of the feast: Grk. architriklinos. See the note on the previous verse. tasted: Grk. geuomai, aor. mid., to partake of something by mouth, liquid or solid; taste. the water: Grk. hudōr. See verse 7 above. having become: Grk. ginomai, perf. pass. part., come to be. See verse 1 above. wine: Grk. oinos. See verse 3 above. and did not: Grk. ou, adv., particle that strongly negates the verb; not. know: Grk. oida, plperf., (the perf. tense of Grk. eidon, to see), to have seen or perceived, hence to know (NASBEC). The pluperfect tense refers to action in the past that is complete and the results of the action in existence at some point in past time as indicated by the context.
The verb is used for various kinds of knowledge: (1) to know someone or about someone; (2) to be intimately acquainted with or stand in a close relation to someone; (3) to know or understand how to do something, be able; (4) understand, recognize, or come to know by experience; and (5) to remember (BAG). In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (SH-3045; e.g., Num 11:16; Deut 1:39; Josh 2:4; 2Sam 19:6), which has a wide range of meaning, but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning (DNTT 2:395). To the Hebrew mind "knowing" is not philosophical or theoretical, but based in reality. The head steward did not see, so he did not know.
from where: Grk. pothen, interrogative adv. regarding an answer to account for something, here of place; from where, whence. it came to be: Grk. eimi. See verse 1 above. John makes a point of the fact that the steward did not know the source of the miraculous beverage. but: Grk. de, conj. the servants: pl. of Grk. diakonos. See verse 5 above. who had drawn: Grk. pherō. See the note on the previous verse. the water: Grk. hudōr. knew: Grk. oida, plperf. the head steward of the feast: Grk. architriklinos. called: Grk. phōneō, may mean (1) to utter a sound designed to attract attention, cry out or proclaim; (2) call to oneself, summon, call for, invite; or (3) identify in personal address, call. The second meaning applies here.
the bridegroom: Grk. numphios, a bridegroom (derived from numphē, bride), which may be distinguished from anēr, "husband." In the LXX numphios renders Heb. chatan 9 times (SH-2860, daughter's husband, bridegroom, son-in-law, Jdg 19:5; Ps 19:5; Isa 61:10; 62:5; Jer 7:34; 16:9; 25:10; 33:11; Joel 2:16) and numphē renders Heb. kallah (SH-3618, daughter-in-law, bride, SS 4:8; 5:1; Isa 49:18; 62:5). The use of numphios emphasizes the betrothal stage of marriage that culminates with nisuin or taking his bride. The bridegroom is the one who goes into the nuptial chamber for consummation with his bride (cf. Ps 19:5; Joel 2:16). Peculiar is that the bride is nowhere mentioned in this narrative. The steward ordinarily would have known about the acquisition of the wine, so he assumes the bridegroom, who finances the festival, must have made special arrangements. Reinhartz suggests that "bridegroom" may serve as a double entendre referring to the bridegroom of the wedding and alluding to Yeshua as the eschatological bridegroom (161). (See Matt 25:6; Mark 2:19-20; John 3:29; Rev 19:7; 21:9.)
10 and said to him, "Every man sets out first the good wine; and when they have drunk freely, the inferior: you have kept the finest wine until just now."
and: Grk. kai, conj. See verse 1 above. said: Grk. legō, lit. "says." See verse 3 above. to him: Grk. autos, pronoun of the second person, Every: Grk. pas, adj., conveys the idea of comprehensiveness; all, every. man: Grk. anthrōpos, human being; here in a general sense of a man hosting a banquet. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, SH-444, used for a human male or generically for man and woman and as a contrast to animals (e.g., Gen 1:26, 27; 2:5; 1Sam 15:29); (2) ish, SH-376, adult male or husband (Gen 2:23, 24; Job 1:1) and (3) enosh, SH-582, man or mankind, often signifying the aspect of weakness and mortality (Job 5:17; Ps 8:4-5).
In Genesis the creation of man is the high point, following the creation of light on which he is totally dependent. His humanity resides in the life he has been given (Gen 2:7) and his likeness to God (Gen 1:27). Unlike animals he is capable of communion with God (Gen 1:28; 2:7), but through disobedience he falls victim to death. The Hebrew designation adam no longer simply alludes to creatureliness, but also to his transitoriness (Gen 3:19) (DNTT 2:564). sets out: Grk. tithēmi, to arrange for association with a site; put, place, set out, serve. first: Grk. prōtos, adj. The basic idea has to do with 'beforeness.' The term is used in two ways: (1) having primary position in a temporal sequence; first, earlier, earliest; and (2) standing out in significance or importance; first, most prominent, most important, first of all. The first meaning fits best here.
the good: Grk. kalos, meeting a high standard or an exceptionally high quality; fine, good. wine: Grk. oinos. See verse 3 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. when: Grk. hotan, adj., temporal marker; when, whenever. they have drunk freely: Grk. methuskō, aor. pass. subj., cause to become intoxicated or to drink freely. A number of versions take the former interpretation. Both BAG and Mounce interpret the verb in this verse as "drunk freely" and the ASV, CJB, ESV, HCSB, HNV, MW, RSV, NASB, and YLT use this translation. NCV perhaps comes closest to the intention with "have been drinking awhile." The plural nature of the verb alludes to the total drinking at a festival, and in that context not everyone drinks the same amount, so the steward is not saying the entire crowd is falling down intoxicated.
the inferior: Grk. elassōn, adj., signifies an aspect of diminution or reduction; inferior. The steward points out an anatomical fact that after a few drinks of an alcoholic beverage the taste buds on the tongue become less sensitive in distinguishing flavor. An unscrupulous host could begin with a good bottle of wine and then later substitute an inferior wine in the same bottle and no one will know the difference. you have kept: Grk. tēreō, perf., may mean (1) to maintain in a secure state with a focus on personal interest or obligation; keep; or (2) to be in compliance in regard to instruction; keep, observe. The first meaning applies here. the finest: Grk. kalos. wine: Grk. oinos. until: Grk. heōs, prep., as a temporal marker of time; till, until. just now: Grk. arti, adv., expressing concurrence of event with time viewed as present; just now.
The steward implies that the festival began with good wine, but that the bridegroom had kept an even better quality of wine in a secure place to be shared at the end of the festival. The bridegroom probably stared incredulously because he had nothing to do with supplying the miraculous wine, but the servants knew. Some Christian interpreters have difficulty believing that Yeshua would make fermented wine. However, this exegetical revisionism ignores the meaning of the Bible word. The reality is that God has created many things in nature that can be dangerous if a person acts in an unsafe manner. Each person is responsible for his choices.
11 This beginning of the signs The One, Yeshua, performed in Cana of Galilee, and manifested the glory of Him; and the disciples of Him believed in Him.
This: Grk. toũto, neut. demonstrative pronoun signifying something set forth in the narrative that precedes or follows its use; this, it. beginning: Grk. archē, a multi-purpose word with the basic meaning of priority with these applications: (1) the point of origination; beginning, start; (2) one who enjoys preeminence in earthly or supra-terrestrial realm, often plural, i.e., ruler, authority; (3) an assigned position or sphere of activity, a position, domain or jurisdiction. The first meaning applies here. of the signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion may mean (1) a sign (signal); (2) a token or pledge; (3) a proof, evidence; (4) a wonder, remarkable event, extraordinary phenomenon; (5) a portent; or (6) a work of wonder or miracle (Mounce). Yeshua's adversaries often demanded a "sign" that would attest his authority (Matt 12:38; 16:1; Mark 8:11; Luke 11:16; 23:8; John 2:18). In the Book of John the signs Yeshua performed reveal his identity as Son of God (John 6:14; 20:30f).
In the LXX sēmeion is predominately a translation of the Heb. word oth (SH-226) and like it means (a) sign, mark, token; (b) miraculous sign or miracle (DNTT 2:626). Signs are sometimes promised by prophets as pledges of certain predicted events or as pledges or attestations of divine presence and intervention in the affairs of men. Oth has its root in the verb avah, which means to sign, mark or describe with a mark (BDB 16). The term "sign" in Scripture has a variety of important uses in the Tanakh. The first usage is in Genesis 1:14 in which the stars would serve as signs that speak for God or even as portents of events on earth (cf. Ps 19:1f; Jer 10:2). "Sign" also referred to a visible manifestation of God’s grace and favor, as the rainbow, circumcision and the Sabbath are covenantal signs (Gen 9:12f, 17; 17:11; Ex 31:13, 17; Ezek 20:12).
Most of the usages of "sign" in the Tanakh are related to miraculous wonders that only the Creator could perform, such as the plagues on Egypt and the Red Sea crossing (Ex 4:17; 7:3; Deut 11:3; 26:8), the many miracles for Israel's benefit during the years of wilderness wandering (Deut 4:34; 7:19) and the shadow’s advance on the palace steps (2Kgs 20:9). Sometimes the miraculous sign was a token that would serve as a warning or reminder, such as Aaron’s rod (Num 17:25) and the stones in the Jordan (Josh 4:6). These meanings frequently overlap and the use of the word "sign" may point backward to a historical event or even forward to the fulfillment of a promise (TWOT 1:39f).
The creation scientist, Dr. Henry Morris, offers the helpful distinction between creation miracles, which he calls Grade A miracles, that require setting aside the laws of science, and providential miracles, or Grade B, that intervene in and manipulate existing natural processes (BBMS 81f). By definition only God can perform creation miracles. Dr. Morris classifies most of the healing miracles of Yeshua as Grade B, because the normal process of healing was greatly accelerated. Only a small number of his healing miracles could be considered Grade A, such as the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:43f). In John’s testimony miracles are referred to as "signs" because they attested that Yeshua is the Son of God (John 21:30-31). Since evolution is a lie and water can never change itself into wine, then Yeshua's action definitely qualifies as a creation miracle.
The One: Grk. ho. See verse 7 above. Yeshua: See verse 1 above. performed: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 5 above. in Cana of Galilee: See verse 1 above. This reference is important, because the first sign Yeshua performed was as the Word in the creation of the universe, which occurred "in the beginning" (John 1:1). and manifested: Grk. phaneroō, aor., cause to be in a state or condition that makes observation possible; make known, show, disclose, manifest, reveal. the glory: Grk. doxa has four categories of meaning: (1) splendor or radiance in the sense of brightness, (2) magnificence in the sense of what catches the eye, (3) fame, renown, honor or approval, and (4) glorious as in the angelic beings and majesties.
In the LXX doxa translates Heb. kabod, which refers to the luminous manifestation of God’s person, his glorious revelation of Himself. Characteristically, kabod is linked with verbs of seeing and appearing and stresses the impact that the manifestation of a person or God makes on others. In the apostolic writings doxa is a continuation of the underlying Hebrew concept (DNTT 2:45). John may well be alluding to his statement in 1:14, "we saw the Glory of Him, the glory as of the only one from the Father" (see my commentary there). of Him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, him, alluding to "The One." John means that in Yeshua was the very presence of God as demonstrated by the creation miracle.
and the disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 2 above. John intends the term in the proximate sense of the disciples who witnessed the miracle. of Him: Grk. autos, a second allusion to "The One." believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor., in general Greek usage means to have confidence or faith in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone. In the LXX pisteuō renders the Heb. 'aman, which essentially means to confirm or support (BDB 52). In the Niphal form 'aman means to be true, reliable or faithful and can be applied to men (e.g., Moses, Num 12:7), but especially to God who keeps his covenant and gives grace to those who love him (Deut 7:9). In the Hiphil form 'aman means to stand firm or trust as Abraham trusted in God's promise (Gen 15:6).
In the Hebrew concept believing, trusting and being faithful are inseparable. If one trusts, then one is faithful. in: Grk. eis, prep., prep., focus on entrance, frequently in relation to a direction toward a goal or place and consequent arrival; into, to, toward. Him: Grk. autos, a third allusion to "The One." The triple use of autos, obscured in standard versions by translating as "his," points to Yeshua as "The One." Stern suggests that this verse states the purpose of Yeshua’s miracle: to anchor the trust of his new disciples in the glory of God as manifested through him. In other words, the outcome of the story indicates the motive for Yeshua's actions, which was a higher purpose than solving a family's potential social embarrassment.
Interlude in Capernaum
12 After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brothers, and his disciples; and there they stayed not many days.
After: Grk. meta, prep., used here to mark a sequence; after, behind. this: Grk. toũto, neut. demonstrative pronoun to signify a person or thing. The sequence reference probably implies after the completion of the marriage celebration. he went down: Grk. katabainō, to proceed in a direction that is down. The verb reflects a Hebraic idiom of topography and elevation. to Capernaum: Grk. Kapharnaoum (from the Heb. K’far-Nachum, "village of Nahum”) was located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, about 2½ miles west of the entrance of the Jordan. Capernaum appears in the biblical record only 16 times, so it was probably founded after the return from exile. As an economic center in Galilee it was more significant than tradition has often allowed.
The designation "city" in Mark 1:33 distinguishes it from a mere "fishing village.” It had its own synagogue, in which Yeshua frequently taught. Apparently the synagogue was built by the Roman soldiers garrisoned in Capernaum (Matt 8:8; Luke 7:1-10). Capernaum was a center for collecting custom and taxes (where Matthew worked) due to being an important center commanding both sea and land trade routes. Fishing and farming, as well as other light industries, were important to the local economy. Although Yeshua centered his ministry there and performed many miracles in and around the city, he eventually cursed the city for the unbelief (Matt 11:23-24; Luke 10:15). So strikingly did this prophecy come true that only recently has Tell Hum been identified confidently as ancient Capernaum (NIBD).
he, and his mother: Grk. mētēr. See verse 1 above. and his brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos, lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant a male sibling; brother. Adelphos primarily bears this genetic definition. Here the term refers to his half-brothers of whom he had four: Jacob, Judah, Joseph and Simon (Matt 13:55). Except for Jacob, who later became an apostle, nothing is known of these siblings but that they were the children of Miriam and Joseph and resided in Nazareth. Contrary to the Catholic tradition that Yeshua was the only child Miriam ever bore, Matthew (13:55), Mark (6:3), Luke (Acts 1:14) and Paul (Gal 1:19) use adelphos and not sungenēs ("connected by lineage, relative") to describe the relationship between Yeshua and his brothers.
The mention of Yeshua's half-brothers implies that they were at the marriage celebration. Perhaps they were included in the "companions of the bridegroom" (cf. Jdg 14:11; 1Macc 9:39; Mark 2:19; Luke 5:34; John 3:29). The plural number would mean at least two of the four brothers. The companions of the bridegroom (Heb. Shoshbenin) would bring him gifts and rejoice with him and then their services and gifts were reciprocated on the occasion of their marriages (B.B. 144b, fn. 20; Ket. 12a). In addition, they remained with him at all times and even brought him to the bridal chamber when it was time for consummation and later verified the tokens of virginity. Thus, they could be called upon as witnesses to attest to the bridegroom's integrity and the bride's virginity.
and his disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 2 above. These would be the disciples already mentioned: John, Andrew, Simon, Nathanael and Philip. and there: Grk. ekei, adv., in that place. they stayed: Grk. menō, aor., to be in a situation for a length of time, to remain or stay. In the LXX menō translates 15 different Hebrew words, the most common being amad (SH-5975, 'stand, remain') and qum (SH-6966, stand, arise). The verb is particularly used of God to emphasize His constancy (DNTT 3:224). The party of at least 9 were guests in someone's home.
not: Grk. ou, a particle that negates the following adjective; not. many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj. of number; many. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 1 above. Many versions translate the closing phrase as "a few days." The idiomatic expression "not many days" also occurs in Luke 15:13 and Acts 1:5. The understatement implies less than a week. The fact that Yeshua departed with his mother and brothers demonstrates that there was no rift between them.
April, A.D. 27
Passover in Jerusalem and Temple Restoration
13 And the Passover of the Judeans was near, and Yeshua went up to Jerusalem.
And: Grk. kai, conj. See verse 1 above. the Passover: Grk. pascha, the Passover. In the LXX pascha renders Heb. pesakh (derived from a verb pasach meaning to pass or spring over, BDB 820). The term is used in Scripture, both the Tanakh and Besekh, to mean (1) the Israelite festival, Nisan 14-21, celebrating deliverance from Egypt; (2) the young sheep slaughtered on Nisan 14 to begin the celebration; (3) the special communion-meal at sunset of Nisan 14 (Lev 23:5), which is the beginning of Nisan 15; and (4) the festival sacrifices (Heb. chagigah) of lambs and bulls on Nisan 15-21 (cf. Num 28:16-25; Deut 16:1-3; 2Chron 30:24; 35:8-9). The month of Nisan corresponds to March-April on the Julian calendar. The detailed instructions for observing Passover may be found in the Talmud Tractate Pesachim and the instructions for festival sacrifices are found in Tractate Hagigah.
The Passover has been celebrated by Jews since God commanded the observance and gave instructions to Moses (Ex 12:1—13:16). The first Passover was the means of deliverance from a plague of death on the firstborn. Thereafter, Passover would celebrate God’s great work of redemption (Ex 23:14-15; Lev 23:4-8; Num 28:16-25; Deut 16:1-8). The Passover deliverance made salvation distinctly national in scope and truly set Israel apart as a special people. Slaves and resident aliens (Gentiles) were allowed to share the meal as long as they were circumcised (Ex 12:48). This simple provision demonstrated that God’s plan of salvation for Gentiles has always been based on inclusion in Israel (cf. Eph 2:11-13).
God expressly commanded the Israelites to celebrate the feast of Passover annually in perpetuity, that is, forever (Ex 12:14). Failing to observe Passover would be a sin (Num 9:13). Josephus summarized the schedule and reason for the continued observance:
"In the month of Xanthicus, which is by us called Nisan, and is the beginning of our year, on the fourteenth day of the lunar month, when the sun is in Aries, (for in this month it was that we were delivered from bondage under the Egyptians,) the law ordained that we should every year slay that sacrifice which I before told you we slew when we came out of Egypt, and which was called the Passover" (Ant. III, 10:5).
By the apostolic era the term "Passover" had come to mean the eight days of Nisan 14-21 (Josephus, Ant. II, 15:1; BAG 639). In fact, Luke emphasizes this very point, "Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover" (Luke 22:1). This unity can be seen as early as the celebration of Passover in the time of King Josiah when offerings for the eight-day festival included both lambs, goats and bulls (2Chron 35:1-9). The single character of the festival can be seen, too, in the Tractate Hagigah, which has repeated references to the "Mid-Festival" and "first festival day of Passover," Nisan 15 (Hag. 1:2; 7b), the "remaining days of Passover" (Hag. 8a), "the seventh day of Passover" (Hag. 9a) and "seven days of Passover" (Hag. 17b).
However, a question arose concerning what to do if someone could not participate due to some uncleanness or if on a long journey. The Lord granted an exception that the person could observe Passover 30 days later (Num 9:6-14; 2Chron 30:13). With the instructions for the first Passover God also gave direction for future observance of Passover (Ex 12:24-27; 13:1-16; 23:15; Lev 23:5-8; Num 9:1-3, 13-14; Deut 16:1-8). The Israelites would eat the same meal as the first Passover (Num 9:5) and the only work allowed during this period was the preparation of food.
of the Judeans: Grk. Ioudaiōn, gen. pl. of Ioudaios. See verse 6 above. The CJB translates the reference as "in Yehudah," which is not only inaccurate grammatically, but also misleading. The Heb. word Yehudah can refer to the tribe of Judah or the territory of Judah, i.e., Judea. Many versions treat the genitive case noun as an adjective modifying Passover (CEB, CEV, GW, HCSB, KJV, MW, NCV, NET, NIRV, NIV, NLT, TLV). The genitive case of the noun most likely is a subjective genitive indicating that the festival was conducted according to the dictates of the Judeans, namely the Sanhedrin. However, as an objective genitive the noun would indicate that the participants were primarily Judean Jews, whether from the local area, Samaria, Galilee or the Diaspora.
was: Grk. eimi, impf., to be. near: Grk. engus, adv., near or close to, whether in a spatial or temporal sense. John uses the word in the sense of the calendar, likely meaning the 30-day period immediately preceding the festival. Travel to Jerusalem for Passover would not begin until after the completion of Purim (14 Adar). During this period (15 Adar to 14 Nisan) Jews would engage in many preparations, including paying the temple tax and repairing roads, streets, bridges, graves and various structures in public areas (Shekalim 1:1). Within two weeks of the festival Jews would participate in lectures on the laws of Passover to ensure they carried out everything properly (Pesachim 6a).
and Yeshua: See verse 1 above. went up: Grk. anabainō, aor., to go up to a point or place that is higher than the point of origin. Idiomatically the verb means to enter or approach. Yeshua conducted his travel within the customary time frame. to Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma, a rough transliteration of the Heb. Yerushalayim, which means "possession" or "foundation of peace" (BDB 436). What a precious name is Jerusalem! The city is situated some 2500 feet above sea level and eighteen miles west of the northern end of the Dead Sea, is renowned as the capital of all Israel, afterwards of the Kingdom of Judah and the seat of central worship in the temple. The name of God’s holy city occurs 13 times in this Book. At the time of the Exodus the city was inhabited by the Jebusites (Josh 15:8), but then captured by the tribe of Judah (Jdg 1:8).
The city was first named in connection with David (1Sam 17:54). Later the city was taken possession of by David as King (2Sam 5:6) and became known as the City of David. By the end of David's reign the city had expanded to cover seven mountains: Mount Zion, Mount Ophel, Mount Moriah, Mount Bezetha, Mount Acra, Mount Gareb, and Mount Goath (Neil 289). Jeremias estimated the resident population of the city in the time of Yochanan the Immerser at about twenty-five to thirty thousand (252). For the faithful Jew the city of Jerusalem represented all that was dear in the covenant relationship with God. David spoke of Jerusalem "as a city that is bound firmly together, to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord" (Ps 122:3-4 ESV). Another psalmist expressed his affection thus,
"If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I cease to remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my chief joy." (Ps 137:5-6 TLV).
14 And he found in the temple the ones selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money-changers sitting:
Bible versions typically title this section as "Cleansing the temple," although this is not an adequate term, given the meaning of the Hebrew word and the word "cleansing" does not occur in the narrative at all. The different accounts of Yeshua's actions in the Court of the Nations present a few differences in the details and some readers may be confused that John's account occurs at the beginning of Yeshua's ministry whereas the Synoptic report occurs at the end. There is no reason not to accept these reports as authentic, and that the abuses Yeshua initially addressed had crept back in.
And: Grk. kai, conj. See verse 1 above. he found: Grk. heuriskō, aor., to come upon by seeking; find, locate or by something happening; find, come across, discover. in the temple: Grk. hieron, sanctuary, temple (subst. neut. of the adj. hieros, 'sacred, holy'). When used of the temple in Jerusalem hieron applies to the entire temple complex with all its courts in contrast to naos, which refers to the sanctuary proper where priests offered sacrifices. For a description of the construction and characteristics of the temple see my comment on Mark 11:11.
the ones selling: Grk. pōleō, pres. part., to sell for money, lit. "the ones selling." John distinguishes between two kinds of commerce in the temple area. These commercial activities apparently did not exist in the temple prior to the appointment of Joseph Caiaphas as High Priest about A.D. 18. The temple authorities had essentially allowed the Court of the Gentiles to be turned into a shopping bazaar. Indeed the merchant stalls became known in rabbinical writings as the "Bazaars of the Sons of Annas" (Edersheim 257).
oxen: pl. of Grk. bous, head of beef cattle whether ox, bull or heifer. In the LXX bous renders Heb. baqar (SH-1241, cattle, herd or ox). and sheep: pl. of Grk. probaton, sheep, whether ram, male sheep or ewe. In the LXX probaton translates Heb. tson (SH-6629, small cattle, sheep and goats, flock) (DNTT 2:412). and doves: pl. of Grk. peristera, a pigeon or dove without distinguishing the particular species. In the LXX peristera principally renders Heb. yonah (SH-3123, dove or pigeon, Gen 8:8, 9, 12; Lev 1:14). These three categories of animals were classified as clean and suitable for use as sacrifices.
and the money-changers: pl. of Grk. kermatistēs, money changer, one who exchanges one currency for another. This technical term occurs only here in the Besekh. sitting: Grk. kathēmai, pres. mid. part., be at rest on the haunches, to sit down or to take a seat. The function of the money-changers (Heb. Shulchanim) was two-fold. First, sacrificial animals could only be purchased with Hebrew currency (the shekel), since the Roman coins bore pagan symbols. Second, money-changers facilitated the payment of the annual half-shekel temple tax, which was applied to the upkeep of the priestly service in Jerusalem and various temple projects. This tax was so important that an entire Mishnah tractate is devoted to it (Shekalim). On the first of Adar (Feb-Mar), the month before Passover, a public announcement was made to alert all Jews of the necessity of paying the tax.
On the 15th of Adar the Shulchanim set up stalls in towns and villages outside Jerusalem to convert foreign currency into the Hebrew shekel and record payment of the tax. The Shulchanim then set up their tables in the temple precincts on the 25th of Adar to collect from the pilgrims coming to Jerusalem who had not paid the tax. All Jews and proselytes, 20 years of age and older (except priests, women, and slaves), had to pay the tax. The requirement was based on a Torah commandment (Ex 30:12-16). After a certain date it could be paid only in the temple itself; and it would be there that the vast majority of pilgrim Jews from other lands paid it (Edersheim 254). Typical of banking services a fee was charged for the service, but the moneychangers charged two separate fees, one for the half-shekel tribute and one for the change.
Ironically, after A.D. 70 the Roman government mandated the continuing payment of the tax. The temple tax was still collected from all Jews throughout the empire into the Roman treasury even though the temple had been destroyed. In the time of Domitian when John wrote Revelation the Roman historian Seutonius noted,
"Domitian’s agents collected the tax on Jews with a peculiar lack of mercy; and took proceedings not only against those who kept their Jewish origins a secret, but against those who lived as Jews without professing Judaism.” (The Twelve Caesars, XII, 12)
15 and he made a whip of cords, and expelled all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen; and he scattered the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables;
and: Grk. kai, conj. See verse 1 above. he made: Grk. poieō, aor. part. See verse 5 above. The verb implies an act of construction, although nothing is said of the source of materials. a whip: Grk. phragellion, a whip or lash. The term does not occur in the LXX at all and occurs only here in the Besekh. BAG indicates that phragellion is from a Latin loanword, flagellum. of cords: pl. of Grk. schoinion, something twisted or plaited, rope or cord made of rushes. The term is also used of the rope that held a ship's boat in place (BAG). and expelled: Grk. ekballō, aor., to cause to move out from a position, emphasizes the urgency of the activity. The verb appears restricted to the list of animals that follows and not to people. all: pl. of Grk. pas, conveys the idea of comprehensiveness; all, every. out: Grk. ek, lit. 'out of' as a direction. of the temple: Grk. hieros. See the note on the previous verse.
both: Grk. te, conj., used to connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; both. the sheep: Grk. probaton. See the note on the previous verse. and: Grk. kai, conj. the oxen: pl. of Grk. bous. See the note on the previous verse. and: Grk. kai, conj. he scattered: Grk. ekcheō, aor., to cause to come out in a stream; pour out, spill, scatter. the coins: pl. of Grk. kerma, anything clipped or cut off as a piece, e.g., a small coin; money. of the moneychangers: pl. of Grk. kollubistēs, small coin, also profit on money exchange, so by extension a money changer. and overturned: Grk. anatrepō, aor., cause to be upended; upset, overturn. their tables: pl. of Grk. trapeza, a surface on which something can be placed. In the LXX trapeza renders Heb. shulchan, and while it's usually translated "table," meaning an item of furniture, its root meaning is "a skin or leather mat spread on the ground" (BDB 1020).
In one respect Yeshua's action alludes to the promises in Malachi and Zechariah and in so doing serves as a portent of the Day of the Lord:
"Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me; and the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, behold, he comes!" says the LORD of hosts." (Mal 3:1 HNV)
"When that day comes, there will no longer be merchants in the house of ADONAI-Tzva'ot" (Zech 14:21 CJB). The word for "merchant" is Heb. Kna'aniy, Canaanite, but the term was also used of a merchant or trader (BDB 489; cf. Job 41:6; Prov 31:24).
16 and to the ones selling the doves he said, "Take away these things from here; do not make the house of my Father a house of merchandise."
and: Grk. kai, conj. See verse 1 above. to the ones selling: Grk. pōleō, pres. part. See verse 14 above. the doves: pl. of Grk. peristera. See verse 14 above. he said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. Take away: Grk. airō, aor. imp., move by lifting or taking from one position to another; take away, remove, carry off. these things: pl. of Grk. toũto, neut. demonstrative pronoun; this, it. from here: Grk. enteuthen, from here, out of here, away from here. do not make: Grk. poieō, pres. imp. See verse 5 above. the house: Grk. oikos, a structure for habitation; house, home. The term implies a residence.
of my Father: Grk. patēr, normally of a male biological parent or ancestor, but frequently in reference to God, which emphasizes His activity as creator, ruler and sustainer. In the LXX patēr renders ab ("av"), which occurs about 1180 times, generally in the human sense, but also of God as father (DNTT 1:616f). In the Tanakh God's identity as a parent is first mentioned in reference to His covenantal relationship with Israel (Deut 1:31; 8:5; 32:6; Ps 103:13; Isa 43:6; 63:16; 64:8; Jer 3:19; 31:9; Hos 1:10: Mal 1:6). Israel is specifically identified as God's son (Ex 4:22; Hos 11:1). The God of Israel is also father of the king as the embodiment of Israel (2Sam 7:14; Ps 89:27). Only in late Jewish apocryphal writings is God called the Father of the pious Jew as an individual (Sir 23:1, 4; Tob 13:4; Wsd 2:16; 14:3; 3Macc 5:7).
While Jews recognized the God of Israel as the "father" of mankind in the sense of creator (Acts 17:28; Josephus, Ant. IV, 8:24), the capitalized "Father" in the Besekh continues the meaning found in the Tanakh. Unfortunately the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed removed the association with Israel and presented the Father as only the "Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth." Yeshua acknowledged this covenantal relationship when he taught his Jewish disciples to pray "our Father" (Matt 6:9). Yeshua also spoke to his Jewish disciples of "your Father" (Matt 5:45, 48; 6:14, 26, 32; Mark 7:11; Luke 6:36). Thus, for the Body of Messiah the God of Israel becomes "our Father" (Rom 1:7; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Php 1:2; Col 1:2).
Even though God prophesied through Jeremiah that Israel would call God "My Father" (Jer 3:19), Yeshua is the only individual in Scripture to do so. There are 44 verses in the apostolic narratives in which Yeshua refers to the God of Israel as "My Father," more than half of which are in John. Yet, Yeshua's use of "Father" in this personal sense was predicted. God informed David,
"When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me." (2Sam 7:12-14 NASB)
In a Messianic psalm Ethan the Ezrahite prophesied that the son of David would declare, "You are my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation" (Ps 89:26). Yeshua's usage of My Father, then, is perfectly in accord with prophecy.
a house: Grk. oikos. of merchandise: Grk. emporion, a market or business establishment. God has nothing against commerce or even businesses making a profit. However, the house of God is to be separate from such secular activities. The report of the Synoptic Narratives that Yeshua also accused the temple authorities of making the temple a robbers' den (Matt 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46). Yeshua's indictment no doubt alludes to the exorbitant profits the family of Annas, the emeritus High Priest, gained from collecting the temple tax, changing currency, and selling merchandise and sacrificial animals. It's important to evaluate the temple commerce against a background where a working man's wage was a denarius per day (Matt 20:9-10). The half-shekel was equivalent to two denarii (Matt 17:24). The requirement for the temple tribute actually violated the Torah. According to the instructions at Mt. Sinai the half-shekel was only collected when there was a census, and only three are mentioned in the Tanakh (Ex 30:13-16; Num 1:1; 2Sam 24:1).
The annual tax during the first century far exceeded the Torah rule. Given Jewish population estimates for the first century there were likely well over 1 million Jewish males who owed the tax. Yet, money-changing fees were only the beginning of the legalized extortion. The selling of doves was an even more offensive racket. Animals could be purchased outside the temple; but any animal offered in sacrifice must be without blemish. The Sadducean inspectors could easily find reasons to reject these animals and then would direct the worshipper to the temple stalls and booths. No great harm would have been done if the prices had been the same inside and outside the temple, but a pair of doves could cost as much as 18 times more inside the temple than outside the temple (Barclay 2:245). The family of Annas was essentially a crime family and all the commercial activity in the temple made them the equivalent of millionaires in modern money. It was only God's grace that kept the ground from opening up under them as it did for Korah.
17 His disciples remembered that it was written, 'The zeal of your house will consume me.'
His disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 2 above. remembered: Grk. mimnēskō, aor. pass., to call something to mind that one has noted or thought about in the past, to recollect or remember. The verb implies that this verse is a parenthetical comment of later reflection. that it was written: Grk. graphō, perf. pass. part., to write or inscribe, generally in reference to a document. This is the standard formula in the Besekh for attesting an assertion of truth and divine inspiration of Scripture, followed by a quote from the LXX translation of the Tanakh. The following quotation is taken from Psalm 69:9. The: Grk. ho, definite article. zeal: Grk. zēlos, a passionate interest or intense interest in something or someone, which can be manifested positively or negatively; zeal, fervor, jealousy.
In the LXX zēlos renders the Heb. qinah, ardor, zeal or jealousy, from the color produced in the face by deep emotion (BDB 888). God described himself as qanna (from the same root, zēlotēs in the LXX) in the Second Commandment (Ex 20:5). of your house: Grk. oikos. See the note on the previous verse. will consume: Grk. katesthiō, fut. mid., eat up, devour. BAG adds consume and swallow. The verb is used of a intense passion. In the Hebrew text and LXX the verb is past tense (completed action), not future tense as here. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Some people sometimes attempt to justify their anger by saying that Yeshua got angry as reflected in his action at the temple. However, this narrative and the Synoptic narratives of the temple restoration do not describe Yeshua as angry. Being zealous and being angry are not the same thing.
18 Then the Judean authorities answered and said to him, What sign do you show to us, because you do these things?
Then: Grk. oun, conj. indicating that one takes account of something in the narrative immediately preceding or of implication contained in it; then. the Judean authorities: Grk. Ioudaioi, pl. of Ioudaios. See verse 6 above. Here the term is used of temple authorities who were members of the Sanhedrin. Stern in his Complete Jewish Bible translates the term with "Judeans" and the Tree of Life Bible has "Judean leaders," no doubt implying members of the Sanhedrin. A few Christian versions emphasize the specific meaning of Ioudaioi here with the translation of "Jewish leaders" or "leaders of the Jews" (CEB, CEV, NET, NLT, TEV, TLB, WE). I chose "Jewish authorities" as being more appropriate, since "leader" can have an informal meaning. However, given the setting of the temple and the challenge issued to Yeshua these authorities would be Sadducean chief priests.
answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass., to answer or reply to someone, whether to a question, request, exhortation, command, etc. (BAG). In the LXX apokrinomai renders Heb. anah (SH-6030), to answer or respond to something said in conversation; to respond to an occasion and speak in view of circumstances or to testify or respond as a witness in a legal proceeding (BDB 772). John likely uses the verb in the Hebraic sense of advancing the narrative. and said: Grk. legō. See verse 3 above. The combination of the verbs "answered and said," occurring frequently apostolic narratives, is a typical Hebraic way of advancing the narrative of dialog (e.g., Gen 27:39; 40:18; Josh 24:16; Jdg 20:4; 1Sam 1:17). The verb "answered" emphasizes that a verbal response was made and "said" introduces the quotation. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; him, i.e. Yeshua.
What: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. sign: Grk. sēmeion. See verse 11 above. The mention of "sign" may reflect Jewish humor, because Yeshua had already performed a sign that they did not witness. do you show: Grk. deiknuō, pres., show, so as to be observed by another. to us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. because: Grk. hoti, conj., indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. you do: Grk. poieō. See verse 5 above. these things: pl. of Grk. toũto, neut. demonstrative pronoun. Yeshua's actions challenged the authority of the chief priests who allowed the commercial activity. The demand for a sign was clearly a diversionary tactic. Everyone knew the priests were carrying on unlawful activity and Yeshua's actions would be popular with the public.
19 Yeshua answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it.
Yeshua: See verse 1 above. answered and said: See the note on the previous verse. to them: Yeshua was not afraid to face his critics. He had the confidence of divine right. He could have struck them dead if he wanted. Destroy: Grk. luō, aor. imp., may mean (1) to remove a hindrance, to loose or release; (2) do away with, abolish; (3) cause discontinuity in tradition or creating a legal violation, break; or (4) cause extreme harm to structures, demolish destroy. The fourth meaning has application here. this: Grk. toũto, neut. demonstrative pronoun. sanctuary: Grk. naos, a term that refers to the sanctuary proper, or the holy place, in contrast to hieros (verse 14 above). and in three: pl. of Grk. treis, adj., the numeral three. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera, See verse 1 above. I will raise: Grk. egeirō, fut., to rise from a recumbent or lower position, used fig. of restoration or resurrection. it: Grk. autos, masc. personal pronoun.
This assertion of Yeshua will be brought up during his trial, in which accusers will allege that he said, "I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands" (Mark 14:58). Ironically, Lane misquotes the verse as "if this temple be destroyed, in three days I will raise it up" essentially making Yeshua agree with his accusers (534). Kasdan makes the same mistake saying, "Indeed Yeshua made such a public statement" (354). A comparison of what the witnesses claimed and what Yeshua actually said here disqualifies the testimony of the witnesses. In other words, they told a bold-faced lie that in no respect corresponds to what Yeshua actually said.
First, there is no "if" in the Greek text as Lane suggests. Second, Yeshua did not say "I" will destroy. There is no personal pronoun in the verse. Third, Yeshua's use of the word "destroy" is second person plural, aorist active (not passive) and is in the imperative mood. The imperative mood in this verse is not one of command, but permission. In other words he said "You may destroy." Fourth, Yeshua used the verb egeirō, 'to raise or rise,' referring to his resurrection. He did not use the word for erecting a structure cited by the witnesses (Grk. oikodomeō). Fifth, Yeshua did use the word naos, but John explains his intention in verse 21 below.
Yeshua's assertion in no way contradicts the fact that the Father raised Yeshua from the dead (Acts 2:24). He will rise because he will receive his life again from the Father (John 10:17). This verse is the only reference in the Testimony of John to the resurrection occurring within a time frame of three days. The Synoptic Narratives use a variety of phrases in relation to the three days. See the extended note on Mark 8:31 that explains the timeframe related to Yeshua's death and resurrection.
20 The Judean authorities then said, "Forty and six years this sanctuary was built, and you will raise it in three days?
The Judean authorities: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 6 and 18 above. then said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. Forty: Grk. tesserakonta, the number forty. and six: Grk. hex, the number six. years: pl. of Grk. etos, a period of twelve months, a year. this: Grk. toũto, neut. demonstrative pronoun. sanctuary: Grk. naos. See the previous verse. was built: Grk. oikodomeō, aor. pass., to erect a structure, which can be new construction, restoration of a structure or adding on to an existing structure. Many versions give the impression that the time for constructing the entire temple complex was 46 years (CEB, CEV, CJB, GW, MSG, MW, NASB, NCV, NLV, OJB, RSV, TLB), although HCSB assigns that time to the building of the sanctuary. A few versions translate the verb with the meaning that construction had been continuing for forty-six years up to the present moment (LEB, NET, NRSV).
Herod the Great was interested in perpetuating his name for all eternity through building projects, and his construction program was extensive. He had magnificent palaces in Masada, Caesarea and Tiberias. Herod built temples for various pagan gods to serve the Gentile populations, which were paid for by heavy taxes on the local Jewish population, but his masterpiece was to be the temple of Israel's God. The temple built by Zerubbabel nearly half a millennium before, despite frequent renovation, was still run down and relatively small. According to Josephus, the Jewish historian, Herod commenced the project in the eighteenth year of his reign (c. 20 BC) to tear down the old temple and replace it with something truly magnificent (Ant. XV, 11:1).
The chief priests, as well as the rest of the population, were skeptical, requiring Herod to quarry all the stones required for the project before the destruction of the Post-Exile structure could begin. An agreement was made between Herod and the Jewish religious authorities to continue the sacrificial rituals for the entire time of construction, and the temple itself would be constructed by the priests. However, King Herod had architects from Greece, Rome and Egypt plan the construction. The "cloisters and enclosures" took eight years to build (XV, 11:5), but the temple proper, the sanctuary, was completed in 18 months (XV, 11:6). The "cloisters" referred to porticoes consisting of Corinthian columns and the "enclosures" referred to the principal temple courts.
The entire temple complex was enlarged to a size of about thirty-five acres and was still being worked on at the time of this conversation. Josephus reported that the temple was completed during the procuratorship of Albinus (AD 62-64) (Ant. XX, 9:7). There is no sufficient ground to challenge the dating references of Josephus. The response of the temple authorities to Yeshua could mean either that the sanctuary was completed 46 years ago and was still standing or as NET and NRSV interpret the construction had been ongoing for that entire time. and you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person, no doubt said with a certain mockery because the construction required the labor of many priests and workers. will raise: Grk. egeirō, fut. See the previous verse. it: Grk. autos, masc. personal pronoun. in three days: See the note on the previous verse. Their misinterpretation of what Yeshua said probably resulted in a lot of laughter.
21 But he spoke of the sanctuary of his body.
John then explains what Yeshua meant. But: Grk. de, conj.. See verse 2 above. Here the word denotes a contrast to the previous thought. he: Grk. ekeinos, definite pronoun, lit. "that one." spoke: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 3 above. of the sanctuary: Grk. naos. See verse 19 above. of his body: Grk. sōma, a structured physical unit in contrast to its parts, body of human or animal, whether living or dead, but normally of a living human body. While Greek dualism distinguished between the soul and the body, in Hebraic thought the body represents the whole man. This parabolic statement has another layer of meaning. God was in the sanctuary, literally dwelling in the Holy of Holies, and in the same manner God was in Yeshua. Stern notes that Yeshua often spoke obliquely to those he knew lacked faith.
22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he spoke this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Yeshua had said.
When: Grk. hote, adv., when, at which time. therefore: Grk. oun, conj. he was raised: Grk. egeirō, aor. pass. See verse 19 above. from the dead: Grk. nekros, without life in the physical sense; dead. his disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 2 above. remembered: Grk. mimnēskō, aor. pass. See verse 17 above. that he spoke: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 3 above. this: Grk. toũto, neut. demonstrative pronoun. and: Grk. kai, conj. they believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor. See verse 11 above. The action of the verbs "remembered" and "believed" occurred after the resurrection of Yeshua. the Scripture: Grk. graphē, writing, and in the Jewish context meaning the sacred Hebrew Bible (24 books) referred to by the acronym Tanakh, corresponding to the Protestant Old Testament (39 books) and its translation into Greek, the Septuagint (LXX). All the quotations from the Tanakh in the Besekh come from the LXX.
The term "Scripture," which occurs over 50 times in the Besekh, summarizes the body of literature containing God's inspired, infallible, inerrant words penned by over 25 writers, from Moses to Malachi. This is the only Bible Yeshua and the apostles knew and as Scripture they upheld its authority over the traditions of men. and: Grk. kai, conj. the word: Grk. logos, vocalized expression, word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In Greek philosophical writings logos took on the meaning of a common universal law or truth and that which gives order in the universe. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar, which has a range of meaning "speech, word, report, command, advice, counsel, thing, matter" (Gen 29:13; SH-1697; BDB 182). Logos is also used for amar (to utter, say, Gen 34:8), imrah ("speech, utterance, word," Gen 4:23), and Aram. millah (word, utterance, matter, Dan 4:31) (DNTT 3:1087).
which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. Yeshua: See verse 1 above. said: Grk. legō, aor. The "word" Yeshua said refers to his comment about raising in three days. The mention of Scripture in which the disciples believed probably refers to Messianic prophecies that implied resurrection (Hos 6:2, Isa 53:7–12, Jon 1:17), which Yeshua alluded to before his trial (Matt 12:39–41, 16:4; Luke 11:29–32), then explained after the resurrection (Luke 24:25–27, 44) and Simon Peter expounded on at Pentecost (Acts 2:24–32) (Stern). The disciples believed, because as Luke records "he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures" (Luke 24:45).
23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the festival, many believed in his name, seeing his signs he was doing.
Now when he was: The phrase serves as a temporal reference of a period of time and a focus on Yeshua's activities. in Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma. See verse 13 above. at: Grk. en, prep., used to mark connection with an event. the Passover: Grk. pascha. See verse 13 above. during: Grk. en, prep., used to mark a framework of time within which something takes place. the festival: Grk. heortē, a religious festival and in the Besekh always of a joyous gathering of the Jewish people for celebrations of the calendar prescribed in the Torah, generally with a focus on sacrifices and communal eating. (See my web article God's Appointed Times.) The word occurs 25 times in the Besekh and all but eight occur in the Book of John. In the LXX heortē renders Heb. chag, feast, festival-gathering, pilgrim feast or festival sacrifice of Israel (BDB 290).
John has a fondness for "threes," so the three-fold use of the preposition en has significance. Yeshua was in Jerusalem as an observant Jew, one who obeyed the Torah commandment that all males present themselves at the pilgrim feast. He was there at Passover, a time to celebrate deliverance from Egypt and he remained for the entire festival. Yeshua participated fully, which meant arranging for the purchase and sacrifice of a lamb for the Passover meal. All the arrangements made for the Last Supper and described in the Synoptic Narratives would have been accomplished on this occasion (see my commentary on Mark 14).
many: Grk. polus, extensive in scope, here of number; many. The "many" would likely be of the Jewish pilgrims present at the temple when Yeshua intervened in the commercial activity. believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor. See verse 11 above. in: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 11 above; lit. 'into.' his name: Grk. onoma, in its central sense is used to identify someone. In Hebrew literature it also carries the extended sense of qualities, powers, attributes or reputation. Stern suggests that John's report is purposeful to say that people believed "in his name" but not in him, as implied in the next two verses. beholding: Grk. theōreō, pres. part., to pay attention to, to observe, to behold. his signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion. See verse 11 above. The plural form indicates more than one, yet John does not specifically identify the signs Yeshua performed in Jerusalem. To Jewish pilgrims generally Yeshua's confrontation of the temple ruling authorities probably constituted signs of the prophecies of Malachi and Zechariah being fulfilled. he was doing: Grk. poieō, impf. See verse 5 above.
24 But Yeshua did not entrust himself to them, because of his knowing all men,
But: Grk. de, conj. See verse 2 above. The conj. represents a contrast in thought. Yeshua: See verse 1 above. did not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle that strongly negates the following verb. entrust: Grk. pisteuō, aor. See verse 11 above. himself to them: John offers a sharp contrast between Yeshua and the "many" of the previous verse by using the same verb that describes the "many." Their belief in Yeshua was likely shallow and selfish. because of: Grk. dia, prep. used here to express causality; on account of, because of. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. knowing: Grk. ginōskō, pres. inf., to be in receipt of information with the focus on awareness or to form a judgment or to draw a conclusion. all men: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., conveys the idea of comprehensiveness; all, every. The word "men" is not in the Greek text, but the adjective is masculine.
25 and because he did not need that any one should bear witness concerning man; for he himself knew what was in man.
John amplifies the last phrase of the previous verse. and because he had: Grk. echō, impf. See the not on verse 3 above. no need: Grk. chreia, state or experience of necessity, need. that any one should bear witness: Grk. martureō, aor. subj., to attest to a fact or truth, often in a legal context; testify, attest. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; in behalf of, about, concerning. man: Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 10 above. for he knew: Grk. ginoskō, impf. See the previous verse. what was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. in man: Grk. anthrōpos. The use of anthrōpos here is of mankind in general. Yeshua had no lack in knowledge of man's nature and he knew how fickle people can be.
Atlas: Oxford Bible Atlas, Second Edition. ed. Herbert G. May. Oxford University Press, 1974.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Barclay: William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series. Revised Ed., 16 Vols. The Westminster Press, 1975-76.
BBMS: Henry Morris, Biblical Basis for Modern Science. Baker Book House, 1984.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online at BibleHub.com.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Delitzsch: Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890), Hebrew New Testament. Leipzig, 1877. Online. (Translation into biblical Hebrew.)
DHE: The Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels: A Hebrew/English Translation. Vine of David Publishers, 2011. Heb. trans. Franz Delitzsch; English trans. Aaron Eby & Robert Morris.
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology. 3 Vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.
DSB: Henry Morris, Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing Co., 1995.
Edersheim: Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. New Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993. Also online.
Fisher: Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament. The University of York, 2000. [NA26]
Flusser: David Flusser, The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus' Genius. 4th ed. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2007.
Gesenius: Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius (1786-1842), Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament. Trans. Samuel P. Tregelles (1846). Baker Book House, 1979. Online.
HBD: Holman Bible Dictionary. ed. Trent C. Butler. Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1991. Online.
Jeremias: Joichim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Fortress Press, 1975.
Kaiser: Walter C. Kaiser, The Promise-Plan of God: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments. Zondervan, 2008.
Karni: Shlomo Karni, Dictionary of Basic Biblical Hebrew. Carta (Jerusalem), 2010.
Kasdan: Barney Kasdan, Matthew Presents Yeshua, King Messiah: A Messianic Commentary. Lederer Books, 2011.
Lane: William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1974. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602-1675), A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), 4 Vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1989. Online.
Marshall: Alfred Marshall, NASB-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English. Zondervan Pub. House, 1986.
Metzger: Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. German Bible Society, 1994.
Morris: Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1971. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
MW-Notes: Daniel Gruber, The Messianic Writings. Elijah Publishing, 2011. Annotations by the author.
NASBEC: New American Standard Bible Exhaustive Concordance, Updated Edition. Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998.
Neil: James Neil, Palestine Explored. James Nisbet & Co., 1882.
NIBD: Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible. Herbert Lockyer, ed. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Vol. 1. Zondervan Pub. House, 1976.
Reinhartz: Adele Reinhartz, Annotations on "John," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Robertson: Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 6 Vols. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1933. (Parsons CD-ROM Version 2.0, 1997)
Santala: Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Trans. William Kinnaird. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1992. Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Tenney: Merrill C. Tenney, John, Vol. 9, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
TWOT: Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 Vols. ed. R. Laird Harris. Moody Bible Institute, 1980.
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