Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 8 July 2014; Revised 28 October 2016
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.
Immersion Ministry and Return to Galilee, 4:1-4
Meeting with the Woman of Samaria, 4:5-27
Midrash of Yeshua: The Will of God and a Harvest of Souls, 4:31-38
Mission in Sychar, 4:28-30; 39-42
Mission in Galilee, The Second Sign, 4:43-54
Winter, A.D. 27-28
Immersion Ministry and Return to Galilee, 4:1-4
1 Then when the Lord knew that the Pharisees heard that Yeshua was making and immersing more disciples than Yochanan
Then: Grk. oun, conj. may be used to (1) denote that what it introduces is the result of or an inference from what precedes, "so, therefore, consequently, accordingly, then;" or (2) resume a subject once more after an interruption, "so, as has been said" (BAG). The conjunction occurs 14 times in this chapter, often to introduce verses. when: Grk. hōs, adv. used in a temporal sense; when, after. the Lord: Grk. kurios may mean either (1) 'one in control through possession,' and therefore owner or master; or (2) 'one esteemed for authority or high status,' thus lord or master. In personal address kurios may be translated as "sir" to express recognition of or submission to superior rank. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, principally to translate Heb. words for God. In the overwhelming majority of instances (over 6,000 times), kurios replaces the Heb. Sacred Name Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey.
In addition, kurios stands in for the divine titles Adonai, Elohim, El and Eloah. In contrast to its use for deity kurios also renders Heb. adon (owner, master) 310 times, 190 of which refer to men in general recognition of superiority (DNTT 2:511). Kurios is the principal title by which disciples and members of the public addressed Yeshua during his earthly ministry, over twice as many times as any other title (e.g., Rabbi, Teacher, Master). The frequent use of kurios to address Yeshua in the flesh would not have considered deity. Unbelieving Jews would have called him kurios out of respect. However, expectant Jews would call Yeshua adon because the Messiah would rule over Israel. As a retrospective narrative Yeshua is naturally "the Lord" to John the apostle.
knew: Grk. ginoskō, aor., to be in receipt of information with the focus on awareness or to form a judgment or to draw a conclusion. that the Pharisees: pl. of Grk. Pharisaios, a transliteration of the Heb. P'rushim, meaning "separatists.” The word occurs only in the plural form in this book. The title was born of the fact that they separated themselves from the common people for religious devotion. The Pharisees traced their roots to the Hasidim ("pious ones") organized in the time of Ezra, but are known as an organized group from the 2nd c. BC (Jeremias 247). The first mention of the group is in the books of Maccabees where they are described as "a company of Hasideans, mighty warriors of Israel, every one who offered himself willingly for the law" (1Macc 2:42; cf. 1Macc 7:13; 2Macc 14:6).
Josephus estimated that there were at least six thousand Pharisees in the Land (Ant. XVII, 2:4). There were several Pharisaic communities in Jerusalem (Jeremias 252). In addition, Pharisee rabbis had many disciples throughout Israel and the Diaspora. There were many aspects of Phariseeism with which Yeshua would have agreed. They believed in resurrection and immortality, and the importance of living a holy life. They regarded Greek ideas as abominations. However, in contrast to Yeshua and the Saduccees the Pharisees accepted the traditions of the Sages as having equal authority as the written Torah, sometimes even greater than the written Torah.
There are many verses that depict certain Pharisees in a bad light. Even the Jewish Sages spoke harshly against seven types of bad Pharisees they called hypocrites (Avot 5:9; Sot. 22b). Yeshua frequently uses the term "hypocrites" to refer to such Pharisees (18 times in the Synoptic Narratives), which also distinguishes them from the good Pharisees. For the hypocritical Pharisees almsgiving, long prayers, twice-weekly fasting and tithing were the most important components of righteous living (Matt 23:14, 23; Luke 18:12), all of which were typically done in a manner to gain public attention. These were the sort of adversaries with whom Yeshua contended.
Unfortunately, we know far more about the ones who harassed Yeshua than we do about his supporters among the Pharisees, like Nicodemus (John 3:1; 7:50-51), and the unnamed Pharisees who warned Yeshua of a plot by Herod to kill him (Luke 13:31). To impugn all Pharisees of that time with the same negative judgment would be unfair. While the Pharisees had many teachings with which Yeshua agreed and he enjoined his disciples to respect their authority, he also warned his disciples to avoid the hypocrisy found among so many Pharisees (Matt 23:2-3; Luke 12:1).
While the Pharisees were one of several religious parties among Jews in the first century, the book of John uses the term (occurring 20 times and only in the plural) to substitute for the term "elders" found in the Synoptic Narratives, a faction of the Sanhedrin (cf. John 1:24; 3:1; 12:42). Membership in the Sanhedrin consisted of chief priests, elders and scribes (Matt 16:21; 26:57; 27:41). Yeshua described the scribes and Pharisees as having "seated themselves in the chair of Moses" (Matt 23:2), probably an allusion to the fact that members of the Sanhedrin sat on chairs. John couples the Pharisees five times with the chief priests to emphasize their association on the Sanhedrin (John 7:32, 45; 11:47, 57; 18:3). (See my web article Jewish Jurisprudence.)
heard: Grk. akouō, aor., may mean (1) to hear, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said; (2) hear with comprehension, understand; (3) receive information aurally, hear, hear about; or (4) a legal term of hearing a case. The first two meanings apply here. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173). After Yeshua's confrontation in the temple of Sadducean corruption, the Sanhedrin likely placed Yeshua under surveillance just as they did to Yochanan the Immerser. Thus, they "heard" about Yeshua's immersion ministry in Judea (John 3:22).
that 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 making: Grk. poieō, a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition, such as carrying out an obligation or responsibility; do, act, perform, work. The present tense refers to an ongoing activity and implies teaching the values and virtues of the Messianic kingdom (cf. Matt 28:19-20). After all, disciples are made and not born.
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). The excessive use of conjunctions and beginning verses with a conjunction, as in verse 27 below, 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.
immersing: Grk. baptizō means to dip, soak, or immerse into a liquid. The present tense indicates that the immersing was concurrent and part of the process of "making." The verb baptizō is derived from baptō (immerse or plunge) and means that what is dipped takes on qualities of what it has been dipped in—such as cloth in dye or leather in tanning solution. In the LXX baptō translates the Heb. tabal (to dip) 13 times. Baptizō occurs only four times in the LXX: in Isaiah 21:4; 2 Kings 5:14 (re: Naaman); Sirach 34:25; and Judith 12:7. While baptizō in the Isaiah passage speaks of being overwhelmed by a vision, the other three passages report incidents of self-immersion in water (DNTT 1:144).
Contrary to Christian interpretation and practice baptizō never means a rite performed by sprinkling or pouring. DNTT offers this concurring analysis of the biblical term.
"Despite assertions to the contrary, it seems that baptizō, both in Jewish and Christian contexts, normally meant "immerse," and that even when it became a technical term for baptism, the thought of immersion remains. The use of the term for cleansing vessels (as in Lev 6:28; Mark 7:4) does not prove the contrary, since vessels were normally cleansed by immersing them in water. The metaphorical uses of the term in the NT appear to take this for granted…. The Pauline representation of baptism as burial and resurrection with Christ is consonant with this view, even if it does not demand it." (1:144)
The active voice of the Greek verb "immersing" in this verse does not mean that someone personally put his hands on the immersion candidates and shoved them under the water as occurs in Christian practice. Jewish immersion was (and is) self-immersion. No one touches the one immersing and no one needs to put the penitent under for it to be valid. Jewish immersion is also gender-specific. That is, men are not present when women immerse and vice versa. Christian practice has the practical effect of the clergy controlling the "means of grace," since from the time of the church fathers baptism has been viewed as necessary to salvation. The Jewish method is clearly to be preferred since it follows the biblical practice and preserves modesty for women.
Delitzsch captures the true sense in his Hebrew translation of this verse, using the Hiphil form of Heb. tabal, "caused to be immersed." That is, the verb here and in the next verse depict the superintending of the immersion of all who came and expressed repentance and insured that each person completely immersed himself. In all likelihood several people would be immersing at the same time. In one fascinating piece of evidence, there is an ancient drawing from a Roman catacomb which depicts Yochanan and Yeshua at Yeshua's immersion. Yochanan is standing on the bank of the Jordan River extending a hand to Yeshua assisting him from the water (R. Steven Notley, John's Baptism of Repentance, Jerusalem Perspective Online, 2004; see also Ron Moseley, The Jewish Background of Christian Baptism).
Although many Christians practice infant baptism (whether opting for sprinkling, pouring or immersion), Yeshua and the apostles only conducted adult believer's immersion. Advocates of infant baptism cite passages where a "whole household" was baptized (Acts 10:47; 16:15, 31-33; 1Cor 1:16). This interpretation reflects common misunderstanding of the Jewish context and the practices of the Jewish apostles. Among Jews ablutions of all kinds were not performed by people under bar/bat mitzvah age when a boy or girl became fully accountable to the Torah. In apostolic practice only those who believed were immersed. Yeshua and the apostles would never baptize an unbelieving household servant just because the master of the house believed, nor would they baptize an infant that could not express faith.
The earliest extra-biblical instruction for baptism occurs in Chapter Seven of the Didache (c. 100), which concerns only adults since it requires that the person to be baptized should fast beforehand. The earliest mention of infant baptism dates from the middle second century. Irenaeus (c. 130–202) speaks of infants being "born again to God" (Against Heresies, 2.22.4). Later mentions by church fathers reflect the practice as commonplace. Church fathers justified infant baptism as being of apostolic origin, but their rationale was more theological than biblical.
In truth infant baptism reflected Christianity's effort to expunge any trace of Judaism from its religious practices, treating baptism as a substitute for circumcision. In addition, the doctrine of sin articulated by Augustine assumed the body to be evil and therefore to guarantee eternal life for an infant baptism must be performed as soon as possible after birth. Infant baptism, while well-intentioned and beautiful in its sentiment, reflects only the faith of the parents (if indeed they have faith) and does not represent the function of baptism to mark the transition from a life of sin to a life of righteousness. Indeed, the baptized infant who grows up without embracing discipleship sullies this sacred ceremony.
more: pl. of Grk. polus, adj. of number; many. disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs (from manthanō, to learn), one who learns through instruction from a teacher. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the apostolic narratives and corresponds to the Heb. talmid (SH-8527, scholar or pupil). See the note on John 1:35. It's possible, though by no means certain, that Jacob son of Alphaeus, Thomas, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot became disciples during this Judean ministry. The apostolic narratives do not record when these men began following Yeshua as disciples, and the first occurrence of their names is their inclusion in the list of twelve named as apostles (Matt 10:1-4; Mark 3:14-19; Luke 6:13-15). The creation of the apostolate does not occur until after the calling of Matthew (Mark 2:14) at which time Matthew invites Yeshua and his disciples to a meal. John does not mention "the twelve" until the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:67).
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. than: Grk. ē, conj., here indicating comparison; than, rather than. Since no actual numbers are provided the "more than" is difficult to assess, but it must have been significant for mention to be made of it.
Yochanan: Grk. Iōannēs attempts to transliterate the Heb. Yōchanan ("John" in Christian Bibles) and means "the Lord is gracious,” an apt description of the one who would prepare the way of the Messiah (Stern 15). Yochanan was a cousin (degree unknown) of Yeshua, born in Hebron just six months before Yeshua (cf. Luke 1:26, 36, 56-57), most likely in March, 3 BC. The commencement of Yochanan's ministry occurred in the fifteenth year of the reign of Caesar Tiberius, probably Autumn A.D. 26 (Edersheim 183; Santala 125). See my commentary on John 1:6 for more background information on Yochanan. Because of the immersing activity Yochanan is given the title "the Immerser" ("the Baptist" in Christian Bibles), occurring 15 times in the Synoptic Narratives, but never in John. (For the purposes of this commentary the name "Yochanan" is used for the Immerser and "John" for the apostle.)
2 although Yeshua himself was not immersing, but His disciples
although: Grk. kaitoige, conj., an intensive form of kaitoi, a concessive particle; although. Yeshua: See the previous verse. himself: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, used to give emphasis to identification. was not: Grk. ou, adv. used for strong negation. immersing: Grk. baptizō, impf. See the previous verse. The imperfect tense refers to continuous action in past time. Delitzsch translates the verb appropriately with the Hiphil form of Heb. tabal, "causing to be immersed." Yeshua was not superintending the immersions. Morris suggests that the imperfect tense might indicate an habitual practice and not just this occasion of immersion ministry (252). Against this interpretation is that there is no other passage describing immersion ministry by Yeshua and his disciples. but: Grk. alla, conj. with a strong and emphatic adversative meaning, but.
his disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See the previous verse. Since mathētēs is plural there were at least two disciples with Yeshua, which presumptively were among those introduced at the end of chapter one: John, Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip and Nathanael. However, after the wedding in Cana Yeshua and his disciples went to Capernaum (John 2:12) and John, Andrew and Simon Peter apparently remained there for the sake of their fishing business, because Yeshua will later return to Galilee and call them into fulltime service (Mark 3:16-20). There is no further mention in the book of John of Andrew's presence until 6:8 in connection with the feeding of the five thousand and no further mention of Simon Peter until 6:68 when he professes personal loyalty to Yeshua in the face of many defections. So, Philip and Nathanael were probably the ones overseeing the actual immersions.
The clarification of Yeshua's lack of direct involvement is noteworthy and John offers no reason for Yeshua's decision. Gill suggests that superintending such ministry would not comport with his greatness and majesty. In other words, the king would not do what was the province of disciples and servants. Coke says that Yeshua exempted himself because he would not immerse in his own name. However, this interpretation only applies if the immersion was done as in Christian practice. Immersing "in the name of Yeshua" was not a ritual formula said before pushing someone under water, but an idiomatic expression of authority (e.g., Acts 2:38; 3:6; 8:12; 10:48). In any event, Yeshua chose to keep his focus on his primary mission, to announce the good news of the Kingdom. He would also be the one who would send the Holy Spirit for a greater immersion as Yochanan the Immerser had prophesied (Luke 3:16; John 1:33).
3 He left Judea and went again into Galilee.
He left: Grk. aphiēmi, aor., has a range of meaning, (1) release from one's presence; send away, divorce, give up; (2) release from an obligation; cancel, forgive; (3) let remain behind; leave, leave behind, give up, abandon; (4) leave standing or lying; and (5) permissive sense of let, let go, allow or tolerate. The choice of verb is significant, since John could have omitted it altogether. John implies the parting was emotional as if he were abandoning Judea to the sovereign judgment of God as well as postponing further confrontation with the Pharisaic rulers. Although much of John's book occurs in Judea, Yeshua spent most of his years of ministry outside the region and only came back for the required festivals.
Judea: Grk. Ioudaia transliterates the Latin provincial name of Iudaea and corresponds to the Heb. name Y'hudah, which means "praised" or "object of praise" (Gen 29:35; BDB 397). "Judea" most likely refers to the historic territory of Judea (which lay between Samaria and Idumea), since the context is during the reign of the Herods, although the first readers of John might assume he meant the Roman province of Judaea, which comprised all three territories. and went: Grk. aperchomai, aor., to be in movement from a position with or without mention of a destination, to go away, depart or leave. again: Grk. palin, adv., with focus on a repetitive occurrence; once more, again. The adverb alludes to Yeshua previous trip to Galilee in 2:1.
into 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).
4 Now he had to go through Samaria.
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). Here the second usage applies. he had: Grk. deō, impf., to bind in the sense of physical restraint, used figuratively to being bound by law or duty; lit. "it behooved him" (Marshall). Mounce defines the verb as "it is binding, it is necessary, it is proper, it is inevitable." John often uses the verb of Yeshua's mission several times (3:14; 9:4; 10:16; 12:34; 20:9). This verb emphasizes that Yeshua had a divine appointment. to go: Grk. dierchomai, pres. mid. inf., move within an area or from one area to another; go, go through, come.
through: Grk. dia, prep., by means of, through. Samaria: Grk. Samareia for Heb. Shomron, a place name of a mountain and the city built on it (1Kgs 16:24), as well as a territory (Obad 1:19), meaning "mountain of watching," and the residents thereof. In the Tanakh Shomron refers primarily to the city of Samaria, 42 miles north of Jerusalem, which was the capital, residence, and burial place of the kings of Israel from the time of Omri, the sixth king of Israel (885-874 B.C.) (1Kgs 16:23-28; 22:37-39; 2Kgs 6:24-30). Jezebel made the city infamous as the center for Baal worship (1Kgs 16:29-33) and the martyrdom of many prophets (1Kgs 18:2-4). In 726-22 B.C. Assyria invaded the Northern Kingdom and after a 3-year siege Samaria fell. Much of the population of the capital was taken into captivity and deported into other parts of the empire.
Assyria then imported many people from various locations in the empire into Samaria (see 2Kgs 17:5-6, 23-24; Ezra 4:9-10; Ant. IX, 14:1). Later, the Greeks conquered the region (331 B.C.) and Hellenized the area with Greek inhabitants and culture. Then the Hasmoneans, under the Jewish high priest John Hyrcanus, destroyed the city c. 120-119 B.C. as part of his effort to remove Syrian hegemony from the land (Ant. XIII, 10:2). After a long period without inhabitants, the city of Samaria lived again under Pompey and the Romans (63 B.C.). Finally, Herod the Great obtained control of Samaria in 30 B.C. and made it one of the chief cities of his territory. He built a temple there in honor of Caesar and renamed the city Sebaste, using the Greek word for Augustus, the emperor (see Ant. XIV, 4:4; 5:3; Wars I, 7:7; 8:4. This pagan worship stands in sharp contrast to the worship described in verse 20 below.
However, given the more exact geographical information in the next verse "Samaria" in this verse must refer to the territory that encompassed the areas originally given to the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. Delitzsch translates the noun as eretz Shomron, the "land of Samaria." In the first century the territory of Samaria lay between Judea on the south, Galilee on the north, the Mediterranean on the west and the Jordan River on the east. Josephus gives this description of Samaria:
"Now as to the country of Samaria, it lies between Judea and Galilee; it begins at a village that is in the great plain called Ginea, and ends at the Acrabbene toparchy, and is entirely of the same nature with Judea; for both countries are made up of hills and valleys, and are moist enough for agriculture, and are very fruitful. They have abundance of trees, and are full of autumnal fruit, both that which grows wild, and that which is the effect of cultivation. They are not naturally watered by many rivers, but derive their chief moisture from rain-water, of which they have no want; and for those rivers which they have, all their waters are exceeding sweet: by reason also of the excellent grass they have, their cattle yield more milk than do those in other places; and, what is the greatest sign of excellency and of abundance, they each of them are very full of people." (Wars III, 3:4)
Since Yeshua's ultimate destination was Galilee (verse 43 below), then going through Samaria was the quickest route, although one might travel along the coast road or cross over to the east side of the Jordan and travel north through Perea and Decapolis. Some commentators assert (without citing any evidence) that Jews did not travel through Samaria. Strict Hebraic Jews (Pharisees) may well have avoided the heart of Samaria because of deep religious differences (see verse 9 and 20-22 below), but again there is no historical evidence of such assumed avoidance. Josephus says, "It was the custom of the Galileans, when they came to the holy city at the festivals, to take their journeys through the country of the Samaritans" (Ant. XX, 6:1). Yeshua himself made the trip through Samaria when he traveled to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51-52; 17:11). Also, according to Josephus' autobiography the journey from Galilee to Jerusalem took three days (Life §52).
Meeting with the Woman of Samaria, 4:5-27
5 Then he came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
Then he came: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid., to come or arrive with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place or to go with the focus on the goal for movement. The verb is a historical present intended to give dramatic emphasis to a past event. to a city: Grk. polis, a population center whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly. of Samaria: See the previous verse. called: Grk. legō, pres. pass. part., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form. In the LXX legō renders Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, show, command or think. Here the verb has the meaning of to give a name to or to call a place by a name.
Sychar: Grk. Suchar, a village was located 30 miles north of Jerusalem and about 6 miles southwest from Sebaste, the capital of Samaria, and within a couple of miles of Mt. Gerizim (Atlas 87). The place name does not appear in the LXX at all, but Jerome identified it as a corrupt form of Suchem, Sinaitic Aramaic for Shechem (Heb Shekem; see Gen 33:19; 48:22; Josh 23:32.) Some commentators dispute this association, but BAG says that excavations have borne out Jerome's testimony (803). Sychar was then in the vicinity of historic Shechem, which had been largely destroyed by John Hyrcanus in 107 B.C. (so Gruber, Reinhartz, Stern, and Tenney).
That Yeshua should come to this small town, and, as far as can be known, never set foot in the capital city of Sebaste, is certainly noteworthy. At least in Sychar the people worshiped the God of Israel, not a pagan emperor. In addition, stopping at this location is a subtle way of Yeshua connecting to his own heritage. near: Grk. plēsion, prep., indicating nearness whether in proximity or circumstance. the parcel of land: Grk. chōrion, a relatively small area of land; piece of land, plot. that Jacob: Grk. Iakōb transliterates the Heb. Ya'akov ("Jacob"), the son of the patriarch Isaac. John mentions Jacob's name three times, all in this chapter.
The meaning of Jacob's name, "heel-catcher," had no pejorative connotation when first given by Isaac to his son. As indicated by Hosea 12:3, "heel-catcher" illustrated the strength and power he had with God. The story of Jacob is narrated in Genesis 25—50. He was the second born of the twin sons of Isaac by Rebekah, probably at Beer-Lachai-Roi in the Negev (cf. Gen 24:62; 25:11), when his father was 60 (cf. Gen 25:20, 26) and Abraham 160 years old (Gen 21:5). Before Jacob's birth God informed Rebekah "There are two nations in your womb. From birth they will be two rival peoples. One of these peoples will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger" (Gen 25:23 CJB).
By this statement God decreed that Jacob, even though born second, would have all the rights of the firstborn: (1) superior rank in his family (Genesis 49:3); (2) a double portion of the paternal inheritance (Deut 21:17); (3) the priestly office in the family (Num 8:17-19); and (4) the promise of the Seed in which all nations of the earth were to be blessed (Gen 22:18). From the time of his birth Jacob was a good man who lived as a shepherd, whereas his brother Esau became an enterprising hunter and eventually an immoral and godless man (Heb 12:16). Unfortunately common Christian interpretation of Jacob's story has conveniently ignored God's will and twisted the facts of the story in order to take up an offense for Esau.
Christian commentators generally allege that Jacob and his mother conspired to deceive the aged patriarch (Genesis 27) with the view of stealing the birthright for Jacob. Bible publishers even title the relevant section as "The Stolen Blessing,” which represents ignorance at best and defamation at worst. Indeed, in contrast to God many Christians have loved Esau and hated Jacob (cf. Mal 1:2-3). Even in this modern time Palestinian terrorists gain more sympathy from some Christian leaders than Israeli victims. The truth is Jacob couldn’t steal what already belonged to him, but in fact his deceit prevented Isaac from committing a monstrous fraud and rebellion against God. Isaac realized his error and gave a second blessing to Jacob that left no doubt as to his rights. (See my article Our Father Jacob in which I set the record straight.)
Soon afterwards and fearful of Esau's anger, Jacob left for Haran at the suggestion of his parents to find a wife among his cousins, the family of Laban. On the way God revealed to Jacob in a miraculous manner that he had succeeded to the covenant made with Abraham (Gen 12:1-3; 15:1-21; 17:1-22) and his father Isaac (Gen 26:2-5, 23-24) with all its promises (Gen 28:13-16). God assured Jacob that his descendants would possess the land of Canaan, that his descendants would multiply as the dust of the earth and spread out in all directions, that through him all the peoples of the earth would be blessed and that God would never leave him. (See my web article The Everlasting Covenants.)
Jacob's lengthy stay in Haran gained him four wives, eleven sons and a daughter. After spending 20 years in Haran Jacob moved his family back to Canaan (Gen 31). En route to Haran Jacob wrestled with an angel (Gen 32:24-30) and was given the name Israēl (“God prevails" BDB 975). Shortly thereafter Jacob met his brother Esau with whom he gained a reconciliation. Eventually Jacob moved to Bethel where God appeared to him and again affirmed his continuing inheritance of the Abrahamic covenant, specifically mentioning the land promised to Abraham and Isaac and adding a new promise that Jacob would become a "company of nations" (Gen 35:11-12).
Not long after Rachel died in giving birth to their twelfth son, Benjamin (35:16-20). After the death of Isaac follows the story of Joseph being sold into Egyptian slavery, famine, the removal of the family of seventy into Egypt and the reconciliation between father and sons (Gen 37—47). There in the land of Goshen Jacob lived out 17 years, then gave final blessings to his sons (Gen 49) and died at the age of 147 (Gen 47:28). Jacob's body was embalmed and carried with great ceremony into the land of Canaan, and buried beside his wife Leah in the cave of Machpelah, according to his dying charge.
Jacob son of Isaac was a great and godly man who held a place of high honor among the people of Israel. It is not surprising then that five different men bear his name in the Besekh: Jacob the brother of John (Mark 1:19), Jacob the son of Alphaeus (Mark 3:18); Jacob the Less (Mark 15:40); Jacob the father of Judas (aka 'Thaddaeus,' Luke 6:16; John 14:22) and Jacob the brother of Yeshua (Matt 13:55), all of whom are misnamed in Christian Bibles as "James."
gave: Grk. didōmi, aor., to give, often with the focus on generosity. In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan, SH-5414, to give, used in one of three settings (1) by men one to another; (2) by men to God; and (3) by God to men (DNTT 2:41). The verb alludes to giving by inheritance. to his son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben (“son,” "son of”), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity, as the son of his father (Gen 5). (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor (e.g., Gen 32:32); or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of (e.g., Ps 89:22; Dan 3:25). The first meaning applies here.
Joseph: Grk. Iōsēph, a transliteration of Heb. Yosef, which is explained in Genesis 30:24 and means "he adds, increases" (BDB 415). Joseph was the eleventh son of Jacob and fulfilled Rachel’s longing for a child (Gen 30:22ff). Many commentators and teachers have identified parallels between the life of Joseph and Yeshua to the point of considering him a type of Messiah, although nowhere in Scripture is Joseph accorded this lofty honor. (See my web article Was Joseph a Type of Jesus?) Jacob originally purchased this land from the sons of Hamor and erected an altar there he named El-Elohe-Israel (Gen 33:19-20). Joseph was later buried on this plot of ground (Josh 24:32).
The statement that "Jacob gave to Joseph" means given to the sons of Joseph (see verse 12 below), since the man Joseph never lived on this plot of ground as an inheritance. Joseph had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, who became separate tribes in the Land of Israel. Joseph's name is sometimes listed as a synonym for the tribe of Ephraim (Num 1:32; Ps 78:67; Ezek 37:16, 19; Rev 7:8), but more often for both his sons (Deut 27:12; Josh 18:5; Jdg 1:22, 35; 1Kgs 11:28; Ps 80:1; 81:5; Ezek 47:13), usually to distinguish them from the half-tribe of Manasseh whose territory lay east of the Jordan. When the Land was allocated to the tribes the town of Shechem lay in Manasseh's territory (Josh 17:2).
6 Now the well of Jacob was there. Then Yeshua, being wearied from walking, was sitting thus near the well. It was about the sixth hour.
Now the well: Grk. pēgē, a liquid-laden source that issues in a gushing manner or stream. When the focus is on water as a product it's translated "spring," but when it refers to a specific public spring, as here, it is usually rendered "well." Springs were associated with the "fountains of the deep," subterranean reservoirs of water that originated with the creation of the earth (Gen 1:2; 7:11; Job 38:16; Prov 8:28). In the LXX pēgē occurs some 70 times, with both lit. and fig. uses, and renders 12 different Heb. words. The most common term, ayin (SH-5869, 'eye, spring,' Gen 16:7 +23t) and its derivative ma'yan (SH-4599, 'spring,' Gen 7:11 +18t) may have been employed to describe the bubbling water source, because springs were once regarded as the weeping eyes of the earth (DNTT 3:985). of Jacob: See the previous verse. This is the second mention of the name Jacob in the chapter.
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 emphasizes the well's continuous existence in the past. there: Grk. ekei, adv., of that place, as opposed to here or another place; there. Morris makes the faux pas of saying "there is no Old Testament reference to his [i.e. Jacob] having dug a well there" (257). The present passage says nothing about the well having been dug either. The genitive case "of Jacob" simply indicates an historical association, most likely by possession or ownership as indicated by the previous verse.
Then Yeshua being wearied: Grk. kopiaō, perf., experience fatigue as a result of exertion; become weary or tired. John offers a subtle reminder of the humanity of Yeshua, a contrast to the biblical assertion that God does not become weary (Isa 40:28). The reason for the tiredness is explained. from walking: Grk. hodoiporia, act of making one's way to a destination; walking, journey. It's easy to forget that for Yeshua to go anywhere in Israel he had to walk. In ancient times the average person traveled by foot, upon donkeys, carriages or boats. Yeshua owned no means of conveyance and rode an animal only once (Matt 21:7) and four times traveled by means of a boat (Matt 8:23; 9:1; 14:13, 34). The rest of the time he walked, which is mentioned several times (e.g., Matt 4:18; Mark 10:32; 11:27; Luke 10:38; 24:15; John 1:36; 7:1; 10:23).
was sitting: Grk. kathezomai, impf. mid., to seat oneself, take a sitting position. thus: Grk. houtōs, adv. used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, way or fashion, so. near: Grk. epi, prep., lit. "upon," but with the dative case following used of immediate proximity; at, near, by. the well: Grk. pēgē. The choice of the place to sit was strategic in view of the following encounter. The well top was apparently furnished with a wooden or stone surround which formed a seat for the weary traveler (Morris 257). By using the phrase "sat by the well" John alludes to Exodus 21:15 where Moses having fled from Pharaoh dwelled in the land of Midian and "he sat down by a well." This is yet another example in John of contrasting Moses, the first redeemer, with Yeshua, the last redeemer (cf. John 1:17, 45; 3:14; 5:45-46; 6:32; 7:19, 22-23; 9:28-29) (Shapira 207, 224).
It was about: Grk. hōs, adv. with the primary function of connecting narrative components, used here of a numerical estimate; about, approximately, nearly. The expression of time in Scripture is not precise, but usually based on observation of the sun or some other circumstance. "About" means the time could be a little earlier or a little later. the sixth: Grk. hektos, adj., sixth in sequence. hour: Grk. hōra, a period of time in the day; hour, time. John has a habit of noticing the time of day, which implies an eyewitness (see John 1:39; 4:52; 18:28; 19:14; 20:19). Some Christian interpreters, assuming that John is writing to a primarily Gentile audience, say that John is giving Roman time, which for legal purposes began the day at midnight. However, according to Morris the Romans used sunrise as the starting point for all other time references (158), so the sixth hour by that reckoning would be noon.
John's primary audience was Jewish and Jewish reckoning of time was from sunset to sunset, divided into 12-hour increments of night and day (cf. John 11:9). However, Jews also measured time from sunrise for the sake of the Temple sacrifices, which began at the first hour, about 6:00 am. These daylight hours were also applied to Judicial hearings. The Talmud contains a passage concerning the evidence of two witnesses and places the fifth hour when the sun is in the east and the seventh hour when the sun is in the west (Sanhedrin 5:1). By this reckoning the sixth hour would then be about noon, and is so translated in many versions (e.g., CJB, NET, NIRV, NIV, NRSV, OJB). TLV translates as "midday" and NLT has "noontime."
7 A woman of Samaria arrived to draw water. Yeshua said to her, "Give me a drink."
A woman: Grk. gunē, 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"). The word gunē occurs 21 times in John and 12 times in this chapter. This count cannot be accidental. In Scripture the number twelve represents the tribes of Israel (cf. Gen 49:28; Ex 24:4; 28:21; 39:14; Josh 3:12; 4:8; 1Kgs 18:31; Ezek 47:13; Matt 19:28; Acts 16:27; Jas 1:1; Rev 21:12). Thus, the twelve mentions of the woman hints at her ethnic relation to the twelve tribes.
of Samaria: Grk. Samareia, gen. case. See verse 4 above. The title "woman of Samaria" is significant, because John could have said "a woman of Sychar." The genitive case of "Samaria" emphasizes the woman's territorial residence and her cultural identity. The title also hints at her importance, and verse 39 reports her influence. There are historical indications that some Samaritan women wielded considerable power. The first such instance was the unnamed daughter of Sanballat, Pehah of Samaria in Nehemiah’s time who married the grandson of the High Priest Joiada (Neh 13:28). One of the wives of King Herod the Great was a Samaritan and she gave birth to Antipas and Archelaus (Ant. XVII, 1:3).
John's preservation of the woman's anonymity is remarkable, since we know the names of other significant women who appear in the apostolic writings. John may have protected the woman's identity at her request to prevent prurient curiosity. In any event, God knew her name and that's all that matters. However, there may a more subtle reason for the anonymity. John's narrative may hint at a parallel with the creation story of Genesis, just as he does in chapter one. The first use of the word "woman" in Scripture occurs in Genesis 2:22, which recounts the creation of woman from Adam’s side. (It was Adam who gave Eve her name, not God, Gen 3:20.) God’s woman was there in the beginning when the Serpent came calling and seduced her with deceit (Gen 3:1). And, God promised the first woman a Seed, a Savior, who would crush the Serpent’s head and do justice for her (Gen 3:15). So, the woman of Samaria stands in for the woman of Gan-Eden who meets the promised Seed, the Savior of the world (verse 42 below).
arrived: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. See verse 5 above. The present tense is used for dramatic emphasis. to draw: Grk. antleō, aor. inf., to take out liquid from a confined area; take out, draw. water: Grk. hudōr, water as the physical element, here located in the well. Reinhartz points out that the well was a typical gathering place for women (165). Commentators have typically interpreted the woman's coming to the well for water at noon as avoidance of other women due to her tarnished reputation, although Yeshua offers no comment on it. Josephus speaks of the young women that Moses helped as coming to draw water at noon (Ex 2:15-17; Ant. II, 11:1-2), so the time may not be all that significant. Reinhartz suggests that the noon-meeting time contrasts the woman favorably with Nicodemus, who first met Yeshua at night. However, the woman did not come to meet a strange man for a religious discussion, but to draw water. From Yeshua's point of view she came because of a divine appointment.
Yeshua said: Grk. legō, lit. "says." See verse 5 above. The Greek verb "say" functions as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. to her: Grk. autos, feminine personal pronoun; i.e., the woman. give: Grk. didōmi, aor. imp. See verse 5 above. The imperative mood is used here to convey entreaty, not a command. me a drink: Grk. pinō, aor. inf., to take in liquid in a physical sense, usually of water or wine; drink. Any band of travelers would probably have a skin-bucket for drawing water (Morris 258). The request assumes that Yeshua had no implement to draw water or he would already have done so. One of the disciples must have had the bucket with him. The request presumes thirst, although only one verse actually mentions Yeshua being thirsty (John 19:28). Morris wrongly assumes Yeshua was thirsty because of heat (278), but the context demonstrates the thirst was a natural byproduct of his fatigue, not the weather. In any event, Yeshua's request served as a natural and clever way to start a conversation.
Reinhartz suggests that the encounter between Yeshua and the Samaritan woman has overtones of courtship (165). Three aspects of the narrative point to the intimacy of the situation. First, in the Tanakh "spring" is symbolic of a woman's genitals, source of menstrual flow, capacity for intimacy and fertility (Lev 20:18; Prov 5:15, 18; 9:7; SS 4:12, 15). Second, Yeshua met with an unmarried woman alone. The fact of meeting in a public place does not necessarily lessen the perception of a close relationship. Third, the situation is similar to three important courtship stories: Isaac (represented by Eliezer, Gen 24:11-20), Jacob (Gen 29:1-10) and Moses (Ex 2:15-17), each of which resulted from meetings at wells. According to Rashi (comment on Ex 2:15) these meetings were intentional acts in order to secure mates. Yeshua, of course, was not looking for a wife, but he did end up discussing her marital history.
8 For his disciples had gone into the city to buy food.
For: Grk. gar, conj., is generally accepted as a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that." Gar often functions to connect statements in narratives with preceding statements and is normally translated "for." The conjunction occurs 9 times in this chapter (verses 9, 18, 23, 37, 42, 44, 45 and 47), and combined with the many other conjunctions provides evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Hebrew writing style. his disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 1 above. These would be the same disciples that were with Yeshua in Judea conducting immersion ministry or the result of his immersion ministry or both. In other words "his disciples" would have at least included Nathanael and Philip, but possibly one or more of Jacob son of Alphaeus, Thomas, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot.
had gone: Grk. aperchomai, plperf. See verse 3 above. The pluperfect tense denotes 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. In other words, the disciples completed their mission. into: Grk. eis, prep., focus on entrance, frequently in relation to a direction toward a goal or place and consequent arrival; into, to, toward. the city: Grk. polis. See verse 5 above. The city is Sychar. to buy: Grk. agorazō, aor. subj., to conduct a commercial transaction; buy, purchase.
food: pl. of Grk. trophē, that which is needed to nourish or sustain physical life; food, victuals. As Jews the disciples would only purchase kosher food. Contrary to common Christian belief Yeshua did not cancel Torah food regulations. (See my web article Did Yeshua Cancel Torah Food Laws?) The fact that the disciples went into a Samaritan city to buy food indicates they had no religious scruples requiring avoidance of Samaritans. In fact, some rabbinic authorities had no problem with receiving wine and bread from Samaritans (Hullin 6a; Kiddushin 76a). There is no historical evidence of avoidance of Samaria, but on the contrary the apostolic narratives assume contact regularly occurred.
Then the Samaritan: Grk. Samaritis (fem. of Samaritēs), with the definite article; Samaritan, meaning one whose place of origin is Samaria. The fem. form occurs only here in the Besekh, but is also used in the Apocrypha (1Macc 10:30; 11:28) and Josephus (Wars III, 3:1, 4-5) for the territory of Samaria. A few versions translate Samaritis as genitive case "of Samaria" (CJB, ESV, KJ21, KJV, MW, NKJV, NRSV), but the noun is in the nominative case and functions as an adjective. woman: Grk. gunē with the definite article, lit. "the woman." See verse 7 above. The syntax of the double nouns is deliberatively designed to imply something important about this person, not simply that she is a woman and a citizen of Samaria, but along with other revelations about the woman in this chapter, she is comparable to Nicodemus as an important person, perhaps a religious leader.
said to him: i.e., Yeshua. How: Grk. pōs, adv., introduces a query concerning manner, way or reason in respect to a matter; how, in what manner, in what way, how can it be that? is it that: These words are not in the Greek text, but supplied for clarity. you: Grk. su, personal pronoun of the second person. being: Grk. eimi, pres. act. part., to be. a Judean: Grk. Ioudaios, Judean, Jew, Jewish or Jewess (BAG), a term in the Besekh that functions as a category of orthodox Jews ("Judean Jews") separate from Hellenistic Jews or Samaritan Jews. For more discussion on the background of Ioudaios and John's usage of it see my comment on John 1:19. The difference between the Judean Jews and the Samaritan Jews is illustrated by the fact that Arimathea of which Joseph, a member of the Sanhedrin, was a resident was located in the southwest corner of Samaria and yet is called a city of the Ioudaioi, "Judean Jews," a fact mentioned only by Luke (23:51), a Hellenized Jew.
Messianic Jewish versions (CJB, GNC, MW, TLV) translate Ioudaios here with "Jew," assuming that "Samaritan" is a non-Jew (so Stern 168), although in another place Stern refers to Samaritans as "half-Jews" (216). In contrast the DHE and OJB translate with the Hebrew Yehudi. The woman's statement begs the question "What is a Jew?" Modern Jews are divided on the issue, some insisting on a matrilineal definition and others on a patrilineal definition plus circumcision. In contrast to Stern’s point, Daniel Juster says that Jewish identity not only rests on parentage and circumcision, but also by maintaining that one is a Jew. He offers this anecdote. David Ben Gurion, when asked who is a Jew, stated that it was anyone who desired to identify himself as a Jew (Jewish Roots: Understanding Your Jewish Faith, Rev. ed., Destiny Image Pub., 2013; p. 246).
However, in the first century the definition of "Jew" was not just biological, but religious. Just as modern Chasidic or Orthodox Jews do not consider Reformed or Karaite Jews as truly "Jewish" so the Judean Jews in Yeshua's time did not accept others as "Jews" simply based on Israelite genealogy. The Samaritan Jews could not be genuinely "Jewish" since they did not live according to the religion prescribed and regulated by the Sanhedrin or more precisely the Pharisees. It would be the Pharisees who would eventually define Rabbinic Judaism as it came to be articulated in the Talmud. In addition, modern non-Messianic Jewish groups generally do not accept Messianic Jews as true Jews.
The woman's use of Heb. Yehudi or Grk. Ioudaios was not intended to imply that she and Yeshua did not share the same biological ancestry (cf. verses 5 and 12) or the same religious values. They both accepted the authority of Moses and lived by Torah commandments, but they did have some significant religious differences. The woman probably assumed that Yeshua belonged to the strict Judeans that were prejudiced against Samaritans. By the definition of observance of Torah's ethical expectations the Samaritans were Jews. However, the Samaritans, like the Essenes who are not mentioned in the Besekh, did not participate in the sacrifices offered at the Temple in Jerusalem.
ask: Grk. aiteō, to ask in expectation of a response; ask, ask for, request. a drink: Grk. pinō, aor. inf. See verse 7 above. The infinitive is a verbal noun, and points to the purpose of Yeshua's request. of me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. a woman: Grk. gunē. of Samaria: Grk. Samaritis, genitive case. This is the second mention of the two fem. nouns in the verse and such repetition is typical of Hebraic writing. For Judeans: Grk. Ioudaioi, pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. The mention of the plural form introduces another characteristic of "three" in John's narrative, this time the three major Jewish groups identified by their territories: Judeans, Samaritans and Galileans (verse 45 below). do not: Grk. ou, particle that strongly negates.
share vessels with: Grk. sugchraomai, (derived from sun, "with" and chraomai, "engage in making serviceable, use, put to use"), pres. mid., have dealings with, associate. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. BAG defines as "have dealings with, associate on friendly terms with," but also acknowledges the interpretation of using vessels for food and drink together. Three common interpretations are reflected in Bible versions: (1) use in common (MRINT, MW, NET, NRSV, TEV), (2) associate with (CEB, CJB, DHE, GW, HCSB, MSG, NIV, NIRV, NLT, OJB) or (3) have dealings with (ASV, KJV, ESV, GNC, HNV, NASB, NKJV, RSV, TLV). NCV has "are not friends with."
Morris and Rienecker prefer to understand the non-association as sharing vessels. In other words, Judeans do not use vessels with Samaritans, which Yeshua was requesting. This practice ostensibly stemmed from the Mishnah regulation "the daughters of the Samaritans are deemed unclean as menstruants from their cradle"(Niddah 4:1). Eating the bread of Samaritans was regarded as eating the flesh of pigs, but this probably refers to eating with Samaritans (Shebiith 8:10). However, the intention of the verb may refer to other restrictions. One Rabbinic writer expressed the non-association as avoidance of a business partnership (Megillah 28a), which is reflected in Bible versions with "have no dealings with."
The woman places the blame for the lack of "sharing" or "dealings" squarely on the Ioudaioi, although there was one occasion when Samaritans did not extend a welcome to Yeshua and his disciples (Luke 9:51-53). God certainly imposed no such restrictions (cf. Deut 2:6). What should be noted is that all the pejorative comments against Samaritans and restrictions in association mentioned in the Mishnah and Talmud were written by Pharisees, so that the clarifying comment must use Ioudaioi to mean strict Pharisees or Hebraic Jews. The term cannot refer to Galilean Jews, Hellenistic Jews or other sectarian Jews who had no scruples about traveling through Samaria and engaging in commerce or other activities with Samaritans. After all, the disciples went into the town to buy food (verse 8 above), so the generalization of most versions is clearly inaccurate.
with Samaritans: pl. of Grk. Samaritēs (for Heb. Samerim), the masculine form of the word. In the LXX Samaritēs occurs one time for Heb. Shômerôni, an inhabitant of Samaria (2Kgs 17:29). This is the third mention of "Samaritan," another of John's penchant for threes in a verse. The masculine form occurs 9 times in the Besekh, 8 times referring either to individuals or people of Samaria, but once as a slur against Yeshua (John 8:48). The history of the Samaritans is bound up with the founding of the Northern Kingdom of Israel after the death of King Solomon (c. 931 BC; 1Kgs 11−12), its decline and eventual destruction by Assyria in 722 BC. (See verse 4 above.) The Assyrians deported many of the residents and replaced them with pagans, some of whom intermarried with Israelites left in the land.
In the Talmud the Samaritans are referred to frequently with the slur "Cuthean." Cutheans (Heb. Kutim) were among those brought by the Assyrians from their native Cuthah to Israel to populate the area of Israel left desolate by his deportation of native Israelites. Actually, the pagan immigrants came from five different locations: Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim (2Kgs 17:24). According to the Kings historical narrative the Assyrian immigrants were attacked by mountain lions, and they decided to convert to the God of Israel. As a result the King of Assyria appointed an Israelite priest to educate them in Torah religion (2Kgs 17:25-28).
Even with this social upheaval there is no evidence that all northern Israelites were exiled or totally assimilated into a Gentile culture and ceased to exist. Members of the northern tribes still participated in the pilgrim festivals in Jerusalem after the Assyrian occupation (cf. 2Chr 30:1, 21, 25; 31:1; 32:17, 23; 34:9, 21; 35:17; 36:13). Richard Coggins writes, "The Samaritans are best understood as a conservative group within the total spectrum of Judaism. This rather clumsy definition is necessary because of the ambiguity of the word "Judaism" (OCB 671). The Samaritans shared the beliefs and practices of mainstream Judaism of the day and reverenced holy traditions set forth in the Torah. The use of "Samaritan" by apostolic writers (Luke 9:52; 17:16; John 4:39, 40; Acts 8:25) and Yeshua (Matt 10:5; Luke 10:33) instead of "Cuthean" demonstrates their respect for the people as well as the belief that they were descendants of the northern tribes.
10 Yeshua answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who is the one saying to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water."
Yeshua answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. ind., 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, aor. act. ind. See verse 5 above. The use of "answered and said" is 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 her: the woman of Samaria, the recipient of revelation.
If: Grk. ei, conj. with a contingency aspect, used here to introduce an "if" clause. "If" introduces a specific circumstance that may either be assumed to be valid for the sake of argument or to be taken for granted. you knew: 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. Yeshua is saying, "If only you could experience what I'm describing."
the gift: Grk. dōrea, gift or bounty with the focus on liberality. BAG identifies dōrea as a loanword in rabbinic literature. The word occurs frequently in late Jewish literature, but in the canonical books always in the adverbial form dōrean (gift, gratis, without payment) and corresponds in meaning to the Heb. term chinnam, "for nothing without payment, or without recompense," (Gen 29:15; Ex 21:2, 11; Num 11:5, 2Sam 24:24; Jer 22:13) (DNTT 2:41). A "gift" is the opposite of wages, since it cannot be earned.
of God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. In secular Greek writings a number of deities, always represented in anthropomorphic form, were called theos. In ancient polytheistic culture theos was not one omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator and ruler of the universe and certainly not spirit as described in Scripture (John 4:24). In the LXX theos renders the generic designations of God, El (which occurs over 200 times, including combinations such as El Bethel, El Elyon, and El Shaddai) and Elohim (which occurs over 2300 times), as well as the tetragrammaton YHVH, over 300 times (DNTT 2:67-70). As with many other Greek words the LXX infused new meaning into theos.
The only God in existence is the God who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6, 14, 18, 21; 46:9), making Him the "God of Israel" an expression that occurs frequently in Scripture. The God of the Bible is not a philosophical belief in monotheism or a generic term for the deities worshipped by all people. All the other deities worshipped by religions in the world are the product of Satan-inspired imagination. Parallel to this formula is "God of Jacob,” which appears 21 times in Scripture, 13 of which include the longer formula, "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." Every nation had their deity, but only to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and then Moses did the true God reveal His name, His character and His commandments. This God may be the God of the Gentiles (Rom 3:29), but only if they accept the revelation that He is the God of Israel and join themselves to Israel. Only the God of Israel saves (Jer 16:19-20).
and who: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. The pronoun suggests a slight modulation in the voice to give it a questioning tone. is: Grk. eimi. See verse 6 above. the one: Grk. ho, definite article used here as a demonstrative pron. Bible versions are divided between translating the preceding four words as "and who it is who" or "and who it is that." However, Yeshua is not simply being redundant, but hinting that God is present in this conversation. Ho gives emphasis to the verb since it is a participle.
saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 7 above. A participle is considered a "verbal adjective." It can be used as an adjective, either to modify a noun or substitute as a noun, or it can be used as an adverb and further explain or define the action of a verb. to you: Yeshua is hinting that as "the speaking one" he is the voice of God who knows and cares about the person in front of him. Give me a drink: Yeshua repeats the request from verse 7 exactly. you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. would: Grk. an, a particle peculiar to Greek that denotes the action of the verb as being dependent on some circumstance or condition. Thus, translation is dependent on the mood and tense of the verb. The aorist tense of the following verb indicates the particle is placing the hypothetical scenario in the past (BAG). (Similar usage occurs in LXX Gen 30:27, 4Macc 2:20; Jdth 11:2; and Wsd 11:25.)
have asked: Grk. aiteō, aor. act. ind. See the note on verse 9 above. him: Yeshua refers to himself in the third person as he often does. and he would: Grk. an. have given: Grk. didōmi, aor. act. ind. See the note on verse 7 above. The verb completes the hypothetical scenario. you living: Grk. zaō, pres. act. part., be in the state of being alive. In the LXX zaō renders the Heb. adjective chay (SH-2416), alive, living, used for animal and human life (Gen 1:20; 3:20); the verb chayay (SH-2425), live, revive, save life (Gen 3:22; Ex 33:20); and the verb chayah (SH-2421), live, which appears often in texts describing how long someone lived (Gen 5:21) and in other passages as a reward of God for righteousness (Prov 4:4). Zaō is used here in a fig. sense.
water: Grk. hudōr, water, used here in a fig. sense. The expression "living water" reflects the Heb. mayim ("water") chayyim ("living"), which means running water from a stream or spring, in contrast with water stored in a cistern (Stern). In the Tanakh Adonai is the fountain of Israel, née Jacob (Deut 33:28; Ps 68:26; Jer 17:13) and living water for His people (Jer 2:13; 17:13). By making an allusion to the fountain or spring of Jacob, Yeshua is offering spiritual life, the very life of the God of Israel. There is a certain irony here considering the dominance of replacement theology in Christianity. The very character so despised by many Christians is in fact the source of their spiritual life. God promised Jacob that he would become a company of nations (Gen 28:3; 35:11), and that could only be possible through his Seed.
11 The woman said to him, "Sir, you have no bucket and the well is deep; where then have you living water?"
The woman: Grk. gunē with the definite article. See verse 7 above. A small number of versions omit "the woman" (CJB, NASB, NLT, and TLB). See the textual note below. Sir: Grk. kurios, lord, master or sir. See verse 1 above. The woman uses the title as a greeting of respect as was customary in Jewish culture. She had not been informed of Yeshua's name, but she wouldn't have used it even if she had known it. No woman addressed Yeshua by his given name. This woman's example demonstrates the kind of respect for spiritual leaders that ought to characterize the modern community of faith.
you 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 first meaning applies here. no: Grk. oute, conj., negative particle dismissing an activity or thing that follows the particle. bucket: Grk. antlēma, a vessel to draw water with, a skin-bucket. The woman states the obvious, perhaps implying that as a traveler Yeshua had been negligent in not bringing a bucket.
and the well: Grk. phrear, from a root meaning 'fountain' with the idea of restless movement or agitation, 'an extended hole in the ground; well. The term occurs 7 times in the Besekh, all but one in the writings of John (the next verse; Rev 9:1-2). In the LXX phrear translates Heb. be'er (SH-875, 'beh-ayr'), a well, often made by digging (Gen 26:32). The use of phrear here does not contradict the description of the site as a spring (Grk. pēgē) in verse 6 above. In the LXX both words occur in Genesis 24, the story of Abraham's servant meeting Rebekah. The water source there is called phrear (for Heb. beer) in verse 11 and pēgē (for Heb. ayin) in verse 13. Taken together the two words suggest that the natural spring had been dug out and a protective structure added to make it more accessible.
is deep: Grk. bathus, reaching to a point relatively far down from the top; deep. Gill reports conflicting observations of the well being 40 cubits (60 feet) deep and 35 yards deep. where: Grk. pothen, interrogative adv. of direction; from where, whence. then: Grk. oun, conj. See verse 1 above. have: Grk. echō. The second use of the verb means to have at hand. you living water: See the previous verse. The question implies that Yeshua has a source of "living water" in another place.
12 "Are you greater than our father Jacob who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?"
Are you: It's easy to imagine the opening words being spoken with a slightly raised modulation in the voice to indicate incredulity. greater than: Grk. meizōn, adj. (from megas, exceeding a standard and therefore impressive, generally in regard to physical dimensions; fig. of age, wealth, rank, or dignity). The adj. is used in a superlative sense to compare someone more prominent or outstanding because of certain advantages or greater in power and might (BAG). our: pl. of Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. father: Grk. patēr, normally of a male biological parent or ancestor, but frequently in reference to God, which emphasizes both his activity as creator 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 in relation to Israel (Ex 4:22) (DNTT 1:616f). "Our father" alludes to the ancestor of the Israelite Samaritans, and obviously excludes Gentile citizens either migrated or were moved into the territory.
Jacob: See verse 5 above. This is the third mention of the name Jacob in this chapter, another of John's penchant for "three." The reference to "our father Jacob" is important for two reasons. First, the historical reference alludes to the ancestor of the Israelite Samaritans, and obviously excludes Gentile citizens that migrated into the territory. The woman believed herself to be a genetic descendant of Jacob making the Samaritans in general bona fide members of the people of Israel. In fact, a modern DNA study of Samaritans living in Israel has concluded:
"Of the 16 Samaritan mtDNA samples, 14 carry either of two mitochondrial haplotypes that are rare or absent among other worldwide ethnic groups. Principal component analysis suggests a common ancestry of Samaritan and Jewish patrilineages. Most of the former may be traced back to a common ancestor in the paternally-inherited Jewish high priesthood (Cohanim) at the time of the Assyrian conquest of the kingdom of Israel." (Peidong Shen, et. al., Reconstruction of Patrilineages and Matrilineages of Samaritans and Other Israeli Populations From Y-Chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA Sequence Variation, Human Mutation 24:248-260, Wiley-Liss, Inc.: 2004; accessed 9 June 2014)
Second, "our father Jacob" means that the woman identifies herself and her fellow Samaritans as legitimate heirs to the covenantal promises made to Jacob (see verse 5 above). Being a woman did not disqualify her since the Torah established the rights of women to inheritance based on God's judgment in favor of the daughters of Zelophehad, son of Manasseh (Num 27:1-8). who gave: Grk. didōmi, aor. See verse 5 above. us the well: Grk. phrear. See the previous verse. The woman points out the right of Samaritan ownership by virtue of inheritance. She does not imply that Jacob created the spring, but it was a gift of God to him. and drank: Grk. pinō, aor. See verse 7 above.
of it himself: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The woman reminds Yeshua of the antiquity of the spring, that it had been producing fresh water for 18 centuries! and his sons: pl. of Grk. huios. See verse 5 above. In Scripture the plural noun generally refers to the twelve sons of Jacob, but here specifically of the tribes of Manasseh, Ephraim and Levi. and his cattle: pl. of Grk. thremma, domesticated animal, such as a sheep or goat. The term occurs only here in the Besekh. The ownership reference would extend to the cattle of his sons. The woman's question is probably rhetorical, but suggests wonder. Jacob had provided a lasting legacy and for Yeshua to keep his promise implies an importance and power equal or greater than Jacob.
13 Yeshua answered and said to her, "Everyone drinking of this water will thirst again;
Yeshua answered and said: For this Hebraic expression see verse 10 above. Everyone drinking: Grk. pinō, pres. part. See verse 7 above. of this: Grk. toũto, neut. demonstrative pronoun. water: Grk. hudōr. See verse 7 above. will thirst: Grk. dipsaō, fut., be thirsty in a physical sense, longing for water. again: Grk. palin, adv. See verse 3 above. Yeshua states the obvious fact that even though the spring had been quenching thirst for centuries, the body's need for water meant that satisfaction was always a short-term experience. Delitzsch translates the quotation as "The ones drinking from these waters will return and be thirsty." The woman would of necessity have to keep returning to the well for water.
14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up into eternal life."
but: Grk. de, conj. See verse 4 above. Here the conjunction introduces a contrast in thought. whoever drinks: Grk. pinō, aor. subj. See verse 7 above. of the water: Grk. hudōr. See verse 7 above. that I will give: Grk. didōmi, fut. See verse 5 above. him will never thirst: Grk. dipsaō, fut. See verse 13 above. but: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 2 above. the water: Grk. hudōr. that I will give: Grk. didōmi, fut. Water, of course, represents life and salvation from God (Ps 36:9-10; Isa 12:3) and Yeshua hints here what he will later explicitly teach in chapter seven that "water" symbolizes the Holy Spirit (Shapira 207; cf. Prov 1:23; Isa 44:3; Joel 2:28-29; Zech 12:10), the gift of God to His people (Acts 2:38; 5:32; 10:45; Rom 5:5).
him will become: Grk. ginomai, fut. 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. in him a well: Grk. pēgē. See verse 6 above. of water: Grk. hudōr. This is the third mention of "water" in the verse, John's habit of emphasizing words three times in verses. springing up: Grk. hallomai, pres. mid. part., to move or surge upward quickly, of water, bubble or well up. The Holy Spirit is a gift that keeps on giving. into: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 8 above.
eternal: Grk. aiōnios, adj., can mean (1) relating to a period of time extending far into the past; long ages ago; (2) relating to time without boundaries or interruption; eternal; or (3) relating to a period of unending duration; permanent, lasting. In the LXX aiōnios occurs as the equivalent for Heb. olam, "a long duration, antiquity or futurity" (BDB 761), which is also used as an adverb meaning "for ever, for all time" (DNTT 3:827). In the Tanakh olam is used for ancient time (Gen 49:26), and indefinite futurity, which may equate to a man's lifetime (Deut 15:17), but more often to the everlasting nature of God (Gen 21:33). Lastly, olam encompasses existence after death and eternity (Ps 90:2; Isa 45:17; Dan 12:2-3).
life: Grk. zōē, life in contrast with being dead, but it is also used of a condition or experience transcending normal physical life. In the LXX zōē translates Heb. chayyim, 'life,' normally in the physical sense (DNTT 2:477). In the Tanakh the God of Israel is portrayed as the one who gives life and delivers from death (Ps 16:11; 27:1; 31:4-5; 36:9; 139:13-15). The hope of future life through resurrection occurs in a few passages (Job 19:25-27; Isa 26:19; Dan 12:1). From the Maccabean period true life was increasingly seen as the gift of eternal life (zōē aiōnios), life without end (4Macc 7:19; 15:3; 16:25; 17:12; 18:19). In addition, the immortality of the soul gained increasing importance as the means of having life in the world beyond (2Macc 8:21; 4 Macc 15:3, 12).
"Eternal life" is the ultimate prize and the quality of life manifested in glory, honor and immortality. Eternal life, however, is not just eternal existence, but sharing in the life of God. For that reason Yeshua taught that the abundant life, the best kind of life possible, begins now (Matt 10:39; John 6:35, 63; 10:10). It is the work of the Holy Spirit to usher the disciple into this kind of life.
15 The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I no longer thirst nor come to this place to draw."
Sir: Grk. kurios, vocative case. See verse 11 above. give: Grk. didōmi, aor. imp. See verse 5 above. The imperative mood reflects an entreaty. me this water: Grk. hudōr, "this eternal-life-producing water." See verse 7 above. so that: Grk. hina, prep., in order that. I no longer: Grk. mē, negative particle; lit. 'not.' thirst: Grk. dipsaō, pres. subj. See verse 13 above. nor: Grk. mēde, conj., negative particle used in escalation of negation; not, nor. come: Grk. dierchomai, pres. mid. subj. See verse 4 above. to this place: Grk. enthade, adv., a position relatively near the speaker; lit. 'here.' to draw: Grk. antleō, pres. inf. See verse 7 above.
The woman treated Yeshua's offer and promise as describing a physical water with long-lasting or permanent satisfaction and labor-saving as well. Her request could have been made with a touch of humor or even sarcasm. "Yeah, right, let's see this water that will do all you say." She was a woman in touch with the realities of life and she knew no such water existed. What a salesman! This man could probably sell sand to an Arab.
16 He said to her, "Go, call your husband and come back here."
He said to her: Yeshua switches from a dramatic proposal to an instruction using three imperative verbs, "go," "call," and "come." Go: Grk. hupagō, pres. imp., to proceed from a position, whether with the focus on the departure point or the destination. The present tense emphasizes to start and keep going. call: Grk. phōneō, aor. imp., may mean (1) to utter a sound designed to attracted attention, cry out or proclaim with emphasis; (2) call to oneself; summon, call for, or invite; or (3) to identify in personal address. The second meaning applies here. your husband: Grk. anēr, an adult man without regard to marital status, but in this context one who has taken a woman as wife. The phrase is lit. "husband of you," a subtle but important distinction. In biblical references to marriage the wife belongs to the husband, not vice versa, just as Eve belonged to Adam when she was presented to him.
In the LXX anēr renders several Heb. words: (1) ish, man; (2) enosh, men, people; (3) ba'al, lord, husband, head of a household; (4) gibbor, hero, warrior; (5) zaqen, elder; (6) nasi, prince; and (7) adon, lord (DNTT 2:562). The Tanakh presents the husband as lord of the wife (Gen 3:16; 18:12) and the head of the family in legal and religious proceedings (Ex 23:17; 34:23; 1Sam 1:3-4). Husbands also have important responsibilities for their wives (Deut 20:7; 21:14; 22:12-15; 24:5; cf. Yebamoth 62b). (See my web article Marriage in Ancient Israel.) Delitzsch translates anēr with Heb. ish, which often in the Tanakh has the meaning of husband when a man is described as having a wife. However, assuming that Yeshua in speaking Hebrew used ish, the woman could just have easily understood him to mean "man," thus explaining her reply.
and come: Grk. erchomai, aor. imp. See verse 5 above. back here: Grk. enthade, adv. See the previous verse. Yeshua's entreaty is perfectly in line with social custom and treating her as married would show respect to her family head.
17 The woman answered and said, "I have not a man." Yeshua said to her, "You have correctly said, 'I have not a man,
The woman: Grk. gunē with the definite article. See verse 7 above. answered and said: See verse 10 above for this Hebraic expression. I have: Grk. echō. See verse 11 above. Here the verb indicates not possession or having under one's control, but having with oneself or having in one's company in a close relationship. It can also have the meaning of to experience a certain condition. not: Grk. ou, adv., a strong negation; lit. "not." a man: Grk. anēr. See the previous verse. The phrase in Greek is lit. "not have a man." Delitzsch translates anēr with Heb. ish. The woman's point could be "I am not in the situation of being married," or she could mean simply "I have no man," which would include surviving male relatives. In other words, she has no man as security and she cohabits with no man.
Yeshua: See verse 1 above. He then repeats what the woman said. You have correctly: Grk. kalōs, in an effective manner, often with the focus on meeting expectations; well, effectively, accurately, correctly, appropriately. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 7 above. Yeshua then repeats what the woman said, although the Greek text lit. says, "A man not have." Yeshua deliberately inserts the word for "man" ahead of the verb of the woman. Yeshua commends the woman for her truthfulness, but he put a subtle emphasis on the man whereas the woman had put the emphasis on herself. For the woman's part she could have evaded the request and simply left, but she was obviously intrigued by the conversation.
18 for five husbands you had, and just now he whom you have is not your husband; this you have said honestly."
for five: Grk. pente, adj., the number five. husbands: pl. of Grk. anēr. See verse 16 above. Delitzsch translates anēr this time with the plural Heb. ba'alim, 'husbands,' to emphasize the change in nuance. you had: Grk. echō, aor. See verse 11 above. Yeshua refers to valid marital relationships. There is no indication in the narrative of how the relationships ended, whether by death or divorce. Christian commentators generally impute to her a divorce history and a sinful life of adulterous affairs which Yeshua exposes (so Morris and Tenney; see comparable views of other Christian commentators at BibleHub.com). Gill mentions that if she had been divorced it could only have been for adultery because the Samaritans followed the Torah in a strict manner. He cites the Talmud:
"R. Simeon b. Gamaliel [10 BC-AD 70] said: Every precept which Cutheans [Samaritans] have adopted, they observe it with minute care, [even] more than the Israelites. But here [in respect to marriage], wherein are they not well-versed? — Because they are not well-versed in the law of betrothal and divorce." (Kiddushin 76a)
The negative assessment by the Talmud is based on the Samaritan rejection of Pharisaic traditions. The Samaritans were not so "well-versed" to allow divorce for frivolous reasons as the School of Hillel (Gittin 9:10).
Following the Torah strictly required stoning for adultery, not divorce (Deut 22:24), but there is no evidence in the Bible or other Jewish literature that anyone was ever stoned in Israel for adultery. Since adultery was so difficult to prove (Job 24:15) and capital punishment required the testimony of two or three eyewitnesses (Deut 19:15), the woman could be subjected to a jealousy test (Num 5:11-28). Joseph, the step-father of Yeshua, chose not to do the jealousy test and planned to divorce Miriam for assumed adultery (Matt 1:18-19). His decision reflects the diminished status of the test in the first century, because adultery was so common (cf. Hos 4:14; Mark 8:38; John 8:7). Indeed, Johanan ben Zakkai, president of the Sanhedrin during the last days of the commonwealth, abolished the ordeal entirely for this very reason (Sotah 9:4).
However, we must consider the basic principles of exegesis! What does the text say? A history of widowhood should not be dismissed. Due to wars and the physical nature of men's work it was much more common for a wife to lose a husband than a husband to lose a wife (cf. Isa 4:1). The book of Tobit tells the story of Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, married to seven husbands, all of whom had been killed by an evil demon and they died childless (3:7-16; 6:13; 7:11), which caused unspeakable grief for the widow. The Sadducees posed the hypothetical scenario of a woman marrying seven brothers who all died childless (Mark 12:19-22), perhaps with Tobit's story in mind. Yeshua's choice of meeting the Samaritan woman may hint at an affinity to these other stories and thus she had likely been widowed five times. Her life had been one of tragedy and Yeshua offers her a chance for a better future.
and just now: Grk. nun, marker of time in the present; now or just now. he whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun, masc.; who. you have: Grk. echō. The verb could have the meaning of "have an interest in" or "have a close relationship with." is: Grk. eimi. See verse 6 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. that strongly negates the verb. your husband: lit. "a husband of you." Again, Delitzsch appropriately employs Heb. ba'al for husband. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun to signify a preceding statement in the narrative; this. you have spoken: Grk. legō, perf. See verse 7 above. The perfect tense points to consistency in testimony. honestly: Grk. alēthēs, adj., unconcealed, and so 'true.' The adjective may emphasize (1) in accordance with fact; (2) real or genuine; (3) in a straightforward, honest or truthful manner; and frequently (4) of reliability and trustworthiness.
Yeshua's statement of the woman's present situation seems to contain a mystery, which Bible commentators generally assume to be an immoral lifestyle. In the Torah, which the Samaritans regarded as Scripture, sexual intimacy creates a marriage obligation. So, why would the man not be considered her husband? Yeshua might mean that since a ketubah (marriage contract) was required for marriage under Jewish law, then the current man had not given the woman a ketubah. In any event Yeshua implied no impropriety, but simply made an observation. Adam Clarke presents the argument that the woman is only betrothed and not yet fully wed to the man.
In any case, Clarke asserts that Yeshua's words should not be taken as reproof and points to several elements in the narrative that supports her good character (see the notes on verses 20, 26 and 39 below). First, it is not likely that a woman so far advanced in years as to have had five husbands should have now been found living with a sixth man without benefit of marriage. Second, It is not likely that our Lord would not, in some part of his discourse, have reproved her for her fornication, especially if guilty of it under such gross circumstances. Treating assumptions as if they were facts and disparaging Bible characters without foundation in Scripture is poor scholarship, but sadly all too common.
19 The woman said to him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.
The woman said to him: See verse 11 above for this opening clause. Sir: Grk. kurios. See verse 11 above. I perceive: Grk. theōreō may mean (1) pay attention to; look at, observe, watch, behold; or (2) conclude on the basis of personal experience; infer, see. The second meaning applies here. The Shunammite woman made a similar comment about Elisha (2Kgs 4:9). that you are a prophet: Grk. prophētēs, one who is gifted with the ability for interpretation or revelation transcending normal insight or awareness, i.e., a prophet. In ancient Greek culture the word-group always had a religious meaning and referred to one who predicts or tells beforehand (DNTT 3:76). In Scripture the term "prophet" refers to one who spoke on God's behalf, whether in foretelling or forth-telling.
The record of the Tanakh indicates considerable variance in the activity and ministry of Hebrew prophets. Some prophets left literary works that later became Scripture. Others left no writings. Some gave advice to kings. Some prophesied in worship settings. Some saw visions. Some proclaimed a message in startling symbolic actions. Some were gentle, some were fiery, some were confrontational, some worshipful, some full of joy, others full of sadness. But, they all spoke for God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2Pet 1:21). The apostolic writings assert the continuation and place of prophesying among Messianic believers (Acts 19:6; Rom 12:6; 1Cor 13:9; 14:1), but Rabbinic Judaism replaced prophetic speaking with the authority of the Sages (Baba Bathra 12a; cf. John 8:53). However, the woman's admission is vital to her recognition of Yeshua as the Messiah since Samaritans did not accept the works of Isaiah through Malachi as Scripture.
Stern commits a scholarly faux pas, as Christian commentators, by saying she made this statement because Yeshua supernaturally knew about her sin. If he had such knowledge why didn't he say so plainly? At no time in her conversation with Yeshua does the woman confess to any wrongdoing as the apostolic narratives record others doing (cf. Matt 3:6; Luke 5:8; 15:21; 18:13; 23:41). Conversely, Yeshua does not offer forgiveness (cf. Luke 5:20; 7:47) or warn her to stop sinning (cf. John 5:14; 8:11). The woman's assessment was based simply on the fact that Yeshua stated her marital history and present circumstances without ever having met her before. She would not be the only one who regarded Yeshua as a prophet (Matt 16:14; 21:11; Luke 7:16; John 6:14; 7:40; 9:17).
20 "Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where worship ought to be."
Our fathers: pl. Grk. patēr. See the note on verse 12 above. The reference "our fathers," lit. "fathers of us" pertains to the ancestors of the woman. The idiom can reflect considerable time between the ancestors intended and the generation using the idiom. In biblical usage "our fathers" may refer to (1) the patriarchs (Luke 1:55; Acts 3:13), (2) Jacob and his family when they went into Egypt (cf. Num 20:15; Deut 5:3; 1Kgs 8:53, 58; Neh 9:9; Acts 7:11-12, 15), (3) the Exodus generation (Josh 24:17; Jdg 6:13; 1Kgs 8:21; Ps 106:7; John 6:31; Acts 7:38-39, 44; 13:17; 1Cor 10:1), (4) the generation that entered the land under Joshua (1Kgs 8:40; Neh 9:36; Acts 7:45) or (5) the rebellious generations that brought about the Exile (2Kgs 22:13; 2Chr 29:6; 34:21; Ezra 5:12; 9:7; Neh 9:32; Jer 3:25; Lam 5:7; Dan 9:16).
The woman could refer to distant ancestors of the tribe of Manasseh who received the original allotment that included Mount Gerizim (Josh 17:7-9) or more immediate ancestors. worshiped: Grk. proskuneō, aor., means to bow down, to worship, do obeisance to, prostrate oneself before, do reverence to or welcome respectfully. Over half of the 60 occurrences of proskuneō in the Besekh are in John’s writings, 24 times in Revelation alone. In the LXX proskuneō principally translates Heb. shachah (SH-7812), to bend down or prostrate oneself to pay homage or worship (first in Gen 18:2), as well as Aram. segid (SH-5457), do homage, worship, almost exclusively in Daniel. It occurs without Heb. equivalent in the apocryphal books and occasionally in canonical writings (DNTT 2:876). The Hebraic concept of worship features adoration of Adonai, the God of Israel.
The worshipper has no sense of having to keep his distance from God. The God of Israel is worshipped without images and therefore is not within the grasp of the worshipper. The first mention of "worship" in the Bible” occurs on the lips of Abraham who obeyed God to sacrifice Isaac (Gen 22:5). In the worship context the "bending" or "bowing" means an attitude of submission to the sovereign will of God and a willingness to sacrifice personal desires as dictated by the Holy Majesty (cf. Ex 12:27-28). The fact that Israelites incorporated various physical actions to express their praise, devotion and entreaty does not mean those actions were expected by God. In the apostolic writings proskuneō directed to God continues the Hebrew meaning with a greater emphasis on obeisance linked with prayers for divine help.
in this mountain: Grk. oros means "mountain," "hill," or "hill-country." The corresponding Heb. word, har, is given in Scripture to a comparatively large ridge, a collection of small hills and to many hogbacks in Israel. Modern science distinguishes hills from mountains by classifying a hill as being less than 1,000 feet above its surroundings, but the distinction may depend upon local interpretation. Although oros is rendered here as "Mount," English Bible versions reflect the arbitrary standard of modern science in many passages, rather than recognizing that a single Hebrew and Greek word was used to refer to any natural topographical feature that rose above a valley, plain or other surroundings regardless of height. The mountain here is Mount Gerizim, located southwest of Mount Ebal, elevation 2890 feet.
The main north-south road through central Israel ran between these two mountains. Thus, Gerizim was of strategic military importance. Mount Gerizim is first mentioned in Deuteronomy 11:29, which anticipates pronouncing blessings on the mountain with curses being pronounced on Mount Ebal. Moses directed that when the Hebrew people reach the promised land, six tribes were to stand on the slopes of each mountain (Deut 27:11-14). Then Moses listed the blessings for keeping the Torah that were to be proclaimed from Mount Gerizim and the curses for not keeping it from Mount Ebal (Deut 27:4-26). In the Samaritan Pentateuch an altar was commanded to be set up on Mount Gerizim, but the MT has the altar being set up on Mount Ebal (cf. the two texts at Deut 27:4-6).
Morris suggests the possibility that if Gerizim were original it might well have been altered by the Jews as part of an anti-Samaritan polemic (268). Under Joshua's leadership the Israelites duly carried out Moses' instructions (Josh 8:33). The characteristics of the two mountains make it possible to speak from either mountain and be heard easily in the valley below (NIBD 416). Jacob's Well is situated at the foot of Mount Gerizim. When it came time to divide the land among the tribes Mount Gerizim was inside the territory allotted to Manasseh Josh 17:7-9). The nearby town of Shechem became a city of refuge, specifically allocated to the Levitical clan of Kohathites (Josh 21:20-21). It's not impossible that the woman of this narrative was descended from Kohath.
At any rate, the woman's mention of worship at Mount Gerizim might imply a more recent historical perspective. One report says that a temple had been built on the site in the Persian period circa 432 BC as a rival to the one built in Jerusalem (ISBE). Another report says the first temple was built a century later with the permission of Alexander the Great (NIBD 416), but this report is doubted by some scholars (OCB 672). What is certain is that during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes (175–164 BC) the Samaritan temple was renamed either Zeus Hellenios (willingly by the Samaritans according to Josephus, Ant. XII, 5:5) or, more likely, Zeus Xenios (unwillingly according to 2 Macc 6:1-2). The report of Josephus probably reflects the attitude of Hellenistic residents. The temple, along with Shechem, was destroyed by John Hyrcanus c. 110 BC (Ant. XIII, 9:1; Wars I, 2:6).
Worship in the first century Jerusalem temple incorporated many activities, such as singing, playing instruments, praying, sacrificing animals, presenting offerings, burning incense, fulfilling vows, and hearing Scripture read. Even though the temple at Mount Gerizim had been long gone, Samaritans still venerated the site as the holiest of mountains because they believed that in the days of Uzzi the high priest (1Chr 6:6); the ark and other sacred vessels were hidden by God's command in Mount Gerizim (Ant. XVIII, 4:1). As a result the Samaritans hoped for its restoration under the Messiah. It's very likely that there was some kind of memorial erected there at which Samaritans would visit to pray and engage in other worship activities.
and you: Grk. humeis, pl. of su, pronoun of the second person. Some versions add "people" or "Jews" to complete the reference. The woman is not identifying Yeshua personally, but those to whom she assumes he belongs. say: Grk. legō. See verse 5 above. that in Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma, a rough transliteration of the Heb. Yerushalayim, which means "possession" or "foundation of peace" (BDB 436). 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, as well as Zion. By the end of his 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). The temple was located on Mount Moriah. Jeremias estimated the resident population of the city in the time of Yeshua at about twenty-five to thirty thousand (252). Stern gives a much higher population number quoting Magen Broshi, curator of Jerusalem’s Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls (301). Broshi estimated the city’s population at the end of King Herod the Great’s rule at 40,000, and before the destruction of the Second Temple at 80,000 (“Estimating the Population of Ancient Jerusalem,” pp. 10–15 in Biblical Archeology Review 4:2, 1978).
For the faithful Jew the city of Jerusalem represented all that was dear in the covenant relationship with God. One psalmist expressed his affection thus, "If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill, may my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy" (Psalm 137:5-6). is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 6 above. the place: Grk. topos, a spatial area, which may be an unnamed geographical area or a named locality. where: Grk. hopou, adv. of place; where. worship: Grk. proskuneō, pres. inf. ought to be: Grk. deō. See verse 4 above. Marshall has "it behooves."
The fact that the woman raises the issue of the proper place of worship speaks well of the woman's character. This is not a diversion, but a subject of passionate belief for her. As Clarke points out it is not at all likely that when a discovery of her supposed guilt was made to her, by one whom she acknowledged to be a prophet, the first thing which came into her thoughts should be the important question about the place God appointed for His worship, so contested between the Jews and Samaritans. It is unfortunate that Bible interpreters are prone to defame the woman's character when she is obviously a religious person. The woman's challenge reflects an important part of Samaritan theology.
The Samaritans acknowledged only the Pentateuch as inspired by God and denied Jerusalem as the religious center, opting instead for Mount Gerizim. Commentators typically say that when the exiled Jews returned to the Land and began to build the temple in Jerusalem, the neighboring Samaritans opposed the project. However, the word "Samaritan" does not occur in the Tanakh at all. The opposition to the temple rebuilding came not from citizens of Samaria, but from Sanballat the Horonite, the governor of Samaria appointed by the Persian king, and Tobiah, an Ammonite official, as well as some Arabs, Ammonites and Ashdodites (Neh 2:10, 19; 4:1, 7; 6:1-2, 5, 12, 14). (NOTE: "Horonite" is associated with Beth-Horon, near the border of Benjamin and within the border of the Kingdom of Judah.)
In other words, pagans opposed the rebuilding, not Israelite descendants of Jacob who lived in Samaria. Actually, the sentiment of the woman and her fellow Samaritans was similar to the Essenes who regarded the Jerusalem Temple as unfit for religious activities since it was presided over by the corrupt Sadducean priesthood. Daniel Gruber offers this quote from a Jewish midrash:
"R. Jonathan was going up to worship in Yerushala'im, when he passed the Palantanis mountain [Mt. Gerizim] and was seen by a certain Samaritan, who asked him, 'Where are you going?' He said, 'To go up to worship in Yerushala'im." [The Samaritan replied.] "It would be better for you to pray at this blessed mountain than at that dunghill." (Mid. Gen. Rabbah 32:10; 80:3; quoted in MW-Notes 148)
21 Yeshua said to her, "Woman, believe me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
Yeshua said to her: See this clause in verse 7 above. Woman: Grk. gunē, voc. case. Addressing the woman 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 NLT tries to capture this sense with "Dear Woman" while the CJB has "Lady," a very non-Jewish idiom that comes across as an insult. The vocative case of "Woman" is found in other passages, and generally introduces a revelation to a woman (Reinhartz 161):
● Yeshua to his mother in Cana (John 2:4),
● 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 woman accused of 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).
believe: Grk. pisteuō, pres. imp., 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 means to confirm or support, as well as to be true, reliable or faithful, and to stand firm or trust (BDB 52). In the Hebrew concept believing, trusting and being faithful are inseparable (cf. Matt 7:21; Heb 11:6). me: Grk. moi, dative case of egō, pronoun of the first person. Yeshua is not asking the woman to exercise saving faith, but to have confidence in his word about the future. an hour: Grk. hōra. See verse 6 above. is coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. See verse 5 above. It is appropriate to use the present tense to anticipate a future event, which emphasizes its certainty.
when: Grk. hote, adv. linking an event with another event; when. neither: Grk. oute, conj., negative particle dismissing an activity or thing that follows the particle and often coupled formulaically with another oute functioning in a similar manner. in this mountain: Grk. oros. See the previous verse. nor: Grk. oute. in Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma. See the previous verse. will you worship: Grk. proskuneō, fut. See the previous verse. The verb is second person plural, so Yeshua is referring to more than just the woman. the Father: Grk. patēr. See verse 12 above. In the Tanakh the concept of God as Father occurs only in relation to Israel (Ex 4:22; Deut 1:31; 8:5; 32:6; 2Sam 7:14; 1Chr 17:13; 22:10; 28:6; Ps 89:26; 103:13; Prov 3:12; Isa 63:16; 64:8; Jer 31:9; Hos 11:1; Mal 1:6; 2:10; cf. Acts 3:13; 5:30; 22:14 24:14).
Many people think of God as father in relation to all mankind as Paul in his Athenian sermon quotes the Greek philosopher Epimenides, "we also are His children" (Acts 17:28). While God gave physical life to mankind, he is only Father in a spiritual and covenantal sense in relation to Israel (Rom 9:4). Even more particularly God is the father of the disciples of Yeshua, "our Father," frequently emphasized in Paul's writings (Rom 1:7; 1Cor 1:3; 2Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Php 1:2; Col 1:2; 2Thess 1:1; 2:16; Philem 1:3). Other apostles refer to God simply as "the Father" (Acts 2:33; Jacob 1:17; 1Pet 1:2; 1John 1:2; Judah 1:1). There is no trinitarian intention as usage developed by the church fathers. Even Yeshua can be called "Everlasting Father" (Isa 9:6).
Yeshua makes an important point that worship is (or should be) directed to the Father, not to himself or the Holy Spirit. This is why Yeshua taught his disciples to pray "Our Father" (Matt 6:9). The announcement of Yeshua portended destruction of the worship sites, although it's not clear whether the woman fully appreciated the warning. The Jerusalem temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C., but when the Jews revolted against Rome in A.D. 66 the Roman army came and after four years of bloody war destroyed both the city of Samaria and Jerusalem, as well as most of the Jewish population in the Land.
Another point may be inferred from Yeshua's words. Many commandments could only be obeyed by the presence of the temple in Jerusalem, such as the laws of treating uncleanness and the laws of the pilgrim festivals, not to mention the five kinds of offerings regularly presented at the temple. This would not be the first time that God permitted changes to his instructions. For example, Deborah, a woman, served as a judge, when normally this was a prescribed duty for men (Jdg 4:5). Samuel, who was not descended from Aaron, served as a priest (1Sam 7:3-10). King David changed the duties of Levites (1Chr 23:25-26). God did not order David's execution for adultery (2Sam 12:10). The greatest change, of course, is that Yeshua replaced Aaron as High Priest and became a sin offering (John 1:29; 2Cor 5:21), eliminating the need for sacrificing animals for atonement.
22 "You worship who you do not know; we worship who we know, for salvation is from the Judeans.
You: Grk. humeis, pl. of su, pronoun of the second person. Some versions add "people" (CEB, CJB, NET, NLV) or "Samaritans" (CEV, ERV, EXB, HCSB, NCV, NIRV, NIV, NLT, TEV) to complete the reference. worship: Grk. proskuneō. See verse 20 above. The present tense reflects an ongoing practice. what: Grk. hos, relative pronoun; who, what, which or that. you do not: Grk. ou, particle that strongly negates the verb. know: Grk. oida, perf., pl. in number. See verse 10 above. In this context the verb would imply an intimate personal knowledge. The verb choice contrasts with Yeshua's statement to Nicodemus in John 3:10, "you do not know," where he uses ginōskō, to have information about. The woman might have head knowledge, but not heart knowledge.
A parallel contrast occurs in Matthew 15:9 where Yeshua condemns the hypocritical Pharisees for denying their parents support. He quotes Isaiah 29:13, "This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me teaching as doctrines the precepts of men." The quoted verse treats "worship" (Grk. sebomai, to honor God through acts of obedience to His will) and "teaching" (Grk. didaskō, to teach) as a parallelism. In other words, the Samaritan worship and the teaching of their leaders were founded on inadequate or inaccurate knowledge. Yeshua is not implying any kind of syncretistic religion because at this time the Samaritans worshipped the God of Israel and they held certain beliefs in common with other Jewish groups.
Like the Sadducees the Samaritans accepted only the Torah as Scripture and rejected the "oral Torah" or traditions of the Pharisees. Like the Essenes the Samaritans deemed the Jerusalem temple as unworthy of their worship and support. So what was it that they didn't know or understand? In one respect the Samaritans shared the same deficiencies present in the other Jewish groups. They lived in disobedience to the Torah by refusing to sacrifice at Jerusalem. They cut themselves off from revelation by rejecting the prophets. They held to religious traditions of their own invention. Yeshua will go on to explain in the next verse what is vital for true worship.
we: Grk. hēmeis, pl. of egō, pronoun of the first person. worship: Grk. proskuneō. what: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. we know: Grk. oida, perf. Yeshua statement is somewhat problematic if we assume that "we know" refers to Jews in general. The Sadducean priesthood was a corrupt institution and the worship they led could hardly be considered superior to the Samaritans. The phrase "what we know" repeats exactly what Yeshua said to Nicodemus (John 3:11) and there Yeshua identifies himself with the leading lights of Israel. We should note that Yeshua does not say "we Jews know." Yeshua is not treating her with condescension as the Pharisee compared himself with the tax collector (Luke 18:11). for: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, here indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as.
salvation: Grk. sōtēria, a freeing from real or threatening harm or loss; rescue, deliverance or salvation. In the LXX sōtēria occurs over 100 times and translates six different Hebrew words (DNTT 3:206), four of which are formations derived from the root verb yasha (SH-3467, save, deliver), especially yeshu'ah (SH-3444, salvation), the meaning of our Lord's name, and teshu'ah (SH-8668, salvation, victory, help). In the Tanakh deliverance is normally accomplished by God (e.g., Ex 15:2), and the deliverance is from physical harm or from oppression within a human context. Often the deliverance has a spiritual component. In the Besekh sōtēria is used of deliverance from physical harm (Acts 7:25) or from oppression (Luke 1:71), but the primary use of the term is in relation to divine deliverance from sin and wrath through the mediatorial work of the Messiah.
Messianic deliverance is described in two important ways: (1) safety of the soul in the present resulting from the receipt of God's mercy (Luke 1:77; Acts 4:12; Rom 10:10) and (2) final redemption over all earthly ills and victory over the Adversary accomplished in the Second Coming, as well as deliverance from God's judgment on the wicked (Rom 13:11; 1Th 5:9; Heb 9:28; Rev 12:10). Ultimately, we are saved, not by anything we do, including trusting in God, but by God's choice to be faithful to His promises. As Paul said, "But because of Him you are in Messiah Yeshua, who became to us wisdom from God and righteousness and holiness and redemption" (1Cor 1:30 TLV).
is: Grk. eimi. See verse 6 above. from: Grk. ek, prep., lit. "out of" or "by means of." the Judeans: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios (for Heb. Y'hudim). See verse 9 above. On the face of it Yeshua's statement seems odd because in reality salvation is from the God of Israel. However, Yeshua engages in a word play on his own name, which means "salvation," and alludes to Messianic prophecy. Ioudaioi could then have a double meaning of Jacob's descendants and Judah, since the Messiah would come forth from the woman's ancestor Jacob (Gen 28:14; Num 24:17), and descend from the tribe of Judah (Gen 49:10; 2Sam 7:12-13; Matt 1:1; Luke 3:33; Heb 7:14). The bold assertion of Yeshua also serves as a rebuke of later Christian church fathers who abandoned Jewish roots of the faith. Salvation is not from the Church.
23 "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for Father seeks such ones worshipping Him.
But: Grk. alla, conj. with a strong and emphatic adversative meaning, but. an hour: Grk. hōra, hour, time, used here figuratively of an expected time. is coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. ind. See verse 5 above. The present tense is used here of an anticipated event. and now: Grk. nun, reference to time in the present; now or just now. is: Grk. eimi, pres. act. ind. See verse 6 above. Yeshua emphasizes that the sovereign plan is already in progress. when the true: Grk. alēthinos, adj., in accord with what is true, with these applications: (1) true, in the sense of reliable or dependable; (2) opposite of superficial, real, genuine, authentic; or (3) in accord with fact or circumstance, accurate. The second meaning seems relevant here.
worshipers: pl. of Grk. proskunētēs, one who bows down to the will of God; worshipper. Participating in a religious liturgy or attending a congregational service on the Sabbath or the Lord's Day does not make one a worshipper. A form of godliness is not godliness. will worship: Grk. proskuneō, fut. act. ind. See verse 20 above. the Father: Grk. patēr with the definite article. See verse 21 above. The noun is used here fig. of the Creator of the universe and God of Israel. As in the Lord's Prayer worship is to be directed to the Father, not specifically the Son or the Spirit.
in: Grk. en, prep., lit. "within." spirit: Grk. pneuma without the definite article. (for Heb. ruach), wind, breath or spirit as the animating force for bodily movement (Luke 8:55). Pneuma is used for transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14), particularly the Spirit as God's self-expression (Gen 1:2; Mark 1:10). Some versions (NIV, TLV) capitalize the noun as "Spirit" or "the Spirit" (meaning the Holy Spirit), but the absence of the definite article and coupling with "truth" suggests that Yeshua intended the human spirit (so ESV, MW, NASB, NKJV) and refers to the character and nature of the person (Rienecker; cf. Acts 18:25; Rom 1:9; 12:11). The CJB has "spiritually."
Worshipping "in spirit" means the person is in a right relationship with God and wants to please the One who is the focus of his worship. Worshipping "in spirit" does not refer to a "free" vs. "liturgical" style of worship that Christians are so divided over. Worshipping in spirit does not pertain to form, but attitude. Worshipping in spirit is also not code language for speaking in tongues or worshipping in a manner to please oneself. The congregation at Corinth violated the "spirit" of Yeshua's instruction for which they were properly chastised by the apostle Paul. (See my commentary on 1Corinthians 14.) Worshipping in spirit would be tantamount to the humility shown by the living creatures and the angels who bow down in awe before the holy God (Rev 4:10-11; 7:11-12).
and truth: Grk. alētheia, that which is really so, openness in communication as opposed to deception. Worshipping in truth signifies a deeply rooted integrity that bows to the scrutiny of God. As David said, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise" (Ps 51:17). Worshipping in truth means that the worshipper speaks the truth about God in the form of praises, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph 5:19), and about himself in the form of confession and repentance. Worshipping in truth also means hearing the Word of truth from Scripture, bowing down to its authority and receiving its instruction for personal application.
for the Father seeks: Grk. zēteō may mean (1) be on the search for in order to find someone or something one has difficulty in locating; seek, look for; (2) search for ways to satisfy an interest; deliberate, discuss; (3) have an interest in; desire, seek; or (4) press for; expect, demand. In this context the third meaning applies here. The qualities of spirit and truth matter to God the most in our worship of Him. such: Grk. toioutos, demonstrative pronoun, such, of such a kind. ones worshipping: Grk. proskuneō, pres. part. This is the third time to mention the "worship" word group in this verse. Him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. True worship is directed to the God of Israel.
24 "God is spirit, and the ones worshipping must worship in spirit and truth."
God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 10 above. is spirit: Grk. pneuma. See the previous verse. Tenney observes that the statement "God is spirit" is one of the four descriptions of God found in the Besekh. The other three are "God is light" (1John 1:5), "God is love" (1John 4:8, 16), and "God is a consuming fire" (Heb 12:29). However, there is no verb "is" (Grk. eimi) in this verse and the eimi verb is absent in Hebrews 12:29. I suggest adding "Our God is One Lord" (Mark 12:29) and "God is true" (John 3:33) to this list.
From a theological point of view Yeshua emphasizes that that the God of Israel cannot be confined to one place nor conceived of as a material being. Being "spirit" summarizes God's attributes: (1) living (Deut 5:26); (2) transcendent (1Kgs 8:27; Isa 57:15); (3) immanent (Acts 17:27-28); (4) immutable (Mal 3:6; Heb 13:8); (5) eternal (Ps 102:27; Isa 57:15); (6) immense (1Kgs 8:27; Isa 66:1); and (7) omnipresent (Ps 139:7; Jer 23:24). God is also the one who formed the spirit within man (Num 16:22; Zech 12:1; Heb 12:9).
However, there is another consideration. The Greek text of the verse begins with pneuma before theos (the same word order of the two words in the LXX), which translates exactly the word order of the Heb. title Ruakh Elohim found 12 times in the Tanakh. This title of God could belong with the end of verse 23 and read "ones worshipping Him, Ruakh Elohim." The first occurrence of Ruakh Elohim in Genesis 1:2 hints at his role. The Ruakh serves the Father by shaping and organizing what the Father has created by his Word. The Ruakh Elohim is then revealed as the One providing wisdom, understanding and knowledge (Gen 41:38; Ex 31:3; 35:31; Ezek 11:24). Finally, the Ruakh Elohim inspires prophesying (Num 24:2; 1Sam 10:10; 11:6; 19:20, 23; 2Chr 15:1; 24:20).
and the ones worshipping: Grk. proskuneō, pres. part. See verse 20 above. In practical terms Yeshua means "those bowing down to the will of God." must: Grk. deō. See verse 4 above. Marshall has "it behooves." The verb conveys the only reasonable outcome. worship: Grk. proskuneō, pres. inf. The infinitive is a verbal noun, which means it has the voice and tense of a verb, but also the case relations of a noun. As a verb it may express purpose (the most common usage), result, or command, and here probably all three. in spirit and truth: See the previous verse for these two important attributes of worship. Human worship is to parallel the role of the Holy Spirit. Without wisdom, knowledge and the prophetic word congregational worship is seriously deficient.
The woman said to him: See verse 11 above for this clause. I know: Grk. oida, perf. See verse 10 above. The verb rings with the certainty of conviction and the perfect tense indicates a long held belief. that Messiah: Grk. Messias, a transliteration of the Heb. Mashiach, Anointed One or Messiah (Morris, Stern). BAG says it transliterates the Aram. M'shicha, but Thayer says the Greek title stands for both the Hebrew and Aramaic forms. This Greek form of the title occurs in only two verses; also John 1:41, where it is spoken by Simon Peter along with a translation note. Messias does not occur in the LXX at all (neither the canonical books nor the Apocrypha) or other early Jewish literature (DNTT 2:334). Nevertheless, its appearance in John's narrative indicates that Messias was in use very early.
The fact that the Messias is spoken only by Peter and the Samaritan woman is striking and may imply its use in Galilee and Samaria, but not in Judea. The Jewish Greek of the Besekh generally relies on the LXX for vocabulary and thus Christos is used uniformly instead of Messias. In Samaritan literature the Messiah is known as Taheb, which has been variously explained as "he who restores" or "he who returns" (Morris 272). Taheb-traditions explain that since the disappearance of the Tabernacle, the world has been suffering under divine displeasure. The Taheb will end this suffering and restore the period of favor, establish true religion, and destroy the followers of Ezra (i.e., Pharisees). He will live 110 years on earth, and then die ("Samaritans," JE). Whether the Samaritan woman believed this complete dogma cannot be determined from the text, since she mentions only one aspect of the work of the Messiah.
is coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. See verse 5 above. the one called: Grk. legō, pres. pass. part. See verse 5 above. John's device of translating Hebrew words for the benefit of Gentiles demonstrates again that he was writing for a primarily Jewish audience. christos: Grk. Christos, the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. The English "Christ" transliterates the Greek title, but does not translate it. In Greek culture christos comes from chriein, to rub lightly, and in its secular use had no religious connotation at all. Christos as an adjective described someone smeared with whitewash, cosmetics or paint, and was anything but an expression of honor. As a personal reference it even tended toward the disrespectful (DNTT 2:334).
Christos was chosen deliberately by the Jewish translators of the LXX to render Heb. Mashiach and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word. The title Mashiach means 'anointed one' or 'poured on.' Mashiach was used in the Tanakh for (1) the patriarchs (1Chr 16:16-22; Ps 105:15); (2) the High Priest, Lev 4:5; (3) the King, 1Sam 12:3; 2Sam 22:51; Isa 45:1; and (4) the Messiah, Ps 2:2 and Dan 9:25-26. This last usage defined the term among Jews outside Samaria in the first century A.D. The title of "Anointed One" alludes to a ceremony of pouring olive oil on the head to invest one with the authority of an office (Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12; Ps 133:2). There was no comparable concept in Greek culture.
Yeshua's anointing was not in the customary manner. Since Yeshua was the Son of David (Matt 1:1), then in a figurative sense he was anointed with oil when David was anointed as king (1Sam 16:1, 12-13) on the same basis that Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek because Levi was in Abraham's loins at the time (Heb 7:9-10). At his immersion Yeshua was anointed with the Holy Spirit to fulfill the ministry prophesied in Isaiah 61:1 (Matt 3:16; Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38). Then he was anointed with nard in preparation for the ministry of being an atoning sacrifice (Mark 14:3-8; John 12:3). Finally he was anointed with the power of resurrection to assume his rightful place on the throne of David as King and Judge over the earth (Luke 1:32; Acts 3:18-26; 10:40-42; 13:30-34; 17:31; Eph 1:18-23).
The Jewish Greek of the Besekh generally relies on the LXX for vocabulary and thus Christos is used uniformly instead of Messias. In addition, the LXX was widely known and used by Jews in the Diaspora, so John may have translated Messias as Christos for the benefit of Hellenistic Jews, as well as Gentiles. For an expanded discussion on the Jewish title and Jewish expectations of the Messiah see my commentary on Mark 1:1.
when: Grk. hotan, conj., temporal marker; when, whenever. he: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun, lit. "that one." comes: Grk. erchomai, aor. subj. he will disclose: Grk. anangellō, fut., may mean (1) report or relay, of persons returning from a place; or (2) provide information, disclose, announce, proclaim, teach (BAG). Rienecker has "to announce," and says the word is used of the fresh and authoritative message of the advocate as occurs in John 16:13-15. everything: pl. of Grk. hapas, adj., a totality of something; all, the whole, everything. The word occurs 34 times in the Besekh but only here in the writings of John. to us: pl. of Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person; i.e., the Samaritans. The woman did not trust the truth to come from Judean leaders.
A prominent feature of ancient Messianic expectations among Jews generally was that the Redeemer would fulfill the prophecy of Moses,
"The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. … 18 'I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 'It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him." (Deut 18:15, 18-19 NASB)
Samaritans accepted only the Torah as authoritative Scripture and this prophecy provided the basis for the woman's "I know" and future hope for the Samaritans. Like Moses the Messiah would explain all things to the faithful, that is, the true meaning of God's instructions through Moses, free of the inventions and misapplications of the Pharisees (cf. Matt 5:17-20; John 1:50-51; 7:17; 17:7-8). Yeshua exhibited this kind of teaching with his oft repeated phrase "you have heard it said, but I say" (Matt 5:21-22, 27-28, 32-34, 38-39, 43-44). The Messiah would also explain the secret things that God has reserved to Himself, especially knowledge of the future (cf. Deut 29:29; Matt 24:3; Acts 1:6).
One Samaritan expectation was that the Messiah would reveal the location of sacred vessels that Moses supposedly hid on Mt. Gerizim. Josephus records that man summoned a large group of Samaritans to come together upon Mount Gerizim and assured them that he would show them the sacred vessels. The Romans learned of this activity and that the Samaritans were armed. Interpreting the Samaritan intention as sedition the Romans at the order of Pontius Pilate attacked the group at their gathering. Some of the Samaritans were killed and others captured, including the leader (Ant. XVIII, 4:1). While Yeshua explained many secret things there are still things God refuses to disclose (Acts 1:7), and a desire for secret things has never been good for spiritual health.
26 Yeshua said to her, "I AM, the one speaking to you."
Yeshua said to her: See verse 7 above for this opening clause. I AM: Grk. egō eimi. The expression occurs 47 times in the Besekh, 34 times on the lips of Yeshua, often as a way of identifying himself to his disciples and others (Matt 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20; 8:24, 28, 58; 18:5, 6, 8; Acts 9:5; 22:8; 26:15). However, in John's writings Yeshua couples egō eimi with a descriptive metaphor, known as the "Seven I Am Sayings" (John 6:35, 48, 51; 8:12; 9:15; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5). Such statements indicate that Yeshua had a firm grasp of his own identity. Stern suggests that the metaphoric expressions imply a claim even greater than being the Messiah (168). They are too similar to the God of Israel's self-revelation in the Tanakh to be accidental.
In the LXX egō eimi is used to translate the personal pronoun ani (SH-58) or anoki (SH-595), meaning "I" and occurring in occasional self-references by men, e.g., Abraham (Gen 18:27; 23:4); Solomon (Songs 5:8), Isaiah (Isa 6:8) and Jeremiah (Jer 1:6). Predominately the pronoun-verb combination is spoken by the God of Israel in reference to Himself, first without qualification, such as "I am who I am" (Ex 3:14; also in Isa 41:4; 43:10, 25; 46:4; 47:8, 10; 48:12; 51:12; 52:6). More commonly God says egō eimi kurios, for Heb. ani YHVH, "I am YHVH" 48 times (Ex 7:5; 8:22; 16:12; 20:2, 5; 29:46; Lev 11:44, 45; 26:1, 13, 44; Deut 5:6; 32:39; Isa 45:8, 18, 19; 61:8; Jer 24:7; Ezek 7:9; 28:22, 23, 24, 26; 29:6, 9, 16, 21; 30:8, 19, 25, 26; 32:15; 33:29; 34:27, 30; 35:4, 9, 12, 15; 36:11, 23; 37:6, 13, 28; 39:6, 7, 22, 28).
Yeshua's declaration likely intends an allusion to Exodus 3:14 in which God addresses Moses, "I Am Who I Am." Then He said, 'You are to say to Bnei-Yisrael, 'I AM' has sent me to you'" (TLV). "I Am" is the verb eheyeh , the Qal imperfect of hayah (Owens 1:247), indicating continuing existence. The personal name of YHVH, and its derivative Yah, is derived from hava, the older form and rare synonym of haya, "be, become" (TWOT 1:210). Thus, YHVH is a shortened version of the longer name God gave to Moses. For more discussion on this sacred name see my web article The Blessed Name.
the one speaking: Grk. laleō, pres. part., is used in the Besekh primarily to mean making an vocal utterance and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. The participle and definite article could be rendered "the speaking one." Only the God of Israel and His Messiah speaks. Idols have no voice, nor do the deities worshipped by the various world religions. The verb is perhaps a reminder that the good news of the Messiah was first oral long before it was ever written down. to you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. Yeshua emphasizes that while many times in Scripture God speaks to the community, there are also times that He speaks to individuals, and this is one of those occasions. And unless anyone misses the obvious, God does not limit His communications and revelations to men.
The point of Yeshua's reply was to inform the woman of Samaria that she was speaking with the Messiah. Clarke finds it incredible that a person of such a supposedly immoral life, without any mentioned sign of repentance, should have been the first (perhaps the only private person) to whom Yeshua declared himself explicitly to be the Messiah. Even when Nathanael told Yeshua that he was the Son of God and King of Israel (two Messianic titles, John 1:49), Yeshua did not openly confirm Nathanael's revelation. It will be more than a year later that Simon Peter will confess that Yeshua is the Messiah and Son of God, to which Yeshua will reply that this was a revelation of God, thereby confirming his identity (Matt 16:16-17). John, of course, was not present to hear this revelation and must have received the details of the story from either Yeshua or the woman at a later time.
27 And at this point his disciples arrived, and marveled that he was speaking with a woman. Yet no one said, "What are you seeking?" or, "Why are you talking with her?"
And: Grk. kai, conj. See verse 1 above. at this point: lit. "and on this." his disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 1 above. John does not inform the reader which disciples were with Yeshua, but surely there must have been more than Nathanael and Philip. arrived: Grk. erchomai, aor. See verse 5 above. and marveled: Grk. thaumazō, impf., to be extraordinarily impressed, even approaching admiration or to be amazed, astonished, or surprised. that he was speaking: Grk. laleō, impf. See the previous verse. with a woman: Grk. gunē. See verse 7 above. Reinhartz says that one might have expected them to be surprised that he was speaking with a Samaritan woman specifically, but this does not seem to be a particular concern (166).
The issue for the disciples was not likely the woman's ethic identity, but that Yeshua was alone with the woman while in conversation. The Pharisees had strict standards concerning contact or conversation with a woman in public (cf. Luke 7:39), based on the Torah injunction "none of you shall approach a blood relative" (Lev 18:6). This "fence around the law" is reflected in the Talmud:
Mishnah: "Jose B. Johanan of Jerusalem [president of Sanhedrin, 2 c. BC] used to say: Engage not in too much conversation with women. He said this with regard to one's own wife, how much more (does the rule apply) with regard to another man's wife. Hence have the Sages said: as long as a man engages in too much conversation with women, he causes evil to himself, [for] he goes idle from (the study of) the words of the Torah, so that his end will be that he will inherit Gehinnom." (Avot 1:5)
Tosephtha--Aboth of R. Nathan (2nd c.): "From this it was said one must not stay in a separate room with any woman in a hostelry, though she be his sister or daughter, because of public opinion. For the same reason one must not converse with a woman in the market, not even with his wife. For the same reason a man shall not walk behind a woman, even though she be his wife." (on Avot 1:1) [The reason given for not even conversing with one's own wife in public is that not everyone knows who are his female relatives. Berachot 43b]
Gemara: "Our Rabbis taught: Six things are unbecoming for a scholar: He should not go abroad scented; he should not go out by night alone; he should not go abroad in patched sandals; he should not converse with a woman in the street; he should not take a set meal [lit. "recline at table"] in the company of ignorant persons; and he should not be the last to enter the Beth ha-Midrash [House of Study]." (Berachot 43b).
Yet no one said: None of the disciples thought it wise to broach the subject of Yeshua's unorthodox behavior. What are you seeking: Grk. zēteō. See verse 23 above. The question probably came to mind to explain why Yeshua was speaking with the woman. Was he asking for directions? Was he asking her for something? If they thought for a moment they would realize that they had the skin-bucket with them and perhaps Yeshua wanted water to drink. Why are you talking: Grk. laleō. with her: The question is not simply a redundant way of asking the first question. This question would give the impression of demanding that Yeshua explain his conduct, and they hadn't been with Yeshua long enough to feel comfortable in challenging him.
28 Then the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men,
Then: Grk. oun, conj. indicating that one takes account of something in the narrative immediately preceding or of implication contained in it; then. the woman: Grk. gunē with the definite article. See verse 9 above. left: Grk. aphiēmi, aor., to let remain behind; leave. her waterpot: Grk. hudria, an earthen vessel for holding water, water jar or pitcher. This term contrasts with the skin-bucket carried by travelers (verses 7 and 11 above). The woman was so amazed by Yeshua's revelation that she was transformed into action. She had to tell others. Leaving her waterpot was a completely unconscious act, but she had no concern that it might be stolen. Something more important than getting water demanded her full attention.
and went: Grk. aperchomai, aor. See verse 3 above. into the city: Grk. polis. See verse 5 above. The city would be Sychar. and said: Grk. legō, lit. "says." See verse 7 above. The present tense is a dramatic present to give a heightened emphasis to the past event. to the men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man, here used of an adult male. 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) (DNTT 2:564).
The plural noun here would refer to leading men of the city, probably the town elders. Her choice of who to tell is significant. She doesn't go to her betrothed. She doesn't go to other women to gossip about a strange man. The woman goes to the elders of the town who no doubt sat near the entrance of the city (cf. Deut 22:15; 25:7; Josh 20:4; Ruth 4:1; Prov 31:23). She apparently had no doubt they would give her a hearing and this reflects well on her character. She could not be a social pariah and expect the elders would listen to her.
29 "Come see a man who told me all the things that I have done. Is this not the Messiah?"
Come: Grk. deute, adv., functions as pl. of deupo, come on! come! The verb conveys an excited sense of urgency. see: Grk. horaō, aor. imp., to perceive with the physical eyes or to experience extraordinary mental or inward perception. The verb has a literal meaning here. a man: Grk. anthrōpos. See the previous verse. Like Andrew and Philip in 1:41-45 the woman now acts as a messenger of the Messiah. who told: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 5 above. me all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., all, every. that I have done: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 1 above. The woman alludes to Yeshua's revelation of her marital history, not a sinful history.
Is: Grk. eimi. See verse 6 above. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, this, that, which. not: Grk. mēti, particle frequently used in questions containing a strong component of considering any answer other than a negative quite incredulous. the Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 25 above. Most versions translate the woman's question as "this is not the Messiah, is it?" or words to that effect. Delitzsch's Hebrew translation means "Perhaps this is he the Messiah?" The form of the question reflects the development of her thought process and wonderment at the same time.
First, the woman had admitted that Yeshua was a prophet (verse 19 above). Second, she believed in the prophecy of Moses that God would send a prophet like him who would explain all things (verse 25 above). Third, her mind probably reeled at the possibility that the Messiah would actually come to her. Perhaps it occurred to her that it was appropriate that the fulfillment of the promise given to the first woman (Gen 3:15) would be declared to a woman. Her question reflects a strong hope, but rather than declare her conviction she shows respect to the elders and asks for their confirmation. Reinhartz observes that here the Samaritan woman is depicted as a preacher, one who brings others to meet Yeshua, just as Andrew and Philip do in 1:41-45 (166).
30 They went forth out of the city, and came to him.
They went forth: Grk. exerchomai, aor., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. out of: Grk. ek, prep., lit. "out of," "from within." the city: Grk. polis, that is, the town of Sychar. See verse 5 above. and came: Grk. archō, impf., can mean either to rule or to begin. The imperfect tense conveys the sense that beginning from the point where the woman met the elders, they went, making their way out to the well. Morris comments that the verb is vividly dramatic and essentially means "they kept on coming" to him: Yeshua. The fact that the elders went to the well at the encouragement of this woman is striking. There is no apparent disbelief as when the disciples refused to believe the women's report of the resurrection (Mark 16:9-11; Luke 24:10-11). Such a prompt response can only speak well of the woman's character and influence.
Midrash of Yeshua: A Harvest of Souls, 4:31-38
31 Meanwhile the disciples urged him, saying, "Rabbi, eat."
Meanwhile: Grk. metaxu, adv., between, a marker noting a point at which one entity is separate from another, used in a temporal sense here, "meanwhile" or "in the meantime." The adverb serves to draw attention to the two dramatic scenes, one occurring in the city and one occurring at the well. the disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 1 above. urged: Grk. erōtaō, impf. act. ind., can mean (1) to ask with the focus on querying for information; or (2) to ask in the sense of making a request, frequently with the effort to soften the tone for what might sound peremptory. The second meaning applies here.
him, saying: Grk. legō, pres. act. part. See the note on verse 5 above. The Greek verb "say" functions as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. Rabbi: Grk. Rhabbi, voc. case, which transliterates the Hebrew rabbi ("rah-bee", lit. "my lord, my master”), derived from Heb. rab (SH-7227, "great, lord, master") (BAG). Rhabbi or the Hebrew Rabbi does not occur in the Tanakh, LXX, or DSS. Rhabbi is found 15 times in the Besekh, all in the apostolic narratives (eight of which are in John). A derivative form rhabbouni occurs twice (Mark 10:51; John 20:16). On most occasions the title is used to address Yeshua by a present or future disciple.
In the first century Rabbi was a title of respect exclusively used for Torah scholars, scribes, Pharisees and members of the Sanhedrin. The title did not become associated with the congregational leader of a local synagogue until Medieval times. In The Talmud Rabbi is used only of Sages from the land of Israel. Babylonian Sages of later periods are identified in the Talmud by Rab or Rabban ("Rabbi, Rabbinate," Encyclopedia Judaica, 2nd ed., Vol. 17, p. 11). Ordinarily the title "Rabbi" was used of someone that had been ordained by a board of three elders established by the Sanhedrin through a ceremony of laying on of hands, called in Hebrew semikhah (DNTT 3:115). The practice hearkens back to the occasion when Moses "laid hands" on Joshua to appoint him as his successor to lead Israel after his death (Num 27:18, 23).
An ordained rabbi was granted the right to judge and to decide points of halakhah or application of Torah. A rabbi had pupils or disciples who studied his expositions and were duty bound to obey his instructions. Yeshua, of course, never sought such formal recognition, but like other rabbis of his time Yeshua gathered and taught disciples, expecting them to change and conform to his will. Unlike other rabbis Yeshua taught as one possessing independent authority (Matt 7:29; Mark 1:22). He did not need to speak in the name of one of the Sages or one of the two prominent authorities of the day, Hillel and Shammai. Yeshua never appealed to any other authority other than his Father or the Scriptures.
eat: Grk. esthiō, aor. imp., to consume food. The imperative mood reflects an entreaty. The disciples had gone into the town to buy food, and knowing that Yeshua had not had anything to eat, encouraged him to partake of the food they had bought back. Apparently the food was such that did not need to be cooked, which could have been bread or vegetables and perhaps wine.
32 But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know."
But he said to them: Yeshua responded to the concern of his disciples with an unexpected message. I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. The use of the pronoun with the first person verb following seems almost redundant, but it does serve to contrast himself with his disciples. have: Grk. echō, to possess something. See verse 11 above. food: Grk. brōsis, may mean (1) the activity of one who eats, eating or (2) what is consumed by eating, food. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX brōsis translates the Heb. word group connected with the verb achal, to eat (e.g., Gen 1:29, 30; 2:9, 16; 3:6; 9:3) (DNTT 2:268). In Scripture God has assigned food to both men and animals and has looked after his people's food throughout their history (Gen 41:35-37; Ps 78:18, 30).
to eat: Grk. esthiō, aor. inf. See the previous verse. that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to data that precedes; which, what, that. you do not: Grk. ou, adv. that strongly negates the verb. know: Grk. oida, perf. See verse 10 above. Conceptually Yeshua's words are similar to Midrash Exodus Rabbah 47:5 which says that Moses, during the 40 days he was in the presence of God on the mountain, ate the bread of Torah and drank the water of Torah (MW-Notes 148). Yeshua appears to decline the offer of food from the disciples and may have been fasting or was about to fast as preparation for the evangelistic opportunity that was coming toward him. At any rate Yeshua's statement sets up a spiritual lesson.
33 Then the disciples said to one another, "Has any one brought him something to eat?"
Then the disciples: Grk. mathētēs. See verse 1 above. said: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 5 above. to: Grk. pros, prep., with the root meaning of 'near, facing; to, toward. one another: Grk. allēlous, a plural reciprocal pronoun that reflects close relationships. The description suggests the disciples turned to each other in a sort of huddle and asked the question that follows. Has anyone: lit. "not anyone." brought: Grk. pherō, aor., move something from one position to another, generally through physical transport; bring. him something to eat: Grk. esthiō, aor. inf. See verse 31 above. The disciples express confusion similar to the woman's misunderstanding in verse 15 above.
As the scholar C.J. Wright observed, "it never entered their minds that He would or could work a 'miracle' in order to feed Himself; as, for example, that he could or would turn stones into bread" (quoted by Morris 277). Yeshua never performed a miracle that only benefited himself.
34 Yeshua said to them, "My food is to do the will of the One having sent me and to complete His work.
My: Grk. emos, possessive pronoun, my, mine. The pronoun is emphatic (Morris). Regardless of what others do, Yeshua has divinely determined priorities. food: Grk. brōma, food, a synonym of brōsis used in verse 32 above, and used here in a fig. sense. A comparable use of "food" in the Tanakh makes a connection to the righteousness God desires. "And O children of Zion, rejoice and be glad in the Lord your God, for he gave to you the foods for righteousness (Joel 2:23 LXX ABP). is to do: Grk. poieō, aor. subj., to do or perform in a physical sense; used here to emphasize carrying out an obligation or responsibility. the will: Grk. thelēma may mean (1) that which is to be carried out according to wish or purpose, will; or (2) the act of willing, will or desire.
of the One: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pron. Among Israelites "The One" was used in lieu of the sacred name of God (cf. Ps 3:3; 37:24; Isa 40:26; 44:24; 45:7; 49:7; Hos 11:7; Amos 9:5-6; John 1:33; 6:46; 7:18; 11:27; 12:45; Acts 10:42; Rom 5:17; 2Cor 4:6; Jas 5:20) and echoed the Shema, "Hear O Israel YHVH Eloheinu YHVH one" (Deut 6:4). Yeshua alludes to the idiomatic expression "will of God," which is used in three ways in Scripture:
· God’s sovereign will is His masterful omnipotent control of events and people to work everything for our good and His glory (Acts 17:26-28; Rom 8:27-28). This same power holds the universe together and subjects all things to immutable laws (Dan 4:35; Rom 1:20; Col 1:17; Heb 1:3).
· God’s lifestyle will consists of His commands and instructions for worship and service to God and living in a manner pleasing to God. God’s lifestyle will is expressed in both Old Covenant and New Covenant Scriptures (Deut 10:12-13; Matt 5:17-19; 7:21; 1Cor 7:19).
· God’s special will is His supernaturally revealed guidance to certain individuals in biblical history (Ex 13:21; Matt 1:20; 2:12; 4:1; Luke 1:11-13, 26f; Acts 8:26-29), especially in cases of calls to divine service.
Yeshua obviously means God's special will, but of course his work would also accomplish God's sovereign will and be in accordance with God's lifestyle will. (For more discussion on this topic see my web article The Will of God.)
having sent: Grk. pempō, aor. act. part., to dispatch someone as an agent, usually to convey a message or accomplish a task; send. The verb occurs 31 times in John and of those 25 depict God as the sending agent. "Sending" is a key activity of the Father, and in the past His emissaries included angels (Gen 19:13; 2Chr 32:21), Joseph (Gen 45:5), Moses and Aaron (Ex 3:15; 1Sam 12:8), and all the prophets (1Sam 15:1; 2Sam 12:1; 2Kgs 2:2; Isa 6:8; 48:6; Jer 26:5, 12; 35:15; Ezek 2:3). me: Yeshua had an acute sense of the divine call on his life. In fact, words of Yeshua "sent me" occur frequently in the Gospel of John from this point (over 30 times).
to complete: Grk. teleioō, aor. act. subj., to bring to a point at which nothing is missing, to complete, to perfect or to fulfill. His work: Grk. ergon generally means a tangible deed, action or accomplishment that may be observed. In John's narrative "works" is a major theme with the word occurring 25 times, often on the lips of Yeshua, and referring either to evil actions of men, good actions of men or the missional actions of God and Yeshua in the form of revelation, miracles, signs, and sacrifice, the ultimate good works.
The supreme work of God is the deliverance of Israel and the world from sin, Satan and death (John 3:16; 4:42; Acts 5:31; 13:23; 2Tim 1:10; 1John 3:8; 4:14). Yeshua's declaration is parallel to his rebuke of Satan in the wilderness who tempted him to turn stones into bread after 40 days of fasting (Matt 4:2-3) and probably alludes to that event. On that occasion Yeshua made use of this quote from Deuteronomy 8:3, "He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD." Unlike Satan the disciples only had Yeshua's needs in mind, but they needed to understand that the spiritual is much more important than the physical and the material.
35 "Do you not say, 'It is yet four months, and the harvest arrives'? Behold, I tell you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are ripe for harvest already.
Do you not say: Yeshua alludes to a common saying among Jewish people in reference to the agricultural calendar. The saying is not original to him. Yeshua makes a similar comment in Matthew 16:2 in referring to a common saying about the weather. It is yet four months: Grk. tetramēnos, a period of time lasting four months. The noun is singular so it treats the four months as a single unit. Since Yeshua probably came to Samaria in December or January, then "four months" would put the frame of reference in the Spring, March to May on the Julian calendar or Adar to Sivan on the Hebrew calendar. Gill concurs saying that 8 months had passed since the last Passover (John 2:13) and 4 months remained until the next Passover. and the harvest: Grk. therismos, the gathering of crops when they reach the appropriate degree of ripeness; harvest.
Major crops of the land of Israel included barley, wheat, grapes, figs, pomegranates, and olives (Deut 8:8). In the normal agricultural cycle harvest occurred about four months after planting. Morris does not believe this incident could have occurred four months prior to a harvest because of assuming that Yeshua's thirst (verse 7 above) occurred because of the heat of the day, which would put the season in the summer. Other commentators believe the proverb says nothing about an actual anticipated harvest, but the time one spends waiting for a harvest. Thus, there is no hurry for a particular task. It would be like saying, "Rome wasn't built in a day" (Morris 278). However, Yeshua's request for water occurred because of fatigue and his desire to engage the woman in conversation. And, the rest of this verse argues persuasively for a literal scene in order to make Yeshua's analogy effective.
arrives: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. See verse 5 above. Given the time reference Yeshua alludes to the harvest of spring crops. The most important spring crops to be harvested were cereals that were planted in the autumn: barley and wheat. Barley was more widespread in the land because it could better tolerate harsh conditions, matured faster and would be harvested sooner. The Feast of Pesach and Unleavened Bread (Lev 23:9-14) in Nisan (March-April) celebrated the barley harvest whereas the Feast of Shavuot in Sivan (Pentecost, May-June) 50 days later celebrated the wheat harvest (Ex 23:16; Lev 23:15-16). The mention of agricultural bounty accords with Josephus' description of Samaria as a fruitful land. (See the quotation in verse 4 above.)
Behold: Grk. idou, demonstrative interjection (the aor. mid. imp. of eidon, "to see"), that arouses the attention of hearers or readers. The Greek particle, like its corresponding Heb. word hinneh (SH-2009, e.g., Gen 1:29), serves to enliven divine monologues and narratives, particularly as a call to closer consideration and contemplation of something, to introduce something new or to emphasize the size or importance of something; (you) see, look, behold (BAG). This is one very exceptional moment when Yeshua tries to get his disciples to see what he sees. I tell you: lit. "I am saying to you." The present tense verbal phrase, used numerous times by Yeshua in the Gospels to introduce an important point or lesson, serves here to introduce a parabolic message.
lift up: Grk. epairō, aor. imp., to raise up over, referring to physical action. your: Grk. humōn, pl. of su, pronoun of the second person. The plural form emphasizes the disciples as a group. eyes: pl. of Grk. ophthalmos, the sensory organ of the eyes. and look on: Grk. theaomai, aor. mid. imp., look upon with special interest; see, look at, behold, take notice of. the fields: pl. of Grk. chōra may refer to (1) a stretch of territory as contrasted with owned property or open country contrasted with city, region, area; or (2) an area under a proprietor, landed property or fields. For the agricultural parable the second meaning applies, but the message of the parable would incorporate the more general meaning. Yeshua probably emphasized the command by pointing to the fields that lay near the city of Sychar (Gill).
that they are ripe: pl. of Grk. leukos, adj., of quality expressing impressive brightness, bright, gleaming, shining or of a color shade ranging from white to grey. In the LXX leukos translates Heb. laban, white, though white in the Tanakh may include half-yellow (DNTT 1:204) (e.g., Gen 30:37; 31:8; 49:12). The noun is used here fig. of the ripeness of crops for reaping. A "field of white" was an idiomatic expression for shadeless field, sown with grain or vegetables in contrast to a field of trees (Shebiith 1:1, fn 1; 2:10). However, the choice of adjective hints at the fact that the souls harvested will be transformed into white as snow (Isa 1:18) and will be dressed in white clothing (Rev 3:4-5; 6:11; 7:9).
for harvest: Grk. therismos. The message here seems to contrast sharply with Yeshua's later instructions to the twelve for their first mission trip. At that time he will tell them not to go into any city of the Samaritans (Matt 10:5). Yet, this instruction is not pejorative since he will also forbid his disciples going to Hellenistic cities. Yeshua did not want his disciples to provoke religious controversy as they gained experience in preaching and serving. Yeshua had no animosity toward Samaritans but demonstrated his compassion for them in a variety of ways, beginning with his visit to Sychar (verses 42-45 below).
On later occasions he rebuked his disciples for their hostility to the Samaritans (Luke 9:55-56), healed a Samaritan leper (Luke 17:16), honored a Samaritan for his neighborliness (Luke 10:30-37), and praised a Samaritan for his gratitude (Luke 17:11-18). Then in Acts 1:8, Yeshua challenged his disciples to witness in Samaria. Philip, a deacon, opened a mission in Samaria (Acts 8:5) and then Peter and John proclaimed the good news in many Samaritan villages (Acts 8:25). At this time Yeshua does not send his disciples on a mission trip to Sychar. Instead, he challenges their thinking. The eyes of the disciples were on their food. Yeshua gives an emotional appeal. Don't be so caught up with the mundane necessities of life that you miss opportunities for bringing the good news to others. already: Grk. ēdē, adv., with focus on temporal culmination, now, already.
36 "The one reaping receives wages and gathers fruit for life eternal; so that the one sowing and the one reaping may rejoice together.
The one reaping: Grk. therizō, pres. part. with the definite article, to bring in a crop, reap, harvest. receives: Grk. lambanō. The verb marks the transit of something from a position to another person who is the agent with the latter being also the receptor; to take or receive. wages: Grk. misthos, reciprocation for performance, as payment for labor, pay, wages. Yeshua alludes to the expectation of payment after harvesting crops. Payment could be in currency as illustrated in the parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matt 20:2) or in-kind of a percentage of the harvested produce which would then be sold and converted to currency as in the parable of the vineyard (Mark 12:2). and gathers: Grk. sunagō, to bring together in a collective manner, gather.
fruit: Grk. karpos generally means the edible product of a plant grown for agricultural purposes, fruit, crop, and occasionally the fruit of the womb (Luke 1:42). The noun is also used in imagery of moral or spiritual productivity. Karpos is the fruit of trees (Matt 3:10), the fruit of cereal grains (Matt 13:8) and the fruit of the vine (Matt 21:34). Figurative uses include the fruit of repentance (Matt 3:8), works that reveal character (Matt 7:20), obedience of God's commandments (John 15:4-10), the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22), and the virtues of goodness, righteousness and truth (Rom 6:22; Eph 5:9; Php 1:11; 4:17; Heb 12:11). Other figurative uses include gaining new disciples (Rom 1:13; Php 1:22), financial support for those in ministry (1Cor 9:7; 2Tim 2:6) and charity for the needy (Rom 15:28).
for life eternal: See verse 14 above. Paul makes a similar statement in Romans 6:22 of fruit that leads to eternal life. so that the one sowing: Grk. speirō, pres. part. with the definite article, to sow seed in the agricultural sense, but used here in a figurative sense. Yeshua distinguishes the phases and roles of agricultural production. Left out of the parable is the practice of plowing, which preceded sowing and began in about the middle of October at the time of the early rains. This was followed by harrowing and weeding. Unsown land was ploughed three or four times. About 30 lbs of seed was used to a half acre of land. This is about half the quantity of seed normally used today. Sowing took place after the first rains had softened the ground (cf. Deut 11:13-17).
There were two methods of sowing seed: by broadcasting the seeds by hand or using a seed-drill. Yeshua does not specify the method here. The land was then ploughed again to cover it, branches being dragged behind the plough to smooth the ground over the seed (cf. Isa 28:24-5; Job 39:10). It might take weeks of laborious work for the Israelite to sow a small field. (See Elizabeth Fletcher, Farming: Biblical Archaeology.) and the one reaping: Grk. therizō, pres. part. with the definite article. may rejoice: Grk. chairō, pres. subj., to be in a state marked by good feeling about an event or circumstance; be happy, glad, delighted, rejoice. together: Grk. homou, adv., sharing experience, 'together' in reference to simultaneous satisfaction.
Yeshua does not really explain the parable, but we might reasonably conclude that he is the sower and the disciples are the reapers. The participle "the one sowing" might allude to the parable of the sower (Matt 13:3) where the same participle occurs. In that parable the one sowing is the Messiah. The "wages" for reaping does not refer to rewards handed out in the age to come for winning souls, as if soul winners are the only ones who will paid with eternal dividends. Yeshua employs a parallelism in "receives wages" and "gathers fruit," both of which accomplish eternal life. The harvest is the gathering of souls as described in the harvest parables (Matt 3:12; 13:24-50) and in that harvest there will be much rejoicing.
37 "For in this matter the saying is true, 'Another is the one sowing and another is the one reaping.'
For in this matter: lit. "for in this. the saying: 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). Delitzsch translates logos here with imrah, which Yeshua uses to introduce another proverb or a common saying in the vernacular.
is true: Grk. alēthinos. See verse 23 above. The saying is factual and accords with experience. Another: Grk. allos, adj., used to distinguish something from something else, frequently focusing on a qualitative distinction; other, some other, another. Most versions translate the noun as "one" to distinguish from the second use of allos in this verse. is the one sowing: Grk. speirō, pres. part. with the definite article. See the previous verse. and another: Grk. allos. is the one reaping: Grk. therizō, pres. part. with the definite article. See the previous verse.
In ancient times "sowers" and "reapers" in agriculture were not always the same people. For example, a farmer would sow and then hire laborers to reap as illustrated in various parables. Paul makes a similar comparison when he says, "I planted, Apollos watered but God was causing the increase" (1Cor 3:6). Sowing is equivalent to being a spiritual father (1Cor 4:15; 9:11). Yeshua hints of the time two years hence when he would sow during the barley harvest (Passover) and the apostles would reap during the wheat harvest (Pentecost).
38 "I sent you to reap what you have not toiled; others have toiled and you have entered into their labor."
I sent: Grk. apostellō, aor., to cause to move from one position to another, but often to send as an authoritative personal representative. Originally in Greek culture apostellō was used of sending an envoy to represent a king or a personal representative with legal powers. In the LXX apostellō translated Heb. shalach ("to stretch out or to send," SH-7971), often in contexts of commissioning and empowering a messenger (DNTT 1:128). you: Grk. humas, pl. acc. of su, pronoun of the second person. This use of the plural pronoun may seem odd because there is nothing in the narrative about Yeshua sending the disciples anywhere for a spiritual purpose.
Indeed, nowhere in the book of John does Yeshua send his disciples as occurs in the Synoptic Narratives (cf. Matt 10:16), nor is the word apostolos (apostle) used to describe the disciples (cf. Matt 10:2; Mark 6:30; Luke 6:13). The disciples' trip into Sychar (verse 8 above) seems to be at their own initiative. The plural pronoun could be simply intended to balance the plural "others" that follows (so Alfred Plummer, cited by Morris 281). Another consideration is that in Hebrew grammar a noun being plural can also have an intensive meaning instead of a numerical meaning, and thus represents something the Father said to the Son. As a message from the Father, the plural pronoun might by extension include Yeshua's disciples whom he will later send.
to reap: Grk. therizō, pres. inf. See verse 36 above. what you have not toiled: Grk. kopiaō, perf., may mean (1) to experience fatigue as a result of exertion, become weary or tired; or (2) engage in fatiguing activity, work hard, toil. The second meaning applies here. This statement parallels a promise in the Torah:
"Then it shall come about when the LORD your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, 12 then watch yourself, that you do not forget the LORD who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." (Deut 6:10-11)
others: pl. of Grk. allos, adj., others. See the previous verse. have toiled: Grk. kopiaō, perf. The "others who toiled" probably alludes to the history of prophets whom God sent to call Israel to repentance and righteousness, including the recent work of Yochanan the Immerser. and you have entered: Grk. eiserchomai, perf., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure or other place defined in the context. Here the verb is used metaphorically alluding to the beginning of their entry into discipleship. into their labor: Grk. kopos may mean (1) experience of distress, trouble, harassment or (2) engagement in fatiguing activity, labor, hard work. The second meaning applies here.
The message of the Father points out that in agriculture a unity exists between the sowers and reapers who labored to produce a marketable harvest. The principle holds true in the spiritual realm. Paul said something similar, "Now he who plants and he who waters are one" (1Cor 3:7). Yeshua's ministry continued the work that had been in progress for centuries.
Mission in Sychar, 4:39-42
39 Now from that city many of the Samaritans believed in him because of the word of the woman's testifying, "He told me all the things that I did."
Now: Grk. de, conj. used to denote a transition in presentation of subject matter. The scene shifts from the well back to the city. from that city: Grk. polis, i.e., Sychar. See verse 5 above. many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj. of an indefinite number. of the Samaritans: pl. of Grk. Samaritēs. See verse 9 above. Since the noun is masculine the emphasis could be on males of the city. believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor. See verse 21 above. in him: lit. "into him." because of the word: Grk. logos. See verse 37 above. of the woman's: Grk. gunē. See verse 7 above. testifying: Grk. martureō, pres. part., to attest to a fact or truth, often in a legal context; testify, attest. The verb points not to relating opinion or hearsay, but what is objective truth.
He told: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 5 above. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. all the things: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., every, all. that I did: Grk. poieō, aor., to do or perform something. See verse 2 above. The woman again alludes to Yeshua's revelation of her marital history (verse 18 above). The power of the woman's testimony rested on her personal experience and not a reasoned theological argument. Clarke observes that it is not likely that a woman of a supposed immoral life (as other commentators assume) should have had so much influence with the people of her city that they should, on her testimony, believe Yeshua to be the Messiah. Instead, they would more likely have been ready to stone her. In any event, the result of the woman's testimony is stunning and in so doing she joined the ranks of the great prophetesses of Scripture.
40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to remain with them; and he remained there two days.
So when the Samaritans: pl. of Grk. Samaritēs. See verse 9 above. The term probably refers to the leading men of the town. came: Grk. erchomai, aor. to him, they asked: Grk. erōtaō, impf., to ask or request, often softening the tone for what might sound peremptory. The imperfect tense implies they kept on asking. him to remain: Grk. menō, aor. inf., to be in a situation for a length of time or to remain in a state or condition; remain or stay. and he remained: Grk. menō, aor. there two: Grk. duo, adj., the numeral two. days: pl. of 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).
This verse contains a subtle message. First, as relates to prayer we receive what we ask for (cf. Matt 7:7; Jas 4:2; 1John 5:14-15). The Samaritans asked and Yeshua granted their request, so simple and yet so profound. Second, Yeshua answered the petition of people of whom Pharisees did not consider worthy of God's attention, let alone favor. We do not have the right to deny any group the opportunity of grace. Third, for Yeshua to remain in Sychar for two days meant that he stayed in the home of a Samaritan and broke bread with Samaritans. Yeshua's actions demonstrated that the Pharisaic customs and traditions of shunning those they considered "unclean" amounted to a perversion of God's Torah.
41 And many more believed because of his word;
And many: Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, many. more: Grk. polus. The repetition of the adjective indicates even greater numbers than alluded to in verse 39. believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor. See verse 21 above. because of: Grk. dia, lit. "through." his word: Grk. logos. See verse 37 above. This statement implies large crowds gathered at the home of his host to hear Yeshua speak (cf. Mark 2:1-2). Yeshua's ministry in Sychar probably laid the foundation for the later success of the apostles in Samaria.
42 at the same time they were saying to the woman, "No longer do we believe because of your speech, for we have heard for ourselves and know that he is truly the Savior of the world."
at the same time: Grk. te, conj. used to connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai (see verse 1 above). The conjunction te is often rendered with "and," but in some verses, as here, Danker suggests "and likewise," "at the same time" or "besides." they were saying: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 7 above. The verb is third person plural, and probably alludes back to the "many" in the previous verse. to the woman: Grk. gunē. See verse 7 above. No longer: Grk. ouketi, adv. of cessation of an activity or condition; no longer, no more. do we believe: Grk. pisteuō. See verse 21 above. These Samaritans put their trust in Yeshua as the Messiah.
because: Grk. dia, prep. lit. "through." of your: Grk. sos, adj., a form of the pronoun of the second person. speech: Grk. lalia, speech, with focus on the peculiar way in which something is said, here the telling of an unusual story. The noun occurs only three times in the Besekh. In Matthew 26:73 it refers to a regional accent or pronunciation. In John 8:43 it refers to a message of Yeshua. This is an incredible statement about the Samaritan woman and little considered by commentators bent on defaming her good character. This discussion illustrates again that the woman was no social pariah. She had credibility with her fellow citizens, so that they listened to her and believed her, yet her faith could not suffice for their faith.
The Samaritans must have a personal experience in order to truly know. As the saying goes, God has no grandchildren (cf. John 1:13). Another principle may be inferred from the statement of the new believers. Witnesses don't save anyone. People are saved when they believe the word of God. The Samaritans benefited from the woman's message and were glad for it, but hearing the Messiah personally elevated their understanding even more.
Relevant to the story is that women were generally considered ineligible as witnesses. While there was no biblical prohibition of women giving testimony Jewish authorities found ways to disqualify them as witnesses, such as being related to an accused person and parties in a lawsuit could object to witnesses offered by the other side (Sanhedrin 3:1). Another Mishnah rule states that "the law about an oath of witness applies to men but not to women" (Shevuoth 4:1). Josephus reports the Jewish law as enunciated by the scribes, attributed to Moses, as saying "But let not a single witness be credited, but three, or two at the least, and those such whose testimony is confirmed by their good lives. But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex" (Ant. IV, 8:15). If there had been any hesitation in belief by the elders it would have been because of her gender, not her lifestyle.
for we have heard: Grk. akouō, perf., the sensory act of hearing with the ears, metaphorically of paying attention, but also probably with the sense of comprehension or understanding. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173). for ourselves: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. and we know: Grk. oida, perf. See verse 10 above. The repetition of the perfect tense indicates that the "knowing" was concurrent and a consequence of the "hearing." As Paul summarizes the process of evangelism in his letter to the Romans (cf. Rom 10:14-15), the Samaritans believed because they heard and they heard because someone preached to them.
that he: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person set forth in narrative that precedes its use or follows it; lit. "this one." The pronoun implies that others had been considered in the past. A few other Messiah claimants are known to have appeared before Yeshua. Simon of Perea (c. 4 BC), a former slave of Herod the Great, rebelled but was killed by the Romans (Ant. XVII, 10:6). Athronges (c. 2 BC) was a shepherd who turned leader of a rebellion with his four brothers against Herod Archelaus and the Romans after proclaiming himself the Messiah, but they, too, were eventually defeated (Ant. XVII, 10:7). Judas of Galilee led a violent resistance to a census imposed for Roman tax purposes c. AD 6, but again the revolt was crushed brutally by the Romans (Acts 5:37).
is: Grk. eimi. See verse 6 above. truly: Grk. alēthōs, corresponding to what is really so; truly, really, actually. This man satisfies the criteria for the Messiah. the Savior: Grk. sōtēr, with the definite article, one who liberates from real or threatening harm or loss, savior, deliverer, or benefactor. In the LXX sōtēr renders the Heb. yeshu'ah ("one who brings deliverance") and the participle moshia a derivative of the verb yasha ("to save") (DNTT 3:217), which is another form of the word hoshia and is related to Yeshua’s own name (Matt 1:21). In the Judges 3:9, 15 sōtēr appears to be a technical term for the judge-deliverers, but the overwhelming usage of sōtēr in the Tanakh is applied to the God of Israel.
God, as Savior, delivers from things outward, such as enemies (Ex 14:30; 1Sam 4:3; 2Sam 3:18), and things inward, such as sin (Ezek 36:29). He delivers people who are contrite and humble (Ps 34:19). The word sōtēr occurs 24 times in the Besekh and always refers to a divine deliverer. The title is used 8 times of the God of Israel (Luke 1:47; 1Tim 1:1; 2:3; 4:10; Titus 1:3; 2:10; 3:4; Judah 1:25), and the rest of Yeshua (here; Luke 2:11; Acts 5:31; 13:23; Eph 5:23; Php 3:20; 2Tim 1:10; Titus 1:4; 2:13; 3:6; 2Pet 1:1, 11; 2:20; 3:2, 18; 1John 4:14). Thus in the Besekh sōtēr and the related verb sōzō (“deliver, rescue, save”), build on the foundation already established in the Tanakh.
of the world: Grk. kosmos, with the definite article, usually translated "world," has a variety of uses in the apostolic writings, including (1) the entire cosmic universe including the earth; (2) the planet upon which mankind lives; (3) the inhabitants of the earth; (4) everything in the world that opposes God and is ruined and depraved of character (BAG). The complete title "Savior of the world" is used in only one other passage, 1 John 4:14. The title was apparently used of Caesar, but such an expression was common in the Hellenistic world of rulers (Morris 284; Reinhartz 167). Such an appellation is understandable since nations looked to their kings for deliverance from both internal and external threats.
However, the apostles and the Samaritans had no need to borrow the title from other cultures. Its roots in the Tanakh as already mentioned are sufficient to explain its use here. The question is, how did the Samaritans mean this title? They were looking for the Messiah of whom they had definite expectations (see verse 25 above). Defining the "world" in this context is not simple since in a few passages kosmos is used of Jews (John 6:33; 12:19; 14:19; 17:6). Then other passages use kosmos to refer to the nations outside Israel (Luke 12:30; John 14:22), but more generally to recipients of the good news of salvation and objects of reconciling grace (Matt 26:13; Mark 16:15; John 3:16-17; Rom 11:12, 15; 2Cor 5:19).
While no verse in the Torah specifically describes the God of Israel as Savior of the world, evidence of a world-wide Savior may be found in the Psalms (Ps 22:27-28; 65:5; 67:1-7; 98:2-3) and the Prophets (Isa 19:20-21; 45:21-22; 49:6; 52:10; Hos 2:23). Since the Samaritans accepted only the Torah as Scripture it is remarkable that they should view the Messiah as the Savior of the world. Most likely their meaning of the "world" would have been those who lived in oppression, both in a political sense under the tyranny of Rome and in a religious sense under the bondage of Pharisaic legalism. The Samaritans expected the Messiah to deliver them from both kinds of oppression.
John does not record the content of Yeshua's teaching to the Samaritans, whether at the well (verse 30 above) or in Sychar, so it is not clear just what Yeshua said to convince them he was the Messiah. No doubt his willingness to stay with them, share their vessels and enjoy their fellowship was a factor in his influence. He may have also "opened their minds to understand the Scriptures" (Luke 24:45). Since the Samaritans relied on the Torah as Scripture Yeshua could have pointed out that God promised the first Woman a Seed-Savior (Gen 3:15). The promise of the Seed was then given Abraham (Gen 12:3), next to Isaac (Gen 17:19; 21:12), and then to Jacob (Gen 28:14). In addition, God promised the star out of Jacob who would have dominion (Num 24:17-19), and that the promised Seed would be a descendant of the tribe of Judah (Gen 49:10).
Yeshua might have tactfully suggested that they consider the Prophets, especially Isaiah and Daniel, since they contain many important Messianic prophecies. In addition to Messianic prophecies Yeshua could have stated, as in the Sermon on the Mount, that he did not come to annul the Torah (Matt 5:17). As a rabbi he would probably answer many questions about the Torah and God's intentions behind certain commandments. In doing so, they would realize as others that Yeshua spoke with authority and not as the scribes (Mark 1:22).
The Second Sign - Healing from a Distance, 4:43-54
43 After the two days he went forth from there into Galilee.
Parallel Passages: Matthew 4:14; Mark 1:14 and Luke 4:14.
After the two days: This is the time period mentioned in verse 40 above that Yeshua remained in Sychar. he went forth: Grk. exerchomai, aor. See verse 30 above. The verb emphasizes the intentional nature of the departure. While Yeshua's name does not appear in the verse (although some versions insert it), the antecedent for the verb is "Savior of the world" in the previous verse. The "One Who Delivers" went forth for another divine appointment. from there: Grk. ekeithen, adv., lit. "from that place." into Galilee: Grk. Galilaia (for Heb. Galil). See verse 3 above. Considering where Yeshua departed from in Judea he was already slightly more than halfway to Galilee. If he left very early in the morning he and his disciples could possibly be inside the border of Galilee by sundown. At this point the Synoptic Narratives report that Yeshua returned to Galilee proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom.
44 For Yeshua himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country.
For: Grk. gar, conj., lit. "certainly it follows that." See verse 8 above. Yeshua: See verse 1 above. It's probably no coincidence that Yeshua's name appears seven times in this Galilean narrative. After all, Yeshua's name means salvation or deliverance and the appointment that awaited him would accomplish a perfect or complete rescue. himself: Grk. autos, here as a reflexive pronoun that provides an intensive emphasis and contrast. testified: Grk. martureō, aor. See verse 39 above. that a prophet: Grk. prophētēs, no doubt an allusion to the declaration of the Samaritan woman (verse 19 above). has no honor: Grk. timē, high level of respect for special merit or quality; honor, esteem, regard, worth.
in his own: Grk. idios, belonging to oneself, one's own. Idios particularly emphasizes the nature of a relationship, that is, belonging to an individual in contrast to what is public property or belongs to another. country: Grk. patris, a place or region one can call home, here in the sense of native land or homeland. John could be speaking generally of Israel. Marshall has "native place." However, patris occurs in the Synoptic Narratives for Nazareth (Matt 13:54; Mark 6:1; Luke 4:23), where Yeshua taught in the synagogue and made this same observation after his teaching was rejected.
Since John chose not to include Yeshua's hometown visit in his narrative, this verse might be intended to summarize the result of that visit. Yeshua's observation does not reflect bitterness or anger, but a simple fact, perhaps tinged with sadness, that in Samaria he found honor, but not in Galilee. However, a more likely possibility is that this saying is an allusion to Yochanan the Immerser, because in terms of chronology this trip of Yeshua into Galilee occurred shortly after Yochanan the Immerser was imprisoned by Herod Antipas. "After Yochanan had been arrested, Yeshua came into the Galil proclaiming the Good News from God" (Mark 1:14 CJB).
45 So when he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans received him, having seen all that he did in Jerusalem at the festival; for they also went to the festival.
So when he arrived: Grk. erchomai, aor. in Galilee: Grk. Galilaia from the Heb. Galil. See verse 3 above. Luke offers this comment on Yeshua's return to Galilee and his reception, "Yeshua returned to the Galil in the power of the Spirit, and reports about him spread throughout the countryside" (Luke 4:14 CJB). the Galileans: pl. of Grk. Galilaios, inhabitant of Galilee, Galilean. Since the noun is masculine it might mean male Galileans. The plural form occurs also of men Pilate had arrested and kill in Jerusalem as they were in the process of bringing animals for sacrifice (Luke 13:1-2). Just as "Samaritan" refers to persons of Jewish descent living in Samaria, so "Galilean" refers to persons of Jewish descent living in Galilee. Yeshua himself is called a Galilean (Matt 26:69; Luke 23:6-7). Also, Peter is identified as a Galilean (Mark 14:70).
received him: Grk. dechomai, aor. mid., to receive, frequently with the connotation of enthusiastic acceptance. having seen: Grk. horaō, perf. part., to perceive with the physical eyes or to experience extraordinary mental or inward perception. The verb is intended to be taken literally here. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., all, every. that: pl. of Grk. hosos, relative pronoun that signifies maximum inclusion. he did: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 34 above. The mention of what "he did" refers to his four actions at Passover (John 2:15-16): he made a whip, he turned over the tables of the moneychangers and the dove merchants, he drove the moneychangers and merchants out of the temple, and prohibited the offenders from returning.
in Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma. See verse 20 above. at the festival: Grk. heortē, a public 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. The word occurs 25 times in the Besekh and all but eight occur in the book of John. Paul also uses the term generally of festivals observed by the Jewish people (Col 2:16). In the LXX heortē renders Heb. chag, SH-2282, feast, festival-gathering, pilgrim feast or festival sacrifice of Israel (BDB 290), about 52 times, and Heb mo'ed, SH-4150, appointed time, place or meeting, especially of sacred seasons and festivals (BDB 417), about 29 times (DNTT 1:626). The term refers to Passover in this context. (See my web article God's Appointed Times.)
for they also went: Grk. erchomai, aor. to the festival: Grk. heortē. This clarification emphasizes the Torah-observant character of the Galileans in fulfilling the requirement of the pilgrim feasts that all males come to Jerusalem (Num 9:2; Deut 16:16-17). The Galileans had witnessed first hand the daring zeal of Yeshua and heartily approved of his actions. They welcomed him as a victorious hero. Luke adds, "He taught in their synagogues, and everyone respected him." (Luke 4:15 CJB).
46 Then he came again to Cana of Galilee where he had made the water wine. And there was a royal official whose son was ailing in Capernaum.
Then: Grk. oun, conj. indicating that one takes account of something in the narrative immediately preceding or of implication contained in it; then. he came: Grk. erchomai, aor. to come or arrive with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place or to go with the focus on the goal for movement. again: Grk. palin, adv., with focus on a repetitive occurrence; once more, again. to Cana: Grk. Kana transliterates 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). The geographical reference alludes to the narrative of John 2:1-11. of Galilee: naming the region may imply that there was another Cana in another region known to the apostles. The lack of any mention of Yeshua's nearby hometown of Nazareth is striking. where: Grk. hopou, adv. of place; where.
he had made: Grk. poieō, aor., a verb of physical action refers to Yeshua making or creating something material. the water: Grk. hudōr, the physical element, here of potable water. wine: Grk. oinos, the fermented beverage of wine made from grapes. In the LXX oinos renders Heb. yanah (138 times), wine, and Heb. tirosh (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, 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). Wine was an important commodity and a popular beverage in ancient times (Gen 14:18; 1Sam 25:18; Ps 104:15; Prov 3:10; Matt 9:17; John 2:3-11). 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 also 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). While alcohol abuse is a pervasive social problem there is no biblical foundation for any church to label the consumption of wine as an evil practice.
And there was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 6 above. The imperfect tense emphasizes the continuing nature of the visit. a royal official: Grk. basilikos, belonging to or relating to a king; royal official, courtier. The term means that the man worked for Herod Antipas who was tetrarch over Galilee. While the Romans did not grant him the title of "king" he nonetheless reigned as a king and is so identified by the apostles (Matt 14:9; Mark 6:14). Some have conjectured that he was Manaen, the foster-brother of Herod Antipas (Acts 13:1) or Chuza, Herod's steward (Luke 8:3), but there is no evidence for either suggestion (Morris 289).
whose son: Grk. paidion, child with an age range from new-born to pre-adolescent youth. was ailing: Grk. astheneō, impf., to experience weakness in body, be sick. In other words the malady is such that the individual is not able to leave his bed or home to seek medical help. The verb covers a wide range of physical problems. in 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 was probably founded after the return from exile. As an economic center in Galilee it was more significant than tradition has often allowed.
Apparently the royal official was visiting Cana while his family remained in Capernaum, about 17 miles NE of Cana. Some interpreters have held that this story is a variant of the healing of the centurion's servant (Matt 8:5-13; Luke 7:2-10), but the apostolic writers did not confuse their narratives. Unlike the centurion story there is a strong likelihood that the royal official was Jewish (Morris 107). Stern commits the faux pas of saying "given Roman practice, it would have been exceptional if he was [Jewish]." Herod Antipas was not a Roman, but a Jew by assimilation. There was a Jewish party known as the Herodians who supported the Herod dynasty (Mark 3:6; 12:13).
47 This man, hearing that Yeshua had come out of Judea into Galilee, went to him and requested that he go down and heal his son; for he was about to die.
This man: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. hearing: Grk. akouō, aor. part. See verse 1 above. Even without the aid of modern electronic devices news traveled fast. that Yeshua had come: Grk. hēkō, with the sense of the perfect tense, have come, have arrived, be present. out of Judea: Grk. Ioudaia. See verse 3 above. into Galilee: Grk. Galilaios. See verse 3 above. John emphasizes again Yeshua's point of departure and his point of arrival. He was traveling south to north and west of the Jordan. went: Grk. aperchomai, aor., to be in movement from a position with or without mention of a destination, to go away, depart or leave. to him and requested: Grk. erōtaō, impf. See verse 31 above.
that he go down: Grk. katabainō, aor. subj., proceed in a direction that is down; come or go down. The verb alludes to the difference in elevation of the two towns. The royal official essentially asks Yeshua to return with him to Capernaum. and heal: Grk. iaomai, aor. mid. subj., to effect a physical cure. his son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant. See verse 5 above. for he was about: Grk. mellō, impf., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to, be going to. to die: Grk. apothnēskō, pres. inf., to expire in the sense of a physical death. There is no hint as to the nature of the malady, but it was so serious as to threaten death.
48 So Yeshua said to him, "Unless you all see signs and wonders, you will not believe."
So: Grk. oun, conj., here used to mark the sequence and indicate a conclusion connected with the narrative immediately preceding. Yeshua said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 5 above. The Greek verb "say" functions as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. to: Grk. pros, prep., used primarily in marking a destination or goal with the implication of relationship rather than entry into an entity; and with a verb of communication the meaning is "to." Often a grammatical construction to express communication "to" someone is accomplished without a preposition by making the noun following in the dative case as in verse 50 below. The root meaning of pros is near, facing (DM 110), so in an Hebraic sense the meaning is "spoke face to face."
him: Grk. autos, pronoun, acc. case; i.e., the royal official. Yeshua offers a response that on the face of it seems insensitive. Unless: Grk. ean mē, lit. "if not." you all see: Grk. horaō, aor. subj. See verse 29 above. The pronoun "you" and verb are second person plural, so Yeshua is addressing more than the royal official. Yeshua probably directed this statement to members of the crowd that had welcomed him in verse 45 above, thus my use of "you all" as in the TLV. Many versions have "you people" (e.g., CJB, HCSB, NASB, NCV, NET, NIV, NKJV). So, Yeshua has eye-to-eye contact with the official, but addresses the crowd, in one sense dismissing them as unimportant.
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). 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.
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. Only a small number of his healing miracles could be considered Grade A. In the book of John Grade A miracles are referred to as "signs" because they attested that Yeshua is the Son of God (John 21:30-31). Four of these signs are healings, the first being in this narrative, then healing a paralyzed man (5:1-15), healing a man born blind (9:1-12), and finally raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43f).
and wonders: pl. of Grk. teras, a phenomenon with astounding effect, marvel, wonder (cf. Isa 8:18). In Greek sources teras denotes terrible appearances which elicit fright and horror and which contradict the orderly unity of nature (DNTT 2:633). In the LXX teras chiefly renders mopheth ("wonder, sign or portent," BDB 68). The Hebrew and Greek words feature in contexts of supra-terrestrial occurrences and divine intervention. Since "signs" and "wonders" appear together they may be considered two sides of the same coin. In other words, "sign" is the event and "wonder" is the impact on those who witness the sign.
you will not: Grk. ou mē, lit. "by no means" (Marshall). believe: Grk. pisteuō, aor. subj. See verse 21 above. While Yeshua does not finish the sentence he obviously means "believe in me." Yeshua alludes to the Jewish preference for a miraculous sign to give credence to a prophet's message (e.g., 1Cor 1:22). 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). Even the disciples would later ask for a sign of Yeshua's coming to take the throne (Matt 24:3). In this instance the crowd apparently viewed the royal official's request as an opportunity to watch Yeshua perform a miracle. In essence Yeshua rebukes the crowd because they didn't really care about the official's suffering son and his own suffering as a result.
49 The royal official said to him, "Sir, go down before my child dies."
The royal official: Grk. basilikos. See verse 46 above. said: Grk. legō, lit. "says." See the previous verse. to: Grk. pros, prep. See the previous verse. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., the royal official. Ignoring the crowd the official repeats his entreaty for Yeshua's help. The need is urgent so the father does not hesitate to press his case. Sir: Grk. kurios, voc. case. The title would have the same meaning as when spoken by the Samaritan woman. He is not addressing Yeshua as Lord and Master. See verse 11 above.
go down: Grk. katabainō, aor. imp. See verse 47 above. The imperative mood reflects a heartfelt entreaty. before: Grk. prin, adv. of a point in time earlier than the moment of a specified event or activity, before. my child: Grk. paidion. See verse 46 above. dies: Grk. apothnēskō, aor. inf. See verse 47 above. Apparently the man believed there was time for Yeshua to go his son's bed and prevent his death.
50 Yeshua said to him, "Go; your son lives." The man believed the word that Yeshua spoke to him and went.
Yeshua said: Grk. legō, lit. "says." See the verse 48 above. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, dative case; i.e. the royal official. Go: Grk. poreuō, pres. mid. imp., to move from one area to another, to go or to make one's way, to travel. The simple command means "go down yourself." your son lives: Grk. zaō. See verse 10 above. The man: Grk. anthrōpos, human being, but here specifically of a human male, the royal official. See verse 28 above. believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor. See verse 21 above. The verb has the effective meaning of trusting in Yeshua's pronouncement. the word: Grk. logos. See verse 37 above. that Yeshua spoke: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 7 above. to him and went: Grk. poreuō, impf. mid.
It's important to note that Yeshua did not pray for the boy nor did he prophesy that the boy would be healed. Bible versions that change the present tense to a future tense, such as "your son will live" (CEB, CEV, ERV, ESV, EXB, GW, HCSB, LEB, NCV, NET, NIRV, NIV, NLV, NLT, NOG, NRSV, RSV, TEV) miss the point. Yeshua did not placate the father with an empty platitude of "don't worry about it, he will get better." Instead, Yeshua spoke the creation words that instantly cured and thereby made the healing a "sign." The royal official exhibited a surprising and unquestioning obedience. He took Yeshua's words at face value and left. There really was no alternative. He could have asked Yeshua how he knew the child was still living, but the only way to know if his son was healed was to go home.
51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him, saying that his son was living.
And: Grk. de, conj. See verse 4 above. The conjunction serves to advance the narrative into a new scene. as he was now: Grk. ēdē, adv., with focus on temporal culmination, now, already. going down: Grk. katabainō, pres. part. See verse 47 above. his servants: pl. of Grk. doulos can mean either slave or servant. In the LXX doulos translates the Heb. word ebed, which similarly described someone enslaved after being captured in war or in order to pay a debt, whether voluntarily or involuntarily (cf. Ex 21:7; Lev 25:39, 44, 47). In addition, ebed identified those that served God, especially service in the temple (DNTT 3:593ff). The first usage of ebed for "slave" in Scripture is of the household servants Abimelech gave Abraham as restitution for taking Sarah (Gen 20:14).
Joseph is the first Hebrew slave mentioned in Scripture (Gen 39:17). Later Egypt would be labeled a "house of slavery" for their mistreatment of the descendants of Jacob (Ex 13:3). Slaves could be owned as a possession for various lengths of times, Hebrew slaves no more than seven years (Ex 21:2), and Gentile slaves without time limit. The economy of Egypt, Greece, and Rome was based on slave labor. In the first century, one out of three persons in Italy and one out of five elsewhere was a slave. Canaan, Aram, Assyria, Babylonia, and Persia had fewer slaves because it proved less expensive to hire free persons ("Slave/Servant," HBD).
Legally, a slave had no rights; but, except for the gangs in mines, most were treated humanely and were better off than many free persons. Domestics were considered part of the family, and some were greatly loved by their masters. While servanthood for many might have been involuntary, slaves could generally earn or purchase their freedom (cf. 1Cor 7:21). Still, the institution of slavery was unquestioned (cf. Matt 10:24) and the Bible contains no condemnation of the practice. Slavery was guaranteed employment and job security. The translation of "servants" seems appropriate here on the assumption that the royal official was Jewish and they were household servants in his employ. The plural noun implies at least two servants, but there could have been more.
met: Grk. hupantaō, aor., to draw up for a close encounter, to meet, here in a friendly manner. him, saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. The verb is plural to agree with the noun, but it also indicates multiple voices carrying the same message, probably in an excited manner. that his son: Grk. pais, one in a dependent capacity, child, here of a male infant; lit. "the child of him." was living: Grk. zaō, lit. "lives." See verse 10 above. True to Yeshua's word the servants report that the child was alive and well.
52 So he inquired from them the hour when he got better. Then they said to him, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him."
So he inquired: Grk. punthanomai, aor. mid., to inquire, ask, seek to learn (BAG). The official cut into the excited speech of the servants to ask a question. from them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun, a reference to the multiple servants mentioned in the previous verse. the hour: Grk. hōra. See verse 6 above. when he got: Grk. echō, aor., to have in possession. See verse 11 above. better: Grk. kompsoteron, adj. of comparison, here in reference to health, 'better.' Yesterday: Grk. echthes, the day preceding today, yesterday. at the seventh: Grk. hebdomos, adj., the seventh in sequence. hour: Grk. hōra. The seventh hour would be about 1:00 pm. In verse 6 above the sixth hour is noon.
the fever: Grk. puretos (from pur, 'fire'), an elevation of bodily temperature above the normal range, fever. A fever can be caused by many different medical conditions ranging from benign to potentially serious. Often fever is a defense mechanism of the body's immune system to fight infection. left: Grk. aphiēmi, aor. See verse 3 above. him: The phrase "the fever left him" suggests a personification of "fever." In the English vernacular "leaving" implies going somewhere. In physical terms a fever either increases or decreases in intensity. The phrase could be rendered as "the fever released him" and thus the illness may have been a Satanic attack (as in the case of Job) and not a normal illness.
53 Then the father knew that it was in that hour in which Yeshua said to him, "Your son lives"; and he believed and his whole household.
Then the father: Grk. patēr. John draws attention to the familial relationship. To the child the man was not a royal official, but "daddy." knew: Grk. ginōskō, aor., may mean (1) to be in receipt of information with a focus on awareness, know; (2) to form a judgment or draw a conclusion; think, understand, comprehend; (3) to have a personal relationship involving recognition of another's identity or value, or (4) to be sexually intimate. The first or second meaning applies here with the implication of certainty. that it was in that hour: i.e., the precise hour in the day. in which Yeshua said to him: the clause alludes to the conversation between the royal official and Yeshua.
Your son lives: Grk. zaō. The present tense sentence is repeated as Yeshua said it in verse 50 above. and he believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor. See verse 21 above. The use of the verb "believed" here does not contradict its usage in verse 50. Faith can be added to (cf. 2Pet 1:5). The report of the miracle did not create his belief and trust in Yeshua, but increased it. and his whole: Grk. holos, adj. signifying a complete unit, all, whole or entire. household: Grk. oikia may mean either (1) a habitable structure, house; or (2) fig. a group within a house, household or family. The addition of "whole" implies that the servants were included in the number that believed that God had worked a great miracle through Yeshua.
54 Now this is again a second sign that Yeshua performed having come out of Judea into Galilee.
Now: Grk. de, conj. See verse 4 above. The conjunction introduces a transition in thought. The conjunction is not found in the M-Text or the TR, but it is in the WH-Text and NU-Text in brackets, indicating that it is only found in a small number of early MSS. Most versions do not translate the conjunction, but a few do (LEB, MRINT, NRSV, OJB). this is again: Grk. palin, adv. See verse 3 above. a second: Grk. deuteros, adj., second in a sequence. sign: Grk. sēmeion. See verse 48 above. that Yeshua performed: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 1 above.
having come: Grk. erchomai, aor. part. See verse 5 above. out of: Grk. ek, prep., lit. 'from within.' Judea: Grk. Ioudaia. See verse 3 above. into Galilee: Grk. Galilaios. See verse 3 above. Morris points out that this cannot mean the second of all Yeshua's signs, since he performed signs in Jerusalem (2:23). John clarifies that this is the second creation miracle in Galilee, and in reality the second in Cana, making it singularly distinctive in contrast to Nazareth where Yeshua performed few miracles (Mark 6:5), and those were of a providential nature and not creation miracles.
A similar story as this is recounted in the Talmud of two great rabbinic leaders in the first century, Hanina b. Dosa and Gamaliel II.
"Once the son of R. Gamaliel fell ill. He sent two scholars to R. Hanina b. Dosa to ask him to pray for him. When he saw them he went up to an upper chamber and prayed for him. When he came down he said to them: 'Go, the fever has left him;' They said to him: 'Are you a prophet?' He replied: 'I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I learnt this from experience. If my prayer is fluent in my mouth, I know that he is accepted: but if not, I know that he is rejected.' They sat down and made a note of the exact moment. When they came to R. Gamaliel, he said to them: By the temple service! You have not been a moment too soon or too late, but so it happened: at that very moment the fever left him and he asked for water to drink." (Berachot 34b)
Hanina b. Dosa was noted for being a man of prayer and a miracle worker. (See the Wikipedia article on Dosa.) Gamaliel II was head of the Jewish people during the last two decades of the first and at the beginning of the second century. Considering the healing performed by Dosa we might wonder what made the healing of Yeshua reported here a sign.
Typical of Rabbinical stories the one about Dosa is designed to excite wonder at the extraordinary power exercised by the man of God (Morris 289). John's purpose is much different. The stories of Yeshua's signs reveal God at work and demonstrate the identity of the Messiah. In addition, Yeshua did not pray for the boy or prophesy that he would be healed or even lay hands on him. Instead, Yeshua spoke the creation words that healed.
After the healing of the royal official's son Yeshua settles in Capernaum as a base of ministry (Matt 4:13-17; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:31-32). Prior to the narrative of John 5 the following events occur in the Synoptic Narratives:
ABP: The Apostolic Bible Polyglot. trans. Charles Van der Pool. The Apostolic Press, 2006. (An interlinear Septuagint, LXX, with English translation) Online.
Ant.: Flavius Josephus (c. 37-100 A.D.), Antiquities of the Jews. Online.
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.
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.
Benner: Jeff A. Benner, New Testament Greek to Hebrew Dictionary. Virtualbookworm.com Publishing, 2011.
Clarke: Adam Clarke (1762-1832), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.
Coke: Thomas Coke (1747-1814), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.
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.)
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology. 3 Vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.
Fisher: Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament. The University of York, 2000. [NA26]
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
GNT: The Greek New Testament, eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, & Allen Wiegren. American Bible Society, 1966. [NA25]
Hartman: Hartman, Louis F., et al. "God, Names of", Jewish Virtual Library. American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, 2013.
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.
Kasdan: Barney Kasdan, Matthew Presents Yeshua, King Messiah: A Messianic Commentary. Lederer Books, 2011.
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.
OCB: The Oxford Companion to the Bible. ed. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan. Oxford University Press, 1993.
Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaqi (1040-1105), Commentary on the Tanakh. Online.
Reinhartz: Adele Reinhartz, Annotations on "John," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Vol. 1. Zondervan Pub. House, 1976.
Santala: Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Trans. William Kinnaird. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1992. Online.
Shapira: Rabbi Itzhak Shapira, The Return of the Kosher Pig: The Divine Messiah in Jewish Thought. Lederer Books, 2013.
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.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.
TWOT: Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 Vols. ed. R. Laird Harris. Moody Bible Institute, 1980.
Wars: Flavius Josephus (c. 37-100 A.D.), Wars of the Jews. Online.
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