Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 16 January 2015; Revised 12 August 2017
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.
Ministry in Galilee, 7:1
Meeting Between Yeshua and his Brothers, 7:2-9
Yeshua at the Festival of Booths (Sukkot), 7:10-53
Autumn A.D. 29
Ministry in Galilee, 7:1
1 And after these things, Yeshua walked in Galilee, for he did not wish to walk in Judea, because the Judean authorities were seeking to kill him.
And: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). Beginning verses with a conjunction, as well as the excessive use of conjunctions, is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. In contrast to most Bible versions I translate all the instances of kai (and all the other conjunctions) as a reminder of John's Hebraic writing style.
after: Grk. meta, prep. used to (1) mark association or accompaniment; with, amid, among; or (2) mark sequence or position; after behind, which applies here. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes its use or follows it; this, these. This is a reference to the narrative of the previous chapter.
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?
walked: Grk. peripateō, impf., to engage in pedestrian activity; go about; walk about, walk around, walk. In the LXX peripateō is found in only 33 passages, of which more than half come from Wisdom literature, and renders Heb. halak (to go, come or walk) (DNTT 3:943). Peripateō occurs in a few passages of God walking (Gen 3:8; Job 9:8; Ps 104:3), and in a some passages peripateō is used figuratively of a way of life (2Kgs 20:3; Ps 12:8; Prov 6:22; 8:20; Eccl 11:9; cf. Mark 7:5). The verb emphasizes the fact that while Yeshua traveled occasionally by boat and once on a donkey, his principal means of movement throughout the land of Israel was by foot.
in 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).
This verse summarizes the fact that following the events of chapter six that occurred in the Spring of 29, Yeshua sought to escape the sweltering heat of the summer by traveling to the uplands of Lebanon and Golan to rest (Santala 118). Yeshua went to Tyre and Sidon where he freed the daughter of a Syro-Phoenician woman from demonic oppression (Mark 7:24-30). Then we went into the Decapolis where he healed a deaf and dumb man (Mark 7:31-37) and miraculously fed 4,000+ people (Mark 8:1-10). Afterwards he traveled to Dalmanutha where a Pharisee party demanded a sign (Mark 8:10-12) and he sailed to Bethsaida-Julius where he warned his disciples about the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod Antipas (Mark 8:13-21).
Afterward, Yeshua and his disciples traveled north again, this time to the area of Caesarea Philippi where Peter made his great confession and Yeshua prophesied his arrest, execution and resurrection (Mark 8:27-38). Then Yeshua and his disciples crossed the border into Syria and somewhere in the Mt. Hermon range Yeshua was transfigured (Mark 9:2-13). Following this glorious experience Yeshua healed a boy afflicted with an evil spirit (Mark 9:14-29) and then returned to Capernaum (Mark 9:30). While at Capernaum Yeshua was questioned about temple tribute-money (Matt 17:24-27) and gave a teaching that responded to a disciple's question "who is the greatest?" (Matt 18:1-35). It is after this point that John continues his narrative.
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 is normally translated "for." he did not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in denial or negation, typically an unqualified strong denial of an alleged fact; no, not (DM 264f). wish: Grk. thelō, impf., to have a desire for something or have a purpose for something; will, wish, desire. to walk: Grk. peripateō, pres. inf. in Judea: Grk. Ioudaia, derived from Ioudaios, transliterates the Latin provincial name of Iudaea and corresponds to the Heb. name Yehudah, 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 contemporary situation occurs before A.D. 70. Of course, the first readers of John's book might assume he meant the Roman province of Judaea, which comprised all three territories and was ruled at the time by a Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate.
because: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The fourth usage applies here. the Judean authorities: Grk. Ioudaioi, pl. of Ioudaios, Judean, Jew, Jewish or Jewess (BAG). The noun, occurring frequently in John's narrative, is used as a shorthand term to identify a particular group within the biological descendants of Jacob, namely Judean Jews. The label "Judean" characterizes the nature of their religion, not their birthplace or residence. Ioudaioi is never used as a label for Hellenistic Jews or Samaritan Jews. In this verse John uses the term for those in positions of power who opposed Yeshua. For more discussion on the background of Ioudaios and John's usage of it see my comment on John 1:19.
were seeking: Grk. zēteō, impf., 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. The first meaning applies here. to kill: Grk. apokteinō, aor. inf., put an end by force to existence of someone, kill. Relevant to the verb choice is that both Greek and Hebrew have two words for taking a human life. The word for intentional murder or assassination in Hebrew is ratzach (BDB 953) and in Greek phoneuō. For accidental killing, manslaughter, killing in war or court-ordered execution the Hebrew word is harag (BDB 246) and the Greek word is apokteinō.
him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. Yeshua prophesied at least twice before this point that his death would come about as a result of a court-ordered execution (Mark 8:31; 9:31).
Meeting Between Yeshua and his Brothers, 7:2-9
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," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). In this verse the conjunction introduces a transition from Yeshua's ministry in Galilee to the narrative of an important calendar event in Jerusalem.
the festival: Grk. heortē, a religious festival and in the Besekh always of a joyous gathering of the Jewish people for celebrations of the calendar prescribed in the Torah, generally with a focus on sacrifices and communal eating. (See my web article God's Appointed Times.) The word occurs 25 times in the Besekh and all but eight occur in the book of John. In the LXX heortē renders Heb. chag, feast, festival-gathering, pilgrim feast or festival sacrifice of Israel (BDB 290). The phrase "the festival" (or "the feast") was used as shorthand of only one of the appointed times, a usage that occurs in the Tanakh (1Kgs 8:2, 65; 12:32; 2Chr 5:3; 7:8; Neh. 8:14; Ezek 45:25), as well as the Mishnah and other Jewish literature (e.g., Maas. 3:7; Bikk. 1:6, 10; Shek. 3:1; 6:3) (Morris 394).
of the Judean Jews: Grk. Ioudaiōn, gen. pl. of Ioudaios, Judean, Jew, Jewish or Jewess (BAG). See the previous verse. Many versions render the noun as a singular adjective and so have "Jewish feast (or festival)." However, the noun is not just describing the character of the festival, but the people who observed and/or supervised the festival. The participants were primarily Judean Jews, whether from the local area, Samaria, Galilee or the Diaspora. Stern translates the term in the CJB as "in Yehudah" (Judea) to emphasize its location as required by the Torah (Deut 16:16). However, the genitive case places the focus on the people, not the place. If John had meant a feast "in Judea" he would have used the accusative case of Grk. Ioudaia with the preposition en, "in." Identifying the festival as being observed by Judean Jews may seem unnecessary, but the detail would be important for a Gentile audience.
Booths: Grk. skēnopēgia, building of tents or booths (BAG), derived from skēnē (a moveable habitable structure or temporary shelter; tent, hut, booth, tabernacle). The term is used in the Besekh and the LXX specifically and only of Israel's festival called Sukkot occurring in the seventh month (September or October), Tishri 15-22 (Deut 16:16; 31:10; Zech 14:16, 18-19). John inserted the term for the sake of non-Jewish readers. Sukkot was one of the three pilgrim festivals which all Jewish males were required to attend in Jerusalem after the late harvest (Deut 16:13-16). Josephus says that Sukkot was a very popular celebration for Jews (Ant. XV, 3:3). This fact is illustrated by the mention that in A.D. 66 the whole city of Lydda (in Judea) took part in Sukkot leaving only 50 persons in the town (Wars, II, 19:1).
Sukkot commences five days after Yom-Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and lasts seven days, followed by an eighth day designated a day of rest on which a sacred convocation would be held (Lev 23:36), called Sh'mini Atzeret (Eighth Day of Solemn Assembly). The observance of Sukkot is as an acted out parable of dependence on God and His gracious providence toward the people of Israel. Once the people lived in Canaan the festival would also celebrate the harvest coming at summer’s end, so that it would be a time of thanksgiving. With the connection to the harvest, the Torah also calls Sukkot the "feast of ingathering" (Ex 23:16; 34:22). Sukkot is also called Zman Simkhatenu, "The Time of Our Rejoicing" (Barney Kasdan, God's Appointed Times. Lederer Books, 1993; p. 92).
The festival name Sukkot is derived from a key requirement to dwell in a temporary shelter, called Heb. sukkah (SH-5521, "thicket, booth"), such as might be used for livestock (Gen 33:17), warriors in the field (2Sam 11:11; 1Kgs 20:12), watchers in a vineyard (Isa 1:8), or protection from the elements (Isa 4:6; Jon 4:5). God required people to live in a sukkah for the entire seven days of the festival (Lev 23:34-43). Gesenius points out that sukkah can also be a tent made of curtains as suggested by the LXX translation of the Torah instruction:
"You shall dwell in sukkot [temporary shelters; LXX skēnais, tents] for seven days; all born in Israel shall dwell in sukkot [temporary shelters] so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in sukkot [i.e., tents] when I brought them out from the land of Egypt." (Lev 23:42-43 mine)
In the Leviticus passage and other Tanakh passages where the word sukkah appears the LXX uses the term skēnē, indicating that construction materials could be natural or man-made as indicated by the context. The instruction implies the contrast of living in houses in Egypt and the fact that after their wilderness wanderings they would again live in houses when they occupied the Land of Canaan (Deut 6:10-11). This reality is brought home by the fact that the first place the Israelites set up a tent encampment after departing Goshen was called Succoth (Heb. Sukkoth), which signifies "tents" or "tabernacles" (Ex 12:37). It was here that Jacob first built booths for his cattle (Gen 33:17).
For the 40 years of wilderness wandering the Israelites lived in tents. There is no evidence that the Israelites observed this festival in the wilderness, but rather the instruction pointed to the day when they would live in houses in the promised Land. The first mention of the observance of Sukkot was during the reign of King Solomon, although there is no mention of people erecting booths (1Kgs 8:2; 2Chron 5:3; 8:13). Other references to an observance with booth construction are after the return from exile (Ezra 3:4; Neh 8:14-17; 1Esdr 5:51; 2Macc 1:9), although Nehemiah 8:17 implies that Sukkot was observed during the time of Joshua.
In this verse skēnopēgia is sometimes rendered as "Booths" (CEB, ESV, NASB, NIRV, NRSV) or "Shelters" (CEV, ERV, EXB, NCV, NLT, TEV), but mostly as "Tabernacles" (AMP, ASV, DRA, GNC, HCSB, KJ21, KJV, MRINT, MSG, NET, NIV, NKJV, RSV). Two Messianic Jewish versions render the term as "Tabernacles" (GNC, TLV) but five as Sukkot (CJB, DHE, HNV, MW, OJB). All of these translations have value. "Tabernacle" typically denotes a sanctuary for worship or a tent. A Sukkot booth is definitely not a tent, but a structure made of foliage and branches taken from trees with the roof partially open to the sky (Lev 23:40; Neh 8:15-16). However, pilgrims coming to Jerusalem for the festival likely lived in tents outside the city, probably in designated camping areas, while residents of Jerusalem built booths in accordance with Jewish law.
According to the tractate Sukkah the booth had to have at least three sides and be not more than 20 cubits high (30 ft.). As might be expected the Sadducees differed from the Pharisees over the Torah instruction to use boughs of palm trees and willows (Lev 23:40). The Sadducees took the command literally to refer to the materials from which the booths were to be constructed, while the Pharisees applied it to what the worshippers were to carry in their hands. The latter interpretation apparently held sway based on the account of the festival at the time of Nehemiah when the booths were constructed of limbs of different trees (Neh 8:15-18; Edersheim-Temple 216). As in the time of Nehemiah the natural booths were typically erected in courts of houses or on roofs (Morris 394).
In contrast to Passover, which is a family-centered celebration, Sukkot was very Temple-centered and the priests and Levites were extremely busy the entire week. The festival instructions required daily sacrifices by the priests of bulls, rams and lambs (Num 29:12-38), as well as a free-will offering presented during the festival by each male attending (Num 29:39; Deut 16:17). The Levites sang songs and played musical instruments amid much rejoicing. Each evening people came to the Temple with an etrog (“citron”), a citrus fruit representing the fruit of the Promised Land, and waved it along with a lulav, which is a palm branch, a myrtle and a willow bound together; today the same is done in the synagogues.
The festival is prophetically connected with the future of the nations in the age to come, after the second coming of Yeshua the Messiah (Zech 14:16-19). Stern points out that the rabbis of the Talmud recognized the connection of this festival with the Gentiles. Speaking of the seventy bulls required by the Torah (Num 29:12–34) to be sacrificed during the seven days of the festival, Rabbi El‛azar said, "To what do these seventy bulls correspond? To the seventy nations" (Sukkah 55b). In rabbinic tradition, the traditional number of Gentile nations is seventy; the seventy bulls are to make atonement for them. In one sense the observance of Sukkot by Gentiles has already begun. It is widely believed that the Puritan colonists, who were great students of the Hebrew Scriptures, based the first American Thanksgiving on Sukkot.
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). near: Grk. engus, adv., near or close to, whether in a spatial or temporal sense. John may be using the word in the sense of the calendar, likely meaning the 30-day period immediately preceding the festival as the word means in John 6:4. Since the festival began on Tishri 15 then pilgrims had to arrive not later than the 14th.
The month of Tishri, the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar was very significant. The month was personally significant because Yeshua was likely born on Tishri 1, 3 B.C. (See my commentary on Luke 2.) The first of Tishri was celebrated as Yom Teru’ah ("Day of Shouting"), commonly known as the Feast of Trumpets (Lev 23:23-25; Num 29:1-6). By Torah instruction Yom Teru'ah begins a ten day period of sincere humbling and repentance to prepare for Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) on 10 Tishri. The month of Tishri signifies that Yeshua was born to becoming an atoning sacrifice. The festival of Sukkot, coming as it were on the heels of Yeshua's birth, aptly symbolized Yeshua's incarnation as declared in John 1:14 that "The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us" (TLV).
3 Then his brothers said to him, "Depart from here, and go into Judea, that your disciples will also see your works you are doing."
Then: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which may (1) indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding - so, therefore, consequently, then; (2) indicate that one takes account of something in the narrative immediately preceding, then; or (3) simply indicate a stage in the narrative -so, then. The second application fits here. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos, lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant a male sibling; brother. Adelphos primarily bears this genetic definition. Here the term refers to his half-brothers of whom he had four: Jacob, Judah, Joseph and Simon (Matt 13:55). Except for Jacob, nothing is known of these siblings but that they were the children of Miriam and Joseph and resided in Nazareth. The Catholic tradition that Yeshua was the only child Miriam ever bore contradicts the testimony of Scripture.
Matthew (13:55), Mark (6:3), Luke (Acts 1:14) and Paul (Gal 1:19) use adelphos and not sungenēs ("connected by lineage, relative") to describe the relationship between Yeshua and his half-brothers. The plural noun in this verse indicates at least two of the brothers, but all four might be implied as a delegation. said: Grk. legō, aor., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; lit. "says.” In the LXX legō renders Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think. The Greek verb "say" functions as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. to him: The personal pronoun stresses a face-to-face conversation.
Depart: Grk. metabainō, aor. imp., to make a transfer from one place to another; go or pass over. The verb is derived from the prep. meta ("with") and the verb bainō ("walk, step"). The imperative mood functions as an entreaty, not a command. A usage in Josephus (Wars, VI, 3:4) indicates the verb could even mean to change one's place of residence, move (BAG). from here: Grk. enteuthen, adv., from here, out of here, away from here. Yeshua and his half-brothers may have met in Nazareth, but most likely "here" refers to Capernaum as it was the last geographical site mentioned (John 6:59).
and go: Grk. hupagō, pres. imp., to proceed from a position, here with the focus on an objective destination; go, go away, leave. into Judea: See verse 1 above. that your 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. John's mention of "disciples" from this point on implies the complete group of twelve (see verse 67 below), who had been called into service in the past year.
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.
will also see: Grk. theōreō, fut., may mean (1) pay attention to; look at, observe, watch, behold; or (2) conclude on the basis of personal experience; infer, see. your works: pl. of 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 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 noun probably emphasizes miracles attributed to Yeshua, but considering verse 5 may have been a more general reference to Yeshua's ministry.
you are doing: 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. In the LXX poieō renders chiefly Heb. asah (SH-6213), accomplish, do, make, work (first in Gen 1:7), and used of a wide range of human and divine activity. Poieō also renders the special word bara (SH-1254), 'shape, fashion, create,' used of God's creative deeds (first in Gen 1:1). The reference to "disciples" probably indicates disciples in Judea who had not witnessed Yeshua's Galilean ministry. After all, the Twelve had been witnesses to all that Yeshua had done. When Yeshua had traveled north out of Jerusalem not all of his followers in Judea had the luxury of leaving their homes and work.
4 For no one does anything in secret, but seeks himself to be in public. If you do these things, reveal yourself to the world."
For: Grk. gar, conj. no one: Grk. oudeis, adj. used to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; no one, nobody. The generalization likely means "no one claiming to be a prophet or Messiah." does: Grk. poieō, pres. See the previous verse. anything: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun, a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. in: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position with the root meaning of "within," and may be rendered "in, on, at, among, or within" as appropriate to the context (DM 105). secret: Grk. kruptos, adj., not open to or recognizable by the public; hidden, secret, private.
but: Grk. kai, conj. 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. The third meaning applies here. himself: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. to be: Grk. eimi, pres. inf. See the note on verse 2 above. in: Grk. en, prep. public: Grk. parrēsia may mean (1) of plain and direct speech; plain speech or adverbially 'plainly, openly'; (2) freeness in speech, as opposed to being under constraint to watch one's words; straightforwardness, candor, unguardedness; or (3) openness to the public, here of seeking to be in the public eye for recognition.
If: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker used here to introduce a premise. you do: Grk. poieō, pres. See the previous verse. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, 'this.' In other words, "If you're really doing the signs and miracles expected of the Messiah that we hear attributed to you, then…." reveal: Grk. phaneroō, aor. imp., cause to be in a state or condition that makes observation possible; make known, show, disclose, manifest, reveal. Here the verb has the sense of recognition of Yeshua's identity as the Messiah. yourself: Grk. seautou, reflexive pronoun, yourself. For the brothers of Yeshua a Messiah can only be authentic by a public proclamation.
to the world: Grk. kosmos 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). A number of passages use "world" 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 3:17; Rom 11:12, 15; 2Cor 5:19). However, defining the "world" in this context must consider the point of view of Yeshua's brothers. The term is used in a few passages of Jews (John 6:33; 12:19; 14:19; 17:6), so from the point of view of the brothers their "world" was the Jewish world.
5 For not even his brothers were believing in him.
For: Grk. gar, conj. not even: Grk. oude, conj., negative marker used to link a negative statement to a preceding statement in terms of explanation; not even. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos. See verse 3 above. were believing: Grk. pisteuō, impf., in general Greek usage means to have confidence or faith in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone. The imperfect tense stresses a continuing attitude (Morris). 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). Yeshua teaches what many Christians have denied for centuries, that believing is a work. Christian theology seeks to separate believing or trusting from works, but they are intimately interconnected as Yeshua (Matt 7:21-23; 19:16-17), Paul (Eph 2:8-10; Heb 11) and Jacob (Jas 2:14-26) declare.
in: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." The use of eis, which normally means "entrance into" with pisteuō would depict a direct transfer of trust. him: This verse seems to imply that the advice of the brothers in verse 3 and 4 represents insincerity, perhaps even mockery. It's very likely that the brothers who lived in Nazareth and had not believed did not follow him around and thus had no first hand knowledge of Yeshua's ministry of miracles and teaching. Yeshua's early visit to Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30), in which he declared the fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1-2, had ended badly. Sometime later the brothers had joined their mother to check on Yeshua and invite him home to rest from the demands of ministry. (See my commentary on Mark 3:21, 31-35). Since then the brothers may have only had rumors to form an opinion. Their suggestion might even imply the seeds of faith, that is, "give us a reason to believe."
6 Therefore Yeshua said to them, "My time is not yet here, but your time is always ready.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. Yeshua said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Rather than respond in criticism Yeshua answers his brothers with an insight into God's sovereign will My time: Grk. kairos may refer to (1) an appropriate or set temporal segment of time; or (2) a period, definite or approximate, in which an event tales place; time, period. Kairos could also mean a God-appointed or predestined time (e.g., Matt 8:29; 26:18; Mark 1:15; 13:33; Luke 21:24; Acts 1:7; Rom 5:6; Eph 1:10; 2Th 2:6; 1Tim 2:6; 6:15; Rev 1:3; 11:18; 22:10). A parallel metaphor is his use of "my hour" in John 2:4. is not yet: Grk. oupō, adv., a negative particle indicating than an activity, circumstance, or condition is in abeyance or suspension; not yet.
here: Grk. pareimi, to be present, to be here. The verb may have the sense of the perfect tense "have come." In the LXX pareimi translates Heb. qarob, (e.g., Deut 32:35; ABP), which means "near, at hand" (SH-7138; BDB 898) and indicates the proximity of someone, some event or some thing (TWOT 2:812). Pareimi is closely related to the noun parousia, which is derived from the present participle of pareimi (NASBEC 1556) and is regularly used in the apostolic writings to describe the Second Coming of the Messiah (e.g., Matt 24:27; 1Th 2:19; 2Pet 1:15; 1Jn 2:28). but your: Grk. humeteros, possessive pron., belonging to you in close association; your, yours. time: Grk. kairos. The term is used here in its ordinary temporal sense. is always: Grk. pantote, adv., always, at all times.
ready: Grk. hetoimos, adj., ready, prepared. Stern comments that Yeshua's mention of his time "is the theme of his basic mission, to die for the sins of mankind; this was to take place exactly at God’s right moment and was not to be precipitated by any human challenge." Yeshua's words likely have two layers of meaning. For his brothers the simple meaning would be as translated in one version "It's not yet time for me to go. But you may go any time you want to" (Worldwide English New Testament). But, Yeshua's time also extends to the millennial age, so he is also saying, "you will be able to go to the Feast of Booths many more times, but for me this will be the last one until the next age as Zechariah prophesied."
7 The world can not hate you, but it hates me, because I testify concerning it, that its works are evil.
The world: Grk. kosmos. See verse 4 above. As Yeshua's brothers used this term so does he and refers to the Jewish world. can: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid., to be capable of doing or achieving; be able. Most versions translate the verb here as "can." not: Grk. ouk, the inflected form of ou, a particle used in denial or negation; not. This particle differs from the other standard negative particle, mē, in that mē is subjective and conditional for a supposition, whereas ou is objective and unqualified, a denial of an alleged fact (DM 264f). hate: Grk. miseō, pres. inf., means to detest, abhor or reject. The Heb. equivalent sane ("saw-nay") may simply mean to love less (e.g., Jacob loved Leah less than Rachel, Gen 29:30; cf. Deut 21:15-17; Matt 10:37).
More often the Hebrew word indicates an emotional impulse to despise that can result in an action to turn against (e.g., Joseph's brothers, Gen 37:2-8). Hatred in Scripture also refers to the hostility shown by an enemy (Gen 24:60; Ex 1:10; Num 10:35; Deut 30:7; 2Sam 22:18; Ps 18:17; Matt 24:9; Luke 1:71). you: The verbs "can" and "hate" combined with the negative particle seems to express a contradiction. Everyone has the ability to hate. Jews did experience hate from Gentiles in the world of the first century. However, the hatred Yeshua describes is within his Jewish world and can only come from personal interaction within an adversarial relationship.
but it hates me: Grk. miseō. Yeshua repeats the same verb to express that his experience has been the opposite of his brothers. In this context Yeshua no doubt alludes to the corrupt religious hierarchy in Jerusalem with whom he has already had conflict (chaps. 2 and 5). because: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 1 above. I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. The use of the first person is deliberate. "You're not doing what I'm doing; in fact, no one else is doing what I'm doing." testify: Grk. martureō, to attest to a fact or truth, often in a legal context; testify, attest. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; in behalf of, about, concerning. it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
that its works: pl. of Grk. ergon. See verse 3 above. are evil: pl. of Grk. ponēros, adj., may mean (1) marked by lowness in social worth or deviation from an acceptable moral or social standard, particularly as prescribed by God in his Word, (2) low in quality, bad, poor, or (3) in deteriorated or undesirable state or condition, of physical circumstances. In the LXX ponēros renders Heb. ra, which can mean evil, bad or of little value (DNTT 1:565). In the Tanakh ra is used to describe both that which is ethically evil (Deut 1:35; 4:25) and something that is unpleasant, disagreeable or injurious (e.g. Deut 22:14; 28:35; Isa 3:11). John appears to use ponēros as a deviation from God's moral standards. Yeshua's mention of "evil works" likely alludes to the corrupt religious and commercial activities of the Annas crime family that controlled the temple.
8 You go up to the feast. I am not going up to the feast, because my time is not yet fulfilled."
You go up: Grk. anabainō, aor. imp., to go up to a point or place that is higher than the point of origin, sometimes in the context of going up steps. Idiomatically the verb means to enter or approach. The imperative mood in this instance may be an entreaty, but as the oldest sibling and head of the household he could have been issuing a command. to the festival: Grk. heortē. See verse 2 above. I am not: Grk. ouk. See the previous verse. Most Bible versions have "not" (ASV, CEB, CEV, DHE, ESV, GNC, NASB, NET, NIV, NLT, NRSV, OJB, RSV, TEV, TLV), but other versions have "not yet" (HCSB, HNV, KJV, MW, NCV, NIRV, NKJV, NLV) or "not now" (CJB, ERV, GW). The MS evidence is divided. (See the Textual Note below). going up: Grk. anabainō. The present tense verb generally indicates action in progress. However, sometimes the present tense is used to indicate an anticipated future event or an action purposed, both of which have application here.
to the festival: Grk. heortē. Stern suggests that the present tense of the verb combined with the negative particle allows this understanding: "I am not at present in the process of going up,” or, more simply, "I am not going up now but may do so later—I’m not telling.” because: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 1 above. my time: Grk. kairos. See verse 6 above. is not yet: Grk. oupō. See verse 6 above. fulfilled: Grk. plēroō, perf. pass., may mean (1) cause to abound in content to a maximum, fill; or (2) to bring to fruition or completion, complete, fulfill, fill up, carry out. Yeshua's reason for not going up to the festival compels a reexamination of what he said and what he did not say. He did not say that he wasn't going to Jerusalem. He said he was not going up for the festival.
Yeshua knew what he intended to do (cf. John 6:6) and for him it was not a time to celebrate. He attempted to inform his brothers that he was not going to Jerusalem to fulfill their agenda nor would he participate in the festival in the prescribed manner. He had a teaching mission to complete. Time was moving inexorably toward the passion week.
9 Now having said these things to them, he remained in Galilee.
Now: Grk. de, conj. having said: Grk. legō, aor. part. See verse 3 above. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. he remained: Grk. menō, aor., to be in a situation for a length of time, to remain or stay. in: Grk. en, prep. Galilee: See verse 1 above. John comments that after the conversation with his brothers and they departed Yeshua remained in Galilee. Presumptively Yeshua remained in Capernaum when the brothers returned home and then left for Jerusalem, which could have been as much as two to three weeks.
Yeshua at the Festival of Booths (Sukkot), 7:10-53
10 But after his brothers had gone up to the festival, then he also went up, not publicly, but in private.
But: Grk. de, conj., used here to express a contrast. See verse 2 above. after: Grk. hōs, conj. that connects narrative components and here functions in a temporal sense; when, after. his brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos. See verse 3 above. had gone up: Grk. anabainō, aor. See verse 8 above. to the festival: Grk. heortē. See verse 2 above. Yeshua's brothers, being observant Jews, left to attend the Sukkot festival according to the instructions of Torah and contemporary Jewish law. then: Grk. tote, demonstrative temporal adv., which may be used of a time that is later or past; then; or which may focus on a time or circumstance that is closely associated with what precedes in the narrative; at that time, then, thereupon.
he also: Grk. kai, conj. went up: Grk. anabainō, aor. not: Grk. ou. See verse 7 above. publicly: Grk. phanerōs, adv., in a state or condition openly viewable. Normally pilgrims going to Jerusalem for festivals would travel in large groups and share fellowship and songs along the way. Morris clarifies that "not publicly" does not mean "furtively," but "without being a member of a pilgrim cavalcade" (401). but: Grk. alla, conj., used adverbially to suggest another matter or varying viewpoint for consideration; but, one the other hand, yet, nevertheless, indeed, certainly. as: Grk. hōs, conj., with the focus on the idea of a pattern or model and answering an unexpressed question about a point being made; just as, like, similar to, in the manner that/of, as though.
in: Grk. en, prep. private: Grk. kruptos, adj. See "secret" in verse 4 above. The adjective functions as a parallelism of "not publicly" and emphasizes both that his trip was a matter he chose to keep private, but also without the public proclamation that his brothers had advised. The use of the conjunction hōs serves to remind that Yeshua typically traveled in a manner to minimize public attention (cf. Mark 1:45; 9:30). John gives no details about Yeshua's own travel to Jerusalem. To avoid the groups of pilgrims would be a challenge, but doable. Yeshua no doubt arrived in time for the festival to comply with the Torah commandment, probably camping in the Garden of Gethsemane (8:1), but for the first few days avoided attention.
11 So the Judean authorities were seeking him at the festival, and said, "Where is he?"
So: Grk. oun, conj. See verse 3 above. the Judean authorities: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 1 above. Reinhartz suggests that the noun refers to the Jewish crowds attending the festival as indicated by the next verse. However, based on its usage in verse 1 along with the verb that follows, John clearly intends the opponents of Yeshua. The same usage occurs in verses 13, 15 and 35. The use of the term in this verse is intended to contrast with the "crowds" in the next verse. were seeking: Grk. zēteō, impf. See verse 1 above, which explains why the authorities wanted him. him at the festival: Grk. heortē. See verse 2 above. and said: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 3 above. Where: Grk. pou, interrogative adv. expressing interest in the position of someone or some thing; where.
is: Grk. eimi. See verse 2 above. he: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative masculine pronoun, lit. "that man" (Marshall). The rulers apparently expected Yeshua before the festival began, since participation was required for the full eight days of the festival. They had no doubt heard about Yeshua's ministry in Galilee through their spies and like Yeshua's brothers expected him to come to Jerusalem in order to gain more followers. They also assumed that Yeshua being an observant Jew he would attend the mandatory celebration, but expressed some surprise that he could not be found. There would have been thousands of pilgrims in Jerusalem and he perhaps simply blended into the crowd. It could also be a situation similar to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus who were "prevented" from recognizing Yeshua (Luke 24:16).
In A.D. 29 (Heb. Cal. 3790) the first day of the festival, Tishri 15, fell on a Tuesday, October 11 on the Roman calendar. Sukkah 4:1 summarizes the daily activity of the festival as dwelling in the sukkah, and going to the temple for various ceremonies, including the waving of palm branches (Heb. lulab) and willows and rejoicing (Lev 23:40), recital of the entire Hallel (Psalms 113-118), a water libation, and flute-playing. The priests also offered the animal, grain and drink sacrifices specified in Numbers 29 (Sukkah 5:3). The ceremonies are described in detail in Chapters 4 and 5 of Sukkah. Sukkah 5:2 says that at the conclusion of the first festival day a very special ceremony was conducted. Priests and Levites descended to the Court of the Women where four columns stood 50 cubits high (75 ft.) with four golden bowls on the top of each of them containing about 15 liters of oil. Wicks were made from worn-out drawers and girdles of the priests.
Four strong young priests would climb up ladders with pitchers of oil which they would pour into the bowls. When the lamps were kindled there was not a courtyard in Jerusalem that was not illumined by the light. There is no mention of how long the great lamps burned, but presumptively they last the full length of the festival. As the lighting proceeded there were numerous Levites with various musical instruments standing on the fifteen steps leading down from the Court of the Israelites to the Court of the Women. The Levites played their instruments and sang songs of praise. (See the drawings at the Temple Institute website of how the celebration must have looked.) Two priests stood by the upper gate which leads down from the Court of the Israelites to the Court of the Women, with two silver trumpets in their hands.
When the cock crowed they sounded two blasts and then descended blowing the trumpets on each step until they reached the gate which leads out to the east. When the priests reached the gate, they turned their faces from east to west and proclaimed, "Our fathers who were in this place stood with their backs toward the temple of Adonai, their faces toward the east, and they worshipped the sun toward the east, but as for us, we are Adonai's and our eyes are turned to Adonai." The mention of the cock-crowing is an important detail of time. According to Lane, observation over a period of twelve years in Jerusalem has confirmed that the cock crows at three distinct times, first about a half hour after midnight, a second time about an hour later, and a third time an hour after the second (543).
The Talmud notes that since there were so many commandments to be fulfilled in the Temple during Sukkot, and they were so time-consuming, there was little time left for sleeping.
"Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chanina said: During the days of the water libation ceremony, we barely got to sleep at all. The first hour of the day saw us attending to the daily offering; following this we were engaged in prayer - afterwards, the additional offering. Then we ate, and it already became time to attend to the afternoon service. And this was followed by the celebration of the festival of the water libation, which lasted the entire night, and we would begin again" (Jerusalem Talmud, Sukkah 5, quoted in the Temple Institute article, "The Festival of the Water Libation").
The actual water-drawing took place at dawn the next morning as described in Sukkah 4:1, 5. Edersheim summarizes the event:
"While the morning sacrifice was being prepared, a priest, accompanied by a joyous procession with music, went down to the Pool of Siloam [southeastern corner of Jerusalem], where he drew water into a golden pitcher, capable of holding three log (rather more than two pints). But on the Sabbaths they fetched the water from a golden vessel in the Temple itself, into which it had been carried from Siloam on the preceding day. At the same time that the procession started for Siloam, another went to a place in the Kedron valley, close by, called Motza, whence they brought willow branches, which, amidst the blasts of the priests' trumpets, they stuck on either side of the altar of burnt-offering, bending them over towards it, so as to form a kind of leafy canopy. Then the ordinary sacrifice proceeded, the priest who had gone to Siloam so timing it, that he returned just as his brethren carried up the pieces of the sacrifice to lay them on the altar. As he entered by the 'Water-gate,' which obtained its name from this ceremony, he was received by a threefold blast from the priests' trumpets. The priest then went up the rise of the altar and turned to the left, where there were two silver basins with narrow holes— eastern a little wider for the wine, and the western somewhat narrower for the water. Into these the wine of the drink-offering was poured, and at the same time the water from Siloam, the people shouting to the priest, 'Raise thy hand,' to show that he really poured the water into the basin which led to the base of the altar." (Edersheim-Temple 220)
The special rite of "water-libation," accompanied by the playing of the flute, was known as Simchat Bet ha-Sho'evah ("the rejoicing of the place of water-drawing"), based evidently on Isaiah 12:3 "With joy you shall draw water from the springs of salvation" [Heb. ha-yeshua'ah], and the warning of Zechariah 14:16-18 that those who did not observe Sukkot would receive no rain. The Talmud records that whoever had not seen the rejoicing of the place of water-drawing, had never witnessed real joy in his life (Sukk. 5:1). The Sadducees did not believe the water ceremony had biblical support (Sukk. 4:9 and 48b; Josephus, Ant. XIII, 10:6), but the Pharisees claimed the custom was given to Moses at Mt. Sinai (Sukk. 44a). Temple ceremonies were grudgingly done according to the wishes of the Pharisees due to their popularity with the people (Ant. XVIII, 1:3-4).
12 And there was much whispering in the crowds concerning him. On the one hand some said "He is good" but others said, "Not so, but he misleads the crowd."
And there was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 2 above. much: Grk. polus, extensive in scope, here as an adj. indicating a high degree in amount or quality; much, great. whispering: Grk. gongusmos, may mean (1) circulation of viewpoints in a suppressed manner; discreet talk, whispering; or (2) expression of discontent; murmuring, grumbling, complaint. The first meaning applies here. There was no griping going on. BAG renders the noun with "secret discussion." The reason for the whispering is explained in the next verse.
in the crowds: pl. of Grk. ochlos refers to an assembled company of people. The noun occurs 60 times in the LXX to translate several different Hebrew words, each pertaining to a different context. Ochlos designates those that came to hear Yeshua from a particular locality. In many passages the term is equivalent to the Heb. am ha-aretz ("people of the land") whom the ruling classes and religious elite despised as ignorant masses accursed for not knowing and keeping Torah (verse 49 below) (DNTT 2:800f). The plural "crowds" could mean the hundreds of people visiting Jerusalem for the festival in contrast with the local residents mentioned in verse 25 below. Those coming from neighboring territories as Samaria, Galilee and the Decapolis would be very familiar with Yeshua's ministry.
concerning him: Yeshua. On the one hand: Grk. men, conj. used as an emphatic marker, very often to invite a contrasting, alternate or modifying observation with Grk. de; on the one hand, indeed, now. some: pl. of Grk. ho, demonstrative pronoun functioning as a personal pronoun of the third person; lit. "those." said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. He is: Grk. eimi. good: Grk. agathos, adj., achieving a high standard of excellence in meeting a need or interest, beneficial, useful, helpful or good. but: Grk. de, conj. This conjunction marks the contrast. others: pl. of Grk. allos, adj. used to distinguish from one or more other entities; other. said: Grk. legō, aor. Not so: Grk. ou; lit. "not."
but he misleads: Grk. planaō, may mean (1) in the active voice to cause to go astray, in the sense of leading one from a standard of truth or conduct, mislead, deceive; or (2) in the passive voice of a physical departure from a customary course, stray or wander about; or (3) in a metaphoric extension of the idea of physical departure, go astray, be mistaken. Bible versions are divided between "leads astray" (ASV, ESV, GNC, HNV, MW, MRINT, NASB, RSV, TLV), "deceives" (CJB, KJV, NET, NIV, NKJV, NLT, NRSV, OJB) and "fools" (ERV, EXB, NCV, NIRV, TEV). The distinction in translation is not without significance.
To accuse Yeshua of deception is tantamount to calling him a false prophet and subject to trial and execution. Given the statement in the next verse "misleads" is a better translation here (as in DHE). People may have thought that Yeshua was misleading in his application of Torah and criticism of certain Pharisaic traditions, but strong differences of opinion existed among the major Jewish parties of the time. These people were not advocating prosecution of Yeshua by the ruling authorities. the crowd: Grk. ochlos with the definite article. In other words, "there is a certain crowd that he misleads, but he doesn't mislead us."
13 Yet no one spoke openly about him because of fear of the Judean authorities.
Yet: Grk. mentoi, conj. with focus on reaction to a preceding narrative detail; yet, nevertheless. no one: Grk. oudeis, adj. See verse 4 above. spoke: Grk. laleō, impf., may mean (1) to make a sound, as of a trumpet or thunder; or (2) make an oral statement, to speak or talk about something. openly: Grk. parrēsia. See verse 4 above. about: Grk. peri, prep. him: Yeshua. because of: Grk. dia, prep., may mean (1) "through," whether in the sense of a location, duration or instrumentality; or (2) "because of," denoting causality or the reason for something occurring. The second meaning applies here.
fear: Grk. phobos may mean (1) the feeling of need to escape from or avoid a threat; fear; (2) feeling of respect; reverence, awe; or (3) the process of causing in someone a feeling of need to escape from a situation; intimidation. The emotion may be a combination respect and concern about what might happen if their support of Yeshua were to be known. of the Judean authorities: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 1 above. Some of these people may have been present for prior confrontations between the authorities and Yeshua when he cleared the temple of money-changers (Chap. 2) and healed an invalid on a sabbath (Chap. 5). The people did not want to get caught in the middle of a conflict that could result in being accused of supporting a lawbreaker.
14 But now being in the middle of the feast, Yeshua went up into the temple and taught.
But: Grk. de, conj. now: Grk. ēdē, adv., with focus on temporal culmination, now, already. being in the middle: Grk. mesoō, pres. part., to be at the midpoint. of the festival: Grk. heortē. See verse 2 above. The midpoint would be the fourth day, Friday, Tishri 18 or October 14 on the Julian calendar. (See verse 10 above for the calendar calculation.) There's no implication that he had only just arrived in Jerusalem. See verse 10 for a description of the daily activities of the festival. On the fourth day the priests offered these sacrifices at the temple: ten bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs and their corresponding grain offering and drink offerings; then one male goat for a sin offering, besides the continual burnt offering, its grain offering and its drink offering (Num 29:23-25).
All the 24 courses of priests shared equally in the sacrifices. The priests then carried out customs not specified in the Torah. They sounded a teki'ah [long blast], a teru'ah [tremulous blast] and again a teki'ah on shofars and walked once around the altar waving willow branches and saying, "We beseech thee, O LORD, save now, we beseech thee, O LORD, make us now to prosper" (Sukkah 4:2). The petition to "save now" (Heb. Hoshia na) from Psalm 118:25 expressed a desire for rain and good harvest in the year to come, but the prayer had undertones of Messianic expectation to be delivered from enemies. The Talmud also says that each day besides chanting the Hallel the Levites recited a particular Scripture verse as a theme (Sukkot 55a).
In Jewish usage of Scripture reciting a verse implies the entire context or chapter. On the fourth day the passage was Psalm 94:8, "Pay heed, you senseless [Heb. ba'ar, "brutish, stupid, dull-hearted, unreceptive"] among the people; and when will you understand, stupid ones [Heb. kesil, "stupid fellow, dullard, fool"]?" Psalm 94 is an ironic if not perfect backdrop for the scene that unfolds in verses 15-36 below. Consider the cry of Psalm 94:2, "Rise up, O Judge of the earth [which could be rendered as "Land"], render recompense to the proud." Verse 10 reminds the people that YHVH (who is Yeshua) "teaches knowledge" and verse 12 goes on to say "Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O YHVH, and whom You teach out of Your Torah."
Yeshua: See verse 1 above. went up: Grk. anabainō, aor. See verse 8 above. into: Grk. eis, prep. that marks a transition from outside to the inside, lit. 'into.' the temple: Grk. hieron, sanctuary, temple (subst. neut. of the adj. hieros, 'sacred, holy'). When used of the temple in Jerusalem hieron applies to the entire temple complex with all its courts in contrast to naos, which refers to the sanctuary proper where priests offered sacrifices. For a description of the construction and characteristics of the temple see my comment on Mark 11:11. It's very likely that Yeshua participated with the congregation, carrying his own palm branches and willows, but then he drew attention away from the ceremonies to himself.
and taught: Grk. didaskō, impf., to teach or instruct, a verb used frequently of Yeshua. In the LXX didaskō occurs about 100 times and is used primarily to render three Hebrew verbs: (1) lamad, "exercise in, learn, teach" (BDB 540), e.g., Deut 4:1; Psalm 94:10; 119:99; 144:1; (2) the Hiphal form of yada, "cause to know, teach" (BDB 393), e.g., Job 13:23; Prov 1:23; (3) yarah, "to throw, shoot, point out, direct, instruct" (BDB 434), e.g., Prov 4:4; 5:13; Isa 9:15; as well as six other Hebrew verbs (DNTT 3:760). In contrast with Greek education Jewish teaching since the time of Moses has been more concerned with communicating God's ethical demands than imparting information (DNTT 3:766).
It was appropriate that Yeshua should take center stage during Sukkot, because the Torah describes the celebration as a "feast to YHVH" (Lev 23:39). Sukkot includes a number of traditions, none of which the narrative records Yeshua doing, including building a booth to live in for the seven days. In fact, Yeshua was exempt, because according to the Mishnah "those who are engaged on a religious errand are free from the obligations of sukkah" (Sukk. 2:6). John does not describe the content of Yeshua's teaching like Matthew does of the Sermon on the Mount, but the instruction was probably a lengthy midrash on the Torah, perhaps the two great commandments and the ten commandments.
Sukkot had a special significance for teaching Torah. Moses had directed that,
"At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing. 12 "Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. 13 "Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess." (Deut 31:10-13 NASB)
Josephus recounted this legislation and added these words concerning its purpose,
"for it is a good thing that those laws should be engraven in their souls, and preserved in their memories, that so it may not be possible to blot them out; for by this means they will not be guilty of sin, when they cannot plead ignorance of what the laws have enjoined them." (Ant. IV, 8:12).
It is very possible that this requirement of Moses had been discontinued from Sukkot observance (see verse 19 below). The last Sabbatical year had been in A.D. 26-27 when Yeshua was immersed (Santala 110) and this would be Yeshua's last opportunity to insure that God's will was done. Christianity has no comparable tradition. Too many Christians lack discipline in personal Bible reading and are ignorant of God's commandments. This ignorance is aided and abetted by pastoral leadership more devoted to "tickling ears" (2Tim 4:3) than declaring the whole counsel of God. Many also believe that the commandments given to Israel do not apply to Christians, but the ethical demands of the Torah are clearly repeated and affirmed by Yeshua and the apostles. These passages need to be read aloud in the hearing of God's people to instill an appropriate awe of God and uphold the standards of holiness in a depraved culture.
The Judean authorities: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 1 above. therefore: Grk. oun, conj. See verse 3 above. marveled: Grk. thaumazō, impf., be extraordinarily impressed; to wonder, be amazed, astonished, impressed, surprised. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 3 above. How: Grk. pōs, adv. introducing a query concerning manner, way, or reason in respect to a matter; how? in what manner/way? does this man: Grk. houtos, personal pronoun, lit. "this one." know: Grk. oida, perf., to have seen or perceived, hence to know. The perfect tense refers to action completed in the past with continuing results in the present. 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. letters: pl. of Grk. gramma is used for (1) that which is written as a basic unit used in writing a letter (of the alphabet), which is the basis for education; and (2) a set of characters or letters forming a document whether of correspondence, a relative long document or book or as a commercial term of a contract. Here the term is used as a euphemism for learning.
not having been educated: Grk. manthanō, perf. part., to acquire knowledge, whether through instruction or receipt of information or through example and experience; learn. The verb occurs about 40 times in the LXX, mostly to translate Heb. lamad, "grow accustomed to, make oneself familiar with, learn" (DNTT 1:484). The verb describes the activity of a mathētēs, disciple (Heb. talmid), one who follows and learns from a rabbi. Among the Pharisees a talmid is someone whose concern is the whole of Jewish tradition, which comprised the written Torah and the traditions of the fathers, often called Oral Torah. Jewish learning typically occurred in stages: "five years for [the study of] Scripture, ten for mishnah, thirteen for [becoming subject to] commandments, fifteen for talmud" (Avot 5:21).
The Hebrew word mishnah lit. means "repetition" and originally referred to the book of Deuteronomy. The term then came to mean "verbal teaching by repeated recitation," and traditional law based on interpretations of Torah (Jastrow). The traditional laws would eventually be reduced to writing between 180 and 220 A.D. by Rabbi Judah haNasi and identified as "the Mishnah." The Hebrew word talmud ("teaching, learning, lesson, study," Jastrow) is used here in the special sense of study and discussion of the traditions, not the written Babylonian Talmud or the Jerusalem Talmud compiled in the 4th-5th cent. A.D. and studied by Jews today. The written Talmud consists of the Mishnah and the Gemara, the component comprised of rabbinical analysis and commentary on the Mishnah.
Important to understanding the charge of Yeshua's supposed lack of education is that two prominent Pharisaic schools dominated Jewish learning, that of Hillel the Elder (c. 110 B.C.—A.D. 10), who had been President of the Sanhedrin when Yeshua was a child, and Shammai the Elder (50 B.C.—A.D. 30), who was President of the Sanhedrin at this time. Hillel's followers and interpretations of Torah was known as the School or House of Hillel (Heb. Beth Hillel) and Shammai's was known as the School or House of Shammai (Heb. Beth Shammai). There were many disputes between the two groups and Shammai's viewpoint was generally much stricter than Hillel. For more discussion on the differences between the two important Jewish leaders see the articles at JewishHistory.org and JewishVirtualLibrary.org.
After Shammai took over the Sanhedrin c. A.D. 20 the school of Shammai attained dominance. During his term Shammai reportedly passed "18 ordinances" in conformity with his ideas (Shab. 14b-15a). The Talmud states that when he passed one of the ordinances, contrary to the opinion of Beth Hillel, the day "was as grievous to Israel as the day when the golden calf was made" (Shab. 17a). The exact content of the ordinances is not known, but they seem to have been designed to strengthen Jewish identity by insisting on stringent separation between Jews and Gentiles, an approach that was regarded as divisive by Shammai's opponents. Shammai was succeeded by Caiaphas who presided over the trial of Yeshua.
Yeshua's critics may have been associated with Beth Shammai and the point of their derision, then, would be that Yeshua had not studied in their school. In more general terms for one who claimed to be a teacher he had violated a value they held dearly, later transcribed in the Mishnah, "Appoint for yourself a teacher" (Avot 1:6). In contrast the apostle Paul studied under Gamaliel, the grandson of Hillel (Acts 22:3). The implication is that if Yeshua had studied under Shammai he would not openly criticize or violate the traditions they believed sacrosanct and he would not speak in universal terms of God's love and plan of redemption. The Jerusalem religious elite were unwilling to acknowledge, as the residents of Nazareth, Yeshua as a man of great wisdom and learning (Matt 13:54-55).
16 So, Yeshua answered them and said, "My instruction is not mine, but of the One having sent me.
So: Grk. oun, conj. See verse 3 above. Yeshua: See verse 1 above. answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass., to answer or reply to someone, whether to a question, request, exhortation, command, etc. (BAG). In the LXX apokrinomai renders Heb. anah, 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). them and said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 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; Judg 20:4; 1 Sam 1:17). The verb "answered" emphasizes that a verbal response was made and "said" introduces the quotation.
My: Grk. emos, an emphatic possessive pronoun for the first person (Thayer). The pronoun serves to distinguish Yeshua from others. instruction: Grk. didachē, derived from the verb didaskō ("teach"), means instruction or doctrine imparted by teaching. The term occurs 30 times in the Besekh, usually in the sense of the content of preaching by Yeshua and the apostles. Such didachē is often the exposition and application of Torah, which came originally from the Father. In the LXX didachē is found only in the superscription of Psalm 60:1 to render the Piel inf. of Heb. lamad, "to exercise in, to learn" (BDB 540), an action attributed to David (DNTT 3:767). According to Klaus Wegenast the Hebrew equivalent of didachē would in fact be talmud (which is derived from lamad), as found in Avot 6:2, "you find no free man but he that occupies himself with the study of Torah" (DNTT 3:769).
is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. mine: Grk. emos. but: Grk. alla, conj. of the One: Grk. ho, definite article used as a demonstrative pron. Among Israelites "The One" was a circumlocution for 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; 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). having sent: Grk. pempō, aor. part., to dispatch someone as an agent, usually to convey a message or accomplish a task; send. "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: Grk. egō. Yeshua emphasizes again, as he does repeatedly, an important point that the Father sent him from heaven on a mission and Yeshua was committed to completing that mission. His instruction came from the Torah that had been given to Moses for the nation of Israel at Sinai and Moab. In other words, "My talmud is not mine, but from my Father in heaven, and He is greater than Hillel or Shammai."
17 If anyone desires to do His will, he will know concerning the instruction, whether it is of God, or I speak from myself.
If: Grk. ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. anyone: Grk. tìs, indefinite pronoun, especially used in narrative and discourse to indicate non-specification; someone, anyone. This pronoun makes it clear that the axiomatic principle that follows applies to any person, male or female, Jew or Gentile. desires: Grk. thelō, pres. subj. See verse 1 above. to do: Grk. poieō, pres. inf. See verse 3 above. His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., the Father. 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.
he will know: Grk. ginōskō, fut. mid., to know, but has a variety of meanings, including (1) to be in receipt of information; know, learn, find out; (2) form a judgment or draw a conclusion; think, understand, comprehend, perceive, notice, realize, conclude; or (3) have a personal relationship involving recognition of another's identity or value; make acquaintance, recognize. All of these meanings have application here. In the LXX ginōskō renders Heb. yada, which has a similar 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.
concerning: Grk. peri, prep. the instruction: Grk. didachē. See the previous verse. whether: Grk. poteron, interrogative adv., whether. The word occurs only here in the Besekh. it is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. of God: Grk. theos with the definite article, the only omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator and ruler of the universe and the God of Israel. 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).
or: Grk. ē, conj. denoting an alternative. I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. speak: Grk. laleō. See the note on verse 13 above. from: Grk. apo, prep. with the root meaning of "off, away from" (DM 101), generally used to denote separation. myself: Grk. emautou, reflexive first person pronoun, myself. Yeshua asserts two things: first, divine illumination is only provided to those willing to obey, and second, his instruction is not based on a human's reasoning but upon God's revealed will.
18 The one speaking from himself seeks his own honor, but the one seeking the honor of the one having sent him, he is true, and unrighteousness is not in him.
The one: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. speaking: Grk. laleō, pres. part. See verse 13 above. Yeshua alludes to the oral nature of Pharisaic education, but he may also be alluding to Shammai. from: Grk. apo, prep. himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun in any of the three persons, frequently combined with a preposition as here. The implication is touting one's own opinion or interpretation without the benefit of true spiritual insight. seeks: Grk. zēteō, See verse 1 above. his own: Grk. idios, belonging to oneself distinct from what belongs to another; (one's) own.
honor: Grk. doxa originally meant opinion, conjecture, praise or repute in secular Greek in regard to what one thought about a person or thing. In the LXX doxa renders Heb. kabod (pronounced "kah-vohd"), "abundance, honor, glory" (SH-3519; BDB 458). Kabod does include the meanings of dignity of position, reputation of character and the reverence due to or ascribed to someone, and is frequently used for the honor brought or given to God (e.g., Ps 29:1; Isa 42:12). Above all, kabod expresses God's glory and power, the luminous manifestation of His presence and the glorious revelation of Himself. During the inter-testamental period doxa-kabod was applied to the realities of heaven, God's throne and angelic majesties. In the Besekh doxa is a continuation of the underlying Hebrew concept (DNTT 2:45). Some versions render doxa as "honor" (AMP, CEV, ERV, GNC, MSG, MOUNCE, NCV, NET, NIRV, NLT), which seems appropriate here. In other words, Shammai seeks to enhance his own status and reputation.
but: Grk. de, conj. the one: Grk. ho. seeking: Grk. zēteō, pres. part. Yeshua alludes to himself. the honor: Grk. doxa. of the one: Grk. ho. having sent: Grk. pempō, aor. part. See verse 16 above. The participle alludes to the Father. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. he: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. true: 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 is all these things. The self-description repeats John's testimony, "we saw His glory…full of grace and truth" (John 1:14) and anticipates Yeshua's I AM saying of being "the Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14:6).
and: Grk. kai, conj. unrighteousness: Grk. adikia means wrongdoing, unrighteousness, wickedness or injustice. The word group (adikia, the adj. adikos, and the vb. adikeō) pictures the unjust man as opposite of the just man. Adikia covers all that offends against morals, custom or decency, all things that are unseemly, unspeakable or fraudulent and is what harms the order of the world. Adikia is rooted in legal thinking. (DNTT 3:573f). The Hebrew vocabulary is far more complex and varied than the Greek. In the LXX adikia, occurring about 250 times and rendering 36 different Hebrew words indicates that sin in ancient Israel was above all an offence against the sacred order of divine justice (1 Sam 3:13f). Thus, it affects the community, whose existence is most intimately connected with the preservation of divine justice. Adikia is ultimately sin against God and the community (cf. 1 John 5:17).
is: Grk. eimi, pres. not: Grk. ou, adv. in: Grk. en, prep. him: Grk. autos. In this indirect manner Yeshua declares his sinlessness and asserts that his instruction and doctrine fulfill the intent of Torah and strengthen the community. There is no unrighteousness in Yeshua because there is none in God (Rom 3:5).
19 Has not Moses given you the Torah, and none of you keeps the Torah? Why are you seeking to kill me?"
Has not: Grk. ou, adv. Moses: Grk. Mōusēs transliterates Heb. Mosheh, the great Hebrew leader, prophet and lawgiver of Israel born about 1525 BC. The name Moses is most likely derived from Egyptian mes meaning "child" or "son" (BDB 602), since the daughter of Pharaoh named him (Ex 2:10). She explained the chosen name by saying, "Because I drew [Heb. mashah, "to draw"] him out of the water." The story of Moses is found in the extensive narratives from Exodus 1:1 through Deuteronomy 34:1. His life can be easily divided into three 40-year periods, the first being his birth and early life in Egypt, the second his years in Midian, and the third the wilderness period after the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt.
Moses was born into the house of Levi, the son of Amram and his wife Jochebed, who was Amram's aunt (Ex 6:20). God would later forbid a man to marry his aunt (Lev 18:12-14). The only siblings mentioned as born into the household were a brother, Aaron, and a sister, Miriam (Num 26:59). Moses had two wives, both non-Israelites, Zipporah, a Midianite (Ex 2:15-16, 21; 4:25; 18:2) and a Cushite woman (Num 12:1). Zipporah bore him two sons, Gershom and Eliezer (Ex 18:3-4), but no children of the Cushite wife are named. Moses was the leader of the Israelites in their deliverance from Egyptian slavery and oppression and their journey through the wilderness. At Mount Sinai Moses served as God's spokesman to facilitate the beginning of the covenant relationship between God and Israel.
Forty years later on the plains of Moab Moses renewed the covenant with Israel and made preparations for their entry into the promised land. He was a heroic leader of the people and a devout man of God. Yet, due to an tragic incident of disobedience to God's instructions Moses was not permitted to enter the land of Canaan with the nation (Num 20:8-12). At the end God allowed Moses to view the land from the top of Mt. Pisgah before his death and there he died at the age of 120. God buried him in the land of Moab (Deut 34:1-7). However, Moses' death was not the end of his importance or influence, because Scripture asserts that Moses compiled, wrote and/or edited the five books attributed to his name (Matt 22:24; Mark 12:19; Luke 16:29; 24:27, 44). Moses left Israel and the Body of Messiah with the rich legacy of God's Word. Moses was a giant of a man.
given: Grk. didōmi, perf., to give, often with the focus on generosity. In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan, 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). Yeshua emphasizes Moses as an agent, not the origin. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. the Torah: Grk. nomos (from nemō, distribute; 'that which is generally recognized as customary') may mean either (1) a principle or standard relating to behavior or (2) codified legislation, i.e. law. The usage of nomos in the Besekh has a much deeper meaning. In the LXX nomos translates torah, but torah does not mean simply "law" or "laws" as the English word conveys. Torah means "direction," "teaching" or "instruction" and comes from the root yarah, which means to throw, to shoot (as in arrows), or to cast (as in lots) (BDB 435f).
In the Tanakh torah not only refers to commandments, statutes and ordinances decreed by God and given to Moses, but also custom or manners of man, e.g. direction given by priests (Deut 24:8; 33:10). Torah sets forth the way a person is meant to live in an ethical and moral way in order to enjoy life to the full and to please God. In normal Jewish usage in the first century the term Torah could mean the commandments given to Israel at Sinai and Moab (Matt 12:5; John 8:5) or the entire Pentateuch, especially when used in combination with "the Prophets" (Matt 22:40; John 1:45). Yeshua used the term as a synonym for Scripture generally (Matt 5:18; John 10:34; 12:34; 15:25). Yeshua and his apostles constantly emphasized the continuing authority of the Torah and all of Scripture for life (Rom 15:4; 2Tim 3:16-17).
and: Grk. kai, conj. none: Grk. oudeis, adj. See verse 13 above. of you: Grk. humeis. keeps: Grk. poieō, pres., lit. "does." See verse 3 above. the Torah: Yeshua treats the Torah as a whole as Jacob will later say in his letter, "For whoever shall keep the whole Torah, and yet stumble in one point, he has become guilty of all." (Jas 2:10 mine). God expected that the people of Israel would keep all His commandments (Lev 19:37; 20:22; Num 15:40; Deut 5:29). No one had the right to pick and choose which commands he would obey (cf. Jdg 21:25). The question is how does Yeshua intend the personal pronoun "you" here in relation to the "Torah?" Most of the commandments in the Torah are for all Israelites, but some commands were directed to priests, some to Levites, some to Nazirites, and some to kings. In context the plural "you" would refer to the Pharisees and chief priests (verse 32).
Then we may ask what part of the Torah did the leaders fail to keep or obey? Given the teaching of Yeshua mentioned in verse 14 above, the chief priests probably failed to read the Torah to the people during Sukkot in the Sabbatical years. If the people were ignorant of Torah as alleged in verse 49 below, then the priests were at fault. Yeshua could have had in mind specific ethical obligations set forth in the Torah. The Sermon on the Mount addressed many ethical issues and implied failure of the religious elite to follow the intention of God's commandments. Yeshua confronted Pharisees for failing to honor parents for the sake of following their traditions (Matt 15:1-6) and for accepting easy divorce (Matt 19:3-6).
Why: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite, here 'why.' are you seeking: Grk. zēteō. See verse 1 above. to kill: Grk. apokteinō, aor. inf. See verse 1 above. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. This is not an academic question. Yeshua knew the wickedness of their hearts. A fundamental principle of Torah is respect for life. The Pharisees were willing to break commandments, especially the 4th commandment, to save a life. Yet, here they were planning to break the sixth commandment to commit "legal murder."
20 Someone in the crowd answered, "You have a demon! Who seeks to kill you?"
Someone in the: Grk. ho, a personal pronoun that may be intended as a (1) demonstrative pronoun, 'this one,' 'that one;' or (2) a definite article giving emphasis to a noun, 'the.' Bible versions typically treat ho as the definite article of "crowd," but the charge and question more likely came from an individual than a group speaking in unison. crowd: Grk. ochlos. See verse 12 above. There may have been others in the crowd that agreed with the speaker. answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See verse 16 above. You have: Grk. echō, pres., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application.
a demon: Grk. daimonion refers to a deity or transcendent being of lesser or subordinate rank. In the Besekh the term only has a negative connotation of an evil spirit hostile toward man and God. Daimonion was historically derived from daiomai, to divide or apportion and may be connected with the idea of the god of the dead as a divider of corpses (DNTT 1:450). The terms "demon" and "unclean spirit" are essentially synonymous in Scripture (Luke 9:42). Neither term refers to a ghost or a spirit of a dead person. Demons are subordinate to Satan and are his angels (Mark 3:22-23) and while active in the world, they are destined for judgment (Matt 8:29; 25:41). Worship in false religions brings people into contact with demons that are the true reality behind the pagan deities (Lev 17:7; Deut 32:17; 2Chr 11:15; Ps 106:37; 1Cor 10:20f; Rev 9:20).
In the LXX daimonion occurs only in Isaiah 34:14 for Heb. sa'iyr (SH-8163, 'satyr, demon,') and in Isa 65:11 for Heb. gad (SH-1409, 'fortune, or 'god of fortune'). The related term daimōn ('demon') occurs in Isaiah 13:21 for Heb. sa'iyr. The Tanakh has two other words for evil spirits: Heb. shedim (SH-7700, "demons" Deut 32:17; Ps 106:37), and lilith (SH-3917, 'female night demon,' Isa 34:14). Scripture is silent on the origin of demons, but they are likely the angels who followed Satan and were cast down to earth (Rev 12:9; cf. Jude 1:6). Demons might be considered the foot soldiers in Satan's army. According to the cases reported in the apostolic narratives they have the power to cause great harm.
Jewish scribes were steeped in belief in demons and had many names for them, such as powerful ones, harmers, destroyers, attackers, satyrs, and evil spirits. According to Jewish belief in the first century demons ascend from beneath the earth (cf. 1Sam 28:13) and fill the world. They have access to heaven, and though they belong to Satan's kingdom, God gives them authority to inflict punishments on sinners. Their power began in the time of Enosh (Gen 4:26), but will end in the days of the Messiah. Their main goal is to lead men into sin. They are the cause of some, but not all diseases, and they can also kill (DNTT 1:451).
The criticism of the anonymous speaker misstates reality because in demon-possession the demon "has" the person. It's possible that John introduces this anecdote as parallel to the Synoptic passages in which some Pharisees and scribes from Jerusalem accused Yeshua of having a demon and casting out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of demons (Matt 9:34; 12:24; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15). Ironically, these same people also accused Yochanan the Immerser of "having" a demon (Matt 11:18; Luke 7:33).
Who: Grk. tís. See the previous verse. seeks: Grk. zēteō. See verse 1 above. to kill: Grk. apokteinō, aor. inf. See verse 1 above. you: Grk. su, sing. pronoun of the second person. The question no doubt comes from the critic in the crowd mentioned in verse 12 above who charged Yeshua with misleading people. To this man Yeshua's accusation in verse 19 is one more piece of evidence that he is unreliable, perhaps not in his right mind (cf. John 10:20). A demon could certainly be the cause of a mental disturbance. Who would want to kill him? It's worth noting that the religious authorities keep silent at this point, but they will proclaim the big lie in the next chapter (8:48, 52).
21 Yeshua answered and said to them, "I did one work, and you all marvel.
Yeshua answered and said to them: For this clause see the note on verse 16 above. I did: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 3 above. The sense of the verb is that Yeshua performed an action that was immediate and permanent. one: Grk. heis, adj., the numeral one. work: Grk. ergon. See verse 3 above. The implication is of a miraculous work, which no doubt alludes to the healing of the paralyzed man in chap. 5. and: Grk. kai, conj. you all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. marvel: Grk. thaumazō, pres. See verse 15 above. From the legalist point of view they would be amazed not simply at the creation nature of the miracle, but that God would allow a miracle that violated their understanding of Shabbat.
22 Because of this Moses gave you circumcision, not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers, and on a Sabbath you circumcise a man.
Because of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 13 above. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 4 above. Moses: See verse 19 above. gave: Grk. didōmi, perf. See verse 19 above. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. circumcision: Grk. peritomē, the surgical removal of male foreskin. In the LXX peritomē occurs only two times: in Genesis 17:13 without Heb. equivalent regarding the circumcision of males in Abraham's household, and in Exodus 4:25 to render Heb. mulah, circumcision, regarding the circumcision of Moses' firstborn son. There is much meaning packed into the simple statement that Moses "gave" circumcision.
Moses certainly "gave" by recording in the Torah the requirement of circumcision as a covenantal expectation (Gen 17:10-14; Lev 12:3). Only circumcised males could partake of the Passover sacrifice (Ex 12:44). There is a certain irony in "Moses gave" because Moses had failed to perform circumcision on his own son. As he was traveling to Egypt with his family to fulfill God's call to lead Israel out of Egypt he experienced divine displeasure. YHVH sought to cause his death, but his wife Zipporah appeased God by performing the circumcision herself (Ex 4:24-26). One can understand from this experience how Moses would create a a religious rite called Brit Milah ("Covenant of Circumcision") (Acts 15:1). Unfortunately the adults who left Egypt failed to follow the instructions of Moses so that Joshua had to circumcise a generation of males before the nation could enter Canaan (Josh 5:2-7).
By custom the infant's father (Heb. avi haben) is responsible to perform the commanded circumcision (Gen 17:23; 21:4). However, due to the natural reticence of fathers to carry out this duty the office of mohel (circumciser) developed. The mohel was (and is) specially trained in circumcision and the rituals surrounding the procedure. The mohel might be a doctor or rabbi. While the surgery was normally performed in a private setting, the celebratory service included certain b'rakhot (blessings) and the naming of the child. Instructions for Brit Milah also included preparatory activities and use of a special knife. For a full discussion of the history and practice of Brit Milah see the article at JVL.
The apparent purpose of turning a simple surgery into a religious rite emphasized that circumcision is a covenantal privilege and expectation. A Jewish male not circumcised was not truly a Jew and was disqualified from the world to come. Brit Milah became so important that a zealous Jewish party came into being called "the Circumcision" (Acts 11:2; 15:1; Rom 4:12; 15:8; Gal 2:12; Eph 2:11; Phil 3:2; Col 4:11), that insisted Gentiles complete Brit Milah according to the custom of Moses to be considered a part of God's Kingdom. No circumcision meant no salvation, but the errant doctrine was rejected at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15).
not: Grk. ou, adv. that: Grk. hoti, conj. it is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. from: Grk. ek, prep. Moses: Yeshua points out for historical accuracy that the requirement for circumcision did not originate with Moses. but: Grk. alla, conj. from: Grk. ek. the fathers: pl. of Grk. patēr, normally of a male biological parent or ancestor. In the LXX patēr renders ab ("av") about 1180 times, generally in the human sense (DNTT 1:616f). Here the term is an allusion to the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Abraham was the first one in Scripture to circumcise males, most of whom were adults, and at God's direction (Gen 17:23-27). Thereafter, infant circumcision was to be performed at eight days of age (Gen 17:12; Lev 12:3). Failure to perform circumcision would result in being "cut off" from one's people (Gen 17:14). Rabbinic authority later determined that this restriction only applied to those serving as priests and did not disqualify one from being considered Jewish (Sanh. 22b).
and: Grk. kai, conj. on: Grk. en, prep. a Sabbath: Grk. sabbaton, a transliteration of Heb. shabbath (DNTT 3:405), which is derived from the verb shabath ("cease, desist, rest" BDB 991). Sabbaton occurs 68 times in the Besekh. Many times the noun occurs with the definite article to indicate the seventh day of the week (e.g. Matt 12:5, 8; Mark 2:27; 16:1; Luke 4:16; 13:10, 14-6; 24:1; John 19:31). Other times, as here, the noun lacks the definite article indicating a generalization that would include any day considered a Sabbath (e.g., Matt 12:2; 24:20; Luke 14:5; Acts 1:12; Col 2:16). Besides the seventh day twenty other days were treated as sabbaths regardless of the day of the week they occurred (Lev 23), because laborious work was prohibited on those days. For a list of these sabbaths see my web article God's Appointed Times. For the biblical background and Torah instruction for Sabbath observance see my web article Remember the Sabbath.
you circumcise: Grk. peritemnō, to surgically remove the male foreskin. In the LXX peritemnō translates Heb. mul, to circumcise. For Jewish males God commanded that circumcision be performed on the eighth day after birth (Gen 17:12; Lev 12:3; cf. Gen 21:4; Acts 7:8; Phil 3:5), regardless of the day of week. The significance of the time is not stated in Scripture but modern medical researchers discovered that the two main blood clotting factors, Vitamin K and Prothrombim, reach their highest level in life, about 110% of normal, on the 8th day after birth. These blood clotting agents facilitate rapid healing and greatly reduce the chance of infection. Any circumcision done earlier requires an injection of Vitamin K supplement.
According to Rabbinic interpretation, "circumcision and all its preliminaries supersede the Sabbath" (Shab. 131b). Circumcision was more important than Sabbath observance because in the original legislation of Genesis 17 it is connected with 13 covenants (Shab. 132a). This interpretation is taken from the fact that the word "covenant" (Heb. b'rit) occurs 13 times in that chapter. The priority of circumcision was also deduced from the fact of its being given as a covenantal sign (Gen 17:11) before the Sabbath was designated a covenantal sign (Ex 31:16). In addition, circumcision was considered equivalent to saving a life, which too superseded Sabbath observance.
a man: Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man, or mankind. 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). Delitzsch translates anthrōpos with Heb. zakar ('male,' age determined by context; DHE) to clarify that only males are circumcised. Almost all Bible versions translate anthrōpos with "man," but a few have "baby boy" (ERV, EXB, NCV) or "boy" (CJB, HNV, NIV, TEV). Commentators generally assume that Yeshua is talking about infant circumcision, but if that was his intent he would surely have used one of the common words for an infant.
For example, three words are used of the infant Yeshua (1) Grk. brephos ('infant, whether unborn or just born') used of baby Yeshua in the manger (Luke 2:12, 16); (2) Grk. paidion, ('infant, child') when he was circumcised (Luke 2:17, 27), and (3) Grk. arsēn ('male') used of the child (Yeshua) birthed by the woman John saw in a vision (Rev 12:5, 13). In addition there is Grk. pais ('child, male infant'), used of the infants under two years of age slaughtered at the order of King Herod (Matt 2:16). Using anthrōpos does not exclude infant circumcision, but broadens the application to include all circumcision. Indeed, Yeshua's indictment carries more punch by taking a straight forward interpretation of the contrast he describes, healing a man vs. circumcising a man, as he will address in the next verse.
23 If a man receives circumcision on a Sabbath, in order that the Torah of Moses may not be annulled, are you angry with me, because I made an entire man whole on a Sabbath?
If: Grk. ei, conj. a man: Grk. anthrōpos. See the previous verse. In this verse Delitzsch translates a with Heb. adam. receives: Grk. lambanō, pres. 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. The verb in this instance emphasizes action performed by another rather than by oneself. circumcision: Grk. peritomē. See the previous verse. on: Grk. en, prep. a Sabbath: Grk. sabbaton. See the note on the previous verse. The noun lacks the definite article and likely refers to any day designated as a Sabbath. The Mishnah affirms the priority of circumcision over Sabbath observance (Shab. 18:3; 19:2; Ned. 3:13). The Rabbis affirmed that this principle applies to the circumcision of adults (Shab. 132a).
in order that: Grk. hina, prep. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed; in order that. the Torah: Grk. nomos. See the note on verse 19 above. of Moses: See the note on verse 19 above. may not be annulled: Grk. luō, aor. pass. subj., has a range of meaning from (1) loose or untie bonds; (2) set free, loose, untie a person or animal; (3) break up into its component parts, destroy, tear down; to (4) destroy, bring to an end, abolish, do away with. When used of commandments, laws or statements luō has the meaning of repeal, annul or abolish (BAG 485). In the LXX luō is used to translate seven different Heb. verbs with various nuances of the Greek meanings (DNTT 3:177).
Practically speaking circumcision of an adult male to become a proselyte could occur anytime. There are various occasions that could require the circumcision of an adult male. In a one scenario a Jewish male born of a Gentile father, like Timothy, might not have been circumcised as a baby, but then be circumcised by his spiritual father (Acts 16:1-3; 2Tim 1:2). A second scenario is that of a Jewish man who failed to circumcise his son and does so later, even as Abraham circumcised his 13-year old son Ishmael (Gen 17:25; Kidd. 29a). However, the Pharisees were eager to make proselytes (cf. Matt 23:15), which necessitated a sin offering, immersion in water, and circumcision for full conversion to Jewish faith.
If a Gentile man came to Jerusalem to experience Passover he would have to be circumcised first in accordance with Torah instruction before sharing a Seder (Ex 12:44, 48). A Gentile might also be circumcised in conjunction with Sukkot (Feast of Booths), during which the seventy bulls sacrificed provided atonement for the nations (see verse 37 below). The circumcised and immersed male proselyte was considered as a "child newly born" (Yeb. 22a). Yeshua is saying "you will circumcise a man on a Sabbath day, even during a festival."
are you angry: Grk. cholaō, to be angry or incensed. with me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. because: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 1 above. I made: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 3 above. an entire: Grk. holos, adj. signifying that a person or thing is understood as a complete unit and not necessarily indicative of every individual part; all, whole, entire. man: Grk. anthrōpos. whole: Grk. hugiēs, sound, whole, healthy. on: Grk. en, prep. a Sabbath: Grk. sabbaton without the definite article. Yeshua's response is to ask them to consider why they are angry (cf. Ps 4:4). As Stern observes Yeshua implies a recognized argument known as kal v'chomer, "light and heavy," (a fortiori in logic) to defend his actions. If "A" is true then how much more is "B" true. Yeshua's reasoning is in accord with the opinion of one Sage who said, "If circumcision, which involves only one of the 248 parts of the human body, suspends the Sabbath, how much more must [saving] the whole body suspend the Sabbath!" (Yoma 85b).
24 Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment."
Judge: Grk. krinō, pres. imp., has a wide variety of applications: (1) distinguish, select, prefer, consider, look upon (Acts 13:46; Rom 14:5); (2) decide, propose, intend (Acts 3:13); (3) as a legal term to judge, decide, hale before a court, condemn, also hand over for judicial punishment (Acts 13:27; 23:3; Rev 6:10); (4) of the judgment which people customarily pass upon the lives and actions of their fellowmen and express an opinion about, especially in an unfavorable sense, to find fault, to criticize (Rom 2:1; 1Cor 10:29) (BAG). A continuum of judgment may be defined: observe, distinguish, evaluate, analyze, and decide, with the result being positive or negative.
In the LXX krinō is used mainly to translate three different Heb. words: din, rib and shaphat (DNTT 2:363). Din means not only to judge (in a legal sense, usually by tribal elders, e.g., Ruth 4:1-3), but also to punish, wrangle, vindicate and obtain justice for someone (Gen 15:14; 30:6; Deut 32:36; 2Sam 19:9). Rib means to quarrel, to litigate, to carry on a lawsuit (Gen 26:21; Jdg 8:1; 21:22; 1Sam 24:16). Shaphat, which occurs the most frequently and means to judge in a legal sense or to govern. The force of the imperative verb is more entreaty than command. not: Grk. mē, a particle of qualified negation involving will and thought; not. With mē the negation discourages a behavior.
according to: Grk. kata, prep., the root meaning is "down," but is used here in reference to agreement or conformity to a standard. appearance: Grk. opsis, may mean the front part of the head from the forehead to the chin, face, or generally of outward appearance. The term is applied in the sense of judging with bias or man-made rules that nullify God's rules. but: Grk. alla, conj. judge: Grk. krinō, pres. imp. righteous: Grk. dikaios, adj., being in accord with God's covenantal standards expressed in Torah for acceptable behavior, upright or just. In the LXX dikaios renders Heb. tsaddiq ('just or righteous' BDB 843). In Scripture a righteous person is one who follows the ethical and moral demands of the written Torah, such as Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1:6). The definition of "righteous" does not include the subjectivity of personal opinion.
judgment: Grk. krisis, judgment. The term has four possible applications: (1) of scrutiny of conduct; (2) of a local court responsible for administration of justice; (3) of saving help; (4) of responsible or right decision. The first and second meanings have relevance here. To judge righteously means to apply the standards of due process, equity and impartiality, expected of judges set forth in the Torah, not man-made traditions. See my web article Biblical Justice.
25 Then some of the Jerusalemites were saying, "Is not this man whom they are seeking to kill?
Then: Grk. oun, conj. some: pl. of Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. of the Jerusalemites: pl. of Grk. Hierosolumitēs, residents of Jerusalem. The term occurs only here and in Mark 1:5. The mention of local citizens may allude back to verse 12 which describes a division of opinion among the crowds who were present for the festival. were saying: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 3 above. The conversation was likely private away from the ears of the Jewish authorities. Is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. this man: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. they are seeking: Grk. zēteō. See verse 1 above. to kill: Grk. apokteinō, aor. inf. See verse 1 above. See also the note on verse 19 above concerning Yeshua's own statement on this matter. Regardless of what visitors thought local residents knew the malice and plotting of the authorities against Yeshua.
26 And behold, he speaks openly, and they say nothing to him. Perhaps truly the rulers knew that this is the Messiah?
And: Grk. kai, conj. behold: Grk. ide, aor. imp. of eidon, to see, but functions as an attention-getter without regard to number of persons addressed, in general (you) see! he speaks: Grk. laleō. See the note on verse 13 above. openly: Grk. parrēsia. See the note on verse 4 above. Yeshua is quite at home and unafraid (Morris 411). and: Grk. kai. they say: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. nothing: Grk. oudeis, adj. See verse 13 above. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; Yeshua. Some of the people in the discussion pose a following question concerning what the authorities knew. Perhaps: Grk. mēpote, negative particle cautiously expressing possibility; possibly, perhaps. truly: Grk. alēthōs, adv., corresponding to what is really so; truly, really, actually.
the rulers: pl. of Grk. archōn, one who has eminence in a ruling capacity or one who has administrative authority, used of appointees in a government capacity. The term is used of both synagogue officials (Matt 9:18; Luke 8:41) and Jewish community leaders, including members of the Sanhedrin (Luke 23:13, 24:20; 35; John 7:26; Acts 3:17; 4:5, 8; 13:27; 14:5). Since the narrative occurs in the precincts of the Temple, the "rulers" probably alludes to the chief priests. knew: Grk. ginōskō, aor. See verse 17 above. Such knowledge would be presumptively based on a thorough understanding of Scripture. that: Grk. hoti, conj. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. is: Grk. eimi, pres.
the Messiah: 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). Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos 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 (1Chron 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 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. For an expanded discussion on the Jewish title and Jewish expectations of the Messiah see my commentary on Mark 1:1.
27 But we know from where this man is; but the Messiah, whenever he might come, no one knows from where he is."
But: Grk. alla, conj. we know: Grk. oida, perf. See verse 15 above. This knowledge reflects personal experience. from where: Grk. pothen, adv., whence, may be used (1) of a location or place; or (2) of origin, source or parentage. Thayer says the second usage applies here (cf. John 6:42). this man: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. Members of the crowd make a pertinent observation. They knew of Yeshua's family and that he was from Nazareth, since Yeshua is often called Yeshua of Nazareth (Mark 10:47; John 18:5). but: Grk. de, conj. the Messiah: Grk. Christos. See the previous verse. whenever: Grk. hotan, conj., a temporal marker indicating 'when' or 'whenever.'
he might come: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. subj., 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 subjunctive mood indicates a principle of argument and not a specific belief. In other words they weren't saying that he had not come. no one: Grk. oudeis, adj. See verse 18 above. knows: Grk. ginōskō, pres. See verse 17 above. from where: Grk. pothen. he is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. From this conclusion it's not clear whether the people were expressing ignorance or doubt concerning Messianic prophecies. Micah prophesied Messiah as a descendant of King David who would be born in Bethlehem (5:1; cf. verses 41-42 below).
Daniel prophesied the Son of Man Messiah would come from heaven (9:25-26). Malachi prophesied a sudden appearance of the Messiah (3:1). The crowd's conclusion may simply be a contrast to the first clause. They might accept that the Messiah would be a descendant of David, but no one knew into which family he might be born. They also might have meant that the prophecies provide only scant information and too much remains unknown about the Messiah's origins.
28 So Yeshua called out in the temple, teaching and saying, "You have known both me, and from where I am. I have not come from myself, but the One having sent me is true, whom you have not known.
So: Grk. oun, conj. Yeshua called out: Grk. krazō, aor., may mean (1) to utter a loud cry; scream, cry out, or (2) express something with a vigorous voice; call out, which fits this situation. in: Grk. en, prep. the temple: Grk. hieron. See verse 14 above. The area was likely the Court of the Israelites where worship was held. teaching: Grk. didaskō, pres. part. See verse 14 above. and saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 3 above. The phrase "teaching and saying" is an Hebraic manner of writing by which "teaching" refers to what Yeshua did and "saying" introduces a quotation from that teaching. You have known: Grk. oida, perf. See verse 15 above.
both me: kagō, conj., formed from combining kai and egō and serves to link in parallel a personal affirmation by way of addition to or confirmation of a preceding statement. and from where: Grk. pothen, adv. See the previous verse. I am: Grk. eimi. See verse 2 above. Most versions render the adverb and verb as "where I am from." I have not: Grk. ou, adv. come: Grk. erchomai, perf. See verse 27 above. from: Grk. apo, prep. myself: Grk. emautou, reflexive pronoun referring to oneself. The phrase "from myself" is idiomatic for "on my own authority." but: Grk. alla, conj. the One: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun and circumlocution for God. having sent: Grk. pempō, aor. part. See verse 16 above.
me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. is: Grk. eimi, pres. true: Grk. alēthinos, adj., in accord with what is true; (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. All three meanings apply to God. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. you have not: Grk. ou, a strong negation of fact. known: Grk. oida, perf. Yeshua makes a very serious charge with more than a hint of irony. These religious authorities had memorized Scripture, they knew all the rabbinic interpretations and applications of Torah and yet they had no personal relationship with the Father.
29 I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent me."
Yeshua makes three straightforward but powerful declarations. One can only imagine the open-mouthed shock of his critics at these pronouncements. I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. know: Grk. oida, perf. See verse 15 above. Him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Yeshua has a very personal knowledge of the Father. because: Grk. hoti, conj. I am: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. from: Grk. para, prep., with the root meaning of beside (DM 108), conveys association between persons, things, or circumstances, which may denote (1) a point of origin, from; or (2) a close association or proximity, with, beside, in the presence of. The first usage applies here.
Him: Grk. autos. Yeshua asserts his prior point of origin as not his family in Nazareth or even Bethlehem, but heaven. There is another layer of meaning to consider. The prep. para could allude to an eternal co-existence with the Father. and He: Grk. kakeinos, demonstrative pronoun (from kai, "and" + ekeinos, "that one"), used in reference to someone or something previously mentioned. 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"), often in contexts of commissioning and empowering a messenger (DNTT 1:128). First century Judaism institutionalized the office of shaliach (Grk. apostolos), who acted as an official messenger or a proxy for and with the full authority of the sender, as the Mishnah says, "the agent is as the one who sends him" (Ber. 5:5). me: Grk. egō. Yeshua says the Father sent him from heaven to earth to carry out a spiritual mission, to save his people from their sins (Matt 1:21).
30 Therefore they were seeking to arrest him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. they were seeking: Grk. zēteō, impf. See the note on verse 1 above. In this instance the verb indicates they were searching for a way to accomplish the goal reflected in the following verb. to arrest: Grk. piazō, aor. inf., which may mean (1) take firm hold of; grasp; or (2) take under control; seize, arrest. The second meaning applies here. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The "seeking" was done under two constraints. First, the authorities needed a strong legal pretext to arrest Yeshua. Difference of interpretation of Torah was not sufficient grounds. Second, the public's ire could not be provoked because Yeshua was clearly popular. but: Grk. kai, conj. no one: Grk. oudeis, adj. See verse 18 above. laid: Grk. epiballō, aor., to move something so as to put it over or on something; put on, lay on; frequently with a suggestion of violence by grasping with "the hand."
a hand: Grk. cheir, hand as an anatomical term, but used here idiomatically of arrest. on: Grk. epi, prep. him: Grk. autos. because: Grk. hoti, conj. his: Grk. autos. hour: Grk. hōra may mean (1) a short space of time, the twelfth part of a day; hour; (2) fig. for a period of time in the day; "the hour was already late;" or (3) a point of time as occasion for action or for an event; time. The third meaning fits best here. had not yet: Grk. oupō. See the note on verse 6 above. come: Grk. erchomai, plperf. See verse 27 above. The pluperfect tense indicates 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 time for his arrest, trials and execution had not yet arrived.
31 But of the crowd, many believed in him and said, "When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?"
But: Grk. de, conj. of: Grk. ek, prep. the crowd: Grk. ochlos. See verse 12 above. Again this term is used in contrast with the Jewish authorities in this chapter. many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj. See verse 12 above. believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor. See verse 5 above. in: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. and: Grk. kai, conj. said: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 3 above. The ones believing offer a potent argument by means of a rhetorical question. When: Grk. hotan, conj. the Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 26 above. comes: Grk. erchomai, aor. See verse 27 above. will he do: Grk. poieō, aor. subj. See verse 3 above. more: Grk. pleiōn, adv., a comparative form of polus ("great in number") with the effect of greater in quality.
signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion may mean (1) a sign (signal); (2) a token; (3) a proof; (4) an extraordinary phenomenon; (5) a portent; or (6) a miracle (Mounce). Yeshua's adversaries often demanded a "sign" that would attest his authority (Matt 12:38; John 2:18). 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. "Sign" also referred to a visible manifestation of God’s grace and favor, as the rainbow, circumcision and the Sabbath are covenantal signs (Gen 9:12f, 17; 17:11; Ex 31:13, 17; Ezek 20:12).
Most of the usages of “sign” in the Tanakh are related to miraculous wonders that only the Creator could perform, such as the plagues on Egypt and the Red Sea crossing (Ex 4:17; 7:3; Deut 11:3; 26:8), the many miracles for Israel's benefit during the years of wilderness wandering (Deut 4:34; 7:19) and the shadow’s advance on the palace steps (2Kgs 20:9). Sometimes the miraculous sign was a token that would serve as a warning or reminder, such as Aaron’s rod (Num 17:25) and the stones in the Jordan (Josh 4:6). These meanings frequently overlap and the use of the word "sign" may point backward to a historical event or even forward to the fulfillment of a promise (TWOT 1:39f).
In the book of John miracles are referred to as "signs" because they attested that Yeshua is the Son of God (John 21:30-31). John identifies seven specific signs, all creation miracles, which require setting aside the laws of science, and by definition can only be performed by God. than: Grk. hōs, relative pronoun. this man: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. has done: Grk. poieō, aor. Some Messianic prophecies in the Tanakh do imply that the Messiah would perform miraculous works (cf. Isa 35:5-6; 42:18; 61:1-2), but no one could imagine that the Messiah would do the glorious signs nor the sheer number of miracles that Yeshua had been doing. It just isn't logical that some other Messiah could accomplish what Yeshua had done.
32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering these things concerning him, and the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to arrest him.
The Pharisees: pl. of Grk. Pharisaios, a transliteration of the Heb. P'rushim, meaning "separatists.” The title was born of the fact that they separated themselves from the common people of the land who did not tithe, were ritually impure and knew nothing of the Torah (Law). 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 cent. BC (Jeremias 247). Josephus first mentions them as present in the time of Jonathan, the successor of Judas Maccabeus (Ant. XIII, 5:9). In the books of Maccabees 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 the importance of a holy life, and they regarded Greek ideas as abominations. In contrast to the Sadducees 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 (verses 50-51 below), and the unnamed Pharisees who warned Yeshua of a plot by Herod to kill him (Luke 13:31). To impugn all members of the Pharisee religious party 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 those in 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 seems to use 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 third meaning applies 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). the crowd: Grk. ochlos. See verse 12 above. whispering: Grk. gonguzō, pres. part. (originally derived from a Greek word meaning to speak inarticulately, mumble, mutter) may mean (1) fault-finding muttering; to grumble, murmur, complain; or (2) community buzz without a negative component, to speak secretly or privately; whisper, discuss. The second meaning applies here.
these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. This phrase alludes to the discussion in the crowd described in verses 25-27 and verse 31 above. The Pharisees that had been in the crowd duly reported what they heard to the Sanhedrin. and: Grk. kai, conj. the chief priests: pl. of Grk. archiereus, a high or chief priest. The "chief priest" would be Caiaphas, the high priest, but the plural noun would include retired high priests and active holders of the priestly offices of higher rank in the Temple, altogether some fifteen to twenty persons. From Acts 4:1; 5:17 and Josephus (Ant. XX, 9:1) we know that the chief priests were generally Sadducees and ex-officio members of the Sanhedrin (Jeremias 179, 197, 230). Based on that fact it is reasonable to say that the Temple was under the control of the Sadducean party, although rituals were normally done in accordance with Pharisee wishes (Ant. XIII, 10:6; XVIII, 1:3-4).
The active chief priests held a variety of administrative posts (see Jeremias 160-166 for a detailed discussion). Under the anointed high priest was a deputy high priest who had permanent oversight over all Temple activities and of all officiating priests (see Acts 4:1; 5:24). In addition, he was the chief of police in the Temple area and as such had power to arrest. He was next in rank to the high priest and could step in to fulfill his duties if necessary. Next there was the director of the weekly division of ordinary priests, and then the director of the daily shift. Then there were also seven temple overseers and three or more temple treasurers. As a group the chief priests wielded considerable power in the city.
and: Grk. kai, conj. the Pharisees: The combination of "chief priests and Pharisees" alludes to some portion or all of the Sanhedrin acting as a deliberative body. sent: Grk. apostellō, aor. See verse 29 above. officers: pl. of Grk. hupēretēs, helper, attendant or servant, a term applied to various official and assigned capacities and generally associated with the Temple. These men were probably members of the Levitical Temple police (Jeremias 210). to arrest: Grk. piazō, aor. subj. See verse 30 above. him: Grk. autos. The authority to arrest devolved from the deputy high priest who no doubt gave the order at the urging of certain Pharisees. The preemptive action would have been very risky given the popularity and support Yeshua enjoyed among the people.
The sending implies that the Sanhedrin was meeting some distance from where Yeshua was teaching. The regular meeting place of the Sanhedrin was the "Hall of Hewn Stones" (Heb. Gazith) located on the south side of the Temple (Sanh. 10:4), also known as the Cell of the Counselors (Yoma 1:1). However, on Sabbaths and during festivals (Pesach and Sukkot) they sat within the "Chel" to conduct discussions on application of Torah (Sanh. 88b). This is likely the area that the 12-year old Yeshua met with Torah scholars (Luke 2:46). Middoth 1:5, 2:3 describes the Chel as being a level promenade or terrace running along the north and south side of the temple, 10 cubits broad, with 12 steps leading up to it. See the illustrations here and here. The Sanhedrin changed their meeting place so they would not appear to be conducting a trial, which is forbidden on these days (Sanh. 4:1; fn 5, 88b). Yet here they were colluding to break the law.
33 Then Yeshua said, "Yet a little time I am with you, and I am going to the One having sent me.
Then: Grk. oun, conj. Yeshua said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. Anticipating the Pharisee plot Yeshua raises an important spiritual point. Yet: Grk. eti, adv., a function word expressing a continuance of an action or circumstance; yet, still. a little: Grk. mikros, relatively limited in extend, whether in size, measure, quantity or rank, here in reference to time; small, short, little. time: Grk. chronos may mean (1) a span or period of time, or (2) a point or definite moment in time. In the LXX chronos occurs about 100 times and most often renders yōm, "day, days" (DNTT 3:841). The Hebrews did not conceive of time in the abstract, but used yom overwhelmingly in the sense of ordinary measurable time.
Chronos also translated several other Hebrew words for time: Heb. olam (SH-5769), long duration, antiquity, futurity (Ex 14:13; Isa 14:20; 34:10); acharith (SH-319), the after-part, end (Deut 32:29); eth (SH-6256), 'time, times' (Neh 10:34; 13:31; Eccl 3:1; Jer 30:7; 31:1; Dan 9:25); dor (SH-1755), 'generation' (Esth 9:28); and pa'am (SH-6471), 'times, now' (Prov 7:22); and Aram. zeman (SH-2166), time (Dan 2:16), and Aram. iddan (SH-5732), 'time' (Dan 2:21; 7:12). Here the time is measured by mikros, which in reality would only be 6-7 more months.
I am: Grk. eimi, pres. See the note on verse 2 above. with: Grk. meta, prep. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The phrase is intended metaphorically. He wouldn't be spending the next six months with the ruling authorities, but the Jewish people. and: Grk. kai, conj. I am going: Grk. hupagō. See the note on verse 3 above. The verb is present tense but points to a future event as something purposed. to: Grk. pros, prep. the One: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun for the Father in heaven. having sent: Grk. pempō, aor. part. See verse 16 above. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person.
34 You will seek me, and not find me; and where I am, you can not come."
You will seek: Grk. zēteō, fut. See verse 1 above. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. and: Grk. kai, conj. not: Grk. ou, adv. find: Grk. heuriskō, fut., to come upon by seeking, to find or locate that which has eluded the one seeking. me: Grk. egō. In the circumstances Yeshua's adversaries might take these words to mean "you will seek me in order to arrest and kill me, but I'm leaving the city soon and you won't find me." They certainly won't seek him to become disciples. and: Grk. kai. where: Grk. hopou, conj. used adverbially of place; where. I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. am: Grk. eimi. See the note on verse 2 above. The present tense can describe an anticipated future event or an action purposed. you can: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid. See the note on verse 7 above. Yeshua comments on their ability. not: Grk. ou. come: Grk. erchomai, aor. inf. See verse 27 above.
Gill suggests that "where I am" alludes to Yeshua's return to heaven and his meaning is this: that after his departure from earth the Jewish people will be in great distress, and very much inquiring after, and desiring the coming of the Messiah to be a Redeemer and Deliverer of them out of their troubles, but they will not find him. No Messiah will appear, no Savior will be sent, no Redeemer will come to relieve them. They will look for one in vain, as they did in later times. Not only in their temporal estate would they be very distressed and miserable, but also their eternal estate, since they refused to come to him while he was in their midst.
35 Then the Judean authorities said among themselves, "Where is this man about to go that we will not find him? He is not about to go into the Diaspora of the Hellenists, and teach the Hellenistic Jews?
Then: Grk. oun, conj. the Judean authorities: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 1 above. said: Grk. legō, aor. See the note on verse 3 above. among: Grk. pros, prep. themselves: pl. of Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun, or, "facing one another." Where: Grk. pou, adv. is this man: lit., "this one." about to: Grk. mellō, a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to, be going to. go: Grk. poreuomai, pres. mid. inf., to move from one area to another, to go or to make one's way. that: Grk. hoti, conj. we: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. will not: Grk. ou, adv. find: Grk. heuriskō, fut. See the previous verse. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The rhetorical question implies that Yeshua could not go anywhere that would be beyond the reach of the Sanhedrin. The far-reaching influence of the Jewish authorities would be manifested in the pursuit of Paul across the Roman Empire after his arrest.
The critics then proceed to insult Yeshua in the guise of a rhetorical question. One can almost imagine a sneer on their faces. he is not: Grk. mē, negative particle used with interrogative effect. about to: Grk. mellō. to go: Grk. poreuomai, pres. mid. inf. into: Grk. eis, prep. the Diaspora: Grk. diaspora, dispersion or scattering experienced by a group. The term occurs in passages of the LXX that speak of the removal of Israelite peoples from the Land and scattering them into other lands (Deut 28:25; 30:4; Neh 1:9; Ps 147:2; Isa 49:6; Jer 15:7; 34:17; 2 Macc 1:27) The term occurs only three times in the Besekh (also Jas 1:1; 1 Pet 1:1), all as a technical term for lands outside Israel where Jews resided.
In other words, the "Diaspora" is a term that only has relevance to Jews. The term does not refer to dispersion of Gentiles. By the first century A.D. there were numerous Jewish settlements in Asia Minor, Egypt, Greece, Italy and the islands of the Aegean, that had resulted from emigration (sometimes voluntary and sometimes forced) from Babylon (Tarn & Griffith 219). Josephus reported that "the ten tribes are beyond Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers" (Ant. XI, 5:2). All of these settlements became the starting point for the apostles to proclaim the fulfillment of prophetic promises, since the good news was for the Jew first.
of the Hellenists: pl. of Grk. Hellēn, a person of Greek language or culture (BAG). Danker adds that it is not an ethnic term restricted to Greece as a country of birth. Hellēn is derived from Hellas which in Classical Greek was a general name for all lands inhabited by Hellenes, including Ionia, as well as the name for the language of that people (LSJ). Hellēn occurs in several passages of the LXX to translate the Heb. Yavan (Dan 8:21; 10:20; 11:2; Zech 9:13) or Yevanim (Joel 3:6). Hellas is twice used to translate Yavan (Isa 66:19; Ezek 27:13). Yavan (or Javan) was the grandson of Noah by Japheth (Heb. Yapheth) (Gen 10:2). After Alexander the Great conquered the world he and his successors sought to educate and assimilate people in the Greek way of life. All who adopted the Greek language and culture were counted as Hellēn, even though they were of a different ethnic group (DNTT 2:124).
The experiences of the Jews under Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who ruthlessly imposed Hellenism on Judea, caused them to add the meaning of "hostile to the Jews" (2Macc 4:36; 11:2). With the establishment of a Hellenistic administration in Jerusalem Antiochus offended traditional Torah-observant Jews by constructing a gymnasium adjacent to the Temple in which games were played while naked (1Macc. 1:13–15; 2Macc. 4:9-12). The traditional Jews rightly considered the gymnasium a symbol of the Greek heathen culture chosen to supplant ancient Jewish law in Jerusalem. Yet, there were priests who would abandon their service at the altar to participate in games at the gymnasium (2Macc. 4:14). To the Jews who suffered so much under the Syrian tyrant Hellēn became a term of religious intolerance, equivalent to "pagan." The fact that many Jews were willing to abandon Torah observance and adopt Greek culture under Antiochus created a great divide among Jewish people.
Hellēn appears a total of 25 times in the apostolic writings, the next in John 12:20 and the rest in Paul's letters (14 times) or in Luke's narratives of Paul's ministry (9 times). Most Bible versions translate Hellēn as "Greek(s)," considering "Greek" to be a circumlocution for "Gentile," but in my view should be translated as "Hellenistic Jews." First, in the Besekh Hellēn is simply not an ethnic term restricted to ethnic Greeks (or Hellenistic Gentiles in general). What would be the point for Jews to speak of Greeks anyway? The term Hellēn certainly includes Hellenistic Jews, that is, Jews who in varying degrees adopted cultural and lifestyle practices of Hellenism. For these orthodox Jews the Hellenistic Jews would be the only Hellenists of whom they would have any knowledge or even association. Second, the hermeneutic Law of First Mention has relevance to this discussion and the association of Hellēn here with the Diaspora defines the people-group as Hellenistic Jews. Third, when Yeshua and the apostles wished to refer to bona fide non-Jew Gentiles they used the term ethnoi (e.g., Matt 10:5; Rom 1:5).
and teach: Grk. didaskō, pres. inf. See verse 14 above. the Hellenistic Jews: pl. of Grk. Hellēn. Stern translates the second use of Hellēn here as "Greek-speaking Jews" because of the mention of the Diaspora. Of course, Yeshua did not have to leave Jerusalem to find Greek-speaking Jews, since there was a neighborhood in town where they could be found (Acts 6:1). Luke coined a slightly different term for Greek-speaking Jews, Hellēnistēs, which occurs in Acts 6:1; 9:29 and 11:20. David Flusser (1917-2000), professor of Early Christianity and Judaism of the Second Temple Period at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, used the term "Hellenized" to describe these Greek-speaking Jews. The "Hellenized Jews" were zealous for the Temple and Torah and certain circles of them were greatly influenced by the Essenes (Flusser 75). The Hellenized Jews preferred Greek as their primary language and the Greek translation of the Torah (Septuagint) for synagogue services.
So, to mark the distinction, the term Hellēn or "Hellenistic" would denote practicing or holding to the principles of Hellenism or Greek culture and philosophy. Most of our sources concerning Hellenistic Jewry come from Alexandria (Flusser 73). Philo Judaeus (c. 25 BC - AD 50), the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher, taught there with considerable influence. The Judean adversaries of Yeshua may even have invested the term Hellēn with the sense of a movement. Hellenism was a serious threat to the traditions of the Judeans. By this time there were many Hellenic cities in the land, including Caesarea, Tyre, Sidon, Joppa and Sebaste (Samaria), and not just in the Decapolis (Fig. 1.1, Skarsaune 32). Some extreme Diaspora Jews wanted to transform Jerusalem into a Hellenistic city, believing that Hellenism brought prosperity and better living conditions, i.e., "civilization" (Skarsaune 33f).
The principal obstacle was the Judean devotion to the Torah and Pharisaic traditions. The Hellenistic Jews thought that to become part of the new world civilization required abrogating those parts of the Torah which set the Jews a people apart, such as circumcision and Sabbath observance. The Hellenistic Jews lived by values unacceptable to the Judean Jews. The differences went deeper than the language they spoke. Hellenistic Jews had a tendency toward universalism and they tolerated religions around them. Many Hellenistic Jews adopted Greek customs, formed trade associations, passed decrees and prepared documents in Greek form, and gave titles and honors to women. Some Hellenistic Jews tolerated mixed marriage, dropped circumcision, and even in some places adopted Greek cults (Tarn & Griffith 223-227).
The second question posed in this verse reflects the strong animosity the traditional Judean Jews held against Hellenistic Jews in the Diaspora. Greek ideas were abominations and syncretism was tantamount to treason with the enemy. Thus, Yeshua's actions to challenge Judean legalism were treated as if he were attempting to Hellenize Jerusalem.
36 What is this statement that he said, 'You will seek me, and will not find me; and where I am, you can not come?'"
The critics repeat the assertion of Yeshua verbatim (verse 34 above), reflecting a continued discussion. However, Yeshua offers no further clarification and manages to leave the temple area without interference from the temple police. John is silent on where Yeshua stayed during the festival. He had friends in the area, including Nicodemus in Jerusalem and Lazarus in Bethany about two miles away. He probably spent the nights in a sukkah as Torah requires. After his rebuke of his brothers it's not likely Yeshua camped with them.
Now: Grk. de, conj. on: Grk. en, prep. the last: Grk. eschatos, adj., coming at the end or after all others; last. the great: Grk. megas, adj., exceeding a standard and therefore impressive; great. day: Grk. hēmera, may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). of the festival: Grk. heortē. See verse 2 above. Since the festival Sukkot lasted seven days then the last day would be the seventh, Monday, Tishri 21 or October 17 on the Julian calendar. (See verse 10 above for the calendar calculation.) The "eighth day" was a Sabbath (Lev 23:36) and considered a separate festival.
Many religious ceremonies occurred in the daily public services at the temple involving dancing, playing musical instruments, singing, shofar blowing, palm and willow waving and rejoicing of the people. See the description in the comment on verse 14 above. On the seventh day all the rituals reached their crescendo. On this day the priests offered these sacrifices at the temple: seven bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs and their corresponding grain offering and drink offerings; then one male goat for a sin offering, besides the continual burnt offering, its grain offering and its drink offering (Num 29:32-34). Lightfoot asks the question of why the seventh day should be called "the great day" when the number of animals sacrificed was much less than the first day (319).
The Jewish viewpoint is that the seventh day completed the required number of 70 bulls to be sacrificed and these 70 bulls correspond to the 70 nations of the world, thus making atonement for the nations (Sukk. 55b). The assumption of 70 nations is derived from the book of Jubilees (44:34) based on the list of nations in Genesis 10. The seventh day of Sukkot is also known as Hoshana Rabba ("the Great Hoshana"); the name is taken from the word hoshana ("Save, I Pray") which is frequently used in the prayers of the day. Following the water libation the hoshana prayers for rain and a good harvest in the year to come were recited during a procession seven times around the altar after which five willows bound together are beaten. Unlike the previous days their prayers for rain on this day included the fields of the nations. On this day as the priests left the altar they would shout, "To Adonai and to thee, O Altar, to Adonai and to thee, O Altar" (Sukkah 4:2).(See Sukkot, Encyclopedia Judaica, 2nd ed., XIX, 292-302.)
Yeshua stood: Grk. histēmi, plperf., be in an upright position, to stand, used of bodily posture. The verb is probably intended in the idiomatic sense of "took his stand." As mentioned on my comment above (verse 14) besides chanting the Hallel the Levites recited a particular Scripture verse as a theme (Sukkot 55a). For the seventh day they sang Psalm 82, of which the first verse says, "God takes His stand in the congregation of God; He judges in the midst of the rulers." So, in the context joyful celebration, and in the presence of thousands of Israelites, all 24 divisions of priests and the Sanhedrin, Yeshua, the Son of God and Son of Man, chose his moment.
and: Grk. kai, conj. cried out: Grk. krazō, aor., to utter a loud cry or to express something with vigorous voice, to call out. There is no implication that Yeshua would be so rude as to interrupt an important ceremony, so his action probably followed the conclusion of the water libation. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 3 above. The verb acts as quotation marks to introduce the quoted material, a very bold announcement. If: Grk. ean, conj. anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. thirsts: Grk. dipsaō, pres. subj., to be thirsty in a physical sense, but used here figuratively for a deep spiritual longing. The conditional "if anyone" really implies "since everyone," because there is no person who does not have a spiritual thirst. Yeshua then issues two commands as the means to quench the thirst.
come: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. imp. See verse 27 above. to me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. The only source of spiritual satisfaction is not Shammai, not Hillel, not some philosophy, not a place such as the temple, and not a religious ritual, but the person of Yeshua. "Coming" implies accepting his authority and following him as a disciple. In Synoptic passages the "coming" must be accompanied by taking up one's cross (Matt 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23). The connection of "coming" with cross-bearing is relevant considering that the plot against Yeshua's life will result in crucifixion. "Coming" to Yeshua means being willing to take your stand with him and even to die for him (cf. Mark 14:31). The cross-bearing also means to be willing to forgive one's enemies as Yeshua did from the cross (Luke 23:34). Forgiveness is probably the single hardest virtue to develop, which is why it can be likened to taking up a cross.
and: Grk. kai. drink: Grk. pinō, pres. imp., to take in a liquid, to drink, usually of water or wine, used here in a figurative sense. In the LXX pinō renders the Qal of Heb. shathah, to drink, usually of water, but also of wine and a few times fig. of blood (SH-8354; BDB 1059). The ability to satisfy thirst is attributed to God (Ps 65:9). Drink was understood as a gift which is continually received anew from God and is the cause of thanksgiving (Ex 15:22-24; Jdg 15:18). Correspondingly, thirst which cannot be quenched was understood as God's anger and punishment (Isa 5:13). Used figuratively, drinking can stand for the way God's gifts and judgments come to men, whether of wrath (Ps 75:8; Isa 51:17) or of grace (Ps 116:13; Isa 55:1) (DNTT 2:274-275). To "drink" of the Messiah, then, would mean to trust in him with the whole heart and receive the grace of the Father that he mediates. Drinking also implies partaking of his character, so that his ethics characterize the disciple's life.
38 The one believing in me, just as the Scripture said, from within him will flow rivers of living water."
The one believing: Grk. pisteuō, pres. part. See verse 6 above. The verb emphasizes trust as well as faithfulness resulting from trust. in me: lit. "into me." just as: kathōs, conj., emphasizing similarity, conformity, proportion or manner; as, just as. the Scripture: Grk. graphē, writing, and in the Jewish context meaning the sacred Hebrew Bible (24 books) referred to as the Tanakh, corresponding to the Protestant Old Testament (39 books) and its translation into Greek, the Septuagint. The term "Scripture," which occurs over 50 times in the Besekh, summarizes the body of literature containing God's inspired, infallible, inerrant words penned by over 25 writers, from Moses to Malachi. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above.
from within him: lit. "out of his belly." will flow: Grk. rheō, fut., to flow or overflow, figurative of abundance. rivers: pl. of Grk. potamos, a flow of water, used of natural streams and rivers. of living: Grk. zaō, 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, the physical element of water, used here in a fig. sense. The expression "living water" reflects the Heb. mayim chayyim (lit. "living water"), which means running water from a stream or spring, in contrast with water stored in a cistern (Stern 167). Yeshua made the same promise to the Samaritan woman (John 4:10). Marginal notes in Bible versions cite a variety of passages that are presumed to be the source of the quoted material (Isa 44:3; 49:10; 55:1; 58:11; Jer 2:13; Ezek 47:1-12; Zech 14:8), but none of them has the quotation as Yeshua states.
Some scholars believe that the antecedent of "him" from whom living waters flow is "me," the Messiah, not the believer. No Scripture passage describes the believer as a source of living water. Various passages are cited to support this solution (Ex 17:6; Ps 105:41; Ezek 47:1; Joel 3:18). Yeshua as the principal source of living water may be presumed from Paul's midrashic interpretation of Exodus 17:6 and Numbers 20:8-11 (cf. Neh 9:15) that Yeshua was the rock that followed Israel in the wilderness, "all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock that followed them; and the Rock was Messiah (1Cor 10:4 TLV). In the Tanakh YHVH is the fountain of Israel (Deut 33:28; Ps 68:26) and source of living water for His people (Jer 2:12-13; 17:13) and Yeshua is YHVH. Also, Revelation 22:1 depicts "a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb."
However, the grammar supports the interpretation that the living water is flowing from within the believer. After all, Yeshua does not say "from within me." There are passages that speak of God's blessing to His people with the symbolism of water, such as Isaiah 58:11, "You will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail" (cf. Prov 4:23; 5:15; SS 4:15; Isa 44:3; 55:1; Ezek 47:1-3; Zech 13:1; 14:8). This interpretation is also strengthened by the interpretation John offers in the next verse. There is a saying of Rabbi Akiba that is a roughly contemporary parallel, "The disciple who is beginning is like a well who can give only the water it has received; the more advanced disciple is a spring giving living water" (Midrash Sifre on Deut 11:22, quoted in Morris 424).
We should note a person can be a spring of water in a negative sense. Yeshua's brother Jacob likens a person's mouth spewing bitterness and curses to a fountain (Jas 3:11). Peter describes false prophets as "springs without water" (2Pet 2:17). In those instances the spring does not produce living water. In reality the believer can only be a spring of living water by drinking from the Rock of living water. Yeshua's words, then, should be regarded as a midrashic interpretation of a theme in the Torah and Prophets common to rabbinic teaching.
39 But he said this concerning the Spirit, whom the ones believing in him were about to receive. For the Spirit was not yet given, because Yeshua was not yet glorified.
But: Grk. de, conj. he said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, an allusion to the quoted material in verse 38. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. See verse 7 above. the Spirit: Grk. pneuma with the definite article (for Heb. ruach, Resh-Vav-Chet), 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 Holy Spirit as God's self-expression (Gen 1:2; Mark 1:10). The Ruach first appears in Genesis 1:2 where He was moving over the Deep, assisting the Word in creation. John explains that Yeshua's statement about the believer becoming a river of living water functions as a parable. He may have even been alluding to the parallelism of Isaiah 44:3, "For I will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring and My blessing on your descendants."
Nehemiah 9:20 also connects the Holy Spirit with water, "You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth, and You gave them water for their thirst." The water ceremony and accompanying rejoicing also pointed toward the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the people of Israel as indicated in the article on Sukkot in the Encyclopedia Judaica.
"A connection between the possession of the Ruach ha-Kodesh and ecstasy, or religious joy, is found in the ceremony of water drawing, Simchat Beit-HaSho'evah [“feast of water-drawing”], on the festival of Sukkot. … This was also considered a ceremony in which the participants, as it were, drew inspiration from the Holy Spirit itself, which can only be possessed by those whose hearts are full of religious joy (Jerusalem Talmud, Sukkot 5:1, 55a).” (Encyclopedia Judaica 14:365; Macmillan, 1972; quoted by Stern 179)
Stern's quotation comes from the first edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica, but I noted that the connection between the religious joy and the Holy Spirit was removed from the Sukkot article in the second edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica. Lightfoot refers to the same material, first quoting from Bereshit Rabba 70.1 [p. 65], "Why do they call it the house of drawing. Because they draw the Holy Spirit," and then, "In the Jerusalem Talmud it is expounded, that they draw there the Holy Spirit, for a divine breathing is upon the man through joy" (322-323).
whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. the ones believing: Grk. pisteuō, pres. part., could be rendered faithfully-trustfully-believing. See the note on verses 6 and 37 above. The present tense emphasizes the continuance of the action once started. in him: lit. "into him." The preposition emphasizes entrance into a relationship. were about: Grk. mellō, impf. See verse 35 above. to receive: Grk. lambanō, aor. inf. See verse 23 above. For: Grk. gar, conj. the Spirit was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 2 above. not yet given: Grk. oupō, adv., a negative particle indicating than an activity, circumstance, or condition is in abeyance or suspension; not yet. The adverb alludes to the following Pentecost nine months later.
because: Grk. hoti, conj. Yeshua was not yet: Grk. oudepō, neg. adv., excluding any action up to the narrative moment; not yet. glorified: Grk. doxazō, aor. pass, may mean either (1) to praise or honor or (2) in reference to the next life to clothe in splendor (BAG). The second meaning is intended here and refers to Yeshua's resurrected body (John 12:16; Acts 3:13, 15; Rom 8:17). Unlike Moses and the first Sanhedrin (70 elders) on whom the Holy Spirit rested (Num 11:25) Yeshua's adversaries were devoid of the Spirit. Moses had expressed the wish that YHVH would put His Spirit on all His people (Num 11:29), but the Holy Spirit could only be poured out on the Body of Messiah after Yeshua had become an atoning sacrifice, had been resurrected and subsequently ascended to heaven.
40 Someone from the crowd, therefore, having heard these words said, "This is truly the Prophet."
Someone from: Grk. ek, with the root meaning of "out of, from within" (DM 102), denoting origin; from among. The preposition, which occurs first in the verse, implies that a voice was heard. of the crowd: Grk. ochlos. See verse 12 above. therefore, having heard: Grk. akouō, aor. part. See verse 32 above. these words: pl. of 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, or matter (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087). "These words" likely alludes to everything Yeshua taught and said on the fourth day, and thus only one conclusion could be drawn.
This: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. truly: Grk. alēthōs, adv. See verse 26 above. the 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. Yeshua was regarded as a prophet (Matt 16:14; 21:11; Luke 7:16; 9:8, 19; John 4:19), but the declaration in this verse alludes to the prediction of Moses that some day God would send another leader like him:
"ADONAI your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your midst—from your brothers. To him you must listen. … I will raise up a prophet like you for them from among their brothers. I will put My words in his mouth, and he will speak to them all that I command him." (Deut 18:15, 18 TLV)
Yochanan the Immerser had been asked whether he was the expected prophet like Moses, but he denied that he was (John 1:21, 25). Some people would naturally declare Yeshua to be "the Prophet," because of the signs he performed (John 6:14). After Pentecost the apostles will confirm that Yeshua did indeed fulfill the prophecy of Moses (Acts 3:18-22; 7:37, 52).
41 Others were saying, "This is the Messiah." But some said, "For Messiah comes not from Galilee?
Others: pl. of Grk. allos, adj. See verse 12 above. were saying: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 3 above. This: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. the Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 26 above. Some of the people in the crowd made a very bold conclusion, obviously based on the signs Yeshua had performed. But: Grk. de, conj. some: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. said: Grk. legō, impf. For: Grk. gar, conj. Messiah comes: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. See verse 27 above. not: Grk. mē, negative particle with an interrogative effect since a negative answer is expected. from: Grk. ek, prep. See the previous verse. Galilee: Grk. Galilaia. See verse 1 above. The question would be achieved by raising the pitch of the voice at the end of the sentence with the question "does he?" left unstated.
Others, disregarding the signs, disputed the idea of Yeshua being the Messiah. The question, perhaps rhetorical, contradicts the assumption expressed in verse 26 above. If no one knows where the Messiah comes from then he could come from Galilee. Duh! They also ignored the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah about the light shining in Galilee and quoted in Matthew 4:15-16.
"But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. 2 The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them." (Isa 9:1-2 NASB)
In addition, Matthew in his nativity narrative declared "And he went and lived in a city called Natzeret, to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets, that Yeshua shall be called a Natzrati" (Matt 2:23 TLV). Of course, Matthew's statement seems problematic because there is no specific verse in the Tanakh that says the Messiah will be called Natzrati (Nazoraios). This name, as well as Nazareth, does not occur in the LXX at all, although similar spellings for "Nazarite" do occur: Naziraion (Jdg 13:5), Nazēraion (Jdg 13:7), Nazēraios (Jdg 16:17) and Nazaraioi (Lam 4:7). This occurrence has led some to suggest that Yeshua would be called a Nazarite, which has no basis in Scripture, nor did Yeshua ever live as a Nazarite (cf. Luke 7:33-34).
Stern suggests one possible interpretation may be based on the common low opinion of Nazareth (John 1:46; 7:42, 52) (14). It's no accident that Yeshua is constantly identified as "Yeshua of Nazareth" instead of "Yeshua of Bethlehem" (Matt 26:71; Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34; 18:37; John 1:45; Acts 10:38; 26:9). Matthew may be referring to the many Tanakh prophecies that say the Messiah would be despised (e.g., Ps 22, Isa 52:13–53:12) and affirms that these prophecies would be fulfilled, in part, by his being known as Natzrati, i.e., a resident of Natzeret.
Barney Kasdan in his commentary on Matthew suggests that Matthew is engaging in a midrash and finds a link with the Heb. netzer, since both Nazareth and netzer mean "branch, sprout or shoot" (25f). Netzer is derived from the verb natzar, which means to watch, guard or keep (BDB 665). Natzeret and netzer share a common root in Hebrew (Nun-Tsade-Resh). Natzeret simply adds the letter Tav. Taking then the meaning of netzer Matthew can say "prophets" (plural) because the prophets use netzer, as well as the synonym tzemach (sprout, growth, BDB 855), in various Messianic prophecies (Ps 132:17; Isa 11:1; 14:19; Jer 23:5; 33:15; Zech 3:8; 6:12).
Stern believes that Matthew had both of these interpretations in mind, although the connection to the Branch of David would be the most likely explanation. Matthew explained to his readers that Yeshua did not make his entrance into the world with the pomp and circumstance commonly associated with ancient monarchs, but he came from humble origins and was presented as the despised servant of the Lord. The combined message of the prophets supports the interpretation that the Messiah would then come from Galilee.
42 Has not the Scripture said that the Messiah comes out of the seed of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?"
Has not: Grk. ou, adv., particle of strong negation. the: Grk. ho, definite article. Scripture: Grk. graphē. See verse 38 above. The presence of the definite article points to specific passages. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. the Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 26 above. comes: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. See verse 27 above. out of: Grk. ek, prep. the seed: Grk. sperma may refer either to the source (e.g. seed, semen) or the product of propagation (e.g., posterity, descendant). of David: Grk. David which transliterates the Heb. David ("dah-veed") perfectly. David is one of the most important figures in Israelite history. His name first appears when God sent Samuel to anoint him as the next king (1Sam 16:13). At that time David was the youngest of eight sons of Jesse and only a shepherd.
Yet, from that humble beginning he would eventually (after many difficulties) become the King of Israel at the age of 30 and reign 40 years (2Sam 5:4; 1Chr 3:4). David made a tremendous impact on the nation of Israel. In the military sphere he broke the power of all the pagan peoples in the land of Canaan and in the civil sphere he made Jerusalem his capitol and solidified central authority. Perhaps most important is his accomplishments in the religious sphere. He erected the Tabernacle on Mt. Zion, centralized religion in Jerusalem and established Levitical choirs. He wrote many psalms and 73 psalms are specifically ascribed to him. He was known as the “sweet psalmist of Israel” (2Sam 23:1). Especially important is that he compiled and organized psalms into what we now know as the Book of Psalms (2Chr 29:30). David was a true worshipper, a man imbued with the Holy Spirit (1Sam 13:14; 16:13; 2Sam 23:2).
God chose David to be king because He "sought out for Himself a man after His own heart" (1Sam 13:14). Then, God made a personal and everlasting covenant with him by which God promised that He would establish the throne of David forever, build a house for Himself and send forth a king from the loins of David to rule over his people Israel (2Sam 7:12-14; 23:5; 1Chr 7:11, 14; 2Chr 7:18; 13:5; Ps 89:3; Isa 55:3; Jer 23:5-6; 33:21). Jeremiah left a simple eulogy of David's life: "David did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite" (1Kgs 15:5). The last comment on David's life in the Tanakh is from Ezra who twice refers to David as a "man of God" (2Chr 8:14; Neh 12:24).
and: Grk. kai, conj. from: Grk. apo, prep. Bethlehem: Grk. Bēthleem, which roughly transliterates Heb. Beit-Lechem, house of bread. Situated five miles south of Jerusalem the village is first mentioned in Genesis 35:19. The village gained special importance as David's birthplace and place of anointing, and thus became his city. the village: Grk. kōmē, village, smaller and less prestigious than a city (Grk. polis). where: Grk. hopou, adv. of place; where, in what place. David was: Grk. eimi, aor. See verse 1 above. David was born and raised in Bethlehem as his ancestors before him (1Sam 16:1; cf. Ruth 4:18-22)). It was universally accepted among Jews that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Mic 5:2; Matt 2:5). The nativity narratives in Matthew and Luke explain how the Messiah could come from both Bethlehem in Judea and Nazareth in Galilee. As Stern observes the doubters could have inquired and learned these things, but, as is common with people whose minds are made up, they did not wish to be "confused by the facts."
43 So a division arose in the crowd because of him.
So: Grk. oun, conj. a division: Grk. schisma, something that is in parts through force, such as tearing fabric, but used here figuratively of differing viewpoints. arose: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid., to transfer from one state or condition to another, which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into being birth or natural process; be born or produced; (2) exist through application of will or effort by a person; be made, be performed; or (3) undergo a state of existence, change or development; come to be, become, take place, happen, occur, arise, be, appear, come, arrive. The third meaning applies here.
in: Grk. en, prep. the crowd: Grk. ochlos. See verse 12 above. because of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 13 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Yeshua the Messiah invariably divides people into two groups, those who are with him and those who are against him (cf. Matt 12:30; Mark 9:40; Luke 9:50). It's noteworthy that the common people were divided, because no division is attributed to the Sanhedrin, even though Yeshua had a few secret supporters in their membership.
44 Now some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
Now: Grk. de, conj. The scene shifts back to the Chel where members of the Sanhedrin were meeting (verse 32 above). some: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. of: Grk. ek, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. wanted: Grk. thelō, impf. See verse 1 above. to arrest: Grk. piazō, aor. inf. See verse 30 above. him: Grk. autos. but: Grk. alla, conj. no one: Grk. oudeis, adj. laid: Grk. epiballō, aor. See verse 30 above. hands: pl. of Grk. cheir. See verse 30 above. Given the subject of "some," the plural "hands" suggests more than one person. on: Grk. epi, prep. him: Grk. autos. The phrase "laid hands on" is idiomatic of physical arrest. The next two verses provide a human perspective on why Yeshua was not arrested in contrast to the divine sovereignty explanation given in verse 30.
45 Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, and they said to them, "For what reason did you not bring him?"
Then: Grk. oun, conj. the officers: pl. of Grk. hupēretēs. See verse 32 above. came: Grk. erchomai, aor. See verse 3 above. to: Grk. pros, prep. the chief priests: pl. of Grk. archiereus. See verse 32 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. Pharisees: pl. of Grk. Pharisaios. See verse 32 above. and: Grk. kai. they: pl. of Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun, used of the Judean authorities. The pronoun further serves to contrast the chief priests and Pharisees from the officers. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. The Levitical police officers arriving without Yeshua were questioned concerning their dereliction of duty. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; the officers.
For what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 19 above. reason: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 13 above. The opening phrase of the question is lit., "because of why?" did you not: Grk. ou, adv. bring: Grk. agō, aor., to cause movement by taking the lead; lead, bring, carry, take. him: Grk. autos. The phrase "bring him" refers to forcible movement after having laid hands on him.
46 The officers answered, "Never a man spoke like this!"
The officers: pl. of Grk. hupēretēs. See verse 32 above. answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See verse 16 above. Never: Grk. oudepote, negative adv. excluding any occurrence of action cited. a man: Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 22 above. spoke: Grk. laleō, aor. See verse 13 above. like this: 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.
The officers had gone to arrest someone they thought must be bad, but on listening to Yeshua teach they realized that he was a learned rabbi. In fact, they had never heard anyone as eloquent as Yeshua. These officers apparently had a conscience and they could not rationalize arresting someone of Yeshua's character. They offered no excuses, but told the simple truth. Indeed the description by the officers, no doubt based on their own experience, is a striking revelation. No spokesman for God - not Moses, not any of the prophets, and not David, the sweet psalmist of Israel - ever spoke as Yeshua did with simplicity and power.
47 So the Pharisees answered them, "You have not also been led astray?
So: Grk. oun, conj. the Pharisees: pl. of Grk. Pharisaios. See verse 32 above. answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See verse 16 above. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; the officers. You: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. have not: Grk. mē, negative particle with interrogative effect. also: Grk. kai, conj. been led astray: Grk. planaō, perf. pass. See verse 12 above. The Pharisees imply that the officers have been deceived like members of the public. There must be something defective in their judgment or training to not view Yeshua as his opponents.
48 Surely not any of the rulers believed in him, or of the Pharisees?
Surely not: Grk. mē, negative particle. See verse 24 above. any: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. of the rulers: pl. of Grk. archōn, one who has eminence in a ruling capacity, is used of Jewish community leaders, both synagogue officials (Matt 9:18; Luke 8:41) and members of the Sanhedrin (Luke 18:18; 23:13, 24:20; 35; John 3:1). believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor. See verse 5 above. in: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e. Yeshua. or: Grk. ē, conj. denoting an alternative. of the Pharisees: pl. of Grk. Pharisaios. See verse 32 above.
The question as posed probably came from one of the chief priests. Given the contrast with "Pharisees" the term "rulers" probably has a broad application to include synagogue leaders. At this time there were many synagogues in Jerusalem (see Ket. 105a). The questioner wanted to know whether anyone in authority had fallen under Yeshua's influence.
49 But this crowd, not knowing the Torah, is accursed."
But: Grk. alla, adversative conj. See verse 10 above. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. crowd: Grk. ochlos. See verse 12 above. not: Grk. mē, negative particle. See verse 24 above. knowing: Grk. ginōskō, pres. part. See verse 17 above. The verb may refer to a personal knowledge received from being taught. the Torah: Grk. nomos. See verse 19 above. The speaker probably does not restrict the word "Torah" to the commandments given to Israel at Sinai and Moab, but includes the rabbinic laws and traditions enacted to assure compliance with Torah commandments. In any event the speaker alleges that the common people, in contrast with the rulers and Pharisees of the previous verse, were ignorant of Torah. The testimony of the man born blind in chapter 9 proves that assumption to be wrong.
is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above. accursed: pl. of Grk. eparatos, adj., under divine judgment due to curses being invoked upon them. As Stern observes the ruling elite though trained in Torah ignored the second greatest commandment to love. Gruber comments that the common people, the am ha'aretz were often despised because they did not follow rabbinic practice (MW Notes 156). Rabbinic snobbery and discriminatory treatment of ordinary people may be seen in these Talmud passages.
"Our Rabbis taught: Who is an Am ha-arez? Whoever does not recite the Shema' morning and evening with its accompanying benedictions; such is the statement of R. Meir. The Sages say: Whoever does not put on the phylacteries. Ben Azzai says: Whoever has not the fringe upon his garment. R. Jonathan b. Joseph says: Whoever has sons and does not rear them to study Torah. Others say: Even if he learnt Scripture and Mishnah but did not attend upon Rabbinical scholars, he is an Am ha-arez. If he learnt Scripture but not Mishnah, he is a boor; if he learnt neither Scripture nor Mishnah, concerning him Scripture declares, I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and with the seed of beast." (Sotah 22a)
"Our Rabbis taught: Let a man always sell all he has and marry the daughter of a scholar. … but let him not marry the daughter of an am ha-arez, because they are detestable and their wives are vermin, and of their daughters it is said, Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast. … R. Eleazar said: An am ha-arez, it is permitted to stab him [even] on the Day of Atonement which falls on the Sabbath. … R. Hiyya taught: Whoever studies the Torah in front of an am ha-arez, is as though he cohabited with his betrothed in his presence. … Our Rabbis taught: Six things were said of the amme ha-aretz: We do not commit testimony to them; we do not accept testimony from them; we do not reveal a secret to them; we do not appoint them as guardians for orphans; we do not appoint them stewards over charity funds; and we must not join their company on the road. Some say, We do not proclaim their losses too [i.e., return their lost property]." (Pesachim 49b)
50 Nicodemus, the one having come to him earlier, being one of them, said to them,
Nicodemus: Grk. Nikodēmos, a transliteration of the Heb. Naqdimon ("innocent of blood"). See the note on this godly man in John 3:1. the one: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having come: Grk. erchomai, aor. part. See verse 27 above. to: Grk. pros, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Yeshua. earlier: Grk. proteros, an adj. indicating that something occurred prior to the current time; earlier, former. The adjective alludes to the narrative of chapter three in which Nicodemus met with Yeshua in the evening. being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 2 above. one: Grk. heis, the numeral one. of them: pl. of Grk. autos, i.e., one of the Pharisees and a member of the Sanhedrin. said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, i.e., his fellow Pharisees.
51 "Does not our law judge the man, unless first it has heard from him and known what he does?"
Does not: Grk. mē, negative particle. our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. The pronoun points to the ruling authorities rather than the nation. law: Grk. nomos. See verse 19 above. Nicodemus refers to the rules that governed the hearing of cases by the various courts and set forth in the tractate Sanhedrin. judge: Grk. krinō, pres. See verse 24 above. The verb is used here of rendering a verdict in a legal case. the man: Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 22 above. unless: Grk. ean mē, lit. "if not." first: Grk. prōtos, adj., having primary position in sequence; first, earlier, earliest. The word alludes to the order of judicial procedure. it has heard: Grk. akouō, aor. subj. See verse 32 above. The use of the verb here indicates the hearing of testimony under oath, including from the accused and any witnesses he wishes to be heard on his behalf.
from: Grk. para, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. and: Grk. kai, conj. known: Grk. ginōskō, aor. subj. See verse 17 above. The knowledge must be based on evidence, especially the testimony of two or three witnesses (cf. John 8:17). what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. he does: Grk. poieō, pres. See verse 3 above. A person is supposed to be judged by his deeds rather than his words. The words of Nicodemus reflect a rationale approach to handling an issue and submission to the rule of law.
52 They answered and said to him, "Are you not also from Galilee? Search, and see that a prophet does not arise out of Galilee."
They answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See verse 16 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. said: Grk. legō , aor. See verse 3 above. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Other members of the Sanhedrin remind Nicodemus of the discussion of the crowd (verses 40-43 above). Are you: Grk. su, sing. pronoun of the second person. not: Grk. mē, negative particle. also: Grk. kai. from: Grk. ek, prep. Galilee: Grk. Galilaia. See verse 1 above. The question might imply that Nicodemus was originally from Galilee as Yeshua or it may simply be a snide comment reflecting a regional prejudice.
Search: Grk. eraunaō, aor. imp., to search, probe, examine or investigate. The unstated direction is to search the Scriptures. and: Grk. kai. see: Grk. horaō, aor. imp., to perceive with the physical eyes or to experience extraordinary mental or inward perception. that: Grk. hoti, conj. a prophet: Grk. prophētēs. See verse 40 above. does not: Grk. ou, adv., a strong negative particle. arise: Grk. egeirō, pres. pass., to rise from a recumbent or lower position, but used here figuratively of appearing on the scene. The present tense could extend into the past as a vivid description.
out of: Grk. ek. Galilee: Jonah of the tribe of Zebulun certainly came from Galilee (2Kgs 14:25). Ironically, the Talmud tractate the governs the festival of Sukkot makes the generalization that there was not a tribe in Israel which did not produce prophets (Sukkah 27b). Morris points out that the MS p66 (c. 200 A.D.) has a singular reading of prophētēs with the definite article (434). While contradicted by the overwhelming majority of MSS the earliest reading is consistent with the discussion in verse 40 above concerning "the Prophet." Thus, the rulers would be saying that "the Prophet" predicted by Moses, the Messiah, does not come from Galilee because of the assumption stated in verse 42 above. However, they apparently ignored the prophecy of the Messianic "light" arising in Galilee (Isa 9:1).
53 And each one went to his house.
And: Grk. kai, conj. each one: Grk. hekastos, adj., in reference to an individual person or thing; each, every, every one. went: Grk. poreuomai, aor. pass. See the note on verse 35 above. to: Grk. eis, prep. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. house: Grk. oikos, a structure for habitation; house, home. The term implies a fixed residence. This verse could have a double application. The "going" refers mainly to local residents moving out of their sukkahs sometime in the afternoon and back into their homes, but could also refer to pilgrims returning to their tents outside the city. Pilgrims could not immediately leave because they were expected to remain in Jerusalem for the night following the festival of Sukkot (Rosh HaShana 5a). The rabbis adduced that what applied in the case of the Passover (Deut 16:7) applied to all festivals. In addition, the day following the end of Sukkot was a Sabbath and pilgrims would not likely begin their journeys home on that day either.
Modern Bible versions add a marginal note or footnote that John 7:53 through 8:11 is not found in the earliest authorities. In my view there is no reason not to accept the passage as an authentic part of the book of John. For a discussion of the textual issue see my analysis: Textual Note: John 7:53-8:11.
ABP: The Apostolic Bible Polyglot, Charles Van der Pool (2006). An interlinear of the Grk. Tanakh (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.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online.
BSI-NT: Ha'Brit Ha'Chadashah [New Covenant]: Tirgum Chadash. [New Translation]. Bible Society in Israel, 1991. Online. (Modern Hebrew)
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.
Edersheim-Temple: Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), The Temple: It's Ministry and Services (1874). New Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1994. Online.
Fisher: Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament. The University of York, 2000. [NA26]
Flusser: David Flusser, Jewish Sources in Early Christianity, Adama Books, 1987.
Geldenhuys: Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1951. (NICNT)
Gesenius: Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius (1786-1842), Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament. Trans. Samuel P. Tregelles (1846). Baker Book House, 1979. Online.
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]
Jastrow: Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903, 1926. Online.
Jeremias: Joichim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Fortress Press, 1975.
JVL: Jewish Virtual Library. American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, 2014.
Kasdan: Barney Kasdan, Matthew Presents Yeshua, King Messiah: A Messianic Commentary. Lederer Books, 2011.
Lane: William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1974. (NICNT)
Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602-1675), A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), 4 Vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1989. Online.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon. Revised and augmented by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online.
Marshall: Alfred Marshall, NASB-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English. Zondervan Pub. House, 1986. [NA21]
MW-Notes: Daniel Gruber, The Messianic Writings. Elijah Publishing, 2011. Annotations by the author.
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.
NASBEC: New American Standard Bible Exhaustive Concordance, Updated Edition. Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998.
Reinhartz: Adele Reinhartz, Annotations on "John," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Salkinson: Isaac E. Salkinson (1820-1883), Ha-Berit ha-Hadashah. British Missionary Society, 1886. Online. (Translation into 19th c. Hebrew.)
Santala: Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Trans. William Kinnaird. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1992. Online.
Skarsaune: Oskar Skarsaune, In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity. InterVarsity Press, 2002.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Tarn & Griffith: Sir William Tarn and G.T. Griffith, Hellenistic Civilization. 3rd Edition. Edward Arnold Publishers, Ltd., 1952.
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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