Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 3 October 2023; Revised 20 November 2023
Scripture Text: The Scripture text 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. Scripture quotations may be taken from different Bible versions. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important early Jewish sources include the following:
● DSS: the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries B.C. and the first century A.D. Online: DSS Bible; Vermes.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online. The LXX also included the Apocrypha, Jewish works produced from 400 B.C. to A.D. 1. Online.
● Josephus: The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.), Jewish historian, trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
● Philo: Works by Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, the Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.─A.D. 50), consisting of 45 monographs. Online.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted definition of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and definition of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations.
Special Terms: In order to emphasize the Hebrew and Jewish nature of Scripture I use the terms Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), ADONAI (for YHVH), Torah (Pentateuch, Law), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament).
Dates are from Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings (1992). Online.
In Chapter Three Luke advances the narrative from the previous chapter by 18 years and as the two previous chapters begins with reference to contemporaneous rulers that pinpoints the calendar date. He identifies by name the heads of state in the Roman Empire and immediate Roman provinces, as well as the religious hierarchy in Jerusalem.
Luke then records the beginning of Yochanan's ministry near the Jordan River as the fulfillment of a prophecy of Isaiah. Yochanan has considerable response to his message of repentance among the common people and even soldiers and tax collectors. However, for the religious elite Yochanan had a message of rebuke and warning of divine judgment. Because of his message and popularity people wondered whether he might be the Messiah, but he declared forthrightly that he was not the Anointed One and prophesied his soon arrival.
The narrative includes a parenthetical reference to Yochanan's later arrest as a result of his public criticism of Herod Antipas taking Herodias, the wife of his brother Phillip. Luke then records the immersion of Yeshua as a dedicatory or ordination rite preparatory to commencing his Messianic mission followed by the heavenly announcement of God's approval. The chapter then concludes with the genealogy of Yeshua, most likely traced through his mother Miriam.
Historical Setting, 3:1-2
Ministry of Yochanan, 3:3-6
Teaching of Yochanan, 3:7-14
Testimony of Yochanan, 3:15-18
Arrest of Yochanan, 3:19-20
Immersion of Yeshua, 3:21-23b
Genealogy of Yeshua, 3:23c-38
Date: October (Tishri), A.D. 26
Historical Setting, 3:1-2
1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee; also Philip his brother being tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias being tetrarch of Abilene,
Now: Grk. de, conj. used to mark (1) a contrast to a preceding statement, "but;" (2) a transition in narrative or subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connective particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The second usage applies here. in: Grk. en, prep., with the root meaning of "within," is generally used to mark position; among, at, in, or within. Luke then marks a specific calendar year. the fifteenth: Grk. pentekaidekatos, adj. (from pente, "ten," kai, "and," and dekatos, "ten"), an ordinal number, fifteenth. The term occurs only here in the Besekh.
year: Grk. etos, a period of twelve months. of the reign: Grk. ho hēgemonia, authority, sovereignty, imperial reign. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. of Tiberius: Grk. Tiberios, the Roman emperor who succeeded Augustus. For a Roman biography see Cassius Dio, Roman History, Chap. 57; Suetonius, Life of Tiberius; and Tacitus, Annals of Imperial Rome, Book I. A summary list of important dates in the life of Tiberius may be found on Livius. Josephus does not mark the beginning of the rule of Tiberius, but does record a number of events during his reign, as well as his death (Antiquities, Book XVIII; Wars, Book II).
Born in Rome in 42 B.C. of Livia, the wife of Augustus, but not by him, the future ruler was given the name Tiberius Claudius Nero. Tiberius was formally adopted by Augustus and became one of his chief heirs. From 26 B.C. to A.D. 12 Tiberius held a variety of important military and political posts. He also had a close relationship with Caesar Augustus, having married his daughter Julia in 11 B.C.
Caesar: Grk. Kaisar was originally the family name of Julius, the first emperor. In time it became a title of the Roman head of state. Upon full accession to the throne Tiberius became known as Imperator Tiberius Caesar Augustus. In A.D. 12 having achieved a great military victory by subduing a rebellion in the Roman province of Illyricum, Tiberius "entered the city clad in the purple-bordered toga and crowned with laurel, and … took his seat beside Augustus" (Suetonius, Tiberius, 17:4).
The Senate also approved that Tiberius should function as a co-ruler with Augustus (Ibid., 20:1; 21:1). Meyer says that Tiberius became co-regent at the end of 764 AUC (A.D. 11), or in January 765 AUC (A.D. 12). Lumby favors the latter. Augustus died on 19 August A.D. 14 and Tiberius became sole ruler. Tiberius died in A.D. 37 and Josephus, following the Roman method of determining regnal years, gave his reign as 22 years, 6 months and 3 days (Ant. XVIII, 6:10; Wars II, 9:5).
NOTE: The original Roman calendar gave dates in years AUC (Ad Urbe Condita, "from the founding of the city of Rome"). AUC 1 corresponds to 753 B.C. Our current BC-AD calendar was introduced in A.D. 527 by the then Abbott of Rome, Dionysius Exiguus. To convert AUC to BC/AD, see the chart here.
Luke identifies the calendar year that marked the beginning of John's ministry. Bible scholars are divided over the matter of determining the fifteenth year. Some commentators date the fifteenth year from A.D. 14 when Tiberius became sole emperor, but other commentators calculate the fifteenth year from the co-regency with Augustus in A.D. 12., or A.D. 26 (779 AUC). Lumby cites Roman historians as support for the latter view (Suetonius, Augustus 97; Tacitus, Annals, 1:3; Paterculus, Roman History 99, 101, 103).
Edersheim asserts that it was customary in the provinces to reckon the co-sovereignty period as part of the Emperor's reign. Likewise, Robertson says that "Tiberius Caesar was ruler in the provinces two years before Augustus Caesar died." Luke would naturally use the provincial point of view. Santala concurs and quotes the Jewish New Testament critic Hugh J. Schonfield that the "15th year of the reign of Tiberius implies the Jewish calendar year which began in the latter half of September or the beginning of October A.D. 26, a Sabbatical year" (125).
In A.D. 26 Tishri 1 fell on September 30th. Santala points out that the Sabbatical year is confirmed by recognizing that the difference between the Christian and Jewish eras is 3,761 years and 3761 + 26 (=3787) is divisible by 7. Thus, Tishri of A.D. 26 began the year 3787 on the Hebrew calendar and was therefore a Sabbatical year.
Pontius: Grk. Pontios (Latin Pontius). The first name occurs only three times in the Besekh (also Acts 4:27; 1Tim 6:13). Pilate: Grk. Pilatos (Latin Pilatus). Sources of information on the life of Pilate are limited. Besides the apostolic narratives the Jewish sources that relate incidents from the rule of Pilate are Philo (Embassy to Gaius, §299-305) and Josephus (Ant. XVIII, Chap. 2−4; Wars II, Chap. 9). Pilate is mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus, but only in connection with the crucifixion of Yeshua (Annals XV.44). An inscription with his name on it, the Pilate Stone, has been found in Caesarea, on the coast between Tel Aviv and Haifa. A biographical article on Pontius Pilate may be found on Livius.
being governor: Grk. hēgemoneuō (from the noun hēgemōn, "leader, governor"), pres. part., to lead or to lead the way, and by extension may mean (1) to command in a military sense; or (2) to govern in an administrative sense (LSJ), and may express the office of any ruler, whether emperor, propraetor, procurator, etc. (Plummer). BAG says the verb is used of the administration of imperial legates (governors). In one verse the noun hēgemōn is used of Pilate (Matt 27:2).
of Judaea: Grk. Ioudaia, a transliteration of the Latin provincial name of Iudaea. In the LXX Ioudaia translates Heb. Y'hudah ("praised," SH-3063), Judea or the Kingdom of Judah, first in Ruth 1:1. The territorial name of Ioudaia has two uses in Luke-Acts: (1) the historic territory of that lay between Samaria on the north and Idumea on the south. Judea was bounded on the west by the Mediterranean Sea and the east by the Jordan River. (See the map.) (2) the Roman province of Judaea formed in A.D. 6, which comprised Samaria, Judea and Idumea with its capital at Caesarea. (See the map.) The second meaning is intended here.
Pilate's official title was Prefect (Latin Praefectus), which signified authority over military forces, but he also served as procurator, which signified administrative authority. Although he was answerable to the Emperor he was subordinate to the legate of Syria. Pilate was the fifth prefect or procurator to rule Judaea, from A.D. 26 to 36. An inscription with his name on it has been found in Caesarea, on the coast between Tel Aviv and Haifa. For the first six years in which he held office, Syria's legate was absent from the region, so Pilate was free to govern as he wished. As governor Pilate had four primary responsibilities:
● He was responsible for the collection of taxes. To facilitate things, a governor could mint coins and negotiate with wealthy institutions (like the Temple in Jerusalem) that could advance the money.
● He was an accountant: he inspected the books and supervised large scale building projects.
● He was the province's supreme judge. Appeal was not impossible, but the voyage to Rome was expensive. The Roman governor was supposed to travel through the province to administer justice in the assize towns.
● He commanded auxiliary troops of the Roman army. Two cohorts had their barracks in Jerusalem (at the old palace and at the fortress Antonia); a third cohort guarded the capital of Judaea, Caesarea; and two cohorts of infantry and one cavalry regiment were on duty throughout the province. (Livius.org)
Soon after being appointed in Judaea Pilate offended the Jews by arriving in Jerusalem with Roman troops bearing imperial standards with the image of Caesar (Ant. XVIII, 3:1). This resulted in a crowd of Jews surrounding the palace in Caesarea for five days demanding removal of the standards. Pilate then summoned them to an arena, where the Roman soldiers drew their swords. But the Jews showed so little fear of death, that Pilate relented and removed the standards.
In another incident Pilate took money from the Temple treasury to build an aqueduct to bring water into Jerusalem with the origin of the stream two hundred furlongs (25 miles) away (Ant. XVIII, 3:2). While apparently tolerated by the Sadducean leadership, many thousands of Galilean Jews protested and demanded that Pilate cease the project. Pilate had soldiers infiltrate the great crowd wearing ordinary clothes and at his signal they began attacking the protesters. A great number was killed and many others were wounded, an event noted by Yeshua (Luke 13:1-2).
Pilate's removal from office came about after he violently attacked a gathering of Samaritans at Mount Gerizim. Samaritan leaders appealed to the consul of Syria, accusing Pilate of murder. The consul ordered Pilate back to Rome to answer the accusation before Tiberius, but the emperor died before Pilate arrived in Rome (Ant. XVIII, 4:2). Pilate did not return to Judaea and nothing is known for certain about his life after this event. Later apocryphal works assert that Pilate and his wife became Christians and the couple is venerated as saints in the Eastern churches.
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.
Herod: Grk. Hērōdēs, a personal name perhaps meaning "son of a hero." The Herod mentioned here is Antipas, the youngest son of Herod the Great by his wife, Malthace, a Samaritan, who also birthed Archelaus (Josephus, Ant. XVII, 1:3; Wars I, 28:4). Antipas was the last choice of his father for an heir after Archelaus. Antipas gained favor after his older brothers Antipater, Aristobulus and Alexander had been executed, Antipater for trying to assassinate his father, and the other two for treason against their father.
being tetrarch: Grk. tetraarcheō, pres. part., to rule over as a tetrarch, i.e. over one fourth of a territory "divided into four parts for efficient government. The verb alludes to the fact that after the death of Herod the Great in 1 BC the Romans divided most of the land of Israel among Herod's named heirs, with half of his kingdom given to Archelaus and smaller regions given to Antipas and Philip (Josephus, Ant. XVII, 11:4). The territory of Decapolis east of the Jordan was placed under the authority of the governor of Syria. See the map here of the land division.
In A.D. 6 the Romans deposed Archelaus and installed a procurator. The other territories remained under the rulers previously assigned. In the Roman Empire a tetrarch was lower in rank than a king. In Roman politics the title of king included a certain amount of independence that Caesar would no longer tolerate in a land known for its uprisings against Roman rule. When Antipas was appointed to his office Caesar Augustus denied him the royal title of "king." His pursuit of the title would eventually lead to his dismissal and exile to Gaul in A.D. 39 under Caligula.
of Galilee: Grk. ho Galilaia, from Heb. Galil, lit. "circle." Galilee was the northern part of Israel bordered on the south by Samaria, on the east by the Jordan and Sea of Galilee, and on the north and west by the province of Syria. Galilee encompassed the areas originally given to the tribes of Naphtali, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dan. To Jews in the first century the Galil included territory on the east side of the Jordan and around the lake. Not mentioned by Luke is that the tetrarchy of Herod Antipas also included Perea, which was bounded on the north and east by the Decapolis, on the west by the Jordan and the south by the Dead Sea.
also: Grk. de. Philip: Grk. Philippos, "fond of horses," composed etymologically from philia, "fondness, affection," and hippos, "horse." This was the name of five kings of Macedon, including Philip II the father of Alexander the Great. There are four men named Philip in the Besekh. This Philip was a son of Herod the Great by his fifth wife, Cleopatra of Jerusalem (Josephus, Ant. XVII, 1:3).
his: Grk. autos, an intensive personal pronoun, often used to distinguish a person or thing in contrast to another, or to give him (it) prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here. brother: Grk. adelphos, lit. "of the same womb," a male sibling; brother. In the Jewish context the term primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites. In the LXX adelphos translates Heb. ach, a male sibling (Gen 4:2; 20:5), a near blood relative (Gen 13:8), a member of the same tribe (Num 16:10) or a fellow descendent of Jacob (Ex 2:11; 4:18).
being tetrarch: Grk. tetraarcheō, pres. part. Philip was made tetrarch after the death of his father. of the region: Grk. ho chōra, a stretch of territory in contrast with owned property, region or area. of Ituraea: Grk. ho Itouraios, adj., a term applied to a mountainous district lying north of Galilee and west of Damascus, and partly inhabited by the nomad tribe called Ituraeans. and: Grk. kai. Trachonitis: Grk. Trachōnitis, a district about 60 miles east of the Sea of Galilee. Josephus mentions the tetrarchy of Philip over Trachonitis (Wars III, 10:7).
Philip the tetrarch founded the city of Caesarea Philippi at the foot of Mount Hermon, which became his administrative capital. After having lived long in celibacy, he married Salome, the daughter of Herod Philip his half-brother (Josephus, Ant. XVIII, 5:4). Thayer comments that he ruled mildly, justly and wisely thirty-seven years, and died in A.D. 34 without issue.
and: Grk. kai. Lysanias: Grk. Lusanias ("ending sorrow"), known as Lysanias the Younger, probably a descendant of Lysanias, son of Ptolemy who was put to death by Marc Antony at the insistence of Cleopatra in 33 B.C. (Geldenhuys). Lysanias was not of the Herodian family and nothing more is known of him. being tetrarch: Grk. tetraarcheō, pres. part. of Abilene: Grk. ho Abilēnē, the territory of Abila (in Syria), a small principality of Syria in the mountains west of Damascus. This territory was not ruled by Herod the Great, so Luke's reason for including him is not clear, other than establishing the historical timeframe of this narrative. Josephus mentions the tetrarchy of Lysanias (Ant. XVIII, 6:10; XX, 7:1).
2 at the time of the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came upon Yochanan, the son of Zechariah, in the wilderness.
at the time: Grk. epi, prep., with the root meaning of "upon," used primarily as a marker of position or location. Here the preposition introduces a temporal clause describing the time or age of a man (in the days of); at the time when an office was held by one; under the administration of (Thayer). of the high priesthood: Grk. archiereus, a high or chief priest. The term occurs 123 times in the Besekh, about one third in reference to the high priests, and the rest in the plural referring to chief priests who were either retired high priests or active holders of the priestly offices of higher rank in the Temple, altogether some fifteen to twenty persons.
In the LXX archiereus occurs only two times in the canonical books, but 41 times in the Apocrypha (DNTT 3:35). In Leviticus 4:3 archiereus translates Heb. Hakohen Hamaschiach, "the anointed priest" and inserted in Joshua 24:33 without Heb. equivalent to describe Aaron. The office of high priest (Hakohen Hagadol, Lev 21:10; Num 35:25) was established by God to be a descendant of Aaron (Ex 27:21; 30:30). The high priest was the chief executive officer over all the priests. Only he could enter the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur to offer an atoning sacrifice for the nation and complete the other sacrificial requirements specified for that day (Lev 16).
The high priest also shared with the priests the duties of conducting the regular meal offering (Lev 6:14-15), caring for the lamp that burned continually (Ex 27:21) and arranging the showbread (Ex 25:30). More significantly the high priest acted as mediator between Israel and God (Ex 28:29). In addition to his priestly duties, the high priest filled the role of president of the Sanhedrin, which had been formed in the Hellenistic Period. He presided over its deliberations and only voted to break a tie of its 70 members (Josephus, Ant. IV, 8:14; XX, 10).
Josephus says that twenty-eight high priests held the office from the days of Herod until the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (Ant. XX, 10:1). The tenure of the high priest is mentioned in Yoma 8b, "money was being paid for the purpose of obtaining the position of high priest and the [high priests] were changed every twelve months." The practice of bribery began in the time of the Hasmonean kings (fn 12, Yoma 8b). The period of 12 months is an average, not a prescribed term of office (fn 14, Yoma 8b). One Talmud MS reads: "They were changed by Heaven," i.e., they did not survive the twelve months. Other MSS read: "They were removed by the king when a higher price was offered him for the priesthood."
of Annas: Grk. Hannas, which transliterates Heb. Chananyah ("merciful"). He is identified with the Anglicized "Annas" in Christian versions. Annas, son of Seth, was a member of a wealthy and powerful priestly family in Jerusalem (Josephus, Ant. XVIII, 2:1). He was appointed to the high priesthood about A.D. 6 by Quirinius, governor of Syria. He was deposed in A.D. 15 by Valerius Gratus, the Roman prefect who ruled Judaea (A.D. 15−26). Nevertheless, by Jewish law the title of "high priest" continued for life. As an emeritus high priest he continued to exercise considerable influence and retained membership on the Sanhedrin.
Annas was the head of a family which produced five high priests during the Herodian period (Josephus, Ant. XX, 9:1). In the apostolic narratives Annas conducts the first trial of Yeshua (John 18:13, 19-24) and after Pentecost participates in a trial of the apostles (Acts 4:6). According to Josephus the last son of Annas, another Annas, influenced King Herod Agrippa I to execute James (Heb. Jacob), the brother of Yeshua (Acts 12:1). The Annas family is referred to in the Talmud as having influence, but using it against the interests of the people. "Woe is me because of the house of Hanin, woe is me because of their whisperings" (Pesachim 57a), which referred to their secret conclaves to devise oppressive measures.
Annas could be considered the godfather of the Temple crime family. Annas permitted commercial activity in the Temple by which he profited enormously (John 2:14-17; Mark 11:15-17). His agents also charged exorbitant fees to exchange Roman currency into the Jewish shekel to pay the annual temple tax, which itself was contrary to Torah. Priests under the supervision of Annas operated markets to sell sacrificial animals. Since they determined the fitness of any animal for sacrifice they could force pilgrims who could not bring their own animals to pay high prices. At this time Annas served as an emeritus high priest, but none the less wielded considerable power in Temple affairs and the Sanhedrin.
and: Grk. kai, conj. Caiaphas: Grk. Kaiaphas, which transliterates Heb. Qaipha, a personal name meaning "rock" or "depression" (HBD). Caiaphas was appointed to the office of High Priest by the Roman Prefect Valerius Gratus in A.D. 18 and retained in office by Pilate. He was removed in A.D. 36 by Vitellius, governor of Syria when Pilate left Judaea. The name of Caiaphas (whose given name was Joseph) appears nine times in the Besekh (Matt 26:3, 57; John 11:49; 18:13–14, 24, 28; Acts 4:6) and in Josephus (Ant. XVIII, 2:2; 4:3). Joseph Caiaphas was the son-in-law of Annas (John 18:13). Historical sources indicate that Joseph descended from a polygamous family through Levirate marriage (Jeremias 94).
In 1990 a rockhewn burial chamber was uncovered to the south of Jerusalem and within it was a stone box containing bones (ossuary) bearing the Aramaic inscription "Yehosef bar [son of] Qafa [Caiapha]." It is assumed that this tomb belonged to the family of the High Priest Caiaphas ("Caiaphas," Jewish Virtual Library). Caiaphas is remembered as the one who had advised the Judean authorities "it is advantageous for one man to die on behalf of the people" (John 11:50; 18:14). Caiaphas presided over the second and third trials of Yeshua after his arrest (Mark 14:53-70; John 18:24).
Gruber notes that it was not unusual for there to be more than one high priest serving at the same time and cites examples from the Talmud (Pesachim 57a, Yoma 18a; Makkot 11b). Plummer interprets Luke's reference to mean that between the two men they discharged the duties, or that each of them in different senses was regarded high priest, Annas de jure ("by right or entitlement," Acts 4:6) and Caiaphas de facto ("according to fact," John 11:49).
the word: Grk. rhēma, a communication consisting of words, often with the implication of importance or special significance. In the LXX rhēma translates Heb. dabar, which means "word" or "thing" (DNTT 3:1119f). of God: Grk. theos, properly, God, the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Creator and owner of all things (Gen 1:1; John 1:1-3). In the LXX the singular theos translates Hebrew words for God, El, Eloah, and Elohim, as well as the sacred name YHVH (DNTT 2:67-70). Elohim is the one only and true God of Israel (BDB 42). In Hebrew thought the plural form of Elohim represents fullness, which excludes the possible existence of any other deity (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9). The phrase "word of God" denotes an audible verbal message.
came: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid., to become, which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into being by birth; be born; (2) to be made or performed by a person; or (3) equivalent to come to pass or come about, used of the occurrence of historical events; take place, happen, occur, arise. The third meaning applies here. In the LXX ginomai translates Heb. hayah, to fall out, come to pass, become, be (first in Gen 1:3). upon: Grk. epi. The preposition here denotes the work of the Holy Spirit, who is often described in Scripture as "coming upon" someone (Num 11:26; Jdg 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; Ezek 11:5; Acts 19:6).
Yochanan: Grk. Iōannēs, which attempts to transliterate the Heb. Yehochanan. Clarke notes that the Hebrew name is nearly lost in the Greek Iōannēs, and in the Latin Johannes, and almost totally so in the English John. The original name is compounded of YHVH-chanan [show favor, be gracious], "the grace or mercy of YHVH." The spelling of "John" was introduced in the Mace New Testament (1729) and Bibles after that date followed suit. An alternate spelling of "Yochanan" exists in the Hebrew Tanakh and Messianic Jewish versions (CJB, MJLT, MW, OJB) render the name as "Yochanan" to emphasize his Hebrew name and Jewish heritage.
NOTE: For the purposes of this commentary the name "Yochanan" will be used for the Immerser and "John" for the apostle.
the son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, here the former. In the LXX huios translates Heb. ben, "son," "son of," first in Genesis 5:4. of Zechariah: Grk. ho Zacharias, a transliteration of Heb. Z'kharyah ('Yah remembered'). In the Tanakh the name is spelled Zechariah. The Greek spelling ends with a sigma ("ς") because an ending with alpha ("α") would make the name feminine. A number of versions render the name in its Tanakh form "Zechariah" (CSB, CEB, CEV, ESV, GNB, LSB, NASB, NCV, NIV, NLT, NRSV, RSV, and TLV). This is the form used in this commentary. Not much information is provided about Zechariah. He was a priest, a godly servant of the Lord (Luke 1:5-9).
Zechariah was an honored name in the history of Israel and thirty men mentioned in the Tanakh bear this name, eight of whom were Levites and six were priests (Barker 360-362). Most notable of these men is the author of the book of the "minor" prophet bearing his name. Zechariah the prophet was "the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo," a priestly family (Ezra 5:1; Neh 12:4; Zech 1:1). It's not impossible that the Zechariah of the nativity narrative was named in honor of the famous prophet.
in: Grk. en, prep. the wilderness: Grk. ho erēmos, an unpopulated region, desert or lonely place. In the LXX erēmos often translates Heb. midbar, which refers to tracts of land used for pasturage or uninhabited land (BDB 484), first in Genesis 14:6. The translation of "desert places" in many versions may be misleading. By modern definition a desert is an arid place that receives less than 10 inches of annual rainfall. The biblical term does not necessarily denote an arid region.
The location is not precise. but Matthew 3:1 identifies the "wilderness of Judea" as the initial starting point for ministry. Over the course his ministry Yochanan moved around. The point is that he stayed away from population centers. Some scholars believe that Yochanan lived among the Essenes during the years prior to commencement of his public ministry. If that was the case, such an association does not indicate sympathy with their views, since his teaching rejects the exclusiveness and anti-biblical philosophy of that group. Rather, his moving around enabled Yochanan to take the spiritual pulse of the people and gain an appreciation of their need for his message.
Eventually Yochanan moved his immersion ministry to Enon near to Salim (John 3:23), because there was much water available, but also it was within the border of the Decapolis, five to six miles south of Scythopolis. The Decapolis cities were independent of the local tetrarchy, and answerable directly to the governor of Syria. They enjoyed the rights of association and asylum; they struck their own coinage, paid imperial taxes and were liable to military service (ISBE). Here Yochanan could minister free of restriction and interference.
In mentioning the location of John's ministry Luke draws a sharp contrast between the humble prophet and the prominent men listed before him. The rulers and religious leaders dwelled in prominent cities, lived in luxurious houses, dressed in expensive clothes and ate the finest of foods. On the other hand, Yochanan was exposed to the elements of nature, wore a garment made of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and subsisted on a diet of locusts and wild honey (Matt 3:4; Mark 1:6).
Ministry of Yochanan, 3:3-6
3 And he went into all the surrounding region of the Jordan, proclaiming an immersion of repentance for forgiveness of sins.
And: Grk. kai, conj. he went: Grk. erchomai, aor., to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place. into: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to a direction toward a goal or place and consequent arrival; into, to, unto. all: Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. the surrounding region: Grk. ho perichōros, adj., neighboring, the region round about (Thayer). of the Jordan: Grk. ho Iordanēs (Heb. Yarden, "the descender"). This important river runs through a deep valley known as the Jordan Rift.
The river begins in the mountains of Syria, flows into the Sea of Galilee, which is 212 meters below sea level and after about 70 miles finally empties into the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on the face of the earth, 400 meters below sea level. Several tributaries flow into the Jordan emptying almost as much water as the Jordan itself. The deltas of these streams were ideal for cultivation. Many cities of antiquity were built close to the place where the tributaries and the Jordan met.
The Jordan River and Jordan Valley played an important role in a number of memorable events in biblical history. In the Tanakh the river is mentioned in the stories of the separation of Abram and Lot (Gen 13:11), Jacob wrestling with the angel at the ford of the Jabbok (Gen 32:22-26), and Israel crossing the river "on dry ground" under the leadership of Joshua (Josh 3:15-17). During the period of the judges and the early monarchy, the Jordan was a strong line of defense, not to be easily forded. In the later monarchy the Jordan River is featured in the miracles of Elijah (1Kgs 17:3; 2Kgs 2:8) and Elisha (2Kgs 2:14; 5:10-14).
Yochanan apparently began his ministry near Bethany (John 1:28) and sometime later moved to Aenon near Salim in the Decapolis (John 3:23). John's insistence on immersion in the Jordan could be an acted out parable of the Red Sea crossing, which serves as a figure of immersion (1Cor 10:1-2).
proclaiming: Grk. kērussō, pres. part., to make a public announcement in the manner of a herald; announce, declare, proclaim, publish. The verb always contains the suggestion of formality, gravity, and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed (Thayer). In the LXX kērussō usually occurs in settings of making a public announcement requiring compliance (e.g., Gen 41:43; Ex 32:5; 2Chr 20:3; Neh 6:7; Esth 6:9; Joel 1:14; 2:15; 3:9; Jon 1:2; 3:1, 4-5). Many versions have "preaching," but this word may evoke images of Sunday sermons.
an immersion: Grk. baptisma (from baptizō, "to submerge or immerse"), washing that involved immersing, plunging, or submerging. Unlike the verb the noun occurs only in the apostolic writings, which suggests that the word must have been coined by one of the apostles. The unique term occurs 18 times in the apostolic narratives, exclusively in reference to the ministry of Yochanan. Then the noun is used a few times in the apostolic letters in reference to immersion required in identification with Yeshua (Rom 6:4; Eph 4:5; 1Pet 3:21).
The corresponding Hebrew noun, coined by the Sages, is tevilah, meaning "complete immersion for purification," which occurs in various Talmudic tractates as a requirement for feminine purification (Niddah 2b, 30a), Levitical and priestly purification (Sanhedrin 39a; Yoma 88a) and the conversion of proselytes to Judaism (Kerithoth 9a; Yebamoth 46a-b) (Jastrow).
Christian versions translate baptisma as "baptism," which may be wrongly interpreted by the Christian reader. The translation of "immersion" is to be preferred as best representing Jewish and apostolic practice. Yochanan, being a Jew, followed Jewish practice, which itself was based on Torah instruction. For more information on the practice of immersion in the apostolic era see Ron Moseley, The Jewish Background of Christian Baptism. Four important elements characterized Jewish immersion.
● Immersion was conducted in a constructed pool (Heb. mikveh) or natural body of water deep enough that by squatting one was fully submerged.
● Immersion was self-immersion. No one touched the one immersing and no one needed to assist the penitent under the water for it to be valid. Yochanan would not have even been in the river with the penitents. Rather he superintended the immersions and served as a witness to their completion.
● Immersion was gender-specific. That is, men were not present when women immersed and vice versa for the sake of modesty. Moreover, no Jewish man would put his hands on a woman who was not his wife.
● Immersion was not performed by individuals under bar/bat mitzvah age when a boy or girl became fully accountable to the Torah. In the apostolic narratives only those who repented, i.e. adults, immersed themselves.
Unlike later teaching of Christianity, immersion in Jewish culture held no sacramental significance. Yet, for Yochanan immersion in the Jordan was not merely ceremonial as immersion in the Temple mikvehs. In this context immersion served as a testimony of an obedient response to the divine call. Moreover, the immersion symbolized the death of the penitent as Paul's representation of immersion as burial and resurrection (Rom 6:4). John's insistence on immersion in the river and not at the Temple could be an acted out parable of the miraculous Red Sea crossing, which provided deliverance from death and served as a figure of immersion (1Cor 10:1-2).
of repentance: Grk. metanoia, a serious change of mind and heart about a previous point of view or course of behavior. In the LXX metanoia occurs only one time and without Hebrew equivalent in Proverbs 14:15, "The guileless believe every word, but the astute one comes to repentance" (ABP). The noun occurs in Josephus to represent especially the change of mind of those who have begun to abhor their errors and misdeeds, and have determined to enter upon a better course of life, so that it embraces both a recognition of sin and sorrow for it and hearty amendment, the tokens and effects of which are good deeds (Ant. XIII, 11:3).
Metanoia also occurs in Sirach 44:16 where it says "Enoch pleased the Lord, and was taken up; he was an example of repentance to all generations." The Hebrew term for repentance (t’shuvah) means to turn away from evil in the sense of renouncing and disowning sin, and to turn toward the good or becoming obedient to God's will expressed in the commandments (TWOT 2:909). True repentance requires honest self-evaluation, which should lead the sincere person to identify any number of faults for which confession is necessary.
Repentance was actually a virtue in Jewish culture. The daily prayer, Amidah, which dates from the 5th century BC, included repentance in the fifth benediction, which reads in its original Jerusalem form, "Return us, O Lord, to Thee, and we shall return. Renew our days as before. Blessed are Thou, Who hast pleasure in repentance" (quoted in Lane 596). This petition is based on Lamentations 5:21, "Bring us back to You, ADONAI, and we will return. Renew our days as of old" (TLV).
From a Jewish perspective, then, repentance has three important elements: (1) recognition of one's behavior as sinful; (2) imploring pardon with regret and remorse (cf. 2Cor 7:10); and (3) abandonment of sin and performance of deeds that demonstrate repentance (cf. Acts 26:20). If any of these elements is missing repentance is not considered genuine, but deceitful.
Especially important is a commitment to change, to stop sinful practices, as the Scripture says,
"Wash and make yourselves clean. Put away the evil of your deeds from before My eyes. Cease to do evil." (Isa 1:16 TLV)
"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous one his thoughts, let him return to ADONAI, so He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." (Isa 55:7 TLV)
Noteworthy are anecdotes in the Besekh of people cautioned to "sin no more," such as such as the man Yeshua healed at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:14), the woman caught in adultery (John 8:11), and the congregation at Corinth (1Cor 15:34). The fact that a disciple may be instructed to cease sinning or to avoid sinning (cf. Eph 4:26; 1Tim 5:20) contradicts the assumption by some Christians that they must sin in thought, word and deed every day. John the apostle declared that refusal to stop persistent sinning is rebellion against the Torah (1Jn 3:4).
for: Grk. eis. forgiveness: Grk. aphesis (from aphiēmi, "send away, forgive"), a letting go, release, pardon, forgiveness. Here the noun is used of the remission of the penalty for wrongdoing upon repentance. The Greek noun aphesis occurs once in the LXX without Hebrew equivalent in Leviticus 16:26 to clarify the purpose for the releasing of the scapegoat into the wilderness on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), an acted out parable of sins being carried away from the people. Then aphesis is used to translate six different words (DNTT 1:698).
● Heb. shilluchim, a sending away, in regarding to Moses sending his wife Zipporah back to her father (Ex 18:2).
● Heb. shamat, to let drop, used of observing a rest for the land in the seventh year (Ex 23:11).
● Heb. yobel, jubilee, in reference to the fiftieth year in which there was to be a remission of debts, a release of slaves, a release of property to the original owners and a release of land from sowing and reaping (Lev 25:10-12, 28, 30, 33, 40, 50, 52, 54; 27:17, 21, 23; Num 36:4).
● Heb. shemittah, release from debts in the Sabbatical year (Deut 15:1-3, 9). The announcement of debt cancellation was to be made during Sukkot (the Feast of Booths, Deut 31:10).
● Heb. shalach, let go, send away, used metaphorically of releasing the oppressed (Isa 58:6).
● Heb. deror, liberty, used of releasing prisoners (Isa 61:1) and releasing slaves in the seventh year (Jer 34:8, 15, 17; Ezek 46:17).
God instructed that in the Sabbatical year all debts were to be canceled and Hebrew slaves given their freedom (Ex 21:2; Deut 15:1, 12). The message of Yochanan gains significance when considering that Yochanan began his ministry in a Sabbatical year.
of sins: pl. of Grk. hamartia may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. The first meaning is intended here. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh. The noun occurs 9 times in Luke, always in the plural form, which points to the cumulative effect of living by one's own preferences and values.
In the LXX hamartia translates a range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. avon, iniquity, guilt, punishment for iniquity (Gen 15:16); and chatta'ah, sinful thing, sin (Gen 18:20) (DNTT 3:577). In Scripture sin is a conscious deviation from the right way and as a behavior is a violation of commandments given by God and recorded in the Torah by Moses (Rom 3:20; 4:15; 7:7; Jas 2:9; 1Jn 3:4). That definition of sin would also extend to willful disobedience of injunctions by the apostles to whom Yeshua gave the authority to impose behavioral requirements (Matt 16:19; cf. Eph 2:20; Php 2:12; 2Th 3:14).
The earliest mentions of sin depict behavior that merits the judgment of God (cf. Gen 15:16; 18:20; 20:9; 42:21; Ex 10:17; 20:5). Behavioral sin may be one of commission, i.e., doing what is prohibited, or one of omission, i.e., failing to do what is commanded, and in both cases implies knowledge of God's will (Jas 4:17). The Torah recognizes that a transgression could be unintentional, a sin of error, inadvertence or negligence (Lev 4:1-3, 27-28; 5:18; Num 15:22-29; Deut 19:4-6). Nevertheless, atonement by a sin offering was still required (Lev 4:2-3). In Scripture hamartia does not include mistakes, the imperfections that separate humanity from divinity, "falling short of the glory" (Rom 3:23).
Sinning has its origin in Adam, as Paul noted, "just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned" (Romans 5:12 NASU). Even though the practice of sinning began with Adam and Adam blamed his wife (Gen 3:12), Scripture is clear that each person is responsible for his own sin, including causing someone else to sin (Deut 24:16; 1Kgs 22:52; Neh 13:26; Jer 32:35; Ezek 18:4, 20; Matt 18:6; Rom 6:23).
God warned Israel that the punishment for sin and iniquity meted out to them would fall on succeeding descendants that repeated the same sins, to the fourth generation (Ex 20:5; 34:7). The Targum clarifies that rebellious children would be punished because they choose to repeat the pattern of hatred toward God by their sinning parents. Yochanan does not concern himself with the sins of ancestors as Nehemiah confessed (Neh 1:6), but focused on the sins of his generation.
As declared by Yochanan God offers forgiveness of sins to His people, but only on condition of repentance, a conscious confession of wrongdoing and a commitment to turn away from sinning. Repenting of sins and gaining divine pardon would qualify John's hearers for the benefits of the Messiah's kingdom soon to appear. Noticeable is the omission of any requirement to offer a sin offering at the Temple in compliance with the Torah (Lev 4:27-31). However, there is precedent of forgiveness being granted without a sin offering (cf. 2Sam 12:13; Ps 51:1-4, 16-17).
4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of ADONAI, make straight his paths.
As: Grk. hōs, adv. with the primary function of connecting narrative components; used here with a focus on a pattern or model. it is written: Grk. graphō, perf. pass., to write or inscribe a document, with focus on the physical act of writing, as well as the expression of thought. The phrase "it is written" is the standard formula in the Besekh for attesting an assertion of truth and divine inspiration of Scripture, followed by a quote from the Tanakh. Christian theologies have different theories of biblical inspiration but for authors of the Besekh it was a simple matter that God spoke and man wrote (e.g., Ex 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Num 33:2; 36:5; Deut 30:10; 2Pet 1:20-21).
in: Grk. en, prep. the book: Grk. biblos, written account, here as a literary publication. of the words: Grk. logos is used primarily for a vocalized expression of the mind, as communication ranging broadly in extent of content and variety of form; word, discourse, message or teaching. In the LXX logos primarily translates Heb. dabar, speech or word, and used widely for a message, speech or saying of men (Gen 29:13; 34:18) or of God (Ex 4:28; 19:7) (DNTT 3:1087).
of Isaiah: Grk. Ēsaias, a Graecized form of Heb. Yesha'yahu ("YHVH is salvation"). Isaiah was the son of Amoz of the tribe of Judah and perhaps related to the royal house. He lived during the reigns of the Judean kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and the first years of Manasseh. He married a prophetess and had two sons (Isa 7:3; 8:3). Isaiah was put to death by King Manasseh by being sawn in half (Yebamoth 49b; Ascension of Isaiah 1:9; 5:2; cf. Heb 11:37).
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 the LXX prophētēs translates Heb. nabi (SH-5030), spokesman, speaker, or prophet; first in Genesis 20:7 where it is used of Abraham. In Scripture the term refers to one who spoke on God's behalf, whether in foretelling or forth-telling. The Hebrew prophets were a diverse group, but they all spoke for God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2Pet 1:21).
Isaiah received his call from God in a dramatic fashion, c. 740 BC (Isa 6:1), and prophesied for forty years during which he was an adviser to King Ahaz and King Hezekiah. He was contemporary with the prophets Micah and Hosea. He left a monumental literary work of 66 chapters, the longest of the prophetic books, containing almost half of the Messianic prophecies in the Tanakh. Isaiah wrote mostly warnings in the first half of his book and mostly comfort and promise in the second half.
Various scholars have proposed that some unknown author wrote the second half of the book of Isaiah (40─66) and a few scholars have actually suggested a Third Isaiah (56─66). We're supposed to believe that some of the greatest literature in the Bible, not to mention the world, with its many and detailed prophecies of the Messiah, was written by someone completely anonymous and unremembered in Judaism. Rejection of Isaiah's authorship was primarily influenced by a refusal to believe God revealed the name of Cyrus (Isa 44:28; 45:1) almost two hundred years before he was born or that Isaiah was given words of exhortation for a people that would later go into exile (Isa 39:6).
Yet, if the prophecy about Cyrus is not to be believed, then how the prophecies that named the Messiah be accepted (Isa 7:14; 9:6; 46:13; 51:5; 59:16)? Against this unbelief are these facts:
• For 25 centuries no one doubted that Isaiah was the author of all 66 chapters;
• There is no evidence whatever that the two (or three) parts of the book ever existed separately;
• The same style, vocabulary, and figures of speech occur in both sections;
• Quotations in the Besekh from parts of Isaiah labeled as "Second" and "Third Isaiah" attribute those passages to Isaiah the prophet (Matt 3:3; Mark 1:3; John 1:23=Isa 40:3; Matt 8:17=Isa 53:4; Matt 12:17-21=Isa 42:1-4; Luke 4:17-21=Isa 61:1-2; Acts 8:32-33=Isa 53:7-8; Rom 10:16=Isa 53:1; Rom 10:20=Isa 65:1); and
• One of the Dead Sea Scrolls includes the entire text of Isaiah, with no break between chapters 39 and 40.
The quotation here attributed to Isaiah the prophet is from Isaiah 40:3-5. This chapter is pivotal in the entire book. Chapter 39 foretold a judgment of captivity in Babylon that would befall the Kingdom of Judah because of unfaithfulness. The future having been revealed Chapter 40 offers a message of comfort and consolation to Israel. To bring about this consolation Isaiah introduces the forerunner of the Servant of ADONAI. Isaiah does not identify the one calling, but this passage was deliberately taken by Yochanan as defining his own mission (John 1:23).
The voice: Grk. phōnē can mean (1) an auditory impression, sound, noise defined in the context; (2) the faculty of producing speech, voice; or (3) a system of communication, language. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX phōnē generally translates Heb. qôl (sound, voice, BDB 876), the first usage of which is God's voice (Gen 3:8), and second the human voice (Gen 3:17), and these usages occur frequently in the Tanakh with various kinds of expression (DNTT 3:113).
of one crying out: Grk. boaō, pres. part., use one's voice at high volume; call, cry out, shout. in: Grk. en. the wilderness: Grk. ho erēmos. See verse 2 above. The description of "crying out in the wilderness" may be taken both literally and figuratively. In the literal sense Yochanan is the voice and he began his ministry in the wilderness of Judea. Figuratively, the term "wilderness" could describe the state of Judaism in the first century, morally bankrupt and devoid of spiritual life. Only consider Yeshua's later critique of the religious leaders in Matthew 23.
Prepare: Grk. hetoimazō, aor. imp., 2p-pl., put in a state of readiness; make ready, prepare. the way: Grk. ho hodos, with the focus on the concept of going the word typically has the sense of a route for traveling, hence a way, a road or a highway. Then, hodos is used fig. of the way or expectation of God defining manner of life or how something is to be done. In the LXX hodos occurs frequently and is used to translate 18 different Hebrew words, but mostly Heb. derek, a way, road, or journey (Ps 1:6) (DNTT 3:937).
of ADONAI: Grk. kurios may mean either (1) a person exercising absolute ownership rights, master; or (2) one esteemed for authority or high status, lord. Both meanings have application here. In the quoted text kurios stands for the sacred name YHVH, as it does throughout the Tanakh. Kurios is not a translation of YHVH, but an interpretative substitution that encompassed all that the Hebrew text implied by use of the divine name. The oldest LXX manuscript fragments actually have YHVH written in Hebrew characters in the Greek text (DNTT 2:512).
Tracey Rich points out that there was no prohibition against pronouncing the sacred name in ancient times (The Name of God, Judaism 101). In fact, YHVH is often spoken by Bible characters in the Tanakh, first by Eve (Gen 4:1). However, Messianic versions use ADONAI in deference to Jewish sensibilities based on a Talmudic regulation (Kiddushin 71a). For more information on the history and usage of YHVH see my article The Blessed Name.
Christian versions translate kurios with "the Lord" (note the lower case), but the Messianic Jewish versions CJB, MJLT and TLV render kurios with ADONAI (note small caps). The DHE and OJB have "HaShem." A few Christian versions translate kurios with "the LORD" (small caps) in recognition of the sacred name (AMP, LSB, NASB, NASU, NLT).
The "way of YHVH," which first occurs in Genesis 18:19, is the expectation of Abraham and his seed doing righteousness and justice in contrast to the wickedness of Sodom. The "way of YHVH" was later codified in the commandments God gave to Israel as part of His covenant (Deut 8:6; 26:17; 30:16). John's basic message recorded in the Synoptic Narratives called for nothing less than a national revival.
make: Grk. poieō, pres. imp., 2p-pl., 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; do, act, perform, work. The second meaning applies here. straight: Grk. euthus, adj., may mean (1) straight of direction, as opposed to crooked; fig. upright, true; or (2) in a temporal sense, without delay, immediately, at once. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX of this verse poieō euthus together translate the Heb. verb yashar, to be smooth, straight, or right (BDB 448). The divine command implies that the paths or ways of God had been damaged by sin and wickedness.
His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. paths: pl. of Grk. tribos, a worn path, beaten way, road, or highway. The noun occurs only three times in the Besekh, all in the quoted passage of Isaiah 40:3 (also Matt 3:3; Mark 1:3), where it has the figurative meaning of the "route" established by the Lord for knowing Him. The Hebrew text has the singular form of mesillah, highway (BDB 700). In regular usage mesillah denoted a raised way, highway, or public road, but never a city street. There is a subtle but significant difference between the Hebrew text and the LXX verse quoted here.
The Hebrew text has someone calling for a way to be cleared or prepared in the wilderness for the Lord. The fact that the LXX translates the singular Hebrew word with a plural word does not mean there are multiple paths to God. Yeshua is the only way to God (Acts 4:12). Rather, Scripture describes different paths of God, "the way of righteousness," (Gen 18:19; Ps 5:8; 85:13; Prov 8:20; 12:28; Matt 21:32; 2Pet 2:21), "the way of justice" (Gen 18:19; Ps 25:9; Prov 2:8; 8:20; Isa 40:14), "the way of holiness" (Isa 35:8), and "the way of peace" (Jdg 18:6; Isa 57:2; 59:8; Luke 1:79). Luke's use of the LXX is meant to demonstrate the practical application of Isaiah's exhortation.
5 Every ravine will be filled, and every mountain and hill will be made low, and the crooked will be made into straight, and the rough paths into smooth roads,
The quotation continues into Isaiah 40, verse 4. Every: Grk. pas, adj. ravine: Grk. pharanx, a gully, ravine, chasm, or cleft. The common translation of "valley" suggests a more spacious area than implied by the context (Danker). The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. In the LXX of this verse pharanx translates Heb. ge, a valley. will be filled: Grk. plēroō, fut. pass., to cause to abound in content to the maximum or to bring to fruition or completion, to fill or to complete. In the LXX plēroō translates Heb. nasa, to lift. The verbal phrase depicts a geological lifting of the ravine floor to eliminate the chasm.
and: Grk. kai, conj. every: Grk. pas. mountain: Grk. oros, mountain, hill, or hill-country. In the LXX oros translates Heb. har, with the same range of meaning (BDB 223). The term is given in Scripture to a comparatively large ridge, a collection of small hills and to many hogbacks as Mount Olivet. The U.S. Geological Survey distinguishes hills from mountains by classifying a hill as being less than 1,000 feet above its surroundings, but the distinction may depend upon local interpretation. In contrast, the biblical term is used to refer to any natural topographical feature that rose above a valley, plain or other surroundings regardless of height.
and: Grk. kai. hill: Grk. bounos, a hillock, hill. According the Greek historian Herodotus (5th c. B.C.), bounos was a Cyrenaic word (Danker). In the LXX bounos translates Heb. gibah, a hill, which was lower than a mountain (BDB 148). will be made low: Grk. tapeinoō, fut. pass., may mean (1) cause to be low spatially, make low, level; (2) make or consider unimportant in a good sense, humble; (3) cause to be or appear low in status in a disparaging sense; or (4) cause to experience loss. Both the first and second meanings have application here.
and: Grk. kai. the crooked: pl. of Grk. ho skolios, adj., crooked or bent because of being dried out, like a piece of parched wood; also figurative of being morally twisted because lacking the oil of the Holy Spirit, hence, unacceptable to God or His standards (HELPS). In the LXX skolios translates Heb. aqob, which describes a steep difficult mountain path, but also fig. of being insidious or deceitful (BDB 784). will be made: Grk. eimi, fut. mid., to be, exist; a function word used 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 (BAG).
into: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 3 above. Bible versions do not translate the preposition, but it properly emphasizes the transition from one state into another. straight: Grk. euthus, adj. See the previous verse. and: Grk. kai. the rough paths: pl. of Grk. ho trachus, adj., marked by rugged or jagged condition; rough, rugged, uneven. into: Grk. eis. smooth: pl. of Grk. leios, adj., free from unevenness; level or smooth. The adjective occurs only here in the Besekh. roads: pl. of Grk. hodos. See the previous verse.
Taken literalistically the picturesque language depicts an extraordinary geological upheaval, perhaps resulting from a tectonic earthquake. The action verbs suppose a divine cause, but the application is meant to be figurative or spiritual. The command, according to its spiritual interpretation, points to the encouragement of those that are cast down, the humiliation of the self-righteous and self-secure, the changing of dishonesty into simplicity, and of unapproachable haughtiness into submission (Delitzsch 393).
6 and all flesh will see the salvation of God.'"
The quotation concludes in Isaiah 40, verse 5. and: Grk. kai, conj. all: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 3 above. The singular form represents an intensive plural. flesh: Grk. sarx, an entity alive in an earthly or physical way, 'flesh.' The term has both literal and figurative uses in Scripture, generally of the human body or human nature with its limitations in contrast with supernatural beings. In the LXX sarx stands for Heb. basar, with much the same applications as sarx (DNTT 1:672).
The words "all flesh" corresponds to Heb. kal basar, an idiomatic expression that refers to all living beings on earth (Gen 6:17, 19; 7:21; 9:11), or mankind in distinction from animals (Gen 6:12, 18; Num 16:22). The Hebrew text adds "together" (Heb. yachad), denoting a unified experience. Thus, the promise is for the whole world and not just Israel. The majority of versions render sarx with "flesh," but some versions have "humanity," "mankind" or "people." The use of "flesh" instead of anthrōpos is intentional as it emphasizes the self-interest of humans in contrast to God's will, as well as the complete dependence on the providence of God for existence.
will see: Grk. horaō, fut. mid., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience extraordinary mental or inward perception. the salvation: Grk. ho sōtērios (from sōtēr, "savior"), adj., God's beneficent favor in rescuing or bringing deliverance. The adjective describes "applied salvation," that is, emphasizing the direct application of God's salvation (HELPS). In the LXX sōtērios translates two important Hebrew terms: (1) Heb. shelem, a term used in the Torah and historical books for the peace offering (Ex 20:24; Lev 3:1; Num 6:14; Deut 27:7); (2) Heb. yeshua'ah, deliverance, salvation (36 times in the Psalms and 15 times in Isaiah).
of God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 2 above. The MT does not contain the quoted clause of this verse. If the Hebrew text is original (being supported by the DSS 1QIsaiah), then the Jewish translators of the LXX inserted the clause to interpret what it meant for Israel to see the glory of ADONAI. Indeed "glory" and "salvation" are treated as synonymous terms (Ps 62:7; 85:9; Isa 46:13; cf. Heb 2:10; Rev 19:1).
The promise would be fulfilled in the public appearance of Yeshua, since his name means "salvation" and John the apostle testifies, "we saw the glory of him, glory as of the only one from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). The attribute of "glory-salvation" can also apply to Yeshua serving as the peace offering of the Passover sacrifice and in so doing providing atonement for the entire world and reconciliation with God (1Cor 5:7; Heb 2:10).
The promise is also eschatological, that is, pointing to the end of the age when Yeshua will come from heaven and "every eye will see" (Rev 1:7). God will then bring judgment on the wicked of the world and provide deliverance for His faithful people in Israel and the nations (Isa 2:4; 13:6, 9; 34:1-2; 52:10). Yochanan the Immerser will incorporate this theme in his public messages.
Teaching of Yochanan, 3:7-14
7 So he was saying to the crowds coming out to immerse under him, "You offspring of vipers! Who taught you to escape from the coming wrath?
Reference: Matthew 3:7.
So: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which is used here to indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, "so, therefore, consequently, then." he was saying: Grk. legō, impf., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or written, often used to introduce quoted material. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative; answer, ask, declare, say, speak, tell, told. In the LXX legō translates Heb. amar, to utter, say, shew, command or think (Gen 1:3). The Greek verb "say" functions here as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation.
to the crowds: pl. of Grk. ho ochlos, an aggregate of people or an assembled company of people; crowd, multitude, great number. In many passages the term denotes common people in contrast to the ruling classes and religious elite. coming out: Grk. ekporeuomai, pres. part., move from one place to another, to go out or to come out. to immerse: Grk. baptizō, aor. pass. inf., to dip, soak, or immerse into a liquid. The infinitive stresses purpose. The verb baptizō is derived from baptō (immerse or plunge) and means that what is dipped takes on qualities of what it has been dipped in, such as cloth in dye or leather in tanning solution (DNTT 1:144).
Christian versions translate the verb as "baptized" whereas Messianic Jewish versions translate the verb as "immersed." In the LXX baptō is used to translate the Heb. taval ("to dip, immerse") 13 times, whereas baptizō occurs only once to translate taval (2Kgs 5:14), in reference to Naaman who immersed himself in the Jordan. In Scripture baptizō never means an action of sprinkling or pouring. Paul's representation of baptizō as burial and resurrection (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12) is a graphic illustration of the procedure.
The passive voice of the verb does not mean that Yochanan personally put his hands on anyone to assist them under the water as occurs in the Christian ritual. See the characteristics of Jewish immersion in verse 4 above. The passive voice only signifies receiving the action described. The passive voice may involve a direct agent, an intermediate agent or an impersonal agent (DM 161f). In this instance the action was not produced by a direct agent, but the people received because of an agent who directed the action. Delitzsch captures the true sense in his Hebrew translation of this verse, using the Hiphil form of Heb. tabal, "caused to be immersed" (HNT).
under: Grk. hupo, prep. with the root meaning of "under" may denote position or agency (DM 112). The preposition often carries the meaning of "under the authority" of someone working directly as a subordinate, e.g. Matt 8:9 (HELPS). him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. All Bibles translate the prepositional phrase as "by John" with the sense of direct agency, but the preposition properly signifies "under the authority of Yochanan." Thus, the clause depicts Yochanan superintending the immersion of all who came and expressed repentance and insured that each person completely submerged into the water. In all likelihood several people immersed at the same time.
You offspring: pl. of Grk. gennēma, voc., what is born or produced, offspring, progeny. The vocative case denotes direct address. of vipers: pl. of Grk. echidna, a poisonous snake, a viper or adder. In Greek literature the noun was a metaphor for a treacherous wife or friend (LSJ). The noun does not occur in the LXX, but is a loanword in rabbinic writings (BAG). The phrase "offspring of vipers" is an idiomatic expression that serves as a negative assessment of character. Edersheim suggests the epithet is derived from condemnations in the Tanakh, such as, "Their venom is like the venom of a snake, like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears" (Ps 58:4 NIV; cf. Deut 32:33; Ps 140:3).
In the parallel narrative in Matthew the pejorative description is used of Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt 3:7). Luke does not mean to imply that this confrontational question was directed to the crowd, but to the religious elite who were among the crowd that came to the river. In particular the religious leaders wanted Yochanan to explain the rationale for the immersion ministry (John 1:19-22). The tribe of Levi to which Yochanan belonged was essentially a caste system and Yochanan as the son of a priest would normally have followed his father in this vocation. Priests did not dress like Yochanan, subsist on a diet like Yochanan (Mark 1:6) and certainly didn't teach in the wilderness like Yochanan.
Priests served at the Temple when they were scheduled to serve. Priests offered prayers and sacrifices. John's father did all these things, but not Yochanan. The religious leaders may have begun to wonder whether Yochanan had joined the ranks of the Essenes, who condemned the Temple priestly organization as corrupt, which of course it was. The leaders might also wonder whether Yochanan would instigate a rebellion against Roman authority as occurred in the days of Archelaus (Acts 5:36). Yochanan spoke God's message without fear or favor and met the Pharisee challenge with an appropriate question and exhortation.
Who: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. taught: Grk. hupodeiknumi, aor., to show plainly (1) by placing before the eyes; (2) by words and arguments, i.e. to teach; or (3) by making known future things (Thayer). In the LXX hupodeiknumi is used to translate Heb. moreh, derived from yarah, to teach (2Chr 15:3); Heb. nagad, to declare or make known (Esth 2:10, 20; 3:4; 4:7; 8:1), and Heb. saphar, to recount or relate (Esth 5:11). The great majority of versions translate the verb as "warned," but considering the LXX usage "taught" is a better translation.
you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. Ellicott in his comment on the parallel saying in Matthew 3:7 says that the verbal phrase is better translated as "who taught you?" In other words, who had shown them the way without repentance by which they sought to escape? Yochanan had given them no such guidance, and they must have gained that notion from some other teacher. Consider the arrogance of the Pharisee in Luke 18:11-12.
to escape: Grk. pheugō, aor. inf., to make a decisive movement away to avoid a hazard, to flee or to escape. The infinitive is a verbal noun that may express purpose or result. Bible versions translate the infinitive as stressing purpose, but it is much more likely, considering the audience, that the infinitive stresses the result of action, a conceived result. In addition, the aorist tense, while normally describing completed action in the past, can be used to project completed action in the future (DM 185). In other words the question could be, "who taught you that you will escape?"
from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation, whether from a circumstance, distance, place or time; from, away from. the coming: Grk. ho mellō, pres. part., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect; being in the offing, be about to, be going to. wrath: Grk. orgē, anger, indignation or wrath. In the Besekh orgē is used of human anger (Eph 4:31; 1Tim 2:8; Jas 1:19-20), but primarily divine wrath at the end of the age (Matt 3:7; Rom 2:5; Eph 2:3; 1Th 1:10; Heb 3:11; Rev 6:16). Orgē depicts a settled anger that proceeds from an internal disposition, solidifying what the beholder considers wrong, unjust or evil (HELPS).
The "coming wrath" refers to the judgment of God on the wicked at the end of the age (cf. Luke 21:23; Eph 5:6; Col 3:6; 1Th 1:10; 2:16; 5:9; Rev 11:18; 16:19; 19:15). Yeshua and the apostles depict two occasions when the wrath of God will be exhibited. First, all will be judged by the Messiah at his Second Coming (Matt 25:31; John 5:22; 2Cor 5:10). Second, a post-millennial judgment will take place in which all who have ever died will be judged by what is written in the books of life and works (Rev 20:10-12). In both instances eternal punishment is imposed on the wicked. See my article The Day of the Lord.
Luke does not record John's depiction of the coming wrath as presented by Matthew and carried out by the Messiah at his coming, "whose winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (Matt 3:12 BR). The divine revelation of the future used the imagery of the wheat harvest to symbolize the coming of the Messiah to destroy the wicked, restore the glory of Israel and establish His reign over the whole earth. When used as a metaphor in Scripture wheat represents the righteous (Matt 13:23, 38) and chaff refers to the unrighteous (Ps 1:4; Mal 4:1).
However, as Benson notes the Pharisees thought themselves in no danger of divine and future wrath, nor needed to use any means to escape it. Conversely the Sadducees imagined there is no such wrath, and that prophetic warnings were mere fable and delusion.
8 "Therefore produce fruits worthy of repentance; and do not begin to say among yourselves, 'We have Abraham as father.' For I say to you that God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.
Reference: Matthew 3:8-9.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. See the previous verse. produce: Grk. poieō, aor. imp., 2p-pl., a verb of physical action, which may mean (1) to produce something material, make, create; or (2) be active in bringing about a state or condition; act, do, perform. The first meaning applies here. fruits: pl. of Grk. karpos generally means the edible product of a plant grown for agricultural purposes, but is used here in a figurative sense of deeds or actions of a moral or ethical nature.
worthy: pl. of Grk. axios, adj., in accordance with the expectation of worth; appropriate, fitting, comparable with. of repentance: Grk. metanoia. See verse 3 above. Fruits of repentance are not the same as fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5), but practical actions that demonstrate the reality of a changed heart. These actions could include paying debts, fulfilling contract obligations, restitution for damaged or stolen property, paying medical expenses for physical harm, and granting forgiveness (if asked). Specific demonstrations of repentance are given in verses 11, 13 and 14 below.
and: Grk. kai, conj. do not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation, subjective in nature, involving will and thought; not. begin: Grk. archō, aor. mid. subj., may mean (1) to rule or (2) to begin or commence something. The second meaning applies here. to say: Grk. legō, pres. inf. See the previous verse. among: Grk. en, prep. yourselves: pl. of Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun of the third person.
We have: Grk. echō, pres., 1p-pl., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. Abraham: Grk. Abraam, which transliterates the Heb. Avraham. The first Hebrew patriarch, he became the prime example of faith. He was the son of Terah, a descendant of Noah's son, Shem (Gen 11:27). His birth name was Abram ("father is exalted"), but later his name was changed to Abraham ("father of a multitude") (Gen 17:5). He grew up in Ur of the Chaldees, a prominent Sumerian city of ancient Babylonia. At God's direction he left his home and sojourned to Canaan where he spent the remainder of his life.
God chose Abraham to establish a covenantal relationship and made important promises to him that inured to his descendants and provided blessing to the entire world. Abraham was known for his righteous and godly life. Indeed God's epitaph of Abraham read, "Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws" (Gen 26:5 NASU). See my article The Story of Abraham.
as father: Grk. patēr, normally used of a male biological parent, someone who fulfilled the role of a father or an ancestor. In the LXX patēr translates ab, father, with the same range of meaning (Gen 2:24) (DNTT 1:616f). Yochanan quotes an important value of the Pharisees. In later conversations with Yeshua certain Pharisees asserted "We are seed of Abraham" (John 8:33) and "Our father is Abraham" (John 8:39). As a people Jews could rightly take pride in their descent from Abraham. He was the greatest of the patriarchs, perhaps the greatest in all the history of Israel.
The Torah may have been given to Moses, but all the covenantal promises were given to Abraham. Several passages in the Tanakh declare God's love and loyalty to the descendants of Abraham (Ps 105:6-9; Isa 41:8-9; 51:1-2; Jer 33:25-26; Mic 7:20). Levine suggests that the declaration may represent a Jewish tradition "zukhut avot," the "merit of the fathers" (104). This Jewish doctrine asserts that the obedient actions of the patriarchs confers grace on their descendants (Shabbath 55a). Stern says there can be no doubt that in the first century the doctrine was widespread that descendants of Abraham can benefit and even can claim salvation on the ground of the ancestors' righteousness (353).
The doctrine relies on an interpretation of the last clause of the Second of the Ten Commandments, that the benefits of a person's good deeds extend into the indefinite future (Deut 5:10). Thus, for the Pharisees this mantra represented security from God's wrath. However, God's assurance of His blessing to future generations is dependent on their faithfulness to keep His commandments (Deut 28:2; 30:9-10). Moreover, in his celebratory song Zechariah alludes to a repeated theme in the Tanakh of God showing mercy to Israel for the sake of promises made to the patriarchs and not because of their obedience (Luke 1:72; cf. Ex 2:24; Lev 26:42; Deut 4:31; 13:17). Edersheim comments:
"Did they imagine that, according to the common notion of the time, the vials of wrath were to be poured out only on the Gentiles, while they, as Abraham’s children, were sure of escape—in the words of the Talmud, that 'the night' (Isaiah 21:12) was 'only to the nations of the world, but the morning to Israel' (TJ Ta‛anit 64a)? For, no principle was more fully established in the popular conviction than that all Israel had part in the world to come (Sanhedrin 11:1), and this specifically because of their connection with Abraham." (187f)
For: Grk. gar, conj. I say: Grk. legō, pres. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. that: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, used here to introduce a subordinate clause as complementary of the preceding verb. God: Grk. ho theos. See verse 2 above. is able: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid., the quality or state of being capable. from: Grk. ek, prep. used to denote derivation or separation, here the former; from, out of, out from among. Ek has a two-layered meaning, "out from" and "to," which makes it out-come oriented, i.e., out of the depths of the source and extending to its impact on the object (HELPS).
these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. stones: pl. of Grk. lithos was a generic word for stone of various types, whether construction materials, millstones, grave stones, precious stones, tablets or small rocks. Yochanan probably pointed to stones laying on the river bank (Edersheim 188).
to raise up: Grk. egeirō, aor. inf., to rise or raise from a recumbent or lower position and is used with a variety of meanings: (1) to arouse from sleep, to awake; (2) to recall the dead to life; (3) to cause to rise or raise, from a seat or bed; or (4) to raise up, produce, cause to appear, such as appear before the public. The fourth meaning is probably intended here with a hint of the second. Stern in his comment on the parallel Matthew passage suggests the verb is used to allude to Isaac being "raised up" from the stone altar as a type of resurrection (20). Paul uses the verb egeirō to refer to the saving of Isaac as resurrection (Heb 11:19).
children: pl. of Grk. teknon, child of undetermined age beyond infancy, normally referring to a man or woman's immediate biological offspring and most often used of a son and especially a child of promise (cf. Acts 13:33; Rom 9:8; Gal 4:28). for Abraham: Grk. ho Abraam. Lightfoot points out a play on the words 'children' (Heb. banim) and 'stones' (Heb. abhanim). Both nouns are derived from the verb banah, to build, which is used first for the creation of Eve (Gen 2:22). The verb is used in the sense of obtaining children (Gen 16:2; 30:3; Ruth 4:11) and the Sages used the verb for adoption of children (Jastrow 176).
The extreme word picture employed by Yochanan serves as a warning to the religious elite that their position was not as secure as they believed. John's message is consistent with the later parable of the vineyard spoken by Yeshua that the wicked vine growers will be destroyed and the vineyard given to others (Matt 21:41; Mark 12:9; Luke 20:16).
9 Already now also the axe is laid to the root of the trees; therefore every tree not producing good fruit is cut down and thrown into fire."
Already: Grk. ēdē, adv. with focus on temporal culmination; now, already. now: Grk. de, conj. also: Grk. kai, conj. the axe: Grk. ho axinē, a cutting and chopping tool, an axe. Iron axes were used to clear forests and cut wood. The axe is a symbol of divine judgment (Isa 10:34; Ezek 26:9). is laid: Grk. keimai, pres. mid., be set in a position; lay, set. to: Grk. pros, prep. used to denote proximity or motion; to, toward, with. the root: Grk. ho rhiza, root, normally used of a tree and other plants (Mark 4:6), but also in imagery of genealogical lineage (Rom 15:12; Rev 5:5). The root is below ground level and the source of nourishment and support for the entire plant (Rom 11:18).
of the trees: pl. of Grk. ho dendron, tree without specification of species and variety. Gill in his commentary imagines Yochanan (a Jewish prophet!) proclaiming God's rejection of Israel as Christianity asserts in its replacement theology:
"And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees,.... Not only to Jesse's family, which as a root in a dry ground, and to Jerusalem, the metropolis of the nation; but to the root of the vain boasting of every Jew; their descent from Abraham, the covenant made with him, their ecclesiastical state and civil polity, all which would quickly be at an end: the Romans were now among them, the axe in God's hand; by means of whom, utter ruin and destruction would be brought upon their nation, city, and temple."
The plural form of "trees" is significant. Yochanan does not speak of a single tree as representative of the nation of Israel as Paul does (Rom 11:17-24), of which Paul strongly rebuts the idea of God rejecting His covenant people (Rom 11:1-2). Instead the "trees" represent those of the religious elite whom Yochanan rebuked. They are like the princes and judges that Micah the prophet warned of judgment (Mic 7:2-3). The focus of the divine axe is on the "root" or the false belief system asserted in the previous verse. Putting the axe to the root is a figure of complete eradication and thus a repudiation of the doctrine of the "merit of the fathers."
therefore: Grk. oun, conj. every: Grk. pas, adj. The adjective does not leave any out. tree: Grk. dendron. The tree is used as a metaphor of people (Ps 1:3; 37:35; 52:8; Jer 11:16). Not being able to rely on the "merit of the fathers" results in individual responsibility as asserted by Ezekiel, "the soul who sins will die" (Ezek 18:4). not: Grk. mē, adv. See the previous verse. producing: Grk. poieō, pres. part. See verse 4 above. good: Grk. kalos, adj., meeting a high standard, often with a focus on a moral aspect; fine, good.
In the LXX kalos most frequently translates Heb. tov, pleasant, agreeable or good (Gen 1:4), whether in a practical sense or a moral, ethical sense. Foremost is the use of kalos/tov as descriptive of what's pleasing to God, what He likes or what gives Him joy (Deut 6:18; Mic 6:8) (DNTT 2:103). fruit: Grk. karpos. See the previous verse. The phrase "good fruit" would be equivalent to "good works" (Matt 5:16; Eph 2:10; Heb 10:24). In a similar parable of the vine Yeshua told his disciples good fruit symbolized abiding in him and obeying his commandments (John 15:4-7).
is cut down: Grk. ekkoptō, pres. pass., eliminate by cutting; cut off, do away with, remove. and: Grk. kai. thrown: Grk. ballō, pres. pass., cause movement toward a position, which may be used of a vigorous action and be translated as "cast, throw or hurl," or of a more subdued action and be translated as "put, place, lay or bring" (BAG). The first usage applies here. into: Grk. eis, prep. fire: Grk. pur, (for Heb. esh, SH-784), a fire, as a physical state of burning, but there are also fig. uses.
Some commentators favor interpreting the judgment of fire as pertaining to the eventual Roman destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. However, Benson suggests the lack of the definite article points to "fire" representing the punishment of hell (Grk. gehenna). Brown concurs saying, "Language so personal and individual as this can scarcely be understood of any national judgment. … The "fire," which in another verse is called "unquenchable," can be no other than that future "torment" of the impenitent." See verse 17 below.
10 And the crowds were asking him saying, "What then shall we do?"
Reference: Malachi 3:7.
And: Grk. kai, conj. the crowds: pl. of Grk. ho ochlos. See verse 7 above. The plural noun does not envision the great crowd of people speaking in unison, but rather individuals standing in the crowd. were asking: Grk. eperōtaō, impf., 3p-pl., to present an inquiry or put a question to someone; ask. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. saying: Grk. legō, pl. pres. part. See verse 7 above. What: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 7 above. then: Grk. oun, conj. shall we do: Grk. poieō, aor. subj., 1p-pl. See verse 8 above. The question is similar to the one posed in Malachi 3:7 and implies "what shall we do to demonstrate repentance?"
11 Now answering he said to them, "The one having two tunics let him share with the one having none, and the one having food let him do likewise."
Now: Grk. de, conj. answering: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. part., 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). Thayer says that apokrinomai in imitation of the Hebrew anah may mean "to begin to speak," but always where something has preceded (either said or done) to which the remarks refer.
he said: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 7 above. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The one: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having: Grk. echō, pres. part. See verse 8 above. two: Grk. duo, adj., the number two. tunics: pl. of Grk. chitōn, a garment made of linen, having armholes and sometimes sleeves, and reaching below the knees, worn next to the skin. let him share: Grk. metadidōmi, aor. imp., to provide out of one's resources; share, contribute, impart, distribute. with the one: Grk. ho. having: Grk. echō, pres. part. none: Grk. mē, adv., lit. "not."
The lack of clothing represents an extreme level of poverty. People taken in captivity by pagan armies were often stripped (Isa 20:4). Clothing had monetary value and was sometimes used as collateral in borrowing money (cf. Ex 22:26-27; Deut 24:10-13; Prov 20:16; 27:13). Clothing the naked was an important charitable work in Hebrew culture (2Chr 28:15; Isa 58:7; Ezek 18:7, 16; Matt 25:36, 38, 43). Although giving to charity was held in high esteem by the Pharisees and thought to gain great merit, there were requirements prohibiting one from giving all of his goods. "No one should give away more than the fifth of his fortune lest from independence he may lapse into a state of dependence" (Ketubot 50a).
and: Grk. kai, conj. the one: Grk. ho. having: Grk. echō, pres. part. food: Grk. brōma, that which is prepared for eating and consumed at a meal, food. let him do: Grk. poieō, aor. imp. See verse 8 above. likewise: Grk. homoiōs, adv., likewise, in a similar manner. The lack of food may presume also the lack of wages to buy food. Yochanan recognized the very real threat of starvation in a portion of the population, especially those thrown into prison where there was no food service provided. Thus, feeding the hungry was an important charitable work (cf. Matt 25:37).
These scenarios represent extreme poverty and Yochanan echoes biblical admonitions to care for the poor (Deut 15:7-8, 11; Prov 14:21; 21:13; Isa 58:6-7; Dan 4:27). John's instruction presents a practical response of providing two essential items to meet the needs of the poor. The Pharisees believed in and practiced almsgiving, that is contributing money. The principal location for giving alms (charity) in Jerusalem was at the Temple. Within the Court of the Women thirteen chests for charitable contributions were placed. The specific purpose of each chest was marked on it. However, the alms-boxes at the Temple were for gifts to God and the Temple, not gifts to the poor. See my comment on Mark 12:41.
12 Now also tax collectors came to immerse and they said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?"
Now: Grk. de, conj. also: Grk. kai, conj. tax collectors: pl. of Grk. telōnēs, a collector of taxes or other revenues (customs and tolls) from Jews on behalf of the Roman government. Tax collectors were independent contractors, not civil servants, and earned their income from fees charged to individual taxpayers for banking services and changing property or money into Roman coinage to pay taxes. For an explanation of the Roman tax system in the first century see the UNRV article, Roman Taxes.
came: Grk. erchomai, aor., 3p-pl. See verse 3 above. to immerse: Grk. baptizō, aor. pass. inf. See verse 7 above. The infinitive expresses purpose. and: Grk. kai. they said: Grk. legō, aor., 3p-pl. See verse 7 above. to: Grk. pros, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Teacher: Grk. didaskalos, teacher or instructor who regularly engaged in the imparting of knowledge or skills, a vocation of special status among the Israelites. The title is noteworthy since later narrative identify Yochanan as having disciples (Luke 5:33).
In the LXX didaskalos occurs only in 2Maccabees 1:10 to denote Aristobulus, the head of the Egyptian Jewish community, who, having dedicated an exposition of the Pentateuch to King Ptolemy Philometor, is called a teacher clearly for this reason. In Greek education teaching was concerned with imparting knowledge or technical skills. Hebrew education in the Tanakh, however, is more concerned with obedience than imparting information.
what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 7 above. shall we do: Grk. poieō, aor. subj., 1p-pl. See verse 8 above. The question from the Jewish tax collectors implies "what shall we do to demonstrate repentance?"
13 And he said to them, "Collect nothing more than that having been appointed to you."
And: Grk. de, conj. he said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 7 above. to: Grk. pros, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Collect: Grk. prassō, pres. imp., 2p-pl., to engage in activity with focus on productivity; do, perform, engage in, carry out. Since the verb in this context refers to the receipt of assessed money, then many versions translate the verb as "collect." The verb is often associated with evil or harmful conduct (Luke 23:41; John 3:20; Acts 15:29; 16:28; 19:19, 36; 25:11, 25; 26:9, 31). nothing: Grk. mēdeis, adj. (from mē, "not" and heis, "one"), not even one, nothing, none.
more: Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, greater in quantity comparatively speaking (HELPS). than: Grk. para, prep. with the root meaning of beside (DM 108), conveys association between persons, things, or circumstances. Joined to the comparative terms ("more than") the preposition conveys the meaning of 'beyond,' or 'more than' (Thayer). that: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun in reference to an amount of money.
having been appointed: Grk. diatassō, perf. pass. part., to make appropriate arrangement for securing an objective; appoint, direct, give orders to, prescribe. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. Paying taxes to the oppressive Roman government was regarded by the Pharisees and other traditional groups as robbery and, of course, those who collected the taxes were classed as robbers. Yet Yochanan does not opine on the validity of paying taxes to the Roman government as Yeshua will later be challenged (Luke 20:22).
The people might well remember the tumults that occurred twenty years earlier in the days of Archelaus. Josephus reported that when the Roman's took over Judaea they granted Jews many freedoms, but oppressed them entirely with the imposition of taxes (Ant. XVII, 2:2). As a result there were uprisings and civil strife fomented by anti-tax zealots:
"And now Judea was full of robberies; and as the several companies of the seditious lighted upon any one to head them, he was created a king immediately, in order to do mischief to the public. They were in some small measure indeed, and in small matters, hurtful to the Romans; but the murders they committed upon their own people lasted a long while." (Ant. XVII, 10:8).
The amount taxed and the method of collection by the Romans was considered excessive and Jews viewed the taxation as a crushing weight. To create a buffer the Romans decided to hire Jews to collect the taxes for them and two such agents, Matthew (Luke 5:27) and Zaccheus (Luke 19:2), became well known in the apostolic narratives. While there may have been unscrupulous Jewish tax collectors there is NO evidence of a pervasive problem.
Indeed Scripture never impugns the fiduciary integrity of any Jewish tax collector, in spite of the common criticism of Zaccheus. See my article The Defamation of Zaccheus. Jewish tax collectors were considered robbers, not because they robbed by Torah definition, but because they collected revenue on behalf of the Roman government. In contrast the Levites who collected the temple tax were not considered robbers.
14 Now also those being soldiers were asking him, saying, "What shall we also do?" And he said to them, "Extort no one nor accuse falsely, and be content with your wages."
Now: Grk. de, conj. also: Grk. kai, conj. those being soldiers: Grk. strateuō, pl. pres. mid. part., to serve as a soldier. Use of the verb is purposeful. Luke does not use the noun for professional soldiers in the Roman army (Vincent). Roman soldiers were not likely to come to receive John's ministry. Some commentators as Ellicott and Gill suggest these soldiers were in the employ of one of the tetrarchs. A better explanation offered by Geldenhuys and others is that these Jewish men assisted in the collection of customs and taxes, probably acting as bodyguards for the tax agents and assuring compliance by the tax payers.
were asking: Grk. eperōtaō, impf., 3p-pl. See verse 10 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 7 above. what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 7 above. shall we also: Grk. kai. do: Grk. poieō, aor. subj., 1p-pl. See verse 8 above. The question implies "what shall we do to demonstrate repentance?" And: Grk. kai. he said: Grk. legō, aor. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Extort: Grk. diaseiō, aor. subj., 2p-pl., to shake violently, to intimidate, coerce payment, extort. The subjunctive mood is used for prohibition. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh.
no one: Grk. mēdeis, adj. (from mē, "not" and heis, "one"), not even one, nobody, no one. nor: Grk. mēde, conj., negative particle used in escalation of negation; not, nor. accuse falsely: Grk. sukophanteō, aor. subj., 2p-pl., misuse one's authority for personal gain, to inform against, to accuse wrongfully. Thayer notes that at Athens those were called sukophantai whose business it was to inform against anyone whom they might detect exporting figs out of Attica; and as sometimes they seem to have demanded a bribe from those unwilling to he exposed.
and: Grk. kai. be content with: Grk. arkeō, pres. mid. imp., 2p-pl., may mean (1) to be adequate enough to meet a need; be enough, suffice; or (2) experience satisfaction, be satisfied, content. The second meaning applies here. your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. wages: pl. of Grk. opsōnion, food, ration, pay or salary paid to soldiers. The average soldier received 225 denarii a year (Rienecker). The term was common in Jewish writings (1Macc. 3:28; 14:32; 1Esdr. 4:56; Josephus, Ant. XII, 2:3). The low pay of soldiers could easily provide an excuse for unlawful means to increase personal income.
Testimony of Yochanan, 3:15-18
15 Now all the people were expecting and pondering in their hearts about Yochanan, perhaps he might be the Messiah
Now: Grk. de, conj. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 3 above. the people: Grk. ho laos, a group of humans, understood geographically or ethnically and in Scripture often viewed in contrast with the ruling class. The term corresponds to the Heb. am-ha'aretz, "people of the land," i.e., the people of Israel. However, here "all the people" might include religious leaders who came from Jerusalem to ask him about his identity (cf. John 1:19).
were expecting: Grk. prosdokaō, pres. part., be on alert for; expect, wait for, look for. and: Grk. kai, conj. pondering: Grk. dialogizomai, pres. mid. part., to engage in a mental process involving back and forth movement of ideas; consider, ponder. The verb depicts mental process that typically leads to confused conclusion (HELPS). in: Grk. en, prep. their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. hearts: pl. of Grk. kardia, the pumplike organ of blood circulation, used here fig. of selfhood or the combination of character, emotion, intelligence and the will. In the LXX kardia translates Heb. leb, inner man, mind, heart, will (BDB 523f). The noun refers to the mind.
about: Grk. peri, prep., with an orientational aspect relating to being near, about, or having to do with something; about, concerning. Yochanan: Grk. Iōannēs. See verse 2 above. perhaps: Grk. mēpote, conj., a marker cautiously expressing possibility; perhaps, whether. he might be: Grk. eimi, pres. opt. See verse 5 above. The optative mood conveys strong contingency or possibility. the Messiah: Grk. ho Christos (from chriō, "to anoint with olive oil"), the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. Christos is a royal title, not a last name.
Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to translate Heb. Mashiach (SH-4899), "Anointed One," and in the Tanakh Mashiach is used for the Messiah (Ps 2:2; Dan 9:25-26). The English "Christ" transliterates the Greek title, but does not translate it. In Greek culture christos had no religious connotation at all, but the LXX usage infused new meaning into the Greek word (DNTT 2:334). For a complete review of all that is written in the Tanakh predicting the Messiah see my article The Messiah.
Jewish anticipation of the Messiah was grounded in the future hope expressed by the Hebrew prophets of one who would come to deliver Israel from her enemies and rule as God's anointed king. John's ministry attracted thousands of people so the Judean leaders were naturally concerned about John's intentions and how he viewed his identity. John the apostle recorded this exchange between the Immerser and the religious leaders:
"20 he was very straightforward and stated clearly, "I am not the Messiah." 21 "Then who are you?" they asked him. "Are you Eliyahu?" "No, I am not," he said. 'Are you 'the prophet,' the one we're expecting?'" "No," he replied. 22 So they said to him, "Who are you? — so that we can give an answer to the people who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?" 23 He answered in the words of Yesha'yahu the prophet, "I am the voice of someone crying out: 'In the desert make the way of ADONAI straight!'" (John 1:20-23 CJB)
16 Yochanan answered saying to all, "I indeed in water am immersing you, but one mightier than I is coming, of whom I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals. He will immerse you in the Holy Spirit and fire.
Reference: Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:7-8; John 1:27.
Yochanan: Grk. Iōannēs. See verse 2 above. answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. mid. See verse 11 above. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 7 above. to all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 3 above. I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. indeed: Grk. mén, conj., a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. in water: Grk. hudōr, the physical element of water, here the water of the Jordan river. am immersing: Grk. baptizō, pres. See verse 7 above. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. Yochanan did not mean that he was personally assisting persons under the water or pouring water over the penitents. Rather, in accordance with the contrast that follows he refers to his role as facilitator to direct immersion as a testimony of repentance.
but: Grk. de, conj. one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun, lit. "the One." mightier: Grk. ischuros, adj., strong, used here to highly capable for special exertion or activity. than I: Grk. egō. is coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. See verse 3 above. of whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to specify or give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. I am: Grk. eimi, pres. not: Grk. ou, adv. worthy: Grk. hikanos, adj., of a quality or extent that is quite enough, and here means being fit, appropriate, competent, or qualified.
to untie: Grk. luō, aor. inf., to loose, release or untie. the strap: Grk. ho himas, a thong or a strap for binding a sandal or shoe. Thongs secured the sandal across the insole and between the toes. Going barefoot was a sign of poverty and reproach. of his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. sandals: pl. of Grk. ho hupodēma, anything bound under, a sandal. The noun denotes the kind of shoe that Yeshua wore. The shoe was considered the humblest article of clothing and could be bought cheaply. Two types of shoes existed: slippers of soft leather and the more popular sandals with a hard leather sole. During the first century, Jewish practice forbade the wearing of sandals with multilayered leather soles nailed together, as this was the shoe worn by Roman soldiers.
He: Grk. autos, lit. "the same." will immerse: Grk. baptizō, fut. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. in: Grk. en, prep. Many versions translate the preposition as "with" but the chosen preposition conveys the same word picture as water immersion. the Holy: Grk. Hagios, adj., set apart by or for God and therefore different; holy, hallowed and when used of God worthy of reverence. In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qadosh, which means separate, sacred, holy. Qadosh is first used of God in Leviticus 11:44.
Spirit: Grk. Pneuma (for Heb. ruach, Resh-Vav-Chet), wind, breath or spirit; here referring to the Holy Spirit. In Scripture "holy" is only used as an adjective of "spirit" to refer to the Holy Spirit. "Holy Spirit" is not the title of a separate being, because God is Spirit (pneuma ho theos, John 4:24). The specific name "Holy Spirit" occurs only three times in the Tanakh (Ps 51:11; Isa 63:10, 11) given as Ruach Qodesh. Yochanan essentially prophesied that the Messiah would unleash the power of the Holy Spirit in an unprecedented manifestation.
The wish of Moses for all God's people to experience the Holy Spirit (Num 11:29) would be fulfilled on Pentecost (Acts 2). Thereafter the word picture of being "in the Spirit" will become characteristic of Messianic believers (Acts 19:21; Rom 8:9; Eph 2:22; Php 3:3; Col 1:8; 1Pet 4:6). and: Grk. kai, conj. fire: Grk. pur. See verse 9 above. The addition of this phrase seems unusual in the context, but its not likely we should consider it prophecy of the "tongues of fire" manifested on Pentecost.
This saying is not unlike Yeshua's later comment that everyone will be "salted with fire" (Mark 9:49). He may have alluded to the manner in which sacrifices were offered at the Temple. All sacrificial offerings were seasoned with salt (Lev 2:13). With this background being salted with fire may be equivalent to being living sacrifices (Rom 12:1-2), which is parallel to the thought of taking up one's cross. Being salted with fire may also be symbolic of persecution, such as literally experienced by Daniel's friends (Dan 3:17-18; Heb 11:34; 1Pet 1:7). Yeshua predicted tribulation for his disciples and Paul would later say that "all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2Tim 3:12).
17 of whom the winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
of whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun; used to refer to the Messiah. the winnowing fork is: Grk. ho ptuon, a simple wooden pitchfork; a winnowing-shovel or fan. in: Grk. en, prep. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. hand: Grk. ho cheir, the anatomical limb of the hand. to clear: Grk. diakathairō, aor. inf., to clear or cleanse thoroughly. his: Grk. autos. threshing floor: Grk. ho halōn, a ground-plot or threshing-floor, i. e., a place in the field itself, made hard after the harvest by a roller, where the grain was threshed out (Thayer).
and: Grk. kai, conj. to gather: Grk. sunagō, aor. inf., to bring together in a collective manner; gather. the wheat: Grk. sitos, edible grain of any kind, although in the Besekh chiefly wheat is inferred, but sometimes barley. Passover was the season of the barley harvest, and Shavuot (Pentecost) was the season of the wheat harvest. into: Grk. eis, prep. his: Grk. autos. granary: Grk. ho apothēkē, a place for putting away or storing, especially grain; a granary or storehouse. Many versions have "barn."
This "gathering" parable is one of several in the apostolic narratives involving field, fish and flock employed to describe God's actions at the end of the age (cf. Matt 13:24-30, 47-50; 25:31-33). Yochanan uses the imagery of the wheat harvest to symbolize the coming of the Messiah to deliver the righteous, destroy the wicked, restore the glory of Israel and establish His reign over the whole earth. As a metaphor in Scripture wheat represents the righteous (Gen 37:5-8; Matt 13:23, 38; John 12:24). The use of a winnowing fork is parallel to the use of the sickle in Revelation 14:14-16. As in real life the Messiah's harvesting and winnowing are accomplished in the same time frame, which contradicts Dispensational theology of the Rapture.
but: Grk. de, conj. the chaff: Grk. ho achuron, the husks of grains and grasses that are separated during threshing, or straw broken up by treading out the grain chaff. The chaff has no value as a food product for human or animal. As a metaphor chaff refers to the unrighteous (Ex 15:7; Ps 1:4; 35:5; 83:13; Isa 17:13; 29:5; 41:2; Hos 13:3; Mal 4:1). The imagery of separating the chaff may be specifically drawn from Hosea in which the idolatrous will be "like chaff blown off from a threshing floor" (Hos 13:3 BR) and Malachi, "For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze" (Mal 4:1 NASU).
he will burn: Grk. katakaiō (from kata, "down" and kaiō, "to ignite or set alight"), fut., to consume entirely by fire. with unquenchable: Grk. asbestos, incapable of being extinguished; inextinguishable, unquenchable. fire: Grk. pur. See verse 11 above. To call the fire "unquenchable" means that the fire will not degrade in intensity over the course of eternity and it cannot be extinguished by any force other than God's power. Unquenchable fire is associated with the place called "Hell" (Grk. gehenna; cf. 2Kgs 22:17; Isa 1:31; 34:10; 66:24; Jer 4:4; 7:20; 21:12; Matt 18:8; 25:41; Mark 9:43).
Hell should not be confused with Hades. As illustrated in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man Hades was the rich man's destination immediately upon death (Luke 16:22-26). Hades (for Heb. sheol) is the place where the unredeemed dead are kept in anticipation of the final judgment. The Pharisees and the Essenes believed that reward and punishment would begin after death and the souls of the righteous would enter heavenly blessedness, while the souls of the ungodly are punished in Hades (Josephus, Wars II, 8:11, 14).
Hades is always described as being down, thus it is in a subterranean region of the earth (cf. Deut 32:22; Ezek 26:20; Matt 11:23; 12:40; Luke 10:15; Eph 4:9; Rev 9:1-2). Since the Bible does not admit to any belief in Purgatory, Hades is not a temporary abode where one's guilt is purged in order to qualify for the blessing of heaven. Hell should be associated with the lake of fire in Revelation 19:20, which is the place of final punishment after the white throne judgment (Rev 20:14-15). The term "lake" (Grk. limnē) might sound like a contradiction, but the sun could be considered a lake of fire. The lake of fire may be located in outer space across the galaxy since Hell is referred to as the "outer darkness" (cf. Matt 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; Jude 13).
18 So indeed, while also exhorting many other things, he proclaimed good news to the people.
So: Grk. oun, conj. indeed: Grk. mén, conj. while also: Grk. kai, conj. exhorting: Grk. parakaleō, pres. part., may mean (1) call to be at one's side or summon to one's aid, with a connotation of urgency; invite, entreat, urge; (2) hearten in time of trouble; comfort, console; or (3) to motivate performance; exhort, encourage. The third meaning applies here. many: Grk. polus. See verse 13 above. other things: pl. of Grk. heteros, adj., a distributive pronoun that may (1) distinguish one item from another in a numerical sense, other, another; or (2) express dissimilarity of one item relative to another, whether generically or qualitatively; other, another or different. The second meaning applies here.
he proclaimed good news to: Grk. euaggelizō, impf. mid., to announce the good message, and is used to mean (1) pass on information that provides good tidings to the recipient, and (2) spread good tidings of God's beneficial concern. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX euaggelizō stands for Heb. basar, to publish or bear tidings, whether good or bad, first in 1Samuel 31:9 (DNTT 2:108-109). The verb occurs 54 times in the Besekh, and is most frequently found in passages in which the apostles proclaimed the good news of the arrival of the Kingdom of God in Yeshua (Luke 16:16).
the people: Grk. ho laos. See verse 15 above. The noun refers to the crowds of Jewish people that came to hear Yochanan teach and responded in obedience to his message. In this context the "good news" is God's provision of salvation for His covenant people (cf. Matt 15:24). The "Jewish Gospel" has an historical basis, a story of God's centuries-old relationship with Israel. Yochanan likely repeated prophecies of the Messiah from the Torah, the Prophets and the Psalms as Yeshua will later repeat to his disciples (Luke 24:44). See my article Prophecies of the Messiah.
Arrest of Yochanan, 3:19-20
19 Now Herod the tetrarch, being rebuked by him concerning Herodias, the wife of his brother, and concerning all the evil things that Herod had done,
Timeline Note: Luke interrupts his chronological narrative in verses 19-20 to report an event that occurs several months later.
Now: Grk. de, conj. Herod: Grk. ho Hērōdēs; i.e., Antipas. See verse 2 above. the tetrarch: Grk. ho tetraarchēs, ruler of a fourth part, the title of a prince whose rank was lower than a king. being rebuked: Grk. elenchō, pres. part., used in evaluating or responding to improper behavior and may mean (1) expose wrongdoing; bring to light, expose; (2) disapprove of wrongdoing; rebuke, reprove, show fault; or (3) offer convincing evidence of wrongdoing; refute, convict; charge, accuse. The second meaning fits here. In the LXX elenchō is used in the great majority of cases to translate Heb. yakach, to bring to account, to decide, adjudge, approve, correct (first in Gen 21:25) (DNTT 2:140).
by: Grk. hupo, prep. See verse 7 above. The choice of hupo emphasizes John's prophetic authority to act as a prosecuting attorney. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e. Yochanan. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. See verse 15 above. Herodias: Grk. Hērōidias was a Jewish princess of the Herodian Dynasty (c. 15 BC-after 39 AD). She was the daughter of Aristobulus IV (one of the two sons of Herod the Great and the Hasmonean princess Mariamne I) and Bernice (a daughter of Herod's sister Salome I, and of Costabarus, governor of Idumea). She was also a full sister of King Agrippa.
the wife: Grk. hē gunē, an adult female person without respect to age, social status, or marital status, except as defined by the context. In the LXX gunē renders the Heb. ishshah ("woman"). When a woman is connected to a man by name then gunē is rendered as 'wife.' of his: Grk. autos. brother: Grk. adelphos. See verse 1 above. Herod the Great had fifteen sons, two of whom were named Philip. Josephus identified the first husband of Herodias as Herod [Philip], the son of Herod the Great, who was born of Mariamne (Ant. XVIII, 5:4).
This Philip was not the tetrarch and is referred to by historians as Herod II or Herod Philip I. Lane comments on the identification issue:
"It is common to suppose that 'Philip' can only mean Herod Philip, the son of Herod the Great and Cleopatra, who was tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis. But the tetrarch and the husband of Herodias were the sons of different mothers and there is no firm reason why they could not have received the same name. The full name of Herodias' first husband is unknown, but no evidence exists that it was not Herod Philip [the "I"]." (216)
In verse 1 above Luke identifies the two tetrarchs, Herod Antipas and Philip, as brothers. In recounting the marriage of Herodias in this verse, Luke omits the name of Philip. While it might be assumed that the antecedent of "brother" in this verse can only be the brother mentioned in verse 1, the two verses are separated by different contexts and there were fifteen brothers. Eventually the daughter of Herodias would be married to Philip the Tetrarch (Ant. XVIII, 5:4), which would hardly be the case if he were her father.
Antipas divorced his first wife Phasaelis in order to marry Herodias and Herodias divorced her husband Philip in order to marry Antipas (Josephus, Ant., XVIII, 5:1, 4). These actions were legal under Roman law, but contrary to God's law. Since Antipas initiated the sin he bore the chief responsibility. The text of John's rebuke is preserved in Mark: "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife" (Mark 6:18). The only circumstance that would allow Antipas to take Herodias as a wife would be if Philip had died without issue (cf. Deut 25:5-6). Philip being alive made the two divorces in order to facilitate marriage a flagrant rebellion against God.
and: Grk kai, conj. concerning: Grk. peri. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 3 above. the evil things: neut. pl. of Grk. ponēros, adj., being in a deteriorated or undesirable state or condition (bad); or marked by deviation from an acceptable moral or social standard (evil), here the latter. The adjective is used here to characterize a spiritual condition. In the LXX ponēros translates Heb. ra, bad, evil, primarily in an ethical sense, first in Genesis 2:9; and Heb. roa, badness, evil conduct with willful intent, first in Deuteronomy 28:20. The adjective properly means "pain-ridden, emphasizing the inevitable agonies or misery that always go with evil" (HELPS).
that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. Herod: Grk. Hērōdēs. had done: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 4 above. The apostolic narratives do not recount all the wicked deeds of Antipas, but many of his political decisions were made to curry favor with the Romans. In the year 17 he founded a new capital, which he called Tiberias, to honor the Roman emperor, Tiberius (Josephus, Ant. XVIII, 2:3). However, he built this city on top of an old Jewish graveyard, which caused great unrest among the people. He also populated the city with pagan Gentiles. As a result Orthodox Jews would not enter the city.
Antipas presented himself publicly as an observant Jew by attending pilgrim festivals in Jerusalem (Ant. XVIII, 5:3), but Yeshua labeled him "a fox" (Luke 13:32), an unclean animal. Gill comments that David Gans (1541–1613), the Jewish historian, gives this account of Herod that perfectly agrees with the apostolic record:
"He was very wicked, and a destroying man: many of the wise men of Israel he slew with the sword; and he took the wife of his brother Philip, whilst he was alive, to himself for wife; and John, the high priest, because "he reproved him" for this, he slew him with the sword, with many of the wise men of Israel.'' (Tzemach David, Part 1, fol. 25. 2)
20 and added this upon all, he confined Yochanan in prison.
Reference: Matthew 4:12; 14:3-5, Mark 1:14; 6:17-19.
and: Grk. kai, conj. added: Grk. prostithēmi, aor., to put to or to add to. The verb represents an Hebrew idiom denoting continuation, or repetition (Mounce). this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 8 above. upon: Grk. epi, prep. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 3 above. The adjective alludes to the mention of "evil things" in the previous verse. he confined: Grk. katakleiō, aor., to confine, enclose, shut in, or shut up. Yochanan: Grk. ho Iōannēs. See verse 2 above. in: Grk. en, prep. prison: Grk. phulakē may mean (1) a place for detaining a law-breaker; (2) a sentry station with a contingent of guards; or (3) a period of time for mounting guard, watch. The first meaning applies here.
In ancient times imprisonment for a specified period of time was not a typical form of punishment. The place of confinement was only to keep someone until disposition was made of his case (cf. Acts 4:3; 5:18). Josephus says that Yochanan was put in prison at Machaerus, the castle fortress situated in Perea, on the eastern side of the Dead Sea (Ant. XVIII, 5:2). The apostolic narratives do not identify the place of John's imprisonment.
The mention of John's imprisonment anticipates the event some several months after the key event in the next verse. The exact date of his imprisonment is not known for certain. Some authorities place the imprisonment immediately preceding Yeshua's trip to Sychar (John 4:3-5) and but others suggest a time during or after the Samaria sojourn because immediately before that narrative John 3:24 says, "Yochanan had not yet been thrown into prison."
Immersion of Yeshua, 3:21-22
21 Now it came to pass among all the people having immersed, and Yeshua having immersed and was praying, heaven was opened,
Reference: Matthew 3:13-16; Mark 1:9-10; John 1:26.
Timeline Note: Although Santala suggests the immersion could have taken place in February of 27 (110), the event more likely occurred shortly after Yochanan began his ministry in October of 26. According to Matthew and Mark the arrival of Yeshua at the Jordan occurred right after John's announcement of the Messiah coming (Matt 3:11-12; Mark 1:7-8). Matthew uses the adverb tote, which means "at that time" (Matt 3:13) and Mark uses the phrase "in those days" (Mark 1:9).
The report of John the apostle also puts Yeshua coming to the Jordan in the context of the Messianic announcement of Yochanan the Immerser (John 1:29-30). The month of October marked the observance of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) on Tishri 10 (Oct. 9th) and immersion in the vicinity of this date would give special significance to the meaning of Yeshua's immersion.
Now: Grk. de, conj. it came to pass: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 2 above. The translation of "it happened" in some versions is inappropriate since the English verb refers to something occurring by chance. The verb may be considered a Hebraism because it imitates the frequent use of Heb. v'hayah, "and it came to pass" in the historical narratives of the Tanakh (185 times; first in Gen 4:8). The phrase is used to signal a change in the narrative and often introduces some significant action by an individual that serves God's sovereign planning. Santala suggests this event occurred in February A.D. 27 (110).
among: Grk. en, prep. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 3 above. the people: Grk. ho laos. See verse 15 above. having immersed: Grk. baptizō, aor. pass. inf. See verse 7 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. 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). For more information on the meaning of his name and his identity see my article Who is Yeshua? Yeshua was not alone but among the crowd that came to immerse (John 1:26).
having immersed: Grk. baptizō, aor. pass. part. The parallel Synoptic Narratives describe this event as Yeshua being immersed "by" (Grk. hupo, lit. "under") Yochanan and Yochanan objecting that Yeshua did not need immersion. Yeshua declared that immersing was necessary to fulfill all righteousness. Christian commentators typically assert that the Torah required no such act for the sake of righteousness or to prove righteousness and interpret this saying to reflect establishment of the ordinance or sacrament of baptism for Christians to follow.
On the contrary the standard of righteousness required that the anointing of the Messianic Priest-King be done in a fitting manner. At God's direction Moses washed Aaron completely and anointed him with oil to ordain him as High Priest (Ex 40:12-16). Where did this water come from if not the rock God provided (Ex 17:6) and this rock was Yeshua (1Cor 10:4). Moreover Yeshua knew that immersion represented death and resurrection (Rom 6:4) and righteousness required this symbolic act to demonstrate his commitment to the divine mission.
Yeshua then immersed himself in accordance with Jewish practice. In one fascinating piece of evidence, there is an ancient drawing from a Roman catacomb which depicts Yeshua's immersion. Yochanan is standing on the bank of the Jordan River extending a hand to Yeshua assisting him from the water after self-immersion (Notley; also Moseley mentioned above).
and: Grk. kai. was praying: Grk. proseuchomai, pres. mid., part., to petition deity for some personal desire, to offer prayer. In the LXX proseuchomai translates Heb. palal, to intervene, mediate, intercede or pray (DNTT 2:862). The verb generally refers to earnestly petitioning God for His help with respect to an urgent need. Only Luke mentions Yeshua praying on this occasion. Levine notes that the mention of praying emphasizes Jewish piety (105). The present tense of the participle contrasts with the aorist tense of the verb "immersed," which emphasizes that the public immersions were concluded.
The pause for prayer while still in the water was probably to entreat the favor of His Father as he committed himself to fulfill the divine mission. Immersion on a day near Yom Kippur would make him mindful that he was to be an atoning sacrifice. His commission in the wilderness of Judea serves as an acted out parable of the scapegoat that bore the sins of the people (Lev 16:10, 20-22).
heaven: Grk. ho ouranos refers to the area above the earth that encompasses three "heavens:" first, the atmosphere (Matt 6:26); second, interstellar space (Matt 24:29); and third, the transcendent dwelling-place of God (Matt 6:9). In the LXX ouranos translates the Heb. hashamayim (lit. "the heavens”), which has the same range of meaning (Ps 148:1-4) (DNTT 2:191). The parallel Synoptic Narratives use the plural form of ouranos, but Luke uses the singular form to denote the third heaven. was opened: Grk. anoigō, aor. pass. inf., to open, generally used of doors and objects or fig. of furnishing an opportunity.
In the LXX anoigō occurs 206 times and translates several different Hebrew verbs (DNTT 2:276). In over half the verses anoigō translates Heb. pathach, to open, with the same range of meaning, first in Genesis 7:11 of the "windows of heaven" opening to initiate the great global deluge of Noah's time. In this context the opening of heaven represents an Hebrew idiom expressing God's special revelation of an action initiated in heaven (Deut 28:12; Ps 78:23; Ezek 1:1; Mal 3:10; Rev 19:11) or of a scene in heaven (e.g. Acts 7:56; Rev 4:1; 11:19).
The parallel Synoptic Narratives say that Yeshua saw the opening, which may suggest that only he witnessed the starting point for the action described in the next verse. The fact of the heaven opening could be a fulfillment of the passionate petition of Isaiah:
"Oh, that You would rend [Heb. qara, "to tear;" LXX anoigō] the heavens and come down, ... 2 … to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence!" (Isa 64:1-2)
22 and the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form as a dove upon him; and a voice came out of heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; in you I am well pleased."
Reference: Genesis 22:2; Psalm 2:7; Isaiah 42:1; Matthew 3:16; John 1:32-33.
and: Grk. kai, conj. the Holy: Grk. ho hagios. Spirit: Grk. ho pneuma. See verse 16 above. descended: Grk. katabainō, aor. inf., to proceed in a direction that is down. In Scripture heaven is always above the earth. in bodily: Grk. sōmatikos, adj., pertaining to the body, having corporeal existence. form: Grk. eidos, that which makes an optical impression; external form, aspect, appearance. as: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 4 above. a dove: Grk. peristera, a pigeon or dove without distinguishing the particular species. In the LXX peristera principally translates Heb. yonah, dove or pigeon (Gen 8:8, 9, 12). This bird was classified as clean and suitable for use as sacrifice (Lev 1:14).
upon: Grk. epi, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. In other words the dove actually alighted on Yeshua. It is unclear how many of the crowd that had come to immerse (verse 21 above) were still present, but anyone nearby would have seen the dove flutter out of the sky and land on Yeshua. Yochanan later reported that beheld the descent of the dove and understood it as symbolic of the Spirit descending (John 1:33-34).
and: Grk. kai. a voice: Grk. phōnē. See verse 4 above. came: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. inf. out of: Grk. ek, prep. heaven: Grk. ouranos. The noun may represent a play on words, since the dove came out of the first heaven, "the sky," and the voice came out of the third heaven, "Paradise." The clause "a voice came out of heaven" represents an idiomatic expression from the Heb. bat qol, lit. "daughter of a voice." The speaker is not specifically identified, but given the mention of the Holy Spirit and the Son, the speaker must be the Father. See the Additional Note below on the triunity of God.
You: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 5 above. my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. Son: Grk. huios. See verse 2 above. This statement is a strong affirmation of proud paternity and echoes the declaration of Psalm 2:7, "You are My Son, today I have begotten You." God had declared Israel to be "my Son, my firstborn" (Ex 4:22), but this declaration is far more personal since Miriam had been impregnated by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). Gabriel had informed Miriam that her son would be considered the Son of the Most High (Luke 1:32). Unbelieving Jews typically object to the concept of God having a divine son.
Yet, there are verses in the Tanakh that mention God having a unique Son in a very personal sense:
"Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name and what is his son's name? Surely you know!" (Prov 30:4 ESV)
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; … and his name shall be called … Mighty God." (Isa 9:6 ESV)
the Beloved: Grk. ho agapētos, adj., held in affection, esteemed, dear, especially to God. In the LXX agapētos occurs in the story of the offering of Isaac to translate the adjective yachid, "the only" (Gen 22:2, 12, 16). Yeshua is the only begotten Son of God (John 1:14). The adjective could be considered a Messianic title based on its usage in Isaiah 5:1, "Let me sing now for my well-beloved a song of my beloved [Heb. dod, "beloved;" LXX agapētos] concerning His vineyard."
in: Grk. en. you: Grk. su. I am well pleased: Grk. eudokeō, aor., may mean (1) consider beneficial and therefore worthy of choice, decide, resolve; or (2) take delight in or with something or someone, be delighted, be well pleased. The second meaning is intended here. In the LXX eudokeō occurs about 60 times and generally translates Heb. ratsah, to take pleasure in, like, enjoy, first in Genesis 33:10 (DNTT 2:817). The Father rightfully takes pleasure in the Son. The description of this verse fulfills a prophecy of Isaiah:
"Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations." (Isa 42:1 ESV)
There is no indication whether anyone other than Yeshua heard the heavenly message. Later in Yeshua's ministry when a voice came out of heaven those nearby heard the sound of thunder (John 12:29). Similarly, when Paul heard the voice of Yeshua on the Damascus Road his companions heard the sound but did not understand the message from heaven (cf. Acts 9:7; 22:9).
Additional Note: The Triunity of God
Representation of God as being the triune expression of Father, Son and Holy Spirit occur in two other passages (Matt 28:19; 1Pet 1:2; cf. Gal 4:6). We should note that the apostles did not use the term "Trinity," considered the central doctrine of Christianity. In Scripture there is no single term by which the three divine personalities of the one God are denoted together, although the plural Elohim in Genesis 1:1 could serve such a function.
The apostles did not teach tritheism, which is belief in three gods, nor unitarianism, which denies the divinity of Yeshua the Son and of the Holy Spirit, nor modalism, which says that God appears sometimes as the Father, sometimes as the Son and sometimes as the Holy Spirit, like an actor changing masks (Stern 86). The Greek word for Trinity, trias (of which the Latin trinitas is a translation), is first found in Theophilus of Antioch about A.D. 180. He speaks of "the Trinity of God [the Father], His Word and His Wisdom (To Autolycus II.15).
Afterwards the Latin form of trinitas occurs in Tertullian (On Modesty 1:21). The word "Trinity" came into general use in the next century. Stern comments that even though non-Messianic Jews find the doctrine of the Trinity a stumblingblock, Messianic Jews recognize that Scripture presents the absolute unity of God expressed through the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Yeshua the Messiah (744).
Reference: Matthew 1:16.
And: Grk. kai, conj. See the note on verse 5 above. Many versions have "when," but there is no "when" conjunction in this verse. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 21 above. himself: Grk. autos, masc. personal pronoun. See verse 1 above. Normally the pronoun would be translated as "he," but the usage here appears to have an intensive focus for emphasis and is therefore rendered as "himself." The redundancy may hint at the nearness in age with Yochanan who was born six months before Yeshua (Luke 1:36). was: Grk. eimi, impf., to be. The imperfect tense is used to describe continuous action in past time and thus reinforces the indefinite meaning in the mention of age.
beginning: Grk. archō, pres. mid. part. See verse 8 above. Danker points out that the verb means to "rule" when the subject noun is in the genitive case (as in this verse). The great majority of versions translate the verb as "began his ministry," i.e., marking the beginning of Yeshua's public ministry. Yet the Greek text says nothing about his ministry. Luke first mentions Yeshua teaching in the next chapter (4:15). A few versions do translate the verb as simply marking age on this particular occasion (BRG, CSB, KJV, MJLT, YLT). Luke wrote what he meant and meant what he wrote.
Luke uses archō in Acts 1:22 to recount what he wrote here, saying "the Lord Yeshua went in and out among us, having begun from the immersion of Yochanan" (BR). However, in that context the verb "beginning" is a reference point for when disciples began following Yeshua.
about: Grk. hōsei (from hōs, "as" and ei, "if"), adv., "as if," may (1) denote a comparison; as, as if, like; or (2) be used with numbers and measures to mean, about or approximately. The adverb is used in reference to a numeral count (Matt 14:21; Luke 1:56; 9:14, 28; John 6:10; Acts 1:15; 2:41; 19:7). The adverb also occurs in the LXX in reference to an approximate number (Gen 24:55; Josh 7:3; Jdg 3:29; 8:10; 9:49; 16:27; 20:31; 1Sam 9:22; 14:22; 25:38; Ezra 2:64).
Edersheim says that in biblical usage the adverb before a numeral meant either a little more or a little less than the exact number (183). Perhaps "not quite" would be a better translation, but certainly less than. If the milestone had been reached there would be no need of the qualification. Plummer allows that the adverb could indicate as much as two years before the birthday.
thirty: pl. of Grk. triakonta, the numerical value of thirty. years: pl. of Grk. etos, a time period of twelve months or one year. Some versions add "of age" for completion of thought. The phrase is lit. "about years thirties." This verse extends the thought of the two previous verses to affirm that Yeshua was about 30 when he was immersed and consecrated to his heavenly mission by the Holy Spirit. This follows the pattern established at Mt. Sinai when the priests and Levites thirty years of age and older were consecrated to their respective offices (Num 4:1-3, 21-23, 29-30, 34-35, 38-39, 42-43, 46-47).
Working in the tabernacle and later the temple involved bearing burdens. These duties were so comprehensive and arduous that the possession of full physical faculties was required. Thus, the Sages regarded thirty as proverbial for the time of achieving koah, or full strength for one's vocation (Avot 5:21). Assuming birth in September 3 B.C. the immersion in late October of A.D. 26 would put Yeshua a month into his 29th year, so "about 30."
being: Grk. eimi, pres. part., to be. See verse 5 above. a son: Grk. huios. See verse 2 above. as: Grk. hōs, adv. was supposed: Grk. nomizō, impf. pass., to determine on the basis of ordinary reasoning, to assume or suppose that something applies; think, conclude, suppose. Clarke says that this same phrase is used by Herodotus, the Greek historian (c. 484–425 BC), to signify one who was only reputed to be the son of a particular person. Similarly, the Jews had a rule which says that the one who brings up, and not he that begets, is called the father, or parent (Gill citing Shemot Rabba, sect. 46. fol. 143.1). Examples are given of such instances as Joseph, Michal, and Pharaoh's daughter (e.g. Sanhedrin 19b).
Luke acknowledges what was popularly assumed (cf. Matt 13:55; John 6:42). of Joseph: Grk. Iōsēph, a transliteration of Heb. Yosef ("he adds, increases," BDB 415). Stern notes that the lack of the definite article with Joseph's name separates him from the genealogical chain and accords him a place of his own. Almost all that is known about Joseph is given in the nativity narratives. God intended Joseph to be part of His plan to bring deliverance to His people. In Matthew we learn that the name of Joseph's father was Jacob (Matt 1:16) and that Joseph was a carpenter (Matt 13:55). Joseph apparently died sometime before Yeshua's public ministry began.
Genealogy of Yeshua, 23c-38
Genealogies were of vital interest to the Hebrew people in Bible history and to Jews in the first century. The earliest genealogies are found in Genesis 4, 5 and 11. Then the first nine chapters of 1Chronicles are devoted to genealogical data. Especially important were genealogies of the priests due to the importance of proving descent from Aaron, and this data was maintained in public records. Barclay notes that in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah there were certain priests who lost their office because they could not produce their genealogy (Ezra 2:61-62; Neh 7:63-65).
In the Besekh there is only one genealogy, that of Yeshua, which is given to prove that Yeshua fulfilled Messianic prophecies. Only as the son and heir of David could he be the Messiah. The patrilineal genealogies of Luke and Matthew are based on historical records. Many of the names can be found in the genealogies of Genesis 5, Genesis 11, and 1Chronicles 1−3. In addition, public records of genealogical data were maintained at the temple in Jerusalem, but this vital information was lost when the temple was destroyed in A.D. 70. The genealogy of Yeshua provides another reason for a pre-70 date for the apostolic narratives.
The genealogies of Luke and Matthew are a study in similarities and differences.
● Matthew taking a topical approach begins his narrative of Yeshua with the genealogy, whereas Luke writing a chronological history waits until after the anecdote of Yeshua's immersion.
● Matthew begins his genealogy with Abraham, which emphasizes that Yeshua is the promised seed of Abraham. Luke concludes with Adam to emphasize that like him Yeshua came into human existence by special creation and that he is the promised seed of the Woman.
● From Abraham to David the two lists are alike. However, from David to Yeshua the two lists have substantive differences. In particular Matthew has Yeshua descending from Solomon but Luke has him descending from Nathan.
● Matthew includes the names of several women, but Luke mentions none, even though his history contains more anecdotes featuring women than Matthew.
● Matthew's genealogy presents names in a descending order, beginning with Abraham, according to fathers begetting sons, corresponding to the format of genealogies in the Tanakh. Luke's genealogy presents names in ascending order, beginning with Yeshua and working backward time to present a literal biological lineage.
● Matthew purposely organized his genealogy into three periods of fourteen generations, from Abraham to Yeshua (Matt 1:17), listing 42 names. Luke likewise presents a planned pattern, listing 77 names. Matthew clearly passed over many intermediate members of Yeshua's lineage. Levine suggests the 77 names represent completion (105).
● Matthew emphasizes a royal aspect in his genealogy with the listing of fourteen kings who descended from David. On the other hand, Luke emphasizes a priestly aspect with names of men who must have been priests or named for priests: Eli, Levi (twice), Mattathias (twice), Zerubbabel, Shealtiel, Eliezer and Eliakim.
All the names in the list are of Hebrew origin. Unless otherwise noted the meaning of names is taken from the Holman Bible Dictionary. Some names are repeated which is not unusual for Hebrew genealogies. Sons were often named for ancestors. For most of the names nothing more is known of them. For names corresponding to genealogies in the Tanakh (Genesis; 1Chronicles) Luke follows the LXX. The genealogy could be organized by ages:
● Post-exile, 3:23c-30
● Pre-exile, 3:31-32
● Patriarchal, 3:33-35
● Primeval, 3:36-38
the son of: Grk. ho, definite article but the masculine form and genitive case presents a special use, the genitive of familial relationship (DM 76), lit. "the one of." Even though the noun "son" (Grk. huios) does not appear in the list of names that follow from verse 24, Bible versions supply the noun to designate paternity. DM says this construction was abundantly used in colloquial Greek of this period as evidenced by its frequent occurrence in the papyri (77).
Commentators differ over whether the position of the definite article here modifies Yeshua or Joseph. Stern acknowledges that Luke's language distinguishes Joseph from Yeshua's direct ancestors by not including the word "the" before "Joseph" in the original Greek. He then quotes the German scholar Fritz Rienecker:
"By the omission of the article, Joseph's name is separated from the genealogical chain and accorded a place of its own" (Praktisches Handkommentär Zu Lukas Evangelium, 1930, p. 302, as cited in A Jewish Christian Response by the Messianic Jew Louis Goldberg).
In my view the clause "being a son as was supposed of Joseph" is really a parenthetical comment, so that the object of the definite article here is Yeshua.
Eli: Grk. Heli, which transliterates Heb. Eli, a personal name meaning 'high,' or 'lofty.' The only other man mentioned in the Bible with the name Eli is the priest and judge of Israel at Shiloh who became the custodian of the child Samuel (1Sam 1:3). A number of versions render the Hebrew name appropriately as "Eli" (AMP, CJB, DARBY, ERV, GW, LEB, LSB, MJLT, MW, NOG, NASU, NASB, OJB, VOICE). The earliest explanation of the grammar here is that the definite article modifies Joseph and some interpreters make Joseph the natural son of Eli (e.g. Barker 130). Plummer contends that this genealogy is of Joseph, saying:
"It would have been quite out of harmony with either Jewish ideas or Gentile ideas to derive the birthright of Jesus from His mother. In the eye of the law Jesus was the heir of Joseph; and therefore it is Joseph's descent which is of importance."
Plummer argues that the clause should be punctuated as follows: "being a son, as was supposed, of Joseph son of Eli." While the great majority of Bible versions put a comma after Joseph, any reader would assume that Eli was the father of Joseph. A few Bible versions clearly adopt this viewpoint. The CJB has "Yosef who was of Eli." The Expanded Bible (2011) reads "Joseph was the son of Heli ["son" in Hebrew can mean "descendant," so there may be gaps in the genealogy]." The NCV and NIRV also read, "Joseph was the son of Heli." N.T. Wright inserts this interpretive comment after the name of Joseph, "from whom his ancestry proceeds back in the following line."
Against this assumption is the fact of Matthew's precise declaration that "Jacob fathered Joseph" (Matt 1:16). Meyer and Plummer are content to allow the contradiction to stand without resolution. However, Luke also makes Yeshua the descendant of Nathan (verse 31 below) whereas Matthew 1:6 names Solomon. To allow contradictions of fact in Scripture is inimical to the doctrine of inspiration. Coffman declares forthrightly,
"Luke spelled out in the most emphatic manner the fact that Joseph had no physical connection whatever with Jesus; and in this fact disappears any reason why Luke might have written a genealogy of Joseph."
The first attempt at resolving the "contradiction" was offered by Julius Africanus (c. A.D. 160–240). He suggested that Jacob and Eli were half-brothers by virtue of levirate marriage (Eusebius, Church History, Book I, Chap. 7). Lightfoot, as other commentators later concurred, suggested that the definite article modifies Yeshua and the verse would read "Yeshua being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, (but in reality) the (grand) son of Eli." In the Tanakh a grandson is called by the noun (Heb. ben) that means "a son" (Gen 31:28, 43; Ruth 4:17). Thus, Miriam was the daughter of Eli, and Eli was the grandfather of Yeshua.
Coke also cites a parallel example from Genesis 36:2. The descent of Aholibamah, wife of Esau, is presented as the daughter (Heb. bat) of Anah and the daughter (Heb. bat) of Zibeon. Since it appears that Anah was the son, not the daughter of Zibeon (LXX), it is undeniable that Moses calls Aholibamah the daughter both of Anah and of Zibeon, because she was the grand-daughter of Zibeon.
Most commentators favor the interpretation of Eli as the father-in-law of Joseph and the grandfather of Yeshua. The Amplified Version treating the definite article as modifying Joseph adopts this explanation with the translation "the son [by marriage] of Eli." Clarke also makes Joseph the son-in-law of Eli. He argues that the Hebrews rarely mentioned women in genealogical tables, so whenever a family happened to end with a daughter, instead of naming her in the genealogy, they inserted her husband, as the son of him who was, in reality, but his father-in-law.
Stern suggests that the lineage makes not Yeshua but Joseph the grandson of Eli on his mother's side, although he admitted no strong attachment to this interpretation. The problem for Stern is how Yeshua can claim the throne of his ancestor King David (Matt 1:1; Luke 1:32). Descent, for purposes of inheriting kingship, cannot be counted through the mother. Stern asserts that Joseph's legal status as Yeshua's adoptive father, even though adequate for establishing Yeshua's legal right to King David's throne (cf. Matt 1:24–25), is insufficient to fulfill the prophecy to David of a descendant of his body (2Sam 7:12).
The prophecy of biological descent from David is vital. Peter declared in his Pentecost sermon that the Messiah must be made of "fruit of the loins" of David (Acts 2:30). Then Paul wrote that Yeshua came from the seed of David according to the flesh (Rom 1:3). In Rabbinic literature the Messiah is constantly referred to as the "Son of David." In other words Yeshua's body must bear the DNA of David and he could not have received that DNA from Joseph. Luke's genealogy demonstrates that David's DNA was conveyed through Miriam.
Moreover, God decides who is enthroned as King of Israel. God chose David even though he was not a son of Saul. There is no conflict. Nothing is known for certain of this Eli. He may have been a priest or a Levite, since Miriam was a relative of Elizabeth (Luke 1:36), who was a descendant of Aaron and married to a priest, Zechariah (Luke 1:5). Therefore, the following genealogy represents the line of Miriam (Morris).
24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph,
the son of: Grk. ho, masc. definite article, but used here as a noun of familial relationship. See the previous verse. Matthat: Grk. Matthat. the son of: Grk. ho. Levi: Grk. Leui, which transliterates Heb. Levi ("attached," Gen 29:34). The name of Levi is given to four men in the Tanakh, foremost being the third son of Jacob and founder of the tribe bearing his name (Barker 215). The name of Levi was honored in Jewish culture. the son of: Grk. ho. Melchi: Grk. Melchi, which transliterates Heb. Melchi ("my king"). the son of: Grk. ho. Jannai: Grk. Iannai. the son of: Grk. ho. Joseph: Grk. Iōsēph, which transliterates Heb. Yosef. See the previous verse. Nothing more is known of the men listed in this verse.
25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai,
the son of: Grk. ho, masc. definite article, but used here as a noun of familial relationship. See verse 23 above. Mattathias: Grk. Mattathias, which transliterates Heb. Mattityahu ("gift of YHVH"). This Mattathias may have been named in honor of the great Israelite hero and Jewish priest who declared loyalty to obey the Torah and rallied Jews against the tyranny of Antiochus Epiphanes (1Macc 2:1, 14-26). The name became popular after the Maccabean wars (Barker 233).
the son of: Grk. ho. Amos: Grk. Amōs, which transliterates Heb. Amos ("a load"). He may have been named for the 8th century prophet. the son of: Grk. ho. Nahum: Grk. Naoum, which transliterates Heb. Nachum ("comfort"). He may have been named for the 7th century prophet. the son of: Grk. ho. Esli: Grk. Esli. the son of: Grk. ho. Naggai: Grk. Naggai from Heb. nagah ("to shine") (Thayer). Nothing more is known of the men listed in this verse.
26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Joseph, the son of Joda,
the son of: Grk. ho, masc. definite article but used here as a noun of familial relationship. See verse 23 above. Maath: Grk. Maath from Heb. maat ("to be "small") (Thayer). the son of: Grk. ho. Mattathias: Grk. Mattathias. See the previous verse. the son of: Grk. ho. Semein: Grk. Semein, derived from Heb. Shimi (NASBEC). the son of: Grk. ho. Joseph: Grk. Iōsēph. See verse 23 above.
the son of: Grk. ho. Joda: Grk. Iōda. A Joda is listed in the Apocrypha among post-exilic Levites (1Esdr 5:58). The Textus Receptus reads Iouda, Judah, which is followed in some versions (KJV, NKJV). Joda could be the Judah listed by Nehemiah among the Levites who returned from exile (Neh 12:8). Nothing more is known of the men listed in this verse.
27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri,
Reference: 1Chronicles 3:17; Ezra 3:2.
the son of: Grk. ho, masc. definite article but used here as a noun of familial relationship. See verse 23 above. Joanan: Grk. Iōanan, a variant spelling of Iōannēs, which in the LXX transliterates Heb. Yochanan (SH-3110, "Yah has been gracious"). The Hebrew name is used for 14 different men in the Tanakh, but this Joanan is not among them. the son of: Grk. ho. Rhesa: Grk. Rhēsa. The name Rhesa does not appear in any Tanakh genealogy. It's possible that Rhesa is derived from a Babylonian name.
the son of: Grk. ho. Zerubbabel: Grk. Zorobabel, which transliterates Heb. Zerubbabel ("begotten in Babylon") and appears 21 times in the Tanakh. Zerubbabel was a Davidic prince and grandson of King Jehoiachin, who was taken to Babylon in the first Exile in 597 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar (2Kgs 24:10-17). Zerubbabel is named among the leaders of those who returned from Exile (Ezra 2:2). He helped rebuild the altar and the foundation of the Temple. Zerubbabel was eventually appointed governor in place of Sheshbazzar, and at the urging of Haggai (Hag 1:1, 12-15; 2:1, 20) and Zechariah (Zech 4:6-10), ensured the completion of the temple in 515 B.C.
The Tanakh lists the children of Zerubbabel as two sons, Meshullam and Hananiah, and a daughter, Shelomith, plus five other sons, Hashubah, Ohel, Berechiah, Hasadiah and Jushab-hesed (1Chr 3:19-20). The second set of sons could have been born of a second wife or a concubine.
the son of: Grk. ho. Shealtiel: Grk. Salathiēl, which transliterates Heb. Shealtiel ("I have asked of God"). Shealtiel was born after the deportation to Babylon (Matt 1:12). Ezra (whom Jews say authored Chronicles) provides conflicting data since Zerubbabel is identified one time as the son of Pedaiah (1Chr 3:19), but then he is identified ten times as the son of Shealtiel (Ezra 3:2, 8; 5:2; Neh 12:1; Hag 1:1, 12, 14; 2:2, 23). Pedaiah and Shealtiel were brothers (1Chr 3:17-18). The resolution to these differing passages offered by commentators include these options:
● The name of Pedaiah should be omitted from 1Chronicles 3:19 and Shealtiel named instead. This option is favored by Jamieson (JFB Commentary). Clarke also notes that Pedaiah does not appear in the Arabic and Syriac versions as the father of Zerubbabel. Against this view is that Pedaiah is mentioned in the LXX, which is much earlier than the other texts.
● Pedaiah, the son of Neri, married and begat Zerubbabel. Pedaiah then died and Shealtiel adopted Zerubbabel who became his heir. This option is favored by Barnes, Ellicott, and Gill.
● Shealtiel, the son of Neri, married but died childless. Pedaiah then married his widow by the law of Levirate marriage. That union produced Zerubbabel, but he is called the son of Shealtiel in accordance with the requirement of Levirate marriage for the firstborn to bear the name of the dead brother (Deut 25:6). This option is favored by Keil.
● Pedaiah, the son of Neri, married but died childless. Shealtiel then married his widow by the law of Levirate marriage, and that union produced Zerubbabel. He is called the son of Pedaiah in Chronicles in accordance with the requirement of Levirate marriage for the firstborn to bear the name of the dead brother (Deut 25:6).
The fourth option is the most likely. This option is strengthened by Matthew saying that Shealtiel "begat" (Grk. gennaō) Zerubbabel (Matt 1:12). The verb gennaō in every instance in Matthew's genealogy denotes producing offspring or a descendant by impregnation. By virtue of marrying the widow of Pedaiah, the line of Nathan was continued through Shealtiel.
the son of: Grk. ho. Neri: Grk. ho Nēri, derived from Heb. Neriyyah (SH-5374, "lamp of Yah" NASBEC). The name Neri is not found in any Tanakh genealogy, but by itself proves nothing since intermediate members are often passed over in Hebrew genealogies. By the reading of modern versions the name of the father of Shealtiel was Jeconiah (1Chr 3:17). This presents a conundrum since Luke makes Miriam a descendant of Nathan (verse 31 below) and Jeconiah descended from Solomon, not Nathan (1Chr 3:10-16). Moreover, Jeremiah had prophesied that Jeconiah would not have a male descendant to succeed him to the throne (Jer 22:30).
A proper reading of the Hebrew text of 1Chronicles 3:17 indicates that Jeconiah had a son named Assir who became the father of Shealtiel. Modern versions translate Assir as "captive" or "prisoner" as a reference to Jeconiah. However, the MT and LXX clearly make Assir a proper name and is so translated in the earliest English versions, as well as some modern versions (BRG, DARBY, JUB, MEV, NKJV, OJB). Thus, Assir, perhaps born in the captivity and therefore so named, either died young, or was made a eunuch (cf. Isa 39:7; Jer 22:30), after which the royal line of Solomon became extinct.
Assir, however, left a daughter, who then according to the law regarding heiresses (Num 27:8-11; 36:8), married a man belonging to a family of her paternal tribe, viz., Neri, of the family of David, in the line of Nathan, and that from this marriage sprang Shealtiel (Keil 423). Barnes notes that Luke in calling Shealtiel "the son of Neri" gives his real, or natural, descent; since no genealogy would assign to the true son and heir of a king any inferior and private parentage.
28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er,
the son of: Grk. ho, masc. definite article but used here as a noun of familial relationship. See verse 23 above. Melchi: Grk. Melchi, derived from Heb. melek ("my king"). the son of: Grk. ho. Addi: Grk. Addi, derived from Heb. adiy ("ornaments"). the son of: Grk. ho. Cosam: Grk. Kōsam, derived from Heb. qasam ("to divine"). the son of: Grk. ho. Elmadam: Grk. Elmōdam. the son of: Grk. ho. Er: Grk. Ēr, derived from Heb. er ("watchful"). The name is first used of the wicked son of Judah (Gen 38:3). Nothing more is known of the men listed in this verse.
29 the son of Jeshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi,
the son of: Grk. ho, masc. definite article but used here as a noun of familial relationship. See verse 23 above. Jeshua: Grk. ho Iēsous, a transliteration of Heb. Yeshua. See verse 21 above. Bible versions render the name here as "Joshua" to maintain the name "Jesus" exclusively to the Messiah. However, the Greek name is given to six men in the LXX and Bible versions translate the name as Jeshua (Barker 182), which seems appropriate here.
the son of: Grk. ho. Eliezer: Grk. Eliezer, a transliteration of Heb. Eliezer ("God is help"). There are eleven men bearing this name in the Tanakh (Barker 91), first Abraham's servant (Gen 15:2) and then the second son of Moses (Ex 18:4). Half of the men with this name were either priests or Levites and so it may have been with this Eliezer. The name would have been popular because of the connection to Moses.
the son of: Grk. ho. Jorim: Grk. Iōrim. the son of: Grk. ho. Matthat: Grk. Matthat, probably a shortened form of Mattathias (SECB). the son of: Grk. ho. Levi: Grk. Leui. See verse 24 above. Nothing more is known of the men listed in this verse.
30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim,
the son of: Grk. ho, masc. definite article but used here as a noun of familial relationship. See verse 23 above. Simeon: Grk. Sumeōn, a transliteration of Heb. Shimôn ("heard"), which appears for the first time as the second son of Jacob and Leah (Gen 29:33) and then the tribe descended from him (Num 1:22-23). the son of: Grk. ho. Judah: Grk. Iouda, a transliteration of Heb. Y’hudah ("praised" or "object of praise;" BDB 397), which appears for the first time as the fourth son of Jacob and Leah (Gen 29:35). There are six men in the Tanakh with the name Judah (Barker 204).
the son of: Grk. ho. Joseph: Grk. Iōsēph, a transliteration of Heb. Yosef. See verse 23 above. the son of: Grk. ho. Jonam: Grk. Iōnam. the son of: Grk. ho. Eliakim: Grk. Eliakim, a transliteration of Heb. Elyaqim ("God sets up"), which is used of three men in the Tanakh: (1) Hezekiah's prefect of the palace (2Kgs 18:18); (2) son of Josiah, made king by Pharaoh (2Kgs 23:34); and (3) a priest (Neh 12:41). Nothing more is known of the men listed in this verse.
31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David,
Reference: Ruth 4:17-22; 1Samuel 16:1, 13; 2Samuel 5:14; 7:12-13, 16; 1Chronicles 2:15; 3:5; Matthew 1:6.
the son of: Grk. ho, masc. definite article but used here as a noun of familial relationship. See verse 23 above. Melea: Grk. Melea, from Heb. meleah ("fullness, abundance"). the son of: Grk. ho. Menna: Grk. Menna. the son of: Grk. ho. Mattatha: Grk. Mattatha, a transliteration of Heb. Mattattah ("gift of Yah"), which is used of a post-exilic Israelite who took a foreign wife (Ezra 10:33).
the son of: Grk. ho. Nathan: Grk. Natham, a variant spelling of Nathan and a transliteration of Heb. Natan ("gift"). Nathan was born of Bathsheba in Jerusalem and the older brother of Solomon (2Sam 5:14; 1Chr 3:5). The mention of Nathan is another piece of evidence that supports the thesis that this is the genealogy of Miriam, since Matthew names Solomon as the son of David in the genealogy of Joseph (Matt 1:6). Morris observes that carrying the seed of David through Nathan is significant, since Solomon's line had been refused the throne because of Jehoiachin's sin (cf. 1Kgs 24:8-9; Jer 22:24-30; 33:15-17) (1089).
NOTE: None of the generations descending from Nathan are listed in the Tanakh.
the son of: Grk. ho. David: Grk. David, a transliteration of Heb. David ("beloved" or "favorite," HBD). David is one of the most important figures in Israelite history. He became 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. In the civil sphere he made Jerusalem his capital and solidified central authority.
His accomplishments in the religious sphere are especially noteworthy. 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; Ps 89:3; Isa 55:3; Jer 23:5-6; 33:21). Jeremiah left a simple eulogy: "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).
32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon,
Reference: Ruth 4:1, 20-22; 1Samuel 16:1; 1Chronicles 2:10-13; Isaiah 11:1, 10; Matthew 1:4-5.
the son of: Grk. ho, masc. definite article but used here as a noun of familial relationship. See verse 23 above. Jesse: Grk. Iessai, a transliteration of Heb. Yishay (SH-3448, "man" or "manly"), a proper name that appears 42 times in the Tanakh, first in Ruth 4:17. His name features prominently in the narrative of 1Samuel. He was a prominent and wealthy member of the tribe of Judah and lived in Bethlehem. He had eight sons and two daughters (cf. 1Sam 16:10; 17:12; 1Chr 2:13-16). Noteworthy is the mention of Jesse in Messianic prophecies. Isaiah spoke of a "Rod from the stem of Jesse (11:1) and of "a Root of Jesse" (11:10). For Paul, the "root of Jesse" (Rom 15:12) was a prophecy fulfilled in Yeshua.
the son of: Grk. ho. Obed: Grk. Iōbēd, a transliteration of Heb. Obed (SH-5744, "worshiper"). There are five men in the Tanakh with the name Obed, but this man was a member of the tribe of Judah, first mentioned in Ruth 4:17, 22. He is also included in the genealogical list of 2Chronicles 2:12. Obed was born of Ruth near Bethlehem and was the cause of great celebration. Women of the village exclaimed to Naomi, mother-in-law of Ruth,
"Blessed be ADONAI, who has not left you without a goel [kinsman-redeemer] today. May his name be famous throughout Israel. 15 Moreover, He will be to you a renewer of life and a sustainer of your old age, for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him." (Ruth 4:14-15 TLV)
Then Naomi became the nurse for Obed and look after him in the childhood. Since Naomi was bereft of her sons (Ruth 1:5), the neighbor women, seeing Naomi nurse Obed, exclaimed, "A son has been born to Naomi!" (Ruth 4:17). Nothing more is known of his life beyond the genealogical record.
the son of: Grk. ho. Boaz: Grk. Boos, a transliteration of Heb. Boaz (SH-1162, "quickness"). His name appears 23 times in the Tanakh, but features prominently in the book of Ruth (20 times). Boaz was a wealthy resident of Bethlehem and a relative of Naomi (Ruth 2:1). Boaz is presented as a compassionate land-owner who upon meeting the Moabite widow Ruth showed her favor and kindness. Naomi realized her dead husband had property that she could sell to obtain security for her and Ruth, plus gain a husband for Ruth at the same time. Of course, as a Jewish proselyte Ruth would have to marry within Naomi's tribe (cf. Num 36:1-7).
Finding that Ruth was by marriage his kinswoman, Boaz purposed to marry her. As mentioned in Ruth 4:14 the marriage between Boaz and Ruth was connected with the institution of the go'el, meaning next of kin and therefore redeemer. In ancient Israel any duty which a man could not perform by himself had to be taken up by his next of kin, as well as any rights possessed by a man which lapsed through his inability to perform the duties attached to such rights, could be and should be assumed by the next of kin.
The go'el duty was applied especially to parcels of land which any Israelite found it necessary to sell (Lev. 25:25). Another duty of the go'el, similar to Levirate marriage, was to raise offspring for his kinsman if he happened to die without any. The relative nearness of kin is not very definitely determined in the Hebrew Scriptures. The brother appears to be the nearest of all, after whom comes the uncle or uncle's son (Lev. 25:49; Num 36:11). Boaz was Ruth's kinsman by marriage. He wasn't her brother-in-law since Naomi had only two sons and both died in Moab.
Ruth 4:3 describes the relation of Naomi's husband Elimelech to the unnamed relative and Boaz as "our brother" (Heb. ach), which is used in the Tanakh of a sibling or half-sibling, but also other blood relatives as uncle or cousin, and even a member of the same tribe. Given that Boaz points out that the unnamed relative is closer in consanguinity than he (Ruth 3:12), then the unnamed relative could be a sibling of Elimelech, making him an uncle to the husband of Ruth and Boaz a cousin.
When Boaz discovered Naomi's plan, he was willing to marry Ruth, but he had to resolve the matter of legal entitlement that belonged to the nearer relative. The uncle elected not to marry Ruth, probably because he already had a wife, but no son, and he did not want to invest capital in property from which he would gain no benefit and be forced to bequeath his own inheritance to the first-born of Ruth. Boaz was then free to acquire the property and Ruth.
It is very possible that Boaz had a wife or concubine and even children since an unmarried man of his age and prominence would have been unusual (cf. Ruth 3:2). In any event Boaz's character stands in stark relief with his uncle. Boaz was not concerned about the impact on his estate but doing justice for Ruth, which makes him a giant of a man in the annals of Scripture. Upon the relative surrendering his rights, according to custom Boaz then took Ruth as his wife and she bore him Obed. Nothing more is known of his life beyond the genealogical record.
the son of: Grk. ho. Salmon: Grk. Sala, a shortened form of Salmōn, the spelling found three times in the LXX (Ruth 4:20-21; 1Chr 2:11) and a transliteration of Heb. Salmah (SH-8009, "coat" or "clothing"). While the earliest Greek manuscripts of Luke have the spelling of Sala, later manuscripts corrected the spelling to Salmōn to conform to the LXX (GNT 214). Metzger suggests that since Luke was a Syrian he used "Sala" because that was the Aramaic spelling in Ruth 4:20-21 of the Syriac version.
Salmon was a descendant of Caleb, the son of Hur, a member of the tribe of Judah and founder of the town of Bethlehem (cf. 1Chr 2:50-54) (Barker 304). He is also noted for marrying Rahab the Canaanite from Jericho (cf. Josh 6:25; Matt 1:5). In the Targum he is called "Salma the righteous" and eulogized with this comment: "because of whose merit the Israelite people were saved from their enemies, and because of whose prayer the famine ceased in the Land of Israel" (Ruth 4:20-21).
the son of: Grk. ho. Nahshon: Grk. Naassōn, a transliteration of Heb. Nachshon (SH-5177, "enchanter"). His name occurs ten times in the Tanakh and appears in the genealogical record of Ruth 4:20 and 1Chronicles 2:10-11. He was a descendant of Judah and a brother-in-law to Aaron the High Priest (Ex 6:23; Num 1:7). Nahshon is identified as a "leader in the house of Judah" (1Chr 2:10). Nothing further is known of him.
33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah,
Reference: Genesis 29:35; 38:29; 46:12; Exodus 6:23; Ruth 4:18-20; 1Chronicles 2:9-10; Matthew 1:2-4.
the son of: Grk. ho, masc. definite article but used here as a noun of familial relationship. See verse 23 above. Amminadab: Grk. Aminadab, a transliteration of Heb. Amminadav ("my kinsman is noble") (Ex 6:23; 1Chr 2:10). He was the father-in-law of Aaron. the son of: Grk. ho. Ram: Grk. Admin. The Greek spelling is found in the earliest manuscripts: p4 (3rd c.) and Sinaiticus (4th c.). However, the Vulgate (405) and the Peshitta have "Aram," as do later Greek manuscripts. Aram is a variant spelling of Heb. Ram, which is found in several passages of the LXX and MT (Ruth 4:19; 1Chr 2:9-10, 25, 27).
the son of: Grk. ho. Arni: Grk. Arni. The name is found in the earliest manuscript p4 (3rd c.) and Sinaiticus (4th c.), as well as several later manuscripts of Luke. The name is not found in any genealogy of the LXX or MT. Many versions omit the name in this verse. Luke must have had a source of information for the name. the son of: Grk. ho. Hezron: Grk. Hesrōm, a transliteration of Heb. Chetsron, commonly spelled as "Hezron" (Gen 46:12). Ezra identified three sons of Hezron: Jerahmeel, Ram and Chelubai (1Chr 2:9).
the son of: Grk. ho. Perez: Grk. Phares, a transliteration of Heb. Perets ("break through") (Gen 38:29; 46:12; Ruth 4:18; 1Chr 2:4). His mother was Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah and his birth came about in an extraordinary manner. Judah had three sons, Er, Onan and Shelah. Judah arranged a marriage for Er to Tamar. But, Er was evil, so God put him to death. In due course Judah expected Onan to marry Tamar in order to continue Er's name. Onan did not want to produce an heir that would belong to his dead brother.
Onan acted to prevent impregnating his wife and God put him to death. With two dead sons Judah became afraid that the same consequence would befall his son Shelah who was still a lad. Once Shelah was fully grown Judah declined to honor the marriage obligation, so Tamar put a plan into motion. She disguised herself as a harlot and made herself available to Judah. When Tamar was discovered to be pregnant by Judah, he was forced to admit his error. Tamar bore twin boys with significant drama:
"28 Moreover, it took place while she was giving birth, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, "This one came out first." 29 But it came about as he drew back his hand, that behold, his brother came out. Then she said, "What a breach you have made for yourself!" So he was named Perez." (Gen 38:28-29 NASU)
Tying scarlet thread around the wrist of Perez marked him as the firstborn, but more significantly as an ancestor of the Messiah who would shed his blood for his people. While it is easy to condemn Judah and Tamar by the later law that forbid sexual union between a man and his daughter-in-law (Lev 18:15; 20:12), Tamar is clearly the object of sympathy in the story. There was no sin since God does not apply His laws retroactively.
the son of: Grk. ho. Judah: Grk. Ioudas, a transliteration of Heb. Y’hudah, which means "praised" or "object of praise" (Gen 29:35; BDB 397). Although born fourth (Gen 29:35) Judah benefited greatly from Reuben's forfeiture of his inheritance and leadership rights. Indeed, far more is said about the tribe of Judah in the Scriptures than any other tribe. In his patriarchal blessing Jacob offers four prophecies of Judah's future (Gen 49:8-12). Moses summarizes these themes in his blessing on Judah (Deut 33:7).
First, Judah would be the leader of his brothers. As a testament to this preference Judah went first in the order of march in the wilderness and was always the largest tribe in numbers. Second, Judah would be a great conqueror, which was manifest very early by Caleb and Othniel (Jdg 1:11-15, 20; 3:9-11). King David who came from Judah then accomplished the greatest military conquests in Israel’s history. Third, Judah would produce a royal line of kings and after King Saul God would never give legitimacy to any king that did not come from the tribe of Judah.
Fourth, Jacob used the name "Shiloh" to promise that the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah. The Talmud lists Shiloh as one of the names of the Messiah (Sanhedrin 98b). The most ancient Jewish commentary on Genesis also adopts this interpretation (Bereshit Rabbah 99), as does the noted Jewish commentator Rashi (Varner 47). Moreover, the Messiah would be born of David’s line in a town of Judah, Bethlehem (2Sam 7:12-16; Mic 5:2). The genealogy of Yeshua in Matthew and Luke confirm Jacob's prophecy. Thus, Judah is probably listed here before Reuben in honor of the Lion of Judah that conquered the enemy of our souls.
34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,
Reference: Genesis 11:10-32; 21:3; 25:26; 1Chronicles 1:24-28, 34; Matthew 1:2; Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews I, 6:5.
the son of: Grk. ho, masc. definite article but used here as a noun of familial relationship. See verse 23 above. Jacob: Grk. Iakōb transliterates the Heb. Ya'akov ("Jacob"), the son of the patriarch Isaac. The meaning of Jacob's name, "heel-catcher," had no pejorative connotation when first given by Isaac to his son. As indicated by Hosea 12:3, "heel-catcher" illustrated the strength and power he had with God. The story of Jacob is narrated in Genesis 25−50. He was the second born of the twin sons of Isaac by Rebekah, probably at Beer-Lachai-Roi in the Negev (cf. Gen 24:62; 25:11, 20, 26). Before Jacob's birth God informed Rebekah "There are two nations in your womb. From birth they will be two rival peoples. One of these peoples will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger" (Gen 25:23 CJB).
By this statement God decreed that Jacob, even though born second, would have all the rights of the firstborn: (1) superior rank in his family (Gen 49:3); (2) a double portion of the paternal inheritance (Deut 21:17); (3) the priestly office in the family (Num 8:17-19); and (4) the promise of the Seed in which all nations of the earth were to be blessed (Gen 22:18). From the time of his birth Jacob was a good man who lived as a shepherd.
Jacob is described with the adjective tam, which means "perfect, complete, blameless, morally innocent, having integrity." This is the same word used to describe Job (Job 1:1, 8; 2:3) and Noah (Gen 6:9) and prescribed as God's expectation of Abraham (Gen 17:1). However, Bible scholars do not want to accord Jacob the same status as Noah and Job and inexplicably render tam in his case as "quiet," "peaceful," "plain," or "mild." (Check your own version.) See my article Our Father Jacob.
the son of: Grk. ho. Isaac: Grk. Isaak, which attempts to transliterate the Heb. Yitzchak ("laughter"). Isaac was the only son of Abraham by Sarah when Abraham was one hundred years old and Sarah was ninety (Gen 21:1-6). Isaac was actually Abraham's second-born child, Ishmael being his first-born by Hagar, Abraham's concubine-wife. God made it clear to Abraham that being the child of promise the Messianic line would go through Isaac (Gen 21:12). Isaac became a child of sacrifice and a type of Yeshua when God commanded Abraham to take his son to the land of Moriah and present a burnt offering (Gen 22:1-14).
Through the matchmaking efforts of his father, Isaac married his cousin Rebekah (Gen 24:67), who bore him twin sons, Esau and Jacob (Gen 25:21-28). God reiterated the covenant He made with Abraham with his son Isaac (Gen 26:2-5, 23-24). Isaac became quite prosperous and made his home in Beersheba (Gen 26:23-25). Isaac died at Mamre near Hebron at the age of 180 and was buried by his sons (Gen 35:27-29).
the son of: Grk. ho. Abraham: Grk. Abraam, a transliteration of Heb. Avraham (SH-85), a personal name. The preeminent Hebrew patriarch, he was the son of Terah, a descendant of Noah's son, Shem (Gen 11:27). He grew up in Ur of the Chaldees, a prominent city of Shinar, later known as Babylonia. See the map here. His birth name was Abram ("father is exalted"), but his name was later changed to Abraham ("father of a multitude") (Gen 17:5). His story spans a significant portion of Genesis, Chapters 12 to 25. The story of Abraham is an inspiration. He was a prophet, a priest, an intercessor, a teacher and a peacemaker.
Abraham was a godly and righteous man (Gen 26:5). His life and example testify of God's sovereign care and faithfulness. Abraham died at the age of 175 and was buried with his wife Sarah in the cave of Machpelah in Ephron by his sons Isaac and Ishmael (Gen 25:7-10). Abraham is acknowledged in Scripture as both the biological father of the Israelites and Jews (Gen 25:19; 26:3; 1Chron 29:18; Isa 51:1-2) and a spiritual father to many of all nations (Gen 17:5). For more information on the great patriarch see my article The Story of Abraham.
the son of: Grk. ho. Terah: Grk. Tharah, a transliteration of Heb. Terach, whose story is recorded in Genesis 11:24-32. Terah was a native of Ur of the Chaldees, a prominent Sumerian city. He had three sons: Nahor, Abram and Haran. At some point Terah decided to leave Ur. Josephus attributes the decision for moving to the death of Haran (Gen 11:28) and Terah mourning over him. It is also possible it came about after God spoke to Abraham, instructing him to leave for a land to be revealed later (cf. Gen 15:7; Neh 9:7; Acts 7:2-3).
Abraham must have related this divine instruction to his father since Genesis records that Terah took his entire family from Ur, intending to go to Canaan (Gen 11:31). However, Terah stopped in Haran, settled there and eventually died there at the age of 205 (Gen 11:32). Scholars debate regarding Terah's religious practices, since Joshua 24:2 records that when Terah was beyond the River he worshiped other gods. It may well be that the revelation to Abraham brought about a change in Terah.
the son of: Grk. ho. Nahor: Grk. Nachōr, a transliteration of Heb. Nachôr and first mentioned in Genesis 11:22. Unique to the genealogies of Genesis is the recording of the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, who was actually the daughter of his brother Haran, therefore his niece (Gen 11:29). Of interest is that this relationship is not included in the Leviticus 18 definition of incest. According to Josephus Nahor had eight sons by Milcah. The Torah only says that besides Terah Nahor had other sons and daughters (Gen 11:25). Josephus also says that Nahor had a concubine, Reuma, by whom he had four sons. Growing up in a territory devoted to idolatry Nahor worshiped other gods (Josh 24:2).
35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah,
Reference: Genesis 10:21, 24-25; 11:12-23; 1Chronicles 1:18-19, 24-26; Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews I, 6:4-5.
the son of: Grk. ho, masc. definite article but used here as a noun of familial relationship. See verse 23 above. Serug: Grk. Serouch, a transliteration of Heb. Serug (SH-8286, "vine-shoot"), first mentioned in Genesis 11:20. According to the LXX Serug was born in the one hundred and thirty-second year of Reu. The MT reduced the birth year by a hundred years, but Josephus agrees with the LXX. See the Additional Note: Hebrew Revision after the comment on the next verse.
the son of: Grk. ho. Reu: Grk. Rhagau, a poor transliteration of Heb. Reu, first mentioned in Genesis 11:18. According to the LXX Reu was born in the one hundred and thirtieth year of Peleg. The MT reduced the birth year by a hundred years, but Josephus agrees with the LXX. the son of: Grk. ho. Peleg: Grk. Phalek, a transliteration of Heb. Peleg (SH-6389, "division"), first mentioned in Genesis 10:25. According to the LXX Peleg was born in the one hundred and thirty-fourth year of Eber (Gen 11:16). The MT reduced the birth year by a hundred years, but Josephus agrees with the LXX.
The Genesis narrative notes that Peleg received his name in memory of an event involving division with global impact. According to commentators beginning with Josephus this division refers to the dispersion of people groups according to language after the judgment on Babel (cf. Gen 10:32; 11:6-9). Against this view is that the Hebrew word for division in Genesis 10:25 is palag, whereas verse 32 has parad. While Hebrew authorities contend the two verbs are synonymous, palag also means to split or to cleave a channel. Thus, the global event remembered could well be a geological splitting of the original single land mass of the earth into separate land masses or continents.
the son of: Grk. ho. Eber: Grk. Eber, a transliteration of Heb. Eber (SH-5677, "region beyond"), first mentioned in Genesis 10:21. According to the LXX Eber was born in the one hundred and thirtieth year of Shelah (Gen 11:14). The MT reduced the birth year by a hundred years, but Josephus agrees with the LXX. The name is a reminder of being born beyond the Euphrates River. Eber became the ancestor of the people group known as "Hebrews" (Heb. Ibri, Gen 14:13).
the son of: Grk. ho. Shelah: Grk. Sala, a transliteration of Heb. Shelach (SH-7974, from shalach, "to send"), first mentioned in Genesis 10:24. The spelling of the name in Greek owes to the fact that Greek has no letter with the "sh" sound. According to the LXX Shelah was born in the one hundred and thirtieth year of Cainan (Gen 11:13). The MT says that Shelah was born in the thirty-fifth year of Arphaxad. Josephus agrees that Shelah was fathered by Arphaxad, but in the one hundred and thirty-fifth year of Arphaxad.
36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech,
the son of: Grk. ho, masc. definite article but used here as a noun of familial relationship. See verse 23 above. Cainan: Grk. ho Kainan, a transliteration of Heb. Qenan, mentioned in the LXX of Genesis 10:24; 11:12; and 1Chronicles 1:18. Luke did not invent his existence. Cainan was born in the one hundredth and thirty-fifth year of Arphaxad (LXX Gen 11:12). This name is absent from the genealogy in Josephus, the MT, and the Targums. The name is also omitted from the descendants of Shem in 1Chronicles 1:24. In contrast the genealogical data of Genesis 10−11 and 1Chronicles is not found in the DSS.
Most commentators avoid any discussion of Cainan. Some commentators suggest that the inclusion of Cainan in this genealogy was the work of a transcriber and not Luke himself (Benson, Gill). However, Luke follows the LXX is other details of the genealogy and there is no manuscript evidence of this hypothetical transcriber. Gill offers the theory that the reading of Luke was inserted into the LXX, but Plummer points out that such an interpolation in the LXX cannot be maintained upon critical principles. Moreover, there is no manuscript of the LXX without the name in the three verses where it appears.
The Jewish translators that produced the LXX were scrupulous in their work and the inclusion of Cainan in the three passages of the LXX cited above must have reflected an early Hebrew text. However, later Hebrew texts omitted the name, either accidentally or deliberately, more likely the latter. There are a number of other references to people and names in the LXX that are different in the MT. For example, the LXX says that all the souls that came from the loins of Jacob was 75 whereas the MT says 70 (Ex 1:5). The DSS 4Q1 agrees with the LXX. See the Additional Note: Hebrew Revision below.
the son of: Grk. ho. Arphaxad: Grk. Arphaxad, a transliteration of Heb. Arpakshad, mentioned in Genesis 10:22, 24; 11:10-13; and 1Chroncles 1:17-18, 24. Arphaxad was born in the one hundredth year of Shem (Gen 11:10), to which the LXX and the MT concur. Josephus says that Arphaxad named the Arphaxadites, who are now called Chaldeans (Ant. I, 6:4).
the son of: Grk. ho. Shem: Grk. Sēm, a transliteration of Heb. Shem ("name"). Greek does not have a letter with the "Sh" sound. In contrast to previous generations Noah's age at the birth of his firstborn son is not given. Instead the Genesis narrative states that Noah was 500 years old and fathered (Heb. yalad, "to beget") three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth (Gen 5:32). The verb is a Hiphil Consecutive Imperfect, which signifies that he caused their births one after the other. They were not triplets. The age most likely marked the point at which Noah was instructed to build an ark. Prior to that point Noah could have beget daughters (cf. Gen 6:1) who were lost in the deluge.
Shem was most likely the second born of Noah (cf. Gen 5:32; 6:10; 10:21; 11:10). Noah was 600 years old when the deluge came (Gen 7:6) and the family was in the ark for a year (cf. Gen 7:11; 8:14). Two years after the deluge when Shem fathered his firstborn he was 100 years old (Gen 11:10). So backdating brings the birth of Shem when Noah was 503 years old. Shem was listed before his brothers, because on him the covenant was entailed, as appears by Genesis 9:26, where God is called the LORD God (Heb. YHVH Elohim) of Shem (Benson).
the son of: Grk. ho. Noah: Grk. Nōe, a transliteration of Heb. Noach (SH-5146, "rest"), the son of Lamech (Gen 5:28f) and the ninth generation after Adam (1Chr 1:4). Noah is mentioned eight times in the Besekh (Matt 24:37-41; Luke 3:36; 17:26-27; 1Pet 3:20; 2Pet 2:5). According to the chronology of Genesis 5 in the MT Noah was born in the one hundredth and eightieth year of Lamech, whereas the LXX says one hundredth and eighty-eighth year. Josephus has the one hundredth and eighty-second year (Ant. I, 3:4).
Noah was 600 years old when the waters of judgment came upon the earth (Gen 7:6) and he lived another 350 years after the deluge (Gen 9:28-29). God instructed Noah to build a gigantic vessel to carry his family and animals of every kind in order to survive the deluge that would kill all life on the earth (Gen 6:14-16). The purpose for building such a large vessel is self-evident. If the flood was to be a local event people could simply have fled to higher ground. The household of Noah that entered the ark a week before the global flood included his wife, his three sons and their wives (Gen 7:4-7, 13; 1Pet 3:20). See my article The Global Deluge.
the son of: Grk. ho. Lamech: Grk. Lamech, a transliteration of Heb. Lemek (SH-3929), first mentioned in Genesis 4:18. Lamech was born in the one hundred eighty-seventh year of Methuselah, to which the LXX, MT and Josephus all agree. Lamech is noted in the Genesis record as practicing polygamy with two wives, Adah and Zillah (Gen 4:19). His grandsons were distinguished in their time by Jubal being the father of those who play the lyre and pipe, and Tubal-cain being a forger of bronze and iron implements (Gen 4:21-22). Lamech also reported to his wives that like Cain he had killed a man, but justified it as self-defense (Gen 4:23).
Additional Note: Hebrew Revision
Considerable differences exist between the Septuagint (LXX), produced by Jewish scholars, and the Masoretic Text (MT), which is the canonical Hebrew Bible of Rabbinic Judaism. The MT is named after the Masoretes, scribes and Torah scholars who worked between the 7th and 11th centuries. Christian versions of the Old Testament are based on the MT. The LXX is several hundred years older than the MT whose oldest existing manuscripts date from the 9th century A.D. The LXX dates from the 3rd/2nd century B.C. and represents an older stream of Hebrew (referred to as Paleo-Hebrew) that often agrees with the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS). The DSS site marks words and phrases changed by the MT in red.
The differences between the LXX and MT are not merely a matter of grammar, but an expression of religious viewpoint. A strong argument has been made of a purposeful altering of the original Hebrew text. The reason for changing the Scriptures was because of the reliance of the apostles on passages of Messianic prophecy in the LXX as authoritative for proclaiming Yeshua as the Son of God and the Messiah of Israel (e.g. Deut 32:43; Ps 22:17; 40:6; 42:4; Isa 7:14; 61:1). For the background history of the LXX and changes made to the Hebrew text see Barry Setterfield, The Alexandrian Septuagint History (March 2010).
The altering of the original Paleo-Hebrew text began under the authority of Rabbi Akiba, the father of Rabbinic Judaism, in the early second century A.D. Akiba sponsored a new rabbinical Greek Bible and a rabbinical, colloquial Targum. The new Greek translation was done by Akiba's pupil Aquila and was completed in 128. The editor of the Babylonian Talmud confirms that a Greek translation of the Bible was composed by Aquila (Megillah 3a, fn-6). This was a Greek version of what would become known as the Masoretic Text.
In the same time period as Akiba the church father Justin Martyr (c. A.D. 100−165) investigated a number of Hebrew texts of the Tanakh then in use and concluded that the Jews who had rejected Yeshua as Messiah had also rejected the LXX. Indeed they were then tampering with the Hebrew Scriptures themselves:
"But I am far from putting reliance in your teachers, who refuse to admit that the interpretation made by the seventy elders who were with Ptolemy [king] of the Egyptians is a correct one; and they attempt to frame another. And I wish you to observe, that they have altogether taken away many Scriptures from the translations [Septuagint] effected by those seventy elders who were with Ptolemy, and by which this very man who was crucified is proved to have been set forth expressly as God, and man, and as being crucified, and as dying” (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, Chapter LXXI)
Thus, Akiba wanted support for the Messianic message removed from the Tanakh. In the matter of names and years recorded in Genesis there is a clear disagreement in the data. For example, the total lifespan of the patriarchs reported in Genesis 5 and 11 is the same in the LXX and MT, but in the MT the age of Adam through Jared and Arphaxad through Serug at the birth of their firstborn sons is reduced by 100 years each. Noteworthy is that the corresponding genealogical data given by Josephus (Ant. I, 3:4; 6:4-5) agrees with the LXX and not the MT.
Barry Setterfield argues that deducting a hundred years from the age of principal men at the birth of their firstborn sons was done in order to support the assertion that Melchizedek was actually Shem, son of Noah.
"And Malka Zadika, who was Shem bar Noah, the king of Yerushalem, came forth to meet Abram, and brought forth to him bread and wine; and in that time he ministered before Eloha Ilaha." Targum Jonathan (AD 150−250).
"And Malki Zedek, king of Yerushalem, who was Shem, who was the great priest of the Most High." Targum Jerusalem (4th c. AD and later)
"The Holy One, blessed be He, sought to cause the priesthood to go forth from Shem. For it is said: And he was a priest of God Most High. [Gen 14:18]" (TB Nedarim 32b)
"Shem is identified with Melchizedek." (Midrash Rabbah: Genesis, Vol. 1, XLIV, 8, footnote 3; p. 365)
The fabrication of the Shem identity by rabbinic Sages was likely done in response to Paul's letter Hebrews in which he identifies Yeshua as the fulfillment of the Melchizedek prophecy. See Barry Setterfield, The Genealogy Differences in the Masoretic, Alexandrian LXX and Samaritan Pentateuch.
37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Kenan,
Reference: Genesis 5:9-27; 1Chronicles 1:2-3; Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews I, 3:4.
the son of: Grk. ho, masc. definite article but used here as a noun of familial relationship. See verse 23 above. Methuselah: Grk. Mathousala, a transliteration of Heb. Methushelach (SH-4968, "man of the dart"), first mentioned in Genesis 5:21. According to the LXX Methuselah was born in the one hundred sixty-fifth year of Enoch, but the MT has the sixty-fifth year. Josephus agrees with the LXX. Methuselah is noted as having lived the longest of the primeval patriarchs, 969 years (Gen 5:27).
the son of: Grk. ho. Enoch: Grk. Henōch, a transliteration of Heb. Chanok (SH-2585, "dedicated"). There are four men in the Tanakh with the name Enoch, and this Enoch is first mentioned in Genesis 5:18. The LXX and MT say that Enoch was born in the one hundred and sixty-second year of Jared (Gen 5:18), which Josephus also reports. Enoch's lifespan on earth was 365 years. Enoch is also lauded in various Jewish literary works. In these narratives Enoch is the ideal of righteousness, even excelling Noah in this virtue, and a man who knew God in a personal relationship. See the links below.
● Jubilees 4:16-23; 7:38-39; 10:17; 19:24-27.
● Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, I, 3:2-4.
Most significant of Jewish sources is the Book of Enoch, which probably dates to the 2nd century B.C. The book is over one hundred chapters long in its final form and survives in its entirety in the Ethiopic language. Many remnants of the Book of Enoch in Aramaic were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls (TDSS 278-303). The Qumran sect placed a high value on the Enoch literature, which profoundly influenced their conceptions of God, creation, angels, salvation, sin and the coming judgment (TDSS 279).
The Book of Enoch is included by most scholars in the Jewish Pseudepigrapha, books written by unknown authors but attributed to famous biblical figures. Stern points out that such attribution was not deceptive, but either honorific or a means of identifying the message of the actual author with the character and activity of the supposed one (783). The Book of Enoch is valuable for rich historical information that illumines our understanding of Hebrew culture and the apostolic writings.
Enoch is mentioned two other times in the Besekh, first by Paul (Heb 11:5) and then by Judah ("Jude"), the half-brother of Yeshua (Jude 1:14-15). Judah identifies Enoch as living in the seventh generation from creation with Adam counted as the first, and the seventh after Adam considering that his first two sons, Cain and Abel, were essentially lost to the Messianic line (1Chr 1:1-2). From the time of the Council of Jamnia (c. A.D. 90), the book has not been part of the Jewish Scriptures. However, beginning in the second century Christian authors took a different view.
The Epistle of Barnabas (c 70 AD – 132 AD) quotes the Book of Enoch as "Scripture," using the standard formula "it is written" (4:3). Many church fathers regarded the Book of Enoch as an authentic work of the biblical Enoch containing divine revelation. (See the article, The Book of Henoch, in the Catholic Encyclopedia.) The early church father Tertullian (A.D. 160-230) wrote that the Book of Enoch had been rejected by the Jews because it contained prophecies pertaining to the Messiah (On the Apparel of Women, Chap. III).
Nevertheless the Book of Enoch was never accorded canonical status within Christianity, except for the Ethiopia Orthodox Church. The quotation of Enoch in the letter of Jude clearly treats the quote as genuine prophetic material. One only needs to consider that the Genesis narratives were transmitted by means of written records that were later compiled by Moses. Tertullian contended that Noah had such records of Enoch's teachings. The presence of the book in the Dead Sea Scrolls indicates that it's not impossible that Enoch's work would be preserved due to the import of its content.
The fact that Enoch did not die, but was translated to heaven while alive (like Elijah), has led some Bible expositors to suggest that also like Elijah he will return. Revelation 11:3-7 contains a prophecy of two witnesses who will have a ministry during the reign of the anti-Messiah. (See my comment there.) The prophecy given to Yochanan no doubt alludes to Zechariah 4:11-14, which foretells the coming of two olive trees that are explained as two anointed ones.
the son of: Grk. ho. Jared: Grk. Iaret, a transliteration of Heb. Yered (SH-3382, "slave" HBD), first mentioned in Genesis 5:15. The LXX says that Jared was born in the one hundred and sixty-fifth year of Mahalalel (Gen 5:15), which Josephus also reports (Ant. I, 3:4). The MT deducted 100 years for this birth. the son of: Grk. ho. Mahalalel: Grk. Maleleēl (mal-el-eh-ale'), a transliteration of Heb. Mahalalel (SH-4111, "praise of God" NASBEC), first mentioned in Genesis 5:12. The LXX says that Mahalalel was born in the one hundred and seventieth year of Cainan (Gen 5:12), which Josephus also reports. The MT deducted 100 years for this birth.
the son of: Grk. ho. Kenan: Grk. Kainan, a transliteration of Heb. Qenan (SH-7018), first mentioned in Genesis 5:9. The majority of versions spell the name as "Cainan," but others have "Kenan" imitating the Hebrew spelling (CEV, EXB, GNB, ICB, MSG, MW, NCV, NET, NIV, NLT TLV). The LXX says that Kenan was born in the one hundred and ninetieth year of Enosh (Gen 5:9), which Josephus also reports. The MT deducted 100 years for this birth.
38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
Reference: Genesis 4:25-26; 5:1-11; 1Chronicles 1:1; Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews I, 3:4.
the son of: Grk. ho, masc. definite article but used here as a noun of familial relationship. See verse 23 above. Enosh: Grk. Enōs, a transliteration of Heb. Enosh (SH-583, "humanity" or "a man"), first mentioned in Genesis 4:26. The LXX says that Seth was born in the two hundred and fifth year of Seth, which Josephus also reports. However, the MT deducted 100 years.
the son of: Grk. ho. Seth: Grk. Sēth, which transliterates Heb. Sheth (SH-8352, "He set or appointed" or "replacement"), first mentioned in Genesis 4:25. Seth replaced Abel in the Messianic line after his murder. The LXX says that Seth was born in the two hundred and thirtieth year of Adam, which Josephus also reports. However, the MT deducted 100 years.
the son of: Grk. ho. Adam: Grk. Adam, a transliteration of Heb. Adam (SH-"red," "ground," NIBD), pronounced "Ah-dahm," but Adamos in Josephus (Ant. I, 1:2) (Thayer). Adam was the first man, created on the sixth day of creation and placed in the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:19-23; 3:8-9). He and the woman God created for him (whom Adam named Chavah, "life," Gen 3:20) became the progenitors of the human race. Adam, unlike the animals, was created in the image of God (Gen 1:26).
Created in innocence the first couple did not know sin, but when tempted by the Serpent they disobeyed God's commandment. As a result God punished the couple and all their offspring with death, both physical and spiritual. Indeed, all of creation has suffered because of their sin. Adam and Eve had multiple sons and daughters, only three of whom are named. Adam died at the age of 930 years (Gen 5:5).
the son of: Grk. ho. God: Grk. theos. See verse 2 above. Morris notes that Adam, like the angels (Job 1:6), is called a son of God for the obvious reason that he (like they) was created, not born.
ABP: The Apostolic Bible Polyglot, trans. Charles Van Der Pool. The Apostolic Press, 2006. LXX-English Interlinear.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 4th ed. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Barclay: William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke. rev. ed. The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press, 1975.
Barker: William P. Barker, Everyone In the Bible. Fleming H. Revell Co., 1966.
Barnes: Albert Barnes (1798-1870), Notes on the Whole Bible (1834). Baker Book House, 1949. Online.
Benson: Joseph Benson (1748-1821), Commentary of the Old and New Testaments. T. Carlton & J. Porter, 1857. Online.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. London: Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online at BibleHub.com.
Brown: David Brown (1803-1897), The Gospel According to Luke, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871), Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown. Online.
Clarke: Adam Clarke (1762-1832), Commentary on the Holy Bible: Luke (1826). Online.
Coffman: James Burton Coffman (1905-2006), Commentaries on the Bible. Online.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Delitzsch: Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890), Isaiah. Trans. James Martin. Commentary on the Old Testament (C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, 1866-1891), Vol. 7. Hendrickson Publishers, 2006. Online.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols. Colin Brown, ed. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.
Edersheim: Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (1883). New Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993. Online.
Ellicott: Charles John Ellicott (1819–1905), Commentary for English Readers (1878). Online.
Geldenhuys: Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1951. (NICNT)
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]
Gruber: Daniel Gruber, The Messianic Writings. Elijah Publishing, 2011. [Translation of the New Testament Majority Text and annotations by the author.]
HBD: Trent C. Butler, ed., Holman Bible Dictionary. Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1991. Online.
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
HFC: John J. Parsons, Hebrew for Christians. Online.
HNT: Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890), Hebrew New Testament. Leipzig, 1877. Online. (Translation of the Greek New Testament into biblical Hebrew.)
ISBE: International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Ed. James Orr. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1939. Website HTML, 2011. Online.
Jastrow: Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushlami, and the Midrashic Literature. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903, 1926. Online.
Jeremias: Joichim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Fortress Press, 1975.
Keil: C.F. Keil (1807-1888), 1 Chronicles. Trans. James Martin. Commentary on the Old Testament (C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, 1866-1891), Vol. 3. Hendrickson Publishers, 2006. Online.
Lane: William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1974. [New International Commentary on the New Testament]
Levine: Amy-Jill Levine, Annotations on "The Gospel According to Luke," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602-1675), Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations upon Luke, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), Vol. 3. Hendrickson Pub., 1989.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (1889). rev. by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online
Lumby: J. Rawson Lumby (1831–1895), Luke, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Cambridge University Press, 1891. Online.
Meyer: Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer (1800-1873), Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (1859). 21 vols. T&T Clark, 1880. Online.
Morris: Henry M. Morris (1918-2006), The Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing Co., 1995. [Formerly President of Institute for Creation Research]
Motyer: J. Alec Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah. Intervarsity Press, 1993.
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.
NIBD: Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible. Herbert Lockyer, ed. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.
Notley: R. Steven Notley, John's Baptism of Repentance. Jerusalem Perspective Online, 2004. Online.
Plummer: Alfred Plummer (1841-1926), A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to S. Luke. 5th edition. T&T Clark, 1922. Online.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker (1897-1965), A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. 2 vol. Zondervan Pub. House, 1980.
Robertson: Archibald T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 6 Vols. Broadman Press, 1933. (Parsons CD-ROM Version 2.0, 1997) Online.
Robinson: John A.T. Robinson (1919-1983), Redating the New Testament. SCM Press, 1976. Online.
Santala: Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1984, 1992. Online.
SBD: Sir William Smith (1813-1893), A Dictionary of the Bible. John Murray, 1893. Online. aka "Smith's Bible Dictionary."
SECB: James Strong (1822–1894), Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (1890). Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
TDSS: The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation. Rev. ed. Trans. Michael Wise, Martin Abegg Jr. and Edward Cook. HarperOne, 2005.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer (1828-1901), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (1889). Hendrickson Publishers, 2003. Online.
TWOT: R. Laird Harris, ed., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. 2 vols. Moody Press, 1980.
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