Yohanan Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern

chapter 7
1. After this, Yeshua traveled around in the Galil, intentionally avoiding Y’hudah because the Judeans were out to kill him.
Avoiding Y'hudah because the Judeans (not "the Jews") were out to kill him. V'hudah (Judea, Greek loudaia) is mentioned three times in vv. 1-3; this is overwhelming evidence in favor of translating "loudaioi" here as Judeans and not "Jews." And if this is the case here, there is no good reason to translate differently in many other places where Judea is not explicitly mentioned. See 1:19N for more on this subject.

2. But the festival of Sukkot in Y’hudah was near;
Judean festival of Sukkot, that is, the Feast of Tabernacles (temporary dwellings), when Jewish males were required to go to Yemshalayim (see v. IN, 5: IN). Leviticus 23:33-43, Numbers 29:12-39 and Deuteronomy 16:13-16 prescribe details of Sukkot. It commences on the 15th day of Tishri, five days after Yom-Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and lasts seven days, with an eighth day, Sh 'miniAtzeret, an added day of rest; this means it comes during late September or October. Families build booths of palm branches, partly open to the sky, to recall God's providence toward Israel during the forty years of wandering in the desert and living in tents. The festival also celebrates the harvest, coming, as it does, at summer's end. so that it is a time of thanksgiving. (The Puritans, who took the Old Testament more seriously than most Christians, modeled the American holiday of Thanksgiving after Sukkot.) To observe the festival people brought to the Temple an etrog ("citron"), a citrus fruit representing the fruit of the Promised Land, and waved a lulav, which is a palm branch, a myrtle and a willow bound together; today the same is done in the synagogues.

The festival is prophetically connected with the fate of the Gentiles, for Zechariah writes:
"It shall come about that everyone left of all the nations who came against Yerushalayim shall go up from year to year to worship the King, Adonai of Heaven's Armies, and to keep the festival of Sukkot. For whoever does not come up from all the families of the earth to worship the King, Adonai of Heaven's Armies, there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt does not go up, if it does not come, then they will have no overflow [from the Nile River]. This will be the plague with which Adonai will smite the nations that do not come up to keep the festival of Sukkot. This will be the punishment of Egypt and of all nations that do not come up to keep the festival of Sukkot." (Zechariah 14:16-19)

This refers to the Messianic Age, after the whole world has come against Yerushalayim and been defeated; in the light of the New Testament it should be understood as taking place after the second coming of Yeshua the Messiah. The rabbis of the Talmud recognized the connection of this festival with the Gentiles: speaking of the seventy bulls required by Numbers 29:12-34 to be sacrificed during the seven days of the festival, "Rabbi El'azar said, 'To what do these seventy bulls correspond? To the seventy nations'"(Sukkah 55b). In rabbinic tradition, the traditional number of Gentile nations is seventy; the seventy bulls are to make atonement for them.

The festival of Sukkot is the background for Chapters 7-8 of Yochanan's Gospel. Further details of its customs are needed to understand 7:37-39 and 8:12; see notes there.

3. so his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go into Y’hudah, so that your talmidim can see the miracles you do;
4. for no one who wants to become known acts in secret. If you’re doing these things, show yourself to the world!”
5. (His brothers spoke this way because they had not put their trust in him.)
6. Yeshua said to them, “My time has not yet come; but for you, any time is right.
7. The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me, because I keep telling it how wicked its ways are.
8. You, go on up to the festival; as for me, I am not going up to this festival now, because the right time for me has not yet come.”
I am not going up... now. (On "going up to Yerushalayim" see Mt 20:17-19N.) There is a textual question. The preferred reading has ouk ("not"), which yields as the simplest rendering, "1 am not going up." Oupo ("not yet"), found in some manuscripts, is considered by Bruce Metzger (A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament) as having been introduced later by scribes uncomfortable with v. 10, which says he did go up. 1 have no reason to doubt ouk. But the Greek present tense, which often has ongoing force, allows this understanding: "I am not at present in the process of going up," or. more simply, "I am not going up now but may do so later — I'm not telling."

Yeshua's brothers... had not put their trust in him (v. 5). It is sometimes argued that if his brothers did not believe in him, why should we? But one of them, Ya'akov, not only came to trust in him later but became leader of the Messianic Jewish community in Yenishalayim (Ac 2:17; 15:13; 21:18; Ga 1:19; 2:9, 12); and he is usually credited with authorship of the book of Ya'akov. Likewise another brother, Y'hudah, is thought to be the author of the New Testament book bearing his name.

Yeshua was not swayed by his brothers' challenge, which seems to have stemmed from a reasonable and friendly — yet entirely human — motive, the desire to see their brother succeed and become famous. Yeshua had performed miracles in the Galil: his brothers apparently felt he should not delay in developing his reputation in Judea too and even gave a plausible argument (v. 4). But Yeshua had another agenda. My time has not yet come (v. 6), either to go to the festival or to do miracles in Judea. Underlying the repeated mentioning of Yeshua's "time" (see 2:4N) is the theme of his basic mission, to die for the sins of mankind; this was to take place exactly at God's right moment and was not to be precipitated by any human challenge.

9. Having said this, he stayed on in the
10. But after his brothers had gone up to the festival, he too went up, not publicly but in secret.
11. At the festival, the Judeans were looking for him. “Where is he?” they asked.
12. And among the crowds there was much whispering about him. Some said, “He’s a good man”; but others said, “No, he is deceiving the masses.”
At 5:17-18N I pointed out that the option of regarding Yeshua as merely a great teacher is illusory and not in keeping with what he taught. It is similarly impossible to regard him merely as a good man, although he certainly was one.

13. However, no one spoke about him openly, for fear of the Judeans.
14. Not until the festival was half over did Yeshua go up to the Temple courts and begin to teach.
15. The Judeans were surprised: “How does this man know so much without having studied?” they asked.
Without having studied, that is. without having attended any of the usual yeshivot, sitting under the rabbis and Torah-teachers who inculcated the Pharisaic oral tradition of Torah. The implication is that the speakers regarded Yeshua as an 'am-ha 'areti, that is, a "hick" (see v. 49N, Ac 4:13&N: compare Mt 13:54-55l, 21:2-7&N; Mk 6:2; Lk 4:22). Actually, Talmudic tradition reports that "Yeshu" (see Mt 1:2IN) learned from Rabbi Y'hoshua ben-Perachyah, who was the chief teacher of his day (Sanhednn 107b, Sotah 47a). Although this is historically impossible, since the rabbi lived aboul a hundred years earlier, we see that Jewish tradition does not regard Yeshua as religiously ignorant. The New Testament reports demonstrate that he had not only wide knowledge of both biblical and traditional materials, but wisdom from God transcending academic credentials.

16. So Yeshua gave them an answer: “My teaching is not my own, it comes from the One who sent me.
17. If anyone wants to do his will, he will know whether my teaching is from God or I speak on my own.
If anyone wants to do his will. This refers not merely to feelings, attitudes or mental assent but to having decided to obey God. Such a person will come to know whether Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of God, as he himself teaches.

18. A person who speaks on his own is trying to win praise for himself; but a person who tries to win praise for the one who sent him is honest, there is nothing false about him.
19. Didn’t Moshe give you the Torah? Yet not one of you obeys the Torah! Why are you out to kill me?”
Two quick punches:
(1) the people are not obeying the Torah Moshe gave them, even though they suppose they are; for if they were, they would welcome Yeshua (see 5:45-47).
(2) Yeshua was spiritually discerning: he spoke what they felt in their hearts (2:25) but did not want to admit (see next verse).

20. “You have a demon!” the crowd answered. “Who’s out to kill you?”
A godly person reacts to having his sin exposed by admitting it, being sorry at having done wrong and resolving, with God's power, to change. Here we see the normal reaction of a worldly person to having his sin exposed: accusation of the exposer and denial of the sin.

21. Yeshua answered them, “I did one thing; and because of this, all of you are amazed.
I did only one thing, literally, "one work," the miracle of 5:9, and because of merely this all of you are in fact amazed in spite of yourselves, even though at the same time you are out to kill me because I did it on Shabbat.

22. Moshe gave you b’rit-milah — not that it came from Moshe but from the Patriarchs — and you do a boy’s b’rit-milah on Shabbat.
23. If a boy is circumcised on Shabbat so that the Torah of Moshe will not be broken, why are you angry with me because I made a man’s whole body well on Shabbat?
Moshe gave you b'rit-milah in the Torah at Leviticus 12:3. Not that it came from Moshe but from the Patriarchs, Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov; for God gave the command of circumcision to Avraham in Genesis 17:1-27, and he carried it out on Yitzchak at Genesis 21:4, all centuries before Moshe.

A boy is circumcised on Shabbat so that the Torah of Moshe will not be broken. The Torah states that a Jewish male child is to be circumcised on the eighth day of his life (Genesis 17:12, Leviticus 12:3), but it also prohibits work on Shabbat (Exodus 20:9-10, 23:12, 31:14-15, 34:21, 35:2; Leviticus 23:3; Deuteronomy 5:12-14). Therefore, if the eighth day of a boy's life falls on Shabbat, is circumcision to be put off till the ninth day, or is Shabbat to be broken by doing the work of tool-carrying and cutting needed for the operation? The Judeans (the Jewish religious authorities centered in Judea; see I:19N) of Yeshua's time had already decided the question, and their decision stands on record in the Talmud.

The following is from my discussion in Messianic Jewish Manifesto, p. 159:
In this passage Yeshua presents a din-torah that the mitzvah of healing takes precedence over that of refraining from work on Shabbat. In making this decision as to which of two conflicting laws holds in a particular situation, he was doing much the same thing as did the rabbis who developed the Oral Torah. In fact, Yeshua referred in this passage to a well-known such decision which can be found in the Talmud, tractate Shabbat, pages [128b-137b].

"The rabbis were confronted with the conflict between the law against working on Shabbat and the commandment that a man should circumcise his son on the eighth day of his life. The conflict arises from the fact that cutting and carrying through a public domain the tools needed to perform a b 'rit-milah ate kinds of work forbidden by the rabbis on Shabbat. They decided that if the eighth day falls on Shabbat, one does the necessary work and circumcises the boy; but if the circumcision must take place after the eighth day, say, for health reasons, it may not be done on Shabbat in violation of the work prohibitions — one waits till a weekday.

"Yeshua in defending his ruling used what Judaism calls a kal v'chomer ('light and heavy') argument, known in philosophy as reasoning a fortiori ( from greater strength'). Its essence is the expressed or implied phrase 'how much more...!' Yochanan 7:23 says, in effect, 'You permit breaking Shabbut in order to observe the mitzvah of circumcision; how much more important it is to heal a person's whole body, so you should permit breaking Shabbat for that too!'"

In fact traditional Judaism makes use of reasoning identical with Yeshua's in regard to this matter. The Talmud records that to the question of why saving life suspends the Shabbat work prohibitions,
"Rabbi El'azar answered, 'If circumcision, which involves only one of the 248 parts of the human body, suspends Shabbat, how much more must Isavingj the whole body suspend Shabbat!" (Yoma 85b)

These verses of Yochanan are important because they prove that Yeshua did not oppose the Pharisees' tradition per se. He was not against legislation needed to apply the Torah to particular times and circumstances, but against attributing to that legislation inspiration by God (Mk 7:5-13&N). In v. 24 Yeshua gives his standard for developing "oral law": "Stop judging by surface appearances, and judge the right way!"

24. Stop judging by surface appearances, and judge the right way!”
25. Some of the Yerushalayim people said, “Isn’t this the man they’re out to kill?
26. Yet here he is, speaking openly; and they don’t say anything to him. It couldn’t be, could it, that the authorities have actually concluded he’s the Messiah?
27. Surely not — we know where this man comes from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he comes from.”
We know where this man conies from, that is, from Nazareth and from ordinary human parents (6:42). But when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he comes from. This expectation that the origins of the Messiah must be shrouded in mystery contradicts Micah 5:1, which predicts the Messiah's birth in Bethlehem (as cited in Mt 2:1-8). See vv. 41-42&N.

28. Whereupon Yeshua, continuing to teach in the Temple courts, cried out, “Indeed you do know me! And you know where I’m from! And I have not come on my own! The One who sent me is real. But him you don’t know!
29. I do know him, because I am with him, and he sent me!”
30. At this, they tried to arrest him; but no one laid a hand on him; because his time had not yet come.
31. However, many in the crowd put their trust in him and said, “When the Messiah comes, will he do more miracles than this man has done?”
32. The P’rushim heard the crowd whispering these things about Yeshua; so the head cohanim and the P’rushim sent some of the Temple guards to arrest him.
33. Yeshua said, “I will be with you only a little while longer; then I will go away to the One who sent me.
34. You will look for me and not find me; indeed, where I am, you cannot come.”
35. The Judeans said to themselves, “Where is this man about to go, that we won’t find him? Does he intend to go to the Greek Diaspora and teach the Greek-speaking Jews?
Greek-speaking Jews. The word in the text is "Ellendn" ("Greeks"). Did the Judeans wonder if Yeshua would teach Gentiles? The word "Greek" often means "Gentile" in the writings of Luke and Sha"ul. But I think that since the text explicitly refers to the Greek Diaspora ("dispersion"), which has meaning with respect to Jews and not with respect to Gentiles, the Judeans have in mind either Greek or Greek-speaking Jews. Of these two it seems much more likely that the Greek Diaspora refers to the entire territory conquered by Alexander, where Greek had become the lingua franca, than to Greece specifically. See also 12:20-21&N, Ac 6:1&N.

36. And when he says, ‘You will look for me and not find me; indeed, where I am, you cannot come’ — what does he mean?”
37. Now on the last day of the festival, Hoshana Rabbah, Yeshua stood and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him keep coming to me and drinking!
On the last day of the festival, Hushana Kabbah, literally, "on the last day, the great, of the festival." Greek megale ("great") corresponds to Hebrew rabbah. The seventh, last day of Sukkot was its climax. Throughout the seven days of the festival a special cohen had carried water in a gold pitcher from the Pool of Shiloach (Siloam) to be poured into a basin at the foot of the altar by the cohen hagadol. It symbolized prayer for rain, which begins the next day, on Sh'mini Atzeret; and it also pointed toward the outpouring of the Ruach HaKodesh on the people of Israel. The rabbis associated the custom with Isaiah 12:3, "With joy shall you draw water from the wells of salvation." (In a suggestive reflection of how the holiday used to be celebrated, today's Moroccan Jews pour water on each other at Sukkot.) On the seventh day the water pouring was accompanied by cohanim blowing gold trumpets, L'vi'im singing sacred songs, and ordinary people waving their lulavs and chanting the Hallel (Psalms 113-118), which includes in its closing verses:
"Adonai, please save us! [Hebrew Hoshia'na or Hoshana]
Adonai, please prosper us!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of Adonai!
We have blessed you out of the house of Adonai.
God is Adonai, and he has given us light." (Psalm 118:25-27)

The words, "Please save us!" led to the day's being called Hoshana Rabbah, the Great Hosanna. This prayer had Messianic overtones, as is seen from its use when Yeshua made his triumphal entry into Yerushalayim a few days before his execution (Mt 21:9, Mk 11:9-10). It was also a prayer for salvation from sin, for Hoshana Rabbah was understood to be the absolutely final chance to have one's sins for the year forgiven. On Rosh-Hashanah one asks to "be inscribed in the Book of Life" (see Rv 20:12bN), and on Yom-Kippur one hopes to have that inscription "sealed"; yet in Jewish tradition ihcrc remained opportunity for forgiveness up to Hoshana Rabbah.

In addition,
"A connection between the possession of the Ruach ha-Kodesh and ecstasy, or religious joy, is found in the ceremony of water drawing, Simchat Beit-HaSho 'evah ["feast of water-drawing"], on the festival of Sukkot. The Mishnah said that he who had never seen this ceremony, which was accompanied by dancing, singing and music (Sukkot 5:4), had never seen true joy (Sukkot 5:1). Yet this was also considered a ceremony in which the participants, as it were, drew inspiration from the Holy Spirit itself, which can only be possessed by those whose hearts are full of religious joy (Jerusalem Talmud. Sukkot 5:1, 55a)." (Encyclopedia Judaica 14:365)

From this passage we also learn that Yeshua and his talmidim, like other Jews, observed at least portions of the Oral Torah and did not utterly reject it as "traditions of men" (see Mk 7:5-13&N) — since the water-drawing ceremony is specified not in the Tanakh but in the Mishna.

It was in the midst of this water pouring, trumpet blasting, palm waving, psalm chanting and ecstatic joy on the part of people seeking forgiveness — and in the presence of all 24 divisions of the priesthood (see Lk 1:5N) — that Yeshua cried out in the Temple courts, "If anyone is thirsty, let him keep coming to me and drinking! Whoever trusts in me, as the Tanakh says, rivers of living water will flow from his inmost being!" Compare Isaiah 44:3, 55:1, 58:11; also the woman at the well, above, 4:6-15; and the ultimate fulfillment at Rv 22:17. In effect Yeshua was declaring, "I am the answer to your prayers." His dramatic cry, supported by the full panoply of Temple ritual, was not misunderstood, as vv. 40-43 make abundantly clear. His subsequent proclamation, "I am the light of the world," also based on the passage of Psalm 118 quoted above, provoked an even more agitated reaction (8:12&N, 58-59&N).

38. Whoever puts his trust in me, as the Scripture says, rivers of living water will flow from his inmost being!”
39. (Now he said this about the Spirit, whom those who trusted in him were to receive later — the Spirit had not yet been given, because Yeshua had not yet been glorified.)
The Spirit had not been given, because Yeshua had not yet been glorified. Sec 14:26, 15:26, 16:7-15 and 17:5 for an explanation of this verse; see also Ac 1:8 and its fulfillment at Ac 2:4ff., when the Holy Spirit did come.

40. On hearing his words, some people in the crowd said, “Surely this man is ‘the prophet’”;
The prophet. See 1:21N.

41. others said, “This is the Messiah.” But others said, “How can the Messiah come from the Galil?
42. Doesn’t the Tanakh say that the Messiah is from the seed of David (2 Samuel 7:12) and comes from Beit-Lechem (Micah 5:1(2)), the village where David lived?"
But others said, "How can the Messiah come from the Galil? Doesn't the Tanakh say that the Messiah is from the seed of David and comes from Beit-Lechem?" Yes, the Tanakh does say that (2 Samuel 7:12-13; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Micah 5:1(2)); Psalms 89:36-38(35-37), 132:11; 1 Chronicles 7:11, 14). Chapter 2 of Mattityahu explains how the Messiah could come from both Beit-Lechem in Y'hudah and Nalzeret in the Galil: he was bom in Beit-Lechem, taken to Egypt to escape the massacre of infants ordered by Herod, and by God's command returned to Natzeret. Luke 2:1 -7 further explains why a family from Natzeret happened to be in Beit-Lechem for Yeshua's birth: the Romans ordered a census and required everyone to return to his own city for it Doubters could have inquired and learned these things, but, as is common with people whose minds are made up, they did not wish to be "confused by the facts."

43. So the people were divided because of him.
So the people were divided because of him. Yeshua the Messiah always divides people into two camps: those who are with him and those who are not. The middle ground quickly disappears.

44. Some wanted to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him.
45. The guards came back to the head cohanim and the P’rushim, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”
46. The guards replied, “No one ever spoke the way this man speaks!”
47. “You mean you’ve been taken in as well?” the P’rushim retorted.
The P'rushim think their guards are deceived, but their answer (v. 46) suggests more that they are bemused.

48. “Has any of the authorities trusted him? Or any of the P’rushim? No!
Has any of the authorities put their trust in him? Or any of the P'rushim? The questioners suppose a negative answer, but Nakdimon may have already trusted in Yeshua (see w. 50-52); by 19:39 he surely had. Have any of the modern era's Jewish authorities put their trust in Yeshua? See Ac 4:13N.

49. True, these ‘am-ha’aretz do, but they know nothing about the Torah, they are under a curse!”
These 'am-ha'aretz do, but they know nothing about the Torah, they are under a curse! The critical Judeans, although trained in the Torah, which teaches love, not only despise the 'am-ha'aretz, the "people of the land" (see v. 15N, Ac 4:13&N), but regard them as under a curse because of their lack of education.

50. Nakdimon, the man who had gone to Yeshua before and was one of them, said to them,
51. “Our Torah doesn’t condemn a man — does it? — until after hearing from him and finding out what he’s doing.”
52. They replied, “You aren’t from the Galil too, are you? Study the Tanakh, and see for yourself that no prophet comes from the Galil!”
Most scholars believe that 7:53–8:11 is not from the pen of Yochanan. Many are of the opinion that it is a true story about Yeshua written by another of his talmidim.

Study the Tanakh and see for yourself that no prophet comes from the Galil! One need not study it deeply to find that the prophet Jonah came from Gat-Hefer in the Galil (2 Kings 14:25). On this subject the Talmud agrees: "Rabbi Eli'ezer... said..., 'There was not a tribe in Israel which did not produce prophets'" (Sukkah 27b). But the Greek text also allows the meaning that no future prophet comes from the Galil and does not refer to the past. See also vv. 41-42&N.

53. Then they all left, each one to his own home.

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