Yohanan Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern

chapter 9
1. As Yeshua passed along, he saw a man blind from birth.
2. His talmidim asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned — this man or his parents — to cause him to be born blind?”
Yeshua's talmidim were not the first to attribute all human misfortune and disability to immediately traceable sin: the entire book of Job is devoted to combatting this misunderstanding of how sin has come to affect the present world. Verses 1-5 of this chapter correspond to Chapters 1-2 of Job; both set the scene for teaching about sin.

3. Yeshua answered, “His blindness is due neither to his sin nor to that of his parents; it happened so that God’s power might be seen at work in him.
4. As long as it is day, we must keep doing the work of the One who sent me; the night is coming, when no one can work.
5. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6. Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, put the mud on the man’s eyes,
Made some mud with the saliva. Building is one of the thirty-nine kinds of work prohibited on Shabbat according to Mishna Shabbat 7:2; Mishna Shabbat 24:3 also says that on Shabbat "it is permitted to put water into the bran" of animals, "but they must knead it." It requires kneading to make clay, and clay is a building material; so there are two possible violations of Shabbat, according to Pharisaic understanding — building and kneading. Put the mud on the man's eyes. If this was done as a means of healing and with the intention of healing, this too would have been regarded as a violation of Shabbat; see Lk 6:7N. but also Yn 7:22-23&N.

7. and said to him, “Go, wash off in the Pool of Shiloach!” (The name means “sent.”) So he went and washed and came away seeing.
Shiloach. Greek Siloam. Hebrew shiloach means "sent." as Yochanan says. The Pool of Shiloach still exists, in the neighborhood of East Jerusalem called Silwan (which is the Arabic transliteration of "shiloach"). It marks the end of Hezekiah's Tunnel, constructed by the Judean king around 700 B.C.E. to bring water from the Gichon spring in the Kidron Valley to the Pool of Shiloach in the City of David (2 Kings 20:20. 2 Chronicles 32:30).

8. His neighbors and those who previously had seen him begging said, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?”
9. Some said, “Yes, he’s the one”; while others said, “No, but he looks like him.” However, he himself said, “I’m the one.”
10. “How were your eyes opened?” they asked him.
11. He answered, “The man called Yeshua made mud, put it on my eyes, and told me, ‘Go to Shiloach and wash!’ So I went; and as soon as I had washed, I could see.”
12. They said to him, “Where is he?” and he replied, “I don’t know.”
13. They took the man who had been blind to the P’rushim.
14. Now the day on which Yeshua had made the mud and opened his eyes was Shabbat.
15. So the P’rushim asked him again how he had become able to see; and he told them, “He put mud on my eyes, then I washed, and now I can see.”
16. At this, some of the P’rushim said, “This man is not from God, because he doesn’t keep Shabbat.” But others said, “How could a man who is a sinner do miracles like these?” And there was a split among them.
He doesn't keep Shabbat. A false accusation (see 7:22-23&N), which the accusers take as a fact. So there was a split among them, as before; see 7:43&N.

17. So once more they spoke to the blind man: “Since you’re the one whose eyes he opened, what do you say about him?” He replied: “He is a prophet.”
He is a prophet and more — see the man's response to additional information about Yeshua (vv. 35-38).

18. The Judeans, however, were unwilling to believe that he had formerly been blind, but now could see, until they had summoned the man’s parents.
19. They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”
20. His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind;
21. but how it is that he can see now, we don’t know; nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him — he’s old enough, he can speak for himself!”
22. The parents said this because they were afraid of the Judeans, for the Judeans had already agreed that anyone who acknowledged Yeshua as the Messiah would be banned from the synagogue.
Banned from the synagogue, here, 12:42 and 16:2; in Greek a single word, "aposunagogos," literally, "de-synagogued." Judaism has three degrees of excommunication, though none is common today. The lightest, n'zifah ("rebuke"), could be declared by one person and normally lasted seven days. The next, niddui ("casting out, rejection"), usually required three people to declare and lasted thirty days, and people were required to stay four cubits (six feet) from him. The most severe, cherem, was a ban of indefinite duration; and a person under cherem was treated like one dead. (In the Talmud see Mo'ed Katan 16a-17a, N'darim 7b, Pesachim 52a.) Fora family so poor as to allow their son to beg — begging charity was to be avoided as much as giving charity was to be practiced — being de-synagogued would have been a dreadful disaster. For Messianic Jews today social ostracism by family and/or the Jewish community — that is, being treated as if under a cherem — can be a cost to be counted when committing one's life to Yeshua (see Lk 14:26-33&N).

23. This is why his parents said, “He’s old enough, ask him.”
24. So a second time they called the man who had been blind; and they said to him, “Swear to God that you will tell the truth! We know that this man is a sinner.”
Swear to God that you will tell the truth! (literally, "Give glory to God!"). We know that this man is a sinner. Reading with a twentieth-century mentality, the sense one would arrive at is: "Give the glory to God, not to the person who put mud on your eyes; he doesn't deserve glory and couldn't have been responsible for your healing, because we know he is an open sinner." But the phrase, "Give glory to God," often precedes a solemn judicial statement; here it is an adjuration to admit as true the conclusion these P'rushim have reached (compare Joshua 7:19 and 1 Samuel 6:5). Who deserves credit for the healing is not at issue.

25. He answered, “Whether he’s a sinner or not I don’t know. One thing I do know: I was blind, now I see.”
26. So they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
27. “I already told you,” he answered, “and you didn’t listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Maybe you too want to become his talmidim?”
28. Then they railed at him. “You may be his talmid,” they said, “but we are talmidim of Moshe!
29. We know that God has spoken to Moshe, but as for this fellow — we don’t know where he’s from!”
30. “What a strange thing,” the man answered, “that you don’t know where he’s from — considering that he opened my eyes!
31. We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners; but if anyone fears God and does his will, God does listen to him.
32. In all history no one has ever heard of someone’s opening the eyes of a man born blind.
33. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t do a thing!”
34. “Why, you mamzer!” they retorted, “Are you lecturing us?” And they threw him out.
Why, you mamzer! (literally, "In sins you were born, entirely!"). The Hebrew and Yiddish word "mamzer" is often rendered "illegitimate son," although technically it refers specifically to the offspring of a marriage prohibited in Leviticus 18; according to halakhah, a mamzer may not marry a legitimate daughter of Israel, only a mamzeret. Here the Jewish English term "mamzer" is used colloquially (like the English word "bastard") to convey with precision and force the hot-tempered and insulting valence of the Judeans' response. And they threw him out, carrying out the threat of v. 22.

35. Yeshua heard that they had thrown the man out. He found him and said, “Do you trust in the Son of Man?”
36. “Sir,” he answered, “tell me who he is, so that I can trust in him.”
37. Yeshua said to him, “You have seen him. In fact, he’s the one speaking with you now.”
38. “Lord, I trust!” he said, and he kneeled down in front of him.
Yeshua meets the newly outcast formerly blind man, who has exchanged exclusion from the world of seeing for exclusion from society, and brings him to faith in himself as Messiah. Clearly the man was ready to believe.

39. Yeshua said, “It is to judge that I came into this world, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.”
It is to judge that I came into this world. Not a contradiction with 5:22&N. 8:15&N. The "judging" that Yeshua did at his first coming consisted in making clear to people where they really stood in respect to God, as the rest of the verse explains. Only at his second coming does he judge the world (5:22, 27-30).

40. Some of the P’rushim nearby heard this and said to him, “So we’re blind too, are we?”
41. Yeshua answered them, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin. But since you still say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.
Compare Jeremiah 2:35, where Adonai speaks almost identically to his people Israel.

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