When faced with the hard truth that we have held a false belief sacred, are we willing to turn our backs on that long held belief in order to follow the True King Messiah Yeshua?
The disciples were perplexed by the fact that Yeshua was with a woman alone at the well. The Judaism of the first century CE (and indeed numerous Jewish sects to this day) frowned upon this type of male female interaction. This finds its origin in passages from the Torah appropriate courting protocol, marital conduct etc. However, rabbinical law added parameters outside of the Torah requirements in an attempt to guard further against impropriety.
The rabbis of the Talmudic period wrote:
"do not multiply discourse with a woman, with his wife they say, much less with his neighbour's wife: hence the wise men say, at whatsoever time a man multiplies discourse with a woman, he is the cause of evil to himself, and ceases from the words of the law, and at last shall go down into hell.” -Pirke Abot, c. 1. sect. 5. Abot R, Nathan, c. 7. fol. 3. 3. & Derech Eretz, fol. 17. 3.
"let not a man talk with a woman in the streets, even with his wife; and there is no need to say with another man's wife.'' -Bemidbar Rabba, sect 10. fol. 200. 2.
A religious leader, scholar, rabbi is not "to talk with a woman in the street" -T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 43. 2.
And from a later period these words:
"let him (religious leader, scholar, rabbi) not talk with a woman in the street, though she is his wife, or his sister, or his daughter.'' - Maimon. Hilch. Dayot, c. 5. sect. 7.
The common theme is that of appropriate behaviour with regard to the opposite sex. In most cases the rule was intended to protect both individuals from being placed in a compromising or tempting position regarding sexuality. However, some of these laws were nothing more than an attempt at human Patriarchal domination rather than Biblical order.
To some degree these became a practices of pretence and in that case were hypocritical and or unnecessarily over cautious, resulting in foolish conjecture and mindless gossip on the part of the religious community. Therefore, Yeshua is resisting social norms in an effort to make the truth of God’s redemptive purposes paramount.
In addition to these Jewish cultural laws the disciples would have been surprised by the fact that Yeshua was talking with a woman of the despised Samaritan sect. The disciples were witnessing a new kind of ministry from a new kind of Rabbi, a ministry of reconciliation and qualified inclusion rather than the traditional ministry of exclusion and self-preservation practised by the majority of the religious leaders and rabbis of the first century CE, including the spiritual leaders of the Samaritan sect.
28 So the woman (gune[G], ishah[H] [wife]) left her water vessel (hudria[G], kadah[H]), and went into the city, township (polis[G], iyrah[H]) and said to the men (anthropos[G], ha-anashiym[H])
“So the woman left her water vessel” This detail is important because it is unusual. The water vessel was vital to existence in this climate and to leave it with a relative stranger would have been foolish unless one trusted that person. Therefore, the woman left the water vessel so that Yeshua could satiate His physical thirst according to His initial request. This is an act of kindness on the part of the woman and is evidence of a shift in her spirit toward repentance. It is also possible that she was so overawed by Yeshua’s testimony that she left in a hurry and forgot to take the water vessel. This seems less likely though, given that the text does not indicate a hurried exit.
“went into the township and said to the men (anthropos[G], ha-anashiym[H])” The town is Sychar (modern Nablus), near Biblical Shechem, approximately 20 minutes’ walk from Jacob’s well. The key to understanding this verse in light of the woman’s social standing (a promiscuous adulterous), is the fact that both the Greek and Hebrew texts say “to the men”. While these plural forms can refer to men and women together, the context of this passage denotes the men or elders of the gate of the town. This view is further supported by the fact that when the writer of this Gospel speaks of men and women from Sychar together he uses the corporate ethno-religious plural noun Shomroniym (Samaritans).
Therefore, the woman did not go to speak to all the villagers but specifically to the men (probably the leading men) of the gate. This is because it was the men who had allowed her to continue her lifestyle in the village. She could not go to the women because she had burned her bridges with them socially by living a promiscuous lifestyle. Those who argue that the woman couldn’t have been a social outcast because she told the whole village about Yeshua and they listened to her, are left with the contradictory nature of the text which shows clearly that she did not initially speak to the entire village but to the men alone, and those likely being the leading men of the city gate. Nothing was passed to the entire village in first century Israel unless it was first presented to the elders (leading men) at the city gate. This is exactly what is happening here. It is from these leading men that the wider community will eventually hear of the woman’s news and by extension will come to engage directly with Yeshua Himself.
29 “Come, see, perceive (eido[G], ureu[H]) a man (anthropos[G]) who told me (epo[G], higiyd[H]) all (hosos[G], kol[H]) the things that I have done, made (poieo[G], asiytiy[H] [made from that which already exists]); this is not the Messiah [Christ] (ho-Christos[G] [Anointed One], Ha-Mashiach[H]Taheb[A]), is it?” 30 They went out of the city (ho-polis[G]), and were coming to Him.
The deciding factor that perked the interest of the leading men of Sychar seems to be the news that the stranger (Yeshua) had accurately described the woman’s lifestyle without having been familiar with the woman or her village, and that the woman had suggested the possibility that He was the promised Messiah, the Taheb (Restorer, Returner [Aramaic]). Therefore, they went out of the town and headed to Jacob’s well to meet this mysterious stranger Who might be the Taheb (Messiah) they had been waiting for (along with all Israel).
The meaning of the Samaritan word for Messiah “Taheb”
The Aramaic root word Taheb means to restore or return. In accordance with Samaritan theology and culture there are essentially two primary meanings to this word. First, the ‘Taheb’ is the return of the tribes back to Israel, and to religious devotion to God and what the Samaritans considered the true word of the Torah (That is, their version of the Torah Scroll). Second, ‘Taheb’ (as a noun) is a coming Restorer, a prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18). This Restorer will carry the rod of Moses working signs as proof of his mission. He will not be a priest but a prophet. His name is not known but he will be of the tribe of Joseph, that is Ephraim (according to Samaritan theological thought). He will reunite Ephraim (a name the Samaritans make synonymous with Israel for the obvious reason that Ephraim and Manasseh were part of the remnant of the 10 tribes who mixed with the Assyrian/Babylonian immigrants in south Israel [722 BCE; 2 Kings 17:24-41], thus creating the ethnic Samaritan people, who became the ethno-religious Samaritan people) and Judah and return all Israel to what the Samaritans believe is the initial and ongoing place of worship on Mount Gerizim. He will restore all that was lost through the years from the Torah (again, a Samaritan belief). He will discover and erect the Tabernacle with its vessels that were buried in a cave beneath the mountain of Gerizim (buried 261 years after Moses’ death according to Samaritan teaching) along with the Omer of Mahn (portion of mana kept in the Holy Ark as a memorial). He will place the Ark of the Testimony in its proper place (The Samaritan place of worship). The Priests will again serve in the Tabernacle where the offerings will continue to be made. The High Priest will make atonement for himself and the congregation (on Mt Gerizim).
The Taheb’s reign is compared to that of Joseph in Egypt and will be a time without suffering or toil (according to Samaritan teaching). This servant of our Creator will bring final and irrevocable salvation to the whole of ethnic religious Israel for all time. The following excerpt explains further the Samaritan perspective:
“The people will repent and renew their part of the covenant to its proper status. The promise given to the ancient Hebrews will finally be kept forever. In accomplishing his designed task he will die and be buried among the ‘Pure-Ones’ at the foot of Mount Gerizim.
It must also be noted that the word ‘taheb’ when not used as a proper name means, ‘repentant.’ This word “Taheb” in the proper name signifies the glory of “The return to God.” May we be prepared in the days to come!
-From the Samaritan book, Marqah, Memar 4.7, 12:
A Restorer [Taheb] will come in peace; he will rule the places of the perfect and reveal the Truth. Heed and hear! Stand in Truth! Clear your arguments! "For YHWH will judge his people" (Deut 32:36a): The "people" of YHWH is Jacob, the branches and the chief root, and the branches from fathers to sons; from Noah, the root, even to the Restorer, the branch... The word of Truth will penetrate and illumine the world, in which he will come to dwell. How great is the hour when one comes to hear the voice of God walking throughout the world; and all creatures shall be in order and bow their heads; their hearts will shiver and their eyes droop and their limbs shake from fear on the day of Judgment. And the mouth of Deity will speak: "Now see that I, I am he [ani ani hu]!" (Deut 32:39a) Those who rest and know this will then be saved. "See, I have taught you rules and judgments" (Deut 4:5). "Only be on your guard" (Deut 4:9)! I, I (am) he who stands above creation and above Mount Sinai! I, I (am) he who is and there is none beside me! I, I (am) he who is without time and without place! I, I (am) he who is the life of the world [chayyei 'olam]! I, I (am) he who suspended and split by my power! I, I (am) he who planted the Garden and uprooted Sodom! I, I (am) he who uprooted and stripped away! I, I (am) he to whom all belongs and to whom (all) return! I, I (am) he who puts all the living to death and makes all the dead live! I, I (am) he who encircles my foes with vengeance! And now it is good for us to rely on the Truth and to tremble because of his might! Perhaps we will find the way of prosperity!” -By Shomron
Understanding the long held Samaritan view helps us understand why Yeshua said “You people worship what you do not know”. In fact, they were also awaiting a part (false) Messiah. The Samaritan Taheb, like the twin Messiah’s of post first century rabbinic Judaism (Mashiach Ben Yosef & Mashiach Ben David), was only a part Messiah and not the true whole person described in the Torah, Prophets and Writings of God’s word. Therefore, Yeshua, a Jew and not an Ephraimite of Joseph’s line as the Samaritans believed the Taheb would be, is seeking to shatter the delusion held by the Samaritans and offer them redemption through the true Messiah of all Israel (Yeshua Himself).
31 Meanwhile the disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]) were urging, pleading with (erotao[G], bikshu[H]) Him, saying, “Rabbi (Rhabi[G], Rabbi[H], Adoniy[H] [My great one]) eat (phago[G], ochel[H]).” 32 But He said to them, “I have (kingdom) food (brosin[G], yesh-liy ochel[H], makultha[A]) to eat (phagein[G], le’echol[H]) that you do not know about, have understanding of (oidate[G], yedatem[H]).”
The harvest imagery that follows is directly related to Yeshua’s teaching and proclaiming of the Kingdom of Elohim (God) ref. Matt. 9:35-38; 21:28-32 etc. We note that although there are a number of different Aramaic words meaning “food”, the Aramaic text of verse 32 employs the word makultha (food). It seems the Aramaic text is implying a connection to malkutha (Kingdom) by way of wordplay.
We notice that Yeshua says “I have (kingdom) food to eat that you do not know about…” Thus, like the Samaritans, the Jewish disciples are also observing Yeshua’s ministry without “knowing” or understanding what He is truly about. If the Samaritan woman had been speaking Aramaic, which is likely, and Yeshua continued to converse with His disciples using Aramaic, which is one of the possible languages He would have used, Hebrew being the primary language when speaking with other Jews, then His disciples could have perceived the wordplay between makultha (food) and malkutha (kingdom), however, based on their response it seems they were to focused on the things of this world at that time, and were therefore oblivious to Yeshua’s remez (hint).
33 Therefore, the disciples were saying to one another, “Did a man (iysh[H]) bring Him something to eat (le’echol[H])?”
Notice, “Did a man bring Him something to eat?” This is an indication of the fact that they presumed Yeshua neither touched nor received sustenance from the woman they had seen Him with. This is consistent with the Jewish and Samaritan religious culture of the time regarding contact with the opposite sex.
34 The (ho[G]) Yeshua[H, A] (Iesous[G], YHVH Saves, Jesus, Joshua) said to them, “My kosher food (broma[G], ma’acholiy[H]) is to do, make, construct, act out, cause (poieso[G]), la’asot[H]) the will, desire (thelema[G], et-retzon[H]) of the One (tou[G]) Who sent Me (sholchiy[H] [the Sender of Me]) and to accomplish, make perfect, complete, consummate (teleioso[G], ulhashliym[H]) His (autou[G]) work, action, task (ho-ergon[G], et-pa’alo[H] [the tasks of Him]).
The Greek broma from bibrosko denotes the ceremonially permitted food of Jewish law (according to Torah dietary law).
Yeshua’s description of the spiritual food of the Father’s work and will is specific and related to the holy, clean, set apart, distinct food of the Jewish diet. This is important because it shows a clear distinction between the Holy and the mundane, between the Jewish people’s call to be a light to the nations and the idolatry of the unclean nations.
We note that the food Yeshua speaks of is both supplied and engaged in by the Spirit of God at work through Yeshua’s own actions in order to “consummate” God’s relationship with a future redeemed humanity. This marriage bed inference is a remez (hint) linking the Jewish wedding chamber to the cosmic wedding between God and ethnic Israel and between God and all humanity through Yeshua the King Messiah, Who is the Groom of the collected body of believers.
In the same way that the work God requires of the disciples is simply to “Believe in the One Whom He has sent” (John 6:28-29), the food of the Messiah is simply to enact the will of God. Thus, the testimony of His food at work feeds and strengthens those who follow Him.
Quite literally, the reconciliatory conversation that Yeshua had with the Samaritan woman was food to Him. I understand this in my daily life when I am sharing the truth of Yeshua with per-Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters and sense the Spirit filling my spiritual belly with sustenance and energy. In these times I feel most alive, truly living in the transcendent world of God’s present and coming Kingdom. The spiritual food I receive overflows and provides spiritual calories to those who receive it.
35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest, reaping, crop (therismos[G], ha-katziyr[H])’? Behold, look upon, experience, discern, beware (idou[G], Hineih[H]), I say to you, lift up your eyes (eiyneiychem[H]) and look, contemplate, see (theasasthe[G], ureu[H]) on the fields, region, country (choras[G], et hasadot[H]), because they are white, radiant, brilliant (leukai[G], levaniym[H]) for harvest, reaping (therismon[G]) now, already (ede[G]) [alt. Gr. “now after all this waiting”]. Heb. Alt. [heim uv’sheiliym lakatziyr: “they are ripe for harvesting”]
“Behold” The Hebrew text rightly translates Hineih, the common revelatory word of the Tanakh (OT) meaning, be prepared, alert, pay attention, accept, contemplate, consider, this is important, stop, listen, pay attention!
“There are yet four months until harvest” is a very specific phrase and is not intended to be read as a colloquial saying but as a measure of the time from the stating of it until the harvest comes. Therefore, given that the barley begins to ripen for harvest in the month of Nisan [March/April] (also the month when Pesach [Passover] occurs), and given that the grain harvest culminates at Shavuot (Pentecost) in the month of Sivan (June); in order to determine when these events were taking place we can use the Biblical Hebrew calendar and count back four months from the first harvest festival (Shavuot/Pentecost) to the Jewish month of 1 Adar (January) [there were 2 months of Adar in 29 CE because it was a lunar leap year in the Jewish calendar]. It is worth noting that this is a relatively cold time of year, though temperatures can fluctuate to reach the mid-teens Celsius.
At the time of Yeshua saying these things the barley harvest was still at least four months away. This was confusing to the disciples, who, like Nakdimon and the Samaritan women, tended to take Yeshua’s words literally. However, in this case the absence of any possible harvest at the time would have been an effective clue pointing the disciples toward the spiritual lesson in Yeshua’s drash (comparative teaching).
The counting of the omer begins on Yom ha-Bikuriym the day of first fruit following the Shabbat (High Shabbat or Weekly Shabbat, or both) of Passover when the barley crop begins to ripen. The omer counts toward Shavuot (seven sevens plus one [Pentecost]) the first of Israel’s harvest festivals at the beginning of the wheat harvest. This holds a spiritual lesson of its own in regard to the early or first harvest of souls and the latter or second harvest of souls at the end of the age (Sukkot/Shelters), symbolized by the fruit harvest.
Therefore, the seemingly small detail of the “four months until harvest” sets up the chronology of chapters 5 and 6 of Yochanan’s Gospel, which deal specifically with events that happened during Purim and Pesach (Passover) in the second year of Yeshua’s public ministry (between 29 and 33 CE approx.).
“because they are white, radiant, brilliant for harvest” This may refer specifically to the first harvest of the barley crop due to the fact that barely when ripe has a gleaming almost white reflective sheen in both sunlight and at night when illuminated by torch light.
36 (Ho[G]) The one reaping (therizon[G], ha-kotzeir[H]) is receiving, taking hold of (lambanei[G], mekabeil[H]) a reward, wages (misthon[G]) and is gathering, assembling, collecting, receiving (sunago[G]) fruit (karpos[G], pe’riy[H]) for, reaching, entering, into, toward life, living (zoen[G], lechayeiy[H]) into the unbroken age, eternity, the world eternal (aionion[G], olam[H]); In order that (kedeiy[H]) the one (ho[G]) who is sowing (speiron[G]) and the one (ho[G]) who is reaping (therizon[G]) may rejoice (chairo[G]), sheyismechu[H]) together, at the same place and time (homou[G], yachdayv[H]).
“The one reaping is receiving, taking hold of a reward, wages and is gathering, assembling, collecting, receiving fruit for, reaching, entering, into, toward life, living into the unbroken age, eternity, the world eternal;” The language is in a present and continuing tense. The one reaping now is already receiving the wages that he will continue to receive unto everlasting living, into the Olam Haba (world to come).
“gathering fruit for eternal living” is an allusion to the second of Israel’s harvest festivals Sukkot (Shelters), which occurs in autumn during the Hebrew month of Tishrei (September/October) after the barley and wheat harvest and at the end of the fruit harvest, in particular the harvest of grapes. This is prophetic of Yeshua’s gathering of His own people Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen, empirical) at the end of the age following the fullness of the Gentiles (Romans 11:24-27), and of that time when He will drink again of the fruit of the vine (grapes) with all who belong in Him.
“In order that the one who is sowing and the one who is reaping may rejoice together, at the same place and time.” Yeshua is applying this to Himself and to all who will be born of His continuing ministry of redemption. These are the reapers who will rejoice with the sowers of the past. The sowers of the past are the prophets of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen), of whom Yeshua is the greatest and the culmination of their word, which is His word seeded before creation. Therefore, He speaks of a harvest celebration when all of the faithful of Israel past, will join with the followers of Yeshua both Jew and Gentile at the end of the age, both groups rejoicing (transcendent joy) in the harvest of souls unto eternal living.
37 For in this (bazeh[H]) the saying, word (logos[G]), mitametet haimrah[H] [memra[A]] alt Heb. davar[H] ) exists, I am, is (eimi[G]) true (alethinos[G]), ‘One is sowing (speiron[G]), zeh zoreia[H]) and another is reaping (therizon[G], zeh kotzeir[H]).’
The truth of this saying is in “Ha-Davar” The Word (Yeshua). Notice the phrasing “For in this the Word (essence, mater) exists, I am, it is true, ‘One is sowing, and another is reaping.” Notice again the present and continuing tense. The sowing and reaping continues until the end of the age and the age to come it continues in its rejoicing over the harvest. Therefore, the Kingdom of God is the now and coming Kingdom made manifest in time and space through Yeshua the representation of God with us in the flesh, fully man, fully God.
38 I sent (apesteila[G], shalachtiy[H]) you to reap (therizein[G], liketzor[H]) that for which you have not toiled, laboured over (kekopiakate[G], amal’tem[H]); others (alloi[G]), acheiriym[H]) have toiled, laboured together (kekopiakasin[G], amlu[H]) and you have entered into (eiserchomai[G], higa’tem[H]) the fruit (el periy[H]) of their labour, trouble, fatigue, weariness (kopos autos[G], amalam[H]).”
“I sent you (disciples) to continue reaping…” This refers specifically to the ministry of the disciples among the Jews (Israel, ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen, locational, first century).
“5 These twelve Yeshua sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; 6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as you go, proclaim, saying, ‘The kingdom of the heavens is at hand.’” -Matthew 10:5-7
“for which you have not toiled, laboured over; others have toiled, laboured together and you have entered into the fruit of their labour, trouble, fatigue, weariness.” The disciples had not seeded or toiled over the spiritual crop planted by God through Israel’s prophets and faithful devout ones from the time of righteous Abel up to the first century CE and the ministry of the King Messiah (Which in reality was begun before the creation of the world).
Therefore, the disciples, through Yeshua, have entered into the harvest of the fruit of those who had gone before. We should also not overlook the fact that the disciples had entered into the fruit of the suffering, toil, fatigue and weariness of the souls of those who have give up their own lives for the sake of the Life Giver and everlasting reward.
39 From that city, town (polis[G]) many (rabiym[H]) of the Samaritans (Shomroniym[H] [guardians]) believed, had faith, trusted (pisteuo[G], he’emiynu[H]) in Him because of the word (logos[G], ha-davar[H]) of the woman (gune[G], ishah[H]) who testified (martureo[G]), “He told me all the things (pas[G], kol mah[H]) that I have done, constructed, enacted, made from what exists (poieo[G], sheasiytiy[H]).”
Having temporarily left the story of the woman and the Samaritan men from Sychar going to meet Yeshua (in order to give an interlude concerning the conversation Yeshua had with His disciples), the author now returns to the meta-narrative and the account of the Samaritan villagers.
As a result of Samaritan woman’s testimony to the leading men of Sychar word spread and many Samaritans, both men and women, trusted in Him, the woman’s testimony concerning Him being the catalyst for the dispersing and redeeming effect of Yeshua’s message.
40 So when the Samaritans (Shomroniym[H] [guardians]) came to Yeshua[H, A] (Iesous[G], YHVH Saves, Jesus, Joshua), they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed (pisteuo[G], he’emiynu[H]) in the telling (bigelal) His word (logos autos[G], devaru[H]);
Now, rather than say “Anashiym[H], Anthropos[G]” (men), the text says Shomroniym (Samaritans), meaning men and women together. Therefore, following the meeting between Yeshua and the leading men, a group of Samaritan men, women and children from the village, having heard the Good News, came out to ask the King Messiah, the true Taheb (Mashiach) of God, King of the Jews (Yehudiym), to stay with them in Sychar.
Part of the redemptive process for the Samaritans was their admitting that they had a wrong understanding of the Taheb (Messiah) and needed to come into line with the greater nature of the King Messiah and His descent from the line of King David, a Son of Yehudah (Judah) and not of Ephraim (10 tribes). The same repentance is needed today in the case of the modern Samaritans. Likewise today, those Arab, Egyptian, Persian (Palestinian) Christians who understand Issa (Arabic form of Yeshua [Jesus]) as being a Palestinian, Pan Arabic, or Universal Messiah, rather than the Jewish Messiah prophesied by Scripture, need to repent of their sin and accept Him as the Messiah of Israel, a Jew, and Saviour to the world, lest they too perish along with all who have accepted a false idea of Messiah (sadly this includes many western Christians).
Yeshua had compassion on these lost sons and daughters of Israel and stayed with them. In some ways this was a concession, in other ways it was part of His wider mandate “I was sent only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen, locational)” [Matt. 15:24].
42 and they were saying to the woman (ho-gune[G], ha-ishah[H]), “It is no longer because of the telling (bigelal[H]) of your words (lalia[G], devareich[H]) that we believe (pisteuo[G], ma’amiyniym[H]), for we have heard, received, listened for ourselves (akouo[G], shama’nu[H]) and know, behold, consider (eido[G], veyodeiym[H]) that this One (shezehu[H]) is indeed, in truth (alethos[G], be’emet[H]) Messiah of the world (ho-soter ho kosmos[G], Mashiach haolam[H]) [Aramaic alt. mashiyacha machyaneh d’alma ‘Messiah the life-giver of the world’].” 43 After the two days He went forth (yatza[H]) from there into Galilee (ha-galiyl[H], ha-kinneret[H]).
“It is no longer because of your testimony that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is, in truth, Messiah of the world.” We note that the initial belief of the Samaritan community of Sychar was a belief in the possibility that the man Whom the woman had spoken of was the promised Taheb (Messiah). Now they had come to a place of trust in the man Himself according to what they had heard directly from Him. This infers that Yeshua ministered to them corporately and that as a result of a personal encounter with Him each one came to faith in Him. This is consistent with the meta-narrative of Scripture and the wealth of teaching in the Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT).
The Samaritans clearly understood the Taheb to be the Messiah not only of the Samaritans but also of all Israel collectively and those among the nations who would receive Him. Some have suggested that first century Jews only saw Messiah as Redeemer of Israel (The Jews, ethnic, religious, empirical chosen) alone. This is simply not true. The Scriptures of Israel (Jews) were understood to teach the redemption of Israel and the nations through the Servant King Messiah. First century Jews certainly placed an emphasis on Messiah delivering them from Roman oppression but this did not negate their belief that as a result of the Messianic Kingdom all the world would benefit. While the Jewish understanding differed from the Samaritan understanding, it was nonetheless a correct understanding according to the Messiah’s own words “We worship Who we know, for Salvation (Himself) comes from the Jews (plural).” [John 4:22]
In Jewish tradition the Zohar calls Messiah (The Angel of the Lord/of the Presence/Metatron) “The Redeemer of the world” in commenting on Exodus 23:20 -Zohar in Gen. fol. 124. 4.
Ultimately the Samaritans of Sychar had chosen to put aside their limited and even false understanding of the Taheb for a fuller understanding of Israel’s Messiah, and in repentance had come to accept Yeshua as the promised Messiah of Israel, born of Yehudah (Judah), Redeemer of Israel, the Samaritans and all who would believe. By accepting Yeshua the Jew of the tribe of Judah as the Messiah the Samaritans of Sychar were turning their backs on their previously held view that the Taheb would be from the lineage of Joseph via Ephraim. Their willingness to change a long held and sacred belief is evidence of the power of God present in the Person of the Son, and bears witness to their repentant hearts. This is a great example to us all. When faced with the hard truth that we have held a false belief sacred, are we willing to turn our backs on that long held belief in order to follow the True King Messiah Yeshua?
44 Because Yeshua[H, A] Himself testified (martureo[G]) that a prophet (prophetes[G]) has no value, price, honour, glory (timen[G], kavod[H]) in his own father’s land, native land (patris[G]).
This is referenced by the writer of John’s Gospel as the reason for Yeshua journeying to minister in the region of the Galilee rather than in His childhood home town (father’s native land) of Nazareth. The qualification for this is found in Matthew’s Gospel:
“And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his hometown and in his own household.” -Matthew 13:57
45 Therefore, when He came to Galilee (ha-galiyl[H], ha-kinneret[H]), the Galileans (Galilaios[G]) received, accepted Him (dechomai[G]), having seen, experienced (horao[G]) all the great (hosos[G]) things (pas[G]) that He did, made, created from that which exists (poieo[G], asah[H]) in Jerusalem (Yerushalayim[H]) in the days of (biymeiy[H]) the festival (ho-heorte[G], hechag[H] [Passover]); for they themselves also went to feast (lachog[H]) at the festival (ho-heorte[G] [Passover]).
It was now over eight months after Yeshua had attended the Passover in Jerusalem where He had performed many miracles and many had believed (John 2:23). The following events occur at the end of Kislev (November-December) approaching Tevet (December-January).
“Therefore, when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received, accepted Him” Therefore means because the people of His own hometown Nazareth had rejected Him, Yeshua came to Galilee, and unlike the people of His hometown, the Galileans accepted Him based on their witnessing His miracles during the Passover festival months before.
Calling the festival of Passover (Pesach) “The Festival” in both Greek and Hebrew, the Gospel writer places paramount importance on this festival and indicates that the first century Jews considered Passover of greater import even than Yom Kippur (the festival which is perhaps most venerated today by orthodox Jews, although Passover still has great significance in modern observance). The importance of the festivals of Passover and Yom Kippur to modern Jews is similar to the importance placed on Christmas and Easter by modern Christians. Meaning, these are the two festivals when even the nominal turn up to Synagogue or Church respectively).
Passover, the Festival of the Judeans, as it is called elsewhere, was obviously observed by Jews from throughout Israel and was not specific to the tribe of Judah but was linked to Judea due to the Torah requirement for the Passover Lamb to be sacrificed at the Temple in Jerusalem (The God ordained capital of Judah and all Israel). Therefore, in the case of Passover, “festival of the Judeans” means “festival in Judea observed by all Jews (Israel)”.
"it was the custom, or usual practice with the Galileans, when they went to the holy city at the festivals, to go through the country of the Samaritans;'' -Josephus, Antiqu. Jud. l. 20. c. 5.
46 Therefore Yeshua[H, A] came again to Canah[H] (Kana[G]: reeds) of Galilee (ha-galiyl[H], ha-kinneret[H]) to the place (el-mekom[H]) where He had made (poieo[G]) the water (ho-hudor[G], ha-mayim[H]) wine (oinos[G], le’yiyn[H]). And there was a certain (tis[G]) officer (servant) of the king (basilikos[G], meiavdeiy ha-melekh[H]) whose son was sick at K’far Nachum (Kapernaoum[G], Capernaum: village of comfort).
“Therefore Yeshua came again to Cana” Cana was the town in which Yeshua was based for His adult life and in particular His public ministry years. Hence, He “came again” (ref. John 2).
“to the place where He had made the water wine” Those Jews and Samaritans living elsewhere in Israel would need reminding of the location of Yeshua’s first miraculous sign. Knowing his initial audience to be Jews and Samaritans of the land of Israel, the writer of John’s Gospel seeks to consolidate their understanding of the locational aspects of Yeshua’s public miracles.
“there was a certain officer (servant) of the king” The king in question is Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee 4 BCE -39 CE. (ref. Mark 6:14). The ethnicity and religion of this officer of king Herod Antipas is unknown, he may or may not have been Jewish. It is possible that he was either Chuza, Herod's steward (Luke 8:3), or Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod (Acts 13:1). He was either a resident of Capernaum or had a house there. Regardless, this man’s son was extremely ill and near the point of death, and was lying in the family home in the village of comfort (v.47).
47 When he heard that Yeshua[H, A] had come out of the region of Yehudah[H] (Ioudaia[G], Judea: praise) into Galilee (ha-galiyl[H], ha-kinneret[H]), he went to Him and was beseeching (erotao[G]) Him to come down (katabaino[G]) and heal (iaomai[G], lerafei[H]) his son; for he was about to die (apothnesko[G], lamut[H]).
The officer of the king had obviously heard of Yeshua’s miracles or had personally witnessed the signs Yeshua had performed in Jerusalem at the Passover months prior. If the latter is the case this may indicate that the officer of the king was a practicing Jew who had been in Jerusalem for the Passover festival.
“beseeching Him to come down” Means that the officer of the king was pleading with Yeshua to come down (literally downhill) to Capernaum (about a day’s walk from Cana) to heal his infant/toddler who was on his death bed.
48 Therefore, Yeshua[H, A] said to him, “Unless you all (horao[G] PL) see signs, miracles, tokens (semeion[G], otot[H]) and wonders, portents, proof (teras[G], moftiym[H]), you will not believe, have faith, trust (pisteuo[G], ta’amiynu[H]).” 49 The officer of the king (basilikos[G]) said to Him, “My Lord, Master, Sir (kurios[G], Adoniy[H]), come down (katabaino[G]) before my little child, infant (paidion[G]) dies (apothnesko[G], yamut[H]).”
The inference is that the officer of the king, and indeed the majority of the people required visible proof of Yeshua’s power to perform miraculous signs and therefore, prove Himself to be the promised Messiah. Yeshua uses the man’s request as an example to all present. Belief in Him must surpass personal circumstances and temporary healing. If one’s faith remains only so long as Yeshua heals the body, it is a worthless faith with no eternal value.
Following Yeshua’s rebuke the officer of the king calls Him “Adoniy (My lord)”, perhaps by way of concession to Yeshua’s incredulity concerning the shallow belief of the people. His words become desperate “before the child dies” in an attempt to appeal to Yeshua’s mercy.
50 Yeshua[H, A] said to him, “Go, travel to him (poreuomai[G]); your son (huios[G], bincha[H]) lives (zao[G], chay[H]).” The man (ha-iysh[H]) believed, had faith in, trusted (pisteuo[G], he-emiyn[H]) the word (ho-logos[G], la’davar[H]) that Yeshua[H, A] spoke (deber[H]) to him and went on his way (poreuomai[G]).
Yeshua essentially says “Go back to your son, he is already recovering.” Yeshua had already healed the boy, even as He sent the father back to him. Thus, the father could travel back with the knowledge that his son was safe. This shows great faith in Messiah on the part of the officer of the king, who had believed without seeing the sign immediately manifest before his eyes. Like the Roman ruler (Luke 7:1-10), the officer of the king took Yeshua at His word.
The healing of young children is a sign connected to the prophets Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 17:23 & 2 Kings 8:9). Many Jews of the first century believed that when the Messiah came He would perform miracles like those of the prophet Elijah.
51 Already then (ede de[G]) as he was now going down (katabaino[G]), his servants (doulos[G], avodayv[H]) met him, saying that his boy (pais[G], beno[H]) was living (zao[G], chay[H]). 52 Therefore, he inquired (punthanomai[G]) of them the hour when his health began to improve. Then they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 Therefore, the father knew, realised (ginosko[G]) that it was at that hour in which Yeshua[H, A] said to him, “Your son (binecha[H]) lives (zao[G], chay[H])”; and he himself believed, had faith in, trusted (pisteuo[G]) and his whole (vechol[H]) household (oikia[G], beiyto[H]).
Based on the timeline of events present in the text the officer of the king must have left Cana the day following Yeshua’s statement of healing over his son. The servants of the officer of the king must have set out to meet him the following morning and the two parties would have met at some point between the two locations.
The importance of the seventh hour (1pm) is the significance it has to those who live bound by time and space. From Yeshua’s perspective the child was destined for healing but from the perspective of the child’s father and community time was a factor. Therefore, for the sake of the peoples’ potential faith, Yeshua showed them that He had been given authority over all things and that in the moment He commanded something it happened regardless of His location. The reality is that Yeshua is both the creating Word essence of God and the healing balm of the sin affected, suffering creation.
We note that the officer of the king first believed in Yeshua’s ability to heal (v.50) and secondly came to believe in Yeshua as Messiah Himself based on the confirmation of the promised healing.
If Chuza Herod’s steward is indeed the officer of the king, then this miracle is perhaps the catalyst that connected Joanna his wife to Yeshua’s ongoing ministry (ref. Luke 8:3).
54 This is sign, miracle, token (semeion[G], ha-ot[H]) the second (ha-sheiniy[H]) that Yeshua[H, A] performed when He had come out of Yehudah[H] (Ioudaia[G], Judea: praise) into Galilee (ha-galiyl[H], ha-kinneret[H]).
Specifically, this was the second major sign given in the town of Cana in the region of Galilee. After all, He had performed many miracles other than this since His first public sign in Cana. Therefore, this was the first miracle He performed after coming out of Judea into Galilee “again” (v.46), and was the second that He had performed in Cana of Galilee (John 2:11).
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown