Water into Wine (John 2:1-11):
The wedding in Cana and the miraculous sign of the water being turned to wine appears at first glance to be a party trick, a fanciful form of entertainment, and for those who detest wine and prefer an unfermented faith, a miracle of water into grape juice, albeit a far less miraculous transformation. However, Yeshua is no magician, nor is He a performer or a people pleaser, and both the Greek and Hebrew words for wine mean fermented grape juice, that is, alcohol. So what is this miracle all about? After all, one would think that Yeshua’s first recorded miracle would carry some significance outside of “Wow, we haven’t seen that done before”.
In fact, the miracle of water to wine has deep significance beyond the plain action described in the text of the Gospel of Yochanan. It links Yeshua to creation itself, to the miraculous work of Moses, and symbolically reveals Yeshua’s vicarious, sacrificial blood. All this, at a wedding banquet that prefigures that great wedding banquet at the end of the age, the wedding supper (Rev. 19:7, 9) of the “Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” (John. 1:29).
Joh 2:1 And in the day, the third (uvayom hashliyshiy[H]) there was a marriage festival (gamos[G]Chatunah[H]) beginning (ginomai[G], haytah[H]) in Cana (Kana[G], Qanah [H], reeds) of Galilee (Ho-Galilaia[G] circuit, Yam Ha-Kineret[H] Lake of the harp, [region]); and the mother (meter[G], eim[H]) of the (tos[G]) Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) was in that place (ekei[G]):
NB: Cana is approximately 7.9 km north of Nazareth. This would have been approximately 1 ½ hours walk. Yeshua spent His middle years in Nazareth.
“Cana of Galilee” Is a town assigned to the tribe of Asher (Joshua 19:28). Cana meaning reeds and Asher meaning Happiness.
“In the third day” (uvayom hashliyshiy), could refer either to the third day following the day that the disciples of John (the Immerser) first meet Yeshua, or to the third day of a week, that being comparable to Tuesday in the modern western calendar. It is also a figurative prophetic reference to the resurrection of the King Messiah Yeshua. If it refers to the third day of the Hebrew week, there is a significant inference. The third day of the week is that day of the created order where “God saw that it was good” twice (Genesis 1:10, 12). As a result it is thought to be a day of twofold blessing.
The Hebrew chatunah (Marriage) is interesting in that the Hebrew groom, chatan having been joined by the Hebrew bride kalah (arusah, betrothed), enters a binding commitment of love that is named by a feminine form of the masculine noun chatan (groom), that being chatunah. In other words, the bride joins with the groom and takes on his character.
“The mother of” Yeshua’s mother Miriyam (Mary) is never mentioned by name in the Gospel of Yochanan (John). It seems that Yochanan shares his sense of intimate connection to Yeshua with his understanding of Yeshua’s special connection to His mother. It is to Miriyam that Yeshua says “Woman here is your son” and to Yochanan He says “Here is your mother”.
“25 Near the execution tree of Yeshua stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Yeshua saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Precious Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” -John 19:25-27
Thus, those whom the author sees in this way need not be mentioned by name because they are known to the intimate circle of his audience. This is still further evidence that this gospel was initially intended for a Jewish audience and only by extension to the gentiles being saved throughout the Roman empire of the latter first century CE (AD).
“The Yeshua” It is interesting to note that while the more recent Hebrew text available does not have the definite article in conjunction with Yeshua’s name, both the Greek and Aramaic texts do. Meaning that the Jewish author, writing in Greek, clearly intended that this Yeshua be seen as exceptional. Thus, “And the mother of the Yeshua was in that place”. Keeping in mind that Joshua (Yeshua, Yehoshua) was an extremely common Jewish name in the first century CE (AD). Therefore, there may well have been several of the 1200 guests who were named Yeshua (Yehoshua, Joshua).
Marriage in Judea and Galilee in the first century CE (AD):
There were some differences between the Jewish marriage customs of Judea and the Galilee during the first century CE (AD). Religious laws were codified in order to establish correct practise for Jews living in the land at that time.
"There are three countries (regions), for the celebration of marriages; Judea, the country beyond Jordan, and Galilee;''
-Misn. Cetubot, c. 13. sect. 10. T. Hieros. Cetubot, fol. 36. 2.
Therefore, these three distinct tribal regions of Jews were obligated by Jewish religious law to marry among themselves. If a member of one group married a woman from outside of the group she was not obliged to leave her region and go with him. This is consistent with the Torah requirements regarding the passing on of land as an inheritance to the respective tribes.
"They do not bring them out from city to city, (i.e. oblige them to go with them from city to city,) nor from town to town; but in the same country they bring them out from city to city, and from town to town.''
-Bartenora in ib.
"In Judea, at first, they joined the bridegroom and bride together an hour before they went into the bride chamber, that so his heart might be lifted up in her; but in Galilee they did not do so: in Judea, at first, they appointed for them two companions, one for him, and another for her, that they might minister to, or wait on the bridegroom, and bride, when they went into the bride chamber; but in Galilee they did not do so: in Judea, at first, the companions slept in the house where the bridegroom and bride slept; but in Galilee they did not do so.''
-Talmud. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 12. 1.
Joh 2:2 And both Yeshua[H] and His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]) were called by name (kaleo[G]) to the marriage festival (gamos[G]Chatunah[H]).
The Greek “kaleo” denotes the receipt of a person by name, and or the receiving of the person’s name and identity. A deep form of welcome that infers either familial relationship or close friendship. Therefore, it is likely that the families who were celebrating this wedding knew Yeshua and His disciples personally. They were either related to Miriyam (Mary) or Yosef (Joseph) [now deceased] or were close friends of the family. Certainly, at very least Yeshua was known to the family through His mother and thus His disciples would have been invited in connection to their newly found spiritual teacher and Rabbi.
“Yeshua and His disciples” These being Andrew, and the John (other disciple, not John the Baptist), who followed Yeshua, Simon Peter, Philip, and Nathanael, all of whom were from the Galilee region. Therefore, five of Yeshua’s disciples were present along with His mother and brothers, Yaakov (James), Yosef (Joseph), Yehudah (Judah) and Shimon (Simon) [Mark 6:3; Matthew 13:55-56]. Including Yeshua this makes a total of ten free Jewish men present. Ten being a number of fullness and completion, wholeness and restoration, renewal and well-being. This is significant given that according to Jewish Law 10 free Jewish men (a minyan) were required to be present at the blessing of a bridegroom.
“They do not bless the blessing of bridegrooms, but with ten principal and free men; and the bridegroom may be one of the number.”
-Maimon. Hilch. Ishot, c. 10. sect. 5. Pirke Eliezer, c. 19. Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 9. 3.
Aside from the plan circumstances in which Yeshua was a guest and not the bridegroom, we non the less note that figuratively speaking the bridegroom of the body of believers (Yeshua) was among their number.
Joh 2:3 And when they were behind in the supply of (hustereo[G]) wine (oinos[G], yiyn[H]) the mother of the (tos[G]) Yeshua[H] [A] said to Him, “They have no wine.”
The Greek “oinos” is yet another Hebrew/Aramaic transliteration into Greek. The Hebrew word is “yiyn” and is used to describe the fermented juice of grapes. Wine is a symbol of blessing in both ancient and modern Judaism, thus a lack of wine is symbolic of a lack of blessing or is otherwise seen as a sign that the blessing has run out.
Whatever role Yeshua’s mother played at the wedding banquet, she is almost certainly serving as a direct aid to the banquet master, who was likely a close relative. There is a beautiful correlation here. Miriyam is servant both to the banquet master of this wedding and to her own Son Yeshua, the Son of the banquet Master of creation (YHVH). Just as she serves, so she offers Yeshua and opportunity to reveal His service. He is after all the Servant King Messiah (Isa. 53).
In this ancient Jewish cultural setting it would have been seen as a disgrace to the families of both bride and groom had the wine run out before the festivities had been concluded. Therefore, the remedying of this situation was of great importance to Miriyam (Mary).
Joh 2:4 The (Ho[G]) Yeshua[H] [A] said to her, “What have I to do with your doings (soi[G]) precious woman (gune[G])? [Alt. Hebrew reading: mah-liy valach ishah[H] What of Me and to/for you woman?] My hour, season, time (hora[G]) is not yet arrived (heko[G]) [Alt. Hebrew reading: itiy adayin lo-ba’ah[H] With Me what is yet to be is not come.”
The Greek gune in this context refers specifically to a woman relative, wife, betrothed, mother etc.
“Precious woman” is a phrase used throughout the Gospel of John as a precursor to a revelation to those women dear to the heart of the Messiah (4:21; 19:26; 20:13,15).
“What have I to do with your doings precious woman?” This is a Hebrew idiom from the Tanakh which has been translated into Greek in order to convey a uniquely Hebrew perspective. It is clear that the author knew his primary readers (Jews) would understand it without explanation, and he intentionally fails to clarify its meaning for any later gentile readers. This is because some of the food of the gospel is first and foremost for the children of Israel (Jews, ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) [Matt.15:26]. The phrase in question is used throughout the Tanakh in different contexts to mean, “What do we have in common?”, “Why are you involving me?”, “Don’t tell me what to do!”, “Why are you turning to me?”, “Your concern is not my concern.”
In this case the idiom is employed as a gentle rebuke that seeks to illuminate for Miriyam the importance of Yeshua’s timely revelation of His manifest glory and ultimate goal. None the less, HaShem (YHVH) had always intended for this to be Yeshua’s first miraculous sign, and Yeshua knew this. He did not give in to His mother’s request as some foolishly suggest, rather He helped His mother understand the true significance of her request. Thus Yeshua obeys the will of His Father (YHVH) and proceeds to do what He had always intended to do.
“With Me what is yet to be is not come.” Meaning, “The full revelation of my redeeming work and identity awaits its perfect timing.” Therefore, while Miriyam was hoping for Yeshua to be fully recognised for Who He truly was on the occasion of this wedding, He was making sure she understood that His actions at the wedding would be a mitigated revelation that would point to the perfect hour (time) of His vicarious death and resurrection unto glory, resulting in eternal life for all who would receive Him.
Joh 2:5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
This is one line of motherly advice that every believer should take heed of. Miriyam was approximately 44 years old at the time of these events.
Miriyam’s response to Yeshua’s gentle rebuke is one of submission, respect and honour. A carnal mother would have rebuked her son and said to him, “Do as I say” but Miriyam the mother of Yeshua is a devote worshipper and lover of God. Thus she turns to the servants and says, “Do whatever He says”.
We note that Yeshua’s mother Miriyam (Mary), who had treasured in her heart that which she had understood of His identity, none the less, does not respond. Rather, like a Yiddish momma, she simply turns to the servants and directs them to obey her son. In doing so Miriyam shows that she understands that while Yeshua’s time of sacrificial death (Luke 2:19, 34-25, 51-52) has not yet come, His time to launch his miraculous ministry has.
We must remember that when Yosef (Joseph) and Miriyam had brought the new-born Yeshua to the Temple for consecration, the righteous man Simeon had spoken directly to Miriyam about Yeshua’s destiny:
“Then Shimeon blessed them and said to Miriyam, his mother: ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.’” -Luke 2:34-35
Miriyam had listened to and watched Yeshua grow and treasured both Him and His role as redeemer of Israel (Luke 2:19, 51-52). Therefore, the account of her conversation at the wedding in Cana does not show that she misunderstands Yeshua’s appointed time, to the contrary, her response shows that she understands perfectly and in spite of what she knows will lead to her own great loss, she none the less makes it possible for the people of Israel to begin to understand the fullness of God’s purpose of redemption made manifest in Yeshua, her precious, beloved and treasured son.
Joh 2:6 And there were set in that place (ekei[G]) six stone (lithinos[G]) water vessels (hudria[G], kadeiy-even[H]), according to the purification, cleansing, washing rituals, judgements, regulations (mishpat[H]) of the (Ho[G]) Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]) each capable of containing 75 to 115 litres.
According to Jewish tradition stone jars can be cleansed if made impure but jars made of clay must be destroyed (Lev.6:28; 11:33). It is interesting to note that stone vessels of this kind have been found in a quarry near Nazareth which dates to the first century CE. Additionally, the Greek word tekton, which is translated carpenter in most English Bibles can refer to any kind of labourer, craftsman, or artisan, including a stone mason. Therefore, it is quite possible that both Yosef (Yeshua’s father) and Yeshua (initially as apprentice to His father) were in fact stone masons (Matt.13:55; Mark.6:3). Thus, Yeshua Himself may have made the stone vessels that were present at this wedding in Cana, at the quarry outside of Nazareth, where He spent the majority of His pre-ministry years.
“Six stone water vessels” Stone (earth) and water, the elements present at the beginning of creation (Gen.1:1) are present in the six stone vessels, which are themselves representative of the six days of creation. Therefore, figuratively speaking Yeshua as the Creative Word (John 1:1) begins the ministry that will bring about a renewed creation with a sign that speaks of how the renewed creation will come about. That is, through the shed blood of the King Messiah.
“According to the purification, rituals, of the Judeans” Refers to Judeans by religion as opposed to Judeans by location or ethnicity, although, for the most part those who were Judean by ethnicity were also at least under the religious instruction of the Judean religious authorities in Jerusalem. The Galileans, who were Jewish by ethnicity but did not necessarily keep all the same sectarian rituals as the Judeans, had none the less provided for the religious rites of their fellow Jews from Judea and may share some of those rites with their brothers and sisters. The ritual washing vessels in this case were most likely used for the washing before meals, a tradition that makes its way through history to the modern rabbinical practise of Netilat Yadaiym (The cleansing of the hands). This practise is likely very similar in form to that of the first century CE (AD) practise.
What this tells us is that the wedding was attended by Jews from both Galilee and Judea and that the couple, contrary to extrabiblical Jewish legal custom, may have been a mixed Jewish couple, one Galilean (Of Asher – Cana) and one Judean (Of Judah).
“Each capable of containing 75 to 115 litres” In total the six jars were capable of holding approximately 600 litres of water. If we estimate that each guest used the 300 – 500 millilitres of water necessary to perform Netilat Yadayim, we can safely say that there were a minimum of 1200 guests at the wedding. It is no wonder then that there was a wine shortage.
Joh 2:7 The (O[G]) Yeshua[H] [A] said to them, “Fill entirely (gemizo[G]) the water jars (hudria[G]) with water (mayim[H]).” And they filled them entirely, up to the brim.”
In order for something to be filled it must first be emptied. This means that those attending the wedding festival were devout Judean Jews and observant Jews from the Galilee and Nazareth, many of whom had performed ritual washing (Netilat Yadayim) using the water in the stone vessels before eating at the wedding feast.
This filling is figurative of the fresh living water that Yeshua would fill creation with (John 4:14).
We note that this sign is given following the account of John the Immerser (John 1:33) speaking of the Messiah bringing a tevilah (Immersion, baptism) in the Spirit that perfects the tevilah (Immersion) of water.
Both the beginning of creation and the beginning of Yeshua’s miraculous signs allude to the mikveh (gathering of waters, immersion pool), and to tevilah (immersion).
Joh 2:8 And He said to them, “Draw out now (nun[G]), and carry (phero[G]) it to the master, the great one (architriklinos[G], el-Rav[H]) of the feast.” And they carried it.
“Draw out now” No sooner had the vessels been filled with fresh water, that they were straight away poured into wine jugs and transported to the master of the banquet. This miraculous sign happened instantaneously, in the same way that the Nile had been turned red by the command of Moses.
We note that Yeshua made a presentation to the lord of the feast, of the fine wine that had resulted from His work. This is of course figurative of the presenting of His own blood before the Lord of All things (YHVH).
“The great one of the feast” The Greek architriklinos (Master of Festivities) is a compound title made up of three words: arche meaning beginning, origin, tria meaning three, and klino meaning to recline, rest, the declining of the day. It is a description of a dinner bed, or three couches connected and used for feasting and thus becomes a noun describing the master of ceremonies at a banquet. However, it is also a figure for the unity of God, Who begins all things (arche), is three and One (tria), and Who offers rest and reclining at the declining of time, to all who receive His Son (klino). Interestingly, the Hebrew text calls the master of the feast “El-Rav” The Great One”, Rav being the root for Rabbi.
Joh 2:9 When the master, the great one (architriklinos[G], el-Rav[H]) of the feast had tasted the water (hudatos[G], mayim[H]) it had become wine (oinos[G], yiyn[H]), and he had not seen the place it had come from: (but the servants who drew the water knew;) thus, the great one (architriklinos[G], el-Rav[H]) of the feast called the bridegroom (numphios[G], chatan[H])
It is impossible to think of a modern scientific explanation for this miraculous sign. Water does not become wine through any instantaneous process, nor is it feasible to suggest that this was simply diluted wine made from some deposit of wine in the base of the jars because the master of the banquet himself states that it is the best of wines, a fine, full bodied wine incomparable to the weaker wines served up to that point.
We note that only Yeshua’s mother (who possibly told His brothers and relatives), the disciples with Him and the servants, knew what had taken place at this point. Metaphorically speaking there is a miracle (sign) that only the servants, followers, and relatives of Yeshua know, that being the salvation that comes through His vicarious death and miraculous resurrection. To others the wonderful transformation of those being saved is seen publicly as the “finest wine” which is saved for last. While still others are not even invited to the Wedding Banquet.
“The great one of the feast called the bridegroom” The bridegroom would have been seated with the bride in a prominent place. Therefore, the calling out of the bridegroom would have been seen by all. Figuratively, Yeshua is called by the Father to be honoured before all creation.
Joh 2:10 And said to him (bridegroom), “Every (individual) man (human being) first sets out the excellent, precious, surpassingly good (kalos[G], ha-tov[H]) wine (oinos[G], yiyn[H]); and when people have become drunk (methuo[G]), then that which is worse (elasson[G]): but you have taken care, attended to matters carefully, reserved, kept (tereo[G]) the excellent, precious, surpassingly good (kalos[G] ha-tov[H]) wine (oinos[G], yiyn[H]) until this moment (arti[G]).”
Yeshua’s first sign prophetically prefigures the unsurpassable value of the last sign of His earthly ministry, that being His death and resurrection.
We note that the bridegroom had no idea of what had taken place (at least, not at this point).
“Every man first sets out the good wine; and when people have become drunk, then that which is worse” A drunk man cannot appreciate the fine qualities of superior wine. Therefore, common sense dictates that the good wine should be served first at a time in proceedings when it can be appreciated, and later, for those who have drunk too much, the cheap wine is served.
“but you have taken care, reserving the good wine until this moment” Yeshua has produced the best wine last for a reason. The fact that the wine had run out indicates that many of the guests must have been over drinking, many, but not all. Those who had become drunk would now be given the fine wine produced by Yeshua but would be unable to appreciate it, while those who had been drinking responsibly would have been free to enjoy the superior wine to the fullest. Based on his assessment of the wine we know that the master of the banquet was one who had drunk responsibly. Likewise Yeshua’s mother and disciples. It is also possible that the servants who had not been drinking but serving, were later afforded the opportunity to drink of the fine wine, not having indulged in irresponsible drinking because of their commitment to service.
Therefore, we conclude that the wine was appreciated by the sober but went unnoticed by the drunk. This is a figure for the Gospel, where the blood of Messiah is received as the sweet fragrance of salvation to those being saved and as the stench of death to those being lost (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).
Joh 2:11 This beginning, origin, first (arche[G], reishiyt[H]) of (O[G]) the signs, wonders, miracles (semeion[G], ha-otot[H]) Yeshua[H] [A] did in Cana (Kana[G], Qanah [H], reeds) of Galilee (Ho-Galilaia[G] [circuit], Yam Ha-Kineret[H] Lake of the harp, [region]), and manifested, made known, made visible (phaneroo[G]) His glory, splendour, brightness, opinion, judgement, view (doxa[G], kevodo[H]); and His disciples, religious students, followers (mathetes[G], talmidim[H]) believed, had faith, trusted, were persuaded, accepted the truth (pisteuo[G], ya’amiynu[H]) in/on Him.
“This beginning, origin, first of the signs, wonders, miracles” The Greek “semeion” (miracle) equates to the Hebrew “ot” which is the same word used to describe the signs and wonders that God performed for Israel through Moses and the prophets.
This was the first of seven miraculous signs that each showed how the created order submitted to the authority of Yeshua (2:1-11; 4:43-54; 5:1-9; 6:1-5; 9:1-41; 11:1-44), the seventh sign showing Yeshua’s authority over the grave. Additionally the turning of the water to wine at Cana is the first of a total of 37 public signs (miracles) which are recorded in the gospels. We add to these: 1. the miraculous birth of Yeshua, 2. the sign of His death on the tree, and 3. His miraculous resurrection and we come to the sum 40, a number symbolizing fullness and new beginning. A number closely associated with the prophet Moses.
By turning the water into wine Yeshua emulated the first public sign (miracle, plague) performed by Moses via his proxy Aaron (Moses brother), that being the turning of the waters of the Nile to blood (Exodus 7:19-20). We note that this first public sign of Moses (Following the consuming of Pharaoh’s snakes) began the 10 plagues against Egypt (Double Distress) and was the beginning of Israel’s journey to freedom through the blood of the Passover Lamb. Thus, Yeshua showed Himself to be the One Who Moses had prophesied would come:
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.” The Lord said to me: “What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name.” -Deuteronomy 18:15-19 (NIV)
The first public sign of Moses was a plague, the first public sign of Yeshua was a symbol of redemption and healing from the greatest of plagues (sin and death). The Torah brought the indictment against sin, the vicarious sacrifice of the Author of the Torah (Yeshua) brings atonement and freedom from the indictment of the Torah (cf. John 1:17).
Both the first sign of Moses and the first sign of Yeshua were the inauguration of a process that would lead to the death of the first born. In the case of Moses, to the death of the firstborn of Egypt (double distress), and in the case of Yeshua, the death of the First Born Son of God Himself. The former being the means of physical freedom, the latter being the means of eternal metaphysical freedom.
If we are not to be judged we have no need of salvation. Therefore, judgement is necessary in order to qualify redemption.
Where Moses’ miraculous sign brought judgement against the enemies of God, Yeshua’s sign prophesied the means by which the enemies of God might be redeemed. And, just as the Passover Lamb delivered Israel from physical slavery, so too the “Lamb of God” would deliver Israel from spiritual slavery. It is no coincidence therefore, that the following verses of John 2 (v.13) speak of the Passover, for that is exactly what this first miraculous sign of Yeshua was pointing toward.
In summation, the miracle of the water turned to wine uses the symbolism of creation and the first public miracle (sign) of Moses to present to Israel the One (Yeshua) Who brings the redemptive means by which the sin affected creation can be cleansed and reborn as a new creation.
John’s gospel began by illuminating the creative Word of God Yeshua and continued through chapter one to allude to the Immerser Yochanan, whose immersion (ritual washing) is one of repentance. Now in the opening account of chapter two, in the miracle (sign) of the wedding at Cana we see the creative Word (Yeshua) of God present at a wedding festival. We see six stone jars, which, unlike clay kilned jars, are not of man-made material (Yeshua may well have literally made the stone vessels present at the wedding at Cana). We recall the stone (rock) which is cut out and will destroy the wicked kingdoms of humanity, establishing His rule over all things, as referenced to the prophetic dream of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:34, 44-45).The six jars are the six days of creation and the stone (rock, earth) and water are the base elements of the created order of our world (Genesis 1:1-2). Therefore, the Word (Creative voice of God, Yeshua), Who was in the beginning with God (John 1:1) commands that the stone jars be filled to the brim with water on the third day (v.1), and in stone and water He creates wine, just as God created the grape vines on the third day (Gen. 1:10-13) following the creation of the Cosmos, heavens, earth and water, and prior to the creation of humanity.
The water from the jars for ritual cleansing had been used to purify the body but could never purify the soul, spirit, conscience, being. Yeshua fills the same jars with new water, His living water, and turns the notion of temporary purification (physical washing) into a symbol for the blood (wine) that will bring a cleansing which will rid the soul, spirit, conscience, being of impurity forever. That is, the blood of His own vicarious, sacrificial death, shed for many. This wine (blood) is presented before the Master (God the Father) of the wedding Banquet (Of the Lamb) and it is The Master (YHVH) Who says of this wine (blood), “you’ve saved the best for last”, in other words, the temporary blood (wine) of animal sacrifice and the temporary cleansing of water is now eclipsed by the all sufficient blood (wine) of the Messiah Yeshua, Who perpetually pours out the mayim Chayim living waters of His life into the lives of others.
Yeshua Makes a Whip (John 2:12-25):
Joh 2:12 After this He (Yeshua) went down to Kafar Nachum[H] (Village [atonement] of comfort Capernaum), He, and His mother (meter[G], eim[H]), and his brethren (adelphos[G], echayn [achim] [H]) and His disciples, religious students, followers (mathetes[G], talmidim[H]): and they continued there for only a few days.
Capernaum is not south (down) of Cana, rather it is “down” in the sense of terrain.
NB: Capernaum is 38 km north-east of Cana and is known as the town of both Peter and Yeshua. It would have been approximately 7 ½ hours walk from Capernaum to Cana.
Yeshua was born in Bethlehem, brought up in Nazareth and He preached in Jerusalem but spent the majority of His time during His public ministry years in Capernaum. It is thought that when the Bible speaks of Yeshua’s “own city”, it is referring to Capernaum (Matt. 9:1). It is interesting to note that the Comforter (Yeshua) spent much of His public ministry living in the village of comfort (K’far Nachum).
We note now for the second time that Yeshua’s earthly father (step father as it were) is not present with His mother and the family. It is highly unlikely that Joseph (being a righteous man) had divorced his wife (or we would hear of it elsewhere), therefore, it seems that between the age of 12 (Luke 2:41-52) and the beginning of Yeshua’s public ministry (age 30) His earthly father Joseph had passed away.
Joh 2:13 And the Holy convocation of the Passover (Pascha[G], Chag ha-Pesach[H]) of (Ho[G]) the (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) Judeans was at hand (eggus[G]), and Yeshua[H][A] went up upon, made aliyah (anabaino[G], vaya’al[H]) to Jerusalem (Yerushalayim[H]: Flood/Downpour of Peace and wholeness),
NB: Jerusalem is 163 km south-west of Capernaum. This would have been approximately 35 hours walk, or a day and a half’s journey.
“The Passover of the Judeans” means that it was the Passover sacrifice performed according to the Temple rites upon the Temple altar as commanded by God for when Israel entered the land of Israel (The Temple being in Jerusalem of Judah). Prior to Israel’s entry to the land the Passover sacrifice was made outside of Israel and the Temple mount. The Samaritans practiced the Passover sacrifice (in direct violation of Torah) on Mt Gerizim. An issue that Yeshua addressed directly with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:4-42). The Passover of the Judeans also infers a practice that had additional customs associated with the Biblical command, customs that the Judean religious leaders had added. Regardless, Yeshua came to share in the Passover observance in Jerusalem along with all those Jews from throughout the known world who regularly made Aliyah for the Regalim (three going up festivals: Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot). Regalim is from the Hebrew root “rega” meaning to wait, thus these festivals were known as the three times when all Israel waited on the Lord together in His Holy City Jerusalem, where He had placed His Name.
It is no coincidence that the miracle of the water to wine occurs directly prior to the sacrifice of the Passover, which is the very thing that the symbolism of the miracle reveals. Therefore, having been called the “Lamb of God Who takes away the offence of the world” and having shown how His blood would become the finest wine of redemption, Yeshua now goes up to Jerusalem to the Passover celebration that has prefigured His coming for millennia.
Joh 2:14 And came upon, found, discovered (heurisko[G]) in (en[G]) the temple (hieron[G], vamikdash[H]) salesmen, barterers (poleo[G]) that sold oxen and sheep and doves (yonah[H]), and the money brokers (kermatistes[G], porteiy ha-kesef[H]) sitting in fixed abode (kathemai[G], yoshviym sham[H]):
This same incident is recorded in Matthew 21:12-27, Mark 11:12-17, and Luke 19:45-20:8 where the emphasis differs slightly. In John’s account Yeshua emphasises the need for the temple to be purified so that His own Jewish people might worship God in purity. Thus the author quotes Psalm 69:9. This makes sense, given that the author of the Gospel According to John sees the Jews as his primary audience. Whereas, the focus of Mark’s Gospel for example, is on rebuking the false witness that these practices exhibit to the nations. Therefore, the author of Mark’s Gospel quotes a different verse from the Tanakh (OT), “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’ (Isaiah 56:7). But you have made it a den of robbers (Jeremiah 7:11).”
While the accounts are very similar the overturning of the tables is recorded at the end of Yeshua’s ministry in the other gospels rather than at the beginning as in the present text. This means that Yochanan the author of the Gospel According to John, either changed the chronology to suit his narrative and theme, or, more likely, that Yeshua turned over the trading tables in the Temple a second time in the latter days of His ministry. This is consistent with the fact that the accounts of the synoptic Gospels are thematically different from that of John.
Therefore, when He first turned over the tables Yeshua was showing Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) the need for the purification of the temple, whereas, nearing the end of His ministry He placed the emphasis on how the apostate worship of Israel was causing the nations to stumble.
It is interesting to note that the Mark 11:12-17 account has Yeshua cursing the fig tree prior to the events that took place in the temple courts. Later that fig tree had withered. We recall that Nathanael had been called from under the fig tree which represented the place of Torah study and the fruitfulness that should come from it, however, there were those who taught in the seat of authority who had made the fig tree (metaphorically) fruitless. Unlike Nathanael, who was “A true Israelite in whom there is no deceit”, many of the Torah scholars and teachers among the Judean religious leadership had made their fig trees fruitless through teaching “the rules of men”, and thus were cursed by Yeshua so that the tree of their false teaching might not bear fruit in the future.
“In the Mikdash (temple)” means inside the temple area itself, and does not refer to the outer court of the gentiles which is not considered part of the temple proper (Yet further proof that this is a separate, earlier event of similar nature). The selling and bartering of religious goods is most likely to have occurred in the court of the men of Israel which is located just prior to the court of the priests where the sacrifices are offered on the altar. Based on the Greek text we can deduce that the sellers and money changers had fixed abodes there. Simply put, they weren’t coming and going, rather they had set up semi-permanent tables and booths from which they sold their merchandise, changed money for interest into the temple shekel, and generally profited from those who had come from afar to observe the regalim festivals.
Pilgrims making Aliyah (going up) were obligated by the Torah to pay the Temple tax by way of the official half-shekel (Exodus 30:11-16).
Joh 2:15 And when He had prepared, constructed, fashioned (poieo[G]) a scourge, whip (phragellion[G]) out of individual cords [bound together] (schoinion pas[G]), He drove, cast (ekballo[G]) them all (kulam[H]) out of the temple (hieron[G], ha-mikdash[H]), and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out, sent flying, spilled abroad (ekchuno[G]) the changers' of small coins (kollubistes[G], Maot[H]), both the small coins (kerma[G]) and the tables (trapeza[G], ha-shulchaniym[H]) were overturned, destroyed (anatrepo[G], yahapokh[H]);
“And when He had fashioned a scourge out of individual cords” This task would have taken a minimum of 30 minutes and probably up to an hour to complete. Yeshua maintained His Godly anger (Yaakov 1:20) over this period of time and focused on the creative task of making the whip out of numerous leather cords bound at the base and knotted at the ends, designed to draw blood. This was not the foolish instantaneous reaction of an angry man, rather it was the contained, premeditated, disciplinary action of the Spirit filled King Messiah. It is utterly foolish therefore, to claim that Yeshua was a pacifist (non-violent resistance). Just as the gospel is perpetually first for the Jews (Rom.1:16), so to the discipline of God is perpetually first for the Jews (Rom.2:9), and the coming glory of God’s Kingdom will be first for the Jews (Rom.2:10). He disciplines the ones He loves (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:6).
The use of the Greek kollubistes (changers' of small coins) in place of kermatistes (Money brokers) which is used in the previous verse, is intentional. It refers to changers of even the smallest coins, meaning that every defiled item down to the least, was dispersed and driven out of the temple complex by the King Messiah Yeshua.
The Greek anatrepo is more forceful than simply overturning (as in many English translations), it carries the sense of destruction. Yeshua did more than simply overturn the tables, He stomped them into pieces, such was His anger concerning the defiling of His Father’s House. The phrase “Gentle Jesus meek and mild”, while not entirely untrue, has none the less, become a lie of omission on the tongues of many believers. Therefore, we are reminded by the Gospel of Yochanan, that Yeshua has already come as a meek Lamb to the slaughter but He is now resurrected and will return as the warrior King Messiah, destroying the tables and wealth of God’s enemies and restoring righteousness and truth to the temple mount.
Joh 2:16 And said to those that sold, bartered over (poleo[G]) doves (yonah[H]), “Take these things away; do not make My Father's (pater[G]) house a house of merchandise, trade, an emporium, a market place (emporion[G]).” Joh 2:17 And His disciples (talmidim[H]) remembered that it was written, “The zeal (zelos[G] kinat[H]) for Your, the (ho[G]) house (oikos[G] beiytecha[H]) has eaten me up, consumed me (katesthio[G achalateniy[H]).”
“Kiy-kinat Because jealousy beiytecha for Your House achalateniy eats me, burns me up, vecherpot and the scorn, blaspheme, taunt, defying chorfeycha that has scorned, blasphemed, taunted, defyied You nafelu has fallen alay upon me.” -Psalm 69:9
We note that the so called “uneducated” am ha-aretz (people of the land, common people) disciples (talmidim) of Yeshua, were in fact very well versed in the Torah, Prophets and Writings of the Tanakh.
The Scripture that they had recalled further illuminates the context of this incident at the temple.
“I am a foreigner to my own family,
a stranger to my own mother’s children;
for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.” -Psalm 69:9-10 (NIV)
Yeshua’s disciples understood that this scripture was being enacted in all its prophetic fullness, right before their eyes. This psalm of David was written at a time when he had been scorned by his own people and treated as a foreigner because of his zeal for God’s House (Temple), and all that entailed.
Joh 2:18 Then (Ho[G]) the (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) Judeans (religious leaders in Jerusalem) answered and said to Him, “What sign (semeion[G], ot[H]) will you show, expose to our eyes (deiknuo[G]), seeing that you do these things?”
It was believed (And rightly so), that according to the Tanakh, the Messiah when He came, would manifest signs and wonders like those of Moses and Elijah. The question of the religious leaders was not wrong in and of itself but the motivation behind their question sought to disprove Yeshua’s identity as the King Messiah. Thus, it is in large part because of their evil intent that Yeshua answers the way He does in the following verse.
Joh 2:19 Yeshua answered and said to them, “Destroy, loose, unfasten, unbandage (luo[G]) this temple (naos[G], heiychal[H]) and in three days I will arouse, raise it up (egeiro[G]).”
The word for temple here is the Greek naos rather than the formerly rendered hieron. Where hieron refers to the sum of the temple precinct courts, naos refers to the temple proper, the Holy place and the holy of holies. Likewise, the Hebrew text uses heiychal (sanctuary, holy place & holy of holies), rather than mikdash (temple precinct).
We note that this chapter began “On the third day…”
Joh 2:20 Then (Ho[G]) the (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) Judeans (religious leaders in Jerusalem) said, “This temple (naos[G], heiychal[H]) has been constructed over a period of forty six years, and wilt You arouse, raise it up (egeiro[G]) in three days?”
It seems logical that men looking at literal earthly objects would conclude a physical meaning related to the temple itself in Jerusalem. The construction of Herod’s temple had begun in approximately 20-19 BCE (BC). The two years of preparation in construction is probably not included in the estimate of the religious leaders, which means that these events probably too place about 28 CE (AD). This confirms the view that the gospel writer is speaking of the first of two occasions where Yeshua turned over the tables of the money changers.
In fact, the construction of the temple complex was not completed until 64 CE (AD) by Herod Agrippa, just six years before the Romans destroyed it.
Joh 2:21 But He had spoken of the temple (naos[G], heiychal[H]) of His body (soma[G]). Joh 2:22 When therefore He was aroused, risen (egeiro[G]) from the dead (nekros[G]), His disciples, religious students (talmidim[H]) remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed, trusted, were confident in (pisteuo[G], yamiynu[H]) the Writing (graphe[G], katuv [ketvi] [H]) and the word (logos[G], davar[H]) which Yeshua had spoken.
“The Temple of His body” being an intimate correlation to the temple of God. In both cases the Greek and Hebrew texts use the same word to describe the Holy place at the centre of the temple precinct
“they believed in the Writing” Both the Greek graphe and the Hebrew katuv (ketvi) mean writing, written thing. Where others translate “scripture” it is more accurate to translate “Writings”, referring specifically to the third section of the Tanakh (OT) called the Ketuvim (Writings) which includes the poetry books [(Psalms, Proverbs, and Job), the Megillot, or Scrolls (Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Ecclesiastes, and Esther), and some of the books of prophecy (Daniel), and history (Ezra, Nehemiah, and I and II Chronicles).]
Joh 2:23 Now when He was in Jerusalem (Yerushalayim[H]: Flood/Downpour of Peace and wholeness) at the Passover (Pascha[G], Chag ha-Pesach[H]), on the festival day (heorte[G], be’chag[H]), many believed, trusted, were confident (pisteuo[G], yamiynu[H]) in His Name (onoma[G], besh’mo[H]), when they saw the miracles (semeion[G], ha-otot[H]) which He did.
“The festival day” refers to the day of the Passover sacrifice called the Chagigah (Festival offering).
The miracles being referred to are those performed during this same period in Yeshua’s early ministry as recorded in the other gospels.
“Many believed in His Name, when they saw the miracles which He did.” Many outside of Yeshua’s circle of family and disciples believed in Him based on the signs He was doing, signs like those of Moses and Elijah, which was what had been expected of the Messiah by the Jewish people. Like the three thousand at Shavuot (Pentecost) and the many thousands more among the Jews who believed both before and after His death and resurrection, it was this remnant of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) who were the first to receive Yeshua, and His gospel continues to be first for the Jews (Romans 1:16).
Joh 2:24 But Yeshua did not commit, entrust (pisteuo[G], he’emiyn[H]), himself to them, upon which (al-asher[H]) he knew all (yada et-kulam[H]), Joh 2:25 And did not need the testimony (martureo[G], le’eidut[H]) of a man (iysh[H]) of humanity (anthropos[G], al-ha’adam[H]): for He knew (yada[H]) what was in, among (en[G], mah-bekerev[H]) humanity, the man (anthropos[G], ha-adam[H]).
“But Yeshua did not entrust himself to them, upon which he knew” At this point in His ministry those who believed Yeshua was the promised Messiah would also have held tightly to the prophecies of His dominion over Israel and the nations. Therefore, they would have been eager to make Him King on the throne of David and see Him physically defeat the Roman empire and bring about the Messianic reign promised in the Tanakh (OT). Knowing this, Yeshua did not entrust Himself to the plans of human beings (cf. Matt.16:23; Mark 8:33). His time to rule and the Messianic age had not yet come, He must first suffer and die for all humanity. This reflects the gentle rebuke made to Miriyam earlier in the chapter (v.4).
“Did not need the testimony of a man: for He knew what was in, among humanity” The second Adam Yeshua knew intimately the nature of the first Adam and his progeny (Humanity). It was not the approval or validation of human beings he sought but the honour and glory of the Father to Whom He submitted all things. Had Yeshua given in to the human desire to promote Himself, He may well have become King and victor over Rome, but at the cost of the damnation of all humanity. Yeshua was not afforded the luxury of error and repentance. He had come to be Holy, just as the Father is Holy. He would endure all things that a human being must endure but would remain sinless for the sake of all humanity.
“4 Therefore, since we have a Kohen Gadol great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Yeshua the Son of Elohim, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a Kohen Gadol high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet remained without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” -Hebrews 4:14-16
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,