Yohanan Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern
1. There was a man who had fallen sick. His name was El‘azar, and he came from Beit-Anyah, the village where Miryam and her sister Marta lived.
Like a number of the incidents Yochanan reports, the events of this chapter presume knowledge of material found in the Synoptic Gospels. Beit-Anyah is mentioned in Mk 11:11 -12 as the place where Yeshua and his talmidim stayed after making their triumphal entry into Yerushalayim. Miryam and Marta are introduced at Lk 10:38-42.
2. (This Miryam, whose brother El‘azar had become sick, is the one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.)
Mirvani... poured perfume, etc. Reported by Yochanan at 12:3-8; Mt 26:6-13 and Mk 14:3-9 say this occurred in the home of Shim'on, the man whom Yeshua healed of a serious skin disease; perhaps he shared quarters with the three siblings. A similar incident took place earlier (Lk 7:36-38).
3. So the sisters sent a message to Yeshua, “Lord, the man you love is sick.”
4. On hearing it, he said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may receive glory through it.”
This sickness will not end in death. In fact El'uzar did die (v. 14), but Yeshua raised him, so that the illness did nol "end" in death.
5. Yeshua loved Marta and her sister and El‘azar;
6. so when he heard he was sick, first he stayed where he was two more days;
7. then, after this, he said to the talmidim, “Let’s go back to Y’hudah.”
Let's go back to Y'hudah from the east side of the Yarden River (10:40).
8. The talmidim replied, “Rabbi! Just a short while ago the Judeans were out to stone you — and you want to go back there?”
9. Yeshua answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours of daylight? If a person walks during daylight, he doesn’t stumble; because he sees the light of this world.
10. But if a person walks at night, he does stumble; because he has no light with him.”
11. Yeshua said these things, and afterwards he said to the talmidim, “Our friend El‘azar has gone to sleep; but I am going in order to wake him up.”
12. The talmidim said to him, “Lord, if he has gone to sleep, he will get better.”
13. Now Yeshua had used the phrase to speak about El‘azar’s death, but they thought he had been talking literally about sleep.
14. So Yeshua told them in plain language, “El‘azar has died.
15. And for your sakes, I am glad that I wasn’t there, so that you may come to trust. But let’s go to him.”
16. Then T’oma (the name means “twin”) said to his fellow talmidim, “Yes, we should go, so that we can die with him!”
This T'oma is the famous "doubting Thomas," and his pessimism here already foreshadows the events of 20:24-29 which give him his nickname.
17. On arrival, Yeshua found that El‘azar had already been in the tomb for four days.
El'azar had already been in the tomb for four days and had already begun to decay (v. 39). Yeshua raised others from the dead — Ya'ir's daughter (Lk 8:41-42, 49-56) and the son of the widow in Na'im (Lk 7:11-17). The Tanakh reports that Elijah and Elisha had raised people from the dead (1 Kings 17:17-24, 2 Kings 4:17-37). And indeed doctors today bring back people who have been "clinically dead" for many minutes, perhaps hours. But nowhere in biblical or secular history is there an instance of anyone medically dead for four days — to the point where there would be an odor — being physically raised from the dead.
The incident is reported in such a way that no one misses its significance: Yeshua has physically brought back to life a four-days-dead, cold, stinking corpse; and this miracle crowns Yeshua's career prior to his own death and resurrection. This is what produced the profound reaction among the populace and authorities reported in the rest of this and the following chapter.
18. Now Beit-Anyah was about two miles from Yerushalayim,
19. and many of the Judeans had come to Marta and Miryam in order to comfort them at the loss of their brother.
20. So when Marta heard that Yeshua was coming, she went out to meet him; but Miryam continued sitting shiv‘ah in the house.
Many of the Judeans had come... tocomfort them at the loss of their brother.... Miryam continued sittingshiv'ah in the house. The word "shiv'ah" means "seven," and the phrase, "sitting shiv'ah," refers to the Jewish custom of sitting in mourning for seven days following the death of a deceased parent, spouse, sibling or child. The Greek here says only "sitting," which is an unusual word if all that is meant is that Miryam stayed in the house when Marta went out. Because it is so clear from the context that Miryam was mourning her brother I have added "shiv'ah" in the text to show that her "sitting" was in fact specifically "mourning." The Orthodox Jewish mourner sits unshod on the floor or on a low stool in the home of the deceased or his near relative and abstains from all ordinary work and diversions and even from required synagogue prayers, while friends visit him to comfort and pray with him. Both sisters observed the practice, which was not significantly different then from now; but Marta, who evidently had digested Yeshua's counsel at Lk 10:41-42, was now the one willing to set custom aside and leave the house in order to meet him.
21. Marta said to Yeshua, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.
22. Even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”
23. Yeshua said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24. Marta said, “I know that he will rise again at the Resurrection on the Last Day.”
I know that he will rise again at the Resurrection on the Last Day. How did she know this? From the Taruikh, which teaches it at Daniel 12:2. This was standard doctrine among the P'ruxhim (but not the Tz'dukim; see Mt 3:7N, 22:23-32&NN, Ac 23:6-9&NN).
25. Yeshua said to her, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life! Whoever puts his trust in me will live, even if he dies;
I AM the Resurrection and the Life. In addition to Yeshua's absolute "I AM" statements (see 4:26&N) Yochanan reports seven predicated "I AM" statements: I AM the bread of life (6:35). the light of the world (8:12, 9:5), the gate (10:7), the good shepherd (10:11, 14), the resurrection and the life (here), the way and the truth and the life (14:6), and the real vine (15:1). The book of Revelation adds that Yeshua similarly spoke of himself after the resurrection as the "A" and the "Z" (Rv 1:8) and as the first and the last (Rv 1:17).
26. and everyone living and trusting in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27. She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”
28. After saying this, she went off and secretly called Miryam, her sister: “The Rabbi is here and is calling for you.”
29. When she heard this, she jumped up and went to him.
30. Yeshua had not yet come into the village but was still where Marta had met him;
31. so when the Judeans who had been with Miryam in the house comforting her saw her get up quickly and go out, they followed her, thinking she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32. When Miryam came to where Yeshua was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33. When Yeshua saw her crying, and also the Judeans who came with her crying, he was deeply moved and also troubled.
34. He said, “Where have you buried him?” They said, “Lord, come and see.”
35. Yeshua cried;
36. so the Judeans there said, “See how he loved him!”
37. But some of them said, “He opened the blind man’s eyes. Couldn’t he have kept this one from dying?”
38. Yeshua, again deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying in front of the entrance.
39. Yeshua said, “Take the stone away!” Marta, the sister of the dead man, said to Yeshua, “By now his body must smell, for it has been four days since he died!”
Before medicine could distinguish clearly between being comatose and being dead, people were occasionally buried alive. Jewish burial practices attempted to eliminate this grisly possibility. According to a post-Talmudic tractate compiled in the eighth century,
"We go out to the cemetery and examine the dead [to see if they are still alive and have been buried by mistake] fora period of three days and do not fear being suspected of engaging in the ways of the Amorites [i.e., superstitious practices]. Once a man who had been buried was examined and found to be alive; he lived for twenty-five years more and then died. Another such person lived and had five children before he died." (S'machot 8:1) The title of this tractate is the plural of "simchah" ("joy") and is a euphemism for mourning.
Marta's remark confirms, then, that she has given up all hope that her brother is still alive — the three-day period has passed: It has been four days since he died.
40. Yeshua said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you keep trusting, you will see the glory of God?”
41. So they removed the stone. Yeshua looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.
Yeshua looked upward. He prayed with his eyes open, as Jewish people do today. Christians usually pray with eyes closed; the reason most often given is in order to screen out visual distractions and concentrate on God. Which to do is a matter of individual choice; the Bible does not require either.
42. I myself know that you always hear me, but I say this because of the crowd standing around, so that they may believe that you have sent me.”
43. Having said this, he shouted, “El‘azar! Come out!”
44. The man who had been dead came out, his hands and feet wrapped in strips of linen and his face covered with a cloth. Yeshua said to them, “Unwrap him, and let him go!”
45. At this, many of the Judeans who had come to visit Miryam, and had seen what Yeshua had done, trusted in him.
46. But some of them went off to the P’rushim and told them what he had done.
47. So the head cohanim and the P’rushim called a meeting of the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do? — for this man is performing many miracles.
The head cohanim and the P'rushim, the two foci of opposition to Yeshua in the Judean establishment, called a meeting of the Sanhedrin, the ruling council (see Mt 5:22N), but it was apparently an illegal meeting (Mk 14:55N).
48. If we let him keep going on this way, everyone will trust in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both the Temple and the nation.”
The establishment had a working relationship with Rome even though it was an oppressing foreign power. This relationship was perceived as threatened by anyone whom Rome might regard as intending to lead a revolt and set up an independent government.
Everyone will trust in him as the longed-for Messianic king who would restore Israel's national glory.
The Temple. Greek "the place" (compare 4:20; Ac 7:46,49).
49. But one of them, Kayafa, who was cohen gadol that year, said to them, “You people don’t know anything!
50. You don’t see that it’s better for you if one man dies on behalf of the people, so that the whole nation won’t be destroyed.”
51. Now he didn’t speak this way on his own initiative; rather, since he was cohen gadol that year, he was prophesying that Yeshua was about to die on behalf of the nation,
52. and not for the nation alone, but so that he might gather into one the scattered children of God.
On behalf of the people. Kayafa's intended sense is "instead of the people." That is, "Better for us to ensure that Yeshua is put to death than that thousands of our people die at the hands of Romans suppressing a rebellion." But Kayafa... was cohen gadol that fateful year, and for this reason, even though he was an evil man, God used him to prophesy. As v. 51 explains, this is why his words carried a significance deeper than Kayafa's intended sense. The deeper significance involves exchanging Kayafa's meaning for one implying that Yeshua would fulfill Isaiah 53:6,
"All of us, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Adonai has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Yeshua would pay the death-penalty for sin in lieu of and on behalf of the people of Israel (the "all of us" of Isaiah 53:6), and also on behalf of non-Jews (v. 52, 10:16&N). For a discussion of how this works, see Ro 5:12-21&NN.
53. From that day on, they made plans to have him put to death.
54. Therefore Yeshua no longer walked around openly among the Judeans but went away from there into the region near the desert, to a town called Efrayim, and stayed there with his talmidim.
55. The Judean festival of Pesach was near, and many people went up from the country to Yerushalayim to perform the purification ceremony prior to Pesach.
The Judean festival of Pesach. See 5:1N.
The purification ceremony prior to Pesach. Those who had become ritually unclean because of having touched a dead body had to purify themselves by immersion (Numbers 9:10, 13). Sometimes the purification required seven days (Numbers 31:19-20). On Pesach see Mt 26:2N.
56. They were looking for Yeshua, and as they stood in the Temple courts they said to each other, “What do you think? that he simply won’t come to the festival?”
What do you think? That he simply won't come to the festival? That is, since he knows the authorities seek his death, will he disobey the Torah and not show up, in order to save his skin?
57. Moreover, the head cohanim and the P’rushim had given orders that anyone knowing Yeshua’s whereabouts should inform them, so that they could have him arrested.
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