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John 5:1

Healing a Paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda

5:1 After this 1  there was a Jewish feast, 2  and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 3 

1 sn The temporal indicator After this is not specific, so it is uncertain how long after the incidents at Cana this occurred.

2 tc The textual variants ἑορτή or ἡ ἑορτή (Jeorth or Jh Jeorth, “a feast” or “the feast”) may not appear significant at first, but to read ἑορτή with the article would almost certainly demand a reference to the Jewish Passover. The article is found in א C L Δ Ψ Ë1 33 892 1424 pm, but is lacking in {Ì66,75 A B D T Ws Θ Ë13 565 579 700 1241 pm}. Overall, the shorter reading has somewhat better support. Internally, the known proclivity of scribes to make the text more explicit argues compellingly for the shorter reading. Thus, the verse refers to a feast other than the Passover. The incidental note in 5:3, that the sick were lying outside in the porticoes of the pool, makes Passover an unlikely time because it fell toward the end of winter and the weather would not have been warm. L. Morris (John [NICNT], 299, n. 6) thinks it impossible to identify the feast with certainty.

sn A Jewish feast. Jews were obligated to go up to Jerusalem for 3 major annual feasts: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. If the first is probably ruled out because of the time of year, the last is not as likely because it forms the central setting for chap. 7 (where there are many indications in the context that Tabernacles is the feast in view.) This leaves the feast of Pentecost, which at some point prior to this time in Jewish tradition (as reflected in Jewish intertestamental literature and later post-Christian rabbinic writings) became identified with the giving of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai. Such an association might explain Jesus’ reference to Moses in 5:45-46. This is uncertain, however. The only really important fact for the author is that the healing was done on a Sabbath. This is what provoked the controversy with the Jewish authorities recorded in 5:16-47.

3 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

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