12:12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 1 12:13 So they took branches of palm trees 2 and went out to meet him. They began to shout, 3 “Hosanna! 4 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! 5 Blessed is 6 the king of Israel!” 12:14 Jesus found a young donkey 7 and sat on it, just as it is written, 12:15 “Do not be afraid, people of Zion; 8 look, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt!” 9 12:16 (His disciples did not understand these things when they first happened, 10 but when Jesus was glorified, 11 then they remembered that these things were written about him and that these things had happened 12 to him.) 13
2 sn The Mosaic law stated (Lev 23:40) that branches of palm trees were to be used to celebrate the feast of Tabernacles. Later on they came to be used to celebrate other feasts as well (1 Macc. 13:51, 2 Macc. 10:7).
3 tn Grk “And they were shouting.” An ingressive force for the imperfect tense (“they began to shout” or “they started shouting”) is natural in this sequence of events. The conjunction καί (kai, “and”) is left untranslated to improve the English style.
4 tn The expression ῾Ωσαννά (Jwsanna, literally in Hebrew, “O Lord, save”) in the quotation from Ps 118:25-26 was probably by this time a familiar liturgical expression of praise, on the order of “Hail to the king,” although both the underlying Aramaic and Hebrew expressions meant “O Lord, save us.” As in Mark 11:9 the introductory ὡσαννά is followed by the words of Ps 118:25, εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι κυρίου (euloghmeno" Jo ercomeno" en onomati kuriou), although in the Fourth Gospel the author adds for good measure καὶ ὁ βασιλεὺς τοῦ ᾿Ισραήλ (kai Jo basileu" tou Israhl). In words familiar to every Jew, the author is indicating that at this point every messianic expectation is now at the point of realization. It is clear from the words of the psalm shouted by the crowd that Jesus is being proclaimed as messianic king. See E. Lohse, TDNT 9:682-84.
sn Hosanna is an Aramaic expression that literally means, “help, I pray,” or “save, I pray.” By Jesus’ time it had become a strictly liturgical formula of praise, however, and was used as an exclamation of praise to God.
6 tn Grk “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” The words “Blessed is” are not repeated in the Greek text, but are repeated in the translation to avoid the awkwardness in English of the ascensive καί (kai).
7 sn The author does not repeat the detailed accounts of the finding of the donkey recorded in the synoptic gospels. He does, however, see the event as a fulfillment of scripture, which he indicates by quoting Zech 9:9.
8 tn Grk “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion” (the phrase “daughter of Zion” is an idiom for the inhabitants of Jerusalem: “people of Zion”). The idiom “daughter of Zion” has been translated as “people of Zion” because the original idiom, while firmly embedded in the Christian tradition, is not understandable to most modern English readers.
10 tn Or “did not understand these things at first”; Grk “formerly.”
11 sn When Jesus was glorified, that is, glorified through his resurrection, exaltation, and return to the Father. Jesus’ glorification is consistently portrayed this way in the Gospel of John.
12 tn Grk “and that they had done these things,” though the referent is probably indefinite and not referring to the disciples; as such, the best rendering is as a passive (see ExSyn 402-3; R. E. Brown, John [AB], 1:458).
13 sn The comment His disciples did not understand these things when they first happened (a parenthetical note by the author) informs the reader that Jesus’ disciples did not at first associate the prophecy from Zechariah with the events as they happened. This came with the later (postresurrection) insight which the Holy Spirit would provide after Jesus’ resurrection and return to the Father. Note the similarity with John 2:22, which follows another allusion to a prophecy in Zechariah (14:21).