Yochanan Chapter 2

James Trimm’s Nazarene Commentary on Yochanan Chapter


2:6  six water pots of stone that were set for the purification of the Jews, which each held two or three liquid measures –  For years archaeologists could not understand the reason for these huge stone pots which held two or three measures (about 20 gallons).  Why would anyone spend hundreds of hours hollowing out stone pots of this size?  The answer to this question was found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.  The Temple Scroll discusses what happens when a house is exposed to uncleanness (for example if a person dies in the house, or a leper or menstruating woman enters the house).  The Scroll indicates that anyone who enters the house becomes unclean and any food in the house becomes unclean.  Then the scroll says “Earthen vessels become unclean, together with their contents…” (11Q19-20 Col. 49, 5-9) .  Earthen vessels (such as pottery) and wooden containers would become unclean along with their contents.  However stone vessels did not become unclean and so their contents were protected and also did not become unclean.  This new information sheds light on this passage in Yochanan.  These “stone pots” were “set for the purification of the Jews” because they remained pure and their contents were protected from ritual impurity.  This is very good evidence that the book was written by a Jew living in Israel in the first century who was aware of the existence and purpose of these stone pots.


2:14-15 moneychangers

The reference is to Money Changers who would exchange various unkosher coins (such as Roman coins) for kosher shekels for the Temple Tax.  The practice is mentioned in the Mishna:

 On the fifteenth of the same month [Adar] they set up money changers’ tables in the provinces. On the twenty-fifth [of Adar] they set them up in the Temple. … (m.Shekalim 1:3)

They may have been exchanging Roman coins with pagan images on them (see comments to Lk. 20:22-25) for kosher Temple coins.  Also, because of the burden of the journey to the Temple people would convert shekels to darics for the journey and exchange the darics back to shekels upon reaching the Temple (as stated in m.Shek. 2:1).

Yeshua sees them as  a robber’s den (see Mt. 21:13).  This may be because they were taking advantage and not making fair exchanges, or it may be because they were extracting the tax from people annually rather than just once in their lifetime (see comments to Mt. 17:24-27)

A Marginal note in a versified 8th century Bible manuscript known as the Aurora of Peter Riga gives a citation on this event from the Goodnews according to the Hebrews:

In the Gospel books which the Nazarenes use we read: Rays went forth from his eyes, by which they were frightened and fled.

This is likely the source for a similar comment made by the fourth century “Church Father” Jerome who elsewhere frequently quotes from the Goodnews according to the Hebrews gives the following citation without giving a source:

For a certain fiery and starry light radiated from his eyes and the majesty of the Godhead gleamed in his face. (Jerome; Commentary on Matthew 21:12)

This reminds us of the shining face of Moshe (Ex. 34:29-35) and a similar tradition about Enoch (1Enoch 38:4; 39:14; 2Enoch 69:10-12; 70:2; Jasher 3:20)  We read elsewhere about Yeshua’s face shining (Mt. 17:2 = Lk. 9:29).