John 7 – Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacle & The Great Mosque at Samaria

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John 7
Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacle

1 After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.

1 Sukkot
Sukkot, Succot or Sukkos (Hebrew: סוכות‎ or סֻכּוֹת sukkōt or sukkos, Feast of Booths, Feast of Tabernacles) is a biblical Jewish holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei (varies from late September to late October). It is one of the three biblically mandated festivals Shalosh regalim on which Hebrews were commanded to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. It follows the solemn holiday of Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement.

The holiday lasts seven days (eight in the diaspora). The first day (and second in the diaspora) is a sabbath-like yom tov (holiday) when work is forbidden, followed by the intermediate Chol Hamoed and Shemini Atzeret. The Hebrew word sukkōt is the plural of sukkah, “booth or tabernacle”, which is a walled structure covered with schach (plant material such as leafy tree overgrowth or palm leaves).

The sukkah is intended as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the sukkah and some people sleep there as well. On each day of the holiday, members of the household recite a blessing over the lulav (closed frond of the date palm tree, bound with boughs and branches of the willow and myrtle trees) and etrog (yellow citron) (Four species).

2 Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand.

“Feast of tabernacles” – the great feast in the Jewish year, celebrating the completion of harvest and commemorating God’s goodness of the people during the wilderness wanderings.  The name came from the leafy shelters in which people lived throughout the seven days of the feast.

3 His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest.

4 For there is no man that doeth anything in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world.

It is not clear whether the brothers claimed some knowledge of Jesus’ miracles that other people did not have or were suggesting that any claim to Messiahship must be decided in Jerusalem.  Their advice was not given sincerely for they didn’t yet believe in Jesus.

5 For neither did his brethren believe in him.

6 Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready.

7 The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.

“The world” – either (1) people opposed to God or (2) the human system opposed to God’s purposes.  The brothers belonged to the world and therefore could not be the objects of its hatred.  Jesus, however, rebuked the world and was hated accordingly.

8 Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come.

“Go not up yet” – Jesus was not refusing to go to the feast, but refusing to go in the way the brothers suggested – as a pilgrim.  When  he went, it would be to deliver a prophetic message from God, for which He awaited “His time”.

9 When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee.

10 But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.

11 Then the Jews sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he?

12 And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people.

2 Nazareth
Nazareth is the largest city in the North District of Israel. Nazareth is known as “the Arab capital of Israel”;the population is made up predominantly of Arab citizens of Israel, almost all of whom are either Muslim (69%) or Christian (30.9%). In the New Testament, the city is described as the childhood home of Jesus, and as such is a center of Christian pilgrimage, with many shrines commemorating biblical events.

13 Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews.

14 Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught.

15 And the Jews marveled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?

16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.

17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

“Will do his will” – reflecting a whole attitude of the life.  A person sincerely set on doing God’s will welcomes Jesus’ teaching and believes in Him.

This does not pertain only to pastors or evangelists.  Doing God’s will is to spread the Good News, i.e., that Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead for us and through Him and only Him do we have salvation.

“He shall know” – Augustine commented, “Understanding is the reward of faith…What is ‘If any man be willing to do his will’?  It is the same thing as to believe.”

18 He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.

“The same is true” – they should recognize that Jesus was not self-seeking.  In this Gospel, no one is spoken o fas “true” except God the Father and Jesus (here).  Once more John ranks Jesus with God.

19 Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?

3 A detail from
A detail from the Crusaders’ church of Annunciation; “Jesus walks on the sea” (Nazareth, Isarel, 11-12th century).

“The law” – the Jews congratulated themselves on being the chosen recipients of the law, but Jesus told them that they all broke the law of which they were so proud.

20 The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee?

21 Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel.

22 Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the Sabbath day circumcise a man.

“Circumcision” – the requirement of circumcision was included in the law Moses gave (Ex 12:44-48), yet it did not originate with Moses but went back to Abraham (Gen 7:9-14). 

The Jews took such regulations as that in Lev 12:3 to mean that circumcision must be performed on the eighth day even if it was the Sabbath, a day on which no works should be done.

This exception is of critical importance in understanding the controversy.  Jesus was not saying that the Sabbath should not be observed or that the Jewish regulations were too harsh.  He was saying that His opponents did not understand what the Sabbath meant. 

The command to circumcise showed that sometimes work not only might be done on the Sabbath but must be done then.  Deeds of mercy were in this category.

23 If a man on the Sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the Sabbath day?

24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

25 Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill?

26 But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ?

4 Nazareth is the largest
Nazareth is the largest city in the North District of Israel. Nazareth is known as “the Arab capital of Israel”; the population is made up predominantly of Arab citizens of Israel, almost all of whom are either Muslim or Christian.
Area: 5.452 sq. miles.

27 Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is.

“No man knoweth whence he is” – some Jews held that the Old Testament gave the origin of the Messiah, but others believed that it did not.

28 Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not.

“Ye both know me, and” – irony, because in a sense they knew Jesus and that He came from Nazareth, but in a deeper since they did not know Jesus or the Father. 

Jesus mentioned again His dependence on the Father and went on to declare that He had real knowledge of God and that they did not.  Both His origin and mission were from God.

29 But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me.

30 Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.

31 And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?

32 The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him.

5 Capernaum
This village is on the northern side of Sea of Galilee, and was the center of the activities of Jesus and his town during that time. A grand 4th C Ad Synagogue was excavated, which stood over the Synagogue from the time of Jesus.

33 Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me.

34 Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come.

35 Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?

36 What manner of saying is this that he said, Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come?

37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

40 Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet.

41 Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?

42 Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?

6 The Synagogue
The Synagogue was built at the end of the 4th C AD. In the photo below – the main prayer hall. This building was built from white limestone, which is in contrast with the local black basalt buildings. It had a roof, which stood over the pillars that are seen in the hall.

43 So there was a division among the people because of him.

44 And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him.

45 Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him?

46 The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.

“The officers” – they knew they would be in trouble for failing to make the arrest, but did not mention the hostility of part of the crowd, which would have given them something of an excuse before the Pharisees. 

They were favorably impressed by the teaching of Jesus and were not inclined to cause Him trouble.

47 Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived?

48 Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?

49 But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.

7 Under the monumental
Under the monumental building are the remains of the early Roman synagogue from the times of Jesus, which was built with the local (black) basalt rock. This earlier synagogue was the center of activities of Jesus, where he taught.

“This people who knoweth not” – the Pharisees exaggerated the p’s ignorance of scripture.  But the average Jews paid little attention to the minutiae that mattered so much to the Pharisees. 

The “traditions of the elders” (which was one thing Jesus spoke strongly against)  were too great a burden for people who earned their living by hard physical work, and consequently these regulations were widely disregarded.

50 Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,)

51 Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?

7:50-51 – there is irony here.  The Pharisees implied that no leader believed in Jesus, yet Nicodemus, “A ruler of the Jews,” spoke up.  They called for people to observe the law, but Nicodemus pointed to their own disregard for the law in this instance.

52 They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.

“Out of Galilee ariseth no prophet” – they were angry and wrong.  Jonah came from Galilee and perhaps other prophets as well.  Moreover, the Pharisees overlooked the right of God to raise up prophets from wherever He chooses.

53 And every man went unto his own house.

7:53-8:11 – this story is absent from some early manuscript, and some that have it sometimes place it elsewhere (e.g., after Luke 21:38).  However, this passage is contained in many New Testament Greek manuscripts.  The story may well be authentic.

The Great Mosque at Samarra

8 A spiral ramp
A spiral ramp winds five times around the minaret (right) of the Great Mosque. Abstract patterns in stucco (inset) were typical of Samarran decoration.

In 836, the unpopular Abbasid caliph al-Mutasim left Baghdad and created a new capital city for his caliphate at Samarra, on the Tigris River some 77 miles north of Baghdad.

Under al-Mutasim and his seven successors, the ancient city was reborn and rebuilt, with a palace, gardens, and mosques. The city’s status as capital was short lived—that honor returned to Baghdad in 892—but Samarra retained a reputation as a holy center.

Time has erased many of the city’s structures, but among the most famous of the remaining buildings is the Great Mosque. Built by the caliph al-Mutawakkil between 847 and 86i, the original mosque was one of the world’s largest, measuring 409,000 square feet.

Its outer wall of baked brick was supported by 44 towers; the interior held marble columns and was probably decorated with glass mosaics. A fountain rose in the courtyard.

Much of the main mosque has disappeared, but its most striking feature remains. The great minaret, 89 feet from the mosque’s north face, stands 180 feet high. Winding from its wide base to the narrower summit is a spiral ramp that leads to a windowed vestibule.

The building, so different from the delicate spires of modern minarets, harks back to the Mesopotamian ziggurats of Iraq’s early history.

… Ibn Sina.

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