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On the Gospel of John, Part 31: Raising Cain
It is within the provenance of God that Yahshua Christ knew that He was going to be executed in Jerusalem, and He knew when and how He would be executed. Many descriptions of these things were also written aforetime in the prophets, and one example is found in Daniel chapter 9 where it rather plainly states “26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself” and in Isaiah chapter 53 “5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Then there is the 22nd Psalm, which the apostles themselves had cited in reference to Christ: “10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly. 11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. 12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. 13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. 16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” Of course there are other prophecies besides these which had foretold of elements of the passion of the Christ, but Christ Himself did not necessarily rely on the prophets to know these things. Instead, they had known them from Him.
As early as Matthew chapter 16, while Christ is in Galilee at a point in His ministry some time sooner than we are here in John, we read that “21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.” But until this point here in John, Christ had purposely evaded the Pharisees and scribes who were opposed to Him, and escaped their desire to stone Him on a few occasions. So six months before this time, as it is recorded at the beginning of John chapter 7, Christ attended the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem but He would not make a public entry into the city, saying “for my time is not yet full come.” Even though He did clash with His adversaries later on during that feast, He had entered Jerusalem quietly and alone. Twice, during that feast and the subsequent feast of dedication a couple of months later, He escaped being stoned by apparently miraculous circumstances.
But now, here in John chapter 11, the time is approaching at which He intended to be executed, so with the greatest of miracles, upon His having raised Lazarus, He had also raised Cain. Not that Cain, being a bastard, is going to be resurrected, but Christ had raised Cain in other ways. First, as He had already told them in John chapter 8, His opponents – those who truly despised Him – were actually descendants of Cain, where He told them that “44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” Only Cain was a murderer from the beginning, and it is demonstrable that in the historical narrative of the Old Testament these Edomite Judaeans who had opposed Christ were descended in part from Cain through the Canaanite wives of Esau, as the Canaanites, Kenites and Rephaim had been mingled from long before the time of Abraham. Christ had also told them in other ways that they were children of Cain, such as in Luke chapter 11 where He accused them as a race as being liable for the blood of Abel. So the raising of Lazarus had raised these sons of Cain against Him.
But the phrase “raising Cain” is also an American English-language idiom. To raise Cain, according to the website freedictionary.com and other dictionaries of idioms and metaphors, means “To cause or get into trouble; to engage in unrestrained and excessively disruptive behavior.” The Cain in the phrase refers to that same Cain of the Old Testament, and the idiom seems to have first appeared in American popular literature from the middle of the 19th century.
The idiom describes precisely what Yahshua had done when He raised Lazarus, He set off a chain of events and caused a disturbance that also raised Cain and became the catalyst for His Own execution. This is fully evident in the direct response by His enemies to His having raised Lazarus, where John had written in verses 45 and 46 of this chapter “45 Then many from among the Judaeans, they having come to Mariam and observing the things which He had done, believed in Him. 46 Then some from among them went off to the Pharisees and told them the things which Yahshua had done.” Then John records their response to those reports, as we continue here with verse 47:
47 Then the high priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said “What do we do, seeing that this man makes many signs [D has ‘makes such signs as these’; the text follows P45, P66, א, A, B, W and the MT]? 48 If we should leave Him thusly, they shall all believe in Him, and the Romans shall come and they shall take both our place and our nation!”
The word συνέδριον (Strong’s # 4892) is literally a council. It is the Greek source of the bastard Jewish word sanhedrin, which is really closer to Yiddish than Hebrew. Their word synagogue is also originally a Greek word.
Here the fact must be observed that these men certainly did believe that Christ had done these things, the healing of the lame man, the restoring of sight to the blind man, and now the raising of Lazarus from the dead. In the face of the evidence and testimony, they could not deny them, and now they are openly forced to admit that He had done them. But rather than acknowledge that these things must have been from God, as Christ Himself had so often told them, instead they steadfastly rejected Him, so they were also rejecting God.
Here it is also apparent, as it often is in the New Testament, that the modern denominational church doctrine which claims that you only have to believe in order to be “saved” is wrong. These men believed, yet they condemned themselves by rejecting Christ. So James had written in chapter 2 of his epistle that “19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” But the devils are not going to be saved.
Where they expressed the fear that because of Christ “the Romans shall come and they shall take both our place and our nation”, the Romans were certainly not going to take Judaea itself away. They were afraid that the Romans would take Judaea from them. They considered Judaea to be theirs, and did not want to lose their grip on it, as they operated in their office as a crime syndicate, something we have already discussed in Part 21 of this commentary, which we subtitled Criminal Enterprise. The priests could no nothing for the people but oppress them, yet Christ did only good things for them and that alone threatened their position. The high priest now elevates the opposition to Christ by official decree, practically guaranteeing His execution:
49 Then a certain [P66 wants “a certain”] one from among them, Kaiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them: “You do not know anything, 50 nor do you consider that it is advantageous to you [א wants ‘to you’; A, W and the MT have ‘to us’; the text follows P45, P66, B and D] that one man should die on behalf of the people, and the whole nation not be lost [or destroyed, but the context favors lost, for which see verses 10, 11 and 19 in chapter 12 ].”
John must have said “being high priest that year” with some degree of sarcasm. The office was not an annual appointment, but either the Romans or Herod Agrippa, to whom they had later delegated the authority, had changed high priests quite often in the later decades of Judaea, and John must have been referring to that situation. Originally the position of high priest was held by a single individual for life, but that was changed when the first Herod became king and the status of the office was greatly diminished. In the New Testament, there are multiple men called by the title, as Flavius Josephus also explains, evidently because they maintained it even after they were removed from office. So in the gospels, both Annas and his son-in-law Caiaphas were called high priests, using the plural, although Caiaphas was currently holding the office.
There is reason to believe that Caiaphas and his father-in-law were Edomites. Annas, whom Josephus calls Ananus, and Caiaphas, whom Josephus calls Joseph or Joseph Caiaphas, were the leaders of the two most notable, or perhaps notorious families which made up the party of the Sadducees. They were also related by intermarriage, and from those two families as many as a dozen men held the office of high priest at various times for most of the time from the death of the first Herod up to 70 AD, appointed by either the Romans or by one of the rulers from the family of Herod. Speaking of these same men, when we presented our commentary on Acts Chapter 5 here in June of 2013, we wrote the following summary of a portion of our commentary on Acts chapter 4:
An argument was also presented, contrasting two statements in Acts chapter 4, that these men were most probably Edomites rather than Israelites. Those two statements are found at verses 6 and 23. In verse 6 speaking of those opposed to the apostles and listing their leaders the account adds that they were joined by “... as many as were of the race of the high priest”. Later in the chapter, in verse 23, in contrast to those who persecuted the apostles we read that upon the release of the apostles “...they went to their own countrymen and reported as much as the high priests and the elders said to them.” It was established that in other writings of Scripture the apostles considered all Israelites to be of their own race, yet in Acts chapter 4 we see that such was not true of the high priests, whom the apostles considered to be of a distinct race. Therefore it seems that the high priests of the time, while they were certainly Sadducees, were also very probably Edomites.
Furthermore, first Annas, and later Caiaphas, had held the position of high priest for a long time, since 6 AD when Judaea was first made a province and he was appointed by the Romans. Around 15 AD Annas was removed from the office by the Romans, and after the position was held by another man for about a year, his son-in-law Caiaphas was appointed to the office, so he managed to remain a quite influential member of the community from that time. In turn, Caiaphas held the office until 36 AD, when he was replaced by the Romans in favor of his brother-in-law, Jonathan, a son of Annas. After that, as I have said, four other sons of Annas and five sons of Caiaphas are said to have held the office at one time or another before the destruction of Jerusalem.
Now it may be conjecture, but Annas being in a position to be appointed as high priest in 6 AD must have been involved in the politics of Jerusalem and the temple for some time before that, although Josephus does not mention either Annas or his father before his appointment. The visit of the Magi described in Matthew chapter 2 would have been only about 7 or 8 years before Annas became high priest, and it is possible that Annas understood, or had even possibly experienced, the reaction to the news of the birth of the Messiah by the people of Jerusalem at that time, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 2: “1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Judaeans? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” Herod proceeded by having the infants of Bethlehem slain, and the fears of those in Jerusalem were laid to rest for over thirty years, until they surface once again here. But Annas was in a position to witness them on both occasions. Caiaphas, who became high priest about 16 AD, may also have been a youth or young man in Jerusalem at the time of the Magi.
Now John offers a parenthetical explanation of Caiaphas’ words:
51 (Yet he did not say this by himself, but being high priest [W has “being ruler”] that year [P45 wants “that year”; P66 and D have “of the year”] he prophesied that Yahshua was about to die on behalf of the nation, 52 and not only on behalf of the nation, but that also He would gather into one the children of Yahweh who had been dispersed [P45, P66 and D have “scattered”].)
The phrase in verse 50, where Caiaphas had said that “one man should die on behalf of the people, and the whole nation not be lost”, is difficult to translate appropriately. That is because from Caiaphas’ own point of view, he probably meant that “one man should die for the people, and the whole nation not be lost”,meaning that the crime syndicate would not lose control of the people or the nation if the one man died. But the way that John interpreted his words, it was a also prophesy concerning the entire purpose for which Christ had died. Yahshua Christ being Yahweh God incarnate, He died on behalf of [an alternate reading of the same preposition] the children of Israel so that they would be released from the penalties of the Old Testament law to which they remained liable, which is how all Israel is saved as it was also explained by Paul of Tarsus in Romans chapter 7. So I chose to translate the words of Caiaphas in accordance with John’s interpretation, but either rendering may be considered correct.
Yet it does not surprise or disturb us if Yahweh would have an Edomite utter such a prophecy. The ass of Balaam uttered truth and was compelled by Yahweh to correct the man, in Numbers chapter 22. Even Cain himself had prophesied, where in Genesis chapter 4 he said “I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth”, and thus the phenomenon of the wandering Jew was born. For that same reason, the descendants of Annas and Caiaphas would indeed lose their place and their nation nearly 40 years later, in 70 AD, where they would be consigned to wandering once again.
According to John, Christ died “not only on behalf of the nation”, meaning the Israelites of Judaea, “but that also He would gather into one the children of Yahweh who had been dispersed”, referring to the children of Israel who were scattered abroad, as the King James Version has it, in the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities and the other earlier migrations of ancient Israelites. Gathering them into one is a subject of the prophet Ezekiel, who was himself among the captives when he prophesied, in chapter 37 where it is written:
15 The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, 16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: 17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. 18 And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? 19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. 20 And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. 21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the [nations], whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: 22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: 23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. 24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. 25 And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. 26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 And the [nations] shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.
Here, David is a type for Christ, the tabernacle of Yahweh is the body or person of Christ, the promised covenant is the New Covenant in Christ, and it is therefore evident that Israel and Judah would become one in Christ. The Jews who rejected Christianity were not Judah, but rather, they were largely comprised of Edomites and others who were merely converts to Judaism in the centuries before Christ. Most of Judah remained in captivity along with Israel, and Israel and most of Judah were already in captivity to the Assyrians for nearly a hundred years before Ezekiel had written those words. For this reason the Jews in Judaea had rejected Christ, and He told them, as it is recorded in John chapter 10, “26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.”
Now John records the conclusion of the council upon the words of Caiaphas:
53 Therefore from that day they determined that they would kill Him.
Rather than determined, the Codex Alexandrinus (A) and the Majority Text have deliberated, for which the King James Version has “took counsel together”. Our text follows the papyri P44, P66 and P75 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Vaticanus (B), Bezae (D) and Washingtonensis (W). Either reading demonstrates that there was indeed a conspiracy to kill Him solely for reason that He threatened their pretense of religious authority by His good works.
By raising Lazarus, Yahshua Christ had also raised Cain, and while the act only caused Him the trouble that He had already anticipated, that is precisely because it also raised Cain in a different way. This same apostle later wrote in chapter 3 of his first epistle: “9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. 11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.” Now these men were also children of the devil, and if they were children of God they would have loved Christ. But because their works were evil, and the works of Christ were good, they sought to kill Him. They were children of Cain rising up to do the deeds of their father, who was a murderer from the beginning. Their behavior was congenital, and their own descendants act in this same manner to this very day.
His time was approaching, but it had not quite arrived, so John writes of something else which is not found in the other three gospel accounts:
54 Therefore Yahshua no longer walked openly among the Judaeans, but departed from there [P45 and D want “from there”] to [D inserts “Samphourin”, Σαμφουριν, an otherwise unknown place which some commentators mistake for Sepphoris] a place near the desert, to a city [P66 wants “to a city”] called Ephraim, and there He remained [P45, A, D and the MT have “He spent time”; the text follows P66, P75, א, B and W] with the [A and the MT have “His”; the text follows P66, א, B, D and W] students.
The location of this πόλις, or city, is obscure, and John had apparently used the term for city rather loosely. From statements made by Eusebius and other evidence, there have been attempts to associate this place with various known towns or villages near Jerusalem. I would prefer to admit not knowing than to accept any of the conjecture.
From the other three gospel accounts, as it appears in Matthew chapter 21, Mark chapter 11 and Luke chapter 19, one may imagine that Christ had only arrived in Bethany from Galilee not long before the Passover upon which He was crucified, and immediately after His arrival He had made His triumphal march into Jerusalem seated on the foal of an ass. But only in the opening verse of John chapter 12 are we informed that the march happened within six days of the Passover, but not exactly six days before the Passover, and that Yahshua had actually arrived in Bethany some days before that, or even longer. So while we cannot determine the actual amount of time between His arrival in Bethany and the march into Jerusalem, it was at least several days, and it could have been longer. These things only being related in detail here in John, the apostle does not tell us how long a time it was that Christ had tarried at Ephraim.
It is evident, however, that Christ had gone to Ephraim shortly after raising Lazarus, and perhaps even within a day. Then He returned to Bethany, but did not make His triumphal entry into Jerusalem for another day or two after that, according to the sequence of events which John provides here in chapter 12. In any case, if Yahshua were to survive until the Passover upon which He was to be executed, He by necessity had to avoid the Judaeans until the hour approached. During His march into Jerusalem and the events which followed immediately thereafter, the crowds around Him provided a safe haven, as it is apparent that the Pharisees dared not touch Him on account of the number of people had been admiring Him. Rather, they waited to seize Him at a time when He could be found alone, or with only a few people. Now John begins to describe the things which occurred leading up to the Passover:
55 Now it was near the Passover of the Judaeans, and many went up to Jerusalem from the countryside before the Passover that they may sanctify themselves.
This is the third passover of Yahshua’s ministry which was explicitly mentioned by John, and earlier in this commentary we gave our reasons for believing that it is actually the fourth passover, as four would be necessary to cover the span of three-and-a-half years, since His ministry evidently began in late summer or early autumn. (See John 2:13, 5:1, 6:4 and Luke 13:6-9.)
There is no requirement in the law for the common people to sanctify themselves before the Passover, but only for the priests. As late as 2 Chronicles 35:6, where it is addressing the priests, we read “So kill the passover, and sanctify yourselves, and prepare your brethren, that they may do according to the word of the LORD by the hand of Moses.” The laws requiring the priests to wash themselves before the Passover are described in Numbers chapter 8 and are mentioned briefly in Leviticus chapter 8 where we read: “4 And Moses did as the LORD commanded him; and the assembly was gathered together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 5 And Moses said unto the congregation, This is the thing which the LORD commanded to be done. 6 And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water.” In Numbers chapter 9, Israelites who are defiled and therefore excluded from communion are commanded to keep the passover a month later – on the same day of the second month (Numbers 9:11).
So the act of sanctification which is referred to here, which seems to be a ritual performed by all the people, seems only to be a tradition which developed in later times, as Christ often mentioned the “traditions of the elders” which were held for doctrine, but were really only the commandments of men. This we read in Matthew chapter 15: “1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, 2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. 3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?”
As the people begin to gather in Jerusalem for the coming feast, John now describes the anxiety in which the enemies of Christ had waited for Him to appear:
56 Therefore they sought Yahshua and standing in the temple they spoke with each other: “What do you think? That He would not come to the feast?”
Of course He would indeed keep the law and come to the feast, as the law requires that every man in Israel appear before Yahweh three times each year, at the feasts of Unleavened Bread, the first day of which is Passover, and then of First Fruits and Tabernacles. Now their anxiety heightens:
57 Then [D inserts “also”] the high priests and the Pharisees [P45 has “elders”] had given a command that if anyone may know where He is he should disclose it, in order that they may seize Him.
Of course, Yahshua Christ and His disciples must have been informed of this command, but that would not prevent Him from doing what He had planned to do before they seized Him, on the night before their Passover would begin.
Now we arrive at the point in John’s gospel where it better correlates with the events described in the other three, except that the other three place this dinner after the triumphal march into Jerusalem, and John places it before the march:
XII 1 Then six [P66 has “five”] days before the Passover Yahshua went into Bethania, where Lazaros [P66, A, D, 0217 and the MT insert “who had died”; the text follows א, B and W] was whom Yahshua [the MT has “He”; the text follows P66, א, B, A, D and W] had raised from among the dead. 2 Therefore they made a dinner for Him there, and Martha served, but Lazaros was one among [A, D, W and the MT have “of”; the text follows P66, א and B] those reclining with Him.
Now this is certainly a description of the same dinner which is recounted in Matthew chapter 26 and Mark chapter 14, however those gospels have it following, rather than preceding, the triumphal march into Jerusalem. As we discussed earlier in our commentary on this chapter, this is the only actual conflict among the different gospel accounts of these events, and it is resolvable if we perceive that there must have been at least a few such dinners at the home of Martha and Mary during this time, and perhaps at least one of the apostles, in that case John, did not remember precisely the dinner at which this event had occurred. That may be conjecture, but there must be some way to account for the difference, and by all historical accounts John had committed his gospel to writing many years after the fact. But it would also be unfair to hold the apostles to the standards of modern historical writing, when they themselves only sought to give testimony to particular events in the life of Christ for reasons that transcend mere history.
Sometimes I imagine that the few small inconsistencies which appear in the Scriptures are actually a test for men. For example, in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 Paul of Tarsus referred to an event in the Old Testament where 24,000 Israelites fell in one day, in Numbers chapter 9. But in his epistle Paul put the number at 23,000 – which is contrary to all of the evidence of the Old Testament manuscripts. Perhaps there are a far greater number of commentators who mention this inconsistency as compared to the much smaller number of commentators who may actually realize the meaning of the word fornication as Paul used it in that same place, as a reference to the act of race-mixing. Realizing that race-mixing is prohibited by the law, and in Christianity, is much more important than that small inconsistency in the numbers, which is relatively inconsequential. Many Bible critics ignore profound truths and prefer to argue over petty differences.
So John continues to describe this dinner:
3 Then Mariam [P66, א, A, D, W and the MT have “Maria”; the text follows B] taking a pound of pure ointment of spikenard [P66 and D want “of spikenard”] of great value, anointed the feet of Yahshua and wiped His feet off with her hair. Now the house had been filled from the odor of the ointment, 4 then Ioudas Iskarioth, one of His students – he who is going to betray Him – says: 5 “For what reason has this ointment not been sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 (But he said this not because he had care in him for the poor, but because he was a thief and carried the case holding the savings.)
The Codex Alexandrinus and the Majority Text have verse 4 to read “so one from among His students, Ioudas the son of Simon Iskarioth, he who is going to betray Him, says”; the Codex Bezae (D) has “so one from among His students, Ioudas the son of Simon from Karuotos, he who is going to betray Him, says”; the Codex Sinaiticus (א) has “then Ioudas Iskarioth, one from among His students, he who is going to betray Him, says”; the text follows the papyri P66 and P75 and the Codices Vaticanus (B) and Washingtonensis (W).
The Greek word λίτρα, or in Latin, libra, was a silver coin of Sicily weighing 12 ounces, according to Liddell & Scott and other sources. So it is a pound here, which is the closest common English measurement expressed in a single word. A troy pound is twelve ounces, but those ounces are nearly a tenth heavier than the standard ounce (31.1 grams rather than 28.35 grams). Today a one-ounce bottle of oil of spikenard, or about 30 milliliters, generally costs between $60 and $90, although a few merchants charge much more than that. Reportedly, there is a lot of fraud in the industry in the trade of certain oils, and this is one of them. Judas’ brethren and their descendants must have gotten into this business. As we had discussed in Part 17 of our commentary on John, The Parable of the Feeding in the Wilderness, the salary of the common soldier in Julius Caesar’s army was 225 denarii a year, so it seems that the oil was even more valuable then than it is now.
Here John informs us that Judas “was a thief and carried the case holding the savings”. The word for savings is actually a verb which we have translated figuratively, as it literally means “the things being cast”, referring to the money which was cast into the case. The verb, βάλλω (Strong’s # 906) literally means to throw, and was used in similar contexts in Mathew chapters 25 and 27 and Mark chapter 12. The phrase “holding the deposits” is a plausible alternative, and perhaps even more literal.
It should be no wonder that Judas had been the treasurer of the group, since he was perhaps the only Edomite Jew among the disciples of Christ. It is apparent that Judas was an Edomite Jew when the meaning of his name is examined, and since Christ Himself had described him as a devil. Typically he had no care for the poor or for anything other than his own gain, and John implies that he would have sold the ointment and stolen the money for himself. Rather stereotypically representing his people, the character of the Jew seems to be summarized in Judas, as Edomite Jews have historically gravitated towards the financial and accounting vocations to this very day, and especially in the industries of both money-lending and organized charity. They are also historically treacherous, having their allegiances in places other than where they make their alliances.
In modern America, a once-Christian nation, nearly every Federal Reserve chairman and many Secretaries of the Treasury have also been Jews, and we are betrayed continually, but we never seem to learn the lesson which is conveyed here by John.
John now records Yahshua’s response to Judas’ contention, but not quite as fully as Matthew and Mark had recorded it:
7 Therefore Yahshua said “Let her be, that she would keep this [A and the MT have ‘Let her be, she has kept this’; the text follows P66, P75, א, B, D and W] for the day of My burial. 8 For you always have the poor among yourselves, but you do not always have Me.” [D wants verse 8 entirely; P75 has only “For you always have the poor.”]
Yahshua once again indcates His imminent death, however none of the gospels which record this event elaborate on that statement.
Both Matthew and Mark inform us only that Mariam had poured the ointment on his head, while John says only that she anointed His feet, wiping them with her hair. It is highly probable, and even certain, that she did both, and once again, John sought to explain something which is wanting in the other gospels. The woman described in Luke chapter 7, who washed the feet of Christ with her hair while He was in Galilee, also displayed a similar act of humility. I have long sought to find a historical reference to this act as a custom in the ancient Near East, but I have not found one yet. Matthew and Mark also record a further answer of Christ to the contention of Judas, which John did not record here. From Matthew 26:12 we read “13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.”
This I will also discuss here, only because it too is a striking proof of the truth of Christianity. Great kings and mighty emperors have on many occasions built huge monuments recording their legacies or boasting of their achievements, and with few exceptions they have all sunk down into the dustbins of history, and were swallowed by the sands of time. We know comparatively little about most of them today. Percy Bysshe Shelley’s famous poem, Ozymandias, after the Greek name for the pharaoh Ramesses II, is a good satire of this phenomenon. In contrast to the magnificent monuments of antiquity, the Christian gospel was passed around for many centuries mostly on bits of fragile papyrus, while those who perpetuated it were heavily persecuted. Christ had warned that it would be persecuted even unto death, yet it prevailed over all of the legacies of the great emperors and kings of antiquity, and today the words of Christ ring true, that “Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.” How could Matthew or Mark have known in the first century that we would be repeating their words today? Yahshua Christ certainly did know, because He is Yahweh God Incarnate.
In both Matthew and Mark, it is recorded at this point that Judas had gone to the priests and offered to betray Christ to them for a price, and as we read in Matthew 26:15, “And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.” John does not mention this act here, but somehow people in Jerusalem had heard that Christ was in Bethany, where he wrote:
9 Then a great multitude from among the Judaeans learned [D has “heard”] that He is there and they came not on account of Yahshua only [D wants “only”], but that also they would see Lazaros whom He [A and D have “Yahshua”] raised from among the dead [W wants “from among the dead”].
To describe the dinner which Mariam made for Christ and His companions here John had used the Greek word δεῖπνον (Strong’s # 1173), the same word he used later to describe the dinner which is commonly referred to as the Last Supper. Customarily, the δεῖπνον was the chief meal of the day, and it was eaten in the evening, just as the children of Israel were commanded to eat the passover meal in the evening. Although Bethany was relatively close to Jerusalem, it seems unlikely that large numbers of people would have left the city late in the evening to go to Bethany to see Yahshua and Lazarus, so it is more probable that John is now describing the events of the next day, which is the day after the dinner and the fifth day before the Passover.
10 Then the high priests determined that they should also kill Lazaros, 11 because on account of him many of the Judaeans were drawn off [P66 wants “were drawn off”] and believed in Yahshua.
And once again we see the nature of the devil come to the surface, for which we use the term raising Cain as a metaphor, and that is nearly as John had described it where he wrote: “10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. 11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.” Now we had already cited that passage earlier, but here we will also cite the subsequent passages in that chapter of John’s epistle: “13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
Lazarus, a name which we have described as meaning whom God helps, is therefore the first man whom the Jews sought to slay on account of Christ. However we do not know whether he was actually the first Christian martyr, since he is not mentioned again after this chapter of John’s gospel, so we must leave that distinction to Stephen.
Here it is also evident that the Judaeans needed to kill Christ, and also Lazarus, only because they were afraid that they would lose their religious grip on the people, a form of control which is stronger than any mere political control, because it has the pretense of righteousness and approval from God. True Christianity does not allow any man that authority, but only recognizes the Word of God. For that reason alone, the so-called Christian churches have never been truly Christian.
Now if these events took place the day after the dinner upon which Mariam had anointed the feet of Yahshua, and if the triumphal entry into Jerusalem is made by Christ on the day following that, then His entry into Jerusalem happened four days before the passover on which He is to be executed. If that is true, then we must take note that in accordance with the law describing the Passover in Exodus chapter 12, four days before the passover every man of Israel was to choose the lamb which they shall use for the Passover. So what John is about to describe certainly seems to be the symbolic fulfillment of the law in that regard, as Christ certainly is the Lamb of God, even if they did not know what they were doing, which was choosing their lamb in accordance with the law of the passover:
12 The next day a great crowd having come to the feast, hearing that Yahshua comes to Jerusalem, 13 they took the branches of date-palms and they went out to meet [literally “went out for a meeting with”] Him and they cried out [P66, א, A and D inswert “saying”; the text follows P2, P75, B, W and the MT]: “Oh save! Blessed is He coming in the Name of Yahweh, the King [א, B and W insert ‘even the King’; A and the MT ‘even a King’; the text follows P66 and D]of Israel!”
We have translated the word ὡσαννά, which itself is actually a Hebrew phrase written in Greek, which serves as an exclamation, according to Liddell & Scott, and which means save now! In his Greek-English Lexicon, Joseph Thayer interprets it to mean “save, I pray”, and at Psalm 117 (118):25 in the Septugint, Brenton translated the word similarly. In the 118th Psalm in the King James Version we read, in an apparently Messianic prophecy: “22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. 23 This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. 24 This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. 25 Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. 26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD. 27 God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar. 28 Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee. 29 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”
In their descriptions of this event, both Matthew and Mark fall short of portraying the people as having declared Christ to be their King. Matthew has them saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” Mark has something similar: “Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: 10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.” However Luke has them saying “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” Among other things only found in Luke, he also records the subsequent admonition of the Pharisees: “39 And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. 40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”
So of all four accounts, only John and Luke have the people explicitly proclaiming for Christ to be King, but in the actions they describe they are nevertheless expressing the intention, where the people laid out their branches and their garments in His path for Him to tread upon, an act which, as we shall see, was an ancient custom performed by the people of a city upon the reception of a king. But in any event, the people were also unknowingly choosing their passover lamb, as when they proclaimed for Him to be King, His enemies were provided with a way to have Him executed, where it is recorded in John chapter 19 that they said to Pilate “whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.” Sedition was a capital offense in Rome, and in this manner the rulers had compelled Pilate to assent to their lustful desire to have Yahshua killed.
14 Then Yahshua finding a young ass sat upon it, just as it is written: 15 “Fear not, daughter of Sion, behold! Your King comes, sitting upon the foal of an ass!”
John did not attribute these words in verse 15 to Yahshua, but only described His act as a fulfillment of what was written, which is found in Zechariah chapter 9: “9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”
What John did not mention about this event, which the other gospels have, is what the people did with the branches of date-palms that they brought with them to meet Him. Thus we read in Matthew chapter 21 “8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.” In other words, the people took their garments and the branches that they cut from the trees and spread them before the path of Christ, as if He tread over them upon entering the city. In Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, in the 3rd edition edited by James Pritchard and published in 1969 by Princeton University Press, from page 301 there is a translation of an ancient and lengthy Babylonian inscription describing the rules of the various kings of Babylon, until they were conquered by the Persians. From a part of the inscription, on page 306, we read an account of the Persian victories over Nabonidus and the triumphant march of Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, as he enters victoriously into Babylon:
The 14th day, Sippar was seized without battle. Nabonidus fled. The 16th day, Gobryas (Ugbaru), the governor of Gutium and the army of Cyrus entered Babylon without battle. Afterwards Nabonidus was arrested in Babylon when he returned (there). Till the end of the month, the shield (-carrying) Gutians were staying within Esagila (but) nobody carried arms in Esagila and its (pertinent) buildings, the correct time (for a ceremony) was not missed. In the month of Arahshamnu, the 3rd day, Cyrus entered Babylon, green twigs were spread in front of him — the state of "Peace" (lulmu) was imposed upon the city. Cyrus sent greetings to all Babylon.
So the practice of spreading the branches, and even their garments, out on the ground upon the reception of a king must have been an ancient Near East custom, and as Christ is pronounced King by the people of Jerusalem, He is treated accordingly. John, not repeating what the other gospels described as happening with the branches, does tell us that the people took them with them, indicating that they premeditated what they were going to do with them. It seems once again that John’s intention in writing his gospel was only to complement, or sometimes to clarify, what the others had already written. Now he considers the implications, but he is writing in relation to the scripture which he had just cited from Zechariah:
16 [A, D and the MT insert “Now”; the text follows P66, א, B and W] His students did not understand these things at first, but when Yahshua had been magnified, then [P66 and W want “then”] they remembered that these things were written in reference to Him and that they had done these things for Him.
In other words, the disciples eventually realized that the prophecies were written in reference to Christ, and the things which the people had done were done for Christ, even if they themselves did not really know why they were doing them, to help fulfill those same prophecies. The people, citing the 118th Psalm in relation to Christ, were also indirectly and unwittingly indicating what was about to happen to Christ, where upon proclamation of “He that cometh in the name of the Lord” it also says “bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.”
17 Therefore the crowd had testified which had been [literally “which being”] with Him when [P66 and D have “that”, ὅτι for ὅτε, an apparent error] He called Lazaros from out of the tomb and raised him from among the dead. 18 For this reason also the crowd [P66 has “reason the crowd” P75 has “reason a crowd”; א and W “reason also a crowd”; D “reason also crowds”; the text follows A, B and the MT] met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign.
As we have explained before, many of the people in Judaea did know the implications of the miracles performed by Christ, that He must have been the savior promised in the Scriptures who would do these very things. The Pharisees knew that He did these things, but they were only troubled by them, so John records their reaction:
19 Therefore the Pharisees said to [“to” is πρός, which is more fully “in reference to” or “with regard to”] themselves [P66 and D have only “them”]: “You see that you are not of any help [literally “not of help for nothing]? Behold, [D inserts “the whole”] Society goes off after Him!”
John describes the Pharisees as having admitted their own failure, because they lost the love and adoration of the people to Yahshua, and this was also their motivation for wanting to kill Him. They had no care for truth or for the people themselves, but only for their own esteem and position and authority. The discourse of Christ recorded in Matthew chapter 23 happens just after this same time, a day or so later, and in that Christ Himself tells them these very things.
Now at this point in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, Christ is next recorded as raising Cain once again, where He entered into the temple and overturned the tables of the money-changers and the merchants, while exclaiming that “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” Mark also records that event, but he records other things as well, and has this taking place the very next day, after Yahshua had returned to spend the night in Bethany. John did not record it at all, although in chapter 2 he recorded a similar event which happened at a much earlier time in Yahshua’s ministry.