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1. From his birth (ek genethv). The word only here in the New Testament.
2. This man, or his parents. It was a common Jewish view that the merits or demerits of the parents would appear in the children, and that the thoughts of a mother might affect the moral state of her unborn offspring. The apostasy of one of the greatest Rabbis had, in popular belief, been caused by the sinful delight of his mother in passing through an idol grove.
3. But that (all ina). There is an ellipsis: but (he was born blind) that.
4. I must work (eme dei ergazesqai). The best texts read hJmav, us, instead of ejme, me. Literally, it is necessary for us to work. The disciples are thus associated by Jesus with Himself. Compare iii. 11.
Sent me, not us. The Son sends the disciples, as the Father sends the Son.
The light. See on viii. 12. The article is wanting. Westcott says, "Christ is 'light to the world,' as well as 'the one Light of the world.' The character is unchangeable, but the display of the character varies with the occasion."
6. On the ground (camai). Only here and xviii. 6. Anointed (epecrise). Only here and ver. 11. The spittle was regarded as having a peculiar virtue, not only as a remedy for diseases of the eye, but generally as a charm, so that it was employed in incantations. Persius, describing an old crone handling an infant, says: "She takes the babe from the cradle, and with her middle finger moistens its forehead and lips with spittle to keep away the evil eye" ("Sat.," 2, 32, 33). Tacitus relates how one of the common people of Alexandria importuned Vespasian for a remedy for his blindness, and prayed him to sprinkle his cheeks and the balls of his eyes with the secretion of his mouth ("History," 4, 81). Pliny says: "We are to believe that by continually anointing each morning with fasting saliva (i.e., before eating), inflammations of the eyes are prevented" ("Natural History," 28, 7). Some editors read here ejpeqhken, put upon, for ejpecrisen, anointed.
Of the blind man. Omit, and read as Rev., his eyes.
Siloam. By Rabbinical writers, Shiloach: Septuagint, Silwam: Vulgate and Latin fathers, Siloe. Josephus, generally, Siloa. In scripture always called a pool or tank, built, and not natural. The site is clearly identified in a recess at the southeastern termination of Zion, near the junction of the valley of Tyropoeon with that of the Kidron. According to Dr. Thomson, it is a parallelogram about fifty-three feet long and eighteen wide, and in its perfect condition must have been nearly twenty feet deep. It is thus the smallest of all the Jerusalem pools. The water flows into it through a subterraneous conduit from the Fountain of the Virgin, and the waters are marked by an ebb and flow. Dr. Robinson witnessed a rise and fall of one foot in ten minutes. The conduit has been traversed by two explorers, Dr. Robinson and Captain Warren. See the account of Warren's exploration in Thomson, "Southern Palestine and Jerusalem," p. 460. On the word pool, see on v. 2.
Sent. The Hebrew word means outflow (of waters); missio, probably with reference to the fact that the temple-mount sends forth its spring-waters. Many expositors find a typical significance in the fact of Christ's working through the pool of this name. Thus Milligan and Moulton, after noting the fact that the water was drawn from this pool for pouring upon the altar during the Feast of Tabernacles; that it was associated with the "wells of salvation" (Isa. xii. 3); and that the pouring out of the water symbolized the effusion of spiritual blessing in the days of the Messiah, go on to say: "With the most natural interest, therefore, the Evangelist observes that its very name corresponds to the Messiah; and by pointing out this fact indicates to us what was the object of Jesus in sending the man to these waters. In this, even more distinctly than in the other particulars that we have noted, Jesus, in sending the man away from Him, is keeping Himself before him in everything connected with his cure. Thus, throughout the whole narrative, all attention is concentrated on Jesus Himself, who is the Light of the world, who was 'sent of God' to open blind eyes." See also Westcott and Godet.
8. Blind. The best texts substitute prosaithv, a beggar.
That sat and begged (o kaqhmenov kai prosaitwn). Literally, the one sitting and begging. Denoting something customary.
9. He said (ekeinov). The strong demonstrative throws the man into strong relief as the central figure.
11. To the pool of Siloam. The best texts read simply, Go to Siloam. Received sight (anebleya). Originally, to look up, as Matt. xiv. 19; Mark xvi. 4, and so some render it here; but better, I recovered sight.
16. Keepeth not the Sabbath. A Rabbinical precept declares, "It is forbidden to apply even fasting-spittle to the eyes on the Sabbath." The words in ver. 14, made the clay, also mark a specific point of offense.
18. The Jews. Notice the change from the Pharisees. The Pharisees had already divided on this miracle (ver. 16). The Jews represent that section which was hostile to Jesus.
Of him that had received his sight (autou tou anableyantov). Properly, "of the very one who had received."
22. Had agreed - that (suneteqeinto - ina). The sense is, had formed an agreement in order to bring about this end, viz., that the confessor of Christ should be excommunicated.
He should be put out of the synagogue (aposunagwgov). The literal rendering cannot be neatly given, as there is no English adjective corresponding to ajposunagwgov, which means excluded from the synagogue: as nearly as possible - that He should become banished from the synagogue. The adjective occurs only in John's Gospel - here, xii. 42; xvi. 2. Three kinds of excommunication were recognized, of which only the third was the real cutting off, the other two being disciplinary. The first, and lightest, was called rebuke, and lasted from seven to thirty days. The second was called thrusting out, and lasted for thirty days at least, followed by a "second admonition," which lasted for thirty days more. This could only be pronounced in an assembly of ten. It was accompanied by curses, and sometimes proclaimed with the blast of the horn. The excommunicated person would not be admitted into any assembly of ten men, nor to public prayer. People would keep at the distance of four cubits from him, as if he were a leper. Stones were to be cast on his coffin when dead, and mourning for him was forbidden. If all else failed, the third, or real excommunication was pronounced, the duration of which was indefinite. The man was to be as one dead. No intercourse was to be held with him; one must not show him the road, and though he might buy the necessaries of life, it was forbidden to eat and drink with him. These severer forms appear to have been of later introduction, so that the penalty which the blind man's parents feared was probably separation from all religious fellowship, and from ordinary intercourse of life for perhaps thirty days.
24. Give God the praise (dov doxan tw Qew). Rev., give glory to God. Compare Josh. vii. 19; 1 Sam. vi. 5. This phrase addressed to an offender implies that by some previous act or word he has done dishonor to God, and appeals to him to repair the dishonor by speaking the truth. In this case it is also an appeal to the restored man to ascribe his cure directly to God, and not to Jesus. Palgrave, "Central and Eastern Arabia," says that the Arabic phrase commonly addressed to one who has said something extremely out of place, is Istaghfir Allah, Ask pardon of God.
We know. The we is emphatic. We, the wise men and guardians of religion.
28. Reviled (eloidorhsan). The verb means to reproach or scold in a loud and abusive manner. Calvin, on 1 Cor. iv. 12, "being reviled we bless," remarks: "Loidoria is a harsher railing, which not only rebukes a man, but also sharply bites him, and stamps him with open contumely. Hence loidorein is to wound a man as with an accursed sting."
His disciple (maqhthv ekeinou). Literally, that man's disciple. The pronoun has a contemptuous force which is not given by his.
Whence he is. Compare vii. 27; viii. 14.
30. A marvelous thing (qaumaston). The correct reading adds the article, the marvel. So Rev. Ye know not. Ye is emphatic: ye who might be expected to know about a man who has wrought such a miracle.
And yet (kai). See on viii. 20; i. 10.
31. We know. Here the pronoun is not expressed, and the we is not emphatic, like the pronouns in vv. 24, 29, but expresses the common information of all concerning a familiar fact.
A worshipper of God (qeosebhv). Only here in the New Testament. The kindred word, qeosebeia, godliness, occurs only at 1 Tim. ii. 10. Compounded with Qeov, God, and sebomai, to worship, the same verb which appears in eujsebhv, devout (Acts x. 2, 7; xxii. 12), and eujsebeia, godliness (Acts iii. 12; 1 Tim. ii. 2, etc.). See on 2 Pet. i. 3. These two latter words, while they may mean reverence toward God, may also mean the due fulfillment of human relations; while qeosebhv, worshipper of God, is limited to piety towards God.
34. Altogether (olov). Literally, all of thee.
In sins. Standing first in the Greek order, and emphatic, as is also su thou, in both instances. "In sins wast thou born, all of thee; and dost thou teach us?" Teach. Emphatic. Dost thou, thus born in sins, assume the office of teacher?
Cast him out. From the place where they were conversing. Not excommunicated, which this miscellaneous gathering could not do.
35. Said unto him. Omit unto him.
Dost thou believe (su pisteueiv)? The form of the question indicates the confident expectation of an affirmative answer. It is almost an affirmation, you surely believe; you (su, emphatic) who have born such bold testimony to me that they have cast you out. Note the phrase, pisteueiv eijv, believe on, and see on i. 12.
Son of God. Both Tischendorf and Westcott and Hort read Son of man.
36. Who is He? The best texts insert kai, and; and who is he? which imparts an air of eagerness to the question.
38. Worshipped (prosekunhsen). See on Acts x. 25.
39. Judgment (krima). Not the act of judgment, but its result. His very presence in the world constitutes a separation, which is the primitive idea of judgment, between those who believe on Him and those who reject Him. See on iii. 17.
40. Are we blind also (mh kai hmeiv tufloi esmen)? The also belongs with we. The interrogative particle has the force of we are surely not, and the we is emphatic. Are we also blind? So Rev. 41. Ye should have no sin (ouk an eicete amartian). Or, ye would have had. The phrase aJmartian ecein, to have sin, occurs only in John, in the Gospel and First Epistle.