John 2 - NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible
2:1 third day. Jewish weddings did not begin on the third day of the week; this simply means the third day after the last event mentioned (as often, e.g., Ge 22:4; 31:22; some see it also as foreshadowing Jn 2:19–20). Cana. The village was, depending on the precise site, over 3 miles (5 kilometers) or (likelier) over 8 miles (13 kilometers) from Nazareth; it was a long walk but close enough to know some people.
2:2 Hosts normally invited as many people as possible to weddings and other events.
2:3 no more wine. Wedding feasts sometimes lasted seven days. Inviting as many people as possible would bring honor to the family, but because of this culture’s emphasis on hospitality, running out of wine would bring grave shame. Women, who were involved in food preparation, might be the first to know about any lack in the essential aspects of the banquet. Jesus’ mother’s words may be a polite, indirect request.
2:4 Woman. To address a woman as such indicated no disrespect; it was similar to the English “Ma’am.” Nevertheless, it was not a normal address for one’s mother. why do you involve me? Lit. “What (is there between) me and you?”—a phrase that emphasizes distance and often hostility between the speaker and the one addressed (see the Septuagint, the pre-Christian Greek translation of the OT, of Jdg 11:12; 1Ki 17:18; 2Ki 3:13; 2Ch 35:21). Jesus may be protesting his mother’s implied insistence, since she does not know what the beginning of his ministry will cost him. hour. Jesus probably refers here to his impending death (7:30; 8:20; 12:23, 27); other ancient sources sometimes also spoke of one’s appointed “hour” or “time” to die (cf., e.g., 1Sa 26:10; Mt 26:18; Suetonius, Nero 49.2).
2:5 Do whatever he tells you. The mother’s command might echo Pharaoh’s words concerning Joseph’s authority for provision in Ge 41:55. Her faith resembles that of Biblical predecessors who would not give up (e.g., 1Ki 18:36–37; 2Ki 2:2, 4, 6; 4:28).
2:6 six stone water jars. Jewish people preferred stone jars because they did not easily contract ritual impurity. Together these pots held sufficient water for a pool for ritual immersion, though such pools were not supposed to use water from pots. Water could also be stored in them for later pouring over hands for washing. (For the custom of hand washing, see notes on Mk 7:3, 4. For the issue of ritual purity in this Gospel, see also Jn 3:26; 11:55; cf. also the water motif in 1:33; 3:5; 4:10–14; 5:7; 7:37–39; 9:7; 13:5; 19:34.)
2:7 Ignoring the purpose for which the pots were consecrated, Jesus values more highly his friend’s honor (see note on v. 3).
2:8 the master of the banquet. An honorary office involving overseeing entertainment and distribution of wine.
2:10 saved the best till now. Wedding feasts could last seven days; guests’ tastes became dulled through much drinking (though guests could come and go). It was difficult to prevent wine from fermenting, but people often watered wine down two parts water to every part wine. (It was served undiluted only when people deliberately wanted to get drunk, behavior that most Jewish people considered unacceptable.)
2:11 first of the signs. For seeing God’s glory in signs, see, e.g., Ex 16:7. Contrast here Moses’ first public sign, turning water to blood (Ex 7:20–21).
2:13 Passover . . . went up to Jerusalem. Most Galileans went up to Jerusalem for major festivals such as Passover; Josephus reports that entire villages traveled.
2:14 cattle, sheep and doves. All these animals were needed for some sacrifices (e.g., Lev 1:5, 10; 4:3; 5:7; 22:19). exchanging money. Because each local region had its own currencies, money changers performed a service by changing local money into standardized currency so people could buy what they needed.
2:17 Zeal for your house will consume me. Ps 69:9 belongs to a psalm of the righteous sufferer (cf. Ps 69:4 in Jn 15:25; possibly Ps 69:21 in Jn 19:29). Early Christians believed that these psalms applied to Jesus as the righteous sufferer par excellence.
2:19 Destroy this temple. Already in Jesus’ day some Jews expected God to replace the current temple with a purer one. By the time John wrote this gospel, after the temple was destroyed in AD 70, Jewish people prayed regularly for its restoration.
2:20 forty-six years. Many scholars note that this figure suggests a date of about AD 27.
2:22 After he was raised from the dead. Many people in antiquity believed that many prophecies were understood only in retrospect.
2:25 he knew. Although Jewish people recognized that prophets sometimes knew some thoughts, they spoke of God as the one who knew all people’s hearts. This is just one of the subtle ways that John appealed to his audience to believe in Jesus as divine.
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