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Healing at Bethesda on the Sabbath


Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. John 5:2










39 Healing at Bethesda on the Sabbath  




Quotes & Notes on:     John 5:2   

  • John Wesley's Notes:
    There is in Jerusalem-Hence it appears, that St. John wrote his Gospel before Jerusalem was destroyed: it is supposed about thirty years after the ascension.

    Having five porticos-Built for the use of the sick. Probably the basin had five sides!

    Bethesda signifies the house of mercy.

  • Treasury of Scripture Knowledge:

     * market. or, gate. Ne 3:1; 12:39
    * pool. Isa 22:9,11
    * Bethesda.
    The supposed remains of the pool of Bethesda are situated on
    the east of Jerusalem, contiguous on one side to St. Stephen's
    gate, and on the other to the area of the temple. Maundrell
    states that, "it is 120 paces long, and forty broad, and at
    least eight deep, but void of water. At its west end it
    discovers some old arches, now damned up. These some will
    have to be porches, in which sat that multitude of lame, halt,
    and blind. But it is not likely, for instead of five, there
    are but three."

  • Adam Clarke's Commentary:

       There IS] This is thought by some to be a proof that John wrote his Gospel before the destruction of Jerusalem; and that the pool and its porticoes were still remaining. Though there can be little doubt that Jerusalem was destroyed many years before John wrote, yet this does not necessarily imply that the pool and its porticoes must have been destroyed too. It, or something in its place, is shown to travellers to the present day. See Maundrell's Jour. p. 108. But instead of esti, IS, both the Syriac, all the Arabic, Persic, Armenian, and Nonnus, read hn, WAS; which is to me some proof that it did not exist when these versions were made, and that the pool which is shown now is not the original.

    By the sheep market] Rather, gate: see Ne 3:1,32; 12:39. This was in all probability the gate through which the sheep were brought which were offered in sacrifice in the temple.

    A pool] Bp. Pearce thinks the word kolumbhyra should be translated bath, and that this place was built for the purpose of bathing and swimming in. He observes that kolumban signifies to swim, in Ac 27:43. In proof of this, he cites three of the old Itala, which have natatoria, a bathing or swimming place.

    Bethesda] This word is variously written in the MSS. and versions: Bezatha-Bethzatha-Betzetha-Belzetha-Belzatha-Berzeta; and many have Bethsaida. But the former reading is the genuine one. Bethesda, or according to the Hebrew hdoxtyb Bethchasdah, signifies literally, the house of mercy. It got this name probably from the cures which God mercifully performed there. It is likely the porticoes were built for the more convenient reception of the poor and distressed, who came hither to be healed. It does not appear that any person was obliged to pay man for what the mercy of God freely gave. Wicked as the Jewish people were, they never thought of levying a tax on the poor and afflicted, for the cures they received in these healing waters. How is it that a well-regulated state, such as that of Great Britain, can ever permit individuals or corporations to enrich themselves at the expense of God's mercy, manifested in the sanative waters of Bristol, Bath, Buxton, &c.? Should not the accommodations be raised at the expense of the public, that the poor might enjoy without cost, which they are incapable of defraying, the great blessing which the God of nature has bestowed on such waters? In most of those places there is a profession that the poor may drink and bathe gratis; but it is little better than a pretence, and the regulations relative to this point render the whole nearly inefficient. However, some good is done.

  • Family Bible Notes:

     Marked; this word, as shown by the italics, is not in the original. It probably should have been, as in the margin, gate. Ne 3:1,32; 12:39. Bethesda; "house of mercy." Many at that pool had been mercifully healed of their diseases

  • 1599 Geneva Bible Notes:
     There is no disease so old which Christ cannot heal. (a) Of which cattle drank, and used to be plunged in, since there was a great abundance of water at Jerusalem. (b) That is to say, the house of pouring out, because a great abundance of water was poured out into that place.

  • People's New Testament Commentary:

       There is at Jerusalem . . . a pool. Its supposed site is still shown, but is uncertain.

    Five porches. Shelters for the sick.

  • Robertson's Word Pictures:
        There is (estin). Bengel argues that this proves a date before the destruction of Jerusalem, but it is probably only John's vivid memory. By the sheep gate (epi tęi probatikęi). Supply pulęi (gate) which occurs with the adjective probatikę (pertaining to sheep, probata) in Ne 3:1,22. A pool (kolumbęthra). A diving or swimming pool (from kolumbaô, to swim, Ac 27:43), old word, only here in N.T. Which is called (hę epilegomenę). "The surnamed" (present passive participle, only N.T. example except Ac 15:40 first aorist middle participle epilexamenos). In Hebrew (Ebraisti). "In Aramaic" strictly as in Joh 19:13,17,20; 20:16; Re 9:11; 16:16. Bethesda (Bethesda, or House of Mercy. So A C Syr cu). Aleph D L 33 have Bethzatha or House of the Olive, while B W Vulg. Memph. have Bethsaida. Having five porches (pente stoas echousa). Stoa was a covered colonnade where people can gather from which Stoic comes (Ac 17:18). See Joh 10:23; Ac 3:11. Schick in 1888 found twin pools north of the temple near the fortress of Antonia one of which has five porches. It is not, however, certain that this pool existed before A.D. 70 when the temple was destroyed (Sanday, Sacred Sites of the Gospels, p. 55). Some have identified it with the Pool of Siloam (Joh 9:7), though John distinguishes them. There is also the Virgin's Well, called the Gusher, because it periodically bubbles over from a natural spring, a kind of natural siphon. This is south of the temple in the Valley of Kedron and quite possibly the real site.

  • Albert Barnes' Commentary:

      The sheep-market. This might have been rendered the sheep-gate, or the gate through which the sheep were taken into the city for sacrifice. The marginal rendering is gate, and the word "market" is not in the original, nor is a "sheep-market" mentioned in the Scriptures or in any of the Jewish writings. A sheep-gate is repeatedly mentioned by Nehemiah (Ne 3:1; 12:39) being that by which sheep and oxen were brought into the city. As these were brought mainly for sacrifice, the gate was doubtless near the temple, and near the present place which is shown as the pool of Bethesda.

    A pool. This word may either mean a small lake or pond in which one can swim, or a place for fish, or any waters collected for bathing or washing.

    Hebrew tongue. Hebrew language. The language then spoken, which did not differ essentially from the ancient Hebrew.

    Bethesda. The house of mercy. It was so called on account of its strong healing properties--the property of restoring health to the sick and infirm.

    Five porches. The word porch commonly means a covered place surrounding a building, in which people can walk or sit in hot or wet weather. Here it probably means that there were five covered places, or apartments, in which the sick could remain, from each one of which they could have access to the water. This "pool" is thus described by Professor Hackett (Illustrations of Scripture, p. 291, 292)

    "Just to the east of the Turkish garrison, and under the northern wall of the mosque, is a deep excavation, supposed by many to be the ancient pool of Bethesda, into which the sick descended `after the troubling of the water,' and were healed, Joh 5:1, sq. It is 360 feet long, 130 feet wide, and 75 deep. The evangelist says that this pool was near the sheep-gate, as the Greek probably signifies, rather than sheep-market, as rendered in the English version. That gate, according to Ne 3:1, sq., was on the north side of the temple, and hence the situation of this reservoir would agree with that of Bethesda. The present name, Birket Israil, Pool of Israil, indicates the opinion of the native inhabitants in regard to the object of the excavation. The general opinion of the most accurate travellers is that the so-called pool was originally part of a trench or fosse which protected the temple on the north. Though it contains no water at present except a little which trickles through the stones at the west end, it has evidently been used at some period as a reservoir. It is lined with cement, and adapted in other respects to hold water."

    Dr. Robinson established by personal inspection the fact of the subterranean connection of the pool of Siloam with the Fountain of the Virgin, and made it probable that the fountain under the mosque of Omar is connected with them. This spring is, as he himself witnessed, an intermittent one, and there may have been some artificially constructed basin in connection with this spring to which was given the name of Bethesda. He supposes, however, that there is not the slightest evidence that the place or reservoir now pointed out as Bethesda was the Bethesda of the New Testament (Bib. Res., i. 501,506, 509). In the time of Sandys (1611) the spring was found running, but in small quantities; in the time of Maundrell (1697) the stream did not run. Probably in his time, as now, the water which had formerly filtered through the rocks was dammed up by the rubbish.

    {1} "sheep-market", or "gate", Ne 3:1; 12:39

  • Jamieson-Faussett Brown:

     sheep market--The supplement should be (as in Margin) "sheep [gate]," mentioned in Ne 3:1,32.

    Bethesda--that is, "house (place) of mercy," from the cures wrought there.

    five porches--for shelter to the patients.

  • Spurgeon Devotional Commentary:

    (No comment on this verse).


  • Spurgeon Commentary on Matthew:
    (No comment on this verse).


  • William Burkitt's Notes:

    (No comment on this verse).

  • Matthew Henry's  Commentary:

      (No comment on this verse).


  • Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary:

     (No comment on this verse).

  • The Fourfold Gospel:

          Now there is. The present tense is used, for while the city was destroyed, the pool evidently still existed.

    In Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew. That is, in Aramaic, a dialect of the classic Hebrew, in which the Old Testament was written, and the language then in use in Palestine.

    Bethesda, having five porches. It had five covered porticos, probably erected for the accommodation of the sick, whence it is called Bethesda, that is, "house of mercy." Dr. Barclay thinks that this pool is buried in the rubbish of the Kedron valley. Dr. Robinson suggested that it might be the Fountain of the Virgin, which is found in a cavern under the east side of Ophel, a little north of midway between the southeast corner of the temple wall and the Pool of Siloam. Though this pool's claim has been objected to because of its inaccessibility--for it lies thirty feet below the surface of the valley and forty feet back under the mountain, and is approached by two flights of steps numbering in all twenty-six--yet it has three distinct features which make its claim exceed those of any other known pool in the temple neighborhood: 1. It is fed by an intermittent spring, whose ebbing and flowing at intervals of several hours, would cause the troubled waters called for in Joh 5:7. 2. It has a superstition connected with it kindred to that which crept into the text at Joh 5:4, but the Mohammedans have changed the angel into a dragon; when the dragon is awake he swallows or stops the water, but when he sleeps the water flows! 3. The modern Jerusalem Jews believe in the special healing properties of this fountain. "Every day," says Conder, "crowds of both sexes go down to the spring, and, entering the dark archway, descend the steps, and await the fitful troubling of the waters, which rise suddenly and immerse them, fully clothed, nearly up to the neck." But Nehemiah's description of the walls seems to locate the sheep gate near the middle or northern portion of the temple area, and too far north for the Virgin's fountain to be described as near it, unless John's sheep gate differs from that of Nehemiah.





Updated:   Wednesday, March 06, 2013 at 03:52 AM



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