At this feast Jesus with a scourge drives out of the John ii. 14-22. temple the sellers of animals for sacrifice, and the moneychangers. To the Jews, demanding His authority to do such things, He replies in a parable. During the feast He John ii. 23-25. wrought miracles which led many to believe on Him. He John iii. 1-21. is visited at night by Nicodemus, to whom he explains the nature of the new birth. Afterward He departs from John iii. 22. Jerusalem into the land of Judea, where He tarries with His disciples, and they baptized. John iv. 2.
This Passover, according to Greswell, was on the 9th April. Friedlieb makes it to have been on the 11th. We follow the latter. If the Lord's baptism was, as we have supposed, early in January, between the baptism and the
Passover was an interval of some three months.1 The exact length of this interval depends, of course, upon the date of the baptism. "With this Passover His public ministry may properly be said to begin.
This purification of the Temple is plainly a different one to that mentioned by the Synoptists, (Matt. xxi. 12-16 ; Mark xi. 15-19 ; Luke xix. 45-48.) This occurred at the beginning; that at the end of His ministry. The act, in all its essential outward features, must have been the same; but its significance varied with the time. As now performed, it was a plain and open avowal of His Divine authority, and a public reproof of the wickedness of the priests and rulers, who permitted His Father's house to be made a house of merchandise. Nothing could have brought Him more publicly before the ecclesiastical authorities and the multitudes who thronged to the feast, than this act; nor have shown more distinctly the nature and extent of His prophetic claims. He was the Son of God, jealous of His Father's honor, and to whom it especially belonged to see that His courts were not denied.
As the chief sacrifice, that of the Paschal Lamb, was offered on the first day of the feast, it is probable that this purification took place before or on that day. Although the act must have drawn to Him popular attention, and awakened general inquiry who He was, no hostile measures seem to have been taken at this time by the Jewish authorities. They asked for a sign (v. 18) as a voucher for His Divine commission, which He declined to give, and answered them in an enigmatical manner. Still He wrought afterward, during the feast, miracles which caused many to believe in Him. But their faith resting merely upon the exhibitions of power which they saw, not upon any perceptions of the moral character of His works, He did not commit Himself to them, or enter into any intimate relations with them, as with His disciples from Galilee.
J Paschale Chronicon, 7(5 days; Friedlieb, 87 days; Greswell, 64 days.
But in Tieodemus, whom Lightfoot calls " one of the judges of the great Sanhedrim," He found one in whom were the germs of a true faith, and to whom He could reveal Himself, not only through work, but through word. That Nicodemus should come secretly by night, shows that there was, even now, among the priests and rulers with whom he had most intercourse, a feeling of dislike to Jesus, and that some degree of odium attached to all who were known to visit Him.
After the feast was over, Jesus, leaving the city, went into some part of the territory adjacent, or into the province of Judea, as distinguished from its chief city. The part of the land to which He went is not mentioned, but we may infer that, as His purpose was to baptize, He went to the Jordan, or to some one of the streams running into it. Sepp (ii» 100) supposes Him to have gone from place to place in southern Judea, baptizing at all the principal fountains, which He could do, as His baptism was by sprinkling, as that of John was by immersion. This is pure conjecture. Perhaps we may infer from John, (iv. 4,) "And He must needs go through Samaria," that He was at this time in the northern part of Judea.1 That He began the work of baptizing by His disciples soon after the feast, and before He returned to Galilee, seems fairly inferable from the narrative. It has, however, been said2 that a considerable interval (from April to October) elapsed, during which the Lord and His disciples returned to Galilee, and lived in retirement, engaged in their usual pursuits. In support of this it is claimed that the baptismal activity of Jesus must have been very brief, since the Baptist's disciples speak of it as recent, (John iii. 26,) and it was given up so soon as His work began to awaken the jealousy of the Pharisees, (John iv. 1-3.)
1 See Meyer in loco. a Lichtenstein, 157.
Supposing that the Lord left Judea, upon grounds to be hereafter stated, in November or December, He must have been there about six months. We cannot certainly determine whether He was so long actually engaged in the work of baptizing. Greswell makes the time so spent to have been less than a month ; Norton only two or three weeks. But we need not suppose Him to have commenced immediately after the Passover, though we have no data to determine the exact time. Nor can we tell when John left the Jordan and began to baptize at iEnon, (v. 23.)l That Jesus had been for some time carrying on His work before the complaint made by John's disciples, (v. 26,) appears from the great numbers that thronged to His baptism.
We see, then, no good grounds for believing that Jesus after the Passover went into Galilee, and returning after some months, began to baptize. Yet we may, on the other hand, admit that His baptismal work was not of very long duration. There is nothing in the note of time, (v. 22,) " after these things," /xera rearm, that forbids us to suppose that a few weeks may have elapsed between the feast and the beginning of this work.2
Whilst Jesus was baptizing, John was also prosecuting his work. He had, however, left the Jordan and gone to iEnon, (v. 23.) The site of this place is not known. The Evangelist speaks of it as near to Salim, and gives as the reason of its selection that there was " much water," or " many fountains," -uSara 7roXXa, there. The word iEnon means fountains, but it is doubtful whether it denotes here, a village or fountains near a village.
1 See Greswell, ii. 215, who thinks the statement that there was much water there, " a proof that the rainy season had been some time over, and water was beginning to be scarce," and thus showing that it was near midsummer. Little reliance can be placed on this.
2 Compare the parallel expressions, John v. 1; vi. 1; vii. 1. " The sequence is not immediate/' Alford in loco.
The latter seems most likely, as its position is defined by saying that it was near to Salim, " Baptizing near the waters of deep-waved Salim." l But the position of this Salim is also undetermined. Jerome speaks.of. a town called in his day Salem, not far from Scythopolis, where the ruins of a palace of Melchizedek were shown. He speaks also of a Salumias, which he apparently identifies with Salem, as lying in the plain or valley of the Jordan, eight miles south of Scythopolis. He places JEnon in the same locality, near Salem and the Jordan.2 Here it is now placed by Van de Velde, at the base of Tell Ridghah, where there are some ruins and a spring.3 If this be correct, ^Enon would have been within the bounds of Samaria. But it is difficult to believe that John, the preacher of the Law, could have entered Samaria to baptize, when, at a later period, the Lord forbade the Twelve to preach in any of its cities, (Matt. x. 5.) ISTor is there any trace, in the conversation of the Samaritans with Jesus, of any such ministry of the Baptist among them, (see John iv. 9.) Salim and iEnon have therefore been looked for in other directions. Some, as Wieseler, have found them in the wilderness of Judah, referring to Josh. xv. 32, where a city Ain is mentioned in connection with Shilhim. Lichtenstein (160) finds an JEnon in Wady el Khulil, a little west of Hebron. Sepp, in Beit Ainun, north of Hebron. Barclay (558) thinks he finds it in certain fountains in Wady Farah, six miles north-east from Jerusalem, of which he speaks as of all the fountains in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, by far the most copious and interesting. One is capable of driving several mills as it gushes forth from the earth, but is intermittent. The Wady in which they lie he heard also called Salim, and his guide conducted him to the site of an ancient city near by. Below, the stream is called the Kelt, and is generally supposed to be " the brook Cherith that is before Jordan," (1 Kings xvii. 1-7.)
i Nonnus in Lightfoot, x. 337. 3 Raumer, 142; Robinson, iii. 333.
s Memoir, 345; so Ellicott.
In his second journey, Robinson (iii. 298) made special search for Salim in the Jordan valley, but could find no ruins, nor trace of the name. He mentions, however, a plain of Salim east of ISTablous, and a 'small village of the same name, which was " said to have two sources of living water, one in a cavern, and the other a running fountain." Many, as Greswell, follow Jerome.
Among so many discordant opinions, the true site of iEnon must be left undecided. Most agree in placing it on the west side of the Jordan, as it is contrasted (v. 26) with John's former place of baptism at Bethabara. That he should have gone so far from the earlier scene of his labors as the south of Judea, is improbable. We best meet the scope of the narrative if we sivppose that Jesus and John were not very far distant from each other, and both in the region of the Jordan. Some have supjuosed a contrast to be drawn between "the land of Judea," and "iEnon," (vs. 22 and 23,) as if the latter was not in the former.1 But the contrast was not between the place of John's ministry and that of Jesus, but between the labors of Jesus in Jerusalem and His labors in the country. That John was not immediately upon the Jordan is rightly to be inferred from the statement that there was much water there, a statement superfluous if he had been on the banks of that river.
In the act of baptizing Jesus personally took no part. It was done by His disciples. The names of these disciples are not mentioned, but they were doubtless the same whose names had been already mentioned, (John ch. i.,) and who came with Him to the Passover from Galilee. As the former disciples of John, and perhaps his assistants, this rite was not new to them. Having also been for some time in company with Jesus, they were prepared by His teachings to understand the meaning of the service He required from them1
i So Winer, i. 34
As yet, however, their relations to Him were much the same, as their former relations to John, and very unlike what they afterward became.1
These contemporaneous baptismal labors of the Lord and of John present many interesting questions, but most of them lie out of the pale of our inquiry. As the former did not Himself baptize, it is a question how His time was spent. Probably He taught, the crowds that came to His baptism, but there is no hint that He healed the sick, or wrought any miracles. We can scarce doubt that He went up to Jerusalem to attend the two great feasts during this period, that of Pentecost and of Tabernacles, and here He must have come more or less into contact with the priests and Pharisees. It does not appear, however, that He went about from place to place to teach, or that He taught in any of the synagogues. Still it is not improbable that before He began to baptize, or at intervals during His labors, He may have visited many parts of Judea, and have noted and tested the spiritual condition of the people. It may be, also, that at this time He formed those friendships of which we later find traces, as that with Joseph of Arimathea, and that with Mary and Martha.
1 See Greswell, ii. 284.