John 2:6

6 Now there were six stone water jars there 1for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty 2gallons.[a]

John 2:6 Meaning and Commentary

John 2:6

And there were set six water pots of stone
To distinguish them from other vessels made of different matter: for the Jews had

``vessels made of dust, and the dung of beasts, (Mynba ylk) , "vessels of stone", vessels of earth, vessels made of shells, vessels of nitre, vessels made of the bones and skins of fishes F20.''

And as these vessels were very likely for washing of hands, such were used for that purpose: their rule is F21,

``they may put water for the hands in all sorts of vessels; in vessels of dung, in stone vessels, and in vessels of earth.''

At a wedding were set vessels of various sizes to wash hands and feet in; there was one vessel called (alkyvm) , which the gloss says was a large pitcher, or basin, out of which the whole company washed their hands and their feet; and there was another called (atlkyvm) , which was a lesser and beautiful basin, which was set alone for the more honourable persons, as for the bride, and for any gentlewoman {w}; and such might be these six stone jars, or pots:

after the manner of the purifying of the Jews;
or "for the purifying either Jews", as the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions render it; that is, for the washing of them, their hands and feet, and their vessels, pots, and cups, according to the traditions of the elders; see ( Mark 7:2 Mark 7:3 Mark 7:4 ) ;

containing two or three firkins apiece.
The Ethiopic version reads, "some held two measures, and some three"; how large the "metreta", or "measure" was, which we render a "firkin", is not certain; it is most likely it answered to the "Hebrew bath", which was a common measure of liquids with the Jews, and held four gallons and a half, or more; (See Gill on Luke 16:6); so that such of these vessels, that held two of these measures, contained nine gallons, and such as held three of them, thirteen gallons and a half; and six of these contained a large quantity of wine, one with another: and which makes the following miracle the greater; and shows the liberality of Christ the more, in providing for the following days of the feast, for a marriage was kept seven days F24; and for the family, some time after it was over.


F20 Misn. Celim, c. 10. sect. 1. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.
F21 Misn. Yadaim, c. 1. sect. 2.
F23 Gloss in T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 77. 2.
F24 Maimon. Hilchot Ishot, c. 10. sect. 12, 13.

John 2:6 In-Context

4 And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come."
5 His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.
7 Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim.
8 And he said to them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast." So they took it.

Cross References 2

  • 1. John 3:25; [Mark 7:3, 4]
  • 2. 2 Chronicles 4:5(Gk.)

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Greek two or three measures (metretas); a metretes was about 10 gallons or 35 liters
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.