John 11:55

55 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover.

Read John 11:55 Using Other Translations

And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves.
Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves.
It was now almost time for the Jewish Passover celebration, and many people from all over the country arrived in Jerusalem several days early so they could go through the purification ceremony before Passover began.

What does John 11:55 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
John 11:55

And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand
Which was the fourth passover from Christ's entrance on his public ministry, and the last he ate with his disciples; when he, by being sacrificed for his people, put an end to that, and all other ceremonial observances:

and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem, before the
passover:
not only from the country where Ephraim was, but from all other countries in Judea and Galilee: all the males were obliged to go up to Jerusalem, at the time of the passover, where it was only kept; but many went before that time, for the reason following:

to purify themselves;
we read in ( 2 Chronicles 30:18 ) of many that had not cleansed themselves, and yet ate the passover; for whom Hezekiah prayed, that they might be pardoned, which shows that they had done amiss: upon which place, Jarchi has this observation; that

``Judah (the men of Judah) were all clean, because they were near to Jerusalem, and could purify and sanctify themselves, and return to Jerusalem; but many of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and Issachar, and Zabulon, could not do so.''

And this seems to be the case of these people, they were country people, that lived at a distance, and not having purified themselves from several uncleannesses, came up before the time, that they might cleanse themselves, and be ready at the time: in several cases purification was required; as with new mothers, menstruous and profluvious persons, and such that had touched a dead body, or any creeping thing, and in other cases; and which by reason of distance, might be neglected; wherefore it was necessary they should come up before the time of the passover, to fit themselves for it: the rule about defiled persons eating the passover, is this F2;

``if the congregation is polluted, or the greatest part of it, or the priests are unclean, and the congregation pure, it is kept in uncleanness; but if the lesser part of the congregation is defiled, the pure keep the first passover, and the unclean the second.''

This, their commentators say F3, is to be understood of uncleanness, by touching the dead, which required seven days of purification; and it is very probable that this was the case of these persons, since it was about so many days before the passover, that they came up; see ( John 12:1 ) . The account Maimonides F4 gives of this matter is this;

``who is a defiled person, that is put off to the second passover? everyone who cannot eat the passover, on the night of the fifteenth of Nisan, because of his uncleanness; as profluvious men and women, menstruous and new mothers, and the husbands of menstruous women; but he that toucheth the dead carcass of a beast, or a creeping thing, and the like, on the fourteenth, lo, he dips, and they slay for him (the passover) after he has dipped; and in the evening, when his sun is set, he eats the passover; he that is defiled by touching the dead, whose seventh day happens to be on the fourteenth, though he dips and is sprinkled on, and lo, he is fit to eat the holy things at evening, yet they do not kill for him, but he is put off to the second passover; as it is said, ( Numbers 9:6 ) . "And there were certain men who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the passover on that day"; by tradition it is learned, that it was their seventh day, and therefore they asked if it should be killed for them, and they should eat at evening? and it was declared to them, that they should not kill for them: of what is this to be understood? when he is polluted with a defilement by the dead, which Nazarites shave for; but if he is polluted with other defilements by the dead, which the Nazarites do not shave for, they kill for him on his seventh day, after he has dipped, and is sprinkled upon; and when his sun is set, he eats his passover; a profluvious person, who sees two appearances, and reckons seven days, and dips on the seventh, they kill for him, and he eats at evening.--They do not kill for a menstruous woman on her seventh day, for lo, she does not dip till the eighth night, and she is not fit to eat holy things until the ninth night.''

These, with many other cases there instanced, may serve to illustrate this passage.


FOOTNOTES:

F2 Misn. Pesachim, c. 7. sect. 6. Vid. Maimon. Korban Pesach. c. 7. sect. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. & Biah Hamikdash, c. 4. sect. 10-18.
F3 Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. ib.
F4 Hilchot Korban Pesach. c. 6. sect. 1, 2, 3.
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