John 11:31

31 When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there.

John 11:31 Meaning and Commentary

John 11:31

The Jews then which were with her in the house
Who came from Jerusalem to visit this afflicted family, and continued in the house with them

and comforted her;
which was the end of their coming, ( John 11:19 ) . This they endeavoured to do, though they did not succeed:

when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily, and went out, followed
they did not know what Martha whispered to her, but observed that she rose off her seat in great haste, and went out of the house at once; and therefore they went after to see where she went, and to persuade her to return;

within themselves; "thinking", as all the Oriental versions seem to read,

she goeth unto the grave to weep there:
the Jews were wont to go to the graves on different accounts; one was to see whether the persons were dead or not: for so it is said F16,

``they go to the graves and visit until three days.''

It happened that they visited one, and he lived five and twenty years, and after that died: and another was on a religious account; such went to the graves of the prophets, wise men, and righteous, and prostrated themselves upon them, to pray with weeping and supplication, and seek mercy for themselves, and for their brethren, expressing their faith in the resurrection F17. Dr. Pocock F18 has given a large form of prayer used by them at such times, from Solomon bar Nathan; and is as follows:

``let it be the will of the Lord our God, our Creator, our Holy One, the Holy One of Jacob, who hath created all the children of his covenant in judgment, and causes them to die in judgment, and will raise them again to the life of the world to come, who knows the number of them all; that he would hasten to awake our master and doctor, (such an one,) that holy, (or that righteous, or that wise doctor,) whose body dwells in this sepulchre, whose bones rest in the midst of these stones; and that he would quicken him with that eternal life which no death follows; with that life which swallows up all death, and which wipes away all tears, and takes away all reproach; together with all those who are written unto life in Jerusalem; with the seven shepherds, and eight principal men, who are spoken of in ( Micah 5:5 ) , and give him a part with them that understand, and with them that justify many, who will be like the stars for ever and ever; and the whole residue of the people of the Lord, the house of Israel, who keep the covenant of our God, and do his pleasure, may the Lord our God shake all these out of their dust, and let their lot, and our lot, be in life, in everlasting life, that in it he may establish all, both great and small, according to what is written, ( Psalms 72:16 ) : "there shall be an handful of corn" and confirm the assurance he gave by Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amos, ( Isaiah 26:19 ) : "thy dead men shall live" and as he promised to Daniel, a man of desires, ( Daniel 12:13 ) : "but go thou thy way till the end be" and as he promised to all the congregations of Israel, by his servant Ezekiel, the son of Buzi the priest, ( Ezekiel 37:12 ) : "therefore prophesy and say to them" that the saints may rejoice with glory, and sing upon their beds, and that the righteous may rejoice, and exult before God, and be glad in his salvation, and say in that day, "behold this is our God, we have waited for him" ( Isaiah 25:9 ) ; and we will bless the Lord from this time forth, and for ever, Hallelujah.''

A shorter one, which is in their liturgies, and is used as they pass by the sepulchres of the Israelites, is this:

``blessed art thou, O Lord our God, who has formed you in judgment, and has quickened you in judgment, and has fed you in judgment, and knows the number of all of you, and he will quicken you, and restore you; blessed art thou, O Lord, that quickens the dead.''

But sometimes they went only to vent their grief, and lament the loss of their deceased friends, which the Jews imagined was the case of Mary. And such a custom as this is used by the Turks, whose women on Friday, which is their day of worship, go before sun rising to the graves of the deceased, which are without the city, where they mourn over the death of their friends, and sprinkle their monuments with water and flowers; and even such as are not at the funeral or interment of the dead, after some days, will go to the graves, and make their lamentations there, and inquire of the dead the reason of their departure, and, as it were, expostulate with them, and to their lamentations add oblations of loaves, cheeses, eggs, and flesh {s}. The Persians also visit the sepulchres of their principal "Imams", or prelates F20; and the Jews were wont to visit the graves of their great men, in honour to them; yea, the disciples of the wise men used to meet there to study the law, thereby showing respect, and doing honour to the deceased. It is said of Hezekiah, ( 2 Chronicles 32:33 ) : "that all Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, did him honour at his death"; from whence say the Talmudists F21 we learn, that they fixed a sitting or a school at his grave; the gloss is, a session (or school) of the wise men to study in the law there. So says Maimonides F23, when a king dies they make a sitting at his grave seven days, as it is said, ( 2 Chronicles 32:33 ) : "they did him honour at his death"; that is, they made a sitting at his grave.


F16 Massech. Semachot, c. 8. fol. 15. 1.
F17 Cippi Heb. p. 3, 4.
F18 Misc. not. in port. Maimon. p. 224.
F19 Gejer de Ebraeor. Luctu, c. 6. sect. 26.
F20 Reland de Relig. Mohammed. l. 1. p. 72.
F21 T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 16. 2.
F23 Hilchot Ebel. c. 14. sect. 25.

John 11:31 In-Context

29 So Mary immediately went to him.
30 Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him.
31 When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there.
32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled.
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