John 4:35

35 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.

John 4:35 Meaning and Commentary

John 4:35

Say not ye, there are yet four months
Our Lord had been in Jerusalem and Judea, about eight months from the last passover, and there remained four more to the next passover:

and then cometh harvest?
barley harvest, which began at that time. Now as the passover was in the middle of the month Nisan, which was about the latter end of our March; reckoning four months back from thence shows, that it was about the latter end of our November, or beginning of December, that Christ was in Samaria, and at Jacob's well. Some think, that this does not refer to the then present time, as if there were so many months from thence to the next harvest, but to a common way of speaking, that there were four months from seed time to harvest; during which time there was a comfortable hope, and longing expectation of it: but this will, by no means, agree either with the wheat or barley harvest. The wheat was sown before this time, and the barley a good while after.

``Half Tisri, Marcheshvan, and half Cisleu, were, (erz) , seed time F23''

The earliest they sowed their wheat was in Tisri, which answers to our September and October; i.e. to half one, and half the other. The month of Marcheshvan, which answers to October and November, was the principal month for sowing it F24: hence that paraphrase on ( Ecclesiastes 11:2 ) :

``give a good part of thy seed to thy field in Tisri, and do not refrain from sowing even in Cisleu.''

As for the barley, that was sown in the months of Shebet and Adar, and usually in the latter F25; the former of which answers to January and February, and the latter to February and March. And we read F26 of their sowing seventy days before the passover, which was within six weeks of the beginning of barley harvest.

Behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields:
pointing to the lands which lay near the city of Sychar:

for they are white already to harvest;
alluding to the corn fields, which, when ripe, and near harvest, look white: hence we read F1 of (Nblh hdv) , "the white field": which the Jews say is a field sown with wheat or barley, and so called to distinguish it from a field planted with trees; though it may be rather, that it is so called from its white look when ripe. So the three Targums paraphrase ( Genesis 49:12 ) :

``his hills (his valleys, or fields, as Onkelos) (Nrwwxy) , "are white" with corn, and flocks of sheep.''

Christ here speaks not literally; for the fields could not be white at such a distance from harvest; but spiritually, of a harvest of souls; and has regard to the large number of Samaritans that were just now coming out of the city, and were within sight, and covered the adjacent fields: and these he calls upon his disciples to lift up their eyes and behold; and suggests to them, that it was not a time for eating and drinking, but for working, since here was such a number of souls to be gathered in: and thus as from corporeal food he proceeded to treat of spiritual food; so from a literal harvest he goes on to speak of a spiritual one, and encourages his disciples to labour in it, by the following arguments.


F23 T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 106. 2.
F24 Gloss in T. Bab. Roshhashana, fol. 16. 1.
F25 Gloss in Bava Metzia & in Roshhashana ib.
F26 Misn. Menachot, c. 8. sect. 2.
F1 Misn. Sheviith, c. 2. sect. 1. & Moed Katon, c. 1. sect. 4.

John 4:35 In-Context

33 “Did someone bring him food while we were gone?” the disciples asked each other.
34 Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.
35 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.
36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!
37 You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true.

Footnotes 1

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