John 8:6
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
They were using this question as a trap,in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.

New Living Translation
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.

English Standard Version
This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.

Berean Study Bible
They said this to test Him, in order to have a basis for accusing Him. But Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with His finger.

Berean Literal Bible
Now they were saying this testing Him, so that they might have grounds to accuse Him. But Jesus, having stooped down, began writing with His finger on the ground.

New American Standard Bible
They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground.

King James Bible
This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
They asked this to trap Him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse Him. Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger.

International Standard Version
They said this to test him, so that they might have a charge against him. But Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.

NET Bible
(Now they were asking this in an attempt to trap him, so that they could bring charges against him.) Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger.

New Heart English Bible
They said this testing him, that they might have something to accuse him of. But Jesus stooped down, and wrote on the ground with his finger.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
“What therefore do you say?” This they said, as they were tempting him, so that they might have something for which to accuse him.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
They asked this to test him. They wanted to find a reason to bring charges against him. Jesus bent down and used his finger to write on the ground.

New American Standard 1977
And they were saying this, testing Him, in order that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground.

Jubilee Bible 2000
This they said, tempting him, that they might be able to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down and with his finger wrote on the ground.

King James 2000 Bible
This they said, testing him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

American King James Version
This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

American Standard Version
And this they said, trying him, that they might have whereof to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And this they said tempting him, that they might accuse him. But Jesus bowing himself down, wrote with his finger on the ground.

Darby Bible Translation
But this they said proving him, that they might have [something] to accuse him [of]. But Jesus, having stooped down, wrote with his finger on the ground.

English Revised Version
And this they said, tempting him, that they might have whereof to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground.

Webster's Bible Translation
This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

Weymouth New Testament
They asked this in order to put Him to the test, so that they might have some charge to bring against Him. But Jesus leant forward and began to write with His finger on the ground.

World English Bible
They said this testing him, that they might have something to accuse him of. But Jesus stooped down, and wrote on the ground with his finger.

Young's Literal Translation
and this they said, trying him, that they might have to accuse him. And Jesus, having stooped down, with the finger he was writing on the ground,
Study Bible
The Woman Caught in Adultery
5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. So what do You say?” 6They said this to test Him, in order to have a basis for accusing Him. But Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with His finger. 7When they continued to question Him, He straightened up and said to them, “Whoever is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast a stone at her.”…
Cross References
Matthew 16:1
Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came and tested Jesus by asking Him to show them a sign from heaven.

Matthew 19:3
Then some Pharisees came and tested Him by asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?"

Matthew 22:18
But Jesus was aware of their evil motives. "You hypocrites!" He said. "Why are you testing Me?

Matthew 22:35
One of them, an expert in the law, tested Him with a question:

Mark 3:2
In order to accuse Him, they were watching to see if He would heal on the Sabbath.

Mark 8:11
Then the Pharisees came and began to argue with Jesus. They tested Him by demanding from Him a sign from heaven.

Mark 10:2
Some Pharisees came to test Him. "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" they inquired.

Mark 12:15
But Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said, "Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to inspect."

Luke 10:25
One day an expert in the law stood up to test Him. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

Luke 11:16
And others tested Him by demanding a sign from heaven.
Treasury of Scripture

This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

tempting.

Numbers 14:22 Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, …

Matthew 19:3 The Pharisees also came to him, tempting him, and saying to him, …

Luke 10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, …

Luke 11:53,54 And as he said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees …

Luke 20:20-23 And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves …

1 Corinthians 10:9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were …

But.

John 8:2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the …

Genesis 49:9 Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, you are gone up: …

Jeremiah 17:13 O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake you shall be ashamed, …

Daniel 5:5 In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand…

as though.

Psalm 38:12-14 They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that …

Psalm 39:1 I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: …

Proverbs 26:17 He that passes by, and meddles with strife belonging not to him, …

Ecclesiastes 3:7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

Amos 5:10,13 They hate him that rebukes in the gate, and they abhor him that speaks …

Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the middle of wolves: be you …

Matthew 15:23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and sought …

Matthew 26:63 But Jesus held his peace, And the high priest answered and said to …

(6) On the text, see Note on John 8:4. The last words, in italics, which are an explanatory gloss, should also be omitted. The verse will then read, "But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground"--or, more exactly, was writing on the ground. It is the imperfect of the continued action, and it points to the narrator's vivid remembrance of the scene. What precise meaning we are to attach to this action is, and must remain, uncertain. Any inquiry as to what He wrote is excluded by the fact that the narrative would certainly have recorded it had it been known; and though writing on sand was practised in the Rabbinic schools, this writing was on the pavement of the Temple (John 8:2). We have to seek the meaning, then, in the symbolism of the action, remembering that the teaching by action and gesture, common everywhere, has always been specially common in the East; and of the many interpretations which may be given, that which seems upon the whole least liable to objection is, that He deprecated the office of judge which they wished to impose on Him, and chose this method of intimating that He took no interest in what they were saying. The commentators tell us that this was a common method of signifying intentional disregard.

An alternative interpretation may be suggested. They had quoted the Law, and asked for His opinion. They were themselves the interpreters of the Law. He claimed no such office. (Comp. Luke 12:14.) He stoops down and writes, and the action intimates that the Law of God was written on tables of stone, and its decrees were immutable. They, by their technical interpretation and tradition, were making it of none effect. He came to fulfil it. The majesty of duty is sinned against by these refinements of casuistry. They are now daring to violate the sacredness of law by making it the subject of a question by which they hope to encompass His death. The solemn silence, as He stooped down in that Temple and wrote upon its pavement, must have spoken in a power greater than that of words.

Verse 6. - But this they said tempting him, that they might have (whereof) to accuse him. They sought a ground of formal accusation against Jesus. This implies some court before which the charge they desired to formulate it might be brought. The precise accusation is difficult to determine, and sundry distinguished scholars, Lucke, De Wette, and Alford, declare the problem or question insoluble. Augustine has been followed by a great body of expositors, who have supposed that an affirmative reply would have been inconsistent with the gentleness and mildness of our Lord's treatment of sinners, while a negative reply would at once have given them a charge to bring before the Sanhedrin of such a relaxation of the Law as would endanger his position as a Rabbi, still more as the Prophet like unto Moses. Almost all critics agree as to the use to which Christ's enemies were ready to put a negative reply, and therefore they coincide with Augustine in this part of his explanation. But the interpretation put upon the affirmative reply would not furnish the ground of any accusation before any court. An apparent inconsistency would be no civil charge, and would have no weight before any legal tribunal. The condemnation of adulterers to death by stoning would have been Christ's allowance of the letter of the Law to stand. The Romans could take no umbrage at this until the act had been carried into execution. It may probably have been known that, let the Sanhedrin record what verdict and punishment they pleased, the Roman magistrates would not have carried it into capital execution. How, then, could the scribes and Pharisees have carried an accusation or information before a Roman tribunal? The solution was suggested by Baumgarten-Crusius and Luthardt, and adopted by Moulton, that Christ was asked to say "Aye" or "No" to an instant, tumultuous act of vengeance upon the adulteress. Let him say "No," they would accuse him of deliberately ignoring and repudiating the authority of the Law of Moses; let him say "Yes," they were ready to stone the woman there and then, and subsequently to throw the responsibility of such violation of Roman jurisdiction upon the Lord Jesus as its instigator. Meyer's objection, that no question at all had been put to Christ on this supposition, is not clear. It was this. Clearly apprehending that adultery is a capital offence, and that there was a case before them upon which no doubt could be thrown, they ask him, with the stones in their hands, "Shall we kill this damsel or not?" If he says "No," then they were prepared to denounce the Prophet for his dogmatic trifling with the Law; if "Yes," they are ready to do the deed, and fasten upon Jesus all the shame and guilt of the proceeding before the Roman governor. It was a very analogous problem to that concerning the tribute money recorded in Matthew 22. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger was writing on the ground (εἰς τὴν γὴν, into the earth). Some manuscripts, E, G, and about ninety cursives, add, μὴ προσποιούμενος, "not troubling himself with them" - "as though he beard them not" (Authorized Version). This act is unparalleled in Scripture, even if the custom is still occasionally practised in the East. Mr. O'Neil, in his instructive volume, 'Palestine Explored,' records a curious instance of a youth, who, after playing some practical joke upon an old man, feigned utter ignorance of the surprise and cry of the old man by instantaneously assuming the position of one entirely abstracted from all sublunary thought, in fact, by sitting on the ground and scribbling with his finger in the dust, "as though he heard and saw nothing of what had happened." Such an intention can only be attributed to our Lord on the understanding that it was a current method of indicating an indisposition to have anything to say to the intruders. He was seated; he turned aside from the excited crowd, and by a significant symbol expressed his displeasure at their proceedings, and his perception of their craftiness. Conjecture has been busy, but vainly, with the inquiry as to what our Lord wrote on the ground, and some have urged (Godet) that he wrote the memorable sentence which follows, as a judge might write the verdict upon the case submitted to him. This is not probable, and it would detract from the symbolism of the act. This they said, tempting him,.... For they brought this woman, and exposed her in this manner, not because of their abhorrence and detestation of the sin; nor did they put the above question to Christ, out of their great respect to the law of Moses; which in many instances, and so in this, they in a great measure made void, by their traditions; for they say, that for such an offence as adultery, they did not put to death, nor beat, unless there was a previous admonition; the use of which was, to distinguish between presumptuous sins, and wilful ones (m); but if there was no admonition, and the woman, even a married woman, if she confessed the crime, all her punishment was to have her dowry taken from her, or to go away without it (n): now these masters say nothing about the admonition, nor do they put the question, whether this woman was to be dealt with according to their traditions, or according to the law of Moses? but what was the sense of Christ, whether Moses's law was to be attended to, or whether he would propose another rule to go by? and their view in this was,

that they might have to accuse him; that should he agree with Moses, then they would accuse him to the Roman governor, for taking upon him to condemn a person to death, which belonged to him to do; or they would charge him with severity, and acting inconsistently with himself, who received such sort of sinners, and ate with them; and had declared, that publicans and harlots would enter into the kingdom of heaven, when the Scribes and Pharisees would not; and if he should disagree with Moses, then they would traduce him among the people, as an enemy to Moses and his law, and as a patron of the most scandalous enormities:

but Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground; some think (o) he wrote in legible characters the sins of the woman's accusers; and the learned Wagenseil (p) makes mention of an ancient Greek manuscript he had seen, in which were the following words, "the sins of everyone of them": Dr. Lightfoot is of opinion, that this action of Christ tallies with, and has some reference to, the action of the priest at the trial of the suspected wife; who took of the dust of the floor of the tabernacle, and infused it in the bitter waters for her to drink; but it is most likely, that Christ on purpose put himself into this posture, as if he was busy about something else, and did not attend to what they said; and hereby cast some contempt upon them, as if they and their question were unworthy of his notice: and this sense is confirmed by what follows,

as though he heard them not; though this clause is not in many copies, nor in the Vulgate Latin, nor in any of the Oriental versions, but is in five of Beza's copies, and in the Complutensian edition.

(See Jeremiah 17:13, "they that depart from me shall be wriiten in the earth". It could be that Christ was writing their names in the earth, thus fulfulling this prophecy in Jeremiah. They knew the Old Testament and this passage, and were convicted in their hearts. Editor.)

(m) Maimon. ib. sect. 3.((n) Misn. Sota, c. 1. sect. 5. (o) Hieron. adv. Pelagianos, l. 2. fol. 96. H. Tom. II.((p) In Misn. Sota, c. 1. sect. 5. 6. stooped down—It will be observed He was sitting when they came to Him.

with his finger wrote on the ground—The words of our translators in italics ("as though He heard them not") have hardly improved the sense, for it is scarcely probable He could wish that to be thought. Rather He wished to show them His aversion to enter on the subject. But as this did not suit them, they "continue asking Him," pressing for an answer. At last, raising Himself He said.8:1-11 Christ neither found fault with the law, nor excused the prisoner's guilt; nor did he countenance the pretended zeal of the Pharisees. Those are self-condemned who judge others, and yet do the same thing. All who are any way called to blame the faults of others, are especially concerned to look to themselves, and keep themselves pure. In this matter Christ attended to the great work about which he came into the world, that was, to bring sinners to repentance; not to destroy, but to save. He aimed to bring, not only the accused to repentance, by showing her his mercy, but the prosecutors also, by showing them their sins; they thought to insnare him, he sought to convince and convert them. He declined to meddle with the magistrate's office. Many crimes merit far more severe punishment than they meet with; but we should not leave our own work, to take that upon ourselves to which we are not called. When Christ sent her away, it was with this caution, Go, and sin no more. Those who help to save the life of a criminal, should help to save the soul with the same caution. Those are truly happy, whom Christ does not condemn. Christ's favour to us in the forgiveness of past sins should prevail with us, Go then, and sin no more.
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