John 7:37
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(37) In the last day, that great day of the feast.—The question whether the seventh or the eighth day of the feast is intended here, is one of antiquarian rather than of practical interest. The words commanding the observance in Deuteronomy 16:13, and Numbers 29:12, mention only seven days; but this latter passage is followed in John 7:35 by a reference to the solemn assembly on the eighth day. With this agree the words in Leviticus 23:35-36; Leviticus 23:39, and Nehemiah 8:18. Later the eight days of the festival are certainly spoken of as in the Talmud, in 2 Maccabees 10:6, and Jos. Ant. iii. 10, § 4. The best modern authorities are for the most part agreed that it was the eighth day, i.e., the 22nd of Tishri, that is here referred to. It was the “great day” as the octave of the feast, and the day of holy convocation.

Jesus stood and cried.—Comp. Note on John 7:28. Here the vivid remembrance of the writer remembers the attitude as well as the voice.

If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.—These words were almost certainly suggested by part of the ritual of the festival, which consisted in a solemn procession with music, and headed by a priest, which went on each morning from the Temple to the pool of Siloam, where the priest filled a golden vase with water and carried it to the Temple amid the joyful cries of the people. He then poured it out on the western side of the altar of burnt-offering; while another priest poured a drink-offering of wine, at the same time, on the eastern side of the altar, and the people during this act chanted the words of “the Hallel,” Psalms 113-118. If we accept the eighth day as that referred to in this verse, then this ceremony was. not repeated; but its very absence may have suggested the fuller declaration of the reality of which it was the representation. The current Rabbinical interpretation of the symbolism connected it with the gift of the latter rain, which was at this season; and also with the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Talmud says expressly, “Therefore is its name called the house of drawing, because from thence is drawn the Holy Spirit,” as it is said, “with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Jer. Succa, v. 1). Thoughts like these would be connected with this ritual by the Jews and by Jesus Himself, and the exact form which His own thought takes is marked by the words, “If any man thirst.” He stands there on the great day of the feast, and around Him are men who for seven successive mornings have witnessed acts and uttered words telling, though they know it not, of the true satisfaction of spiritual thirst, and thinking of the descent of showers on the thirsty ground, and in some vague way of the Holy Spirit’s presence. They are as the woman of Samaria was by the side of the true well. For every one who really knew his need, the source of living water was at hand. (Comp. Notes on John 4:7-15.) That very Feast of Tabernacles, with its dwelling in tents, moreover, brought vividly to their minds the wilderness-life; and as in the past chapter the manna has formed the basis of His teaching about the Bread of Life, so here the striking of the rock and the streams gushing forth in the desert would be present to their minds. In the interpretation of one who was himself a Pharisee, and was taught in the schools of Jerusalem, “that rock was Christ” (1Corinthians 10:4).

John

THE ROCK AND THE WATER

John 7:37 - John 7:38
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The occasion and date of this great saying are carefully given by the Evangelist, because they throw much light on its significance and importance. It was ‘on the last day, that great day of the Feast,’ that ‘Jesus stood and cried.’ The Feast was that of Tabernacles, which was instituted in order to keep in mind the incidents of the desert wandering. On the anniversary of this day the Jews still do as they used to, and in many a foul ghetto and frowsy back street of European cities, you will find them sitting beneath the booths of green branches, commemorating the Exodus and its wonders. Part of that ceremonial was that on each morning of the seven, and possibly on the eighth, ‘the last day of the Feast,’ a procession of white-robed priests wound down the rocky footpath from the Temple to Siloam, and there in a golden vase drew water from the spring, chanting, as they ascended and re-entered the Temple gates where they poured out the water as a libation, the words of the prophet, ‘with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.’

Picture the scene to yourselves-the white-robed priests toiling up the pathway, the crowd in the court, the sparkling water poured out with choral song. And then, as the priests stood with their empty vases, there was a little stir in the crowd, and a Man who had been standing watching, lifted up a loud voice and cried, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.’ Strange words to say, anywhere and anywhen, daring words to say there in the Temple court! For there and then they could mean nothing less than Christ’s laying His hand on that old miracle, which was pointed to by the rite, when the rock yielded the water, and asserting that all which it did and typified was repeated, fulfilled, and transcended in Himself, and that not for a handful of nomads in the wilderness, but for all the world, in all its generations.

So here is one more instance to add to those to which I have directed your attention on former occasions, in which, in this Gospel, we find Christ claiming to be the fulfilment of incidents and events in that ancient covenant, Jacob’s ladder, the brazen serpent, the manna, and now the rock that yielded the water. He says of them all that they are the shadow, and the substance is in Him.

I. So then, we have to look, first, at Christ’s view of humanity as set forth here.

You remember the story of how the people in the wilderness, distressed by that most imperative of all physical cravings, thirst, turned upon Moses and Aaron and said, ‘Why have ye brought us here to die in the wilderness, where there are neither vines nor pomegranates,’ but a land of thirst and death? Just as Christ, in the former instances to which we have already referred, selected and pointed to the poisoned and serpent-stricken camp as an emblem of humanity, and just as He pointed to the hunger of the men that were starving there, as an emblem, go here He says: ‘That is the world-a congregation of thirsty men raging in their pangs, and not knowing where to find solace or slaking for their thirst.’ I do not need to go over all the dominant desires that surge up in men’s souls, the mind craving for knowledge, the heart calling out for love, the whole nature feeling blindly and often desperately after something external to itself, which it can grasp, and in which it can feel satisfied. You know them; we all know them. Like some plant growing in a cellar, and with feeble and blanched tendrils feeling towards the light which is so far away, every man carries about within himself a whole host of longing desires, which need to find something round which they may twine, and in which they can be at rest.

‘The misery of man is great upon him,’ because, having these desires, he misreads so many of them, and stifles, ignores, atrophies to so large an extent the noblest of them. I know of no sadder tragedy than the way in which we misinterpret the meaning of these inarticulate cries that rise from the depths of our hearts, and misunderstand what it is that we are groping after, when we put out empty, and, alas! too often unclean, hands, to lay hold on our true good.

Brethren, you do not know what you want, many of you, and there is something pathetic in the endless effort to fill up the heart by a multitude of diverse and small things, when all the while the deepest meaning of aspirations, yearnings, longings, unrest, discontent is, ‘My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God.’ Nothing less than infinitude will satisfy the smallest heart of the humblest and least developed man. Nothing less than to have all our treasures in one accessible, changeless Infinity will ever give rest to a human soul. You have tried a multiplicity of trifles. It takes a great many bags of coppers to make up L. 1000, and they are cumbrous to carry. Would it not be better to part with a multitude of goodly pearls, if need be, in order to have all your wealth, and the satisfaction of all your desires, in the ‘One Pearl of great price’? It is God for whom men are thirsting, and, alas! so many of us know it not. As the old prophet says, in words that never lose their pathetic power, ‘they have hewn out for themselves cisterns’-one is not enough-they need many. They are only cisterns, which hold what is put into them, and they are ‘broken cisterns,’ which cannot hold it. Yet we turn to these with a strange infatuation, which even the experience that teaches fools does not teach us to be folly. We turn to these; and we turn from the Fountain; the one, the springing, the sufficient, the unfailing, the exuberant Fountain of living waters. Some of you have cisterns on the tops of your houses, with a coating of green scum and soot on them, and do you like that foul draught better than the bright blessing that comes out of the heart of the rock, flashing and pure?

But not only are these desires misread, but the noblest of them are stifled. I have said that the condition of humanity is that of thirst. Christ speaks in my text as if that thirst was by no means universal, and, alas! it is not, ‘If any man thirst’; there are some of us that do not, for we are all so constituted that, unless by continual self-discipline, and self-suppression, and self-evolution, the lower desires will overgrow the loftier ones, and kill them, as weeds will some precious crop. And some of you are so much taken up with gratifying the lowest necessities and longings of your nature, that you leave the highest all uncared for, and the effect of that is that the unsatisfied longing avenges itself, for your neglect of it, by infusing unrest and dissatisfaction into what else would satisfy the lowest. ‘He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver, nor he that loveth abundance with increase,’ but he that loves God will be satisfied with less than silver, and will continue satisfied when decrease comes. If you would suck the last drop of sweetness out of the luscious purple grapes that grow on earth, you must have the appetite after the best things, recognised, and ministered to, and satisfied. And when we are satisfied with God, we shall ‘have learnt in whatsoever state we are, therewith to be self-sufficing.’ But, as I say, the highest desires are neglected, and the lowest are cockered and pampered, and so the taste is depraved. Many of you have no wish for God, and no desire after high and noble things, and are perfectly contented to browse on the low levels, or to feed on ‘the husks that the swine do eat,’ whilst all the while the loftiest of your powers is starving within. Brethren, before we can come to the Rock that yields the water, there must be the sense of need. Do you know what it is that you want? Have you any desire after righteousness and purity and nobleness, and the vision of God flaming in upon the pettinesses and commonplaces of this life which is ‘sound and fury, signifying nothing,’ and is trivial in all its pretended greatness, unless you have learned that you need God most of all, and will never be at rest till you have Him?

II. Secondly, note here Christ’s consciousness of Himself.

Is there anything in human utterances more majestic and wonderful than this saying of my text, ‘If any man thirst, let him come to Me’? There He claims to be separate altogether from those whose thirst He would satisfy. There He claims to be able to meet every aspiration, every spiritual want, every true desire in this complex nature of ours. There He claims to be able to do this for one, and therefore for all. There He claims to be able to do it for all the generations of mankind, right away down to the end. Who is He who thus plants Himself in the front of the race, knows their deep thirsts, takes account of the impotence of anything created to satisfy them, assumes the divine prerogative, and says, ‘I come to satisfy every desire in every soul, to the end of time’? Yes, and from that day when He stood in the Temple and cried these words, down to this day, there have been, and there are, millions who can say, ‘We have drawn water from this fountain of salvation, and it has never failed us.’ Christ’s audacious presentation of Himself to the world as adequate to fill all its needs, and slake all its thirst, has been verified by nineteen centuries of experience, and there are many men and women all over the world to-day who would be ready to set to their seals that Christ is true, and that He, indeed, is all-sufficient for the soul.

Brethren, I do not wish to dwell upon this aspect of our Lord’s character in more than a sentence, but I beseech you to ask yourselves what is the impression that is left of the character of a man who says such things, unless He was something more than one of our race? Jesus Christ, it is as clear as day, in these words makes a claim which only divinity can warrant Him in making, or can fulfil when it is made. And I would urge you to consider what the alternative is, if you do not believe that Jesus Christ here sets Himself forth as the Incarnate Word of God, sufficient for all humanity. ‘I am meek and lowly in heart’-and His lowliness of heart is proved in a strange fashion, if He stands up before the race and says, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.’

III. Note, further, Christ’s invitation.

‘Let him come . . . and drink’-two expressions for one thing. That invitation sounds all through Scripture, and, perhaps, there was lingering in our Lord’s mind, besides the reference to the rock that yielded the water, some echo of the words of the second Isaiah: ‘Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.’ ‘Nay!’ said Christ, ‘not to the waters, but to Me.’ And then we hear from His own lips the same invitation addressed to the woman of Samaria, with the difference that to her, an alien, He pointed only to the natural water in the well that had been Jacob’s, whereas, to these people, the descendants of the chosen race, He pointed to the miracle in the desert, and claimed to fulfil that. And on the very last page of Scripture, as it is now arranged, there stands the echo again of this saying of my text, ‘Let him that is athirst come’-there must be the sense of need, as I was saying, before there is the coming-’and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.’

Now, dear friends, beneath these two metaphorical expressions there lies one simple condition. I put it into three words, which, for the sake of being easily remembered, I cast into an alliterative form: approach Christ, appropriate Christ, adhere to Christ.

Approach Christ. You come by faith, you come by love, you come by communion. And you can come if you will, though He is now on the throne.

Appropriate Christ. It is vain that the water should be gushing from the rock there, unless you make it your own by drinking. It must pass your lips. It must become your personal possession. You must enclose a piece of the common, and make it your very own. ‘He loved us, and gave Himself for us’; well and good, but strike out the ‘us’ and put in ‘me.’ ‘He loved me and gave Himself for me.’ The river may be flowing right past your door, yet your lips may be cracked with thirst, even whilst you hear the tinkle of its music amongst the sedges and the pebbles. Appropriate Christ. ‘Come . . . and drink.’

Adhere to Christ. You were thirsty yesterday: you drank. That will not slake to-day’s thirst, nor prevent its recurrence. And you must keep on drinking if you are to keep from perishing of thirst. Day by day, drop by drop, draught by draught, you must drink. According to the ancient Jewish legend, which Paul in one of his letters refers to, about this very miracle, you must have the Rock following you all through your desert pilgrimage, and you must drink daily and hourly, by continual faith, love, and communion.

IV. We have here not only these points, but a fourth. Christ’s promise.

‘He that believeth on Me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.’ That is one case of the universal law that a man who trusts Christ becomes like the Christ whom he trusts. Derivatively and by impartation, no doubt, but still the man who has gone to that Rock, to the springing fountain as it pushes forth, receives into himself an inward life by the communication of Christ’s divine Spirit, so that he has in him a fountain ‘springing up into life everlasting.’ The Book of Proverbs says, ‘The good man shall be satisfied from himself,’ but the good man is only satisfied from himself when he can say, ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,’ and from that better self he will be satisfied.

So we may have a well in the courtyard, and may be able to bear in ourselves the fountain of water, and where the divine life of Christ by His Spirit has through faith been implanted within us, it will come out from us. There is a question for you Christian people-do any rivers of living water flow out of you? If they do not, it is to be doubted whether you have drunk of the fountain. There are many professing Christians who are like the foul little rivers that pass under the pavements in Manchester, all impure, and covered over so that nobody sees them. ‘Out of him shall flow rivers of living water’-that is Christ’s way of communicating the blessing of eternal life to the world-by the medium of those who have already received it. Christian men and women, if your faith has brought the life into you, see to it that approaching Christ, and appropriating Christ, and adhering to Christ, you are becoming assimilated to Christ, and in your daily life, God’s grace fructifying through you to all, are ‘become as rivers of water in a dry place, and the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.’John 7:37. In the last day, &c. — Namely, the eighth day, when, according to the institution of Moses, (Leviticus 23:34; Leviticus 23:36; Numbers 29:35, where see the notes,) there was to be a holy convocation, or general and solemn assembly of the people, attended with some extraordinary sacrifices. This day is called the great day of the feast, on account of the high esteem in which the nation of the Jews held it, as a day kept holy solely on their own account. On the seven preceding days they held that sacrifices were offered, not so much for themselves as for the whole world; in the course of them, seventy bullocks being sacrificed for the seventy nations of the world: but the sacrifices of this day they considered as being offered for Israel alone, on whose behalf only several solemnities of the day were observed. Tremellius, on this text, observes, from the Talmud, that the Jews used on this day to march round the altar seven times, singing hosannas, with palm branches in their hands, in memory of the Israelites, in the days of Joshua, marching round Jericho seven times on the day of its fall. He informs us also, from the same authority, that on this day they drew water with great joy from the fountain or brook of Siloam, at the foot of mount Zion, and carried it to the priests in the temple, with the sound of the trumpet and great rejoicing, where they poured out part of it, mingled with wine, as a drink-offering, which they accompanied with prayers to God for rain. For, as at the passover, they offered an omer, to obtain from God his blessing upon the harvest; at pentecost, their first-fruits, to request his blessing on the fruits of the trees; so, at the feast of the tabernacles, they offered water, as a token of their desire for a plentiful rain to fall at the following seed-time; the people, in the mean time, singing, With joy shall ye draw water from the wells of salvation, Isaiah 12:3. Part of the water they drank, with loud acclamations, in commemoration of the mercy shown to their fathers, who were relieved by the miracle of a great stream of water made to gush out of a rock, when the nation was ready to die with thirst, in a sandy desert, where there was neither river nor spring.

The Jewish writers pretend that Haggai and Zechariah were the institutors of these rites, and that in performing them they acted according to the directions of these prophets. Be this as it may, it is probable, as Dr. Lightfoot has shown, from some Jewish writers, that among other things intended to be expressed hereby, the ceremony was also meant to be emblematical of their desire and expectation of the coming of the Messiah, and of the effusion of the Holy Spirit under his dispensation. But whatever might be the original intention of these ceremonies, we learn from the same writer (Tremellius) that the Jews had miserably perverted it, by the addition of their own magical ceremonies. Christ, therefore, probably intended to lead them back to the principal design and meaning of the institution, and to draw their minds from the terrestrial water, and all earthly and temporal things, to the water of life, and to himself, the chief scope of this feast and of all other ceremonies. For, as it was his custom to raise moral and spiritual instructions from sensible occurrences, he took this opportunity of inviting, in the most solemn and affectionate manner, all who were in pursuit, whether of knowledge, holiness, or happiness, to come unto him, and drink, in allusion to the rite they were then employed about. Jesus stood — Probably on some eminence, where he could be seen and heard by the surrounding multitude, as the priest did who poured out the water mentioned above; and cried — “Intentâ voce, quo magis attentionem excitaret,” (Grotius,) with a loud voice, that he might excite the greater attention. If any man thirst — That is, sincerely and earnestly desire true happiness, and long for the blessings promised under the administration of the Messiah; let him come unto me — By faith. Let him believe that I am able and willing to satisfy his most ardent and enlarged desires, and rely on me to do it; and drink — That is, he shall drink; he shall receive the blessings for which he thirsts; for I am most ready freely to communicate every needful blessing, and particularly those supplies of the Spirit, which you profess sincerely and earnestly to desire. Compare Isaiah 55:1.7:37-39 On the last day of the feast of tabernacles, the Jews drew water and poured it out before the Lord. It is supposed that Christ alluded to this. If any man desires to be truly and for ever happy, let him apply to Christ, and be ruled by him. This thirst means strong desires after spiritual blessings, which nothing else can satisfy; so the sanctifying and comforting influences of the Holy Spirit, were intended by the waters which Jesus called on them to come to Him and drink. The comfort flows plentifully and constantly as a river; strong as a stream to bear down the opposition of doubts and fears. There is a fulness in Christ, of grace for grace. The Spirit dwelling and working in believers, is as a fountain of living, running water, out of which plentiful streams flow, cooling and cleansing as water. The miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit we do not expect, but for his more common and more valuable influences we may apply. These streams have flowed from our glorified Redeemer, down to this age, and to the remote corners of the earth. May we be anxious to make them known to others.In the last day - The eighth day of the festival.

That great day - The day of the holy convocation or solemn assembly, Leviticus 23:36. This seems to have been called the great day:

1. because of the solemn assembly, and because it was the closing scene.

2. because, according to their traditions, on the previous days they offered sacrifices for the pagan nations as well as for themselves, but on this day for the Jews only (Lightfoot).

3. because on this day they abstained from all servile labor Leviticus 23:39, and regarded it as a holy day.

4. On this day they finished the reading of the law, which they commenced at the beginning of the feast.

5. because on this day probably occurred the ceremony of drawing water from the pool of Siloam.

On the last day of the feast it was customary to perform a solemn ceremony in this manner: The priest filled a golden vial with water from the fount of Siloam (see the notes at John 9:7), which was borne with great solemnity, attended with the clangor of trumpets, through the gate of the temple, and being mixed with wine, was poured on the sacrifice on the altar. What was the origin of this custom is unknown. Some suppose, and not improbably, that it arose from an improper understanding of the passage in Isaiah 12:3; "With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." It is certain that no such ceremony is commanded by Moses. It is supposed to be probable that Jesus stood and cried while they were performing this ceremony, that he might:

1. illustrate the nature of his doctrine by this; and,

2. call off their attention from a rite that was uncommanded, and that could not confer eternal life.

Jesus stood - In the temple, in the midst of thousands of the people.

If any man thirst - Spiritually. If any man feels his need of salvation. See John 4:13-14; Matthew 5:6; Revelation 22:17. The invitation is full and free to all.

Let him come unto me ... - Instead of depending on this ceremony of drawing water let him come to me, the Messiah, and he shall find an ever-abundant supply for all the wants of his soul.

37-39. the last day, that great day of the feast—the eighth (Le 23:39). It was a sabbath, the last feast day of the year, and distinguished by very remarkable ceremonies. "The generally joyous character of this feast broke out on this day into loud jubilation, particularly at the solemn moment when the priest, as was done on every day of this festival, brought forth, in golden vessels, water from the stream of Siloah, which flowed under the temple-mountain, and solemnly poured it upon the altar. Then the words of Isa 12:3 were sung, With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of Salvation, and thus the symbolical reference of this act, intimated in Joh 7:39, was expressed" [Olshausen]. So ecstatic was the joy with which this ceremony was performed—accompanied with sound of trumpets—that it used to be said, "Whoever had not witnessed it had never seen rejoicing at all" [Lightfoot].

Jesus stood—On this high occasion, then, He who had already drawn all eyes upon Him by His supernatural power and unrivalled teaching—"Jesus stood," probably in some elevated position.

and cried—as if making proclamation in the audience of all the people.

If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink!—What an offer! The deepest cravings of the human spirit are here, as in the Old Testament, expressed by the figure of "thirst," and the eternal satisfaction of them by "drinking." To the woman of Samaria He had said almost the same thing, and in the same terms (Joh 4:13, 14). But what to her was simply affirmed to her as a fact, is here turned into a world-wide proclamation; and whereas there, the gift by Him of the living water is the most prominent idea—in contrast with her hesitation to give Him the perishable water of Jacob's well—here, the prominence is given to Himself as the Well spring of all satisfaction. He had in Galilee invited all the WEARY AND HEAVY-LADEN of the human family to come under His wing and they should find REST (Mt 11:28), which is just the same deep want, and the same profound relief of it, under another and equally grateful figure. He had in the synagogue of Capernaum (Joh 6:36) announced Himself, in every variety of form, as "the Bread of Life," and as both able and authorized to appease the "HUNGER," and quench the "THIRST," of all that apply to Him. There is, and there can be, nothing beyond that here. But what was on all those occasions uttered in private, or addressed to a provincial audience, is here sounded forth in the streets of the great religious metropolis, and in language of surpassing majesty, simplicity, and grace. It is just Jehovah's ancient proclamation now sounding forth through human flesh, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no Money!" &c. (Isa 55:1). In this light we have but two alternatives; either to say with Caiaphas of Him that uttered such words, "He is guilty of death," or falling down before Him to exclaim with Thomas, " My Lord AND MY God!"

Our Saviour thinketh not fit to take any notice of their guess, whither he would go, nor replies any thing to it. The feast of tabernacles was to hold seven days, Leviticus 23:34, in which they were to offer up burnt offerings, Leviticus 23:36. The eighth day was to be kept as a sabbath; there was in it to be a holy convocation, no servile labour was to be done. Christ on that day discoursed again to the people, crying aloud, and publicly,

If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink; that is, If any man stand in need of any spiritual good, righteousness, strength, comfort, &c., it is to be found in me; let him come to me, by faith acknowledging, receiving, and embracing me, as the Mediator and Saviour of the world, and he shall have from me whatsoever spiritual influence of grace he stand in need of. Those who remember what our Saviour told the woman of Samaria, John 4:10,14, where he compared himself to living water, will easily understand this the sense of these words. The condition on our parts is expressed under the notion of thirsting; which we know is the natural appetite, craving some liquid thing to refresh the man under his drought; and it is expressive of an exceeding great passion, and so made use of both in the Old Testament and the New to signify a soul’s passionate desire of spiritual things, Isaiah 55:1 Matthew 5:6. In the last day, that great day of the feast,.... That is, of tabernacles, as appears from John 7:2, which was usually called "the feast", in distinction from the passover and Pentecost (q); and the eighth day of it was called , "the last day of the feast" (r), as here: and it was a "great day", being, as is said in Leviticus 23:36, an holy convocation, a solemn assembly, in which no servile work was done, and in which an offering was made by fire unto the Lord. According to the traditions of the Jews, fewer sacrifices were offered on this day than on the rest; for on the first day they offered thirteen bullocks, and lessened one every day; so that on the seventh, day, there was but seven offered, and on the eighth day but one, when the priests returned to their lots, as at other feasts (s); but notwithstanding the Jews make out this to be the greater day for them, since the seventy bullocks offered on the other seven days, were for the seventy nations of the world; but the one bullock, on the eighth day, was peculiarly for the people of Israel (t): and besides, they observe, that there were several things peculiar on this day, as different from the rest; as the casting of lots, the benediction by itself, a feast by itself, an offering by itself, a song by itself, and a blessing by itself (u): and on this day they had also the ceremony of drawing and pouring water, attended with the usual rejoicings as on other days; the account of which is this (w):

"the pouring out of water was after this manner; a golden pot, which held three logs, was tilled out of Siloah, and when they came to the water gate, they blew (their trumpets) and shouted, and blew; (then a priest) went up by the ascent of the altar, and turned to the left hand, (where) were two silver basins--that on the west side was filled with water, and that on the east with wine; he poured the basin of water into that of wine, and that of wine into that of water.''

At which time there were great rejoicing, piping, and dancing, by the most religious and sober people among the Jews; insomuch that it is said (x), that

"he that never saw the rejoicing of the place of drawing of water, never saw any rejoicing in his life.''

And this ceremony, they say (y), is a tradition of Moses from Mount Sinai, and refers to some secret and mysterious things; yea, they plainly say, that it has respect to the pouring forth of the Holy Ghost (z).

"Says R. Joshua ben Levi, why is its name called the place of drawing water? because, from thence , "they draw the Holy Ghost", as it is said, "and ye shall draw water with joy out of the wells of salvation", Isaiah 12:3.''

Moreover, it was on this day they prayed for the rains for the year ensuing: it is asked (a),

"from what time do they make mention of the powers of the rains (which descend by the power of God)? R. Eliezer says, from the first good day of the feast (of tabernacles); R. Joshua says, from the last good day of the feast.--They do not pray for the rains, but near the rains;''

that is, the time of rains; and which, one of their commentators says (b), is the eighth day of the feast of tabernacles; for from the feast of tabernacles, thenceforward is the time of rains. The Jews have a notion, that at this feast the rains of the ensuing year were fixed: hence they say (c), that

"at the feast of tabernacles judgment is made concerning the waters;''

or a decree or determination is made concerning them by God. Upon which the Gemara (d) has these words,

"wherefore does the law say pour out water on the feast of tabernacles? Says the holy blessed God, pour out water before me, that the rains of the year may be blessed unto you.''

Now when all these things are considered, it will easily be seen with what pertinency our Lord expresses himself on this day, with respect to the effusion of the gifts and graces of the Spirit of God, as follows:

Jesus stood and cried; he now stood up, whereas at other times he used to sit, and spoke with a loud voice, both to show his fervour and earnestness, and that all might hear:

continued...

{15} In the {i} last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

(15) There are two principles of our salvation: the one is to be thoroughly touched with a true feeling of our extreme poverty: the other to seek in Christ only (whom we catch hold of by faith) the abundance of all good things.

(i) The last day of the feast of tabernacles, that is, the eighth day, was as celebrated a day as the first.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 7:37. As the eighth day (the 22d Tisri) was reckoned along with the seven feast days proper, according to Leviticus 23:35-36; Leviticus 23:39, Numbers 29:35, Nehemiah 8:18, as according to Succah, f. 48. 1, the last day of the feast is the eighth, it is clear that John meant this day, and not the seventh (Theophylact, Buxtorf, Bengel, Reland, Paulus, Ammon), especially as in later times it was usual generally to speak of the eight days’ feast of Tabernacles (2Ma 10:6; Josephus, Antt. iii. 10. 4; Gem. Eruvin. 40. 2; Midr. Cohel. 118. 3). In keeping with this is the very free translation ἐξόδιον (termination of the feast), which the LXX. give for the name of the eighth day, עֲצֶרֶת (Leviticus 23:36; Numbers 29:35; Nehemiah 8:18), i.e. “assembly;” comp. Ewald, Alterth. p. 481.

τῇ μεγάλῃ] the (pre-eminently) great, solemn. Comp. John 19:31. The superlative is implied in the attribute thus given to this day above the other feast days. Wherein consisted the special distinction attaching to this day? It was simply the great closing day of the feast, appointed for the solemn return from the booths into the temple (Ewald, Alterth. p. 481), and, according to Leviticus 23:35-36, was kept holy as a Sabbath. The explanation of ἐξόδιον in Philo, de Septenario, II. p. 298, that it denoted the end of the yearly feasts collectively, has as little to do with the matter (for τῇ μεγάλῃ has reference only to the feast of Tabernacles) as has the designation יוֹם טוֹב in the Tr. Succah, for this means nothing more than “feast day.” If, indeed, this day had, according to Tr. Succah (see Lightfoot, p. 1032 f.), special services, sacrifices, songs, still no more was required than to honour it “sicut reliquos dies festi.” Its μεγαλότης consisted just in this, that it brought the great feast as a whole to a sacred termination.

The express designation of the day as τῇ μεγάλῃ is in keeping with the solemn coming forth of Jesus with the great word of invitation and promise, John 7:37-38. The solemnity of this coming forth is also intimated in εἱστήκει (He stood there) and in ἔκραξε (see on John 7:28).

ἐάν τις διψᾷ, κ.τ.λ.] denoting spiritual need[269] and spiritual satisfaction, as in John 4:15, in the conversation with the Samaritan woman, and in John 6:35; Matthew 5:6. We are not told what led Jesus to adopt this metaphorical expression here. There was no need of anything special to prompt Him to do so, least of all at a feast so joyous, according to Plutarch, Symp. iv. 6. 2, even so bacchanalian in its banquetings. Usually, a reason for the expression has been found in the daily libations which were offered on the seven feast days (but also on the eighth, according to R. Juda, in Succah iv. 9), at the time of the morning sacrifice, when a priest fetched water in a golden pitcher containing three logs from the spring of Siloam, and poured this, together with wine, on the west side of the altar into two perforated vessels, amidst hymns of praise and music. See Dachs, Succah, p. 368. Some reference to this libation may be supposed, because it was one of the peculiarities of the feast, even on the hypothesis that it did not take place upon the eighth day, derived either from the old idea of pouring out water (1 Samuel 7:6; Hom. Od. μ. 362, al., so De Wette); or, according to the Rabbis (so also Hengstenberg), from Isaiah 12:3, a passage which contains the words sung by the people during the libation. But any connection of the words of Jesus with this libation is all the more doubtful, because He is speaking of drinking, and this is the essential element of His declaration. Godet arbitrarily interpolates: “He compares Himself with the water from the rock in the wilderness, and represents Himself as this true rock” (comp. 1 Corinthians 10:4).

[269] Luther: “a heartfelt longing, yea, a troubled, sad, awakened, stricken conscience, a despairing, trembling heart, that would know how it can be with God.”John 7:37-44. Jesus proclaims His ability to quench human thirst with living water.37. In the last day, that great day] Now on the last day, the great day. This was probably not the seventh day, but the eighth day, which according to Leviticus 23:36; Leviticus 23:39; Numbers 29:35; Nehemiah 8:18, was reckoned along with the seven days of the feast proper. To speak of the seventh day as ‘the great day of the feast’ would not be very appropriate; whereas the eighth day on which the people returned home was, like the first day, kept as a Sabbath (Leviticus 23:39), and had special sacrifices (Numbers 29:36-38). In keeping with the solemnity of the day Christ solemnly takes up His position and cries aloud with deep emotion (see on John 7:28).

stood] Or, was standing.

If any man thirst] The conjectural reference to the custom of pouring water at the Feast of Tabernacles is probably correct. On all seven days water was brought from the pool of Siloam and poured into a silver basin on the western side of the altar of burnt offering, a ceremony not mentioned in O.T. Apparently this was not done on the eighth day. Accordingly Christ comes forward and fills the gap, directing them to a better water than that of Siloam. The fact that the water was poured and not drunk, does not seem to be a reason for denying the reference, especially when we remember how frequently Christ took an external fact as a text (comp. John 4:10, John 5:17; John 5:19, John 6:26-27, (John 8:12?) John 9:39, John 13:8; John 13:10; John 13:12-17; Mark 10:15-16; Mark 10:23-24, &c.). The pouring of the water would be suggestive enough. In such cases there is no need for the analogy to be complete, and in the present case it would add point to the reference that it was not complete. Mere pouring of water could not quench even bodily thirst; Christ could satisfy spiritual thirst. ‘Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.’ Isaiah 12:3.John 7:37. Ἐσχάτῃ, in the last) This was the seventh day: not the eighth, inasmuch as it was one which had its own proper feast. See F. B. Dachs, ad cod. Succa, p. 373; comp. p. 357, 405. This seventh day was an especially solemn one in the Feast of Tabernacles; Leviticus 23:34; Leviticus 23:36, “On the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord; it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein;” Numbers 29:12, “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month,” the Feast of Tabernacles began, etc.; Nehemiah 8:18, “Day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God; and they kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly.” 2 Chronicles 7:8, “Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt; and in the eighth day they made a solemn assembly,” etc. Jesus also Himself made this day a great day; nor was there remaining before the passion of the Lord another such day of so great solemnity, and celebrated by so large a crowd. He therefore availed Himself of the opportunity[205]).—εἄν τις διψᾷ, if any man thirst[206]) An apposite expression, even [independently of other reasons] on account of that rite, when on that last day of the feast they were wont to draw water from the fountain of Siloah, and to pour it in libation upon the altar of the whole burnt-offering. See Surenhus. de Alleg., V. T., p. 354. [To thirst is the first distinguishing mark of a soul panting for salvation, and a most sure characteristic of such a one.—V. g.]—ἐρχέσθω, let him come) Revelation 22:17, “The Spirit and the bride say, Come.—And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

[205] The antitypes to the Passover and Pentecost were realized in the sacrifice of Christ, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Jerusalem before the entire abolition of types. Thus also in this passage it is permitted to us to observe an antitype to the Feast of Tabernacles, which the Saviour enlightened with such a splendour of His own glory, repeating at Jerusalem that remarkable promise, Zechariah 14 (ver. 18, 17, which points to Jerusalem; [the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to worship at the feast of tabernacles; whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, even upon them shall be no rain]), and soothing the minds of believers by the very abundant fulfilment of it, then to be so immediately looked for.—Harm., p. 354, etc.

[206] There are not wanting persons who, in the present day, think that His speech in this passage refers to the miraculous gifts of those who received the apostolic doctrine. (See D. Ernesti Bibl. theol. Noviss. T. i. p. 791.) Nor truly can any one maintain with good reason that these gifts are not referred to: Comp. ver. 39, etc., “The Holy Ghost was not yet given,” etc. Yet I should be sorry to think, that this universal and most solemn promise should be so restricted, as that you must think, that those gifts of the Holy Spirit are excluded, which every soul that is weary of vanity thirsts for. In fact the passage Zechariah 14:8, “It shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem,” compared with John 8:1, “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleannessnot obscurely teaches, that those gifts of the Spirit are at least at the same time implied, of which every one hath need, in order that he may be brought to a real state of rest, and a better life.—E. B.Verses 37-39. -

(6) The claim to be Organ and Giver of the Holy Spirit. Verse 37. - Now on the last day, the great day of the feast. A question arises - Was the last day the seventh or the eighth day? and why was it called the great day? The question cannot be finally answered. The Feast of Tabernacles, according to Numbers 29:12 and Deuteronomy 16:13, is said to last seven days; and, so far as the Mosaic ceremonial goes, the ceremonial of the seventh day was less imposing and festive than either of the preceding days. But Numbers 29:35 shows that the eighth day was also celebrated as a solemn assembly, on which no servile work could be done (cf. Leviticus 23:36; Nehemiah 8:18). In 2 Macc. 10:6 eight days of the feast were spoken cf. On the day of holy convocation the people removed or left their booths, and thus commemorated, with great rejoicing, the close of the wilderness period and the commencement of their national history. It may, moreover, have been called "the great day" because it was the closing day of all the festivals of the year. Josephus calls it "the very sacred close (συμπέρασμα) of the year." The LXX. gives the curious translation ἐξοδίον, for azereth, equivalent to "assembly." This ἐξοδίον Philo ('De Septenaris') describes as the end of the festivals of the sacred year. Meyer, Alford, Godet, Lange, and many others regard the eighth day as that here referred to by the word "great," and find, in the very absence of the ceremonial of drawing water from the Pool of Siloam, the occasion which provoked the reference of our Lord to his own power to meet the spiritual thirst of mankind, thus repeating what he had said to the woman of Samaria of his own grace, with further and nobler expansions. The songs which had been sung on every previous day of the feast were sung without the special rejoicings and water ceremonial. Hence some have thought that the very contrast between the previous days and this last day, "great" in other respects, may have made the reference quite as impressive as if the following words had been spoken in some pause, or at the conclusion of the great Hallel of the seventh day. So Westcott. It should, however, be noted that Rabbi Juda (in the Genesisara on 'Succah') asserts that the water pouring took place on the eighth day as well. This is supposed, by Lange, to be inaccurate or a later addition. Edersheim, however, has given strong reasons for believing that very special ceremonial took place on the seventh day. The people, all carrying in both hands their palm, myrtle, and citron branches, divided into three companies, one of which waited in the temple, one went to Moya to fetch willow branches to adorn the altar, and a third repaired with music to the Pool of Siloam, where the priest filled his golden goblet with water, and returned, with blast of trumpet, by the water gate, to the court of the priests. There he was joined by other priests with vessels of wine. The water was poured into the silver funnel, and at this act burst forth the great Hallel (Psalm 113-118) in responsive chorus. The people shook their palm branches as they sang the words, "Oh, give thanks unto the Lord." On the last day, the great day of the feast, the priests compassed the altar seven times before the sacrifices were kindled, and the songs accompanying the ceremony of this day were called "the great Hosanna." As the people left the temple they shook off their willow leaves on the altar, and beat their palm branches to pieces. Edersheim thinks that it was at the moment when the pause after the great Hallel occurred that Jesus lifted up his voice, and there is much probability in the suggestion. Alford, accepting the non-pouring of the water on the eighth day, considers that the very absence of that ceremonial provided the opportunity for the great utterance which follows. Chrysostom says, on the eighth day, "when they were returning home, he g - adopting an unusual attitude of command, and unaccustomed energy of voice (John 1:35 and ver. 28, note) ? If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink. Christ thus identifies himself with the deepest meaning of the Old Testament and the Hebrew ritual. The sabbath and the temple found the highest expression of their meaning in his life and work. Godet thinks that the underlying reference here was to that of which the ceremonial was a memorial, and pointed to the smiting of the rock in the wilderness, from whose hidden depths the rushing waters flowed. The cry, "If any man thirst," might certainly recall the terrible drought in the wilderness, though there does not seem to me any definite reference to it in what follows. The libation of water was certainly not offered to the multitudes to drink, but the ritual use of water treats it as an dement absolutely essential to our human life. The people gave thanks that they had reached a land where fell the early and latter rain, and fountains and wells and springs of living water ran. Christ offered more than all - the utter final quenching of all torturing thirst. The people sang Isaiah 12:3, "With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." He said, "Come to me," and your joy shall be full. To the woman at the well he had said that the water he would give should be in the soul as a well of water springing up into eternal life. but in this connection he promised a much more precious gift. The last day

The eighth, the close of the whole festival, and kept as a Sabbath (Leviticus 23:36). It was called the Day of the Great Hosanna, because a circuit was made seven times round the altar with "Hosanna;" also the Day of Willows, and the Day of Beating the Branches, because all the leaves were shaken off the willow-boughs, and the palm branches beaten in pieces by the side of the altar. Every morning, after the sacrifice, the people, led by a priest, repaired to the Fountain of Siloam, where the priest filled a golden pitcher, and brought it back to the temple amid music and joyful shouts. Advancing to the altar of burnt-offering, at the cry of the people, "Lift up thy hand!" he emptied the pitcher toward the west, and toward the east a cup of wine, while the people chanted, "With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." It is not certain that this libation was made on the eighth day, but there can be no doubt that the following words of the Lord had reference to that ceremony.

Stood (εἱστήκει)

The imperfect, was standing; watching the ceremonies. Both A.V. and Rev. miss this graphic touch.

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