According to John 2:1-25
Cana: Probably from the Hebrew word qa·nehʹ, “reed”; hence, “Place of Reeds.” John alone mentions this town, always calling it Cana of Galilee (Joh 2:11; 4:46; 21:2), probably to distinguish it from Kanah (Hebrew, Qa·nahʹ) in Asher’s tribal territory (Jos 19:24, 28). The location favored by many scholars is Khirbet Qana, where there are ruins of an ancient village on a hill at the N edge of the Bet Netofa Valley (Plain of el-Battuf), about 13 km (8 mi) N of Nazareth. In Arabic, the place is still known as Qana el-Jelil, the equivalent of Cana of Galilee. Reeds are abundant in a nearby marshy plain, making the name Cana very fitting. There are remains of ancient cisterns and what are thought to be the ruins of a synagogue (dated to the late first century or to the second century C.E.). Potsherds (fragments of earthen vessels) and coins believed to date from the first century C.E. have also been found there. Church tradition favors an identification with Kafr Kanna, located 6.5 km (4 mi) NE of Nazareth, possibly because it is easily accessible to pilgrims from Nazareth. However, the name of this location seems to have no linguistic connection with the Cana of Galilee mentioned in the Bible.
Woman: Jesus’ use of this term when addressing his mother was consistent with his way of addressing other women (Joh 4:21) and was apparently considered polite in many contexts (Mt 15:28). It was not understood to be rude, unkind, or disrespectful in any way. Angels and the resurrected Jesus used this form of address when speaking to Mary Magdalene when she was weeping in sorrow at Jesus’ tomb; their words would surely not have been harsh or disrespectful in such a situation. (Joh 20:13, 15) On the torture stake, Jesus used the same term to address his mother when his great concern for her moved him to place her in the care of his beloved apostle John. (Joh 19:26) He made this arrangement because of the Scriptural obligation to honor one’s father and mother. (Ex 20:12; De 5:16; Mt 15:4) Several reference works confirm that using the term “woman” as a form of address could reflect respect and affection.
why is that of concern to me and to you?: When Mary told Jesus: “They have no wine” (Joh 2:3), she was no doubt suggesting that he do something about it. This is noteworthy, since Jesus had performed no miracles up to that point. The Semitic idiom used in response, which is literally “what to me and to you?” basically indicates some objection and must be understood according to context. While it sometimes expresses hostility and repulsion (Mt 8:29; Mr 1:24; 5:7; Lu 4:34; 8:28), it appears to be a gentle objection in this instance. (Examples of the milder use of this idiom can be found in the Hebrew Scriptures, such as at 2Sa 16:9, 10 and 1Ki 17:18, ftn.) Jesus’ following words indicate why he was hesitant: My hour has not yet come. Still, Jesus’ response to her suggestion must have indicated that he was not opposed to providing help, as Mary’s reaction in verse 5 shows.
liquid measures: Many scholars equate the measure mentioned here (Greek, me·tre·tesʹ) with the Hebrew bath measure. Based on jar fragments bearing the designation “bath” in ancient Hebrew characters, some scholars understand the capacity of the bath measure to be about 22 L (5.81 gal). (1Ki 7:26; Ezr 7:22; Eze 45:14) If so, each of the water jars could hold between 44 and 66 L (11.6 and 17.4 gal), and the six jars combined would contain about 260 to 390 L (68.6 to 103 gal). Other scholars, though, believe that a larger Greek unit of measure (up to 40 L [10.5 gal]) may be referred to here.—See App. B14.
as the beginning of his signs: Jesus’ changing water into fine wine was the first of the signs, or miracles, that he performed. This event is recorded by John only.
the Passover: Apparently referring to the Passover of 32 C.E., the third Passover during Jesus’ earthly ministry.—See study notes on Joh 2:13; 5:1; 11:55 and App. A7.
the Passover: Jesus started his preaching activity after his baptism in the fall of 29 C.E., so this reference to a Passover early in his ministry must have been to the one celebrated in the spring of 30 C.E. (See study note on Lu 3:1 and App. A7.) A comparison of the four Gospel accounts indicates that four Passovers were celebrated during Jesus’ earthly ministry, leading to the conclusion that his ministry was three and a half years long. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (often called the synoptic Gospels) do not mention any Passover except the final one, at which Jesus died. John’s account specifically mentions three Passovers (Joh 2:13; 6:4; 11:55), and a fourth one is most likely referred to by the expression “a festival of the Jews” at Joh 5:1. This example highlights the value of comparing the Gospel accounts to gain a more complete picture of Jesus’ life.—See study notes on Joh 5:1; 6:4; 11:55.
the Passover: That is, Passover 33 C.E., apparently the fourth Passover mentioned in the Gospel of John.—See study notes on Joh 2:13; 5:1; 6:4.
a festival of the Jews: Although John does not specify which festival is referred to, there are good reasons to conclude that it is the Passover of 31 C.E. John’s account was generally in chronological order. The context places this festival shortly after Jesus said that there were “yet four months before the harvest.” (Joh 4:35) The harvest season, particularly the barley harvest, got under way about Passover time (Nisan 14). So it seems that Jesus’ statement was made about four months before that, about the month of Chislev (November/December). Two other festivals, the festivals of Dedication and of Purim, fell during the time period from Chislev to Nisan. However, these festivals did not require an Israelite to go up to Jerusalem. So in this context, the Passover seems to be the most likely “festival of the Jews” that required Jesus to attend in Jerusalem according to God’s Law to Israel. (De 16:16) It is true that John records only a few events before the next mention of the Passover (Joh 6:4), but a consideration of the chart in App. A7 shows that John’s account of Jesus’ early ministry was abbreviated, and many events already covered by the other three Gospel writers were not mentioned. In fact, the great amount of activity of Jesus recorded in the other three Gospels lends weight to the conclusion that an annual Passover did indeed come between the events recorded at Joh 2:13 and those at Joh 6:4.—See App. A7 and study note on Joh 2:13.
the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius: Caesar Augustus died on August 17, 14 C.E. (Gregorian calendar). On September 15, Tiberius allowed the Roman Senate to proclaim him emperor. If the years were counted from the death of Augustus, the 15th year of Tiberius’ reign ran from August 28 C.E. to August 29 C.E. If counted from when he was formally proclaimed emperor, the 15th year ran from September 28 C.E. to September 29 C.E. John evidently began his ministry in the spring (in the northern hemisphere) of 29 C.E., which is within the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius. In Tiberius’ 15th year, John would have been about 30 years old, which was the age when the Levite priests began their service at the temple. (Nu 4:2, 3) Similarly, when Jesus was baptized by John and “began his work,” according to Lu 3:21-23, “he was about 30 years old.” Jesus’ death took place in the spring month of Nisan, so his three-and-a-half-year ministry evidently began in the fall, about the month of Ethanim (September/October). John was likely six months older than Jesus and evidently began his ministry six months before Jesus did. (Lu, chap. 1) Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that John began his ministry in the spring of 29 C.E.—See study notes on Lu 3:23; Joh 2:13.
the temple: Probably referring to the part of the temple area known as the Court of the Gentiles.—See App. B11.
those selling cattle and sheep and doves: God’s Law required that the Israelites make sacrifices at the temple, and visitors needed food provisions during their stay in Jerusalem. Some Israelites had to travel long distances to get there, so the Law allowed them to sell their produce and animals, bring the money to Jerusalem, and buy such offerings as cattle, sheep, goats, and doves as well as what they needed for their stay in the city. (De 14:23-26) Over time, merchants set up businesses to sell sacrificial animals and birds right inside the temple complex. (See study note on the temple in this verse.) Likely, some of the merchants were cheating the people by charging too much.
money changers: Many different types of coins were in use, but apparently only a certain type of coin could be used to pay the annual temple tax or to buy sacrificial animals. Therefore, Jews traveling to Jerusalem would have to exchange their currency for money that would be accepted at the temple. Jesus evidently felt that the fees charged by the money changers were exorbitant and that their actions amounted to extortion.
a whip of ropes: The Greek word for “rope” (skhoi·niʹon) may denote a cord made of reeds, rushes, or other materials. When Jesus used the whip of ropes to drive “the sheep and cattle out of the temple,” the sellers of these animals would naturally have followed their livestock out of the temple area. In the following verse, when he verbally evicted the men selling doves, there is no mention of the whip, indicating that he did not use it on the sellers. Even so, the result was that those who were commercializing true worship were forced to leave the temple premises.
he drove all those with the sheep and cattle out of the temple: While on earth, Jesus twice cleansed the temple in Jerusalem of commercialism. What is described here is the first cleansing, which took place in connection with the Passover in 30 C.E. and Jesus’ first visit to Jerusalem as the anointed Son of God. (See App. A7.) On Nisan 10, 33 C.E., Jesus cleansed the temple a second time. This occasion is described in the Gospels of Matthew (21:12, 13), Mark (11:15-18), and Luke (19:45, 46).—See App. A7.
money changers: See study note on Mt 21:12.
a house of commerce: Or “a marketplace; a business.” The Greek phrase oiʹkon em·po·riʹou, rendered “a house of commerce,” means “a place where business is carried on; a market.” It occurs only here in the Christian Greek Scriptures. The sale of sacrifices within the temple grounds was one of the chief sources of income for the wealthy and powerful house of chief priest Annas.
zeal for your house: In this context, the Greek word (zeʹlos), here rendered “zeal,” denotes an intense, positive, burning interest, marked by a sense of dedication. The scripture that the disciples called to mind can be found at Ps 69:9. There the corresponding Hebrew noun (qin·ʼahʹ), rendered “zeal,” may convey such meanings as “insistence on exclusive devotion; toleration of no rivalry.” When Jesus saw all the commercial activity in the temple area, he was righteously indignant, and his zeal moved him to action.
Tear down this temple, and in three days I will raise it up: Only John records these words spoken by Jesus. The Jews thought that he was speaking of the temple of Herod. At Jesus’ trial, his opposers quoted and distorted his words. (Mt 26:61; 27:40; Mr 14:58) As shown at Joh 2:21, Jesus was using figurative speech; he was comparing his anticipated death and resurrection to the demolition and reconstruction of the temple. Although Jesus said: “I will raise it up,” the Scriptures clearly show that it was God who resurrected him. (Ac 10:40; Ro 8:11; Heb 13:20) After being put to death and on the third day resurrected (Mt 16:21; Lu 24:7, 21, 46), Jesus was given another body, not one made with hands like the temple in Jerusalem, but a spirit body made by his Father (Ac 2:24; 1Pe 3:18). In the Scriptures, the figurative use of a temple being applied to people is not unusual. The Messiah was foretold to be “the chief cornerstone” (Ps 118:22; Isa 28:16, 17; Ac 4:10, 11), and Paul and Peter used similar comparisons regarding Jesus and his followers at 1Co 3:16, 17; 6:19; Eph 2:20; and 1Pe 2:6, 7.
This temple was built in 46 years: The Jews were referring to the temple rebuilding work done by King Herod. The first temple in Jerusalem, built by Solomon, was destroyed by the Babylonians in 607 B.C.E. It was rebuilt under the direction of Zerubbabel after the Babylonian captivity. (Ezr 6:13-15; Hag 2:2-4) According to Josephus (Jewish Antiquities, XV, 380 [xi, 1]), Herod started his rebuilding project in the 18th year of his reign. If counted in the way that the Jews viewed the regnal years of their kings, that could mean 18/17 B.C.E. Actually, work continued on the temple in the form of additions until six years before its destruction in 70 C.E.
temple of his body: As this comment by the apostle John shows, Jesus was using figurative speech, comparing his anticipated death and resurrection to the demolition and reconstruction of a building.
he knew what was in man: Jesus was able to discern the thinking, reasoning, and motives of humans. This was foretold by the prophet Isaiah, who said about the Messiah: “The spirit of Jehovah will settle upon him,” so that his judgment would not be based on “what appears to his eyes.”—Isa 11:2, 3; Mt 9:4; see study note on Mr 2:8.
by his spirit: Or “in himself (in his own mind).” Here the Greek word pneuʹma evidently refers to Jesus’ perceptive powers. Isa 11:2, 3 says about the Messiah: “The spirit of Jehovah will settle upon him,” so he would not base his judgment on “what appears to his eyes.” As a result, Jesus was able to discern the thinking, reasoning, and motives of others.—Joh 2:24, 25.
Shown here are stone jars from first-century Jerusalem. Although jars were usually earthenware (Isa 30:14; La 4:2), in connection with the wedding at Cana, the Bible mentions jars made of stone. (Joh 2:6) Quite a few stone vessels have been found in Jerusalem. It has been suggested that stone vessels were commonly used because they were not considered susceptible to ceremonial defilement in contrast with vessels made of other materials, such as clay. (Le 11:33) This may explain why the apostle John mentions the connection between the stone vessels used to store the water and “the purification rules of the Jews.”