Questions From Readers
● Should not the phrase “for this reason” that opens John 7:22 be at the end of John 7:21 instead? As the New World Translation has it, it does not seem to make sense. What is the “reason” referred to?—A. A., Arkansas.
No, the phrase should not be at the end of Joh 7 verse 21. The New World Translation has placed it properly at the start of Joh 7 verse 22, in agreement with the Westcott and Hort Greek text. Most of the Bible translations put it at the start of Joh 7 verse 22. Some omit it altogether. Some, however, put it at the end of Joh 7 verse 21, but without good grounds for doing so. (AS; ED) As to what it means, standing where it does, we must consider the setting. At the time of a Jewish feast, on a sabbath day, Jesus had healed a man. (John 5:1-16) This angered the religious Jews that were sticklers for sabbath observance, over and beyond what was divinely required, and they were still quarreling with Jesus about this miracle later on during the feast. They said Jesus had a demon, or was demonized. Then John 7:21 states: “In answer Jesus said to them: ‘One deed I performed and you are all wondering.’” (NW) Jesus continued: “For this reason Moses has given you the circumcision—not that it is from Moses, but that it is from the forefathers—and you circumcise a man on the sabbath. If a man receives circumcision on a sabbath in order that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you violently angry at me because I made a man completely sound in health on a sabbath? Stop judging from the outward appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”—John 7:22-24, NW.
For what reason did Jesus perform cures on the sabbath, when such activity on the sabbath seemed to break the rest day prescribed by the Mosaic law? Concerning this very cure here involved Jesus answered that question: “My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working.” (John 5:17, NW) Jesus was not doing secular work on the sabbath. He was doing the work of God. The Jewish priests performed temple service on the sabbath, without breaking it. (Matt. 12:5) So Jesus could perform his divine service, and fulfill the prophecies concerning the Messiah. The work of healing and preaching was an assignment from Jehovah, and Jesus was to keep working at it while it was day, since the night of death was to close over him soon. (John 9:4) So the reason Jesus kept at this work, even on the sabbath, was that Jehovah had commanded him to do it.
For this very same reason the Jews circumcised male babes on the sabbath. Jehovah commanded that it be done, and doing it did not break the sabbath, though some lacking understanding might have so argued. According to the Mosaic law, male babes were to be circumcised on the eighth day, even when that eighth day of their existence fell on a sabbath. To fail to do this, even on a sabbath, would break the law of Moses. When Jehovah specifically commanded a work to be done it must be done, whether it fell on a sabbath day or not. So for the reason that Jesus performed cures on the sabbath, for that same reason the Jews circumcised babes on the sabbath; namely, because to refrain in either case would be a violation of Jehovah’s commands. Jesus healed all the body members of a person on the sabbath to make him completely sound in health, while the Jews “healed” or made right with God one body member of a babe by circumcising it on the sabbath. It was for the same reason that these two different works could be properly done on the sabbath, namely, obedience to Jehovah’s will.
● Deuteronomy 10:1-4 shows Jehovah wrote the second set of the Ten Commandments on the tables of stone, but Exodus 34:27, 28 says Moses wrote this second set. Is there an explanation of this seeming contradiction?—I. Z., Michigan.
Jehovah through an angel representative on Mount Sinai wrote the first set on tables of stone for Moses, which set Moses broke in anger when he descended from the mount and found the Israelites worshiping the golden calf. (Ex. 32:15, 16, 19) Jehovah then wrote a second set on new stone tablets, as is clearly shown by Deuteronomy 10:1-4. A careful consideration of Exodus 34:1-28 shows it to be in agreement, and not in contradiction. Exodus 34:1 plainly states that Jehovah would write on the second set of tables the same Ten Commandments that he representatively wrote on the first tables. Then in Ex 34 verses 10 to 26 we read about the making of a covenant between Jehovah and the nation of Israel, and Ex 34 verse 27 then shows Jehovah commanding Moses: “Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.” The words of this covenant, from verses Ex 34 10 to 26, make no reference to the Ten Commandments. Thereafter Ex 34 verse 28 states: “And he was there with Jehovah forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.”—AS.
In view of the fact that at Ex 34 verse 1 it states that Jehovah will write the Ten Commandments, and Ex 34 verse 27 only indicates that Moses was commanded to write the words of the covenant discussed in Ex 34 verses 10-26, it must be concluded that the pronoun “he” in the closing sentence of Ex 34 verse 28 refers back to Jehovah and not to Moses. Bible commentators in general are agreed on this point, and in Rotherham’s translation the last “He” in Ex 34 verse 28 is capitalized to show that it refers to Jehovah God and not to Moses. Thus no contradiction exists between Exodus 34:27, 28 and Deuteronomy 10:1-4.