Questions From Readers
◼ Does Jesus’ producing so much wine at the marriage in Cana indicate that hundreds attended that feast?
Jesus did miraculously provide a large amount of fine wine, ample for a sizable group, but we need not think that he produced only what was needed or that it was all consumed at the feast.
John 2:6-9 reports that Jesus had filled with water “six stone water jars . . . as required by the purification rules of the Jews, each able to hold two or three liquid measures.” Jesus directed: “Fill the water jars.” They did so, filling them “to the brim.” It is thought that each liquid measure was a “bath,” which measure amounted to 22 liters, or 5.81 gallons. If this is so, the six water jars held about 260 to 390 liters, or 70 to 105 gallons.—1 Kings 7:26; Ezra 7:22; Ezekiel 45:14.
Jesus and his disciples remained at that feast, so moderation must have prevailed. It thus might be reasoned that hundreds were present or else Jesus would not have felt it necessary to produce so much wine. However, on other occasions when he served as a miraculous provisioner, Jesus did not provide just the minimum needed. When he multiplied loaves and little fish to feed 4,000 men, besides women and children, the surplus afterward filled “seven provision baskets,” reed baskets large enough to hold a man. (Matthew 15:32-38; Acts 9:25) Similarly, it may well be that at the end of the feast in Cana there was ample wine for future use, wine being a common beverage with meals. This would have emphasized that Jesus was generous, just as his Father is.—Acts 14:17; compare Matthew 14:14-21.
Consequently, the wedding feast in Cana may have been attended by many from Cana and nearby, yet the amount of wine that Jesus produced does not necessarily prove that many hundreds were present.
◼ Why has The Watchtower referred to incidents recorded in First Maccabees, since that book is part of the Apocrypha?
Our reference work Aid to Bible Understanding contains a lengthy article entitled “Apocrypha.” It presents evidence as to why the Apocrypha, though accepted by the Roman Catholic Church, is to be viewed as noncanonical. The writings of the Apocrypha were never recognized by the Jews as part of the Hebrew canon, and Jerome, famous Catholic translator of the Latin Vulgate Bible, admitted that they are noncanonical. The Apocryphal books, then, are not inspired writings as are the books of the Bible.—2 Timothy 3:16.
The apocryphal books of First and Second Maccabees, though, do contain much factual information. The Aid book says of First Maccabees: “A historical account of the Jewish struggle for independence during the second century B.C.E., from the beginning of Antiochus Epiphanes’ reign (175 B.C.E.) to the death of Simon Maccabaeus (about 134 B.C.E). . . . It deals particularly with the exploits of priest Mattathias and his sons, Judas, Jonathan and Simon, in their battles with the Syrians. This is the most valuable of the apocryphal works due to the historical information it supplies for this period. However, as The Jewish Encyclopedia comments, in it ‘history is written from the human standpoint.’”
The Aid book adds about the book of Second Maccabees: “Though placed after First Maccabees, this account relates to part of the same time period (about 180 B.C.E. to 160 B.C.E.) and was written by a different author than First Maccabees. The writer presents the book as a summary of the previous works of a certain Jason of Cyrene. It describes the persecutions of the Jews under Antiochus Epiphanes, the plundering of the temple, and its subsequent rededication.”
Consequently, references to or quotations from the books of Maccabees can be made out of historical interest without implying that these, or other Apocryphal writings, are inspired or canonical.