They say to him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Matthew 21:1. This was the place in which he probably often passed the night when attending the feasts at Jerusalem. The Garden of Gethsemane, to which he was accustomed to resort John 18:2, was on the western side of that mountain, and Bethany, the abode of Martha and Mary, on its east side, John 11:1.
but what sayest thou—hoping, whatever He might answer, to put Him in the wrong:—if He said, Stone her, that would seem a stepping out of His province; if He forbade it, that would hold Him up as a relaxer of the public morals. But these cunning hypocrites were overmatched.
this woman was taken in adultery; by two persons at least, who could be witnesses of it; otherwise the accusation was not legal; see Deuteronomy 19:15; though in the case of a wife suspected of adultery, they admitted a single witness as valid (f):
in the very act; or "in the theft itself", for adultery is a theft; it is an unlawful use of another's property; see this word used in the same sense, in Heliodor, l. 1. sect. 11.They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 8:4-5. Observe especially here and in John 8:5-6 the thoroughly synoptical diffuseness of the account.
κατειλήφθη] with the augment of εἴληφα, see Winer, p. 60 [E. T. p. 84]. On the expression, comp. κατείληπτο μοιχός, Arrian. Epict. 2. 4.
ἐπʼ αὐτοφώρῳ] in the very act. Herod. 6. 72, 137; Plato, Pol. 2, p. 359 C; Xen. Symp. 3. 13; Dem. 378. 12; Soph. Ant. 51; Eur. Ion. 1214. Comp. Philo, p. 785 A: μοιχεῖαι αὐτόφωροι. On λαμβάνειν ἐπί, of taking in adultery, see Toup. Opp. Crit. I. p. 101.
The adulterer, who in like manner was liable to death (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:24), may have fled.
λιθοβολεῖσθαι] This word cannot be called un-Johannean (in John 10:31 ff. λιθάζειν is used) because of its being taken from Deut. l.c. According to Deuteronomy 22:23-24 the law expressly appoints stoning for the particular case, when a betrothed maiden allows herself to be seduced by a man in the city, where she could have summoned help. The woman here taken must therefore necessarily be regarded as such an one, because the λιθοβολεῖσθαι is expressly referred to a command contained in the Mosaic law. From Deut. l.c., where the betrothed, in reference to the seducer, is termed אֵשֶׁת רֵעֵהוּ, it is clear that the crime in question was regarded as a modified form of adultery, as it is also called εἶδος μοιχεῖας by Philo, de legg. special. ii. p. 311. The rarity of such a case as this made it all the more a fit topic for a tempting question in casuistry. Accordingly, τὰς τοιαύτας is to be understood as denoting the class of adulteresses of this particular kind, to whom refers that law of Moses appointing the punishment of stoning: “adulteresses of this kind.” That Moses, in Deut. l.c., does not use the expression נאף (Lücke’s objection) is immaterial, because he has not this word at all in the connection, nor even in the other cases, but designates the thing in another way. Usually the woman is regarded as a married woman; and as in Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22, not stoning specifically, but death generally is the punishment adjudged to adulteresses of this class, some either infer the internal falsehood of the whole story (Wetstein, Semler, Morus, Paulus, Lücke, De Wette, Baur, and many others; comp. also Hengstenberg and Godet), or assume that the punishment of death, which is not more precisely defined by the law (“to die the death”), must mean stoning (Michaelis, Mos. R. § 262; Tholuck, B. Crusius, Ebrard, Keil, Archæol. § 153, 1; Ewald, Brückner hesitatingly, Luthardt, Baeumlein). As to the last view, judging from the text in Deut. l.c., and also according to Rabbinical tradition, it is certainly an unsafe assumption; comp. Saalschütz, Mos. R. p. 571. Here, however, where the λιθοβολεῖσθαι is distinctly cited as a positive provision of the law, we have neither reason nor right to assume a reference to any other precept save that in which stoning is expressly named as the punishment, viz. Deuteronomy 22:24 (LXX.: λιθοβολήσονται ἐν λίθοις), with which also the Talmud agrees, Sanhedr. f. 51, 2 : “Filia Israelitae, si adultera, cum nupta, strangulanda, cum desponsata, lapidanda.” The supposition of Grotius, that the severer punishment of stoning for adultery was introduced after the time of Ezekiel, cannot be proved by Ezekiel 16:38; Ezekiel 16:40; Sus. 45; the Μωϋσῆς ἐνετείλατο, moreover, is decidedly against all such suppositions.
 According to the Talmudic rule: “Omnis mors, cujus et mentio in lege simpliciter, non alia est quam strangulatio,” Sanhedr. l.c. The incorrectness of this rule (Michaelis, l.c.) is a matter of no consequence, so far as the present passage is concerned.John 8:4. Διδάσκαλε, teacher [Master]) The reason [is implied in the title by which they address Him], why they require Him to give His decision.—ἐπαυτοφώρῳ, in the very act) Such scandalous acts are frequently perpetrated about the time of feasts. Comp. ch. John 7:37. What follows also confirms the truth of this history, as at John 8:12, the mention of the darkness, “He that followeth Me, shall not walk in darkness,” when this verse is compared with it, inasmuch as treating of adultery, a work of darkness; and at John 8:15, concerning judgment, “Ye judge after the flesh, I judge no man,” comparing with it John 8:11, “Neither do I condemn thee.”Verse 4. - Master - Teacher - this woman has been taken committing adultery, in the very act. Ἐπαυτοφώρω originally meant in ipso furto, "in the very theft;" afterwards more generally in the commission of this particular sin. The burning shame and bestial bluntness of the charge make no excuse or palliation possible.
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