And said to him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.—Comp. Notes on John 5:2 (“Bethesda”), and on Luke 13:4 (“the tower in Siloam”). The locality is almost without doubt that now known by the Arabic form of the same name, the Birket Silwân, which is in the lower Tyropæon valley, between the Temple mountain and Mount Zion. It is about a quarter of a mile from the present city wall, but in the time of our Lord the wall extended up to it (Jos. Wars, v. 4, § 1; so the Antonine Itinerary in the fourth century). The place is frequently mentioned by Josephus, and there is every reason to believe that in the present pool we have the Siloah of Nehemiah 3:15, the Shiloah of Isaiah 8:6, and the Siloam of the present passage. The form of the word here used by St. John is that found in the Greek translation of both the Old Testament passages.
The words “wash in” mean literally, wash into, that is, “wash so that the clay from the eyes will pass into the tank.”
The attempt to show that in the waters of Siloam, too, we have an ordinary remedial agent, must be abandoned, at least as far as regards blindness. The command recalls that to Naaman the Syrian (2Kings 5:10), and not improbably recalled it to the mind of the blind man. In any case, it is a further stage in his spiritual education. It is a demand on the faith which realises the presence of the Power to heal. The place is chosen, perhaps, as a well-known spot, or as one at some little distance, so as to afford time for reflection and a test for obedience. It may be, however, that there is another reason for the choice. The pool of Siloam was bound up with all the religious feelings of the Feast of Tabernacles. A solemn procession went each morning to it, and carried water from it to the Temple. That water had already led to the teaching of the gift of the Spirit to every man who should receive the Messiah (see Notes on John 7:37 et seq.), uttered, perhaps, on this very day (comp. John 9:1). There would be attached, then, to the pool of Siloam a sacred significance that would be in itself a help to faith.
Which is by interpretation, Sent.—St. John sees a significance even in the name. The sending of the waters of this intermittent spring had given it the -name Siloam. Popular belief connected the moving of the waters with the presence of an angel who gave them their healing virtue. There was One then present who was the source of all life and power to heal, and He was Himself the sent of God. So He had taught men in words which had fixed themselves on St. John’s mind (John 3:17; John 3:34; John 5:36; John 5:38; John 7:29; John 8:42). So the prophet Isaiah had spoken of His work (Isaiah 61:1), and He had quoted that prophecy of His own work with the remarkable addition from the LXX., “and recovering of sight to the blind.” (Comp. Notes on Matthew 11:5, Luke 4:18; and Isaiah 42:7.) So He was later called “the Apostle (the One sent) of our profession (Hebrews 3:1).
And came seeing.—These words need no Note for the reader who will pause to think of them, but we often pass over them without remembering that a whole world of visual objects now first burst upon the mind of him who was healed. We can only know in part what a revelation this was, but we may by thought realise it in some degree. There is no reference to his coming again to our Lord. He returned apparently to his usual dwelling, and this agrees with the mention of “neighbours” in the following verse.
Of Siloam - See the notes at Luke 13:4.
By interpretation, Sent - From the Hebrew verb to send perhaps because it was regarded as a blessing sent or given by God. Why Jesus sent him to wash there is not known. It is clear that the waters had no efficacy themselves to open the eyes of a blind man, but it is probable that he directed him to go there to test his obedience, and to see whether he was disposed to obey him in a case where he could not see the reason of it. An instance somewhat similar occurs in the case of Naaman, the Syrian leper, 2 Kings 5:10. The proud Syrian despised the direction; the tremble blind man obeyed and was healed. This case shows us that we should obey the commands of God, however unmeaning or mysterious they may appear. God has always a reason for all that he directs us to do, and our faith and willingness to obey him are often tried when we can see little of the reason of his requirements. In the first edition of these notes it was remarked that the word Siloam is from the same verb as Shiloh in Genesis 49:10. "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah - until Shiloh (that is, the Sent of God: the Messiah) come," and that John in this remark probably had reference to this prophecy. This was incorrect: and there is no evidence that John in this passage had reference to that prophecy, or that this fountain was emblematic of the Messiah. The original words Siloam and Shiloh are from different roots and mean different things. The former, Siloam שׁלח Shiloach, is derived from שׁלה shaalach (to send); the latter, Shiloh שׁילה Shiyloh, means rest or quiet, and was given to the Messiah, probably, because he would bring rest that is, he would be the "prince of peace." Compare Isaiah 9:6.wash in the pool of Siloam. We read of this pool, Nehemiah 3:15; and we are told, that it was a fountain which sprang out from Mount Zion. It should seem, that there was a brook of that name, which supplied part of the city with water, Isaiah 8:6. Some think they have also found a mystery in this name, because it signifieth
sent; and think that it hath an allusion to Shiloh, which was the Messias, mentioned Genesis 49:10. The name is plainly an old name, as appears from the place I noted out of Nehemiah; probably given to it anciently, in acknowledgment of the mercy of God given them, in sending them such a brook, or rivulet, from those mountains, so commodious for that great city: or, because (as some think) the water did not run always, but at certain times, as it were sent of God. We read of nothing medicinal in this water, only, as a probation of the blind man’s faith and obedience, it pleased our Lord to send the blind man to wash himself there; as of old Naaman the Syrian was sent to wash in Jordan. He went, and the evangelist, to let us see that true faith joined with sincere obedience never faileth the expectation of them that exercise it, lets us know that he returned seeing. Isaiah 8:6, and according to the Jewish writers, sometimes Gihon (e); and this, they say (f), was without Jerusalem, though near unto it: hither the Jews went at the feast of tabernacles (g), and drew water with great rejoicing, and brought it, and poured it on the altar; the waters thereof also the priests drank for digestion, when they had eaten too much flesh (h); and this was likewise made use of to wash in, in case of uncleanness. It is said (i) of Benaiah, one of David's worthies, that
"one day he set his foot upon a dead toad, and he went down to Siloah, and broke the pieces of hail, (or ice congealed together,) and dipped himself.''
This fountain was to the south west of Jerusalem; and was, as Josephus says, sweet and large (k); and from it were two watercourses, upper and lower, 2 Chronicles 32:30, which ran into two pools; the one was called the Pool of Siloam, which may be the same that Josephus (l) calls the Pool of Solomon, and is here meant, and which was situated on the south of the wall of Sion, towards the east; and the other was called the Pool of Shelah, and which, in Nehemiah 3:15, is called in our translation, and in some others, the Pool of Siloah. Now both the fountain, and the pool, were without the city; and yet we read of a Siloah in the midst of the city (m). This blind man was sent, not to wash himself all over, but only his face or eyes; and so the Arabic and Persic versions read, "wash thy face"; the clay from it: this may be emblematical of the grace of the Spirit, sometimes signified by water and washing, which accompanying the word, makes it effectual to the salvation of souls:
which is by interpretation sent. This interpretation of the word Siloam does not determine which of the pools is meant, the upper or lower, "Siloah" or "Shelah", since they both come from the word which signifies to "send"; but by the flexion of the word, the upper pool "Siloah" seems plainly intended, which was not so forenamed, as Nonus suggests, from the sending this man thither, but rather from the sending forth its waters, which flowed softly and gently for the supply of the city of Jerusalem, Some think Christ gave this interpretation of it with a view to himself, as the sent of God, the true Messiah: but the words seem not to be the words of Christ, but of the evangelist, who interprets this word; wherefore they are left out in the Syriac and Persic versions, where such an interpretation was needless.
He went his way therefore and washed, and came seeing: he did as he was commanded; he was obedient to the directions and orders of Christ, though they seemed so unlikely to answer the end; and yet that was brought about through the divine power of Christ, which appeared the more in making use of such unlikely means.
(e) Targum, Jarchi, Kimchi, & Solomon ben Melech in 1 Kings 39. (f) Jarchi & Bartenora in Misn. Succa, c. 4. sect. 9. (g) Misn. Succa, c. 4. sect. 9. (h) Abot R. Nathan, c. 35. fol. 8. 3.((i) Targum in 1 Chron. 22. (k) De Bello Jud. l. 5. c. 4. sect. 1.((l) Ib. l. 6. c. 6. vel. l. 5. c. 4. sect. 1.((m) T. Hieros. Chagigah, fol. 76. 1.And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 9:7. The application of the clay was not enough. Jesus further said: Ὕπαγε … ἀπεσταλμένος. Elsner shows that “wash into,” νίψαι εἰς, is not an uncommon construction. But John 9:11, which gives the same command in a different form, shows that the man understood that εἰς followed ὕπαγε and not νίψαι, The pool of Siloam, supplied from the Virgin’s fountain (Isaiah 8:6), lay at the south-east corner of Jerusalem in the Kidron Valley. On the opposite side of the valley lies a village Silwan representing the old name. The name is here interpreted as meaning “Sent” [שָׁלוּחַ, missus; not שִׁילוֹחַ, missio sc. aquarum, Meyer]. The word ἀπεσταλμένος is so frequently used by Jesus of Himself that, notwithstanding what Meyer says, we naturally apply it here also to Himself, as if the noiseless Stream which their fathers had despised (Isaiah 7:6) and which they could trace to its source, was a fit type of Him whom the Jews rejected because they knew His origin and because he had no external force. His influence consisted in this, that He was ἀπεσταλμένος. The blind man obeyed and received his sight. Cf. Elisha and Naaman. From the succeeding γείτονες several interpreters conclude that ἦλθε means “came” home. Needlessly.7. wash in the pool] Literally, wash into the pool, i.e. ‘wash off the clay into the pool,’ or, ‘go to the pool and wash.’ The washing was probably part of the means of healing (comp. Naaman) and was a strong test of the man’s faith.
Siloam] Satisfactorily identified with Birket Silwân in the lower Tyropoean valley, S. E. of the hill of Zion. This is probably the Siloah of Nehemiah 3:15 and the Shiloah of Isaiah 8:6. ‘The tower in Siloam’ (Luke 13:4) was very possibly a building connected with the water; perhaps part of an aqueduct.
which is by interpretation] Literally, which is interpreted.
Sent] This is an admissible interpretation; but the original meaning is rather Sending, i.e. outlet of waters, ‘the waters of Shiloah that go softly’ (Isaiah 8:6). S. John sees in the word ‘nomen et omen’ of the man’s cure. Perhaps he sees also that this water from the rock is an image of Him who was sent from the Father.
and came seeing] ‘Came,’ not back to Christ, who had probably gone away meanwhile (John 9:12), but to his own home, as would appear from what follows. Has any poet ever attempted to describe this man’s emotions on first seeing the world in which he had lived so long?
“The scene in which the man returns seeing and is questioned by his neighbours, is vividly described. So too is the whole of that which follows, when the Pharisees come upon the stage. We may accept it with little short of absolute credence. If the opponents of miracles could produce a single Jewish document, in which any event, known not to have happened, was described with so much minuteness and verisimilitude, then it would be easier to agree with them.” S. pp. 162, 163.John 9:7. Νίψαι, wash thyself) thy face.—τοῦ Σιλωάμ, Siloam) A name given to this place formerly, because Jesus Christ was about to send thither the blind man. And from this time the name of the place was a memorial of the miracle wrought at it. The derivation is implied in Go, wash thyself.—ὁ ἐρμηνεύεται ἀπεσταλμένος, which is rendered in translation Sent) The Evangelist adds this. Comp. John 9:11, “Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash.”—καὶ ἦλθε, and he went) before going to his parents.Verse 7. - And, having done this, he said to him, Go - depart, haste, there is something for thee to do - wash into the pool of Siloam. Σιλωάμ: this is the Greek form of the Hebrew word שִׁילוחַ, (שִׁלֹחַ with the article הַשִּׁלהַ, the shortened Pihel form שָׁלַחֹ, to send forth, with the omission of the dagesh) adopted in Isaiah 8:6 by the LXX., and also by Josephus ('Bell. Jud.,' 5:04.1). The only other place in the Old Testament where the pool of Siloam is referred to is Nehemiah 3:15. There the Hebrew word is הַשֶּׁלַת, and rendered by the LXX. τῶν κωδίων - i.e. of sheep-skins; that is, the pool that was used to wash sheep before shearing them, or even the tan-pit (so Schleusner and Hesych.) - but it is rendered by Siloe in the Vulgate. Isaiah is contrasting the waters of the Shiloah, which flow softly, with the turbulent streams of the Tigris, which represented the pomp and power of this world. The sweet waters from the pool of Siloam still flow from their apparent source through what once were the king's gardens, into the Kedron near the junction of the Valley of Jehoshaphat with that which used to be called the Valley of the Son of Hinnom. Silwan is the Arabic name of the fountain and pool of Siloam, and also of the village on the opposite side of the valley. Nehemiah is referring, in all probability, to the same pool, the walls of which were in part the walls of the city itself on the lower spur of Mount Ophel, which is now finally determined to be the Zion of Scripture and the city of David. A "tower of Siloam" is also spoken of (Luke 13:4). It is not necessary here to review the arguments in favor of this position, with its accompanying conclusion that the Tyropaeon, the valley of the cheesemongers, which separated Ophel and the temple-mount from the upper city, was the Valley of the Son of Hinnom (see 'Survey of Western Palestine,' pt. it. pp. 345-371; Professor Sayce on "Pre-Exilic Jerusalem" in Quarterly Statement of Palest. Explor. Fund' (1883), pp. 215; and 'Fresh Light from Ancient Monuments,' p. 98, etc.). The position of the fountain and pool of Siloam is one of the best-authenticated sites in Palestine (see Robinson's 'Biblical Researches,' 1:493-507). Sayce gives strong reasons for believing that it was made in the days of Solomon, and that the proceeding of Hezekiah, referred to in 2 Chronicles 32:30, when he diverted the water from Gihon, and brought it to the west side of the city of David, was not on account (as Edersheim, Canon Birch, and others) of the formation of the zigzag tunnel from the Fountain of the Virgin, but referred to the formation of Colonel Warren's tunnel, by which the waters of the same fountain were made available within the city by drawing them further to the north-west, and reaching them by a flight of stairs that go down from the city of David (2 Kings 20:20). He thinks that 2 Chronicles 32:30 is interpreted of the lower pool of Siloam. The contemporary references of Isaiah (Isaiah 7:3; Isaiah 8:6; Isaiah 22:9) apply only to the Siloam tunnel, the Siloam pool, and that lower pool, which was repaired by Hezekiah. The upper pool, and therefore the tunnel which supplied it, were known in the time of Ahaz. Josephus makes frequent reference to the fountain of Siloam, and expressly says that it was situated at the mouth of the Tyro-paeon. The 'Itin. Hier.' and Jerome both say that it was at the foot of Mount Zion (see especially Jerome's 'Comm. in Esa. 8:6'). Antoninus Martyr (in the seventh century), William of Tyre, Benjamin of Tudela (1165), and Phoeas (1185), all refer to it. This remarkable connection with the Fountain of Mary was known to Quaresmius in the seventeenth century, but not fairly discovered till Robinson entered it at both ends, and found that there was a direct subterranean communication between the so-called Fountain of the Virgin and the Fountain of Siloam. In 1881 the accidental discovery of an inscription in pure Hebrew, of uncertain date, describes the process of the excavation, and accounts for the false starts made by the two parties of excavators, who eventually met and discovered the different levels at which they had been working. Whenever made, whether by Solomon, Uzziah, Ahaz, or Hezekiah, it was obviously intended to bring fresh water within the walls of the city. The intermittent character of the flow of water in the Fountain of the Virgin, by which sometimes twice or thrice a day, and at other seasons twice or thrice a week, the water suddenly rises and disappears with gurgling sounds into the conduits made for its removal, was referred to by Jerome, as an eye and ear witness of the occurrence. We leave the question of the identification of the Fountain of the Virgin with any of the fountains mentioned in the Old Testament. The point of singular interest is that the waters of Siloam were in direct communication with the upper spring, which itself may be yet proved to be in relation to some more abundant supply of water in the temple-rock. Into the further intricacies of this problem it is unnecessary to enter. The pools of Siloam are still to be seen near the mouth of the Tyropaeon valley. The print of connection with the Fountain of the Virgin cannot be doubted, nor can the fact be disputed that from Siloam, during the Feast of Tabernacles, the sacred waters were brought in solemn procession and with sacred rite (see John 7.). Our Lord sent the blind man, thus startled into some receptivity of grace, to that which was the symbolic source of the water of life. He did this on the sabbath day, claiming cooperation with Jehovah in his truly sabbatic deed: "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." Siloam had been already the type of that which Jesus was in reality, when he had cried and said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." Consequently, there is striking appositeness in the language of St. John here parenthetically introduced (which is, being interpreted, Sent); שִׁלוחַ equivalent to missio, from שָׁלַח, equivalent to mittit or missus, which may be synonymous with שָׁלוּחַ, viz. the strengthened participle Kal with passive signification. John is correct in his etymology. Siloam probably derived its name from the fact that its waters were sent from the higher sources, through known channels, with special significance as God's gift for the preservation of the life of the people, and the age-long memorial of his goodness. The old poet Nonnus, Euthymius, and Meyer see here a reference to the man who was "sent" thus to wash and be healed; but a host of commentators, from Theophylact, Calvin, Cornelius a Lapide, down to Luthardt, Godet, and Westcott, rightly urge that "Siloam," as meaning "Sent," was in John's thought emblematic of him who had so often spoken of himself as the Sent of God. The point of the parenthesis is that the very name of this healing and symbolic fountain is a type of Messiah, who thus identifies himself with the Heaven-sent gifts of the Divine hand. He then (therefore) departed, and washed. The blind man needed no guide to Siloam, and if he had clone so there would have been a score of helpers or curious on-lookers anxious to test the meaning of the Lord's command. And he came away from Siloam, seeing; in all the strange and wonderful excitement of a man who, with his first possession of this imperial sense, was moving indeed in a new world. The miracle, of course, provokes the critical school either into repudiating the supernatural element, or doubting the historical fact. Theme dreams through a world of parallels with the healing and apostleship of St. Paul.
Wash the eyes. See on Acts 16:33.
By Rabbinical writers, Shiloach: Septuagint, Σιλωάμ: Vulgate and Latin fathers, Siloe. Josephus, generally, Siloa. In scripture always called a pool or tank, built, and not natural. The site is clearly identified in a recess at the southeastern termination of Zion, near the junction of the valley of Tyropoeon with that of the Kidron. According to Dr. Thomson, it is a parallelogram about fifty-three feet long and eighteen wide, and in its perfect condition must have been nearly twenty feet deep. It is thus the smallest of all the Jerusalem pools. The water flows into it through a subterraneous conduit from the Fountain of the Virgin, and the waters are marked by an ebb and flow. Dr. Robinson witnessed a rise and fall of one foot in ten minutes. The conduit has been traversed by two explorers, Dr. Robinson and Captain Warren. See the account of Warren's exploration in Thomson, "Southern Palestine and Jerusalem," p. 460. On the word pool, see on John 5:2.
The Hebrew word means outflow (of waters); missio, probably with reference to the fact that the temple-mount sends forth its spring-waters. Many expositors find a typical significance in the fact of Christ's working through the pool of this name. Thus Milligan and Moulton, after noting the fact that the water was drawn from this pool for pouring upon the altar during the Feast of Tabernacles; that it was associated with the "wells of salvation" (Isaiah 12:3); and that the pouring out of the water symbolized the effusion of spiritual blessing in the days of the Messiah, go on to say: "With the most natural interest, therefore, the Evangelist observes that its very name corresponds to the Messiah; and by pointing out this fact indicates to us what was the object of Jesus in sending the man to these waters. In this, even more distinctly than in the other particulars that we have noted, Jesus, in sending the man away from Him, is keeping Himself before him in everything connected with his cure. Thus, throughout the whole narrative, all attention is concentrated on Jesus Himself, who is the Light of the world, who was 'sent of God' to open blind eyes." See also Westcott and Godet.
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