Divine Healer Jesus vs. Eshmun -- By: Gordon Franz

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 02:1 (Winter 1989)
Article: Divine Healer Jesus vs. Eshmun
Author: Gordon Franz


Divine Healer
Jesus vs. Eshmun

Gordon Franz

B.A., M.A. in Old Testament, 5 seasons on staff at Lachish excavation, also on staff at Ramat Rachel, Katef Hinnom and other excavations in Jerusalem.

How well I remember the traumatic experience of composing my first book report in the third grade. The teacher instructed us to list the title and author of the book, and then describe the main theme, or purpose of the book. I must confess my reading skills were not well-developed yet, so I struggled even with the help of my parents on that first book report. The most difficult part of the report was defining the theme. Why did the author write the book? What was the purpose? Since then, I have always appreciated an author who explains why the book was written!

The Apostle John, in the gospel which bears his name, does state the purpose for writing his book: “Many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God: and that believing you might have life through His name” {20:30, 31}, In keeping with this purpose, John selects seven signs to present the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God (deity) and as a result of that, one can believe on (trust in) Him for eternal salvation.

This article addresses itself to the background of the third miracle or sign, the incident which took place at Bethesda [John 5). When did the event take place? Where did it take place? How do the archaeological discoveries shed light on this passage? And what are the practical and theological implications of this event?

The Textual Problem

There are several textual problems within the first four verses of the chapter. Without going into detail, a suggested translation of these verses is given below. The underlined words indicate the

Votive offering with serpent

variant reading which is followed.

“l) After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2} Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep pool, a (place) which is called in the Hebrew tongue, Bethesda, having five porches. 3) In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4) For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made...

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