This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with hisfinger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
Any inquiry as to what He wrote is excluded by the fact that the narrative would certainly have recorded it had it been known; and though writing on sand was practised in the Rabbinic schools, this writing was on the pavement of the Temple (John 8:2). We have to seek the meaning, then, in the symbolism of the action, remembering that the teaching by action and gesture, common everywhere, has always been specially common in the East; and of the many interpretations which may be given, that which seems upon the whole least liable to objection is, that He deprecated the office of judge which they wished to impose on Him, and chose this method of intimating that He took no interest in what they were saying. The commentators tell us that this was a common method of signifying intentional disregard.
An alternative interpretation may be suggested. They had quoted the Law, and asked for His opinion. They were themselves the interpreters of the Law. He claimed no such office. (Comp. Luke 12:14.) He stoops down and writes, and the action intimates that the Law of God was written on tables of stone, and its decrees were immutable. They, by their technical interpretation and tradition, were making it of none effect. He came to fulfil it. The majesty of duty is sinned against by these refinements of casuistry. They are now daring to violate the sacredness of law by making it the subject of a question by which they hope to encompass His death. The solemn silence, as He stooped down in that Temple and wrote upon its pavement, must have spoken in a power greater than that of words.
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