Widow’s Son in Nain

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In Widow's Son in Nain, David Bivin and Joshua N. Tilton ask "Which Nain was the town where Jesus raised the widow's son?" and "What is the meaning of the people's exclamation that a prophet had arisen among them?" The possibility of a Judean ministry early in Jesus' career and of the messianic connotations of the Widow's Son in Nain story are discussed in detail in this segment of the Life of Yeshua commentary.

Luke 7:11-17
(Huck 80; Aland 86; Crook 90)[1]

Revised: 6-February-2017

וַיְהִי אַחַר הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה וַיֵּלֶךְ אֶל־עִיר וּשְׁמָהּ נָעִין וְאֻכְלוּס גָּדוֹל הוֹלֵךְ עִמּוֹ וְכַאֲשֶׁר קָרַב אֶל פֶּתַח הָעִיר וְהִנֵּה מוֹצִיאִים מֵת בֵּן יָחִיד לְאִמּוֹ וְהִיא אַלְמָנָה וְאֻכְלוּס הָעִיר הָיָה עִמָּהּ וַיַּרְא אֹתָהּ הָאָדוֹן וַיְרַחֵם עָלֶיהָ וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ אַל־תִּבְכִּי וַיִּקְרַב וַיִּגַּע בַּמִּטָּה וַיַּעַמְדוּ הַנּוֹשְׂאִים וַיֹּאמֶר נַעַרִי אֲנִי אוֹמֵר לְךָ קוּם וַיֵּשֶׁב הַמֵּת וַיָּחֶל לְדַבֵּר וַיִּתְּנֵהוּ לְאִמּוֹ וַיִּפֹּל פַּחַד עַל כֻּלָּם וַיִּתְּנוּ כָּבוֹד לֵאלֹהִים לֵאמֹר נָבִיא גָּדוֹל קָם בְּקִרְבֵּנוּ וְיי פָּקַד אֶת עַמּוֹ וַיֵּצֵא הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה עָלָיו בְּכָל יְהוּדָה וּבְכָל הַפְּרִיכוֹרִין

Sometime later, Yeshua went to the town of Nain, accompanied by a large crowd of people. As he approached the town’s entrance, he met a funeral procession. The deceased was the only son of a widow, and the residents of the town were with her. When the Lord saw her his heart went out to her.

“Don’t cry,” he said.

Then he went up and touched the bier, and the men who were carrying it halted.

“Young man,” he said, “I command you: Come back to life!”

The dead boy sat up and began to speak, and Yeshua presented him to his mother.

The crowd was awestruck, and they began to praise God: “God has sent the Messiah!”

News of this miracle spread throughout Judea, and even beyond.[2]


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Widow's Son in NainReconstruction

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Conclusion

The story of the raising of the widow’s son in Nain attests to the Jewish eschatological hopes current toward the end of the Second Temple period. It may also preserve an authentic recollection of a Judean ministry early in Jesus’ career. The story highlights Jesus’ compassion for fellow humans in distress, which in turn reflects Jesus’ understanding of God’s character. Far from ignoring or transgressing the commandments pertaining to ritual purity, Jesus correctly prioritized the Torah’s requirements in accordance with God’s attribute of mercy, which is surely the essence of Judaism.

Kotarbiński_Resurrection_of_the_son[1]

Wilhelm Kotarbiński, Resurrection of the Son of the Widow of Nain, oil on canvas (1879). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


Comments 7

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  4. In the section entitled Results of This Research, item 1, the statement is made:

    “However, a plain reading of Luke’s account suggests that the Nain where
    Jesus raised the widow’s son was in Judea (Luke 7:25).”

    When looking at Luke 7.25, we find the following:

    25 “But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments?
    Indeed those who are gorgeously appareled and live in luxury are
    in kings’ courts.” (Luke 7.25)

    I am confused. Did you mean verse 17 rather than verse 25?

    17 “And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the
    surrounding region.” (Luke 7.17)

    1. JP
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