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: 19 May 2022

וַיְהִי אַחַר הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה וַיֵּלֶךְ אֶל עִיר וּשְׁמָהּ נָעִין וְאֻכְלוּס גָּדוֹל הוֹלֵךְ עִמּוֹ וְכַאֲשֶׁר נִגַּשׁ אֶל פֶּתַח הָעִיר וְהִנֵּה מוֹצִיאִים מֵת בֵּן יָחִיד לְאִמּוֹ וְהִיא אַלְמָנָה וְאֻכְלוּס הָעִיר 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 וַיְכַבְּדוּ אֶת שָׁמַיִם לֵאמֹר נָבִיא גָּדוֹל קָם בְּתוֹכֵנוּ וּפָקַד שָׁמַיִם אֶת עַמּוֹ וַיֵּצֵא הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה בְּכָל יְהוּדָה

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 us the prophet we’ve been waiting for!” News of this miracle spread throughout Yehudah.[2]


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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.


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  • David N. Bivin

    David N. Bivin
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    David N. Bivin is founder and editor of Jerusalem Perspective. A native of Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.A., Bivin has lived in Israel since 1963, when he came to Jerusalem on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to do postgraduate work at the Hebrew University. He studied at the Hebrew…
    [Read more about author]

    Joshua N. Tilton

    Joshua N. Tilton

    Joshua N. Tilton studied at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, where he earned a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies (2002). Joshua continued his studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, where he obtained a Master of Divinity degree in 2005. After seminary…
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