Was Galilee Jesus’ Real Home? (jn 4: 43-54)

What was Jesus’ Home address? It Depends. (By Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg)

43 After the two days he departed for Galilee for Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown. So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast. 46 So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. 53 …Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. 54 This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.

The differences between the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John have for centuries puzzled commentators. Some labored hard to reconcile every jot and tittle, while others reached the conclusion that John contradicts the Synoptics (Mark, Matthew and Luke). Many commentators are situated between these positions. They recognized that essentially the Gospels tell one story about Jesus. They also recognized that some of the crucial differences cannot be dismissed nor should they be ignored. The following section can rightly be numbered among such divergent traditions that tell the same story from different angles and perspectives.

We come to Jn. 4:43-45 as the reporting of the events connected with Jesus’ stopover in Samaritan Shechem finishes. Here we see that Jesus does not return to Judea but continues his journey to Galilee. In addition to the absence of the incident with the Samaritan woman from the Synoptics, there is another significant feature in which the Synoptics and John part company. John states that the reason Jesus did not return to Judea, but went on to Galilee, was because “Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own homeland (literally fatherland in the sense of motherland in the English language).” (4:44)

What is of course striking here is that John names Judea as Jesus’ homeland, his fatherland and not Galilee as do the Synoptics (Mt 13:54-57, Mk. 6:1-4, Lk. 4:23-24). We read in Mark’s account for example that: “Jesus left there and went to his hometown (Nazareth in Galilee), accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.’ He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.”

On the other hand, together with this alternative reading of Jesus’ identity (as a Judean vs. Galilean), John’s Gospel paints a picture of Jesus’ rejection and acceptance that is also very different from the picture in the Synoptics. Galilee and Samaria were very responsive to Jesus, according to John’s Gospel. People there welcomed him with very few exceptions; while everything he did in his homeland of Judea seemed to meet significant opposition.

There is paradox and tension here. In Judea (Jesus’ motherland in John), Jesus faced persecution. He was born there and his Father’s house was in Jerusalem (not in Galilee and not in Samaria),  but it is from there that the real opposition to him came from.

In John, Judea is Jesus’ real home. He belongs in Judea, more than he belongs any place else. I suggest therefore that we should understand Jn. 1:11 within this context: “He came to his own (creation), and his own (the Ioudaioi – Judean leadership and their followers) did not receive him.”

Much more about this in my upcoming book “The King of All Israel: Gospel of John and the Judean-Samaritan Conflict.” It should be available on April 1, 2015.

© Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, Ph.D. 2014

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  1. Yakov (Jeff Rogers)

    Great insight Eli I would like to read your book a well.Don’t pay any attention to the negative comment. I have had to develop a thick skin when dealing with believers who think they know everythingWe are commanded to greet each other with the holy kiss,I have only seen this demonstrated in jewish Synagogues where we attend sometime.I really appreciate your work and you have been instrumental in my spiritual development.

  2. Ashley

    Sadly, I’ve come to this late so I may be repeating what someone else has already said; … …
    Could it be that Jesus was saying (according to John) that because a prophet is not accepted in his own land I therefore need to go there to preach to them (e.g. so they don’t miss out on what is being offered to everyone else)?

    Furthermore, Jesus specifically referred to Nazareth, as opposed to the whole of Galilee. Does this also change our perspective of “homeland”?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear Ashley, you are not late. The discussion is always ongoing and the fact that others voiced similar ideas is neat. We may be onto something together. 🙂

  3. Brenda lowry

    so glad to have found your blog

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I am glad as well, sign up for the updates on the main page!

  4. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

    Not to be disrespectful, Andrea, but humor my hypothetical/ rhetorical question… (no need to answer it, actually). Why citizen of Heaven? I herd this type of reasoning. Is God’s Spirit limited to Heaven only? Is there a place where God isn’t? Is the earth not His as well? What about Mars? Using this logic it would make Jesus “a citizen of everywhere”. But then it would not help us understand the gospel of John. I know I am being funny on purpose, but also serious. 🙂

    1. BENEDICTA NAZARETH

      Dr. Eli:
      What you have said is not at all a response to what the commenter said. As a matter of fact the commenter didn’t even imply anything you wrote. From Book of Genesis we know the SPIRIT of GOD has been working with the creation. Gospel of John gives a powerful witness of the Holy Spirit as the person of God.These words came out of the mouth of Yeshua. On Pentecost He fulfilled the Father’s desire for us – is to send the Holy Spirit to indwell in us. We can do word study on this Divine Person of God and for sure we will be awestruck. I don’t see that you make any room for the Holy Spirit in your writing.Sure,God blessed us with a good mind to understand Him and bring Him glory.

      1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

        Benedicta, I do not appreciate comments like this one (“I don’t see that you make any room for the Holy Spirit in your writing.”) I ask you to refrain from making those comments in the future. I think that the judgement for whether or not I am guilty of it is not in your jurisdiction.

  5. Low Beng Guan

    Dear Dr. Eli,
    Thank you for your article. It is very enlightening and insight . Why was John Gospel different from the other three Gospels? Is it because of characters different ?
    I am excited to look forward to the book you are writing. Please let me know how to order the book when it is published. Thank you, Shalom!

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I would answer, but it would be too long, so I would invite you to read my articles on John (here on the blog) and of course the soon coming book would answer your question fully.

  6. Andrea

    Matthew 2:1-6 states Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Judea. Yes he was a Judean.
    I also believe as one of the other commentators HE was born of The Holy Spirit which would make HIM a citizen of Heaven in which position HE is now at the right hand of The Father-Hashem Adonai. HE as a citizen of Heaven of course is CHRIST incarnated into the pure body of Jesus the man Christ Jesus completing the will of HIS Father-ABBA; being the propitiation for mankind. The real depth of statement here is that Yehuda the tribe of Judah, those who tried to maintain the Glory of GOD for a prolonged period would also reflect the name Yehoshua for Jesus. Giving more Glory to the birth of Our Savior.
    Thk U Dr. Eli.

  7. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

    Kat,

    I will announce when the book is ready and let you know where you can purchase it.

    1. Kat

      Thank you. I hope too find your books in my public library as well some day. All I could find under The Samaritan Woman was “Bad Samaritan ” 🙂

  8. kat

    Motherland means the origin of something. Many reference this ti Isaiah 53:3. I am wondering if it has to do with Heb 8:30 and Jer 31:34. I often hear new converts honoring the church or a prgram for their accepting Jesus. I have always honored God because theTen Commandments lead me to faith in Christ.

  9. Ayman

    Do you think that John used Judea as the motherland where Jesus born, while Mathew, Mark and Luke used (Nazerth, Galillee) as the motherland of Jesus where He grown Up?
    If you have more studies about this, please send
    Thank you very much for your great (and new) studies
    Ayman Youssif, PhD

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      My new book will give you lots of insight into that issue. It will be coming out soon. Stay tuned!

  10. Paul Parker

    Thank you for your insight!
    This actually makes perfect sense in context! Jesus as G_d referring to His home as Jerusalem. David builds Him a tent here, Solomon builds Him a temple here, Herod rebuilds His temple here, and His rightful throne is here. The before is all from a purely spiritual sense of course. From a practical sense His earthly father was a resident which awards Him citizenship. If we look into the pre Christ writings we see Jerusalem as His Holy City over and over again. The idea that there is a conflict has no bite! Jesus is demonstrating that at this point in time G_d is not accepted in His personal dwelling place on Earth nor by His chosen people! Praise Him who will open

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Interesting.