What does John 7:2 mean?
ESV: Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand.
NIV: But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near,
NASB: Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was near.
CSB: The Jewish Festival of Shelters was near.
NLT: But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters,
KJV: Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand.
Verse Commentary:
Jewish men were commanded to attend several feasts in Jerusalem each year (Deuteronomy 16:16). In chapter 5, it was one such feast that brought Jesus to the city, where He healed a man at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1–9). Based on the timeline of the gospel of John, that celebration would have been the Feast of Booths, the same event shown here in chapters 7 and 8.

The Feast of Booths, also known as the Festival of Tabernacles, was a 7-day event (Leviticus 23:33–34) celebrating the journey of Israel through the wilderness. The rituals of this festival reminded the people of how God had provided for Israel during their journey out of Egypt. This involved enormous lamps whose wicks were made of priestly robes (John 8:12), and priests carrying water from the Pool of Siloam (John 7:37). These symbolized the pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21), and the provision of water from the rock (Exodus 17:1–6), respectively.

As a major festival, this event would have made Jerusalem a busy, densely-populated area. The conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders shown in this passage would have been made all the more tense by the enormous publicity.
Verse Context:
John 7:1–13 describes Jesus' surprisingly quiet entry to a major Jewish festival. Jesus brothers—other biological sons of Mary—tease Him about seeking publicity. Instead, Jesus attends alone, and does not teach or preach publicly until the middle of the week-long festival. In the meantime, the people of Jerusalem are ''muttering'' about Jesus, wondering when or if He will appear.
Chapter Summary:
Six months after the feeding of thousands, and the public debate which followed, Jesus plans to attend the Feast of Booths (Festival of Tabernacles). Rather than going publicly, He chooses to arrive privately, and after His family. While teaching and preaching there, Jesus once again comes into conflict with local religious leaders. The crowds take note of His profound words, history of miracles, and the inability of the religious leaders to silence Him. This causes the people to openly question their spiritual leaders. This embarrassment is a milestone in the effort to permanently silence Jesus.
Chapter Context:
John chapter 7 is the beginning of the end of Jesus' public ministry. The feeding of thousands in chapter 6 was the pinnacle of His earthly popularity. That enthusiasm was dampened when Jesus explained the true meaning of His ministry. Here, in chapters 7 and 8, Jesus will confront His critics at a major Jewish festival, using metaphors drawn from ritual celebrations to highlight themes from His preaching. The following chapters include additional miracles and teachings from Jesus, as His eventual crucifixion draws nearer.
Book Summary:
The gospel of John was written by the disciple John, decades later than the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls “signs”—in order to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in all of the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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