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John 8 describes a woman caught in adultery and brought before Jesus by the scribes and the Pharisees. In those passages, Jesus writes on the ground twice:

4 They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery.
5 Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”
6 They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.
7 But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
8 Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
9 And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him.

What purpose did this serve? Why did Jesus write on the ground?

(I've been unable to find a good answer elsewhere due to all the speculation and occasional jokes - please avoid these. An answer is "speculative" if it describes something that could have happened without giving a good reason for why that really did happen.)

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marked as duplicate by Mike, David Morton, Andrew Leach, Narnian, Andrew Mar 5 '13 at 16:27

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1 Answer 1

We do not know what Jesus wrote. There is no other part of the Bible that makes a reference back to this passage to tell us what He wrote, or why He wrote it.

However, at least some of the more-scholarly sources simply point to Jeremiah 17:13:

O Lord, the hope of Israel,
all who forsake thee shall be put to shame;
those who turn away from thee shall be written in the earth,

for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water.

This seems to be the only other passage in the Bible that makes an allusion to writing in the earth. The scribes and the Pharisees would have been familiar with this passage, especially the elders.

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