In John 7:25-27, Jesus is speaking to a crowd of people. They seem pretty impressed with Him and begin to wonder if He could be the Messiah. However, one of their objections is that they know where He came from. They believe that when the Christ comes that no one will know where He came from.

Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? 26 And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? 27 But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” John 7:25-27 ESV

Where, then, did they get the idea that no one would know where the Christ came from?

  • I think the scriptural correlations on John 7:27 at the USCCB's online bible (possibly the New American Standard Bible?) may be helpful here. They point to Hebrews 7:3. And skimming the commentary there, with Melchizedek seen as a type of Christ, and certain Jews believing things not mentioned in the Torah didn't exist, like Melchizedek's parents, those Jews might have assumed that Christ would not have had parents "either." Hence, they wouldn't know from whence he came ...
    – svidgen
    Jan 17 '13 at 22:59
  • 1
    @Svidgen: "Believing things not mentioned in the Torah didn't exist"? Seriously? That's crazy talk. Just look at how many people, even several prominent figures, are mentioned with no mention whatsoever of their parents. (And frequently when parents are mentioned, their parents aren't.) By that logic, every last one of them must have been created miraculously! I find it hard to believe that anyone would subscribe to such a patently absurd school of thought.
    – Mason Wheeler
    Jan 17 '13 at 23:18
  • @MasonWheeler You're as shocked as I am. But, according to the commentary, it was a general belief held by some at the time.
    – svidgen
    Jan 17 '13 at 23:19
  • ... or rather, I'm as shocked as you are. Ha ... yes. that's the expression.
    – svidgen
    Jan 17 '13 at 23:20
  • I'm starting to think the Jewish Rabbi's beliefs about the Torah is a moot point though. Whether they believed Melchizedek was parentless or not, they didn't know who his parents were. And, as a type of Christ, he sets up an expectation for Jesus that we won't know His parents either.
    – svidgen
    Jan 17 '13 at 23:32

In John 7:27, it is written,

Rather, we know where this man is from, but when the Messiah comes, no one knows where he is from.

ἀλλὰ τοῦτον οἴδαμεν πόθεν ἐστίν ὁ δὲ Χριστὸς ὅταν ἔρχηται οὐδεὶς γινώσκει πόθεν ἐστίν

According to the Gospels, "the chief priests and the scribes" understood that the Messiah was to be of the seed of David and born in Beit-Lechem (Matt. 2:4-5; John 7:42 cp. Mic. 5:2).

People were cognizant of Yeshua's parents (Mark 6:3; John 1:45 cp. John 6:42) and the town he resided in, Natzaret of Galil (Matt. 21:11; John 7:41).

On the other hand, it was prophesied that the Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14 cp. Matt. 1:23) and be the seed of a woman (Gen. 3:15). Essentially, a human male would not contribute to the conception of the Messiah.

"Seed from another place"

In the Midrash Bereshit Rabba, Parashat Bereshit, it is written,

"…and she called his name Set, for God appointed me another seed…" (Gen. 4:25). Rabbi Tanchuma in the name of Rabbi Shemu'el said, "She observed the seed that came from another place. And what is this? This is the King Messiah."

ותקרא את שמו שת כי שת לי אלהים זרע אחר וגו׳ רבי תנחומא בשם רבי שמואל אמר נסתכלה אותו זרע בא ממקום אחר ואי זה זה מלך המשיח

The midrash states that the seed from which the Messiah would be conceived would come "from another place" — perhaps an allusion to him being of divine origin.

"Root from dry ground"

Another scripture which seems to hint at a peculiar childhood of the Messiah is Isaiah 53:2.

In his Epistle to Yemen (Iggeret Teiman), Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Rambam) wrote,

And, Yesha'yahu (Isaiah) said similarly, when he (the Messiah) appears without knowing his father and mother and family: "And he will grow up in His presence as a branch, even like a root out of dry ground (etc.)..." (Isa. 53:2).

וְאָמַר יְשַׁעְיָה כְּמוֹ כֵן, כְּשֶׁיִּרְאֶה מִבְּלִי שֶיודע לוֹ אָב וְאֵם וּמִשְׁפָּחָה, "וַיַּעַל כַּיּוֹנֵק לְפָנָיו וְכַשֹּׁרֶשׁ" וְגוֹמֵר יְשַׁעְיָה נ"ג ב'.

Rambam wrote that the Messiah would not know his father, mother, or family. While this isn't true of Yeshua, it demonstrates a traditional Jewish interpretation concerning the Messiah which Rambam received. It is quite possible that this same tradition existed among the Jewish people in the time of Yeshua. That is, some believed that the Messiah's father, mother, and family would be unknown and that the Messiah would appear from obscurity.

Perhaps one of the reasons Rambam interprets the scripture in such a manner is because the ground is said to be "dry." A root in dry ground is essentially dead or on the verge of death, as it receives no sustenance. Trees and plants are often used as metaphors in reference to ancestors. For example, the Messiah is said to be the "root of Yishai" (Isa. 53:11). That the Messiah, the root of Yishai, grows up out of dry ground, indicates that he is from an obscure family, contrary to the belief that the Messiah would be a well-known public figure worthy of pomp and grandeur.

I have also read that Raymundi Martini, in his Pugio Fidei, quotes Rabbi Moshe Ha-Darshan in saying that the Messiah would be fatherless, by connecting Zech 6:12 to Isa. 53:2 and Ps. 110:3 (according to the thought of the LXX). I'm currently searching the Pugio Fidei attempting to locate the page.


It is quite possible that since they knew the messiah should be the "Son of God", they assumed he would have just "appeared" from heaven. Even Christians must admit that it is peculiar that God sent Jesus to be born of a virgin (that is, for him to come from a human).

That is one of the reasons why we celebrate Christmas. It is quite unexpected. Since many of the people in the age when the Bible was being written, probably didn't have access to the Word Of God, they might not have known he was supposed to come from a virgin. Therefore, since they knew where Jesus came from, he couldn't possibly be the Messiah.

  • When Jesus is born the Maggai turn up to the King and ask where Jesus is. The Jewish leaders do a bit of searching and find that he is to born in Bethlahem. So wouldn't a good Jew know that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem?
    – Greg
    Jan 18 '13 at 1:03
  • @Greg: I'd say that was the traditional belief, indeed, as recorded in the Talmud Yerushalmi and the midrash.
    – user900
    Jan 18 '13 at 1:52
  • That might have been part of the point. Many might have known, but perhaps some did not. These people probably weren't "good" Jews. Instead, they were now worried, and needed an excuse using what they do know.
    – Josiah
    Jan 18 '13 at 2:12
  • @Josiah: "good" jew probably wasn't the right word. Regardless, doesn't Micah say that the ruler in Israel is coming from Bethleham? (Micah 5:2). I haven't studied Micah enough to understand the context so I'm happy to be told I'm wrong, but I thought that the old testament (Micah in particular) showed he would be born in Bethlehem. Therefore it could have been known to the Jews at the time.
    – Greg
    Jan 18 '13 at 2:37
  • And you are right. Educated people in that time would know that. But some may not have been so knowledged. There were definitely people who did know this, but we don't know how much uneducated people knew. We know a lot of spiritual "teachers" did hold things back, But for the most part I agree.
    – Josiah
    Jan 18 '13 at 2:45

Like others I believe that the people of Jesus' day were not ignorant of the PLACE where Messiah would be born (Bethlehem), and the Old Testament also indicates He would be of the lineage of David, but I believe they are referring to a kind of mystery surrounding who the Messiah really was. Isaiah calls Him, "The mighty God and the Everlasting Father." Jeremiah 23:6 calls Him YHWH, Our Righteousness, yet He was to be born of a Woman (Isaiah 7:14) who was a virgin (How did that happen?) and His name would be called Immanuel meaning "God with us." This is the mystery that people were referring to when they indicated that no one would know where Messiah came from - born of a woman, but almighty God and everlasting Father at the same time.

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