We read at Jn 2:13-15 (KJV)

And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables

But in some other versions we find a slightly different translation, e.g. in NRSVCE:

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.

While KJV states that Jesus directed his whip on people and cattle alike, NRSVCE, for instance, gives the impression that he used the whip to drive the cattle out. And nobody questioned Jesus' authority to use force in the Temple, implying that in case he had whipped the people, they would have definitely revolted. But, many pictures depicting the event show Jesus directing his whip on the sellers of cattle rather than on the cattle.My question therefore is: Did Jesus in fact whip the people selling cattle in the Temple? How do the teachings of Catholic Church explain the event?

  • pictures depicting the event are an artists interpretation of the event and have no extra weight/value in meaning compared to the scriptural account
    – depperm
    Nov 12, 2020 at 13:05
  • If some obviously angry person started cracking a whip near me, I'd leave in a hurry long before it could actually be used on me. I imagine the people there would have felt the same way. (Ditto for the cattle.) What is there to explain? Nov 12, 2020 at 16:20
  • 1
    Having been hit accidentally with a whip a horse barn, I assure you it hurts like a s. o. b. People would run from a person yielding a whip. There would have had to be absolute chaos in the Temple at that time!
    – Ken Graham
    Nov 12, 2020 at 16:40
  • 1
    Young's Literal is very close to the original Greek ... and having made a whip of small cords, he put all forth out of the temple, also the sheep, and the oxen; and of the money-changers he poured out the coins, and the tables he overthrew. Note, particularly the presence and position of 'also'.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 12, 2020 at 18:28
  • It is worth bearing in mind that Jesus, as the true King of Israel (inheriting the Crown rights through Joseph, the husband of his mother) had the right to remove individuals from the Temple built by the previous King, Solomon, and restored in the days of Shealtiel. And had the right to do it by force, if necessary, it being private property with the right to remove trespassers.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 14, 2020 at 11:43

1 Answer 1


John 2:15 And when he had made, as it were, a scourge [whip] of little cords, he drove them all out of the temple, the sheep also and the oxen: and the money of the changers he poured out, and the tables he overthrew.

Note that Matthew 21:12 and the other Synoptics don't mention the scourge/whip (σχοινίον).

St. Augustine (as quoted by St. Thomas Aquinas in his Catena Aurea on Jn. 2) says He literally scourged/whipped them:

Our Lord intended a meaning to be seen in His making a scourge (flagellum) of small cords, and then He scourged (flagellavit) those who were carrying on the merchandise in the temple. Every one by his sins twists for himself a cord, in that he goes on adding sin to sin.

St. Cyril's Commentary on John 2 compares the Jews' folly to slaves deserving corporal punishment:

Reasonably is the Saviour indignant at the folly of the Jews. […] He shows His emotion not by mere words, but with stripes and a scourge thrusts He them forth of the sacred precincts, justly devising for them the punishment befitting slaves; for they would not receive the Son Who through faith maketh free.

  • Thank you, Geremia. Kindly also explain why NRSVCE says both the sheep and the cattle' as if it were the attribute of " all of them ''. Nov 13, 2020 at 4:20
  • @KadalikattJosephSibichan You think the "all" might not refer to the money-changers but only to the sheep and oxen?
    – Geremia
    Nov 13, 2020 at 17:50

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