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The Triumphal Entry

12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees[a] and went out to meet him. They began to shout,[b]Hosanna![c] Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord![d] Blessed is[e] the king of Israel!” 14 Jesus found a young donkey[f] and sat on it, just as it is written, 15 Do not be afraid, people of Zion;[g] look, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt![h] 16 (His disciples did not understand these things when they first happened,[i] but when Jesus was glorified,[j] then they remembered that these things were written about him and that these things had happened[k] to him.)[l]

17 So the crowd who had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead were continuing to testify about it.[m] 18 Because they had heard that Jesus[n] had performed this miraculous sign, the crowd went out to meet him. 19 Thus the Pharisees[o] said to one another, “You see that you can do nothing. Look, the world has run off after him!”

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  1. John 12:13 sn The Mosaic law stated (Lev 23:40) that branches of palm trees were to be used to celebrate the feast of Tabernacles. Later on they came to be used to celebrate other feasts as well (1 Macc. 13:51, 2 Macc. 10:7).
  2. John 12:13 tn Grk “And they were shouting.” An ingressive force for the imperfect tense (“they began to shout” or “they started shouting”) is natural in this sequence of events. The conjunction καί (kai, “and”) is left untranslated to improve the English style.
  3. John 12:13 tn The expression ῾Ωσαννά (hōsanna, literally in Hebrew, “O Lord, save”) in the quotation from Ps 118:25-26 was probably by this time a familiar liturgical expression of praise, on the order of “Hail to the king,” although both the underlying Aramaic and Hebrew expressions meant “O Lord, save us.” As in Mark 11:9 the introductory ὡσαννά is followed by the words of Ps 118:25, εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι κυρίου (eulogēmenos ho erchomenos en onomati kuriou), although in the Fourth Gospel the author adds for good measure καὶ ὁ βασιλεὺς τοῦ ᾿Ισραήλ (kai ho basileus tou Israēl). In words familiar to every Jew, the author is indicating that at this point every messianic expectation is now at the point of realization. It is clear from the words of the psalm shouted by the crowd that Jesus is being proclaimed as messianic king. See E. Lohse, TDNT Hosanna is an Aramaic expression that literally means, “help, I pray,” or “save, I pray.” By Jesus’ time it had become a strictly liturgical formula of praise, however, and was used as an exclamation of praise to God.
  4. John 12:13 sn A quotation from Ps 118:25-26.
  5. John 12:13 tn Grk “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” The words “Blessed is” are not repeated in the Greek text, but are repeated in the translation to avoid the awkwardness in English of the ascensive καί (kai).
  6. John 12:14 sn The author does not repeat the detailed accounts of the finding of the donkey recorded in the synoptic gospels. He does, however, see the event as a fulfillment of scripture, which he indicates by quoting Zech 9:9.
  7. John 12:15 tn Grk “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion” (the phrase “daughter of Zion” is an idiom for the inhabitants of Jerusalem: “people of Zion”). The idiom “daughter of Zion” has been translated as “people of Zion” because the original idiom, while firmly embedded in the Christian tradition, is not understandable to most modern English readers.
  8. John 12:15 sn A quotation from Zech 9:9.
  9. John 12:16 tn Or “did not understand these things at first”; Grk “formerly.”
  10. John 12:16 sn When Jesus was glorified, that is, glorified through his resurrection, exaltation, and return to the Father. Jesus’ glorification is consistently portrayed this way in the Gospel of John.
  11. John 12:16 tn Grk “and that they had done these things,” though the referent is probably indefinite and not referring to the disciples; as such, the best rendering is as a passive (see ExSyn 402-3; R. E. Brown, John [AB], 1:458).
  12. John 12:16 sn The comment His disciples did not understand these things when they first happened (a parenthetical note by the author) informs the reader that Jesus’ disciples did not at first associate the prophecy from Zechariah with the events as they happened. This came with the later (postresurrection) insight which the Holy Spirit would provide after Jesus’ resurrection and return to the Father. Note the similarity with John 2:22, which follows another allusion to a prophecy in Zechariah (14:21).
  13. John 12:17 tn The word “it” is not included in the Greek text. Direct objects in Greek were often omitted when clear from the context.
  14. John 12:18 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  15. John 12:19 sn See the note on Pharisees in 1:24.