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Encyclopedia of The Bible – Jairus

JAIRUS jā ī’ rəs (̓Ιάϊρος, G2608, W-H ̓Ιάειρος; LXX Ιάϊρ, for Heb. יָאִֽיר, meaning, He will enlighten, or in 1 Chron 20:5 for Heb. יָעִ֗יר, He will arouse). A name found in the OT, Apoc., Jos. War, and the NT, in the last lit. being used for a synagogue official whose dead daughter Jesus raised to life.

The NT incident, located near Lake Galilee (Mark 5:21-24, 35-43; Luke 8:40-42, 49-56; Matt 9:18, 19, 23-26), tells how a synagogue official named Jairus unnamed in the Matt. parallel implores Jesus to come and raise to life his twelve year old daughter, which the Savior did.

Jairus is called an ἀρχισυνάγωγος, G801, “ruler of the synagogue” (Mark 5:22, 35; Luke 8:41; but Matt 9:18, 23 say ἄρχων, G807, “ruler”), thus indicating he was a leader, whose duties involved responsibility for the physical arrangements for the worship services.

Although the words, “Jairus by name” in Mark 5:22 are omitted by two ancient MSS (D and itala), there is no reason to suspect, as some have done, that the name was not a part of early MS material, but added from Luke later. Observe that most of the early Markan MSS support the inclusion of the name, and that this and other NT names occur in 1st and 2nd cent. ossuary inscr. (FLAP, 333).

That the word “Jairus” may be from Heb. יָעִ֗יר, “he will awaken” (as rarely, 1 Chron 20:5), which corresponds to the daughter’s “awakening,” does not show that the narrative is a legendary resurrection as some have claimed, because Jairus is generally used for Heb. יָאִֽיר, “he will enlighten,” and because, as Mark (5:41) and Luke (8:54) show, this was not an “awakening” but a “rising” (ἔγειρε, “get up”).

The OT equivalent of Jairus is Jair (Num 32:41; Deut 3:14; Josh 13:30; Judg 10:3-5; 1 Kings 4:13; 1 Chron 2:22, 23; Esth 2:5; cf. 1 Esd 5:31, Jos. War II. xvii. 9).

Bibliography A. Plummer, Gospel According to St. Luke, ICC (1898), Luke 8.