–by Mary A. LaClair

1,300 words  jesus-john8-full-231x300

2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.”  John 8:2- 12 RSV

Actually, all the versions I checked do not say “sand”; they say “ground”. Buildings, such as the Temple where this took place, are seldom built on sand.

What did Jesus write on the ground?  Some think it was the names of the men present, men who had sinned with her. Others think there is no way of knowing what was written. I have heard many agree with the former; however concerning the latter I believe there IS a way to surmise from Scripture what Jesus wrote on the ground. Notice that He did write twice.

More than 24 times in Scripture it is recorded that Jesus spoke “It is written” and/or to the effect ‘you should know the Scriptures’. Documentation in the link at the end of this piece lists many of Jesus’ references to the Holy Scriptures.

Once it is established in our minds that Jesus responded to questions, and often spoke, using Scriptures it is easy then to reflect that Jesus most probably answered here with a Scripture also. The Scribes and Pharisees were proud of being teachers of the Law and they were here to test Jesus on the Law but instead Jesus tests them on the Law.

Like Adam, the stronger sex, these male accusers tried to pass the entire blame on to the weaker sex, woman. But Jesus acquits the woman while He calmly and effectively silences her haughty, prideful accusers. These men were quilty of what today is called ‘slut slaming’; Jesus condemned the male for his part but acquited the woman.

I believe Jesus followed His pattern of quoting Scriptures and that He either cited or scroll with rodswrote out Hosea 4:13-14, in the ground; that Scripture which says God holds the male more accountable than the female for sex sins.

Jesus, Himself being the Law Giver, tells us in Matthew 5:18 and Luke 16:17 that: “not one jot or tittle of the law shall pass away.” (jot or tittle = dotting the (i) and crossing the (t)). But these men tried to get Jesus to focus on only part of the Law – the part which they chose, thus they tried to ‘control the moment’ or “to trick Him.”



It is recorded that Jesus wrote in the ground a second time and it is this time “they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest.” (verse 9) I believe  this second time He may have written the names, one by one, beginning with the eldest, of the equally guilty male parties, since they left “one by one.” Thus He was showing the men their guilt. Don’t misunderstand; he was not acquiting the men by this action. He would be letting them know they too were guilty.

The Pharisees wanted Jesus to think they knew the Law so well that I believe Jesus answered them from the Law, just as He regularly did when teaching or being challenged on earth. It would be like Him to refer them to what they should have known but which they chose to ignore. Do we ignore this same law ourselves, today?  The part which says:

14 “I will not punish your daughters when they play the harlot,

nor your brides when they commit adultery;

for the men themselves go aside with harlots,

and sacrifice with cult prostitutes,

and a people without understanding shall come to ruin.”   Hosea 4:14RSV

bible with hands

These men were without understanding; He tells them they will come to ruin. I believe  He was letting the men know he had not yet acquitted them of the same sin or of their sin in thinking they needed no forgiveness themselves.

The MESSAGE Bible, a most modern version for today, states it quite clearly:

“Wine and whiskey

leave my people in a stupor.

They ask question of a dead tree,

Expect answers from a sturdy walking stick.

Drunk on sex, they can’t find their way home.

They’ve replaced their God with their genitals.

They worship on the tops of mountains,

Make a picnic out of religion.

Under the oaks and elms on the hills

They stretch out and take it easy.

Before you know it, your daughters are whores

And the wives of your sons are sleeping around.

But I’m not going after your whoring daughters

Or the adulterous wives of your sons.

It’s the men who pick up the whores that I’m after,

The men who worship at the holy whorehouses—

A stupid people, ruined by whores!” 

(Hosea 4:11-14  The Message)  (emphasis mine)

It is quite clear here that God blames men if women become whores or adulteresses and get involved in sexual sins, and I think that’s what ended the confrontation. He let it be known that he was not acquitting proud men of their same sin. And God does not wink at sexual sin today. Men are to be the protectors of women.

He probably did write the names of the men guilty of the same sin, but I believe He Jesus writes with finger John 8wrote the Law first so they had no bargaining chips left for themselves. He sent the message: If you, as teachers of the law, think you’re following the Law…think again…you are just as guilty and even more so.

He also let them know He sees the unseen, that which is not seen by men or which we wouldn’t want to admit.



A further intimidation of those particular men present would be this: These men would also have left because they, having become false witnesses by accusing only half of the guilty parties, wanted to exonerate themselves from the same guilt but wanted to  condem someone whom God would not because of Hosea 4:14. They also knew the law which deals with false witnesses (did they think Jesus didn’t?), and that they themselves could receive the penalty they wished to inflict on someone else.  (See: Deuteronomy 19:16-21 regarding false witnesses at the end of the following article, JESUS AUTHENTICATES THE PROPHETS AND SCRIPTURE.

I think Jesus cited or wrote out Hosea 4:14 on the ground the first time, afterwards writing the names of the men present to whom the Law applied. He is also letting them know that He knows secret sins.

(Thank you to Malinda, who in the comment section, applied the fact that Jesus wrote the law the even SECOND time He wrote . Instead of writing the names it is possible He cited this time Deut 19:16-21. I had left it that the men quietly knew it, however Melinda offers that Jesus reminded them of it. She keeps Jesus consistent. I like that. Thanks Malinda for catching this.)

A lesson for today?  God can’t be out-smarted or tricked.

P.S.  Before completing this article I ‘just happened’ to tune in to Joseph Prince’s T.V. program. https://www.josephprince.org/onlinestore/us/c-93-sermon-cds.aspx?IsTop=1 My ears picked up when he spoke of the incident of the woman caught in adultery. It is just what I was writing on at the time. This is where I was alerted to the fact that Jesus wrote “on the ground” not in the sand as popularly thought. Joseph Prince’s further insights are amazing! Because the temple, he says, was built on large cobblestone squares, not sand, Jesus could well have written on stone with his ten-commandments-stone-tablets-42898375 shutterstockfinger – just as He wrote the Ten Commandments – on stone with His finger – and seeing this the Pharisees would have known that they had come in contact with the Law Maker Himself. Isn’t that just like Jesus.. giving a lesson deeper than the ear can hear?  It makes me tingle.

The Scriptures where Jesus said:  “It is written” and “You should know the Scriptures”  are posted in the following post titled:




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  1. It wasn’t “what” he wrote, but the mere act of writing in the dust that alludes to multiple verses that parallel the primary aspects of consequence occurring during this scene. Onlooking Jewish men well versed in the scriptures and likely the woman would likely readily recall not only Jer. 17-13, but also verses 10,11,14,15,17,&18, ALL of which speak directly To each of the separate participants in this scene. The fact they left in order of age was standard practice among a group rabbinical scholars of the law The steam is trading their ability to grasp the allusion to the various relevant scripture in Jeremiah 17 upon witnessing the mere act of Jesus writing in the dust .

    Liked by 1 person

    • These references to Jeremiah 17:13 are the most likely explanation. We can also find that the woman being the only one who was brought to judgement and not the man violates Exodus 23:1 and in in having forsaken God are forced to turn away for reason of Exodus 23:7.


    • It is a long stretch to believe one knows what he wrote. Speculating, I would guess he wrote the law. Saying he wrote the men’s names is too much of a stretch for me.


      • Thank you for your comment. I tend to agree with you in the fact He probably wrote the law He may well have written or cited: the first time from Hosea 4:14 scripture; and, the second time from the Deut 19:16-21 Scripture . Thank you for your input!The fact that the oldest left first may confuse people; however, thinking it was Scripture He wrote both times, these were teacher of the law – the eldest would have known the law more fully and possibly had seen, or had himself recommended for others, the punishment of Deut 19:16-21


    • Jer 17:13
      O Lord, the hope of Israel,
      All who forsake You shall be ashamed.
      “Those who depart from Me
      Shall be written in the earth,
      Because they have forsaken the Lord,
      The fountain of living waters.” NKJV

      Interesting Scripture… worthy of possible consideration… especially since we do not know what He actually wrote…

      Do you think the men ‘got it’, simply with their name being written? ..unless He put the date and time next to each name, The date and time each had been with her? That’s an interesting concept also.

      Prov 25:2
      2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
      But the glory of kings is to search out a matter. NKJV

      May we all continue to be blessed as we search out the Holy Scriptures spending time in the written Word with the Living Word.


  2. Whatever Jesus wrote in the sand, was crossed out, and thrown into the sea of forgetfulness, never to remember again. This is where the phrase; forgive and forget comes from. If we keep bringing up things that was done to us, we haven’t forgiven! Amen!


    • What version of the Bible says it was crossed out, please? Yes, our sins are crossed out WHEN we come to Him. This story shows that forgiveness to the woman. And it challenges the men to re-think BOTH the application of Scriptures, AND their own personal lives.. Maybe you assume it was the sins of the men that were written. If so, you seem to have missed the point of the article. The men were challenging Jesus on the application of Scripture. I beleive He responded with Scripture, as He routinely did throughout His life on earth. Jesus validates the Holy Scriptures, and He would likely do so in this scene as well.
      Also, what Bible says ‘forgive and forget’, please? Are we to forget what Jesus went through? Does He want us to forget what it cost Him? Ah, but then we would lose the Gospel, wouldn’t we?
      You are correct that it is best to forget, not rehearse, those serious wrongs others may have done to us; but we need to remember enough not to let them do it again. Beware of cheap grace, for even Jesus calls for repentance., as well we should, when possible. Forgiveness does NOT mean allowing them, or us, to do it again. We are to be free. May you continue to be blessed as you search the Scriptures and commune with Him… (<:


  3. They really added a lot to that Bible verse in Hosea, must be the Liberal Feminist version, here is KJV: Hosea 4:11-14 King James Version (KJV)
    11 Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.

    12 My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God.

    13 They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.

    14 I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall.


  4. Wonderful insight. I have been asking this question to myself for some time and finally just ‘Googled it’ and found this post on your site to be well thought out and researched. What I appreciated most was the biblical backing you gave your own spirit led words, to come up with a sensitive, intelligent theory for something we won’t ever know for sure.
    I found another answer that I liked too, and thought you might appreciate reading it.
    It was my first time on that site also, so I know nothing else about it except that this particular article, like yours, was scriptural and well thought out. https://www.preachitteachit.org/articles/detail/what-did-jesus-really-write-in-the-sand/

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It could have also been two new Laws he wrote, by his own finger:

    “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”


    “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.”

    Writing all the names down would be quite time consuming; Jesus said himself that he did not come into the world to condemn it.


  6. Thanks for your observations from Hosea and
    Moses about Jesus writing on the ground.
    He is the “prophet like unto moses” that the false prophets cannot and will not allow in most assemblies – keep up the good work!!!!


  7. Pingback: Prayer and Meditation for Monday, March 23, 2015 — Best Not To Be Shocked and Scandalized | Peace and Freedom

  8. Pingback: Stone Her! | Garden2day

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