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the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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John 9

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

As he passed by (παραγων). Present active participle of παραγω, old verb to go along, by, or past (Matthew 20:30). Only example in this Gospel, but in 1 John 2:8; 1 John 2:17. The day was after the stirring scenes in chapter 8, but not at the feast of dedication as Westcott argues. That comes three months later (John 10:22).

From his birth (εκ γενετης). Ablative case with εκ of old word from γενω, γινομα. Here alone in N.T., but the phrase τυφλος εκ γενετης is common in Greek writers. Probably a well-known character with his stand as a beggar (verse John 9:5).

Verse 2

Who did sin? (τις ημαρτεν;). Second aorist active indicative of αμαρτανω. See Acts 3:2; Acts 14:8 for two examples of lameness from birth. Blindness is common in the Orient and Jesus healed many cases (cf. Mark 8:23; Mark 10:46) and mentions this fact as one of the marks of the Messiah in the message to the Baptist (Matthew 11:5). This is the only example of congenital blindness healed. It is not clear that the disciples expected Jesus to heal this case. They are puzzled by the Jewish notion that sickness was a penalty for sin. The Book of Job had shown that this was not always the case and Jesus shows it also (Luke 13:1-5). If this man was guilty, it was due to prenatal sin on his part, a curious notion surely. The other alternative charged it upon his parents. That is sometimes true (Exodus 20:5, etc.), but by no means always. The rabbinical casuists loved to split hairs on this problem. Ezekiel (Ezekiel 18:20) says: "The soul that sinneth it shall die" (individual responsibility for sin committed). There is something in heredity, but not everything.

That he should be born blind (ινα τυφλος γεννηθη). Probably consecutive (or sub-final) use of ινα with first aorist passive subjunctive of γενναω.

Verse 3

But that the works of God should be made manifest in him (αλλ' ινα φανερωθη τα εργα του θεου εν αυτω). Jesus denies both alternatives, and puts God's purpose (αλλ' ινα with first aorist subjunctive of φανεροω) as the true solution. It is sometimes true that disease is the result of personal sin as in the man in John 5:14 and parents can hand on the effects of sin to the third and fourth generations, but there are cases free from blame like this. There is comfort for many sufferers in the words of Jesus here.

Verse 4

We must work the works of him that sent me (ημας δε εργαζεσθα τα εργα του πεμψαντος με). This is undoubtedly the correct text (supported by the Neutral and Western classes) and not εμε (I) and με (me) of the Syrian class nor ημας (we) and ημας (us) of the Alexandrian class. Jesus associates us with him in the task committed to him by the Father. Bernard argues vigorously, but vainly, for εμε me. We are not able to fathom the depth of the necessity (δε) here involved in each life as in this poor blind man and in each of us.

While it is day (εως ημερα εστιν). This clause gives the note of urgency upon us all.

The night cometh (ερχετα νυξ). "Night is coming on," and rapidly. Night was coming for Jesus (John 7:33) and for each of us. Cf. John 11:9; John 12:35. Even electric lights do not turn night into day. Hεως with the present indicative (John 21:22) means "while," not until as in John 13:38.

Verse 5

When I am in the world (οταν εν τω κοσμω ω). Indefinite relative clause with οταν and present active subjunctive ω, "whenever I am in the world." The Latin Vulgate renders here οταν by quamdiu so long as or while as if it were εως. But clearly Jesus here refers to the historic Incarnation (John 17:11) and to any previous visitations in the time of the patriarchs, prophets, etc. Jesus as God's Son is always the Light of the World (John 1:4; John 1:10; John 8:12), but here the reference is limited to his manifestation "in the world."

I am the light of the world (φως ειμ του κοσμου). The absence of the definite article (το φως in John 8:12) is to be noted (Westcott). Literally, "I am light to the world, whenever I am in the world." "The display of the character varies with the occasion" (Westcott).

Verse 6

He spat on the ground (επτυσεν χαμα). First aorist active indicative of the old verb πτυω for which see Mark 7:33. Χαμα is an old adverb either in the dative or locative (sense suits locative), in N.T. only here and John 18:6. Jesus was not asked to cure this man. The curative effects of saliva are held in many places. The Jews held saliva efficacious for eye-trouble, but it was forbidden on the Sabbath. "That Jesus supposed some virtue lay in the application of the clay is contradicted by the fact that in other cases of blindness He did not use it" (Dods). Cf. Mark 8:23. Why he here accommodated himself to current belief we do not know unless it was to encourage the man to believe.

He made clay (εποιησεν πηλον). Only use of πηλος, old word for clay, in N.T. in this chapter and Romans 9:21. The kneading of the clay and spittle added another offence against the Sabbath rules of the rabbis.

Anointed his eyes with the clay (επεχρισεν αυτου τον πηλον επ τους οφθαλμους). First aorist active indicative of επιχριω, old verb, to spread on, anoint, here only and verse John 9:11 in N.T. "He spread the clay upon his eyes." B C read επεθηκεν (first aorist active indicative of επιτιθημ, to put on).

Verse 7

Wash (νιψα). First aorist middle imperative second person singular of νιπτω, later form of νιζω, to wash, especially parts of the body. Certainly bathing the eyes is good for eye trouble, and yet we are not to infer that the cure was due to the use of the clay or to the washing.

In the pool of Siloam (εις την κολυμβηθραν του Σιλωαμ). The word κολυμβηθρα (from κολυμβαω, to swim) is a common word for swimming-pool, in N.T. only here and John 5:2; John 5:7. The name Siloam is Hebrew (Isaiah 8:6) and means "sent" (απεσταλμενος, perfect passive participle of αποστελλω). It was situated south of the temple area and was apparently connected by a subterranean tunnel with the Virgin's Well (John 5:2) according to Bernard. The water was conducted artificially to the pool of Siloam.

Washed (ενιψατο). First aorist direct middle (cf. νιψα), apparently bathing and not merely washing his eyes.

Came seeing (ηλθεν βλεπων). Jesus had healed him. He was tested by the demand to bathe his eyes.

Verse 8

Neighbours (γειτονες). From γη (land), of the same land, old word. See Luke 14:2.

Saw him (θεωρουντες). Present active participle of θεωρεω, who used to observe him.

Aforetime (το προτερον). Adverbial accusative, "the former time," formerly.

That he was a beggar (οτ προσαιτης ην). See John 4:19; John 12:19 for declarative οτ after θεωρεω. But it is entirely possible that οτ here is "because" (Westcott). Προσαιτης is a late word for beggar, in N.T. only here and Mark 10:46. It is from προσαιτεω, to ask in addition (see προσαιτων below), a thing that beggars know how to do.

Is not this he that sat and begged? (Ουχ ουτος εστιν ο καθημενος κα προσαιτων;). He had his regular place and was a familiar figure. But now his eyes are wide open.

Verse 9

Nay but he is like him (Ουχι, αλλα ομοιος αυτω εστιν). Vigorous denial (ουχ) and mere similarity suggested. Associative instrumental case αυτο after ομοιος. The crowd is divided.

He said (εκεινος ελεγεν). Emphatic demonstrative (as in John 9:11; John 9:12; John 9:25; John 9:36), "That one spake up." He knew.

Verse 10

How then were thine eyes opened? (Πως ουν ηνεωιχθησαν σου ο οφθαλμοι;). Natural and logical (ουν) question. First aorist passive indicative (triple augment) of ανοιγω. These neighbours admit the fact and want the manner ("how") of the cure made clear.

Verse 11

The man that is called Jesus (ο ανθρωπος ο λεγομενος Ιησους). He does not yet know Jesus as the Messiah the Son of God (John 9:36).

I received sight (ανεβλεψα). First aorist active indicative of αναβλεπω, old verb to see again, to recover sight, not strictly true of this man who had never seen. He got back sight that he had never had. Originally the verb means to look up (Matthew 14:19).

Verse 12

Where is he? (Που εστιν εκεινοσ;). The very question of John 7:11.

Verse 13

They bring him (αγουσιν αυτον). Vivid dramatic present active of αγω. These neighbours bring him.

To the Pharisees (προς τους Φαρισαιους). The accepted professional teachers who posed as knowing everything. The scribes were usually Pharisees.

Him that aforetime was blind (τον ποτε τυφλον). Simply, "the once blind man."

Verse 14

Now it was the sabbath (ην δε σαββατον). Literally, "Now it was a sabbath" (no article). To the Pharisees this fact was a far more important matter than whether or how the thing was done. See Volumes I and II for discussions of the minute Sabbath regulations of the rabbis.

Verse 15

Again (παλιν). Besides the questioning of the neighbours (verses John 9:8; John 9:9).

Therefore (ουν). Since he has been brought to the Pharisees who must make a show of wisdom.

Also asked him (ηρωτων αυτον κα). Inchoative imperfect active of ερωταω, "began also to question him."

How he received his sight (πως ανεβλεψεν). No denial as yet of the fact, only interest in the "how."

He put (επεθηκεν). Genuine here, but see verse John 9:6.

And lo see (κα βλεπω). That is the overwhelming fact.

Verse 16

Because he keepeth not the sabbath (οτ το σαββατον ου τηρε). This is reason (causal οτ) enough. He violates our rules about the Sabbath and therefore is a Sabbath-breaker as charged when here before (John 5:10; John 5:16; John 5:18). Hence he is not "from God" (παρα θεου). So some.

How can a man that is a sinner do such signs? (Πως δυνατα ανθρωπος αμαρτωλος τοιαυτα σημεια ποιειν;). This was the argument of Nicodemus, himself a Pharisee and one of the Sanhedrin, long ago (John 3:2). It was a conundrum for the Pharisees. No wonder there was "a division" (σχισμα, schism, split, from σχιζω) as in John 7:43; John 10:19.

Verse 17

Unto the blind man again (τω τυφλω παλιν). The doctors disagree and they ask the patient whose story they had already heard (verse John 9:15).

In that he opened thine eyes (οτ ηνεωιξεν σου τους οφθαλμους). Causal use of οτ and triple augment in the first aorist active indicative of ανοιγω. They offer the excuse that the man's experience particularly qualified him to explain the "how," overlooking the fact he had already told his story and also trying to conceal their own hopeless division of opinion.

He is a prophet (προφητης εστιν). The man will go that far anyhow.

Verse 18

The Jews (ο Ιουδαιο). Probably the incredulous and hostile section of the Pharisees in verse John 9:16 (cf. John 5:10).

Did not believe (ουκ επιστευσαν). The facts told by the man, "that he had been blind and had received his sight" (οτ ην τυφλος κα ανεβλεψεν), conflicted with their theological views of God and the Sabbath. So they refused belief "until they called the parents" (εως οτου εφωνησαν τους γονεις). Usual construction of εως οτου ( = until which time, like εως alone) with aorist active indicative of φωνεω, old verb from φωνη (voice, sound). They called out loud for his parents to throw light on this grave problem to cover up their own stupidity.

Verse 19

Is this your son who ye say was born blind? how doth he now see? (Hουτος εστιν ο υιος υμων, ον υμεις ληγετε οτ τυφλος εγεννηθη; πως ουν βλεπε αρτι;). It was shrewdly put with three questions in one in order to confuse the parents if possible and give the hostile Pharisees a handle.

Verse 20

We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind (Οιδαμεν οτ ουτος εστιν ο υιος ημων κα οτ τυφλος εγεννηθη). These two questions the parents answer clearly and thus cut the ground from under the disbelief of these Pharisees as to the fact of the cure (verse John 9:18). So these Pharisees made a failure here.

Verse 21

But how he now seeth we know not (πως δε νυν βλεπε ουκ οιδαμεν). Concerning the third question they profess ignorance both as to the "how" (πως) and the "who" (τις).

Opened (ηνοιξεν). First aorist active indicative with single augment of ανοιγω, same form as ηνεωιξεν (triple augment) in verse John 9:17. They were not witnesses of the cure and had the story only from the son as the Pharisees had.

He is of age (ηλικιαν εχε). "He has maturity of age." He is an adult. A regular classical phrase in Plato, etc. The parents were wholly right and within their rights.

Verse 22

Because they feared the Jews (οτ εφοβουντο τους Ιουδαιους). Imperfect middle, a continuing fear and not without reason. See already the whispers about Jesus because of fear of the Jews (John 7:13).

Had agreed already (ηδη συνετεθειντο). Past perfect middle of συντιθημ, to put together, to form a compact (John 7:32; John 7:47-49).

If any man should confess him to be Christ (εαν τις αυτον ομολογηση Χριστον). Condition of third class with εαν and first aorist active subjunctive of ομολογεω and predicate accusative Χριστον. Jesus had made confession of himself before men the test of discipleship and denial the disproof (Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:8). We know that many of the rulers nominally believed on Jesus (John 12:42) and yet "did not confess him because of the Pharisees" (αλλα δια τους Φαρισαιους ουχ ωμολογουν), for the very reason given here, "that they might not be put out of the synagogue" (ινα μη αποσυναγωγο γενωντα). Small wonder then that here the parents cowered a bit.

That he should be put out of the synagogue (ινα αποσυναγωγος γενητα). Sub-final use of ινα with second aorist middle subjunctive of γινομα. Αποσυναγωγος (απο and συναγωγη) is found in N.T. only here and John 12:42; John 16:2. A purely Jewish word naturally. There were three kinds of excommunication (for thirty days, for thirty more, indefinitely).

Verse 23

Therefore (δια τουτο). "For this reason." Reason enough for due caution.

Verse 24

A second time (εκ δευτερου). He had given the Pharisees the facts the first time (John 9:15). It was really the third time (see παλιν in John 9:17). Now it was like a joke unless the Pharisees meant to imply that his previous story was untrue.

Give glory to God (δος δοξαν τω θεω). Second aorist active imperative of διδωμ (cf. σχεσ, ες). This phrase does not mean gratitude to God as in Luke 17:18. It is rather an adjuration to speak the truth (Joshua 7:19; 1 Samuel 6:5) as if he had not done it before. Augustine says: "Quid est Da gloriam Deo? Nega quod accepisti." Is a sinner (αμαρτωλος εστιν). They can no longer deny the fact of the cure since the testimony of the parents (John 9:19) and now wish the man to admit that he was lying in saying that Jesus healed him. He must accept their ecclesiastical authority as proving that Jesus had nothing to do with the cure since Jesus is a sinner. They wish to decide the fact by logic and authority like all persecutors through the ages. Recall the Pharisaic distinction between δικαιος (righteous) and αμαρτωλος (sinner).

Verse 25

One thing I know (εν οιδα). This man is keen and quick and refuses to fall into the trap set for him. He passes by their quibbling about Jesus being a "sinner" (αμαρτωλος) and clings to the one fact of his own experience.

Whereas I was blind, now I see (τυφλος ων αρτ βλεπω). Literally, "Being blind I now see." The present active participle ων of ειμ by implication in contrast with αρτ (just now, at this moment) points to previous and so past time. It must be borne in mind that the man did not at this stage know who Jesus was and so had not yet taken him as Saviour (John 9:36-38).

Verse 26

What did he do to thee? (Τ εποιησεν σοι;). Another cross-examination, now admitting that Jesus opened his eyes and wishing again (John 9:15; John 9:17) to know "how."

Verse 27

I told you even now (ειπον υμιν ηδη). In verses John 9:15; John 9:17; John 9:25.

Would ye also become his disciples? (Μη κα υμεις θελετε αυτου μαθητα γενεσθαι;). Negative answer formally expected, but the keenest irony in this gibe. Clearly the healed man knew from the use of "also" (κα) that Jesus had some "disciples" (μαθητα, predicate nominative with the infinitive γενεσθα) and that the Pharisees knew that fact. "Do ye also (like the Galilean mob) wish, etc." See John 7:45-52. It cut to the bone.

Verse 28

They reviled him (ελοιδορησαν αυτον). First aorist active indicative of λοιδορεω, old verb from λοιδορος (reviler, 1 Corinthians 5:11), in N.T. only here, Acts 23:4; 1 Corinthians 4:12; 1 Peter 2:23.

Thou art his disciple (συ μαθητης ε εκεινου). Probably a fling in εκεινου (of that fellow). He had called him a prophet (John 9:17) and became a joyful follower later (John 9:36-38).

But we are disciples of Moses (ημεις δε του Μωυσεως εσμεν μαθητα). This they said with proud scorn of the healed beggar. All orthodox rabbis so claimed.

Verse 29

We know that God hath spoken unto Moses (ημεις οιδαμεν οτ Μωυσε λελαληκεν ο θεος). Perfect active indicative of λαλεω, so still on record. See Exodus 33:11. For λαλεω used of God speaking see Hebrews 1:1. They are proud to be disciples of Moses.

But as for this man, we do not know whence he is (τουτον δε ουκ οιδαμεν ποθεν εστιν). "This fellow" they mean by "τουτον" in emphatic position, we do not even know whence he is. Some of the people did (John 7:27), but in the higher sense none of the Jews knew (John 8:14). These Pharisees neither knew nor cared.

Verse 30

Why, herein is the marvel (εν τουτω γαρ το θαυμαστον εστιν). This use of γαρ (γε + αρα, accordingly indeed) to bring out an affirmation from the previous words is common enough. "Why in this very point is the wonder" (θαυμαστον, old verbal adjective from θαυμαζω as in Matthew 21:42). The man is angry now and quick in his insight and reply. You confess your ignorance of whence he is, ye who know everything, "and yet (adversative use of κα again) he opened my eyes" (κα ηνοιξεν μου τους οφθαλμους). That stubborn fact stands.

Verse 31

God does not hear sinners (ο θεος αμαρτωλων ουκ ακουε). Note genitive case with ακουε. This was the argument of the Pharisees in John 9:16. It is frequent in the O.T. (Job 27:9; Psalms 66:18; Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 59:2, etc.). The conclusion is inevitable from this premise. Jesus is not αμαρτωλος.

If any man be a worshipper of God (εαν τις θεοσεβης η). Condition of third class with εαν and present active subjunctive η. Θεοσεβης (θεος, God, σεβομα, to worship) is an old compound adjective, here alone in the N.T.

And do his will (κα το θελημα αυτου ποιε). Same condition with present active subjunctive of ποιεω, "keep on doing his will."

Verse 32

Since the world began (εκ του αιωνος). Literally, "from the age," "from of old." Elsewhere in the N.T. we have απο του αιωνος or απ 'αιωνος (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:31; Acts 15:18) as is common in the LXX.

Of a man born blind (τυφλου γεγεννημενου). Perfect passive participle of γενναω. This is the chief point and the man will not let it be overlooked, almost rubs it in, in fact. It was congenital blindness.

Verse 33

If this man were not from God (ε μη ην ουτος παρα θεου). Negative condition of second class with imperfect indicative. Assuming that Jesus is not "from God" (παρα θεου) as some argued in John 9:16, "he could do nothing" (ουκ ηδυνατο ποιειν ουδεν). Conclusion of the second-class condition with imperfect indicative (double augment in ηδυνατο) without αν as is usual in conditions of possibility, propriety, obligation (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 920,1014). The man has scored with terrific power in his use of Scripture and logic.

Verse 34

Thou wast altogether born in sin (εν αμαρτιαις συ εγεννηθης ολος). First aorist passive indicative of γενναω. "In sins thou wast begotten (or born) all of thee." Hολος is predicate nominative and teaches total depravity in this case beyond controversy, the Pharisees being judges.

And dost thou teach us? (κα συ διδασκεις ημασ;). The audacity of it all. Note emphasis on συ (thou). It was insufferable. He had not only taught the rabbis, but had utterly routed them in argument.

And they cast him out (κα εξεβαλον αυτον εξω). Effective second aorist active indicative of εκβαλλω intensified by the addition of εξω. Probably not yet expulsion from the synagogue (John 9:22) which required a formal meeting of the Sanhedrin, but certainly forcible driving of the gifted upstart from their presence. See John 6:37 for another use of εκβαλλω εξω besides John 9:35.

Verse 35

Finding him (ευρων αυτον). Second aorist active participle of ευρισκω, after search because of what he had heard (ηκουσεν).

Dost thou believe on the Son of God? (Συ πιστευεις εις τον υιον του θεου;). So A L Theta and most versions, but Aleph B D W Syr-sin read του ανθρωπου (the Son of Man), almost certainly correct. In either case it is a distinct Messianic claim quite beyond the range of this man's limited knowledge, keen as he is.

Verse 36

And who is he, Lord, that I may believe on him? (Κα τις εστιν, κυριε;). The initial κα (and) is common (Mark 10:26; Luke 10:29; Luke 18:26). Probably by κυριε he means only "Sir." It usually comes at the beginning of the sentence, not at the end as here and verse John 9:38.

That I may believe on him (ινα πιστευσω εις αυτον). Ellipsis to be supplied before this final clause. He catches up the words of Jesus in the preceding verse, though he does not yet know who the Son of Man (or Son of God) is, but he trusts Jesus.

Verse 37

Thou hast both seen him (κα εωρακας αυτον). Perfect active indicative (double reduplication) of οραω. Since his eyes were opened.

And he it is that speaketh with thee (κα ο λαλων μετα σου εκεινος εστιν). "And the one speaking with thee is that man." See John 19:35 for εκεινος used of the speaker. In John 4:26 Jesus reveals himself in like manner to the Samaritan woman as Messiah while here as the Son of Man (or the Son of God).

Verse 38

Lord, I believe (Πιστευω, κυριε). Κυριε here = Lord (reverence, no longer respect as in John 9:36). A short creed, but to the point.

And he worshipped him (κα προσεκυνησεν αυτω). Ingressive first aorist active indicative of προσκυνεω, old verb to fall down in reverence, to worship. Sometimes of men (Matthew 18:26). In John (see John 4:20) this verb "is always used to express divine worship" (Bernard). It is tragic to hear men today deny that Jesus should be worshipped. He accepted worship from this new convert as he later did from Thomas who called him "God" (John 20:28). Peter (Acts 10:25) refused worship from Cornelius as Paul and Barnabas did at Lystra (Acts 14:18), but Jesus made no protest here.

Verse 39

For judgement (εις κριμα). The Father had sent the Son for this purpose (John 3:17). This world (κοσμος) is not the home of Jesus. The κριμα (judgement), a word nowhere else in John, is the result of the κρισις (sifting) from κρινω, to separate. The Father has turned over this process of sifting (κρισις) to the Son (John 5:22). He is engaged in that very work by this miracle.

They which see not (ο μη βλεποντες). The spiritually blind as well as the physically blind (Luke 4:18; Isaiah 42:18). Purpose clause with ινα and present active subjunctive βλεπωσιν (may keep on seeing). This man now sees physically and spiritually.

And that they which see may become blind (κα ο βλεποντες τυφλο γενωντα). Another part of God's purpose, seen in Matthew 11:25; Luke 10:21, is the curse on those who blaspheme and reject the Son. Note ingressive aorist middle subjunctive of γινομα and predicate nominative. Hο βλεποντες are those who profess to see like these Pharisees, but are really blind. Blind guides they were (Matthew 23:16). Complacent satisfaction with their dim light.

Verse 40

Are we also blind? (Μη κα ημεις τυφλο εσμεν;). Negative answer expected (μη) and yet these Pharisees who overheard the words of Jesus to the new convert vaguely suspected that Jesus was referring to them by the last clause. Up in Galilee Jesus had called the Pharisees blind guides who stumble into the pit (Matthew 15:14).

Verse 41

If ye were blind (ε τυφλο ητε). Condition of second class with imperfect indicative in the protasis. The old word τυφλος is from τυφω, to raise a smoke, to blind by smoke (literally and metaphorically). Here, of course, it is moral blindness. If the Pharisees were born morally blind, they would, like idiots, be without responsibility.

Ye would not have sin (ουκ αν ειχετε αμαρτιαν). Regular form for conclusion of second-class condition, αν with imperfect.

But now ye say (νυν δε λεγετε). In contrast to the previous condition. See like contrast in John 15:22; John 15:24. They arrogantly asserted superior knowledge.

We see (βλεπομεν). The ignorant mob do not (John 7:49). It is sin against light and is hopeless (Mark 3:29; Matthew 12:31). "Ye are witnesses against yourselves" (μαρτυρειτε εαυτοις, Matthew 23:31).

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 9". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/john-9.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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