Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 3:23

John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people were coming and were being baptized—
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Enon (Aenon);   John;   Salim;   Scofield Reference Index - Inspiration;   Thompson Chain Reference - Baptism;   Enon;   John's;   Sacraments;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Baptism;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Salim;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Baptism;   John the baptist;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Episcopacy;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Aenon;   Faith;   Salim;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Aenon;   Ain;   Jesus Christ;   John the Baptist;   Jordan;   Salim;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Aenon;   John;   John, the Gospel of;   Machaerus;   Salim;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Aenon;   Gospels;   John, Gospel of;   John, Theology of;   Melchizedek;   Mss;   Salim;   Scribes;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Aenon ;   Baptism ;   John the Baptist;   Salim;   Water (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Aenon ;   Salim ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Enon;   Salim;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ae'non;   E'non;   John the Baptist;   Sa'lim;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Aenon;   Baptism (Lutheran Doctrine);   John the Baptist;   Near;   Salim;   Trine (Triune) Immersion;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Aenon;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - John the Baptist;   Kefar-Salama (Caphar-Salama);   Salem;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

In Aenon - This place was eight miles southward from Scythopolis, between Salim and Jordan.

There was much water - And this was equally necessary, where such multitudes were baptized, whether the ceremony were performed either by dipping or sprinkling. But as the Jewish custom required the persons to stand in the water, and, having been instructed, and entered into a covenant to renounce all idolatry, and take the God of Israel for their God, then plunge themselves under the water, it is probable that the rite was thus performed at Aenon. The consideration that they dipped themselves, tends to remove the difficulty expressed in the note on Matthew 3:6. See the observations at the end of Mark.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 3:23". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/john-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

In Enon - The word “Enon,” or “Aenon,” means “a fountain,” and was doubtless given to this place because of the fountains there. On the situation of the place nothing certain has been determined. Eusebius places it eight Roman miles south of Scythopolis or Bethshan, and 53 miles northeast of Jerusalem.

Near to Salim - It would seem from this that Salim was better known then than Enon, but nothing can be determined now respecting its site. These places are believed to have been on the west side of the Jordan.

Because there was much water there - John‘s preaching attracted great multitudes. It appears that they remained with him probably many days. In many parts of that country, particularly in the hilly region near where John preached, it was difficult to find water to accommodate the necessities of the people, and perhaps, also, of the camels with which those from a distance would come. To meet their necessities, as well as for the purpose of baptizing, he selected a spot that was well watered, probably, with springs and rivulets. Whether the ordinance of baptism was performed by immersion or in any other mode, the selection of a place well watered was proper and necessary. The mention of the fact that there was much water there, and that John selected that as a convenient place to perform his office as a baptizer, proves nothing in regard to the mode in which the ordinance was administered, since he would naturally select such a place, whatever was the mode.

Where numbers of people came together to remain any time, it is necessary to select such a place, whatever their employment. An encampment of soldiers is made on the same principles, and in every camp-meeting that I have ever seen, a place is selected where there is a good supply of water, though not one person should be immersed during the whole services. As all the facts in the case are fully met by the supposition that John might have baptized in some other way besides immersion, and as it is easy to conceive another reason that is sufficient to account for the fact that such a place was selected, this passage certainly should not be adduced to prove that he performed baptism only in that manner.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 3:23". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/john-3.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And John was also baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there; and they came and were baptized.

Scholars differ as to the exact location of Aenon; but, true to the Holy Spirit which provided this information, the essential fact that there were "many waters there" is given. It is that truth, rather than exactly where Aenon was, which is important; because, as John Calvin said, "From these words, we may infer that John and Christ administered baptism by plunging the whole body beneath the water."[21] As Lightfoot said:

There are some passages that seem to carry a color of conformity of the one to the other: at Matthew 3:6, "They were baptized of John in Jordan"; Matthew 3:16, "Jesus came straight out of the water"; Acts 8:38, "the eunuch went down into the water"; and the words in hand, "John baptized in Aenon because there was much water there.[22]

Immersion is the ceremony recognized as baptism by Christ and the apostles; and the appearance of other actions called baptism in the historical church should not obscure this fact.

[21] J. W. Shepherd, Handbook on Baptism (Nashville: The Gospel Advocate Company, 1950) p. 91.

[22] Ibid., p. 92

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 3:23". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/john-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And John also was baptizing in Aenon,.... The Syriac and Persic versions call it "Ain", or "In you", the fountain of the dove; and the Arabic version reads it, the fountain of "Nun": and whether it was a town, or river, it seems to have its name from a fountain near it, or that itself was one, where was an abundance of water, as the text shows. There is a city of this name in the Septuagint version of Joshua 15:61, and mention is made of Hazerenon in Numbers 34:9, but neither of them seem to be the same with this; but be it where, and what it will, it was

near to Salim; and where that was, is as difficult to know as the other, some take it to be Shalem, a city of Shechem, mentioned in Genesis 33:18, but that is not the same name with this; and besides was in Samaria; and indeed is by some there thought not to be the proper name of any place. Others are of opinion, that it is the same with Shalim in 1 Samuel 9:4, though it seems rather to be the place which Arias Montanus callsF15Antiqu. Jud. l. 2. c. 3. "Salim juxta torrentem", Salim by the brook; and which he places in the tribe of Issachar: and might be so called, either because it was near this Aenon, and may be the brook, or river intended, by which it was; or because it was not far from the place where the two rivers, Jabbok and Jordan, met; and so the Jewish maps place near Jordan, in the tribe of Manasseh, bordering on the tribe of Issachar, a Shalem, and by it Ain-yon. And the Septuagint in Joshua 19:22 mention "Salim by the sea", as in the tribe of Issachar. There is a passage in the TalmudF16T. Hieros. Avoda Zara, fol. 44. 4. , which, whether it has any regard to this Aenon, and Salim, I leave to be considered:

"the wine of Ogedoth, why is it forbidden? because of the village Pegesh; and that of Borgetha, because of the Saracene palace; and of Ain-Cushith, because of the village Salem.'

Nonnus here calls Aenon, a place of deep waters; and Salim he reads Salem; and so some copies. Aenon, where John baptized, according to JeromF17De locis Hebraicis fol. 89. C. & fol, 94. F. , was eight miles from Scythopolis, to the south, and was near Salim and Jordan; and he makes Salim to be at the same distance from Scythopolis. However, John was baptizing in these parts, at the same time that Christ was teaching and baptizing: he did not leave off on that account. This was the work he was sent to do, and which he continued in as long as he had his liberty; and be chose this place,

because there was much water there; or "many waters"; not little purling streams, and rivulets; but, as Nonnus renders it, abundance of water; or a multitude of it, as in the Arabic version; see Revelation 1:15 and the Septuagint in Psalm 78:16, and what was sufficient to immerse the whole body in, as Calvin, Aretius, Piscator, and Grotius, on the place, observe; and which was agreeable not only to: the practice of the Jews, who used dipping in their baptisms, and purifications, as Musculus and Lightfoot assert; but to John's method and practice elsewhere:

and they came, and were baptized. The Ethiopic version renders it, "they came to him", that is, to John, "and he baptized them"; as the Persic version adds, "there", in Aenon, near Salim, in the much water there: it may be understood of the people coming both to John and Christ, and of their being baptized by them; though it seems rather to be said of John; and so Nonnus paraphrases it.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 3:23". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/john-3.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Salim — on the west of Jordan. (Compare John 3:26 with John 1:28).

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 3:23". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/john-3.html. 1871-8.

People's New Testament

And John was baptizing in Ænon near Salim. The site was first identified by Lieut. Conder, of the British Palestine Exploration. He found a village of {Ainun} near another named Salim, not far from the Jordan, northeast of Samaria, with, as he says ({Tent Work,} p. 92), "the two requisites for the scene of baptism of a large multitude;--an open space and abundance of water." Prof. McGarvey, who visited it, says: "Pools, well suited for baptizing are abundant."

Because there was much water there. This explains, not why John preached at Ænon, but why he baptized there. "Much water" was essential to baptism in New Testament times.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
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Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on John 3:23". "People's New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pnt/john-3.html. 1891.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

John was also baptizing (ην δε και ο Ιωανης βαπτιζωνēn de kai ho Iōanēs baptizōn). Periphrastic imperfect picturing the continued activity of the Baptist simultaneous with the growing work of Jesus. There was no real rivalry except in people‘s minds.

In Aenon near to Salim (εν Αινων εγγυς του Σαλειμen Ainōn eggus tou Saleim). It is not clearly known where this place was. Eusebius locates it in the Jordan valley south of Beisan west of the river where are many springs (fountains, eyes). There is a place called Salim east of Shechem in Samaria with a village called Aimen, but with no water there. There may have been water there then, of course.

Because there was much water there
(οτι υδατα πολλα ην εκειhoti hudata polla ēn ekei). “Because many waters were there.” Not for drinking, but for baptizing. “Therefore even in summer baptism by immersion could be continued” (Marcus Dods).

And they came, and were baptized
(και παρεγινοντο και εβαπτιζοντοkai pareginonto kai ebaptizonto). Imperfects both, one middle and the other passive, graphically picturing the long procession of pilgrims who came to John confessing their sins and receiving baptism at his hands.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 3:23". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/john-3.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Was baptizing ( ἦν βαπτίζων )

The substantive verb with the participle also indicating continuous or habitual action; was engaged in baptizing.

Aenon, near to Salim

The situation is a matter of conjecture. The word, Aenon is probably akin to the Hebrew ayin an eye, a spring. See on James 3:11.

Much water ( ὕδατα πολλὰ )

Literally, many waters. Probably referring to a number of pools or springs.

Came - were baptized

Imperfects. They kept coming.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 3:23". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/john-3.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

John also was baptizing — He did not repel them that offered, but he more willingly referred them to Jesus.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on John 3:23". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/john-3.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

And John also was baptizing1 in Enon near to Salim, because there was much water there3: and they came, and were baptized4.

  1. And John also was baptizing. The fact that John also was baptizing is a further indication that the baptism administered by Jesus was preparatory. There would hardly be two kinds of baptism administered by divine consent at one time.

  2. In Aenon. This name means "springs".

  3. Near to Salim, because there was much water there. If one starts at Sychar, at the foot of Mount Ebal, and follows the Damascus road northward for seven miles, he comes upon the valley called Wady Farah. In this beautiful wady the stream flows eastward, having Salim three miles to its south and 'Ainun four miles to its north. For the most part the valley is narrow, and hemmed in by rocky cliffs. But if one follows the course seven miles eastward from the Damascus road, he comes upon a beautiful valley, about one mile wide and three miles broad--a place every way suitable for the gathering of multitudes to hear the preaching of John. A perennial stream, with copious springs all along its course, furnishes, even in the longest, driest summers, the "much water" required for baptism.

  4. They came, and were baptized. Says Lt. Conder,

    "Here, then, in the wild, desert valley, beneath the red precipices, where the hawk and kite find nests in "the stairs of the rocks," or by the banks of the shingly stream, with its beautiful oleander blossoms shining in the dusky foliage of luxuriant shrubs, we may picture the dark figure of the Baptist, in his robe of camel's hair, with the broad leather Bedawi belt around his loins, preaching to the Judean multitude of pale citizens--portly, gray-bearded rabbis, Roman soldiers in leathern armor and shining helmets, sharp-faced publicans, and, above all, to the great mass of oppressed peasantry, the "beasts of the people," uncared for, stricken with palsy, with blindness, with fever, with leprosy, but eagerly looking forward to the appearance of that Messiah who came to preach the gospel to the poor."

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
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J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 3:23". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/john-3.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books

Ver. 23. "Now John also was baptizing in AEnon, near to Salim, because there was abundance of water there; and they came and were baptized."

AEn, from which AEnon, denotes a fountain. We may also, withMeyer, make of the termination on an abridgment of the word jona, dove; this word would thus signify the fountain of the dove. This locality was in the vicinity of a town called Salim. The situation of these two places is uncertain. Eusebius and Jerome, in the Onomasticon, place AEnon eight thousand paces south of Bethsean or Scythopolis, in the valley of the Jordan, on the borders of Samaria and Galilee, and Salim, a little further to the west. And indeed there has recently been found in these localities a ruin bearing the name of Aynu=n (Palestine Exploration Report, 1874).

From this, therefore, it would be necessary to conclude that these two localities were in Samaria. But this result is incompatible with the words of John 3:22 : in the country of Judea (on the supposition, at least, that the two baptisms were near each other). And, above all, how should John have settled among the Samaritans? How could he have expected that the multitudes would follow him into the midst of this hostile people? Ewald, Wieseler, Hengstenberg, and Muhlau, because of these reasons, suppose an altogether different locality. In Joshua 15:32 three towns are spoken of: Shilhim, Ain, and Rimmon, situated towards the southern frontier of the tribe of Judah, on the borders of Edom (comp. John 15:21). In Joshua 19:7 and 1 Chronicles 4:32, Ain and Rimmon again appear together.

Finally, in Nehemiah 11:29 these two names are blended in one: En-Rimmon. Might not AEnon be a still more complete contraction? This supposition would do away with the difficulty of the baptism in Samaria, and would give a very appropriate sense to the reason: because there was abundance of water there. Indeed, as applied to a region generally destitute of water and almost desert, like the southern extremity of Judah, this reason has greater force than if the question were of a country rich in water, like Samaria.

Jesus would thus have gone over all the territory of the tribe of Judah, seeing once in His life Bethlehem, His native town, Hebron, the city of Abraham and David, and all southern Judea even as far as Beersheba. This remark has excited the derisive humor of Reuss; we do not at all understand the reason of it. In the Synoptical Gospels, we see Jesus making a series of excursions as far as the northern limits of the Holy Land, once even to Caesarea Philippi, in the vicinity of the ancient Dan, at the foot of Hermon, at another time as far as into the regions of Tyre and Sidon. He would thus have visited all the countries of the theocratic domain from Dan to Beersheba. Is not this altogether natural? Hengstenberg has taken advantage of this sojourn of Jesus in the vicinity of the desert, to place the temptation at this time. This opinion is chronologically untenable.

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Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on John 3:23". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsc/john-3.html.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

23 And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

Ver. 23. And John also was baptizing] Here ministers may learn not to be wanting to their duties, though God stir up others about them of greater parts and better success to obscure them. Verbi minister es, hoc age, was Mr Perkins’ motto. Summum culmen affectantes, satis honeste vel in secundo fastigio conspiciemur, saith Columella. And, prima sequentem, honestum est in secundis, tertiisve consistere, saith Cicero. Every man cannot excel, nor is it expected.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 3:23". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/john-3.html. 1865-1868.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

23.] The situation of these places is uncertain. Eusebius and Jerome place Salim eight Roman miles south of Scythopolis, and Ænon at the same distance, on the Jordan. If Scythopolis was the ancient Bethshan, both places were in Samaria: and to this agree Epiphanius and the Samaritan chronicle called Abul Phatach. In Judith 4:4, we find mention of ὁ αὐλὼν σαλήμ in Samaria (see note on Hebrews 7:1). An Ænon in the wilderness of Judah is mentioned Joshua 15:61 [(56) (50)], and ib. Joshua 15:32, שִׁלְחִים and עַיִן, σελεεὶμ κ. ἀίν (m(51)., omit(52) κ. ἀίν (53) (54)), both in Judah, where it is certainly more probable, both from the text here and from à priori considerations, that John would have been baptizing, than in Samaria. The name עַינָן, is an intensive form of עַיִן, a fountain, which answers to the description here given. Both places were West of the Jordan: see John 3:26, and compare ch. John 1:28.

παρεγ. κ. ἐβ., i.e. the multitudes.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 3:23". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/john-3.html. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 3:23. αἰνών, Ænon) from עין, a fountain.— τοῦ) The article in the masculine gender points to some(57) region.— πολλά, many [waters]) So the rite of immersion required.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 3:23". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/john-3.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Aenon is here said to be

near Salim: it was the name of a city, as some think; others say, a river or brook near that city: neither the river nor the city are elsewhere mentioned in Scripture; but topographers place it on the eastern part of the lot of Manasseh, not far from Bethshan or Scythopolis. There John was baptizing; because this Aenon was a brook or river that had much water, which in Judea was rare. There is no water more holy than the other. John baptized in Jordan, and in Bethabara, and in Aenon. The ordinance sanctified the water, but did not require consecrated water for the due administration of it. It is from this apparent that both Christ and John baptized by dipping the body in the water, else they need not have sought places where had been a great plenty of water; yet it is probable that they did not constantly dip, from what we read of the apostles baptizing in houses, Acts 9:17,18 10:47,48. The people came to John and were baptized, that is, great numbers of them did so.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 3:23". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/john-3.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

в Еноне близ Салима Его точное местоположение является спорным. Здесь говорится либо о Салиме близ Сихема, либо о Салиме, расположенном в 6 милях (9,6 км) от Беф-Сана. Оба города находятся на территории Самарии. Енон – транслитерация еврейского слова, означающего источники», и в этих двух вероятных местоположениях есть много воды («там много воды»).

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on John 3:23". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/john-3.html.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘And John was also baptising at Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there.’

John the Baptiser did not feel that his work was over because the One to whom he pointed had come, nor did he feel it necessary to become a disciple of Jesus (in the technical sense). The relationship between Jesus and John is informative. John is happy to go on preaching but to ‘decrease’ and turn people to Jesus. Jesus on the other hand is careful not to bring discredit on the ministry of John, but to work alongside him. Both recognise that each has a purpose to fulfil in God’s service.

The reference to ‘Aenon near Salim’, an obscure place, is again evidence of the author’s personal knowledge, and of the genuine basis of the narrative. Various identifications have been made but certainty is not obtainable.

‘Because there was much water there.’ The need for much water arose from the success of his ministry. Huge crowds were coming to be baptised.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on John 3:23". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/john-3.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

23.John also was baptizing—The two great masters, the stern and sorrowful John, and the serene and winning Jesus, are neighbouring baptizers, but silent apparently (as in nearly all their previous lives) towards each other. This, as their language of each other shows, arises from no uncongenial feeling between them.

But why did Jesus commence baptizing, and so soon cease? Why did John continue baptizing after Jesus commenced? The answers to both questions are the same. Both these baptisms were initiatory; being an intended ceremonial purifying of Israel for her Messiah, a consecration of her body and spirit to him. Of the same import was the cleansing of the temple. But the hierarchy of Israel, the representatives of the nation and Church, rejected both, and the solemn rite ceased until renewed, and extended to embrace the world, at the ascension of Jesus. The baptism of Jesus and of John, having the same object, could be properly continued and terminate together.

In Enon—That is, a place of fountains. In Palestine the same word Ain, is the ordinary term for a spring or a watering place. In that dry country, travelling companies find it very important to make their stoppages at some Ain. Hence John would find a place well watered absolutely necessary for the immense numbers of people, with their animals, who attended his baptism,

Near to Salim—The best tradition decides this place to have been eight Roman miles south of Scythopolis or Bethshan. The only objection to admitting this to be the locality, is the fact that it is within the boundaries of Samaria. But we have elsewhere remarked that John is at this time at the zenith of his prophetic inspiration, a true successor of the Isaiah who could see in the Messiah a Light to lighten the Gentiles; a fit harbinger to the Jesus whose very next bright spot would be in that very Samaria. John 4:4.

Much water—Greek, many waters, that is, many springs and rivulets. Whatever the mode of the baptism, or whether there was any baptism at all, these water conveniences would be very essential for the assembled multitudes.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 3:23". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/john-3.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The exact location of Aenon (lit. springs) near Salim is unknown today. The best evidence seems to point to a site just south of Scythopolis (Old Testament Beth-shan). [Note: See Tenney, " John," p52, and the map "Palestine in the Time of Jesus" at the end of these notes.] The other possible site was a few miles east of Sychar (near Old Testament Shechem). The first site is about15 miles south of the Sea of Galilee. The second is approximately midway between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. Both are only a few miles west of the Jordan River. [Note: See Edersheim, 2:767-69, for further discussion of the location of Sychar.] John evidently chose the site for its abundant water that came from nearby springs. Many people were coming to him to express their repentance by undergoing water baptism.

". . . the importance of the note is to show that John moved from the south to the north, leaving Jesus to baptize in the area not distant from Jerusalem." [Note: Beasley-Murray, p52.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 3:23". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/john-3.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

John 3:23. And John also was baptizing in AEnon near to Salim, because there were many waters there: and they came and were baptised. Where Ænon and Salim were situated it is not easy to determine. The position assigned them by Eusebius and Jerome, near the northern boundary of Samaria, does not agree well with John 3:22. It is more probable that Salim is the Shilhim (translated Salem in the LXX.) of Joshua 15:32, a town not far from the southern limit of Judea. In this verse of Joshua (in the Hebrew) Shilhim is directly followed by Ain, from which AEnon differs only in being an intensive form—Ain denoting a spring, and AEnon, springs. The objection to this identification is that, as John was clearly in the neighbourhood of Jesus, it takes the latter from the route leading to Samaria and Galilee. But the history of the events of the period is so brief and fragmentary that this objection has not much weight. John no doubt alludes to the meaning of AEnon when he adds that there were ‘many waters’ there.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 3:23". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/john-3.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

John 3:23. . And John also was baptising, although he had said that he was sent to baptise in order that the Messiah might be identified; which had already been done. But John saw that men might still be prepared for the reception of the Messiah by his preaching and baptism. Hence, however, the questioning which arose, John 3:25. The locality is described as . “The Salim of this place is no doubt the Shalem of Genesis 33:18, and some seven miles north is ’Ainûn [= Springs], at the head of the Wâdy Fâr’ah, which is the great highway up from the Damieh ford for those coming from the east by the way of Peniel and Succoth” (Henderson’s Palestine, p. 154). The reason for choosing this locality was , “because many waters were there,’ or much water; and therefore even in summer baptism by immersion could be continued. It is not “the people’s refreshment” that is in view. Why mention this any more than where they got their food?— , the indefinite third plural, as frequently in N.T. and regularly in English, “they continued coming”.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on John 3:23". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/john-3.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Salem. A town situated upon the river Jordan, where formerly Melchisedech reigned. (Ven. Bede)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on John 3:23". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/john-3.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

AEnon = Springs. Now Farah. The springs near Umm al `Amdan, 7.5 miles below Beisan.

Salim. Still so called; east of Shechem.

much water = many waters (i.e. springs).

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 3:23". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/john-3.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

And, [ de (G1161), rather, 'Now,' or 'But,'] John also was baptizing in Aenon, [ =`ayin (Hebrew #5869) `eeynaan (Hebrew #5881)] - 'an eye,' 'a fountain,' which accords with the Evangelist's explanation at the end of this verse.

Near to Salim. The site of these places cannot now be certainly ascertained. But the scenes of the Master's and the servant's labours could not have been very far apart.

Because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized, [ pareginonto (Greek #3854) kai (Greek #2532) ebaptizonto (Greek #907)] - or 'kept coming and getting baptized.'

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 3:23". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-3.html. 1871-8.

The Bible Study New Testament

23. John also was baptizing in Aenon. Close to the Jordan, northeast of Samaria, where there were lots of pools which could be used to immerse people. Because there was plenty of water there. Baptism of the crowds of people required an open area and plenty of water.

 

 

 

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on John 3:23". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/john-3.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(23) Ænon near to Salim.—The latter place was clearly well known at the time, and regarded as fixing the locality of the former. It has been usual to follow Jerome and Eusebius, who fix the place in the valley of the Jordan, eight miles south from Bethshan, or Scythopolis. (See quotation from the Onomasticon, in Caspari, Chron. and Geogr. Introd., Eng. Trans., p. 122.) The objection to this is, that the text seems to limit us to Judæa (comp. John 4:3-4), whereas this Salim is more than thirty miles from it. The word Ænon means “springs,” and probably belonged to more than one place where “there was much water.” The mention of this is opposed to the locality of the Jordan valley, where it would not be necessary to choose a place for this reason. Dr. Barclay (City of the Great Xing, 1858, pp. 558-570) found both names in a place answering the description, and certainly answering the narrative better than other identifications, at Wady Farah, about five miles from Jerusalem.

They came—i.e., the people.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 3:23". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/john-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.
near
Genesis 33:18
Shalem
1 Samuel 9:4
Shalim
much
Jeremiah 51:13; Ezekiel 19:10; 43:2; Revelation 1:15; 14:2; 19:6
and they
Matthew 3:5,6; Mark 1:4,5; Luke 3:7
Reciprocal: Matthew 3:11 - but;  Matthew 14:3 - Herod;  John 1:28 - where;  Acts 8:36 - See;  Acts 8:38 - and he baptized

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 3:23". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/john-3.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Ver. 23. "And John also was baptizing in non, near to Salim, because there was much water there; and they cameand were baptized."

The position of Ænon and Salim is a matter of controversy. The following facts furnish a test of the different hypotheses. 1. Ænon is to be looked for on the hither side of the Jordan. This is evident from ver. 26. 2. Ænon was in Judea. For Jesus was staying in Judea, and the whole narrative shows that John was baptizing near to Him. His disciples have to do with a Jew in ver. 25. 3. Ænon must have been situated in a district where water was scarce; for only if this were the case would the abundance of water at Ænon have furnished a reason for John's choosing this place. The words, ὅτι ὕδατα πολλὰ ἦν ἐκεῖ, would be incomprehensible in the neighbourhood of the Jordan or the Sea of Gennesaret. There, ten other places might have been chosen just as well. If we take these tokens into view, we shall immediately give up the current hypothesis (Von Raumer, Palästina, S. 159), according to which Ænon was situated 8 mil. passumn southwards from Scythopolis, in the plain of the Jordan. The authority of the Onomasticon does not by any means suffice to support such a confusing and impossible supposition. According to this, Ænon was situated in Samaria, where the Baptist had nothing to do, and in the vicinity of the Jordan, where the abundance of water would lose all its significance.

The key to the explanation of our text is furnished by Joshua 15:32. The section, vers. 21-32, enumerates the cities in the southern portion of Judea. It is said in ver. 21, "And the uttermost cities of the tribe of the children of Judah, toward the coast of Edom southward." The conclusion of the list of these cities is formed by Shilhim, and Ain, and Rimmon, in ver. 32. That these cities were situated at the end of the southern district, on the borders of the desert, is shown, in harmony with their names, by Zechariah 14:10 : "All the land shall be turned as a plain, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem." That Geba was on the northern boundary of Judea is evident from the circumstance, that in 2 Kings 23:8, the whole extent of the kingdom of Judah is designated by the expression, "from Geba to Beersheba." Rimmon in Zechariah corresponds to Beersheba here, as the most southern point. And in this region Rimmon may still be discovered. Von Raumer remarks in his 4th Edition, under the word Rimmon:

According to Velde, Mem. S. 344, now Um er Rummamim, between Eleutheropolis and Beersheba. There are springs in the vicinity." The LXX., according to the Codex Alex., render the three names by σελεεὶμ καὶ ἀὶν καὶ ρεμμών (cum καὶ ἀὶν charact. minore; Holmes). The two latter must have been closely connected from the beginning, and have afterwards become one place, to which the manner of writing in the Cod. Alex, probably refers. Even in Joshua 19:7, cf. 1 Chronicles 4:32, the copula is wanting, by which they are separated from each other in 15:32, Ain = Rimmon; in Nehemiah 11:29, the blending has become complete, for here we have En-Rimmon. It seems that our Ænon represents a further progress, and that this name is contracted from En-Rimmon. Cf. on such "purely accidental and gradual abbreviations of proper names," Ewald, § 275, S. 591. αἰνών affords the last stage. If we thus refer to Joshua 15:32, the words, "because there was much water there," have suddenly a great light thrown on them. The southern district was an arid country. Of what importance springs were there, is shown by Joshua 15:19. This is evident also from the circumstance, that the places are named from the water. This applies not merely to Ain, but also to שלחים. The name is manifestly connected with Siloa, ‍ שִׁלֹחַ, emissio aquas, fons v. aquaductus, John 9:7. In aridity, remarks Ritter, Erdkunde 16, 1, 23, 28, the southern district forms the continuation of the Arabian Desert.

How came the Baptist into this region? The general answer might be given, that his task was to go through the whole country, for he was the preacher of repentance to the whole people. But there is an intimation in Matthew 4:12 which will not allow us to be content with this general answer. According to this passage, the Baptist was delivered up, παρεδόθη—he was betrayed to his peculiar enemy, which in the Scriptures Herod everywhere appears to have been—by others. That the Pharisees were the betrayers, we learn from John 4:1. According to this, John was at the time of his capture in another territory than that of Herod. His being there delivered up, presupposes that he had already previously done something by which he had drawn upon him the enmity of Herod, We learn what this was from Matthew 14:4. John must have had time to follow the example of his predecessor Elijah, of whom we read in 1 Kings 19:3, "And when he saw that, he arose and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which is in Judah." Like his predecessor, he retired to the borders of the Arabian Desert, probably in order under certain circumstances to penetrate, like him, into the desert itself. That he did not again return to the theatre of his former ministry, is clear, not only from the παρεδόθη of Matthew, but also from John 10:40, according to which John did not baptize at Bethabara after his stay at Ænon, but only before it. We also expect from the declaration of the Baptist here in ver. 30, and from the words, πάντες ἔρχονται πρὸς αὐτον, of his own disciples in ver. 26, that he will soon retire from public life. Everything here gives the impression, that we are on the eve of an impending catastrophe.

The Baptist had probably come first into this region; and his presence occasioned Jesus to go there, in order to be near to John, to give him an opportunity of hearing the voice of the Bridegroom, ver. 29, and an occasion for his last testimony concerning Him.

If the situation of non is correctly determined, light is thus cast at the same time on the scene of the temptation of Christ, which, as we have already proved, must fall into the period designated in ver. 22. The southern district borders on the great Arabian Desert,

Von Raumer says, S. 176, under Beersheba, "Here, according to Robinson, the southern desert ends, and Palestine begins,"—in which the children of Israel were tempted, and Elijah, according to 1 Kings 19, of which we are always first to think, where "the wilderness" is spoken of, and to which especially the words, ἦν μετὰ τῶν θηρίων, of Mark refer, particularly when compared with Deuteronomy 8:15 and Isaiah 30:6.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on John 3:23". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/john-3.html.