John 8:6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
In our day reading and writing are Siamese twins. It is hard to imagine one without the other. In the ancient past it was different, only a small minority were trained to write on permanent surfaces.
One reason for this limited skill is that writing involved more than just drawing the letters. There were no ballpoint pens, computers, typewriters, pencils, or readily available paper or ink. Writers (scribes) wrote with difficult writing instruments on stone, metal, pottery, plant material, animal skins, cloth, wax, and clay. But the common man’s writing surface was dirt. And the easiest and most available writing instrument was the finger… and both were free.
The word “wrote” in this verse means: to inscribe the characters of a written language on a surface. In the ancient world it was a skill that took time and commitment to learn.
Ancient literacy rates, especially among Israelites, are hotly debated. Generally most everyone agrees that literate persons were a small minority of the population of the ancient world. There is little evidence that ancient Israel was overly exceptional in this regard. Ian Young in his study, “Israelite Literacy”, concludes: “that ancient Israelite scribes, priests, and the upper classes of society had skills in both reading and writing. The rest of the population in general did not have such skills.”
Luke 4:16-20 verifies that Jesus could read, and John 8:6 confirms he could write. John 7:14 -17 tells us he knew “letters” but had no formal scribal education.
“Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground,” Some say that he only scribbled. Don’t believe it. He wrote words. Based on the result of what He wrote on this occasion I like to imagine he wrote the name of each accuser’s girlfriend...
Jesus came to forgive those who had broken the law of God. The world was already condemned under the justice of God, so there was no need of further condemnation. John 3:16-21 That's what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. If I can help answer questions you have about Jesus, please don't hesitate to write me, or read the posts on the left under the subject title "Jesus".