“Behold Thy Mother, Behold Thy Son”

BEHOLD is a key word to the third saying of Jesus while he was being crucified. I realize it is not a word we use in our everyday language. However, it still is used but mainly for dramatic effect in writings.

  • In 2014, Huffingtonpost published an articled titled, “Behold, The Most Influential Contemporary Black Artists In The Industry Today”.
  • In 2017, USA Today printed a headline, “Behold the Michelada, Dodgers Stadium’s signature spirit at the World Series”.
  • Arstechnica.com announced, “Behold, 157 new emoji for 2018”.

Because it is not widely used, many contemporary bible translators remove the word from their texts. Yet the standard translations retain it. The reason is because it is the exact word used in the original language.

“Behold” is a verb in the transitive preterit tense. As a participle passive we would use the word “beheld”. It means “to fix the eyes upon; to see with attention; to observe with care.” Think about that as you compare the readings from contemporary translations with the standard ones.

“Behold, thy son!” [Dramatic] verses “Here is your son.” “Here is your mother.” [Impersonal, almost flippant]. What a difference! Behold the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

Jesus Lamb Cross

Yes, the word is much used in this manner for exciting attention and admiration. It is in the imperative mode, expressing command, or exhortation; and by no means a mere exclamation. Why am I making this such a big deal?

The Greek word being translated is ἰδού. The term is second person singular imperative middle voice of εἴδω. This particle has an active voice. Its imperative mood demands you “see” something. It calls attention to what may be seen or heard or mentally apprehended in any way. It is drawing attention to a literal, physical object or being.

“Behold” is imperative mood “to see,” calling attention to what may be seen or heard or mentally apprehended in any way. These are regularly rendered “behold.”

If your bible uses the word “here” instead of “behold”, that is because it is translating a different Greek word. The Greek word is Ide instead of idou. It comes from ὁράω (horao, hor-ah’-o). Like idou, ide also means to see, perceive and attend to. However, where it differs is that, by definition, it demands your discernment to beware of something!

“HERE is your son” is a message of wariness, not responsibility.

Idou/behold, is reality. Ide, here, has a METAPHORICAL meaning! The term ide implies it is not literally true.

And herein lies my personal dispute. To flippantly use the phrase, “Here is your son…here is your mother” opens the door for the entire narrative to be interpreted as a metaphorical passage. It is based on a Greek word that implies a metaphorical meaning.

Our ancient creed from Nicaea assumes a literal, physical crucifixion of our Lord. It is not a made up story.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.