Was thinking about this yesterday on my long drive home from a software convention:
1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
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.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
Something interesting about these scriptures is that I have heard a myriad of assumptions about the whereabouts of the male companion of this woman. Everything from “they let him off the hook”, to “he was probably standing right there accusing her” has been floated around by many of the pastors I have listened to.
However, I have another take on the location of our adulterous friend:
He was already dead.
From what I understand the Pharisees were pretty big sticklers on the law, though they used it to garner recognition, respect and likely money for themselves. Letting this man go, who was “taken in adultery” (meaning he was caught, along with the woman) would have likely reflected very poorly on them and as we can see by these verses they were well versed in knowing what the law stated was the punishment for this couple.
The difference, however, is that likely figured they had the upper hand by presenting a woman, whom others could likely find sympathy for, to Jesus, and using that sympathy to trap Him. Had Jesus said “Yeah, so stone her then” (which He could have, it was the appropriate punishment for the crime, after all) he would have looked like an unsympathetic and heartless fellow, while discounting her crime altogether would have put Him at odds with the law.
Her paramour, however, would not be so lucky. Likely there would have been little sympathy for a man caught in the act of adultery, and because they were caught in the act it would make sense that they would immediately pull him to the edge of town and mete out the penalty.
Run that scenario past the next person who tries to tell you how society in the time of Jesus was so misogynistic that this man, this adulterer, of who’s whereabouts are not specifically mentioned in the text, probably got off the hook because “male privilege” or some such rot.