Bartimaeus

BARTIMAEUS (bar'tĭ-mē'ŭs, Gr. Bartimaios, son of Timaeus). A blind man healed by Jesus as he went out from Jericho on his way to Jerusalem shortly before Passion Week (Mark.10.46-Mark.10.52). A similar account is given by Luke (18:35-Mark.10.43), except that the miracle occurred as Jesus drew near to Jericho, and the blind man’s name is not given. Matthew (20:29-Mark.10.34) tells of Jesus healing two blind men on the way out of Jericho. On the surface the stories seem irreconcilable, but there is no doubt that if we knew some slight circumstance not mentioned, the difficulty would be cleared up. Various explanations, which may be found in the standard commentaries, have been suggested.


BARTIMAEUS bär’ tə me’ əs (Βαρτιμαι̂ος, G985). A blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, whom Jesus, on His way to His last Passover, healed as He left the city of Jericho (Mark 10:46-52). Bartimaeus prob. has a patronymic meaning, “son of Timaeus” (10:46). The order of events given in Mark is somewhat different in Luke (Luke 18:35-43), where the blind man’s name is not given. In Matthew’s account (Matt 20:29-34) two unnamed blind men appear. Various attempts have been made to explain the apparent “discrepancies” in these accounts, but none has received universal acceptance.

A widely accepted explanation is that a blind man made his request as Jesus approached Jericho, but Jesus did not heed him, perhaps to test his faith. When Jesus left Jericho, the blind man was accompanied by another and both were healed by Jesus.

Another interpretation is that the healing occurred between the old Jericho (the site of the Canaanite city) and the new Jericho (the recently built Herodian city). Jesus actually healed two blind men, but for some reason Mark and Luke chose to mention only one, perhaps because he later became widely known as a disciple of Christ.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

A hybrid word from Aramaic bar = "son," and Greek timaios = "honorable." For the improbability of the derivation from bar-tim’ai = "son of the unclean," and of the allegorical meaning = the Gentiles or spiritually blind, see Schmiedel in Encyclopedia Biblica. In Mr (Mr 10:46-52) Bartimeus is given as the name of a blind beggar, whose eyes Jesus Christ opened as He went out from Jericho on His last journey to Jerusalem. An almost identical account is given by Lu (Lu 18:35-43), except that the incident occurred "as he drew nigh unto Jericho," and the name of the blind man is not given. Again, according to Mt (Mt 20:29-34), "as they went out from Jericho" (like Mk) two blind men (unlike Mr and Lk) receive their sight. It is not absolutely impossible that two or even three events are recorded, but so close is the similarity of the three accounts that it is highly improbable. Regarding them as referring to the same event, it is easy to understand how the discrepancies arose in the passage of the story from mouth to mouth. The main incident is clear enough, and on purely historical grounds, the miracle cannot be denied. The discrepancies themselves are evidence of the wide currency of the story before our Gospels assumed their present form. It is only a most mechanical theory of inspiration that would demand their harmonization.