But Nicodemus also came (the one who previously came to him at night), bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about 75 pounds. Bible see other translations

“But Nicodemus also came.” The Greek has the particle de (#1161 δέ; pronounced deh), often translated “but,” at the beginning of the sentence. However, the de in the Greek text has been basically ignored by translators due to the tradition that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus worked together to bury Jesus, even though they did not (see commentary on John 19:40). The most common use of the de is to either mark a contrast or mark the start of a new subject. In this verse, it could be translated as a contrast, as in the REV, or it could be seen to start a new subject, but we do not have a good English word that does that (Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible uses “Moreover”). Many English versions show the change in subject by not translating the de at all, but we did not feel that was strong enough in this context. We should read John like, “Joseph took down the body of Jesus, but Nicodemus came with spices to bury him.” Although it is true that grammatically there are times when the de can be translated “and,” that would be misleading in this case because it would connect Joseph and Nicodemus too closely.

Translations of John 19:39 such as the NIV’s “he [Joseph] was accompanied by Nicodemus,” are in error. They are not what the Greek text says, and thus are not translations, but interpretations, and erroneous ones at that.

“about 75 pounds.” The Greek text says 100 litra (#3046 λίτρα). There is some dispute about the exact weight, because if the Greek word litra was being used as a literal Greek weight, then the weight of the spices was about 65 pounds, but if the word litra was being used in the Greek text to represent the common Roman pound of 12 ounces (which is possible since Nicodemus was neither Greek nor Roman), then the weight of the spices was about 75 pounds (a Roman pound is 12 ounces while the American pound is 16 ounces, so 100 Roman pounds is 75 American pounds). Quite a few English versions read, “100 pounds,” which is confusing to English readers who only think in terms of American pounds. Nicodemus was bringing 65-75 pounds of spices. The uncertainty explains why the English versions differ about the weight: “100 pounds” (ASV; KJV; NASB); “70 pounds” (CJB); “75 pounds” (HCSB; ESV; NET; NLT)

This is a huge amount of spices for a burial. It is likely that Jesus’ body did not even weigh much more than twice that amount. It has been suggested by many scholars that this large amount was actually fitting for a royal burial, and thus although Jesus’ birth was in less than royal circumstances, it seems his burial, in the tomb of a rich man and with a royal amount of spices, was a royal burial. Nicodemus was a rich man, and also it is possible that he and Joseph of Arimathea shared the cost of the spices. In any case, the amount of spices showed the great love and respect Nicodemus had for Jesus, and that they treated him like royalty. When Asa died, his bier was covered with spices (2 Chron. 16:14), and the historian Josephus (c. 37-100 AD) tells us that when Herod the Great was buried, 500 servants carrying spices took part in the funeral.

Had the women watching the burial seen Nicodemus, they would not have gone and bought spices themselves, and we can bet that even though they did buy spices, they did not buy nearly 75 pounds of spices, which would have cost a lot of money.

Commentary for: John 19:39