What Did Jesus Write in the Sand?

Regarding the story of the adulteress who is about to get stoned?

Before Jesus made his famous, “Let he who is without sin cast the first Stone” statement, he wrote in the sand.

I have heard, or read, that Theologians speculate that Jesus was writing in the sand the sins of those with stones in their hands, and those that were trying to trip him up with this question.

I find this plausable. But what else does Jesus’s writing in the sand signify?
Could it be as simple as That THEIR sins were as numerous as grains of sand?..or
Does this point to some ancient custom? or Did one of the Patriarchs write something in the sand?
In the OT God wrote to Moses on Stone, which was the Law, and put in the ark of the old Covenant. In the NT Jesus’s Only writing is in sand and there’s ONLY speculation as to what is written? This HAS to signify Something???
God does everything for a reason.

Hi, Just Returned!

…I usually stay away from the “what if” queries… but I’ve heard this one several times before… the fact is that Scriptures do not tell us that Jesus was actually writing something on the ground… we all have a tendency to doodle… even when engaged in an active conversation… some of us (mostly the girls) twirl our hair, ears, fingers, some knickknack… some of us (mostly the guys) play with our mustache or beard or hands… some of us (both sexes) use a pencil/pen/marker to write or sketch or practice our signature or the name of that person of interest… the Holy Scriptures suggest that Jesus was more than likely doing exactly that: doodling.

Maran atha!


It’s such a great question. I’ve heard theories from the names of those present and their sins to that he was just so mad he couldn’t look at them!

Very powerful to ponder though eh?

1 Like

When I was Mormon and taking seminary, I was told by the teacher that Jesus was doing it as a “sarcastic” action, if you will.

No one really knows what Jesus wrote. However; looking at how the Scribes and Pharisees always wanted to test the wisdom of our Lord with contempt. I think that what Jesus wrote in the sand was so penetrating to the very core of their heart and how they in their self-righteous condemnation wanted to stone the adulteress they brought before Jesus under Mosaic Law. The Scribes and Pharisees had invoked the Law of Moses. So would Jesus. Where did the Law of Moses come from ? Who wrote it ? Whose finger ? (“With that Moses came down from the mountain carrying in his hand the two tablets of the law, with writing on either side, God’s workmanship, A Divine Hand had traced the characters they bore”).
That same finger of Jesus The Son of Almighty God who was now tracing his finger in the sand was in a very powerful symbolic sense the same finger writing in the tablets on the stone temple floor, who also wrote on the tablets of stone on Mount Sinai. Had those present before Jesus have the eyes to see the Giver of the Law of Moses standing before them, would they be so forthright in their condemnation ? (" He looked up to them and said; Whichever of you who is without sin shall cast the first stone at her"). A short while tracing his fingers writing in the sand again Jesus looked up at each in turn with stones in their hands, beginning with the eldest. I would imagine that he had one of those calm penetrating looks, which anticipate the last judgment.
(“One by one beginning with the eldest they all dropped their stones and left”) Perhaps the older they were, the more they had sinned in life. Jesus did not condemn them, rather he made them condemn themselves in their own sins. ("Jesus then looked up to the woman, who was standing alone, and asked her; ("Woman where are your accusers ? Has no one condemned thee ?
If their was no one to cast the stone, neither would Jesus. She who came to Him as a Judge, found a Savior. The accusers called Him Master; she called Him, not Sir but “Lord” as if to recognize that she was standing there in the presence of Someone Who was infinitely superior to herself. And her faith in Him was justified. For He turned to her and said; (“I will not condemn thee either. Go in peace and sin no more”)
So what was it that Jesus wrote in the sand ?
It likely had to do with Mosaic Law and The Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments were written with the finger of God on tablets of stone from the earth.

Jesus wrote the two new commandments with his finger on the earth:
Love God
Love your neighbor

1 Like

Not another thread about this.

Listen. Neither Scripture nor Tradition says what Jesus wrote in the sand. It has no significance so stop reading something into that. Nobody knows so no point in wasted speculation.

Jesus was drawing a tic-tac-toe in the sand. None of them could beat him. They knew that because they had previously tried so, one by one they dropped their rocks and went home.

Hey, it’s as good of an explanation as any of the others :stuck_out_tongue:

That’s an interesting thought and "could’ be, but we (no-one on earth) knows what Jesus wrote in the sand, so we can’t state affirmatively that this is what he wrote. But I agree, it would be “fitting” if this is what he had written.



One of my bibles says it was possibly the ten commandments, and as he wrote each one, those with the stones had to leave as they had all committed these sins and had no right to judge the woman.

He either wrote/drew:

  1. The only word to rhyme with Orange.

  2. A picture of Cain pointing at Leonardo da Vinci while both sit in front of Lilith.

  3. Where ag_not left her car keys

  4. A simple doodle while thinking “How many idiots are going to worry about what I am drawing instead of the obvious lesson going on in front of them?”

In the OT God wrote to Moses on Stone, which was the Law, and put in the ark of the old Covenant. In the NT Jesus’s Only writing is in sand and there’s ONLY speculation as to what is written? This HAS to signify Something???
God does everything for a reason


Let me also ask???

The Mosiac Law was written in stone. The Elders and those condemning were holding stones. Maybe signifying that they were HOLDING onto the Law? Isn’t sand just little stones that have deteriorated into little particles to become sand? Could then Jesus’s writing in the sand signify that they are no more under the Law?
I’m No theologian, but there has to be some sort of significance here?
I don’t think our Lord would doodle??? I’ve taken the Jeff Cavins Great Adventure bBble Study at our Church and now Know that God does Everything for a reason. That there are many different levels to read and interpret scripture, be it Allegory, Anagogy, Typology, etc.???

Thank you all for responding to my question. I find the many answers intriguing and well thought out.

Hi. As an almost native Floridian, we used to write our names in sand at the beach. Didn’t last long!

In reading Holy Scripture, I remember seeing where a sin or accusation was to be written down. (Maybe Numbers 5 but probably elsewhere, like Deuteronomy or Leviticus.) Anyway, it seemed to me that Jesus was following that Law because, like he said, he didn’t come to do away with the Law but fulfill it. So I always thought it was super loving and forgiving that he wrote in sand. i.e., Whether he wrote down the accusations against the woman accused of adultery or noted the sins of her accusers or whatever, he fulfilled the Law with a record that would not remain beyond a few minutes. Write on!

If we want to speculate, that’s our business.

There are many other topics to be discussed. If this has no interest to you why did you bother to take the time to reply?

I had stopped joining discussion forums. I thought this being a Catholic forum people would be more respectful, polite, and civil than other forums? So I’m a little surprised by the rudeness I’ve found.

Actually, now that I took a moment to get a cup of coffee, there ARE many decent and devout people here. Still, there’s always a few in every crowd?

If anyone was close enough to read something that they knew
applied to them, wouldn’t they then be way too close to throw a stone? You really have to be a certain distance away from someone to throw a stone at them.

Hmm… that makes me think, you really have to be a certain distance away from a person emotionally in your heart in order to “throw a stone at them”. You really can’t do it while you’re loving them.

Not to nitpick but…
What he wrote in/on was not necessarily sand. What he wrote on in verse 8:6,8 was the ‘earth’ or ‘ground’ (which could have been dusty/sandy) from Greek word geyn/γην. There is a separate word in Greek for sand ammon/αμμον which was not used in John 8. I don’t think though that will change speculations as to what he wrote :shrug: .

What is rude about my comment? I’m stating facts. Ask a million people what Jesus wrote and you’ll get a million different answers. So what? How does that impact you?
Speculating is a waste of time.

Is that a financial statement :slight_smile: ?

A lot of people made tons of money speculating.:smiley:

Remain charitable and on topic as per the following link.

Consolidated Stickies For the Apologetics Forum. READ THIS FIRST!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.